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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, 2010

Life’s Rhythms

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

My son asked me Sunday afternoon what I was doing now that I am not involved in full-time local ministry. He was curious about how my life has changed and how it is different. The answer is, “Not much; very little.” But his question has caused me to reflect more deeply.

I still arise early (although I might allow myself the luxury of laying in bed until 6:00 AM from time to time). Jan and I still share our early morning walks, coffee, talks, and quiet times. I still check out the news. I still go to the office–usually by 7:00 or shortly thereafter. I feel blessed to be able to maintain office space at the church building away from the house, although I also have an “official office” at the house now as a result of commandeering a bedroom with a wonderful bay window and lots of light.

I still spend the majority of most days working on mission projects, ministry, and study in preparation for sermons, special series, classes, and seminars. One thing that is different is that I have more time to reflect and write.

I suppose that these rhythms may eventually change, but the rhythms of life that have developed over decades do not fade quickly. We feel more freedom to plan day-trips to spend time with family. I am more likely to spend the entire day at home when the grandchildren visit. Things get fixed around the house a little more quickly. We can already tell that we will travel more–primarily for ministry and mission trips.

Here is my conclusion. The nature of God’s calling in our lives does not change because we retire or reinvest or change roles. Life is still life. The call to ministry and servant-leadership is still clear. Life does not suddenly become something to waste. Life is to be lived fully, with God’s gifts and Christ’s presence and the Holy Spirit’s power.

The well-known children’s song (and text from Psalm 118) has increased meaning: This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. So I will. Today, here I come!

A Learning Experience

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

When Jan and I visited the Iglesia de Cristo at Park Plaza in Tulsa last Sunday, we also had the opportunity to interact with several members of the deaf congregation that meets in the same building. We were reminded that many of us live our lives with little awareness of what other people in our society–our neighbors and even our friends–go through.

Two of our younger grandchildren (Morgan and Clay) have hearing impairments. Yesterday we picked up Joseph and Morgan for a weekend visit with Nana and Papa, and we toured the new facilities for Happy Hands [website link: Happy Hands]. All three of our youngest grandchildren attend Happy Hands. Happy Hands is a one-of-a-kind place for helping children 0-6 years who have hearing impairments. The opening of the new facility was covered by various Tulsa area news organizations–TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers. The coverage by Channel 23 news included a video in which Morgan appears. The Fox 23 link is at www.fox23.com/news/local/story/New-School-For-Kids-With-Hearing-Loss/Lfm7PcdpsUGJsTiZeolo4A.cspx.

I hope you will take time to check out the links above. There are literally hundreds of places to serve and be the presence of Christ. By the way, Happy Hands will eventually be hiring a Family Counselor to assist families as they deal with their children with special needs. Right now, they are looking for part-time volunteer nurses.

Helping the Hurting Where?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

An interesting aspect of the thinking of many Christians is the ability to see physical needs in distant places while overlooking similar needs closer to home or right next door. According to an article in yesterday’s Tulsa World (September 13, 2010), Oklahoma ranks fourth among the states in hunger: “Oklahoma fourth hungriest state in nation”. The headline is a call to us Christians who live in Oklahoma. Our neighbors are hungry; our communities are hungry. Our towns and cities are populated by many “have-nots”, hungry and hurting children, and people with basic needs unmet.

It is exciting to help meet needs in distant places. It is equally exciting and rewarding to help meet needs at home, while at the same time having the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus. May God give us a passion for touching souls with the gospel—wherever they may be found.

Sunday Report: Iglesia de Cristo-Park Plaza

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Early yesterday morning I wrote about our plans to visit with the Iglesia de Cristo de Park Plaza. Today I can share more details and information.

The occasion of our visit with the church was the fourth anniversary of the establishment of the Park Plaza Hispanic congregation. Four years ago, the church began with four people at the first service. Yesterday saw the largest crowd ever with a total of 64 present–46 adults in the worship assembly and 18 children. The church was obviously encouraged and excited. I spoke about the importance of the church and God’s plan for the church, especially focusing on Ephesians. Most of those of attend are bilingual, at least to some degree. This makes the work different than mission work in many Spanish-speaking countries. I taught the Bible class in Spanish with periodic brief explanations in English.

As I began the sermon, I asked how many spoke only Spanish or had a strong preference for Spanish, and there were about 8 or 10 persons who raised their hands. Doing the same thing regarding English, there were about 6 present who spoke only English. I preached using paragraph by paragraph translation, first in Spanish since that is the primary focus, and then in English for those who were present to lend support. My point was that the church is the place where people can find and drink deeply from the fountain of living water which is Christ.

The church has a vision for reaching Tulsa and for reaching the world with the gospel. They are getting ready to send out a missionary. Jason Tenison will work with the Talanga church in Honduras. Francisco and Millie Davila serve as a lead ministry couple and are graduates of the Baxter CELO (extension) program. Jason will graduate in December. Carlos and Lucy have applied to the program, which is helping develop leadership and missionary-spirited people in the US as well as in Latin American countries. There were at least two first-time visitors present yesterday. (In fact, Francisco and Millie are relatively new Christians.)

After services, I had the opportunity to reconnect with Mike and Teresa Hawkins. Mike serves as a deacon in the English-speaking church, with responsibilities in Central American missions. Afterward, the church shared a celebration meal–I especially liked the avocado salad (I could identify the avocado pieces, green olives, onion, cherry tomatoes, leaf lettuce). Also excellent was the Mexican chicken soup served with tortillas. Members of the deaf church shared the celebration, so that were were probably about 150 present for the meal.

Last evening I received a gracious email from Francisco expressing his hope for more opportunities such as we shared. I ask my blog readers to join in prayer on behalf of this work, and countless similar works around the world, as we reach out to touch as many souls as possible with the gospel of Jesus.

It’s Sunday Again: Dios le bendiga!

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Today I have the privilege of visiting the iglesia de Cristo-Park Plaza in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I will be the guest teacher in the Bible class and the guest speaker for the worship. I am looking forward to meeting with the church, hoping to provide encouragement. Afterward, we will share together a fellowship meal.

I first met Francisco and Millie Davila (he serves as minister) on a trip to Honduras a couple of years ago. Francisco and Millie went to Honduras for the graduation at Baxter Institute to celebrate their graduation from the extension program. They and the church are active in Latin American missions. I look forward to renewing our friendship in Christ and learning more about the work they are doing.

Yield: Where He leads, I will follow

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I have sung the song for years, “Where he leads I’ll follow….” Easy to sing, difficult to do. Where is God leading you? What does God want from you today? What will we do today that affirms that we are faithful followers?

I remember an illustration I have used since my early preaching years. Paul writes to the Romans that they should yield their bodies as instruments of righteousness and not as instruments of unrighteousness (Romans 6). As a teen, the little word “yield” caught my attention. A traffic sign that says “yield” means nothing if there is no opposing traffic. When God and I are traveling in the same direction, life is a joy and delight. I want what God wants; he wants what I want. Yielding is meaningless. This is surely what Paul meant when he spoke of the “mind of Christ” in Phil. 2:5.

But when my desires and God’s desires conflict, then I have to yield. I have to put his desire above mine. I remember a Bible professor who advised that we do for God each day something that we know would please God but that we would rather not do. My we never forget that we are living “yielded” lives. We are disciples–learning from and following the Master. “Where he leads I’ll follow….” “Sweetly Lord have we heard Thee calling….” The first line of the song says it well. The call of God is sweet and precious when we do not find his control chafing and when yielding is not bitter.

Less than Comfortable

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

It makes me a bit uncomfortable to admit it, but the idea of walking with Jesus sometimes makes me uncomfortable. His presence in my life can be quite demanding, even overwhelming. It is tempting (and easy) to run from the full implications of his presence. It is tempting to settle for a watered down version of discipleship–less demanding, but also less fulfilling. Still, the idea of depending on him to provide rather than providing for myself and my family flies in the face of what I have thought throughout my life.

The struggle lessens as I age (mature?), but it is still present. It turns out that the tame version of Christianity and the relatively impotent version of Jesus that has been passed down in my religious heritage through the years is quite different that the Jesus I have come to know. I guess we have to package him to sell him, but often the packaged version is not very much fun, very appealing or desirable, or very helpful in life. The packaged version is too impersonal. Jesus is not something you take or leave, purchase or not. Jesus is a person–not to be bought or sold. Relationship with Jesus is demanding–thus my discomfort. He calls on the carpet, he challenges, he reprimands, he disciplines, he comforts, he assures. Look for Jesus in your life today, and make a list of the ways he acts in your life, the things he does. If you look closely, you will have a long list by the end of the day, and your heart will fill with gratitude and wonder at his presence. Quite different is this Jesus who steps out of Scripture to walk through this world at our side.

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