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Thanks for visiting our website! This month’s picture is of a seminar in Guatemala at Ezell Clinic, December 2018. [Click picture to enlarge.]

Seminar in Guatemala

Ministry and mission work is a team effort -- Jan and I have shared the task of ministry and mission work for over 50 years! (We traveled together to preaching appointments during the year before we were married.) Countless people have encouraged us, supported us, loved us, and prayed for us. In addition to the customary "Brother Bob" or "Hermano Bob," I am also known as dad and papaw. One of my favorite breakfasts is huevos fritos, frijoles, and tortillas, with a good hot sauce and a cup of rich Colombian coffee! My greatest joy in life is being part of the kingdom; my #1 priority is to advance "kingdom things" and to help develop authentic "kingdom people." I seek to share the good news about Jesus everywhere I go, helping people find Jesus and helping people mature as disciples of 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 ‘Bible’ Category

Colossians 1 Revisited: Kingdom People

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

What does God want from us?  What does God want from his creation?  What is God’s message that we are called to take into all the world?

These questions continue to burn in my heart.  We have made our little lists.  We have focused on an institutional concept of the kingdom and missed the bigger picture.  We have been more interested in being affiliated with the kingdom than in becoming genuine kingdom people, fulfilling God’s purpose as “image of God” people in a fallen world.  Mere affiliation with the kingdom (membership, church roles, even church attendance) will never substitute for being a kingdom person with total allegiance and loyalty to the King.

God has rescued us and moved us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son.  The text continues by (1) reminding us of how powerful Jesus is because of who he is and what he has done that makes him worthy of praise and adoration, (2) calling us to participate in the redemption and reconciliation he provides, (3)  challenging us to find genuine hope through his presence within us, and (4) communicating God’s ultimate purpose in Christ that we become mature and genuine.  No wonder Paul wrote:  We Proclaim Him!

You can read the entire story in Colossians 1:13-29.  Praise Him, Proclaim Him!

Preaching: What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

When I was a kid, I  liked the section of the comics that challenged the reader to identify the things that were wrong in a picture.  I admit that sometimes I still glance at the children’s section of the comics to see how quickly I can find the problems in the picture.  Keeps my mind sharp–questioning and thinking about the disconnects of life. Forgive me while I “rant.”

The “news” article was about a preacher that took his sermon theme from a pizza company mission statement.   The pizza company representative was quoted as saying, “It’s humbling that our values can be used for such a higher cause.” Sorry to be a naysayer!  “Is there something wrong with this picture?”

I have long suspected, after working with lots of students in sermon preparation classes and after reading lots of sermons online and in various publications, that a subtle shift (and sometimes not so subtle!) is occurring in how preachers go about the task of preaching. Lots of preachers just don’t know the Bible. They borrow (steal?) sermons. They find ideas and inspiration almost everywhere but in the Word of God.  I always enjoyed listening to Jim Bill McInteer.  I was amazed that he knew just the right Bible story to illustrate his point, many of them from obscure Old Testament stories.  Today preachers seem to get their illustrations from everywhere but the Bible.  Do we live in an age where our preachers get their sermon ideas from every place EXCEPT the Bible?  Is the church’s mission informed by God’s purpose or a pizza chain’s pledge?  Who should be influencing whom?

The article was titled, “Pizza a key ingredient in sermon.”  I guess that’s news.  Let me suggest something else that would be news in a lot of congregations:  “Word of God a key ingredient in sermon.”  Preachers! May God help us find our mission and purpose in life by tuning our lives to Him so that we desire his Word as did the Psalmist!

The Bible: Renewal Handbook

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

More and more Christians are using this time of year as a time of remembering God’s bountiful blessings. Various plans are available. One plan uses November as “30 Days of Thanksgiving,” another suggests 40 days of thanksgiving beginning in mid-October and concluding on Thanksgiving Day, another counts 40 days of Thanksgiving beginning just after mid-November and concluding on December 31.
It is vital that we Christians renew our minds with the eternal value system of God’s Word. Each day we must focus afresh on God and how he makes a difference in the important issues of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going. One value of a daily focus on thanksgiving is that it reminds us every day of God and his role in the world and in our lives. Another way to experience daily renewal is to focus every day on an affirmation from God’s Word. The Bible truly is our “Renewal Handbook.”

I encourage you to join me in making December a month of affirmation. Tomorrow I will post an article explaining the use of affirmations. I will explain the process and help you begin to develop the “affirmation habit.” I will explain how you can develop your own affirmations and use them in your daily walk with God. Each Sunday during December, I will provide affirmations for the week.
Reading (or recalling) a daily affirmation and using it in a morning or evening prayer does not require much time, and such affirmations can help you develop the habit of “renewal through meditation.”

A Bible Problem

Monday, October 28th, 2013

It really was not funny (at least not to the person involved), but several people in the Bible class were laughing.
Jan and I were visiting another church, sitting near the back of the auditorium which was only sparsely populated. In the middle of the Bible class we began hearing someone speaking. At first I thought it was interference with the microphone system and that we were hearing feedback from other channels, shortwave, police, etc. Before long, I could tell that the voice was coming from a pew two rows in front of us. It seemed the noise was getting louder.
Finally, the person sitting in front of us got up to exit the class. As we she walked by us she explained, “The Bible on my phone is reading the text to me and I can’t figure out how to turn it off.”

The situation got me to thinking about possible uses for a Bible ap that reads the Bible to you and cannot be turned off. Equally useful would be an ap that turns the Bible on and begins the Bible reading automatically when the owner is contemplating some negative action. Even better, the ap could choose especially appropriate verses.

A more practical thought: In reality, the Bible cannot be turned off. We may choose to read it or not, to hear it or not, but the Bible is still there, and God’s Word is still God’s Word.

More People are Reading the Bible

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

The Bible is no longer only a book. The Bible is an ap. On Sunday, I carry my Bible–a hardback book. A friend frequently reminds me that he has hundreds of Bibles (versions) on his computer. He follows up with the observation that he cannot read many of them because they are in other languages. Many read Scripture in the public assemblies from a smartphone or tablet.

A news report (NBC Evening News, September 19, 2013) mentioned that Bible usage is on the increase (based on statistics available concerning aps and use of electronic Bibles). According to the report, more and more people are reading and consulting the Bible. In one sense, more people are “carrying” a Bible and more people have ready access to what the Bible says. The technological revolution has also given us immediate access to concordances, comparative Bibles, and other Bible study tools.

I am grateful that people find in Scripture comfort and advice concerning life matters. I am equally or more concerned that people find in Scripture the will of God and that they obey it in Christian practice.

Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the Father’s will. –Jesus

Kierkegaard: If I Do That….

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

I get a lot of emails—lots of people sending lots of things vying for my attention. Most are automatic deletes. The following brief excerpt from Soren Kierkegaard was sent under the title, “If I Do That….” Its source was listed as “Kill the Commentators,” in Provocations. Read, contemplate the nature of authentic discipleship, and ask when and how we soften the demands of God and defend ourselves against the Bible.

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

There you have it. “To ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.” God forbid!

Have Our Preachers Quit Reading?

Monday, May 7th, 2012

In March, at a gathering that draws Christians from across the nation, I visited with the owner of a Christian bookstore. He is a good friend; I always ask how sales are going. His observation, “Our preachers have quit buying books. Look around you. Our preachers are not here. These are motivated members who love the church, are actively involved, and want to improve their own lives. Most of what I sell is not to preachers.”
Last week I visited with the owner of a bookstore that specializes in used books. He is a brother in Christ and his bookstore has an excellent selection of used (and inexpensive) books of interest to Restorationists. He and I reminisced, and I thought about the countless hours I have spent over the past 40 years in browsing used books. He said, “Our preachers have quit buying books.” He was referring to preachers in churches of Christ. As I reflect upon his statement, another question surfaces: “Have our preachers quit reading and studying?”

We live in a world with multiple information sources. One does not have to acquire books to read them–public and private libraries have amazing sharing plans and almost any book in the world can be accessed at a local library. One can e-read with Kindle and Amazon. The Internet is everywhere. But much of the significant research and up-to-date information is in copyrighted books that are not distributed electronically.
The answer to the question in our title can only be answered by our preachers, and each must answer personally. For me, I have not quit reading, but I read differently. During some years of my ministry, I read or reviewed a book a day. I read the New Testament through every month. I have changed my reading habits, but I still read–some would say voraciously.
I am sure of one thing. Christianity rests upon the principled foundation of truth, and when our preachers quit reading, researching, and studying, Christianity is in trouble.

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