The new year period is usually a hopeful time. After reading the 2016 New Year key verse lecture from Toledo UBF, it is clear that they are still lost in a fog of confusion. I felt very depressed after reading their key verse lecture, sort of like the feeling of a hangover after a depressing new year bash. Here is my review.
Title of lecture: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
Date of lecture: January 2016
Chapter: Toledo UBF (given by one of the American co-chapter directors)
Bible Text: 2 Peter 3:17-18
Beginning with confusion
The lecture begins with an attempt to share a clever story about a boy trying to hitting a ball. He thinks he is a batter, but after failing, concludes he really is a pitcher. The thought never occurs to him that maybe he should not be playing baseball…
“Today is the 1st Sunday of a new year, and as we look back over the last 12 months, I’m not sure whether most of us would be considered pitchers or batters. Sometimes, I felt like I was hitting, but to be honest most of the time I felt like I was striking out. I don’t know if you felt the same. But like the boy in the story our perspective matters. At the beginning of the year, it’s a good time to readjust our perspective. Maybe what I, thought was striking out was really just God helping me to see things from a different point of view. As we look back, one thing is for sure, whether we were hitting home runs or striking out, the grace of God was with us.”
Springboarding into Hagiography
After the odd baseball story, the lecturer jumps into several pages of events that happened to specific people in the ministry. The events are of course chosen very carefully, making the year 2015 sound amazingly extraordinary. Any negative events were of course overcome by “prayers”. This glorious look back is common in ubf chapters, and all insiders knew this would not be a lecture about the Bible text, but a review of personal and ministry events.
This lecturer is blinded by UBFism. As an American, he has created better-sounding language. Still he confirms the key point of UBFism, which is to obediently soldier on and ignore your emotional and psychological burn out. He also confirms the cult control UBFism seeks to place on your life decisions:
“Certainly the seeking and saving grace of Jesus was with us. At the same time, I also began to sense that some of our co-workers including myself, often felt tired or burnt out. There often seemed to be so many things on our plates all at the same time. But when we came back and remembered the grace of Jesus, we could again pick up our crosses and move ahead. It also seemed that many of us were confronted with difficult decisions, where to study, who to marry, where to work, how to raise our children and so on. For this we also needed Godly wisdom and knowledge. “
This lecture does have some average theological musings. Nothing here is moving or inspiring, but at least this is some decent exposition:
“2nd Peter 3:18 is essentially Peter’s swan song. In his final words he reminds his readers of Christ’s return. He writes to all believers who face a world hostile to the gospel and urges them to live godly and holy lives while looking forward to the Lord’s return. He also warns them to be on guard against false teachings and to defend the gospel. How do we do all this? He summarizes this direction for our Christian life in the final verse, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
As with all ubf lecturers, he cannot help emphasizing obedience. His explanation of “growing” and “spiritual growth’ are highly confusing. How in the world can you grow and not change? This is what UBFism is all about. Just obey, don’t change and then call that obedience “growing”.
“Here in the Bible, the word grow does not mean to “change” but literally translated it means, “add thereto.” But what is it we are adding two. In the 1st chapter of this book we see that everything we need comes from Christ and His divine power. Christ is the foundation in which we build upon. And it is faith in Christ which is the prerequisite for growth. You have to have faith in Christ, then through faith and obedience we begin to grow. It’s the will of God for us to be a growing Christians.”
I felt really sick when I read these parts. The arrogance is a stench that reaches the heavens:
“Honestly, I was a little surprised this year when at one of the staff meetings, only 2 out of 10 of our UBF senior missionaries could even name a single prophesy of Ezekiel. So maybe this year go a little deeper. Maybe study some systematic theology or some Bible prophecy or read some books on Christian history or whatever, but let’s challenge ourselves to get into the word of God.”
As the co-Chapter Director, he does not have to do all the normal ubf stuff. This paragraph is more arrogance and a slap in the face to all the “sheep” who endure the things he excuses himself from doing:
“Personally, when I look how I spent my time last year. Mostly it was not attending meetings, or meeting with others, or studying 1:1. Mostly my time revolved around adding on my house, my work and my own personal Bible study. I listened to hundreds of hours of audio messages and Christian commentaries on my way to and from work every day. Beyond the ministry passages, I did my own in depth studies of Acts, Philippines and Jonah. This year I am planning to study, Proverbs, Eccelsiaties, Galatians and the book of Ruth. And my big challenge this year is to digest Systematic Theology. I’m not trying to brag or something. I’m a pastor, so I especially need to go deeper. I’m letting you know, because I need your prayer support. This really is my main prayer topic. Go deeper into the word of God. “
Ending with a Cheer for Glory!
The conclusion is the typical ubf cheerleader rant for glory, glory and more glory… if we get any more glory we might just die…
“Therefore, let us not look back, but press on toward the goal, setting our heart and mind toward heaven. Let us pray that this year may be a year of healthy growth for us personally and as a ministry. May His grace abound so that we do not become weary in doing good. May His knowledge fill our heart so that we may make godly choices that honor him. Ultimately, as Peter said, “To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
This last sentence is very important. This is why we grow. It is not merely for our own maturity or spiritual well-being. Or even so that we might store up treasure in heaven. But ultimately, our spiritual growth is to bring glory to God by living God lives now and forever.”
This messenger doesn’t know what he is doing. He has major flaws in his understanding of the material he is presenting. He doesn’t speak or write well. Typically this kind of messenger is just putting on a show, trying to perform. These messages are just lectures giving information. This messenger has a lot of learning to do and really shouldn’t be in the pulpit.
1. Definition: almost no details are explained about the problem
2. Purpose: the purpose is not explained and requires individual repentance
3. Scope: the problem is found in some of us
4. Research: the viewpoints of other people are dismissed and disparaged
5. Strategy: vague solutions are presented and not explained
6. Results: the picture of how we will be better is vaguely painted