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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 June, 2013

It’s Sunday Again: Praying for Missions with the Spiritual Family

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Today I am back “home”–my first opportunity to assemble for worship with my Park Plaza spiritual family this month. (Good thing June has five Sundays!) Today the elders will pray for various mission efforts of the Park Plaza church, including my upcoming trip to Venezuela.

I am thinking this morning about how grateful I am for the way God has richly blessed my life.
I am thankful for the opportunity to worship in my mother tongue, although the words of many spiritual songs in Spanish are very meaningful and touch my heart.
I am thankful for the opportunity to listen and “soak up” the word rather than being the person responsible for sharing the word.
I am thankful to worship with my physical family–children and grandchildren.
I am thankful for the encouragement and support I receive from my spiritual family as I seek to advance kingdom things and strengthen churches across Latin America.
I am thankful for the opportunity to focus on how God works in my life and in this world.
I am thankful to God for his indescribable initiative of grace, extended to those least deserving.

Honduras and Panama: Developing Leaders

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

After spending eighteen days in Honduras and Panama with visits, contacts and presentations in 37 churches, I am back home. For those who do not know the purpose of these mission trips, for the last four years I have traveled across Latin America (in most parts of Central America and South America from Guatemala to Chile) to encourage churches to think realistically about their past and to plan for the future. A good way to summarize the goal is to say that I am helping with church development and leader development. Many churches have been begun by missionary efforts, but the majority have failed to grow and have stagnated. Most of the churches in Latin America do not have elders, and those that do have often followed the lead of U.S. churches and have fallen into unhealthy (and unbiblical) patterns of leadership. The majority of the places I go do not have a North American presence. Often the church was established (weakly) and the missonaries left. The need is to strengthen churches and help them grow to accomplish God’s will in their unique places in the world.
I make about ten trips per year, averaging two weeks out of the U.S. per trip. The invitations continue to multiply as churches realize the need. Almost always in the churches where seminars are presented, there are also members present from surrounding churches. The number of churches receiving teaching each year is between 100 and 200. I speak to hundreds of Christians and have the opportunity to listen to the concerns and dreams of dozens of Christians–leaders, potential leaders, and members who care deeply about the church.
The challenge in Latin America accentuates the need in the U.S. that churches think carefully and biblically about the role of leaders and God’s plan for the biblical organization of the church. The problems in the U.S. are easily transported to mission fields where the leadership problems are often more severe.
A model Paul used for working with the churches he had established is set forth in Acts 14:21-23: strengthening, edifying, and naming elders. This same process I seek to use so that healthy, sustainable churches can develop to the glory of God, and so that these churches can become missionary churches able to help establish more churches.

Missions: How?

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

How is mission work to be done? What is God’s plan for taking the gospel into all the world.
First, the gospel goes forth through those who are “sent.” The Antioch church sent forth Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1-3). Throughout the centuries, the church has sent forth missionaries with the Gospel message. Jesus sent his disciples into the world, not in the sense of traveling to distant lands, but in the context of their daily lives. One could translate the Great Commission in Matthew, “As you are going, make disciples….” Not all are sent into foreign lands and distant places, but every Christian is sent.
The gospel goes forth because there are “senders.” How can messengers go forth unless they are sent? (Romans 10:15). When one cannot personally go to those places where the message of gospel is to be preached, one can help others go. I am grateful for those Christians who make it possible for others to go.
An often overlooked truth is that the gospel goes forth through the “pre-sent.” The pre-sent are those who are present in this world in the normal routines of life. I am “pre-sent” to those places where I am already present. Wherever we Christians go in our daily lives, we are to take the gospel with us. When those who are sent to a new location to sow the seed of the gospel, those who accept the message become those who are pre-sent (present) in the context of daily living.
The gospel will not permeate the world and reach to the far corners of the globe without the involvement of all three groups: the sent, the senders, and the pre-sent (the daily presence of Christians). May God help us be faithful in doing our part to echo forth the saving message of Jesus.

Missions: Why?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Why missions? Why should the church be involved in taking the gospel into all the world? Why should Christians be concerned about mission work? God’s people are called to mission concern and involvement by four “calls.”
First, consider the call from above. God desires the salvation of all people (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Jesus came to seek and to save lost people (Luke 19:10). The Great Commission sends Christ’s disciples into all the world to make, mark, and mature disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus came because of God’s love for the world and God’s desire for the salvation of his human creation (John 3:16). Jesus’ disciples are interested in continuing the work of Jesus.
Can you hear the call from below? The demanding, destroying work of sin urges God’s people onward with the saving message of the gospel. The fact that evil exists in this world and destroys the potential and future of human beings should cause Christians to seek and rescue those who are mired in the emptiness and danger of sin.
The call from around us is the call of countless souls who are seeking a better way but do not know the way. Jesus is the way, truth, and life, but the majority of our friends and neighbors, coworkers and associates do not know how to find and walk in the light that illuminates the way to God. Almost everywhere we look in this world, we see those who are overwhelmed by the consequences of living as if there were no God. Mission work seeks to take the message of Jesus into all the world.
Finally, Christians can hear the call from within. When we have the heart and mind of Christ, our hearts are touched by the plight of those around us. There echoes within our hearts and consciences the desire to do something to help those who struggle to escape the meaninglessness of life without Christ. Our hearts reach out to help with physical needs, but the call within the heart of Christians also demands that we reach out to resolve the spiritual dilemma of life without Christ. The call within demands that we share the Good News of Jesus, because eternal salvation comes in no other name.

It’s Sunday Again: God’s Family

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Today I will worship with my extended spiritual family at the North Side church in Mena, Arkansas. This church has a special place in our hearts as we have shared the spiritual journey for over 40 years. We are colaborers together in various mission efforts around the world.
I will miss my family at home at Park Plaza. The Park Plaza church will pray for various mission efforts today, and they will pray for me in my absence. My mission schedule will take me away for almost all of the summer until school starts in August–the calendar shows at best the possibility of two Sundays at home at Park Plaza.

I am thinking today about the beauty and blessing of spending time with God’s family each week in worship and fellowship, even when I am away from my “home” family.

  • In my family at home, regular time together allows us to build close relationships of love and support in Christ so that we see Christ’s love in our brothers and sisters.
  • There is an emptiness when I am away, and I automatically think about my spiritual family.
  • God’s family is global and wherever I go I have brothers and sisters in Christ who welcome me with open arms.
  • My presence among my extended family is a source of encouragement to those I visit.
  • God’s family knows no geographic, language, or ethnic boundaries.
  • God’s family is not the same everywhere. There are differences in customs, traditions, worship styles, and other aspects of church, but we are still one body and one family.
  • God is at work in his family and among his people.

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