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Thanks for visiting our website! Picture of the Month: sharing the word in Pilanqui, Ibarra, Ecuador; a view of part of the crowd, two baptisms. [Click picture to enlarge.]

Preaching in Pilanqui

Ministry is always a team effort--Jan and I have shared the work of ministry and missions for 48+ years! Countless others have encouraged us, supported us, loved us, and prayed for us. 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 authentic "kingdom people." I seek to serve and share the good news about Jesus everywhere I go, helping people find Jesus and helping people mature in Jesus. One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be loved by countless people around the world!

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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

It’s Sunday Again: “Spiritual”

Sunday, 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: Looking backward, looking forward

    Sunday, December 29th, 2013

    During the last few days of the year, I typically take time to look back and evaluate what has occurred as a foundation for looking forward to what God has in store in the coming year.
    This last Sunday of the year is a good time to look back over 2013 and evaluate spiritual growth. Amidst the host of activities that seem to characterize my daily life, what story is to be written during the last year about my spiritual growth, my spiritual maturity, and my walk with God?
    The questions are personal–not necessarily for sharing. It is a time to ask about my habits–reading, meditation, and prayer. It is time to ask about how wisely I use my time. It is time to think about relationships, opportunities, and the purpose and direction of my life.
    The backward look is the first step of a meaningful forward look that typically includes some new resolutions. Let me encourage you to take a few moments for self-examination today on the Lord’s Day, or in the next couple of days as another year concludes!

    Heaven: Wanting God

    Thursday, July 19th, 2012

    Consider these phrases from the song, “As the Deer”.
    As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you. I want you more than gold or silver. Only you can satisfy.

    I am glad we sing songs of faith and dependence, because the daily grind of life tends to undo the reality of God-dependence. With economic pressures, problems and conflicts around the world, and our own individual struggles, we often think life in this world depends on better human endeavors.

    One of my favorite topics for preaching is “heaven.” The Bible says the goodness of God leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Heaven tells us just how good God is. When I try to understand heaven, I find motivation for living in Christ. I do not remember when I first heard the illustration, nor where, nor from whom.
    I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you are definitely going to heaven. The bad news is that God will not be there. Do you still want to go?

    I realize such is hypothetical, even unreal. Heaven without God? Heaven without Christ? But get behind the irreality, and think about the point. Do we seek God or deliverance from punishment? Are we focused on God or streets of gold?

    A goal for today: think often about the presence of God in your life, and seek his presence. Only in his abiding presence can we know his plan and purpose, his power, his provision and protection, and his promises.

    Surrender to What Counts

    Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

    You will never be worth much to God in your Christian life until you learn this lesson: surrender to what counts. The spiritual disciplines must include surrender. In fact, surrender is likely the first, before any other discipline. Surrender is the ultimate expression of thinking like Jesus (Phil. 2:5-11). Until the lesson of ultimate surrender is learned, we will continue to think it is about us and that success depends on us.
    It is not effective to surrender to minutiae, the trivial, or the urgent. These are never worthy of becoming the focus of our lives. Surrendering to what counts is not easy, because a plethora of tasks, good projects, and commendable activities call for our attention. The choice of the best over the better or the good is seldom easily seen or done. But that which will be “number one” is the only thing worth giving our lives for.
    Surrendering to what counts will cause us to discard as unimportant the things the world teaches us to value. Cross-carrying: that is what Jesus calls surrender. The kind of cross-carrying Jesus describes and demands will demote self-promotion, possessions, reputation, and the accolades of others.
    Surrendering to what counts opens new doors of genuine service and effectiveness in the Kingdom, because all that matters is the business of the King.

    God, help us this day to surrender ourselves fully. Help us to identify the things that really matter in life. May we surrender ourselves to what counts, because of the majesty of the One we know as Lord, Amen.

    Accountable for What?

    Monday, February 6th, 2012

    Peter several times mentions the problem of forgetting and the need for reminders (2 Pet. 1:9,12-15; 2:20-21; 3:1,5,8). Because we are prone to forget, we need reminders. There is too little “review” in the typical church. In the academic world, students review so they can pass a test. In many occupations, professional journals provide reviews and help one stay current with new developments. But down at the church house, whether in our Bible classes or sermons, we seldom review.

    This article is a review–a follow-up to a recent sermon on accountability. For what are we accountable to God? Preachers continually remind their hearers that we are accountable before God. Unfortunately, many sermons begin and end with a call to be accountable before God by obeying the gospel in baptism. Certainly baptism is a necessary part of our initial obedience and imitation of Christ (thus we become disciples, followers of Christ). But baptism is the beginning, not the end. Baptism is not a cure-all. After baptism, the question remains. For what does God hold us accountable? What is essential?

    #1–PURPOSE.  God holds me accountable for getting the FOCUS of life right. What is at the center of my life? What is my purpose on earth? If one misunderstands the purpose of life, all else will be messed up.

    #2–PEOPLE. God holds me accountable for RELATIONSHIPS. Three are paramount.

    • God holds me accountable for a heart of worship. I was made for intimacy with God. Do I live intimately with God? Do I seek his presence? Does my life honor, adore, magnify and glorify him.
    • God holds me accountable to live out faithfully my family roles.
    • God expects from me healthy friendships. God’s plan for his creation includes my godly friends, shared intimacy, friendships that are more than fellowship.

    #3–POWER.  God makes his power available to me, and thus holds me accountable for how I live my LIFE.

    • God holds me accountable for serving. Jesus by example teaches me to pick up the towel and basin. He calls me to advance the Cause where it does not exist. He calls me to live out the reality of God in this world wherever I go.
    • God holds me accountable for my work. God created me and I am responsible for learning how to work hard and enjoy work. This is not natural; this is an acquired aspect of my Christian accountability.
    • God calls me to rest. We do not know and appreciate the place of sabbathing (resting). In our culture, we are driven. We never stop; we never rest. We do not work well because we do not rest well.

    #4–PASSION.  By the gifts God gives me, he calls me to be passionate about life, and holds me responsible as a STEWARD.

    • I am a steward of my physical body.
    • I am a steward of God’s stuff–possessions and opportunities.
    • I am a steward of my mind, with the great God-given capacity for creativity.

    I suggest that virtually all of life is encompassed in these four categories–10 items.

    • Purpose.  Getting the right Focus. 
    • People.  Working on Relationships–to God, family, friends
    • Power.  Using God’s power for Life–service, work, rest
    • Passion.  Using God’s gifts in good Stewardship–body, possessions, mind

    Young in Spirit

    Saturday, May 15th, 2010

    At times it becomes a bit comical to me. Many Spanish-speakers (especially in countries where there is little familiarity with English or few opportunities to hear English spoken) have trouble with my last name–in spelling and more so in pronunciation. Pronouncing the initial “Y” in Young is not an easy task for many native Spanish-speakers. The sound of “y” in Spanish is “ee”. The name tag I received recently as a speaker in a Biblical Studies Conference in Latin America spelled my name “Joung.” I beleive the most unusual spelling was “Chiaoung.” Regardless of spelling, the “y” sound often becomes a “j” or “ch”.

    As I meet people and explain my name, conversations often turn to the meaning of my name and the frequent observation that I am not all that “young” except in name. People seem to like commenting on the disconnect between my name and my age. Perhaps that is why I appreciated the comment of one student during the Bible Conference. He had heard part of my class and observed my conversations, demeanor and attitude in relationships with others. As we shared the typical conversation, he said, “But you are young in spirit.” I thanked him and said that I hoped that was the case, because I thought it kept hope alive for all that God is doing and will do in the spread of Christianity in Latin America.

    As I have thought about his comment, it occurs to me that his observation provides a pretty good description of the Christian attitude. If we are renewed day by day inwardly, even as our outward appearance and body fade, one would expect that this renewal would cause us to be young in spirit. His comment has given me a new goal: I want always to be young in spirit.

    Recession Doesn’t Change Church Attendance

    Saturday, March 28th, 2009

    I have heard speculation recently that the economic downturn is increasing the interest of the American population in religion (in a way parallel to the increase observed after 9/11). A new study released this week by Gallup (March 23, 2009) shows that church attendance and the importance of religion in our daily lives has not changed over the past year, despite the speculation that the economic situation would generate a return to God.

    The Gallup research, based on over 425,000 interviews shows that:

    • Sixty-five percent of the population say that religion is important in their daily lives (64% in February 2008).
    • Forty-two percent say they attend church, synagogue or mosque weekly or almost weekly (41% in February 2008).
    • The percentage of Democrats, Republicans and independents who say they attend church, synagogue or mosque weekly or almost weekly has also remained constant over the past year.

    You can view the complete report with charts at
    http://www.gallup.com/tag/Religion.aspx.

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