Movin’ On Up

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The apartments are better than the dorms at Oklahoma Christian University and our middle daughter, Valerie, has now made the move. It took less than 30-minutes Friday morning to transfer all her stuff from our two vehicles to the inside of her new apartment. But it took another six hours to get everything organized, hung up, and put away.

Bulletin boards and hand-crafted signs, shower caddies and curtains, pillow cases and comforters, and about 300 T-shirts. Half of every thing Valerie owns now is branded with Theta, which is fine with me. A whole bunch of her T-shirts and caps bear Delta logos, which is so cool! But for some reason she owns half a dozen Kappa shirts, which makes no sense to me — I wouldn’t hang those up for her.

After cheeseburgers and cheese fries at The Garage, we made a last run to the store for necessities: chips, ice cream, cereal, PB&J, DDP — you know. Then we helped her clean everything up, took a couple of pictures with Rayna, her roommate, and Rayna’s sister, Markie, who was Valerie’s Theta Big Sister last year, and headed home.

Val is one of the counselors for the Earn Your Wings or Take Flight or whatever they call the freshmen and transfers orientation this week. She had a training Friday night and the orientation begins this evening. And, have I told you? She’s changed her major to youth ministry!

She’s surrounded by really good people at OC, she’s listening to the leading of our Lord, and she’s giving herself to him and his Kingdom. We couldn’t be happier or more proud.

Here’s wishing you a fabulous semester, Valerie. I believe God has you exactly where he wants you. Follow him. Pay attention to what he’s doing in you and through you for the sake of his holy will. Work hard, learn a lot, be sweet. I can’t wait to hear all about your Bible and ministry classes.




Valerie 1 Comment »

Valerie concluded her twelve-weeks internship with the Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ in Arlington this past weekend and now she’s home for a full ten days before she heads back to Edmond for her junior year at Oklahoma Christian University. Carrie-Anne and I made it down to Arlington Sunday evening just in time for the going-away party the church hosted for Val. We listened for almost an hour while a great mix of students and parents, ministers and deacons, showered our daughter with love and praise for the wonderful impact she had on the youth ministry there. The experience was so good for Valerie — living with the Thatchers, VBS, devos, Bible studies, late-night conversations, church camp, even elders meetings and vampire-ants — that she has officially now changed her major to youth ministry!

Thank you so much to Lance, Ryan, Luann, Jamie, Terry, and everybody else in the student ministry who supported and loved Valerie through the summer. Thank you to Mike and Traci and Bella for doing Valerie’s laundry, keeping her in plenty of Diet Dr Pepper, repairing her car, and being family for her while she was away. Thank you to the Pleasant Ridge church for helping her negotiate the curveballs, for nurturing such a supportive atmosphere for our daughter, and for showing her in a thousand ways the eternal blessings of congregational ministry. Valerie’s love for our Lord and his people grew rich and deep while she was with you. You recognized her gifts for ministry and brought out the very best in her. You loved her like she belonged to you. The words you said to her Sunday night were powerfully encouraging to her and motivated by God’s Spirit. Her mom and I are eternally grateful.

Valerie, I’m so glad I answered the phone that afternoon when you called to tell me you were changing your major to youth ministry. I’ll never forget that conversation. And I’ll never forget how proud I felt and how grateful to God I am right now for the transformational work he’s doing in your life. What Ryan said to you Sunday night is true: if you don’t feel called by God for congregational ministry, don’t do it; if you do feel called by God for congregational ministry, don’t do anything else.

It’s evident to all who know you that God is at work in your life. Powerfully. Obviously. He’s got you right where he wants you. The fact that you are listening to him, following him, and leading people closer to him brings a joy to my heart I cannot adequately describe.

I love you, sweetie.


Joy in the Lord

Carley, Carrie-Anne, Central Church Family, Faith, Giving, Ministry, Valerie, Whitney No Comments »

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.



Little Middle, Gray Hair, and Jake

Allan's Journey, Central Church Family, Texas, Valerie No Comments »

A quick hit from Arlington as we wrap up the final leg of our family vacation. We had a marvelous lunch today with Valerie and the sweet family who is housing her while she serves as a summer intern for the student ministry at Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ.

Our old friends, Mike and Traci Thatcher and their daughter Bella, actually signed up to keep Valerie this summer before anybody made the connection that she belonged to us. We ran around with the Thatchers for a while during our brief stay in Arlington while I was working at KRLD during the early 2000s. We were actually the first babysitter Bella ever had! Now she and Valerie are sharing living space and really forming a wonderful friendship. Carrie-Anne and I are so grateful and feel so very confident that when Val’s car won’t start or the youth minister announces to the church that he’s taken another job in Abilene, Mike and Traci are there to take care of our little middle. (I have no idea why Valerie insists on wearing that Kappa shirt in the photo up there; she was wearing it before she met Mike, so I can’t blame him.)


While we’ve been away, John Mark Beilue, the highly respected columnist for the Amarillo Globe News, wrote a really nice story about Jake and Stevie Reeves’ hospital room wedding. You can click here to read his column. By the way, Jake is home now recovering from his surgery, learning how to manage his newly-diagnosed diabetes, and trying to tolerate diet root beer.


My once-every-five-weeks faith column for the Amarillo paper was also published last Saturday. It’s about ear-hair and God’s promises in Isaiah. You have to read it to understand.


And I’d love to recommend to you two books I’ve read during this ten-day vacation. They’re both excellent.

First, the largely untold and completely forgotten story about the world’s first-ever serial killer, in Austin, Texas during the mid-1880s. The book is titled The Midnight Assassin, written by Skip Hollandsworth, the famed editor of Texas Monthly magazine and the writer of the screenplay for the excellent movie “Bernie.” Skip did his research for almost two decades — and it shows. The book is a fascinating study of the events surrounding a dozen killings in the capitol city of mostly African-American servant girls. The murders were all extremely gruesome — one every couple of months — carried out in the middle of the night in the exact same way, and caused a panic throughout Austin that spread to all parts of the state from Gainesville to Galveston. The murderer was never caught. The mystery was never solved. And less than two years later, prostitutes were being killed in the middle of the night in London. Yes, Jack the Ripper! And, yes, most people at the time believed that Jack the Ripper and the Austin Assassin were the same guy! At the very least, most agreed that Jack the Ripper had been inspired by the Austin killer.

Hollandsworth produces hundreds of quotes and clippings from 130-year-old newspapers, police records, court documents, and journals that link the two. He also examines the question “Why do we know so much about Jack the Ripper but almost nothing about the Austin killer?” from every angle. And he pays very careful attention to the historic detail of every scene. These Austin murders were taking place during the construction of the capitol building, during the time when electric lights and telephones were transitioning from experimental to commonplace, during the construction of the very first dam on the Colorado River, and during the world expo in New Orleans when business leaders first began billing the wonders of our state with the slogan “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” The politics of all this was directly impacted by these murders that hung over the city and the state and had to be carefully managed. It’s so interesting. And, if you’re familiar at all with Austin, maybe you’ve wondered about those 130-year-old light towers that are scattered all over the city. Yep, they were erected in reaction to the midnight murders. If you’re a Texas history buff or a murder mystery fan, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this one.

And, Love Does by Bob Goff. I’d like to describe to you what it was like listening to Bob Goff’s 40-minute keynote address at the Pepperdine Lectures this past May. But it would be impossible. All I can accurately communicate in this space is that Goff loves God and he loves people. Passionately. Frantically. Maniacally. Hilariously. If you read his book, you’ll agree. If you read his book out loud, at double-speed, laughing at yourself after every fourth sentence, then you’ll have a better idea about his keynote.



Valerie’s Home!

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Palm Sunday at Central

Central Church Family, Delta Gamma Sigma, Jesus, Psalms, Salvation, Valerie 1 Comment »

We celebrated Palm Sunday at Central with palm branches and prayers, songs of praise and times for reflection, the sacred meal and the Holy Word.

We attempted to capture the enthusiasm and expectation of that day when our Lord Jesus rode that donkey into the Holy City, surrounded on every side by throngs of cheering followers. The people of Israel were looking for a king. They were expecting a divine liberator, a deliverer sent by God to free them from the yoke of the Romans. They were praying for a Messiah who would save them and restore the throne of David back to Israel and establish the Kingdom of God right there in that land. The prophets had spoken about that day and it looked like for all the world that long-anticipated day had finally come.

Jesus is that promised Messiah! Jesus is our King sent by God, empowered by God to save us! All the signs are there! He’s healing people, he’s teaching the Law, he’s raising people from the dead, and feeding people in the desert! These are the signs the prophets told us about! God is saving us!

All this energy. All this excitement.

Our great-grandparents always told us about this day, and now it’s finally here! Our synagogue teachers have been reading to us about this day for generations, and now it’s come! We’ve been praying to God about this day for as long as we can remember and, praise God, he’s allowed us to live long enough to see it!

That’s us. That crowd of disciples, walking with Jesus on his way to the Holy City — that’s us.

Jesus is our King. We know Jesus is sent by God, he’s empowered by God’s Spirit — we know he IS God! And he is saving us.

And like those Israelites then, we long for the day when our King returns to completely and fully restore the Kingdom of God in our land — right here in Amarillo! We praise God for the salvation he delivers in our Messiah Jesus. The “hosannas” are on our lips today as we recognize that salvation for us and for the whole world.

May our God bless us during this Holy Week to faithfully remember and reflect on our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the events of those last days before his loving and history-changing sacrifice.

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”



Valerie helped design a sweatshirt for the 21 female students at Oklahoma Christian University whose dads belonged to Delta Gamma Sigma. They’ve had an informal fellowship for most of the school year; now they have a formal sweatshirt. You’ll recognize Val on the far right in this picture. On the far left is Kenzie Minor, whose dad, Shawn, was a Delta freshman my senior year. The young lady in the middle is Savannah McMillon, whose dad, Jeff, was a great friend of mine, two years my senior, a Delta vice-president, and current OC Bible professor.

Good looking kids, huh? But then, again, everybody looks good in maroon and gold.