Category: Foreign Missions (page 1 of 7)

Bad Company

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:

Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
Washington Deadskins
Cleveland Browns
Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit Lions
Houston Texans
Dallas Cowboys

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.

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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.”

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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.

Peace,

Allan

Positively Negative

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.

Peace,

Allan

Stacey and Gary

There’s a Toot ‘n Totum gas station and convenience store on 15th and Washington, about two blocks west of our church building. I’m in that store almost every morning getting my large iced tea and, when I’m having a certain kind of day, in the afternoon for a Diet Dr Pepper. Stacey is the manager there and Gary¬† is one of her clerks.

The location of that store means there are all kinds of people who come in: those experiencing homelessness, the economically disadvantaged who live in the area, the transients coming and going on I-40, and all those on their way to and from work. It can be a three-ring circus in there sometimes. There’s the occasional drama in the parking lot. And Stacey and Gary consistently demonstrate grace and kindness to everyone.

Everybody knows Stacey and Gary by name and they know all their customers by name, too. It reminds me of the TV show “Cheers.” Everyone is warmly greeted when they walk through the door, most by name, and everyone is made to feel welcome. It’s a great way to start the day.

The #sentbycentral missions envelope I received in church Sunday contained a $10 bill and I used it this morning to provide a hot breakfast for Stacey and Gary. Ten dollars is not going to change anybody’s life, but it’s all I needed for a Christian act of God’s grace. So with the temperature outside in the teens, I took Stacey and Gary a classic Whataburger breakfast: egg and sausage sandwiches on jalapeno-cheddar biscuits and bacon and sausage tacquitos. And a large Diet Dr Pepper for Stacey.

I told them how they reflect God’s glory in the way they treat all their customers. I told them how they bless me and everyone who walks into that store with their kindness and generosity. I expressed my appreciation for the way they show such concern for their customers and how they try to make and maintain connections. I told them that what they do gives everybody in this neighborhood a place to belong, a sense of community, and that’s also in the category of what our God wants for his children.

When I got to the church building I called the Toot ‘n Totum headquarters here in Amarillo and bragged on Stacey and Gary and their store at 15th and Washington. I told the woman on the phone that the way Stacey runs her store is a blessing to all of us. I told her that store is a tremendous asset to the neighborhood. The woman said she was glad to hear my compliments because she normally only hears complaints.

So, yeah. It seems really, really small. It’s breakfast in a bag on a random Wednesday morning. My prayer is that God uses the breakfast and the compliments to bless Stacey and Gary, to give them a small taste (literally and figuratively) of the goodness of our God and of his love and grace for them in Jesus Christ.

I pray that folks all over Amarillo are being blessed in similar ways this week through Central, in the name and manner of Jesus. Praise him.

Peace,

Allan

#sentbycentral

How do you make every member of your church understand that all Christians are missionaries? How do you adequately communicate, so that it sticks, that all children of God are called to join his salvation mission? Yesterday at Central, we distributed $15,000 among every one of our members and guests in the worship assembly and asked them to use the money to bless somebody this week in the name and manner of Jesus.

The $15,000 came from our foreign and local missions committees — $7,500 from each — and was split up and stuffed into the envelopes on Thursday. Forty-five of the envelopes contained one-hundred dollar bills, forty contained fifty-dollar bills, and the rest ranged from $40 down to $10. And when the time came toward the end of the sermon yesterday, the shuffled envelopes were handed out to every one of the surprised congregants with a charge to use this money to further the salvation mission of our God.

I don’t know what’s going to happen this week in Amarillo. But the pictures are already being posted and the stories are already being shared on social media with the hashtag #sentbycentral

Families are having important missions conversations. Some of our small groups are combining their money to make a significant Gospel impact in someone else’s life. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the ten dollars I received, but if I believe what I told our church yesterday, that money has been provided by God and I am a missionary equipped and sent by Central to proclaim the Good News.

The truth is there are men and women and young folks in our church who know people I’ll never meet. The circles our people run in contain circumstances I’ll never know about. Every child of God is uniquely equipped to minister to somebody the bigger church just isn’t. Or can’t.

Not everybody can spend two weeks in Kenya every summer. Not all of us can volunteer at HopeChoice or Bivins Elementary every week. Maybe there’s no way you could go to Brazil or teach a class at The PARC or join a medical mission to Guatemala. So you don’t feel like a missionary. You don’t see yourself on mission.

The Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ. It says we’ve all been given God’s ministry of reconciliation. Jesus says on the last day the King will judge all of us according to who’s on mission and who’s not.

I hope that yesterday we equipped our people and inspired them to see themselves as missionaries. I pray that, as a result, hundreds of people in Amarillo and beyond will be blessed by our God this week to experience his love and grace through his children at Central.

Peace,

Allan

Missions Sunday Videos

The Lord blessed us with a really fabulous Sunday at Central. Not only did he provide more than $396,000 through our generous church family for local and foreign missions, he filled us with a true sense of his great faithfulness through the Grand Opening of our grand opening. You’ll find here the two videos we showed to our church on Sunday. The first one is the Revelation 7 reading by our local and foreign missions partners, speaking from different contexts in different languages, all wearing white. The second is the time-lapse of our construction project.

$396,890 and Counting

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen!” ~Philippians 4:19-20

We are still riding the wave of Spirit energy and enthusiasm generated by our God’s actions with his people on Missions Sunday yesterday here at Central:

~ $396,890 was generously given to fund our local and foreign missions budget for 2020, far surpassing our set goal of $360,000

~ Amber, Tamara, and Craeceola publicly confessed Jesus as Lord and put him on in baptism

~ Jared Odhiambo, all the way from the Alara village in Kenya, inspired us with his powerful testimony and godly vision

~ Stephanie Goins and Robyn Terrill, from Downtown Women’s Center, honored us with their gracious words

~ The new west entrance, the play space, the coffee bar, Guest Central, and the Central Commons were unveiled to great acclaim with an open house and reception

All of this Sunday morning at Central — proof that our God is working in and through his people for the sake of his Kingdom; testimony to our Lord’s faithfulness to his salvation plans; evidence that the old has gone and the new has come!

As blessings pile on top of blessings, we are increasingly convinced that our Father is keeping his covenant promises to Central and to all of his creation. May he be glorified and may his Son be exalted for ever and ever. Amen!

Peace,

Allan

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