xclose menu

Post Category: Issues

Subscribe to the RSS Feed
  • Featured Posts
  • All Posts

How Should We Then Live after November 9 (and Now Too)?

The church's goal is to advance the gospel, but not through demanding rights or seizing political power. There are two kingdoms; we are citizens of the kingdom of God. We can expect suffering in the kingdom of man....

Keep Reading

What We Believe about the Deity of Christ

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God. In the incarnation, God became man. Only God could pay the debt of sin we owed. Only God could endure the wrath of God on the cross. The deity of Christ is an essential element of the gospel....

Keep Reading

A Renewed Focus on Shepherding

There is a renewed emphasis on shepherding at UPC. Pastors, elders, deacons, coaches, and Life Group leaders share in the work of protecting, guiding, developing, and caring for the people of the church. A failure to shepherd is a failure to love and to lead....

Keep Reading

What Is Stephen Ministry?

The Bible calls us to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. One practical means of doing that is Stephen Ministry, a program that equips members of UPC to care for one another....

Keep Reading

A Step Forward for Life Groups

UPC has a new plan for shepherding the church. It's called Flocks and it's tied in with our Life Groups program....

Keep Reading

What Is RUF?

Providentially, God put our church in close proximity to the University of Central Florida. We are spreading the gospel at UCF through our partnership with Reformed University Fellowship and its campus minister, Ande Johnson. However, Ande is going to be moving soon and we will need to find another campus minister....

Keep Reading

The Sweetness of God's Word

Of the words of God in the Bible, Psalm 19 says, "More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb." May that be our experience as we read God's Word....

Keep Reading

Predestination and the Unforgivable Sin

In Mark 3:29, Jesus says there is a sin that God will not forgive. What is that sin, and who is to blame for it?...

Keep Reading

The One-Legged Duck

The world in which we live is broken. Furthermore, in each of us there are missing parts. Through Jesus Christ, all things will be made new. Having a relationship with him means living with hope and sharing God's love with others....

Keep Reading

New Year Resolutions?

New Year resolutions typically don't last because they merely address behavior. Repentance gets to the heart level and leads to life change....

Keep Reading

The Way to God

Not only at the beginning of the Christian life but throughout it, Jesus is the Way to acceptance with God....

Keep Reading

Our Identity in Christ

Christians are the beloved children of God. We need look no further for our identity....

Keep Reading

The Gift of Repentance

Many Christians think repentance is trying harder to be good. Here is a different way to look at it. Repentance is abandoning your effort to be good and embracing a totally different source of life....

Keep Reading

What's the simplest thing that could work?

I ran across a profound statement (actually, it's a question) in my reading this summer that I've been trying to apply both at church and at home. Here it is: "What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?"...

Keep Reading

Becoming a Welcoming Church

It's hard to be new at a church. Church members should put themselves in visitors' shoes and lower the barriers for getting involved in a new church....

Keep Reading
1

Dying for Community

Disciples are people who have found they cannot be or make disciples in isolation. And often, the friendship of a Christian is the open door people are waiting for in order to enter the family of God....

Keep Reading

Happy Birthday, UPC!

UPC was planted in 1991 and held its first worship service on September 15 of that year. The future of UPC looks bright. We have a clearly cast vision and a mission of making disciples. God has helped us thus far, and will surely guide us in the future....

Keep Reading

What Did the Spiritual Life Survey Reveal?

In May of this year, 144 people at UPC filled out the Reveal Spiritual Life Survey. Here is a brief summary of the results, with a link to the full report....

Keep Reading

Adoption: The Apex of God's Grace to Us

One of the fruits of the gospel besides justification and sanctification is adoption. In fact, it can truly be said that adoption is a higher blessing than even those two gifts of God's amazing grace....

Keep Reading

What Is Disciple-Making Community?

Where can transformational community be experienced in a big church like UPC? In small groups. But not just any small group will succeed in making disciples. What are the key ingredients of small groups that birth disciples?...

Keep Reading

Why Have an Estate Plan?

It's important to plan for an uncertain future. UPC is hosting a free Estate Planning Seminar on Thursday, April 18, 2013. Be wise. Attend....

Keep Reading

Spiritual Parenting

Parents are the primary nurturers of their children's faith. But spiritual parenting is not perfect parenting....

Keep Reading

What Is "Maundy Thursday"?

Each year UPC has a Maundy Thursday service. It's tonight at 7 p.m. But what in the world is a "Maundy"?!...

Keep Reading

It's Lent. So What?

We're now in the season of Lent. Many Christians don't know what to do with it, if anything. But Lent can be an invitation to draw near to God. ...

Keep Reading

Never Alone

No matter who you are, what you've done, how you've failed, or where you've run, if you've put your trust in Jesus Christ you can know he is with you all the time. You are never alone. ...

Keep Reading

Mission and Change

If to be a missionary means to live every day with the intention of reaching across cultural barriers and spreading the fragrance of the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 2:14), then God was the first missionary!...

Keep Reading

Paradigm Shifts

The other day it hit me: I'm really an empty nester. Our youngest son, age 23, recently moved to Chicago. His career plans took him in a new direction, so he sold just about everything he had, found a job and apartment in Chicago, and said goodbye (at least for now) to Florida....

Keep Reading

What Will It Take to Change Things?

If you care about the condition of our country, you know that the November 6 election is crazy important. It matters that you study the candidates and issues. It matters that you vote. It matters that you share your views and opinions. It matters that you pray God will use this election to steer our nation toward him....

Keep Reading

What If Your candidate Loses?

You've registered to vote. You've followed the campaigns. You've watched the debates. You've prayed that certain candidates will win in November. Now the question is, What if they lose? How will you respond?...

Keep Reading

Why Christians Should Vote

An important election season is now upon us. Campaigns are in full swing and the presidential debates have begun. The decisions we make as a nation in the next few weeks will affect the lives of generations. ...

Keep Reading

Top Ten Reasons to be a Church Member

Wait a second... The idea that we require Discovery Weekend raises a good question: Why become a member of a church in the first place? After all, here at UPC there are lots of things non-members can do....

Keep Reading

Vision Sunday: Looking Backward and Forward

This past Sunday (September 16) we celebrated 21 years as a church. In my message from 1 Peter 2, I shared the "UPC Dream." It has always been our dream to be a gospel-centered, grace-motivated, God-astonished church. These are the ideas that birthed UPC in 1991 and have kept us on the right track ever since....

Keep Reading

UPC: A Missional Church

Over the past several years, God has been leading UPC, step by step, into a new chapter of its existence. I say "new" not in the sense that it's a radically different approach to ministry, but "new" in the sense that we have before us a fork in the road....

Keep Reading

Three Questions about the Ten Commandments

We began a new sermon series on the Ten Commandments a few weeks ago. Several of you have asked me questions that I haven't fully answered in my sermons. So I'll do it here....

Keep Reading

Come and Go

We have to resist the constant pull to define church as a place, an event, a show, or a service. It's not. It's a people....

Keep Reading

Great Is Your Reward?

What is a Biblical, grace-centered view of heavenly reward? What did Jesus mean when he said, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven"? Here are some of my thoughts on the thorny subject of rewards in heaven....

Keep Reading

A Different Kind of Scorecard

How can you tell you're growing as a Christian? What should you look at to measure your sanctification?...

Keep Reading

The Christian in a Political World

In the midst of a divisive presidential campaign, it's important to ask: What's a Christian's role in the political process? What guidance does the Bible give on our responsibilities as US citizens?...

Keep Reading

What Do We Value at UPC?

The winds and whims of the moment will blow you off course unless you have an anchor....

Keep Reading

Yes, It Matters

Do you ever get discouraged because it seems your efforts to serve Christ are small and unimportant? ...

Keep Reading

What Is the Gospel?

Is it possible to be a Christian and not really "get" the gospel? Read my story to find out....

Keep Reading

How To Change the World

Like you, I long to see the gospel take root in our community and in our nation. The decline in the spiritual condition of our country makes me weep and worry. What will it take to see our culture transformed for the glory of God?...

Keep Reading

What's Your "GCM"?

UPC is moving missional. Your stories are a powerful force that can help us move from an inward to an outward focus....

Keep Reading

UPC and the "Black Hole"

What can be done - and what is UPC doing - about the black hole? I'm not talking about THAT black hole, but about the large number of young adults who were once active in church but have dropped out of local church attendance and ministry....

Keep Reading

Why the Resurrection Matters

What's so great about the empty tomb?...

Keep Reading

What Is Maundy Thursday?

Today is Maundy Thursday, an important day in the final week of Christ's earthly ministry. Come to our Maundy Thursday service tonight at 7:00 and find out what it signifies....

Keep Reading

Where Are We Going?

For churches as for children, it's important to know where you're going and how you're going to get there....

Keep Reading

Children and the Lord's Supper at UPC

Presbyterians have distinctive views about the important place children occupy in the body of Christ. What is the implication of these views when it comes to the observance of the Lord's Supper? Our new policy seeks to clarify this issue for parents....

Keep Reading

Missional Vs. Attractional

"Build it and they will come." Is that true?...

Keep Reading

Thy Kingdom Come!

What are we really asking God for when we pray, "Thy Kingdom come"?...

Keep Reading

Mission Imperishable

I'm going to say something that may cost me my job: "Don't go to church."...

Keep Reading

Prayer for the New Year

Here is a hymn by Nicolaus von Zinzendorf that I've made my prayer for the new year....

Keep Reading

The UPC Vision

UPC has a new vision statement. I hope you'll memorize it, share it, and order your life around it....

Keep Reading

Imitating the Incarnation as a Church

UPC, and every other Christian church, is called to incarnational ministry. What does that mean exactly?...

Keep Reading

On Reading the Bible Well

One of the things that ought to bother us is the widespread ignorance of the Bible in the church today. But I'm just as concerned about those who "know" their Bibles inside and out but fail to read it correctly....

Keep Reading

A Plea for Plain Speaking

We Christians (including me!) are some of the worst offenders when it comes to using worn-out cliches and expressions the average person doesn't understand....

Keep Reading

What Hebrews Tells Us about Jesus

We're about to complete our six-month-long study of the letter of Hebrews. What have we learned about Jesus?...

Keep Reading

Strengthened by Grace

What is it that strengthens your heart? What do you turn to for a "pick-me-up," a sign that you're OK, a confirmation that your life matters? Is it God's grace...or something else?...

Keep Reading

Which Thief are You?

It was a Good Friday for one of the two criminals who were crucified next to Jesus....

Keep Reading

US vs. Me

If you're a member of UPC or some other church, you've entered into a new state of existence analogous to marriage....

Keep Reading

"Thanks Be to God!"

In recent years, evangelical Christians have found refreshment from practicing some of the ancient worship traditions. Here's one I'd like us to start using....

Keep Reading

The Other Half of the Gospel

Is it possible that you're believing and telling others only PART of the good news?...

Keep Reading

Able Not To Sin?

It's often a discouraging fight that we wage against indwelling sin. Yet it's believing that sin is no longer my master that actually gives me strength to get back out there and fight....

Keep Reading

Don't Waste Your Herniated Disc

I've always basked in a certain amount of "health righteousness." When it's taken away, how should I respond?...

Keep Reading

My Favorite Word in the Bible

It's just a little three-letter word, but it's the key to gospel hope. ...

Keep Reading

My Philosophy of Preaching

The preached Word is an essential element of corporate worship and church vitality. You should know some of my convictions about preaching....

Keep Reading

Things We Can Learn from Chick-fil-A

"My pleasure" is what you'll hear a lot whenever you eat at Chick-fil-A. This is just one of the many things worth emulating here at UPC....

Keep Reading

Lessons from My Dog Dabo

My wife and I are now dog people. We bought a Bichon Frise puppy and he's been teaching me a few lessons....

Keep Reading

Children and Stewardship

It's never too early to teach children to store up treasures in heaven. Here's proof that kids can "get it."...

Keep Reading

What Does "UPC" Stand For?

The three letters "UPC" have taken on new meaning since the adoption of our new Strategic Plan. Find out what they stand for. ...

Keep Reading

Life Is a (Mission) Trip

Let me tell you about three experiences I had this summer that changed my perspective on the Christian life....

Keep Reading

Your Prayers Matter to God

I was afraid to ask my dad for help. Is it possible that we sometimes feel that way about prayer?...

Keep Reading

What You Won't Find in the Bible

Here's a set of "one anothers" you WON'T find in the New Testament....

Keep Reading

Looking for a Father 's Blessing

I'm convinced most people are still looking for the blessing of their fathers....

Keep Reading

Egocentricity

I shudder to guess how often, when I think I am serving people, I'm actually using people. ...

Keep Reading

Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burma

Adoniram Judson gave his life away that others might find it in Christ....

Keep Reading

Identifying Your Idols

Here is a list of 15 questions to ask yourself as you identify and repent of your heart idols....

Keep Reading

The Gospel Cycle

On May 2 I preached a sermon called "What the Bible REALLY Says about Christians." You can listen to that sermon here. My goal in that teaching was to help us see the difference between trusting in Jesus alone for our righteousness versus trusting in our own record, our own abilities, our own cleverness, or whatnot. The text I used (Galatians 2:11-21) shows Peter at one of...

Keep Reading

Why Church Membership?

Many churches have no formal membership process. Many Christians do not join a church or see any reason for doing so. So why do we at UPC encourage followers of Jesus to join a church?...

Keep Reading

A Prayer for Your Sexuality

Last Sunday I preached on sex. Here's a prayer written by Scotty Smith that I hope you will pray along with me for our sexuality....

Keep Reading

How People Change

During the last presidential campaign, people learned a new phrase: "Change you can believe in." Is it possible for you to experience a "change you can believe in" in the nitty-gritty areas of life that keep tripping you up?...

Keep Reading

A Harmony of the Gospel Accounts of the Resurrection

At first glance, the four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) appear to offer divergent accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. Here's my attempt to put them all together. It's not that hard....

Keep Reading

Loneliness and Life Groups

Apparently there are a lot of lonely people in America....

Keep Reading

“Inside the Church” Idols

Tullian Tchividjian writes about seven idols that look respectable and spiritual. Take a look at the list and ask yourself a hard question....

Keep Reading

Reasons for Hope

In my Easter sermon series, we're going to take a close look at the last weekend of Jesus' life on earth and see what it says about living with hope....

Keep Reading

The Oscars and Matt's Ordination

While the Oscars were being given out to Hollywood stars and starlets, we were celebrating the ordination of Matt Ryman as UPC's newest Assistant Pastor. Which event was the more important?...

Keep Reading

Toward a Theology of Suffering

Tim Keller says we need a better theology of suffering. I agree....

Keep Reading

The Gift of Suffering

A number of people asked for the poem that I read in my sermon on February 28. Here it is....

Keep Reading

The Rewards of Regular Bible Reading

Why is it important for Christians to read the Bible, if God loves you anyway?...

Keep Reading

Five Big Issues Facing the Western Church

What are the challenges facing the church in America today? Tim Keller names the top five....

Keep Reading

Spark and Powder

Is God sovereign, or is man a free moral agent?...

Keep Reading

The Whats and Whys of our Strategic Plan

UPC now has a strategic plan for the future. What is it, why did we create it, and how do we intend to use it?...

Keep Reading

The Book of Eli - A Review

"The Book of Eli" has caught the attention of Christians for its religious underpinnings. I saw the movie, somewhat liked it, and thought I'd share my reactions....

Keep Reading

Thirty Seconds of Hate?

The Tim Tebow ad during the Super Bowl is shaping up to be the fiercest contest of all....

Keep Reading

Vine vs. Trellis

Every Christian is supposed to be involved on some level in making and multiplying disciples. ...

Keep Reading

Discipleship: Where Are We?

Discipleship is growing at UPC....

Keep Reading

Treasure in Heaven

We have more Kingdom potential in our own pockets than we realize....

Keep Reading

The Most Oft-Repeated Command in the Bible

Jesus is proof that God is with us. Don't be afraid....

Keep Reading

What We Should Learn from Tiger's Fall

The Tiger Woods story is still being written, but let's take time to learn some lessons for ourselves....

Keep Reading

C. S. Lewis on Christmas

Perhaps now, when Christmas is still three weeks away, is a good time to hear from our dear departed brother Jack....

Keep Reading

What to Think on Black Friday

Some say today is the biggest shopping day of the year. Don't be deceived by the empty promises offered by the world....

Keep Reading

I Signed the Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration is a statement by Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and evangelical Protestant Christians that affirms a common commitment to three foundational Biblical principles....

Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Predestination

While I don't understand everything about the doctrine of predestination, I believe it, I love it, and I need it. ...

Keep Reading

We Are Missionaries

I have a whole new perspective on what it means to be a Christian in America....

Keep Reading

Final Days in Japan

Tomorrow (Monday) I will wrap up my ten days in Japan and fly home. It's certainly been an unforgettable experience....

Keep Reading

Random Observations in Japan

I am in Japan on a short term mission trip. Here's a list of disconnected thoughts and observations on my time here so far....

Keep Reading

What Is a Gospel-Centered Church?

UPC is a church that believes and preaches the gospel. The gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ) is the dynamic for life change - not only for the non-Christian, but for the Christian. So if we believe that, what should our church look like?...

Keep Reading

Why Am I Going to Japan?

I've never been to an Asian country. I don't know any Japanese. I don't even know how to use chopsticks. So why am I going to Japan?...

Keep Reading

What Do the Saints in Heaven See?

Someone recently asked me, "Do my loved ones in heaven see me here on earth?" I had to think a while to answer that one....

Keep Reading

What Are You Waiting For?

"Patience," said Chrysostom, "is the queen of virtues." If that's true, my son David and his wife Lindsay ought to be wearing several crowns by now....

Keep Reading

Bystander Syndrome

Good Samaritans are needed right here in Orlando every day....

Keep Reading

Social or Anti-Social Networking?

Does Facebook lead to impersonal relationships? Neurosis? Bad grades?...

Keep Reading

Five Steps for Studying the Bible

Several people have asked for a review of the five steps of Bible study that I talked about in my sermon last Sunday....

Keep Reading

Saint, Sinner, or Both?

I had an interesting conversation with someone yesterday after church. Brian (not his real name) told me he has struggled all his life feeling that he never measures up with God....

Keep Reading
Subscribe