Category: Legacy Church Family (page 1 of 36)

Two in Oklahoma

Our youngest daughter, Carley, joined her middle sister, Valerie, at Oklahoma Christian University this weekend and we’re just hoping that campus is big enough for the both of them.

Moving a girl into a freshman dorm today is a whole lot different from when I moved into those OC dorms as a college freshman back in 1985. I had all my worldly possessions in the back seat of my ’74 Monte Carlo: a suitcase full of jeans and T-shirts, two pair of shoes, an electric typewriter, and a boom box. It seems I remember it taking about an hour to get unpacked and organized. With Carley, it was an almost ten hour ordeal that included unloading multiple storage totes, hanging lights, plugging in refrigerators, water dispensers, and coffee makers, raising beds to an ideal height, and setting up complicated shelving systems.

To their credit, she and her roommate, Hayleigh, did transform a drab cinder-block cube into a somewhat livable abode.

It was good to see some great old friends from our Legacy days moving in their kids, too: David and Shanna with their son Dawson, Ron and Stephanie with their daughter Brighton, and David and Krista with their daughter Maddie.

Emotionally, moving our youngest child into college was a little more difficult than I had imagined. Maybe I hadn’t thought about it much or hadn’t thought about it in the right ways. But it all kind of snuck up on me in the past week. Waving goodbye to Carley from the gas station parking lot — she heading east back to campus in her little Jeep and us heading west to Amarillo — was strange. If you’ve done it, you know. A weird mix of pride and concern, excitement and hesitation. It’s really weird not having another one coming up behind Carley. She’s our last one. This is it.

Carley and Valerie, we love you both. Give each other plenty of space, but be sure to take care of each other, too. May God bless you both with good grades, great friends and a wonderful semester.

Peace,

Dad

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

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