Category: Faith (page 1 of 20)

I Trust You Now

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 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 in 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.

~Hannah Whitall Smith

It Runs in the Family

We pass on to our kids the things we’re passionate about. It’s no accident or surprise that kids really love a lot of thing their parents love. You ask a hunter why he loves hunting and he’ll probably say, “It just runs in our family. My dad took me hunting, my granddad took him hunting, and I take my boy hunting. We’re just a hunting family.”

Why do you like Classic Rock? Why do you listen to Led Zeppelin and the Eagles and Van Halen? “My dad loved Classic Rock. That’s all we listened to growing up. He took me to my first Aerosmith concert when I was thirteen. We sang Tom Petty songs in the car all the time. It just runs in our family.”

Carrie-Anne and I are very passionate about Texas. We love Texas, we love being Texans. We want to talk to like Texans and think like Texans and act like Texans and eat like Texans. And our kids are the exact same way. Why? Because we took them to the Alamo and bought them all Davy Crockett coonskin caps when they were little. We took their pictures in huge fields of Bluebonnets every spring. We celebrate Texas Independence Day in our house every year. Carrie-Anne taught the girls how to make guacamole and how to make chili — no beans! And we only put mustard on our hamburgers — not ketchup; and never mayonnaise! When Valerie and Carley cross the Texas state line going to or coming from college, they call us and sing the Texas state song over the phone. Why? Because we did that together on all our vacations and road trips. It runs in the family.

Being Texas Rangers fans runs in our family. My dad took me to Rangers games at the old Arlington Stadium and Carrie-Anne’s parents took her. And we got our kids to the Ballpark as fast as we could. Sure, early on, they only went so they could get pink cotton candy and a Lemon Chill. But we kept going. Dozens and dozens and dozens of hot, sweaty, miserable, summer nights. But today our girls know who Nolan Ryan is and they know Johnny Oates and Rusty Greer and Adrian Beltre and they know Kenny Rogers’ perfect game and they know Nellie Cruz misplayed that ball in right field. Our kids are Rangers fans. Why? You can ask them. It runs in the family.

We pass on our passions. We transmit our treasures.

We all have dreams for our kids. We have goals we want them to achieve. We buy the school supplies at Office Max because we know our boy is going to be a rocket scientist. We buy the special ruler so he can be a rocket scientist. Of course, he uses the ruler to fling spitwads across the room when the teacher’s not looking. We try so hard with our kids. We want so much for them.

But when it comes to our faith and Christianity and our single-minded devotion to the Lord, some of us back off with our kids. We don’t want to push it. You want them to chart their own course and make their own decisions. You want them to have their own faith. You don’t want to force anything on them.

Well, let me tell you something: You’re the only one who doesn’t want to push something on your kids!

Everybody’s teaching your kids and they all have an agenda. The entertainment they consume, the iPhones they use, the designers of the games they play, the textbooks they read, the advertisements they see, the sports they play, and the cultural air they breathe — everybody’s pushing their agenda and their worldview onto your children and grandchildren. You’re the only one who’s not.

What you want — and it takes effort and hard work and commitment — is somebody to ask your kids, “Are you a Christian?” And they answer, “Yeah, of course. It runs in my family.”

Peace,

Allan

Obey the Lord in Front of Your Community

“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” ~Deuteronomy 6:8-9

Your commitment to God is a public matter. After all, what does it mean to write, “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” on your front door? It’s a constant reminder that your first allegiance is to God. Every time you leave your house and every time you come home, it’s a reminder that your loyalty to the Lord controls all your activities both inside and outside your house. It declares to all your friends who visit you and to all strangers who drive by that the Lord is not just the unseen guest in your house, he is the supreme ruler.

And on the gates. The gates were the community gathering place, where things were bought and sold, where justice was administered, and where reputations were made. Dependence on the Lord was to be declared and practiced in the middle of all that, too.

Love the Lord with your whole person and obey the Lord with your whole life.

I think, as Christians, we are subject to a couple of temptations. We are tempted to treat our relationship with God as primarily a private interior thing or only as an exercise in external performance. It can’t be just one of those things. It must be both. Our love for the Lord and our devotion to him alone is certainly rooted in the heart. But it’s demonstrated in the wholeness of our lives, in a passion to speak about our faith with our families, and to publicly declare our allegiance to the Lord in front of the world. This passage says the very decorations in our homes and the things we wear on our arms and around our necks should testify to our loyalties to God.

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

After Delivery

My Aunt Alice finished her race yesterday. And she ran well. She ran very well. In honor of her, I’m posting the following short story my Uncle Gerald shared with me a couple of weeks ago. This story has come to mean so much to both of them in helping to articulate the hope and the reality of everlasting life after death in the presence of our heavenly Father. Uncle Gerald has asked me to read it at Aunt Alice’s funeral this Friday in Kilgore. I’m honored. And I share it with you today, praying it encourages you, too.

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Well, of course! There has to be life after delivery. I believe we’ve been placed here to prepare ourselves for what will be later.”

“Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than we have here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat with our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. Life after delivery is not logical.”

The second insisted, “Well, I think there is something else and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Hogwash! Plus, if there is life after delivery, why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life. After delivery, there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied, “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists, where is she?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her, this world would not and could not exist. And neither could we.”

Said the first, “Well, I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and listen, you can perceive her presence and you can hear her loving voice calling down from above.”

God bless Aunt Alice. May he receive her into his faithful arms. And may God bless Uncle Gerald and our whole family with his merciful blessings of comfort and peace and joy.

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

« Older posts