Category: Golf Course Road Church (Page 1 of 10)

Advent #2 Peace

Tomorrow is the second Sunday of Advent. At the GCR Church here in Midland, Jordan and Rachel and their precious kids and Rachel’s parents, Dale and Penny, will lead us in our reading and the lighting of the second candle.  It’ll be an intergenerational blessing for our whole congregation! I’m posting the scripts in this space each Saturday. I invite you to practice this in your own church or small group setting or use these words to guide your own thoughts and conversations with our Lord.

Peace
Today we light the second candle of Advent, the candle that represents peace.
Today we are reminded that Christ Jesus is the only source of true peace.
And he is coming.
We resolve to make peace in our families and in this community of faith.
We pray for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts and in this world.
And we prepare to welcome God’s peace on earth and into our lives and relationships.

Isaiah 2:3-5

Advent #1 Hope

Tomorrow we begin the Advent season together with our church at GCR, preparing for and looking forward to the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. Bryce and Paige Williams and their three precious kids will lead us in our thoughts and the reading from Scripture. I will provide our weekly scripts and readings in this space each week.

Hope
Today we light the first candle of Advent, the candle that reminds us of our hope.
Today we enter a season of repentance and preparation for our hope to be made real in Christ.
We remember Israel’s covenant hope for the coming of God’s promised Messiah.
We remember our covenant hope for the promised second coming of Jesus.
And we prepare to welcome Christ Jesus into the world and into our hearts.

Titus 2:11-14

McKenzie’s Bet

Carrie-Anne and I hosted the GCR high schoolers at our house a couple of Sundays ago to watch the Cowboys -Packers game. We played ping-pong and pool, made Dr Pepper and root beer floats, and generally hung out and watched the game together. And McKenzie and I made a bet.

McKenzie is a precious child of God. She’s a senior at Midland High School (Go Bulldogs) and an angel straight from heaven. But she is a crazy Cowboys fan. Over the top. Too much. About halfway through the first quarter, with the game tied at 7-7, I proffered a wager: If the Cowboys win, I’ll preach next Sunday wearing a Cowboys tie; if Green Bay wins, McKenzie wears a Packers shirt to youth group class and to worship on Sunday. She took the bet. Cowboys fans always take the bet.

McKenzie’s a really good sport and we had fun with it yesterday. And I’m glad we didn’t go double or nothing on the Vikings.

Peace,

Allan

Accurate Interpretation

I need to offer a disclaimer as we make this shift from viewing the Bible primarily as a collection of God’s commands to reading and understanding the Bible more as the Story of God. This narrative lens is not going to suddenly give us easy answers to all the issues. We’ll actually find there are fewer rules, the lines are not as black and white, and it leads to more questions and more wrestling and more reflection. It’s not a system. It’s not an owners manual. It’s much more art than science. It can be messy. But I believe understanding the Scriptures as a broad, sweeping, epic story of who God is and what he is doing will help us better connect the dots in the Bible, make us better able to see ourselves in the drama so we can play our parts and say our lines, and enable us to more accurately interpret God’s will.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the child of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” ~2 Timothy 3:16-17

A lot of us have taken passages like the above and developed a theology about the Bible, but not a biblical theology.

We’ll read Jonah and spend four weeks researching whether a human can live inside a fish for three days and never once think about God. The story is about God and what he is doing, not about the whale and what he or she can or cannot do.

We’ll argue about Paul’s words concerning divorce and remarriage and look for legal loopholes instead of dwelling on the covenant loyalty of our God who intends our marriages to reflect and witness to his perfect love and faithfulness.

Esther is not about “you need to be more courageous.” If that’s the point of Esther, it may as well be “you need to be prettier,” too. The point of Esther is that our God is at work to redeem everything and he uses every opportunity – even our darkest moments in exile when we feel weak and powerless and trapped in circumstances beyond our control – to save us and redeem us. We are not forgotten. We are never out of God’s reach or too far away from his salvation. That’s the story.

For a long time, we have read and studied the Bible looking for commands, examples, and necessary inferences. We no longer assume that this method works consistently, if at all, or if it’s even healthy. Does anybody really believe that in the grand, sweeping narrative of Scripture, the strange fire of Nadab and Abihu belongs in a central and controlling place? Reading the Bible as a book of laws to be obeyed or as a constitution to be defended is what led to some Christians affirming that slavery must be okay because the Bible doesn’t explicitly prohibit it.

Reading the Bible as a system of laws, people take every single verse that mentions slavery and notice that none of the verses condemns slavery as sinful or prohibitive. God didn’t say it’s a sin, so it must be alright as long as you don’t violate your conscience. Yes, Christians have done this in the past, and some Christians still do. Yes.

Reading the Bible as the story of who God is and what he’s  doing in Jesus Christ makes it obviously clear that all women and men are created equal in the image of God and that all people belong to each other as complete equals. Slavery is a result of the Fall; it’s sin. Jesus destroyed all the barriers between people at the cross. In Christ, there is no slave or free, male or female, Jew or Greek – we are one and slavery is a reprehensible evil.

That’s the difference. What’s the story?

The beatitudes are not telling us to be better peacemakers or to grow in humility. It’s not that you have to develop these virtues in order to receive the blessings. Why do we try to make mourning/weeping sound good or desirable? Well, it’s mourning over sin, right? I don’t know, the text doesn’t say that. The point of the beatitudes is to express how radically present the Kingdom of God is, even and especially among those who are grieving. People in their brokenness and grief often feel like they’re left out of God’s blessings. But Jesus is telling us, “No! God’s Kingdom is bigger and better than we ever dreamed. And it’s here right now!”

What God is doing is a story. It’s a narrative. When we see the pattern of God’s Kingdom in Creation and how it went wrong, when we understand how everything God is doing through Jesus Christ is to restore our righteous relationships with him, with one another, and with all of nature, we can much more easily, consistently, and accurately interpret his will and purposes for us.

Peace,

Allan

Connecting the Dots

We’re making a significant shift at the GCR Church in our hermeneutic, the lens through which we read and interpret the Scriptures. We’re intentionally moving away from viewing the Bible primarily as a collection of commands and laws and toward seeing the Bible as the grand, sweeping, epic narrative of who God is and what he is doing in the world. We’re introducing it to the church over these seven weeks in what we’re calling The Story of God.

The Bible is a story. God reveals himself to us in history, through incarnation, Gospel, mighty acts, relationship, and promise. He could have given us a systematic theology or a constitution if he wanted to. He very easily could have prepared the checklists and the bullet points of what he wants out of his people. But he didn’t reveal the truth of himself or his mission that way. Instead, he chose to give us a story. He gives us poetry and prose, songs and parables – all of it in a narrative form. It’s a story.

The Story of God has a beginning and an end. It has a catastrophe that threatens the story and a plan and a mission to set everything right. It has a main stage and a main character. And from start to finish, it’s beautiful and inspirational. Eternal.

Act One – Creation: The Pattern of the Kingdom (Genesis 1-2)
Act Two – Crash: The Perished Kingdom (Genesis 3-11)
Act Three – Covenant: The Promised Kingdom (Genesis 12-Malachi 4)
Act Four – Christ: The Present Kingdom (Matthew 1-John 21)
Act Five – Church: The Proclaimed Kingdom (Acts 1-Revelation 20)
Act Six – New Creation: The Perfected Kingdom (Revelation 21-22)

We believe reading and understanding the Scriptures as one holy narrative will help us better connect the dots in the Bible, better identify with the story and find our own place in the mission of God, and more accurately interpret God’s purposes and will.

Let’s take that first one today. Connecting the dots.

We connect with one another through our stories. In a room of strangers, we tell stories about our hometown or our first job, trying to find some common ground around which to begin a relationship. You’re from Clovis? I have an aunt who lives in Clovis! Do you know Pam Lewis? That’s how we do it. And that’s how our Lord does it.

Jesus connects all the dots in the story. That’s what he told the religious leaders in John 5: “The Scriptures all point to me; the story is about me.”

In Exodus 24, Moses and the priests, representing all of God’s people, are eating and drinking with God on Mt. Sinai because they have been washed in blood. Moses says “the blood of the covenant.” At the last supper with his disciples, Jesus quotes Moses from Exodus 24 and says, “This is my blood of the covenant.”

The Hebrews sacrifice a Passover lamb on the night of God’s great deliverance. The Gospels say Jesus is the Lamb of God and he was sacrificed on Passover.

The Gospel of John takes the beautiful language of Creation from Genesis 1 and the spectacular imagery of New Creation from Revelation 21 and ties it all together in Jesus. He was with God “in the beginning.” He is the light shining in the darkness.

The story tells us that when you pass through the waters, everything changes. When you walk through the waters of the Red Sea, God is moving you from slavery to freedom. When you cross the waters of the Jordan River, God is moving you from wandering in the wilderness to settling in the land of promise. When you go through the waters of baptism, you pass from death to eternal life.

The Story of God connects all the dots in the Bible and gives us a common language and common touch points and experiences to connect us to the Lord and to one another.

All of life is a story. Everybody is living their story and finding their identity and basing their actions on the story they’re in. Everyone’s looking for the big story, the one Great Story that’s above the others and helps us make sense of all the others. The Story of God is that story. It’s large enough to be bigger than you, it calls you to something and someone beyond yourself. But it’s also intimate enough to involve you personally. God so loved the whole world that he gave his one and only Son. And that Son who came for the whole world also came for you. He knows you by name. Outside the garden tomb: Mary. Inside your fishing boat: Peter, Son of Jonah.

Peace,

Allan

All That Noise

By God’s grace, our GCR Church gave $6,151,300 last Sunday in cash, checks, and pledges to fund our congregational emphasis on transformation and mission – that’s more than two-million-dollars above our goal! The money and pledge cards continue trickling in this week and I’m assuming by the time you’re reading this letter the total might be closer to $6.2-million!

Praise God for his faithfulness and gracious provision! The supreme generosity of our church family means all the Breakthrough initiatives are fully funded. Thank you so much for your deep faith in our Lord, your confidence in our vision, and your commitments to the mission at Golf Course Road.

Allow me to remind all of us that when we give our money to the Lord, when we invest our dollars and dimes in the Kingdom of God, it’s not gone. The tray goes down the pew and your check is in the tray and the tray disappears into a counting room and your check gets deposited with a bank. But it’s not gone.

It’s like a pinball machine. Whatever you give works like a pinball machine.

You know, you’re playing pinball and that little silver ball is moving right down the middle, headed for the bottom, and it looks like it’s lost. The ball is gone. The game goes dark. It’s over.

But then you hit the flipper. That blessed flipper! And the ball pops up and now it’s bouncing and pinging all over the place. It touches off an exciting set of strobe lights over there. It bangs into a bunch of noisemakers over here. It gets a bonus ball and some extra points up there. That ball is just going and going and bouncing and beeping and buzzing and there’s excitement and electricity and energy…!

Almost out of nowhere! How cool!

Because of Breakthrough, some of our folks at GCR put really large sums of money into the plate on Sunday. Because of Breakthrough, some of our people put ten dollars into the plate when they haven’t given money to church in years. Or never.

Your money’s not gone. You’re throwing it into God’s pinball machine and it’s about to come into contact with that flipper. Now you just watch what God’s going to do with it!

Everything you do for God makes a difference. It bounces and pings all over eternity.

Even one cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus makes a lot of noise in heaven.

Peace,

Allan

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