There are all kinds of words that we would use to describe what “church” should be like. My favorite word is transformation, because it’s the direct result of a church based on the Kingdom of God. That transformation changes us, our families, our communities, our nations, and the world. That transformation will not be complete until Jesus comes. As a result, some give up on seeing transformation beyond personal spirituality and a walk with Jesus because it won’t be complete until he comes. This is a wrong response. The kingdom has begun; we are to move with the kingdom as it comes. It has been coming since Jesus came, it has come throughout the New Testament, the Early Church, church history, and even now. Jesus set the direction and pattern for the church in the Sermon on the Mount and his parables in what he expects of us. Paul further takes the Kingdom to new levels in Colossians 1:15-20 when he talks about glorifying God in all things, all dominions, all principalities, being transformed as a result of the Gospel of the Kingdom. We should never give up on people, cities, and nations. A church that is built upon the kingdom will see lost people come to follow Jesus – but it will not stop there. A Kingdom church will engage the person, the family, the city and nation at all levels. Read more
by Omar Reyes, Northwood Church
A simple definition of Polycentric, is to have many centers. We live in an age where everything is connected. The whole world communicates, conducts commerce and interacts on the global grid of fiber–optic micro cable and personal computers. The convergence of technology leveled the playing field and everyone now is invited to participate. The little guy or gal somewhere sitting under a coconut tree in an obscure little Island in the Pacific is able to play beside the Gucci-wearing suit banker working on Wall Street. The earth has gone flat declared Thomas Friedman. What Columbus declared round, technology flattened once again. This changed everything, the score went back to zero and we are now playing a new game. Anyone can sail from anywhere at the speed of light instead of the speed of knots. We all have the potential of Columbus, discovering new lands, finding treasures and bringing them home and selling them for a profit without leaving the shade of the coconut tree or our desk in our padded offices. We are all at the center of this vast flat expanse and it demands a new way of thinking. There are four important changes we must consider in this new game.
This week, Thursday night at First Baptist Church Glenarden, Maryland, just outside Washington DC, at the Ministry Center (not the new worship center) there is going to be a first time ever large gathering of evangelical pastors and imams. For the past few years, several of us have been on retreats together and even traveled the world to try to figure our how we use our influence with the masses to build bridges, bring down tensions, and protect religious minorities from persecution – be they Christian or Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever. THIS ISN’T THEORY OR IDEAS! It’s actually working and progress is being made. You will meet the people and hear stories of it and be given an opportunity to do the same. Be we Christian or Muslim, both of us have received heat from our own tribes from becoming friends and associating together. Neither of us have compromised on our beliefs – I believe Jesus is God, and Muslims believe he’s only a prophet. We do believe, as religious leaders with access to the masses we have a responsibility work for peace in our world and help the religious minorities among us be we Christians in America or Muslims in Pakistan. THIS IS THE FUTURE PRESENT. You can register www.spreadingpeace.net it’s free. Read more
Christian, the most important thing you can do for the Gospel locally globally today is to stand up for a Muslims religious freedom in America.
My heart is sad and it’s hard for me to comprehend how far we’ve strayed from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That we can have mosques in 20 cities targeted for “armed” protest and there is so little outcry? Where are the tweets and blogs from my fellow evangelical pastors? Have we forgotten, especially those of us as Baptist that we were in the forefront fighting for religious freedom in America? Some of our Baptist forefathers wound up in jail because we refused to minister under any authority but our own – Baptist. It was Jefferson that came to our defense and that is how we as Baptist became some of the strongest defenders of religious freedom in the U.S. and around the world. Read more
by Bob Roberts
This is the kind of engagement that members of Northwood Church do! Chad Griffin, a NorthWood member, works with orphans in Uganda through Yonder Life. His good friend, Frank who helps runs that organization in Uganda, shared a great story of friendship about a Ugandan gym owner who was moved so deeply that he began supporting their ministry to serve poor children. The gym owner is Muslim as are the majority of those in his community – so who winds up helping him with ministry to serve the poor? Muslim athletes and body builders . . . read it and shout!
“In 2014 I joined New Beginnings Fitness Gym, a gym owned by my Muslim friend , Arafat Ssekitoleko. It was the typical gym environment, where by whoever comes in is focused on working out while being surrounded by motivational fitness charts on walls and music being played. Shortly after attending there I was nicknamed Pastor due to the way I used to behave. I wasn’t involved in abusive language and tried to stop whoever used bad words, so they called me pastor. Well later I kindly asked the gym instructors, Ibrah and Arafat, if they could offer us one day of Gospel songs because all the songs that were being played were secular music! To my surprise they accepted and chose Friday. At first some members opposed it and started complaining that the music was to slow and that “worship” slows them down, making them feel sleepy. Arafat insisted, so we collected all sort of gospel music and they started getting used, singing along with the player I loudly made words being heard to those of English songs I knew. Today even when I am not around, since I left the gym 250 miles away, Gospel Friday is known by all members and they are ok with it. The only thing you can hear are voices of them singing along with the player praising God!!
When I was sure it was ok to share, I shared the Yonder Life mission with Arafat and his elder Brother Asad. They were interested in learning more so they boarded the bus traveling 250 miles to see what we are doing on this side of Uganda. When they saw the children and the communities we work with and the great needs, they took action to help by providing clothes and shoes! Seeing half way naked kids was what made them realize they needed to help with that first!
A clothes drive was organized as the New Beginnings Gym celebrated its first year anniversary (a gym that that was officially opened by Chad on his first visit to Uganda)! All the clothes, shoes, bags, and other items were donated to the children and elders of Nyabuharwa, Mirongo, Mbale and Kyakashoro communities. The people were so appreciative and still send in their thanks for the support. Seeing Ugandans serving Ugandans in their country despite their religion or background is a blessing. Glory to God.”
The world today is boiling hot in hate, violence, discrimination, and war. Christians are literally on the brink of extinction in parts of the Middle-East and being forced out. A true fact is that numerically, more Muslims are being slaughtered by extremist Muslims in the Middle-East than any other group. Neither the United Nations nor governments seem to have the will or ability to address the issues. It’s time for those of us as religious leaders to stand up, stand together, speak out, and WORK HARD against religious bigotry and for religious freedom worldwide starting right here in the good old United States of America.
Fifteen years ago I began working in the Middle-East and Near-East with Christians, Muslims, Jews and others. Prior to that, all of my perceptions of Muslims, Arabs, and that part of the world were shaped by 2 minute news stories. There is no way, you can understand another group by short news stories or editorializes on either side of issues where the news deals only with the most shocking or sensational stories. I began to read broader, listen to many different news sources, and then meet people and talk to them directly.
Press Statement: Release From Capital Hill 12PM EST, Made by Pastor Bob Roberts and Imam Magid Mohammed
By: Bob Roberts, Jr.
My heart goes out to the families of the 4 US Marines and the Navy Sailor who lost their lives and all those injured. There have been far too many mass shootings in our nation and sadly no longer disbelief as much as when will the next one occur. Whether it’s a White Supremicist, an extremist Muslim, or a mentally disturbed person – it all says something is seriously wrong in our nation and no one wants to do much of anything different. But of this I am convinced, we must come together, stand together, and not turn on one another. The old saying “United we stand divided we fall” has never been truer.
But once again it’s as if we’ve forgotten what we were taught as children and we no longer know how to treat one another. Our country is gripped by fear and by political polarization where we no longer know how to listen to one another, compromise, or stand up for one another. I was so sad, when I read the Facebook posting of Franklin Graham calling for a halt to any immigration from someone who is a Muslim and to call their congressman to make it happen. This would be devastating for those wanting to be Americans, as well as creating a perception that all evangelicals have of Muslims, which is incorrect. The majority of the mass shootings have been from non-Muslims. Because your platform is so large, built by the faithful witness of your Father, those of us, of your tribe, must challenge you, and this kind of thinking. This is not “evangelical” and even less evangelistic. This is not the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus your father taught so many of us as little children. Rhetoric like this is hurtful, incendiary, polarizing, and denies the Gospel of Jesus and instead of making people open to the Gospel, creates barriers and walls. Read more
By Bob Roberts, Jr.
In May 1998 I wrote the following in my journal – “God I want to hear and follow you. Hear my prayer; grow Northwood so it can be a base to engage Hanoi and all North Vietnam. I pray for 20% of the non-believers in North East Tarrant County that they will follow Jesus and our churches will reach them. Give the needed resources, allow my family to be a lighthouse, let Northwood be so much more than simply a worship service”.
Except for my age, the circumstances, and some of the faces – the challenges and issues are the same. Big vision, not enough resources, open doors, challenges, people issues were all present – and still are! We think that when God moves everyone is chirpy, upbeat, excited, and there are no headaches. Don’t tell that to Job, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Paul and a lot of other people. God moves despite our circumstances and in those circumstances he’s drawing us to himself. Whatever revivals were in the Old Testament – they didn’t last long. Whatever great things God did in starting the church in Corinth, man who would want to pastor that thing with all its junk! I’m excited about where we are and where we’ve come from – we have a fantastic future. But, keep this in mind, it’s never about the perfect staff, or the perfect finances, or the perfect people, or even me or you being the perfect pastor – it’s more about faithfulness to what God has called you to over the long haul. Read more
by Bob Roberts
I had the privlege to write a blog for Lifeway Christian Resources, encouraging pastors who are serving in smaller churches. Follow the link to read about the incredible future of many churches.
By Bob Roberts, Jr.
I’ve always believed in the power of prayer. Prayer is a part of my life. It’s a rare day, and there are rare days, when I don’t begin my day with prayer. I teach new Northwood Church members and new Christians that it is critical to begin your day with prayer. Prayer is breath. Prayer is talking and listening. Prayer is worship. For more than 25 years I’ve begun my days journaling what’s going on, good and bad, decisions needing to be made, etc. then I write them in my journal and I read slowly 3 chapters from the Old Testament, 1 from the wisdom literature, and 1 from the New Testament. Then as I read I write, what I sense God saying to me. I sing. I reflect. I worship. I believe it’s critical to do that first thing because it prepares me for the rest of the day. I pray throughout the day, I pray before meetings, during meetings, after meetings. I pray while driving, I pray while talking sometimes – “God guide my words carefully.” “God be present in this decision give clarity.” I’m praying non-stop no matter who is there or what is going on and I believe God hears all those prayers. There are so many dimensions to prayer – it’s bigger than a form, a set time, a moment – it’s a life.
Many years ago when I was in Afghanistan in the desert, I was with my Muslim friends and they would stop and pray. They would lay out their rugs on the sand, and I waited in the SUV. But I thought, I’m a Christian, I believe in God, I’m praying. So I asked them at their next stop would it offend them if I knelt down beside them and prayed as they prayed. They loved it – and I did to. It lead us to a whole conversation about what prayer was about and how God guides us in our life.