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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 ‘Love’ Category

It’s Sunday Again: Valentine’s Day, Love and Power

Sunday, February 14th, 2016

We talk about love but do not understand it. We love love, we do not live love.

Love and power are opposites. They do not coexist. When I operate from power, love is not on display. A bad question: “Who’s going to rule the house?” Another bad question: “Who runs this church?”

Understand the contrast, difference, relationship of love and power. The one who loves most has the least power and the most authority. Power does not resolve marital problems, kid problems, church problems. Power ends in abuse. Love casts out fear because it casts out power relationships. Power casts out love. Not sure? Read 1 Cor. 13.

Jesus said power would not be the model among his followers, Mark 10:45, “not so among you.” The home and the church are not driven, not power, not rule and regimentation, domination, control. Power plays should not work. Two basic approaches—use the right one; do not be seduced by power. Power may accomplish the task but it is a shortcut. Jesus rejected that approach in his temptations.

Love is God’s attraction. Society doesn’t understand it. The macho approach is wrong—period! The world must see love; wives, husbands, children, church members must know love, especially when we are unloveable. The cure to every problem is God’s amazing grace.

Power is human. Psychology catalogs appetites and needs–survival, belong, accomplishment. One strong will is the lust to power. Tenacity and will to control, dominate, rule, have our own way, receive recognition.

Forgiveness is a demonstration of love. You cannot forgive and then run over someone like a steam roller. Some preachers, church leaders like to scold and whip and spank and punish. You cannot build a person, family, or church on power. You build on love.

How Jesus demonstrated his love. -1- No reputation/ego; totally centered in well-being of the other. -2- unselfish, -3- humble service to meet needs of others.

God’s love. God out there loved me, came down here, picked up the towel, washed feet, served. Can we be ministers of reconciliation, forgive, forget, unify, work, grow, build together—on the basis of love not power.

Love never fails. It conquers where power fails. It is greater force. The cross stands for love. Fill your space with a sweet spirit, amazing grace; be salt on the earth and light in the world. Blessed by the love of God, guided by the love of God, offering others the love of God.

It’s Sunday Again: Love

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

We have quoted John 13 for so long that we have forgotten, or at least ignored, Jesus’ statement about the Great Commandments (Matthew 22:34-40 and parallels).

We have heard John 13 say what we wanted it to say. Is it possible that Jesus is saying the mark of love is in extent, not only in its existence. “That you love one another as I have loved you.” We can affirm the existence of love, even when it is not clearly demonstrated. As Paul writes in Romans 5, the extent of love is a constant challenge. Past church history may give us examples of extreme self-sacrificing love, but modern church history is hardly permeated with such stories–in fact, such are few and far between.

We have heard John 13 in isolation. The result is that we have a singular definition of church which is flawed. This flawed definition (just love everybody!) has flavored our understanding and expectation of church and has done great damage. We have defined mission by love (relieving physical suffering) and failed to confront spiritual need. We have become so accepting (tolerant) in the church that we are afraid to offend anyone for the gospel’s sake. We have drawn people by physical means more than spiritual, and have fallen into the same trap as the militant Messiah-expecting Jews to whom Jesus speaks in John 6. The kingdom is not primarily about manna and meeting physical needs.

Jesus says that loving God is first. Loving neighbor is encompassed in loving God. Genuine love for neighbor is not possible apart from love for God. God’s love for us defines neighborly love (and brotherly love). Read 1 John again. Connecting with God is first. When we are solidly connected with God, we will be connected with others who are connected with God. If we are not God-connected, every little problem and disagreement will separate us.

One author describes the difference in this way: loving God is a treasure hunt, loving neighbor is a rescue mission. Here is gospel: Jesus came on a rescue mission (Luke 19:10). We are on a treasure hunt, and when we find the treasure, we share the good news! Such is natural and normal. We cannot contain ourselves.

Pray that we might understand, seek, and find the true nature of this biblical love.

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?

It’s Sunday Again: “You Are Loved”

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

For many years during my ministry and preaching, I kept in my Bible a small bright pink post-it that simply read, “You are loved.” This morning, I received an email expressing appreciation for the workshop, classes and sermons I presented last weekend. I also received this morning (electronically) a reminder of the seminar and activities in Guatemala two months ago. This morning I am contemplating God’s Word: when the Psalmist declared the beauty of the love that binds together brothers, he spoke in advance of the beauty of Christian love.

There are many ways to describe what God’s people do when they assemble for study and worship each Lord’s Day. We worship, we share fellowship. We sing, pray, study, and share the memory of Christ’s love and sacrifice–that which binds us together in our imperfections. I hope also this day as you assemble with God’s family that you will receive many reminders of the fact that you are loved. One benefit of our weekly (and more frequent) gatherings is that we are reminded that we are loved and valued despite our unworthiness. The body cannot get by without any member–all are important, all contribute, all are loved, all are needed. The world tears us down and questions the value of who we are and what we do in the kingdom.

On this Sunday, I remind you that “you are loved.” I guess that is part of my “preacher hat” as I strive to reflect God’s word to his people. I suspect you need that reassuring word from God, because I know how much I appreciate the words of love and appreciation.

A Word In Season

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

“…a word in season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23)

“The second year I was married, my husband opened an envelope and then looked over at me.  His brow was furrowed and his mouth a little awry as he said, ‘Maxine, this is April.  My birthday’s in July.’  ‘I know,’ I replied, ‘but I saw this card.  The sentiment is so appropriate.  It wouldn’t be there if I waited till July.  And if I bought it and brought it home, I’d put it away and forget I had it.  So I just thought I’d send it now.'”

 This little story from Maxine Jensen reminds us that waiting for “the right moment” to do something usually results in doing nothing.  We intend to act, but do not.  We forget, or the person moves or dies, or we don’t feel the same way.   It doesn’t matter what it is–mend a fence, share a compliment, restore a relationship, make a phone call, send a card, make a visit, express love, show kindness.   We must carry out good intentions promptly.

The reason is clear in another story Ms. Jensen shares.  “After my mother’s death I found in her Bible a card I had sent her many years before.  The verse started out, ‘This morning when I wakened/ And saw the sun above,/ I softly said, “Good morning, Lord,/ Bless everyone I love!”  Right away I thought of you…‘”  Expressions of love, words of kindness, encouragement, concern, and care are the lubricants of life.  They bless the giver and the receiver.  They make life a little smoother.

Is there someone you should call, write, or visit?  Is a word of kindness or encouragement needed?  Could your timely action ease a burden or give a blessing?  Would your love lift a life?  Would your first step mend a relationship?

 I come back to the verse I shared earlier this week.  “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” (Isa. 50:4)”  You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.  

What Will You Give Your “Valentine”?

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

An interesting question: what shall I give for Valentine’s Day? In the second grade, it was a simple card. Since the teacher said you had to give one to every person in the class, you went through the cards for the “mushiest” one to give to that special someone you had your eye on. You chose the most neutral or bland cards for your least favorite persons in the class. The ways of a child!

In our culture today Valentine’s Day not only includes millions of cards sent and exchanged, it involves the purchasing and giving a lot of things and stuff. Valentine’s Day is big business. In times past, to give something of unusual or surpassing value to one you loved was a proof of one’s ability to bless that person materially (think dowries). More recently, Valentine’s Day gifts often mean splurging–giving something special, something that would otherwise be unaffordable. (In parallel, think of fruit and nuts in your shoes at Christmas–if you are old enough to remember those days!)

Valentine’s Day is also about relationships. People seek relationships for many reasons. In times past, people got married not only for love, but because marriage strengthened their ability to survive and get through life. People shared life and together found abilities and financial strength that were impossible separately. Once people got married, the old saying was often true–we cannot afford to get divorced. The frontier was not conducive to divorce!

The reasons for marriage have changed in today’s culture. Many people have the ability to be financially independent, and some see a marriage partner as a financial liability rather than as a strength. Sociologists observe that today many people marry, not for financial support, but for emotional support. I need someone who loves me unconditionally, even in the difficult times (when I am difficult!). I need someone I can take for granted (in the good sense of that phrase), someone who is there through thick and thin, dependable, always present, unconditionally accepting. When emotional support is not present or when it is withdrawn, people divorce.

Jan and I will exchange simple, inexpensive expressions of our love again this year. We always do–thinking toward our “anniversary” tomorrow. (See tomorrow’s blog!) We will not add candy to the temptations around the house–neither of us will be helped in our exercise and eating goals by the extra chocolate. Nor will we overtly talk about our need for emotional support and strength–except to say ‘I love you’.

What will make today, tomorrow, and the coming year special is not any “stuff” that we exchange. It will be that we are confident in our marriage, that emotional support and encouragement will always be present when needed, and every once in while, we will get some unexpected emotional boost, even when we don’t know we need it! Ah, the beauty of love! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

We talk a lot about love but struggle with its practice. We do not understand the foundations of love–why we love with God’s agape love. We mistake the love described in the Bible for the human experiences of love in this world. They are not the same. They have different motives and foundations.
God’s love for us is not based on our excellence, capacity, or loveability. God’s love for us is based in who God is–not in who we are. We are loved simply because he has declared us of worth, that is, that we are beloved of him. God sees us as the ultimate goal of his love. That means we are the ends, not the means. God does not see us as a way to get his work done in this world. His love is not extended based on how well we advance his purpose in the world.
We cannot love others based on our own identity because our flawed nature would result in flawed love. We love others because God declares them beloved. We love others because they reflect God’s image.
All of this is worthy of more study than this brief writing allows.

How do you process God’s love, our love for others?

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