Critique My Sermon: Incarnational Spirituality

incThis sermon was delivered on April 26th, 2015 at West Loop UBF. Please feel free to rip it apart and tell me how it could have been better :)


A bit of disclosure is in order here: Since September of last year, I haven’t been attending church on a weekly basis. I’ve attended Catholic Mass a few times and have taken communion and have also had ongoing conversations about the Bible and life with others and have done my own personal study on biblical topics, but nothing like being plugged into a faith community on a regular basis. To some this may be disconcerting or off-putting, like who takes a half a year off of church and then preaches a sermon? But I thank Rhoel for reaching out to me and befriending and simply talking to me on a human-to-human level. One thing that I really appreciate about the West Loop community is you all’s desire to understand and practice the gospel in a loving manner. So I thank you all for accepting me and giving me the privilege to speak here today. I don’t take this lightly and I don’t want to waste your time, but instead I want to hopefully communicate an important point about the gospel that I think we, including myself, often miss. I’ll attempt to make my point in thirty minutes or less and end with a nice cherry on top which is an example from my own life.

Continue reading →

A Response to Joe’s Open Letter

As one who has been participating in University Bible Fellowship for many years, I’d like to offer my thoughts on some of the points in Joe’s recent open letter to the President of UBF. Continue reading →

Inspired to Love the Church by a Gay Christian

chIn April 2012 I was baptized by full immersion at our local Christian church. It was a wonderful and godly experience. The pastor’s words “You are free from the teachings of one man” still give me much peace and joy. Since then however, I have not returned to church, except for a couple special events. For me, baptism was an end, not a beginning. Baptism was the death of all the undue religious influence on my life. Today I would like to share with our readers a glimpse into my journey back to the church.

Continue reading →

West Loop’s first sermon in 2008: Where is your vision?

123Editorial note: While searching for an old email, I happened to find the first sermon preached at West Loop UBF on Jan 6, 2008. It is over 6 years ago. I feel strange and nostalgic reading it. It reminded me of A Real Testimony by Ben Toh from 1998.  UBFers will likely welcome what I wrote and may wonder why I am no longer like that, while exUBFers might suffer from varying degrees of PTSD. The full sermon can be read here. What I copied and pasted below is my personal application, which I preached verbatim. Continue reading →

Prayers for the Church

prayerThe Bride of Christ could use some prayer right now. Here are some excerpts from The Book of Common Prayer. Will you agree with me on these?

For the Church

Gracious Father, we pray for the holy Catholic Church. Fill it with with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it.; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it, for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

Continue reading →

Telling it to the Church, Part 3

Yes, the time has finally arrived. The moment that handfuls of you have been waiting for. After a two-year hiatus, we pick up the story that began with Telling it to the Church (Part 1) and Telling it to the Church, Part 2.

Oh, my, how the times have changed; so much has happened since then.

Be forewarned: this installment will be different.

wonkaAnd rejoice, for today is your lucky day! You are the winner of Wonka’s Golden Ticket. Reach out your hand. With this V.I.P. pass, we’ll descend into belly of the beast, to the inner sanctum, that secretive world of UBF leadership that has never before seen the light of day.

And this time, I will be naming names. Yes, today you will hear things that I have not yet shared with anyone, except for my wife and perhaps our dog.

Continue reading →

Turning Pressure into Beauty

pPressure. It builds, it mounts and then it explodes. And it is the one reason my fellow outlaw preacher, John O’Keefe, claims as the primary reason people are leaving church. His recent article is excellent: The One Reason People are Leaving Church. I think that pressure is also at the heart of why people (even leaders) have been leaving ubf and continue to contact me for help. Can the church turn that pressure into something beautiful? For many local churches as well as the ubf organization, the answer may determine whether they survive this generation.

Continue reading →

UBF and Dialogue: What Joe, Charles and Pope Francis Say

Admin Note: Having a genuine meaningful dialogue in UBF is a very important issue that absolutely needs to be seriously addressed and practiced. I say this based on comments expressed by Joe and Charles on Facebook and UBFriends here and here. Joe and Charles make life easy for me because they state things with much clarity and with far less words than my rambunctious repetitive rowdy rambling ruminating grandstanding pontificating verbosity! Here’s what Joe posted:

JoeSchafer“In my experience, leaders have refused to participate in discussions where they cannot control the rules of engagement, the range of allowable topics, or manage the ultimate outcome. They are willing to meet with you one on one, but I have found that counterproductive because in private they say things to pacify you but nothing comes of it, and when you leave the room they change their tune entirely. There needs to be witnesses present and some kind of accountability. Basically, I’ve found that they refuse to participate in discussions where they might lose face. Dialogue requires letting go of control and being willing to lose face, if necessary, for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of love. It feels scary and dangerous. I understand their predicament. But it is a risk that they must take.”

Continue reading →

The Pain of Leaving UBF

p(Admin note: I, Bento, did not ask permission from Joe to post this. I’m making an assumption that he would be OK with me doing so since he posted it on Facebook here. I’m posting it because what he wrote touched my heart deeply. It was real, honest, raw and gut-wrenching (and the way everyone in UBF should write a testimony). I viscerally and palpably felt his pain of moving on from UBF.) Continue reading →

A short comment on brainwashing


When I was 4 I asked my mother how I didn’t know I was living in a dream. She stood confused, contemplating the question herself. I don’t remember what her answer was, unfortunately. But this question has been asked several times throughout the ages. For me my eventual answer was “Dreaming feels different.” I want to use this to springboard to a related topic. How do you know you are brainwashed?
Continue reading →