Category: Golf Course Road Church (Page 1 of 7)

Holy Land Recap

It took fifteen years and a little peer pressure from her new friends in Midland, but my wife Carrie-Anne finally went with me to Israel and it was a blessing that defies description. Our youngest daughter, Carley, accompanied us along with 23 beautiful Christian friends from Midland, Amarillo, Henrietta, Fort Worth, California, and Hawai’i. What a thrill, personally, to share my love of the Holy Lands with Carrie-Anne and Carley, to show them the places that mean so much to me, to experience it in brand new ways through their eyes.







Carley endured the twelve-hour flight from JFK to Tel Aviv with earplugs, an eye mask, and an old Nike hoodie pulled together around her face. But once we arrived, she was all in. She would give our trusted guide Anton about 25-seconds at each site and then she’d be off with her camera, climbing the walls, going behind the ropes, breaking international laws. She never was as interested in what was happening as she was in what else might be happening. And her mood was a little too dependent on the kind of food that was available. So we were all much better off as a group when we found real Dr Pepper at that store in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter (where else?) and that delicious Papa De Pizza. Carley marveled at Caesarea on the Sea, hiked the ancient Serpent Path to the top of Masada, took the obligatory picture with an IDF soldier, climbed all those steps to the top of the tell at Beth Sha’an, and ate a lot of Slim Jims. We laughed a lot. We watched a generational storm together on the Sea of Galilee. And she read the Christ hymn aloud while we worshiped on the banks of the Jordan River.







I was a little worried about Carrie-Anne. She doesn’t like to sweat. Which is to say, she doesn’t like to be outside when it’s 73-degrees or hotter. And her hair requires an abundance of preparation and maintenance. But she did it. And I love her for it. She floated the Dead Sea, waded through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and tried falafel. Once. We sang “It Is Well”  together at St. Anne’s Church next to the Pools of Bethesda and wiped the tears from each other’s faces when we were through. She was disgusted by the garbage at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and enthralled by the view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. And she helped keep me organized and calm.

Carrie-Anne reminds me how to worship. And how to relax. And how to love Jesus. She is my partner. She reminds me how to receive and give the Lord’s grace. And I praise God that we finally did this together.






Doug never let up in his enthusiasm for the water and for the climb. Penny made sure we stopped at every single restroom from Dan to Beersheba. Elaine from Hawai’i brought the Macadamia nuts. Dale made sure we didn’t lose anybody. We never even lost Andy, whose motto must be: a picture is worth a thousand words and ten more minutes of everybody’s time. Betsey took a licking and kept on ticking, twisting her ankle and banging her leg up at Dan, but trudging on with grit and determination. Shelley never got her hair wet. Never. Kyle kept reminding us of the Scriptures and the Story. Kara showed us the kind of guts it takes to climb the Snake Path to Masada. Joe and Sara inspired us with their obvious love for each other and the Lord. Gary kept us laughing. Hans became everybody’s favorite fellow-tourist, within about two minutes of meeting him. Martha brightened the bus and every site with her gracious smile. Nanette showed extreme patience while we kept mispronouncing her name. DeAnn rode that camel as well as Kyle rides a horse. Gaye broke her foot the day before we left, but that boot didn’t slow her down at all; it just added a degree of difficulty to all her costume changes.

And Elaine was Elaine. As always, my dear ministry partner wisely and faithfully handled the schedules, the hotels, the keys, the tips, the luggage, the communion meal, the meetings, the brochure, the reservations, the COVID protocols, the questions, and the preacher. For ten years Elaine was at my side in Amarillo, keeping me from blowing my leg off, reminding me of names and dates, bailing me out of trouble, managing my impulsive behavior, and deserving so much more credit than she ever received. I miss her terribly and appreciate her very much. It was so much fun going to Israel with her again.







More than a couple of times, Anton told us that no tour group does more than we do in ten days. Kyle counted up at least 41 different sites we explored together, from Dan and Caesarea Philippi to En Gedi and Jerusalem and Jericho and Nazareth. We prayed at the Western Wall, recited the Apostles’ Creed in the Jordan River, sang at the Garden of Gethsemane, and ate more than our share of ice cream and shwarma,






Every paragraph of Holy Scripture contains geography, landscape, architecture, people, food, customs, dress, animals, agriculture, and ritual that serve to communicate the history and fact of our God and his activity in our world. And now we’ve been immersed in it – physically, emotionally, spiritually. We’ve explored the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes first-hand. We’ve embraced the story of our Lord’s faithful love as it swells and deepens to penetrate our hearts and souls in brand new ways.

And I can’t wait to go back.

We’re doing it again in November 2024. We’ll start taking reservations in October 2023.



Until Then

By God’s grace, more than 800 volunteers showed up here at GCR Friday night and Saturday to pack 260,000 meals for Ukrainian war refugees. Most of the workers came from dozens of different Midland area churches, but some were representing a few regional non-profit groups or local sports clubs. We bagged and stacked the rice and dehydrated vegetables, boxed and taped up the meals just like we were instructed, and loaded the pallets onto a massive semi-tractor trailer that took off immediately for Houston. All the food should arrive in Poland along the Ukrainian border by the end of this week.

I’m so thankful to God to belong to a church that steps up to help out. I’m grateful to belong to a generous community out here in West Texas that cares so much about others. And I praise God for the cooperation we experience in Midland, the mutual love and partnership between churches and organizations in doing Gospel work together.

Someday, there will be no more war. Someday, there will be no more violence. There will be no more hunger. No more fear.

Until then, we want to be the ones who provide the food. And bring the peace. And express the love and share the grace of God.



Resurrection Rejoicing

The great biblical scholar and writer N. T. Wright asks, “Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don’t do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn’t take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?”

Yes, the Resurrection of Christ is our greatest event. Yes, Easter is the Church’s greatest day.

And we had a good one today at the Golf Course Road Church. The energy and enthusiasm for worship and fellowship was electric as 664 of us came together to praise God and remember the life and power we share in the resurrection. The morning began with an Easter Brunch – breaking my Lenten fast with that spread of breakfast casseroles and pastries was almost overwhelming. We sang songs together with gusto. We ate and drank the Lord’s Meal together in celebration. Three of our young people were baptized into Christ and experienced their own resurrections as we witnessed and participated with them as a community of faith. I met lots of our members for the first time, folks who hadn’t been to church in months – in some cases, years – but had decided that Easter Sunday would be the day they came back. I met several guests, people who have just moved to Midland and are looking for a church home. As far as this preacher is concerned, praise be to God, it was an absolutely perfect Easter Sunday at GCR.

But it can’t just be Easter Sunday. It can’t be a once-a-year thing. Easter has to be an every day, every week, every Sunday thing.

Take Christmas away and, in biblical terms, you lose two chapters at the beginning of Matthew and Luke. That’s it. Take Easter away and you don’t have a New Testament. You don’t have Christianity. As Paul says, our preaching is worthless and so is your faith; we are still in our sins and are to be pitied among all people.

We should rejoice in our Lord’s resurrection today and every day. Every Sunday should be Easter Sunday – the same expectant crowds, the same exuberant worship, the same careful planning and rehearsing, the same enthusiastic participation, the same commitment to be in town so we can be in church.

Let’s rejoice in our Lord’s resurrection next Sunday, too. Let’s celebrate his current and eternal reign at the right hand of the Father every week. Let’s declare the gracious gift of everlasting life that comes to all those who share in Christ’s resurrection every Sunday. And let’s live – man, we should live! – into the resurrection, through the resurrection, because of the resurrection.



An Outpouring of God’s Grace

May God be praised for the outpouring of his generous grace we are experiencing together at GCR! The money to fund our “For Ukraine” food-packing and food-sending event continues to come in. Today we are sitting at $125,000 and Crystal is still counting new checks and online donations almost every hour.

What a wonderful group of Jesus followers at this great church! What a privilege from God to be able to show his love and mercy to those devastated by war and violence, by hunger and homelessness 6,000 miles away! What a testimony to our Lord’s faithfulness and evidence of his Spirit at work in and through this church!

We’re packing 285,120 meals on April 29-30 and shipping them from our church parking lot directly to the refugees along the Ukrainian border. If you would like to contribute financially to this GCR mission, you may do so by clicking here. If you have not signed up for a food-packing shift, you can do it by clicking here. All 200 of the Friday night shifts have been filled and there are only around 400 slots remaining on Saturday the 30th.

Thank you so much for your great generosity. Thank you for your commitment to love like Jesus. And thank God for meeting all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.



So Much to Celebrate!

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Efren Herrera.








The incomparable Scott Springer ran the lift and manned the biggest chainsaw as we took out seven pine trees around our new house Thursday afternoon and Friday. There were just too many of these 50-60 foot monsters and they were all on top of each other, crowding each other out, suffocating the live oak and red oak trees in the front yard, and not allowing for even one blade of grass to grow beneath. Removing these trees completely changed the landscape in our wedge on Castleford Road. It’s really opened everything up now – it looks so much bigger and wider. I can almost see the lush St. Augustine grass up against the red brick of the front walk. And we’ve got enough firewood now for two or three winters and at least a couple of camp outs.

With Carolina’s upset win over Duke last night, Whitney clinched the Stanglin family bracket. It’s truly an underdog story, an inspirational come-from-behind saga as Whitney lost her champion, Baylor, before the first weekend. She was dead in the water before the second round was complete. But she did just enough to edge out Valerie and claim first place. Valerie only needed Duke to win or Villanova to beat Kansas – she only needed one of the two. But Whitney got both and today she is the champ.

Speaking of Val, she is no longer working in an official capacity with the Contact Church in Tulsa (don’t get me started), but that girl continues to minister with her God-given gifts and Spirit-inspired mercy and grace. I’m so thankful for Caleb Hatchett, the talented Youth Minister at the Jenks CofC, who has invited Valerie to jump in with their group as a super volunteer. And, of course, she’s doing just that. In addition, Valerie last week painted the windows outside the Children’s Ministry space at the Jenks Church. There’s nothing in church work or congregational ministry she can’t do.







The signs are up today at the brand new Chuy’s on Loop 250 just west of Midland Drive! I don’t know exactly when it’s going to open, but when it does, we’ll be there regularly for the authentic Austin-style Tex-Mex that we learned to love so well during our two stints down in the Texas Hill Country. It’s probably not right that you can eat at Chuy’s in Midland, just like it’s probably not okay that you can get a Whataburger now in Chicago. But I’m so thrilled that I won’t have to drive to Lubbock anymore for Chuy’s Chicka Chicka Boom Boom enchiladas!

In a special offering at Golf Course Road this morning, the Lord provided $93,686 through our church family to buy food for the For Ukraine food packing event! The goal was $73,280 to pay for the 285,120 meals we’re going to send from our church parking lot directly to war refugees on the Ukrainian border. But, not surprisingly, our God moved in and through the generous hearts at GCR and overwhelmed us with much more than we need. Praise the Lord for this great group of Jesus followers at GCR. What a joy and a blessing from God to be the preacher at such a wonderful church.

If you have not signed up yet to pack food, you’d better hurry – half of the one-thousand shifts have been filled, including all the slots on Friday night April 29. There are still right at 500 of the 90-minute shifts to fill on Saturday April 30. But it feels like they’re going fast. You can register to participate in this community-wide mission effort by clicking here.

Finally, I know the Bradford Pear tree is the worst tree in the universe and it is single-handedly destroying our planet. But the four trees along the fence here at Stanglin Manor are in full bloom and it’s just breathtakingly beautiful in the late afternoon sun. Don’t tell anybody I said that.



For Ukraine Signups

Well, it’s out there now. The Midland Reporter Telegram published a story yesterday about GCR’s “For Ukraine” food-packing event coming up April 29-30 and today NewsWest9 is running a story they shot Tuesday at our GCR church campus. So, if you haven’t signed up yet to participate in one of the five food-packing slots, you’d better do it now. We already have 400 of the 90-minute shifts filled and the registrations are coming in fast.

You can sign up for a Friday night or Saturday shift by clicking here.

Thanks so much to Christina Burgess for coming out yesterday, talking to us about “For Ukraine,” and putting together such a great story.

May our God have mercy on the people of Ukraine. May our Lord compel the Russians to lay down their weapons in peace. And may this food-packing and food-sending event bring hope to the war refugees and unite God’s people in West Texas.



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