ITLOTC 6-26-15


(In The Life Of The Church) 

Ordinary Time

What To Do with Those Flags? 

The Great Divorce

My favorite book of all time is C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce.  No single book did more to pull me out of one paradigm of thinking and set me a path that led into another.  

The book, like much of Lewis's fiction, is an allegory.  It's a story about the journey of a few out of hell and into heaven and how the suppositions of the damned come into conflict with the truth of heaven.  

One of the more memorable hellish characters is referred to as "the big man."  In his brief narratival arc we learn that, above all else, the big man simply wants "his rights."  In the opening chapter, after clocking the "the short man" in the face while waiting for the bus that will take them to heaven , the big man justifies his actions with this qualification, "I"m a plain man that's what I am and I got to have my rights same as anyone else, see?" 

In chapter 4, after arriving in heaven, the big man is furious to find that a murderer he knew during his lifetime has been in heaven all this time while he was in hell.  After offering a litany of justification of works he concludes with, "I never asked for anything that wasn't mine by rights," and again on the next page he reiterates, "But I got to have my rights same as you, see?"

The murderer is the big man's tour guide in heaven.  His reply to the big man's logic is this, "Oh no.  It's not so bad as that.  I haven't got my rights, or I should not be here.  You will not get yours either.  You'll get something far better." 

The Confederate Flag

I grew up in the North.  My presuppositions are Yankee through and through.  It's not that I try indignantly to be Northern, I just am.  As such I admit that I was taught history with a particular lens.  There are nuances about the Civil War that I was not taught including the fact that some northerners were sympathetic with slavery and others were unaware that slavery was a major issue at all.  I heard little to nothing about states rights and Lincoln and Grant were heralded as heroes.  I was taught that General Sherman used "total war" as a military tactic, but was spared some of the gruesome truths of that policy. 

I was taught that the Confederate flag (or the battle flag Robert E. Lee's Northern Virginia Army) was bad.  It was a symbol of treason and represented a desire to keep slavery in America's history.  

I'm not sure if that is fair, but here is what I have learned this week.  

  • In 1948 the Dixiecrac Party adopted the flag as a symbol of resistance the Federal government. 
  • In 1956 the symbol was featured prominently in the Georgia's flag redesign.   This is conjecture, but it's noteworthy that the Supreme Court handed down a decision to desegregate schools two years earlier. 
  • The flag has been used by the Ku Klux Klan, though it is not the official flag of the Klan.  

I have to admit, given these facts and the other articles I've read this week it seems that me that the flag has undoubtedly become a symbol of racism whether or not it was to begin with.  Still because I can accept the fact that I was taught a revisionist history, I want to be careful and slow in drawing conclusions.  

When I find myself in world of epistemic ambiguity I tend to turn from data to story.  That is, I move beyond looking at facts and begin looking to people.  In this case that would mean listening to my African American brothers and sisters.  It means asking them how the flag makes them feel.  

My friend and colleague Delvin Atchison is the Pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Waco.  Delvin is incredibly smart and a gifted preacher.   Delvin is also African American.  For this reason, his voice needs to be louder than mine even if we agree.  I have listened as he has processed the events of the last two weeks.  Delvin has identified the Confederate flag as a source of pain in his life and that of his brothers and sisters.  That is good enough for me.  Delvin offers the definitive word on this issue in my life.  

The Irrelevance of My Rights

There has been an interesting opinion that has emerged with the others with regards tot he flag.  It is the opinion of those who point out that they are not racist, but they want to protect our rights to have the flag.  

When I read these articles and or opinions I think of Philippians 2:6-7:

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,

Jesus emptied himself and took on the form of the slave.  No one in history had more access to privilege and rights.  And Jesus gave up just that.  Jesus gave up all of His rights. 

Romans 6:18 describes us, Jesus followers.  It says: "having been set free form sin, we became slaves to righteousness."  The Spirit maps us on that trajectory of self emptying.  We gave up our rights and became slaves to righteousness (read right relationships).    

Paul had a problem Corinth.  Some of the formerly pagan now converted Christians believed that eating meat offered to idols was problematic.  Other Christians understood that meat is simply meat and could be eaten in good conscious.  Paul could have spent time educating everyone and convincing them that the meat was fine to eat.  But he did not, he pointed out that the Jesus thing to do would be for the people who have the right to eat meat, to forgo it.  Not eating meat is a practice in being a slave to righteousness. 

Let's suppose that the flag is not a symbol of racism (which I'm not actually conceding).  If the South is as thoroughgoing Christian as it claims to be, then why is not the overwhelming desire of her people to honor our African American brothers and sisters by gladly taking the flag down.  

The gospel does not wait for federal courts to tell us what is right and wrong or even the political correct culture we live in.  The gospel seeks to honor the people that Jesus died to save.  

Let us give up our flags and our rights and in return get something much better.  

Meet Our New Office Manager 

Amy Smith Carman 


Where are you from?: Los Angeles (but I lived in the Philippines for my first 5 years and also think of it as home)

Why are you in Waco?: My husband is a second year PhD student in New Testament at Baylor

What is your favorite restaurant?: In-N-Out (perfect meal: grilled cheese-animal style, fries, and chocolate shake)

Do you watch TV/Movies … if so what’s one you really love?: Favorite TV shows include Elementary, Agents of Shield, and Once Upon a Time. Favorite Movies: Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and It’s a Wonderful Life

A bible verse/chapter/or book that has been formative for you?: Mathew 5

What is something about you we’d only know if you told us?: I’ve trained in martial arts for the last 5 years. 

Restarting Membership Conversation: An Update from Toph 

A few years ago, with the blessings of LT, Craig put together a committee to pursue the idea/possibility of membership at UBC.  After some great work by the committee, the LT felt there were still some questions of how this idea of membership would be implemented at UBC, and the conversation was given back to the staff to continue to guide the process.  Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with members of the original committee, and we have decided to pick up the conversation again.  Here are some of the reasons we are pursuing this conversation now: how do we create a greater sense of ownership at UBC; how do we foster a greater sense of accountability and discipleship; and how do we discern whose voices should be heard in matters of committee selection?  If you are interested in serving on this committee, or want to recommend someone to serve, please email .  The goal of this committee will be to answer some of the questions above, and to help create a system of belonging at UBC that is true to historical tradition within the Church and true to UBC’s unique identity within this historical tradition.  If you have any questions, please contact Toph.  The committee will begin meeting in August.

Leadership Team

You would be hard pressed to find a better human being than Jana Parker.  So you can imagine our sadness due to the fact that her time on the leadership team is coming to a conclusion.  We are looking for a new leadership team member to begin serving in July.  Please send nominations to  The leadership team will select a new member at the July 6th meeting.  

Here is some information from the bylaws about the leadership team: 

Section 1.  Leadership Team

(A) Purpose.  The Leadership Team shall be the primary decision-making body of UBC.  The Leadership Team will oversee all the business and property of the church, as well as make the final decisions regarding hiring and dismissal of staff and the acquisition and selling of assets that are beyond budgetary provisions. 

(B) Composition.  The Leadership Team shall consist of seven members of the UBC community that are not staff, finance team or human recourses and support team.

(C) Qualifications.  Each member of Leadership Team shall have been a member of UBC for at least one year, exhibited an understanding and commitment to the mission and values of the church, and be willing to fulfill all responsibilities in the Leadership Team job description.

(D) Selection.  When a vacancy arises on the Leadership Team the congregation shall be notified immediately at a regularly scheduled Sunday morning worship service, as well as through social media and electronic communication.  At that point a call for nominations shall be made and any member of UBC will be allowed to make nominations.  Not less than three weeks shall pass before the window for accepting nominations will close.  All nominees shall then be vetted and selected by the current Leadership Team.

(E)  Term.  Members of Leadership Team may serve for a duration lasting up to three years.  While they are encouraged to remain the full three years, members may voluntarily remove themselves from their position at any time.

Work is Worship 

Greeters: Haylee and the Robinsons 

Coffee Makers: Timothy and Adrienne Lee

Mug Cleaners:  Haines Family 


  • Sunday Sermon Text: Luke 13:22-30

  • Waco dives:  We will meet at  Taqueria El Charro Tapatio, on Tuesday @ noon.   Please email if you have any questions. 

  • July Grillz and Chillz will take place at the Monroe house on Wednesday July 22nd.  More information to come. 


Do you have an Emergency? Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?:

254 498 2261

Leadership Team

If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members. 

Chair- Kristin Dodson:

Jana Parker:

Stan Denman:

David Wilhite:

Byron Roldan: 

Sharyl Loeung:

Jon Davis:

UBC Finance Team

Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.

Tom Haines:

Josh McCormick:

Chris Kim:

Hannah Kuhl:  

Justin Pond:

Lacy Crocker:


If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.

Maxcey Blaylock:

Mathew Crawford:

Callie Schrank:

Jeff Walter:

Rob Engblom: