Sermon Seminar Quote

“Your hearers want your exegesis to be like your underwear: they assume it’s there, but they don’t want to see it.” ~ Allen Black

Quotes from Austin Grad

Two quotes from today’s first full day at the 38th annual Sermon Seminar at Austin Graduate School of Theology:

“I thought if I ran short on time I would just skip the unpopular ones. Turns out, that’s all of them!” ~Mark Hamilton on trying to cover all Ten Commandments in one session

“Christians today treat the Church like a girlfriend they’re trying to get rid of instead of the Bride of Christ.” ~Jim Reynolds on the post-Christian, post-modern, post-literate, post-reason culture in which we all live

Brother of the Year

For his unequaled acts of kindness and hospitality, I would like to officially nominate Keith Stanglin for Brother of the Year. If there is such a thing, my brother should be considered. Keith surprised me last night by taking me to ZZ Top’s 50th anniversary concert at the Circuit of the Americas amphitheater in Austin.

I’m in the capitol city this week for the annual Sermon Seminar at Austin Graduate School of Theology. As is my custom, I am staying with Keith and his family, enjoying Amanda’s cooking, and getting caught up with my niece and nephews. We typically attempt to do something fun together during this week — usually it’s a Round Rock Express baseball game. And we are doing that this Tuesday night. But last night was completely unexpected and over-the-top cool.

Keith kept telling me we were going to have an outdoor activity Sunday evening, but he wouldn’t tell me what. He told me to wear shorts and a T-shirt, but he wouldn’t tell me what we were doing. So we all piled in the car and started driving. As we got closer to the venue, it became obvious that we were attending something big. Lines and lines of hundreds of vehicles were pouring into the racetrack and I still couldn’t figure out what we were doing.

Even as we pulled into the parking lots I couldn’t guess. Until I stepped out of the car and was approached by a man selling bootleg T-shirts. “$40 inside, $20 right here!” And he shoved the T-shirt in my face.

ZZ Top. 50th Anniversary Show.

Not  some local cover band. Not an art festival. Not disc golf. ZZ Top! It was right there on the shirt!

That’s how I found out.

 

 

 

 

 

So, yeah, last night I got to take in ZZ Top, which is always special. But Cheap Trick and Bad Company were also on the bill! Cheap Trick opened up with an ear-splitting 45-minute set. And then Paul Rodgers took the stage with his bandmates and played Bad Company’s classic arena staples for a little over an hour! I had seen Paul Rodgers at Reunion Arena in Dallas back in 1986 when he was fronting The Firm with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. And I had seen Bad Company at Tulsa’s old Brady Theater in 1987 when they had a different lead singer. But I had never seen Bad Company with their original vocalist until last night. And it was awesome. His voice is still so clear, he still sounds so good. And then they closed with Free’s “Alright Now,” which I always forget is a Paul Rodgers song. What an incredible highlight. And then ZZ Top. I don’t know how they get so much out of two guitars and a drum, but they do. It’s at least the fifth and possibly sixth time I’ve seen the little band from Texas live. Their voices are running out of gas — Dusty Hill turned 70 yesterday — and they don’t move around at all on the stage. But, man, can those guys play!

I am really looking forward to this particular Sermon Seminar because of Mark Hamilton, Jim Reynolds, and Harold Shank. As good as they’re going to be this week, they are not the same Tres Hombres.

I go to concerts now and it’s different. The crowds are older. Maybe even old. I noticed during the show that people were passing french fries and sharing funnel cakes — not exactly the way I remember the last time I saw Cheap Trick. But it’s really cool sharing the music and the bands you love with your niece and nephews. And your brother. The Brother of the Year.

Peace,

Allan

Deader Christians

Francis Chan says we don’t need more Christians, we need better Christians.
Rob Frazier says we don’t need to be better, we need to be deader.

He doesn’t want you better, he wants you deader.
You’re looking for signs and wonders, he wants you under.
Well, there’s your way and there’s my way,
but the better way is just get out of the way.
He doesn’t want you better, he wants you deader.

The truth is rising from the mist and the word is this:
That when Jesus calls a man, he calls him to come and die!
Dead people don’t mind pain,
don’t get offended so they never complain,
they’re not concerned about personal gain.
Does that sound like me or you?
He doesn’t want you better, he wants you deader.

Better Christians

“We don’t need more Christians, we need better Christians.” ~Francis Chan

The world is turned off by “radical Christians.” The world is sick of “Christian fanatics.” People don’t listen to Christians anymore because some of them are “too Christian” and are offending everybody. I can’t become “too Christian” and I don’t want my church to be “too Christian” because we’ll just make people mad.

Yes, we do hear the world complain about “Christian fanatics.” These “radical Christians” get born again and they start hollering, they start screaming against things. They yell and make speeches and forward emails against politicians and parties, same-sex marriage and evolution and abortion, immigration and homelessness. Pick a topic, pick any issue, and Christians can appear to be very judgmental and intolerant and loud. That’s what turns people off.

And when that kind of behavior is done in the name of my Lord, it turns me off, too.

When did those kinds of people and that kind of behavior get labeled “Christian?” Or “radical Christian?” Why do people who act that way get accused of taking their Christianity too seriously?

It’s terrible that the world thinks overbearing and judgmental and narrow and self-righteous is what it means to be Christian. It’s awful. Whose fault is it? How did that happen?

It’s our fault because we are not Christian enough. We don’t take our Christianity seriously enough.

When we’re loud and opinionated and harsh and judgmental, we’re not being radical Christians; we’re really not being very Christian at all. Christians are people who are following Jesus in his ways, imitating Christ, obeying his teachings, and living by his call. Christians should be radically humble. Fanatically sensitive. Over-the-top loving. Extravagantly forgiving. Extremely understanding. Christians should be servants. Just like Jesus.

Some of us can be arrogant and pompous and selfish and actually be a hindrance to the Gospel. We can actually be working against our God as he redeems the world. We say we carry a message of grace, but how will people experience it if we act that way? Sometimes, in the name of Jesus, we’ll just run over people. We can be so narrow-minded and stubborn sometimes that nobody’s right about anything but us.

Our Lord Jesus completely embodied and brought a powerful message of truth that called people to repentance and accountability and change. But he never ran over people.

If we were all really “fanatic” about our Christianity, if we were all truly “radical Christians,” the whole world would fall in love with our God.

What if every one of us made the decision today, right now, that from here on out everything is going to come from and flow through denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Jesus? Every word spoken is a word of grace and encouragement. Every human interaction is drenched in mercy and goodwill. Every action is motivated by sacrifice and service for others. If the world saw all of us walking to the cross, walking with a cross, serving and sacrificing, dying to ourselves and dying for one another, loving unconditionally, forgiving extravagantly, showing mercy and grace to all, speaking only kind words, the whole world would fall down and worship our Lord.

People wouldn’t know what to call us. But they would more clearly see Jesus.

Peace,

Allan

Another Pepperdine Quote

“We are at our best when we are leaning into God and paying just enough attention to the world to know how to navigate it; we are at our worst when we are leaning into the world and paying just enough attention to God to feel righteous.”  ~ Josh Ross

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