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Blog: I LOVE YOU MARK DRISCOLL

by Bob Roberts, Jr.

I remember the first time I met you – you were in your 20’s and I was in my 30’s.  Our mutual friend Dave Travis introduced us.  We were in that first church planting learning community Leadership Network put together with maybe ten of us.  Bob Buford was a gift to us, not so much in the finances but in bringing us together to learn from one another.  What set us apart were not our networks,  we didn’t have them, but that each of us as pastors were starting churches out of our churches.  I still believe that is superior to any network, denomination or organization and is the only way we will ever see a legitimate movement (for another blog).  Read more

BLOG: WHEN YOU SEE ALL THESE GLOBAL CONFLICTS . . . DON’T FORGET THE PEOPLE

By Bob Roberts Jr

Bob in Iran with a Jewish doctor who is a member of the Iranian Parliament (picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in background)
Bob in Iran with a Jewish doctor who is a member of the Iranian Parliament (picture of Ayatollah Khomeini in background)

People are like money, we put different values on them.  We value our life most, followed by our family, friends, and tribe.  Those people we don’t know or have a relationship with, we don’t value that much, if at all, and are quick to believe anything negative said about them.  It’s true of all of us.  We simply don’t value life equally.  The better we know someone, the more likely we are to have a higher view of them.  Only God looks at all people and loves them the same.  It’s easy to hate a Hitler, a serial killer, or a terrorist and long for their death – it can be said it’s even just.

I support Israel and have ever since I can remember.  I love the Jewish people – as a little boy my teacher moved me from sitting near a little Jewish boy because I tried so hard to convert him.   I can’t help it, it’s my Baptist roots.  We did the same to everyone, Methodists included.  Over time, I came to equally support the Palestinians.  It wasn’t a quick thing.  I grew up knowing no Muslims, Arabs, or people from the Middle East.  When I did see them, they were in the news and not viewed so highly.  But then I came to know them in Afghanistan when our church did some relief work there.  Not the kind of place you would expect to become friends with Muslims, especially if you’re a Baptist pastor from Texas.  But that’s exactly what happened.  I learned of their faith, their geo-political views, how they viewed Christians and especially evangelicals – it wasn’t good.  They had a different view of the Middle East, I sought to correct it as quick as I could (like any good Texan) and that didn’t go over real good.  I’ve always tried to support the Jewish people.  Not long ago I was in Iran and spoke on their behalf.

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Blog: No More Know it All…Show It All

Blog: Guest post by Pastor Kevin Brown, The Perfecting Church, Sewell, New Jersey

The foundation of every faith is its beliefs.  Everybody believes something and most of us can articulate our beliefs well.  With the introduction of the internet and the forms of information-sharing it has birthed, our pulpits, meeting houses and places of worship, are filled with knowledgeable people.  We’ve all encountered people who can discuss doctrine, theology, history, Greek, Hebrew etc…, at astounding levels.

But we have to admit with all that is going on in our country and around the world, belief is simply not enough!  Most of us think belief secures our place in God’s will and we may even spend hours arguing that fact.  But the simple truth is God has never been interested in our beliefs alone.  In actuality, beliefs mean very little.  Everybody has them and all too often they don’t affect the decisions we make and the direction we take in life.

We typically use our beliefs to justify our positions and focus on what others should or shouldn’t do, giving ourselves a false sense of security.  We debate our beliefs, stick our chests out about our beliefs and even invite others to listen to our beliefs, but by and large, the day to day activities of our lives don’t look much different than those who don’t share our beliefs. Read more

Blog: Lessons of local engagement through adoption

Special guest post by Mitch Jolly, Teaching Pastor at Three Rivers Community Church

At our church the pastors are all bi-vocational and while being part of the fabric of our town I began serving as a board member for the Department of Family and Children Services. One challenge we have in our town is that we have 200-300 children from new-born to 18 years old in foster care with roughly 7-10 foster / adoptive homes available. You do the math. There are simply not enough homes for orphans or those that are about to become orphans.

In 2007, Jennifer and I had two boys, spaced 2 years apart. We wanted a third child and began to feel the desire to adopt a child from our town, being part of the solution to our town’s evident need. We began to pray and soon found our desires to adopt matched the sex, age and race of a child in need of adoption. We both wanted a 2 year old, African-American, boy. We wanted a 2 year old because that would make our boys 6, 4 and 2. They would be able to wear hand-me-downs! We wanted a boy, well, because he could wear the already boy stuff we had. Finally, we wanted an African-American child because that was our desire that we believe God put in our hearts.

This story is deeply complex and nuanced and more than can be written in a single blog, but there are 5 lessons we learned from our adoption inside the context of the town we serve that I would  like to share them with you. Read more

Blog: Choosing To Pray Rather Than Choosing a Side

Guest post by Kevin Brown

Today we are fasting and praying all day long.  We are fasting for the peace of Israel and the peace of Palestine.  Regardless of your theology and end-time position on the recent events in the Holy Land, no position could support the deaths of innocent Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the wall.  The people who are experiencing the violence and witnessing the deaths that are escalating in that part of the world need, at the very least, our prayers.

I love Israel.  I love the people and the rich heritage from which my savior was born.  I have visited there several times. But I also love Bethlehem, Palestine, the West Bank region and those who live in that part of the world.  One of the greatest conflicts of heart for us as followers of Christ is to live out the “Great Commandment” and the “Great Commission”.  The great commandment calls us to arm ourselves with love by loving the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and strength — but it also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  A teacher of the law hoping to catch Jesus in this “conflict of love” asked Him, “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus’ response (Luke 10:29-37) to the teacher is one that we should understand and seek to live out today.   Read more

Blog: WHAT’S GOING ON IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE?

by Bob Roberts Jr 

I’m being asked by many people to help them interpret what’s going on in the West Bank and Israel.  I don’t know anyone who can do that.  You can follow me on twitter @bobrobertsjr as I retweet articles I’m reading and about people affected.  My heart is broken.  I fear it’s only going to get worse.  I think both sides are out of control. No one news source will be able to do it for you!  They are all biased and move towards the center and you’ll probably find the truth somewhere in there – CNN, Fox, BBC, Al Jazeera, Washington Post, New York Times, and my favorite the Economist should all be listened to.

Israel has security concerns that must be addressed and the Palestinians have a responsibility to respect their existence, and I believe should say that publicly. Palestinians have been under occupation way too long, have had their land continuously taken from them, experienced illegal settlements, jailed without representation at times for many years, it the list goes on and on and on.  It isn’t just Palestinians that are concerned about it. There are a great many liberal and orthodox Jews both here in the US and in Israel that are challenging their own government at this point.  I also know Palestinians who are challenging Palestinians.   These kinds of things give me hope.  No conflict is resolved by vilifying the other – only by partners who are willing to challenge the wrong from their own tribe.  The people in Gaza were driven out of their homes from other parts of Israel when Israel established a nation in 1948.  So the little town of Gaza then has grown to 1.7 million today.  There are a few million Jews and a few million Palestinians and neither side is going to be driven out – which means they will have to negotiate and resolve.   Read more

Blog: The Problem of Jesus Followers Loving War

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I hate war.  Most people do.  James Hillman wrote the book A Terrible love of War in which he studies the psychology of war.  Though we hate war, we romanticize it or view ourselves nobly while vilifying everyone else.  Jesus told us to be peacemakers, yet I’ve seen Christians sometimes get caught up in war mongering.  How can that be?  There are few living people that remain since WWII, so we don’t remember what it’s like for the entire world to be at war, and that’s dangerous.

The problem of war is its justification – once it’s justified, then using any means necessary is ok.  It’s not ok.  I’m not a pacifist.  I would be the first to defend my family or country from an invasion, and where the wholesale slaughter and genocide of innocents is concerned.   We should as Americans and human beings do all we can to stop the loss of life.  To let a single man or regime destroy life out of madness and not confront them is sinful in itself.  The whole world is erupting in war, and it will continue to do so.  The Central Africa Republic, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, drug wars in Central and South America, Ukraine, Russia, Chechnya, Pakistan, proxy wars, Mali, Israel, Palestine, and others are  countries teetering on the brink of war . . . . this will not slow but only increase in the foreseeable future.   Read more

Blog: EVERYDAY MISSION: BAIT AND SWITCH?

by Bob Roberts Jr

Click here to purchase book
Click here to purchase book

I am convinced that we as followers of Jesus unintentionally and unnecessarily turn people off from Jesus.  We go into preacher mode, or we view people as projects.  That not only turns someone off to Jesus, it isolates us from other people.  One of the things I realized long ago was the reason we like to give “gospel” presentations to others is because we don’t want to take the time and effort to be a friend with someone.  If someone is a friend, they’re a friend because of who they are, not what they can do for me or I can do for them.  We want to share the Gospel without benefit of relationship – and that simply doesn’t fly anymore – not that it ever did.  If I view God’s kingdom as a blessing to all, then I naturally share it as it naturally comes up.  I’ve shared the good news of Jesus to some of the most unlikely people in some of the most unusual public squares in various nations where people of another faith rarely share their faith.  It’s because they’re legitimate friends and they want me to know their friends and they have me explain who I am and what I believe.  I have explained how I became a Christian and what I believe about God to my next door neighbor, to my yard man who’s from Mexico, to someone in Iran, to several leaders in Saudi Arabia, to people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Laos, India – literally all over the world.  I’ve often thought if someone even thinks you’re “witnessing” you’re probably not witnessing really good.  It really should be a part of everyday conversation.  By the way, in a real conversation, you listen to them as well and to their story and what they believe –because they’re your friend and you love them, not because they’re your project.     Read more

Blog: EVERYDAY MISSION #3: STATISTICS AND STORIES

by Bob Roberts Jr

[Adapted from Week 3 of A Field Guide for Everyday Mission: “WHAT Does An Everyday Missionary Do?”] 

Fort Worth is a beautiful, messed up city. And I love it.
At the time of writing, “Cowtown” is the second-fastest-growing large city in the US. We’ll be over one million strong by 2030, with 20,000 new living units being built in three miles of downtown. They’re largely apartments, condos, and lofts on top of trendy ground floor retail and restaurants. We have great bike trails that you have to share with horses. We’re even rerouting the Trinity River to include a lake and water park. Wanna come live on mission with us? Patterned after downtown Portland, OR, Fort Worth is becoming a hot place. (Literally: it’ll definitely be warmer here than Portland)

In the midst of the progress, 75 percent of our city is unchurched. That’s high for the traditional middle of the Bible Belt. As of a few years ago, 20,000 refugees live here from 45 ethnic groups. Eight thousand people need nursing care but can’t afford it. Between four and five thousand homeless roam our streets, over 60 percent of whom are women and children. One out of every six males and one out of every four females is sexually abused before age eighteen. We’re home to 200–300 gangs, with five to six thousand members. We’re not comparing our city to yours; we’re simply stating facts. This is the broken city we love. Really, wanna come live on mission with us?   Read more

TO MY DAUGHTER ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

Lee and Jill
Lee and Jill

by Bob Roberts Jr

Jill, this is your day – and it’s going to be fantastic.  I’ll do my best to keep it all together during your wedding, just know I love you deeply and am so incredibly proud of you.  You’ve been patient.  You waited for God to bring the right man and he has.  Do you remember when you were in middle-school and I had you write out what kind of man you wanted to marry?  I don’t know if you still have that list. . . . I would bet Lee comes close to filling most of what you would want.

So today, you begin your life anew with Lee.  I’m grateful for him, his family, and our history together over the years.  There really is something about having been in relationship with people over the years.  Everyone is always looking for new, improved, better, different friends without realizing the community God has placed them in and valuing it.  There are no perfect people, you know I’m not, you may come close but you still aren’t perfect, and in a month or so, maybe sooner, you’ll discover Lee isn’t perfect as well.    Read more