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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 February, 2010

Evangelism: by God’s Power

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

We have made evangelism hard, not natural. Sharing good news should be one of the easiest, most natural things in the world. We have made it artificial and difficult. We have developed programs that seek “converts” and have depended more on human wisdom and power than on God’s wisdom and power. While we accept Bible passages that speak of God’s power (his Word, grace, the gospel, preaching), we have failed to see God’s power in the obvious places.

Today’s sermon illustrates the power of God in unlikely and unseen places: the power of the ordinary, the power of relationships, the power of encouragement, the power of caring, the power of a vision, the power of asking, and the power of our words. In these dynamics of our life, the power of the gospel is available to us. God sends us forth according to his plan and purpose in the ordinary days of our lives, through the relationships and people in our lives, with opportunities to encourage and care, with boldness to ask.

Perhaps we are less than effective because we “do” rather than “ask”. Jesus promised, “Ask and ye shall receive.” If evangelism is by God’s power, it should be a constant subject of our prayers!

It’s Sunday Again: God’s Plan will Work!

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

God’s plan is that the world might be saved by the gospel (1 Cor. 15:2).  That summary statement includes many aspects of God’s work in our world and our acceptance and involvement according to God’s purpose.  Based on our current approach to church, I fear that the modern church has by and large lost confidence in God’s plan.  We are trying to attract people with everything but the gospel. We think people will come because the activities are fun (and free) and the “product” is right. We entice people with meals, refreshments, enjoyable activities…the list seems almost endless. We are enticing people with everything but the gospel. The average church member seldom thinks of the attractiveness of the gospel when visiting with friends or neighbors. Do you doubt it? When was the last time you offered someone a gospel survey or Bible study? My observation is that we offer prayer, benevolent or financial help, and secular activities. We are training our children to grow up and leave the church when they find out that the church will not do for them as young adults what it did for them when they were part of the youth group. We are teaching self-serving Christianity. We are setting ourselves up in competition with the groups around us. We are trying to “catch” and keep people, including our own youth, with all kinds of activities and lures.  We must learn again the lesson:  what you convert them with is what you will keep them with!

I believe much of the success we are experiencing in Honduras is because we are bringing people to Christ with the good news of the gospel. We offer Bible study, knowing God, connection with God. That is why Dixiana, a young 16-year-old girl, is helping in a campaign two years after I baptized her. That is why the churches are growing. To the extent that we encourage those young Christians to adopt the U.S. standards of how the church building looks and what the church can do for me, we will find that people will be attracted for the wrong reasons.

In the U.S., we have started down a difficult path which we are finding hard to sustain. The average church cannot hire ministers focused on demographic groups–children’s minister, youth minister, singles minister, young adult minister, seniors minister–in addition to the task-oriented ministry needs–pulpit minister, outreach minister, involvement minister, education minister, administrative minister.

The gospel is attractive. We must get back to understanding, living, and communicating the essence of the gospel. God has a plan for this world. The gospel meets basic human needs. You and I can so live our lives that we “adorn” the gospel (1 Tim. 2:10). The church is declaration of God’s plan and purpose and wisdom (Eph. 3:10-11). The plan of God may seem folly and foolishness to some–Paul shows us that such was also the case in the first century (1 Cor. 1:18).

The power of God is in the word of God. God has a plan that involves Christ (as the means for the salvation of the world), the church (as the message of God’s love and wisdom), and Christians (as the ministers of reconcilation). By taking the gospel where we go in the world, Christians are involved in making more disciples, marking those disciples according to the teaching of God, and maturing those disciples to make more disciples.

God has no other plan.

It’s Sunday Again: Focusing on Missions

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

I am away from my normal pulpit duties this morning–instead I am teaching and preaching at the Northwest church in Oklahoma City for their Missions Emphasis series.

In the Spanish class, my theme will be “The Call of God.” God calls us to share his message (Jer. 20:7-9) even when we would rather not. When we answer God’s call, we find that it is a call that consumes us, continually challenges us, convicts us, and centers our lives.

In the English assembly, I will affirm that “The Church is the Hope of the World.” This is an unbelievable statement. We must acknowledge the church in God’s plan. We must live up to the gospel. We must accept responsibility. We must see our world–and communicate hope where this is little or no hope.

It’s Sunday Again: Giving That Which Costs Me Nothing

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Bonus Sunday was postponed from last week.  I will preach once more on the subject of giving–three consecutive Sundays. I wish we had a better word. Stewardship doesn’t help. Some speak of the contribution or the offering. Others speak of the tithe. It ultimately boils down to giving. The Bible uses the verb give (obviously in many contexts other than the Sunday collection) more than five times as often as the verb love. The Christian life is ultimately self-giving and other-serving.

In 2 Samuel 24, David wishes to make a sacrifice to God. He refuses to offer to God that which costs him nothing. An important standard of giving is sacrifice. What do we give up in order to give? What sacrifice do we make? Too often, the answer is “little or none”. We spend more going out to eat on Sunday than we gave to the Lord. Sacrificial giving begins with sacrificial living. We do not need much of what we think we need. We live in the lap of luxury. We are extravagant livers but not extravagant givers.

The text suggests the following principles: keep your heart tender, admit your situation (including your sins), listen to God, be concerned about others, begin now.

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