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LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN . . . . IS THE GREAT COMMISSION

by Bob Roberts Jr

Ever wonder why the white church in America can have lots of baptisms, fund missionaries around the world, and yet hold on to negative and hurtful views of others?  I had my own “East Texas” view of life I had to deal with as I grew up, engaged the world, and began to work with others.  I realized that whatever I felt towards one group, invariably gave me permission to feel negative about another group, as long as I could justify it.  There’s always a reason to think why you’re better than someone else, no matter what color or class you come from.   Justifying prejudice always leads to an “us” and “them” mentality that Jesus firmly stood against.  The root of all love we have towards others is based at the foot of the cross where Jesus died for all, and we are all family.  Until you can value all people equally, you will not love like Jesus.  Life will fill you with opportunities to come close to people that you don’t like as much, or have a conflict with and in those moments we have a chance to address the darkness in our hearts.  That darkness is the absence of God in our inability to love others as he loves. Read more

PROFILE OF A DOMAIN ENGAGER!

by Bob Roberts Jr

I’ve known Paul Larsen for a few years now.  He illustrates how to use your background and expertise to serve humanity in the name of Jesus as much as anyone I know.  I love what he does and his story – here is an interview  I did with him:

1.  What is your job?  I am founder and Director of 128 Foundation and VP of Strategic and Faith-based Partnerships of Cheetah Development.

2.  What is you vocation?  I understand vocation to mean calling, and my calling is to help the western church to recapture a more holistic theology of human flourishing that includes economic and social flourishing along with spiritual flourishing.  And then provide actions steps for those called to carry this out in the developing world. Read more

WHY AMERICA DESPERATELY NEEDS THE GLOBAL CHURCH

by Bob Roberts Jr

I just returned from Jakarta, Indonesia where I was with one of those global pastors whom God has used to reach tens of thousands.  There were 19 of us that gathered from all over the world.  Only two of us were from the US. The other pastor from the US was African American.  I had one of my spiritual sons with me and I asked him, “How does it feel to be one of only two white guys here?”  He responded he loved it.

The African American pastor that was there told me he had never been a part of something so diverse and yet unified as this gathering.  Everyone present had an equal voice.  This pastor’s church is huge, and so is his impact.  He’s connected to everyone from Presidents to athletes and business leaders – you name it.  Yet, this was very different for him – something he had never tasted before and he wanted a lot more.

We are not the pastors of the largest churches in the world, but some of the others present are.  What we all have in common is we have started a church which starts churches like crazy.  One man wouldn’t have over 1000 in his “movement”. It’s conceivably the hardest place in the world to reach people.  Everyone agrees he has earned a spot at the table.  Read more

WHY THE CHURCH CAN’T BRING PEACE TO FERGUSON

by Bob Roberts Jr

But, 6 things it can do to prevent the next FERGUSON if it starts

NOW

Most of the people involved in the crisis in Ferguson would have some kind of “church” background and involvement.  There are African American and Anglo American Christians, there are African American and Anglo American pastors – and still they have virtually no voice or influence.  Why?  Because there are African American & Anglo American churches!  That’s the problem people.  A person has a race, ethnicity, heritage, and culture.  However, not the church -  that is a direct denial and rejection of what the essence of the church – the bride of Christ, the community of saints is to be.  Paul writes it several times, neither “Jew nor Greek” (race), “male nor female” (gender), “bond nor free” (class) are acceptable divisions in the body of Christ, the church today.  What made the church unique was everyone was at the table.  The same three dividers of humanity sociologically in Jesus are done away with.  The biggest problem the 21st century church has is trying to keep the erected barriers from the 19thcentury in place instead of getting in line with a 1st century Jesus Church!  Read more

THE ONE THING I’D PUT IN A NEW CHURCH FROM DAY ONE

by Bob Roberts Jr

The Biggest Issue The Church Faces Today

Extreme radical limitless love is THE most important ingredient I’d put in a church from day one.  Love, is the differentiating mark by which, Jesus said, people would know that we are his followers.  But honestly, who thinks of love as a place people go to church looking for?  One of my spiritual fathers – Jim Hylton – asked that question in a small group I was in not long ago – and I can’t escape it.

We fight for relevance – and I believe that is good.  What good is it to have the greatest message in the world and not communicate it in a way that people can understand and apply?  When people gripe about relevance are they promoting irrelevance or past sentimentality for a world or culture they miss?  Making disciples – that’s the mandate of Jesus, but if our “disciples” love like everyone else, and there is no difference in how or who is loved – has a disciple really made?  Read more

PLEASE DON’T QUIT

by Bob Roberts Jr

Last week I was with several church planters who are at at different stages in their ministry, but all pushing hard.  Some of them were about to start and faced obstacles and were wondering if they could really pull it off.   Some of them were in the middle of it and didn’t have answers for obstacles.   One church planter is a now full-fledged “church” and was wondering if he shouldn’t start another church because of the struggles, the new and excitement had worn off.  I was also with some pastors of established churches – some fairly large and influential – one was weary of the constant complaining, another weary of dealing with staff issues.  I was with a married couple who was hanging on by a thread.  I was with a young man whose job didn’t work out and he was feeling like a failure.  Everyone, no exceptions, regardless of the situation would love to simply escape.  I was recently with a prominent pastor who is now 80, and he  told me of everyone he went to seminary with and started out in the pastorate, only three made it to the finish line.  One my mentors and heroes, now with the Lord, told me a few months before he died that as we get older things actually get more difficult and challenging. Read more

THE UNIQUE ROLE OF THE AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCH & BELIEVER GLOBALLY

by Bob Roberts Jr. 

I believe the sleeping giant of the American Church globally is its African American believers.  The narrative most often related to biblically with the African American is that of Moses and deliverance being applied to the African American experience from slavery to the Civil War to Civil Rights to our first African American President Barak Obama. 

The world is ready for African Americans to be on the global public stage in a bigger way.  There are many who have paved the way – but in reality, in this modern period, no one more than Colin Powell.  He could have been President had he wanted it, by both parties and by all races, he is a leader xtraordinaire.  When President Obama was running for the Presidency and then won, his crowds globally were unprecedented for an American President – the world was ready.  Read more

RAISING “LITTLE COMMUNIST”

by Bob Roberts Jr

It’s true.  August of 2001 Ti Luu from Hanoi, Vietnam, came to live in our home with my son when he was a senior in High School and my daughter was a freshman.  It’s true, this year Nikki and I have Minh Hoang living with us.   It’s true they are Vietnamese and from a communist country, yet they don’t have any political affiliation at this point – that I’m aware of!  But, it was one of the greatest things, hands down, that I’ve done in my family.  I know it sounds crazy, having someone with a government opposite of yours, a faith that is not yours, as a part of your everyday life, especially as a pastor and with his kids in the home, as with Ti.  But, if you ask my children, the best thing we ever did to prepare them for the world and open their hearts to loving others through Jesus, hands down, they’ll tell you it was Ti living with them.  Read more

“THE CHURCH IS THE WORLD’S HOPE”

by Bob Roberts Jr.

I’ve heard this quote a lot over the past 20 years from many different people. I’ve even said it myself.  I believe when functioning properly as the body of Christ, it is.  In a technical sense, it is Jesus that is the hope of the world, but Jesus in Acts has a new body he establishes, a body called the “ecclesia” (called out ones, colony as an outpost).  In Luke Jesus had a physical body, in Acts it’s a spiritual body as a community of believers.  When those believers are connected to Jesus, the HEAD of the church, their FEET move in the direction he wants them to.  What Jesus came to do as one, we also do as one, but as a community of Jesus followers with diverse gifts, callings, and ministries.  It takes all of these in operation for the Good News of Jesus to spread and for lives and communities to be transformed.  It is to be the church that actually brings the Good News of the Kingdom of God and the peace of the Kingdom to life and the world, whether it always does or not.  The Kingdom of God will always have its church, yet the Kingdom is bigger than any single, local church.  I learned 20 years ago, when I was first discovering the kingdom, that what was good for the Kingdom would always be good for the local church, though at times it hurt a specific local church – we aren’t to hoard and hold on to, but give away and spread around. Read more

Embracing the beauty of diversity

by Jill King

I believe that every human is born with value and worth, therefore should be entitled to rights. I also believe that every person is unique, characterized with specific attributes which contribute to who they are and what they have to offer the world. When we look to a level playing field of equality as an end goal, it’s important to keep this masterful mosaic of the human race in mind. No one should be treated poorly because of their classification, but perhaps individuals should be considered in light of the diversity they represent. There’s an attitude that I perceive to be somewhat forced when we attempt to view the world through the lens of color-blindness, sexual orientation blindness, religious blindness- the list goes on. This practice really does us a disservice and manifests itself through our societal ignorance. We were all created in the image of God, and this is one telling commonality that humans share. He created this world with color and variety, and it would be a shame to dilute these characteristics that reflect his very nature. I believe in advocacy and justice for those without a voice, but when the motivation is pure power, not supported by experience or relationships, I think we are missing the point.

As a woman, I want to be perceived and remembered for the unique person God made me to be. He gave me a feminine nature, a compassionate spirit, and zest for life. I do not want to assert power and control to simply prove something to the world. I want to thrive in my God given identity. I think it would serve us well to see others for who they really are, not only through association of the tribe that they belong to. I wish we could boldly admit to one another that we are different and intentionally celebrate or advocate for the difficulty that comes along with certain classifications. We can’t ignore the fact that we live among people who are not like us. I don’t want to look past skin, which tells a story of history and surrounds eyes that have witnessed things that some of us have only had nightmares about. I want to be seen differently than a man, because some of my God given qualities are based on the distinguishing characteristics of being a woman. I will not assume someone with a different sexual orientation is just like me, because I know their experience of facing society is vastly different from my own. I want to have an understanding of different religions, because our faith and beliefs significantly impact the way we choose to live our lives.

My desire is to deeply understand others, not to assume that everyone is like me or that we are simply all the same. I’ve always been burdened by the fact that even when we seek to walk in the shoes of another, we still only have our own perception of their perspective. We can not get outside of our own mind, but the Holy Spirit can bring wisdom and understanding. When we view people in light of who they are, understanding that there is no replication of them in this world, it shifts the way we see others, and it deepens our expression of love. If our hearts are centered on the beauty of diversity, I believe we will take advances toward being more direct with one another, and less concerned about being politically correct. Our uniqueness matters, and it’s all part of His eternal Kingdom.