So you are not even going to try to obey God’s Law? Nope. Not even a little? No. Aren’t you afraid of backsliding? No. Don’t you fear God? Not anymore, no. Aren’t you afraid of drifting away from God? No. Don’t you miss fellowship with God’s people? Not really, no. Are you a Christian? Yes, I consider myself a Christ-follower. Don’t you want a faith community? Someday yes, but not now. Why aren’t you going to even try to obey God? Well let me explain some things I’ve learned as a Christian outsider.
N.T. Wright’s study guide is remarkably easy to understand and yet opens doors of deep thought. Section 1 is entitled “The God of all Comfort”. Clearly the first major theme Paul introduces is that of comfort. God is the God of all comfort. I’ve been thinking about that one word the past couple weeks–comfort. Comfort means “a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint; the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” Here are my thoughts on this first study guide and on 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:4.
Right now, I’m on the road. This summer I visited three different countries over the span of 6 weeks. It is tiring living out of a suitcase, but the good thing is that I have a lot of alone time. Travelling alone is a time of privilege to examine one’s life. If you have the financial means, I highly recommend it. Basically, I’ve been reading, thinking a lot and also spending a lot of my time watching TED talks. I wanted to share one in particular about leadership because Dr. Ben asked me to and because I feel like its message is applicable to anyone who wants to live a life that challenges the status quo. It is called “How great leaders inspire action” by Simon Sinek.
Is the older brother a “bad” sinner? For over two decades, whenever I studied the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32), I fully understood and resonated with the (disgusting immoral) sins of the younger son: selfishness, greed, lust, licentiousness, promiscuity, spendthrift, disrespectful, inconsideration, fatalism, hedonism and the like. But with the older son, I might say or think, “Oh yeah, he’s a sinner too, but he doesn’t seem that bad. He’s kinda rude to his dad. He didn’t like his younger brother moving back home. At least he kept going to church (stayed at home with his father) and he didn’t sleep around with prostitutes (which is a big deal!).” I did not understand “older brother sins,” as I did “younger brother sins.” Last year I tried to address The Sins of Older Christians, i.e. ME! Continue reading →
Bible study. Questions. These things surprisingly still invoke a mild fight-or-flight response in me. Can I trust the study guide? What ideology are these questions imposing on me? It has taken me more than three years to embark on an actual bible study with an official study guide. Yes I have been doing my own bible reading and did a personal study of the books of Job, Hebrews, Romans and Galatians these past three years. But these were just my own loose study. I was able to participate in a few bible study groups at our new local church, such as their “Be Armed!” study. Those were helpful and had study guides, but were disconnected from the direct text of the bible.
I have found that my own, no-pressure bible reading and the group topical bible studies are very enjoyable, challenging and helpful. Those approaches to bible study gave me time to process my own belief system, rather than dictate a belief system to me. But now I want more; I want to get closer to the bible text and enrich my personal faith fabric. So I’ve decided to learn from and trust N.T. Wright and his study guide on 2 Corinthians. So far this has been a good decision.
A friend asked me to preach a sermon on “Kingdom and Church.” This sounded rather broad and abstract. I wanted to decline because I have no idea what to say! But I remembered a quote: “If you’re asked to do something good, say ‘Yes’ first (which I did), and after that figure out how.” So, now I’m trying to figure out how to preach this sermon this Sunday! Do help me out.
The word translated “kingdom” (βασιλεία – basileia) is used 162 times in the NT, while “church” (ἐκκλησία– ekklēsia) is used 115 times. Both are significant themes in the Bible. Kingdom has the meaning of a territory under the rule of a king, while “church” means an assembly, a congregation, a gathering of people. Rather than expound theologically on Kingdom and Church (boring), I’ll share how I experienced the Kingdom (God) through the Church (people). Continue reading →
One of the freedoms I have been enjoying is the new-found freedom to work out my personal belief system as a bible learner. I started by believing only one thing: grace. My personal bible study continues with 2 Corinthians, the next book on my study journey. Perhaps you would share this study with me? Your input would be much appreciated. I think together we can reach much deeper and more accurate pictures of what God is communicating through the bible as we check each other’s blind spots, share our stories and explore the Holy Scriptures.
The most important aspect everyone needs to understand about UBF ministry is the six-stage training process. When I joined in 1987, no one had ever documented such a thing. But as I look back, I can clearly see all six stages. Everyone’s experience is different. Yet all UBF people should readily recognize these six stages. The following slide describes the UBF training model, and has been shared publicly by UBF from their 2010 Fishing and Outreach Director’s Conference. This is the most accurate depiction of my 24 years at UBF I’ve ever seen.
Did you attend the latest ubf staff conference? What is your reaction to this conference? How do you feel about it? Here is my reaction to the Sunday lecture by Daniel Lee.
Marking anniversaries. I can’t help it! ubf conditioned me to mark each year and to write my own history. Each conference was so historical! But my wife and I noticed one glaring absence from this history-making: our wedding anniversary. We realized that even though we privately marked our wedding anniversary, our ubf community almost never celebrated such a thing. Wedding anniversaries, like all supposedly unspiritual family-centered activities at ubf, were acknowledged but not celebrated. In the ubf KOPAHN system, the number of years you have been studying the bible at ubf is far more important than the number of years you have been married. For example, I noticed that Christians I meet now often ask “How long have you been married?” ubf people ask (in Konglish no matter your native language) “How long have you been studying bible at ubf?” when they first meet someone. So today I want to share some sogamic reflections with you as my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.