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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 December, 2009

2010: Renewing the Mission

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

The church where I minister does not have an official mission statement. Perhaps that is bad. A positive that comes is that I get to continually write possible mission statements that reflect who we are and what we are trying to become.
As I think about 2010, I have developed a new mission statement. Perhaps it will help us move a bit closer to the task God has before us.

We, a local body of Christ, part of the larger body of Christ, devote ourselves to doing the will of God as it is revealed in his infallible word, the Bible.
We exist to glorify God in our collective worship, to reach out to the lost with the gospel, and to build up one another in love.
Knowing that we are saved by grace through faith, every member is encouraged to use the talents given by God to serve others and to grow in faith toward God and his Son Jesus Christ.

It’s Sunday Again: The Paralysis of Fear

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Fear is paralyzing. Big challenges go unaccepted; big jobs remain undone. The “what if” gets in the way of the “what can be.” I remember taking an evangelism course a number of years ago that defined fear this way: False Expectations Accepted as Real.

The ideal New Year’s Resolutions are simple, limited in number, and principle-based. Here’s a possibility: In 2010 I will give no place to fear. In the spiritual realm, fear looks to human power rather than God’s power. Down at the church house, fear sacrifices possibilities for improbabilities. The Old Testament is filled with stories of those who overcame fear to demonstrate God’s power: Abraham, Gideon, David, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel…. One can easily come up with a much longer list with a little thought.

Paul’s admonition in Philippians 3 remains a good guide: press forward to escape complacency, unshackled from the memories of the past, spirits buoyed by what is before, press forward. The concept of pressing forward is that of hot pursuit. It is more than following, as it is translated in some versions. It is energetic, but to merely press forward may not be intense enough. Pursue the things of God–regardless!

Post-Christmas Thoughts

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Christmas has come and gone–Christmas 2009 is in the history books, or almost so.  Our family is assembling today to enjoy visiting, gifts, and Mom’s enchiladas. Despite a few delayed celebrations and gatherings, all in all, it is safe to say that the season is drawing to a close, the decorations will be stored for another year, and the house will soon return to some degree of normalcy.

One of the things I like about Christmas (perhaps the ‘preacher’ in me) is seeing how various writers and thinkers approach the season.  One would think that after 2000+ years, all that can be said would have been said. But not so! Each year, I am challenged by new ideas, approaches, and thoughts.

If you are into introspection (perhaps a characteristic of aging), here is one for you to ponder. “What if Jesus had not been born?” Make a list. What things you do would go away? What organizations you support or belong to would disappear? What aspects of your life would not matter? What if Jesus had not been born? Unimaginably sad thought!

Therefore, let us live every day knowing that he did come to earth, knowing that God has penetrated the human dilemma in unique way, hearing God’s declaration that history linear and not circular. In Christ, God has made our rescue possible. We live because he lived and lives.

Software, Freeware, and Church

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Large segments of the contemporary church are stuck, as in the mud. The church has developed its own little box from which is cannot escape. It cannot escape in part because it does not want to escape. It does not know it needs to escape. It cannot recognize that there is a brand new (and better) world out there.

Let me share an illustration (partially borrowed, but I don’t know the original source) from the world of information technology (IT) and computers. If you use a computer, you probably know about freeware as opposed to the software programs you have to buy. Software development communities produce Open Source software (the Linux operating system is an example), then give the software and the source code away. This approach to software development seems weird in our consumer culture. Why would people contribute time, talents, energy and resources simply to give the product away for free? Isn’t there a lot of money to be made by restricting software access? Isn’t Bill Gates rich? Isn’t the stuff you pay for better than the stuff you can get for free?

This presents an interesting question: Why do people continue to pay hundreds of dollars for operating systems when they can get Linux free of charge? What compels us to spend money on commercial Office Suite software when Open Office is free? Answer: We are uncomfortable with things that go against the dominant thinking of our consumer culture. We are taught to spend money and expect a product in return. We think quality is somehow directly proportional to the amount of money invested. We have been taught to focus on the product. What if we focused on the process instead of the product?

The MAC vs. PC debate is fun. Last year, Oklahoma Christian went from providing students Dell products loaded with Microsoft products to Apples. You may get more frills with the latest gizmos and gadgets and you may also provide what students think they want (consumer demand driven), but having either does not make one a better computer user. Some people in the computer world approach things differently. Those who develop Linux want to create passionate contributors to the project instead of passive consumers of a product. As a result, Linux users need to know a little bit more about their computer’s history, architecture and hardware and how it all works together to take full advantage of the benefits Linux offers. The ultimate goal of the Linux development process is not to create a better operating system–that is a byproduct. The real aim is to create a growing software development community populated with better computer users, programmers, developers, and contributors. The strength of that community rests in creating an open, collaborative environment that allows people to contribute in multiple ways to this ongoing process.

Thanks for sticking with me to this point. To paraphrase Paul after a lengthy discourse on marriage and husband-wife relationships in Ephesians 5, I am speaking about the church. Two options exist in the contemporary church world. The choice is counter intuitive. We are tempted to make the wrong decision. Let me describe the choice this way: There is the pre-packaged version that you have to pay for, and then there is the free version (grace and all).

There is a consumer version and a participating version. There is the let someone else do it version, and there is a version that demands your involvement. There is a product version of church, and there is a process version of church.

For years, our world has told us that the former approach is the better one. Wrong! The biblical approach is the latter one. Church is not pre-packaged, already thought out, performance for spectators, feel good entertainment. Church is about you and God. Participation and involvement are mandatory. Church is daily. Church is a process. You never quite arrive. You never wrap your hands around the product and say, “I’ve got it.” Church is not about a product—whether salvation, or the precise duplication of a first century model. Christianity is about thoughtful worship, meaningful prayers, committed lives, and Christian people. The goal at church is to develop better Christians, better Bible students, more benevolent caring people, more intimate fellowship, more open ways for everyone to answer the call of God in their lives.

iPhone Ideas

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Hello to all you iPhone ministers and church leaders out there.
You might find the following blog interesting and helpful: “20 Incredible iPhone Apps for Christian Evangelists”.
Have a great day!

Christmas Resolutions

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I like Christmas! It is one of my favorite times of the year. The Christmas season is misunderstood by many in our country–Christmas is about more than the story of baby Jesus. For the majority, Christmas is no longer religious. The Christmas season has largely been ignored in my religious heritage. We have been largely silent, when a biblical message is quite needed.

In the story of the shepherds in Luke 2, three questions come forth. Three “Christmas resolutions” follow.

First, Who is Jesus? (In the city of David, is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.) I want to see Jesus! I want to understand and know him.

Second, What will we do with the story of Jesus? (Let us go see and verify what we have been told. And they spread the word.) I will share the good news of Jesus.

Third, What will you do with Jesus? (And they returned glorifying and praising God. The story has a long list of those who reacted to and participated with the Jesus story in various ways–John the Baptist in the womb, Mary and Joseph, Quirinius, the shepherds, Simeon, Anna. And outside the Lukan account, one could add Gabriel, Herod, the Magi, and others.) I will bow down in worship–I will praise and glorify Him.

Three resolutions: to know Him, to share Him, to exalt Him. Quite a life-changing set of resolutions for the next two weeks! May God bless you as you resolve to understand the biblical significance of the season!

Baxter Graduation Report

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

The week in Honduras was superb in every way–weather, activities, graduation, reports, visits, even the board meeting. The number of graduates was slightly lower this year, but our eight graduates will make a difference in the world. They are going to Nicaragua (assisting with Mision Para Cristo), El Salvador and eventually to join a Mexico City Mission Team, Peru, and to the U.S. for continuing graduate studies. They represent dreams for new churches, additional training for ministry in Latin America by well-trained and experienced Latin Americans, and a bright future for the church.

A couple of dozen graduates of the CELO extension program joined another 30+ who just graduated in Cuba. Thirteen countries were represented at the various graduation activities. Attendance at the combined Sunday morning worship was very good–the count was near 1000.

I hope you will be able to attend a graduation ceremony sometime in the future–your spirit will be buoyed by the hope and potential you will see in the eyes, hearts, and dreams of those students who go forth to make a difference for the Lord. As we look toward 2010, several projects are waiting in the work at Baxter–construction, a significant increase in enrollment, a large number of students in the apprentice program, more distance learning students and the possibility of increased Internet use, videoconferencing possibilities…. If you could assist with a small (or large) monetary donation, or would like more information, please contact me. Or you can check out the Baxter website to learn more about how you can help.

Above all, we ask your prayers as we strive to make a difference all across Latin America.

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