Thank God for 2014

22014 has been by far the most exciting year since 2009 when I went to college. I have so much to be thankful for. God’s grace has truly been with me.


The first few months was a dark time for me. It started out with me crashing my car and getting trapped in a blizzard in Indianpolis. Then a close friend suddendly left UBF and told me never to talk to her again. I struggled greatly with a lot of people in the ministry here and met Mark Yang who confirmed nearly every bad thing I had heard about UBF. In February I found out my work was not keeping me on for the next year and this made my future unsure. I looked to teaching English in South Korea. This brought with it the option to marry “by faith” a Korean woman. I was so scared that I would be taken by the looks of her and forget my convictions that I decided against it. In the very late part of Febuary I was accepted to graduate school. It was something I didn’t think would happen.


In March I has a student pull a gun on me and I decided that I would certainly be going to graduate school. I was invited by Rem to attened the Philippines Easter conference and I also attended that UBF conference in Missouri along with Kansas City UBF and others. In April I went to the Philippines were I saw the grace of God laid bare. So much happiness and joy it felt as though heaven itself had colonized this island. At this time I met Hope from the Philippines UBF and started corresponding with her daily. A significantly longer article would still not begin to say enough about her. I also discovered my tuition would be waived for graduate school and I would become a graduate assistant.


My school finished around the same time that my brother proposed. Unfortunately he was arrested the next day because as it turns out stealing thousands of dollars isn’t allowed. I used my rent money to bail him out but my mother refused to let me come home. Luckily my grandmother came through and I stayed with her. I also saw my roommate get married and met Dr. Ben Toh at this time. (His profile picture does a good job at making him look taller than he is.)


I gave a sermon in Springfield UBF as well as for St. Louis. The former was from Romans. It concerned the purpose of Jesus. The latter was on the woman with the Alabaster jar and the her devotion. I moved back and started graduate school.


My brother found out he would not go to jail and was married. He also failed to return a rented ladder with my debit card which became his Christmas gift. I bought a ticket to go back to the Philippines.


In Novemeber I discovered that one of my professors had been abusing his authority over me. I discovered he had also been telling the college I was not proficient in calculus. I took a special exam over calculus 1,2, and 3. The department was reduced to calling me “brilliant” and I was allowed to keep my assistantship for next year. I am currently in the Philippines learning the thankfulness of what it means to be given so much and seeing the grace of Christ daily.

I cannot be thankful enough for the grace and truth of Christ this year. May he be with me always until the end of the age.


  1. Great thoughts Forests! 2014 was far more enriching and enjoyable because of our interactions and discussions. Your thoughts have edified me and challenged me, all with a dose of humor (which sometimes I don’t get :)

  2. Thanks, Forests, for expressing God’s abundant provision of grace upon your life in 2014. It’s the first time I ever heard that “my profile picture does a good job at making me look taller than I am.” :-)

    • forestsfailyou

      From all your blog posts and our conversations I also expected a much younger person. You are very youthful. Also I just found out I got straight As this semester.

  3. forestsfailyou

    Without going into details, the marriage by faith suggestion came after repeated rejections of it. Additionally the exact wording of the offer was incensing. But that being said, God used that to help me see the truth clearly devoid of facades. I can only be thankful because God protected me. I will probably write about that event in the future since it requires a lot of explanation.

  4. I also want to say thank you to you and others who kept this blog alive with real and meaningful discussion and exchange.

    • Thanks Chris! You are always welcome here. I think your contributions are invaluable and your stories need to be listened to and processed.

  5. One wish I have for 2015 is that the issue of judging and judgment is discussed in more depth and fairness.

    Recently, Ben posted on Facebook that Jesus instructed his disciples not to judge, so therefore we should never judge, period.

    I think this discussion belongs here, on UBFriends. Actually we had these talks already a felt thousand times, so I’m wondering why such simplistic statements are still being made and why this still needs to be discussed. But it seems that it’s still very necessary.

    There are two big issues with a too simple understanding of “you shall not judge”:

    1) What exactly is judging? What is the difference between judging someone, criticizing someone, warning someone, rebuking someone etc.? Too often legitimate criticism and rebuke is labelled “judging” and dismissed as unbiblical. On the other hand, many times a behavior that is really judgmental and against the spirit of Jesus is often not recognized as such. The word “to judge” must be carefully examined, particularly as it can have different meanings ranging from a general assessment of something up to a final judgment and condemnation of somebody. We must understand which meaning applies in which context.

    2) If you claim that we shall not judge because of Mt 7:1, then what do you make out of verses like 3 Mo 19:17, Mt 18:17, Mt 23:33, Jn 7:24, Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 5:12, 1 Cor 6:5, 1 Tim 5:19 etc. which all assume that judging is not only allowed, but sometimes mandatory? How do you reconcile this? Do you think “I don’t care about these verses, because Chris has mentioned them so often that I cannot hear them any more” is a sufficient argument? Do you think Mt 7:1 does somehow “overtrump” these other verses? Then why do we keep all these parts of the Bible?

    A simplistic understanding of “you shall not judge” is absolutely not helpful when we are dealing with an authoritarian system and its leaders, because in such an environment it is often used as an excuse to not criticize the system and individual leaders, we know that this is a problem since decades that hindered UBF to grow and leaders to become accountable.

    I know, Ben, that your first response will be that you are not using this as an excuse, that you do in fact dare to criticize loudly, which is true. But unfortunately, you are a rare exception in UBF. So why do you keep repeating this verse, as if the verse is everything that needs to be said, and as if this was something that could help people in UBF? In some other context it may be enough, indeed. But not in our context. We are grown up, UBF has grown up. UBF people deserve better than this. I’d love to see you come up and explain all these things in 2015, without me having to join the discussion. You are the one who knows UBF inside out and is still in UBF and has hope for UBF, so you should be the one who educates people about the proper application of Bible verses in the particular context of UBF.

    Here is a book recommendation – maybe you can find some more literature that helps starting an educated discussion adequate to people in our age (I noticed in Brian’s video blog that I’m not the only greybeard here). I really, really would like to see you and others discuss these questions in 2015 in all sincerity and openness and with a connection to the concrete and real issues UBF is facing, without me interfering.

    • Chris, on one of the facebook threads with Ben’s quote about judging others, I said that I agree that we should not be judgmental, rather we should be discerning. The problem of a lack of discernment is as old as Genesis 3:1. Consequently it is one of the major themes of Proverbs and is repeated in the NT in Rom 12:2, Heb 5:14, 1 Jn 4:1, Phil 1:9-10, etc. You said that we should have more open discussions about this, but I would argue that this blog, in its entirety, has in large part been dedicated to this very thing. Since we dialogue honestly about our experiences in UBF, we consequently begin to understand the intricacies as well as the broader picture of what we’ve gone through and thus gain wisdom for moving forward in our new spiritual settings. This is my impression at least. But there is seemingly a very fine line between judging, both in the negative and positive sense, and the two are often unfortunately conflated. Since this is both a major biblical theme and a vital aspect of growing into the nature of Christ, it would be great to have some articles focused on this specific topic.

    • Closely connected with the “don’t judge” teaching is the “remove first the plank from your own eye” argument. Since noone can ever say he or she is without sin, nobody could honestly criticize anybody else. I remember that for a long time I kept silent because I myself felt too sinful, and I am certain many UBF members are silent for the same reason. But this was so wrong. It is an argument that should also be discussed in this context. I just saw it on Facebook again.

      Jeff Sanders calls “Judge not” the “most abused verse in the Bible”. And the ironic thing is that it is abused mostly by spiritual abusive people and organizations, for whom judging and criticizing their non-conforming members and the world outside is their daily bread.

    • That’s a good point, Chris. Also, notice how immediately after those verses, this verse appears:

      “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

      That verse implies that we are still to make some kind of judgment because our very lives may depend upon it. The reason for the juxtaposition of these verses is obvious in that our judgment should be pure, rather than tainted or warped by hypocrisy. Making correct judgments is vitally important to the health of the church as shown in Matt 7:15-20. Without the ability to judge, how else would we be able recognize and depose false prophets/teachers?