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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, 2012

Stars to Steer By: Selective Evangelism

Friday, November 30th, 2012

“Be ye fishers of men. You catch them–He’ll clean them.”
–original source unknown

Selective evangelism–we need a reminder from time to time. We too often decide in advance that a person will or will not be interested. We exclude some by our failure to seize the opportunities God provides.
“They are already active members elsewhere…Based on their lifestyle, they probably wouldn’t be interested…I tried to talk to them once before…”

Our job is not to save people–our job is to share the good news.
Our job is not to make people drink–our part is to lead them to water.
A friend will talk to you about God, a real friend will lead you to Him.
Evangelism is one beggar telling another where to find bread.

God, give me boldness to share my faith; help me overcome my tendency to be selective as I share it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Reflections: Adult Bible Class at Park Plaza

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The Wednesday night adult Bible class I have been teaching this fall at Park Plaza concluded last night. The study and discussion of Paul’s first letters was stimulating. This would be a good time to reflect one more time on the content of the class, thinking about the challenges faced by the Gospel in the first century. Galatians shows the struggle to understand how the Gospel connects to the past and its roots in Judaism and the Old Testament. The Thessalonian correspondence shows the struggle to understand the message of the Gospel with regard to the future, especially the coming of Jesus.

Instead of reflecting on and summarizing the class, I want to reflect on the class itself: the dynamics of the class, members, involvement, attendance, interest, and comments.

    Attendance was consistent and excellent with the chairs filled almost every week, and often the need to set up more chairs.
    The members of the class were involved in the study with excellent comments, penetrating questions, and numerous after class off-line disucssions.
    The size of the class made discussion difficult, but together we overcame that hurdle and the discussion was often lively.
    The class members are encouragers of one another. What a delight to observe the love expressed as we lingered afterward to share various aspects of our lives.
    The class seemed to relish the opportunity to dig a little deeper, but also enjoyed thinking about how the text applies to our lives today.

The class members blessed me by their participation, comments, and encouragement. What a blessing to get to spend time regularly with the greatest people on earth–God’s people.

Baxter Institute: A Special Weekend Ahead

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

This weekend is graduation at Baxter Institute in Teguigalpa, Honduras–the last official event of the 49th year of Baxter’s existence. It is also the weekend of the annual board meeting in Honduras. For me as chairman of the board, that always means a lot of time spent in preparing documents, reports, agendas, and for various activities.
The weekend is always special: a committed group of Christians whose hearts are set on mission work and the advancement of the Kingdom of God in Latin America assemble, the fellowship is sweet, the conversations stimulating, and new graduates are sent forth with prayers and celebration.
This year’s graduation celebrations and events will be special in other ways. The amphitheater, now covered with a permanent roof, will be dedicated in honor of Armando Pacheco. The Baxter family will say good-bye to Howard and Jane Norton as they complete three years of service as President and First Lady. The Baxter family will welcome Steve and Dianna Teel to the family as they begin the transition to being the next President and First Lady.
Finally, the entire Baxter family–board, administration, faculty, employees, and students–will celebrate God’s goodness as we share together the continuing journey. Next year will mark Baxter’s 50th year. Baxter has more than 500 graduates of the residential program, several thousand more from the weekend and extension programs. Baxter has made and is making a difference in the growth and leadership of the church across Latin America, and also among Spanish-speaking churches in the U.S. What will the next 50 years hold? Only God knows, but the weekend ahead will be an opportunity to celebrate the God who will make incredible and marvelous things possible.
“There are no impossibilities–only people who believe that they have limitations.”

It’s Sunday Again: Waiting for God

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

During my years of preaching ministry, I usually awoke early on Sunday mornings. I remember that often I wondered what God would do among his people on that day. That attitude of anticipation blessed my preaching ministry across more than four decades. As I thought about what God would do, I considered that he might do something through me his servant as I shared his Word with his people. I learned to wait patiently because not all Sundays were equal. Some Sundays, what God was doing was all but invisible. Other Sundays, God’s work was apparent and the church was blessed by his overwhelming presence and power.

The question still comes on some Sunday mornings: “What will God do today?” But as my ministry and mission efforts have expanded beyond a single local congregation, the question has been joined by more questions. What will God show me today? What does God want me to learn today? Whom can I touch and encourage today? Who will reach out to me today? To whom can I reach out? Who will I meet who is in need of Jesus? These questions have something in common. They represent God’s people waiting for God, depending on God, anticipating God’s presence and action in their lives.

It’s Sunday again: a day when we sharpen our God-awareness, attempting to see what God is doing and where he is doing it so that we might join him in his work as faithful disciples. The inactivity of waiting is not all bad. Like the runner waiting for the starting gun to sound, sometimes we wait in the blocks, poised and ready to act immediately when God’s will and way is clear.

It’s Sunday again. May your God-awareness grow today, patiently waiting for just the right moment when God breaks forth and acts in your life and in the lives of others, to work his will and way in this world. May we be alert and ready!

Lessons from Another Birthday

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Yesterday was my birthday. My birthday folder (electronic) has 128 items in it. Facebook says 106 friends sent birthday greetings. I received a few cards by snail mail, and a few more by email. I received a number of personal greetings–real words spoken by a real person, either in person or by telephone (no greetings via Skype this year, but just wait). The first electronic greeting came on Monday. (Those who waited until 12:01 A.M. yesterday had no chance of being first.) With the exception of the first little church I preached in over 40 years ago, I received greetings from persons representing every phase of my adult life and ministry. Greetings came from at least 10 different countries.

Birthday reflections–things I learned or was reminded of yesterday, and things I thought about yesterday, in no particular order.

    We live in a rapidly changing world
    I am loved
    Birthdays are a good time to look forward (a lesson gleaned from the greeting that wished me the best in the coming year)
    My life has made some difference to a few folks in a few places across the years
    Getting older is not all bad
    Getting older is natural
    Getting older is an evidence of God’s blessings
    My friends write some really neat greetings
    My friends write in English and in Spanish
    God is not just good–he is really, really good
    Life is to be lived in the present, not in the past nor in the future
    Families are a special blessing from God

Another of God’s Marvelous Days

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

About three millennia ago, the Psalmist wrote words that are today well known and often quoted: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (118:24)
Today is another of God’s marvelous days. I have seen over 23000 of them–every sunrise and every sunset different, evidence of God’s creative genius. Days of hope and difficult days. Each one a gift from God.

Lord, help us relish our days as we seek your wisdom. May we know that you are the provider of all, and that you richly bless us for our enjoyment. We praise and bless your name because you have blessed us beyond measure with blessings both physical and spiritual. May we be a blessing to others as you have blessed us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Thanksgiving is for me a favorite holiday. As a holiday, it is still relatively pure. It has largely retained its original intent–gratitude. Many of us still remember the story of the Pilgrims and we talk about our blessings with an attitude of gratitude, recognizing God is the giver and sustainer of life. Not that there are not challenges. The celebration of our bounty leads many of us to eat too much. And football and early Christmas shopping threaten to redefine the holiday.

A quote from Wilbur Nesbit reflects an often overlooked beauty of the holiday: “Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home.” Thanksgiving is as much a family holiday as Christmas. Families eat together and celebrate a shared history of mixed blessings that somehow translates to an awareness that life is good even in the midst of difficulties.

Throughout history, the shared meal has meant love and acceptance, common hopes and mutual support. Writer and simple food guru Laurie Colwin says it well: “The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”

May the food you share on this day, whether elaborate or simple, be a reminder that we are in this life together. May you relish with gratitude the presence of friends and family, and those you love and care for. May you honor God’s goodness and bounty, and may we be humbly grateful!

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