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Daylight from the Lord

When Joshua defeated the Amorites, he prayed to God in the middle of the battle. He was running out of daylight, they were needing more time, and he prayed to God to make the sun stand still.

Joshua didn’t know the sun doesn’t move. If you’re going to get more daylight, you need to ask God to make the earth stand still, not the sun. Joshua didn’t know. He prayed for the wrong thing. He prayed with mistaken assumptions. He didn’t have all the information.

But God still gave him more daylight.

Today, we pray with mistaken assumptions. We don’t have all the information. We ask for the wrong things. But God still gives us daylight.

We engage our neighbors with the Good News, we talk to our friends at work about Christ, and we don’t have all the information. We don’t know the half of everything that’s really happening around us and inside that conversation. We speak with mistaken assumptions. But God still gives us daylight.

Peace,

Allan

Ushers, Not Bouncers

We’re going to get criticized no matter what we do. Our Lord Jesus didn’t do anything non-controversial. The people he touched, the places he went — there were always people talking and griping, somebody always got offended, somebody always fussed.

Jesus starts a spiritual conversation with a Samaritan woman by asking her for a drink and she says, “You’re not even supposed to be talking to me.” Peter knocks on Cornelius’ door and, when the Gentile soldier answers, Peter tells him, “You know, it’s against the law for me to even be here.”

If we’re going to get criticized anyway, let’s get criticized for doing the things Jesus did. Let’s love people. Let’s accept people. Let’s show mercy and grace to all people.

I think Billy Graham said something like: “It is God’s job to judge, it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, it’s our job to love and accept.” But sometimes I think we want to do God’s job. We’re trying to do what only God does.

You and I are not the ones who decide who gets to go to heaven. But sometimes we act like we’re the bouncers at the pearly gates. It’s like we’re standing behind some velvet church rope and checking IDs, letting some people in and kicking others out. We’re not bouncers! We’re ushers! Our God is inviting everybody to his table and we’re ushers, not bouncers. We’re grabbing people by the arm and showing them to their seats that somebody else paid for.

Peace,

Allan

Rocking Our Priorities

“I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the Law I became like one under the Law, so as to win those under the Law. To those not having the Law I became like one not having the Law, so as to win those not having the Law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel.” ~1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Do you really own the Good News of the salvation we have from God in Christ? I mean, do you really have it inside you? Do you understand that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace? Do you comprehend that your salvation is based on Jesus’ righteousness, not yours? Do you get that it’s founded on God’s holiness, not mine? Have you grasped that eternal life is an undeserved, unmerited, by-God gift?

Because, when you do, it changes everything. It rocks your priorities.

Suddenly, church traditions take a back seat to grace. My feelings and preferences defer to the needs of the lost. My idea of justice is not as important as forgiveness. Rules and regulations take their place behind mercy and patience. And love for God and love for neighbor far surpasses all of it!

“I have become all things to all people.”

Depending on circumstances and who was involved and what the issues were, the apostle Paul could come across as really inconsistent. And he was fine with that. Whatever it takes to save people! In one case, Paul insists that Timothy be circumcised and in another case he demands that Titus not be circumcised. Do you have questions and doubts about that? What about Timothy!?!

Paul would do almost anything. He would change his mind, he would adjust his methods, he’d relax his rules, and confront the traditions. He’d do anything to make sure people could hear the Good News about Jesus.

Paul was not a chameleon because he had no conviction; he had a conviction about the Gospel that allowed him to be a chameleon. He would do anything to win people to Christ.

Peace,

Allan

Third and Last Senior Sunday

Dearest Carley,

We’re beaming today, sweetie. We’re so proud of you. We admire so much your unique talents and abilities and we’re amazed by your single-minded determination to live your life with excellence. It’s been an exciting four years at Canyon High School, the fun “experiment” with the golf team, all the retreats and mission trips, your expanding circle of great friends, and your wild success at Palm Beach Tans. We have so enjoyed every minute of watching you mature and flourish into a beautiful, confident, godly young lady.

Our God has placed kind and loving people in your path, Carley. Those friends and those teachers who love you so much are a gift from our God. Jenise Blankenship is a blessing from God. So are Dale and Karen, Steve and Becky, and Aleisha and Blu. Craig and Donna. Tanner. Derrell Havins. They all love you very much. And they have each played important roles in shaping you into the Christ-like woman you are becoming.

We clearly see our Lord’s servant heart reflected in your acts of compassion and concern for others. We see his joy in your smart sense of humor and your hearty laugh. We see his peace when you handle teenage drama with a more even keel. And we see his grace in the way you take care of others.

Some parts of you, Little Bear, will never change. You’re probably always going to eat potato chips in bed. You’ll forever love Sponge Bob and The Lion King. You’ll always melt and say, “Awww…” when you see a puppy. You’ll always enjoy listening to Tom Petty and Aerosmith, watching 1980s movies, and eating grapes. You’ll keep drinking exotic waters, reciting Seinfeld lines, making salsa, and taking 45-minute showers. And you’ll never stop blessing our family and filling our lives with your inexhaustible love, joy, and laughter.

There’s no denying that you are grown up and equipped and ready for everything that’s coming in your future. We are so proud of you and what our God is shaping in you. You are a beautiful, talented, funny, super-smart, wonderful daughter of God. He shines out of every facet of your complex personality and adorable little quirks. You reflect Jesus. And it’s fabulous. We’re very proud to be Carley’s parents.

May our God bless you richly, daughter. May he strengthen you and empower you by his Holy Spirit to live the rest of your life the way you’ve lived these first few years. May he continue to work through you to spread his love and grace to others. May your life bring him eternal glory and praise. And may you walk with him always, Carley, faithful to the end.

We love you.

Mom and Dad
Senior Sunday 2018

Fifteen Years in Dallas

Third down and six and Dak Prescott is now looking for Dalton Schultz on a seven yard hook. Or is it Geoff Swain on a seven yard out? Maybe Blake Jarwin finds a seam or Rico Gather hits a crease for the first down catch. Or maybe Prescott gets sacked for a seven yard loss because he’s frozen in the pocket looking for Jason Witten.

All Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks from Drew Bledsoe to Dak Prescott, including all the Matt Cassels, Tony Romos, Stephen McGees, and Brad Johnsons in between, have looked to Jason Witten as their security blanket. Since 2004, there has not been a more consistent certainty at tight end in the NFL than Witten. Dependable. Constant. Steady. Whatever adjective you want to use, Witten was always there — the rock in the midst of the chaos that is Jerry Wayne’s Cowboys.

After 15 solid seasons, Witten today has officially announced his retirement to join the Monday Night Football booth at ESPN.

After 1,152 catches (4th all-time in the NFL), 12,448 yards (most in franchise history), 68 touchdowns (third in team history), 239 starts (235 of them in a row), and eleven Pro Bowls (most in team history), he’ll be remembered most for this one play: (Since it’s the NFL, I’m unable to post the video to this site; just Google “Jason Witten No Helmet”)

However…

…there’s an emptiness here, right? There’s regret. You feel it, don’t you? It’s undeniable. Everybody is celebrating Witten’s greatness — including me — but there’s a cloud hanging over this whole thing:

No Dallas Cowboy should ever play for 15 consecutive seasons and never even win one single divisional playoff game.

We can debate whether hiring Witten is a lazy move for ESPN. We can discuss how his retirement shocked the Cowboys, caught them totally off guard, and will set their 2018 offense back several steps. We can argue how Dallas might replace him. We can congratulate Witten for being such a great guy and modeling everything it means to be a team player and a stand-up human. We can observe that the Cowboys have now lost Witten, Dez, and Romo in one calendar year. But don’t let this sorry fact elude you: Witten played in Dallas for fifteen years and never won a divisional round playoff game.

Maybe on third down and six next season, if the Cowboys are playing on a Monday Night, Prescott’s best bet would be to chunk the ball towards the press box.

Nah. Still wouldn’t matter.

Peace,

Allan

Amarillo Dusters?

The AA San Antonio Missions are moving to Amarillo to begin play in our brand new downtown ballpark in April 2019 and they’re holding a team naming contest as part of the move. The winner of the naming contest will receive two season tickets to this inaugural year, a personalized team jersey, and the privilege of throwing out the first pitch for that initial game.

I’ve entered the contest.

“Amarillo Dusters.”

Hang on. Don’t judge it yet. Say it out loud a few times. Let it hang there in your brain and your heart for a second. Amarillo Dusters. The Dusters. Amarillo Dusters. Let it grow on you.

The team is looking for a moniker that will honor the panhandle region. The names will be judged in the areas of originality, creativity, uniqueness, and regional relevance — I think Dusters is perfect. Not something made with ostrich feathers to clean the blinds and not the car manufactured by Plymouth in the ’70s, but Amarillo Dusters.

This is what I wrote when I submitted my entry which contest rules state had to be less than 1,000 characters:

The cattle ranchers who most embody the Amarillo spirit and Panhandle values were once called “Dusters.” The full-length leather coats worn by cowboys and ranchers in the 1800s, and making a bit of a style comeback now, are also called “dusters.” It’s not clear if the ranchers were called “Dusters” because of the coats or the coats were called “dusters” because that’s what the cowboys and ranchers wore, but it’s appropriate both ways. Of course, the term can also apply to a violent sandstorm which, around here, is just as appropriate.

I can envision team photos or promotional posters in which the players are sporting these long dirty-brown leather dusters and cowboys hats. Toughness. Determination. Grit. The term can be applied to the rancher and/or the clothing and/or the weather. It’s beautifully flexible and regionally relevant. It’s us: the people who live and work here and the baseball team we cheer!

The deadline to enter the contest is this Friday May 4. If you think you can do better than “Dusters”, you can submit your own entry by going to the baseball team’s website. Team officials are going to select the top five suggestions, then I think there’s a public on-line voting phase to determine the winner.

We’re getting double-A affiliated baseball back in Amarillo for the first time in nearly four decades. And it won’t really matter what the team is called. As long as it’s not Armadillos.

Peace,

Allan

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