Jon and Tanya Parks will be our special guests this Sunday. They serve as Cooperative Baptist Field Personnel among the Roma people in Kosice, Slovakia. Through personal relationships, partnerships with local Christians, and initiatives that support Roma education, they believe God’s people can together form a new future for people who have lived in poverty and oppression for generations. They have two daughters, Abigail and Kaitlyn.
The Parks will give a presentation of their ministry at 9:45 am in the Fellowship Hall after our church-wide breakfast at 9:00 am. They will also lead in our morning worship this Sunday.
As we celebrated Labor Day yesterday, I thought about our society’s relationship with work and rest. We are a culture that values productive and fruitful work, and some even subscribe to the notion of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” At the very least, many of us, in our busy and hectic lives, find ourselves in need of a time to rest from our work.
In the beginning of the book of Genesis, there’s an account of how God created the heavens and the earth. As each “day” of creation progressed, a refrain is repeated for each one: “and there was evening and there was morning.” For the Hebrews, the day begins not in the morning, but in the evening, when activity ceased and people spent time with family, eating meals and sharing stories before going to sleep. In God’s creation, a rhythm of rest comes before fruitful work. In fact, after God created the first human beings and told them to be “fruitful and multiply,” humanity’s first “full day” was a day of rest in the presence of God.
Is it possible that God designed human beings to work from our rest, and not vice-versa? Jesus had the same perspective when, in John 15, he used the image of the vine and the branches to illustrate the need to abide in him before bearing fruit. Unfruitful branches are pruned so that more nutrients can be channeled to other branches. Even fruitful branches are pruned periodically so that they can be even more fruitful.
As you reflect on your life and the life of UBC, ask yourself these questions: “Are we working from rest, abiding first in Christ before becoming fruitful? How might we intentionally enter into a season of rest? What needs to be pruned and cut back so that we can be even more fruitful?”
These are questions to ponder coming out of this Labor Day weekend.
Faith In Action
Sermon: “Loving Neighbours” – Dr. Michael Cheuk
Scripture: James 2:1-10
In my sermon Sunday, I mentioned that during the past several weeks, the staff and I have had conversations with some of our church leaders to discover and discern ways that University Baptist can better put our faith into action. Jack Averill, Debra Bryant, Brad Groff, Alan Hendricks, Ed Lowry, Larry Martin, and Ed Smith served as an advisory sounding board for Alba, Will, and me, and on September 13, Church Council will receive a recommendation from its Nominating Committee that this group serve as the Ministerial Relations Service Team.
During our conversations, it became clear that we needed to listen carefully to the pulse of the congregation. We developed five straight-forward questions designed to help staff, Deacons, and Church Council identify what the congregation appreciates about our church, what you have found to be exciting, those things which have been discouraging, your thoughts regarding relative priorities for the church, and directions in which you would like to go. These questions will be sent to the congregation today.
Responses will be transcribed into a comprehensive document which will show the unedited comments of each church member, while respecting the confidentiality of each responder by not mentioning names in the document. Any comments that you prefer not to be in the document may be passed along to any member of the Ministerial Relations Service Team with that understanding.
On October 3, a UBC Leadership Retreat has been scheduled with members of our Church Council, Deacons and ministerial staff. At the retreat, we will use the congregational input, in the full context of our Biblical imperatives and our UBC mission, to start working on a short-term and long-term action plan for which all of us will be accountable.
More specific information will be available later, but we want to let you know about the survey now so that you may begin to prepare to offer your input.
Thank you in advance for your prayerful participation in this discernment process to ensure UBC’s future as a faithful and fruitful church!
~ Blessings, Michael
This past weekend, 19 youth and 4 adults enjoyed a wonderful retreat at Smith Mountain Lake. We played, swam, kayaked, paddle-boarded, canoed, flipped off of an inner tube pulled behind the boat at top speed, and ate a lot of delicious food. But most importantly, we took 24 hours out of the back-to-school craze and all the stressors inherent in that transition, to just enjoy life. We spent the weekend talking and playing together, and took time to rest, breathe, and appreciate the wonder of God in our natural surroundings and in each other.
Here we go! Summer is over, school is back, and so are the Sunday and Wednesday programs at UBC! In this issue, you’ll find information about our Sunday Morning Bible Study classes and our Wednesday Night Supper and programming.
Our first mid-week supper is this Wednesday night, and afterwards, there will be a Called Church Conference to vote on our Nominating Committee report and hear reports from our Personnel and Finance committees.
Will Brown and I will be away that night. We’ll be in Decatur, GA, Tuesday through Thursday, meeting with the pastors of four other “university” Baptist churches to learn how we can be more effective in reaching and ministering among college students.
The new year begins for Sunday Morning Bible Study classes September 6!
If you’re not already active in a class, this is a great time to join one. You can find an overview of our classes [here].
From this Sunday through the month of September, our Sunday morning services will focus on “Faith in Action.” I will be preaching from the Book of James, and we will explore how our life in Christ is manifest in our actions, thoughts, and words.
We look forward to an exciting fall here at UBC. I hope you will be a part of it!
~ Blessings, Michael
Faith In Action
Sermon: “Doers of the Word” – Dr. Michael Cheuk
Scripture: James 1:17-27
Beginning August 30 and through the month of September, the theme of our Sunday morning sermons will focus on Faith in Action.
Through text taken from the Book of James, we will explore how our life in Christ is manifest in our actions, our thoughts and in our words, and how our daily lives are ‘faith in action’.
8/30 – “Doers of the Word” James 1:17-27
9/06 – “Loving Neighbours” James 2:1-10
9/13 – “Words” James 3:1-12
9/20 – “Wisdom” James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a
9/27 – “Prayer” James 5:13-20
Sermon: “Be Strong in the Lord” – Dr. Michael Cheuk
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20