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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 January, 2010

It’s Sunday Again: What Happens When I Give?

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Understanding why people give is not always easy. Millions of dollars have been donated to help relieve the hurt and suffering in Haiti. Compassion sometimes motivates giving–especially if the victims seem powerless and could not have averted the problems. Compassion doesn’t always work as a motivator if there is a perception that the receiver could have done something to avoid the problem.

Paul included a lengthy section in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 chapters, 2 Corinthians 8-9) to encourage them to participate in the collection for the needy in Jerusalem. He motivates by reminding them about what the Macedonians had already promised to do. He challenges them to remember Christ’s example of giving. He sets forth principles of the harvest (for example, reaping is proportional to sowing). He reminds them that God loves “hilarious” givers.

The climax of the section stretches our understandings of generosity. Paul mentions at least five things that happen when I give.
1. Thanksgiving. Obviously others will or should be thankful. But thanksgiving also comes into my life when I give. The ability to meet needs results in thanksgiving. Are you thankful that you can give?
2. Giving improves my worship. Being able to supply what others need strengthens my relationship with and imitation of God. Giving indicates my gratitude, respect, and attitude toward God. My giving also helps others see and worship God.
3. Giving increases prayer. We cannot give generously and fail to pray about those people or causes we sacrificially support. Do you give enough to pray about what you give to?
4. Giving gives our confession integrity. Too often Christians say one thing and do another. Giving proves us. Others see our integrity.
5. Giving increases love. Hearts are connected by affection. We love because God loves us, and the surpassing grace of God flows through us to provide grace to others. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

Giving makes us like God. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

It’s Sunday Again: Developing Grace

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

We praise grace but are sometimes less than gracious. We are grateful that God is gracious, but miss the opportunity to become like him by developing grace in our own lives. Peter urges us to grow in grace. Paul writes to the Corinthians urging them to develop “this grace also”. Paul’s subject is clearly a contribution being collected to relieve the needs of others.

One concordance I use has 16 columns listing the biblical occurrences of “give”–only five columns listing the biblical occurrences of “love”. Give is used at least three times as much as love. Why have we not defined Christianity by how we give? Does the answer have anything to do with our materialistic culture? Perhaps we have failed to develop in the grace of giving because we have missed the point that it is ultimately about God. Giving is a “God action.” Nothing we can do makes us any more like God than generous sharing.

Further, generosity improves mental health. Human beings apparently have an appetite for giving, and satisfying the “giving appetite” makes us happy. Giving is an evidence of the receipt of God’s grace. Healthy Christians go through life asking, “Where can I give myself to God and to others?”

My text for today’s sermon is 2 Corinthians 8-9. Consider ten foundational truths about generosity.

#1 (8:2) Generosity is not a function of outward circumstances or of wealth, it is possible even in poverty.
#2 (8:3) Generosity is not a function of one’s ability to give.
#3 (8:4; 9:1) Generosity is a ministry to others.
#4 (8:5) Generosity is easier when one first gives self.
#5 (8:6) Generosity is a grace, an act of kindness.
#6 (8:8) Generosity reveals our genuine love.
#7 (8:9) Generosity makes us like Christ.
#8 (8:12) Generosity of spirit is what makes our gift acceptable.
#9 (8:13) Generosity does not require that we give to the point of our suffering, our God has enough for all.
#10 (9:5) Generosity blesses others.

It’s Sunday Again: Sabbathing

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

[Readers who check in regularly at this blog have noted that I have taken a break from regularly blogging during the first half of January.  I plan to resume more regular blogging and postings in the next week.]

Today will be more restful to me than most Sundays–thus the title of this posting. A guest teacher and speaker this morning will free me from my normal teaching and preaching routines, and Jan and I will be able to sit together and worship together for most of the assembly. I seldom use my Sunday morning blog to write about the Sunday evening sermon, but today’s schedule gives me that opportunity.

How do you think? Asked another way: What is the key signature of your faith? Is yours an indigenous, personalized thinking that issues forth into real living for Jesus? Faith suggests thinking about God and about self. Ultimately faith finds us thinking about the cross, and about the Christ, as the single event in history that integrates history and integrates our lives. Jurgen Moltmann said it aptly, “Theologia crucis is not a single chapter in theology, but is the key-signature for all Christian theology (thinking).”

Let me explain a little about the metaphor of musical key signatures.

  • I was/am a clarinetist–B flat clarinet. Instruments have different key signatures.
  • Music is written in different key signatures. In the band, symphony or orchestrra, one must make sure all of the instruments are in tune.
  • The music is written so that all the instruments, with different key signatures, are playing in the same key.
  • I can play the music of the B-flat baritone saxophone with my B-flat clarinet and it will be in tune with the rest of the group.
  • I cannot play the music of my sister’s C-flute with my B-flat clarinet and it sound right with the rest of the musical group.
  • If someone plays a musical piece solo in another key, it will still be the same song, but it will not be quite right.
  • To the untrained ear, when someone is playing solo in the wrong key, the difference will probably not be noticed. It sounds about the same.I am challenging us to an investigation of the key signature in which we are singing the song of our life. What key are you living in? Are you in the major key of C–Christ, for cross, for church, for community, for commitment, for Christ-likeness, for Christianity.
    Equally important is the question, “Where do you get your key signature?” What philosophers, value system, goals, Bible verses….Christian living suggests that we are using the same key signature that Christ used–we are his disciples, followers, imitators. We have the same values and goals. We think the same way; thus we act the same way. If we read Scripture through the eyes of culture, we may miss the real point. How do you think?
  • It’s Sunday Again: Church without Covenant?

    Sunday, January 10th, 2010

    Our culture is filled with churches that are trying to be or do the work of God apart from “covenant relationship” with God.  As an increasing number of persons in our national culture seek the relationship of marriage without commitment or covenant, a similar situation has developed in many churches.

     What does it mean to be a covenant person?  Is it what you believe?  Is it your doctrinal statement? Are we covenant people because of the way we worship?

     How does one come to be a covenant person?  By accepting a system of teaching?  By accepting or accomplishing a prescribed activity checklist?

     How can one tell who is a covenant person?  At its heart, this is the question of church.  What is the church?  What is the result of covenant relationship with God? 

    It is not sinlessness; it is not perfection.  It is not adherence to doctrine or an order of worship.  It is the restoration of image.  It is the mind of Christ within us.  It shows up as we focus on others more than self, it shows us as we focus on people more than tasks, it shows up in leadership that develops and leads a cause or movement rather than an organization. 

    The DNA of a covenant person (disciple, follower of Jesus) is seen in response to the question, Do you love God?  Do you love your neighbor?  If we are restored to God-image, might it show up in our commitment to bless others more than in a commitment to evangelize others?  Is the goal a version of salvation that makes folks like us, or is the goal restoration of covenant relationship with God?

    The latter has tremendous power to really change (transform!) lives!

    Stars to Steer By: Coincidence

    Friday, January 1st, 2010

    Quote for the New Year: Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

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