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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 ‘Worship’ Category

It’s Sunday Again: Will Anything Surprising Happen Today?

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

We don’t know what to do with God!

We want to control him, box him, understand him. We want our Christianity in neat, little, predictable packages. We want a Holy Spirit under control. We are so committed to “decently and in order” that we limit God.

Christianity is a personal treasure hunt! Treasure hunts are exciting, challenging, rewarding. No price is too great to pay when seeking a treasure of inestimable value! No sacrifice is beyond comprehension–the desire to achieve the treasure controls every thought and action. It is all we think about! It is what we dream about!

Today I am thinking about a treasure in a field and a pearl. We have read these parables too casually! Some things are found by accident; most things are found on purpose! Everything we seek is found in the last place we look! Are you still looking, or do you think you’ve already found it? Are you on an adventure, or are you gliding down the last hill, content and satisified?

Dear Heavenly Father and God of all, surprise us this day with your presence, your power, and your part in our lives. Help us restore the wonder, the awe, and the spirit of fresh worship. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Back to the Future–Forward to the Past!

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

[Reposted and updated from 12/26/07]

Science fiction popularized the time machine with its ability to take a person from their present reality to a different point in time. My boys watched the movie, “Back to the Future,” again and again when they were growing up.
U.S. religious practices reflect an increased interest in spiritual connections and activities. Daniel Wallace, professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, notes a growing appetite for “worship that is [more than] a glorified Bible class.” Interest is increasing in the spiritual disciplines, especially in prayer and meditation. The early Church Fathers are being read. Churches across the theological spectrum participate in weekly communion as a way to bring reverence, spiritual focus, and divine connections into the lives of those who attend. Similarly, baptism is increasingly understood as a reverent, spiritual connection with the death of Jesus, resulting in cleansing and remission of sins.
Something significant is happening in the world of faith around the world. The external excitement characteristic of much of U.S. religion for the past half century is being merged with thoughtful, meaningful reflection and devotion. This is not head instead of heart. It is both/and, not either/or. For increasing numbers of followers of Christ, what the Bible says must matter. Observers see a “return to tradition and orthodoxy, to past practices, observances, and customary ways of worshiping.” These shifts toward biblical teaching and practice are occurring with a cultural consistency and sensitivity that results in “innovative returns to tradition.” I hope those of us with a strong history of restoration and biblical focus will be able to share in the fresh application of God’s Word in the contemporary world. It would be a shame if we who have a history of restorationism missed out on a significant restoration focus. It would be a shame if we refused dialog because some with the same dream that has driven us do not see everything just like we do.

It’s Sunday Again: Worship Begins with Who God Is

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

This past week, I have returned to my “psalms project.” I am writing a devotional based on each of the 150 psalms. As a result, I have had the opportunity to read and reread Psalms 90-100.
Worship begins with a heart attuned to God. The Lord reigns—majestic, strong, eternal, transcendent, invincible, and holy. The Lord is upright and righteousness. On the foundation of who God is one declares God as Fortress and Rock. His creative majesty declares his nature–the world, God’s Word, God’s holiness are immovable.
I suspect that our struggles with worship are indications that we have not recognized God’s glory. It is not enough to recognize God’s existence. God desires to be worshiped for who he is. Therefore, God defines worship–by his nature and by his Word. Worship is a human endeavor but it is God-informed. God designed worship to touch the human spirit but worship is ultimately not about me but is about who God is.
He is worthy of praise!

It’s Sunday Again: Contemplating “Us”

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Since mid-May, I have been in Latin America many more Sundays than I have been in the U.S. What a difference! Last Sunday in Venezuela we had an hour of Bible class, a brief break, and over two hours of worship, including a lengthy sermon preached by a Colombian brother. Such would hardly ever occur in the typical congregation in the U.S.
I believe we can worship and serve God acceptably without lengthy assemblies, but the contrast makes me wonder if we have developed a form of Christianity that relegates our spiritual walk to the corners of our life with only brief appearances center stage. With 44 men present for a 9 am-5 pm Saturday leadership seminar (in a congregation of about 180), I cannot help but wonder if such could occur in the U.S. (Then we men sat around and visited an hour until the rest of the congregation arrived for two hours of Bible study Saturday night!)
Many things typically fill our Sundays–worship, fellowship, spiritual growth, service…. Let me add to the list: contemplation. What would happen if we were to spend a little time in meditation, contemplating us, beginning in the heart and asking what it would mean if we were to whole-heartedly live out our Christian commitment 24/7? Such could prove profitable; such contemplation could change the course of our Christian life.

It’s Sunday Again: “Getting God right”!

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

If we don’t understand God, it is unlikely we will understand much else of our place and life. Understanding God is foundation for understanding Christ; yet Christ shows us God. This is a paradox in Christianity. We do not study God. We do not seek to know him nor understand him. God’s entire purpose is that we might become like him. We cannot become like that which we do not understand. Our worship problems are God problems. Our commitment problems are not only Christ problems–they are God problems. A failure in understanding God permeates and has negative influence in all of life.

When we have studied God, we have put him in preconceived “boxes” that limit our understanding and fail to communicate. We must study afresh! We must seek him. What is God like? What are we like? We are “image of God” people–what does that mean? God creates us, calls us to him, and connects us (to him and one another).

God wishes to bless those who are his. (What does that mean? We need to spend a lot more time in the Old Testament on blessing and cursing.) Perhaps my goal is too ambitious, but I want to share God. I want to “get Him right”!

Note: I am working on a short series of sermons to guide a fresh exploration of the dimensions of God–to be available for seminars in both English and Spanish.

It’s Sunday Again: Hearts Attuned to Praise

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

I enjoy new songs. I am glad we have fresh words and melodies to express our adoration to God. I also like many of the older songs. One song that we sang frequently in the little church where I grew up in central Kansas was titled “Lord We Come Before Thee Now.” For a time, it was sung almost every Sunday as a call to worship. One phrase says, “tune our lips to sing thy praise.” Today I am thinking of a slightly different phrase: “hearts attuned to praise.”

My Sunday prayer guide includes developing a heart of adoration filled with gratitude and praise. Hearts attuned to praise seek opportunities to praise and worship God. Hearts attuned to praise rejoice as prayers and songs are presented before the throne of God. All creation declares the majesty and glory of the Creator. The created order naturally declares God’s splendor, it is a part of the nature of our world. In all of creation, only we human beings are free to choose–to praise or not to praise. Praise is a part of our nature, but we can refuse to acknowledge that part of who we are.

In praise we fully live out who we are and what God has made possible for us as his creation, created in his image and likeness. God, give us this day hearts attuned to praise, so that our tongues and lips, our hearts, and our lives declare your glory.

It’s Sunday Again: Iglesia de Cristo–Crieve Hall

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The last three days have been delightful. The seminar focused on building stronger Christian marriages and families, with participants present from several area congregations. With 10 hours teaching hours scheduled in the seminar, we covered a lot of ground, and continued the discussion during refreshments and shared meals.
Today we shift gears to think about the importance of the church, focusing especially on the shared times of worship and study. God’s wisdom and glory are seen in the church, his dwelling place and the central masterpiece of his saving work, a work which he accomplishes in the world through the church.
For me, sharing time with God’s spiritual family on the Lord’s Day is always special–God blesses his people as they live committed lives, actively engaging in his work to his glory. As we worship together we look upward to God in praise and worship, we look within ourselves and grow spiritually through study and learning, we look around to others in the family of God as we share time around the Table in the Supper and as we exhort and encourage one another, we look to the future as we declare afresh the commitments of our life and our priorities and loyalties.

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