News

Below is our archive of public news and announcements.

From the desk of Taylor Pickup

Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever. 
For the Lord loves justice; 
He will not forsake his saints. (Psalm 37:27-28)

There are times when we can feel overwhelmed by the evil and injustice that we see around us. Sometimes we may even ask the question, “How can God allow this to happen?” But in this Psalm, David reminds us and assures us that “the Lord loves justice.” We humans are not the only ones who possess a knowledge of right and wrong, a craving for justice, and anger toward oppression. Our heavenly Father possesses these qualities too, and He instilled them in us. God sees the atrocities that occur and it angers Him. God's love of justice is why we can be confident that the judgment is coming. And when we are tempted to despair because the wicked often prosper and the faithful often suffer, let us remind ourselves that “He will not forsake His saints.”
Psalm 37 goes on to say that "there is a future for the man of peace" but that "the future of the wicked shall be cut off" (vs. 37-38). These statements can be challenging because they imply that we must wait. Many times, the justice we desire will not be accomplished right now but will take place in the future according to God's timeline. Part of our faith is being willing to trust God and endure hardships, confident that the Lord will set everything right one day. 


From the desk of Joshua Creel

Democracy presents both blessings and challenges for Christians. The ability to have a say in one's government and the freedom to worship and work for the Lord are certainly blessings of living in a democratic society, blessings I'm grateful for and have no desire to relinquish. But we would be wise to consider the challenges our style of government poses for God's people. And perhaps the greatest challenge is how democracy shapes our view toward those in authority.
In our minds, our leaders are not better than us. Most of them style themselves as men and women of the people, even though they often come from very privileged backgrounds. And since we elect them, we hold to the notion that true power resides with the people. And this is a challenge to God's people for a couple of reasons. First, it tempts us to treat our leaders with little or no respect, even though Scripture commands us to give them honor (Romans 13.1-7). But more importantly, it may affect how we view God's authority.
Writing prophetically, the Psalmist urged the nations to "kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled." (Psalms 2.12). They would have understood the concept of kingship and rule, but do we? We pay lip-service to the notion of Jesus being our King, but we may be guilty of rejecting His authority. After all, we reason, since He is a loving and merciful ruler then He mustn't care too much if we agree or disagree with His commands. Surely He is fine with whatever we do, so long as we profess our loyalty to Him. That's thinking of Jesus like He's one of us. We would be wise to heed the wisdom of the Psalmist and "kiss the Son, lest he be angry..."


From the desk of Taylor Pickup

"The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” - John 3:19-21
These words should serve as a strong warning for us. Since people love darkness, they reject and flee from light. This is why so many people will never accept Jesus. It would require their dark works to be exposed and it would demand that they abandon those dark works. The world loves sexual immorality, greed, drunkenness, rebellion, and self. The light is a threat to these things, so people hate the light and seek to destroy it. 
But Christians can be just as vulnerable to this. We may develop a tendency to hate correction. Any sort of discussion about our own sins or failures is off limits. We may think our sins are so minor that they aren’t worth discussing, or that they’re no one else’s business. But that mindset indicates a love for darkness, even if it seems like just a small amount of darkness. If we truly love light, we should welcome correction and any attempt to shine God’s light directly into any dark work in our lives. 
Jesus said “whoever does what is true comes to the light.” It is often our brethren who present us with opportunities to walk further into the light of Jesus. A sermon, a bible class, or a discussion can point out to us ways to flee from darkness. We can ignore that and hold onto darkness, or we can accept it and embrace the idea of walking to the light.  


From the desk of Joshua Creel

The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers to "obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13.17) He had good reason to warn these Jewish Christians against rebelling against their leaders, for their forefathers often failed to submit to those who ruled over them. One reason Israel failed to submit to their leaders was that their leaders were just like them. So, Korah and his followers rebelled against Moses and Aaron saying, "all the congregation are holy... so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?" (Numbers 16.3) In their minds Moses and Aaron were no different than the rest of Israel, but to their detriment they failed to recognize that God had chosen them as leaders of the people.
It can be easy for us to make the same error. Elders are chosen from and come out of the flock to lead us. In many ways they are just like us: they have less than perfect wisdom, they need to continue in their growth, they need encouragement from others, etc. And since they are just like us, we can be very harsh in our judgment of them, criticizing the decisions and judgments they must make. However, as these men have met the qualifications of shepherds (1 Timothy 3; Titus 1) and fill a God ordained role in the church, we err if we refuse to obey and submit to them.
The University church has long been blessed with godly men who lead us, and that continues to be true. As we enter another year of working together in the Lord's Kingdom, let's give honor to those who lead us. Let's allow them to lead us with joy, for that will be to our profit!


From the desk of Steve Patton

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32,33)
The tenth chapter of Matthew is sobering. It is Jesus' charge to the apostles before He sends them out for the first time. He tells them He is sending them out as sheep among wolves. His warnings include their vile treatment by governors and kings; betrayal by family members; being hated because they follow Him. He tells them that He did not come to bring peace but a sword, to set family members against one another, and that their enemies would be in their own household.
How does He advise them to deal with this? He tells them not to worry about what to say in these situations. He will give them the words to speak. How should they handle persecution? Just move on to the next city. How do they handle threats to their very lives? Do not fear those who might kill the body but fear Him who can destroy both body and soul and hell.
I wonder how I would handle such extreme circumstances? A good test is how I am handling the little challenges now. Am I secretive about my Christianity before my associates in the world? Am I afraid when I hear ridicule of Christianity or even my own personal faith? Am I fearful to talk to others about the Gospel? If these are my attitudes now, then I probably won't handle the challenges that come in times of real hatred and persecution. Examine your faith. Does it need to grow? Prepare for worse times. I fear they are not far away. 


From the desk of Steve Patton

"...to take away my reproach." (Luke 1:25)

Reproach: Shame, disgrace. 
The Bible speaks of those who suffered such reproach unjustly. The Jews considered certain people worthy of reproach -those they thought God was punishing. These included a barren woman. Samuel’s mother Hannah, John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth and Jacob's wife, Rachel, were mocked and reproached for this reason (1 Sam. 16; Luke 1.25; Gen 30.31). Isaiah writes of women begging a man to marry them and “take away our reproach” of being unmarried (Isa. 4.1). People with diseases were also considered unworthy and punished by God. In John 9 the disciples asked Jesus about the blind man, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?” In Matthew 20:31 two blind men are rebuked by the crowd for crying to Jesus as he passed by, asking to be healed. These people were considered worthy of reproach, but none were in God’s eyes.
Do we do the same sometimes? Do we look at the poor and think “They are probably that way because of their own sins and failures. They probably deserve their condition.”  Or do we look down on those who have contracted diseases because of their sins and think, “They are in that condition because of their own doing. Why should we help them?" Some, even today, may look at a barren woman and wonder if God may be punishing her for some reason.
We must remember Jesus did not think or act with an attitude of reproach. Rather He said that was who He came to save (Luke. 4.17-21). Perhaps we need to stop judging and, rather, reach out to help them prepare for God’s final judgment - and to help them now that we might touch their souls with the Gospel.


2017 Bible Reading Plan

Commit to spending some time each week in 2017 paying attention to the message of the prophets! Download the Bible reading schedule here. This week's reading is Lamentations 1-5.

 

From the desk of Joshua Creel

It's Not A Sin If You Don't Act?
Being tempted isn't a sin. I've said that many times to many people. I've said it to people who were struggling with sin, seeking to encourage them that not acting on the temptation is itself a victory. And this is true... in part. After all, we know our Savior was "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4.15). Being tempted isn't a sin.
However, we might have mistakenly lumped temptation in with desire. Temptation arises from an external stimulus and seeks to arouse our desire. And when our desire is sufficiently enticed, we sin (James 1.14-15). So, it's not just the actions that are wrong, but the condition of our heart which make those actions possible. This was Jesus' point in the sermon on the mount when He emphasized that true righteousness warns against more than the actions of murder and adultery, but must govern the hatred and lust within (Matthew 5.21-28). It is why He said our sinful actions proceed from the heart (Matthew 15.19).
We cannot prevent temptation from coming our way; the world is filled with them. But our aim is to condition our hearts so that not only do we refrain from acting on temptation, our hearts don't even desire to act! Then we will truly be "pure in heart" and have the hope of seeing God (Matthew 5.8).