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Bob Young

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Thanks for visiting our website! The photo this month was taken in May 2016--some of the Sunday morning responses in Peru. There were about 50 total public responses during the two weeks of preaching and teaching, with many restorations, recommitments, and a number of new prospects and Bible studies. [Click picture to enlarge.]

responses in Trujillo, Peru

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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Book Review: Jerry Jones. Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

June 21st, 2016

Jerry Jones. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Seen Through the Character of God and the Mind of Jesus. College Press: Joplin, MO; 2016, 270 pp. softcover.

Dr. Jerry Jones has advanced the study of marriage, divorce, and remarriage in his book of the same title in three ways. First, Jones carefully works through the relevant biblical texts with an obvious commitment to objectivity and shows us his research. He presents various interpretive options and explains which is preferred and why. Second, he points out the problems of some of the traditional ways of reading the texts, thus raising doubts about traditional interpretations. He shows when and why the literal interpretation of the passages studied must be rejected, or at least must not be allowed to be the last word. Third, he suggests an alternative paradigm through which to view the subject—reading the New Testament through the eyes and heart of God and Christ. The book has three principal sections: the study of 1 Corinthians 7 (40 pages), study of the gospel passages (55 pages), and a conclusion (10 pages). The remaining 140 pages are bibliography, charts, and 740 footnotes.

The in-depth academic study of the text of 1 Corinthians 7 is understandable even to those who have not studied the biblical text so deeply. Jones considers the occasional and situational nature of the Corinthian teaching as Paul’s response to a question from the Corinthians.
The comparative study of the gospel texts is thorough, at times exhaustive with multiple references to Old Testament backgrounds. Jones looks at the texts taking into account historical, cultural, linguistic, and grammatical factors. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jones does an intensive study of hyperbole as a literary technique, showing that much of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon cannot be taken literally. In comparing the Gospel teachings, Jones shows the importance of considering the intended audience, the context, and the historical roots, going back frequently to the Old Testament. He explains the nature of occasional, situational literature, a concept that is too seldom applied to the Gospels and the gospel passages related to the subject.
One could wish for more detail in the brief conclusion, but Jones has cast enough doubt on the traditional understandings of 1 Corinthians 7 and the gospel texts to cause the reader to want to seek an alternative. That alternative, calling us to God’s nature, character, desire and purpose, gives a fresh perspective, not only the texts related to the study, but to many other texts where we struggle with literal readings when God is trying to show us something more profound, something with more impact and more hope for changing lives.

Any student interested in studying the topic will want to read this book. The book is a valuable resource because of how well it is documented, thus pointing the reader to primary sources. It makes a valuable contribution to the study of a complex subject.

Evangelism: Finding Interested Persons, Developing Interest

June 21st, 2016

A preacher, one of my former students, wrote me with a question. He was in contact with a person who wanted to be baptized in a church that baptizes in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He asked me about my experience with such situations. I responded to his question, also noting that my experience in Latin America is often the opposite—-those who insist on being baptized in the name of Jesus only. Both situations, although they arrive at opposite conclusions, suggest the same themes and verses for the Bible study.

Our communication was obviously more involved. Saturday morning I received his report.
“So…it went really well. She is new to Christianity and about a month ago started reading the NT. She made it to the end of Matthew and decided she wanted to get baptized, having not read anything else. So, we journeyed through the other gospel accounts and Acts and it came clear to her that her “issue” wasn’t what she thought. It led to a bunch of other questions and turned out to be a really great first Bible study. Thanks for your insights and clarity.”
Although I do not have all the details about the “who, how and why” of this contact, I applaud all who have contact with interested persons who are diligent and serious seekers.

We in the church face many problems with regard to evangelism. An increasing number of Christians fail to grasp that the Lord commissioned his followers to share his message, the average member does not know how to tell their story and share their faith, more and more Christians do not believe it is necessary, the church has developed a “come and see” attractional approach focused on the corporate body rather than a commitment to incarnational presence by individual members, the church has become dependent on a “clergy class” that is charged with ministry, ministry and mission have been redefined in humanitarian terms that have taken precedence over spiritual concerns…the list goes on and on.

In the midst of such challenges, it strikes me that the greatest problem may be that the average church in the U.S. has little contact with or connection to the unchurched masses all around us. We are not in touch with the people who are interested in spiritual things and are seeking spiritual answers. Let us pray for such contacts, let us pray for open eyes so that we can see, let us pray for soft hearts (ours and theirs), let us pray for the ability to say and do the right things to initiate Jesus-sharing conversations with the multitudes around us.

[Note: One of the first topics I present in my evangelism workshop is how to develop interest in studying and understanding the Bible. By learning how to initiate Jesus-sharing conversations, we can find more people who already have interest in spiritual things. By learning how to develop interest, we can motivate interest in those who do not recognize their interest, those who have lost interest, and those who will automatically reject more traditional, confrontational encounters.]

May 2016, Peru Mission–Modeling God’s Purpose for Missions

May 16th, 2016

Mission is guided by God’s purpose. It has the goal of bringing people to a saving relationship with God through Jesus and keeping that relationship strong and growing in the context of shared faith. God’s mission work advances God’s purpose for salvation and the development of the spiritual body of Christ.

Four important mission principles are (1) that the effort be locally-led as soon as possible, (2) that it be participatory, with the involvement of the local church, (3) that it be outreach-oriented, and (4) that it has a vision for making disciples who make disciples.

Over the next 2 weeks, I will—
*Teach principles of mission, ministry and evangelism at IBI (Bible Institute)
*Teach at the Peru national conference of church leaders and preachers, developing preachers, leaders and members in the churches
*Work with churches around Trujillo, evangelism campaign, healthy church development, spiritual maturity
*Work with about 15 churches in Huamachuco: healthy leaders, healthy churches, evangelism

We must discern God’s plan for mission. Often we develop a plan without asking if it is God’s plan, or how it fits into and is consistent with God’s plan. I am committed to duplicating and advancing biblical models of mission:
*Going to new areas where there is no church to help establish a New Testament church
*Encouraging new churches and helping to share the Good News
*Going to established churches to work on healthy church dynamics and leadership
*Training others to do these things

From my Mother: Wealth

May 8th, 2016

Happy Mother’s Day! If your mother is still living, count your blessings this day.

My mother collected little thoughts and sayings. She had many little pieces of paper, some cut out of a church bulletin, others where she had written down something she had heard or read. She put these scraps of paper everywhere–in the textbooks from which she taught, in her Bible, in the multiplied books of poetry and inspiration she collected. Today I share one that I heard her recite on several different occasions, one that she had written out in her own hand. It is slightly edited from Walter Lewis Smith’s “Fulfillment.”

I have planted a garden, so I know what faith is,
I have seen birch trees swaying in the breeze so I know what grace is,
I have listened to birds caroling, so I know what music is.
I have seen a morning without clouds, after a shower, so I know what beauty is.
I have read a book beside a wood fire, so I know what contentment is.
I have seen the miracle of the sunset, so I know what grandeur is,
And because I have perceived all these things, I know what wealth is.

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.

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