“Prayer does not equip us for greater work, prayer IS the greater work.”
~E. M. Bounds
I miss a lot of things about Marble Falls. Roy Swann’s smile and encouragment. Yoko Ezell’s sweet spirit. Brian Jamar’s dry humor. Jim Dobbs’ vision and wisdom. Marti Futrell’s laugh. I could go on for pages about the things I miss. The thing I miss most, however, is the 30-minutes before Bible class every Sunday morning. Jim Gardner and I would pray together every Sunday morning in one of our offices. Jimmy joined us once he moved in. And the three of us together would pour out our thanksgiving to God and ask his blessings on the entire church. We would pray for each other’s wives and children and families. We would ask God to be present in our assembly. We would ask for courage and boldness and confidence as we preach / teach / lead singing that day. And it was always a powerful way to begin each Sunday. I always left those times of prayer feeling so uplifted and so certain of the Lord’s blessings and presence with us.
With two Sunday morning worship services at two different times, it hasn’t been as easy to get that same kind of thing going with the ministers here. Our two youth ministers, Jason and Lance, are only here for Bible class and the second service. Our involvement minister, Jim, needs to spend that 30-minutes before the first service meeting and greeting those who are coming in the doors. So I’ve been praying on Sunday mornings with that day’s worship leader. And I must say that praying with Gordon and Howard and Lance those days has been special.
And then Friday night at the Cotton Belt (that’s another story, hang on) Mark Richardson and Paul Brightwell approached me and asked if I would join them Sunday morning for prayer. They had a group of half a dozen men who had committed to praying for 30-minutes every Sunday morning and wanted me to be there with them. What a blessing! I’m never more encouraged than when I’m praying with a small group of godly men. I accepted their invitation with much enthusiasm and anticipation. And Sunday morning we sat together in the conference room and one-by-one poured our hearts out to our Savior. I’ve always said you can learn more about a person praying with them than in doing just about anything else. And it’s true. I’ve come to love and appreciate each of those six men after just one 30-minute prayer session, listening to them open up to God and express their feelings and dreams and concerns and desires. I’m so grateful for their friendship and for their invitation. I’m amazed at how our God keeps putting great men of faith into my life to encourage me and push me and walk with me.
There are several members of the Legacy church family who play in various bands. Ronnie Bates, the brother of my good friend from college, David Bates, has a band. Kent Garrison, the son of one of our elders, Russ Garrison, just signed a record deal with the Universal / Motown label and is touring the midwest and northeast, doing something like 60 shows in 75 nights. And Friday night we were blessed to take in the band “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” led by our own Vic Akers and Shanna Byrnes with Kevin Hart on drums and Sam Anderson on guitar and vocals. The Cotton Belt has a great family-friendly outdoor venue for concerts. And we had a blast with all of our new friends. At one point Vic got Carrie-Anne and Carley up on the stage to sing backup vocals on “Mustang Sally.” It was easy getting Carley up there. And if you know C-A, it was murder getting her up there. Being on a stage anywhere in front of any kind of crowd is not her cup of tea. But she finally gave in and belted out “Riiiiiiiiiiiide, Sally, Ride!” with the rest of them. And Carley played the cowbell. Not quite as enthusiastically as Will Ferrell in the “More Cowbell” sketch from SNL fame. But almost.
73 days until football season. #73 in our countdown is longtime New England Patriots guard John Hannah. Coming out of Alabama where Bear Bryant called him the “greatest lineman I ever coached,” Hannah was a ten-time All Pro during a 13-year career with the Pats. He was their #1 draft pick in 1973 and retired immediately after the Patriots loss to the Bears in Super Bowl XX. He was the first ever Patriot to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And he was certainly one of the best, if not the best, run blocker to pull out on a sweep ever. If you’re younger than 30 years old, you don’t even know what a pulling guard leading on a sweep is. And that’s a shame.
Getting caught up from the weekend: #74 is Mr. Cowboy, Bob Lilly. The Dallas Cowboys’ first ever draft pick, out of TCU where he was a two-time All-America, Lilly made eleven straight Pro Bowls, played in five NFL or NFC title games, and two Super Bowls. He only missed one game in 14 years. It was Lilly who chased Bob Griese down for that long sack in Super Bowl VI. He was the first Cowboy inducted into the Ring of Honor and the first Cowboy in the Hall of Fame. Longtime Lion Doug English and old Houston Oiler Bruce Matthews get honorable mention. But Lilly is a no-brainer at #74.
Finally, #75 is Mean Joe Green. He was the Steelers #1 pick out of North Texas State in 1969 and became the cornerstone of the great Steel Curtain defense that dominated the decade of the ’70s. He was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, went to ten Pro Bowls, and won four Super Bowl trophies. Even with his Hall of Fame career, Green is probably best remembered for the Coke commercial he filmed in the tunnel at old Three Rivers Stadium. Remember? The kid offers Green his Coke and, after Green reluctantly accepts, he smiles and tosses the kid his jersey. “Here kid, catch!” They made a movie off that commercial.