Author: Allan (Page 1 of 442)

Does It Feel Wet Outside?

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Ralph Strangis…

All our church ministers and staff, all the Opportunity Tribe kids, and the Mission Agape folks just spent an hour or so enjoying the eclipse together. We chewed Eclipse brand gum, ate lots of Oreos (Ryan concocted some far-fetched eclipse connection), and generally cracked eclipse jokes, made fun of each other, and laughed the whole time. Kim brought out her mystical Mayan stone, Pam produced an impressive array of shadow-casting kitchen utensils and disco balls, and Jim asked several times when it was appropriate to leave an eclipse party and not seem rude. J.E. wanted us to change into our Nikes and track suits (at times, it did look like we were all waiting to be lifted away), we all overplayed the darkness and cool down factor, and at one point Dan asked if it felt “wet” outside. I must have heard and/or overheard fourteen explanations of refraction and at least that many descriptions of how this eclipse is or is not similar to what we experienced back in October.

Some of us were disappointed that the dogs didn’t speak in tongues and no birds dive-bombed the parking lot. Turns out the animals don’t really freak out as much as the humans.

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The NCAA men’s basketball tournament concludes tonight, but Carrie-Anne clinched our family bracket Saturday when UConn took down Alabama to advance to the Final. As soon as the clock hit 0:00 on that game, C-A sent her little victory bitmoji through our family text, much to almost everyone’s delight. If UConn wins tonight, Whitney will finish in second place. If it’s Purdue, then Valerie’s husband David takes the silver. I need Purdue to win just so I won’t come in last. My March Sadness began weeks ago.

As for our office bracket here at GCR, if UConn wins, Tim and Cory will finish 1-2. If Purdue wins the title, Kristin takes our office contest and J.E. comes in second.

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We have turned MidWeek into MixWeek at GCR by combining all our Wednesday night kids programs, youth worship, and adult classes into one big “Running the Race” series. We kicked it off last Wednesday with GCR Olympics, featuring a massive Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament and an egg-throwing contest. The young people led our church in worship–we sang their songs their way– and then we spent 30-minutes or so mixing it up together with the games.

The idea this past Wednesday was to partner up with someone at least 20 years older or 20 years younger and compete against other similar pairs. By the end of the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament, we had half the church on one side of the gym and the other half on the other side, all cheering for their representative in the final match. Same deal with the egg-toss. Then we gave out medals and ate popsicles together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, the young people will again lead us in worship, and then we’re going to spend 30-minutes or so in some formative Christian practices. We’ll have nine or ten prayer stations and Scripture stations in and around the Worship Center–some ancient practices and some brand new ways to engage God together in Word and Prayer.

The overarching goal is to intentionally put our children in front of our older adults and for our older adults to pour into our children so we can all learn what God wants us to learn from each other. We are putting ourselves in situations with our church’s children so God can teach us what we need to learn and change in us what needs to be changed to become more like them. And more like him.

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I’m not going to write anything about the Rangers. Not yet. Out of the gate, they look like they’re going to be an even better team than they were last year. But I don’t want to jinx anything. For now, I’m putting all my energies into the Stars and their promising Stanley Cup pursuits. Lankford can keep hitting 100-mile-per-hour lasers off his bat, the Rangers can keep averaging seven runs per game, and Bochy can keep whispering into his bullpen. I’m not going to say anything about it yet. Go Stars.

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Over the Christmas break, I bought a two-dollar Whoopee cushion with the four-million tickets we collected during a family trip to Cinergy. Now Whitney is pressing the cushion every time a player misses a free throw during the NCAA tournament. Every game. Every miss. “Pppphhhhrrrrrppphhhh!!” It makes me giggle. It makes Whitney laugh so hard she can’t breathe. It wears Carrie-Anne plumb out.

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Peace,

Allan

Resurrection Community

Not one person experienced the resurrection of Jesus alone. Nobody encountered the risen Jesus by themselves. The people who saw the empty tomb and the angels, the ones who ate dinner with Jesus that evening–they were all with their friends. Most of them, we know their names. We know their stories. We know about their relationships with one another.

The resurrection of Jesus creates togetherness. It creates community. It forms us together as one people today, just like it did then.

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ.” ~Ephesians 2:4-5

I still think the best picture of this is in Acts 2. Those first disciples who witnessed the risen Lord, those first 120 followers of Jesus who were gifted by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit at Pentecost, are living resurrection life together in community.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the community, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… All the believers were together and had everything in community. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” ~ Acts 2:42-46

They didn’t have a whole lot in common other than the resurrection. But they acted like family. Every day. In each other’s homes. Loving each other. Serving each other. Ministering to one another. Taking care of each other. Eating together. Praying and singing together. They devoted themselves to the community.

The resurrection community is like a neighborhood, but it’s more personal. It’s like a family, but it’s more diverse. It can be like a football team or a civic club, but it’s much stronger. Your resurrection community, your church family, is brought together and held together by something much bigger than you. But some of you just aren’t around enough to be changed by it. Some of you–seriously–we hardly ever see you.

We need each other. None of us can do this by ourselves. It’s impossible. We were raised by Christ and with Christ to be together. I need you. And whether you admit it or not, and whether you like it or not, you need me.

You need me to love you. I need you to encourage me.

You need me to challenge you. I need you to correct me.

I need your strength when I’m tired. You need my support when you’re down.

I need your patience when I’m out. You need my joy when you don’t have any.

We all need to remind each other about the resurrection and our parts in it. We all need to be able to look around and see clearly that we’re not in this new resurrection lives by ourselves.

Peace,

Allan

Easter Blessing

The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead! God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him!”
~Acts 5:30-32

Christ Jesus our Lord is risen and reigning today, right now, at the right hand of God. May he bless us and his Church with the same boldness and courage of the disciples who witnessed it.

Peace,

Allan

Scattershooting on Opening Day

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Hank Blalock.

Today is Opening Day! And for the first time in the history of baseball, the Texas Rangers are the defending World Series Champions! It still feels weird and wonderful to write that sentence. Now, how do we do this? What does Opening Day look like when you’re the World Series Champs? For starters, the game begins at 6:35pm instead of the 3:00pm first pitch that was announced when the season schedules were released, and it’s being broadcast on ESPN for the national prime time audience. Usually, I’m taking off work right after lunch on Opening Day to watch the season’s first game. So, that’s a new wrinkle.

Plus, there’s the additional matter of raising the World Series Championship banner at Globe Life Field. That happens at 6:00pm and ESPN’s Baseball Tonight is covering all the ceremonies live. It’s all wonderful and glorious and beautiful in a million ways.

But it’s also complicated.

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day God’s people traditionally gather to remember our Lord’s last supper the night he was betrayed. This is the worship event in which we share the meal with other Christians and remember our Lord’s commands on that evening to love one another just as he loves us. The 4Midland churches are meeting at First Presbyterian tonight, all four of our congregations–GCR, First Baptist, First Methodist, and First Pres–to sing and pray and celebrate communion together.

My plan is to set the DVR to record all the Rangers’ banner-raising festivities and the opener against the Cubs. We’ll start the game once we get home at about 8:00pm. That puts us behind the live action by about an hour and a half, which means it will be almost impossible to flip to the March Madness during commercials. I blame the commissioner of baseball. Or Satan. We were all going to be worshiping tonight with our brothers and sisters at First Pres. It’s baseball that scheduled Opening Day on top of it.

We’re all suffering.

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Speaking of March Madness, my bracket is not doing well. I lost Baylor as a Final Four team on Sunday and I’m struggling. I said in this space last week that I would not be counting Carley’s dog’s entry into our family pool. Well, I am counting him as a full participant now, just so I don’t finish in last place. Val and Whitney are neck and neck for the lead heading into the Sweet 16. As for the church office pool, I’m right in the middle of things, almost as close to last place as I am to first. Jadyn is leading the pack right now, with Tim right on her heels.

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Carrie-Anne and I spent last night with our GCR Youth Group, planning the summer, playing some crazy party games, worshiping and praying together, and meeting our awesome summer interns Avery and Chloe. When it was over, everybody gathered outside to check out the brand new church vans! We’ve been needing  **ahem** more reliable transportation for a while now, and these new super-tall, super-wide, 15-passenger vans do fit the bill. I don’t know if the vans will spur anyone to sign up for mission trips or camps but, according to the reactions last night, it’s not going to hurt.

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Back to the Rangers, they have now joined the 18 other MLB teams with corporate sponsorship patches on their uniform sleeves. I do hate this. It’s so bush-league, so cheesy. Energy Transfer’s logo is on all six of the Rangers jerseys for all 162 of their games, plus playoffs. Energy Transfer? Yes, according to reports, the Dallas-based energy infrastructure company. It doesn’t get more corporate than that. I understand that Energy Transfer was founded by Rangers owner Ray Davis back in the ’90s, but if you’re the Texas Rangers and you’re going to wear a company’s logo on your sleeve, shouldn’t it be a recognized and beloved state brand? Did they even ask Dr Pepper or Whataburger? What’s wrong with 7-11? Dairy Queen feels perfect. I do hate this.

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The Rangers have whiffed big even before they faced a single Chicago pitcher. I do not understand why they let Jordan Montgomery sign with the D-Backs in free agency. It’s a one-year, $25-million deal with Arizona when he claimed he wanted to stay in Arlington. You can’t ever lose with a one-year contract. How did the Rangers not get this done?

I cannot wait to watch Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford playing together in the same Rangers outfield. Carter is technically a rookie, since he wasn’t called up until after Labor Day last season. So it’s possible–dare I say likely–that Carter and Langford finish 1-2 for MLB Rookie of the Year. Carter, Langford, and Adolis Garcia give Texas the best outfield in the majors. Tons of range, power hitting, and cannons attached to their shoulders.

Nasty Nate Eovaldi on the hill. Bruce Bochy in the dugout. A World Series championship banner flying above the stadium. The Texas Rangers begin their defense of their World Series title tonight. Let’s run it back, boys! Let’s repeat!

Let’s Go Rangers!
Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap! Clap!

Allan

No End in Sight

“Happy Holy Week! Let’s make America pray again!”

I suppose I’ll never get numb to it. I’ll never cease to be amazed by it. My stomach will continue to drop into my socks in despair every time. Over and over and over again.

When Donald Trump declared eight years ago that his supporters were so loyal to him that he could murder a man in cold blood in broad daylight in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose a single vote, he was right. Amazingly, he was right. So incredibly insightful. He knew.

That single theory has been tested time and time again to the point that now it is absolute and undeniable truth. There is nothing that man can do–no crime he can commit, no person or group of people he can insult, no lie he can tell–that would cause his supporters to abandon him. If he shot a man in the middle of New York City’s busiest street, his supporters would claim political persecution and rise to his defense. That much we know. It’s been proven.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of his supporters are Christians is what I still cannot believe. I’m still surprised every time. I’m baffled by it. And dismayed.

Today, the cash-strapped ex-President is selling the “God Bless America” Bible for $59.99 plus shipping and handling. The Bible is a King James Version copy of our Holy Scriptures that comes complete with the United States Constitution, the United States Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Bill of Rights, and the Pledge of Allegiance. The holy words of our God and our Lord Jesus sandwiched in-between the founding documents of a worldly nation. The Bill of Rights literally bound together with Christ’s denial of his own rights. Jesus’ statement that his Kingdom is not of this world in the same book now as a pledge of allegiance to a rival kingdom. The Church’s Scriptures literally wrapped in a brown leather American flag.

We are told on the website: “This is the only Bible endorsed by President Trump!”

We crossed the line a long time ago and now there is no end in site. The fact that there is a market for this Bible is deeply disturbing to me. We have compromised our Christian principles, diluted our Christian doctrines, and sacrificed our Christian witness for worldly power and control.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Allan

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