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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 July, 2011

It’s Sunday Again–Bonus

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

The local church has designated today a “Bonus Sunday.” The schedule is altered with a fellowship meal at noon, an early afternoon period of worship, and a congregational meeting to follow, after which the scheduled church activities for the day will be concluded. In addition to the altered schedule, the congregation is encouraged to give a “bonus” during the offering so that special needs can be met and the cause of Christ can be advanced more rapidly in missions and other activities.

I like the terminology–Bonus Sunday. I regret that the application is mostly to what we give or do. An equally good or better application would be to consider that on this day we can receive more than normal. We share more fellowship. We have the opportunity to discuss the work of the congregation together. We experience more family and leisure time with the more compact schedule of events. What would happen if every person involved (especially those involved publicly) made a special effort to ensure that this is indeed a “bonus Sunday”? What if the preacher spent enough time in preparation to guarantee a “bonus” sermon? What if the prayer leader spent enough time in advance to bring all of the concerns of the congregation before God’s throne? What if the person who directs the communion thoughts were so well-prepared that our hearts were touched and our lives were changed simply by experiencing anew the body and blood of Jesus? What if the focus of the day were so spiritual that even the guests would notice? That would be a Bonus Sunday!

Such ruminations lead me to one more question: What if every Sunday were a Bonus Sunday?

Talking about death–does my speech betray me?

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Most have heard the phrase, “Your speech betrays you.” The phrase seems to have roots in the biblical account of Peter’s denial of Jesus since he was identified in part by his speech (Matthew 26:73). You probably know some of the contemporary applications: Christians who curse, people who say one thing and do another…. You can easily expand the examples.

Over the past month, I have had two experiences that provide background for this blog. First, this week I have heard or read a phrase several times that concerns me when I analyze it from a Christian-biblical perspective. What do we mean when we say, “That person lost a family member”? Do we mean we don’t know where the person is? Are we speaking of separation from something valuable? The word “lost” has several possible meanings. I will grant that some of those meanings may apply to the death situation, but read on.

Second, earlier this month I spent some time in a spiritual retreat with about 150 folks that for Jan and me have a special place in our hearts. One of our post-retreat observations as we drove home was that this group of our brothers and sisters in Christ has a different view of life and death. What difference does it make when our overarching attitude is that “Life is not always that good, death is a natural part of life and is not all that bad”?

From these two experiences, I raise my question about how we should talk about death. Are there better ways to describe the death experience than those we sometimes use? The person who dies in Christ experiences something better, even as Paul says that death is gain (Phil. 1:21). For Christians, those who continue to live here on earth gain the certainty that a loved one has won the victory and that the struggles are past. I started a list of “losses” and “gains”–my gains list is longer than my losses list.

I am going to try to change my speech with regard to death. To begin, I will simply speak of death and avoid the metaphors–passed on, passed, etc. I will try to incorporate more biblical terminology into my speech and conversations concerning death. Perhaps most important, I will change my attitude toward life and death by thinking about these realities in more biblical terms.

What suggestions do you have? What biblical terms do you like or prefer in describing life and death? How could we reflect a healthier, more biblical attitude toward death?

Stars to Steer By: Leadership that develops others

Friday, July 29th, 2011

I recently received a daily email from MinEmergent which included the following challenging quote concerning leadership. The quotation was attributed to Robert Raines.

Just as each of us has a unique fingerprint, so each of us has a unique inner personal gift. We are all the poorer if we do not encourage it to be released in others, nor release our own. Jesus is calling us into a new community where leadership will be measured in terms of effective facilitation of others; where our task will be not to share our riches with others, but to reveal their riches to them.

God’s leaders must rethink the task of Christian leadership. How much time is spent in meetings, with the members in shepherding (personal time spent–not assemblies for worship or Bible classes), in mentoring or training/equipping, in personal Christian maturity (personal Bible study, prayer, meditation, etc.), in maturing others (teaching), in ministry, in missional activities. Which of these activities is most productive, most important? Does the least important get the most time? Does the most important get the least time?

Today will be another day of blessings from God

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

On some days the blessings are more obvious than on others. Some days are wonderful and positive and we have easily see that we are having a “blessed day.” On other days the blessings are almost invisible. Sometimes this occurs when we do not have time or take time to notice. But sometimes the difficulties mount and focusing on the positive presence and power of God is not easy.
Today I will spend time with my grandchildren–we will talk and play and share. Those times are too few, and they easily slip by. The grandchildren are growing up quickly. It is hard to believe how much Clay at 15 months looks like a little man. Because of the heat outside, we will spend lots of time inside, but the early morning and the late evening breezes will provide some relief and allow us time outside.
God’s spiritual blessings will continue even when we are distracted or do not notice. He will be present to protect and guide. His Spirit within us will empower us, guide us, and equip us. The blessings are too numerous to count!
This is one more day reflecting God’s creative genius and wisdom. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Amazed by God

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Mark’s gospel includes amazing stories. The text notes again and again that the people were amazed at the words and works of Jesus. I ask myself, Am I amazed?

Am I amazed at the words of God, the recorded events of Scripture, events that amazed those who saw and heard Jesus in the first century? Or have the Bible stories lost their impact through familiarity?
Am I amazed at the way God is present in our world? Or do I fail to see him in the glories of nature around me?
Am I amazed at the wisdom of God’s plan to redeem a unique people for his purpose and possession? Or am I among the majority who no longer reads the Bible regularly?
Am I amazed at the work God is doing among his people even today? Or am I out of touch with those spiritually vibrant people who know and experience God’s presence and power in their daily walk?

If I am not amazed, the fault may be mine rather than God’s! God has been, is, and will be at work in this world. The kingdom has come near in a world that often walks away from God. May we be among those who walk toward him and with him, faithfully listening in amazement to the stories both past and present.

[P.S. If I can be of help in prayer, counsel, sharing, or any way as you see to walk closer to the amazing God, I invite and encourage you to contact me. You can start simply with a comment on this posting.]

Leadership: ABC Quotes (Adams, Blanchard, Churchill)

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Today I share three quotes concerning leadership. All of these were sent to me by Bob Smith, a friend who serves as an elder at the Edmond church.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
–John Quincy Adams

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.
–Ken Blanchard

The price of leadership is responsibility.
– Winston Churchill

It’s Sunday Again: Eat the Word, Drink the Covenant

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Jesus took break, broke it, and gave it to his disciples: “This is my body.”  The contemporary church has at times struggled with that concept. We have felt compelled to explain that the bread was not his literal body, or to explain how and when the statement is true. In the history of the church, we can study the development of concepts of transubstantiation, consubstantiation, etc.  Others, rejecting such concepts, have talked about the emblems or symbols, but these ideas also fail the test because the  Bible never uses such descriptions. We may describe Jesus’ words as metaphorical, but the Bible doesn’t call it a metaphor. Jesus said, “This is my body.” Listen, think, apply. By faith, the bread is the body of Jesus. The Word became flesh in the Incarnation, and in the Supper, the Word is again enfleshed as it becomes part of our flesh. We eat the message, it is ours, it is within us, and it will be our guide this week.  It will direct everything we do.  That is what we are declaring when we eat the bread. By faith, we eat the body of Christ so that he dwells in our hearts by faith and his presence within us totally changes every aspect of our lives. We eat the bread and we are changed.  We do not curse, we do not backbite or gossip, we do not get even, we dress modestly, we act appropriately, we avoid immorality.  By faith, as we eat, we are saying all of these things. Do not eat the supper if you are not saying this—this is not a matter of being worthy because of what we have or have not done, this is a matter of whether we are serious about taking Jesus’ body into our physical body. This is a matter of identifying ourselves as serious about the body of Christ, as part of that body, functioning as part of that body, connected with the church which is his body, seeking every opportunity to interact with that body—prayer for one another, fellowship, encouraging, stimulating, worship together, this evening, Wednesday night, during the week….  The body matters to us.  “This is my body, take and eat.”
God, we do not understand the wisdom and might of your ways, and how you can actually make it possible for us to take into ourselves the message, the body of Jesus, and to also be that body in the world today. Even without understanding, we are serious about that reality in our lives, and we today eat this bread which is his body by faith, declaring that we are serious about living this week the faithful message which we now eat. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jesus took the cup, and he said, “This is my blood of the covenant.” By faith, this is Jesus’ blood.  Not emblem, symbol, metaphor, or fancy explanation. By faith! The blood of the covenant—we drink and we reaffirm the covenant. We are in covenant with God—we are living in the covenant. Only covenant people drink the covenant blood. I am in covenant with God—this week I will be his. I will keep the covenant. When I drink the covenant, I am committing myself to the covenant, I am renewing the covenant, I am saying that I will live in the covenant.  Am I not also saying that I will be here again next week because the covenant controls my life? Covenant faithfulness is not sporadic; it is not one week on and two weeks off. We assemble as God’s covenant people, and we covenant with God and with one another—we will love, we will encourage, we will care, we will be here when the body assembles, we will live out the covenant—the rest of today, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday….
God, thank you for making possible a covenant between divine God and human frailty, and thank you for declaring us clean by the covenant blood. We could not cleanse ourselves, but we can commit ourselves to the covenant in gratitude, and we do that this day as we take this fruit of the vine which is the blood of the covenant. Dear God, we will live as covenant people until we renew the covenant again next Lord’s Day. Yes, we will. The church says, yes, we will. Yes, we will. Thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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