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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 August, 2010

It’s Sunday Again: Priorities

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Today I conclude my full-time preaching assignment with the Main and Oklahoma Church. A couple of days to conclude the month, and my full-time ministry assignment will also end. I have ended ministry assignments before–and always begun another one. My ministry now counts 40 years of full-time ministry, six churches (one with two tenures), two universities, at least six interim ministries, and the opportunity to preach in hundreds of churches across the nation. What makes this ending different is that I am not planning another beginning. I do not anticipate another full-time ministry assignment.

I do not consider myself an expert, but I can make some claim to the adjective “experienced”. I have preached full-time in the northern regions of the US, and also in the south. I have preached in churches of all sizes–preaching in special series in some of the largest congregations of the churches of Christ, and preaching also in some of the smallest. When all is said and done, what is the most important factor in church growth, ministry, preaching?

My answer is, “The ability to establish and stick to priorities.” It is not easy to put first things first. We are easily distracted in the church, and in ministry. We seek the wrong things for the wrong reasons with the wrong methods. We get things out of order. I heard from a former student recently–he has over a decade of preaching experience now. He is a counselor to other preachers. He reminded me of my continual encouragement to discover and preach the dream.

Many churches (and church leaders) have forgotten the goal. Without a goal, we may deceive ourselves and consider ourselves successful. But in reality, a person or a church without a goal has little possibility of much forward motion. The church must constantly search for and employ new methods that touch the hearts of people in culturally consistent ways. The church, and those who preach and lead, must never forget that the church is ultimately about salvation. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, and telling the world about the Jesus we follow as king can involve no less. His purpose is our purpose if we are faithful learners (disciples).

If we don’t get much else right, let us get this right! The goal is connecting people to Jesus so that they might be saved eternally. Ultimately, the success or failure of our activities–including our preaching–can be measured by no other standard.

Welcome to Life!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I suppose you have noticed….the nature of life…life is full of problems.
We returned home earlier this week to find the air conditioning unit not functioning. Fortunately, the fix was an easy one–new fan motor and relatively inexpensive (as AC repairs go!).
Jan’s car stopped last month–then it started up again. After driving the car several hundred miles, the repair shop did not identify any problem. We picked it up and have driven it another hundred miles. But Jan is not very comfortable with the idea of driving it very far–especially since the trip to her mother’s involves some areas of southeast Oklahoma where cell phone service is not available. Time to look for a different car.
The house insurance bill came. The annual premium did not go down. It went up quite significantly. At least the due date is still a month away.
Basic, routine medical checkups this year have bumped up our medical costs–Jan says we are only $500 from meeting our high deductible. That sounds like a “good news, bad news” statement to me. Good news is that future costs (few anticipated) will not involve so much out-of-pocket. Bad news is that we have spent a lot out-of-pocket in this calendar year.

I suppose you have noticed….the nature of life…life is full of blessings.
We were warmly received last evening at church after a four-week absence. We are blessed with a wonderful church family–in fact, we are blessed with multiple church families who love us and care for us.
We arrived home safely on Monday after about 1000 miles and 16+ hours of driving.
The evening and early morning temperatures have moderated–the attic fan is pulling in fresh, cool air this morning, and the morning walk was invigorating.
We are able to pay the house insurance premium.
God blesses us with opportunities to make a difference through ministry and missions.

Life is not perfect. Life is what you make of it. The most meaningful life is focused on something beyond life here on planet Earth.

Delightful!

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I am writing this post early morning–today is a travel day. After four Sundays of temporary, interim ministry in Michigan (four weeks, including travel), we are returning home today. Today’s title brings two truths to mind.

First, it is a delight to be part of the kingdom of God and Christ. Spending time with brothers and sisters in Christ is always special. Renewing friendship and fellowship, meeting new friends in Christ, remembering, celebrating, encouraging, anticipating. The time we spent with the church in Lansing was delightful. Heaven is a wonderful place!

Second, I am glad God gave us homes. Homes provide stability and comfort, familiar surroundings and the basic tools of life. It is amazing how many things one misses when one is away from home–not only the “stuff” of life, but also the relationships of life. Proximity to things and people reminds us of our identity–family, friends, even furnishings. Most of the furnishings in our house are unchanged over the last 30 years. The Bible describes heaven as our home. Heaven is a wonderful place!

Tribute: Carl Heffington

Friday, August 20th, 2010

I received word last night that our dear brother in Christ, Carl Heffington, has gone to be with his Lord. Jan and I first met Carl and Claire during a trip to Guatemala. They were seeking to make a difference in their little part of the world. They are examples of what every Christian can do when we are serious about the world into which God has inserted us.

We enjoyed attending Carl’s Sunday evening English Bible class in Antigua, and enjoyed seeing the work that was progressing in San Lorenzo and the surrounding area under their tender encouragement. Our prayers are with Claire and the rest of the family. Pray today for God’s missionaries–wherever they may be. Pray that you might see the place where God has placed you as his missionary.

Every heart where God dwells is a missionary. Every heart where God does not dwell is a mission field.

We are family; we can get over it!

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I had never heard the phrase applied to the church, but I immediately liked it!

Opting out of a family is not an option. I did not choose my family, but I am in it for the long haul. I cannot get out of it. My family is imperfect.  We have our warts; we have our black sheep.  I can make my family as good a family as possible or I can make it a disaster. I can harbor grudges or I can constructively work to heal relationships.

Families are imperfect because the people in those families are imperfect. Problems are inevitable. Difficulties come; conflicts arise.  The church family is not immune. The determining factor is in how we respond. Are we family or not? If we are family, the best option is not hard to see. We are family and we can get over it!

Special Memories

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Today is our wedding anniversary: 1969 – 2010. Our forty-first anniversary by the way most people count–82 years of marriage by our count. WE have been married 82 years–41 for me and 41 for Jan. There’s a story behind this story.

We were married on August 15 and thought little about the date we had chosen until Valentine’s Day rolled around the following year. Six months. Six months for me, six months for her. We got out the top of our wedding cake and celebrated one year of marriage. No problem until August–now what to do? We celebrated two years of marriage. And thus have we gone forward now for 41 years and 82 celebrations. (We have to be careful how we say it and how we respond to questions.)
Someone says, “Well, if you’re going to count that way….” We respond, “You only get to count that way if you started that way–we’ve celebrated another year 82 times!”

This year I get to preach on our anniversary. Someone said, “You have to work on your anniversary.” I said, “That’s a good thing.” Jan and I are not the only ones noticing this year. The church is going all out for this one–special luncheon at Red Lobster with a group of Christian friends, cake and ice cream reception this evening after worship. Lots of greetings and well-wishers.

We have many special memories among our 82 celebrations–it is amazing how many of them we remember. (It is also amazing how many of them we do not remember.) This will be one of the special ones–#82. Thanks to our spiritual family at Holmes Road that helped to make this day a special memory!

Being “Family”

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

At the risk of “unleashing” rejoinders about assembly guidelines such as those in 1 Corinthians 14 (decently and in order), I observe that last Sunday evening’s gathering was for me refreshing.

Here is some of what I saw.

  • I saw the little dog on the front row. Explanation given by our sister in Christ: I went to visit friends and I couldn’t get back home in time to drop off my dog and then get back to the church building. I hope it’s okay. My response: as long as we make sure he is included in the count!
  • I saw the 3-4 year old child who left the auditorium by himself and was running up and down the center aisle during the sermon looking for the row where his parents were seated.
  • I saw the child held by his father as his father prayed.
  • I saw people move during the assembly at times some would consider awkward.
  • I saw the church family not in a hurry, taking time to surround the Lord’s Supper table together, in the auditorium, to contemplate the death of Christ that binds us together. (It has been a long time since I saw Sunday evening communion served in the auditorium while the entire assembly waited in prayer and reflection.)

I concluded that I have become so accustomed to accelerated, sterilized worship assemblies where children are removed from the “adult” activity, that I had almost forgotten what it is like to be family. Family where people are informal, laughing, sharing, helping…. Family where people linger long because they hate to say good-bye and leave. Family where a Sunday noon meeting is no problem–we have all afternoon to eat. Family where children are present–watching, learning, laughing, and following their own agendas part of the time (as children are prone to do). Families where those who were not able to be present on Sunday morning are among the most honored and those who must be greeted and included.

We give a lot of lip service to the fact that the church is “family.” I wonder if those who visit us and observe our typical interactions would conclude the same?

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