Saturday, April 29, 2017

A rose by any other name...

Have you heard about the name change for New Tribes Mission? It was officially announced last night that the new name will be Ethnos360.

The word “ethnos” comes from the New Testament Greek word meaning a tribe, nation, or people group. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (ethnos), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Today New Tribes Mission works with many unreached people groups around the world which might not necessarily fit the definition of a “tribal group.” In some parts of the world the term “tribe” is considered demeaning. These are just a few factors NTM USA discussed as they considered a name change for the mission.

Change is often fraught with difficulties—especially when considering heritage and tradition. No doubt there will be bumps in the road during this time of transition.

So how do I feel about this name change? A line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet comes to mind: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!” Juliet argues that it does not matter that Romeo is from the house of Montague and bears that despised name. She implies that the names of things do not affect what they really are.

The leadership of NTM USA desires that the name ETHNOS360 will reflect the goal of reaching many more unreached people groups around the world even if they are not what might typically be considered “tribal.”

We will be hearing more about this name change down the road. At this point I am not quite sure what all this will entail. Will I be getting a new email address using “@ethnos360.org?” Possibly. I will keep you posted regarding changes as I become aware of them.

For more information about the name change, check out:

https://ethnos360.org/about

I would appreciate your prayers for transitions for both myself to life in Florida and for NTM as we implement this change of names.

Bob

* * *

Reformation Bondage

While freeing believers from the bondage of Rome, the Protestant Reformation brought them back, in large measure, under the bondage of Sinai. The Reformation took away one set of bindings, but bound the believers with another — and this has atrophied the spiritual life of multitudes. -Donald Grey Barnhouse

 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Pickin’ -n- grinnin’ in Florida

The first time I met Bob Meisel was about 10 years ago at our Missionary Training Center in Missouri. We hit it off immediately. We got together nearly every day to play music. He would play either my guitar, mandolin or banjo. Bob can play just about anything with strings.

Fast forward to the Fall of 2016. I received an email from NTM Homes asking me what kind of renovations I would like for my apartment in Florida. The email said that I would be living at 608 Mexico Ct. I wondered who might be living on my block and if I would know any of my neighbors. Well you could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that Bob and Marilyn Meisel would share the same duplex where I was to live. I thought to myself, "Woohoo, music jams at my place every night!" Well it has not been quite every night, but we do play together several times a week. When I moved to Florida, I had not been playing my instruments very much and as a result I had no calluses whatsoever on the fingertips of my left hand. Three months later and my calluses are about as thick as they have ever been in my entire life.

I love music and there are many venues here in Central Florida to do a little pickin' -n- grinnin'. Every Saturday afternoon a number of us get together here to practice some gospel songs. Then we play those songs Tuesday morning before the NTM Homes chapel begins.

About 10 minutes down the road is the Osteen Diner. They host an acoustic music jam every Tuesday night. I have been there a few times and joined in with their jam.

That's where I met Joe and Katie Waller who play in the Jackson Creek String Band. They began as a pure bluegrass band but have since morphed into more of a folk music band.

I went to a jam at their house one evening and asked, "Just who is the Jackson Creek String Band?" Well it turned out that nearly everyone in the room was part of the band except for me and one other fellow. Joe used to work for the Forestry Service in Southern Oregon. The band is actually named after Jackson Creek Oregon.

Friday night I went to an "old time" music jam about 2 miles from my apartment. They play pre-bluegrass fiddle tunes from the Appalachian Mountains. But they did allow me to do one bluegrass song — Long Journey Home made popular by the Stanley Brothers. The jam is hosted at the home of Chuck and Linda Bose. They are part of the Celery City String Band.

It is easy for me to get lost on those fiddle tunes!

Are we on Part A or Part B? Okay, it is definitely Part A, but are we on the first time through Part A or the second time through Part A? When is this song gonna end cuz I really need to itch my nose?!

I know a few fiddle tunes, but most of the ones we played on Friday were new to me. We went around the circle with each person requesting a song in turn. On my first turn I picked an old standard — Angeline the Baker. That is a fun song to play and it does not have many chord changes so it is pretty easy. On my second turn I picked a song that was not on the Celery City String Band favorites list. It's a song that I have been trying to learn on the mandolin for a number of years, but there is no way I can play it up to normal speed. When they asked me what song I wanted, I heard a collective groan when I said Arkansas Traveler. The chords on that song are easy and since I did not have my mandolin with me, I only had to worry about the chord changes playing rhythm guitar. The thing that makes Arkansas Traveler a real challenge is all those sixteenth notes for those who are picking the lead melody. Well, we played it. But I'm not so sure that I will ever be invited back to their jam again! J

They have a break time with snacks at the jam. During the break I struck up a conversation with a fellow there. I told him about what I did at our Missionary Training Center as well as what NTM does around the world. He seemed genuinely interested and asked a lot of intelligent questions.

Well I feel like I am beginning to find my way around Sanford Florida and am experiencing some of the local culture around here. Although I still have not tried boiled peanuts or grilled alligator. I did see a small alligator in the lake behind my apartment a few weeks ago. I wondered how he might taste if I cooked him in my smoker for a few hours.

Prayers for me as I continue to adjust to a new place and new ministry here in Florida would be much appreciated.

Bob

* * *

Human history is not in the grip of fate, but in the hands of Him who was pierced for us on Calvary. – W. Graham Scroggie

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Out of my comfort zone!

If I had to describe this last month, I would use the phrase “out of my comfort zone.” I have been helping with various computer needs around NTM Homes. Some things I know how to do well. For instance, I have helped several people with the eSword Bible program. But other things I have been asked to do are way out of my league!

I know absolutely nothing about Apple computer devices. But my neighbor was having problems get email on her iPad. Once I figured out how to get into the iPad settings and how to reboot the device, the fix was fairly easy and she was once again able to get her email.

One day an IT guy here handed me a wireless router and with limited instructions told me to program it. I spent an hour or so trying to figure out his instructions to no avail. Then I went online and found a Youtube video which explained what I needed to do. After that, the router was pretty easy to program.

About a week ago, an old friend living here gave me a call saying that he was having problems with his computer. When he tried to start Windows 7, he got an error message saying “user profile cannot be loaded.” After a bit of research I found out that his user profile had somehow become corrupted. There are several ways to fix this problem. By far the easiest fix involves editing the registry of Windows. Unfortunately, editing the registry is probably the most dangerous of the alternatives. If you mess up the registry, you create all kinds of problems for yourself. I hate editing the registry on my own computers, let alone someone else’s computer. But I followed the instructions which I found online and in nothing flat the problem was fixed.

Before moving to Florida, I bought a new computer. A few weeks ago it died and there was absolutely nothing I could do to get it to power up. Fortunately, it was still under warranty so I sent it in to be repaired. Currently I am using an old back up computer to write this newsletter. A true IT wizard would probably say, “he was able to fix the computers of others, but his own he could not fix!” Well, I am only an IT wannabe. But I am learning a lot. I would sure appreciate your prayers for wisdom as I step out of my comfort zone!

Bob

* * *

The Father’s Purposes of Love

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28)

“Not a hair of the child of God can fall without God’s permission. Satan is but the unintentional instrument to accomplish God’s will; he can do no more than he is allowed to do. If trials come as a host against us, the Almighty is between us and them. They will but work out for us our Father’s own purposes of love” -Miles Stanford

 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Learning to play the game

Imagine this. You are visiting friends and they invite you to play a game. The only trouble is that you are not familiar with the game. They say that isn’t a problem. They will explain the rules as you go. As you continue to lose round after round, you have the distinct feeling that they are simply making up the rules as they go and that they are purposely stacking the deck against you so that you are guaranteed to lose.

As a foreigner entering another country, that is often the feeling you have. There are definite rules, but you have no idea what they are. I have to admit that this last month of transitioning to Florida, I have experienced similar emotions our students have as they move overseas. In fact, one of the residents here said that Central Florida in a lot of respects is like living in a foreign country. There are a lot of nationalities here and the crime rate in Sanford is much higher than rural Missouri. So I have been feeling a little bit like a fish out of water.

A few weeks ago I went to the DMV in Seminole county to get my driver’s license and the plates on my vehicle changed to Florida. After waiting 15 minutes in line I found out that I had the correct paperwork for my vehicle but lacked proof of residency in order to get my driver’s license changed. So I had to drive all the way back to my apartment in order to get a document verifying that I was actually residing in Florida. Then I drove back and waited another 15 minutes to get my new Florida driver’s license.

On my way home, I thought I would stop off at the bank where I opened a checking account. Since I don’t know Sanford very well, I used my Garmin GPS to navigate to the bank. Garmin decided that the shortest route to the bank involved driving about a mile on a toll road. When I got to the toll booth there was no one there to take my money. Not knowing what to do I started to pull ahead. Then I saw the sign in front of me saying, “Pay the toll, you idiot!” Well actually the sign didn’t say, “You idiot.” But if there was a security camera monitoring the toll booth, I am sure that is what they were thinking. I looked behind me in order to back up, but by this time another vehicle had pulled up. So I got out and hurriedly walked back to read the instructions. As I was walking back, I simply shrugged my shoulders and mouthed the words to the truck behind me, “I have no idea what I am doing!!!” There was a sign next to this plastic thing that looked like a funnel. The sign said, “Pay 75 cents.” What? You’re going to charge me 75 cents to drive a mile on a toll road? Are you kidding me? So I fumbled with my wallet and pulled out a dollar bill only to read “exact change ONLY” on the sign. I put my wallet back and dug into my pocket. Of course I did not have 75 cents on me. But I did have a bunch of loose change in my Jeep. So I ran back to my Jeep and grabbed 75 cents. Then I ran back to the funnel to deposit the exact amount. By this time more cars began to pile up behind me as I apologetically mouthed the words to them, “I’m sorry! I’m an idiot! I don’t know what I am doing!”

Well, I am pretty sure that I will be appearing on some Funniest Videos TV show in the near future.

The other day I went to pick up groceries at Aldis. To my dismay all the shopping carts were chained together with no apparent way to use one for shopping. As I was fumbling with the chain, someone noticed the perplexed look on my face and took pity on me. He explained that you had to insert a quarter in order to unlock a shopping cart from the rest. And of course I did not have a quarter on me so I had to run back to my Jeep. By this time I was totally miffed at the idea that I had to pay a quarter just to use a stupid shopping cart. Well, come to find out that you do get your quarter back when you return the shopping cart. Too funny! Well I have to admit the “Quarter Shopping Cart” idea is genius. Most stores pay some kid minimum wage to round up shopping carts all day long. But Aldis figured out a way to get their customers to round up the shopping carts for them. Whoever came up with that idea should get a raise. But Aldis ought to tell their new customers what is going on.

Some of the gas stations down here make you pay for your gas BEFORE you fill up. So if you want a full tank you need to estimate how much gas you need, and multiply that times the price per gallon. It takes a math whiz or a calculator just to get a full tank of gas. Well actually you can pay for more than what you need, go back outside, fill up, then go back inside to get your change. Some gas stations only demand that you jump through all those hoops if you are paying with cash. Others make you go through that whole process even if you are paying with a credit card. Tell me again, which third world country I just landed in!!!

And don’t even get me going on driving in Florida! Before coming down here, I was told that Florida drivers are crazy. But honestly, they didn’t tell me the half of it!!

I am sure that in a few months all these things will seem pretty normal to me. I will probably be passing cars just like they do at the Daytona 500. But in the meantime I would appreciate your prayers for my adjustments to Florida.

Bob

* * *

Satan is never so completely defeated as in his apparent victories.

- Selected

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Retirement or Change of Ministry?

Many retired folks tell me that their lives are busier now than when they were working. Well, I guess I will find out. After teaching for 33 years at the New Tribes Missionary Training Center, I plan on retiring. My official status with NTM will be “retired” at the end of 2016. But whoever “really” retires?

Actually, there are a number of ministry opportunities available to me as I enter into this new phase a life. Last month I mentioned a few opportunities in the area of research and writing for both New Tribes Mission and Bold Grace Ministries. Recently I have been talking to an NTM co-worker who trains pastors in Africa. There is a possibility that I could be involved in writing Bible curriculum for him. Another ministry opportunity is working with the Information Technology folks at the NTM retirement center. We have retired missionaries down there who continue to work on projects such as Bible translation. There is always a need for someone who has computer skills which is right up my alley. I also plan on continuing my involvement with the NTM Missionary Training Center in Missouri. I often consult with folks here regarding course related issues. For instance, I setup our current grading system in Quick Schools. Just yesterday, I helped one of our staff members with his Quick Schools gradebook. The sign on my door in Florida will probably read: Bob’s Computer Help Desk. There is also a need here at the Missionary Training Center for someone to play the role of a native from Papua New Guinea for our Culture-Language Acquisition course. The tentative plan is for me to fly back to Missouri next fall for 2 months in order to fill that need.

New Tribes Mission’s retirement center is located in Florida near the NTM headquarters. I will be moving there in January 2017. The apartments at the retirement center are duplexes. I will be living next to Bob and Marilyn Meisel who worked many years in the Philippines. I met Bob a number of years ago when he was visiting our training center here in Missouri. We hit it off immediately. Bob plays a number of stringed instruments including guitar and mandolin. He borrowed one of my guitars and we had a great time playing gospel/bluegrass music together.

When I found out what apartment that I would be living in, I wondered if I would know anyone on my block. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out the my gospel/bluegrass buddy would be my next door neighbor! I immediately gave Bob a call and said, “Guess who is going to be living next to you.” I could not have planned that any better.

My new address as of January 2017 will be:

Bob Nyberg

608 Mexico Ct.

Sanford, FL 32771

My current plan is to begin taking social security in 2018. So even though I will be “retiring” in 2017, I hope to meet my monthly expenses for this next year through donations from my current supporters. But I also know that might not be realistic. The cost of living for me in Florida will be more than what it is here. And the fact is that when a missionary retires they often lose part of their support base.

Prayer Requests:

·         Saying goodbye to friends and coworkers in Missouri.

·         The logistics of getting my stuff to Florida.

·         Transitioning into a new home, ministry and climate down south.

·         Sufficient support to meet my needs for 2017.

I appreciate your prayers on my behalf!

Bob

* * *

Imputed Righteousness
by Lance Latham

There is simply no possibility whatsoever that a person can achieve standing before God on the basis of his own defaced, despicable righteousness. A Christian, therefore, is not merely one who has been through the emotion of a moment, or who has newly purposed or has newly promised. Rather, a Christian has abandoned all hope of his own personal moral credentials and receives as his sole and complete basis for standing before God the finished and complete righteousness which Jesus Christ purchased on Calvary's cross and imputed to him. To “impute” means to “ascribe,” to “put to one's account.” Personal righteousness does not save us; imputed righteousness alone satisfies divine holiness and makes the sinner acceptable before God.

 

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Berean Challenge

In the Fall of 1982 I was sitting in a classroom at New Tribes Language Institute near Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Our chapel speaker that day was Lance Latham who brought a series of lectures on the book of Hebrews over the week. At the time, I had no idea who Doc Latham was. I recall watching a white-haired gentleman, who was nearly 90 years old, saunter down the aisle and take a seat at the piano. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor as he began to play the William Tell Overture. Lance was a musical prodigy. He began taking piano lessons at age three. Although his performance of the William Tell Overture was impressive, I was even more captivated with his exposition of Hebrews. Lance Latham was a student of the well-known Bible teacher William R. Newell. Like Dr. Newell, Lance was also an excellent teacher of God's Word. Doc Latham’s knowledge of God’s Word and explanation of God’s grace had a profound effect on my own life.

Acts 17:10-11 says: “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Through Doc Latham’s series on Hebrews I was challenged, like the Bereans of old, “to find out whether those things were so.” As I began to dig deeper into God’s Word, I soon discovered my own understanding of God’s grace was quite deficient when compared to the writings of the apostle Paul and the other New Testament authors. That was the beginning of a life-long quest to explore various doctrines proposed by Bible scholars and compare them with the teachings of scripture.

As I look back over the years, I can see how this journey has prepared me to participate as a member of the NTM Theological Consultation Group. My quest to understand the teachings of Calvinists has certainly equipped me to work on the revision of NTM’s resource paper on Calvinism. Our NTM members website has a number of doctrinal papers on various topics. Over the years I have enjoyed contributing to the papers posted there. Recently, Bold Grace Ministries (http://boldgrace.org/) has asked me to help develop some theological workbooks. They are involved in training national pastors in Africa. That is another ministry opportunity that I would love to help with. I would appreciate your prayers as I consider various avenues of ministry relating to writing and research.

Bob

* * *

The Sole Basis of Salvation
by Lance Latham

There is something within the heart of a man which constantly presses to make a perverse addition to the sole basis of our salvation, the work of Christ on the cross. Constantly pressed by the sin of pride, the mind of the natural man is ever reluctant to admit its sinful, helpless condition.

Many who understand the gospel refuse to come to Christ because they will not admit that they lack a shred of goodness, righteousness or desirability within themselves that God can accept.

Religious leaders try to add baptism, church membership, faithful living, personal sacrifice or some other human work to the work of Christ to the hope of salvation for the believer. Such philosophies may have filled the coffers of religion but have confused the issue of salvation and thus damaged countless souls.

One who discovers the gospel will instantly realize that the sole basis of his salvation is the work of Christ on Calvary’s cross. Saving faith depends alone on the value of Calvary. All other possible sources for the assurance of salvation are counterfeit.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Avoiding Mission Drift Part 2

Last month I wrote about the problem of mission drift. Many organizations have drifted from the original goals of their founders. New Tribes Mission recognizes this as a potential problem and has proactively taken steps to combat this organizational tendency.

New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 by Paul Fleming. Lance B. Latham, who founded Awana Clubs International, was also a co-founder of New Tribes Mission. In the early days of NTM, Doc Latham was known as “the theological watchdog of the mission to keep the fledgling organization on the straight and narrow doctrinally.” Even at its outset, the leadership of NTM was concerned about the potential for mission drift.

Over the last few years NTM’s Theological Consultation Group, of which I am a member, has examined our current doctrinal statement to make sure that it is clearly worded and leaves no room for misunderstanding. A clearly worded doctrinal statement is a good foundation for combating mission drift. Over the last 20 years NTM has developed a number of doctrinal resource papers which are available to our members. These papers elaborate on specific doctrinal issues which face believers and Christian organizations today. As NTM’s Theological Consultation Group discussed various aspects of our doctrinal statement we recognized the need for some of the doctrinal resource papers to be revised and updated. Last summer I worked on revising the paper dealing with Calvinism. That project was fascinating as I enjoy both writing and researching doctrinal topics. There are other NTM doctrinal papers that I could possibly help to revise in the future. I hope to become more involved in a ministry of research and writing down the road.

As a side note, Lance Latham was a student of the well-known Bible teacher William R. Newell. Lance followed in the footsteps of his mentor and became an exceptional teacher of God’s Word himself. It is an honor to have a small part in carrying on the legacy of Doc Latham’s “theological watchdog ministry” for New Tribes Mission.

Bob

* * *

The Value of the Gospel
by Lance Latham

Down through the ages of history, Christianity has been subjected to a multitude of influences. There have been creative ideas, new programs, fascinating personalities, fresh approaches to theology, evangelism, missionary activity, and a myriad of other diverse developments in the ongoing mission of the church. It is probably undeniable that, with true spiritual discernment, these developments should be viewed with guarded favor, and given the opportunity to have their part in the cause of Christ.

However, that special and changeless message called “the gospel of the grace of God” must never be subject to creative ideas or diverse developments. The hope of eternal life, the central message of divine revelation, is based upon the finished work of Christ on Calvary’s cross and the offer of divine mercy which issues therefrom. The death of the Son of the living God in space and time and the meaning of that sacrifice is what constitutes this glorious message called the gospel.

Should that message ever be changed, then the door to life is instantly closed and Christianity becomes a mere humanistic religion, fascinating perhaps, but valueless. The most valuable and sacred commodity, therefore, on the face of the earth is the truth of the gospel. This is a sacred message worth living for, worth sacrificing for, and worth gladly dying for. It is the only real value on earth today; it is the truth of all truths to which the church must be dedicated to propagate and protect.