Sod Poodles and Blind Cows

My brother Keith and his family came through Amarillo last night on their way home to Austin from a vacation in Yellowstone and we took them to their first Sod Poodles game at our new downtown ballpark. We had planned to introduce them to all the really great things about Sod Poodles games: free parking on Fillmore Street, Texas Tea, Dickie’s Frito Pie, six-dollar nachos, wondering why Ruckus wears a belt but no pants, cheering the local players by their first names, loving the evening weather in Amarillo, running into more than three-dozen people from church, explaining “HodgeVision,” expecting at least two or three homeruns, singing that awful song during the seventh-inning stretch, and throwing tennis balls at the target in left field.

What we didn’t expect was for my two nephews to be selected to provide the in-between entertainment during the second inning. Almost as soon as we found our seats (not our seats; Dale Cooper’s awesome seats), Paul and Isaac were asked to participate in the on-field Caviness Beef promotion. And before the young lady in the “Sod Squad” jersey could explain the details, they were both signing the waiver forms.

Paul and Isaac had to put on cow costumes that serve to remind the crowd more about Chick-fil-A than Caviness Beef, put on blindfolds, submit to being spun around about seven hundred times, and then find the staffer standing in left field ringing a cow bell. The winner received ten pounds of frozen beef.

They’re brothers. So Keith and Amanda won either way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Paul and Isaac both simultaneously and blindly assaulted the lady in left field, the P.A. announcer declared it a tie and we walked out of there at the end of the night with a 7-0 Sod Poodles win and a box of fresh regional ground beef. Only in Amarillo!

Peace,

Allan

Going to Chicago

I’m leaving this morning for my quarterly trip to Chicago and the Transforming Community. This image seems appropriate.

Mosaic

We celebrated an evening of praise and paints at church Wednesday night as part of our summer “Together@Central” program to illustrate the unity of our relationships together in Christ. Lots of acrylic paint, lots of music, lots of kids and older adults and everybody in between. And one beautiful, interactive, bold mosaic to display and serve as a reminder of our bonds.

 

 

 

 

Each of us was given an eight-by-eight square canvas which was divided into several dozen smaller squares, plenty of paint brushes, and just enough paint, and then instructed to paint all the squares, leaving one of our choosing completely blank. Easy enough.

Over the next 45-minutes, one by one, we each completed our canvas. Some of us painted each square a different color, some of us used a “Tetris” style of creating same-color designs out of the connecting squares, some of us meticulously labored over each square, and some of us slopped the paint on almost haphazardly.

As we painted, we were reminded that each of us has different gifts and different talents, different personalities and different views, but we are all one body together in Christ. In Christ, we, who are many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. The way you paint your canvas says something about your personality. It expresses something unique about your skills. It kind of represents you. The white square, the one you leave blank, is you. The color around it is what God brings to the table around you and through you.

One by one the canvasses were dried and hung in place on the wall until the bigger picture began to take shape and come sharply into focus: our church logo, the cross of Christ, right there in the middle surrounded by all our unique expressions of our God-given personalities and gifts.

 

Nicely executed, Kevin Schaffer and Judy Rogers. Wow. What a great night together and what a powerful reminder that our Lord desires unity in our diversity for his glory and for the sake of others. Thank you to Kevin and his team and to everyone who came out and participated.

Now where do we hang this thing?

Peace,

Allan

Life, Light, and Love

“What is good for us always comes screened by three unequivocal words: life, light, love. These are the same words which indicate the Person of the Father, the Person of the Son, and the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Defending life, witnessing light, living out love — these remain forever. They are the specific duty of anyone who calls upon God, following Christ’s unmistakable example.

An assembly where people do not love each other, where they accuse each other, where there is rancor or hatred, cannot call itself prophetic.

A person who keeps silent about the truth, who hides the light, is not a prophet.

A people which kills, which deteriorates the quality of life, which suffocates the poor, which is not free, is not a prophetic people.

It is not easy to prophesy; it is terribly costly. It has to be drawn from the silence of God, and there is need to swim against the stream, need to pray at length, need to be without fear.”

~ from The God Who Comes by Carlo Carretto

A Great and Terrible Nation

I’m always on the lookout for balance and objectivity when it comes to viewpoints regarding the way American Christians follow our Lord while living in the United States. Logic. Rational discourse. Theological insights coupled with Christian hope. Who is able to prophetically call out the idolatry of combining God and Country and, at the same time, acknowledge the really good things about this country and the blessings we enjoy here?

Mark Galli, the editor in chief of Christianity Today, is one such thinker/communicator. His recent editorial, A Great and Terrible Nation, correctly observes that calling the United States a Christian nation founded on Christian principles is a bald-faced lie at best and probably blasphemous.

“Can we, in any way, shape, or form say that America was founded on Christian principles when its very existence and prosperity were set on a foundation of unimaginable cruelty to millions of other human beings?”

At the same time, Galli calls us to love this country and to pray fervently for the United States.

“Let us continue to love it as we love our flawed families and friends. Let us continue to serve it as God leads us to. Let us continue to reform it as has been the practice of every generation. And, most of all, let us continue to pray for it, that God would continue to have mercy on us and on our children, and on our children’s children to the third and fourth generation.”

The United States was founded the way all worldly nations are founded: violence, rebellion, power, and oppression — nothing Christian about that. Since then, the U.S. has, ironically, become a land of freedom and opportunity for untold millions — it is possible for people to prosper here in ways they just can’t in most other countries. In short, Galli’s piece concludes that the U.S. is just like every nation that’s ever existed on this earth, blessed by God in many ways and in many ways standing under God’s judgment. This seems like the right perspective.

I recommend his editorial, which you can access by clicking here. If you like that, you might also enjoy and be challenged by his editorial in the May 2019 print edition “Repenting of Identity Politics.”

Peace,

Allan

Divorce & Remarriage: Last Part

This part is just to people who have been divorced. If you’ve ever been through a divorce — if it happened forty years ago or if the ink is still wet on the paperwork — this part is for you.

I know when you hear people say God hates divorce, you think, “Can he possibly hate it more than I do?” I know. You read somewhere that divorced people have failed Christ. Somebody in your Bible class says if divorced Christians remarry, they’re going to be living in adultery the rest of their lives. You overhear someone say divorced Christians have to stay single forever. And you wonder if you’ve really been forgiven by God.

Can you be forgiven?

Maybe you wonder if you’re OK with God. Maybe you went into your marriage and divorce was not even an option. Just like all of us.

Sometimes hearts harden. Sometimes people turn their backs on God’s plan. Sometimes one party makes a decision that forever changes a covenant relationship. Maybe there’s adultery. Maybe there’s abandonment. Maybe there’s abuse. Always there’s sin.

Maybe you tried everything. You begged God night and day to save your marriage. You tried marriage counseling. You gave your all for years and years and all you got from your spouse in return was more adultery. You sought wise counsel from your elders and others in the church who know you best. But, eventually, you had to walk away.

Maybe you weren’t even a Christian when you went through your divorce. But now that you’ve given your life to the Lord, some people are telling you your current marriage isn’t pleasing to God or his Church. Or you have to stay single. And it’s not making sense with the good news of the Gospel.

Or maybe you were the guilty party. Maybe you cheated once. Or twice. Maybe a lot. Maybe your selfishness drove your spouse away. Maybe you were so caught up in your work that you neglected your spouse and children. Maybe it was your addiction. Maybe you live with the shame and guilt that you’re the one who destroyed your family.

Here’s what you need to know: There is mercy and forgiveness from God for divorce. There is a place at the table and a place to serve, a place to belong and a place to be valued and loved in God’s Kingdom for all who’ve been divorced. This is precisely why Jesus walked to the cross and willingly died for us. Love. Grace. Forgiveness. For all our sins, not just some of them. Your life right now and your eternal destiny are wrapped up in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. And in Christ there is always light and life and hope.

Peace,

Allan

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