Category: Allan’s Journey (Page 1 of 28)

Take and Read

According to American Bible Society surveys, the number of Americans who read their Bibles is dropping dramatically. From 2011 to 2021, roughly 50-percent of Americans reported opening Scripture at least three times a year every year during that period. But, last year that number dropped to 39-percent. In other words, in the middle of domestic threats to this country’s democracy, threats of nuclear war in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, record inflation, and unprecedented gun violence, about 26-million Americans stopped reading the Bible.

Of the 39-percent who reported reading the Bible at least three times last year, only 27-percent read the Bible in print — a real Bible with two covers and paper pages that turn and crinkle. Nineteen-percent reported reading the Bible on an app on their phones, 18-percent online, and the other 11-percent listen to the Word on a podcast.

I find that data to be disturbing.

I’m also troubled to see new Ipsos research that shows Christians don’t know the teachings of our Lord. In response to the question, “Did Jesus teach people to turn the other cheek?” less than half of those who claim to follow Jesus said, “Yes.”

Evangelicals – 49%
Catholics – 29%
Mainline Protestants – 40%
Other Protestants – 51%

Those of us in the Churches of Christ would fit into that “other protestants” category so, yay, we win with just barely half of us knowing one of our Lord’s most fundamental teachings.

Please read the Bible. Please schedule the time every single day to read God’s Word. Please read it out loud in your home with your children and grandchildren. Be transformed by the holy words of Scripture. Let the ancient words sink into your soul and become a part of you. We are rapidly becoming biblically and doctrinally illiterate. We’re not sure what we believe and we certainly don’t know how to articulate it. Our God has saved us in Christ Jesus and called us to obey all that he commanded and to teach others all that he commanded. How are we going to live into that when we don’t read the Bible?


The waterfall at Eagle Creek has evidently dried up for the season. My two mile hike to the site and back wasn’t without its pleasures — a mama deer and her two little spotted fawns, dozens of tiny and very colorful song birds whipping through the trees and brush, squirrels and some kind of chipmunk-ish things scurrying around. But I wanted to see the waterfall. Another time, maybe.

Today, I’m reading the Gospel of John out loud and trying to finish a manuscript I’ve been working on for almost four years. I had intended to also read Timothy Keller’s “Forgive” while I was in Ruidoso this week, but I’m not sure I’m going to get to it.



Sabbatical Serenity

I  spent a couple of hours yesterday at this beautiful lake in Alto, less than two-and-a-half miles from Billy’s cabin. No books, no Bible, no phone, no agenda — just me on a park bench with three deer, lots of ducks, and our Lord Jesus. I took the mile long hike on the trail that runs the perimeter of the lake and got  some sun and enjoyed the heights of relaxing and reconnecting with God.

Today’s docket includes immersing myself in the Gospel of Luke, searching for a waterfall I’ve heard about, and probably worshiping with the Gateway Church here in Ruidoso.

I am also happy to report that this bat that showed up at the cabin while I was at the lake was gone early this morning. I’m not opposed to bats. I understand well the role of bats when it comes to eliminating pesky bugs and benefiting the overall environment. I would never knowingly harm a bat. It was interesting when I topped the stairs to see the bat. It was momentarily exciting in a you-don’t-see-that-everyday kind of way. But I’m also admittedly relieved the bat decided to take off.



Good Morning from Ruidoso

I had company for breakfast this morning just off the back deck at the Futrells’ cabin. I’m sure they were looking for corn, and not any of my jalapeno sausage omelette.

It rained and stormed all evening and well into the night here in Ruidoso. It’s clear and 57-degrees as I’m writing this at 8:15am. Absolutely beautiful.

I’ve got the Gospel of Mark ahead of me right now. But I’m also dealing with a home warranty company on both a broken water heater and air conditioner back home in Midland. Not exactly the type of sabbatical I was planning. The water heater busted through and began leaking water early yesterday morning and the A/C stopped working yesterday evening. Would the devil attack my home appliances and systems just to wreck my week of reconnecting with the Lord?

There’s not much in life more aggravating than dealing with a home warranty company. I don’t remember praying for patience as I entered this week.



Ruidoso Retreat

I am posting today from the redwood deck of a beautiful two-story cabin in the mountains of Ruidoso, courtesy of Billy and Kathy Futrell. I arrived here at about 6:00 last night, delayed only briefly by a half-dozen massive mule deer who were grazing and crossing the road very slowly about three miles away.  That breathtaking sight reminded me that I am on sabbatical. So what if during my nearly five hour drive the Rangers blew a 5-0 lead over the Twins and lost on a 13th inning bases loaded walk on four pitches? So what if Texas has lost nine of their past ten games and has surrendered first place in the division for the first time since April 8? I am on sabbatical. No TV, no Rangers, no staff meetings or elders meetings, no sermon preparation or small groups planning. These five-and-a-half days are for rest, relaxation, and reconnecting with my Lord.

As I pulled in last night, one of Billy’s neighbors welcomed me and and told me that “the bears have been really active this weekend.” Yikes. I was also reminded — again! — that I pronounce Ruidoso like a Texan and not like someone from Ruidoso. I have wrestled with this since we moved to Midland two years ago. Do I continue to maintain my Texan pronunciation, Ree-uh-doe-sa, or do I say it like the natives here and the West Texans who regularly travel and relax here, Roo-uh-doe-so? I can argue both ways. Maybe the Lord will reveal it to me.

I am surrounded by giant pines, rolling ranges, and very aggressive hummingbirds. The morning and afternoon temperatures are 20 degrees cooler than they are in Midland. I have my lectionary and my Bible, Diet Dr Peppers and iced-tea, my brats and Skip’s salsa. My plan is to immerse myself in the Gospels, to spend much time in prayer, to listen to the Lord more than I talk, and to rest.

This is a prayer I will be using as a focal point during this week in the mountains with our God. It comes from The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are able and willing to deliver me from all the care and unrest and bondage of my Christian life. I believe that you did die to set me free, not only in the future, but now and here. I believe you are stronger than sin, and that you can keep me, even me, in my extreme of weakness, from falling into its snares or yielding obedience to its commands. And, Lord, I am going to trust you to keep me. I have tried keeping myself, and have failed, and failed most grievously. I am absolutely helpless. So now I will trust you.

I give myself to you. I keep back no reserves. Body, soul, and spirit, I present myself to you as a piece of clay, to be fashioned into anything your love and your wisdom shall choose. And now I am yours. I believe you do accept that which I present to you; I believe that this poor, weak, foolish heart has been taken possession of by you, and that you have even at this very moment begun to work in me to will and to do of your good pleasure. I trust you utterly and I trust you now.


It Will Be Fine

It’s been more than a decade since the Texas Rangers placed a starter in the All-Star Game. The Rangers have never had four starters named to the Midsummer Classic in franchise history. Until now. Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Josh Jung, and Jonah Heim are heading  to Seattle to represent the Rangers in what has been a quick and surprising rise to the top of the AL West standings. Texas leads the division by five games over the Astros and leads all of baseball in several offensive and defensive categories. And with that team success come individual honors.

At the halfway point of the season, Texas is an unbelievable 17-games over .500 and boasts the second best record in the American League. The team has lost 90 games each of the past two miserable seasons. What an incredible turnaround! With 81 games to play, the Rangers would have to go 23-58 the rest of the way to match that 90-loss total.

The question isn’t will Texas make the playoffs this year; the question is will they / can they be on a hot streak in October? And, yes, it’s absolutely crazy to be thinking about that at the end of June! But this is where we are now  with these Rangers.

The difference is Bruce Bochy. Skins on the wall. Even keeled. Universally respected and trusted. Proven. A very rare thing for the Rangers to hire a manager with previous managerial experience, much less three World Series rings. And it’s paying off big time in Season One.


Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Review: A Childhood Hero Fades into  the CGI Sunset

The fifth and final Indiana Jones movie premiers tonight and, of course, I’ll be there on the next to back row at Midland Cinergy with a huge bag of greasy buttery popcorn and an expectant grin. It will be fine. It will be fine. I keep telling myself it will be fine.

My expectations were way too high for the fourth flick, the disastrous Crystal Skull, in 2008. I hated it. A terribly disappointing experience. I refuse to acknowledge it as part of the Indiana Jones franchise – it was a massive mistake. So, going into tonight’s Dial of Destiny, my hopes are low. Really low. Harrison Ford is 80. Steven Spielberg is not involved. There are going to be some weird, creepy CGI effects to make Jones appear younger in a few scenes. And I just can’t imagine anybody pulling off the same magic of those first three Indiana Jones movies.

The truth is, Indiana Jones could be loading the dishwasher or sweeping the floor, and I’d pay $11.50 to watch.

I’ve already made up my mind that I’m going to enjoy it. I’ll soak in the nostalgia and be thankful for a more fitting conclusion to the series and a more appropriate sendoff of one of Hollywood’s most iconic characters. It can’t be worse than Crystal Skull. It will be fine.



Cheap Date

Carrie-Anne and I saw the iconic 70s and 80s rock band Cheap Trick last night at the wonderful Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center here in Midland. Well, it’s more accurate to say that I went to the concert and Carrie-Anne lovingly, dutifully, and patiently accompanied me without complaint. We concluded after the show that Cheap Trick was popular when C-A was listening to Top-40 on Z-97 and I was listening to rock on The Zoo and Q-102. The only two songs she recognized were “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender,” which they played back-to-back to close out the concert.

I asked the guy behind us to take a picture of C-A and me during the show. These are the two he managed to  take.






Cheap Trick is a fun show, man. Four blistering guitars, one driving drum, and Robin Zander’s unmistakable voice tearing through short, riffy, punk-ish hits like “Dream Police” and “Southern Girls” and sing-along ballads like “If You Want My Love,” and their original take on Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” which I absolutely cannot hear too many times. In fact, take three minutes right now and watch their “Ain’t That A Shame” video. You’ll love it.

Zander’s voice still sounds exactly the same and guitarist Rick Nielsen is still a goofball with his gimmicky five-neck guitar and continuous self-deprecating gestures and dad jokes.

Last night was the fourth or fifth time – maybe sixth – I’ve seen Cheap Trick in concert. I’ve lost the exact count because, as my brother Keith reminded me last week, Cheap Trick is usually the opening band, not the headliner. The first time I saw them was in college when the KATT in Oklahoma City sponsored a free concert downtown. We saw them in the early  ’90s when three of us siblings were married and we six dragged Keith to Fair Park in Dallas to see Joe Walsh, with Cheap Trick as the opening act. Keith and his family dragged me along to see them again four years ago when they and Bad Company opened for ZZ Top’s 50th anniversary concert in Austin. I think I saw them at one Texxas Jam. And I know I saw them at Reunion Arena in the ’80s opening for somebody. It wasn’t Bryan Adams. It might have been The Firm or Tom Petty – I can’t remember.

Those guys are all in their ’70s, but they still put on an ear-splitting rock and roll show that featured all their hits, a couple of fun B-sides, a Beatles cover, and the requisite shout-outs to “Midland, Texas!!” in just under two hours. The Wagner is a great venue, Cheap Trick is still a great band, and it was a really great night.



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