B is for Beauty

PreachingLk24onApr19,2014Please critique what I wrote for my sermon tomorrow: B is for Beauty.

Thanks for the helpful comments last week on A is for Accountability. As a result I stressed how important it is regarding who we choose to be accountable to. This resonated with some as they lamented that what they had shared in confidence was used against them. Regarding accountability I asked three questions during the sermon:

  1. Do you have a Nathan? (Who are you accountable to?)
  2. Are you a Nathan? (Who are you accountable for?)
  3. Do you know your ultimate Nathan, who did not confront you for your sins, but died for your sins?

My short (and incomplete) answers are my wife, my friends and my Jesus.

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Book Review – I Choose: Subtlety in Cults

iWhen I heard about the new book by Isabelle Renaud, “I Choose: Subtlety in Cults“, I bought one on Kindle for my phone. This is a great read if you want to see a honest and sincere view of what it is like as a member of University Bible Fellowship. Isabelle was a member of a Canadian chapter of UBF around 1999 to 2002, spending about 3 years there.  I was surprised that the author even shared her testimonies (the personal applications to Bible passages) that you are pressured to write as a UBF member. These were hard for me to read because it brought back so many awful memories of losing sleep, giving up family time with our children, and boring Friday nights that were demanded of us so that we could keep good standing in the University Bible Fellowship ministry. Like Isabelle, I remember spending 5 or 6 hours hearing testimonies late into the night.

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Tired of Talking About UBF

bNote: this article is for those who have decided to remain in UBF but are endlessly frustrated. It is not for everyone to remain in UBF, so I understand and sympathize with those who have been wounded deeply and have left to find greener pastures. I am mainly addressing this article to myself: my hope is that I will continually turn my gaze from people to the triune and amazing God… and then eventually back to people in the context of being in God.

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What next? Four books

goodnessfoundcoverFront-e1398512105828[Admin note: This article was modified on 10/26/2014 to remove one of the four books that became unpublished recently.]

Today our new Friend submitted a thoughtful, heartfelt and well-articulated article entitled “What next?” I want to share my response as an article instead of a comment because I have far too many emotions and thoughts racing through my veins. I am both excited and encouraged to read Friend’s thoughts. But I don’t want to go backward in my journey. I have asked myself that question thousands of times the past three years since resigning from UBF on July 4th, 2011. What do I do now? UBF shepherds promised to make my name great like Abraham, to train me to be a world-class leader, to learn how to be a Christian missionary and how to deeply study the bible. Those promises turned out to be a mirage for me. I have no idea and no authority to determine what is next for UBF ministry or people. What I can do is concern about what is next for me and my family. Here are my thoughts.

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What next?

tAfter committing to catching up on previous posts, I found myself staying up the entire night trying to cover nearly 5 years of articles and comments. With each hour that passed, I knew I had to get some sleep, but alas, I find myself in front of the computer trying to formulate an article.

I was drawn in by article after article and comment after comment. Initially I was taken aback by aggressive language and seemingly biased points of view. But as I continued to read, I have been impressed by the level of integrity and professionalism you have maintained throughout the website. The articles have not been offensive or slanderous but have been informative, honest, and real.
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A Biblical Response to the UBF Definition of Church

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890The new UBF history website created in 2013 attempts to define “church” on this page. After that, it tries to build a case, based on this definition, for UBF’s chapter structure. The definition of church used, however, is simplistic at best, and biblically and church-historically inaccurate at worst. In other words, there are many ecclesiological problems with the definition of church (The branch of theology that teaches what scripture has to say about the church is called “Ecclesiology”).

First, notice that sections of the italicized definition are pasted below and numbered, followed by questions/comments that can help expose the underlined errors therein and (perhaps incompletely) point to some more biblical perspectives.

Second, a much better definition of the church (by no means the only one), is provided. I adapted this definition from a class on Ecclesiology at Reformed Baptist Seminary with Greg Nichols. I loved his class because he drew on no other sources than the scriptures (as will be evident).

Third, I will suggest positive steps for UBF’s future, pointing out that UBF shouldn’t identify itself as a local church (in form) while it almost exclusively operates as a para-church (in function). Based on concepts from 9Marks, I suggest UBF either fully commit to para-church life, or reform into an association of local churches.

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New UBF Heritage Guarding Website

b1Have you heard? UBF loyalists opened a new website recently. The purpose is to guard and protect and pass on the UBF heritage. Some people might have thought I was joking when I mentioned 12 things UBF taught me.

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Critique my Sermon on Accountability

sharing_the_loadDo  freely give me feedback on my sermon which I will preach extemporaneously tomorrow: A is for Accountability. The four parts of the sermon are:

  1. Why it’s important: sin deceives and traps all of us without exception.
  2. How to do it: humbly and gently with the Spirit’s help.
  3. What not to do: being conceited and thinking we are better than others.
  4. Who did it best: Only Jesus was perfectly accountable.

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It is Very Good

bIn the last few weeks I have posted some content on this site that might be labeled as “critical” or “negative”. This obvious question I might get is “Why would you remain in UBF?”. I want to balance the claims and stories I have told with good things I have observed about UBF, and the grace that God has given to me here. I know that certain people will find what I say here to be offensive or maybe entirely false and I welcome them. I already know what you will say and I know what I am getting myself into here. I anticipate the common claim “You are being love bombed.” with the concession that this claim is unanswerable, because it is a claim about the motivations of people which I cannot know for sure. You are more than welcome to take this position, but I won’t answer it because I cannot.
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Reflections on Today’s Daily Bread

DBDear Readers:

We, the administrators of UBFriends, were deeply moved by this morning’s Daily Bread passage and accompanying commentary that appeared on ubf.org. Because of our laziness, pride and poor spiritual conditions, we had given up writing our Daily Bread reflections for a very long time. But today we repented because the DB page was so excellent! It seemed so  fresh, so relevant, as though the author was personally writing it for us and for all our readers! So we decided to reproduce the DB page here. And we invite you, as the Spirit leads, to share your thoughts and reflections in the Comments section below. Please meditate deeply on this and write about how it applies to you. We look forward to hearing from you.

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