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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, 2011

Jesus’ Prayer Life

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Luke’s Gospel has a frequent focus on prayer. I have been restudying the prayer life of Jesus as part of my preparation for a series of presentations designed for Latin American leadership training.

Jesus’ life reveals a cycle of prayer and power, mountainplace and marketplace. This oscillation hardly seems accidental. Jesus prayed at his baptism (3). [Numbers in parenthesis are chapter numbers.] After 40 days in the desert and his temptation, he ministers with power (4). After spending periods of prayer alone with God, the power of the Lord is present to heal (5). Before he chooses the Twelve, he prays (6). He calms a storm (8) and sends forth his followers with power and authority (9). He is praying before Peter’s confession and Jesus’ announcement of his passion (9). He is praying before the Transfiguration and as he prepares for the journey to Jerusalem–the journey for which he has come to earth (9). He prays powerfully and his disciples ask him to teach them (11). He teaches about persistent prayer and prayer without pride (18). He models prayer in the Garden (22). Luke catches this rhythm of Jesus life in a comparison of 19:47-48 and 21:37-38. He prays on the cross (23). He is recognized by the two men on the Emmaus road when he blesses the bread (24).

What is it God wants from your life? Have you found it possible or impossible, easy or difficult? Could it be that our greatest challenge is our lack of prayer–lack of time spent with God and lack of contact with the power of God in our private mountaintops? Is this the explanation of why his power is absent as we minister and serve in the marketplace?

In Luke 22, Jesus had the custom of prayer–he was accustomed to prayer. Seek your closet and pray. Commune with and communicate with God, find in prayer your commitment and your cup, your cross and the power for conquest. Jesus arose from prayer refreshed and resolute–the disciples arose from sleep weary and tired.

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

Monday, August 29th, 2011

We were challenged to think yesterday about the amazing, confident harbor of God’s amazing grace, even when we face seemingly insurmountable odds. Jesus DOES know all about our troubles, and there is indeed no one like him–no not one! What a privilege to walk with him as he walks with us. Thanks, Stan, for super encouraging words.

It’s Sunday Again: Desiring God, Desiring God’s Family

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Today we are traveling, but it will not hinder the desires that now after more than half a century of developing habits, are easily and naturally associated with the Lord’s Day. On this day, we will worship God, declaring adoration and praise, thanksgiving and loyalty. We will share time with the spiritual family of God. We will celebrate the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us and for all humanity, and we will look forward with anticipation to what he will do in our lives in the coming week, and ultimately to his return.

It is not hard for us to imagine how those who have never known God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the family of God can fail to understand the importance of this time with God and the spiritual family. It is quite difficult to understand how those who have begun the Christian walk can treat worship and family fellowship flippantly or nonchalantly.

I hope you know the importance of seeking God. I hope you know the importance of sharing a community of faith as part of a spiritual family. I would love to hear your reflections on these themes. I would welcome also your questions about how to develop such relationships with God and his people.

Stars to Steer By: Wisdom

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Sunday evening’s sermon challenged us to think about wisdom this week. James 1:5 tells us that if/when a person lacks wisdom that person should pray to God for wisdom. The text is easy to explain, harder to understand and apply. Are we ever wise? Are there times when some people do not lack wisdom? How does God provide us wisdom?
I have been thinking this week about how God gives us wisdom through the people he puts in our path. Sometimes He gives us access to wisdom as part of a growth process by which we come to desire wisdom and come to be wise by imitating the wise people around us. I am also wondering (in my self-analysis) how often I have failed to honor the wisdom God gave me because I did not listen to those around me??!!

With all of that floating around in my mind, I received this morning the following quotation which addresses a major problem regarding wisdom. The quote is from Richard Rohr in his book, Falling Upward.
“If you try to assert wisdom before people have themselves walked it, be prepared for much resistance, denial, push-back, and verbal debate.”

Now I have an additional question. How do we make the search for wisdom a corporate endeavor so that we not only seek individual wisdom but also seek to honor and draw upon the wisdom of the wise persons among us? It seems that a part of the process is a type of mentoring that leads people to walk in wisdom so that they will indeed want wisdom in their own lives.

Perhaps a companion prayer to our asking for wisdom is this: “God give me the wisdom to recognize and follow the wisdom you provide for me through other people.”

August: A Month of Refreshment

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

I have been using this month as a time of refreshment with limited ministry and mission activities. While the reading, writing, and preparations continue at what seems at times a frantic pace, the break from presentations and obligations is indeed refreshing. This is also a month when we are giving thought and prayer to the calling of God on our lives in coming years. What should we do? Where should we invest our time, energies, and passion? What will advance God’s kingdom and allow us sensitive response?

I recently was reminded of the following quotation by Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Isn’t that what we all seek? A place where we find our niche, a place where we rejoice in new days and are involved in the world’s deepest hungers and needs. We appreciate the support and encouragement of our own army of “prayer warriors” as we also continue in prayer for God’s work in us and through us.

How NOT to grow a church!

Friday, August 19th, 2011

U.S. culture is enamored with numbers. Churches are into marketing. Some churches seem willing to do almost everything to attract numbers. This tendency can be noted at two extremes. I am amazed at some of the things included in “worship”, for example, the sport of preacher vertical rock wall climbing. I am amazed also at the willingness to exclude, as in the case of consistently short sermons or no biblical preaching at all (which some sermons have attained with stories and entertaining before dinner speeches). The attractional model of church is well entrenched in most places, representing an effort to satisfy church attenders with entertainment, excitement, and minimum boredom.

My friend, Bob Smith who serves as a leader in the church in Edmond, recently sent a quotation that addresses this search for numbers. The quotation is attributed to Jeffrey Gitomer: “Satisfied customers are apathetic. Loyal customers will be your advocate.”

Churches, ministers, and church leaders would do well to ask whether they are seeking satisfied members or loyal members. Satisfied members will show up most Sundays for worship, but will hardly be involved in other church activities. Churches experience a decline in Bible class and Sunday night attendance because of the absence of satisfied members. Churches have trouble attracting satisfied members to special events. Satisfied members will seek to maintain the attractional model and its satisfying activities, but will seldom invite or involve others. (They will tell the minister and elders how good the status quo is, but will be generally apathetic toward additional activities of the church.) Satisfied members generally live at a level of spiritual superficiality. They are consumers and know what they like. They will seek it elsewhere at the drop of a hat.

Loyal members, on the other hand, are faithful advocates for the church. They can be counted on through good times and bad. They are the contributors, they are those who are consistently present, they are those can be counted on in almost every activity. They are the defenders of the church, they speak for it and not against it. Experienced ministers and church leaders can easily add to these descriptions.

How NOT to grow a church! Attract as many “satisfied customer members” as possible. Listen to what they like, and keep on doing more and more (or less and less) of it. Do not worry about the loyal members who tell you they are starving spiritually. But be aware also that you will have to constantly increase the attractional “ante” to keep the satisfied folks coming, because their regular presence is dependent on whatever attracts them–fun, interaction, entertainment, personalities, short sermons, etc.

I will grant that in some few cases, satisfied members can be encouraged to grow and become loyal members. On the other hand, a healthy church is characterized by Christians who are committed and loyal to Christ and his body–not by increasing numbers of satisfied customers.

God Sightings

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

A popular religious song asks, “Have you seen Jesus my Lord?” The song affirms that Jesus can be seen in numerous aspects of daily life. Theologically, one might ask whether sunset and rolling waves clearly declare Jesus, or God. Can one see the necessity of a Creator God in such experiences, or do such experiences demand the existence also of a Jesus Savior? Despite the theological imprecision, the point of the song is valid.
God has revealed himself in his Word. The purpose of the Bible is to reveal God. This is special revelation.
God is seen in nature. He is visible in our world. These evidences are called natural revelation.

I am working on a devotional series focused on “God sightings.” Where have you seen God? Where have you caught a glimpse of God? I hope to include responses in the devotional series, with credit noted, of course.

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