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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 March, 2009

Peace-Making

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

My topic in Sunday’s sermon was “peace.” God wants us to have peace, he provides peace, he fills our life.
During the sermon I shared “10 Steps to Peace Making”.

1. Yearn to see peace restored
2. Pray for self-cleansing and guidance
3. Sincerely bring the estranged together
4. Empathize with all concerned
5. Listen to all with full attention
6. Restate the view points objectively
7. Analyze the stated problem, identify the real issue
8. Propose a solution respectful of all
9. Allow God’s Holy Spirit and timing
10. Thank God for his reconciling work

Mission Expanded: What about the strays?

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Today’s blog is a reprint of an article written by my friend, Alan Martin. The article appeared in the Edmond church bulletin the last week of March 2009.

There’s quite a sobering thought by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his chapter on “The Great Divide”.Here’s the thought: “The path of discipleship is narrow, and it is fatally easy to miss one’s way and stray from the path, even after years of discipleship. And it is hard to find.”

This made me think of our mission emphasis at Edmond, and how excited we are to reach the lost. But what about those “disciples who once knew the way but lost it?” Should they not be a part of our mission? One of the most preached on parables is that of the “lost sheep”. The context of Luke 15 is that of making concerted effort to regain (a sheep), retrieve (a coin), restore (a son), and renew (the seekers) and the importance of JUST FINDING ONE STRAY sheep, coin, or son! Jesus tells three parables about that same theme! In other words, “I really want people to get it!”

Question: Am I getting it? Are you? Let’s think of just one person who once loved, served, and sat with you but is no longer with us! Will you please pray for him/her and then give us his/her name? Listen to the words of Jesus: I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7 NIV)

Evangelism: Quotes/Observations

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Today’s blog includes several comments which first appeared in Pastors Weekly Briefing as commentary on the church’s lost ability to evangelize effectively (from March 27, 2009). I trust you will find them insightful, helpful, compelling, and challenging!

When we design seeker sensitive services, have we thought out the fact that what they are seeking is not what the church primarily was meant to offer? Are we offering a gospel that conforms to what they are seeking rather than what they actually need? We have been given the ministry of reconciliation, not the ministry of appeasement. … People don’t need Jesus to make them feel better. Although He certainly can do that, it is the by-product, not the end goal. They need to be saved from the consequences of their sin, from the just judgment of God. While love certainly motivated Christ to come and die for our sins, it was God’s holiness that necessitated justice and judgment, thereby necessitating an atonement for our sin in the first place. — D.C.

The drive to be ‘current, progressive, innovative, fresh or emergent’ is simply a poor substitute for authenticity. Where authentic Christianity is practiced, God will bless and use it regardless of numbers. Salt does not need to be large in quantity to have effect … Pointing out the lack of authenticity and the obvious decay is not the same as saying the true Christian church has failed. God always has some who have not bowed the knee to Baal. — D.M.

The church can no longer articulate what it believes and that is a major weakness of the church. If we can’t articulate what we believe and why we believe it, and then live it out, what we oppose or support has no foundation and no substance for us or others to hold onto. … We must expect more than moralism, especially from our leadership. There has to be something more that drives us than issues. God and His glory has to be the motivating force or we will lose steam and move onto something else. — (edited from M.S.)

There is a lot of fluff in the church today…. When was the last time churches had corporate prayer as a regular part of their weekly schedule, to come together to seek God and intercede for others? The one thing the government cannot take away is prayer. The last thing many, if not most, Christians engage in is prayer. — T.R.

We have let our beliefs go by the wayside. We have stood by and let our voices be silent for so long so that people would not think that we are intolerant. But, there are some things that are worth standing up for and there are beliefs that are worth dying for. We have to get past the fear of death and start being disciples the way the original 11 were without fear of dying for what is Truth!!! — L.V.

We define ministry largely by what was done in our church buildings … If the church instead defines ministry as what we do when we are not in the building, we will see that ratio of involvement increase until 100% of believers are actively seeking ways to be Christ’s hands extended … wherever we can find people. — H.R.

Recession Doesn’t Change Church Attendance

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I have heard speculation recently that the economic downturn is increasing the interest of the American population in religion (in a way parallel to the increase observed after 9/11). A new study released this week by Gallup (March 23, 2009) shows that church attendance and the importance of religion in our daily lives has not changed over the past year, despite the speculation that the economic situation would generate a return to God.

The Gallup research, based on over 425,000 interviews shows that:

  • Sixty-five percent of the population say that religion is important in their daily lives (64% in February 2008).
  • Forty-two percent say they attend church, synagogue or mosque weekly or almost weekly (41% in February 2008).
  • The percentage of Democrats, Republicans and independents who say they attend church, synagogue or mosque weekly or almost weekly has also remained constant over the past year.

You can view the complete report with charts at
http://www.gallup.com/tag/Religion.aspx.

Evangelism: Friends and Family, Please!

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Each week I receive an email entitled “Pastors Weekly Briefing” (affiliated with Focus on the Family).  Yesterday’s feature article was titled, “DO YOUR PEOPLE SHARE THEIR FAITH?”  Following are some excerpts from the article, along with my own editorial comments and observations. 

A report from Lifeway Research (March 26, 2009) notes that the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) is launching a new national campaign to bring unbelievers to Jesus, another evidence that many Christian groups are acutely aware of the decline in evangelism that we have noted and addressed in recent blogs.  One of the greatest challenges facing the contemporary (21st century) church is our decreased desire and ability to “grow” the church through focused efforts in evangelism.  An interesting result of the Lifeway survey is the finding that most people want to receive information about Jesus in one of two ways — a conversation with a family member (63%) or with a friend or neighbor from the church (56%).  Many (most?) people don’t want to hear about Jesus, and of those that do, the preferred source is friend or family member.  Other efforts will likely be ineffective.  Even worse, other approaches may be a “turn off” to those we are hoping to reach.

The survey emphasized again the significance of family, friends and coworkers in evangelizing a resistant world. For at least two decades, I have been publishing statistics that indicate the ineffectiveness of ministerial or organized church invitations or contacts with visitors compared with contacts from friends and relatives.  Now the Lifeway research supports those observations with new statistics.  Paul’s reference to ‘the foolishness of preaching’ (1 Cor. 1:21) is not only a first century phenomenon. Our society still considers preaching a foolishness! 

A careful analysis of our situation is revealing.  We have thought preaching/proclamation inside our church buildings to be “public” proclamation, but in essence our assemblies are “private” gatherings with very few visitors present (if any).  Most of those who do come are connected in some way and are not genuinely “visitors”.  We do little genuinely public proclamation.  Public proclamation occurs in the outside contemporary world almost exclusively in impersonal ways–TV, radio, media.  If our assemblies are primarily “for us” (1 Cor. 14, “if an unbeliever comes into your assemblies….”), the place of the preaching and teaching may be to prepare and support Christians as they live out their Christianity in the community outside the four walls our the building.  The church ultimately goes outside its walls and enters the community, not through the organized efforts of the church, but as each member goes forth to live life (“as you are going….”, Matthew 28:19).

[The article in Pastors Weekly Briefing also included some interesting comments about evangelism and evangelistic efforts.  Those I will share in tomorrow’s blog.]

Stars to Steer By: Ships

Friday, March 27th, 2009

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” –William Shedd

It’s Sunday Again-March 22: It’s About How We Live

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Ephesians is about the conduct of the church.
The practical or application section of the book (Eph. 4-6) speaks again and again of how we live.
We know how to live because of what we know. Our calling changes our conduct. Our doctrine informs our duty. The connection between beliefs and behaviors must never be broken.

  • We are called to live in worthy lives in healthy, peaceful relationships with one another (4:1ff). Such is the power of the church as it reaches toward unity, maturity, and spiritual growth and capacity.
  • We are not to live as the unChristian world around us (4:17ff). We have left behind a life characterized by lack of understanding, ignorance, insensitivity, and indulgence. In Christ, changed lives are possible as we learn Christ.
  • We are to live lives of love, imitating God (5:1ff).
  • We are to live in light and as light (5:8ff).
  • We are to live enlightened lives (5:15ff). Live in wisdom, understanding the will of the Lord.

All of this is possible because of what we know (chapters 1-3): God’s power, purpose to save, peace, and presence. Will you devote some of today to thinking again about God and his purpose in your life? Will you seek to tell someone else?

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