Author: Allan (page 2 of 365)

His Strategy is a Table

God does not hide from us. A lot of people think God won’t associate with sinners or with brokenness, that God separates himself from the fallen creation. But we know that’s not true.

God went out looking for Adam and Eve, right? Where are you? What’s going on? Our God is very interested in redeeming the world and restoring broken relationships. He goes to the lost and he finds them. He goes to the sick and he heals them. He goes to the broken and he fixes them. He goes to the sinners and takes all of their sin into himself and he forgives them. God’s mission is to do whatever it takes, everything it takes, for as long as it takes, so long as it takes him into closer relationship with you and me.

So he hangs out with us. He eats and drinks with us. He talks with us and shares himself with us around a table. That’s his strategy for expressing his acceptance of you and how you experience that relationship with him.

Jesus says, “I am bringing food that lasts for eternity. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.” He calls himself the true bread from heaven and the bread of life. He tells his disciples, “I am giving you a Kingdom!” Why, Jesus? “So you may eat and drink with me at my table!”

The Pharisees didn’t like the people Jesus hung out with. So they called Jesus names. They called him a glutton and a drunk. They called him a friend of sinners. They didn’t eat and drink with tax collectors and “sinners,” they didn’t associate with the poor, the crippled, the lame, or the blind because they thought God doesn’t hang out with those kinds of people.

They had God wrong. We’ve had him wrong for a long time. Our God wants to be in relationship with everyone. He always has. Jesus didn’t come here to change God’s mind about us, he came here to change our minds about God. When our God has his way, he is sitting at a great feast, eating and drinking with all of us – the lame who are now walking, the blind who can now see, the poor who are eating now, the sick who are now completely healed, and all the sinners whose transgressions have all been totally forgiven forever.

That’s what happens at the table of our Lord. That’s his strategy.

Peace,

Allan

Lining Up

Jesus invited people to follow him, to walk with him along the way. He ate with people he wasn’t supposed to eat with. He hugged people he wasn’t supposed to touch. He forgave people who were unforgivable. And they saw God.

People would experience God in us if our priorities and God’s priorities were the same.

Peace,

Allan

A Pleasant Good Night

I’m always nervous when a Church of Christ school makes the NCAA basketball tournament. I’m afraid they’ll think they’re the only ones going. Plus, we have historically avoided any kind of dance at all, especially big dances. But ACU was ready last night and pulled off the biggest win in school history, knocking off the third-seeded Texas Longhorns 53-52.

Joe Pleasant sunk two free throws with one second left in the game and then intercepted the Horns’ desperation pass to seal the biggest upset so far in this tournament. Pleasant is a 59% free-throw shooter, but he calmly stepped to the line and swished both shots to cap an incredible wire-to-wire display of tenacity and grit.

It’s the ACU defense that wins their games. They contest every pass, they fight for every loose ball, they take tough charges, and rotate madly to keep opposing offenses frantically scrambling for some kind of order. Texas suffered 23-turnovers last night, they never got on track, and ACU took 27 more shots than the Horns. Now the Wildcats are headed to the second round.

And there was a lot of purple in the worship center this morning at Central.

Peace,

Allan

 

Congratulations Sherri Coale!

Sherri Coale, the legendary women’s basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma, has announced her retirement after an incredible 25-year run. Coale is the story today. But the point of this post is to direct your attention to me and to my admittedly loose connection to this rock star of a hoops coach.

Sherri Coale was Sherri Buben when we were in college together at Oklahoma Christian University. She played point guard for the nationally ranked Lady Eagles basketball team, winning Sooner Athletic Conference championships and competing for NAIA regional and national titles. She was a relentless competitor, a fiery defender, a fearless driver of the lane, and she saw absolutely everything on the court. She was a leader in every aspect of the word.

Sherri was two years ahead of me in school. By the time I became Sports Director at KOCC and began handling the play-by-play for OC sports, I was a sophomore and Sherri was a senior. We didn’t know each other very well at all. But I was on the sidelines and voiced the call for every single dribble, drive, and shot of Sherri’s spectacular senior season. In this picture of Sherri that OC likes to use, you can see me in the background on the left at center court. That’s little 20-year-old Allan calling OC basketball at the Eagles Nest. Sherri looks like she’s about to steal an in-bounds pass or take a charge. I look like I’m about to miss it.

Sherri had coached Norman High School to a couple of 6A state championships when OU came calling. The Sooners women’s basketball team had been famously abolished six years earlier for a lack of wins, a lack of players, and a lack of any real interest. She took the gig as an incredible underdog and quickly rose to the pinnacle of the sport, guiding OU to the national championship game in 2002. All told, Sherri recruited, promoted, and coached OU to 19 national tournament appearances, three Final Fours, six Big XII regular season championships, and four conference tournament titles. She and her long-time OC teammate, friend, and assistant coach Jan Ross coached 14 WNBA draft picks at OU, including six first-rounders. And Sherri was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

It was a thrill for me to run into Sherri once or twice a year while I was Sports Director at KRLD in Dallas. Back then the Big XII women’s tournament was held at Reunion Arena and I would make it a point to attend at least a couple of their games. It was cool to walk across the floor and greet Sherri and Jan while their team was warming up. Again, we don’t know each other very well at all. But we had the OC connection and we both were genuinely pleased with the other’s career successes.

Congratulations, Sherri. I’m very happy for you and proud of all you’ve accomplished. You’ve positively impacted each of the hundreds of young ladies you’ve coached and the countless numbers of others who watch you from afar. You are to be commended for the positive Christ-like influence you have on everyone you meet. I don’t know what’s next for you, but your spirited grit and determination make anything possible.

Peace,

Allan

Spring Break in Amarillo

I was enjoying my iced tea outside on the front porch at Roaster’s yesterday afternoon. Sunny and 75-degrees. Not a cloud in the sky and not any bit of wind at all. Short sleeves. Sunglasses. One of those perfect Amarillo days. But we were under a blizzard warning for the following day. Sure enough, the clouds started rolling in at about 6:00 last evening. The lightning and thunder and sleet started at 4:00 this morning. Right now it’s 31-degrees and the heavy snow is blowing sideways in a 40-50 mph North wind that’s gusting to near 60. The wind chill is minus 17. Visibility is an eighth of a mile.

By the way, we had seven tornadoes Saturday night. And it’ll be sunny and 70 again this weekend.

Unlike the cartoon cat, I’m not complaining. I actually enjoy the crazy swings in weather up here. This is the only place in Texas where you truly get all four seasons and, sometimes, you get them in the same week.

Peace,

Allan

Show People God

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” ~Luke 11:52

The teachers of the law were guilty of prioritizing the letter of the law over the spirit of the law. They knew God’s law front and back, they had it memorized – book, chapter, verse. They could tell you exactly what you could and couldn’t do and what you could wear, what you could say, what you could eat, and who you could be with as you were doing it. Or not doing it. They were strictly enforcing the rules on others and felt no obligation to obey those same rules themselves. They would require certain things of others, but exempt themselves. They acted this way to improve their own position and increase their own power. There’s no love of God, no justice for neighbor.

Jesus says you are keeping people from knowing God. You’re blocking people from knowing who God is and what God is doing in the world. You yourselves don’t know God and the way you keep your thumb on people in the name of religion keeps anybody around you from ever experiencing God.

Jesus came here to reveal to the world who God is and what God is doing. If you want to understand God, you look at Jesus. He said it himself: “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” And we join him in that work. We, too, are called to reveal God to others. But these teachers of the law are doing just the opposite. They’re so concerned about keeping the letter of the law, they’re so consumed with following every tiny detail and making sure others are following it exactly the way they interpret it, they miss God. They turn the commands into their God, they make the Bible their God, and they beat everybody over the head with it.

This could also be a problem for us if we’re not careful. Sometimes we are capable of fostering an environment in our churches, our Bible classes, and our small groups – sometimes you can create this culture just around yourself – so that everybody has to believe everything and practice everything the same way we do. Or the same way you do. We can demand uniform compliance with the way we do things. Or the way I do things. People can walk into our settings and just feel like they’re being watched.

Just like the religious leaders were checking to make sure Jesus washed his hands exactly like they think he should, we can make it our goal to catch people. We catch people doing something wrong so we can wag our fingers in their faces or tell on them behind their backs. We can suffocate the people around us. If we’re not careful, we can straight up condemn people. How in the world are these people going to experience the love and grace and forgiveness of God if we’re acting like this in his name? That’s not him! But we make people think it is.

“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen? Is that what you call a fast? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him?” ~Isaiah 58:5-7

Our Lord and the Scriptures tell us again and again that it’s not about the fasting or the sacrifices or the details of our worship. It’s not making sure the people around you know the law, it’s making sure the people around you know the Lord.

Show them God. Bring them into the presence of God. Show them his mercy and love. Express to them his grace and forgiveness. Extend to them his joy and acceptance.

Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek, forgive without limits, walk the extra mile, give up your coat, and love your enemies. Why? Because, he says, that’s the way of our Father in heaven. Live like this because that’s how God is. Join Jesus in his revelation. Show people God.

Peace,

Allan

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