The Least of These

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From this week at ACU Summit:

“The homeless and addicted do not primarily need what the Church can bring them (although they may); rather, the Church needs what the homeless and addicted bring her. They bring the brokenness of their humanity, crushed by the structures of society, as the very sacrament of God’s presence.” ~Andrew Root



From Malibu

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We really are listening to some really great speakers at the annual Pepperdine Lectures this week. But it’s just not very exciting to post pictures of Rick Atchley and David Kinneman. On top of that, there’s just absolutely no time to reflect in this space on all the compelling sermons and informative teaching. So, I’m just posting a couple of pictures to illustrate what happens before and after the lecture sessions.

This first pic is of some of the finest people I know, all brought together for a wonderful dinner at Malibu Seafood. HubDaddy and his wife, Debbie. Jim Martin. Grady King. John Mullican. Crazy Ray Vannoy’s eyeball. Andrew next to Ray. Greg’s in there. The edge of Jason’s glasses are in the picture. And two bearded guys I just met.







Jason and Greg and I took off during an afternoon break to hit the beach here in Malibu. Come on, we had a couple of hours, the sun was out, no wind, 70-degrees, free parking along the Pacific Coast Highway, what would you do? We were able to convince Greg to keep his shirt on, but we couldn’t keep him from practicing his yoga postures.












Going to California

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I’m making my first trip to the annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures in Malibu, California to spend four days at the feet of some of our very best preachers and teachers in Churches of Christ and to hear and meet the legendary bishop N. T. Wright. More on Tom later…

Pepperdine1PetcoYou won’t be surprised that Greg and I took off from Amarillo a day early so we could fly into San Diego and take in a Padres game at Petco Park. As was our good fortune, the Padres are hosting the Colorado Rockies which means my friend Jerry Schemmel, the Rockies radio play-by-play voice, scored us some sweet (free!) seats right on top of the visiting dugout with all the Colorado players’ families. As expected, Greg and I both ate for the cycle and watched rookie sensation Trevor Story go oh-fer in a 2-1 San Diego win.

This morning we took our time getting to Malibu. We drove across the bridge over to Coronado Island, toured the Midway battleship and a couple of other sights and attractions around San Diego before downing a couple of spicy shrimp tacos and hitting “the five” up north to L.A.



N. T. Wright is giving the keynote this evening, teaching a couple of classes tomorrow and Thursday, and then meeting privately (sort of, I guess) with 24 ministers Thursday afternoon. Thanks to Mike Cope, Greg and I are going to be in that group of 24. I have no idea what we’re going to talk about or what’s going to happen. But just being in Wright’s presence for an hour will be a blessing and an honor.

Looking forward to catching up with lots of great friends this week, being inspired by some of our best speakers, and being further shaped by our Lord’s generous Spirit.



Church Burritos

Central Church Family, Lectureships 2 Comments »


One of the highlights of Summit week is meeting our Central kids who are attending ACU and buying them lunch. Today, Greg and Kevin and I were privileged to spend the lunch hour at Sharkey’s with Taylor M., Matt, Ellie, and Taylor C. We talked about homesickness and rushing clubs, favorite teachers and dating, the interesting things we’ve heard at Summit and where everybody’s going to church. Admittedly, the highlight was probably listening to Matt talk about his 12midnight – 8am shift at 7-11 — hilarious. But anytime four very busy college students will spend a lunch hour hanging out with three of us ministers is a great honor for us. Maintaining a connection between our congregation and our kids is important. It matters. It’s a priority for us. Our college students need to know that we miss them, that we still think about them, that they are still a vital part of our church family. I think it blesses them. I hope it does.

More than that, though, I can’t stress enough what a great honor it is for us. These kids are in the middle of a critical transition moment in their lives. They’re figuring things out, learning new things, experiencing new things, thinking about new things, growing, maturing, trying to get a grip on a trajectory for the rest of their lives. And for one hour today, we got to talk with them about it. They honored us by sharing with us a sliver of this priceless time.

Thanks, guys. We love y’all.


From Abilene

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TonyRomoDownAtEaglesGood morning from ACU Summit. First, let me say that listening to that Cowboys-Eagles game while I drove here from Amarillo yesterday was excruciating. It was difficult listening to it; it must have been unbearable to actually watch it. Dallas had a turnover margin of -3 in the first game and still won. They committed a franchise-record 18-penalties yesterday and still won. They’re living dangerously, for sure. Now with Brandon Weeden running this sputtering offense…

Nine wins will be enough to take the NFC East. I’m not sure Dallas will get there.

Four of us ministers from Central are here in Abilene this week. My great friends Jason and Dan arrive tonight. So many preachers and teachers who have profoundly impacted my faith and my life are here at Summit and I’m going to try to spend some time with as many of them as I can. Posting to this site will be sporadic this week. I know you understand.



Quick Hits on Friday

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I’m headed to Dallas today with our youngest daughter, Carley, for the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert at American Airlines Center. This is Carley’s birthday present — something she specifically asked for — and I’m all too happy to accommodate. I get to spend awesome alone time with her for the next 30+ hours, I get to share her first big arena concert experience with her, and I can use the opportunity to instill Rock and Roll deeper into her heart and soul. After seeing what has happened to Valerie, I’m concerned that, the longer we live in Amarillo, the chances of Carley eventually turning toward country music increase. I’ve got to do all I can. She’s my last hope.


Adam Gray turned me on to a wonderful little reflection piece by Richard Beck, the head of the Psychology Department at Abilene Christian University, on how he makes theological sense of listening to Barbara Brown Taylor and Stanley Hauerwas on back-to-back days at Summit. As someone who has read and thoroughly enjoyed Barbara Brown Taylor’s books on preaching and is still reading and learning from Stanley Hauerwas’ books on theology and ethics, I have found Beck’s insights to be very, very helpful. You can read Beck’s analysis by clicking here.


I will also recommend a wonderful essay in the current issue of Christianity Today by N. D. Wilson. “Called to Be Uncool” is a short piece and a serious call for Christians to stand against the prevailing culture, to resist conforming to the world’s culture, in order to effectively speak a word from the Lord and to live in the name and manner of Christ. The imagery is of cows that turn their backs to the wind so they’re continuously running parallel to the breeze. Wilson writes that we “must be fearless, immune to the pressures of kings and crowds, aligned only with the breath of God.” Whew! It’s good. You can read the entire essay by clicking here.

Have a great weekend.