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Toledo UBF Message Preaches Finding Rest in Men Rather Than God 
26th-Jul-2006 08:24 pm
On Sunday, July 16, the Toledo UBF messenger delivered a message based on Matthew 11:20-30. The key verse is Mt: 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The following is an excerpt from the message.

“Third, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (28-30). Let’s read verse 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes I see people having difficulty in accepting certain passages in the Bible. But Matthew 11:28 is usually not one of them. In general people are very happy to hear Jesus’ invitation and are really glad to hear Jesus’ promise “I will give you rest.” Who among us does not like to rest? The truth is we need rest, both for our body and for our soul.

When I first prepared this message, I rejected the thought that rest includes physical rest for our bodies. I readily understood that Jesus gives rest for my soul. But could Jesus really give rest for my body? I realized that this attitude is really a reflection of my careless stewardship of my body. As some of you know, I had my second hernia surgery three weeks ago. Why did I have to have two hernia surgeries? It is only because I foolishly lifted more than I could handle and proudly refused to ask for the necessary help for moving. Rest for my body has been my last priority. Due to lack of regular exercise, my stomach muscles became weak. Now I can lift almost nothing and my body is broken. So now I repent and will come to Jesus for both physical and spiritual rest. In order to prepare my body for a lifelong mission of house church ministry, I’ve decided to find ways of regular exercise. 1 Corinthians 6:19 states: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”

While we may readily agree that Jesus’ promise sounds good for the future, we may also be wondering if Jesus really can give us rest today, right now. No one else may understand our specific, personal burdens. Moreover, my idea of rest may be quite different from other people’s idea of rest. How can Jesus give rest to all people who have so many different kinds of burdens? At our group Bible study, one person said his idea of rest was a bike ride. Another person said rest was a good nap. What one person thinks of rest can be a burden to someone else. That’s one reason why it is so difficult to really help people. But Jesus our Good Shepherd knows exactly how to give each person rest.

In the Bible, we see that Jesus has much wisdom and many ways to give rest. Sometimes Jesus immediately removes the burden of people. For example, Mark 1:42 reads: “Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.” But other times, Jesus did not take away the person’s burden right away. For example, Jairus had a great burden because of his sick daughter. But instead of removing this burden, Jesus allowed him to experience an even greater burden of hearing the news that his daughter had died. Yet at the right moment, Jesus gave rest to Jarius {sic}by allowing him to experience the joy of his daughter’s resurrection to life. Jesus’ promise is true. Jesus will give you rest when you come to him. This is not only a promise to be fulfilled when we get to heaven, where we will have no burdens. This is Jesus’ promise for today.

Look at verses 29-30. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” A yoke keeps two oxen together, going in the same direction. Typically when we think about rest, the word “yoke” does not come to mind. A yoke gives us an image of a task master, cracking the whip to keep the oxen moving. But here Jesus described himself as “gentle and humble in heart”. He said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who gently yet firmly leads us in the right direction. To take Jesus’ yoke is to be united with Christ.

Still the concept of taking the yoke of Jesus is an elusive and even confusing idea. We may wonder why Jesus compares us to smelly oxen. How we actually come to Jesus and take his yoke? If we are weary and burdened, we to come to Jesus. As we read the honest struggles in the book of Psalms, we cry out to God in our agonies of soul and burdens of life. We speak to God. This requires great deal of practices. As Christians we need to learn how to perfect our conversational skills with God—our real big Boss in heaven and earth.

Practically, we can find rest through Christian fellowship that reflect the real presence of Christ Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” When we come to the fellowship of believers, we must come in Jesus’ name. It is to have gentle and humble spirit of our Lord Jesus. Leaders are humble and gentle to hear to cries of souls and touch the bruised emotions of fellow believers. For this we all need to learn Jesus who is humble enough to welcome sinners and gentle enough to listen to them. For example, some people asked me how I could find rest by coming to Toledo UBF and delivering a message. The way I found rest was not by doing less work. It was by meeting and praying together with fellow believers in Toledo. I know that they love me. They welcome my presence. In the course of talking to our leaders in deep conversations and fellowships, my spirit is revived. My emotion finds rest. My burdens are still there, yet the peace of God dwells within me."
Comments 
27th-Jul-2006 12:36 am (UTC) - Analysis of Toledo UBF Message - Part One
There are two points with which this message misapplies Jesus’ words.

First, the messenger does not focus on Jesus or the context of Jesus’ words when discussing Jesus’ command to find rest in Him. In Matthew 11:11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The context of Jesus’ saying these words was that in the previous verses, Jesus praised God for revealing himself to the little children, rather than the wise and learned. The wise and learned (Jewish leaders) rejected Jesus. The Jewish leaders imposed legalistic, man-made laws upon the people, telling them that failure to follow these laws was rejection of God and thus destined for eternal damnation. Not only did the people have to obey God’s law, but they had to obey the Jewish leaders’ law as well. Thus, people had the double burden of not being able to obey God’s laws and having to live under man-made legalistic laws. Further, the man-made laws of the Jewish leaders would often supersede God’s law. The Pharisees would permit people to give money to the temple in lieu of giving to their parents. Thus, the man-made rule of donating to the temple was more superseded God’s law of honoring one’s parents (Mark 7:10-12). Further, the Jewish leaders imposed these man-made laws without providing any help to their followers (Luke 11:46). The people of Jesus’ time were miserable because they had no relationship with God and no one to lead them toward God. They had no connection with God. Jesus said that the people were to be greatly pitied because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mt. 9:35-38). The people were left weary and heavy-laden with burdens, living in misery.

Then, Jesus came to them. Jesus provided a different message. Jesus preached that people did not have to live in misery, because they failed to follow God’ laws and man-made laws. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This was a fresh, exciting message. Jesus was in direct contrast to the Jewish leaders. The Jewish leaders were proud and arrogant, imposing themselves upon people. Jesus was gentle and humble in heart, standing at the door waiting to enter (Rev. 3:19-21). The Jewish leaders imposed burdens upon people. Jesus took away burdens with his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Jesus provided rest for people’s souls by giving people victory over sins and death. Without Jesus, people are constantly heavy-laden with the burden of being disobedient to the law and the eternal punishment from God. Jesus loves the world so much that he shed his blood to take this burden away.

The Toledo UBF messenger does not discuss Jesus’ love and sacrifice to give his people spiritual rest from the heavy burdens of this world. The Toledo UBF messenger does not even discuss Jesus giving us rest for our souls through his death of the cross for our sins and resurrection from the grave. In fact, the messenger’s focus is that people must find spiritual rest through works rather than Jesus. The messenger writes “Practically, we can find rest through Christian fellowship that reflect the real presence of Christ Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” When we come to the fellowship of believers, we must come in Jesus’ name. It is to have gentle and humble spirit of our Lord Jesus. Leaders are humble and gentle to hear to cries of souls and touch the bruised emotions of fellow believers.”

The messenger states that leaders are humble and gentle to hear the cries of souls and bruised emotions. Only Jesus can truly hear the cries and touch the bruised emotions of fellow believers. While leaders can provide encouragement and prayer during difficult times, believers must come to Jesus for ultimate comfort.

27th-Jul-2006 04:45 am (UTC) - Re: Analysis of Toledo UBF Message - Part One
First, the messenger does not focus on Jesus or the context of Jesus’ words when discussing Jesus’ command to find rest in Him.

Thank you for the good analysis. I think you are right. The Toledo UBF message completely ignores the context fo Jesus' words. The Toledo UBF author does not try to find the biblical meaning of "rest" in the context of the related Bible passage. But the Toledo author tries to find the meaning of "rest" through personal experience. The Toledo author tries to find the meaning of "rest" throught common sensical understanding of "rest".

It seems that the Toledo author uses the Bible passage just to pick an idea to get his/her thinking rolling. In this case, the Toledo author picks "rest". But after s/he picks an idea, "rest", his/her thinkig takes off like an unrestrained wild roller-coaster ride. Once s/he picks the idea of "rest" from the passage, the rest of his/her thinking or analysis of "rest" has nothing to do with the Bible passage. The Toledo author is thinking very hard about "rest" but his/her thinking lacks biblical foundation.

In inductive Bible study, one must OBSERVE and then INTERPRET before apply. Here OBSERVE means one should "absolutely" stick to the Bible passage of his/her interest before any application of the passage. One must dig in the the Bible passage of his/her interest working very hard to restrain one's thinking from taking on a wild roller-coaster ride.

After I read the Toledo UBF message, I felt so tired wihout finding any "rest" even though the Toledo UBF message was about "rest". I think I can conclude that the Toledo UBF messenger is not trained to curb his wild thinking so that s/he could produce something useful and meaningful through his thinking. I feel so bad about myself because I used believe that UBF messages were world class messages and UBF message trainig was so excellent. But the Toledo UBF message shows that UBF messengers have not mastered even the basic requirements of focusing their thinking on an easy topic. I would recommend Pecowas to the position of the Toledo UBF messenger.
27th-Jul-2006 12:37 am (UTC) - Anlaysis of Toledo UBF Message - Part One (Continued)
The messenger provides a personal example that also focuses on men rather than God. He writes “For example, some people asked me how I could find rest by coming to Toledo UBF and delivering a message. The way I found rest was not by doing less work. It was by meeting and praying together with fellow believers in Toledo. I know that they love me. They welcome my presence. In the course of talking to our leaders in deep conversations and fellowships, my spirit is revived. My emotion finds rest. My burdens are still there, yet the peace of God dwells within me.” The messenger writes that there are two reasons he finds peace; working to deliver the message and prayer meetings with Toledo UBF members. The messenger’s example focuses on men rather than God. He finds peace through the members of Toledo UBF rather than God. Of course, fellow believers provide encouragement. Fellowship and prayer among fellow believers can be a great blessing to every Christian’s life. Jesus created the church so Christians can have fellowship and prayer. Doing works also are commanded by Jesus. James wrote that faith without works is dead. However, no amount of Christian fellowship and goods works can take away the weariness and burdens from sin and failure. Only, Jesus can give us rest from such burdens. Thus, the message proclaims that Christians find peace, comfort, and encouragement from men rather than God. No wonder the messenger concludes that he still has burdens. Had the messenger focused on Jesus, he would have concluded that Jesus gave him rest from his burdens.
27th-Jul-2006 12:38 am (UTC) - Analysis of Toledo UBF Message - Part Two
Second, the messenger reveals that Toledo UBF does not encourage people to find rest in Jesus, but leads people to a life of being weary and burdened in UBF. Jesus gives rest from the heavy burdens of this world. The messenger has been delivering messages every three months since last year at the “invitation” of Paul Hong. However, the messenger’s health has been poor recently. The messenger writes “As some of you know, I had my second hernia surgery three weeks ago. Why did I have to have two hernia surgeries? It is only because I foolishly lifted more than I could handle and proudly refused to ask for the necessary help for moving. Rest for my body has been my last priority. Due to lack of regular exercise, my stomach muscles became weak. Now I can lift almost nothing and my body is broken.” Considering that the messenger has just had a second hernia surgery and is physically weak, perhaps he should postpone driving to Toledo, spending many hours preparing a message, and standing for at least thirty minutes delivering the message. The messenger wrote that he needs to spend more time in physical rest. However, while in Toledo UBF, the messenger had no time to rest, only burden to get back to message preparation. The messenger writes that “our family was also glad to be invited for lunch by Sh. Mark and Carol Gamber and for dinner at Sh. Jeff and Lauri Lewis. I apologize for staying only about 15 minutes and then leaving. But I had to prepare this message.” Toledo UBF laid down the burden of spending many hours preparing the Sunday message. Therefore, the messenger could only spend fifteen minutes rushing through his meal before rushing off to prepare the message. If the messenger’s preparation is similar to when I prepared messages at Toledo UBF, he likely had maximum of four hours sleep. The messenger was oblivious to Toledo UBF’s lack of concern. He actually embraces it. The messenger stated that “the way I found rest was not by doing less work. It was by meeting and praying together with fellow believers in Toledo.” This is UBF-speak for finding rest in Christ means doing more work in UBF.

Doing works has always been UBF’s priority. UBF does not encourage people to find rest in Jesus, but find rest in works. The UBF messenger reveals this clearly throughout his message. Works of UBF leaders and of himself are emphasized while Jesus is deemphasized. Even when the messenger discussed Jesus, the focus was on Jesus’ physical healing of Jairus’ daughter and of leprosy rather Jesus’ spiritual healing through his death on the cross and resurrection. The messenger teaches that Christians should rest by working with other Christians. More specifically, UBF members who are weary and burdened should find rest by working more in UBF. Practically, this would include attending more meetings, participating in more activities, writing more testimonies, delivering more messages, and doing more menial chores for the chapter director. This is a false teaching. Working harder and with more frequency in UBF only makes people more weary and burdened than before. Why? Because instead of seeking to find rest in Jesus, they are seeking rest in work. The truth is that only Jesus gives true spiritual eternal rest is through his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.
27th-Jul-2006 12:00 pm (UTC) - the boy was lonely
I think the messenger in question is an attention starved person. He has been playing ubf in anonymity for several years. He is not getting his share of plastic smiles, flattering comments, and free bowl of ramen on a daily basis. This has been his main motivation in playing ubf, and when that was reduced by moving to Detroit, he got sad and felt burdened. But by giving a speech at Toledo ubf, his needs for ubffellowship were satisfied, and he confused it with joy from Jesus. ubfffellowship has nothing to do with taking rest in Jesus.

Also, he was totally lame in regards to analyzing any of the passage, but he made a speech anyways. I recommend he run for something like ubf alderman. He would make a great politician, like the rest of them.
28th-Jul-2006 03:10 am (UTC) - "true rest" and "true freedom"
The UBF-speak that most of us are familiar with includes phrases such as "true rest" and "true freedom." They mean "constant work for the group" and "obedience and subservience to the group's leader(s)," respectively. Rest is almost always equated with laziness in sermons and other forms of teaching. Freedom is equated with permissiveness and moral decay. You can hardly hear the words "rest" and "freedom" without that adjective "true" in front of them.

In their teaching and sermons, Jesus' attempts to rest and vacation with his disciples were ALWAYS interrupted by things like crowds of "sheep," Jesus' many "one-to-one" appointments with his disciples, and the occasional need for Jesus to appoint a new UBF-style "director" of the remote region that he happened to be visiting with his disciples. Never mind that there were probably interludes of real uninterrupted rest and time off with his disciples that are not recorded in the Gospels. Never mind that Jesus actually saw the necessity of physical rest for both himself and his disciples.

Here are some examples of UBF's "true rest" and its "therapeutic" effects from a previous discussion:

* Andrew and his elder brother Ivan were down with influenza and temperature above 39C. Yet, they were commanded to attend a meeting. Ivan did not attend the meeting, therefore his wedding was postponed. Andrew – being younger and not so courageous to decline – attended the meeting that lasted after midnight when there was scarce public transport. After that, he got a sever pneumonia and later bronchitis, which healed completely only after leaving UBF, because in UBF he had never enough time to rest and recover.

* Before conferences, they had 15 different meetings a week in Kiev (in Heidelberg, it was similar, by the way) where they had to come to the center

* Those who wanted to visit their parents in the summer holidays were publicly dispraised

* Those members who attended other churches in Kiev were considered “lost sheep” [must not be "true rest" if you "keep the Sabbath holy" in a different church]

* You could not be in a good standing with UBF without attending *all* meetings

* One shepherdess was told to come to a meeting, although she had fever and her infant at home

* When the wife of the leader left the hospital in order to attend a UBF meeting, though she was on a drip, this was presented as exemplary behavior

* If you leave Kiev and visit another church in another town, you are denounced by the leader [Again, the "true Sabbath rest" must only be in UBF.]

Only after you leave UBF do you learn that "rest" in the Bible may actually means rest and "freedom" may actually mean freedom.

A reputable teacher knows and teaches that Jesus himself is a Christians' true Sabbath rest. But in UBF, with the holy importance given to the Sunday meeting(s) and equating it (and only it) with "keeping the Sabbath holy," I did not once hear that Jesus is our true Sabbath rest, in my decades spent there. UBF effectively turned Jesus' teaching on its head and made Sunday my least favorite day: Man was made for the Sabbath, not the Sabbath for Man.
28th-Jul-2006 03:25 pm (UTC)
When I first prepared this message, I rejected the thought that rest includes physical rest for our bodies. ... Rest for my body has been my last priority. Due to lack of regular exercise, my stomach muscles became weak.

Um, maybe he's trying to say that rest for his body has been too much of a priority ("lack of regular exercise"). In the end, he resolves to rest physically by getting regular exercise. Maybe I should just stop trying to understand UBF "messages."
29th-Jul-2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
In the end, he resolves to rest physically by getting regular exercise.

That point also struck me. He is talking about rest and concludes he needs more exercise.

What we need is both, physical rest and physical exercise. But physical rest (or even going on vacation) is so unimaginable in UBF that the closest thing they have to proffer and can talk about is physical exercise. That would be the utmost thing they would concede to you, but only if the negative symptoms of sitting too much in the UBF center are already noticeable. Compared with the UBF hamster wheel of meetings, sogam writing etc., physical exercise is like a wonderful rest. I think that was the train of thoughts here.

I remember the "Abraham of faith" in my chapter who did nothing but work as a staffer in the office, write sogams and make 1:1s. That was his whole life. He was either sitting in his office, or in the UBF center (now, he even lives in the 2nd floor of the center). After 15 years or so, his muscles had already degenerated. His physician prescribed him weight training. In a sogam similar to the one above, he announced that he would start weight training in order to care for his body (so he can server UBF for many more years). He even bought a subscription for the gym. But I think he only went there 1 or 2 times and then stopped. He could not do it besides his job and UBF activities and family (which he already neglected). I think that man needs at least 1 year vacation to recover from UBF and start functioning normally again.
29th-Jul-2006 05:17 pm (UTC) - Jesus, the true "rest"
Practically, we can find rest through Christian fellowship that reflect the real presence of Christ Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 18:20

The Toledo UBF author seems to say that UBF work is “Jesus’ yoke”. He seems to also say that obeying a church leader is also “Jesus’ yoke”; working more for UBF is “Jesus’ yoke”. In conclusion the Toledo author establishes that working hard for UBF even to the point of death is a true way to find “rest” in Jesus.

I think this is also true for some churches that require “absolute” commitment from members. Their theology of “Jesus’ yoke” is: “Work more for your church to find true rest in Jesus.” This is the case especially with Korean churches. UBF members are trained to think that the more you work for UBF without taking rest, the more you prove that you love Jesus. If you attend a UBF meeting even though you are very sick, you show the true sign of your love for Jesus. Since most UBF members are doing this, they think that UBF is the most exemplary ministry in the world. Is this biblical? I think that kind of attitude is more related to Korean or Japanese work ethic than to biblical teaching. UBF and many Korean churches apply their Korean work ethic to interpret a Bible passage.

Since it is a little difficult to see what Jesus means by “rest” in the immediate context of the passage, I suggest that we look at other similar passages in the Bible and come back to the passage to see if it would help. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus uses the word “rest” which in Latin is requiem. In Genesis 2:2, after God finished 6 day creation work, he “rested”. In Latin it is requievit. So when Jesus said “I will give you rest”, I think it has the same meaning as rested in Gen 2:2.

“Rest” was built into God’s creation. Gen 2:2-3 says “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” God established the seventh day as a day of “rest” and “blessed” it. We can say “rest” is God’s blessing. The “rest” God instituted in his creation is also “holy”. “Rest” is not just to take a break from work. Taking a break from work without blessing and holiness does not constitute biblical meaning of “rest”.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” So the seventh day, a day of “rest”, is supposed to remind us that God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it in 6 days and he also “rested”. So “rest” seems to be instituted as a sign that God is the Creator.

It seems to be very much clear now that true “rest” comes from God who is the Creator. When we remember that God created the whole world out of nothing, we can take a break from our work/anxiety/burden. When we remember that God gave a son to Abraham who was like a dead man, we can truly have “rest”. If there is anyone who is weary and burdened, take a break and come to God who is the Creator; he will give you “rest”.

Jesus is God who was in the beginning. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Therefore true “rest” comes from Jesus who is the Creator. Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

People didn’t believe in Jesus who is the Creator. Jesus showed many signs to them to show them clearly that he is God. But they did not repent. They thought they were excellent and well-trained messengers. They thought that their trainings were so good to provide them true “rest”.

Jesus who is the Creator is our yoke! But the Toledo author tries to put UBF work as Jesus' yoke on his audiences claiming that doing UBF work will give them true “rest”. If the Toledo author were a true Christian, he would try to put Jesus on them as their true yoke. UBF leaders try to make their people to worship UBF more that Jesus. UBF is true burden. Jesus who is the Creator is our true and only “rest”.

One word: UBF, true burden; Jesus, true “rest”!
29th-Jul-2006 09:59 pm (UTC) - Re: Jesus, the true "rest"
I agree with your analysis. Yes, in UBF, "the yoke of Jesus" is "UBF activity" (the "UBF hamster wheel") including also subordination to UBF leaders. If you hear the word "yoke", then this association seems obvious ;-) They also overload many biblical expressions with this meaning. Another example is "the cross of Jesus" and "calling" being "royal priesthood" and "make disciples" etc. etc. It all means "doing UBF acticity."

The most laborious day in the week of every UBFer is the Sunday. Of course they will tell you that you have to see it with "spiritual eyes" then all of this acticity on Sundays is not activity but "true rest." For anything that seems contradictiory to the Bible, they use the prefix "true", that works like a logical negation.
30th-Jul-2006 05:04 am (UTC) - supplementary info
15th-Oct-2011 12:45 am (UTC) - Thank you
Hi all, Just want to say thank you for this criticism. I was the Toledo messenger who wrote this message. This critique has been immensely helpful. As I read this message again, I can see how absurd it was! I really only could conclude that rest=works and works=rest. In reality, all I really wanted was to get done with this message delivery so that I wouldn't be bothered with the burden of going to Toledo for message training for at least another couple months. That was the rest I wanted at that time.

I think this kind of criticism is very helpful to ubfpeople. The leaders there need to see a mirror and get off the hamster wheel. The only real point of these kinds of messages was to keep me doing ubf activities, which for me was Sunday message. Thank you all so much for helping me get off the wheel!
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