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Bob Young

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Thanks for visiting our website! The photo this month was taken during a seminar in Santiago de Chile, November 2016. [Click picture to enlarge.]

Seminar, Santiago de Chile

Ministry has always been a team effort--Jan and I have shared the work of ministry and missions for 47+ years! In addition to the customary "Brother Bob," I am also known as dad and papa. 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 All Begins with God–“In” [#3]

January 15th, 2017

We struggle to understand God. The challenge is even more apparent as add another dynamic: God in us.
A brief review. Everything begins with God. In the beginning, God. In the beginning, the Word. Eternal existence, no beginning, no end. Above and beyond human concepts of space and time. Above matter, speaking matter into existence. Creative power, creative genius, sustaining the universe. This is God; this is Jesus pre-incarnate.
Then, the Incarnation. At the Christmas season, many think about Jesus and the beginning of his physical life on this planet. This is God with us. The baby in the manger is popular, non-threatening, lovable. But the story of Jesus’ life among us is not complete unless the story of his birth leads to the story of his death. Easter, as a religious event, even more popular than Christmas. Who doesn’t want to be saved? Who cannot sympathize with a suffering Savior? Who is not touched by the passion of Christ? God demonstrates love, he clearly shows how much he is for us.

I wish I understood more fully the significance of eternal existence–the One who is the very image of God, for whom all things were created, the One who now sustains and has always sustained this physical creation (Col. 1; Heb. 1). I wish I understood better the “God with us” dimension of Jesus’ coming. I wish I understood better how powerful is Jesus’ presence right now before the throne of God, the clear declaration that God is for us. I think clearer understanding of “with” and “for” would be helpful in the third dimension of this series.
I also want to understand what it means that he is “in us” or “within” us. Wow! God in us!

Seven well-known texts show us different dimensions of “God in us.” Here are the passages: John 14:23; Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:22; Ephesians 3:17; Col 1:27; 2 Timothy 1:14. What should we see? What conclusions should we draw?

  • Before he left the earth, the promise of Jesus to his followers was that God and Jesus would take up residence in those who keep his words.
  • The Spirit (of God, of Christ) lives in Christians, as evidence that we are in the Spirit and that we belong to Christ, and as promise that we will be resurrected.
  • Christians collectively are the temple (dwelling place) of God, where the Spirit of God dwells.
  • The church is the dwelling place of God through the Spirit.
  • Christ dwells in human hearts by faith.
  • Christ in us is the hope of glory.
  • The Holy Spirit dwells in Christians.
  • Since God is “in” us, “within” us, how shall we then live? Four truths can be distilled from these seven passages. We live….

  • In the Word. Paying attention to, obediently keeping, his words (guarding the sounds words)
  • In the s(S)pirit. Meditating on and focused on spiritual things
  • In relationship. As belonging to God, as belonging to Christ, in his presence
  • In expectation. Expectantly, hopefully

  • It All Begins with God–“For” [#2]

    January 8th, 2017

    God for us. A rich Bible concept not easy to grasp. Summarizing: God is on our side; God wants us to win; God wants us to succeed. From the reverse side: God is not against us.
    God is for us (Rom. 8:32-39). This alters our understanding of God. God is not a celestial policeman waiting to measure us with a long list of prohibitions. God is cheering us on; God protects, guides, helps, sustains, rescues, saves.
    God is for us (Rom. 8:32-39). This alters our understanding of life. When God is for us, nothing and no one can successfully oppose us.

    Why understanding this idea is important
    Because we spend so much time grasping for grace. We do not understand grace. How can we wrap our minds around grace? God is on our side, even when we mess up, even when we have messed up. The gospel message is not, “God will love you if you…” Or, “God will love you if you quit….” Or, “God will love you if you don’t do….” The fundamental message of Christianity is that God—-in all of his holiness, justice, and love—-is for us, creating us to be like him, re-creating us to be like him, helping us be like him.

    Because the gospel is positive, not negative. The gospel is what we are “for,” not what we are “against.” Or better said, the gospel is God for us, not God against us. It is amazing how often Christian faith is defined and understood by what it is against. The central message of Christian faith is about what we are for, because that is the central message of the gospel. God is for us; he is on our side. The gospel message that “God is for us” alters spiritual reality in our lives; it is not about guarantees of health, wealth, and success in this world.

    Because it is beyond incredible that God is “for us”! Philippians 2:5-11 is helpful. To understand the depth of the “God is for us” declaration, we have to understand Jesus. Here is the center of the gospel. Here is the supreme evidence of grace. We cannot really talk about God unless we mention Jesus. We cannot tell about Jesus without mentioning God.

  • Jesus existed with God, in the form of God, in the very nature of God, equal with God.
  • Incarnation, Jesus emptied himself, he became like us, he assumed human likeness, but even more, he came desiring to serve. Hebrews 1-2 presents Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man. The whole idea is counter-intuitive.
  • Jesus is made like us, in human form, participating fully in the human experience, even dying.
  • Jesus comes doing the unexpected–living by a different value system. Jesus humbly submits to death, and even worse, death on a cross. The gospel of God “for us” denies the value systems of the world.
  • Jesus comes confronting life’s greatest challenges. Victorious living does not guarantee the absence of problems.
  • The victory is secure, the victory is won. God exalts Jesus above every other authority.
  • Why the message that “God is for us” is Good News

  • Because we cannot handle our past. We do not know how to undo the past, we are constantly burdened by our failures.
  • Because we cannot handle the present–the here and now. We cannot solve life’s problems. Life in this world is a puzzle that frustrates us.
  • Because we cannot handle the future. We cannot find a fresh start with our own power and efforts. In reality, we are in an impossible dilemma in this world.
  • Because God has already handled our past, our present, and our future. He was “playing on our side” before we were born. He has done what we cannot do. With God for us, the victory is assured!

  • It All Begins with God–“With” [#1]

    January 1st, 2017

    The message of Scripture can be summed up in five affirmations about God. In Jesus Christ, God declares that He is with us, for us, within us, beside us, and before us. Five affirmations–five sermons!
    Jesus’ coming to earth in the incarnation continues and makes certain in new ways an Old Testament promise: “I will be with you.”

    Tracing this idea through Scripture
    “God with us” is an Old Testament concept: check out Abraham, Joseph, Moses… “I will be with you.”
    In the New Testament: read Matthew 28:20, read about Paul in Corinth in Acts 18. Check your concordance.
    What does “God with us” mean? This is not God beside us; this is not God within us. This is God with us. This is Hebrews 1-2: son of God, son of man, combined in Jesus.

    Struggling with this idea
    We struggle with this idea. We hear people say, “And then God showed up.” Where was he before he showed up? We talk about coming into God’s presence—are we not always in his presence? Where can we flee from his presence? Read Psalm 139 again. Often we pray, “God be with them.” Is He not always present? We struggle with God’s “where” because we do not understand his “who.” We sing songs that ask God to come near. What does that mean? Is it figurative language? What does it mean that something is a “God thing”? Perhaps we mean that God was active providentially. Let us never think that God suddenly shows up.
    We struggle with this idea—God with us—because of the times it seems he is not with us. How do we explain? Why does God act in one instance and not in another? Why does it seem that God is “here” sometimes and not at other times? The idea that God is sometimes here and sometimes not leads to faith problems—the absent God, the dead God, the optional God.

    Clarifying this idea
    God Present in the World. We can’t really see life clearly unless we understand God’s role in the world. God is with us—even when bad things happen. “I will never leave you.” For us Christians, the presence of problems does not mean the absence of God. That was true one time—Jesus on the cross, and the Bible says that even then, his prayer was heard.
    God Transcendent above the World. The transcendent God balances the present God. We do not understand—how is it possible that he is both at the same time? Rob Bell is helpful when he explains that one way the Hebrews described God’s action and presence was in the Hebrew word ruach. If you know Hebrew, you may immediately think spirit, breath, wind. But you do yourself a disservice. Ruach is energy, creative, surprising, surging in and through everything, holding stuff together, like a cosmic electricity, power, divine energy. This is God ever-present and ever-sustaining. Ruach is breath, it is wind, and it is spirit (although our English word spirit has a lot packed into it that the Hebrews did not have). It certainly doesn’t mean less real, or something unpredictable—jumping in and out of existence, jumping from here to there.
    God in the World through the Church. God with us: Jesus inhabiting hearts by faith, the coming of the Holy Spirit. The church is the fullness of God’s presence through Jesus.

    Applying this idea practically
    God is present in his church, present in every moment. What are we supposed to learn? “God with us” helps us answer four questions.

  • What is real? “God with us” says that there is a spiritual dimension to our existence. “God with us” transcends physical realities. We are spiritual beings—we are spiritually connected. This says something about who we are and how we should understand our existence in this world. God energizes us—he gives breath to our physical bodies.
  • Where is our focus? “God with us” raises our view above this world. We see further, we see God. This mixes the daily and the religious, the common and the uncommon. There is more to this world than what we see because of God’s penetration and participation in this world.
  • What is important? “God with us” says that what is going in our lives is supremely important. It matters, it matters to God, there is no such thing as hum-drum, every day kind of stuff. Moses experienced it at a burning bush.
  • What is the goal? “God with us” says there is hope, things can change, things can get better.
  • Jesus lives!

    December 25th, 2016

    Jesus lives! He lives eternally which means that he has always lived! He is eternal life, he is the source of life.

    First, remember that Jesus “was” in the pre-Incarnation. He was participant in the creation. John begins his gospel with the statement, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God” (John 1). The Godhead is above time,space and matter. The Godhead does not inhabit space, time, or matter. We humans want to ask, “Where was Jesus before he was born?” but it is not a valid question. There is no where for Jesus pre-incarnate.
    Second, Jesus lives in the Incarnation. What’s the big deal about Christmas and the birth of Jesus? We can answer the “where” question. He inhabits our time and space. “The Word became flesh” (John 1). This is the Immanuel, this is God with us. And, the passion and resurrection could never be were it not for the birth. For many, the story of his birth is what makes Jesus real.
    Third, Jesus is now at God’s right hand, making intercession for us, explaining our case. (Check out Hebrews 9 for an interesting series–he appeared, he now appears before God, he will one day appear again, and much of Hebrews 5-10 explains how we draw near to him.) We want to know, “Where is this?” Heaven defies physical location. We have access to God through Jesus. This is spiritual reality, not physical.
    Finally, Jesus inhabits our hearts (Eph. 3:17). We do not see him, we do not physically touch him. At times, we would now comprehend his presence except for the promise of Scripture.

    I applaud that many are thinking about Jesus and the beginning of his physical life on this planet. But the story of his life among us is not complete unless the story of his birth leads to the story of his death on our behalf. I wish that more understood the significance of the eternal existence of the One who is the very image of God, for whom all things were created, the One who now sustains and has always sustained this physical creation (Col. 1; Heb. 1). I wish that more understood the power of his presence before God “for” us. I wish that more understood the importance of his dwelling “within” us.
    At some time on this Christmas Day, will you join me in prayer that we and as many as we can tell may understand better the power of Jesus’ existence–before he was born, in his life and death on earth, in heaven, in human hearts.

    [Note: the first sermon series I am developing in 2017 builds on these truths. I want to start the New Year with Jesus. Five January sermons: He is “with” us, He is “for” us, He is “within” us, He is “beside” us, He is “before” us.]

    Christmas Hymns-6

    December 24th, 2016

    Today on Christmas Eve, I wish you a 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. Few Christmas carols reference the redemptive aspect of Jesus’ coming, but today’s hymn is rich in theology and has several references to what Jesus accomplished in his coming.
    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. Written by Charles Wesley, it was originally titled “Christmas Hymn.”

    Hark, the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born king.”
    Peace on earth, and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled!
    Joyful all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies
    With angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem.”
    Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king.”

    Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord
    Late in time behold him come, Offspring of the favored one.
    Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate deity,
    Pleased, as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel,
    Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king”

    Hail the heaven born prince of peace, Hail the son of righteousness
    Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings
    Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die,
    Born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth
    Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king.”

    Christmas Hymns-5

    December 23rd, 2016

    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.

    Christmas Hymns-4

    December 22nd, 2016

    This New Christmas Carrol
    [Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)]

    1. This new Christmas carrol
    Let us chearfully sing,
    To the honor and glory
    Of our Heavenly King,
    Who was born of a Virgin,
    Blessed Mary by name,
    For poor sinners’ redemption
    To the world here he came.

    2. The mighty Jehovah
    By the prophets foretold,
    That the sweet babe of Heaven
    Mortal eyes should behold.
    Both King, Prince, and Prophet
    Nay, our Saviour beside,
    Let his name through all ages
    Ever be glorified.

    3. Now, when Joseph and Mary
    Was espoused, we find,
    Having seen her condition,
    He was grieved in mind
    Aye, and thought to dismiss her
    Whom he loved so dear;
    But an Angel from Heaven
    Did her innocence clear.

    4. He declared in a vision,
    That a Son she should have.
    By the Father appointed
    Fallen mortals to save;
    And the same should be called
    Blessed Jesus by name:
    From the high court of Heaven
    This ambassador came.

    5. Then the righteous man Joseph
    He believed the news,
    And the sweet Virgin Mary
    He did no wise refuse.
    Thus the blest amongst women,
    She did bear and bring forth
    A sweet Prince of Salvation
    Both in Heaven and Earth.

    6. When the days of her travail
    Did begin to draw nigh,
    Righteous Joseph and Mary
    They immediately
    To the city of David,
    To be taxed indeed,
    E’en as Caesar Augustus
    Had firmly decreed.

    7. Being coming to the city,
    Entertainment they craved,
    But the inns were so filled
    They no lodging could have;
    For the birth of our Saviour,
    Tho’ he was Prince of all,
    He could have there no place
    But a poor oxes stall.

    8. Now the proud may come hither,
    And perfectly see
    The most excellent pattern
    Of humility;
    For instead of a cradle,
    Deckt with ornaments gay,
    Here the great King of Glory
    In a manger he lay.

    9. As the Shepherds were feeding
    Of their flocks in the field,
    The sweet birth of our Saviour
    Unto them was reveal’d,
    By blest Angels of Glory,
    Who those tidings did bring,
    And directed the Shepherds
    To their Heavenly King.

    10. When the Wise Men discover’d
    This bright heavenly Star,
    Then with gold and rich spices
    Straight they came from afar,
    In obedience to worship
    With a heavenly mind,
    Knowing that he was born
    For the good of mankind.

    11. Let us learn of those sages,
    Who were wise, to obey;
    Nay, we find through all ages
    They have honour’d this day,
    Ever since our Redeemer’s
    Bless’d nativity,
    Who was born of a Virgin
    To set sinners free.

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