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.



The Great Game

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It Finally Happened…

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…just as Abbott and Costello predicted.

Dance With Who Brung Ya

College Football, Foreign Missions, Legacy Church Family, MLB 2 Comments »


Darrell Royal, co-inventor of the Wishbone offense and two-time national championship coach of the Texas Longhorns, has died at age 88. During his 20 years as UT’s head football coach, Royal racked up a record of 167-47-5, including eleven Southwest Conference titles, ten Cotton Bowl wins, and undefeated national championship seasons in 1963 and 1969. I was ten years old when Royal stepped away from the sidelines to leave college football to the Barry Switzers of the world. So most of what I know about him I’ve only heard second and third hand or read in books or seen on TV. I did enjoy the great privilege of meeting Royal at a hospital fundraiser in Burnet back in 1993. I had my picture made with the winningest coach in Longhorns history and he autographed my invitation. A good friend, Larry Pate, framed the 3″x4″ card for me and it hangs on my office wall today.

Royal is remembered for his hard-nosed running attack and his disciplined defense. But he also gained a lot of attention with his folksy quotes and quips. Some of my favorites:

“Three things can happen when you throw the football, and two of ’em are bad.” ~on his unwillingness to install a sophisticated passing game at UT

“You dance with who brung ya.” ~on his refusal to give up on the Wishbone after a couple of tough losses in 1965

“Only angry people win football games.” ~on recruiting

“No, he’s not very fast, but maybe Elizabeth Taylor can’t sing.” ~while defending a backup running back against a reporter’s criticism

Click here for a link to a whole bunch of other Darrell Royal quotes. Click here for the Sports Illustrated article on Royal’s life before, during, and after UT. In honor of the coach, order something off the menu today that sounds like “triple option.”


You might also be interested to know that the Houston Astros are going with a new logo and uniform design to mark their move to the American League. The new designs borrow quite liberally from the old historic ones — maybe only a die-hard fan could pick out the differences. But I like it. The orange star and the capitol “H” has always been cool. Someday, maybe during Spring Training in March, I’ll rant and rave about Houston moving to the AL West. It’s a travesty. It’s very nearly the abomination that leads to desolation. In the meantime, click here to watch a pretty cool video that highlights the Astros’ uni look from the old Colt .45 days of Larry Dierker, through the rainbow era of Ryan and Cruz, and the blue pinstripes of Bagwell and Biggio, to this brand new look worn by a bunch of players you and I have never heard of.


Carrie-Anne and the girls and I made the short drive to Tulia Friday to eat Mexican food with our favorite Ukranian missionaries, David and Olivia and Caleb Nelson. David and Liv are on furlough from their seven year commitment in Kharkov, spending several weeks with the Martins in Lubbock where Liv is about to give birth to their second child. The little boy (Luke? Lucas? Lucious?) is due in a week and Olivia needed some chili rellenos. We had such a great visit with this wonderful family. It was such a joy to get caught up on all the Christians and all the seekers C-A and I met during our two week trip to Kharkov in 2010. Re-living Victoria’s baptism into Christ, remembering Alexander, getting caught up with Valery and Andrei; it was such a blessing. We laughed together and we prayed. We marveled at their victories and sympathized with their struggles. We giggled at the mention of fish-flavored potato chips and gagged at the memory of a tall frosty glass of Kafir. I taught Caleb how to flip Froot Loops from the handle of a teaspoon. And we vowed to play a few marathon Phase 10 games together here in Amarillo before they head to Fort Worth after the baby is born.

God is using the Nelsons in a very difficult place. He’s working through them to spread the great news of salvation in Christ Jesus. He’s empowering their whole team by his Holy Spirit to advance the eternal Kingdom. We feel so very blessed to be their friends.

God bless his Kingdom outposts in Ukraine. God bless David and Olivia Nelson and their precious children. May our Father’s will be done in their lives and in Kharkov just as it is in heaven.



Anticipating Tulsa

Lectureships, MLB, NFL 1 Comment »

“When I prayed to make the Broncos better, I didn’t mean Peyton Manning!”

~Tim Tebow


Carrie-Anne and I are headed up to Tulsa for our annual time of spiritual renewal and ministry rejuvenation. The Tulsa Workshop has long been a favorite destination for us. Every year we are encouraged, uplifted, inspired, equipped, empowered, enlightened, and educated. It’s in Tulsa where we sing our lungs out, we “amen” some of the best preachers in the faith, and we’re transformed. We grow in Tulsa. We change in Tulsa.

I’m approaching this year’s three day event with the same anticipation. I’m so privileged to sit with Terry Rush in his office at 6:30 Thursday morning; what encouraging thing will he say to me this time? I’m so blessed to call Rick Atchley a good friend; what valuable advice will he give me when I see him? My life is more meaningful for knowing Rick and Beverly Ross and their whole family; how will Josh challenge me this year?; how much of their broken hearts and enduring faith will Rick and Beverly reveal to inspire me?

How much of Jeff Walling’s sermons will I steal? Who am I going to run into that I haven’t seen in ten years? How hard will Randy Harris make me laugh? How long will Chris Moore’s beard be, and how many rubber bands will be holding it in place? How many tears will roll down my cheeks as Keith Lancaster leads us in “It Is Well With My Soul” while I realize that my sin — not in part, but the whole! — has been nailed to the cross?

I’ll get to see Dan Bouchelle for the first time since I took his old job at this wonderful church in Amarillo (hopefully, nobody’s told him yet that I referred to him in a sermon two weeks ago as Central’s interim preacher). I’ll get to sing praises to our God with my wife and with our old friends from Mesquite and with new friends we haven’t even met yet and with hundreds and hundreds of Christ’s redeemed. Is Marvin Phillips still alive?!? I’ll listen to Jay Guin and Don McLaughlin and Patrick Mead. I’ll come back with books and CDs and a refreshed understanding of my own salvation and a renewed enthusiasm for the mission to which our Father has called me. And we might run into Garth Brooks again at the Mexican food restaurant.

I love the Tulsa Workshop. I highly recommend it.


My friend Jerry Schemmel, the play-by-play voice of the Colorado Rockies, has just released a brand new clothing line with a Bible-based theme. This is his baby: 1925 Sports — workout gear with logos inspired by 1 Corinthians 9:25. “…to get a crown that will last forever.”

Here’s the link. Check it out. Way to go, Jerry. Very cool. I know your schedule’s about to get really hectic. Enjoy the relative calm of the final two weeks of spring training. Someday, when you get out of baseball broadcasting to enter the full-time preaching ministry, we’ll talk about hectic. Have a great season.


The above Tim Tebow joke was submitted earlier today by Josh Penn. Thanks, Josh. See you at the Warrior Dash next month.



Back To Their Own People

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“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people…” ~Acts 4:23

Please notice that in the middle of terrible trial and increasing persecution, the apostles who’d been arrested and questioned for preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus “went back to their own people.” They gathered with their brothers and sisters in Christ because they knew the fellowship of the saints is a tremendous source of encouragement and strength. Fellowship is one of the main themes in Acts and we shouldn’t be surprised that it comes to the front during this time of crisis.

When their God-given mission was declared illegal, Peter and John shared and prayed with their own people.

You know, the more technology we use, the more TVs and computers and laptops and cell phones and iPods — the more screens we bury our faces in and the more buds we plug in our ears — the less relational we become. Being with other people, interacting with other people, sharing and praying with other people is becoming less and less important. One of the saddest developments is that our relationships are deteriorating and they weren’t all that strong to begin with. The result is that God’s Church is ill-equipped to handle a crisis.

There is terrific strength in being together. It’s critical for us to be together where we can encourage each other, build each other up. sympathize and pray for each other. We strengthen each other when we’re together. I don’t know why anybody would ever miss one of our regular church assemblies. It’s so vital!

In ancient mythology, there’s a story about Hercules wrestling to the death with a Libyan giant named Antaeus. Antaeus was the son of Gaia, the goddess of the earth. And everytime Hercules threw Antaeus to the ground, Antaeus jumped up bigger and stronger than before. Hercules finally realized that everytime Antaeus came in contact with the earth he received fresh power, renewed strength. So he picked Antaeus up and held him in the air. He didn’t allow any contact between Antaeus and the source of his strength. And eventually Antaeus grew weaker and weaker and died without a struggle.

I think Satan knows the strength we get from being together. I think that’s why he works so hard to keep us from all meeting together. He’s the one who gives us our excuses and rationalizations and justifications for missing our meeting times. He knows if he can just hold us away from the assemblies, if our gathering with other Christians is inconsistent or non-existent, if he can just hold us in the air long enough, our spiritual condition and readiness to face a crisis won’t be nearly as strong as it is when we’re always together.

There’s great strength in being together.


I’ve had the great privilege of listening to Ben Witherington teach and preach and sing on the great salvation themes of the New Testament. The noted theologian and author has presented his views on Revelation to a hundred of us at the Sermon Seminar at Austin Grad. And I was blessed to spend an entire day with him at Harding last year, thanks to an invite from my brother, Keith. Now, the boisterous and bellowing one has been inspired by the unbelievable World Series to write a few paragraphs about the great game of baseball. It’s a little Cardinals-biased. But it’s a good read. You can get to it by clicking here.