Author: Allan (page 1 of 355)

She Keeps Saying “Yes”

Thirty-one years ago today, I got on a plane for the very first time and flew to Las Vegas with Carrie-Anne. I had asked her to marry me on that morning of November 25, 1989 and by 11:30 that night, we were husband and wife, hitched by a deputy sheriff in the basement of the Clark County courthouse. She said “yes” to me that day and she’s been saying “yes” to me ever since.

Carrie-Anne said “yes” to a radio career marked by slow upward mobility — emphasis on mobility. She said “yes” to Pampa, Marble Falls, Memphis, Wichita Falls, and, finally, Dallas. She said “yes” to the trials and tribulations that come with being a preacher’s wife. She said “yes” to Austin, North Richland Hills, and Amarillo. She’s said “yes” to Van Halen concerts and more Rangers games than we could count. She’s said “yes” to scary movies, political documentaries, and The Simpsons. She said “yes” to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Dr Pepper Museum. She’s said “yes” to trips to Ukraine, Peru, Brazil, Columbia, and Bolivia. (She continues to say “no” to Israel, but I’m still asking.)

I don’t know how it keeps happening. That first “yes,” maybe, came in a moment of weakness. However it happened, I feel very lucky and grateful. I thank God every single day that Carrie-Anne said “yes” that Friday after Thanksgiving in 1989. Today, we have a houseful together — three adult daughters, a new son-in-law, and Carley’s large dog. And more unknowns and adventures still to come. Together.

Carrie-Anne knows me better than anyone. We’ve been through a lot together in 31-years. She has seen and experienced the worst of me and the best of me. And, by the grace of God, she keeps saying “yes.” I feel so fortunate to be her husband, so blessed by the Lord that she is my wife.

Peace,

Allan

Thankful for His Coming

On November 21, 1943, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a letter from Tegel Prison: Life in a prison cell reminds me a great deal of Advent — one waits and hopes and potters about, but in the end what we do is of little consequence, for the door is shut, and it can only be opened from the outside.”

Christ is coming to rescue us from the dark prisons of our own existence. He is coming to deliver us from anxiety, from guilt, from sin, and from loneliness. To be ready for this rescue, we first have to recognize how fully we are enslaved. And, then, how thankful we are for his coming.

Peace,

Allan

Spelling is Hard

Shouldn't that be $6.66?

Your Wardrobe is New

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ~Colossians 3:12-17

You can tell who people are by the clothes they wear. If you see a police officer, you know she is a police officer by the uniform, the badge, and the handcuffs on her belt. You know a nurse by the scrubs she is wearing, the stethoscope around her neck, and — nowadays — by the bags under her eyes. A referee wears a striped shirt, a cowboy wears pointed boots, a chef wears an interesting hat, and a dad wears cargo shorts and Nike Air Monarchs. (Which are still really cool!)

A Christian is also recognized by the fashion statement he makes. When you’ve been raised with Christ, you wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And people recognize it a mile away.

The old clothes, the clothes you wore in the life you once lived, are inappropriate for the new realities in Christ. The new clothes, the new ways to behave, are what we wear now. And these new clothes signal to people who we are and what we’re all about. They identify us as belonging to Christ.

Now, some people will criticize the clothes Christians wear as kinda wimpy: Christians are weak-willed sissies who talk about love and peace and get run over by the rest of the world. That’s simply not true. Christian behavior is decidedly different from worldly behavior — but it’s not for wusses. People who say that don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Have you ever seriously tried to forgive somebody who did you wrong? That is a very difficult thing to do. It takes determination and commitment and follow-through. It takes a devotion to the other person and a loyalty to higher ideals. It takes great courage to forgive. The wimpy thing, the easy thing to do, is not forgive.

Have you ever seriously tried to be compassionate and patient? It’s not natural. It’s not easy. It takes tremendous discipline. Being a person of peace in this world we’re in takes a massive amount of courage and boldness. And it’s risky. It’s much safer to slander and lie and express anger. But those are the old clothes. That’s the old life, before we were raised with Christ. Our reality is different now.

And so are our clothes.

Peace,

Allan

Your Focus is Flipped

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4

When you realize where all eternity is headed and that you’re headed right there with it, your priorities shift. What matters to you gets reshuffled. You don’t just go with the flow of the world or the culture. When you become a Christian, you do more hard thinking — not less. You are required to use more of your brain — not less. Set your minds on things above.

A good way to keep your new-life focus sharp is to ask questions.

1 – What Would Jesus Do?
It becomes so much easier to answer this question with confidence, regardless of the circumstance, the more time you spend in the Gospels. Reading the words of our Lord, contemplating his actions and responses, reflecting on the motivations for his deeds, digesting his teachings, understanding his goals — this helps so much in training your mind and your heart to think and act more like Christ. Not just the particulars, although, those are very important. But how the particulars add up to a more complete comprehension of the bigger picture. As the “exact representation” of God — if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father — what would Jesus do is the same question as what is God doing? What is God’s will in this situation? How can my behavior match God’s behavior?

2 – What’s Best for the Community?
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry… You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, Scythian, slave, or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” ~Colossians 3:5-11

You used to live in these ways before you were raised in Christ. Your focus used to be on meeting your own needs and satisfying your own growling appetites; protecting yourself and defending your honor and fighting for your rights; getting your own way. But not anymore. Your focus is flipped. Your mind is set on things above, where Christ is. You view the whole world now, and the people in it, from the perspective of eternity.

The main example here is treating all people equally in the Body of Christ. Here, in Christ, racial differences don’t matter. Cultural differences don’t matter. National differences, gender differences, political and economic differences — they don’t matter! Christ is all, and is in all!

All of us possess the fullness of God in Christ, so we look beyond the world’s walls and the worldly barriers to focus on our holy unity and community in Christ.

3 – How Do I Participate in the Future Reality Right Now?
We know God is working through Christ to reconcile all people together forever. We know Jesus died on the cross to destroy the barriers between us and God and between us and other people. So that’s what we do, too. We tear down walls, we destroy barriers; we never work to divide, we always seek to unite. We know that on that great day of Christ’s glory there will be no more tears, no more hunger, no more sickness or pain. That’s the coming reality that cannot be stopped. “The old order of things has passed away! Behold, I am making all things new! It is finished!”

So we lean into it now. We practice it together now. We feed the hungry, we shelter the homeless, we comfort the grieving, and we heal the sick.

We know that someday nations will no longer practice war and death will be eternally defeated. So we adapt ourselves now to that coming reality by beating our swords into plowshares and being people of peace. We renounce all violence and become bearers of peace.

Eternal life is not a quantity of life that begins when you die, it is a quality of life that begins when you are raised with Christ. The peace of Christ in your heart rules everything you do. The Word of Christ in you rules everything you say. Word and deed, it is all said and done in the name and manner of our risen and coming Lord Jesus Christ.

Peace,

Allan

 

Your Destiny is Redirected

“When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:4

The reality is that you have already been glorified, it just hasn’t been fully revealed. Romans 8 says those he called, those he justified, he also glorified. On that last night around the table with his disciples, our Lord prayed, “I have given them the same glory you gave me.” It’s already a done deal. When you are raised with Christ, your destiny is redirected. You are already rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God. You’ve been re-routed. It is the most certain, most positive, most definite guarantee from our God: When our Lord Jesus Christ appears in his glory on that last day, you are also going to appear right there with him!

Nothing can possibly stop that. Nothing is going to keep that from happening.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” ~John 10:28

You are going to live in Christ’s glory in the presence of God forever. It’s so certain, it’s so guaranteed, the Bible talks like it’s already occurred. And the call is to adapt yourself now to that coming reality. Don’t wait.

Peace,

Allan

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