Category: Golf Course Road Church (Page 1 of 11)

The Thing

Nobody gets out of this life without going through a thing. Something unexpected that changes everything. Something hard. Something painful. Sickness. Loss. Betrayal. Divorce. Death. I’m certain you can look back at your life and tell me about the thing you went through. It might have happened a long time ago or you might still be in the middle of it, but everybody goes through a thing.

Carrie-Anne and I are in the thing right now.

My beautiful wife has an echocardiogram at Midland Memorial Hospital at 10:00 this morning and we have a mandatory Chemotherapy Orientation class at Texas Oncology this afternoon at 2:45. Tomorrow it’s blood work and a couple of other labs. She gets her port installed under her right collarbone on Wednesday. And then the first of her 16 chemotherapy infusions will be at the Allison Cancer Center here in Midland on Friday. Carrie-Anne will have an infusion every Friday for 12 weeks and then every other Friday for the last eight weeks. After that, a 92% chance we’ll never see the cancer again.

As I’ve said before, we are both committed to paying attention to our Lord together while we’re faithfully dealing with this thing. We want to hear what God is saying to us, we want to see what he’s trying to show us, we want to receive the gift he is giving us through this thing. We are trying, by God’s grace, to adopt the apostle’s attitude in 2 Corinthians:

“This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” ~2 Corinthians 1:9-10

The Scriptures say these tough times are to teach us, to show us, not to rely on ourselves, but on God. God is at work during this thing. He hasn’t abandoned us. He hasn’t left us. It’s not like God is on vacation and can’t see us until a week from Monday. He is near. He is with us. Where can we go to flee from his Spirit? Nowhere!

So, Carrie-Anne and I are really leaning into the formation zones right now. All four of them. We are reading and learning and listening to testimonials to continue gaining knowledge about breast cancer and its treatments and about how God has been powerfully at work through other cancer situations around us. We are fully engaged with our community of faith at GCR Church and all our Christian brothers and sisters in this congregation, and we are moving forward with our plans to start a new small group with Alan and Jo Douglas. Carrie-Anne and I are in Word and Prayer together every day. And we’re focused on ministering to others. We do not think it’s a coincidence that on two of our trips to M.D. Anderson, Ashleigh Reedy and her family were there at the same hospital at the same time.

The thing gets all of us. God is at work in the thing. And we need to pay attention.

It’s just life. And when life happens, we can wring our hands in despair and say, “I don’t know!” Or we can lift our hands to the Lord and exclaim, “God knows!” We can align our lives with Christ Jesus. We can say with Peter and the apostles, “Only you. Only you, Lord, have the words and the way to eternal life.”

God’s promise in Christ is that everything that’s broken is being fixed and everything that’s gone wrong is being made right. He has proved that promise in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Everything is being made perfect. You and your circumstance. You IN your circumstance.

The Holy Spirit says God will bring to completion the good thing he has started in you. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. Amen.



Losing Proposition

Some of these teenagers here at GCR Church are desperate to get me up front on a Sunday wearing a Dallas Cowboys tie. The problem is that they keep betting on the Cowboys, and that’s always a losing proposition.

The latest delusional young person to bet on the Cowboys with me is Graden McQueen. He’s about as hard core a Cowboys fan as anybody I’ve met not named Whitney. Graden approached me last Sunday with the wager. We negotiated the details and came to the agreement that if the Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl, I would wear a Cowboys tie on Super Bowl Sunday and if the Cowboys don’t make it to the Super Bowl, Graden would wear a t-shirt sporting the logo of the team that knocked them out.

It’s a sucker bet. But Cowboys fans are suckers.

Graden took it hook, line, and sinker.

When Dak threw his first interception against the Niners, I texted Graden’s dad, Marc. “Ask Graden what size t-shirt he wears.” About a minute later, I received the reply: “Graden responded with some trash talk that might get him grounded.”

Well, Graden made good on his bet today. He wore the ugly 49ers shirt I got him and he wore it well all through Bible class and our worship assembly. He’s a good sport and a great young man. And I think he enjoyed the attention a little more than he was supposed to.



Breakthrough Retreat

We had 19 of us out at The Way here in Midland this weekend for the first of twelve Breakthrough Retreats related to our new emphasis on transformation and mission at GCR Church. We engaged our God together through Word and Prayer, exploring several ancient Christian practices and spiritual disciplines. Dwelling in the Word. Praying Scripture. Borrowed Prayer. Imaginative Reading.

A wonderful side benefit to these experiences in community is the connection made, not only with our Lord, but also with one another. You really hear the hearts of your brothers and sisters in Christ when you are listening to the voice of God together in Bible passages and four-hundred-year-old songs and two-thousand-year-old prayers. Blessing one another with words from the Psalms. Discerning God’s will together. Placing ourselves in the Story of God. Sharing holy conversations around our meals. Worshiping in that beautiful chapel at The Way. I know 18 of my brothers and sisters in Christ a whole lot better today than I did 48 hours ago. And it’s a tremendous blessing.

The one discipline we need to include in our next retreat is how to take a group photo. Look at that picture! Dee seems to be intentionally hiding. Eric and Meagan are barely visible. Reagan and Clay seem to have their own thing happening there on the left. Ashlee’s laughing. And I don’t know why we let Marc wear the Aggies gear on the front row.

We’re wanting every member of our GCR Church to participate in one of these Breakthrough Retreats over the next two years. The next retreat is a morning thing on the church campus for young families with kids on February 18. The next overnight retreat at The Way for adults and anybody who’s a high school freshman or older is March 10-11.

I highly recommend it. And I believe any of those other 18 folks in that picture would say the same thing.



33 Sundays in the Gym

Sunday was our first Sunday in the gym, the first of 33 Sundays we’re worshiping together in the GCR Church gym due to the remodeling work being done in our worship center.

Who’s ready to sign up right now for 34?

It was absolutely fabulous.

Oh, yeah, we were crowded in there – nearly 500 of us crammed together on those plastic chairs. We were sitting in unfamiliar places a little too close to unfamiliar faces. Not much of a buffer zone between seats and rows. Some of us hadn’t had to pick a seat on Sunday morning in decades and it was a bit disorienting. We couldn’t find our spouses, we weren’t sure where the kids were. It took a while for us to get settled in.

But, man, it was wonderful. So wonderful.

When I asked the church to say something to the person next to them, every single person in the room actually had somebody next to them. Nobody ate and drank the communion meal alone. And we were all singing. All of us! Nobody felt like they were singing by themselves. We could hear the people around us because they were right next to us and it encouraged us to sing together. I could see everyone’s faces while I was preaching. I could hear their responses to the Scriptures and the proclamation. I could react to puzzled faces or out-loud questions or tears I could see after a particular video. I was a better preacher Sunday because I was preaching with the congregation and not at the congregation.

The close physical togetherness on Sunday generated some serious energy, a vibe you could actually feel, in the air, on the faces,

Now, I’m not naive to think everyone had the same experience as I did. Not everybody is going to like being that close to so many people. Even those who loved this past Sunday in the gym might grow weary of the inconvenience after weeks 20 or 21.

But God is doing something with us during these 33 Sundays. Our Lord is changing us, transforming us, shaping us more into the image of his Son. He is making us a Holy Spirit community. This time in the gym is forcing us to consider the needs of others more important than our own. As we sit in the middle of the rows instead of on the aisles, as we make room for others, as we sit farther back or closer up than we’re used to, as we compromise and accommodate, we are becoming more like Christ. Yes, God is doing something in us and through us while we’re in the gym and we should pay attention to it. We must be open to it. We need to turn on our radar and tune in our antenna to hear what God is telling us, to see what God is showing us, and to receive what God is  giving us during these 33 Sundays.

We’re going to be changed by this temporary arrangement. We’re going to be a different congregation in August. And we should all be really excited about that.


Carrie-Anne and I are meeting with an oncologist here in Houston at 2:00 this afternoon. We anticipate getting answers to our hundreds of questions and deciding on some kind of game plan and time frame going forward. I’ll keep you posted here when I am able.



Advent #5 Christ

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and it falls on the Lord’s Day and it’s beautiful. We won’t only be gathering with our families in our homes, we’ll be gathering with our brothers and sisters in Christ in beautiful worship centers designed for coming together in the presence of God. We won’t just be eating turkey and ham and jalapeno corn with our relatives, we’ll also be eating and drinking the communion meal together with our Lord and with one another as members of his eternal Body. We won’t only be unwrapping presents purchased at stores and online, we’ll be receiving the gift of Christ’s unmitigated peace and joy through song, prayer, Scripture, and the proclamation of the Good News with fellow believers. What a blessing!

Tomorrow at GCR, we’re planning a traditional Christmas service with Christmas hymns, candle lightings, a story time with our kids on stage, and readings from Luke 2. I’m going to show a whole bunch of pictures from our trip to Bethlehem in a sermon we’re calling, “For All People.” There will also be a photo area for family pics and hot chocolate and candy canes.

The Bundys and Hills are lighting the Advent candle at the beginning of tomorrow’s assembly. Here’s the script we’re using:

Today we light the center candle of Advent, the candle that symbolizes the arrival into this world of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This candle is white, to represent the light that now shines into the darkness.
Jesus is born! Jesus has come! Jesus is God with us!
Jesus is our eternal hope! Our surpassing peace! Our everlasting joy!
The curse is no more, God’s covenant promises are fulfilled, and we live today and forever in righteous relationship with the Lord and with one another because Jesus Christ is born!

Luke 2:8-14

Christmas Day won’t fall on Sunday again until the year 2033. This is special. Where will you be in eleven years?  How old will your kids be? Or your grandchildren? Make tomorrow special, make it an out-of-the-ordinary Christmas. Take the opportunity to teach them and show them and experience with them what’s really important to us and why. Take ’em to church.


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