Category: Golf Course Road Church (Page 1 of 14)

Ordained by God and His Church

By God’s grace, we just concluded a smooth, drama-free, Holy Spirit led, and healthy shepherd selection process here at the GCR Church. We have ordained four new elders — Gary Glasscock, Richard Hatchett, Michael Humphries, and Marc McQueen — to join the current group of seven, to give us a terrific team of godly men committed to shepherding this church in the name and manner of our Lord Jesus. The process culminated Sunday in an ordination service that was, by all accounts, a beautiful and inspirational moment for our whole congregation.

We wanted the service to feel like the whole church was participating in ordaining these four new shepherds and affirming and blessing the whole group of eleven. We wanted the charges and pledges to go both ways – the elders would make promises to the church and the congregation would make promises to the elders. Several shepherds and ministers and support staff made wonderful suggestions along the way and we wound up with what I would consider a model for an ordination ceremony.

First, we gathered around our elders and and prayed thanksgiving and blessing over them. We asked all eleven of our shepherds and their wives to step out into the aisles where we could get to them, and we got out of our seats, put our hands on them and our arms around them, and talked to the Lord about them. We thanked God for the dedication of these men and their wives to seeking the Lord and following Christ and serving his Church. We expressed our love for them to the Father. And we lifted each of them up – these men, their wives, their families, their ministries, their service to our congregation – to the Lord in trust and faith.

Next, we brought all eleven couples to the stage and four of our young children from the congregation presented the new elders with beautiful shepherds’ staffs as symbols of godly leadership. We want these staffs to serve as reminders that they are called to lead this church with the same priorities our God lays out in Ezekiel 34: lead us to good pastures, where there is peace and rest; keep the big sheep from running over the little sheep; keep all of us from butting heads with each other; search for the lost and bring back the strays; bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.





And then we charged our elders with the specifics. I started the charge, but we had four other members of the church stand up in the middle of the congregation to also address the shepherds with our expectations. It went like this:

Allan: On behalf of the church family here at Golf Course Road, in the presence of our God, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, believing that we have not acted in haste but have prayerfully depended on our God, we charge you men to be faithful shepherds of our flock.

Then Juan Alcaraz and his family stood up from their seats on the left side of the worship center: Believing that the Spirit of God has called you to this ministry and that you are a gift of his grace to our congregation, we charge you to accept this calling with humility and compassion. We charge you to devote yourselves to prayer, to commit yourselves to the ministry of God’s Word, and to consecrate yourselves to the earnest shepherding of our church.

Elders: By God’s grace, we will.

Then our whole youth group stood up on the right side of the church as Mallory West, one of our high school freshmen, read the next lines: As you shepherd us, will you submit to the Lordship of Jesus and to his example by taking the very nature of a servant and considering the needs of others more important than your own?

Elders: By God’s grace, we will submit to the Lordship of Christ, to his church here at GCR, and to one another. We will sacrificially serve the church with humility and compassion in the name and manner of Jesus.

Then Corene Morton stood up in the middle of the church: Will you diligently seek the Lord in ways that we can follow, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ?

Elders: By God’s grace, we will train ourselves for godliness; we will pursue the way of righteousness, faithfulness, gentleness, and love.

Then Ken and Carolyn Arnold stood up from their seats: And will you guard this church as the blood-purchased possession of Christ?

Elders: By God’s grace, we will teach and admonish in humility, encourage and support in love, and faithfully lead and protect our brothers and sisters at GCR as our Lord’s most prized possession.

At this point, I asked the entire church to stand and I asked them two questions, to which they responded in unison: Do you acknowledge and publicly affirm these godly men as your shepherds and receive them as your elders as gifts of God’s Holy Spirit to this church?

Church: We acknowledge these men as elders ordained by God and we receive them as our shepherds and as gifts of God’s Holy Spirit to this church.

Allan: Will you love and pray for these men, will you work together with them in humility and unity and good cheer, will you give them all due honor and support in the leadership to which our God has called them?

Church: By God’s grace, we will obey and submit to these men, so that their work will be a joy and not a burden.

Allan: Let all in the church who agree, affirm so by saying, “Amen!”

And they did. Then Joe Coffman, one of our former long-serving elders, led us in a beautiful congregational prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over the whole thing.






It wasn’t just four guys on the stage and a prayer. It was our whole church, from the youngest among us to the oldest, in the aisles, on the stage, holding microphones, asking and answering questions, making eye contact, making promises, giving and receiving hugs, saying prayers and being prayed over.

We do not “install” elders; that’s what you do with dishwashers. We ordain them. We affirm them. We charge them and bless them and use holy words to lift them up to the Father. It’s relational. It’s between a church and its spiritual leaders in the presence of God. It’s not an “installation.” It’s a sacred moment in the ongoing story of what the Lord is doing in and through his people in this place. Treating it as such will inspire your church. And it’ll bless your shepherds. And it will honor our God who brings us together in Christ Jesus.



There’s No Crying in Baseball

Our entire GCR Church family is taking in the RockHounds baseball game together next Wednesday June 7. It’s a church picnic situation with burgers and dogs, chips and popcorn, and all the sodas we can eat and drink. Cory and our worship team will sing the national anthem, one of our shepherds, Brandon Brunson, will throw out the first pitch, and a bunch of our younger people will serve as contestants for the promotional games they stage in between innings.

To promote the event, our ministry team put on our own dizzy bat race at the RockHounds stadium last week and Dan turned it into a video we showed to our congregation on Sunday.

That’s one of our youth ministry interns, Nate, inside the Rocky RockHound mascot costume; he’s still defumigating his hair. Kudos to Brenda for her superb acting skills while being shoved up against the infield netting. And, for the record, Kristin is probably the first person to ever spit on a GCR church video.



Admiring Val

Our daughter Valerie is on the worship team at the Jenks Church in the suburb just outside their home in Tulsa, and she sings on stage with them at least two or three times a month. Yesterday, she led the congregation in the classic hymn ‘Blessed Assurance.’ That beautiful alto voice she’s had her whole life, her wide open heart to our God and what he’s doing among his people when they assemble in his presence, the Holy Spirit gifts she has and uses to bless our Lord’s Church – all of it was on display yesterday and I couldn’t be more proud. Not just proud, but grateful, thankful that I’m related to her. Thankful for the leadership at Jenks Church and for the ways they encourage Val’s gifts and intentionally fan into flame her service to our God. And blessed, very blessed by God to hear that girl sing his praise. You can check it out by clicking here and forwarding the video to the 16:10 mark. Carrie-Anne and I will be privileged to worship with that great congregation in person in a couple of weeks. I’ve told Val to make sure she’s got a couple of solos and our son-in-law David is leading the communion time and the benediction.


We concluded our Hearing God sermon series yesterday at Golf Course Road. My prayer is that the series has given us permission and some language to talk about all the different ways our God speaks to us and guides us as we follow his Son together. I hope we’re hearing the voice of God and tuned into his continuous communication like never before. I pray we’re embracing and owning the two-way relationship we have with the Creator – it’s not a monologue in which we do all the talking, it’s a dialogue in which the communication goes both ways. And I hope we’ve been liberated to experience and express what we’ve long suspected, that our God is speaking to us and giving us personal guidance every day. Here’s a link to all six of the Hearing God sermons.


I don’t want to risk anything by writing about tonight’s Game Six. Here’s a link to a decent preview from the NHL website.

Go Stars.


Oh What a Foretaste of Glory Divine!

No one knows the time or the day. It happens in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye. One minute you’re laboring over the final pages of Sunday’s sermon and the next minute your head is spinning with the completely unexpected announcement that Blue Bell Ice Cream and Dr Pepper have teamed up to bring us Blue Bell Dr Pepper Float.

Yes. Let those words wash over you and transform everything you thought you knew about God’s plans for our world.

Blue Bell and Dr Pepper together in the same gold-rimmed carton. How can this be? Yet, at the same time, what took them so long?

This is an act of sacred beauty. A foretaste of the holy coming together of heaven and earth. We are a blessed people and highly favored by God. He has seen fit to combine the best ice-cream in the country with the 23 flavors of the first and best soft drink in the country, and it could only happen in our great Republic.

Today is my monthly lunch and prayer time with my pastor friends at First Baptist, First Pres, and First Methodist. I found it very difficult to talk about school bond elections, Bible translations, and church polity while my brain was locked in on Blue Bell Dr Pepper float. Will we have it here in Midland? Am I driving to Lubbock tonight?

As soon as lunch was over, I rushed over to HEB and there it was – a dozen half-gallons gleaming from the center of the frozen display case. And two of ’em were mine!

I walked into the church offices and excitedly declared an ice-cream party in the break room. Styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons, an ice scoop instead of an ice-cream scoop – it was okay, we made it work. Those of us who love Dr Pepper were blown away. Yes, it does taste exactly like a Dr Pepper float. Yes, it isĀ  authentic. Yes, they did it right. Those among us who do not love Dr Pepper were less impressed. Philistines.








Cory had the beautiful idea of getting some ice cold DP out of the break room fridge and pouring it over the Dr Pepper float ice-cream to make a Dr Pepper Float Float. And, yes, we did. Certainly.

I am thankful to live in a such a place as Texas. I am mindful of those less fortunate who live in places like Illinois or Connecticut or Oklahoma. Blue Bell Dr Pepper Float is a divine glimpse of the promised feast. We’re a little closer to heaven, friends, than we were this time yesterday.



Christian Accountability

We’ve presented the names of four new elders as selected by our congregation – Gary Glasscock, Richard Hatchett, Michael Humphries, and Marc McQueen – to our church family here at GCR and we’ve entered into a time we’re calling Biblical Accountability. Or Christian Accountability. It’s not “Scriptural Objections.” We’re not using that old traditional Church of Christ language. That term never allowed for an objection to a man who was stubborn, closed-minded, or mean-spirited because it’s hard to come up with book-chapter-verse on those things – if you can’t cite the passage, you can’t make an objection. And the word “objection” is just a negative word. It formed us as a people in negative ways. It caused us to look first and foremost for reasons to disqualify a servant-leader who had been selected by the congregation, instead of reasons to support him.

We like Biblical Accountability. Or Christian Accountability. It’s not just these four men who are accountable to Scripture and to our calling as followers of Jesus, it’s the entire church body. We are all accountable in this together.

Now is the time to encourage and support these men and their families, to lift them up to our Father in prayer, and to thank them for answering the church’s call to serve. Now is the time to honor these new elders and to show them respect. Now is the time to determine to “make their work a joy, not a burden.”

If for any reason you cannot support one of these men or submit to his spiritual leadership, now is the time to go to that brother in Christ and make things right. Because this is what Christians do. In a posture of humility and grace, in a spirit of fellowship and love, knowing that forgiveness is Christ’s great work and unity is our Lord’s fervent prayer, reach out to that brother in a faithful effort to exercise the ministry of reconciliation we have all been given by God’s Spirit. Because these are our values, our beliefs; because this is what the Bible teaches.

If whatever is between you cannot be resolved, then you are encouraged to contact the current shepherds to seek resolution according to Gospel principles and biblical teaching.

I believe these four men are gifts to our church by God’s Holy Spirit. I believe this period of Biblical Accountability is a good shift for us and a healthier way to confirm the Spirit’s anointing within our congregation. And I praise God for this exciting and hopeful season at GCR.


We are also thrilled to announce that we have brought on a second youth minister here at GCR! Jadyn Martinez comes to us from Lubbock Christian University and will be working side-by-side with J.E. Bundy to minister to and with our church’s teenagers and their families. Oh, my word, Jadyn brings a ton of energy to this gig. She’s a fireball of enthusiasm and excitement for life and she has a heart called by the Lord to minister to these young people. She’s the daughter and granddaughter of a great family of CofC ministers, she’s living a wonderful story of love and grace, and she’s just going to be terrific! Her husband, Isaiah, is a tremendous source of encouragement and support for Jadyn. And their nearly-two-year-old daughter, Shiloh, is adorable and will soon become our church staff mascot. It’ll take like twelve minutes.

Jadyn will be moving to Midland, hopefully, in the next three weeks and should start full-time with us by June 5. You’ll know when she gets here. She’s fun and loud and in your face. We can’t wait!


There’s nothing better in all of sports than a Game Seven in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nothing provides more continuous edge-of-your-seat intensity and tension. Nothing is faster, harder-hitting, or more desperate. Nothing more unpredictable. Every shot, every shift, every penalty, every odd-man rush and near-side faceoff. Heart-stoppingly glorious. Soul-crushingly disappointing. There’s nothing like it.

My faith is in Pete DeBoer tonight as the better coach. So far in these playoffs, the Stars are 4-0 following a loss with a goal differential of +10. DeBoer has never lost a Game Seven (6-0). He flat out knows how to coach.

Go Stars.


Welcoming Jim Tuttle

We ordained the newest member of our ministry team yesterday here at GCR Church. Jim Tuttle comes to us from Lincoln, Nebraska where he has served for 25 years as the founder and Lead Minister at Heartlands Church, to be our Spiritual Formation Minister. Jim brings his wealth of wisdom and experience and his laid-back, relaxed, and extremely relational personality to our adult Bible classes and small groups, to lead us more fully into transformation and mission, into being changed by God to love like Jesus.

In addition to his warm personality and his obvious love for our Lord and devotion to the ways of Jesus, what I see in Jim is that he’s a church guy. He knows church. He loves church. He understands church. You know, church is a funny thing. It’s strange. Church looks funny and talks funny and walks funny and thinks funny and acts funny. And Jim understands it. He knows how it works and what won’t fly. He cares deeply for the people who make up church and he works tirelessly to include the whole church in what God is doing in us and through us to his glory.

Jim’s first official day on the job, today, happens to be the first Monday of the month, the day of our monthly ministers retreat. For twelve years now I’ve made it a habit to host our ministers for breakfast on the first Monday of each month for a time in Word and Prayer, mutual burden sharing, big-picture planning, and group bonding and encouragement. Today, we spent some of our time equipping Jim for what’s in front of him. We want him to be prepared, we don’t want there to be any surprises. So we told him what he needs to know about the others in the group.

We told him that on Ryan’s birthday month or if Ryan happens to win the football pool or the basketball bracket, the monthly staff lunch will be at the food court at the Midland Mall. We told him that Ashlee’s sweet demeanor hides a fierce justice-seeking spirit and that whatever side Ashlee is on, she’s on it out of a righteous indignation and you need to get on board. We told him that J.E. sometimes walks barefoot around the church offices (gross). We told him that Cory’s texts will take up 3-4 scrolls, that Tim likes to come across as gruff but he’s really a sensitive, caring, loving individual, and that I sometimes take Ted Nugent’s name in vain.

I am thankful to God for bringing Jim and Judy to GCR. They are going to make us a better church for the Gospel mission here in Midland to our Lord’s eternal glory and praise.

We spent 45-minutes together in the Psalms and prayed for people in our small groups and ministries at GCR, for each other and our families, and for our church. We spent an hour looking at the overall state of things as we are six-months into our Breakthrough campaign and halfway through our Worship Center construction. We evaluated the current conditions with our classes and groups, with attendance and giving, with guests and new members, with the formation zones and overall communication. And we finalized most of the framework for our GCR 60th Anniversary and Homecoming on October 15. And we shared a serious breakfast casserole Susie Neale cooked for us.

We closed out our monthly ministers retreat with a benediction Ryan brought to us from Every Moment Holy. I recommend this prayer for any group of ministers or church committee:

Our lives are so small, O Lord,
Our vision so limited,
our courage so frail,
our hours so fleeting.
Therefore give us grace and guidance for the journey ahead.

We are gathered here because we believe
that we are called together into a work
we cannot yet know the fullness of.
Still, we trust the voice of the One who has called us.

And so we offer to you, O God, these things:
Our dreams, our plans, our vision.
Shape them as you will.
Our moments and our gifts.
May they be invested toward bright, eternal ends.

Richly bless the work before us, Father.
Shepherd us well lest we grow enamored
of our own accomplishment or entrenched in old habit.
Instead, let us listen for your voice,
our hearts ever open to the quiet beckonings
of your Spirit in this endeavor.
Let us in true humility and poverty of
spirit remain ever ready to move at the
impulse of your love in paths of your design.

May our acts of service and creation,
frail and wanting as they are,
be met and multiplied by the mysterious workings of your Spirit
who weaves all things together toward
a redemption more good and glorious
than yet we have eyes to see or courage to hope for.
May our love and our labors now echo your love
and your labors, O Lord.

Let all that we do here,
in these our brief lives,
in this our brief moment to love,
in this the work you have ordained for this community,
flower in winsome and beautiful foretaste
of greater glories yet to come.

O Spirit of God, now shape our hearts.
O Spirit of God, now guide our hands.
O Spirit of God, now build your Kingdom among us.


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