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Bob Young

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Thanks for visiting our website! The photo this month is from February 2016--I always feel extremely blessed to be invited to speak in chapel when I visit Baxter Institute in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. [Click picture to enlarge.]

speaking in devotional at Baxter

Ministry has always been a team effort--Jan and I have shared the work of ministry and missions for 46+ years! In addition to the customary "Brother Bob," I am also known as dad and papaw. My favorite breakfast is huevos fritos, frijoles, and tortillas, with a good hot sauce and a cup of quality coffee! My greatest joy in life is being part of the kingdom; my #1 priority is to advance "kingdom things" and help develop "kingdom people." I seek to serve and share the good news about Jesus everywhere I go. One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be loved by so many people around the world!

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It’s Sunday Again: I Am, Therefore I Act

April 17th, 2016

We spend a lot of energy in the church trying to get people to do what they ought to do. We study motivation–we encourage, we scold, we “lay on” guilt trips. We have missed a basic truth of Scripture. I am, therefore I act. One cannot get “faith actions” out of “unfaith” people. According to James 2, faith acts. If faith is present, actions follow. If actions are lacking, faith is lacking. My actions tell others who I am. My identity comes first–my actions follow. My actions are consistent with my identity. If I am a person of faith, that faith clearly defines my loyalties and allegiances, priorities and purpose. I do what I am made to do, what I am intended to do, what I must do to live a consistent life (without internal conflicts which lead to doubts).

A great need in the church is the development of genuine faith that determines the nature and actions of our lives in every circumstance. Paul told the Corinthian church that Christians are “compelled by Christ.” Christ is our life. Christ is our identity. Some churches have spent a lot of energy developing mission statements–statements of desired or intended actions. The best of those mission statements begin with identity statements: we are…. Identity statements must precede mission statement. Identity precedes planning. “This is who we are, therefore, this is what we do.” Churches that fail to develop plans are in danger of losing their identity.

Too many Christians live in an “identity crisis.” We think of ourselves as “church members” but have little interest in becoming disciples. We have made it easier to be a member (be baptized) than to be a disciple (total commitment of all I am and do and have). People are baptized but worship only sporadically. We misunderstand: baptism is invitation to forgiveness, commitment and community. We use the word Christian impotently. Some are called Christians (or call themselves Christians) who little resemble Christ. Some who call themselves Christians jump in and out of church like it was a social club or automobile association. Genuine Christians are not “in it” for the benefits. Genuine Christians are “in it” because of who they are, or more accurately, who they have become through the transformation effected in Christ and by Christ.

When people look at our lives–what we do–do they take note that we have been with Jesus?

It’s Sunday Again: Taking Church for Audit

April 3rd, 2016

Twenty years after I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree, I decided to go back to school to earn a master’s degree. My Hebrew was a little rusty (OK, very rusty!) so I decided to audit a Hebrew course at the local university. There are two ways to audit a course. The first way to audit a course is not demanding—you go to class, you sit and listen, but you don’t have to do anything during the class or during the week between classes. You have the advantage of sitting in class, along with a more relaxed attendance policy, no tests, no compulsion to do homework, and you still get an AU on your transcript. The problem is that when you audit a course that way, you don’t learn much and you can’t do much when you finish. There is a second way to audit a course. You attend every class; you do all of the homework and the teacher grades it. You take the non-mandatory tests to measure your progress. You put pressure on yourself. You benefit, you learn, you grow, you are changed, you act. My ultimate goal in auditing the Hebrew course was to be able to do something—read Hebrew using a minimum of helps. The class was not the goal—the goal was what could occur when I finished the class.

A lot of folks are auditing church using the first method. They sit in class (church) sixty minutes every week, unless something else comes up. They are fulfilling the minimum requirements of their religious audit. They are mostly present, but they are content to let someone else do the studying. A week or two later, they cannot pass a test over the class content (preaching). They do not bring their textbook to class, they do not do any homework between classes; they are not diligent students of God’s Word. They are content to let someone else pray for them—-they leave with the same prayer life they came with. They are content to let others prepare, study, pray, and do the work–before class, during class, and after class.

How can you tell the difference between the academic auditor and the serious student? How can you tell the difference between the church auditor and the serious Christian? Just as in my Hebrew class, the difference is in the results. My goal was to read Hebrew. My success or lack of success was measured by reading Hebrew. Going to church is a good thing, but it is not the ultimate goal. Our commitment to the goal is reflected in how seriously we pursue the course—studying, participating in the discussion group, sharing, practicing, and reviewing. And ultimately, the goal is reflected in how we live, what we do, and how much our lives look like Jesus as a result of our encounter with the Master Teacher.

It’s Sunday Again: “Spiritual”

March 13th, 2016

“I love worship at that church–they are so spiritual….Those are such spiritual men….She is so spiritual.” We talk about it a lot. We think we know what it is. Spiritual–what do we mean? What makes worship or a person or a Bible class spiritual? The idea of being spiritual and the word spirituality are not used frequently in Scripture. What does the Bible say?
The New Testament book that mentions spirituality most often is First Corinthians, a book that is
largely corrective. Spirituality is the opposite of carnality. The context has to do with the influences that guide or control my life. The influences of our human nature are natural, worldly, carnal. The influences of the divine nature or God-image are spiritual.
In First Corinthians (3:2-5), the marks of the human nature are (1) drinks a lot of milk, (2) does not eat much meat and often cannot digest meat, (3) causes or gets involved in envy and strife, (4) mostly lives like the rest of humankind, (5) is divisive in the sense of failing to be a force for uniting, accepting and including. Spirituality is the opposite.
Of course, Paul is not talking about physical food but about spiritual food. A spiritual person digests spiritual food and is nourished by it daily. A spiritual person does not treat the Bible superficially. A spiritual person knows how to to resolve conflict and be a unifying influence. A spiritual person not only deflects strife, such a person knows how to disarm strife. A spiritual person lives by a different value system.
To let the Bible speak, what is spirituality? Paul’s use of the word mentions six things.

  • How you treat others, you always treat others right, 3:1ff
  • Accepting, honoring, and living under Christ’s Lordship, 12:3ff
  • Healthy relationships with all other parts of the body, 12:14ff
  • Demonstrates love, even in the difficult moments, 13:1ff
  • Always building up rather than tearing down, 14:19ff
  • Respect for Scripture, so that every action is guided by God’s ultimate will, 14:37ff
  • The genuinely spiritual person is most easily seen and identified in the difficult moments of life. Spiritual people–treat others right and do what is right, even when it is very hard; develop healthy relationships with the difficult persons, the EGR (extra grace required) people to use a Warren concept; show love to the unlovable; always encourage, involve, include and edify, demonstrating that they are second-mile people; are guided by Scripture, applying Bible principles and honoring God’s ultimate purpose when the lack of specifics can be used to justify doing what everyone else would do.

    It’s Sunday Again: “Letters from an Old Man”

    March 6th, 2016

    Reading Paul’s latter letters, he was probably 60+, perhaps nearing 70. What does an old man see when he looks back on life? Here is only a sampling! What God’s Word says is important–it leads to health and wholeness. God gives instructions, principles, and values–do not get hung up on the what and ignore the why and how. Many Christians do not look much like pilgrims focused on a heavenly homeland–they have bought the lands, houses, and stuff of this world. The contemporary church is too infrequently counter-cultural, too many are guided by the world’s expectations and seek to attract with human words and ideas. Spiritual comes in many forms–God’s spirituality is a rare commodity.

    [Wednesday night class, Park Plaza Church of Christ, “Letters from an Old Man”, Mar-Apr-May, begins this week.]

    It’s Sunday Again: Valentine’s Day, Love and Power

    February 14th, 2016

    We talk about love but do not understand it. We love love, we do not live love.

    Love and power are opposites. They do not coexist. When I operate from power, love is not on display. A bad question: “Who’s going to rule the house?” Another bad question: “Who runs this church?”

    Understand the contrast, difference, relationship of love and power. The one who loves most has the least power and the most authority. Power does not resolve marital problems, kid problems, church problems. Power ends in abuse. Love casts out fear because it casts out power relationships. Power casts out love. Not sure? Read 1 Cor. 13.

    Jesus said power would not be the model among his followers, Mark 10:45, “not so among you.” The home and the church are not driven, not power, not rule and regimentation, domination, control. Power plays should not work. Two basic approaches—use the right one; do not be seduced by power. Power may accomplish the task but it is a shortcut. Jesus rejected that approach in his temptations.

    Love is God’s attraction. Society doesn’t understand it. The macho approach is wrong—period! The world must see love; wives, husbands, children, church members must know love, especially when we are unloveable. The cure to every problem is God’s amazing grace.

    Power is human. Psychology catalogs appetites and needs–survival, belong, accomplishment. One strong will is the lust to power. Tenacity and will to control, dominate, rule, have our own way, receive recognition.

    Forgiveness is a demonstration of love. You cannot forgive and then run over someone like a steam roller. Some preachers, church leaders like to scold and whip and spank and punish. You cannot build a person, family, or church on power. You build on love.

    How Jesus demonstrated his love. -1- No reputation/ego; totally centered in well-being of the other. -2- unselfish, -3- humble service to meet needs of others.

    God’s love. God out there loved me, came down here, picked up the towel, washed feet, served. Can we be ministers of reconciliation, forgive, forget, unify, work, grow, build together—on the basis of love not power.

    Love never fails. It conquers where power fails. It is greater force. The cross stands for love. Fill your space with a sweet spirit, amazing grace; be salt on the earth and light in the world. Blessed by the love of God, guided by the love of God, offering others the love of God.

    What Kind of People Ought We to Be?

    February 7th, 2016

    It is common to read the Bible in small sections, ignoring the larger context. One place that happens is in 1 Corinthians 3. The context of chapter 3 includes chapter 2 where Paul explains that authentic spiritual wisdom is available to spiritual people who think in spiritual ways and can apply spiritual truths to real life settings.
    To explain the problem in Corinth, in chapter 3 Paul uses two similar adjectives. There is only a slight difference. The words are sarkinos and sarkikos. The root of both words is sarx (literally, flesh); they are different only in the suffix, the last four letters. The “inos” suffix points to the material of composition, “made of….” The “ikos” suffix points to characteristics, thus “characterized by, influenced by, or controlled by….”
    Can you see Paul’s point? He would like to write to those who are characterized by spiritual realities (pneumatikos, 3:1, reflecting chapter 2). He cannot; he has to write to those who are very much like every other human being, composed of flesh (sarkinos, NET uses the phrase, “people of the flesh.”) He calls them babies in Christ.
    They are not only “people of the flesh” (v. 1, sarkinos) they are still influenced or characterized by the flesh and fleshly concerns (v. 3, sarkikos). The evidence Paul cites is their jealousy and dissension. They are acting like mere human beings—-both by nature, and in their thinking.

    A picture of the contemporary church! When we begin the faith journey, we face two challenges. One, our nature is transformed so that we become participants in the divine nature. Two, how we think and the things we value changes, so we are influenced and characterized by the spirit and not the flesh, described in chapter 2 as spiritual people discerning spiritual things.
    Too many Christians are trying to live using only one or the other of these two powers. We cannot stop being humans and living in this world. (The New Testament never describes Christians as pneumatinos, made up or composed of spirit). Nevertheless, we have two natures—-human and image of God. As Christians, w are given a new nature and become participants in the divine nature. When we walk by the Spirit we do not fulfill fleshly desires (Gal. 5). We have a new outlook (Rom. 8) and live according to spiritual influences and values.
    Christianity is not only how you act. Christianity is how you think! Some do reasonably well with actions but keep on thinking like the world. This method will eventually fail! When we bring every thought into control (2 Cor. 10), when we are influenced and characterized and controlled by spiritual realities, our actions follow. Our challenge is to grow until our spiritual nature supersedes our physical, fleshly nature. Our challenge is to be led by, characterized, influenced, and controlled by the Spirit. That is how one stops thinking like the world!

    My Mother’s Birthday: 2/2/22

    February 2nd, 2016

    Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 94. She went to be with the Lord a little over 20 years ago, but she is present in my heart and mind rather than physically.
    I still try to live my life in a way that would make her proud. She was and is my heroine. She would be amazed, but perhaps not surprised, at the opportunities God has afforded her son. Her faith, lived out in my life, has taken me around the world to places we never dreamed or imagined, always to the glory of God.
    Today I remember my mother, her influence, her strength, her faith, and her love in the words of Paul to the Ephesians: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (3:20-21).

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