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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 ‘New Year’ Category

2015: Seeking a beginning, or an ending?

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

As I get older, I am more and more amazed at the emphasis placed on the beginning of the New Year–almost as though there is something magical in turning the calendar and learning to write a new number. What I really want for 2015 is not a new beginning; I want a more certain ending! Since my beginning has already been written, what I am really looking for is the ending.
In one sense, a new beginning is not possible. I cannot ignore or undo what has gone before. I cannot pretend the past did not happen. Louisa Fletcher got it right in her poem, The Land of Beginning Again. “I wish that there were some wonderful place In the Land of Beginning Again.” Beginning again is wish, not reality.
I cannot begin again, but I can change my future. I cannot rewrite the past, but as I write my present my future is changed. Each day, the ending is nearer, in fuller view, in better focus. Therefore, in 2015 I am not seeking a beginning, I am focusing on the ending.
In 2015, learn from your beginnings (your past) and move certainly and faithfully toward the ending God has in mind for you. Keep your eyes on the goal! There is a resolution I may be able to keep!

Saying Good-bye to 2014–Anticipating 2015

Monday, December 29th, 2014

One of my favorite “end of year” sermons when I was active in full-time ministry was titled, “Ending the Old Year Well.” Here is an updated version.

As one year closes and another begins, is it possible to fine genuine renewal? Can resolutions last longer than a few days? The answer is “yes.” Here are three steps I find helpful: Reflection, Relationships, Renewal.

As a first step, I reflect upon the past year. Some parts of the past year were not pretty. Other parts of the year are highlights and memorable. The human tendency is to dwell on the pleasant things. The problem is that we may fail to learn from the less pleasant things. Here is something different.
When I reflect upon the events of the past year, I look for two things. First, Where can I see that God was at work? What did God do? Second, What did I learn about God’s nature? As I recount the year, I consider God. I am trying to understand God, learn more about God, learn to depend on God. You can do this however you like. I like to use a page with two columns–God’s actions, God’s faithful nature. We cannot be still as the Psalmist teaches (Psalm 46) and find peace until we are confident that God is God–-active and consistent.

Reflection is a mental process that seeks to touch the heart. Celebrating and strengthening relationships is a matter of the heart and emotions. Relationships are not only emotional–relationships are where the values of our life are lived out. This second step has two parts. The first part has to do with my relationship with God. Does my life reflect my confident trusting relationship with God, based on his nature and actions? My loving relationship with God compels my relationship with others so I must begin with God. Then I can honestly consider how my heart connects with those around me. How are my interpersonal relationships, with spouse, family, friends, neighbors, coworkers? Celebrate the relationships of your life. Pray about and resolve to strengthen the weak points.

The ultimate goal is renewal. The average New Year resolution does not reach the goal. Renewal is a life-changing process which occurs only when the foundations (biblical principles) are in place and the current situation is understood with the values clearly defined. Our behaviors are the result of what we think and value. Paul wrote to the Romans (12:1-2) that transformation is the result of a changed mind (changed from the inside, not as a result of external pressures), and changed lives that no longer conform to the value systems of the world.

Every step of this process is so important. Thinking + values = behavior and changed lives. God + the present = the future.
Certainly there are other ways to end the year well, but here is a memorable and easy tool. Why not invest some time over the next couple of days? Spend that time with God thinking about who he is and what he has done, is doing, and will do. Take an honest inventory of your present reality, both where God is and where God isn’t in your life. Seek to rebuild and restore relationships. Seek to understand God’s plan and will for your future. I believe you will find renewal in trusting, experiencing, and depending on God.

Southeast Oklahoma New Year’s Area-Wide Worship

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

The first Sunday of 2014! A group of churches in southeastern Oklahoma will gather in one assembly this morning. Some of the congregations will have cancelled services at their locations to participate. These churches began this custom in 2000 with Y2K. This will be #15!

I have been invited to preach at the assembly today. Cold weather may put a damper on attendance, but inside the Southeast Oklahoma Expo Center, the spirit will be warm and the worship fervent. Each year the theme deals with some aspect of unity. I have chosen the theme, “United in Good Works.”

Sundays are special because of the opportunity to look upward, celebrating our restored vertical relationship with God through Christ. Today will be special because of the opportunity to experience something of what heaven will be like as hundreds gather from multiple congregations to share that experience as the one body of Christ.

New Year’s Resolution: Unconditional Love

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

For today, wisdom from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: “The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others, but ourselves as well.” In all of our Christian talk about agape love, have we missed one of the essential elements? Have we overlooked the importance of loving ourselves with the kind of love God extends to us?

What kind of love is this? Love that does not count merits and demerits; undeserved love. Love that centers in the lover rather than the one loved. Love that doesn’t keep score. Love that knows how to forgive. In the midst of a host of New Year’s Resolutions which are coursing through my brain, today I’m adding one that is often overlooked. In 2014, I will love better. “I will love God better, I will love others better, I will love myself better.”

Perhaps this is only an impossible dream, but if I get this one right, won’t it help make a lot of others things right also?

Stars to Steer By: New Year

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.
— Benjamin Franklin

Happy New Year!

My New Year´s Resolutions for 2013

Monday, December 31st, 2012

The last day of 2012–time to put some final touches on my resolutions for 2013. My list for 2013 is a lot like previous resolution lists, but I have made a few additions and done some editing.
I like to publish my list. It is one way I can hold myself accountable. I can check back during the coming year to see how I am doing.
I like using some part of the last week of the year to reflect on the past year and to anticipate the new one, to pray and ask God’s blessings and power for the future. My resolution list is a natural part of this process. Also, I have found that my resolutions last longer with a thoughtful, intentional approach.
Another thing about my resolutions is that they are positive statements that can be pursued continuously, even with lapses. (Negative “don’t” statements are immediately gone when one fails.)

  • I will keep myself sharp–mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  • I will pay attention to and strengthen my spiritual life, staying connected with God and staying connected with those who share like interests in spiritual activities, both locally and globally.
  • I will value, strengthen, and enjoy my family ties. I will not take my spouse or others in the family for granted. I will seek times to share life and relish the special moments.
  • I will spend money on things that matter. I will value experiences and people more than possessions.
  • I will take time periodically to review my life so that I can see more clearly–to identify the things accomplished that made a difference and to understand the direction God is leading me.
  • I will do the little things that give me a sense of accomplishment–little projects around the house, exercise, reading and writing are among my favorites.
  • I will look for opportunities and continue to do what others cannot do or what others are unlikely to do, especially in the areas of ministry and mission.
  • Stars to Steer By: Happy Year End!

    Sunday, December 30th, 2012

    I received a Facebook greeting earlier this month with the above sentiment: Happy Year End!
    Cause for pause.

    Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. –Hal Borland

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