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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 September, 2009

Holmes Road: Sharing Memories

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Jan and I fly to Michigan tomorrow to share some special time with our friends and spiritual family at the Holmes Road church (Lansing, Michigan) where we ministered for a little over eleven years.  It is hard to believe that the years have flown by so rapidly–22 years since we left that ministry to move to Oklahoma!
We are looking forward to this trip–sharing a vision for ministry, evangelism, and missions. The names and faces have changed, but much of the ministry system looks like it did when we helped set it up. The missions fervor has continued–the dream for sharing the good news of Jesus has not waned. We have had multiple opportunities to visit this church over the years, but this time will be special.
Pray for the good that can be done as we redream the possibilities for missional ministry and missions.

Know What We Know: Response Required

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

When one has clearly seen God, the human dilemma, and the faithful graceful initiative of God, one question overwhelms. What does God want? How should I respond to him?

In this series we are affirming that God desires that his human creation recognize him as God and pay him respect and honor in worship. The answer to what kind of worship is appropriate can never be guided by our own preferences and desires–the answer must focus on what God wants. Worship that exalts God is according to God’s will and Word.

The realization of the human dilemma posed by sin’s entry should once for all convince us that we humans do not have the ability to guide our own footsteps, but in our freedom of choice we yet tend to think that we know more than God, and that we are more capable of understanding what pleases him and honors him than is he. How else can one explain the human tendency to ignore the Word of God or to change it and explain it in relative terms.

God clearly seeks reconciliation and restoration of relationship through the death of Jesus, demanding that we penitently respond to his graceful overture. But this is not a story of mushy love and overlooking sin. When Christ returns, he will not come as a gentle lamb representing a God defined solely by love. Rather he will come full of the fury and wrath of God against sin. The fact is that the biblical nature of God has almost disappeared from contemporary teaching and preaching. As a result, we have a tepid view of what it means to be a Christian. We rarely speak of the army of God; we are certainly not desirous of being militant or aggressive, we would hardly want to wage an offensive offensive, we are pretty content being community—church dinners, camping, conferences.

In view of the human mess, the only solution to which is Jesus Christ and him crucified, one must ask where is the preaching about the Coming King with his measuring line of justice and plumb line of righteousness. Who talks about the Jesus with a sharp sword coming from his mouth, striking down the nations, ruling with an iron scepter, leading his righteous army in battle? No wonder the average contemporary church has become so passive, so pleasing, and so innocuous. No wonder churchgoers and most Christians are so passive. The Christ they hear about passively loves everyone and everything, regardless.

The righteous grace of God which demands a human response requires a rigorous reexamination of the story of the Christ: learning form the Old Testament about the God of heaven, learning from the Gospel the story of Jesus. Watch his actions, hear his words afresh. Let me tell you what you will see—you will see the kindness of God (come to me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden) and the sternness of God (woe to you…). You will see the nature of God in Christ, consistently revealed.

God wants human beings to recognize and respect him. That doesn’t happen when the average Christian in our society hardly thinks about God, cares little for the people of God, cares even less for the people of the world whom God loves, and is hardly distinguishable in daily living from the surrounding world. What does it mean to recognize God, to respect (worship) God? What does it mean to ascribe to him honor and glory and praise and adoration?

God wants human beings to recognize their dilemma, the sin dilemma, the criminal nature of the human experience, the nature of reality. Lifting up God’s nature to full view—especially as that nature is visible in Jesus—sets a different standard, and one we cannot meet ever by our own efforts or our own merit.

God so much desires reconciliation and the restoration of broken relationships that he paid the ultimate price, made the ultimate sacrifice in sending his Son to the cross. His love is demonstrated in Christ; the heart of God is in the heart of Christ, emptying himself, sacrificing himself, the God who serves, stoops down, shows himself. To see this side of God—his love, his grace, his generosity, his mercy (hesed), his loving kindness–leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

God calls us to turn, to change, to be transformed. God calls us to “pay a price”. It cannot be true that there is a version of Christianity that requires nothing. There is no non-participating plan. There is no costless, cheap discipleship. If we do not clearly see this connection, we cannot make a deep, lasting decision to be a Christ-follower. We follow at a distance, we are discouraged at the first problem, we are not all the way in, and so we are uncomfortable, because we know we are not all the way in, and thus we suspect that we are at least partially out. Submission to the Lordship of Jesus (#1) cannot be separated from salvation in Christ (#2). The Bible does not separate them, neither can we. And….we have to get them in the right order.

Those to whom Paul was writing in the first century understood Lordship. If an individual gave himself to a “lord”, he gave up everything. He surrendered every aspect of his life. Rights, possessions, even names were given up for the Lord. They made the decision (and sacrifice, at least in our terms) willingly because of what they understood they would get in return: membership in a new household with benefits, protection, security, honor. Debts paid, clean slate, old enemies vanquished, old problems gone. That is what we get when we follow Christ.

This is a message of self-denial, not for the purpose of denying self, or self-deprivation, but for the purpose of laying down our lives for our Lord, and trusting him to take care of everything. We must surrender all to Jesus—this is the first decision, it is based on the goodness of God. There will not be biblical repentance until we get to this step. We have overlooked it; ignored it, not seen it. All must belong to Jesus—our future, relationships, will, and resources. More will be required, but the “more” is not a problem, because we have made a “once for all” decision. When people come to Jesus with this spirit, they come broken, needing and expecting a complete transformation.

Know What We Know: The Human Dilemma

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

We have really messed up! The message is not popular, but it is relevant, spiritually vital. We are a rebellious bunch–the whole lot of us.  This message is “bad news”. Nonetheless, one must hear it, realize its truth, own it.

Good news is relative! News is not good if it doesn’t meet a need. I once heard someone claim that finding a $1000 bill laying on the parking lot as he walks into the work is not good news for Bill Gates. (The person continued by explaining that Gates can make more money if he keeps walking and gets to his desk quickly since he makes more than $1000 per second at work.)
Finding pennies, nickels, dimes, and even quarters is not good news for some people–they walk right on by. Apparently they don’t need/want the money, it is too much trouble to stoop down at pick it up, or it doesn’t have enough value to justify the effort.

Good news is personal. Oh, you say someone inherited $100,000? No big deal! Oh, you say I inherited $100,000? When can I get my hands on it!

Some people are not interested in the good news of salvation in Christ because they don’t know they need it! We must not shun this part of the gospel. Church must never be about “feeling good”. The gospel is offensive. The demands of discipleship are difficult. Salvation is not free, nor cheap.

That is not to say that we should be offensive! We must know what we know, and share it! We are walking disasters (still) but in Jesus Christ is peace, security, comfort, and hope. That is good news for the world!

Iglesia de Cristo: Edmond

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Jan and I had the privilege last night of being part of a historic night.  We attended the first night of the first evangelistic campaign of the Iglesia de Cristo (Spanish Church of Christ) in Edmond.  There were 57 present.  Brother Clemente Castorena (originally from Mexico, now working in Shelbyville, Tennessee) spoke on the importance of having God in our families.  I learned afterward that Brother Castorena also works with Roberto Santiago (Baxter graduate) in a Saturday training school.

It was a joy for us to see this fledgling work taking root and beginning to blossom, to renew friendships, and to consider how God is at work in this world.  We remember those Sundays and Wednesdays when there would be only 5 or 6 present, and we would sing and pray and study together in faith, believing that God gives the increase.  Praise God for his marvelous methods of multiplying our feeble efforts.

The English-speaking church in Edmond has continued to encourage this effort, and it was good to see Alan and Linda Martin, Don Vinzant, Dale Lollar, and David and Danielle Waldo, among others.  The support of the Southeast church has been encouraging–it was good to see Felix Martinez again and some of his family.  We also had the privilege of meeting Julian Cruz who is assisting with the work.

Stars to Steer By: Cheap

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Christianity is a way of life that is most demanding. We are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ to such an extent that we make the world stand up and take notice. We are to walk with Jesus even when it is not popular. We are to daily serve him in the spirit of holiness. There is nothing cheap about that.

Know What We Know: God

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

Today is the first sermon in a new series: Know What You Know!

The word “gospel” is thrown around quite loosely today. Analyzing some of the sermons being presented in churches today (Internet postings, written sermons, audio or video recordings), it seems that any preaching or teaching that has even a passing reference to Jesus qualifies as a gospel sermon. Some sermons seem to get by with little or no any scripture at all. Some sermons have a lot of Bible references strung together but do little to communicate the message of Scripture or a specific text. Too many sermons include stories, commentary, news, and movies, but little Bible. Someone needs to tell the preachers: Preach the Bible! Preach the gospel!

Sometimes it seems the preacher simply chooses an emphasis—whatever appeals at the moment, whatever is convenient or advantageous. Such sermons let the church fit comfortably into secular world; Christians do not have to fear cultural rejection; they can go forth into the world and be little noticed, because little has changed. Unfortunately, there is very little of the Christian worldview in view.

What happened to the biblical gospel? It needs to be restored. It is lost and needs to be found. Paul describes the basic truths of the gospel in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Jesus died, was buried, and rose! Another question comes to mind: what are the foundational elements of the gospel?

In coming weeks, we will study six elements to be included in a biblically balanced evangelistic message. These are the foundations of faith, what we MUST know: God’s creative plan, human rebellion and loss, God’s gracious love, the possibility of human response, the value, and eternity. We will study each of these in detail. I hope you can be present for the entire series. Knowing the entire story—the whole counsel of God, the complete gospel—Increases the chances for real conversions. When we know the foundations, and know that we know, we also know how to walk more closely with God.

“God must be recognized at the center of life, not when we are at the end of our resources; it is his will to be recognized in life, and not only when death comes; in health and vigor, and not only in suffering; in our activities, and not only in sin.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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