Category: Ministry (page 1 of 27)

Harvey Buckets Locked and Loaded

Please see the previous post regarding the Hurricane Bucket Challenge. Central Church of Christ is the official drop-off location for the city of Amarillo and the entire Texas Panhandle. C-A and I have completed our buckets and will have them at Central first thing in the morning.

Why don’t you join us?

Peace,

Allan

Hurricane Bucket Challenge

Central Church of Christ is the Hurricane Bucket Challenge drop-off site for the city of Amarillo and the entire Texas Panhandle. Churches of Christ all over the Southwest are cooperating with the Grace Crossing Community Church of Christ in Conroe, Texas to provide cleaning tools and supplies to help the thousands of displaced families in the Houston area get back into their homes.

To participate, fill a five-gallon bucket with the items on this list and bring the bucket to Central Church of Christ (1401 S. Monroe, Amarillo) any day beginning this Sunday September 3. We’ll collect the buckets and make sure they all get to the hurricane response staging site at Grace Crossing.

I don’t know yet if we’re going to load up a U-Haul and drive it down to Houston once a week for the next couple of months or if we’re going to need to rent a huge semi-tractor-trailer — I have no idea how many of these buckets are going to come in. I know the good families at Bivins Elementary are going to want to participate and some of our high school students at Central are already planning to get their schools involved.

All the details are on our church website here. You can view the Hurricane Bucket Challenge video here (my soul dies a little bit every time I see Doug Peters wearing an Astros cap). And you can share this information on Facebook or other social media by clicking here. If you’re reading this from outside the Panhandle, check the list of churches close to your area.

We’re getting our buckets today, one for each member of our family, and filling them up and bringing them to church tomorrow. Why don’t you do the same? And spread the word.

What a joy to share our resources with those in need! May our gifts bring glory to God and point to his Son, our Lord Jesus! And may God’s will be done in Houston just as it is in heaven!

Peace,

Allan

Burritos, Bounce Houses, and a Band

When you’re moving your church’s traditional back-to-school picnic from your building on a Sunday morning to the campus of the nearest elementary school, when you’re inviting that school’s 550-students and their families, and when you’re doing this to communicate to your city that God’s Church is a community partner with them for the sake of good things, how do you guarantee that you’re going to get a crowd? Free burritos, bounce houses, and a live band.

Putting the school’s principal and the church’s preacher in a dunking booth didn’t hurt.


Central’s first “The End of Summer’s No Bummer” bash at Bivins Elementary last Wednesday evening was a roaring success by anybody’s measure. We gave away 450 burritos, ate and jumped and dunked and danced with a ton of people from our nearby community, and shared a whole lot of good will together in the name of our Lord. Principal Benny Barazza has given us almost unlimited access to his school, his students, and their families, and we’re doing our best to use these opportunities to share the generous love of Christ.

Today’s Amarillo Globe-News features a front-page, above-the-fold story about the Bivins event and all the local ministry projects sparked by Central’s “Ignite Initiative” (click here to read the AGN story). Our church has given away $125,000 over the past five months to five different non-profit organizations, we’ve supplied those same organizations with volunteers and summer interns, and we’re beside ourselves with anticipation over what God’s going to keep doing with these new mission partnerships. Lauren Koski’s story in today’s paper captured all of that with great pictures and interviews with Mary McNeill, our children’s minister, Benny Barazza at Bivins, Valerie Gooch, the executive director at Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center, and Tyler Lovett, our summer intern at The PARC.

More and more, “missions” at Central is starting to mean both foreign and local ministry, it’s about both what God is doing overseas and what he’s doing across the street. And our community is taking notice. Christ’s Church is here to make an eternal difference in the lives of men, women, and children in our city. We’re here to serve others in the name and manner of Jesus.

Peace,

Allan

Joy in the Lord

You don’t necessarily have to turn on the evening news. In fact, do people even turn on the evening news anymore? All you have to do is not have your head buried in the sand to know that there is a great deal of anxiety and worry in our society. The state of things right now can very easily drag you down and steal your joy. How is it that the Bible commands children of God and disciples of Christ Jesus to always rejoice?

Well, where are your eyes? What are you looking at? What or who are you listening to?

As followers of Jesus, we are very well aware of all the things God is doing in us and through us. We can always rejoice in the knowledge and experience of God working among us. And that’s always constant. That never changes. God is always at work. We see the evidence of his great work, we sense the working out of his redemption and reconciliation plans, we feel his hand at work in us and through us, saving and changing lives all around us. The Lord is always at work among us and that is always reason to rejoice.

I see it in the Central teenagers who stop by my office on the way to Chick-Fil-A for a free promotional sandwich. Ellie and Justin are pouring into those kids the same grace that God has shown them and the kids are eating it up. I see it in the 30 men from Canadian Church of Christ with whom I had the great honor of hanging out with in Angel Fire this weekend. God is on the move with these men — moving in them and through them — and they are on fire for God’s mission in this world. I hear it when Valerie, our middle daughter, calls me from Arlington to tell me she’s changing her major from childhood education to youth ministry. God’s Spirit is changing Valerie forcefully and beautifully into a dedicated servant of the Gospel. I sense it when Carley, our youngest daughter, shows up in all the pictures from the Sao Paulo mission trip — painting, laughing, serving children, worshiping, leading. She’s finding her gifts and settling into her place in the Kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I see it when my brothers and sisters at Central join forces to do good deeds for people in downtown Amarillo. We’re making gift bags for the staff and clients at CareNet and Gratitude House. We’re cleaning the carpets and painting the doors at PARC. We’re painting the storage shed and spreading new wood chips on the playground at Elwood Park. We’re giving away 200 books and reading the children at Bivins Elementary. We’re treating the ladies at Martha’s Home to a dinner out at a nice restaurant.

 

Our God is working in and through everything that’s going on around us. That knowledge and that experience gives us a stable and deep-rooted joy — an inner joy — that enables us to not only cope with disappointments, but to see things as they really are. In any and all circumstances God is always at work among his people. And that is always reason to rejoice.

Peace,

Allan

Moving Away From the Tomb

I’m struck by the fact that nobody saw Jesus at the empty tomb. Clearly our risen Lord didn’t hang around the cemetery once the Spirit resurrected him back to life. It seems he got out of there as fast as he could. Yet, here are the women, looking for their living Lord among the graves. The angels ask, almost incredulously, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Good question.

Sometimes good faithful Christians can be stuck. We’re dead. Or, at least, we act like we’re dead. Some of us have followed Jesus to Jerusalem. We’ve endured suffering and pain in his name. We’ve carried the cross. Most of us have died on the cross of Christ and, even though we’ve been baptized for the forgiveness of our sins and received the gift of God’s Spirit inside us, we’ve never really been resurrected. Some of us don’t live like we’ve been given the gift of eternal life by the almighty author of life. We live like we’re still dead. We’re still knocking around in the dirt and dark of the grave. And we’re surprised when we have a hard time seeing Jesus. We’re surprised when there’s no experience of Jesus.

The resurrection is not just about heaven someday — it’s about a full life today!

But some of us are still buried in a tomb. We don’t sing. We don’t work. We don’t explore or experiment. We don’t accept challenges or tackle new tasks. We don’t grow. We don’t laugh. Singing and working and exploring and growing and laughing are what you do when you’re alive! If you’re grumpy all the time, you’re not living the resurrection life. If you’re negative all the time, you’re dead.

What are you thinking? God’s going to fix my attitude when I get to heaven?

“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ!” ~Ephesians 2:4

“Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life!” ~Romans 6:4

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” ~Romans 8:11

The death and resurrection of Jesus is not just about my sin and Jesus taking my punishment and now everything’s great. We’ve been given eternal life. We share in Christ’s resurrection so we can be holy, royal image-bearers, so we can be ambassadors for Jesus and partners in his Gospel.

But I want to play it safe. Better safe than sorry. I don’t want to take any risks. I don’t want to go out on a limb. I don’t want to change or grow.

Man, you’re living in the dark and cold of the grave! And that’s not really living. Follow Jesus away from the grave and into the warmth and light of his resurrection life!

Once the disciples moved away from the grave, they most certainly did not play anything safe. There was no hiding or sleeping. No stagnation or status quo. They started preaching and teaching. They sold their possessions to give to the poor. They violated city ordinances to proclaim the good news. They took mission trips on broken down boats and prayers. They sang praises in prison chains. They turned the world upside down for the Kingdom of God! That’s resurrection living!

It’s like a wonderfully talented musician on the verge of his own worldwide concert tour. He plays beautifully. He’s awesome. He’ll inspire thousands. But he’s caught up in a terrible crime and is thrown in jail. But, then, by some miracle, the governor declares a general amnesty and the great musician is released! His response is not just, “Whew! Thank goodness I don’t have to go to jail!” It’s, “Now I can play like I was born to play! I can perform like I was created to perform!”

Christians sometimes are too preoccupied with not going to jail.

Listen. If you’re in Christ, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO JAIL! So now you can really live!

This is good news, not good advice. This is the Gospel.

Peace,

Allan

Outstanding!

Central Church of Christ was named Outstanding School Partner at last night’s Amarillo School District Partners in Education Banquet at the downtown civic center. Of the 26 nominees — churches, rotary clubs, foundations, etc., — Central was recognized as tops for our on-going partnership with Bivins Elementary.

Our children’s minister, Mary McNeill, accepted the award along with Connie Crawford and our daughter, Whitney. Those three are very familiar faces in the hallways of Bivins as they deliver Snack Pak 4 Kids every Thursday. I was more or less forced to join them on the stage last night for the picture. But I made it clear to everyone that these ladies do all the work; I just sit back and applaud.

I’m very proud of Central for what we do with Bivins. Seventy-three percent of the students there are classified as economically disadvantaged. A lot of these kids are in foster homes, domestic violence shelters, and other temporary living conditions. Our church has stepped in every year with thanksgiving dinners, an annual school supplies drive, and summer painting projects. But now our Ignite Initiative is providing Bivins with more than $20,000 worth of equipment and supplies for their music and P.E. departments, desks for special needs students, and updates for their computer lab. Central volunteers are starting to serve next week as crossing guards, lunchroom and playground buddies, and Bivins Bucks store cashiers.

We believe that our God in Christ Jesus is redeeming this whole world. He is actively restoring everything back to its Garden of Eden perfection. And we are honored to partner with our Lord in providing these 550 students and their families with the necessities they need to level the playing field as they make their way in this world. To serve this nearby school in the name and manner of Jesus is our great privilege. To lean into his glorious future and reclaim this part of our city for his glory is a blessing. To be recognized by A.I.S.D. is pretty cool, too.

Peace,

Allan

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