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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 March, 2013

It’s Sunday Again: Resurrection

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

The cartoon caught my attention. The man greeting the preacher after the Easter sermon says, “Preacher, I think you’re in a rut–all I ever hear you preach about is the resurrection!” The man was obviously part of the “Holly and Lily Crowd.” It’s Sunday again, but not just any Sunday. It is Easter Sunday. Time to preach about the resurrection.

Another perspective! Perhaps the cartoon speaks to the problem of the contemporary church. Maybe we don’t preach about resurrection enough! How many sermons never mention the resurrection? How many sermons limit references to the resurrection to a brief passing remark near the end of the sermon. Perhaps we need to get in a rut. The messages preached in the book of Acts were about the resurrection (2:24,36; 3:36; 4:2,33; 5:31; 7:56; 10:40; 13:30; 17:31,32; 23:6; 26:23). In other texts there is no direct reference to the resurrection but the resurrection is an obvious part of the message of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and of the preaching of the word of God (chapters 7, 8, 9, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 28).

That which distinguishes Christianity from all other world religions is the resurrection of Jesus. A characteristic of deity is immortality. Immortal God has power over death. In most religions that power is evidenced by the fact that gods do not die. In Christianity, that power is evidenced in that God has power over death even when death has occurred. The power of God is not only to avoid death, but also to reverse death. Jesus’ power over death is magnificently displayed in his resurrection.
The validity of Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Jesus. Further, the resurrection of Jesus is the firstfruits and promise of the resurrection of Jesus’ followers. The importance of the resurrection is seen in the fact that the early church celebrated the death and coming of Jesus every Sunday in sharing the Supper.

Today, let us preach and hear the message of the resurrection! Preachers, don’t let today’s message be the end. Preach about the resurrection continually. Preach the gospel; preach the resurrection. Preach about Jesus; preach the resurrection. Without the preaching of the resurrection, Christianity is no more than a competing system of morality among many religious systems. Resurrection! Know the distinctive, emphasize the distinctive. Only Jesus can give us power over death!

Kierkegaard: If I Do That….

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

I get a lot of emails—lots of people sending lots of things vying for my attention. Most are automatic deletes. The following brief excerpt from Soren Kierkegaard was sent under the title, “If I Do That….” Its source was listed as “Kill the Commentators,” in Provocations. Read, contemplate the nature of authentic discipleship, and ask when and how we soften the demands of God and defend ourselves against the Bible.

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

There you have it. “To ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close.” God forbid!

A Good Time to Begin

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Three months of the new year have passed. Most thoughts of New Year’s resolutions are ancient history. A common element in the resolutions of many Christians is the desire to spend more time in the Word of God.
This is a good time to begin–the daily devotional readings which are available on the website are beginning the Gospel of John. You can access the readings through the link in the right menu box: Daily Devotionals: April.

Principles for the Mission: Matthew 10

Friday, March 29th, 2013

Sunday morning I will teach the Bible Class at Iglesia de Cristo. We are studying Matthew 10, Jesus’ second major discourse. After commissioning the Twelve and giving them specific instructions that relate to their mission (verses 1-23), Jesus gives them words of encouragement that can be applied more generally. We can call these “principles for the mission.”
First, Jesus is the teacher and the example. Mission is not about us, it is not about the workers. In one sense, our goal is not the mission, our goal is to become like Jesus. The mission is God’s. Jesus is the one who builds the church. He asks of his followers that we make more and more disciples.
Second, God is in control and he will take care of those who are involved in the mission.
Third, our relationship with God depends on our boldness in the mission. As we declare him before others, he affirms that we are his.
Fourth, the result of the mission is not always love and joy and peace. Sometimes the message of Jesus causes divisions. Mission demands establishing correct priorities. Mission demands that we focus on life beyond this world.
Fifth, the messengers are God’s messengers, and the response is not personal. The mission is about God; the mission is about Jesus. To reject the message is not to reject the messenger but to reject God. The reward is certain because God gives the reward.

Meeting God in the morning

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Mornings have been special to me for the last 20 years. When we emptied our nest, we quit setting an alarm clock. Now the natural rhythms of life put us to bed and awaken us, and God thoughts are almost always a part of that rhythm. Of course, there are exceptional situations during special events or travels, but even so, we have become early risers by nature. The quietness of the morning is ideal for meditation and preparation for the day. I find comfort in simply being in God’s presence, aware that he has kept watch through the night, aware that those who live in my little section of the world will soon awaken and begin the day. I enjoy his presence, his counsel, his care, his amazing forgiveness.

A phrase that frequently comes to mind in my God thoughts is, “Thank you, God, for being my God.” We human beings choose our own God (or god). By nature, all creation sings the glory of the Creator God. God has given me the challenge of choosing my God (god). He has made possible the establishment of a special relationship of communion and fellowship with him. I want to live each day in God awareness, comforted and surrounded by his presence and strength, seeking his will and guidance.

It’s Sunday Again: Hearts Attuned to Praise

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

I enjoy new songs. I am glad we have fresh words and melodies to express our adoration to God. I also like many of the older songs. One song that we sang frequently in the little church where I grew up in central Kansas was titled “Lord We Come Before Thee Now.” For a time, it was sung almost every Sunday as a call to worship. One phrase says, “tune our lips to sing thy praise.” Today I am thinking of a slightly different phrase: “hearts attuned to praise.”

My Sunday prayer guide includes developing a heart of adoration filled with gratitude and praise. Hearts attuned to praise seek opportunities to praise and worship God. Hearts attuned to praise rejoice as prayers and songs are presented before the throne of God. All creation declares the majesty and glory of the Creator. The created order naturally declares God’s splendor, it is a part of the nature of our world. In all of creation, only we human beings are free to choose–to praise or not to praise. Praise is a part of our nature, but we can refuse to acknowledge that part of who we are.

In praise we fully live out who we are and what God has made possible for us as his creation, created in his image and likeness. God, give us this day hearts attuned to praise, so that our tongues and lips, our hearts, and our lives declare your glory.

Harvey Young: Surrender to What Counts!

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

This weekend is the Tulsa Workshop (ISWW = International Soul Winning Workshop). I will not be at the workshop today because Jan and I will attend Harvey Young’s funeral in Fort Gibson.
These two events–the workshop and Harvey’s funeral–converge in my mind today because of a conversation Harvey and I shared exactly five years ago this weekend at the 2008 workshop. Harvey was one of the elders during my eight years of ministry in Fort Gibson. We maintained a special relationship through the years. We sharpened one another as iron sharpens iron. We loved asking one another about new concepts, books read, and spiritual helps.
In 2008, Harvey had found a new “polar star” for his life. A simple saying that could make all the difference in the Christian life: “You will never be worth much to God until you learn to surrender to what counts.” The spiritual disciplines must include surrender. It is likely that surrender is the first of the spiritual disciplines–to be mastered before any other discipline. Surrender is the ultimate expression of self-sacrifice and thinking like Jesus (Phil. 2:5).
Today I write about this phrase as I remember Harvey and his influence in my life and the lives of countless others.

Two things. First, surrender! Until the lesson of surrender is learned, we will continue to think it is about us and that success depends on us. Our surrender gives the glory to God. Second, surrender to what counts. Our tendency to surrender to the minutiae, trivial, or urgent must be overcome. These barely deserve mention as we seek to focus of our lives. Surrendering to what counts is not easy, because a plethora of tasks, good projects, and commendable activities call for our attention. The choice of the best over the better or the good is seldom easy. Christian surrender means that the only thing worth giving our lives for is Jesus Christ and his cause.
Surrendering to what counts will cause us to discard as unimportant the things the world teaches us to value. Jesus describes this surrender with another term: cross-carrying. Cross-carrying as Jesus describes it will demote self-promotion and diminish the importance of possessions, reputation, and the accolades of others.
Surrendering to what counts opens new doors of genuine service and effectiveness in the Kingdom, because all that matters is the business of the King.

“God, help us this day to surrender ourselves fully. Help us to identify the things that really matter in life. May we surrender ourselves to what counts, because of the majesty of the One we know as Lord.”

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