$1.5 Million in Cash and Checks

Central Church Family, Giving No Comments »

If you give your money out of a sense of duty, there’s a tendency for your giving to be cold. You’ll seek to give the bare minimum — where does it say I HAVE to give ten percent? And there’s no spiritual transformation.

If you give your money so you can gain control, so you can be in charge and make the decision, that’s a self-seeking kind of giving. That kind of giving is more like a manipulative power play and it’ll only result in temporary joy at best.

And if you give your money in order to be seen by others, to impress people, to increase your status in whatever group you’re in, it’ll backfire on you. You won’t know who your real friends are and your identity will be tangled up in your possessions.

All three of these inferior motives for giving can cause us to view our money as something to be used to benefit ourselves. It stifles our imagination. It stunts our transformation. And it doesn’t bring any kind of lasting joy.

Everything changes, though, when we give with the understanding that we are partnering with God in his holy mission to redeem the world. When you fully grasp that God takes the money you give to directly change lives, to directly impact our city and the whole world for Christ’s eternal Kingdom, then the whole thing changes. Then there is great joy in giving as much as you can and looking for ways to sacrifice in order to give even more. Giving your resources to join God’s mission sparks a limitless imagination, it brings unsurpassed joy, and it results in increased spiritual transformation. It aligns your identity and your soul, not with your possessions, but with our Lord and his vision for his Church.

That kind of giving is the kind of giving we enjoy at Central. This church in downtown Amarillo really knows how to give. This is a mission-minded, servant-hearted church that works tirelessly and gives abundantly for the sake of others.

To launch our two-year Ignite Initiative this morning, our church family contributed $1,527,497.56 in cash and checks. More than $1.5-million during one Sunday morning assembly! It’s humbling. It’s mind-blowing. It’s a testimony to the power of our God to provide the resources in giant buckets when his people commit to joining him in his salvation pursuit of others.

I really don’t know what else to write or say.

That’s a lot of money.

I praise God for the ways he is at work in us and through us to bless others with his love and mercy, his forgiveness and grace. I’m so blessed to be the preacher at Central. And I can’t wait to see how our Lord’s going to use this offering to change lives and impact our city for his Kingdom.

Thank you to all my brothers and sisters at Central for your commitments and offerings made with faith in God and with confidence in our vision for more Christian ministry in Amarillo and around the world.



The Launch

Central Church Family, Giving No Comments »


Tomorrow morning Central launches Ignite, a two-year initiative designed to enhance and expand our local ministry efforts within the city of Amarillo. Last week we all turned in our two-year financial pledges to fund the vision. Tomorrow we give our money. And I’m going to compare our gifts with a pinball.

Whatever you give, whatever I give, it’s kind of like a pinball machine.

You know, you’re playing pinball and that little silver ball is moving right down the middle and headed for the bottom and it looks like it’s lost. The ball is gone. Game over. But then you hit that little flipper. The flipper! And the ball pops up and now it’s bouncing and pinging all over the place. It touches off a set of strobe lights over there. It bangs into a bunch of noise makers over here. It gets a bonus ball and some extra points up there. It’s just going and going and beeping and buzzing and there’s excitement and energy and possibility and…!

Almost out of nowhere! How cool!PinballBall

Because of Ignite, some of our folks at Central are putting really large sums of money into the plate tomorrow. Because of Ignite, some of our people are putting five dollars into the plate tomorrow when they haven’t given any money to the church in years. Or never.

Your money’s not gone. You’re throwing it into God’s pinball machine and it’s about to come into contact with that flipper. Now you just watch what God’s going to do with it!

Everything you do for God makes a difference. It bounces and pings all over eternity.

Even one cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus makes a lot of noise in heaven.



Whitney is 24

Whitney No Comments »

WhitneyDrinks (768x1024)To my oldest daughter:

For your cheerful personality that brightens up every room,
for the loyalty you show all your friends,
for your selfless acts of service for others,
for your dedication to your job and your co-workers,
for the ways you live and die with your stupid Cowboys,
for your richly embedded competitive nature that lives to win and hates to lose,
for your unquenchable love for our Lord and his people,
for your little quirks that crack me up and bring me so much joy,
for your patience and perseverance when things don’t go your way,
for your deep blue eyes, your tiny ears, and your quadruple-jointed fingers,
for your loving heart and your generous spirit,

I am so very proud of you.WhitneyPinkHat
I’m so blessed to be your dad.
And I love you more than I’ve ever been able to express in words.

Happy Birthday, Whitney.


Christ & Culture, Evangelism, Love, Matthew No Comments »

“You are the salt of the earth.” ~Matthew 5:13

SaltShakerNot pepper. Some of us act like Jesus called us to be pepper. Some Christians feel like they’re called to behave in such a way as to irritate people. Some followers of Jesus just walk into a room and people’s eyes begin to water. Some Christians cause people to make funny faces and start sneezing.

No, we’re supposed to be salt. We bring out the very best of what’s already there. We bring out what’s possible. We season life and the situations around us so there’s more flavor. More to savor. By our lives we help make everything around us as good as our God always intended it to be.

So, when the world acts to condemn, we move to forgive. When the culture says you don’t matter, we say you’re a child of God. When society says I don’t care about you, we say what can I do for you? Where the world seeks to injure, we seek to heal. When the culture declares I hate you, we say I love you.

Everywhere we go, everywhere we are, we shine the light of love and forgiveness, we bring the Kingdom of grace and hope. In a culture of hate and violence and lies, the light of Jesus shines in us and through us with love and mercy and truth.

We bring it. We live it. And people around us are blessed and the world is changed.

We are the salt of the earth. Not pepper.



I Saw Satan Fall

1 Peter, Central Church Family, Luke No Comments »

LightningIn Luke 10, Jesus sends out 70 of his disciples. He sends them to every town and place, it says, to declare the Kingdom of God is here. He sends them with his power and authority: “Whoever listens to you listens to me.” And they go and they testify and they proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is here!” And they’re blown away by the power of their testimony. They return to Jesus with great joy. They’re amazed by the response to their witness, “Lord, even the demons fall down to us in your name!”

And Jesus says, “I saw it.”

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” I sent you out to go with my authority. And when you proclaim my truth and declare my Kingdom in my name… I saw it. Satan falls.

And now Jesus is overcome with joy by the Holy Spirit and he thanks God in prayer, “I praise you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth.”

And then he says to his disciples:

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” ~Luke 10:23-24

We are so blessed by God to be alive today during this particular time. We are so supremely privileged to be alive during this current chapter of God’s story. Right now, today, we are living during the last days of the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom. Because of the pouring out of God’s Spirit on all people, through the Church, we get to see things and experience things nobody else got to. We get to participate as co-workers with God as he restores and redeems his creation. We get to experience God’s Spirit moving into and re-creating people. We get to watch as God moves into a place and reclaims it for his glory.

The prophets could only speak of such things; we get to live it! Israel’s kings could only imagine the worldwide spread of God’s Kingdom; we get to help fund it! Peter says angels long to see such things; we get to see them and live them every day!

Our God gives us the opportunity to join him in creating new possibilities, in changing the potential in people’s lives, in participating in his new creation. We are highly favored by our Father!

The prophets gave us the beautiful vision from God: You will be a light to the nations, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison, to release those who sit in darkness. The prophets gave us the glorious mission from God: I will make you a light for the nations that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. And now WE get to be that light! He’s chosen US to shine his light!

Here at Central, we’ve seen that chapel that was built in 1929 become a sacred space for five generations of Christian worship and countless numbers of baptisms and weddings and funerals and a launching pad for nearly 90 years of Gospel ministry. We’ve seen it.

We’ve seen a modest commitment to Ted and Dot Stewart back in 1961 turn into Great Cities Missions and thousands of new Christians in a hundred new churches in dozens of cities in Latin America. We’ve seen it.

We’ve seen the Upreach Center, the house Central reclaimed and redeemed in 2001, become an outpost for Loaves and Fishes, CareCentral, and Prayer Breakfast, compassionate ministry and outreach to the poor that was un-thought of twenty years ago and continues to grow today. We’ve seen it.

Just in the past year-and-a-half, we’ve seen God change the Route 66 strip club into The PARC where our city’s homeless are being gathered into Christian community around morning Bible studies and prayer in a context of God’s limitless love. We’ve seen the Planned Parenthood building become the regional headquarters for CareNet, where unwed mothers are taught that every human life is precious to God and devastated families are given love and support and resources in the manner of Christ.

We can join our Lord in declaring together, “We see  it!” We see Satan fall from the sky! Praise God, we get to see it and experience it; we actually get to participate in it. The great prophets and Israel’s kings and the angels in heaven are jealous. Who knew God believed you and I were so special!



24 Hours of Prayer

Central Church Family, Prayer No Comments »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI spent the 9:00 hour this morning with Nancy, Shelly, Dick and Crista, and Pete. I shared the 2:00 hour this afternoon with Larry, Drew, and Bruce and Celia. Over the next several hours, through the night, and into tomorrow morning, more than a hundred of my brothers and sisters at Central are praying in the chapel. We’re gathering in the presence of God, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the power of his Spirit to lift up prayers of intercession for our Ignite Initiative. We’re praying for Bivins Elementary and the homeless in our city. We’re praying for CareNet and single moms. We’re praying for the poor, the marginalized, the immigrants, the disabled, and Martha’s Home. There are more than a thousand prayer requests in those envelopes. And they are all being faithfully brought to our Father’s throne by his servants at Central.

What a blessing to pray for an hour with my siblings in Christ. What a joy to listen to their hearts being poured out to God, to participate together in bearing one another’s burdens, to form closer friendships in the foxholes of intercession.

May our Father bless all who gather in the Central chapel during these 24 hours. May the prayers of the saints bring him glory and praise. May we be transformed during these hours to be more like our Lord, trained to consider the needs of others more important than our own. And may his will be done in and through these hundred Christians and these hundreds of requests just as it is in heaven.

I can’t wait for my next hour at 11:00 tonight.