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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 May, 2008

Rerouting

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

Turns out that some of the folks coming to the retreat center for the weekend didn’t know exactly where they were going.  (I guess they are non-map people.  I just looked it up on the map–really Mapquest–and drove right to it.)  More accurately, they are techno-people.  They used the dashboard GPS system to find their way.  Only one problem–the backroads they needed were not programmed into their system.

The process they described was one of go a little ways and then punch in the destination again.  Reminds me of how the Christian life is lived.  While we can see the  ultimate goal, the way we should go from day to day is sometimes not all that clear.   So we have to renew the directions.   I hope you get the point–I need to spend some time with God in prayer, and work on my daily Bible reading for today.

Keeping On Keeping On

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Most ministers at some time wonder if what they do matters.  Most projects and programs begun fade.  Some of those brought to Christ fall away.  The success of ministry is hard to measure.  A couple of years ago, I was sharing some of these thoughts with an elder in a congregation where I served 20+ years ago.  When my family was there, he was not very active in the church.  Today he is an elder.  His response:  What you did mattered to me.

Since I  believe ministers are called to replace themselves, I take great joy in seeing those who grew up under my preaching devote their lives to ministry.  Faithful ministry passed on–surely that matters.

But these thoughts are not really about the work of ministers–they are about a church that has continued faithfully in a prison ministry for over 15 years.  In 1992, while I was ministering at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ, an opportunity arose for us to begin a prison ministry at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft.  The work was at first slow and tedious, and sometimes few were involved.  We had lots of trouble getting permission to baptize inmates.  But….

Earlier this year (1/19/2008 edition), the “Muskogee Phoenix” published an editorial entitled “Faith Works.”  The editorial was about the Fort Gibson church’s faithful service to the inmates and the community.  The editorial said in part:  “The church deserves commendations from the community.  They were involved in the outreach many years before churches and other religious-based groups began receiving government funding for their work.  …And of course, the attention and concern the church members show the women at Eddie Warrior, will have an effect.  Many of the women’s problems originate in low self-esteem and troubled relationships.”

I still get the Fort Gibson weekly bulletin.  Their prison ministry saw 77 baptized last year.  Average weekly attendance is over 100.  Faithful ministry.  Keeping on keeping on.  Does a preacher proud!  What we do matters–forever!

The Ministry of Recycling

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I admit I wasn’t excited several years when our trash service started a recycling program.  After years of throwing all the garbage into the same container, I had to be retrained.  Now at our house we recycle newspaper and cardboard, aluminum cans, tin cans, and plastic bottles.  I am a little amazed when I travel to places where recycling hasn’t yet arrived.  It just doesn’t seem right to throw recyclables into the garbage to find their way to the landfill.

I know a church that raises a lot of money for its mission program by encouraging the members to recycle aluminum cans.  I recently encountered a creative recycling project.  I agreed to speak at a men’s retreat and spent a weekend at a camp in northeastern Oklahoma.  At the first meal, we received careful instructions–separate containers for silverware, waste paper, washable dishes, and discarded food.  Special emphasis:  do not put food with the paper.  Why?  They use the food to feed the pig.  Having just enjoyed some good sausage and bacon, the thought quickly arose at our table–recycling for next year’s breakfasts!

Recycling is based on the idea that one can take something without any value and turn it into something valuable.  With that definition, God is in the recycling business!  The people of God are called to help with recycling–as Paul urged Philemon to “recycle” Onesimus, as we are given “the ministry of recyling (reconciliation).”   God sees value in sinners that others cannot see.  God sees value in prodigals that even their brothers in Christ cannot see.  God sees value in people that even their friends cannot see.  God is in the business of eagerly seeking them, washing them off, and making them useful.

Sorting through the trash can be a dirty job, distasteful, and time-consuming.  May the God who recycled us deliver us from any negative attitudes as we work in the ministry of recycling. 

Eating for Two

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” (Isa. 50:4)

My wife and I will be grandparents again in August.  We just returned from visiting our son and daughter-in-law.  It seems the words and the advice are timeless:  “Remember, you’re eating for two.”

 I admit that I skip too many meals.  I like breakfast at almost any time except breakfast time.  I do a cup of coffee instead (really several cups).  Not good advice for expectant moms.  Doctors continually emphasize the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy, because the mother’s diet has a strong bearing on the development of the unborn child.  On the other hand, don’t eat too much.  Balance is the key.

 All of this got me to thinking.  Eating for two has a spiritual application.  When I am serious about my Christianity, I am aware of my responsibility to help others experience the new birth.  I was born to bear, won to win.  If I am serious about Jesus’ commission and my responsibility, I am eating for two.

 Eating the wrong foods or insufficient quantities will lead to malnutrition, both for me and for those I try to influence and teach.  Eating the wrong spiritual foods may pollute my own soul, and ruin my influence.  Eating too little may fail to sustain my spiritual vitality.  If I receive too little spiritual nourishment, I may not be able to reproduce at all.

David understood that a right relationship with God is the source of spiritual life and growth and makes it possible to teach the ways of God (Psalm 51:12-13).  Isaiah saw that what God teaches could feed his own weary soul.  If you’re serious about your Christianity and sharing the good news with others, remember:  You’re eating for two.

The only sermon your neighbor ever sees may be you.

NAROMIYOCKNOWUSUNKALANKSHUNK

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

It may not be the longest word in the world, or even in the United States, but it certainly qualifies for consideration as one of the most difficult to pronounce.

 NAROMIYOCKNOWUSUNKALANKSHUNK.  It’s the name of a small stream near Milford, Connecticut.  It is an Indian word which is said to mean, “You fish on your end of the stream; I’ll fish on mine.”  In modern jargon, it means, “You mind your business; I’ll mind mine.”

 I believe God’s blessings are withheld from his children because of grudges and secret resentments harbored.  Too many Christians have decided on the course of “peaceful coexistence” because of some small differences that became so large they couldn’t get along with one another.  People worship side by side who will not speak to one another.  Perhaps even worse, people segregate into separate congregations because of some little matter that they allowed to become large.  They call one another “brother” and “sister” while the surrounding community laughs.  At worst, grudges are nourished, resentment reigns.  At best, some level of grudging fellowship is maintained.  Regardless, the gospel is crippled.

 “You fish on your end of the stream; I’ll fish on mine.”  Such an attitude may avoid open conflict, but it does not fulfill our responsibility as Christians when we are at odds with another Christian.  The course of “peaceful coexistence” will not bring us to the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  We who have spoken against ecumenical movements in which people “agree to disagree” ought to examine our own lives, lest we fall.

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 3:14; 4:20).  “Moreover if they brother shall trespass against thee, go…. (Matt. 18:15).

 The same Christ who reconciles us to God makes it possible for us to be reconciled to one another when differences arise.  Jesus came to break down the vertical barriers erected by sin; he also came to break down walls between brothers (Ephesians 2).  Here’s a scary thought–our reconciliation with God depends upon our reconciliation to one another (Matt. 5:24).

Up, Up, Up–Ephesians 6

Friday, May 16th, 2008

1. FACE UP to the challenge, be spiritually strong in the Lord, in the Savior.
2. OWN UP to the necessity, stand against Satanic scheme and strategies.
3. SUIT UP, in approved equipment which equips us to stand. Of six pieces of armor, the one offensive weapon is the sword, the others are defensive.
4. STAND UP, in the struggle.
5. LIFT UP your voice in prayer and spiritual supplication.
6. SPEAK UP, the word of God.

God’s Calling

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Romans 8:28-30 affirms that God calls.  The challenge of calling is deciding to follow God’s purpose rather than our own.  Today I challenge you to consider God’s calling in your life.

  • His calling is to be conformed to his image, Rom. 8:29
  • Many are called, Matt. 20:16
  • We are called in one hope, Eph. 4:4
  • We are called to peace, 1 Cor. 7:15
  • Our call is to walk worthy, Eph. 4:1
  • We are called to be saints, 1 Cor. 1:2
  • Ours is a holy calling, 2 Tim. 1:9

Let us strive to make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet 1:10.

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