Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in which disciples of Christ in this country publicly reaffirm our commitment to showing love, respect, and grace to every single human being. We proclaim the truth that every human life is created by our God in the image of our God and is deeply loved and cherished by our God. Every color, every gender, every race, every age; born and unborn, rich and poor, physically fit and physically challenged, mentally and emotionally stable and mentally and emotionally troubled — all human life is created and loved by the author of life, the Almighty Father of Heaven and Earth.
This is also a day when Central celebrates our Gospel partnership with HopeChoice and the beautiful and powerful work they do in our Amarillo community in the name and manner of Jesus.
In the mostly lousy year of 2020, 591 young pregnant women walked through the doors at HopeChoice thinking about abortion. Of those 591 young ladies, 580 changed their minds and decided on life for their babies. More than a hundred of those women made some kind of decision for our Lord Jesus Christ.
That good work has not slowed down during the pandemic. And we are so honored and blessed by God to be a part of it.
You haven’t lived until you’ve watched classic Christmas shows at a drive-in theater while it’s snowing. And it’s especially cool when the giant screen is on a tractor trailer and the theater is the church parking lot!
The outside temperature was right at freezing while it was snowing and sleeting all afternoon and into the evening. But that didn’t keep a whole bunch of us from showing up for the barbecue dinner and the frigid double feature here at Central. In fact, watching the shows through the snow added a great deal of novelty and excitement to the already special event.
All of us were treated to barbecue sandwiches from Fat Boys before we settled into our parking spaces, tuned our radios to 100.3-FM, and set our cars’ heaters on “medium.” We flashed our lights and honked our horns with glee when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” began — the little round-headed kid was more depressed than I remembered. We delighted during the intermission when Santa Claus and his helpers arrived with gourmet popcorn and candy bars for all the cars. And we quoted the lines and sang along with the songs during the main feature, the 1964 Claymation classic, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
“Silver and Gold.” “Holly, Jolly Christmas.” Yukon Cornelius and the weird licking of his pickax. The Island of Misfit Toys with the Charlie-in-the-Box and the over-the-top dramatic psycho doll. And why were Santa and Donner and the head elf so grouchy? Clearly, all those elves were the first anti-dentites. And Santa had to be fat in order to be happy — Mrs. Claus knew it! There’s a lot going on there.
Everybody stayed in their cars and waved and honked at proper distances. Everybody seemed to have a really great time. And most everybody waited until this morning to clean the popcorn and potato chips up out of their vehicles.
We’re doing it again in two weeks, on December 16. I don’t know what we’re going to watch yet, but I’m rooting for the 1970 Claymation “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” I just want to say “Burgermeister, Meisterburger” from the pulpit.
Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Julio Franco…
The sign has arrived and it’s finally becoming a reality: Amarillo will have a Chuy’s restaurant and it will open in mid-January! For two years we’ve been teased with rumors of land purchases and permits, remodeling and renovations, strategy revisions and pandemic delays. I had just about given up hope when the truck and trailer rolled into town carrying that big beautiful sign! If everything can continue now on schedule, move over Abuelo’s! In less than three months, it’s all chicken enchiladas with the Boom Boom sauce and that green chili rice!
My great friend, college roommate, Delta brother, and roofing partner Mike Osburn is running for re-election as an Oklahoma State Representative from the district that includes our old Edmond stompin’ grounds. His new TV ad features his wonderful wife, Holly, and their three kids, and it’s terrific.
Following their 5th loss of the season on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys made big news yesterday by signing a backup punter to the practice squad. Yes, you read that correctly. Special teams director John Fassell says they signed Hunter Niswander as insurance, in case of an injury to Chris Jones or Greg the Leg. That’s right. Not a defensive back or linebacker, not an offensive lineman. This team now has two punters. With their turnover ratio at -13, do they even need one?
In his one-and-a-half quarters of relief for the concussed Andy Dalton, Cowboys quarterback Ben DiNucci suffered more sacks against Washington Sunday than completed passes. His line after the game was that, coming out of James Madison University, he’s never really seen pass rushers like Chase Young. Oops.
If I’m being generous — very, very, very generous — I can’t see the Cowboys finishing this season at anything better than 5-11. If they split with every team in this atrocious division and if they split their games against Minnesota and the Bengals (a big IF), they’ll finish with a Dave Campo record. And Jerry Wayne will say they’re just one offensive lineman and one defensive playmaker away. Or punter.
We’re celebrating another fabulous Missions Sunday here at Central. After sharing the communion meal together with our 14 local and foreign missions partners, our church family gave $335,296 towards our missions efforts in 2021! That’s a lot of money for one church our size to give in one day! And it’s still coming in! Praise the Lord! I’m so blessed by our God to belong to a church that puts God’s mission to others at the front and center of our existence and then puts it money there, too. This is such a deep part of who we are as a congregation. This is the way we express our faith in God and experience the abundance of his blessings. And this is one of the most significant ways we’re all connected.
Bill Parcells famously declared, “You are what your record says you are.” With that in mind, here is a list of the teams in the NFL who have not won a divisional playoff game in at least 25 years:
This is the worst of the worst in the NFL, the teams that have gone the longest at being the most irrelevant. This is the company the Cowboys have been keeping since 1995. The Cowboys are not one player or one coach away. The Cowboys are the Bengals and the Lions and the Dolphins.
At least it can be said that we are watching history with this current version of the Cowboys. Only three teams in the history of the NFL have given up more than the 218 points Dallas has given up in its first six games. The last time it happened was in 1961. Statistically speaking, we are watching the worst defense in the NFL in my lifetime! Arizona averaged almost seven-and-a-half yards per play last night!
But it’s not just the defense. Eighty-four of those 218 points given up this year have come off Dallas turnovers. The Cowboys committed four more in last night’s debacle against the Cardinals, two on fumbles by the highest paid running back in NFL history on back-to-back possessions. Andy Dalton looked lost. And the Cowboys may as well have set up five chairs on the line the way the Cards defense was running through to the backfield.
On this day in 1950, Thomas Earl Petty was born in Gainesville, Florida. At the age of 26, with his band of mostly childhood friends, The Heartbreakers, he released their self-titled debut album and I had a rock-and-roll companion I could grow old with. In his memory, check out this promotional video of a little-known deep cut from that first album, “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
I love the rebellious teenage angst lyrics in that song. This is the young Tom Petty, but anybody could see he was already a genius at turning a phrase and writing a really good lyric:
“Your mama don’t like it when you run around with me / but we got to hip your mama that you got to live free.”
While we’re at it, here are my favorite lines from the other nine songs on that first Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album.
“I can’t stop thinkin’ about how I dig rockin’ around with you.”
“There is no sense in pretending / your eyes give you away / something inside you is feeling like I do / we’ve said all there is to say.”
“Said it’s so good, said it’s unreal / might not last, but it’s no big deal.”
“Well, the moon sank as the wind blew / and the street lights slowly died.”
“A roar turned into whispers.”
“You never said you had no number two / I need to know about it if you do / If two is one, I might as well be three / it’s good to see you think so much of me.”
“You got ruby lipstick, rose petal rouge / dime store jewelry, cheap perfume.”
“White light cut a scar in the sky / thin line of silver / the night was all clouded with dreams / wind made me shiver.”
“Well, she was an American girl, raised on promises / she couldn’t help but thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else / after all it was a great big world / with lots of places to run to / and if she had to die tryin’, she had one little promise she was gonna keep.”
Great Cities Missions has released a really wonderful video that highlights the missionaries, church planters, and congregations they equip and support all over Latin America and in Spanish-speaking churches in the U.S. The video is hosted by Grant Boone of CBS Sports, a great friend of GCM, and it really captures the passion of Kelley and Brian and Chris and all our great partners in this extraordinary Gospel organization. Junior and Patricia Lira are featured at the beginning, Byron and Sandra Cana are seen passing out food and resources in Bogota, Max Lucado makes an appearance at the end, and our own Leon Wood’s surprise cameo steals the whole thing! Watch the video; you’ll be encouraged and inspired.
At Central, we are incredibly honored and blessed to be founding partners with Great Cities Missions for almost 50 years. And we love celebrating our friendships during Missions Month and giving the glory and praise to our God.
With the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Amarillo and within our church family, I was concerned that last night’s Central worship event at the city’s Botanical Gardens might be sparsely attended. “I Come to the Garden Alone” was not on the set list, but I was afraid it might be the reality.
Not even close.
Between 70-80 of us showed up last night to enjoy the beauty of the gardens and worship together in song, Scripture, and prayer. The weather was absolutely beautiful under that big shady oak tree, the butterflies were doing their thing, the fellowship was sweet even from behind our masks, and the fall decorations added a wonderful touch to the evening. A bird pooped on Hannah and a few of us got hit by falling acorns, but it was a really nice evening together as a church family.
The theme of the evening went along with our Missions Month theme: “Connected.” We are connected together in that we all need the same grace of God, we are all saved by the same blood of Jesus, we all share the same Holy Spirit, and we are all sent on the same mission. When our nation feels so fractured, when our families and neighbors seem so separated, when our church is more scattered than gathered, when the whole world is more focused on the distance and the differences between us, we need to intentionally remember all the things we have in common. Now is the time to consider the countless ways we are attached.
Worship does that. Singing the same songs together to the same Lord. Reading the same passages of Scripture together out loud as a community of faith. Praying together on behalf of those who are not with us, but to whom we are so connected. Being reminded of who we are and where we’re going and who’s getting us there.
All who attended, I think, really needed what happened last night. I know I did. I have to remind myself once or twice every day that so much of what’s happening around me is completely out of my control. Things with our church, things in our city, things in the world — I have no control over hardly any of it right now. So I shouldn’t worry about it. I shouldn’t let it stress me or get me down. The only One who is in total control is our Father and he wants nothing but good for me and for the people I love. I remembered that again as Whitney led us in prayer last night. What a blessing she was to everybody in the garden and what an immeasurable encouragement it was to her. I remembered it while watching Melissa struggle with her young son as she led us in worship. What a picture of perseverance and commitment to her kids and to her church family. I was reminded while we were singing “Amazing Grace” and “Days of Elijah” together last night with so many dear and faithful Christians. The days of great trial? The days of tribulation? Behold, he comes!
Worship connects us to each other and to our Lord and to his great promises. I’m grateful to God for meaningful times like last night.
Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Pat Verbeek…
Mainly to assure my co-workers and appease a couple of our church elders, I submitted myself to a Covid-19 test yesterday. I came out positive for burning nostrils and watery eyes and negative for the coronavirus. Everybody around me can breathe a huge sigh of relief. While wearing a large mask.
The Houston Texans should have fired Bill O’Brien at least four years ago, long before he traded away Jadeveon Clowney, DeAndre Hopkins, and all those draft picks. The Texans have the highest payroll in the NFL this year and they have started out 0-4. Reminds me of another embarrassingly futile NFL team in Texas.
When a team begins a football season at 1-3, it has a 14% chance of making the playoffs. That statistic will probably be skewed a bit this year because the NFC East is led right now by a team with one win. The Cowboys might win this division with a 7-9 record. But they already have a 100% chance of extending their streak of consecutive seasons without winning a divisional playoff game to 25 years. They should design another commemorative patch. “Silver Substandard” or something like that.
Missions Month is my favorite season at Central.
I’ve added our middle daughter Valerie’s brand new blog, “The Kitchen Sink,” to my links on the bottom right hand side of this page. Valerie is the newly-married, newly-employed Youth Minister at the Contact Church in Tulsa. She just launched the blog over the weekend and just posted her first article about our (Christians) and her (personal) relationship between our citizenship in heaven and our national politics. You can click here to read it or scroll through the links on the right. Man, I really love this girl. I admire Valerie. I wish I had the same passion for the Kingdom when I was her age. I’m really blessed to be her dad. I’m very thankful to God.