Leave a comment

A Special Thanks

Dear UBC Family,

I want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to take a sabbatical this winter. From January 13 – March 31, my daily duties as Senior Pastor of UBC were suspended while I focused on my family, pastoral development, writing, and rest. It was a time much needed and well spent.

During the 2 1/2 months away, I was blessed to care for my children while Jan served in North Africa; visit with 8 other senior pastors and professors; travel to support extended family; read several books; as well as write dozens of pages on a book on discipleship. My hope through it all is that I become a better Christian man, which means a better husband, father, friend and pastor.

I, once again, read through Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man. That book undoes me, as it always seems to do. It’s a great aid in assessing personal affections and areas of holy discontent. As well, Jared Wilson’s The Pastor’s Justification was a fantastic read for my soul as your pastor. Through these writings I’ve seen some depths of selfishness and pride that I had hoped had been long since been removed. In addition, I read several books on leadership, mainly because I feel like it’s something I do not do well…lead.

Before going further, at this point, I do want to ask your forgiveness for not shepherding better before you all. Some of you I have shepherded and served well, but many of you have not been served well by me, either directly or by example. Again, forgive me. In a church our size shepherding and care does have to be a bit more “global” in it’s expression (the body loving each other), but I could and should be much better at touching more lives directly, without there being a hint of inauthenticity. I do love you and care for you.

Developing my doctoral dissertation into a more popularized (readable) book took great strides, particularly while in Cambridge, England. I had the privilege to reside and study at the Tyndale House in Cambridge, and met new friends, while writing for hours a day. I have much work left to do, but I am close to my page goal of approximately 160. In case you don’t know, my work was on 2 Peter 1, with the practical outworking being a discipleship process based on that chapter. I’ve used this approach with many in our church, and desire to help others grow in their walks with Christ for the rest of their lives, by unpacking this chapter for their (your) benefit.

As I return to serve you, it’s a very busy season. I have some meetings to attend in Louisville, KY and then Passion Week is upon us. Be in prayer for your own souls and for the souls of others around you. Invite friends and family to church. Invite them over to your house for hospitality leading the way to gospel discussion.

I am glad to be back with you. I cannot wait to return to the pulpit. That said, I am grateful to John Mueller, Stephen Martin, the elders, and the rest of the staff for assuming so many additional responsibilities to serve me during the sabbatical season. I hope that your love and hunger for the Word of God rightly preached was increased in my absence.

May God build up His church at UBC! May God’s Word dwell richly among you all!

Blessings,
Pastor Mike

Leave a comment

Though You Slay Me

Leave a comment

In Between

This is the poem I shared on Sunday, January 12 before I began my sabbatical.


In Between

In between the Old and New
History’s course was being laid
For sovereign work and grace did brew
Incarnate love for sin’s debt paid

In between the cloth and straw
Condescended glory in view
Choruses sung and gifts were brought
Infinite love to make men new

In between manger and wedding
Perfect life quietly on display
Work of priest and lamb perfecting
Obscure love now in the fray

In between the orders of men
Truth pierced and divided hearts
None without thoughts of Him
None able to discern His parts

In between a court and cross
Life strode up a barren hill
Human weakness brought Him loss
Divine love drove Him onward still

In between the two thieves hung
One whose wrath He gladly bore
While being reviled and spit upon
A thief would be a thief no more

In between tomb and resurrection
Followers grieve in full despair
Seeming victory of insurrection
Dying love their hopes forbear

In between two men He walked
Speaking His truth from ancient script
A strange familiar way He talked
Revealed love their hopes uplift

In between the now and then
Sheep anxiously listen for the One
As if confined to spiritual pen
Living the battles of a victory long won


Written by Mike Lumpkin (2008)

Leave a comment

Sabbatical…

On November 15, I celebrated the privilege of being UBC’s pastor for the past 7 years.  The longer I serve in ministry the more I realize that I am less a gift to you, and you are more a gift to me.  Thank you for putting up with, praying for, listening to, even following me over this season.

One thing that is afforded me (upon recommendation by the Personnel Committee and the elders) at this season of life and ministry with you is a sabbatical.  A sabbatical is not an extended vacation, though it does provide rest and rejuvenation.  A sabbatical, for the minister, is a time to break from the regular duties of ministry in order to be refreshed and refocused for another season of ministry.  For many, it includes time to focus on writing and advanced studies.  My hope is to do all of these things.

The elders have recommended that I take my sabbatical from January 13 – March 31, 2014.  I have agreed to the timing and want you to know what to expect.  Below are some of my goals during this upcoming sabbatical:

  • Reflect and journal on the past 7 years of ministry, taking note of successes, failures, and hopes for the future.
  • Take care of my family.  Ministry is arduous and hard on family life.  For us, the greatest benefit will most likely come in the form of a “reset” in our daily schedule, bolstering our time together in family worship and fun.  Also, I look forward to being more “hands on” in homeschooling our kids.
  • Develop leadership skills.  I know that I am both called and gifted to lead, but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as shepherding you through teaching.  I plan to visit other pastors who I see as unusually gifted at leadership in the local church to gain insight, ideas, and encouragement.
  • Work on a discipleship book.  Since finishing my doctorate in 2009, I have long desired to put my dissertation into a more accessible book.  I hope to spend time writing during this break.

Most of my time will be spent here in town, with occasional trips to seminaries and churches for meetings and study.  In my absence, the elders will give leadership to preaching, counseling, and the overall membership duties I regularly exercise.  John Mueller will assume leadership of the ministry staff.  This is a great opportunity for you to pray for me, your elders, and to embrace being led by a group of godly men rather than one.

Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be refreshed and refocused in this way!

Making Disciples with You!

Pastor Mike

Leave a comment

Introduction to Matthew

This past Sunday we began a new series in Matthew’s Gospel entitled, Kingdom Community: The Story of Jesus Christ.  I like overviews because of what they accomplish in me and in the body, specifically the BIG IDEA of the book is better understood and the connection to the consistent story of the whole Bible is made.  I hope and pray that’s what was accomplished in the hearers this past Sunday.

However, I also find the overviews a bit difficult because as much as I desire to preach the theme, it is easy to veer into teaching the academics.  I felt like we accomplished the point of the text (in broad strokes) on Sunday morning.  I believe that we all gained a greater perspective that Jesus is the single, glorious Messiah prophesied about throughout the Old Testament, and that He has established, is establishing, and will finally establish His kingdom.  I can only pray and labor to keep the bigger picture in view as we begin to dive into the more specific texts starting this Sunday with the “begets” in Matthew 1:1-17.

I wanted to also give credit where credit is due for source materials for this past week’s message and, I’m sure, in subsequent messages.  I would strongly recommend any of these sources to you, particularly the ones that are single-volume works.  I believe each home (dad in particular) should systematically gain a library of single-volume reference materials that will give appropriate, and accurate, interpretation leading to credible application in your own families.

(Note:  The images are linked to Amazon for more information)

Message of N

nbc

esv

pillar

6 Comments

Pray for Catherine

I’m writing to call you to a special season of prayer for one of our families.  Andy and Patty Grove have been going through an awful ordeal that has hit them physically, emotionally, mentally, and certainly spiritually.

Catherine, the Grove’s daughter, disappeared from Fayetteville on July 2, 2013.  She left everything and found her way to Wells, TX to join with a group called The Church of Wells.  She had been corresponding with leaders of this group for several months and was led to believe that she needed their help in her spiritual journey.

Time and space does not permit a full explanation, but I’d like to give you as much as I can at this point.  The Church of Wells has “elders” that are all young men in their older 20’s / early 30’s, who studied at credible institutions.  Their theology (to a point) is somewhat orthodox, but their methods and practices are not, which reveals the reality of their theology.

The “church” speaks of what true conversion looks like, and will go to extensive means to see someone “convert.”  They will “preach” to an individual for hours on end in one sitting with to no contact from loved ones.  They will not allow the them to have ongoing contact with others who could sway them to leave the “church” home.  The young person in their midst is called to renounce their parents who try to rescue these sons and daughters.

Catherine is in the middle of all this, and the Groves have been completely cutoff from contact with Catherine.  They remain in Wells to garner support and encouragement from the community of believers in the town and region (north to Tyler and south to Lufkin).  Media outlets are picking up the story, and this is not the first time this group has made headlines.  Authorities are aware of the situation.  It must be stated, however, that Catherine (26) has not requested to leave, which has complicated the hope to rescue her.  She is weak, apparently deceived, and in need of rescuing from outside of herself.

While I encourage you to get updates from a newly created Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/prayforcatherinegrove), here is Patty in her own words:

We still have not been able to or meet with Catherine “one on one” and converse freely with Catherine since she arrived here in Wells Texas. Her cell phone has been cut off from being reached since she disappeared from Fayetteville on July 2nd. AT&T phone records show someone else took over her phone number on June 21st. The problem is not that we can’t see or talk to Catherine, it’s that NO ONE can freely see or talk to Catherine.

On an “earthly” level the Groves are trying to draw as much attention to the situation, particularly through the Facebook page.  We know, though, that the only hope that will bring complete rescue and healing is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.  Church, pray!

Pray…

  • that God would strengthen and bring clarity to Catherine’s mind to choose to leave with resolve
  • that God would bring deliverance to all those deceived, including those supposing to lead
  • that God would move among civil authorities to protect the weak and captured
  • that God would shut the mouth/voice of deception in The Church of Wells…causing only His truth of justice and mercy to prevail
  • that Andy and Patty would be strengthened, comforted, and encouraged while depending on the work of the Holy Spirit to rescue their daughter

Lastly, it needs to be said that until the Facebook page when live a few days ago, the family had requested the situation be kept private for various reasons.  Now that it is public, we pray that God would provide all the persons of peace He may choose to use to free the captives and bring glory to His name in their restored lives.

Please visit and follow the Facebook page (linked above) to keep up with the latest reports and regularly encourage the Groves during this incredibly difficult time.

Praying with you,

Pastor Mike

1 Comment

Making Disciples on the Go

Baptism ≠ Discipleship

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

Without a doubt, baptism is part of making disciples, but just baptizing alone does not ensure faithfulness to the Great Commission.  The measurement of faithfulness to the Great Commission to baptismal numbers has always been misleading.  At best, it represents the beginning of the disciple’s journey, but even then the veracity of being a disciple is seen in perseverance.  We need to examine if our discipleship processes actually help the believer persevere.

As we baptize new believers into the life of the local church, we are to teach them to observe all that Christ commanded.  Only when we are teaching baptized believers to live out the commands of Christ are we actually making disciples.

This would mean that evangelism is not merely a precursor to discipleship, rather the beginning phase of discipleship.  Let me unpack that statement for a moment.  When Christ calls sinners to repentance, 100% of the time it is an imperative, a command.  The initial evidence of one becoming a follower of Christ, a disciple, is obedience to His command to repent and have faith.  Of course it is the Holy Spirit who enables our obedience, but it is nonetheless obedience.  The disciple is taught to obey Christ’s commands.

Next, Christ commands believers everywhere to be baptized.  This, again, is an imperative, not a suggestion, and certainly not a religious rite to attain conversion (not even in part).  The true believer is to publicly acknowledge the sovereign, gracious, saving work of the Savior through baptism before the community of saints, the church.  The (true) disciple obeys Christ’s command and is baptized.

As this new believer is brought into the communal life of the local church, the church should be geared to make sure this new brother or sister in Christ is walked alongside indefinitely, life-on-life, helping give instruction (with accountability) what the Scriptures say about the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  This is where another disciple does what a disciple does, make disciples.

Too often we chop up discipleship into phases cheapening the meaning of “disciple” and, therefore, taking a risk that we are not wholly fulfilling the Great Commission.  We speak of evangelism, discipleship, and missions (or being “missional”) as if these are separate from one another.  I would contend that what we are trying to communicate is the fact we have lost the weightiness of what it means to simply be a disciple, a follower of Christ, and feel the need to promote an aspect of discipleship in an attempt to recapture the biblical nature of being a follower.

If we are to simply follow Christ, we will command men and women everywhere to repent and be baptized; we will serve the poor, seek justice, show deference to loving our church brethren, get on planes to do the same in lesser reached places.  We will realize that making disciples “as we are going” (Matt.28:19) is more about the disciple on the go than it is about where the disciple goes.  We will have to realize that we are actually always on the go and always making disciples.  We just have to make sure it is Christ (of the Scriptures) we following and lead others to follow.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.