Category: Legacy Church Family (page 1 of 36)

Worlds Are Colliding, Jerry!

What a joy to welcome some of our very best friends from Legacy and their massive youth group into our student space here at Central for a quick sleep over on their way to a mission experience with an Indian reservation in Arizona. This was a busy weekend at the weigh station that is Central during the summer. Dozens of church youth groups crash at our place on their way to somewhere pretty. But it’s always special to welcome Legacy.

We stayed up there until midnight last night, getting caught up with everybody’s kids who, surprisingly, are growing up at the same rate as our kids. These tiny children who were in elementary and middle school when we left Legacy six years ago are now in high school and a few of them have graduated and are heading to places like Abilene and Santa Monica for college.

Carley came straight from a late shift at The Big Texan to meet us so she could hug Kate and verify that, yes, Dawson seems to be growing four inches taller every six months. I enjoyed so much showing off our 88-year-old chapel to Stephanie and David, getting the low-down on the basketball gang from Chris, marveling at how much these kids look like their parents, and wondering why we adults haven’t changed at all in the past six years but our children have.

After I made sure they knew how to get to the Donut Stop on Georgia Street and which exit to take to spray paint Cadillac Ranch on the way out of town, we left them blowing up their air mattresses and brushing their teeth. All fifty of them are coming back through Amarillo next Saturday to eat a late lunch at Blue Sky — Ron, that cheeseburger will change your life — and I’ll be there to meet them.

Yes, I’ll use any excuse to eat at Blue Sky. But, much more than that, I love hanging out with these great people. Being with Chris and Lori, Ron and Stephanie, Larry and Deanna, and David and Shanna reminds me of just how blessed I am by our God. They remind me that Legacy believed in me and took a chance on me before I believed in myself. They were so patient with me and kind; they encouraged me and worked with me while I learned and made mistakes. But these couples in particular never ceased to protect me. They had my back. They prayed for me. We worshiped and served together in small groups, we sorted T-shirts together, we set up and tore down Give Away Day together, we brainstormed and prayed together. And spent some really good times together at Texhoma.

God bless the Legacy Church of Christ and these wonderful families we love so much. God be with us til we meet again at that glorious place. Blue Sky next Saturday.

Peace,

Allan

The Closing Prayer

Carter Karels was a cute little middle school kid in our youth group at Legacy when our family arrived in Northeast Tarrant County in 2007. He knew then he wanted to be a sportswriter. Now today, after a couple of key internships, a successful stint as the sports editor at Texas A&M’s Battalion, and a few medium-profile run-ins with SEC football coaches, Carter is a sports reporter for USA Today. His very first story, on the season-ending injury to the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, can be found here. He’s also written a popular profile of Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge, which can be accessed here. Congratulations, Carter! I’m very proud of you, man. And I know your dad is probably impossible to live with now…

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“May God himself, the God of Peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

As a family formed by the future, it’s appropriate that Paul would end his letter to the Thessalonian church in Jason’s house by pointing them again to what is to come: the finished work of our God.

Sanctification, the continual process of being made holy, is both a gift from God and a goal. It is both experienced right now and still to be accomplished. Holiness is given to disciples of Jesus at the point of conversion, when we pass from death to life and become new creations in Christ. But it is also a goal that we strive to live out in our daily lives. This life of discipleship to our Lord is “between the times,” because he hasn’t finished yet what he began.

But he will.

During this short letter, Paul has talked a lot about himself and the church in Thessalonica. But his closing prayer reminds us that all of it is truly about our God. The last thing Paul wants on his hearers’ minds is our God, the One who has called us and saved us in Christ Jesus, the One who gives us his Spirit in power and holiness, and the One who will bring us into his Kingdom and glory when Jesus returns.

Paul wants to reassure us, he wants to remind us, that not only is God able to do all that he has promised, but because he is trustworthy and reliable, he will in fact do it. Our future rests entirely in the power and faithfulness of God. And that should inform and enable us to live lives of power and faithfulness ourselves as we wait for “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Peace,

Allan

The Creed & Christian Formation

SkiTrip2016A group of ten college kids (nine from OC, 1 from ACU) showed up at our house Friday night and left with Valerie for a weekend ski trip to Angel Fire. Four of the young men grew up at the Legacy Church of Christ and were in the youth group when we were there from 2006 – 2011. Colten Pace is standing on Valerie’s right in the picture. Behind Colten and Val is Dillon Byrnes, the son of David and Shanna. We were in small group with the precious Byrnes family for three year and still count them as great friends. Hudson Enger is behind Dillon’s left shoulder and Trevor Jones is standing behind Dillon’s right shoulder. It was so great to see them now in such a different context. They’re college kids now, out on their own, growing and learning and experiencing life together in new ways. And so full of God’s joy. The other six kids — I have no idea who they are. I know a couple of them are in Delta and at least one of them is a Bible major. Good enough!

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CrossElderLinkWe’re memorizing and reciting the ancient Apostles’ Creed as a church family here at Central because we believe it can help cultivate Christian formation. We believe God is in the business of changing us. He’s making us more and more into the image of his Son. That’s what God is doing in us. So church is more like school than a show. It’s more like boot camp than a country club. We’re all in and have committed to the difficult process of being changed. And we think the Apostles’ Creed will help facilitate that. To order your life around these timeless statements about God and Christ will shape a person.

If you believe that Jesus Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, that will have an impact on how you live. Think about that. He’s coming back to judge. What a great guard against sin. What a great tool for the counsel we give each other. What a great pause that gives us as we make decisions every day between right and wrong. It’ll affect the way we live.

If you believe in the forgiveness of sins, that’ll change the way you view yourself and it’ll affect how you act toward one another. We’ve all sinned this past week. All of us. In some way you haven’t loved the Lord. You said a mean thing to your spouse or a hurtful thing to your children. You’ve been dishonest with a co-worker or a friend. Maybe it’s a little sin you just can’t shake. Or maybe you’ve done something horribly out of character this week. We’ve all betrayed our Lord in some way this week. But if you believe in the forgiveness of sins, you don’t run away from the forgiver. You run to him. If we believe in the forgiveness of sins, then our church becomes a place of forgiveness and when you betray God you run to the church, not away from it.

And you will forgive others. Has anybody sinned against you this week? Has anybody lied to you or hurt you or let you down in some way this past week? Do you believe in the forgiveness of sins? It’ll change you.

Peace,

Allan

The Creed & Historical Community

Barrett&OCI had a great day at Oklahoma Christian University yesterday, catching up with some really old friends and maintaining connections with some more recent ones. It’s fascinating to walk into Hardeman auditorium and see Sheldon Adkins as a respected university counselor and Jeff McMillon as a respected Bible professor. Randy Roper — pardon me, Doctor Randy Roper — my play-by-play partner for all those Eagles basketball games, is the dynamic preacher for the Edmond Church of Christ. I know my own life has changed in so many wonderful ways since we were terrorizing the faculty and administration at OC back in the ’80s. Our God has faithfully shaped me and used me in ways I never could have imagined back then. To know he has done and is doing the exact same surprisingly wondrous things in others is a true blessing to my heart. We picked up with our conversation and connection like we had never left off, getting the scoop on mutual friends, re-telling the crazy stories that nobody would believe unless they had been there, laughing at the same things we laughed about twenty-five years ago. But there was added joy in the knowledge that our God saved us from ourselves and is using us to his glory and praise.

It was great to see Dillon Byrnes and Chandler Trader from the youth group back at Legacy. It was a true blessing to have Barrett Packard from our youth group here at Central introduce me to the OC chapel crowd and pray with me before I spoke. And the lunch at Alfredo’s with Adair, Randy, Barrett, and Dillon was a blast: old Delta guys in their late 40s with a couple of current Delta guys in their early 20s. And Randy.

Speaking at chapel at OC is nerve-wracking. I dread it. Tough room. Tough crowd. Impossibly high demands. I get the sense that 95% of the kids in the room don’t want to be there. I feel like none of them are listening (I know, I used to be one of those kids). Yesterday, though, seemed different from the other times I’ve spoken there. It seemed like they were paying attention yesterday, actually listening to the words of encouragement from the end of Romans 8 regarding God’s unconditional love for each of us. I wonder sometimes if the entire OC faculty and board of directors has to meet and vote first before I’m invited back to speak at chapel. I wonder if they call Terry Johnson or Richard Mock first, just to be sure they haven’t missed some kind of lifetime ban I’m under for some infraction committed in 1988. Regardless, I’m always grateful for the opportunity. And always blessed.

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“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” ~Ephesians 4:4-6

CommunityJesusChurchWe’re in the beginning stages of exploring together the Apostles’ Creed here at Central. We just introduced it to our congregation last Sunday and we’re jumping into the first line together this Sunday, returning to each of the different lines in order once a month through the end of the year. I’ve received much encouragement this week since that introductory sermon in the form of emails and texts and even pictures. Some of you have placed the creed on your refrigerators, some of your children are drawing and painting the lines of the creed and hanging them up in their rooms, lots of you are wondering why you’ve never heard of the Apostles’ Creed before. Your excitement and energy about this is giving me much energy and excitement. Thank you.

In the last post here I wrote about using the Apostles’ Creed as a way to maintain theological balance. Today, let me suggest that memorizing and saying the creed together also reminds us that we belong to the historical community of all disciples of Jesus for all time. We are a part of the one body. We belong to the one called people. We confess the one faith and we are all children of the one God.

When we stand up and say this creed together, it connects us to all the Christians who stood up and said this creed together. Through the ages. The group of fifteen Christians in Asia Minor who gathered at the river and said the Apostles’ Creed as their neighbor was baptized in 265 AD. The two dozen Christians in Ephesus who said the creed together around the Lord’s Meal in one of their homes on a Sunday night in 310 AD. The hundreds of Christians in Rome who said the creed together in a brand new church building in 526 AD. The Christians in the European cathedrals in the 14th century. The Christians in the mission fields in the 19th century. All the Christians around the world who say the creed together every Sunday today. We are part of a people — think about how big this is! — thousand and thousands and hundreds of millions of people for the past 1,800 years all over the world who confess the basis beliefs of the Christian faith with these same words. It’s huge. It’s beautiful. It connects us to the people who’ve gone before us even now as the faith has been passed on to us and it’s our turn to run the race and boldly proclaim the truth about our God and his holy Son.

You say the pledge of allegiance or you sing the U.S. national anthem and it connects you to a people that were founded 240 years ago. We say the Apostles’ Creed and it joins us to an eternal people who were founded and shaped by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Peace,

Allan

One More Year

“Leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit, fine! If not, then cut it down.” ~Luke 13:8-9

FigTreeCoupleThere is a time limit. The Master is not calling for the indefinite existence of a bad tree. It’s got one more year. The health of the vineyard is too important, the Master’s expectation for fruit is too strong to leave in place an unproductive, non-responsive tree taking up good ground. It’s got one more year. One more season. One more chance. And then, if it doesn’t respond to the patience and care of the Master? Then, cut it down.

There’s an urgency in this parable that we shouldn’t miss. The tree is going to be held accountable. And it’s only got a short time left to respond to the farmer’s patience. Something’s got to change. The coming judgment is real.

“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” ~2 Corinthians 5:10

The holiness and righteousness of God demands justice and judgment. Romans says we will all stand before God’s judgment; every knee will bow and every tongue will confess; each of us will give an account of our lives to God. There is a judgment coming. God is going to judge the world. And it’s one of the best kept secrets in the Bible.

We don’t talk about it. Judgment sounds harsh or cruel. The idea of God’s divine judgment clashes with what works in our culture — even our church culture. We barely acknowledge it anymore. The only time we speak about God’s judgment is when we’re making fun of people who talk about God’s judgment. We don’t preach God’s judgment. I don’t. Not very much.

But this parable…

This tree’s got one year. That’s it. And then it’s over.

There’s a story about Satan meeting with his demons in hell, working on their strategies against us humans. The first demon said, “I’ll go tell people there’s no heaven.” The second demon said, “I’ll tell people there’s no hell.” The third demon said, “I’ll tell people there’s no hurry.” Satan said, “Yes! That’s the plan!”

No hurry? That tree’s got one year. That’s it. If it bears fruit next year, fine. If not, then cut it down.

There’s an urgency in Jesus’ story. But we don’t feel that urgency. We appreciate the manure of God’s great patience and his merciful restraint. But we don’t even think about that coming judgment. In this country, in this century, as our sense of self grows larger and larger and our sense of God becomes smaller and smaller, we fear God so little we don’t understand the seriousness of our sin. And we sense the seriousness of our sin so little, we very seldom fear God. That’s a bad place to be.

“Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” ~Romans 2:5-6

He gave the tree one more year. One more season. If it bears fruit, fine. If not, cut it down.

There’s an urgency here. It’s later than we think. One of the elders at the Legacy church, Kent Robinson, says every single day, “It’s later now than it’s ever been before!” He’s right. And the time to act is right now, during this season of God’s patience, during this time when God is holding back the ax and spreading the manure of his grace and forgiveness. Now is the time to respond, not tomorrow. Now is the time of God’s favor. Now is the day of salvation. God’s mercy is being extended now. The opportunity for a fruitful life is now.

I don’t know how much time we’ve got. I don’t know. Apparently, even Jesus isn’t sure. But that day’s coming for each of us. That tree’s got one more year. You might have longer. Maybe.

Peace,

Allan

Ordained by the Community of Christ

Larry Lemmons of channel 7, the ABC affiliate here in Amarillo, produced a nice piece on the “4 Amarillo” churches that aired on Christmas night. You can view the three minute video by clicking here.

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Worshiping with the Legacy church last Sunday got me to thinking all this week about my ordination as a proclaimer of God’s Word. Yeah, I believe with all my heart that our God has been preparing me my whole life to preach the gospel. Yes, I went to seminary and studied Greek. And, of course, I do feel ordained by the Lord to do what I’m doing. But I don’t think those things alone give anyone the right to preach. I’m beginning to understand more and more that the community of faith must ordain its preacher in order for the relationship between proclaimer and listener, preacher and congregation, to work.

So, who ordained me? The elders hired me and prayed over me. But how does a preacher really become ordained to minister with a particular church family? It has become clear to me this week, especially since seeing all those wonderful people at Legacy and visiting with all those dear friends. It’s both a one time event and a lifetime progression. It’s both formal and relational.

At Legacy, Tom ordained me when he asked me to baptize his daughter Sarah. She was the first person I baptized at Legacy. I asked him why he wanted me to do it and he replied, “She needs to be baptized by the preacher; and you’re our preacher.” A similar thing happened with Brooklyn, who greeted me this past Sunday with happy tears in her eyes. Don ordained me when, after a particularly tough sermon in which I challenged a couple of long-held practices of ours, he told me, “Allan, you are my friend, you’re my brother, and you’re my preacher!” Louise ordained me from her wheelchair when she promised me, “I pray for you every single morning.” And I believed her. Jim and Elvera ordained me when they asked me to marry them. This widow and widower had more than 90 years of marriage experience between them when they asked me to preside over their wedding. Dan ordained me when he walked in to my office one day and asked if I could help him with some specific spiritual questions he had. He’s older than me, been a Christian much longer than me, but he said he needed my wisdom. Paul and Jean ordained me when their son was killed in that car accident. Alene ordained me when she asked me to do Bob’s funeral.

I think ordination is both positional and relational — it must be both. Tom didn’t really know me when he asked me to baptize Sarah, but he trusted it was the right thing to do because I was the preacher. Louise didn’t really know me at the time, but she vowed to pray for me every day. Don and I had disagreed about several things during my first couple of years at Legacy, but when he called me his preacher, it was a sign of love and respect that had taken some time. Brooklyn’s ordination of me was in relationship. So was Jim and Elvera’s. Paul and Jean’s was through a shared experience of tragedy. Alene’s affirmation and trust was forged in hours of prayer together.

It’s both. I think the congregation has to say — collectively and individually — this is my preacher, given to us by God, and we’re going to support him and love him and trust him because he’s been placed here with us by Christ. In the same way, the preacher must make the same commitments: these are my people, my church family, given to me by God, and I’m going to support and love and trust these people because Christ has brought us together for his purposes. It’s both formal and relational.

It’s been very helpful to me this week to recognize the many ways I’ve been ordained. Here at Central, Eldrena anointed me with oil one hour before I preached my first sermon here. John Todd and Kami ordained me by bringing us dinner and providing a microwave for our apartment the first night we spent in Amarillo. Lanny ordained me by asking me to perform Judy’s funeral. Nick and Sara ordained me by asking me to do their wedding. Jim and Becky ordained me through some tough conversation and prayer in their kitchen. Wesley ordained me by reflecting on our sermons with emails and cards. Every week I’m ordained by these faithful Christians at Central in living rooms and hospital wards, at lunch and in my study, through phone calls and emails.

And I could keep going. All the dozens of people throughout my childhood and teenage years who told me how wonderful my prayer or my sermonette or my devo talk or my communion meditation or my song leading was, even when it really wasn’t very good at all. The Room 208 class in Mesquite. Kevin’s pushing me to leave radio and pursue preaching and putting his money where his mouth was. Jason and Dan encouraging me through that stressful transition. Donna Steward asking me to baptize her gardener, my first. Lee Ann Clark asking me to do her mother’s funeral, my first. God himself ordaining me by thrusting me into pastoral situations whether I was ready or not: praying over an unconscious Berrilyn Daniel at that WinterFest, moving David Griffin out of that horrible situation in south Marble Falls.

Play with the semantics all you want: God ordains and the congregation affirms, the elders ordain and the church family confirms, whatever. But I know now that it’s both a one time event and a lifetime progression. It’s both formal and relational. And a preacher in God’s Church couldn’t do the job with it being any other way.

Peace,

Allan

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