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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 ‘Sunday’ Category

It’s Sunday Again: Looking to Jesus

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

One advantage of Easter–the focus is almost always on the story of Jesus. By now many pulpits have returned to moralizing: we must/should/ought to…. This is “what to do” without the “why to do it.” The gospel is the story of Jesus. It is powerful—for salvation and for life. Tell the story of Jesus. Help Jesus’ disciples look to Jesus. Never tire of talking about Jesus. Urge everyone to look to Jesus. He is the pioneer (author) of our faith, he is the prototype (perfecter) of faithfulness, he is the promise that exaltation comes to those who faithfully endure.
Jesus is faithful and merciful high priest. Because he is faithful, we can cast off entangling sin. Because he is merciful, we can lay aside the burdens of life. He opens our way to God’s throne where we find forgiving grace and strengthening mercy. The message of Jesus constantly gives hope for the future and guards against weariness on life’s journey.
Whether it is the message you hear from the pulpit or not—-Look to Jesus!

It’s Sunday Again: “Did you follow me or did you do your own thing?”

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

“Did you follow me, or did you do your own thing?”
God’s eternal purpose is to bring people into and under the protective, saving Lordship of Jesus.
The purpose of a church that is fulfilling God’s purpose is to be involved in saving people and keeping people saved. When we have succeeded in the treasure hunt, we join the rescue mission.
Loving God means loving what God loves. Christians are passionate about souls because God is passionate about souls. Christians pray about souls. When Christians make a “blessing list” or a “most wanted” list, they show they are looking at people and are aware that that those people have souls.
We go out to bring them in. We send others to bring them in. The question is always the same, “How is the harvest going?” When Jesus taught about the harvest, he spoke of the need for more harvesters. The church has a lot of workers who are not harvesters.
Disciples of Jesus make more disciples.
We go out to bring disciples in. We are present where they are to bring them into Jesus. We proclaim him to bring them in.
We go to teach people how to become disciples.
When disciples do not know how to make disciples, we teach them how to make disciples.
When disciples struggle with following, we seek to strengthen them and teach them how to follow more closely.
Look at the ministry of the church. Look at the mission work of the church. God is going to ask one thing. “Did you do my work or did you do your own thing?”

It’s Sunday Again: Hopeful Sunday and Hopeless Monday

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Yesterday Was Easter Sunday. Church buildings were filled–celebration, victory, joy, hope. But for many, after hopeful Sunday comes the return of a reality less hopeful, even hopeless!
Sermons are heard on Sunday but intended for Monday through Saturday. Sermons must touch daily life. Ideally, an “Easter sermon” is not only for Easter Sunday but for the days that follow, because after “Hopeful Sunday” comes the reality of daily life. Easter focuses on an essential event in the Jesus’ story. Without the resurrection, the story of Jesus is meaningless. Easter celebrates resurrection and forgiveness. Easter celebrates changed lives, newness, hope. We have hope for salvation; we have hope for our own resurrection. But in this singular focus of Easter, it is easy to miss the rest of the story….
The author of Hebrews describes Jesus as a high priest–both faithful and merciful. He is faithful high priest and able to make atonement because he is Son of God. He is merciful high priest who understands the weaknesses of the people because he is Son of Man. The Easter celebration of Jesus’ resurrection usually focuses on his faithfulness to save. The resurrection is a powerful story that matters because of what comes before–Jesus came to earth as a human being. It is easy to overlook this part of the gospel: Jesus comes to be like us; he identifies with us; in his life, ministry, and death he experiences life as we experience it; he knows tears and pleading prayer and suffering. He is merciful; he understands life; he knows what we need. In his resurrection, he shows us a possibility beyond our experience. He declares the possibility of eternal salvation; he also declares the possibility of new life in Christ in the here and now.
Beware the trap! On Sunday we see hope. On Monday we go back to fishing. Where is Jesus today? How often do we think of the resurrection story during the week? The resurrection is a story of hope for eternity, it is also a story of hope for today and tomorrow. Life here is not hopeless, empty, futile. Failures are not forever. The post-resurrection stories of Thomas and Peter impress us; the stories of nine other disciples are not told in the Gospels but would be equally impressive. Look to Jesus to throw off the weight. Look to Jesus to run the race. Look to Jesus to manage the turmoil of life, the conflicts, the sorrow, the times when you cannot see the future. The resurrection proclaims strength in a world that at times overwhelms us. Jesus’ resurrection declares his daily presence in our lives and his intercession for us before the Father’s throne. And that is not a story only for Sunday–that is a story for every day of our lives!

It’s Sunday Again: I Am, Therefore I Act

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

We spend a lot of energy in the church trying to get people to do what they ought to do. We study motivation–we encourage, we scold, we “lay on” guilt trips. We have missed a basic truth of Scripture. I am, therefore I act. One cannot get “faith actions” out of “unfaith” people. According to James 2, faith acts. If faith is present, actions follow. If actions are lacking, faith is lacking. My actions tell others who I am. My identity comes first–my actions follow. My actions are consistent with my identity. If I am a person of faith, that faith clearly defines my loyalties and allegiances, priorities and purpose. I do what I am made to do, what I am intended to do, what I must do to live a consistent life (without internal conflicts which lead to doubts).

A great need in the church is the development of genuine faith that determines the nature and actions of our lives in every circumstance. Paul told the Corinthian church that Christians are “compelled by Christ.” Christ is our life. Christ is our identity. Some churches have spent a lot of energy developing mission statements–statements of desired or intended actions. The best of those mission statements begin with identity statements: we are…. Identity statements must precede mission statement. Identity precedes planning. “This is who we are, therefore, this is what we do.” Churches that fail to develop plans are in danger of losing their identity.

Too many Christians live in an “identity crisis.” We think of ourselves as “church members” but have little interest in becoming disciples. We have made it easier to be a member (be baptized) than to be a disciple (total commitment of all I am and do and have). People are baptized but worship only sporadically. We misunderstand: baptism is invitation to forgiveness, commitment and community. We use the word Christian impotently. Some are called Christians (or call themselves Christians) who little resemble Christ. Some who call themselves Christians jump in and out of church like it was a social club or automobile association. Genuine Christians are not “in it” for the benefits. Genuine Christians are “in it” because of who they are, or more accurately, who they have become through the transformation effected in Christ and by Christ.

When people look at our lives–what we do–do they take note that we have been with Jesus?

It’s Sunday Again: Taking Church for Audit

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Twenty years after I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree, I decided to go back to school to earn a master’s degree. My Hebrew was a little rusty (OK, very rusty!) so I decided to audit a Hebrew course at the local university. There are two ways to audit a course. The first way to audit a course is not demanding—you go to class, you sit and listen, but you don’t have to do anything during the class or during the week between classes. You have the advantage of sitting in class, along with a more relaxed attendance policy, no tests, no compulsion to do homework, and you still get an AU on your transcript. The problem is that when you audit a course that way, you don’t learn much and you can’t do much when you finish. There is a second way to audit a course. You attend every class; you do all of the homework and the teacher grades it. You take the non-mandatory tests to measure your progress. You put pressure on yourself. You benefit, you learn, you grow, you are changed, you act. My ultimate goal in auditing the Hebrew course was to be able to do something—read Hebrew using a minimum of helps. The class was not the goal—the goal was what could occur when I finished the class.

A lot of folks are auditing church using the first method. They sit in class (church) sixty minutes every week, unless something else comes up. They are fulfilling the minimum requirements of their religious audit. They are mostly present, but they are content to let someone else do the studying. A week or two later, they cannot pass a test over the class content (preaching). They do not bring their textbook to class, they do not do any homework between classes; they are not diligent students of God’s Word. They are content to let someone else pray for them—-they leave with the same prayer life they came with. They are content to let others prepare, study, pray, and do the work–before class, during class, and after class.

How can you tell the difference between the academic auditor and the serious student? How can you tell the difference between the church auditor and the serious Christian? Just as in my Hebrew class, the difference is in the results. My goal was to read Hebrew. My success or lack of success was measured by reading Hebrew. Going to church is a good thing, but it is not the ultimate goal. Our commitment to the goal is reflected in how seriously we pursue the course—studying, participating in the discussion group, sharing, practicing, and reviewing. And ultimately, the goal is reflected in how we live, what we do, and how much our lives look like Jesus as a result of our encounter with the Master Teacher.

It’s Sunday Again: “Spiritual”

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

“I love worship at that church–they are so spiritual….Those are such spiritual men….She is so spiritual.” We talk about it a lot. We think we know what it is. Spiritual–what do we mean? What makes worship or a person or a Bible class spiritual? The idea of being spiritual and the word spirituality are not used frequently in Scripture. What does the Bible say?
The New Testament book that mentions spirituality most often is First Corinthians, a book that is
largely corrective. Spirituality is the opposite of carnality. The context has to do with the influences that guide or control my life. The influences of our human nature are natural, worldly, carnal. The influences of the divine nature or God-image are spiritual.
In First Corinthians (3:2-5), the marks of the human nature are (1) drinks a lot of milk, (2) does not eat much meat and often cannot digest meat, (3) causes or gets involved in envy and strife, (4) mostly lives like the rest of humankind, (5) is divisive in the sense of failing to be a force for uniting, accepting and including. Spirituality is the opposite.
Of course, Paul is not talking about physical food but about spiritual food. A spiritual person digests spiritual food and is nourished by it daily. A spiritual person does not treat the Bible superficially. A spiritual person knows how to to resolve conflict and be a unifying influence. A spiritual person not only deflects strife, such a person knows how to disarm strife. A spiritual person lives by a different value system.
To let the Bible speak, what is spirituality? Paul’s use of the word mentions six things.

  • How you treat others, you always treat others right, 3:1ff
  • Accepting, honoring, and living under Christ’s Lordship, 12:3ff
  • Healthy relationships with all other parts of the body, 12:14ff
  • Demonstrates love, even in the difficult moments, 13:1ff
  • Always building up rather than tearing down, 14:19ff
  • Respect for Scripture, so that every action is guided by God’s ultimate will, 14:37ff
  • The genuinely spiritual person is most easily seen and identified in the difficult moments of life. Spiritual people–treat others right and do what is right, even when it is very hard; develop healthy relationships with the difficult persons, the EGR (extra grace required) people to use a Warren concept; show love to the unlovable; always encourage, involve, include and edify, demonstrating that they are second-mile people; are guided by Scripture, applying Bible principles and honoring God’s ultimate purpose when the lack of specifics can be used to justify doing what everyone else would do.

    It’s Sunday Again: “Letters from an Old Man”

    Sunday, March 6th, 2016

    Reading Paul’s latter letters, he was probably 60+, perhaps nearing 70. What does an old man see when he looks back on life? Here is only a sampling! What God’s Word says is important–it leads to health and wholeness. God gives instructions, principles, and values–do not get hung up on the what and ignore the why and how. Many Christians do not look much like pilgrims focused on a heavenly homeland–they have bought the lands, houses, and stuff of this world. The contemporary church is too infrequently counter-cultural, too many are guided by the world’s expectations and seek to attract with human words and ideas. Spiritual comes in many forms–God’s spirituality is a rare commodity.

    [Wednesday night class, Park Plaza Church of Christ, “Letters from an Old Man”, Mar-Apr-May, begins this week.]

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