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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 November, 2011

It’s Sunday Again: Thanksgiving Sunday?

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Across more than 40 years of preaching, I always struggled with the question of the Thanksgiving sermon–especially which Sunday to consider “Thanksgiving Sunday” It may seem obvious to think of the Sunday after Thanksgiving (concluding the Thanksgiving weekend) as “Thanksgiving Sunday”, but at least two problems arise. First, attendance is often lower due to holiday travels. Second, Thanksgiving has come and gone and most people have already moved past any desire to consider the attitudes of gratitude. Thus, my general approach was to use the Sunday before Thanksgiving (at the beginning of Thanksgiving week) as Gratitude Sunday.

The truth is that developing a heart of generosity and gratitude is appropriate at any time. As the Thanksgiving weekend winds down, here are a few questions.
How and why has God blessed me? Why was I born where and when I was? How can I fully comprehend and appreciate the truth: “There but for the grace of God go I?” In a world where blessings often distinguish us from others and set us apart (above?), what blessings cause me to identify with humanity rather than separating me from humanity? How can I pass on God’s goodness to me?

If you have not taken time over the past few days to consider such basic questions, why not include these reflections in today’s devotional or meditations as you worship God?

Thanksgiving: The Satisfying Life

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

The days around the Thanksgiving holiday traditionally give cause for counting blessings–they are also good days for rethinking priorities.

Some research suggests that the great American search for prosperity and wealth is giving way to measuring life by other standards. Definitions of what makes life satisfying are changing. Satisfaction by consumption is giving way to the satisfaction of a simpler life. People are questioning whether spending time seeking greater satisfaction in life is really better than putting some aspects of life on autopilot. In a rugged economy, many are learning that money doesn’t necessary lead to happiness, but that aligning family, values that matter, and the enjoyment and experience of life are the ultimate sources of satisfaction. Such thinking redefines what it means to be wealthy–not in terms of money but in terms of family and friends, meaningful activities, traditions, and experiences.

As the Christmas season approaches, one way new definitions of life satisfaction are changing us is in the kind and quantity of gifts we give. More families are limiting gifts, questioning the tendency to go bonkers with gifts (especially for the children), and addressing the selfishness and entitlement that has too often become part of the Christmas season. Is there a way to experience the holidays with attitudes of generosity and selflessness, sharing with the needy and less fortunate both at home and in the mission field? Dare we consider ways we can help our families rethink what it means to share and care?

Stars to Steer By: Leadership and Learning

Friday, November 25th, 2011

The quote I received in the daily email from MinEmergent was attributed to Bill Hybels: When leaders stop learning, they stop leading. When a leader gets better, everyone wins. Every leader can get better, if they want to.

Food for thought, indeed! As usual, I am thinking about spiritual leaders and church leaders, both those who have been officially chosen and those who serve informally. Are you a leader? If you answered in the affirmative, what did you learn this week? How did you become a better leader this week? What did you do to intentionally develop as a leader?
If you are not learning and growing, changing and developing, you are probably not leading. If you are not growing spiritually, in knowledge, in wisdom, in understanding, in insight, in prayer, and in example, your leadership capacity is probably slipping away little by little. Oh, you still have the designation. You still attend all of the meetings. You still do some of the things associated with leadership–preach or teach at the designated times, lead the shepherd’s prayer, most of the things we would list are associated with the gatherings of the church for study or worship.
But….
Leadership begins on the inside. We are able to lead because we are being led. Those who cannot be led cannot lead. Leadership is intentional. One is not accidentally a leader, letting life develop however it may. Today I am committed to learning–every day is a day of recognizing and observing God, every day is a day of worship and praise, every day is a day of response to his goodness and grace, every day is a day of relishing his presence, every day is a day of reflecting his glory.

Thanksgiving–Food for Thought

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Too often on Thanksgiving we are thankful for those things that separate us from others, things that identify us as special or extra blessed in comparison to the remainder of the human race. When we are thankful for health, family, freedom, our country or shelter, we stand against many throughout the world.
This thanksgiving lets attempt to be thankful for those things we share in common with the rest of the people of earth.
–Rick Bennett
(reposted from today’s MinEmergent Daily Communique)

Thanksgiving 2011

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!
I like Thanksgiving. For many years, it was one of the “purer” U.S. holidays–a time to be thankful and spend time with family. Only in recent years has Christmas commercialism invaded.

Today I will be thankful. I do not plan to make a list, but I resolve to see the blessings of my life more than the things lacking. I will recommit to develop an attitude of gratitude. I will remember that it is better to be “humbly grateful” than “grumbly hateful.” I will cultivate gratitude as the antidote to pride.

  • I am thankful for friends and extended family across the nation and around the world. I pulled yesterday’s birthday greetings into a temporary e-mail inbox–I am thankful for those who sent words of greeting and encouragement, love and friendship (approaching 200).
  • I am thankful for my family–especially for my wife, children, and grandchildren.
  • I am thankful for my spiritual family around the world. What an incredible blessing!
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in the kingdom of Christ. The way God uses us according to our special skills, even as he has shaped and molded and prepared us, is beyond understanding.

I hope you have a great Thanksgiving if you live in the U.S. and share this national holiday. If you live elsewhere in the world, I hope you have a blessed day and can see the blessings of your life more clearly today.

It’s Sunday Again: The Lord’s Day (?)

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

It’s Sunday. Even though the number of regular churchgoers in our nation has dwindled drastically, millions of people in the US will attend church somewhere today. (If the surveys are correct, reflecting an attendance of only 15-25% of the population nationwide, 50-75 million people in the US will attend church today.)
When the church attendance obligation for the day is punched, a question remains. Will God’s people treat this day as the Lord’s Day all day long? Is church merely an hour or two of obligatory activity in a day that otherwise appears little different than any other day, or will this be a day of God’s presence, power, and praise? Will this be a day of meditation and contemplation of God’s majestic Word? Will this day be devoted to considering spiritual life, or will it be devoted to physical things? In 16 waking hours (more or less), what time will God get?
In a time when church attendance at “secondary” services is struggling to reach 1/3 or 1/2 of morning attendance, what version of Christianity exists in our nation? Is Christianity a habit or a commitment? If Christianity can barely alter our activities on a day we call the Lord’s Day, how probable is it that it will change how we live our lives on Monday through Saturday?

Stars to Steer By: Pride?

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

“The more pride we have, the more other people’s pride irritates us.”
(C. S. Lewis, Facebook post by Keith Lancaster)

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