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Thanks for visiting our website! This month’s picture is from the August 2018 retreat of Colombian preachers in Santa Marta. I was honored to be asked to participate. [Click picture to enlarge.]

Colombian Preachers

Ministry and mission work is a team effort -- Jan and I have shared the work of ministry and missions for 49+ years! Countless people 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. 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 serve and 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 ‘OT Text’ Category

It’s Sunday Again: God who is present (Genesis Seminar #4)

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

This brief effort of four posts is insufficient. One cannot describe God in four lessons, by focusing on four descriptive words, or by sharing four primary concepts. This is skimming the surface, this is only a beginning. Nonetheless important, because one has to find the beginning point, one has to start somewhere.
Genesis. Creating God, revealing himself as powerful, personal, desiring to bless his creation in the separation of broken relationship, committing himself in covenant and promise. Creating God, promising to bless, providing, sustaining, rescuing. Holy God, separate from his creation yet present. Even with his desire to penetrate, participate in, and resolve (re-create) the human condition, we would likely understand this God as remote and distant were it not for the rest of the story–the repeated phrase, “God was with him.” This truth is boldly visible in the Joseph narrative; it continues in the Exodus, throughout the Old Testament, and becomes remarkably clearer in the birth of Emmanuel, God with us!
What’s the point? What are we to see? God’s power, promise, provision and protection, plan and purpose? That God’s power extends in the world beyond his chosen people? All of the above and more, beginning to be studied and expanded. God reveals himself as ever-present in Joseph’s life–in both trials and victories. We might say in good times and bad times; through thick and thin; through ups and downs.
So much for a God remote, distant, and limited to the past. Can we believe that this is our God, still sovereign today? This personal, promising, providing, present God is here in the 21st century? Exactly the point!

It’s Sunday Again: The God who Provides

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Who is this God to whom we are introduced in Genesis? Personal God creates for relationship; he calls (unique to Christianity–God seeking his creation); he promises blessings that will restore relationship and recreate and reconstruct a fallen world; he constantly provides for his creation, especially those he chooses and blesses toward fulfilling his purpose.
How can we wrap our minds around this God who seeks to reveal himself in narrative history? Relational, defining good and evil; totally separated from evil/sin, so committed to blessing that he commits himself in promise and confirms the promise with an oath; constantly reclaiming and recreating.
This week: #3—God provides. The place where he provides a sacrifice is called Jehovah-Jireh (God will provide, Gen. 22). This is our God. What do you need? He provides. He does not need your help. He provides in Sarah’s barrenness; he provides a sacrifice, he provides wells and water, he provides a wife for Isaac, he provides children in Rebekah’s barrenness, he blesses Abraham richly, likewise Isaac, likewise Jacob. Read Genesis 26-36 (or the larger context of 12-36) through the lens of provision. Make notes, think, pray.
What do you see? What kind of God is this? Is anything beyond him? Is anything too hard for him? With willing participants, can he not accomplish his purpose? (If those he calls do not work with him toward his purpose, he will use others–even pagans and unbelievers, but that is a lesson for another part of this story of God revealing himself.)

It’s Sunday Again: The promising God wants to bless his creation

Sunday, January 10th, 2016

God’s great desire in the book of Genesis is to bless his human creation. (Check this out in a concordance, 51 times not all in reference to God.) Much of the second part of Genesis (chap. 12-25) reveals this God of promises who wants to bless his creation. Thus, God promises that Abraham will be blessed and will bless others. God’s word/promise is secure (Num 23:19). The certainty of God’s promise is based on his nature. He further secures the promise to Abraham with an oath (see Heb 6:13-18).
A couple of things catch my attention. First, how will the promise be fulfilled? Does God need help? Abraham spends a lot of time trying to help God, I mean that Abraham is continually jumping ahead of God—-in Egypt (can God not protect?); separating from Lot (can God not provide what is needed?), Eliezer and Ishmael (can God not provide the means to fulfill his promise?). The promise is fulfilled in Isaac, the son of promise.
Second, the promising God always calls, guides, protects, and provides. Abraham’s faith is tested. Testing faith is not unlike testing one’s concept of God! The promise does not depend on Abraham’s actions; Abraham is not exempt from sin (lying to Abimelech) or doubt. God continues his commitment to Abraham, even in Abraham’s failures and weaknesses. A well-known text is that Abraham believes God and it is counted as righteousness (15:6). The blessing also comes because Abraham obeys (22:18). But above all the promise depends on God and who God is. God is revealing himself through the promise. He shows his nature, his eternal intent, his presence and power. This promising God will intervene again and again. A sacrifice is provided when Abraham would have sacrificed Isaac (Gen. 22), God provides a wife for Isaac and children in Rachel’s barrenness.
This is the revelation of the personal God who desires to penetrate and interact in the context of the human experience. What does this mean for you and me? First, can we see our faithful God? Faithful even when we are not? Renewing us, reclaiming us? The creating, calling God is not only a Genesis 3 reality. He is ever-present, calling, claiming, re-creating. He guides us; protecting and providing for us. Second, this God calls us to be involved in fulfilling his promise in the world. What we do—-our version of religion, our version of church—-must not depend on what we see, what we want, what we decide are open doors. We do not have to guess about what God is trying to do in this world. We can confidently make plans consistent with God’s eternal purpose and he will use those efforts to his glory. Finally, that God makes promises with the intent to bless suggests for us a new way of living life—-living out a “blessing strategy” in our relationships with others, going through life with the intent to bless all we meet.

It’s Sunday Again: Knowledge PLUS Application

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

[Note: Please bear with me as I struggle through difficult ideas–it is not easy to wrap our little minds around God!]
Last week I tried to introduce the God of Genesis. Point #1–God is personal/relational. God creates human beings in his image. That concept includes capable of relationship–with God and with one another. God is powerfully transcendent yet present. God calls his human creation back to him and he will provide the means for re-creation and reestablishment of broken relationship. It is not easy to sift out the many aspects of God that are revealed in the several “sin stories” that introduce the biblical story–Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, humanity in general, Noah, the Tower of Babel.
Even more difficult is discerning what the applications are. If the powerful, creating God is such, what are the implications for how I live life? How do I live with such a God? What does God’s nature demand? How do I give honor to such realities? I must rethink priorities, commitments, the things I do in the name of promoting spiritual presence and God-response.
A few “lessons” from Gen 1-11: How obedient and committed am I? Do I ever seek to define right and wrong on my own terms? Might God reject my offerings and worship? Am I vengeful? Is my life a glory or a shame to God (a different question than mere sin-avoidance)? Am I building monuments to myself, even without knowing it? Am I an instrument to the re-creation of vertical relationship or do I mostly dabble in the mundane cares of living in this fallen world?
God defines spirituality and worship (and eventually Christianity) based on his nature. I seek continual relationship with the God who is ever beyond me, thus is potentially present only because of who he is, not because of who I am or what I do. May I never think otherwise. We must never succumb to the temptation (of Satan) to define what God wants according to our own preferences or opportunities. Choosing the good can keep us from choosing the best (Phil 1). Growth in knowledge and grace is the ultimate admonition in a book that begins with a challenge to share the divine nature (2 Peter). May I learn both and reflect them ever more clearly in my life!!

It’s Sunday Again: Four Things God Wants Us to Know About Him

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

The Bible is the revelation of God. The Bible tells the story of creation, living human beings created in God’s image, and God’s subsequent actions and interactions. I read the Pentateuch last week and outlined new seminars on Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.
Genesis is the beginning, initial revelation. At least four things should be included when one talks of the God revealed in the Bible–the God who is personal, promising, providing, and present.
This week in your own life look for God through these lenses–an awareness of personal relationship and concern, providing just as he has promised, present in multiplied ways. When you are aware of one of these four dimensions of God in your life, say a brief prayer.
A delightful way to end 2015 and begin 2016!

When God Calls….

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It is not easy to hear the call of God.  Think about God’s way with Elijah (1 Kings 19).  God is not where we think he is.  He does not call us in the ways we imagine or expect or to the places we expect.  When God calls us, he calls us to his work, to join him in a work he has already begun.

Calls come at the intersection of our gifts, opportunities, and passion.  God calls us clearly, but we are not always tuned to hear.  I am thinking about four characteristics of God’s calling.

Calls are certain, they can be heard by those who listen.  The ability to hear the call is not always immediate. God touches us, brings us to where we are, specifically selects us for what he calls us to do in the places he calls us to act.

Calls are confirmed.  God doesn’t leave us in the dark.  Calls are verified, most often by friends, congregations, opportunities, open doors.  God provides the way when we answer his call.

 Calls are consistent with our gifts.  Calls are either based on the gifts we have or may bring us gifts.  Sometimes we are called before all of the gifts are in place.  Sometimes God’s call brings the opportunity to develop gifts.  God shapes us for our work.  Psychological tests are helpful, but they may fail to take into account the gifting of God.

Calls have consequences.  Calls allow us to be involved with the work of God according to his will.  He will bring to completion the good work he begins in us.  God provides the results, but those results are often not in the outward trappings the world wants to use to measure success.

Seven Needs: Genesis 1-2

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

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I am thinking again about kingdom principles. I am rethinking, reviewing, restudying. Everything begins with God. Who is God? What must we know, say, share about God?

When one begins “in the beginning” (Genesis 1), the Bible introduces human beings as the capstone of God’s creation. Who are we? We are “image of God” (Gen. 1:26-27) and living beings (Gen. 2:7). As human beings we have a dual nature. We were made with the ability to exist in this biological world: thus we are living beings. This is communicated in the phrase “living souls” (KJV), but it is what we share with the animate world. We are biological beings. Here “soul” is not a reference to our eternal nature.

We are also created “in his image.” We are spiritual, eternal–space does not permit an expansion of all this means. This is God within us, from the beginning.  With the created image torqued or twisted, re-creation became necessary.  The gospel is a story of creation, marring, and re-creation.   We are called to live lives that balance this duality. Only one person has ever perfectly balanced the physical and spiritual–Jesus Christ.

This dual nature Satan uses. Sin is possible in two ways–we can think we are gods, we can think we are no more than animals and adopt the morals of the barnyard.

Paul Hegstrom’s work in Genesis 1-2 maintains that God created human beings with seven primary needs. Each of us has a need for 1) dignity, 2) authority, 3) blessing and provision, 4) security, 5) purpose and meaning, 6) freedom and boundaries, 7) intimate love and companionship.

Are these aspects of the physical creation or the spiritual? How do these reflect God? What do they say about us?

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