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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, 2016

Book Review: Jerry Jones. Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Jerry Jones. Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Seen Through the Character of God and the Mind of Jesus. College Press: Joplin, MO; 2016, 270 pp. softcover.

Dr. Jerry Jones has advanced the study of marriage, divorce, and remarriage in his book of the same title in three ways. First, Jones carefully works through the relevant biblical texts with an obvious commitment to objectivity and shows us his research. He presents various interpretive options and explains which is preferred and why. Second, he points out the problems of some of the traditional ways of reading the texts, thus raising doubts about traditional interpretations. He shows when and why the literal interpretation of the passages studied must be rejected, or at least must not be allowed to be the last word. Third, he suggests an alternative paradigm through which to view the subject—reading the New Testament through the eyes and heart of God and Christ. The book has three principal sections: the study of 1 Corinthians 7 (40 pages), study of the gospel passages (55 pages), and a conclusion (10 pages). The remaining 140 pages are bibliography, charts, and 740 footnotes.

The in-depth academic study of the text of 1 Corinthians 7 is understandable even to those who have not studied the biblical text so deeply. Jones considers the occasional and situational nature of the Corinthian teaching as Paul’s response to a question from the Corinthians.
The comparative study of the gospel texts is thorough, at times exhaustive with multiple references to Old Testament backgrounds. Jones looks at the texts taking into account historical, cultural, linguistic, and grammatical factors. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jones does an intensive study of hyperbole as a literary technique, showing that much of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon cannot be taken literally. In comparing the Gospel teachings, Jones shows the importance of considering the intended audience, the context, and the historical roots, going back frequently to the Old Testament. He explains the nature of occasional, situational literature, a concept that is too seldom applied to the Gospels and the gospel passages related to the subject.
One could wish for more detail in the brief conclusion, but Jones has cast enough doubt on the traditional understandings of 1 Corinthians 7 and the gospel texts to cause the reader to want to seek an alternative. That alternative, calling us to God’s nature, character, desire and purpose, gives a fresh perspective, not only the texts related to the study, but to many other texts where we struggle with literal readings when God is trying to show us something more profound, something with more impact and more hope for changing lives.

Any student interested in studying the topic will want to read this book. The book is a valuable resource because of how well it is documented, thus pointing the reader to primary sources. It makes a valuable contribution to the study of a complex subject.

Evangelism: Finding Interested Persons, Developing Interest

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

A preacher, one of my former students, wrote me with a question. He was in contact with a person who wanted to be baptized in a church that baptizes in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He asked me about my experience with such situations. I responded to his question, also noting that my experience in Latin America is often the opposite—-those who insist on being baptized in the name of Jesus only. Both situations, although they arrive at opposite conclusions, suggest the same themes and verses for the Bible study.

Our communication was obviously more involved. Saturday morning I received his report.
“So…it went really well. She is new to Christianity and about a month ago started reading the NT. She made it to the end of Matthew and decided she wanted to get baptized, having not read anything else. So, we journeyed through the other gospel accounts and Acts and it came clear to her that her “issue” wasn’t what she thought. It led to a bunch of other questions and turned out to be a really great first Bible study. Thanks for your insights and clarity.”
Although I do not have all the details about the “who, how and why” of this contact, I applaud all who have contact with interested persons who are diligent and serious seekers.

We in the church face many problems with regard to evangelism. An increasing number of Christians fail to grasp that the Lord commissioned his followers to share his message, the average member does not know how to tell their story and share their faith, more and more Christians do not believe it is necessary, the church has developed a “come and see” attractional approach focused on the corporate body rather than a commitment to incarnational presence by individual members, the church has become dependent on a “clergy class” that is charged with ministry, ministry and mission have been redefined in humanitarian terms that have taken precedence over spiritual concerns…the list goes on and on.

In the midst of such challenges, it strikes me that the greatest problem may be that the average church in the U.S. has little contact with or connection to the unchurched masses all around us. We are not in touch with the people who are interested in spiritual things and are seeking spiritual answers. Let us pray for such contacts, let us pray for open eyes so that we can see, let us pray for soft hearts (ours and theirs), let us pray for the ability to say and do the right things to initiate Jesus-sharing conversations with the multitudes around us.

[Note: One of the first topics I present in my evangelism workshop is how to develop interest in studying and understanding the Bible. By learning how to initiate Jesus-sharing conversations, we can find more people who already have interest in spiritual things. By learning how to develop interest, we can motivate interest in those who do not recognize their interest, those who have lost interest, and those who will automatically reject more traditional, confrontational encounters.]

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