ITLOTC 12-27-13



"This is it."

Who is my family?

Mark 3:31-35 “31 And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you." 33 And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34 And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother."”

Luke 12:53 “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

I've often wondered why Focus on the Family doesn’t paste these verses across their home page.  That’s rhetorical.  Of course they don’t paste these verses on their home page.  Perhaps the real question is “WTH [heck] Jesus?” 

I remembered when I first discovered these verses as a kid.  I was mad at Jesus.  I had/have a great mom and dad who love me, taught me the gospel and raised me in the way the Christ.  Surely Jesus would have no qualms about our relationship and certainly wouldn’t try and pit us against each other.  We were all wearing the same jerseys and they belonged to team Jesus.

As I have pastored I’ve seen these verses come to life; I’ve grown to see their value.  I think there are two ways to appreciate these verses.  The first is tragic, but nonetheless good news.  For the daughter who abused or the son who is disowned or the parent who is rejected the good news is that the characters who played parts in your sad story do make up the whole of your family.  You belong to the church and for all of those of you who have needed to, the church stands ready to listen and receive you as you confess “here are my mother and my brothers!” 

I’ve thought about and prayed for you.   It is very often this time of year when folks go back to where they came from and discover that there has been a slight shift in their worldview and that doesn’t sit well with mom or dad.  Or, so and so, seems to have changed a little and now I feel a disconnect.  I think it’s important to point out that, those disconnects happen and that it’s ok if you feel like they are an occasion for sadness.  Difference often feels a little bit like pain because it usually involves a small death of expectations.  When we go to these places where we have come from we suddenly find that we are not sure if we are from “here” any longer.  And where we came from strangely feels more like home.  It’s in those moments that we find worth in Jesus words. 

The Waters of Baptism

A few years ago I was talking with a friend who had recently discovered that his and his wife’s child-conceiving-options had been narrowed by circumstances out of their control.  As such, they began exploring other avenues.  One option was to get a sperm donor.  I asked my friend if that would bother him.  Would it bother him to have a child with his wife using someone else’s sperm?  In response he said, “No, because if it does then the gospel isn’t true in my life and I have believed what the world tells me, namely, that my biological relationships are the ones that really matter.  But that’s not what the gospel tells me.  It claims that water is thicker than blood.  That the waters of baptism speak more truly about who my family is then the blood that runs through my veins.”  I was humbled by the presupposition of my question and pastored by my friend in that moment. 

That phrase, “water is thicker than blood” has become dear to me.  Tye has employed this phrase in a song he has written about baptism.  It's a truth worth singing.  It names a reality that gives me great comfort as I live thousands of miles from my biological origins and into the reality of God’s great family which is shared in baptism. 

Top Ten Lists

As New Years approaches TV shows will begin airing that feature top ten lists from the year.  Top ten crazy moments of 2013.  Top ten songs of 2013.  Movies in a review, 2013 at the box office.  You get the idea.  In the spirit of closing out the secular calendar, I’d like to highlight my favorite UBC moment of 2013.

I told you there are two ways to understand the verses listed above.  Here is the second.  A few years ago I was interviewed for an article about pastoring and was asked, “have you ever had a moment when you felt like 'this is it.'”  Had I been asked that now I might have answered this way. 

Jeff and Teri Walter have three children whom they love dearly.  Those children love them dearly.  It’s a household filled healthy relationships.  They welcomed their first grandbaby this last year.  Life is good for the Walters.  Brennan Winn is a thriving first grader.  She loves God, has great parents and two sets of Grandparents who love her, even if from 2,000+ miles away.  Brennan had a problem.  Grandparents day rolled around at St. Louis Catholic School and Brennan’s grandparents were still 2,000+ miles away.  Point being I don't think Jesus would be interested in splitting up either of these households.  

I don’t remember when it was, but one day this fall I hopped on facebook and saw this picture.  When I did I thought of two things.  1. The kingdom is among us, and 2. Water is thicker than blood. This will always be one of the memories I treasure the most about UBC.



At UBC we have so many talented folks living out mission in the life of the larger Waco community.

This week I want to highlight one of our many awesome photographers. Molly Winn, mother of the above mentioned Brennan Winn, is a photographing champion.  Her photos have been featured on HGTV’s blog, and few other fancy places. 

She’s one of those people who had the artistic prowess to make photos look cool, like on instagram, 7 years before instagram was invented. 

Enough with my accolades, see it for yourself.

Newest UBCer:

Name: Mayer Reece Richardson

Birthday 12-23-13

Height: 18 inches

Weight: 6lbs 12oz.

Enneagram Number: 8



  • Sunday School will begin again on January 12th
  • From our Children’s Pastor Emily: “For the next two weeks (the 22nd and 29th), we will have our oldest three classes (Bloom, Branch and Root) joining us in the service!”
  • There are still spots available for the Spring Break Monastery Trip.  Contact Craig@ubcwaco if interested
  • Please be in prayer for Dan Venzin.  Dan is our volunteer youth group leader and will be preaching for me on January 5th


Do you have an Emergency?  Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?:

254 366 9779