When the church becomes ugly. I often read a short daily commentary by Henri Nouwen. I find him insightful and inclusive, refreshing and renewing. An excerpt from today says, “When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness.” It quotes 1 Cor 12:24-25: “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
White boy sheep and HNWs. This reflection exposed my perspective and practice of Christian life. For two decades I was only interested in reaching, evangelizing and discipling young Caucasian Americans. The so-called “presentable parts” (1 Cor 12:24a) were the white boy sheep and HNWs (holy nation women or white women), terminology I no longer use. Thus, I ignored or despised anyone who is not white. They were “the parts that we think are less honorable” and “the parts that are unpresentable” (1 Cor 12:23). Continue reading →
I have been in UBF my entire Christian life since I became a Christian in 1980. A seminal moment occurred about 10 years ago when Dr. John Armstrong preached a sermon at Chicago UBF. He asked a question: “How many non-Christians regard you as their best friend?” I was stunned. The answer was obvious: NONE!
This convicted and troubled me greatly. It is because after I became a Christian, I cut off anyone and everyone who would not study the Bible, including my own family and old friends. I not only did not have non-Christian friends; in fact I had no friends outside of UBF.
12 UBF couples (10 from West Loop) renewed our marriage vows on Oct 12, 2013 after attending a series on marriage excellently led by Kevin and Julie Jesmer over 8 months at West Loop Church. Our happy pictures on Facebook had over 1,000 views and countless likes.
I would like to share what my dear wife wrote to me in a card celebrating this occasion. I asked her and she gave me permission to share it. In my opinion, she is pretty blunt (thanks to my influence!) but also gracious.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:34-35).
In June 2013, I was blessed to be part of an exploratory team to Northern Canada to explore the feasibility of sending missionaries to the Aboriginal people. There were five of us. Two of the members, the pastor and myself, are in our forties. The other three were in their mid twenties. We were all from the white, middle class suburbia of a Midwest university town nestled in the midst of corn fields. The trip lasted for eight days. We drove together for 15 hours, stayed in hotels, in two cabins, road in a train for 18 hours, and drove home 15 hours. We were in close proximity. We had many things in common, like a common faith in Jesus and a common calling to the North and a desire to serve Christ in the region. But there were differences. Continue reading →
In this article I’d like to discuss a clear ubf teaching that I heard very many times in my ubf chapter in Yekaterinburg. Brian provided us some space to discuss the ubf heritage through his series of articles. Somewhere he said that the heritage is very tricky and not clear so it can lead to different teachings in practice depending on the situation and “sheep’s spiritual condition”. But there are some very clear things in ubf teachings upon which the ubf practice and reality is based. And I want to discuss one of these clear ubf teachings.
So what kind of church do I want? Here is what I dream about, think about, ponder about, wish for, hope for and look out for. This is the kind of church I would start; the kind of church I would attend.
How different is the East from the West in terms of communication? In my opinion, a significant problem in UBF is our suboptimal and often unhealthy way of communication. A way to explain our communication conflicts is to explain the differences in the way that Westerners (blue) and Easterners (red) communicate in five infographics. Incidentally, even though I am an Easterner (a bonafide Chinaman from the East!), I am nonetheless quite a Westerner. Maybe it is because I watched too many American movies and TV growing up in Malaysia. Surely, these differences are generalizations. But I think there is much truth to them. See if you agree.
The Leader. The above picture clearly expresses how Westerners and Easterners regard their leader. Continue reading →