Empathy. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I am blessed and cursed with empathy. It’s one of my top 5 strengths based on multiple personality tests. Empathy is a curse for me because I readily understand the feelings of other people but I have almost no ability to express those feelings. This drives my wife crazy and creates much agony for me. I am finding some relief however through writing books. Some have asked me why I don’t understand the views of the Korean missionaries and criticize them so much. Well, I only criticize after knowing how they feel and figuring out what I believe will help them. For 24 years I walked in the shoes of Korean missionaries. Then I started walking in the shoes of former members.
Today I would like to share with you the most impressive example of empathy I’ve yet come across. If I am blessed with empathy, then my new friend Timothy Kurek is doubly blessed. Timothy Kurek is the author of The Cross in the Closet. Recently he did a TedTalk. Please listen to his story of empathy as it is highly applicable to our UBF situation. Can you walk in the shoes of a former member?
The defining question of the church in our generation, like it or not, has become this: What is your view on homosexuality? So instead of pretending this question is resolved or superficial or even clear-cut, I and others have been working to “have the conversation”. Today I want to begin sharing the outline of my four-part presentation that I developed as a result of attending the Reformation Project Leadership cohort in Washington D.C., led by Matthew Vines. This conversation is difficult to have in many churches because the topic of homosexuality lies at a somewhat odd and often dismissed intersection of sexuality and the gospel. Here is part 1 of my presentation, the introduction.
We are a few weeks away from the Midwest conference. The questionnaires were carefully made and chosen. I have developed below some other notes on the passage Matthew 9:1-13
In this passage our Lord is brought a man who is paralyzed. After proclaiming his sins are healed Jewish leaders accuse him of blasphemy. At this Jesus heals the man and sends him away. The second part is on the calling of Matthew.
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Someone astutely pointed out here in the latest blitzkrieg of comments that one key issue between many of those who criticize ubf and many of those who promote ubf is the view of the gospel. Over the years, ubfriends has discussed the gospel quite a lot, and yet such articles about the gospel tend to generate very few comments. Should we not have a clear understanding of the gospel if we claim to be a Christian? I say yes.
A bit of disclosure is in order here: Since September of last year, I haven’t been attending church on a weekly basis. I’ve attended Catholic Mass a few times and have taken communion and have also had ongoing conversations about the Bible and life with others and have done my own personal study on biblical topics, but nothing like being plugged into a faith community on a regular basis. To some this may be disconcerting or off-putting, like who takes a half a year off of church and then preaches a sermon? But I thank Rhoel for reaching out to me and befriending and simply talking to me on a human-to-human level. One thing that I really appreciate about the West Loop community is you all’s desire to understand and practice the gospel in a loving manner. So I thank you all for accepting me and giving me the privilege to speak here today. I don’t take this lightly and I don’t want to waste your time, but instead I want to hopefully communicate an important point about the gospel that I think we, including myself, often miss. I’ll attempt to make my point in thirty minutes or less and end with a nice cherry on top which is an example from my own life.
Scapegoating, Ignatian spiritual practice, and the subversive gospels of Passion Sunday and Good Friday
The recent film Kill the Messenger is based on the true story of a reporter named Gary Webb who worked for a mid-sized newspaper during the 1990’s. By chance, Webb received a document revealing that the federal government supported a trafficker who brought large amounts of drugs into the United States. As Webb investigated the matter, he found evidence that the spread of crack cocaine, an epidemic that blighted American cities during the 1980s, was fueled by operatives of the CIA who sold the drug to support the military operations of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
The closing testimonies at Campus night last Friday were given by Moses Noah, Jim Rabchuk, and Ron Ward. The title on the program was “Campus mission, my family, and my profession.” The slide presented was the above. I was slightly irritated by this slide, since it ignored family and excluded any mention of Christ. And that was also their point.
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Ok so my “indefinite time away” turned out to be not so long. It’s been 10 days since I commented here, and 2 weeks since I posted an article. New world records! It has been a crazy time off, having to deal with the emtional angst of finding out yet another abuse story that has not been dealt with properly by the ubf echelon. But onto today’s topic: affirming gospel messages in culture.
Did I miscommunicate biblical faith? I used to make such statements 100s of times to countless Bible students for over a quarter of a century….especially to those who are single and in (restrained desire and) need of a spouse! I am so sorry for all those I did this too… I realize that inherent in such seemingly “innocent” and “cute” statements is that it could be provocative and possibly misleading and miscommunicating biblical faith. Continue reading →
It was a day late in late summer. The light streamed through the window into a room with several high school students. Two Chinese girls sat on a couch and next to then two African American students, next two them two girls who looked to be sisters and near the door a boy with glasses. The Roots played quietly in the background. A man in his early 20’s asked everyone the topic of the night.