Palm Sunday at Central

Central Church Family, Delta Gamma Sigma, Jesus, Psalms, Salvation, Valerie No Comments »

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.



Romo Disappoints One More Time

Cowboys, NFL No Comments »

I feel really ripped off. Deprived. Done wrong. For the past four or five months we’ve been anticipating watching Tony Romo play football for another team and taking the analyzing and dissecting of his game and his psyche to a whole new level. When Houston unloaded Brock Osweiler a few weeks ago, the foregone conclusion was that Romo would be the Texans’ starting quarterback. They were clearing space for Romo. Denver was interested, but Houston was Romo’s destination. And maybe his destiny. How much fun would that be?

I was already taking bets here in the church offices that whichever team Romo went to would finish 2017 with a better record than the Cowboys. I was already gearing up to watch Romo, with the league’s best defense and some of the NFL’s best receivers and the best coaching he’s had in his career, win a divisional playoff game for the first time. I was licking my chops at the absolutely delicious prospect of Jerry Wayne’s adopted son winning a Super Bowl for another team. How awesome!

But, no. I feel gypped. Cheated.

Tony Romo has walked away from Houston and from the Broncos. The Texans are legitimately a decent quarterback away from competing for a championship; Denver is not too far behind. But Romo doesn’t want to give it a shot. Both those teams are legitimate contenders. Both those teams want Romo. But Romo doesn’t want to do it. He wants to go into broadcasting.

I don’t blame him. It appears that Romo is smarter than I thought he was. It’s the right call for all the right reasons: personal health, a wife with a third child on the way, an unbelievable opportunity to immediately move into the top analyst spot at CBS. I get all that. It makes sense.

But Romo has ripped us off again. He’s failed to deliver to our expectations.

To be fair, Romo was trapped in the middle of the game of “chicken” between the Texans and Jerry Wayne. Houston was never going to give up a player or a draft pick to get Romo — the Cowboys don’t need Romo. But Jerry was never going to give Romo away for nothing in return. While both sides dug in and refused to blink, while Romo was flapping in the breeze, CBS apparently backed a truckload of money onto Romo’s lawn and he couldn’t refuse.

Jerry’s dream was to have Romo stay a Cowboy and be his incredibly overpaid backup quarterback to Dak Prescott. Unrealistic. Jerry’s worst nightmare was for Romo to go somewhere else — four hours south on I-45 — and actually win a Super Bowl! How delicious would that be?!!! Can you imagine!?!

We’ll never know. Romo has walked away from the chance. His last act as a Cowboy was to disappoint all of us one more time.

As for Houston, can they trade a number two draft pick to the Browns for Osweiler?



Ignite for Gratitude House

Central Church Family No Comments »

It was our tremendous honor as a ministry staff this morning to represent Central and present a $25,000 check to Gratitude House. As part of our two-year Ignite Initiative, we’re going into deeper partnership with five local organizations who are already doing great Gospel work in our immediate downtown Amarillo neighborhood. Gratitude House is a transitional-housing program for women coming out of addiction and/or abusive situations, providing apartments, counseling, social work assistance, education, and child-care.

These funds from Central will pay for the counseling so desperately needed by the thirty women at Gratitude House, including general counseling and chemical dependency counseling, for the rest of this calendar year. Where it’s appropriate, the money will also fund education and transportation for these ladies. As we’ve been telling our church, we’re not in this thing for a one-time handout — we really want to partner with our Lord and Gratitude House to change lives. We want to join in the work of positively shifting the trajectory for whole generations of men and women. Gratitude House walks side by side with the ladies and their kids as they make the move from substance abuse and addiction recovery programs to living on their own. And we are so privileged to be a part of it!

In addition to the money, Central is sending six mentors who will provide friendship and support for these women, a group of men to paint the newly-rebuilt porches on six or seven of the apartments, and another group to change out a dozen exterior light fixtures.

Diann Gilmore and Donna and the others at Gratitude House received us so gratefully this morning. Our time of prayer and mutual blessing together was beautiful. And she’s asked me to pass her thanksgiving on to everybody at Central. So, Central, consider yourselves thanked and appreciated and official co-laborers in the Kingdom with Gratitude House.


Never mind that the Rangers were blowing a 5-1 lead, giving up seven unanswered runs last night to lose their season opener during the first half of the NCAA Championship Game. North Carolina’s win over Gonzaga gave Mary the points she needed to leap past me into first place in our Central Staff office pool. Congratulations to Mary. Sort of. She gets the free lunch and a dessert at our next staff outing later this month. Tanner and Vickie tied for third. Mark finished dead last. Again. We stopped buying lunch for the last place finisher once Mark finished last three years in a row.



Hula Hooping on the Wall at Applebee’s

Carrie-Anne, Central Church Family No Comments »

Becky McCasland ran up to me before church a couple of months ago. “We saw Carrie-Anne’s picture up at Applebee’s in Lubbock! Why is Carrie-Anne’s picture up at Applebee’s in Lubbock?!”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down. What??

It seems that Becky was eating with some friends at the Applebee’s on the loop in Lubbock when she strolled to the restroom and noticed a giant picture of a familiar gal hanging on the wall. Yes, that’s Carrie-Anne Stanglin, doing the hula hoop!

Again, what??

Becky showed me the picture on her phone. Sure enough, yes, that was Carrie-Anne. And I remember the picture well. Our youngest daughter, Carley, had a pool party at our house in North Richland Hills for her tenth birthday and, as part of the festivities, we held a hula hoop contest. Carrie-Anne won the hula hoop contest — she wins every hula hoop contest — and, yeah, I had taken a few pictures. This was back in September of 2009! This was in Fort Worth! I posted the picture on my blog along with a couple of other shots from the party. And that was it. Almost eight years ago.

How did that picture get blown up and framed and hung on the wall at the Applebee’s in Lubbock?

We finally got a chance to see the picture first-hand Thursday night, but we still don’t have any idea how it got there.

Bruce and Celia Tidmore took us to the Garth Brooks concert at the United Supermarkets Arena on the Texas Tech campus Thursday. (Don’t talk trash to me about seeing Garth Brooks; I was going for my wife!) We left Amarillo early so Bruce could buy something he needed at Cabella’s. And before we made it over to Chuy’s for dinner, we swung by the Applebee’s to see Carrie-Anne’s portrait. And, yes, there it was! Big as Dallas! Right there on the wall next to the restroom doors! My wife, in our backyard in North Richland Hills, doing the hula hoop, eight years ago!

We took a bunch of pictures of C-A and the picture and marveled all over again at the complete randomness of the experience. The waiters and waitresses we queried had no idea how the picture got there. The manager told us that the store had gone through a remodeling two years ago and all the staff had been asked to submit pictures of Lubbock scenes and Lubbock people to use as decorations for their walls. Yeah, we could see, the walls were covered with pictures of Texas Tech and Red Raiders sports teams and buildings, oil wells, the Buddy Holly statue, the Lubbock rodeo, and several other Lubbock landmarks. And then this random picture of my wife! It didn’t match up with any other picture in the place! The manager had no idea who submitted the pictures and how they were selected — two years ago he was waiting tables at the Amarillo Applebee’s.

We came up with all kinds of conspiracy theories as we dined on shrimp chili rellenos and chicka-chicka-boom-boom at Chuy’s. But we don’t have any definite answers. It’s a mystery.

Anything like that ever happened to you? How random is this? How would you even search on my blog for that picture? You have to find the post and then click on a link within the text to even get to it!

For at least the next couple of years, Carrie-Anne is hula hooping on the wall at Applebee’s in Lubbock. And nobody can tell us how or why.


It’s Opening Day! Rangers and Tribe tonight at the Ballpark. Yu Darvish on the hill and — yuck — Joey Gallo at third. Opening Day! It should be a National Holiday. We treat it like one here at Central. Every year we wear our baseball jerseys and caps to work. Greg grills the dogs and brats, we eat Cracker Jack and peanuts, nachos and ice cream sandwiches. We open up and trade baseball cards. And we dream about future glory for our teams and lament the heartbreaking failures of the past. It’s Opening Day!

I’ve checked the standings. The Rangers are in first place.



Zoo Freak-ing Out

Allan's Journey, Texas No Comments »

I was one month shy of my seventh birthday in the fall of 1973 when “The Zoo” hit the Dallas airways with its brand new album rock format. It was all rock-and-roll. And not just the hits. The Zoo played B-sides and deep cuts. And for an entire generation of people who grew up in Dallas, people who are today in their 50s, it was THE radio station.

I don’t remember ever NOT listening to The Zoo. I was introduced to Van Halen and Aerosmith by The Zoo. When I got my huge AM-FM stereo and turntable for Christmas right after my 11th birthday, one of the first things I did was slap a Zoo sticker right in the center of the smoky gray dust cover. I had a Zoo sticker on the mirror in my bedroom and on the bedroom window that faced Jennie Lee Lane and greeted every person who entered our cul-de-sac. I put Zoo stickers on my locker at school and on my notebooks. The Zoo was cool. And I was what we all called a Zoo Freak. I listened to LaBella and Rody’s “Morning Zoo” from the moment I woke up every day until we walked out the door for school. And I would beg my dad to tune the car radio from KRLD to The Zoo, which he would do as soon as Brad Sham’s “Cowboys Report” concluded. I fell asleep every night during those years listening to The Zoo.

The elephant trumpet in between songs. The “Rot Your Brain” Zoo posters we got for free at Sound Warehouse. Two-Fer Tuesdays. “Morning? Morning!”

My friend and fellow Zoo Freak Todd Adkins and I cut school twice to attend the “Morning Zoo’s Breakfast Club” at Monopoly’s in North Dallas. We were too young to get into the club legally, so we’d wake up extra early and sneak in at about 5:00 while the roadies were setting up. I still have a couple of “Breakfast Club” buttons here in my office. Somewhere in a box in my attic is a Mike Rhyner (he was the “Morning Zoo’s” sports guy) autographed picture that says “Nice Huey Lewis t-shirt!” in reference to my wardrobe that first day I met him. My old Zoo pin is prominently displayed in a shadow box in my home along with lots of other treasured items from my childhood.

Jon Dillon was the midday personality on The Zoo, part of the original on-air lineup in 1973, working at KZEW until it went off the air in 1989. His was the voice that went in and out of the Fleetwood Mac and Eagles songs I listened to while doing my homework. He was the one who told me how hot it was and it was a “skosh” past 4:00 as I drove home from school. In a day when radio wasn’t nearly as researched and formatted, when DJs themselves — not a corporate play list generated in New York or California — decided what records they would play, Jon Dillon would sometimes talk for several minutes between songs. He gave me the background stories to the lyrics and the bands. He knew the guitar players, he was hanging out with the lead singers. He knew Tom Petty and Randy Bachman and Don Henley and Ted Nugent. Listening to JD introduce a ZZ Top song (“that little ol’ band from Texas, how, how, how!) was a tremendous joy.

The Zoo was the soundtrack for my formative years. From the time I was seven until I graduated college, The Zoo dominated the Dallas airways and I never listened to anything else. My deep love for local radio is directly tied to The Zoo. My deep lament for local radio also connects sadly to The Zoo.

And now it’s back! The Zoo is back!

George Gimarc, another original Zoo jock from ’73, has rounded up Rhyner and Rody, Jon Dillon, Nancy Johnson, Chaz Mixon, and others to resurrect The Zoo in a new on-line format called Vokal. They’re using the original KZEW playlists, they’re playing old station and concert promos and local commercials that Gimarc’s kept in boxes since day one, and it’s great! Just since I’ve been typing this post, they’ve played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising.” I’ve heard The Who, Neil Young, and The Stones. But they’ve also played David Lee Roth’s “Tobacco Road” from his “Eat “Em and Smile” album and Z Z Top doing “Francine” in Spanish! The unexpected B-sides and the delightful deep cuts! The familiar voices and sounds of my youth! I just heard Dillon say, “We’re getting the band back together, don’t tell anybody!”

It may not be for you. They used to say The Zoo’s not for everybody and everybody’s not for The Zoo. But, if you want to listen to Dallas rock radio the way it was when I was a kid, click here. It’s streaming live for free.

Or, just step into my office. It’s my new-old soundtrack.



Leadership: Love

1 Thessalonians, Leadership, Love No Comments »

“We were gentle among you , like a mother caring for her little children.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Is it weird that Paul describes himself as a mother? What does a mother know about leadership? Well, dads, have you ever watched your wife with your kids? Generally speaking, they’ve got a gentleness and a sensitivity that we just don’t. I think children find the most comfort and security with their moms. I remember with our girls — I could play with them for hours, do fun things for them and with them all day long. But when they got hurt, where did they run? Straight to mom. Every time.

Actually, that word “caring” is more correctly translated “nursing.” “Nursing her children” gives us an image of Christian leaders actually feeding and giving nourishment to the congregation.

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” ~1 Thessalonians 2:8

A mother teaches her children how to cross the street, how to eat at the table, and how to match pony tail holders with shirts. But she also pours her heart and her soul into her kids. Because she loves them so much. To lead with love is a lot more than just teaching. It means being intimately involved in people’s lives. And it takes time and effort and it leads to disappointment. But, like Paul, our love compels us to do it.

We’re in each other’s homes, we’re praying together, rejoicing and mourning together, genuinely and actively interested and involved in each other’s lives. That kind of love is sacrificial.

Bill Hybels says, “Tell me how to show love without spending time, money, or energy, and I’ll gladly sign up. Tell me that love means sacrifice, however, and I’m reluctant to commit.”

It’s basically following the model of Jesus who did it first and best. Christ’s priority was in giving, not getting; on serving, not being served; on loving, not necessarily being loved.