Category: Texas (page 1 of 6)

What the Lord Requires

If you or someone you know is fond of swiping the table tents from Whataburger, or if you, like me, really want one of those table tents but are averse to breaking our Lord’s commands, you need to read this article from Texas Monthly. Apparently, Whataburger is fine with the thievery.

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“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” ~Micah 6:8

Seeing a puddle of oil under your car in the driveway shouldn’t cause you to change out the air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror. If your son is failing all his classes at college, you don’t argue with him about not knowing the words to the school fight song. There’s an old saying about the futility of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic — the silliness of it. Jesus calls it straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel. And our God shuts it down.

The Lord, through Micah, says “No! You don’t get it! It’s simple! Look, we’ve been over this for centuries!”

Act Justly – If you’re a covenant partner with God, you have to take care of everybody in the community. Justice. Helping the poor, protecting the foreigner, taking in orphans, feeding the widows — taking care of the people in society who can’t take care of themselves. Just like God takes care of me when I am wholly unable to take care of myself.

Love Mercy – I remember a family lunch at Furr’s Cafeteria when I was a teenager. We’re going through the line and we’ve got our trays and we’re looking at all the food and the lady asks my dad, “What can I get for you?” He replies, “I want everything I’ve got coming!” And the lady in the hairnet with the big spoon looks right at him and says, “No, you don’t.”

We don’t want what we’ve got coming; we want mercy. Mercy is not getting what you really deserve, it’s not giving someone what they truly deserve. And we love mercy when it’s shown to us. But God says love mercy for everybody.

Don’t just act merciful from time to time, love mercy consistently. Love mercy as a strategy, as a way of living, as a way of being and doing. Love mercy not just when it’s shown to you, but as you show it to others. Love mercy as your second-nature response, as your Holy Spirit instinct. Love mercy as a quality of God’s character forming in you.

Walk Humbly with Your God – Don’t carelessly or presumptuously do things your own way. Pay attention to God’s will. Put your will in a secondary position to his. Know your place next to God and walk with him — not against him, not in front of him. Walk with God’s vision, with God’s character, with God’s priorities. God has brought you life-changing justice and he’s shown you amazing mercy because that’s how he treats everybody. Now, you walk with him and join him in doing those same things with everybody where you live.

This isn’t new information. This has always been at the heart of God’s covenant with his people. Treat everybody the way I’ve treated you.

When it comes to your sin and your failures and your transgressions against God and neighbor — when it comes to your sin — our Lord Jesus looked at the Father and said, “Put that on my account.” While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son. God has brought you life-changing justice and shown you amazing mercy, not because you’re so good but because that’s the way he treats everybody. And his number one priority is that you and I would act the same way, that bringing justice and showing mercy would be your top priority and my top priority, because people would see him in us. People would experience God in us if our priorities and God’s priorities were the same.

Peace,

Allan

Hook ‘Em

Going to Chicago

I’m leaving this morning for my quarterly trip to Chicago and the Transforming Community. This image seems appropriate.

Divorce & Remarriage: Part Four

Before I post the next section of our “Divorce: It’s Going to be OK” sermon from last Sunday at Central, let me direct you to this story in USA Today detailing the successful efforts of Blue Bell Ice Cream to identify the woman who licked the top of a container of Tin Roof last week and placed it back inside a store freezer. It happened in Lufkin, Texas. Behind the Pine Curtain. What’s wrong with those people? It’s sickening to me that somebody would do this in the first place but, more than that, it’s ludicrous that she and her friend would record it and post the video to the internet. More proof, as if we needed any, that the internet in general and our iPhones in particular are making us worse people, not better.

Also, please be aware that you can buy Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes now in the middle of the summer. It’s a special promotion they’re calling “Christmas in July.” And please do not be surprised that I am participating.

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God forgives all sin through the cross of Christ –

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly… God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” ~Romans 5:6-10

Divorces cause many burdens: physical, emotional, sexual, and social burdens. And, of course, spiritual burdens. Well, yeah. Divorce is sin. There are consequences for disobeying God. With divorce, there’s a guilt because we’ve failed at this most important relationship. But God forgives us and restores us by offering his perfect Son to cover our imperfections. At the cross, we’re made perfect in God’s eyes despite our many failures, including our failures in marriage. We look to the love of God and the cross of Christ.

We’ve tried legislating divorce and remarriage by laws and rules. So if a person destroys a God-ordained marriage and can’t fix it, we impose some type of punishment or restitution. If you’re going to be forgiven by God and live in a righteous relationship with God — if you’re going to be OK — then you have to do this and you cannot do that. We try to deal with divorce through laws. Praise God, he deals with divorce at the cross!

The cross of Christ is an eternal symbol of God’s limitless love and amazing grace. When we are forgiven at the cross, we become perfect by God’s love and grace and we are completely released from the burdens of guilt and shame and fear and we’re also released from any requirement to make some kind of restitution. The Church has forced divorced people to stay celibate, we’ve forbidden them to remarry, we’ve demanded they dissolve their second marriages, and we’ve disfellowshipped people who wouldn’t or couldn’t pay those prices.

Know this: Jesus Christ is the only one who pays the price. Jesus Christ makes restitution for all the sins of humanity at the cross and that includes restitution for divorce. Jesus paid it all!

“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more!” ~Hebrews 8:12

We do not offer judgment or condemnation to the world or to each other. We gladly offer the cross of Christ. We don’t fix past sins by adding new ones. Sometimes you truly cannot go back and change what’s done. But you can commit to, in our Lord’s words, go and sin no more. All of us can claim complete forgiveness and perfect pardon through the atoning death and resurrection of Christ and work hard to remain from now on faithful to whatever vows we’ve made.

A church that is anchored in the love of God and the cross of Christ is a church that can say to a couple in crisis, “Don’t divorce; stay married.” We can say to the divorcing couple, “Repent of this sin against your family and against God.” And we can say to the divorced, “God loves you; he’s not angry with you; you are forgiven by God in Christ.”

There will be some who accuse us of preaching cheap grace. My response to that is God’s grace is better than cheap; it’s free!

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 6:23

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God!” ~Ephesians 2:8

There are some who say you can’t be forgiven for divorce and remarriage if you’re already a baptized Christian when it happens. There’s forgiveness if your divorce was before you became a Christian, but if you were already a Christian you knew better. You can’t be forgiven of that. You’re living in sin.

Really? Go back and read Romans 5:6-10.If baptism into Christ forgives a pre-Christian divorce and remarriage, how much more! If God’s grace is freely given to his enemies, how much more for his children! The idea that Christians receive less grace and forgiveness than non-Christians cannot be our guide. The idea that Christians receive less grace because we understand God’s will better distorts grace. All God’s children have grace. Grace has no value if it doesn’t forgive sin. Romans 8 tells us there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

Peace,

Allan

Independent Affirmation

A financial institution in Chicago has taken over Whataburger and it just feels wrong. Pure-D-Wrong. The San Antonio-based Whataburger was seeking millions of dollars in order to expand its brand all over the United States and this investment firm in Chicago made the deal. Sure, in a few years I’ll be able to get the #1 with everything and extra onions and french fries with spicy ketchup in New York and California and Illinois. But, so what?!? Is it worth it? A Massachusetts company owns Dr Pepper now, Mrs. Baird’s is controlled out of Mexico, and an Ohio company owns Schlitterbahn. What the Ted? Everything in the United States is owned by like nine companies.

Was there not any money here in Texas? Would no one in Texas back the expansion? All you people who have been tweeting and Instagramming stuff like, “Pray for those who don’t have Whataburger” and “A moment of silence for the people in the states who don’t have Whataburger,” look what you did!

 

 

 

Will Whataburger still have the “Family Owned and Operated since 1950” sign on their windows? Will J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans be able to save Whataburger with his tweets? Is the whole thing going to be watered down now? What’s fueling my angst over losing this valuable distinctive, my Texas or my Church of Christ?

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We’re in the middle of a sermon series here at Central we’re calling “Family Matters.” We’re attempting to understand why family is so important to us and why it can never be ultimate for us. We’re trying to see the family clearly but also see past the family. We’re wanting to crucify our family values. This past Sunday we considered the topic of Christian Parenting, raising our children by the love of God and the cross of Christ. This is part two of that sermon. I posted part one here yesterday.

Independent Affirmation – A lot of us are living our lives through our kids. We push our kids into certain sports or certain academic pursuits or certain careers or hobbies or even religious activities either because we missed out and my kids can make up for it — they can do whatever I failed to do or they can make up for my own regrets or they can achieve what I never had the talent or opportunity to achieve — or so we can keep what we achieved alive. We can keep our legacy going through our kids. We can stay relevant and important through the successes of our children. And if we’re not careful, we can start to search for our identity through our kids. Their success is my success. When they do something well it makes me look good and feel good.

Hey, your children don’t need that pressure! They don’t need that stress! Don’t put that on them!

And if you’re looking for your own sense of identity or worth in what your children do and how well they do it, you’re going to be horribly disappointed. They’re not you!

Your children have their own identities. Our Father made them and formed them individually with their own unique personalities and their own gifts to bring him glory. As parents, we need to honor that. We need to take the time to explore those things with our kids and look for those gifts and affirm them independently of what they do for us.

Think about the cross of Christ. How do we as parents sacrifice and serve our children to say to them, “Who are you?” How do we really get to know them and their talents and passions? How do we sincerely ask, “How did God gift you?”

The love of a parent is really made clear when you make the effort to genuinely affirm the gifts and callings of your child, especially when their skills and interests are different from yours.

Think about how many times during Jesus’ life God said out loud from heaven, “You are my Son. I love you. I am very pleased with you.” That’s the model. And I think I’m only just now beginning to figure it out.

Here’s a trick that helps me: Instead of telling our daughters I’m proud of them, I try to say, “I admire you” or “I admire this about you.” I don’t want them to hear “I’m proud of you” as something I say when they make me look good or feel good. I don’t want it to feel like “I affirm you or I love you because you’re making me look good or you’re doing what I want you to do.” I want to affirm our daughters independent of me.

I really admire this about you. I see this in you and I think it’s great. I love you, daughter, and here’s what I know about you. I know who you are. I see you the way God made you. I love you. I admire you.

Peace,

Allan

National Chili Day

“Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing.”¬† ~Lyndon B. Johnson

I have no idea why there is a National Chili Day. But it’s today. And, yes, I am celebrating this evening with a big bowl of red topped with grated cheese, chopped¬† onions, and sliced jalapenos. And absolutely, positively, unconditionally no beans!

If you’re looking for a couple of short chili histories and recipes, you might click here or here.

Peace,

Allan

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