Author: Allan (page 1 of 330)

The Last Teenager

Carley, our baby, the Bear, turns 20 today.






When I called her at almost 10:00 this morning to sing Happy Birthday to her, we talked about her college professors, a couple of her courses, and the rush activities she’s attending this week as a sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University. We talked about the indisputable truth that we’re both so much older than we feel. We discussed our plans for Christmas which — good grief — might be the next time we see her. We talked about the hail damage to her Jeep. And I commented on the video I saw last night of her smacking a softball through the middle of the infield for a base hit in an intramural game against Theta.

It happens fast, man.

She’s 20.








She’s a wonderfully talented, beautifully gifted, hilariously funny, amazingly driven, Christ-pursuing, classic rock loving, super smart young lady who’s got a million different fantastic experiences in front of her. And she seems to be enjoying all of them. I thank God for Carley and what he’s doing in her and through her right now. And I’m beside myself with anticipation for what she’s going to be doing to his glory in the coming years. But today I’m just trying to catch my breath and let the realization that she’s 20-years-old sink in. She’s got a college roommate and a degree plan and a great job. And a Jeep.

And she’s 20.







Happy Birthday, Bear. I love you.


Who Dak?

I typically operate under the rule that if one can’t say anything bad about the Dallas Cowboys one shouldn’t say anything at all. I’ll try, but it’ll be tough. They really looked (gulp) pretty good.

I really believed (hoped) going into yesterday’s season opener against the Giants that the Cowboys weren’t going to be ready. Their starting center and their starting tight end had both been out of football for over a year. Their starting tailback missed all of training camp. Their top receiver missed most of the preseason. Their slot receiver was brand new to the team. Their offensive coordinator was new.

But they were playing the Giants.

You and I and six of your friends could give the Giants a good game.

So, Dak Prescott absolutely went off. He threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, he spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and I’m not sure he ever got touched. His quarterback rating was perfect! Jason Witten got an easy touchdown, Randall Cobb was all alone on his, and Cooper looked as good as he looked at his best last season. And Moore’s offense? I know Moore looks like his mom dropped him off at the stadium with a $20 bill and instructions to call her when the game is over, but that was some kind of game plan and some kind of play calling he showed yesterday. Lots of substitution, multiple formations, and lots of pre-snap motion. It worked to the tune of 35-points, but it felt like Dallas could have scored twice that if they wanted.

But they were playing the Giants.

Some people are observing that Dak didn’t make any throws yesterday that any of 60 NFL quarterbacks don’t make every day. He wasn’t pressured, his receivers were all wide open, and some of his throws looked (ahem) a little less than crisp and tight. Others are saying Dak looks like the best quarterback in the league not named Brady. Some are saying he should sign Jerry Wayne’s contract offer right now and others are saying he should wait until the year’s over when he can demand even more.

My advice would be to take the money right now. Prescott can’t possibly ride any higher or be regarded any more or gain any additional leverage than he has right this minute.

Wait. Next week they’re playing the Redskins.


The Amarillo Sod Poodles scored seven runs in the second inning yesterday and held off the Rockhounds in Midland to capture the Texas League South Division title and advance to the Texas League Championship Series. Amarillo went to Midland trailing two games to none and needing to win three in a row, all on the road, to avoid elimination. When I left the downtown Amarillo ballpark on Thursday, I was resigned to the series loss and to that being the Poodles’ last home game of the season. But they’ve pulled off the impossible and will host the Tulsa Drillers at home tomorrow and Wednesday in the best-of-five Texas League Championship Series.

My T-shirt size is still XL.


Somebody set fire to one of the iconic Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch overnight Saturday. It was the oldest Cadillac in the line, a 1949 Fastback Coupe, and authorities have no idea who did it. Or why anyone would.

You can see some of the local stories by clicking here, here, and here.  Here’s an old video of CBS’s Charles Kuralt interviewing Stanley Marsh about Cadillac Ranch shortly after it was installed in the early 1970s. And the Dallas Morning News has published this editorial lamenting that we live in a world now where somebody would do something like this.

Carrie-Anne and I first encountered Cadillac Ranch right after we were married and lived in Pampa. We came to Amarillo on most weekends and saw this strange sight back when the cars still had their tires, their interiors, and all the dashboard instruments. That was back before people were spray-painting. For years now the Cadillacs have just been metal shells of their former glory. But it’s still such a weirdly wonderful thing.

When we moved here in 2011, one of the very first things we did as a family was take a picture at Cadillac Ranch. Untold thousands of people do it every year. Nobody’s ever lit it on fire before.



Zeke Gets Fed

I would never fault a guy for getting as much money as he can. We live in America — the free enterprise, capitalism, free market economy of this country is based on and depends on guys getting as much money as they can. Supply and demand — come on, we all learned this stuff in high school. I don’t question Ezekiel Elliott. He made it work today.

The Cowboys caved this morning and signed their star running back to a six-year contract extension worth $90-million,  with $50-million of it guaranteed. That makes Elliott the highest paid running back in NFL history, both in terms of the guaranteed money and the average annual salary of $15-million-per-year.

As of this moment, the Cowboys have the highest paid running back in history, the highest paid offensive line in history, and top-five-at-their-position contract offers on the table to quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper.

This is the offense that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season.


Now, I do have a few  questions about that.


The inaugural season for the Amarillo Sod Poodles extends into the playoffs tonight with game one of the Texas League South Division series against Midland at our downtown ballpark. It’s a best-of-five series with the first two games here in Amarillo and the final three, if needed, in Midland. The winner then plays the North Division winner for the Texas League Championship.

It’s Wednesday, so I’m not able to take in the opener this evening — it’s a work night. But I’ll be there in Dale Cooper’s awesome seats for the first pitch tomorrow.

I still can’t believe our AA team is called the Sod Poodles. I refuse to refer to them as the Soddies or to call the stadium by its paid-for name. Principles, man. But I do love going to that beautiful ballpark on a clear dry night in Amarillo, eating nachos and drinking Texas Tea, and watching our team hit homeruns, steal bases, and dive at the sharp liners on their way to a win.

If the baseball game has been the place to be in Amarillo this summer, tonight and tomorrow night are going to be beyond fantastic.



Cowboys and Texans

Before I get to a couple of sports points, here’s a first-day-of-school picture from Valerie and Carley who began classes yesterday at Oklahoma Christian University. This first-day selfie was taken before the tornado sirens interrupted dinner last night and forced them into storm shelters during the “inland hurricane.” Of course I phoned both of them early, way before their scheduled 9am classes, to sing “School Bells” and to say, “Work hard, learn a lot, be sweet.” I think they still appreciate that. Maybe.


Ezekiel Elliott is into the fifth week of his holdout, he is yet to sign the latest contract offer from the Cowboys, and I’m not sure where this is headed. There’s so much wrong with this stalemate between the NFL rushing champion and Jerry Wayne — so many weird twists, he-said-she-said stuff, and timing questions. But isn’t that just like the Cowboys? Nothing will ever make sense, it’ll all go against every football maxim and norm, it’ll blow up in the most agonizing way possible, and somehow Jerry’s Death Star will still sell out every Sunday and he’ll still make a jillion dollars and they’ll still go 8-8.

Jerry postures by claiming you don’t need a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl. How in the world would he know?!? He’s never won a Super Bowl without a rushing champion / league MVP and the last time he did that my two daughters at OC in the above picture weren’t even born! Since then, he hasn’t even won a single divisional round playoff game!

The Cowboys have reportedly made an offer to Elliott that is worth between what Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley are making, so somewhere between $53-60 million or $13-14 million per year. That would make Elliot the second highest-paid running back in the NFL. And he hasn’t said ‘yes.’ Who’s giving Ezekiel advice? He’s not in the last year of his contract; he has two years remaining. If he holds out the whole season, who’s going to trade for him or sign him to more money next year? If he plays this year and somehow he wins the league rushing title again and the Cowboys go a conference championship game for the first time in a quarter-century, wouldn’t he be in a much-better bargaining position?

This isn’t at all like Emmitt Smith holding out in 1993. Smith had only one year remaining on his current deal, he was a Super Bowl champion and MVP, and the Cowboys had the pieces around him to legitimately win another couple of titles. None of that is the case with Elliott. Ezekiel Elliot has been involved in more league investigations than playoff appearances.

And — people are forgetting this — after the Cowboys went 0-2 during Emmitt Smith’s holdout, he was in the best bargaining position imaginable. And the NFL’s all time greatest running back wound up signing the same deal the team had on the table all along.


I feel like I have to remind people at least once a year that I am not a Cowboys fan. I stopped rooting for the Cowboys when Jerry Wayne fired Jimmy Johnson and replaced him with Barry Switzer at head coach. I am a Houston Texans fan. It’s like rooting for the JV. It’s brutal. I mean, how bad does your organization have to be if you’re an irrelevant football team in Texas? I cheer for the Texans as a protest against Jerry Wayne and to spite ridiculous Cowboys fans. And it’s terribly lonely. It’s awful. I’ve made the five-dollar bet every year with our Central youth minister — Tanner in the past, Josh now — that Houston will finish with a better record than Dallas. And I’ve won that bet four out of eight years. But they’re just as bad as Dallas. No divisional playoff wins. For almost two decades, the same level of success as the Redskins and the Bills.

Now Lamar Miller is out for the year after tearing his ACL on his first carry of the preseason and they’re refusing to pay Jadeveon Clowney. The only intrigue or suspense for me this year will be in which team, Dallas or Houston, goes 9-7 and which team goes 8-8. Just like last year. And the years before.



The Gospel at Central

My heart is filled with gratitude this morning. My soul is overflowing with thanksgiving for the grace of our God and for his good people here at Central. The Lord showered his mercy on us here yesterday. His Holy Spirit met us here — as promised, as always — and blessed us as a congregation.

Yesterday was the first day our sisters in Christ served the communion meal during a Sunday assembly at Central. It was a special day, a highly significant day. And, at the same time, it felt so normal for us.

Four of our graduated High School seniors, two young ladies and two young men leaving town this week for their first years of college, read the Scriptures and led the prayers. A dozen of our families — moms and dads, sons and daughters, those too young to carry a tray and teenagers who are almost too cool, grandparents with their grandkids — walked the aisles, serving the body and blood of Christ to our church.

It was so new for us. And so familiar. Very emotional. Yet, sort of anti-climactic.

It just felt so right. The readings and prayers were beautiful. The kids who served with their parents were super cute. It was very inter-generational. And only one tray was dropped in the back. It was a watershed moment in the long life of this faithful church, but in so many ways it felt like a typical Sunday.

We believe that all Christians are gifted by God’s Holy Spirit — male and female, men and women, alike. We do believe that all Christians are called by God to exercise those gifts to build up the Church. And we value our families at Central. We go out of our way to encourage our young people and to honor our older people. We try to nurture an atmosphere where everybody feels like they belong at Central. So to see that kind of diversity scattered throughout the worship center, serving the communion meal, didn’t feel very different from what we always do at Central.

Our sisters have been singing solos, reading Scripture, baptizing friends and family, blessing teens, making announcements, and encouraging our church in a variety of ways on Sunday mornings for years. Yesterday, they helped distribute the bread and the cup.

Yesterday we took another step in breaking down the barriers between men and women that were erected with our sin in Genesis 3. We added another important layer to our congregation’s testimony that all the barriers between us and God and between us and each other have been eradicated in Christ Jesus. We made a deeper commitment to proclaiming and practicing the Gospel in here.

And the Lord blessed us.

My heart is so full of gratitude this morning.



The Bible is Your Story

In 1 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul tells the old story of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness and they way they complained and rebelled and how God faithfully provided. Paul says they were all baptized when they passed through the waters, just like us (10:2). They ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink from Christ Jesus, just like us (10:3). These things are examples for us, Paul writes (10:6). He says these things were written down for us as warnings (10:11). What happened to them, he writes, is common to all people, it happens to all of us (10:13). And, he says, God is faithful in all of it (10:13).

You see what Paul’s doing. He’s telling our story. The Bible is our story.

Story doesn’t just tell us something and leave it there, it invites us to participate. A good story drags us in. We feel the emotions, we get caught up in the drama, we identify with the characters, doors and windows get flung open, and we the nooks and crannies of our lives and our world we had missed.

The Bible as our story brings us into the vast wonderful world God creates and saves and blesses and offers us a place in that world. It shows us where we are. Good stories show more than they tell. And the Bible is the greatest story of all time.

“From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the child of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:15-17.

The Bible is a story. If we read it and interpret it like a book of rules and regulations or like some kind of constitution, we won’t get it. We’ll respond to it in the wrong way. If you mistake a recipe for chicken enchiladas for a manual on putting a vacuum cleaner together, you’re going to wind up hungry in a very dirty house. If you misread a highway sign that says “Speed Limit 65” for a randomly posted bit of information and not the stern law of the land it is, a police officer is going to pull you over and give you a brief, but expensive, lesson in hermeneutics.

The Bible is not a moral code that says, “Live up to this.” It’s not a system of doctrines that says, “Think like this.” The Bible tells a story and invites us in. “Live into this.” This is what it looks like to be a human being in righteous relationship with God and others. This is what God wants. This is what God is doing. And here’s where you are. Now live into it.

“You accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” ~1 Thessalonians 2:13

Sometimes I am blind Bartimaeus on the side of the road near Jericho. Calling out to Jesus in my pain. Surrendering my life to the Lord. Yielding to his will. And he mercifully heals me.

Sometimes I am Naaman, covered with sores, dying of disease, and wanting to be saved, but on my terms. I try to dictate just how God needs to deal with me. He needs to do it my way. So arrogant. And he heals me anyway.

Always, I am Peter. Always shooting my mouth off, always wanting to be up front, always wanting to be the leader. One minute I pledge my allegiance to the Lord — Even if I have to die with you, I will never leave you! — and the next minute I’m a shrinking coward, warming myself at the world’s fire and denying that I even know who Jesus is. And then Jesus comes to me and asks, “Do you still love me? Then, come on, let’s keep going.”

Is that you? Where are you right now in the Bible’s beautiful story?

Are you Martha? So busy. Way too busy. Running around like a chicken with your head cut off, taking care of all the urgent stuff that needs to be done. Family. House. Chores. Neglecting your most important relationships. Maybe avoiding your relationship with Christ. And Jesus knows it. He’s sitting right there in the next room, waiting for you to slow down and pay attention to him. Even though you haven’t talked to him in months or even years, he keeps coming over. Have you noticed that about Jesus? He keeps coming over.

Are you Zacchaeus? You’ve got a great job, lots of money, wonderful benefits, more than enough security. But you’re alone. You’re not close to anybody. You’re just watching all the church people do all their church things and you don’t understand it at all. But here he comes. Here comes Jesus, walking right up to you. He pulls you down out of your tree and says, “I’m coming over. I’m coming to your house right now.”

Maybe you’re being torn apart by a terrible storm. The flood waters are rising, the things you love and the people you know are being destroyed. It’s dark and people are dying. It’s scary, this flood. And you know that God uses these times to cleanse and renew and recreate and make things right. But you don’t know if you’re in the ark with Noah or out in the water drowning. Listen as God’s Church reminds you, “You’re with us. You’re safe. You’re saved.”

Are you David? The King of Israel, the man after God’s own heart. What did God see when he looked at David that day and chose him and blessed him? David was just a kid, kind of an afterthought, just a boy hanging out with the sheep. Remember the story? What did God see in him that day? Did he see David’s fierce violence or his fierce loyalty? Did he see David as the great psalmist or as the notorious outlaw? Did he see David’s prayers and humility or the adultery and lying and murder and all the sin? God saw all of it. Every bit of it. And God still picked David. He chose David. And he chose you in Jesus Christ before the foundations of the earth.

The Bible is our story. It’s got our God on every page. It reveals our God who loves us intensely and saves us faithfully and who will not be stopped or even slowed down in his determination to live with us eternally. The story’s got all that.

You’re in there, too. It’s got you, too.



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