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    5 Reasons You Should Be at UBC Tomorrow

    Next week, every college or university in the Fort Worth area will kick off the fall semester. It's been incredibly exciting to see students arrive at TCU, which is directly across from our church campus. The neighborhood is gaining new life.

    I love the fall.

    University Baptist Church is located at 2720 Wabash Street. Our front doors face Cantey, just a stone's throw from Sherley Hall. Tomorrow, we'll welcome new and returning students to Fort Worth, and host a free lunch immediately following worship.

    Here's 5 reasons you should be at UBC tomorrow: 

    1. We love students! UBC is building a Christian community where students are transformed by the love of Christ. We'll know your name, your story, and do everything we can to help you feel part of our church family.
    2. You can check out our College Bible Study at 9:30 am in Room 200, or join us in worship at 10:30 in the Sanctuary. Ask a friendly church member for help in navigating our building, or find someone in a red shirt and ask for directions!
    3. You'll hear the plan for our common life in the coming year. There will be opportunities to learn, grow, lead, and follow Christ. You can plug in.
    4. You'll have one less meal to pay for in the fall semester. Lunch is free, home cooked, and delicous. We'll eat in Harris Hall, immediately after worship.
    5. We'll have over $1500 worth of door prizes to give away. Register for our drawing, and have a shot at gift cards to Starbucks, Dutch's, Panera, Corner Bakery, and more. We'll also give away shirts, school supplies, and other great stuff you can use.

    Join us tomorrow. Come and see. You can belong here. And you can make a difference.

    See you soon!


    Sermon Audio :: Father Abraham: The Test

    Back in July I preached a three part sermon series at UBC on the life of Abraham. Here's the audio for week 3.

    Click here to read the passage from Scripture.

    Download or listen to the sermon here.

    Or, you can visit the UBC website and stream from there.


    One Key to Spiritual Growth :: Starting Fresh

    Over the years in pastoral counseling, I've found that one of the greatest inhibitors to spiritual growth is guilt stemming from failure in efforts at discipline. People desire to grow, they try, they fail, they feel guilty, and eventually, guilt drives them to begin again.

    In those instances, I have counseled each person to begin each day anew. Instead of guilt being a motivator, I have encouraged these persons to consider and think about grace. Failure is in the past, new life lies ahead. Performance is not determinative for salvation, rather, Christ's perfect and past work, which is finished, has secured everything we need. And Christ has promised to be with us. The desire to grow is given by God. When we fail, we start fresh, believing that God will bring the work begun in us to completion.

    Frank Laubach, in Letters by a Modern Mystic, captures this well:

    This conscious, incessant submission to God has proven extremely difficult, and I have surrendered for the past few days. And today and yesterday I saw evidences of the result. In an effort to be witty, I have said biting things which have hurt the feelings of others, and have been short and impatient. I tremble, for I have told at least one of these men of this experiment, and he will think this is the result. It is very dangerous to tell people, and yet, I must tell and I must start over now and succeed. This philosophy that one can begin all over instantly and at any moment is proving of great help.

    Lamentations 3:22-23 (MSG) reminds us:

    God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
        his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
    They’re created new every morning.
        How great your faithfulness!
    I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
        He’s all I’ve got left.

    Grace given. Fresh daily.


    Book Review :: How God Became Jesus by Michael F. Bird

    Bart Ehrman is a boogeyman some evangelicals like to hate. Ehrman consistently takes positions that undercut Christian orthodoxy, and his scholarly positions often lead you to believe that most of what you have heard in sermons and all of what you have heard in Sunday School is erroneous. That is where he believes the evidence leads, and like any scholar, he wants to convince his students.

    That said, it is unfair to Ehrman and his scholarship to dismiss him out of hand or make him a heel. He is a human being, a hard working scholar, and  an engaging communicator. This is why each time Ehrman publishes a book like his last release, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, evangelical scholars respond in print or in lectures. He deserves to be answered fairly and with good scholarship.

    In How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart Ehrman, Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, Simon J. Gathercole, Charles E. Hill, and Chris Tilling respond to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God. On short notice, this team of scholars offered their rebuttals to Ehrman's presentation of the historical Jesus. Their work offers an apologetic, or defense of Christian doctrine. And I think it is well done.

    I am not current enough in New Testament history to provide a wholesale evaluation of the arguments of Bird, Evans, Gathercole, Hill, and Tilling in this volume, but I am familiar enough with the biblical material and a broad enough range of scholarly research on the New Testament to approve and recommend this collection of essays. How God Became Jesus addresses the key questions raised by Ehrman concerning first century Jewish cosmology, Jesus' self-perception (Did Jesus understand himself to be God?), the evidence pertaining to Jesus' burial, the beliefs of the first Christ-followers, problematic elements within Ehrman's interpretive categories and his exegesis of Scripture, and the implications for our understanding of the formation of a bounded, exclusive community centered on Christ (as well as the emergence of heterodox groups).

    This book is a helpful companion to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God for those seeking to evaluate his arguments, or for those seeking to become conversant with Ehrman from an evangelical perspective.

    I heard Bart Ehrman speak in Lawrence, Kansas several years ago, right after his publication of God's Problem, an examination of Job and what theologians call theodicy. He's engaging, a good storyteller, witty, and clear. I am also familiar with his written works. I happen to disagree with him. Often.

    I disagree with Ehrman not only because I am Christian who believes the historic teachings concerning the incarnation, the resurrection of Jesus, the inspiration and authority of Scripture, and other core doctrines are reliable and true. I also disagree with Ehrman because I find his arguments unconvincing and his methodology suspect. Whenever I have read Ehrman's works or listened to his presentations, I have thought something is amiss. Admittedly, I have also had a very different existential experience concerning God--I am a Christian. Ehrman is an agnostic. Of course we will disagree.

    Scholarly fads come and go. Whenever a book is published claiming a new or never-before-told version of the life of Jesus, or a supposedly revelatory account of the ancient evidence that undercuts established orthodoxy, it will receive buzz. These books will be placed on end caps in every bookstore. They will sell. People enjoy controversy, and gravitate toward conspiracy theories.

    In those instances, it will be up to responsible Christian scholars, and responsible Christians, to listen to the arguments, examine the evidence, and offer a measured, accurate, and winsome response. How God Became Jesus assists those who wish to offer an evangelical perspective on the historical Jesus, and to do so as respectfully as possible.


    There are lots of reasons to despair. Give us a reason to hope.

    Last Wednesday Joshua Luton at The Apprentice Institute wrote an inspiring meditation on youth and the future of Christianity. Read the entire piece, "The True Narrative About Young People in the Church."

    His central claim, "High school and college age members of the body of Christ don't want to leave, they want more."

    I happen to agree. There is more than enough negativity on offer. But God is good, and deeply loves the young people whom you know. One of the great discoveries I have made over the past fifteen years of working in ministry is that young people are searching for sound answers to life's great questions. They have genuine curiosity about the Bible and a deep desire to understand the spiritual life, and to live it richly as Christians. They want to be challenged and invited to use their gifts and talents as part of a community. And they want to love and serve others as a response to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.

    We often underestimate our students.

    Instead of complaining, build relationships, reach out to young people, and walk alongside them. Witness to Christ. Answer the questions they are actually asking (you might want to ask). And be open about your journey of transformation and change as a disciple.

    What you'll find will be refreshing. Jesus Christ is still calling disciples from among youth and college students. And Jesus is still calling us to point the way to him, to lead, to invite, to teach, and, most importantly, to model our faith.