Another Horsemen Wedding

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Dan’s three children are all married off and living in California, South Carolina, and Austin. And now it begins for another of us Four Horsemen — it’s Jason’s turn.

The Four Horsemen and our families got together this past weekend in Dallas/Garland/Forney/Anna for the glorious occasion of the wedding of Jason and Tiersa’s first-born son, Mason. Yes, Mason went to Harding, met a beautiful Lady Bisons scholarship softball player, fell fast in love, and gave his whole life to her Saturday on the shores of a little country lake in Anna. And we were blessed by God to share it with all the Reeves and each other.


 

It was great to see Dan and Debbie’s new house in the White Rock Lake area of the Dallas-Garland border. It was fun walking (and driving) around Kevin and Anita’s expanding mansion and Henrichson compound in Sunnyvale. We had a blast with Jason and Tiersa and their rapidly growing children. And we also got to spend some really quality time with Chris and Liz Moore and Ray and Gail Vannoy.

We shared meals together. We prayed together. We got caught up on everybody’s kids and jobs and churches. I think we were able to calm Tiersa down a little bit on Friday night when the 300 wooden spoons for the Blue Bell homemade vanilla (instead of a groom’s cake; thank you, Mason!) didn’t come in. We all pitched in together to locate the spoons and Kevin went out and grabbed them Saturday morning, insuring that we didn’t have to eat our ice cream with wooden forks. Dan and I shared a wonderful early morning conversation about our pasts and our futures, drinking coffee and Diet Dr Pepper together, watching the rain before the girls were awake. We all calmed down when the rain finally stopped at about 2:00 Saturday afternoon. And, yes, Jason’s ceremony from start to finish only lasted a promised 14-minutes!


 

I don’t know how he did it. How do you perform the wedding ceremony for your own child? I was barely able to officiate my niece Maryn’s wedding a year-and-a-half ago. Jason has a personal bias against preachers who cry in the pulpit and a personal policy governing it: bite through your lip until the blood is running down your shirt before you shed a tear up there.

They tied the knot, we ate burgers and dogs and cake and ice cream, took a lot of pictures, hugged everybody ‘good-bye,’ and then Carrie-Anne drove the six-hours home while I alternately slept and reviewed my Sunday sermon.

Dan’s done, Jason’s taking his cuts now, and Kevin’s on-deck. His oldest son, Clayton, is getting married to the lovely and sweet Taylor in less than a year. Yeah, I’m taking notes through these shared wedding experiences. I know/hope my time’s coming. Blue Bell ice cream instead of a groom’s cake was a really important takeaway for me.

May God bless Mason and Mack. As they give their lives to each other and give their relationship together to our Lord, may he flood them with his mercies of love and joy and peace. And may their marriage bring eternal glory and praise to the One who brought our four families together eighteen years ago.

Peace,

Allan

Hat Trick!

Dallas Stars, Four Horsemen, Whitney No Comments »

Adam Cracknell scored his first career hat trick last night to help the Stars cruise past San Jose 6-1 at American Airlines Center and Whitney and I were there to see it! Thanks to Brenda we had just a really great night together. Until we settled into our seats at center ice during the warm up, I had forgotten how much I really, really love NHL hockey. For grace and speed and skill and tension and pace and athleticism and teamwork and pure non-stop action, nothing beats the NHL. I forgot. I forgot how much I love hockey. Thank you, Brenda! We had a blast.

We wrapped up our quick weekend trip to DFW this morning by meeting some of our oldest and best friends from Mesquite for breakfast at the Pioneer Restaurant in old Arlington. It turned into a two-hour deal and it easily could have gone until past lunch. Carrie-Anne and I and our family feel so blessed to love and be loved by the Reeves, Millers, and Moores for so long now. Our Lord has faithfully brought us all through so much over the past seventeen years. Together.

Peace,

Allan

One Down, Fourteen to Go

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The oldest daughter of the Four Horsemen’s combined 15 children is getting married this afternoon in Dallas and we’re all assembling to take part in this wonderful and sacred moment together. Little Katie Miller is pledging her life to some boy named Justin today. And they are, in turn, pledging their lives to one another and to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s a blessed day. It’s a sacred day. And we wouldn’t miss it for the world.

These three great friends of mine and their families are the single most influential force in my life. It was almost twelve years ago around my dining room table in Mesquite when Jason and Dan and Kevin and I pledged to give our lives more fully to God and to his Kingdom work in this world. We vowed to stick together as brothers, to support and encourage one another, to protect and defend one another, to live and love and serve together in the name of Jesus until he returns. Together, our families have been through the death of parents, the birth of twins, a divorce and remarriage, cancer, the adoption of another child (hopefully official in less than two months!) and three dramatic career changes. The cop and the jewelry salesman and the architect and the sports radio guy are all four now proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus in various ways, ways that twelve years ago would have seemed unlikely, if not completely impossible. I praise God for the ways these men and their families have impacted me and my family.

We wouldn’t miss today’s wedding for the world. Yeah, we’re going to wind up spending more than 13 hours in the car during a 30-hour period. We left straight from Carley’s school yesterday and won’t get home until after midnight tonight. But there’s no way we couldn’t do it. I believe this weekend is a reminder to us eight adults of the commitments we’ve made to one another and, by God’s grace, have maintained to this point. And, way beyond that, I believe we are passing on to our children a legacy of what it looks like to live and love in committed Christian community. This is what it looks like to be faithful brothers and sisters, this is what it looks like to keep promises, this is what it’s like to bless and serve one another as God in Christ blesses and serves us.

Friendships like this are rare. Extremely rare. My family and I feel so specially blessed to have the Reeves and Henrichsons and Millers in our lives. We are better people, we are better disciples of our Lord because of our relationships with one another. And we intend to continue to show our children just how important these kinds of relationships and commitments are as we walk together in the ways of Christ.

We’re all going to eat at El Fenix this afternoon and then we’re going to sit together while Katie walks down the aisle on her wedding day. The first of maybe 14 more of these weddings. What a wonderful day. What a sacred and blessed day.

May our merciful Father bless Katie and Justin with his richest gifts of love and strength. May their marriage reflect his eternal glory. And may their lives together result in praise to the one who’s brought us together in the name and manner of his great Son.

Peace,

Allan

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The picture’s blurry, but this is what it looks like when four families commit to one another in Christ. We try to live out Romans 12 with one another so that we are all members of the same group and each member belongs to all the others. Katie is ours and now Justin is, too. And they both need to know that we will be praying for them, keeping up with them, and always there for them for the rest of our lives. We enjoyed our time with y’all so much. God bless Justin & Kate!

Lucky To Be Among Them

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“In a good friendship each member often feels humility towards the rest. He sees that they are splendid and counts himself lucky to be among them.” ~C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

The first weekend in March is sacred. It is holy time, set apart for divine purposes. The first weekend in March is when my three greatest friends and I get together for our annual campout. Jason, Dan, and Kevin and I — The Four Horsemen — will not be kept from our yearly gathering. Neither freezing rain nor sleet nor snow nor record lows nor historic drought nor wild animals nor major surgeries will deter us. Not even one of us moving away to Amarillo will keep us from coming together for 36 hours of food, fellowship, encouragement, funny pranks, wild boasts, daring feats, prayer, spiritual conversation, and belly-splitting laughter.

It’s been a little over ten years since we committed to one another around my dining room table that morning in Mesquite. Weekly bible studies gave way to monthly lunches once we all moved away. And now that I’m in Amarillo, it looks like these campouts are the only regular thing we can count on together. We began this sacred tradition in 2006 in Cleburne, froze our backsides off around the lake in Waco the following year, and have spent the past four campouts in a row at Tyler State Park. For this, our seventh annual Four Horsemen Advance (we never retreat!), we moved things back down to Waco where an elder at Jason’s church, the stately Ray Vannoy (“Papa Ray;” roll your ‘r’) has a tract of land just west of town in Speegle.

Dan always sets our itinerary which revolves completely around the food. Jason always determines in what order we pray. But Dan always picks the restaurants and the menu. As soon as my plane landed at Love Field, the Horseman Advance began with a gigantic breakfast at Lucky’s, apparantly one of Kevin’s favorite spots. Jason had a mild restroom encounter there that amused our table. But my encounter with our waiter near the end of our meal (“You can thank me later”) proved to be equally upsetting and hilarious. A drive to Waco isn’t complete without a quick detour to the Czech Stop in West for some kolaches and cookies. We impulsed bought $118 worth of groceries for dinner at the Waco Wal-Mart. Brisket and jalapeno sausage and “gut-packs” for lunch at Vitek’s BBQ. And a wonderful steak dinner cooked over the open fire at the campsite.

Like all our campouts, this one provided a few adrenaline rush moments of daring and adventure. We felt downright apostolic Friday night when not once, but twice, snakes crawled out of the firewood and began writhing at our feet. Jason felt the only biblical thing to do was to crush them with our heels. Since we all have four different opinions about the controversial ending of the Gospel of Mark, we followed Jason’s lead and stomped the snakes instead of picking them up. We fought a little field mouse to a draw: the tiny creature was in need of an eye patch after we got through with him; but we slept restlessly in the fear and knowledge that he was still around. There was also the constant threat of skunk, although an actual sighting was never confirmed. Dan almost threw out his shoulder tossing the football fifty yards against the wind. And Kevin almost undid his back surgery halfway up the brush pile.

In and around and during all that, we talked. And listened. We reflected and reacted. A lot has happened since last year’s Horseman Advance. A lot. Kevin got married and had major back surgery. Dan’s father-in-law, a great friend of his actually, who had lived with Dan and Debbie for more than a dozen years, passed away. Jason moved to Tyler where he’s now preaching at the West Erwin Church of Christ. My family and I moved here to Amarillo. And our Father has been faithful and good and loving and kind through it all. He has carried us. He has blessed us. He has provided and protected, forgiven and restored, over and over and over again.

The greatest blessing through our ups and downs, in our victories and defeats, with our blessings and our trials, is in our friendships with one another. There is mutual encouragement, honest accountability, thoughtful guidance, and unconditional loyalty and love. Kevin blesses me so much with the way he thinks. He forces me to look at things in ways I would never consider if left on my own. Dan blesses me so much with his vision and his heart for people. He makes me think higher and bigger, he makes me dig deeper and wider, he calls me the way my Lord calls me, always attaining to the ideal. Jason blesses me with his faithfulness. He is faithful. Faithful. Faithful. To me. To his wife and kids. To his friends. To his Lord. I can’t imagine ever knowing a more faithful man. He inspires me.

We prayed for one another’s families. We lifted up one another’s churches and elders. We prayed about one another’s ministries and relationships with God. We hugged. We cried. We affirmed our love and loyalty to one another in Christ Jesus, our risen King. And then we quickly changed the subject to baseball. Afterall, we are men; and we were out in the woods. We hit Chuy’s for fajitas on the way out of town Saturday afternoon and that was it. We just waved at the Czeck Stop on the way back to Dallas. Although it was on Dan’s itinerary, there just wasn’t room.

These are the three greatest friends any person could ever hope for. And they are mine. I praise God for these men. And I count myself lucky — no, blessed; blessed by God —  just to be among them.

Peace,

Allan

Oligopistos

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Our youngest daughter, Carley, is quite the artist. She’s always drawing, always creating on the computer, always painting and coloring. And she loves to read. She’s insatiable. Voracious. She’s the kid who won’t put her book down while she walks from the couch to the kitchen to get a glass of water. She walks and reads. She packs a book for every four-minute trip to Wal-Mart or seven-minute ride to church.

And, she’s very talented. Of course. Duh.

Now I’ve been blown away by a poem Carley wrote for a 5th grade contest at Green Valley Elementary. She read it last night at their poetry recital in front of over a hundred students and parents. And, yeah, it’s very good.

Faith will spread through hearts and minds;
Oh, a feeling so divine.
It lifts you up to higher ground,
saving you from yourself.
Though hope is gone and love is dead,
faith still lives on strong.
So walk with pride, but do not test;
come from the shadows and from the dark;
let this feeling fill your heart.
Come with me; keep your eyes on the prize;
walk on water; fly above.
But come with me, oligopistos,
ye of little faith.

That’s right. My eleven-year-old daughter incorporating some New Testament greek into her fifth grade poem. What could possibly make her preacher daddy more proud? If she ever finds a word that rhymes with homothumadon, look out!

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The trash-talking started long before the Mavericks had completed their historic sweep of the Lakers. My sister, Rhonda, who lives in OKC with her basketball freak husband and kids, began texting Whitney and me with predictions of doom for Dallas if they were to meet their beloved Thunder in the conference finals. Once the Mavs beat LA, I started it back up again with, “Would you rather your Thunder beat Memphis in seven games and get swept by Dallas, or lose to the Grizzlies and avoid the humiliation?”

Rhonda and Geoff were in the arena up there in January when the Mavs beat the Thunder in a regular season game in OKC. And they took exception to the way Jason Terry celebrated and, in their words, taunted the crowd. So I get this picture from Geoff on Sunday:

Oh, yeah. It’s on. I’m a little concerned about Kidd and J. J. Barea because the Mavs are facing a young athletic set of guards for the first time all postseason. And there’s no way Dallas will have the same open looks at three-pointers that they got against the older, worn-out, slow to rotate Lakers’ front court. In the end, though, OKC doesn’t have an answer for Dirk. And Tyson Chandler ought to get about five blocks per game. Kevin Durant may average 30-points in this series. And this may very well be his coming out party. But the Mavs will prevail. It just won’t be easy. Dallas in six.

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We hauled the girls out to the Dallas Arboretum on Saturday to take in the beauty of White Rock Lake and all the blooms of spring. We also wanted to check out my great friend Kevin Henrichson’s Little Mermaid castle. Kevin’s architectural firm, GHA, designed and constructed the grand-prize winning castle last February as part of the Dallas Blooms exhibits. And it’ll remain on display there with the other fairy tale castles at the Arboretum through the remainder of 2011.

The castle was nice and all, Kevin, but, honestly, I’m much more interested in your other major design and construction project. Please hurry up and get that In-N-Out location built on Precinct Line!

Peace,

Allan

We Need an Encounter

Evangelism, Four Horsemen, Jesus, John, Texas Rangers 2 Comments »

So my great friend Jason Reeves calls me at about 10:15 this morning. He’s the preacher at the Grayston Church in New Diana, Texas. East Texas. On Lazy Daisy Lane. Seriously, that’s the name of the street. It’s out there, man. I call it Green Acres. When Jason says he’s going to town, he means he’s going to Gilmer. Yeah. So he tells me, “Stanglin, I just got a phone call that you’ve never ever had before in the history of your ministry.”

A woman at his church had called Jason to please come over and shoot a raccoon out of her tree.

He was on his way.

I’m curious as to how it went.

Ah, congregational ministry.

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The priests and Levites are interrogating John the Baptist in the opening chapter of the Fourth Gospel. And the focus of the questioning is John himself. “Who are you? What are you doing?” And John’s answers are “I am not the Christ. I am not Elijah. I am not the prophet.”

“I’m just a voice,” he says, “making the way for the Lord.” And he points to Jesus. “He is the one…”

And this powerful preacher, this amazing proclaimer in the desert who’s drawing all these crowds and getting all this attention, keeps pointing others to Jesus. He deflects the spotlight. He doesn’t seek it and he doesn’t want it. “Look! The Lamb of God!”

He points two of his own disciples in Jesus’ direction. One of those men, Andrew, has an encounter with Jesus and is changed forever. He runs to get his brother. “We have found the Messiah! We have found the Christ!”

Philip has an encounter with Jesus and he’s changed forever. He runs to get his friend. “We have found the one Moses wrote about! We have found the one about whom the prophets wrote!”

These men come face to face with Jesus and they recognize immediately who he is. And they witness. They testify. They declare that Jesus is “Christ.” “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “Rabbi.” “Messiah.” “Son of God.” “King of Israel.” And they cannot be stopped from sharing this revelation with their friends.

I wonder why we don’t grab our friends to share the Good News. Why aren’t we pointing people to Jesus? Well, when’s the last time you had an encounter with him? I’m not talking about a particularly inspirational church service. This is not about participating in a dynamic church program. When’s the last time you really opened yourself up to his leading? When’s the last time you spent an hour in the Gospels with him? When’s the last time you poured your heart out to him in prayer? When’s the last time you allowed him to change you?

In the New Testament, an encounter with the Christ naturally resulted in evangelism. We need an encounter. We need a face to face meeting with our Lord. We need to put aside our inhibitions and give ourselves freely to his transforming power. We need to allow him to change us. To move us. To compel us. We need to be awed again to be in his presence. We need to be blown away again by the fact that he’s rescued us. We need to grasp all over again just how much he loves us. We need to understand who he really is. Because, once we do, our lives will point everyone we know to Jesus.

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The knot on the back of Mark Hooper’s head is good for distracting people during Bible class. It’s a good conversation piece. It’s a physical wonder and a medical curiosity. And today it’s a reminder that hope springs eternal in Surprise, Arizona.

That’s really sick, Mark.

Peace,

Allan