Category: Central Church Family (page 1 of 44)

Back from Chicago

I spent Saturday through Wednesday in Chicago on another of these nine quarterly retreats with Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Community. And while Mary and Hannah and I did some really great things up there, I’m struggling to get caught up with all the really cool things we missed here at home.

We always try to work in a fun event or two in Chicago as a needed balance to the oftentimes difficult self-reflection and introspection that happens on these retreats. We’ve been to a White Sox game, we’ve taken in the architectural boat tour (a lot more fun than it sounds), we’ve been to Harry Carey’s restaurant, and we’ve done the Bean downtown, Grant Park, and a comedy club. This time around we scheduled two things: the Chicago art museum and Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know we had to get a picture with the Ferris Bueller painting and Hannah had to get reprimanded more than once for getting too close to the art. And then Tuesday we hooked up with Grace, who lives in California, and Phil, who lives in another part of Texas — they’ve both become great friends — and saw “Hamilton” together at the historic downtown Chicago CIBC Theatre. The words came way too fast for me, but what a show! I wish I could see it again because I know I missed a bunch of funny, clever lines. The moving stage, the creative writing, the over-the-top performances, the comedy, the history — very impressive!

So, while we were away, Virginia topped Texas Tech in overtime to win the national championship. That’s fine. Nobody wanted Texas Tech to win. Except Tiffani and George. And they finished first and second in our annual Central staff bracket contest. Bragging rights and a free lunch. And, yes, Tiffani’s guns are up all year around. Heading into the Elite Eight, I was in first place and still had all four of my Final Four teams alive. I just needed Duke or Purdue or Kentucky or Gonzaga to win. Just one of those four teams. Just one more win, it didn’t matter who it was. But they all four lost and I’m watching it from a tiny TV at Lou Malnati’s Pizza in Chicago.  Good thing I had that deep dish supreme to console me. Final numbers: Tiffani-75, George-72, Kevin-71, Allan-70.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles opened up their inaugural home season in our brand new downtown ballpark on Monday. And I missed it! So we got there as fast as we could — last night — and watched our AA San Diego Padres affiliate beat the Corpus Christi Hooks in an entertaining slug fest. It was cold, too cold for baseball. But that’s always going to be Amarillo in April. It was 88-degrees on Wednesday and then 53-degrees yesterday. I’m going again Sunday when it’s supposed to be in the lower 70s. This is Whitney, Carrie-Anne, Karen, Mean Jean, Greg, and me trying to stay warm in Dale and Karen’s great seats behind home plate. What a beautiful ball park! I’m hoping to make about 30 of these games this summer.

I also missed Dirk Nowitski’s last game as a Dallas Maverick and I’ve had to go on-line to watch the stirring tribute the Spurs gave him in their arena in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. I’ve always admired the Spurs as a classy organization with a lot of pride and professionalism. We’ve all come to expect that from the Spurs. But they cranked it up a few notches for Dirk’s last game. During the introductions, they showed a video of Dirk highlights, mostly of Dirk dunking on Tim Duncan and shooting over Tony Parker and faking out Manu Ginobelli — it was a highlight reel of Dirk beating the Spurs! How really cool and unexpected! The Mavericks and Spurs are bitter Midwest Division rivals and they have played some significant games against each other over the years. There was about a ten year period there where the stakes were incredibly high every time these two teams faced off. And the highlight reel brought Nowitski to tears. And if you have a heart at all, it’ll probably choke you up, too.

Lastly — man, this is sports-heavy today — the NHL playoff season has begun and the Dallas Stars are in. Wednesday night they came from behind to beat Nashville 3-2 in the best-of-seven opener and I watched every exciting minute of it. It’s been a while for the Stars and I forgot just how intense and crazy the NHL’s second season really is. Breath-taking. Edge of your seat. So much fun. It’s border-line blasphemous to say, but NHL playoff hockey is better than football. Game two is tomorrow. Go Stars.

Peace,

Allan

Moving Josh

Thanks so much to the Central students and families who showed up this afternoon to move Josh and Stephanie and Hayden out of their U-Haul from Round Rock and into their new home in Amarillo. The Jones family is finally here! We’re grateful to God for bringing us together at this time and we’re all beside ourselves with anticipation for what our Lord is going to do in and through Josh and our kids at Central. Thanks to Kami for bringing the ice cream sandwiches. Thanks to Corbin for recommending Gorilla Glue. And thanks to Greg for not wrecking Josh’s scooter.

Peace,

Allan

Welcome Josh Jones!

After six months of interviews, meetings, prayers, conversations, phone calls, consults, bowling, and 180 Sharky’s burritos, we have a brand new Youth Minister at Central! Josh Jones has been serving for three years as the Student Minister with the Round Rock Church of Christ just north of Austin. He and his wife, Stephanie, and their four-year-old son, Hayden, will be moving up here to Amarillo the first week of April and Josh will begin his work with us April 8. In the meantime, check out the video for a greeting from Josh and his family and click here for his bio page on our church website.

Thanks so much to the awesome members of our Student Minister Search Team: Kent & Dixie, John Todd & Kami, Collin & Paula, Scott & Rachel, Michael & Anita, Doug & Mandi, and Steve & Connie. And praise God for his faithfulness to our entire church family! We’re all so looking forward to worshiping, serving, and working together with Josh!

Peace,

Allan

Open Your Eyes

We are so blessed by God to be alive today during this particular time. We are so privileged to be alive during this current chapter of God’s Story. Right now, today, we are living during the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God! Because of the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit on all people, through the Church, we get to see things and experience things nobody else could!

We get to participate as co-workers with God as he redeems and restores his creation. We get to experience Gods’ Spirit moving into and re-creating people. We get to watch as God moves into a place and reclaims it for his glory. The prophets could only speak of such things; we get to live it! Israel’s kings could only imagine the worldwide spread of God’s reign; we get to help fund it! Peter says angels long to see such things; we get to see them and live them every day!

Here at Central, we’ve watched and participated as the Route 66 strip club has been transformed into a place where every day 50 homeless and marginalized men and women gather for Bible study and grace and love and dignity and Christian community in the presence of God!

We’ve painted and prayed and stacked diapers and sorted car seats as the Planned Parenthood building down the street has become a place where nearly 900 young women last year said “No” to abortion and said “Yes” to God’s promise of life!

Open your eyes. God’s Kingdom is breaking out everywhere around us. Broken things are being fixed, what’s wrong is being made right. We’re so blessed by God to live when we do, right now, in the wonder and joy of his visible reign.

Peace,

Allan

Mission Ignition

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, people will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you, their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” ~2 Corinthians 9:12-15

Two years ago the shepherds and ministers presented to the Central church a bold undertaking, a truly ambitious campaign: The Ignite Initiative. We wanted to fund our church vision, we wanted to light a fire under our mission. We wanted to impact our church neighborhood by enhancing the Christian ministry we’re already doing in and through our facilities — more and better parking, our main entry and welcome center, repairs and updates in our worship center, a better play space for our children’s ministry, and a large ground-floor ministry space. We wanted to increase and enhance what we already do so well in being generous with our building. We also wanted to partner with local organizations who are already meeting the physical and spiritual needs of people in our city. More money, more volunteers, more time and energy — we really wanted to deepen those partnerships together. And we wanted to bring our foreign missions efforts under the umbrella of the overall vision of Central. Not a separate priority, not a different value, but an equal part of God’s plan to work in and through our church for the sake of the world.

Two years ago we all pledged to give $7.9-million to fund the Central vision. In the past 24-months, we have given $8.3-million!

Two years ago we all prayed together in our worship center about Ignite. We dreamed about giving a bunch of money to Martha’s Home so they could hire their first-ever social worker. We believed that would dramatically increase the ministry they’re doing there.

We imagined giving The PARC a ton of money so they could be open five days per week instead of four, bringing more of our city’s homeless population into Christian community.

We had a vision of giving money to Bivins Elementary to level the playing field for all 550-students there with a goal of changing the at-risk culture of that school.

We dreamed of giving more money to Gratitude House so more women and children coming out of abuse and addiction can receive the Christian support they need while they learn to make it in their new lives.

We imagined giving a lot of money to CareNet to provide more education and resources for young girls and more counseling and training for unwed mothers and more Christian love and support for the devastated families; we thought it might change the city of Amarillo.

We planned to give more money to our foreign missionaries so more preachers can be trained and more churches can be planted and more souls can be saved and more of the world can be reclaimed for our Lord Jesus.

And we had a vision for finally starting to pay attention to our church building again so we can double, or even triple, the numbers of people and groups who use our campus every week; we dreamed of making our building an even bigger and wider on-ramp toward a relationship with God and God’s people.

That was two years and $8.3-million ago.

We cannot out-dream our God. We can’t out-imagine our Lord. We can’t out-give or out-vision or out-mission God.

Today, our Ignite Initiative has come to an end. Praise God for his miraculous grace that has worked in us and through us to his glory. But we don’t look back. And we don’t just sit where we are. We look forward. Over the past two years, our DNA as a church has been fundamentally altered. Our vision as a church has become more clear, our mission is much more focused.

Lots of churches spend all their energy thinking about yesterday and today. Most churches either spend their time talking about the glory days of long ago or putting out the urgent fires of right now. But that’s not Central. Central is oriented toward the future. For 110-years, this church has always looked ahead, we’ve always planned for tomorrow, we’ve always given and prayed and planned for what’s next, what’s coming. With everything we know God is doing in our immediate neighborhood, with everything we know God is doing in our city and around the world, now is not the time to back off or sit tight. Now’s the time to hit the gas.

“We constantly pray that our God may count us worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of ours and every act prompted by our faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Peace,

Allan

Glimpses and Tastes

Using the glorious Faith Ring of Honor in Hebrews 11, we’ve defined “faith” as bold action in response to the promise of God regarding an unseen future.

Most of the heroes in Hebrews 11 never received the fulfillment of the promise until after they had died. The Scriptures tell us “They saw the promises and welcomed them from a distance” and “None of them received what had been promised.” They all died first. A lot of them died horribly.

I don’t know why some of God’s faithful children are delivered and rescued and made whole in this life and other children of God, just as faithful, are made to suffer and die. I don’t know. I do know that while none of these faith exemplars received what had been promised until after they died, they were given glimpses. They were all given little peeks of the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Word. A taste. Abraham was given a son. Joseph was told about the exodus. Moses saw the Promised Land.

And we get those same glimpses. Every time a person comes up out of that water, full of God’s Holy Spirit, forgiven and redeemed and restored — that’s a glimpse. Church potlucks and congregational meals are a holy preview of heaven where Isaiah says the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich foods and the finest of wines, where death is defeated and all the nations are eating and drinking together. Those little glimpses sustain us. They empower us. They fill us with confidence that, yes, our God is alive and, yes, he is faithful to his word and, yes, his promises will all be fulfilled!

Faith is our bold action in response to those holy promises regarding the unseen future.

By faith, eighteen years ago, the Central Church chose to stay in downtown Amarillo and minister to the immediate neighborhood because God says he wants all men and women to come to him, he’s not willing that any should be lost, but that all will be saved.

By faith, in 2013, Central gave more money to foreign missions and committed to sending more missionaries because God’s Word says someday every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

By the faith, the Central Church partners in worship and service with First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street United Methodist Churches because our Lord Jesus says if we are united together in him, if we’ll tear down the walls between us, the whole world will know.

See, when we live in the verbs of our faith, we treat the future as the present and we treat the invisible like the seen.

By faith, Doug and Mandi Richardson and Shane and Robin Self lead the Senior Huddle.
By faith, Bret McCasland preaches the Gospel in India.
By faith, Scott McNutt teaches the women at Gratitude House how to check tire pressure and oil levels in their cars.
By faith, Becky Nordyke cooks and serves the grieving, whether she knows them or not.
By faith, Ira Purdy shepherds.
By faith, Aleisha Malone prays with Middle School girls.
By faith, Todd Walker passes out candy every Wednesday night.
By faith, Hannah McNeill smiles and serves at Loaves and Fishes.
By faith, Peggy Blanton goes out of her way to complement and encourage everybody.
By faith, Etta Peters invites her friends to church.
By faith, Roger Kyzar and Pam Pearson praise God. Still.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” ~Hebrews 10:35-36

Peace,

Allan

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