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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 February, 2013

Baxter Graduates: Jacobo Chalco and Jorge Suarez

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

During the past few days, I had the opportunity to interview two graduates of Baxter Institute. Here are brief summaries of their stories.

Jacobo Chalco, from Lima, Peru, came to Baxter in the late 1960s when the school was still in Mexico. He graduated in 1971 and spent a short time working with Jerry Hill in southeast Mexico before returning to Peru. He began a church in the house of his parents. He married Marcela in August 1973. Although he was very active in ministry, he supported himself and his family with a small hardware store. He was instrumental in the beginning of the Panamericana Norte congregation, working with Evert Pickartz in obtaining the meeting place, and the church which was meeting in his parents’ house moved to Panamericana Norte.
Evert Pickartz was a pioneer in the mission effort of churches of Christ in Peru. He distributed tracts in Lima and other parts of Peru in the late 1950s and sent Oscar Aquilar to establish a church in Lima in the early 1960s. In 1962 Glenn and Janice Kramar became the first full-time missionaries from the North American Churches of Christ to work in Peru. They were followed by Bert Perry, Carrol Robertson, Hans Dederscheck and other full-time missionaries. When Jacobo returned to Peru after graduating from Baxter, he worked with the aforenamed missionaries. Jacobo told me that Pickartz was not keen on contact with others and that he was strong on the authority of the evangelist, not encouraging the rapid development of local church leaders such as elders and deacons.
In 2002, Jacobo and Marcela moved to the U.S. to work with the Crieve Hall church in Nashville to establish a Hispanic ministry where they continue to minister.

Jorge Suarez graduated from Baxter in 1984 and returned to his native Colombia where he worked to establish the church in the Cauca Valley north of Cali. He established two congregations in Tuluá and was instrumental in the conversion of some of the workers who continue to provide leadership in that city. After about a decade in Tuluá, he worked 10 years in the establishment of the church in Armenia. In 2004, he agreed to work with the church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee to establish a work among the Hispanics, beginning with no members and today having a congregation of 60-70 members.
Jorge told me that one of the great joys of his life has been the opportunity to share the gospel with and to baptize a number of the members of his physical family.

Reporting: Two Seminars

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Today is a travel day–Jan and I will be home this afternoon after eleven days on the road. Eight of those days were spent in seminars with two Hispanic churches. First, we spent four days with the Iglesia de Cristo–Southside in Lexington, Kentucky. The next four days we spent with the Iglesia de Cristo–Crieve Hall in Nashville, Tennessee.

The seminars strengthen and encourage the churches, building personal faith and commitment and laying foundations for the development of future leaders. The seminars also build healthy relationships between area congregations, because in most cases Christians from multiple congregations come together to study and share fellowship. A personal goal in the seminars I present is to model methods of Bible study as we analyze texts and set them in their biblical and historical contexts. This provides a useful corrective to Bible studies and teaching that simply strings together loosely related texts that seem to speak to a certain subject. I nearly always spend extended time in specific texts as we seek to build faith and committed Christian lives.
On this trip, I taught for 20+ hours with an average attendance of 20-25 in each session, totaling about 500 student hours.

It’s Sunday Again: Iglesia de Cristo–Crieve Hall

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The last three days have been delightful. The seminar focused on building stronger Christian marriages and families, with participants present from several area congregations. With 10 hours teaching hours scheduled in the seminar, we covered a lot of ground, and continued the discussion during refreshments and shared meals.
Today we shift gears to think about the importance of the church, focusing especially on the shared times of worship and study. God’s wisdom and glory are seen in the church, his dwelling place and the central masterpiece of his saving work, a work which he accomplishes in the world through the church.
For me, sharing time with God’s spiritual family on the Lord’s Day is always special–God blesses his people as they live committed lives, actively engaging in his work to his glory. As we worship together we look upward to God in praise and worship, we look within ourselves and grow spiritually through study and learning, we look around to others in the family of God as we share time around the Table in the Supper and as we exhort and encourage one another, we look to the future as we declare afresh the commitments of our life and our priorities and loyalties.

It’s Sunday Again: Iglesia de Cristo-Lexington

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Another Sunday, another part of God’s great spiritual family! Today I will be with Iglesia de Cristo at Southside in Lexington for the beginning of a four-day seminar. God is at work among his people around the world. May this be a day to his glory as we surround the Table to remember that God has saved us through the blood of Jesus and has bound us together as part of his special spiritual people.
I look forward to renewing friendship and fellowship in Christ with brothers and sisters we first met about a year ago. Today we celebrate God’s goodness toward us as his people, and we rejoice that he has placed us in his family. May we, as John, be “in the Spirit” on this Lord’s Day.

Yesterday and Today: Valentine’s Day and Half-Anniversary

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Jan and I celebrate 87 years of marriage today. WE have been married 87 years. (Those of you who know our story know that is 43 1/2 for me and 43 1/2 for her. We are careful how we answer, depending on how the question is phrased.) Every year for 44 years we have rolled Valentine’s Day and our half-anniversary together to celebrate God’s goodness to us in our marriage.

How the time has flown! It is hard to believe. Thank you, God, for the wonderful soul mate and supportive helper you provided for me. Thank you, Jan, for your love!

Our Big God

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Yesterday I met with two Hispanic ministers from Tulsa churches. We are planning a spring campaign and regional gathering. Jose observed, “Our people struggle with faithful service because they do not understand how big our God is.” He suggested the theme for the campaign and regional event: “The Great ‘I Am’.”

My experience is that people have a lot of questions about God, and a lot of questions for God. When we have questions about God, we can study God’s Word (which is the revelation of God) to learn more about God and appreciate his work in this world. When it comes to questions we would like to ask God, we are too often clueless. God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55). Sometimes the only response we can give is that of the Psalmist, “God is God, and God is good” (Psalm 100). But I realize how empty that response can seem. It is not very satisfying to hear, “You just have to trust God” or “God works everything for good.”

If our God is big enough to orchestrate the events of our world, he is certainly big enough to handle our questions. As our questions about God are answered and we come to understand God better, our questions for God also come into focus. May God bless our efforts to know him.

It’s Sunday Again: God among his people

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

One lesson to be derived from the letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3 is that God walks among his people, even in the midst of the persecutions, challenges, and failures of this world. Living in this fallen world, we easily forget that God is among us. One reason we assemble is to share our faith stories and be reminded that God is among us.

Today is the sixth Sunday of 2013. So far this year, I have assembled with God’s people in six different congregations. Today I am glad to be home at Park Plaza because this spiritual family provides the springboard from which my faith story is being written. Around the world each Sunday, God’s people assemble to be reminded that God has penetrated human experience, intervening on our behalf through Jesus Christ, and binding us together as a habitation of God through the Spirit. God’s faithful people come together to hear and celebrate and be encouraged by the faith stories of others–especially important during those times when God’s presence is our own lives is more difficult to discern.

Today we are reminded that God walks among his people in good times and bad, in trouble and triumph. Each has a different story as the journey unfolds. God, please remind us today that you are faithfully present among your people, regardless of what the circumstances of life might suggest.

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