Category: 4 Amarillo (page 1 of 7)

The Light of Life

We’ve posted the video from last month’s 4 Amarillo Thanksgiving worship service on our church website here. If you were a member of the combined choir, there are some really good shots throughout of you singing — some up close! You might especially check out the 5:30 mark where we sing “When We All Get to Heaven,” highlighted by all four worship ministers singing a middle verse as a quartet. Kevin Schaffer leads the choir and congregation in the closing song, “By Our Love,” at the 49:00 mark. And my 21-minute sermon — yes, 21- total minutes! — is at the 28:00 mark. What a wonderful, wonderful night. I praise God for the unique fellowship and undeniable witness of our four churches and for the distinct honor to serve right in the middle of it.


You know, light isn’t really what we see; light is the very element by which we see everything else. You walk into a dark room and flip the switch, you don’t really see the light as much as you see the coffee table leg that’ll kill your toes and the edge of the wall that’ll take out your kneecap. The light allows you to see reality, to see what’s really happening.

In Jesus Christ, our light, we see clearly what God is up to in the world. We see God at work forgiving and healing, repairing broken lives, bringing people back from the dead, feeding the hungry, defending the accused. We see God restoring and reconciling, calming the sea, driving out the demons, turning empty jars into overflowing containers of eternal joy. God is the only One who can fix things and he’s come here in Jesus Christ to do just that. He’s moved here.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” ~John 1:14

There’s a reason we put candles in the windows and hang lights on our houses and string lights around the trees at Christmas. May the brightness of those lights remind us that the light has dawned — and it is a great light. May the glow of those lights point to the forgiveness, the righteousness, and the holiness that is ours in Christ Jesus. And may the beauty of the lights open our eyes to the matchless wonder of God’s great love for us.



A Special Night at First Baptist

A Baptist church suffered a terrible fire. The congregation immediately launched a campaign to raise money to build a new building. One especially enthusiastic fund raiser called the Church of Christ preacher across town and asked if he’d be willing to donate a hundred dollars to the cause. After a thoughtful pause, the Church of Christ preacher replied, “Friend, you know I can’t give you a hundred dollars to build a new Baptist church in this town. But I can give you a thousand dollars to help you tear down the old one.”

I am so thankful to belong to a group of churches in downtown Amarillo — elders and board members, pastors and ministers, and more than three thousand Christians — that are committed to loving one another, supporting one another, praying for one another, and moving heaven and earth to help one another. I am grateful to God to be in the middle of a group of Christ-followers who are so willing and eager to put our denominational differences in their proper perspective and lock arms and hearts to worship together and serve this city together in the name and manner of Jesus. Every single thing our four churches do together serves as a powerful testimony and an undeniable witness to Amarillo and beyond that our God really is who he says he is and he’s really doing everything he promises he’s going to do.

The “4 Amarillo” churches — First Presbyterian, Polk Street United Methodist, First Baptist, and Central — came together for our fifth annual Thanksgiving Service last night. Our four churches’ praise teams and choirs combined for a hundred-member ensemble that opened the evening with a bouncy “This Is the Day the Lord Has Made” and closed it with a soaring rendition of “By Our Love.” The room was packed — more than a thousand — the energy was up, the spirit was one of enthusiasm and encouragement. Congregationally we sang “When We All Get to Heaven,” “Count Your Blessings,” “Give Thanks,” “How Great is Our God,” and “How Great Thou Art.” Howard Griffin led us in a powerful responsive reading from Psalm 136. Howie Batson’s benediction inspired. And I was privileged to deliver the evening’s message from John 13:34-35, “Love One Another. Period.”

Privileged is the right word. Blessed. Honored by our Lord to be in the middle of something only God could do. It’s hard for me to put into words the significance of what we do together as “4 Amarillo.” I know there must be other places in Texas and certainly around this country where churches from different denominations worship and work in true partnership and fellowship together. There have to be; I just don’t know of any.

I feel especially blessed to experience so regularly here this heaven on earth. Our Lord went to the cross to eradicate the barriers between us and God and between all of God’s people. Jesus’ prayer on earth was that all of his followers would be united, that we would all be one just as he and the Father are one. And we know that on that last day of glory, all of God’s people for all time will be gathered together around his table, to eat and drink in his presence, at the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb. And, by God’s grace, we are doing that right here in downtown Amarillo! Who would have ever guessed? God be praised!

“The time is now: come, Church, arise!
Love with his hands, see with his eyes.
Bind it around you, let it never leave you,
and they will know us by our love!”



Thirty-Onederful Gallons

Last night our annual 4 Amarillo week concluded with our traditional ice cream social here at Central. Thirty-one Central ice cream makers and servers lined up to treat our brothers and sisters from First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street United Methodist Churches with their own brands of both traditional and not-so-traditional homemade ice cream flavors. Everything from Bob Patrick’s “Plain Vanilla” and Callie Borger’s “Strawberry” to Jimmy Cobb’s “Sextuple C” and Carrie-Anne’s “Toasted Coconut Cream” (best one).

As part of the fun, we had our four assistant pastors serve as ice cream judges. Kevin Deckard, Murray Gossett, Reed Redus, and our own Greg Dowell faced the difficult task with dogged determination, fearless resolve, and 31 plastic spoons. Here are the official results:

Most Creative – Big Red – Kristin McCarrell
Best Presentation – Strawberry Chocolate Chip – Lenda Burk
Most Dangerous – Butter Brickle – Leon Wood
Best Fruit Flavor – Blackberry – Matthew Blake
Best Mix – Banana Nut – Vickie Nelson
Best Classic Flavor – Strawberry Banana – Scottie Witt
Best Overall – Pecan Caramel Crunch – Connie Crawford

First Presbyterian’s Howard Griffin stole a bit from the CofC’s Max Lucado to illustrate just how much noise a bunch of Christian denominations make when they’re shouting their own names but how clearly the name of our Lord is proclaimed and heard when we shout his. Powerful. We watched a slide show that captured most of what our God is doing through our four churches this week at Habitat for Humanity and at the Bible Block Parties at Margaret Wills and San Jacinto Elementary schools. We passed out the T-shirts, ate a little more ice cream, and vowed to continue working and worshiping, serving and seeking our God together as one united group of disciples of Jesus.

It’s one of my favorite nights of the year — definitely in my top two. Thank you to all who made and served the ice cream. Thank you to everyone who’s contributing their own time and energy this week to the faithful efforts to share the love of Christ with the city of Amarillo. And may our Lord continue to work in us and through us — together! — to his eternal glory and praise.



4 Amarillo & Heal the City


We believe anytime our four downtown churches come together to worship or to serve — to do anything together! — it is an undeniable witness to our city that our God is bigger than our denominational walls and his Kingdom is here and it’s coming and we’re all in on it. Nights like last night here at Central are proof that God is moving powerfully in our city.

More than a thousand Christians from Central, First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street United Methodist Church came together here to praise God, to celebrate our unity in the Spirit of Christ, and to be that testimony to Amarillo and beyond. The combined choir of more than a hundred gifted disciples gave beautiful voice to the spirit of grace and peace between our four congregations. Kim started us off with an energetic call to worship from Psalm 32, Burt gave us the expected one-liners, and Howie’s riveting Gospel narrative centering on the healing work of our Lord Jesus was as inspiring as it was clever. A wonderful, wonderful evening together. Only the Prince of Peace can create and sustain the kind of unity that exists between our four downtown churches. And we praise God for that.


The leadership of our four churches announced last night a brand new partnership, as a group, with Heal the City Free Clinic. Beginning December 5, the churches of 4 Amarillo will have volunteers at Heal the City every Monday night to provide prayers and pastoral care to the patients.

First Presbyterian has the first Monday of every month, Central has the second Monday, Polk Street is taking the third, and First Baptist has the fourth Monday of each month. We will be there to pray with the patients, to listen, and to provide any spiritual care that’s needed.


We’re all excited about the potential to join the Gospel work that’s being done at Heal the City. And we give this new partnership to our God for his purposes and to his eternal glory and praise.



God On The Move

Three of the local TV stations did stories last night about our annual 4 Amarillo week. You can access the Channel 4 story by clicking here, the Channel 7 story here, and the channel 10 story here.


I would ask you to please be in prayer this week for our churches and for all the people who are being impacted by these work projects. Pray for the women who will live in these renovated apartments. Coming out of abuse and addiction, enrolled in skills and coping programs, these women desperately need the kind of fresh start and support these little town homes will give them. And pray for the families of the children who are being fed lunch and told about the love of Jesus at Wills and San Jacinto elementary schools. These kids and their folks are mostly living day to day, financially distressed, transient, the majority of them with little to no knowledge of our risen and reigning Lord Jesus.


May God’s will be done in us and through us to his eternal glory and praise!



Paint, Diapers, and Praise

Our annual “4 Amarillo” week got off to a fantastic start last night as all four downtown congregations came together at Polk Street United Methodist Church to worship God and to bless a couple of our area ministry partners.

I think it’s a blessing every time our four churches get together to worship, to work, to eat ice cream, to do anything. It’s a privilege, an honor. To lift up songs of praise together, to pray words of thanksgiving together, to listen to God’s Word together, to acknowledge that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ together — it’s beyond beautiful. And while I appreciate the value this partnership is to our churches, I still believe the greatest worth of our cooperation is in the powerful witness to our community. “4 Amarillo” proclaims to the whole city and anybody else who is paying attention that we serve a God who is bigger than our individual churches; we serve a risen and reigning King who overcomes all our institutional differences; we have much more in common together in Christ than any problems that could ever divide us. It’s an undeniable witness that we all truly believe Jesus came to this earth, died, and was raised again in order to break down all the barriers between men and women and God, and between all men and women. We believe it, and we practice it. Together. Whew! It’s so strong!




For the whole month of June our four churches have been collecting diapers for CareNet’s new headquarters just down the street at 15th and Taylor. CareNet is a local organization that upholds the dignity of all human life, working tirelessly to protect all children of God, born and unborn. But they don’t do it with protests or petitions or public demonstrations or political campaigns. They do it with love and relationship and mercy and grace. It’s Gospel. And now they have purchased the old Planned Parenthood building here in downtown Amarillo and have remodeled it and moved in. So we collected several thousand diapers among our four churches — they distribute about two thousand per month — and walked across 15th street together last night to welcome CareNet to the neighborhood.


For the rest of this week we’ve taken on the task of repairing and painting several of the apartments at Jackson and 12th that are being refurbished for use as transitional housing for the Downtown Women’s Center. Greg is coordinating volunteers from all four churches — cleaning, repairing floors and walls and ceilings, painting, replacing light fixtures and toilets. And at the same time, as every year, we’re running a couple of outdoor Vacation Bible Schools — we call them Bible Block Parties — at Margaret Wills and San Jacinto Elementary Schools.



I praise God for the Christ-like culture in our four churches that allows us to run after our Lord’s vision for the unity of his people for the sake of the world. I have to continually remind our folks that the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in the Churches of Christ do not have the same opportunities. Fellowshipping and worshiping and serving with other Christians in other denominations isn’t even an option for most CofCers. I praise God that his Spirit has moved us in Amarillo to embrace one another in Christ. And I pray that his holy will be done in and through our churches for the sake of Amarillo and to his eternal glory.



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