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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 October, 2008

Life-Changing

Friday, October 31st, 2008

In the next few days as we attend the 45th Pan American Lectureship, and as we interact with lots of good brothers and sisters who have a heart for missions, Jan and I will share one message again and again. For us, the Pan American Lectureship in 1996 was a life-changing experience.

I am convinced of the value of short-term missions. We need more and more Christians to see our world as it is. Our youth need to see our world as it is. Those who will take the reins and lead kingdom-people into the future must see our world. We are terribly self-centered. We are the proverbially “navel gazers” almost without exception, even the most evangelistic and mission-minded congregations among us. Far and away a majority of our expenditures are inwardly-turned and focused. We can construct our budgets so they look as though we are looking outward, but generally, we are not. Missions funding receives a pittance of our total funding in most churches.

The challenge remains on the mission field, perhaps is even greater. Mission work, even foreign mission work, can quickly turn inward. Satisfaction can set in. I do not know how–it is a tool of Satan. Our globe is filling with teeming millions in the ever-growing metropolitan areas of our world. Untold millions untold. We are throwing small pebbles into an ocean of folks.

Jan and I have been blessed, because God is so powerful in transforming folks who barely want to be transformed. God has opened doors, but the best door he opened was the door that enabled us to see all of the other doors.

I know we are not big on experience in churches of Christ. But I encourage you to seek a life-changing experience. It does not have to be the Pan American Lectureship, although that choice would bless you. Opportunities abound–let us get out of our comfort zone, find transformation and genuine resurrection, and go tell what God has done.

Pan-American Lectureship–#45

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Tomorrow Jan and I leave for the Pan-American Lectureship in Quito, Ecuador.  We are anticipating a week-long spiritual feast among some of the most wonderful of the people of God, both visiting North Americans and brothers and sisters from Ecuador and other South American and Latin American countries.

Quito, the Pan-American Lectureship, Bob and Ridglae Stephens, Bob Brown, Ava Conley, Jim Frazier, Howard Norton, Dan Coker–these and many others are a significant part of our spiritual journey. I grew up in a “missions” church in St. John, Kansas. The mission field was anything north of us–Nebraska and beyond. Jan and I did not catch the “missions bug” in college, except that our eyes were soon after college set on ministry in northern regions within the States. We spent more than a dozen years in Michigan. Later at Ohio Valley University, I sponsored numerous mission trips to points east and northeast as students focused their hearts on the areas they knew and loved–New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and areas between.

But it was Quito, and the PAL, and the people mentioned above plus others who provided for us encouragement and faith and confidence and commitment, so that missions has burned in our heart for the last 12 years. Quito will be different this year–we will know more of what to expect. Last time we were green. It was our first trip out of the U.S. as a couple. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know that the folks who came and “stole” our luggage were students and members of the church who were only trying to help. When we tried to follow our luggage, Jan became lost. She went back to where she had started (without her luggage), and waited, alone. When my thief and my luggage with me immediately behind got to the bus, I immediately asked, “Where is Jan?” No one knew, so I went looking for her.

She was easily found, but shaken. She clung tightly (literally) that week. We laugh. We grow. I am looking forward to telling our story and other stories as we reflect upon the impact of the Pan-American Lectureship through the years. Pray that we might never stop telling the story. Pray for God’s missionaries in every place. Pray for the Pan-American lectureship and traveling mercies.

Still Here!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Frainkly, I have had trouble getting the creative juices flowing over the past week.  Yet I feel the need to check in and say something to my friends and readers.  Seems that I just finished materials for the Leon, Mexico trip.  Now I am feeling the presssure to finish my presentation for the Pan-American Lectureship in Quito, Ecuador since we leave in a couple of days.  Along the way, I am keeping up with the normal teaching and preaching schedule, and thinking about the broad outlines of a Strategic Planning Initiative for a mission effort in which I am involved.

I am more convinced than ever that we (whosoever will) must call the people of God to resurrected, transformed living in this world as a foretaste of the resurrection and transformation we anticipate.  The challenge of Christianity is not found rules-keeping.  I fail when I measure any aspect of my Christ-relationship by mere actions and do’s and don’t’s.  The challenge of Christianity is new creation in Christ, putting the old behind, experiencing “resurrection” here as promise of future resurrection.  To conform to the image of Christ is no small task, yet it is the essence of our commitment.

If it ever dawns on the people of God that the simplicity of Christianity is in resurrected and transformed living, our lives will be so changed that those around us will wonder what has happened to us.  Talk about simplifying Christianity!  My hope is in Christ, for the resurrected, transformed life I seek is possible only with his presence and power.

A lady who visited our services last Sunday came by my office today.  She spoke of the power she felt as we worshiped.  If we are one of the best-kept secrets in our city–that is, the power of worship and adoration, submission, confession, and recommitment–I hope we will do all we can to make the secret known and to share the power of a people who bow before the throne of God and his Son solely out of adoration and desire to imitate.

Jesus’ resurrection is the first-fruits and promise of our resurrection.  We used to sing, “O to be like thee, Blessed Redeemer, this is my constant longing and prayer.”  The song has gone out of style, but the sentiment is eternal.  Longing and praying for Christlikeness in my life, I remain a struggling disciple, seeking a life that reflects resurrection power and transformational hope.

Stars to Steer By: Making a Difference

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Tomorrow, the fourth Saturday in October, is “Make a Difference Day.”

Will I? Will you? Today? In our Lives?

Mexico: Reporting In

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

[It’s good to be back in the States after 6 days in Mexico. I didn’t have any opportunities to blog, or even to check emails during the whirlwind trip. I’m in the States for 10 days now before I leave for Ecuador, and I’ll try to make up for lost time!]

After putting in print a challenge to think about how well we Christians are advancing God’s purpose, it seems a propos that I report in and share how I decided to meet the challenge and try to communicate God’s will and purpose in the presentations I shared in Mexico.

Sunday morning, I spoke on the theme, “Encounter with God.” My point was that only in genuine encounter and presence do we meet God and join him in his purpose in this world. That lesson was presented primarily to Christians in the local church. I followed up with a lesson, “Portraits of Jesus.” Several visitors were present for the second lesson. My purpose was to communicate some of the many pictures or descriptions the Bible gives us as we try to understand Jesus.

If one of the primary desires of God for his creation is that we recognize him, that we come to know him and understand his nature, understanding the living Word who came to show us God is paramount. The problem of worship is a problem of knowledge. We cannot worship that One whom we do not know. We will not honor anyone or anything that we do not understand. A beginning point in returning the church to alignment with God’s purpose is to “preach Christ.” We must do a better job of telling the story. We must tell the story again and again. We must know the story, share the story, let the story form us and transform us. The recognition of who God really is–his nature, his actions, his character, his emotion–is essential to worship.

Worship (honor, respect, revererence) precedes desire for relationship. The church has busied itself too often trying to get people into relationship with God before those people know God, desire God, respect God. People are baptized with no desire or intention to connect with God, except selfishly seeking salvation as an escape hatch. People are baptized with no desire or intention to worship, no desire or intention to connect with the body of Christ in relationship. We can blame others, but we could as well point the finger inward and say, “Shame on us!” We have misused Christianity, we have miscommunicated God’s purpose and desire, and we ourselves have evidenced selfish motivations. We pay the price in the relationships of our life–both vertical and horizontal.

Stars to Steer By: 70 Years Young

Friday, October 17th, 2008

From Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“To be 70 years young is often far more hopeful and cheerful than to be 40 years old.”

Leon, Here We Come

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

Bright and early tomorrow morning we leave for Leon. Eight of us–a short mission trip to encourage the local church, check on and buoy the spirits of our missionaries, and help with a few projects and works that can make a difference.

I am thankful to God that I am in a mission-minded church. This is the fifth foreign mission campaign that has involved some of our members during 2008. Two more mission trips are scheduled before the end of the year. I am grateful for the commitment of the church to missions, and their willingness to let Jan and me follow our hearts in mission work as well.

Today I ask you to pray–pray for Shawn and Barbara and their family in Leon. Pray for the church there, still in relative infancy. Pray for new converts, pray for souls yet to be touched. Pray for our safety, and effectiveness.

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