Category: Austin Grad (Page 2 of 4)

Christian Studies

Austin Graduate School of Theology has launched a brand new blog this week called “Christian Studies,” borrowed from the title of the excellent theological journal the AGST staff has published annually for more than thirty years. I have included on this page a permanent link to the blog, just to the right and down a bit, in the “links” list. Or, you can access the new blog by clicking here. And you should check it out. Read it. Right now. Here’s why:

1) My incredibly talented brother, Dr. Keith Stanglin, is the editor for the blog. He’s also the editor for the “Christian Studies” journal. You can be assured that the content will be excellent, accurate, timely, and practical for your own study, for your Bible class or church, and for those theological conversations you’re having with people at work or with family members during the holidays.

2) My wonderfully gifted brother, Dr. Keith Stanglin, is the author of the first post on this new blog. This initial post serves as an introduction to his latest book, The Reformation to the Modern Church: A Reader in Christian Theology. Keith has compiled 113 primary source documents from the past 700 years of God’s Church, ranging from Erasmus and Ignatius to Zwingli and Barth. Today’s post contains the introduction to Keith’s recent work, links to a really favorable review, links to his Amazon author page, and links that take you directly to a spot where you can purchase the book for your own library.

3) There are pictures of Keith on the blog post and on his Amazon author page. You can check him out and wonder why, at ten years younger than me, he has so much less hair.

The new Christian Studies blog will be updated at least weekly with articles and posts by the brilliant professors and staff at Austin Grad. It’ll all be workable. Accessible. These are not ivory tower guys. Their motto is “Scholarship for the church.” And it is.



In Shipp Shape

It’s a tricky thing to bring a highly respected biblical scholar / professor into a church setting to teach a Bible class or preach a sermon. Some of these guys can be a little stuffy. They can use too many big words. They can have a difficult time relating to and communicating with the average guy or gal in the pews. At best, a lot of these scholars are just awkward in front of a bunch of people in church; at worst, some of them can be downright narcissistic and rude.

We brought Dr. Mark Shipp from Austin Graduate School of Theology up to Central this past weekend with no worries.

For four hours on Saturday morning, Mark presented his class notes on the Minor Prophets to 25 of our adult Bible class teachers. And for another hour yesterday, he spoke to 550 of us in a combined Bible class, kicking off our ten weeks congregational series on the Book of the Twelve. And the Shipp who inspired me while sitting at his feet for 22 months at Austin Grad also inspired our church. Shipp’s passion for the Word of God that captured me in his graduate courses also captured our church. His knowledge of the Scriptures and the application he always made to my life was appreciated by the congregation as they realized the application in their own individual and church settings. And it was really quite neat.

The passion I have for the Old Testament comes, in large part, from Dr. Shipp. The ways I interpret the Hebrew Scriptures, the ways I see God revealed, the ways I see our Christ predicted, all come from Shipp. When I use words like mishpat and hesed and tsedaqa, they have come from Shipp. My confidence that every word of the Old Testament is relevant for God’s children today is a gift from Dr. Shipp.

When Madison, our sweet sixteen-year-old sister here at Central died almost a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought to go first to Habakkuk for comfort and grace and understanding for our congregation, except for Dr. Shipp.

I had so much fun this weekend sitting at Dr. Shipp’s feet again. I learned so much. Again. I enjoyed talking to him about raising teenaged daughters. I was blessed to introduce him as my teacher and my friend. I was honored that he expressed so much admiration for our church. We talked together about reading and writing, teaching and preaching. We talked about God’s people. I learned much more about Dr. Shipp’s story, his family, his history. Shipp had fun talking Longhorns football with us at Blue Sky on Saturday, holding back a bit (only a bit) when he discovered that Tim’s not that opposed to replacing Mack Brown, and falling just short of admitting that the cheeseburger and vanilla shake had indeed changed his life . I think he also had fun critiquing my sermon yesterday (Yes, I know the noise and terror at Sinai was intended for God’s people, not the nations! I know!).

We’re better off as a church family for Dr. Shipp having spent the weekend with us. Our teachers are more confident. They’re armed and equipped and maybe even a little dangerous. And I’m thankful. He relates to us and he inspires us. And I’m thankful. I can’t wait to dive in to the Minor Prophets in our Bible classes together this next Sunday, knowing how ready we truly are.



Two Press Releases

I’m so pleased and proud to share the news that my brother, Keith Stanglin, is leaving his post at Harding University to become Professor of Scripture and Historical Theology at Austin Graduate School of Theology. Officially, Keith is filling the vacancy created by the imminent departure of Dr. Allan McNicol. Unofficially, I hope, Keith is preparing for the position by working on his Australian accent, growing his hair out so it can be a bit more disheveled, and beginning… to… measure… each… word… very… carefully.

You can access the Austin Grad press release by clicking here.

I feel like Keith and Amanda and their three beautiful kids are moving closer to us, but that’s probably just because we’re both now going to be in Texas at the same time for the first time since we were sharing bunk beds in the mid ’80s. Truth is, I think Amarillo is just as far away from Searcy as it is from Austin. But it feels closer. And I’m grateful for that, too.

I’m excited that Keith is going to be working every day, side by side, with some of the greatest people and strongest influences in my life. I consider the faculty and staff at Austin Grad to be among the best and brightest people I’ve ever had the blessing to know. Austin Grad is going to be good for Keith. And Keith is going to be very, very good for Austin Grad.

Congratulations, brother.


You may have heard yesterday that Jerry Wayne and Troy Aikman are partnering to open up more than 50 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in DFW over the next five years. The quote by Jerry in the official press release is nauseating. At least.

“We have a lot of greats to be proud of here in North Texas. Great people, great sports teams, and great traditions, which is why I am excited about being a part of bringing great coffee, iced tea, and baked goods from Dunkin’ Donuts to the area.”

The release also states that Jones will share responsibilities for “strategic planning, expansion, and marketing” of the donut venture.

Is there another NFL General Manager who’s also running 50 donut shops? How can this man do everything he tries to do with any excellence? How in the world does Jerry Wayne go from negotiating his Dunkin’ Donuts deal and reviewing the scripts for the commercials and approving the logos for the billboards to running down the hall to watch film on a free agent fullback or to take a phone call from another team regarding a potential trade for an upgrade in the secondary? He sits down with his coaches and he’s interrupted by a phone call from Papa John’s about a coupon deal. He’s talking to Pepsi about a corporate tie-in and Mike Shanahan’s on the other line wanting to visit about a free safety. How can Jerry do both?

He can’t. It’s been obvious for almost two decades. He can’t.

The nice thing for Cowboys fans — how many of you are left? — is that this Dunkin’ Donuts deal wasn’t finalized three years ago. If it were, that new stadium in Arlington would be in the shape of a circle, with a much larger circular hole in the roof, complete with silver and blue sprinkles.



On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Jesus prays to our Father, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God. Jesus declares the coming of the Kingdom of God. He proclaims, “It is at hand!” It’s here! The Kingdom! Look at it!

Jesus brings the Kingdom to earth. He does God’s will on earth just as it is in heaven.

Jesus casts out demons because there are no demons in heaven.
Jesus heals because there is no sickness in heaven.
Jesus feeds because there is no hunger in heaven.
Jesus raises the dead because there is no death in heaven.

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Are you praying this prayer? Jesus said it was a good idea to pray this prayer, to ask God to please do his will on earth just like it’s done in heaven. Are you bringing the Kingdom of God to your part of the earth? Are you obeying his will like the rocks and the trees and the oceans and the animals obey his will?

There is no revenge in heaven. There is no hate in heaven. There are no arguments in heaven. There are no disagreements in heaven. No suspicion. No politics. No war. No division of any kind. No violence, verbal or physical. No mistrust. No gossip. No complaining. You won’t find any of those things in heaven.

Is the will of God being obeyed in your church just like it is in heaven? In your elders’ meetings? In your congregational committees? In your marriage? In your family around your dinner table at night? Are you bringing the Kingdom of God to your workplace? To your school? To the Little League team you’re coaching or the civic club to which you belong?

If God has completely eradicated selfish behavior and gamesmanship and competition in heaven, if that is his holy will, why would you insist on bringing any of that into his Church? Or putting up with it?

The rivers and the trees and the squirrels and the fish all obey God’s will on earth just as it is in heaven. What’s wrong with us?


Rodney Ashlock had just begun his Sermon Seminar session on the book of Esther Tuesday evening when the WeatherBug app on my laptop started chirping. I opened it up to learn that a tornado warning had been issued for parts of Tarrant County that included my home in North Richland Hills. A quick check of the radar revealed an ominous red and purple blob heading right for my neighborhood and a pretty impressive hook echo bearing down on my house.

I dashed outside the lecture hall there on the Austin Grad campus to check in by phone with Carrie-Anne and the girls. She answered her cell phone and her voice was almost drowned out by the sound of the sirens. Before I could get more than a couple of sentences out, I heard our house phone ring. She kept me on line as she answered it. It was the city, calling to warn residents of the coming tornado and to urge them to seek immediate shelter. I asked if she and our daughters were OK.

“Yeah, we’re hiding in the laundry room with the radio and the phone. We’ve got a couple of mattresses in here. The girls are a little nervous. And I’m putting clothes in the dryer.”

Now THAT is a wife of noble character! Protecting the children and doing the wash! Who can find a woman like that? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing.


Too much Dirk last night for the Thunder. Too much Dirk. Here’s hoping Chicago can somehow force a couple of more games in the Eastern Conference series to wear out that unholy trio in Miami and buy the senior Mavs some much-needed down time.



Super Bowl, Ben, and the Bone

I must draw your attention to an excellent Washington Post column written by Fort Worth native Sally Jenkins. It’s about the Super Bowl in Arlington. She mentions the plans to set the attendance record and the fiasco with the seats and the obscene prices of parking spots and nachos. But it’s not just about that. Her article is so much bigger and better than that. She claims that this Super Bowl at Jerry’s Place was, for her, the tipping point. This was the last straw. This was absurdity beyond belief. Beginning with the stadium itself:

It’s the cleanest, safest, nicest stadium anyone has ever visited. It is also the most extravagant and economically stratified. It cost double what Jerry Jones said it would, and taxpayers financed about a quarter of it, yet its innermost marble interiors are totally inaccessible to the average fan.

Jenkins cites the four Navy F-18s that flew over the stadium at the end of the National Anthem — over the domed stadium. At a taxpayer cost of $450,000. She observes that the state of Texas spent $31-million to host the football game while, at the same time, desperately making historic cuts in public education. Five thousand fans paid $200 each to stand in the rain in the parking lot! It’s just too much:

In the end, this Super Bowl taught me a lesson: Luxury can be debasing.

I’m telling you, it’s an excellent article. You can read the whole thing by clicking here.


I’m leaving Sunday afternoon for Searcy, Arkansas to spend a couple of nights with my brother and his family. The ocassion? A full day on Monday with New Testament scholar and theologican Ben Witherington III. (Carley claims that’s a made up name.)

Witherington has written more than 40 books, including an excellent commentary on Revelation that we used as a textbook at Austin Grad. I had the great pleasure two years ago of attending three of his lectures on Revelation at the Austin Grad Sermon Seminar. He paints beautiful pictures with his words. He speaks big. Very big. Grand. He’s an orator of the highest class. A brilliant  and complex man who might even break out into song in the middle of a speech to illustrate a point. And now Harding’s College of Bible and Religion is bringing him in to lecture on the topic of Christian ethics. Witherington’s just written an 1,800 page, two volume book, The Indelible Image, about the relationship between theology and ethics in the New Testament. Three seminars, a Q&A, and a roundtable discussion await us on Monday. I’m hoping Dr. Keith Stanglin is able to get me a seat at the private dinner with Ben before the final session.


Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator Emory Bellard drew it up on a napkin while he and Darrell Royal were having breakfast in an Austin diner in the summer of 1968. A brand new formation that included three running backs, a running quarterback, and offered them up to four or five options on every play. He called it the Wishbone. And it revolutionized football.

Royal used the wishbone to win the national championship in 1969. Bellard used it as a head coach at Texas A&M and Mississippi State. He beat Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide with it and won a few conference titles, too. Won three state championships coaching high school ball, too.

After football, Bellard retired with his wife to a life of golf and fishing in Marble Falls. I met him in 1992. He was our backup color analyst  for the Mustangs high school football games on KHLB Radio. I worked two games with him in the booth. He was also the backup PA guy. When Dick Barkley, the legendary feed store owner, couldn’t make it, they called Emory. I had Emory on my talk show in Marble Falls several times to talk Longhorns and Aggies. He knew everything. All the history. Shoot, he WAS the history! He knew everybody — not because he called people and kept up with them, but because everybody called him and kept up with him. Extremely gracious.

Many times I called him to get some insight into a news story. When Chan Gailey was hired as the Cowboys coach in ’98, it was Emory who gave me the scoop first and then hooked me up with one of Gailey’s old high school girlfriends from Americus, Georgia. She, in turn, faxed me several pictures of Gailey from their high school year book and articles he had written at that time for the high school paper.

Helpful. Humble. Very “aw, shucks” about his place in football legend and lore. Generous and giving. What a great guy.

He died yesterday at 83. A great man. I was always proud to say I knew him. God bless his sweet wife, Susan.



The Big Picture in Benton

At Larry’sFour weeks ago we spent seven days with our great friends Jim & Mandy Gardner and Jimmy & Elizabeth Mitchell at the Northside Church of Christ in Benton, Arkansas (home of Cliff Lee). They always bring in a guest speaker for the adults during their Vacation Bible School. And I was honored to preach the Word from John 14-16 with a reflective and hungry group of disciples.

Side note: I was walking into our church building here at Legacy the Sunday I returned when Kent and Norma Robinson drove up and welcomed me back home. Kent asked me how it went and I told him it was great, but I was exhausted. I said, “They had me speaking twelve times in five days and I didn’t think I had that much to say.” At which Norma leaned over in the truck and responded, “I find that hard to believe!”

GardnerOf course, I had a wonderful time reconnecting with Jim and Jimmy. We were all three on staff together at the church in Marble Falls while I was getting my degree at Austin Grad. Jim always impresses me with his knowledge of God’s Word and the straightforward way he delivers it. He’s very confident and very bold in the way he preaches. And he’s so very kind and gentle with and to the people in his congregation. Always has been. After spending about 30-minutes in his study with an especially cranky brother in Marble Falls one morning, Jim finally stood up and said, “We can do this all day long and accomplish nothing for the Kingdom. I’m going to make some hospital visits. You’re welcome to come with me.”

And the man did.

Jim sees the big picture.

Jimmy ShayAnd then there’s Jimmy. I was reminded all over again about why I love Jimmy. He’s a nut. He’s crazy. He has no shame. He’s hilarious. He’s not afraid of anything. He’ll sing any song and do any voice and play any part. He spent all week in VBS playing a ship’s first mate with the voice and mannerisms of a cross between Conan O’Brien and Harry Caray. He’s sensitive. And loving. And every single thing he does — everything! — is motivated by his love for the kids. He loves them. He’s in their faces all the time. He’s at their schools. He’s in their homes. All he cares about is those young people. And they love him right back.

Jimmy sees the big picture.

Ernest Miller is a 33-year-old Harding graduate from New Jersey. He and his wife LaDonna and their two girls just moved to Benton six weeks ago. He’s the brand new preacher at the Johnson Street Church of Christ in Benton, the black church on the other side of the tracks. I had lunch with Ernest that week at a Chinese restaurant owned by a guy named Jerry Jones — not that Jerry Jones! And then I had the honor of Ernest showing me around the Johnson Street church building and surrounding neighborhood. I had the pleasure of meeting and shaking hands with 83-year-old W. K. Hannah, one of the founding members of that church from almost 60 years ago. He was working the food pantry last Tuesday, just like he does every Tuesday. Greeting people with a warm, “How you doin’?” Moving sacks of groceries into the trunks of cars. Praying with visitors. Telling them goodbye with a heartfelt “God bless you.” Ernest moved gracefully around the parking lot and the building, calling people by name, hugging little old ladies and jousting with the kids like he’s been there forever. He encouraged everybody. He smiled at everybody.

Ernest sees the big picture.

And they’ve all three committed to working on the biggest of pictures: reconciling their two churches, bringing together their two congregations, reuniting the brothers and sisters at the Lord’s table. They want to make the white church and the black church one. One Church. One family. One building. One set of elders. One mission. One purpose. One Body.

The Big Picture

Northside actually planted that Johnson Street church — literally on the other side of the tracks — back in the mid 1950s. Jim’s grandfathers, both of them, were elders at the time. Jim showed me a copy of the church budget from 1962 that lists “colored congregation” as their second largest mission item. It’s not that the Northside church had evil intentions or bad motives 55 years ago. I believe that their motives were pure. They were just wholly misguided. And Jim is working with Jimmy and Ernest and Fernando, their hispanic minister, to make sure that the Kingdom of God in Benton looks like and acts like the Kingdom of God in Holy Scripture.

These two congregations are already working hard to rise above the ungodly distinctions of the artificial boundaries our culture and, sadly, our churches have built between us. They already worship together at monthly gatherings. They eat together at special occasions. They supported each other’s VBS. The ministers from both churches have lunch together once a week.

Christ Jesus came to break down all the barriers, to destroy all the lines, to obliterate our differences. The dream in Benton is that God’s Church there will be an impossible-to-miss example, a living illustration, that in Christ there are no language or ethnic or cultural divisions. We are, together, one body. And all the members belong to each other.

One in ChristIt’s going to take a lot of sacrifice for both churches. It’s going to take patience and understanding and gentleness and kindness. It’s going to require a Christ-like attitude of selfless giving. And it’s going to take time. But it’s a worthy endeavor. It’s what’s demanded of all of us who claim to be followers of our Savior who went out of his way and left everything and gave everything to impartially call everyone to the Father.

I’m excited that tonight Whitney and I are going to join Jim and Jimmy and the Northside youth group at the Rangers game in Arlington. I’m excited that Jimmy is going to lead our worship at Legacy this Sunday, just like the good ol’ days in Marble Falls. And I’m so inspired by what Jim and Jimmy and Ernest and the Church is doing in Benton, Arkansas.

God bless our brothers and sisters there. May they point all of us to greater unity in Christ.



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