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.

THE ASSYRIAN ARMY THREATENS JERUSALEM

2 Kings 18:17-37

Key Verse: 18:36

But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”

First, we are depending on the Lord our God (17-30). The king of Assyria sent his top commanders and a large army to besiege Jerusalem. The Assyrian field commander delivered a threatening message to King Hezekiah, challenging his confidence in God. He planted fear and doubt in the people, mocking their military strength and Hezekiah’s trust in God. He tried to confuse them into thinking that the Assyrians were doing God’s will. He repeatedly attacks their faith in God and their king, Hezekiah, who encouraged the people to depend on the Lord God. Likewise, the devil strikes fear in our hearts and attacks our faith in God and trust in our spiritual leaders. We must discern the devil’s attack, standing firm in the Lord our God.

Second, the temptation to compromise and give up (31-37). The Assyrian field commander tempted the people to surrender and enjoy an easy life by promising them life, not death. The people did not answer him, as the king commanded them. We need wisdom and faith not to talk with the devil when he offers a sweet escape from fearful and trying situations.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for leaders who encourage us to stand strong in our faith. Help me to keep my faith when the devil is planting fear and tempting me to take the easy way.

One Word: Do not talk to the devil

97 comments

  1. Joe Schafer

    Today’s passage tells us how God’s people were being threatened by the army of Assyria. But in reality, they were being threatened by the silky voice of Satan who was speaking to them so smoothly, tempting them to give up their special identity and calling and mission to be a kingdom of priests and holy nation and Bible teachers for the whole world. Through this passage, may God teach me how to stop listening to the devil and win the victory to keep my faith and mission strong to the end.

    Part 1: We are depending on the Lord our God

    The field commander of the Assyrian army brought a message to King Hezekiah to shake his confidence. He used cunning tactics of propaganda and psychological warfare. Instead of merely talking to the king, he shouted in the Hebrew language so that all of Hezekiah’s soldiers could hear. He spread vicious lies about God’s servant. He acted just like people who publish slanderous articles about God’s servants on the internet, where young sheep can see and become suspicious and turn against us and rebel against God’s call to campus mission. They should not do such things. In the past, we tried to stop these enemies of the gospel with lawsuits and by prayerfully hacking into their web servers. That worked for a while but now we need a better strategy based on God’s wisdom. What should we do?

    Part 2: The temptation to compromise and not give up

    When we see rumors and lies being spread about God’s servants on the internet, we are tempted to stop respecting and obeying our spiritual leaders. We know that those words are not from God because they only talk about problems and spread human thinking instead of teaching the Bible 1:1 as God commands. Still it is tempting to listen to them because sometimes they say things that are smart, quoting from the Bible and all kinds of intellectual Christian books to make us confused. They say that God’s work is a losing business because our Sunday worship numbers and conference numbers and offerings have been going down year after year. What can we do?

    In that situation, King Hezekiah had said to the soldiers, “Do not answer them.” So they said nothing. Like the holy Jesus who stood on trial before Herod and said nothing. Through this passage, we learn the secret of how to defeat all those who spread Satan’s lies. We must not talk to them. We must not listen to them. Instead we must ignore them completely and go back to the Bible and keep our mission to the end. Then God will defeat them in his own time and his own way give us absolute victory!

    One young man used to be very zealous for God. He married by faith and wanted to be a missionary to Russia but decided instead to go to Detroit. But he used to read all kinds of slanderous things on anti-ubf websites. He would zealously defend God’s servants against the slander and testify to God’s work in his life. But his shepherds sensed this was unhealthy. They counseled him to stop talking to the devil, but he wouldn’t listen. Eventually it corrupted his mind. He forgot God’s grace and gave up his mission and became like a mental patient. Through this we learn that we must not talk to the devil.

    One word: Don’t talk to the devil

  2. I have to sincerely confess and repent that I have stopped writing sincere, repentant, heart-moving testimonies and daily bread for almost a decade. May God forgive my sins for not sincerely struggling to humbly accept one word of God with my whole heart each and every day. Instead I have been filled with all kinds of human thinking from reading too many books. Also, a proud mind and a rebellious mind grew in me. Because I stopped writing testimonies, I also completely abandoned my prayer topic to raise a 120 member fellowship. May God have mercy on me, a wretched worm who is totally unworthy and ashamed to show myself before God’s great and humble servants.

    Based on today’s daily bread, I am reminded of a young man who was so much loved and served by God’s servants for 24 years. But he became very very unthankful and ungrateful, forgetting how much he was loved and served by God’s servants, and how God servants provided him with the best and most wonderful shepherdess that he could never find anywhere else in the whole wide world. Even though God blessed him so much, yet he began to listen to the devil through his smart mind and human thinking. He also began engaging with all kinds of sinful pleasure-seeking hedonistic people and rebels against God’s work. He stopped feeding sheep and abandoned God’s wonderful holy mission for campus students. He stopped doing Daily Bread and so he could not but only listen to the devil more and more. May God have mercy on him.

    One Word: Trust God and God’s servants absolutely and don’t talk to the devil! Otherwise you may become like this ungrateful young man.

    • Joe Schafer

      Nice. This could serve as a DB reflection on just about any passage from the Bible.

    • Oh dear, so true. It is a reflection of how I studied the Bible and wrote testimonies every single week for 27 years!

    • Today has been a stellar day at ubfriends! I haven’t laughed so much in one day, all day long for quite a while, well not since I talked NickM several months ago. We both nearly dropped our phones laughing recalling an incident where I accidentally sent some Korean missionaries through downtown Detroit on a visit one time…they were so pissed at me, but in keeping face, they just gave me dirty looks the whole visit.

    • Joe Schafer

      It’s scary how easy it was for me to slip back into that ubfish mindset, generating line after line of testimony text with very little effort. And how hard it would be now for me to actually teach or preach intelligently on this passage today from a Christotelic standpoint. I could certainly do it, and I think I would do it well. I believe I could give an inspiring message. But it would require a great deal of careful thought and prayerful meditation.

  3. Ok so I don’t live in ancient Hebrew culture, I have never lived under the reign of a king, I don’t know what it’s like to be in a war, I’ve never met a prophet in camel’s hair, I’ve never lived in the Old Testament times before the cross of Jesus and I have no little knowledge about who these people are in this passage. So I have very little to say here in terms of any life principle these verses might teach me, an American man living in 2014 with 4 children and wife doing her PhD.

    I do see a few things, however. I see that there is a king here who is challenging the identity of another king, who is the king of God’s people. I remember that Samuel expressed God’s lament over the Israelites wanting a king in the first place. Establishing a kingship hierarchy was going to cause the people of God a lot of headache and trouble, God warned. But the people insisted on having kings rule over them, as if God wasn’t enough to be their king. They wanted a king to protect them and so now they had to obey their king.

    Instead of addressing the problems of the kingdoms around them and becoming a beacon of light and peace and love as God wanted, they now had to play the games of the world, making absurd deals and resorting to bribery with other kings just to stay alive (2 Kings 18:13-16). The king here acted poorly just as other kings of Israel had done, even giving away the sacred temple furnishings. And so they opened their community up to ridicule and mocking and further attack.

    Today’s passage shows one example of the conundrum the people of God face when they try to live as the world lives– with kings and authority and servants and such. This isn’t the vision of God’s kingdom Jesus presented to us in the sermon on the mount. This is not the kingdom message of Jesus’ gospel, which turns kingly authority upside down.

    The other truth I see here in this Scripture is that God’s people will have our identity challenged by people claiming to hear God’s voice. So I need to be confident in who I am when people think I might be filled with an evil spirit. For example the challenging king says in verse 25 “The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.” So both this king and the king of Israel claimed to speak for God. Both claimed to be serving God.

    It is the same today. Many claim to be following Christ, obeying Jesus, etc. But who really is doing so? I ask God to give me discernment and my own thinking ability so I can find out who is listening to God and who is not. And I also pray to have eyes that see and ears that hear so that I don’t fall into the trap of obeying a hierarchical authority that has strayed from God’s kingdom vision.

    • Joe Schafer

      I was thinking about what I would say if I were asked to seriously explain this passage from a Christian standpoint. I would have taken a similar approach.

    • Oh wait… I meant to say:

      Today’s daily bread was so yummy that I am now fully satisfied by chewing God’s word. I feel like a new cow chewing cud for the first time! So I repent for not doing daily bread since 1999 and for faking it every morning by only memorizing the ‘one word’ in case somebody asked me about it that day. And with great humility and many tears I have decided to come back to my senses. I will give up my senseless freedom and joy and peace and hope and find true freedom true joy and true peace by studying 1:1 bible study every week faithfully with my stuffed bear. I am so sorry that I disobeyed God’s servants direction to do this. Please accept my humble repentance for I am the worst of sinners and do not even deserve to be called a sinner.

      I made a decision of faith! Amen! I will give up my senseless blogging and being a bad influence on so many precious young little ones around the world. I realize that many little ones have been led astray by my bitterness because they have no ability to think on their own. Instead of reading the Christian greats like Spurgeon and Augustine, I now see their folly and will only listen to the best bible teachers in the world, the ubf people who have God’s best ways.

      I will become more prayerful and rejoin my leaders at ubf in their silence. You have been waiting for me like the prodigal son’s father, longing for me to return, so now I return. I am giving up my pig slop life. No longer will I date my wife or spend time for my children. I will sacrifice them like Isaac on the mountain. To show my sincerity I will shut down all my blogs and spend 3 hours early in the morning doing daily bread, becoming like Jesus who got up so early in the morning. Please pray for me to do daily bread 400 times a year! I know there are only 365 days in a year but by faith I will do 400 times! In that way I will live as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation!

      One word: Live as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation!

    • Joe Schafer

      Much better. Welcome back to the fold.

    • Now where’s my metal folding chair… I must go find it and sit on it.

  4. Joe Schafer

    But seriously: Are there any current ubf members out there who attended a DB meeting today? If so, what kinds of things did you hear? I’m curious to learn what people are saying these days. OK to share anonymously, if you prefer.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I spoke with my pastor at bible study. He didn’t really want to talk about it. He couldn’t understand that my point was not that this was not true, but that the implications of this DB was that we should not speak to people who speak against UBF. He said everything was God’s work or Satan’s work (Sorry BK) and that if a sin was personal the church should gather and discuss their sin and how they can be helped, but if the sinner is trying to influence others and spread false teachings they should be asked to leave. He said “In UBF we openly discuss.” I told him this wasn’t true and he laughed at me as said “How long have you been in UBF?” I said a few years and he boasted “I have been in UBF for 30 years.” I asked if by “discuss” he meant the 4 reform efforts and he said that there was a committee in UBF that openly talks about issues and reconciles problems (Sorry Ben I didn’t mention this in our call, I am looking at notes now). I asked if he could give an example of a person being asked to leave and he said in 1990 a group of charismatics in Chicago were predicting the apocalypse in 1992 and seeking gifts of the holy spirit. They were asked to leave. He said recently some chapters were becoming charismatic and “Our ministry is bible study not spiritual gift. Holy spirit comes from 1-1 bible study and group bible study. Then I talked to him about Brian’s book a bunch. Paul said he had at one point wanted to pioneer Detroit but he was led to St. Louis. I mentioned that it was highly unChrist like to call Brian Satan, and that if we call him an enemy Christ tells us to love our enemies. Paul said all he knew about Brian was he had a bad experience pioneering Detroit. At the end of bible study Paul prayed for Brian.

    • “group of charismatics in Chicago were predicting the apocalypse in 1992 and seeking gifts of the holy spirit”

      Just some background info: That group was probably the “Mission for the Coming Days”. It was led by a charismatic Korean, and it does not amaze me that some of the Korean missionaries felt attracted by their prophecies.

      Many of the Korean missionaries feel “dried up” in UBF, they long for charismatic worship like water in the desert. Since they have no real theological education and discernment, and only learned to blindly and humbly trust in “spiritual authorities” with power posture and self-confidence, I can well imagine how attractive the Korean “Mission for the Coming Days” must have been for some Korean UBF missionaries. It even had the word “mission” in its title.

      Here is a report by a former Chicago UBF missionary about what he called the “christmas massacre” of 1989 ( Koreans often dramatize in the wording, I guess he called it a “massacre” since being expelled from UBF meant to have lost mission, calling, salvation, i.e. spiritual death for any dedicated UBF member).

  5. I think we need some daily bread training here for all you backsliders. You don’t have to do Daily Bread, but it is what the bible says to do:

    “This is not the only way to meditate on the word of God. However, we do make this suggestion according to the Bible’s own advice on meditating on God’s word.

    Also, this is not the only kind of meditation one should do. Using the example, again, of a loaf of bread, if you only saw slices of bread every day, it would be difficult to imagine what the loaf originally looked like. In the same way, we come to the Bible in small passage and learn, and we also need to big studies and meditations to see the Bible as as a whole with a message. For example, meditating on what the entire book of Genesis is talking about. And then, thinking about parallels in the books of Genesis and Revelation. But for daily eating, we need to do daily bread and come to God’s words. You, plus the bible, plus writing, plus everyday.”

    And if your neighbor’s dog poo’s too much, just do daily bread with a partner and forget about it. It could change your life! Your wife will serve you better and your children will get all A’s in school!

    Here is what our leader said:

    “My main suggestion in this case is to get a partner or two. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

    I have experienced this first hand many times. As I shared already, I could start and continue daily bread for 2 years because of the commitment to my wife. Also, last summer, I shared daily bread with two brothers. One of those brothers also wrote daily bread every day for 1 year, without missing 1 day. Daily Bread changed my life in terms of my attitude and relationship with my wife, with my coworkers, with my neighbors and with God. I despised my neighbors. They double or triple park. They don’t scoop up their dog’s poo right away. But Provers 14:21 said, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” I was made at them, but I realized that I was the one sinning! It was a shock. I should have been kind and saw them as needy people.”

    • Joe Schafer

      I’m speechless.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Hi Brian and Joe, I co-authored the “Daily Bread Workshop” that you quoted here. Maybe it is because I helped write it, but I do feel that how you’ve presented it here is making it out into very different that what was initially intended. Making a commitment to read the Bible each day with my wife and others to learn from it actually changed my mind and perspective in how I relate to my wife, my children and even my neighbors whom I despised. I experienced a renewing of my mind through the word of God. But the “daily bread” we were trying to write about or practice was definitely not the kind of testimonies or booklet indoctrination that is being presented in this article and its comments.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      If I may add something else, it was written for one of our local conferences. Personally, I haven’t used the daily bread publications or read the summaries in years. I can’t remember the last time I did. At the very core of what we were trying to do was to encourage people to read the Bible for themselves, without relying on a shepherd to tell them what it means, without relying on the summary to them the “meaning” and application, without the sunday message manuscript, without all of this spoon feeding what the Bible says according to our own UBF ways. We found some scripture to help encourage this and still help people to take an active approach to their learning and meditation through writing, which might carry some familiarity in the UBF context. I still write daily, but I always try to remove such filters except to have eyes to see how the passage is testifying about Jesus. The 1:1 correlations, as expressed in the DB book summary in the article, is problematic on too many levels. Ultimately, it doesn’t even point us to Jesus.

    • Joe Schafer

      Charles, thanks for pushing back and for giving us more background on the workshop material.

      As I read the material, I sensed that its purpose was to help people to look at Scripture for themselves, without using the DB book as the interpretive lens. That is a laudable goal. Perhaps some in the audience did hear that message. Another message that came through very strongly was the need to continue to do it every day. “You, plus the bible, plus writing, plus everyday.”

      In my experience, people consistently over-estimate their ability to remove their interpretive lenses. If someone has learned a particular way of interacting with Scripture based on the DB booklet, they will continue to interact with Scripture in that way long after they put the DB booklet down. Until their assumptions are identified and challenged and actively resisted, they will continue to make those assumptions day after day, year after year, without even realizing that they are doing it. They will continue to look at the Old Testament and see ancient Israel as a metaphor for UBF, OT warfare as a metaphor for campus ministry, and so on. People cannot stop doing something until they recognize what they are doing and are shown a better alternative.

      In theory, it might be possible for someone to discover better ways of looking at Scripture on their own while continuing the practice of writing UBF Daily Bread reflections every day. But in practice, I don’t know of anyone who has actually accomplished that. I don’t know of anyone who was able to successfully come out of ubf-centric ways of looking at Scripture by themselves, without completely putting aside the ubf materials and methods and immersing themselves in non-ubf sources, non-ubf books, non-ubf preaching for an extended period of time. The ubf voices in our heads are very loud and tend to drown out everything else, including our own emotions and thoughts; the ubf voices need to be silenced for a while before we can hear ourselves think, before we can listen to voices of other parts of the church. In my experience, we really cannot find better ways of understanding the Bible on our own. We need Christians from other traditions to show us. And we need someone to identify the peculiarities and implicit assumptions of the ubf interpretive lens, as I tried to do in these two articles:

      http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/07/16/an-imaginary-report-by-joe-2005/

      http://www.ubfriends.org/2012/07/23/my-letter-to-joe-2005/

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I didn’t really find much objectionable here besides “Your wife will serve you better and your children will get all A’s in school!” I am not sure that directly follows, but i don’t put anything past prayer.

    • Joe Schafer

      I think those words were Brian’s.

    • Yes those are my words :) That is what I heard when I read that part of the ubf article. I appreciate what Charles tried to do in the article but I am really put off by the idea that just because a ubf person has a good intention, the result is automatically good. If ubf people need anything they need to start getting multiple reactions and perspectives and then start changing and reacting and actually growing. I respect Charles for starting to do that. Good intentions do not automatically produce good fruit, and often produce the opposite.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      @Joe, The ubf voices in our heads are very loud and tend to drown out everything else, including our own emotions and thoughts; the ubf voices need to be silenced for a while before we can hear ourselves think, before we can listen to voices of other parts of the church. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/06/reflections-on-todays-daily-bread/#comment-13317

      I fully agree with all you’ve said in your reply. For me, this began by quitting the UBF published materials, such as Daily Bread books. One day I just realized that the voice of the booklet was louder than the voice of the passage, and I was no longer able to read the passage without having the interpretation of the booklet being forced. I didn’t want to have to battle with two, often conflicting, voices. Because of this, I was being cautious not to jump to another person or ministry’s materials for fear of the same loud voice speaking over the passage. This kind of drowning out of the passage with someone else’s voice was also experienced in the early days of message training. Once, on a Sunday before delivering a Sunday message on Acts, someone came up to me with a copy of RonW’s manuscript on that same passage and asked me to deliver it. I had to say, No, even if my manuscript was not as thoughtful or insightful or “heart-moving.” At that stage in 2012, in preparing the workshop, we also simply wanted people to have a Bible first, other materials second, step in coming to the Bible. (This conference was based around 2 Timothy 2:15).

      @Brian, if ubf people need anything they need to start getting multiple reactions and perspectives and then start changing and reacting and actually growing. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/06/reflections-on-todays-daily-bread/#sthash.b3DRdpiY.dpuf

      Yes, fully agree. I am seeing that our “seminary” of sorts has been testimony writing based on someone else’s manuscript. This tends to have many teachings to simply be accepted, because that is what has been said by someone senior than you. It also leaves us to accept whatever interpretation we came up with in our own testimony writing as sound doctrine and there is a lot of blowback when questioning those interpretations.

      @forests, yes, those were Brian’s words. At that time, my kids were not even in grade school! :) I actually missed that conference because my daughter was born on that Friday, so I was in the hospital with my baby and wife till Saturday and took care of them at home on Sunday.

  6. We really need a youtube channel where people act out these things. We need our own Betty Bowers for ubf!

  7. Speaking of training, anyone have thoughts on the accuracy of this 6 stage model, presented at a ubf director’s conference in 2010?

    I used my experience to fill in the model below based on this ubf slide

    The Six Stages of UBF Training

    Sheep Training

    Stage 1: Birthing
    Goal – commit to bible study
    Starts after first bible study

    Stage 2: Rooting
    Goal – adopt the UBF worldview
    Starts after Sunday service attendance

    Stage 3: Growing
    Goal – pursue more training
    Starts after sharing Life Testimony

    Shepherd Training

    Stage 4: Disciple Training
    Goal – identity
    Starts after joining common life

    Stage 5: Soldier Training
    Goal – obedience
    Starts after college graduation

    Stage 6: Leader Training
    Goal – loyalty
    Starts after Marriage by Faith

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      No wonder MBF kept being pushed on me. They wanted to slide the ruler down. I had shared a life testimony and wrote reflections on every chapter of genesis, AND was in common life. I was perfect!

    • I don’t think there are so strict phases and time frames. It depends a lot on the individual and the culture, and the leaders adapt their training depending on how much “grip” they have on an individual. Typically in Germany, students graduate and marry about 10 years later than e.g. in Russia. We all underwent “soldier” and “leader” training years before graduation and marriage.

  8. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    In the 18th chapter of 2 Kings the King of Assyria tries to persuade the Israelites to compromise and give up their city. The King Hezekiah orders his people not to listen and the Israelites obey.
    It was once said that the biggest lie people ever believed was that Satan does not exist. Maybe churches shy away but I am thankful for finding a church that so easily can cite specific instances of Satan attempting to destroy God’s work. I am thankful that my good shepherd Paul was able to tell me how his work remained strong in light of some Charismatics that attempted to seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1990. I realize from this passage that everything is either God’s work or Satan’s work. Since Christ commanded us to make disciples among all nations anything that works against this is from Satan. This includes dating. I am thankful God has given me such a discerning heart to stay away from Satan here. I am thankful that God’s gift of intelligence to me makes my accidental transmission of Satan’s lies incomprehensible. I hope one day to start a house church with a good shepherdess who ends testimonies with ‘one word’ and can play piano well. I know God will provide all things in his perfect time which will incidentally align with my shepherds. I pray that God would use me as a source of blessing and that I would be a blessing to many nations as a great shepherd. I pray that I can become an Abraham of faith like Shepherd Ben, who is truly a man of God. I hope that I am never swayed by the terrible influences of Cs Lewis and St. Augustine when they conflict the clear teachings of God given through my shepherd. I pray that in resisting Satan I will learn to be obedient to God, but more importantly my shepherd- without whom I am a lost sheep apart from Christ. I sincerely repent for my rebellious actions in the Philippines. The depths of my depravity know no bounds. I have not been patient with God’s time. My prayer is that you make me a shepherd to 1 sheep, and help me to establish a house church after I finish my graduate studies.
    OneWord: Listen to my shepherd, not Satan

  9. Forests,

    Sounds like you need “New Generation Empowerment” courtesy of Germany ubf, that is if you want to be a world-class shepherd. Maybe these high quality presentations will save me from being Satan’s servant?

    2010 Leadership Forum Presentations

    Seminar 101: Introduction to Outreach and Fishing

    Seminar 102: Hardcore Contents of 1:1 Bible Study

    Seminar 103: Discipleship Explored

    Bonn UBF Public New Generation Empowerment

    • Ok now I’ve made myself nauseous. These slides literally reek with stench.

  10. I am torn between being serious and laughing. But I’m quite sure that any traditional UBFer who reads this will immediately conclude that they are being mocked, ridiculed and insulted (once they figure out and realize what is happening!).

    And then they will affirm to themselves and among themselves that they just have to be silent and don’t respond because God will surely punish all those Satans and devils who dare to insult, ridicule and mock sincere sacrificial servants of God who are giving their lives for the campus flock of God’s sheep.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      My roommate asked if this pleased Jesus (after a torrent of laughter). I quoted GK Chesterton in Heretics

      “Mr. McCabe thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because Mr. McCabe thinks that funny is the opposite of seriousness. Funny is the opposite of not funny and nothing else. The question of whether a man expresses himself in grotesque or laughable phraseology, or in stately or restrained phraseology is not a question of motive or of moral state, it is a question of instinctive language and self- expression. Whether a man chooses to tell the truth in long sentences or short jokes is a problem analogous to whether he chooses to tell the truth in French or German…The truth is,as I have said, that in this sense the two qualities of fun and seriousness have nothing to do with each other, they are no more comparable than black and triangular…In short, Mr. McCabe is under the influence of a primary fallacy which I have found very common in men of the clerical type. Numbers of clergymen have from time to time reproached me for making jokes about their religion; and they have almost always invoked the authority of that very sensible commandment which says ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Of course I pointed out that I was not in any conceivable sense taking the name in vain. To take a thing and make a joke out of it is not to take it in vain. It is on the contrary to take it and make it for an uncommonly good object.”

    • Great quote. I love GK.

      Jesus laughed a lot and if we are honest, some of the post-Pharisee discussions had to have gone down something like this post. Really, the Pharisees were angry over eating grain on the Sabbath? In any case, ubfriends is an unmasked community.

  11. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    Here is a passage from the Daily devotional I use

    “It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong…Jesus said, “Go . . . and make disciples. . .” (Matthew 28:19), not, “Make converts to your own thoughts and opinions.””

    http://utmost.org/
    (May 6th)

  12. John Y
    John Y

    I miss Lent.

    • Joe Schafer

      Admit it, John: You need people to do this (or something like it) from time to time, or your job would be even more impossible.

  13. Thanks for adding your perspective Charles. In a real sense it was mirrors like this that helped me see my own blindspots.

    As I read that training article more closely I find some really really good advice (I am being serious). For example, this seems like ubfriends material:

    “It is like eating. Food is not enjoyable if something else has already eaten it for you. Also, we are not birds who need a mother to chew and digest it for us and then give it to us to eat. After you’ve eaten, then it can be beneficial to see what others may have to say about the passage or even to compare what you wrote with theirs and learn even more. But each person should spend the sufficient time on their own with the word of God. Just you and the word of God. After that precious time, then you invite others to the eating fellowship. Others may have written something very good. Mother Barry or Dr. Lee may have written and expounded on the passage well. But surely Mother Barry or Dr. Lee would not approve of you substituting your own meditation and writing time with their meditation and writing time. They would be doing a disservice to you if that were the case. We need to come to the word of God first.”

    • My only objection to this is that SLee WOULD have approved and demanded that you substitute your own meditation and writing with theirs, at least until you are trained. That is exactly how SLee taught the other Koreans and that’s how most of my life narrative became dictated to me.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      You’re right. I shouldn’t have assumed anything about SL, especially since I only met him a few times. I guess that when I wrote “surely” I meant “I really hope.” :(

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Brian, once I went to Nigeria to assist with a local conference preparations. It was just a few days before the conference, but messengers only had copies of SL’s message for their assigned passages. As they shared their “drafts” I heard familiar phrases and even references to Chicago. So we stopped and checked their manuscripts to discover it was SL’s without any changes being made. This was the regular practice and it was quite shocking. So we asked them right away to write their own messages.

  14. Charles,

    Here is one of several things that irked me about the daily bread training article. The article teaches me to how to react to my neighbor’s minor annoyances, such as their dog pooping on my lawn. The teaching tells me to ignore it in silence and then go into my house and put my head in my bible for “daily bread.”, thinking about how much of a sinner I am.

    This is a Confucian reaction. The Christ-like reaction would not be like this, nor would the Christ-like action be to sue your neighbor. Christians would react in some loving manner. Perhaps Christ would have you go and address the issue with your neighbor, and have and chance to show love and kindness. Perhaps Christ would have you scoop up the poop every day as a witness to your neighbor and chance to live the gospel.

    I’m just really sick of seeing all the “keep face” attitudes deeply steeped in ubf teachings and people.

    • Joe Schafer

      When I read that part, I had a negative reaction against seeing the neighbors as needy people. Yes, they are needy, but so am I. Hospitality and building friendships with neighbors was impossible for me until I stopped viewing them as spiritually impoverished. I am not qualified to diagnose their level of neediness. For all I know, they may be closer to God than I am. And no one likes to be viewed in a condescending manner.

    • Yes I saw that too Joe. Why are all non-ubf people so “needy”? Why are they so “wounded”? Perhaps this helps inflate the already super-sized egos of the ubf shepherds.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Brian, thanks for pointing this out. This tells me why it’s important to get multiple reactions to our works. Honestly, this was not what I had in mind at all. My neighbor’s annoyances were anything but minor to me. To offer a revision here, my point was that in reading that passage I discovered that I was the sinner and needy one. I was so furious at them for continuing to be disrespectful and inconsiderate. I despised them. But that passage said that the one who despises his neighbor sins. I was struck to see that I was the sinner in the situation. So, I wanted to encourage more daily bread because I might discover other areas about my attitudes towards God or others that needed correction. Then, according to that verse, I could see the “needy” part of my neighbors for they do not believe in Jesus. I could only see how they bothered me, rather than other areas about them such as the need for Jesus.

  15. Joe Schafer

    A couple of hours ago, Ben shared this article on Facebook, along with the quote by Chesterton. Almost immediately, a Korean missionary “liked” it. But a short time later, he “unliked” it, probably because he began to read and understand what this thread is about.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I shared it. It was liked by John lee. I texted to ask if he had read it and he sent me back a winky face.

  16. John Y
    John Y

    My obsessive compulsiveness leads me to read every single comment. But when I wake up and see that my Feedly blog site shows 100 new blog readings (80% from UBFriends!), after getting through 100 posts yesterday, I can only sigh with a little despair…”Aargh. I can’t help it! I must get through my entire feedly list…out of principle!?! Aargh!”

    One Word: Help

  17. Sorry about this John: “my Feedly blog site shows 100 new blog readings (80% from UBFriends!), after getting through 100 posts yesterday.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/06/reflections-on-todays-daily-bread/#comment-13374

    Unlike you, I know most UBFers will absolutely refuse to read them (to their loss :D). I can’t speak for others. But I have felt fired up ever since I heard about the staff conference on Galatians, because it is the book that “changed my life” in 2009.

    I am a GHE person, a realist and a pessimist at heart. So I am not optimistic that much will change after the Galatians staff conference. But I thought that at least it is a good place start!

  18. Kevin Jesmer

    It may be me…but…is it right to knock a person’s chosen way to meditate on the word of God and make fun of it? No it is not? I get a lot benefit using the UBF daily bread as a sort of tool to meditate on the passage. I have been out of UBF for 2 years at a very good Bible church. But I still respect the daily bread format. It is hard to find such a daily bread that gets you into the text.I have truly benefited from this method of meditation…..I feel that I needed to say this.

    • Thanks Kevin and welcome. I would agree– the format is fine. Many daily devotions use a similar format. It is the content that ticks me off from time to time.

    • Joe Schafer

      Kevin, when you say that you respect the DB format, what exactly do you mean?

      In this post, I was using satire and sarcasm to raise objections to the content of the May 6 DB book entry. Did you see anything wrong with the content?

  19. Kevin Jesmer

    If we just see the passage, the enemy king was attacking their faith in God and their faith in their king. The devil does tempt us in many of the same ways. He does tempt us to not trust the Gospel, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, other Christians that serve as mentors in our lives. We must not listen to the devil, but listen to Jesus and his words. The devil can leave our minds and hearts in knots and render us powerless. But I can also see how this passage can be misused to promote unquestioning support of leaders in the church without even exploring certain issues. This is where the gift of discernment comes in. But there is the reality that the devil does try to undermine leaders..”He is so proud.” “He is leading the church in the wrong direction?”…etc. etc. Rumor mills do start that are not truthful, nor of God. We need to be very careful about all forms of the devil’s attacks, but we must also never use the word of God to simply strengthen a closed system so that people are unable to even pose a question about leaders. These are my rudimentary thoughts about the passage.

    • Joe Schafer

      Thanks, Kevin. I largely agree with you.

      The devil works in many ways. One temptation we really have to guard against is tribalism: the idea that God must be standing on the side of my denomination, my country, my political party, etc. because we are so obviously standing on God’s side trying to do his will according to the plain meaning of Scripture. If we believe that, then it logically follows that anyone who opposes me in any way must be in cahoots with the devil.

      In ubf, this is not just a theoretical possibility. I witnessed it firsthand, over and over, for three decades, going back to the early 80s. It was a major theme in SL’s messages and announcements. Whenever someone or something opposed SL in any way, he immediately characterized it as satan’s attack. They were said to be “playing satan.” Once he said that, everyone else dutifully accepted it and repeated it. I cannot count how many times I attended meetings (including DB meetings) where one person after another asserted that opposition to ubf was the devil’s work, and we had to fight against it at any cost. This happened to me at the last ubf function I attended, the North American staff conference at IUP last year. I was talking to a nice young gentleman about what he was learning in his master’s program and how it applied to urban ministry. It was a really good conversation. I said something about how the early Christians placed high emphasis on loving their enemies. A woman missionary sitting across the table from us, who had been eavesdropping on us, launched into a very loud tirade, saying “No! We hate to FIGHT against our enemies. We have to fight against SATAN!” I am not exaggerating at all. This woman was acting very, very strange. Later through conversations with my wife, we verified that she was talking about the need to fight against everyone who was criticizing ubf, because ubf is the work of God.

      If I were a betting man, I would bet good money on the chance that, on May 6 2014, at many ubf DB meetings in North America and around the world, people were implicitly or explicitly identifying the words on this website as lies of the devil, and Ben Toh, Brian Karcher and yours truly as playing the role of the Assyrian commander who was planting doubt and fear in God’s servants. Has it ever occurred to them that people on this website may be speaking a great deal of truth, calling them to repentance and faith and a closer relationship with God?

      Under the new covenant instituted by the blood of Jesus, the people of God are no longer identified as the tribes of Israel or any other tribe. They are those who love Jesus and identify with him. A key feature of the ministry of Jesus in the four gospels. continuing into Acts and the epistles, is that the gospel challenges at a very deep level our perceptions of who is in and out of the kingdom. The church has wrestled with this throughout history and continues to do so.

      Take a look at this quote that I saw today about the work of Mark Noll:

      “In chapter 2, Mark Noll presents a brilliant essay and case study of the ways that the Bible was used both to defend and oppose slavery just prior to the American Civil War. He observes that people from both sides of the argument used many of the same texts and arguments to draw opposite conclusions on a heated political issue. In the process, Noll points out a number of disturbing patterns of biblical interpretation and application.”

      “Most significantly, he highlights a tendency among Christians (from both sides of the slavery debate) to use the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as justification for their political dogmas.”

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/05/09/do-we-sacrifice-politics-by-settling-for-the-bible-jackson-wu/

      I hope that people realize that God has plenty of servants within ubf and outside of ubf. God has some servants who are actively speaking against ubf. Anytime someone uses “God’s servants” as a euphemism for people within ubf, implying that those on the outside or those opposing them cannot be serving God, they are promoting a false teaching. That is one of the devil’s lies that should not be listened to. False ideas and devilish lies can be found in many places, including this website and including ubf messages and Bible study materials. Yes, we must guard against lies when we encounter them. And we must guard against the unchristian hubris that says anything critical of my tribe is a lie.

    • Joe Schafer

      As I reflect on my experiences in ubf over 30+ years, this is my conclusion.

      The most devilish lie that should have been resisted, the single worst lie that has caused more trouble for the organization and its members than any other lie, is this.

      “If someone is criticizing or opposing us, we should close our ears and not listen to them.”

      If you look carefully at what I have written here on this post, it was that lie, and that alone, that I was attacking, using satire and sarcasm. It was not my intention to mock anyone’s spiritual practice of daily Bible reading and reflection. Daily Bible reading and reflection is a good thing. But the activity alone isn’t necessarily going to make you a better Christian; that depends on the content of your reflection and what you purport to take away from the passage. Scripture can be used to draw closer to God, but it also can be used to harden our hearts against truth and reinforce sinful thinking.

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      Here is an example of this thinking displayed in my roommate (this is from a while ago). It is the same thing as Joe mentions

      Me “Brian could not answer the question for what UBF leaders could gain by ‘identity snatching’.”

      Him “???Never heard of identity snatching. If people are acting to oppose God’s work, they don’t need a rational reason therefore. Not that I think UBF leaders are.”

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      This is an exact quote from a text message by the way.

    • forests, sharing these things is gossip. And gossip like this is part of what fuels the vicious rumor mill at ubf, and can be so easily taken out of context.

      What kind of thinking are you trying to expose? Why are you sharing these snippets of conversations?

    • “If someone is criticizing or opposing us, we should close our ears and not listen to them.”

      I can confirm that this was excatly how they dealt with the reform movement in 2001. It was the primary reason why I left UBF for good. By the way, I know from a girl who visited Sarah Barry around 2001 that she (Sarah) deleted any email that was coming from a known reform supporter, without even looking at it. And until today Sarah Barry has not answered my letter to her, even though I have been in UBF for over ten years, and sacrificed so much time, money and heartblood for her organization, which I was indoctrinated to believe was the “work of God”.

      With other words, the thing that is most troubling about UBF (and the reasons why most outsiders consider UBF a cult) is not really that there has been abuse and bad theology. This exists in other churches as well (including the Catholic church). The problem is that UBF doesn’t want to hear about it, deliberately turning a blind eye towards every report of abuse and just wait until people forget and don’t speak about it anymore. Totally ignoring the fact that Jesus called the church to be perfect, and warned her that even a little leaven could spoil the whole lump.

      And whenever we mention these things, we are told to be silent and rather speak about the many good things in UBF. Personally, I will not say a single good thing about UBF until this changes. In my view, only then the time has come to also mention the good sides.

      Isa 1:6 says about Israel: “From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness– only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.” You might object that surely there were some good things to be found in Israel at that time. Wasn’t that a bit one-sided of Isaiah, wasn’t he “bashing them” without seeing the good that was there? I’m pretty sure there were many good things to say, humanly speaking, they surely even had eager for doing God’s work. But all that doesn’t matter until a person (or group) has been “cleansed and bandaged”. This can only happen through repentance. And repentance cannot happen if you’re not willing to even listen to what you’ve done wrong.

    • Charles Wilson
      Charles Wilson

      Hi Kevin, Not to take away any truth from your comment, but when you say, “If we just see the passage…” this is where a DB summary in the UBF booklet like the one quoted in the article becomes problematic because it’s not just looking at the passage. On the surface it appears that way, but the narrow 1:1 correlation to Satan and Christians today makes it problematic. For one, the context of 2 Kings is lost. Secondly, the summary doesn’t explicitly lead to Jesus.

      Here’s what I saw: remaining silent is presented as a good thing in the summary, and listening to spiritual leaders. However, later, when Hezekiah sends people to Isaiah to get advice, he is told to not be afraid. Was Hezekiah then acting in fear and uncertainty, so he asked the people to remain silent? Was this fear and uncertainty right, or lacking in faith? This is especially important because it follows the chapter where Israel is exiled and then resettled. The verses on the re-settling emphasize that the new settlers do not know how to worship the Lord. They are confused. Then, after mentioning Hezekiah’s doing right in the Lord’s eyes, there is another explanation about Israel’s exile: not listening to the Lord’s voice. Judah is then besieged by Assyria, although Hezekiah was doing right. Why? The passage doesn’t say. However, we do see that it drove Hezekiah to Isaiah to hear the word of the Lord. Even this “spiritual leaders” had to go to someone else in time of fear and uncertainty. He had also torn his robes along with his servants.

      I find then that the emphasis is on listening to the Lord’s voice, rather than the warning to not listen to or talk to the devil (or give in to our fears, uncertainties and confusion regarding who the Lord is and his will). We can then be led to Jesus who is the truth.

  20. The inability or sheer refusal to listen to ANY critique of oneself or of one’s ministry/church is unquestionably unhealthy and can only lead to increasing pride, ego, hubris, arrogance, presumption and intolerance of anything short of glowing praise, admiration and adoration.

    Countless pastors and Christian leaders have explicitly stated that EVEN IF the critique is done maliciously and bitterly and unpleasantly, the humble Christian WILL listen to it and take to heart the content of what is being critiqued, rather than simply dismissing the entire critique because they dislike the person or the tone of the critique.

    That said, even if many older leaders absolutely refuse to read and listen to constructive critiques on UBFriends (because they don’t like the persons and the tone and the sarcasm and the humor!), I think that almost all leaders have heard enough, even if it is through disparaging, disapproving and disjointed voices.

    • “Countless pastors and Christian leaders have explicitly stated…”

      Precisely my point back in 2011 Ben. You described what Christian pastors do. My four month exit process from ubf in April to August 2011 was a test. I was seeking an answer to this question: Is there any Christian pastor anywhere in Toledo ubf?

      I found that there were no Christian pastors in Toledo ubf. Not a single person reacted as a Christian pastor would act. I did find some Christians though, who did react in a Christ-like manner, namely my good friends M&M, who are also gone.

      So having found no Christian pastor in Toledo ubf, I resigned. Then I waited until 2012 was over to see if there was any Christian pastor in ubf at all. I was still quite open to returning and aiding in the healing and reconciliation of ubf.

      What I found then was you Ben, and Joe, are indeed Christian pastors. I found quite a few Christians in ubf. But among the elders and leaders I found no Christian pastor. Perhaps there are some, but I don’t know about them. Surely Ben and Joe are not the only Christian pastors in ubf, but identifying the others is problematic.

      ubf is in a very dangerous position right now:

      1. They claim to be a Christian missionary network but have primarily trained people to do anti-missionary work.

      2. They are calling long-time members as “elders” who have no clue about biblical eldership.

      3. They are calling all chapter directors and other missionaries as “pastor” who have no clue about Christian pastoring or counselling.

    • So both questions are in need of considering:

      Is ubf acting like a cult?
      Is ubf acting like a Christian church?

    • Joe Schafer

      4. They have a large number of people who have been designated as “leaders” merely because of their willingness to obey and comply, while those who have shown actual qualities of leadership have been systematically marginalized and driven out.

  21. Joe, I’m replying to your comment above. I think that what you’ve stated here is related to some of the assertions you put forth in the comment section of the LGBT book review post. You said:

    What sort of litmus tests are appropriate for people to teach? And what is the role of a teacher within a church context anyway? Personally I think it is far healthier for leaders to think of themselves as facilitators rather than authorities who dispense correct knowledge and doctrine. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/03/book-review-god-and-the-gay-christian/#sthash.7qEHvnW9.dpuf

    and also

    Isn’t it noteworthy that, when the apostle Paul speaks of requirements for pastors and elders, he doesn’t impose lots of doctrinal tests? Rather, he focuses on personal character and behavior, citizenship, quality of relationships and family life. – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/03/book-review-god-and-the-gay-christian/#sthash.7qEHvnW9.dpuf

    My opinion is that you have to take a both-and approach in the case of deeming someone a qualified teacher within the church (after all, Paul says as much in Titus 1:5-9). The problem I see within UBF of spreading teachings that demonize detractors or critics stems from both doctrinal ignorance as well as character flaws in the leaders which have remained unaddressed. I’m not sure which came first in the case of UBF, though I’m sure that many will say that because of certain character defects within Samuel Lee, he failed to promote a healthy and robust view of ministry and in turn this directly affected the leadership he appointed.

    If we take a stance and say that teachers should mainly be facilitators, then it makes it very difficult to do what Paul says in 2 Cor 10:5-6. Specifically we want to reveal Christ in all of our teaching; this also means that we must accept that Christ taught some definite truths which we can call trustworthy doctrine.

    This is what I see happening in UBF these days: People are finally beginning to seriously value the study of church history and systematic theology. In addition to this, older leaders are beginning to realize the devastation that some of Samuel Lee’s teachings have caused and are personally repenting; I see palpable evidence of serious introspection occurring within these people. At the same time, they are still trying to hold onto the right teachings that he held. This tandem of doctrinal and personal-inward renewal is creating a more open atmosphere within UBF (at least where I am at in Chicago). I’m sure that some key leaders and many missionaries are still stuck in a romanticized depiction of UBF and thus they are doubling down, but something tells me that a new movement in UBF is beginning to shake the old foundation of what once was. This is just what I see from my locale. I don’t want to presume that wide-sweeping reform is going to occur, but I see evidence of change coming.

    • note, this is a reply to your comment:

      The most devilish lie that should have been resisted, the single worst lie that has caused more trouble for the organization and its members than any other lie, is this. “If someone is criticizing or opposing us, we should close our ears and not listen to them.” – See more at: http://www.ubfriends.org/2014/05/06/reflections-on-todays-daily-bread/#comment-13485

    • That lie is ultimately a lack of confidence in the gospel of God’s grace, for it is nothing but a blind insistence that says, “I am always right and you are always wrong.”

    • Joe Schafer

      David, I know that in the pastoral letters, Paul says that leaders must uphold sound doctrine. But he doesn’t give lists of the doctrines that he considered to be essential. In my experience, when people today talk about maintaining “sound doctrine,” they place into that category all sorts of things (e.g. inerrancy of scripture) that caused churches to split in recent times but were not part of the essential creeds of the church that the early Christians confessed.

      We shouldn’t assume that the word doctrine means the same thing to us as it did to Paul.

      What, in your opinion, are the sound doctrines that must be upheld?

      I find it noteworthy that Paul, in his requirements for leadership, does spend most of his words on relational matters. I’ve known many people who maintain all sorts of doctrinal positions that they consider to be sound, and yet lack the basic relational skills, ability to listen, respect for others’ opinions, ability to navigate conflict, etc. that at the end of the day may determine whether a ministry succeeds or fails.

      My sense is that the notion of sound doctrine in Paul’s day had a lot more to do with how people treat one another than it does today. Some of Paul’s doctrinal tests were probably relational criteria.

      My thinking on this has been shaped by various authors including Leonard Sweet, who wrote this gem.

      http://www.amazon.com/What-Matters-Most-Missed-Person/dp/0307730573/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399653919&sr=1-5&keywords=leonard+sweet+books

    • Joe Schafer

      And David, when I suggested that teachers should see themselves as facilitators, I did not mean that a church should be devoid of preaching or proclamation. There is a role for proclamation, especially on topics that lie at the core of the Christian faith. I was thinking about the huge number of people in UBF who call themselves “Bible teachers” yet teach all sorts of questionable things. It would be better for them to see themselves as facilitators.

      And I had in mind the kind of constructivist model for teaching espoused by great modern teachers like Parker Palmer.

      http://www.amazon.com/Courage-Teach-Exploring-Landscape-Anniversary/dp/0787996866/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399654387&sr=1-1&keywords=palmer+courage+teach

    • Joe, I think that I’m tracking with you here. I agree that what passes as doctrine today is, in some cases, a distortion of what Paul meant in his time. When I personally refer to doctrine, I mean the statements that Jesus’ made, some of which Paul quoted such as, “it is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). Also, the many statements Jesus made, namely in John, prefaced with the phrase “I tell you the truth” or “truly, truly”. Jesus was indicated that what he was about to say was utterly trustworthy. These were almost always statements about himself or the work that the Father gave him to do. He related key aspects of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to his listeners. Thus the truth statements that Jesus laid down were inextricably relational in nature, rather than sophistic or rational arguments. This aspect of his statements helps me to understand why Paul placed litmus tests of good character on positions like elder or overseer; theology must have an impact on our relationship with God and others or else it is merely speculative philosophy. Paul contrasted Christ’s doctrine with that of the Greeks in his day; to him, Christ’s doctrine had real power because it effected change on a deeply personal and ultimately interpersonal level. It dispelled long-held myths and notions about reality which deviated from the knowledge of the Trinitarian God who by nature is love. One of the turning points in my Christian life was when I heard John’s words:

      “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

      From this point I realized that doctrine which does not help us to engender love between Christian brothers and sisters is utter refuse and actually leads us away from God.

    • Joe Schafer

      Agree 110%. By the way, I think that you are one of the best examples of someone in ubf who IS qualified to teach. In a sensible organization, people like you would be entrusted with real responsibility.

    • dude, you just made my day :)

    • Btw, in our present day some people think that constructs such as the Apostles’ Creed are meant to reinforce doctrinal facts about Christianity. In some sense this is true. But Justo Gonzalez indicates in his book The Story of Christianity that the creed was originally devised as a sort of litmus test which would indicate if one was a true Christian or not. At the heart of the creed is an affirmation of the Trinitarian God as well as the hypostatic nature of the Son. If you were a Gnostic Christian in the early church, you would refuse to cite this creed and thus were not counted with the body of believers. My prayer is that in UBF, as we cite this Creed (as we have been doing at SWS for a few years now) we would understand the deeply relational nature of the God that we are encountering together. Our misperceptions of this God are perhaps the core of the problem with the ministry.

    • One other thing I realized is that some of Paul’s epistles predate the written gospel accounts (e.g., Galatians and Thessalonians). Therefore, when Paul spoke of Scripture or doctrine he no doubt was referring to the OT canon. Still, as evidenced by his epistles, he interpreted it largely in a christotelic manner, i.e. how Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of it. Put another way, he didn’t simply take a given OT narrative or passage and proceed to extract parts of the text which could then be fashioned into abstract or even deistic truth statements; he did glean general wisdom from the OT (Deut 25:4; although even this relates to Christ’s body), but in most cases Christ was always the point. The daily bread is a good example of a failure to do just that. For those out there who are familiar with the term christotelic, let me know if this definition suffices:

      “A Christotelic approach is an attempt to look at the centrality of Christ for hermeneutics in a slightly different way. It asks not so much, “How does this OT passage, episode, figure, etc., lead to Christ?” To read the OT “Christotelicly” is to read it already knowing that Christ is somehow the end (telos) to which the OT story is heading; in other words, to read the OT in light of the exclamation point of the history of revelation, the death and resurrection of Christ.” – Peter Enns

    • Joe Schafer

      David, I like your comments. In my mind, a Christocentric reading of the Bible looks for pictures and types of Jesus and the gospel throughout the OT, as if the purpose of every book of the Bible is to describe Christ. There are plenty of these pictures in the OT, for sure. But sometimes I get the impression that, if we take this to an extreme (as some of the early church fathers did) we ignore too much of the original context. The Christotelic reading that you described is what I now strive to do.

  22. DavidW, that’s great to hear. I think the role of bigbear and myself, as well as this website at the moment, has been to be the “stop sign” and “road closed sign” for ubf. What we’ve said is the traditional, SLee-created ubf heritage road is closed. A small number of ubfers seem to be ignoring our warnings, but it would seem, if you are correct, that more and more ubfers are heeding our warning and going down a different path.

    Here is the painful reality that I and the other dozens of former ubf members have to face: ubf is simply not healthy enough to help us.

    I know I fell into the trap of expecting ubf to help me and my family after we left. But that isn’t going to happen. So now we’ve long since looked elsewhere for our psychological and emotional and spiritual health and recovery. Most of our friends in Toledo ubf did the same. And even the people still at Toledo ubf have done a similar thing–they sought out a biblical counselor to help the main leading families.

    I have had to come to terms with ubf people ignoring former members in order to get healthy themselves and do the things you mention DavidW. This will take decades. I don’t expect ubf to be healthy enough to reconcile with me in my lifetime. I am at peace knowing that the main reason this situation exists is because many more in ubf are actually seeking to recover.

    While some may still be ignoring me and ubfriends because they think I am a satanic anti-Christ (shunning us), my hope is the silence and lack of interaction is due to all of us seeking our recovery and spiritual health.

    • Well said, Brian. Statements like this remind me of how deep the wounds caused by abuse and mistreatment run in both current and ex-UBF members. The part I genuinely cherish about this forum is that it provides a space to collectively enter into and share in this pain. I’m sorry if I sounded dismissive earlier; I didn’t want the critiques or comments to stop per se, but I felt as though they were not conducive to true reconciliation. But I could be wrong. In any case, I am truly thankful that some have had the wherewithal to seek help outside of UBF in order to untangle the convoluted mess they inherited from the ministry. We need to say a prayer for those who have not had this realization yet.

    • Thanks David. I appreciate you and JohnY for “keeping us honest” :)

  23. Joe Schafer

    Will any UBFriends readers be going to the DB Writers’ Annual Meeting?

    http://ubf.org/content/daily-bread-writers-annual-meeting-will-be-may-26

    If so, perhaps you might want to talk about the DB page on May 6, 2014, a day that will live in infamy.

    • Looks like another exercise in incurvatus-in-se methods:

      “This meeting will be meaningful with self-education…”

  24. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    I will.

    • Are you going to the DB Writers’ Annual Meeting on May 26?

    • Joe Schafer

      I think he just said yes.

      Let’s do him and ubf a service by listing, in a calm, reasonable and non-satirical and non-sarcastic way, the practices that DB writers need to avoid if they want to improve DB. They should stop saying these things and even stop thinking these things.

      1. Stop using Old Testament warfare as a metaphor for campus ministry and evangelism.

      2. Stop looking at each short passage in isolation, at a micro level thinking that it must be giving us a moral lesson or advice on how to live today. As Charles and David have shown, we need to constantly keep in mind the whole story of each book and the whole sweep of the Bible in a Christotelic fashion.

      UBFriends readers: please add to this list.

    • Joe Schafer

      In case you haven’t yet seen this video on how to read the Bible…

      It may be the most useful seven minutes you will ever spend on that topic.

      The Whole Sweep of Scripture, by N.T. Wright. from Reality Adorn on Vimeo.

      My favorite part of the video is the window analogy beginning at 5:15.

  25. big bear

    3. Think of the whole body of Christ not us against them mentality.

    4. Pray to lift others up in love and pray for families

    5. Ask God to free you from thinking as a UBF person or write DB with some ministry agenda just enjoy God and let Hom speak..take a back seat.

  26. 6. Stop making Daily Bread purchases mandatory (And make it clear is this an offering or actual cost?) This is especially true for families who may only want 1 copy. And if you charge for it, don’t make it free on the internet (maybe that practice stopped?)

    7. Stop publishing the names of all the “growing sheep” in the DB booklet… oh wait that practice stopped already, my bad.

    8. Stop making ubf db exclusive, i.e. read many other good devotions and encourage everyone to find a daily devotion suited to their lifestyle.

    9. Accept those who don’t want to “do daily bread” as equals and not as inferior backsliders.

    10. Stop requiring daily bread to be only in the morning; daily devotion can be anytime and take on a multitude of formats.

    11. Admit that the original daily bread was plagiarized.

    12. Start quoting Christian authors, both present and current, so that the theology holes might start to be mended.

  27. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    I will form a list of questions to ask. Some of these questions suggested seem unwise to ask, if not unreasonable. What good does asking them to admit it was plagiarized do? Honestly? It just makes me come off as offensive and doesn’t really move things forward. The two major things I thought of before even consulting this list were the first two points Joe brought up. As far as I know DB purchases are not mandatory, the Philippines didn’t use the books. It might be “mandatory” in the sense that not getting it makes you seem less obedient, but I don’t think anything I could say or suggest would either prove that or change that. That follows for many other points. I want to point at concrete issues. If I start accusing people are making claims I cannot know (but only hearsay) then my other questions won’t really make a difference. For example BK, your point 10 is something my chapter allows. I know that certain missionaries are asked to lead on a weekly basis. One thing I want to ask is how many people read the passage before it gets published. It could be the case that some old guy in a back room makes these and it’s seen by one editor and not checked for content. So we have a devotional that is from one UBF member who has a very specific view of Christianity. I don’t think this is preferable.

    • Joe Schafer

      Forests, I agree with your suggestions. You will need to choose your battles wisely. A list of ten points is easy to dismiss. But one or two well argued points might actually make a difference.

      It may not enough to convince DB writers not to do something unless they are shown a compelling alternative.

      For example, take my point #1: “Stop using Old Testament warfare as a metaphor for campus ministry and evangelism.” People need to understand why this practice is inappropriate. And they need to be shown better ways by example, because that metaphor is so deeply ingrained in the ubf culture that many people have no idea how to interpret those passages any other way. I started to do this in an article I wrote back in 2012, but there is much, much more that could and should be said.

    • Forest, I gave my suggestions as something they should consider. I do NOT recommend using this list of questions under any circumstances. It would not go well for you at all. Joe’s advice is best.

  28. big bear

    Forests..I second that use Joe applications..just fyi to you

  29. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    I will post this without comment:

    “King Josiah made a decision to follow the Lord and obey his commands faithfully. He read the Bible to the people and they renewed their covenant with God.”

    • forestsfailyou
      forestsfailyou

      I also really enjoyed this “Lord, raise devoted leaders who bring needed spiritual reform.”

  30. Here’s a tip for anyone who doesn’t want to pay the “daily bread tax”. It is available online for free.

    Note how today’s entry continues to propagate the ubf hamster wheel “gospel” that is void of Jesus and the grace of God. The real teachings from these things are always in the “prayer” section. That is what you memorize if you want to avoid rebuke for not “doing” daily bread.

    “Lord, give our leaders a spirit of sincere repentance so that our nation may not invite your judgment. Help me to fear you and obey your commands.”

    Fearing the Lord is not something we need the Lord’s help with. Know what the most repeated command in the bible is? DO NOT BE AFRAID.

    So here again we find the gospel of Jesus if we just do the opposite of what the ubf daily bread advises.

    • Brian, this prayer sounds almost good if you replace “nation” with “church”. It should also be “them” instead of “me” in the second sentence, so that the two sentences fit together.