Thank You, Amarillo!

For a little over eight years, I’ve been blessed to write a monthly faith column for the Amarillo Globe News  – actually, it’s a little more than monthly; it’s every four weeks. Today’s column was my last word to the city of Amarillo, a big thank you and a reminder of how good we Christians have it in the Yellow City.

And. Of course. In the printed edition of today’s paper, my farewell column ran with my friend Gene Shelburne’s byline and mug shot instead of mine.

That sounds just about right.

Gene is already petitioning the paper to rerun the column, with an apology, in tomorrow’s edition in a “high exposure page position.” He’s very kind. We’d probably both be disappointed to learn how little this really matters. At any rate, the online version of the Globe News contains the column with my name and cheesy mug. You can read it by clicking here.

Peace,

Allan

Wiener Wednesday

For the past six months, anytime we’ve wanted a blizzard or a polar vortex or an incredible system of thunderstorms and rain to move into the area, we’ve only had to plan an outdoor church event. Now, it seems, planning an outdoor church event results in the hottest most humid day of the season. It was 101-degrees in the shade yesterday. And our Central section at the downtown ballpark was not in the shade!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our annual Central night with the Sod Poodles was a sultry affair, but we had more than 230 of us sweating it out together. As always, the baseball game was merely the backdrop to an evening of hanging out with people we love. The dollar hot dogs and the souvenir cup refills are not what bring Central folks to Hodgetown. It’s the joy of just being together.

The joke was that it was Allan Stanglin Appreciation Night because the Corpus Christi Hooks were wearing their Wednesday Whataburger uniforms. I’m telling you, it was hard rooting against a team wearing those orange Whataburger stripes and numbers. As the game wore on – it was still the 7th inning at 10:00pm – Ira told those around him he was staying until it was over or until Allan jumped into the dugout and stole a jersey.

Myrl wins Sticky Buddy of the Year for the fifth straight year after treating the Love clan to the air-conditioned suites above home plate. Greg gets points for cramming two wieners into a single hot dog bun. Twice. Gail’s innovative neck-fans kept her cooler, but not enough to allow her to smile. All the high school students are to be commended for arriving home from the float trip and getting to the ballpark in about an hour. And after watching the Hooks in those sweet unis, I’m feeling an urge to move to Corpus Christi.

Peace,

Allan

Dear Golf Course Road

I can’t adequately express to you the excitement we’re experiencing, nor the tremendous anticipation we’re feeling, for what our God has in store for us together. There’s no doubt in our minds that our Lord has brought us together at this time for very specific reasons. And we really can’t wait to join you in doing his work and his will together in Midland.

We’re so thankful for the faith and confidence you’ve placed in me and my family to represent our Lord and his church at Golf Course Road. That blessing and responsibility are not lost on us. We feel so honored by you and our God. It is sacred to us. We respect it. We cherish it. And we’re going to keep it.

Thank you so much for the warm welcome you’re already giving us. The texts and emails from our new family at GCR are such a source of strength and encouragement, a lot of them coming from people we haven’t even met yet. Even this morning, the offers of assistance and friendly ‘hellos’ keep coming in. We can feel the excitement out there all the way up here. And it gives us great hope while we dwell among the moving boxes and the sad goodbyes.

There’s a weird thing that happens to any preacher who makes a decision to leave one congregation and move to another. It happens the day after the announcement is made and everything’s official, and it continues for at least a couple of weeks. A little doubt. Some questions. Am I doing the right thing? Am I truly following God or something else? Is this going to be better? Or maybe not as good?

It’s funny. You can pray and talk and discern and be very holy with the Lord and your family and come to a godly decision, but something happens right after it’s official. Human nature, probably. In the hours and days right after the announcement, you’re overwhelmed by all the people you love so much. They call you, email you, text you, and come by your office to see you. You’re reminded of all the really great memories and wonderful men and women you’ve had the honor to serve. You’re surprised by some of the things God was doing through you that you didn’t even know about. It’s all really very good and it’s almost disorienting.

But our Father keeps reminding me through the calls, emails, and texts from Midland that he is the one moving us west and the way is already prepared. He’s way out in front of us on this. He is ready. The timing is his. GCR is prepared. The shepherds there are humble and honest men who have hearts for loving God’s people. GCR’s folks are committed to the congregation and to each other and to what God wants to do in Midland and beyond. I’m equipped and experienced, by his grace, to help make a Kingdom difference there. The fit is right. And his will is to do something magnificent in us and through us together. So, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and work really hard and love really well and have an absolute blast in the flood of his blessings!

We’re trying to get to Midland as fast as we can. Each trip out there, every person we’ve met, has been a great blessing to us. Your kindness and generosity is overwhelming. We’re so ready to meet more of you – all of you! – and start returning the favors. And we’re looking forward to many years of faithful service together at Golf Course Road.

“We are delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you are becoming so dear to us.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Be assured that I am in constant conversation with our Lord about GCR and Midland and our new partnership together. Please be in fervent prayer for us as we prepare to join Golf Course Road Church of Christ. May our God bless us richly. And may his will be done at GCR and in Midland, Texas just as it is in heaven.

Your servant in the grace and truth of Jesus Christ,

Allan

The Gang

Carley’s dog did not sign our group covenant, but he somehow managed to sneak into the team picture we took at our house Sunday night. Man, is this a good-looking group, or what? We love these people and cherish our friendships and are so thankful to our Lord for bringing us together the way he has. We still have a couple more dinners and a lot more prayers to share over the next several days. And, Andrew, I’m going to need about a case of your family salsa to take to Midland.

Peace,

Allan

Dearest Central

I’m always going to  do the very best I can to listen for God’s voice. I’m going to answer his call, I’m going to follow his way. I’m going to try. Through prayer and study and conversations with others and careful reflection, I try to be open and receptive to our Father’s leading.

Over the past several months, it’s become clear to Carrie-Anne and me that we needed to be open to whatever other possibilities God might have in store for us. It has been made evident in some surprising ways recently and in some ways that have been building for quite some time. But, after many weeks and months of difficult discernment, we have made the very hard decision to leave our church family at Central.

At the same time, our faithful Father has opened a door for us in Midland. I have accepted the role of Senior Minister at the Golf Course Road Church of Christ and will begin my work there sometime next month. Carrie-Anne and I have been praying that God would send us to the church that needs us the most. Whatever gifts I might have, whatever I’ve got that I can humbly offer in service to the Lord and to his people, please send us where that is needed the most. That’s why we’re moving to Midland.

Of course, we leave Central with a great deal of sadness. My heart is very heavy today. Being the preacher at this church has been the great honor of my ministry. I feel so privileged by God to have served together with you here. I have been able to experience the Gospel and to participate in God’s salvation work in ways we just can’t at most other churches. We’re all very spoiled around here. When I think about what our God has done in us and through us together over the past ten years – within our congregation, in our city, and around the world – it’s just incredible. I feel very lucky and very blessed to have been in the middle of those things with you. I am grateful to our shepherds here for their trust and partnership, to the ministers here who are my closest co-laborers in Christ, and to all of you.

I thank God for you. You have nurtured me. You have supported me, encouraged me, and walked with me. You have prayed for me and with me. You’ve shown me great patience and understanding. You’ve helped me. Since the very first day we arrived in Amarillo, you have lovingly embraced my whole family. The way you love Whitney – I can’t begin to describe to you what an answer to prayer that has been for Carrie-Anne and me and how much that means to us. I am so grateful that Valerie and Carley grew up at Central. It has shaped each of them profoundly in beautiful Gospel ways. And Carrie-Anne and I have always felt that most of you loved us most of the time. And we love you, too. More than I know how to say right now.

As for Central, I know the timing seems odd – bad, even. It’s been a rough couple of months around here. But all the moves that have been made are the right moves for this church. I did not establish this church. Neither did you. This church was cruising along for over a hundred years before I got here and it’ll be just fine a hundred years from now. This is God’s church. God established this congregation and he put right here in downtown Amarillo for his specific purposes. He placed Central right here to be a light to this community. He placed it right here and he placed you here so people in Amarillo will experience his forgiveness and mercy, his love and grace. This is God’s church. And I know our shepherds here are committed to following him. And I know you are, too.

Our shepherds have graciously allowed me a last opportunity to preach here next Sunday. I need a final time to encourage you, to bless you, to affirm my deep love for you, and to remind you of God’s marvelous plans for you. That’ll be my last sermon here.

In my very first sermon at Central, ten years ago, I told you I would probably disappoint you somewhere along the way. I’m human. It’s bound to happen. At some point I was going to let you down. And I’m sure I have. I’m certain I’ve disappointed you somewhere. I’m sorry. But I said then at the beginning and I’ll say it again now at the end, I promise you I never messed anything up because I wasn’t giving enough effort or not trying with everything I have to both live and speak faithfully to you a Word from our God. On that first day, I read to you from 2 Corinthians 12, “I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” I have done that here to the best of my abilities, by God’s amazing grace, to his eternal glory and praise.

Carrie-Anne and the girls and I love you deeply. We love you and we love this church forever. You and your families and the Central church are in our continuous prayers. Please keep us in yours.

May our God’s will be done and may his name be praised in and through Central just as it is in heaven. Amen.

Grace & Peace,

Allan

Lavish

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” ~1 John 3:1

Our God does not measure his love to us. He doesn’t weigh it on the scales or scoop it out with a spoon. He doesn’t give us just enough of his love to get us by or just as much of his love as we might deserve. He floods us with his love! We have more of his love than we could ever ask for or imagine! That’s the one thing you can ask God to do that’s just impossible – God, will you love me more? Nope. Can’t. Impossible. He lavishes us with his love.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” ~Ephesians 1:7-8

Our Father lavishes us with his grace. We sing about it. God’s amazing grace. God’s matchless grace. God’s grace that reaches even me!

God’s forgiveness is over the top. It’s not that you’re forgiven of some of your sins or you’re forgiven of most of your sins or all the little sins or every sin except that one sin. It’s not that you’re forgiven if you do this one thing or keep these sets of rules or say this particular creed. In Jesus Christ, God’s forgiveness is total and complete and forever! In Jesus, every single one of your sins – all of ’em, name ’em! – are all gone forever. They are removed from you as far as the east is from the west. They are hurled to the bottom of the sea, never to be dredged up again. God doesn’t put your sins up on the top shelf in the corner of a dark closet just so he can pull them out and hold them against you at the worst possible time. God’s forgiveness is lavish and complete.

Lavish love. Limitless grace. Inexhaustible forgiveness. Unmerited favor. Eternal glory. Our God is passionate about you and me. And he holds nothing back.

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I’m not writing anything here today about the Mavericks. I don’t want to jinx it.

Peace,

Allan

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