News

Below is our archive of public news and announcements.

From the desk of Steve Patton

“He made Himself nothing”
 “…He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” 
                            - Philippians 2.7

Being a true servant is challenging. It requires far more than most are willing to give. In the above passage Paul describes the nature of true service as illustrated by Jesus Himself. The Son of God made Himself “nothing!” He emptied Himself of Heaven’s glory, of his rightful position as ruler of all, in order to be our servant. We, too, are not true servants unless we are willing to sacrifice ourself, to even give up what may be rightfully ours to become a servant to others. Jesus said the greatest in the kingdom of God are those who will be servants of their brethren (Matt. 20:26). 
As we consider additional deacons for this congregation, let us remember something that is very important: They will not be the only servants in the church. In principle every single one of us are called to be a bondservant of our brethren. We must all be willing to sacrifice self in order to humbly serve one another, just like Jesus did. Whether or not you ever serve in the role of deacon in a local church, you will have unlimited opportunities to serve. The only question is, will you be willing to sacrifice your time, talent and money to be a true servant? That is what God asks of each of us. I hope we all will learn to be “a servant of all.”


From the desk of Joshua Creel

 In asserting his integrity, Job proclaimed that “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman." (Job 31.1 NLT) I have no doubt it was a battle for Job to keep his covenant at various points in his life, and if it was a struggle for him in his culture, what does that mean for us living in a culture that embraces lust and impurity? For many the battles are intense and frequent, but the covenant is worth making and keeping.
    Let's not mince words: pornography is an absolute scourge on our society. Not only does it violate the will of God (Matthew 5.27-28) making profane what God has made a blessing in marriage (Hebrews 13.4), but it has severely damaged the attitudes men and women have towards the opposite sex and about themselves. Men and women, created in the image of God, are objectified and degraded.The battle against pornography is one that must be fought; it's a battle we must win.
    We want to provide some help for those engaged in this struggle, to help them make and keep their covenant. We've invited Stephen Rouse to speak for us on Saturday, September 14. Stephen is very open about his own past struggles, so he will not only explain the severity of the issue, but will also focus on how God can help us be victorious. There will be 3 sessions, each with a follow-up Q&A:
10am - The Poison of Pornography
11am - Short-term Battle Strategies
Noon - break for lunch
1:30pm - Long-term Battle Strategies & Proactive Prevention
    One note to parents: I believe you can benefit from this material, whether your kids are in elementary, middle, high school or college. But this material is NOT intended for young ears, so please plan accordingly. 
    Please pray for this effort and for those engaged in battle. Pray for victory.

 


From the desk of Steve Patton

Prayers For Our Brethren in Ethiopia
   The University church has been involved in the Lord’s work in Ethiopia for over 20 years. We have had free course in the country, never fearing for our safety. Bob Owen, his son Scott, and I have combined to make annual trips. We spent most of our time bringing preachers and teachers together to instruct them in the Word. The growth of the work has been tremendous, growing from about 41 independent churches with about 2000 members, to 337 churches with about 18,500 Christians. It has been a joy to travel and work with these wonderful people. Our plans had been to continue this work for the foreseeable future.
   Now things have changed. Below is an excerpt from a recent letter from our brother Zerihun Kebede, an evangelist in the capital city of Addis Ababa:
“The current peace and security situation of Ethiopia is not good. Political, social and economic instability and unrest are increasing from time to time in all parts of the country except Addis Ababa. Violence and turmoil caused, pertaining to many political, social, economic and other issues, damage to many people and property. Many immoral evil groups who are well armed and financially rich are working behind the curtain, trying to disturb and abort our bright reform and hope which is started since last year by very good prime minister and outstanding leadership.”
   Zerihun refers to a significant change in national leadership. The people successfully elected a prime minister who is not a part of the old guard run by extremely corrupt leaders, many who were a part of the old socialist government associated with the former communist bloc. The people saw last year’s election as a turning point for their country. Now the former leaders, backed by foreign money, are creating havoc. The new regime is also facing the challenge of some of the larger tribes wanting their independence. The result has been outbreaks of violence and instability.
   This summer has seen such outbreaks in areas where we usually travel and teach. (see page 3)
(continued from page 1) In the southern regional capital of Awassa, protests erupted into violence and some deaths. We usually teach close to 300 men in classes there. Travel is dangerous, not only for us, but for men who would be traveling to attend our classes.
   To our knowledge, none of our brothers and sisters have been injured or killed in the violence. But the unrest continues.
   Scott Owen planned to leave last week with Mark Nesmith of Thomasville, GA. I was taking the year off. Mark (father of our Carrie Moseley) has traveled to Ethiopia twice. The Thomasville church has been heavily involved in Ethiopia and presently supports around 50 preachers there. They have also supported me in my trips. No one is traveling to Ethiopia for now. The US State Department rates travel safety to other countries on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 being the worst. Ethiopia is currently rated a 4. 
   Our Ethiopian family is in need of our fervent prayers. They are living under constant threat of injury and even death. The turmoil is interrupting food supplies and distribution of other necessities. But, at present, we are limited in what we can do. That is why we need to be petitioning our God on their behalf and for all Ethiopians as they go through these tumultuous times. Pray they may be safe, and that the Gospel may continue to have free course. Pray for the three good preachers we support: Markos, Demake, and Eremias. We will keep everyone updated as we learn more.


From the desk of Steve Patton

Welcome From The University Church
   Today brings lots of new and returning college students into our assembly, along with parents. We always look forward to this Sunday and to the new school year with our college students. We have a great group every year and I know this year will be no exception. For new students and their families who may be with us today, I would like to tell you a little about the family of believers that meets here.
   Our group is made up of a cross section of our city, culturally, racially, and economically. We desire to blend all into one strong family of God. We strive to follow the Bible and establish hearts that love God and his people. We seek to be an accepting group, yet one that believes in the disciplined life of true discipleship. Grace and mercy are extremely important to us. So are self-denial and commitment to God's way. We accept the challenge of living for Christ in an unbelieving and immoral world.
   This group is led by seven elders selected by the congregation. The congregation is also served by 18 deacons. The congregation is served by three preachers, Josh Creel, Steve Patton, and Taylor Pickup. We also have many capable teachers that lead wonderful bible classes.  All seek to be diligent in their service to us all. 
   We work to fold our college students into the local work, involving them in many  ways. If, as a student, you choose to identify with us, we will regard you as a regular member. We are thrilled that we usually have 65-75 place membership each year. We are always impressed with our students' commitment and love the energy they bring to our family. We look forward to another great year and encourage you to be a part of our work here. We will benefit from your contributions and we believe you will benefit and grow with us.


From the desk of Taylor Pickup

According to Genesis 1, man was created to rule over the world. But tragically, man sinned and brought on the consequence of death. Since death overpowers man, death replaced man as ruler of the world (Rom 5:17). 
For much of human existence, death ruled the world. And it wasn’t a secret. A man could always look around and see death taking away someone. That very man himself would eventually be taken away by death. 
As we look around today, it may appear that death still reigns over us. After all, people still pass away all the time. Sometimes it’s our own loved ones that pass away. Upon seeing this, we may be tempted to conclude that nothing has changed since Adam sinned. Death reigned over Adam and death still reigns over us today, right? 
But we know this isn’t true. It may look true in certain circumstances. It may feel true during the times we’re staring death in the face. But one thing indicates that it just isn’t true, and that death cannot still be reigning over man: Jesus rose from the dead. This moment, this event in history, is when Jesus conquered death. Consequently, Jesus now rules and death is subservient.  
So, where does our hope lie? In Jesus. Where does our comfort come from during times of mourning? From Jesus. Why are we confident that death does not truly have power over us? Because of Jesus. We who are in Christ are united with the one who killed the power of death itself. 
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Cor. 15:21-26) 


From the desk of Taylor Pickup

Proverbs 15:14 says, 
The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, 
But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.

We have two kinds of people here: 
1.) An understanding person whose heart seeks knowledge
2.) Foolish people who eat foolishness

This proverb acknowledges that some people crave things that are stupid. That is, they consume things that are senseless and lacking in wisdom. But what kind of foolishness is being addressed here? Like most proverbs, this one is very broad. Specifics aren’t given, so it can be applied in a variety of situations. 
So what kinds of foolishness do we fuel ourselves with today? Political controversy. Endless entertainment. Our own egos. People crave these things and are feasting on them every day. It’s not that different from Eve in the garden of Eden. She wanted to feed on the fruit that would give her what she craved. 
But an understanding man will search for knowledge. What kind of knowledge? Once again, the proverb isn’t specific, but true knowledge comes from the Lord. Sadly, God’s knowledge is something many people don’t crave, much less search for. I can remember periods in my life where my diet consisted of pointless distractions instead of substantial insight from God’s scriptures. 
Since the proverb only presents us with two categories of people, which of the two describes you? Ensure that you are the kind of person who seeks knowledge and doesn't feast on foolishness.      


From the desk of Joshua Creel

Perhaps the recent headlines that people are dying as they attempt to scale Mount Everest haven't been too surprising. After all, summiting the tallest peak on earth is filled with all kinds of peril. But it has been surprising to read that large crowds and long lines have contributed to the many fatalities on Everest this year. All the experts seem to agree that most of the climbers trying to scale the mountain are far too inexperienced for the task and should never have been allowed to make the attempt. In other words, Everest was meant for the elite few, not for the many.
    In some ways the news from Everest reminds one of the myth of Icarus. Icarus, with his wings of feathers and wax constructed by his father, was warned against hubris: if he flew too close to the sun, it would be to his peril. Tragically, Icarus ignored the warning of his father and fell to his death. The point: men have no business ascending to such great heights!
    David once asked the question, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?" (Psalm 24.3) Many in Israel would have replied "no one." It should have been impressed upon them that God was too holy for them to approach (Exodus 19). Surely man had no business trying to ascend to such lofty heights! But David answered his own query: "He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully." (Psalm 24.4) David continued, saying that those who "seek Him" would receive "righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24.5-6). 
    Both myth (Icarus) and human experience (Everest) warn us against trying to climb too high. But not God! He not only beckons us to ascend His holy hill, He is the one that makes the climb possible!


From the desk of Joshua Creel

71%. That's the percentage of young Americans who, according to 2017 Pentagon data, are ineligible to join the military. 71% are ineligible due to three main factors: obesity, lack of a high school diploma, or they have a criminal record. And this isn't only a problem for the military, but as Rear Admiral Thomas Wilson relates, "It's an issue for businesses as well because the vast majority of that age group isn't eligible for many jobs either." According to one report, 52% of employers in Pennsylvania "find it challenging to hire people with adequate skills, training or education."
    And this is probably no surprise, but the military (along with many employers) is placing the blame on poor education. Not just poor education in elementary, middle and high schools, but the lack of education very early in a child's life. In their opinion, most young people are not being prepared early in their lives, thus they are failing to be productive members of society later.
    The Lord declared that the Law was for the good of His people (Deuteronomy 10.13). That was primarily true because following the Law would allow the people to be holy and thus in a relationship with God (cf. Leviticus 11.45) The Israelites were to instruct their children in the Law so that they too could be in a relationship with their Lord (Deuteronomy 6.4-9). But there were "secondary goods" found in the Law. Following the Law would teach young Israelites the importance of respecting authority (Exodus 20.12), the value of hard work (Exodus 20.9), and the necessity of caring for those less fortunate (Leviticus 25.35). In short, the Law equipped people with the skills to be fully profitable members of society. 
    God's laws remain for our good, both eternally and for the present.


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).