ITLOTC 4-15-2016


(In The Life Of The Church) 


Picked by God

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.  – John 10:27-8

My junior and senior year of college I really upped my theology game.  Actually that’s when I began my theology game.  I think we have a habit of doing theology or owning/articulating a theology when we sense it matters for our life.  Said differently, we only care about what we feel really impacts our lives.  For my 21 year old post-evangelical self, that was in the fires of the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. 

I went to a college that had previously employed two professors who became figureheads in this conversation, so Bethel felt like a hotbed of human freedom debate.  Let me take the drama out of this post.  I was then and still am a version of Arminian.  But the confession that means more now is that I just don’t care as much about this as I used to.  Retrospectively, I can now see that, like so many of the theologies that were important to me, being right about this was another form of idolatry in my life.  Now I’m much more comfortable admitting there is a motif of determinism in scripture and a motif of human culpability and freedom.  There are philosophical systems on both sides of the debate that read that last sentence and are all too eager to say “yes and that is precisely why _______________ism is true.”  It won’t surprise most people to know that at the end of the day I find the mystery of their compatibility and the kind of worship cultivated in the heart by the stories that employee both motifs much more inspiring than I do the air tight logic promised by both proposals. 

When I was a junior I had a roommate who was extremely intelligent, patient and kind.   He was also thoroughly reformed.  So we’d stay up until 2:00 AM shooting our Wells Fargo basketball into a Nerf hoop, drinking cherry coke, eating chips and salsa and chatting about the mysteries of theodicy and sovereignty.  One day I asked him to make me a Calvinist without using Paul.  “No problem,” he replied.  And for a few weeks we combed through the scriptures and he made his case. 

I remember vividly when he quoted me John 10:27-8.  Granted I didn’t care much for John at the time, I had one of those “how have I missed this?” moments.  I struggled for weeks and then months asking how Jesus himself could have been in the business not just of selecting certain sheep, but more offensively not selecting others. 


What I’m going to tell you is not new at all, but then again saying something new in theology or biblical studies is like trying show the world a color it has never seen before.  It’s difficult. 


At some point this last year I showed a clip from first The Lord of the Rings in which Frodo volunteers to walk the ring of power to Mordor.  I’m always struck by Gandalf’s face when he first hears Frodo volunteer for the task.  It reminds me of the face of pained parent.  The grief derived from all the trouble Frodo will face and all that it will demand of Frodo is displayed in Gandalf’s knowing expression of anguish.  I also think Gandalf’s face displays a proper reluctance. 

People who are called to do something are motivated by something more than recognition or even desire.  They are driven by a purpose, which can transcend emotion.  That’s how I understand Frodo’s task.  He was made to take the ring to Mordor.  He was elected to do so. 


A popular way to understand John 10:27-8 is to assume that Jesus is speaking salvation.  This is then a definitive claim that some of us are predestined for heaven and some of us for hell.  There is another way to understand these verses and that is that election is about service.  It is about task and kingdom work.  Being picked doesn’t come at the expense of everyone else going to hell, it comes at the expense of you being mapped on a discipleship trajectory by God’s grace. And if we really understood that instead of jumping up and down about having won the salvation lottery, we'd wear Gandalf's expression of reluctance and pain.  Just ask Peter, Paul, or any other martyr who followed Jesus unto death.  Election is about awesome responsibility. 

Missiologist Leslie Newbigin says:To be chosen, to be elect, therefore does not mean that the elect are the saved and the rest are lost.  To be elect in Christ Jesus, and there is no other election, means to be incorporated into his mission to the world, to be the bearer of God's saving purpose for his whole world, to be the sign and agent and the firstfruit of his blessed kingdom which is for all.”

My thoughts.  What are yours? 

Pastoral Associate Applications

If you are part of our UBC community and are interested in serving a pastoral associate, you can apply by clicking here.  Applications are due by 5:00pm on Friday, May 15th. Pastoral associates serve the mission of UBC by serving along full time staff to complete pastoral work as determined by the needs of our community and the desires of the applicant.  Associates will be selected by the staff.  Associates will make a commitment from June 1, 2016 through June  30, 2017.  If you have questions for clarification please email Josh @ 

Last Philosophy Talk

This Wednesday evening, April 20th, Chris Tweedt will lead his final philosophy talk at UBC from 7:30-8:30 PM.  

Here's a brief description of what will be talked about: 

Who, If Anyone, Should We Trust about Religion?

Should we trust people about religious matters? If so, who should we trust? There's a lot of disagreement about religion; should that make us more hesitant to trust others about it? Should consensus make us more trusting? 

We'll discuss answers philosophers have given to these questions and others during this philosophy discussion hour.

 If you have any questions email 

UBC Finance Team

Do you love excel spread sheets?  Is April 15th your favorite day after you own birthday?  You may be the person we are looking for to serve on the UBC finance team. Interested persons should submit their name to  Here is some information taken from the bylaws about the finance team.  

(A) Purpose.  The Finance Team shall exist for the following purposes:

a.     To serve as the primary advisory group for the Leadership Team in all budgetary and financial aspects of the church. 

b.    To oversee, in coordination with the ministerial staff, yearly budgetary processes, working to create a financial ministry plan in alignment with the ethos, mission and values of UBC.

c.     To advise the staff and Leadership Team on any emergency financial matters that may arise with regards to the physical infrastructure of the church building, as well as those matters pertaining to compensation and benefits of personnel.

d.    To assess the current financial status of the church on a monthly basis and advise the staff and Leadership Team on matters concerning changes in planned ministry expenses.

e.    To advise the Human Resources/Staff Support team on all financial matters regarding new and existing personnel, including available resources concerning salaries, salary increases, insurance, taxes, etc.

f.      To advise the church body on all matters relating to stewardship, financial integrity, etc.

(C)  Qualifications.  Finance Team members shall have been an active participant in the life of UBC for at least a year, have received at least a bachelors degree level of education (or roughly an equivalent amount of experience in business or finance,) and have at least a basic understanding of financial reports and budgets.

Work is Worship

Greeters: Luke Blaylock 

Coffee Makers:   Sarah & Caroline 

Mug Cleaners:  Leigh & Stephen


  • Sunday Sermon: Acts 9:36-43 "Ordinary Dorcas"
  • Backside, April 22nd.  If you have art to display on a wall or in space or music to fill our ears, then you might be interested in the backside.  email 
  • Study Hall Days: May 2nd and 3rd 
  • Trip to Franklins BBQ.  Will Knight and Rick Lhotan will be leading a trip to Franklin's BBQ on Thursday May 19th.  The trip will meat at and leave from UBC @ 6:30 A.M.  If you have questions please email Will @  

Do you have an emergency and need to talk to a pastor? 

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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:

Joy Wineman:

Stan Denman:

David Wilhite:

Bridget Heins:

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:


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:

Rob Engblom:

Ross Van Dyke: