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Bob Young

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Thanks for visiting my website! This month's photo was taken in November 2014. In Guatemala I preached at an area-wide worship in the mountain village of Timushan. Members were present from 6 congregations, many of whom walked up to 3 hours to be present. There were about 130 present. No electricity in the village equals no interior pictures! Pictured are some of the leaders who attended.[Click picture to enlarge.]

church leaders in Timushan

I am Jan's husband; this is her work as well as mine. I am also dad and papaw. My favorite breakfast is huevos fritos, frijoles, and tortillas, with a great hot sauce and a cup of good coffee! My greatest joy in life is being part of the kingdom; my #1 priority is to advance "kingdom things" and 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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Understanding the Christian Life

January 12th, 2015

The words from Mark Bergin caught my attention: “And so we open the Scriptures and say our prayers, not in an effort to be with him, but because he is already with us.”
What a wonderful truth, shining light clearly on a common misunderstanding of the Christian life. Bible reading and prayer is not a part of a daily checklist to be pleasing to God. For the Christian, communication with God is not courtship and seeking relationship. It is the faithful action of the bride of the Lamb seeking ever-deepening relationship and understanding, ever growing love.

It’s Sunday Again: Relating Faith and Wisdom

January 4th, 2015

First Sunday of the New Year, what to say, how to begin. Thoughts from the book of James. Seeing clearly in a world of shadows. An unchanging God in an undependable, ever-changing world–waves, burning sun, temptations, shadows. Ours is a world of trials and challenges. Sin easily overcomes. Only a singular focus on God will guide the journey.

  • Seeing God clearly helps us see ourselves and others clearly.
  • The faith that sees God clearly acts in response.
  • When one sees God, God’s wisdom shapes faith and life.
  • Seeking God requires establishing priorities.

2015: Seeking a beginning, or an ending?

January 1st, 2015

As I get older, I am more and more amazed at the emphasis placed on the beginning of the New Year–almost as though there is something magical in turning the calendar and learning to write a new number. What I really want for 2015 is not a new beginning; I want a more certain ending! Since my beginning has already been written, what I am really looking for is the ending.
In one sense, a new beginning is not possible. I cannot ignore or undo what has gone before. I cannot pretend the past did not happen. Louisa Fletcher got it right in her poem, The Land of Beginning Again. “I wish that there were some wonderful place In the Land of Beginning Again.” Beginning again is wish, not reality.
I cannot begin again, but I can change my future. I cannot rewrite the past, but as I write my present my future is changed. Each day, the ending is nearer, in fuller view, in better focus. Therefore, in 2015 I am not seeking a beginning, I am focusing on the ending.
In 2015, learn from your beginnings (your past) and move certainly and faithfully toward the ending God has in mind for you. Keep your eyes on the goal! There is a resolution I may be able to keep!

Saying Good-bye to 2014–Anticipating 2015

December 29th, 2014

One of my favorite “end of year” sermons when I was active in full-time ministry was titled, “Ending the Old Year Well.” Here is an updated version.

As one year closes and another begins, is it possible to fine genuine renewal? Can resolutions last longer than a few days? The answer is “yes.” Here are three steps I find helpful: Reflection, Relationships, Renewal.

As a first step, I reflect upon the past year. Some parts of the past year were not pretty. Other parts of the year are highlights and memorable. The human tendency is to dwell on the pleasant things. The problem is that we may fail to learn from the less pleasant things. Here is something different.
When I reflect upon the events of the past year, I look for two things. First, Where can I see that God was at work? What did God do? Second, What did I learn about God’s nature? As I recount the year, I consider God. I am trying to understand God, learn more about God, learn to depend on God. You can do this however you like. I like to use a page with two columns–God’s actions, God’s faithful nature. We cannot be still as the Psalmist teaches (Psalm 46) and find peace until we are confident that God is God–-active and consistent.

Reflection is a mental process that seeks to touch the heart. Celebrating and strengthening relationships is a matter of the heart and emotions. Relationships are not only emotional–relationships are where the values of our life are lived out. This second step has two parts. The first part has to do with my relationship with God. Does my life reflect my confident trusting relationship with God, based on his nature and actions? My loving relationship with God compels my relationship with others so I must begin with God. Then I can honestly consider how my heart connects with those around me. How are my interpersonal relationships, with spouse, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers? Celebrate the relationships of your life. Pray about and resolve to strengthen the weak points.

The ultimate goal is renewal. The average New Year resolution does not reach the goal. Renewal is a life-changing process which occurs only when the foundations (biblical principles) are in place and the current situation is understood with the values clearly defined. Our behaviors are the result of what we think and value. Paul wrote to the Romans (12:1-2) that transformation is the result of a changed mind (changed from the inside, not as a result of external pressures), and changed lives that no longer conform to the value systems of the world.

Every step of this process is so important. Thinking + values = behavior and changed lives. God + the present = the future.
Certainly there are other ways to end the year well, but here is a memorable and easy tool. Why not invest some time over the next couple of days? Spend that time with God thinking about who he is and what he has done, is doing, and will do. Take an honest inventory of your present reality, both where God is and where God isn’t in your life. Seek to rebuild and restore relationships. Seek to understand God’s plan and will for your future. I believe you will find renewal in trusting, experiencing, and depending on God.

It’s Sunday Again: Mystery?

December 28th, 2014

Christmas is past. For most, that means the holiday season will begin to wind down. Yes, one more less than routine week remains between Christmas and New Year’s Day, but the gift returns and exchanges are already planned, the decor will soon come down to be stored for another year, and life will return to “winter normal.”

The Sunday after Christmas is a sort of “let down”. The pews are emptier, the spirit less buoyant, the Nativity all but forgotten. What should one say on the Sunday after Christmas? What can be said after all of the happy experiences and the excitement of Christmas?

Listen carefully. What I want to say is in the form a question, and then more questions. “What if there remains a mystery we cannot explain?” The Christmas story we know, but what if we don’t understand? What if familiarity has blinded our eyes? What is this process of a divine Word becoming flesh, a divine Being emptying himself to become human? What kind of God penetrates the human experience once for all with his own presence, fully participates in what it means to be human (including death), and blasts open the God-human, Creator-created barrier to restore full fellowship? What kind of transformed life is made possible when those trapped in human experience, temptation, and disgust are allowed to become participants in the divine nature?

What if we don’t have it figured out? What if 1+1+1+1+1=5 doesn’t reflect the whole truth? What if S+P+P+C+G=W is technically correct but practically lacking? (Singing, Praying, Preaching, Communion, Giving = Worship) What if it is more than H+F+R+C+B=S? (Hearing, Faith, Repentance, Confession, Baptism = Salvation) What if the older version which includes life applications is more accurate? (F+R+C+B+LF=S, that is, Faith+Repentance+Confession+Baptism+Live Faithfully = Salvation)

The Supper is a good time to ask such questions. What if there remains something mysterious that is beyond comprehension in the three-dimensioned existence of this world? Something that has been revealed, but remains in the “not quite” category? “This is my body….this is my blood.” Do this, declare my death (not life) until I come? Something strange is going on here! Will you take a moment to touch the strangeness, or are you already back to the routines of a “check list” Christianity?

Christmas Hymns-6

December 25th, 2014

Merry Christmas!
While it is almost certain that Jesus was not born on December 25, this is the day of the year when much of the world is thinking about the events surrounding the coming of the Savior of the world. I take only a moment of your time today as we prayerfully delight in God’s eternal plan to send his Son for the salvation of the world. May you know the peace of God that is possible only through the reconciliation accomplished in Christ’s death on the cross, reconciliation which restores friendship with God and removes sin. Newness is possible because participation in the death of Christ makes possible the crucifixion of the old nature and the raising up of a new nature as we participate in his resurrection. (Read Romans 6 for Paul’s description of the process that allows us to contact the saving blood of Christ, escaping the past and being born into a new life reality which determines our future.)
The hymn below is well known, based on the Nativity narrative of Luke 2.

“Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born king.”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled!
–Charles Wesley, Christmas Hymn

Christmas Hymns-5

December 24th, 2014

The four songs which are presented today include lyrics by Timothy Dudley-Smith, an Anglican bishop who writes one new Christmas carol a year. These lyrics are of particularly high quality. Dudley-Smith is a biographer and former associate of John Stott. All of these are copyright in the US by Hope Publishing Company.]

Secret Birth
Child of the stable’s secret birth
The Lord by right of the lords of earth
Let angels sing of a king newborn
The world is weaving a crown of thorn
A crown of thorn for that infant head
Cradled soft in a manger bed.
Infant hands in a mother’s hand,
For none but Mary can understand
Whose are the hands and the fingers curled
But his who fashioned and made our world:
And through those hands in the hour of death
Nails shall strike to the wood beneath.

Holy Child
Holy Child, what gift of grace
From the Father freely willed!
In your infant form we trace
All God’s promises fulfilled.
Holy Child, before whose Name.
Powers of darkness faint and fall;
Conquered, death and sin and shame,
Jesus Christ is Lord of all!

Tell Out, My Soul (based on the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer in Luke 1:46-55)
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord:
Unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice;
Tender to me the promise of his word;
In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name:
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
His mercy sure, from age to age the same;
His holy name, the Lord, the mighty one.

Exult, O Morning Stars Aflame
Exult, O morning stars aflame!
With all the works of God proclaim
The Child of Bethlehem who came
For love and love alone.
Come earth and air and sky and sea,
Bear witness to his deity
Who lived, the Man of Galilee,
For love and love alone.

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