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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 March, 2011

Blessed to be a blessing….

Friday, March 25th, 2011

I love my friends. They keep me honest, in touch, aware, thinking.
I wrote to several friends concerning upcoming mission plans. One wrote back expressing his “envy” that I had time for such activities. He said he wished he had time to do the same kind of things. One day he will, and he will. (He will have time, and he will do exactly the same kind of things.)
In my preparations for this trip–materials to be developed for the ministry classes, leadership workshop, and preaching and teaching, I had been so busy that I had forgotten to celebrate the opportunity God is giving us. We are blessed–we are praying that we can be a blessing to others.
I return to a challenge I have often used in concluding bulletins and worship services: “Receive God’s blessing, be a blessing to others.”

People, People, Everywhere

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

It is amazing to me when I see the people. It is amazing to me when I do not. Many Christians spend much of their lives in isolation–primarily interacting with other Christians. On those limited occasions when we do venture out of our comfortable Christian worlds, we find we have developed “people blindness.” The people are still there, but we do not see them as they are. We do not see souls, human beings whom God created and loves, people with real problems that can only be solved by Jesus–problems solved only by applying resources from the spiritual realm. We do not see and feel the lostness. We have learned to ignore the despair and need. The first step is seeing. Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes; the fields are white unto harvest.”
We live in the midst of harvest fields ready for reaping. We are surrounded (more and more) by people who are ready to find solutions to life’s pressing problems. Today, resolve to see people and souls, or at least one person who needs love and compassion, the presence of Jesus, a gentle nudge toward kingdom realities. See and act, and let God take care of the rest.

A Special Day–311

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The 50th Anniversary Celebration last weekend put a fitting climax on six months of exciting interim ministry with the Holmes Road church in Lansing. Although the new minister has been in place for over a month, the anniversary was a significant part of the ministry renewal plan we initiated late last summer.
The Sunday morning attendance was 311! This is an indicator of the great potential that exists in this church. Few churches come through a time of ministry transition stronger than before. Much of our attendance decline comes “between ministers.” The church is blessed when it can move ahead healed in the broken places and strong for the future.

The weather provides an interesting sidenote. When we were planning the anniversary weekend, we were concerned about the weather. Mid-March in Michigan can mean snow–and lots of it! When Jan and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, it was 72 degrees. The weekend weather was very nice as the men of the congregation fried fish on Friday evening and cooked barbecue on Saturday. Despite a seasonably cool morning on Sunday, the day dawned bright and sunny. In fact, all was well until activities concluded mid-afternoon on Sunday, and then the cold rain began. This week, winter will prove it has not quite lost its grip, but God smiled brightly on the anniversary weekend and events.

It’s Sunday Again: Celebrating the Church

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

The song says “Celebrate Christ”. Because Christ values the church as his body, because he died for the church, because he claims the church and it wears his name, we can also “celebrate church.”
The church for which Christ died is described in Acts 2 where we read of its beginning as the first to become New Testament Christians responded to that first gospel sermon preached by Peter on Pentecost. In the closing verses of Acts 2, we read of a church that was committed, constant, compassionate, community, credible, and creative.
In a world where many criticize the church and have no use for the church, there is something right with the church. Not only do we read about it in Acts 2, we see it lived out in countless congregations of God’s people around the world.
One of those congregations is the Holmes Road church of Christ in Lansing, Michigan, where we are spending the weekend “celebrating Christ” as the source of strength and unity as we “celebrate church.”
Here is a church that has the DNA of initiative, intentionality about unity, integrity, influence, and a sure identity in Christ. May God be praised for the wisdom of his plan to put his people together in the church.

It’s always about the people….

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Across the years, we have talked to many different people about our ministries and mission work. Reactions vary, some are amusing, most intend to be serious.
13+ years in Michigan: isn’t it awful cold there? It doesn’t matter how cold it is–because it’s always about the people. (But yesterday in mid-March, the snow was gone, it was 70 degrees and Jan and I enjoyed our typical evening walk in a light mist. Of course, yesterday might be warmer than July 4!)
The “boonies” of Central America: isn’t it pretty primitive there? One can survive a little “roughing it”–because it’s always about the people. Yes, we may have to filter water (less so now than 20 years ago since more purified water is available), washing clothes may be a chore, one may not have air conditioning (but that is also changing), and one may not have hot water for showering (also changing).
The cities of Latin America: isn’t it dangerous there? No more dangerous than the cities of the United States–and remember, it’s always about the people!
Colombia: aren’t there drug cartels there? Lots of people around the world go about their daily lives normally under adverse circumstances. We go–because it’s always about the people!

Patience

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

My prayer for today is that God teach me more patience. Please be patient with me as I muse about several things at least remotely related to this challenge of patience.
Leaning patience is no easy thing as one journeys the spiritual pathway, wanting to run ahead, to investigate new beauties, to see what lies ahead. The danger in forging ahead is that one may fail to see and enjoy the present. The danger in dallying is that one may fail to seize fresh opportunities that are just ahead. Some are content to stand still and enjoy what is rather than finding out what can be. The opposite way of making the journey may be equally empty.
Sometimes Christians face this dilemma and hardly know the source of the conflict. The problem often intensifies when one moves and enters a new church family. What if the new church is miles away from where you have been on your journey? What if they are far behind? or far ahead?
It is no easy task for shepherds of God’s flock–keeping the lariat around the entire herd (flock), bringing them along, letting some run ahead and other lag behind.
It is no easy task for ministers and preachers. How does one touch all who come to worship on a given Sunday? Preaching is no easy task–the more years I preached, the longer it took to prepare my sermons. Not just an outline–that got easier with practice and experience. But the details, the wordsmithing, the thoughtful development of ideas designed to touch all who would enter God’s presence.

Let me illustrate the challenge. A few years ago, a good ministry friend and I were both approached by the same church as potential candidates for an open ministry position. I doubt the inviting church knew that we were good friends. Neither of us accepted the invitation to apply. We saw one another later that summer at a workshop hosted by a well-known theological school. I asked why he had not considered the position. He said something about having to regress ten years in his spiritual journey in order to minister effectively in that church. He went on to explain that he would have to go back to where he used to be, enter a new church system, and bring the church along the same path he had already traveled. At 55 years old, he did not have time to travel the same path again–he was impatient to see what was ahead spiritually. He actually admitted it. I must admit that I sympathized with him.

Indeed, patience is no easy thing. I want to move forward–agressively. I shall only come this way once, I have no intention of regressing, help me be patient enough to bring others along on the journey.

Peace in the Midst of a Storm

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

This week Jan and I have the privilege of helping a church celebrate 50 years of history. Fifty years is a long time in church life. Many churches do not last 50 years. Those who do last 50 years are often declining, dying or nearing the end of the “church life cycle.” Many churches are ready for artificial respiration. Not so, the Holmes Road church. It is not as large as it has been in years past, but it is vibrant and alive, evangelistic and mission-minded. It is “on the grow” and anticipating the next 50 years!
The Holmes Road church is Lansing, Michigan is a unique church. It is unique because of how it understands and lives out the challenge to be church. It is unique because it accepted, very near its inception, the challenge to demonstrate the real nature of the church, and it has faithfully lived it out without looking back. It is unique because it made the decision to be one and live in unity in the midst of the conflicts and turmoil of the late 1960s–1968 to be exact. It is unique because that decision was made in a geographic area that was on fire with the turmoil.
Jan and I were changed, and to some extent are what we are today, because that church blessed us by calling us to be its minister for 12 years, approximately from year 16-28 of its history. In case you have missed them, I cite two articles from my website:

  • A Brief History of the Holmes Road Church
  • God’s Plan for Peace: A Case Study in Church Integration
  • May God’s people in every place come to know genuine peace–with God and between brothers and sisters, so that the world might know peace on earth!

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