As someone suggested, I decided to blog some of the content of my two books online. Each book is about 100 pages, so I decided to just blog important sections of each book. If you are struggling as a UBF member to understand what is happening to your life or if you are an ex UBF member who is suddenly faced with post-traumatic stress symptoms after leaving UBF, I urge you to consider reading my books. There is a lot going on at UBF ministry that has nothing to do with Christianity or the bible.
As a follow up to an article I didn’t write I think it only apt to say that Galatians Set Me Free From Legalism was the best article I never wrote. That aside, I brought this up with my friend Steven, a seminary graduate. We had a long conversation about my time in UBF and I discussed how I believed that my chapter supported a legalism that was not in line with Paul’s letter to the Galatians. I did not expect him to disagree with me.
Yesterday, a graduate student who met me for Bible study for the first time asked, “What do you do when you feel disconnected with God? Distant from God? When you are not motivated to read the Bible? When you are overwhelmed by life’s uncertainties and the daily pressures of life?” This is an abridged paraphrase of my spontaneous response to her as a Christian. (If she were not a professing Christian, I would likely respond differently.) I basically encouraged her to:
- Trust God, not yourself (Prov 3:5).
- Love God and others (Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31).
- Believe that God is good (Rom 8:28).
In my sermon yesterday (5/25/14), C is for Community, I shared extemporaneously about “wish dream,” a phrase coined by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic Life Together. Frank Viola, Christian author and blogger, says that the wish dream is “one of the most profound and helpful things that Bonhoeffer ever wrote.” This applies to any church, (Christian) community or relationship.
Today I woke up with John 10 on my mind, and immediately I began thinking of my comments about being baptized by Pastor Wayne. When I re-read the comments on my book narratives, I realized there is something I need to expound on that I only touched on in my first book. In fact, this morning I feel strongly that I should make a public apology to all Christian pastors. In the past three years, I’ve met 9 ordained Christian pastors outside of ubf from various churches in person and spoken with them at length: Bryan, Wayne, Steve, Doug, Bill, Greg, George, John and David. I’ve also interacted with at least a dozen other pastors online in various forms. I feel compelled this morning to share some of what I’ve learned.
The last and longest narrative in my book, Rest Unleashed: The Raven Narratives, is my story. So far, my journey has begun with considering forgiveness and the gospel of Jesus. I found a tremendous amount of rest for my mind and heart through those narratives. The most rest however came from telling my life story from my perspective. I refused to do two things when telling my life story. One, I would not spin tall tales and would speak as much as possible without any mask or pretense. Two, I would not cut out my ubf experiences and would not see such experiences as purely negative. I titled this last narrative: “Resting in my life”.
My journey continues by considering the gospel of Jesus. Narrative 2 expresses my seeking answers to one massive question: What is the gospel? I know the easy answers. I want a deeper understanding. If the gospel is so liberating, why do I feel so guilty all the time? That question spun through my mind day after day while at UBF.
Based on DavidW’s advice in his recent article, I decided to “blog my books” here. So I’ll present three articles for each of my two books over the next several weeks. Each article will mainly be a direct quote of some pages in the books. The theme of narrative 1 in my book Rest Unleashed: The Raven Narratives is forgiveness. Thus my journey begins with considering forgiveness. Enjoy.
How could he know? That question surfaced in my mind over and over again as I read Robb Ryerse’s new book, Fundamorphosis. How could someone I never met, who lives many miles away, who has an entirely different background than me, who is a Brown’s fan for crying out loud– how could such a person experience nearly the same kind of transformation that I have been going through? The answer is straightforward: God is transforming cocooned Christians in our generation.
Our purpose is to foster open interpersonal communication on spiritual matters that leads to Christian community:
Christ + Communication = Unity
Unity is not the same thing as uniformity. Christians do not all think alike. There are some basic beliefs that we hold in common, but there is a diversity of opinion on many issues within the Body of Christ. As the gospel welcomes people of every tribe and tongue and nation, it also challenges us to stretch ourselves beyond what is comfortable. The degree to which we imitate Christ is not measured by how much we love those who are similar to us, but by how much we embrace those who are different.