Category: Marble Falls (Page 2 of 4)

We’re Back! Almost…

Hey, thanks for hanging in there with us. Things went completely weird with the blog a little over a week ago. My patient and gentle web guy, John, was moving the blog to a different and better server for a variety of reasons, and things went totally foul. I believe we’re almost where we need to be for me to begin posting daily (almost) again.

The family and I are headed down to Marble Falls tomorrow to spend the weekend with some of our dearest friends. The church there is celebrating a huge homecoming / anniversary / ribbon-cutting weekend at their brand new building. And they’ve invited back every Tom, Dick, and Larry who’s ever worshiped there. I’m honored to be directing our thoughts at the Lord’s Supper Sunday morning and bringing the message at our post-lunch devotional. There’s a huge open house Saturday afternoon, a Saturday night cookout at Dan & Jennifer’s palace, thousands of pictures and stories, and lots of love. I just hope there’s not a Game Seven to get in the way.

Check back soon. I’m spending most of today trying to get everything straightened out on this site.

Go, Rangers!

Peace,
Allan

The Big Picture in Benton

At Larry’sFour weeks ago we spent seven days with our great friends Jim & Mandy Gardner and Jimmy & Elizabeth Mitchell at the Northside Church of Christ in Benton, Arkansas (home of Cliff Lee). They always bring in a guest speaker for the adults during their Vacation Bible School. And I was honored to preach the Word from John 14-16 with a reflective and hungry group of disciples.

Side note: I was walking into our church building here at Legacy the Sunday I returned when Kent and Norma Robinson drove up and welcomed me back home. Kent asked me how it went and I told him it was great, but I was exhausted. I said, “They had me speaking twelve times in five days and I didn’t think I had that much to say.” At which Norma leaned over in the truck and responded, “I find that hard to believe!”

GardnerOf course, I had a wonderful time reconnecting with Jim and Jimmy. We were all three on staff together at the church in Marble Falls while I was getting my degree at Austin Grad. Jim always impresses me with his knowledge of God’s Word and the straightforward way he delivers it. He’s very confident and very bold in the way he preaches. And he’s so very kind and gentle with and to the people in his congregation. Always has been. After spending about 30-minutes in his study with an especially cranky brother in Marble Falls one morning, Jim finally stood up and said, “We can do this all day long and accomplish nothing for the Kingdom. I’m going to make some hospital visits. You’re welcome to come with me.”

And the man did.

Jim sees the big picture.

Jimmy ShayAnd then there’s Jimmy. I was reminded all over again about why I love Jimmy. He’s a nut. He’s crazy. He has no shame. He’s hilarious. He’s not afraid of anything. He’ll sing any song and do any voice and play any part. He spent all week in VBS playing a ship’s first mate with the voice and mannerisms of a cross between Conan O’Brien and Harry Caray. He’s sensitive. And loving. And every single thing he does — everything! — is motivated by his love for the kids. He loves them. He’s in their faces all the time. He’s at their schools. He’s in their homes. All he cares about is those young people. And they love him right back.

Jimmy sees the big picture.

Ernest Miller is a 33-year-old Harding graduate from New Jersey. He and his wife LaDonna and their two girls just moved to Benton six weeks ago. He’s the brand new preacher at the Johnson Street Church of Christ in Benton, the black church on the other side of the tracks. I had lunch with Ernest that week at a Chinese restaurant owned by a guy named Jerry Jones — not that Jerry Jones! And then I had the honor of Ernest showing me around the Johnson Street church building and surrounding neighborhood. I had the pleasure of meeting and shaking hands with 83-year-old W. K. Hannah, one of the founding members of that church from almost 60 years ago. He was working the food pantry last Tuesday, just like he does every Tuesday. Greeting people with a warm, “How you doin’?” Moving sacks of groceries into the trunks of cars. Praying with visitors. Telling them goodbye with a heartfelt “God bless you.” Ernest moved gracefully around the parking lot and the building, calling people by name, hugging little old ladies and jousting with the kids like he’s been there forever. He encouraged everybody. He smiled at everybody.

Ernest sees the big picture.

And they’ve all three committed to working on the biggest of pictures: reconciling their two churches, bringing together their two congregations, reuniting the brothers and sisters at the Lord’s table. They want to make the white church and the black church one. One Church. One family. One building. One set of elders. One mission. One purpose. One Body.

The Big Picture

Northside actually planted that Johnson Street church — literally on the other side of the tracks — back in the mid 1950s. Jim’s grandfathers, both of them, were elders at the time. Jim showed me a copy of the church budget from 1962 that lists “colored congregation” as their second largest mission item. It’s not that the Northside church had evil intentions or bad motives 55 years ago. I believe that their motives were pure. They were just wholly misguided. And Jim is working with Jimmy and Ernest and Fernando, their hispanic minister, to make sure that the Kingdom of God in Benton looks like and acts like the Kingdom of God in Holy Scripture.

These two congregations are already working hard to rise above the ungodly distinctions of the artificial boundaries our culture and, sadly, our churches have built between us. They already worship together at monthly gatherings. They eat together at special occasions. They supported each other’s VBS. The ministers from both churches have lunch together once a week.

Christ Jesus came to break down all the barriers, to destroy all the lines, to obliterate our differences. The dream in Benton is that God’s Church there will be an impossible-to-miss example, a living illustration, that in Christ there are no language or ethnic or cultural divisions. We are, together, one body. And all the members belong to each other.

One in ChristIt’s going to take a lot of sacrifice for both churches. It’s going to take patience and understanding and gentleness and kindness. It’s going to require a Christ-like attitude of selfless giving. And it’s going to take time. But it’s a worthy endeavor. It’s what’s demanded of all of us who claim to be followers of our Savior who went out of his way and left everything and gave everything to impartially call everyone to the Father.

I’m excited that tonight Whitney and I are going to join Jim and Jimmy and the Northside youth group at the Rangers game in Arlington. I’m excited that Jimmy is going to lead our worship at Legacy this Sunday, just like the good ol’ days in Marble Falls. And I’m so inspired by what Jim and Jimmy and Ernest and the Church is doing in Benton, Arkansas.

God bless our brothers and sisters there. May they point all of us to greater unity in Christ.

Peace,

Allan

Not Far From The Kingdom Of God

You Are Not Far From The Kingdom Of God

Mark 12 – Jesus is debating with the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders. They’re walking through the temple courts. I imagine they’re somewhere on the South side of the temple, probably on the huge steps that led up to the Huldah gates and the temple’s main entrance. If not, they were probably somewhere in the maze of courtyards below, the busiest and most crowded area of the temple grounds. They’re going back and forth on all kinds of things: Jesus’ authority, the rejection of the Messiah, politics and taxes, marriage and the resurrection.

Then one of the teachers engages our Savior in a topic that really matters. This question counts. “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus answers with what he always said perfectly summed up every word of the Law and the Prophets: Love God and love neighbor. “There is no commandment greater than these.”

The teacher of the Law agrees. In a humorous way, only because we know Jesus’ true identity as the holy Son of God, he actually commends Jesus for his wise and true answer. “Well said, teacher. You are right.” (Duh! Jesus was there when the commands were given!) But he takes it a step farther. In fact, this teacher of the Law, a comrade of those who were questioning Jesus and attempting to trick him and trap him and get him out of the picture, takes it one huge, giant, leap forward. He makes the bold claim, to Jesus and in front of all his cohorts, that loving God and loving neighbor is “more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

I imagine this teacher actually pointing to and gesturing toward the people and the animals and the altars, the priests and the books and the chants, that surrounded them in this scene. Loving God and loving neighbor trumps all of this, he says to Jesus. Loving God and loving neighbor means more, it is more, than anything that happens in here!

And our Lord — does he smile? Does he wink? Does his face break out in a massive ear-to-ear grin? — looks this teacher right in the eye and says, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

I often wonder what Jesus was thinking at this point. “This man gets it! Here’s a guy who really understands! He’s in the middle of all the trappings of the religious establishment, he’s being blocked and detoured and slowed down and held back by all the rules and regulations and rituals and ceremonies, but he understands it’s not about any of these things! He gets it!”

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

When people asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God, not once did he ever say, “It’s that group over there that meets on Sundays for worship and Bible class.” When Jesus explained the Kingdom of God, he never once said, “It’s identified by those who take communion once a week on the Lord’s Day and sing acappella.” Jesus never told a story about the Kingdom of God and interpreted it by claiming, “You’ll know the Kingdom when you see two songs and a prayer and announcements either at the beginning or the end. Or sometimes both.”

No.

Jesus always says the Kingdom is about hurting people being comforted. It’s distressed people being encouraged. It’s cold people being warmed. It’s the outcasts being brought in and made a part of the family. It’s God using his people to help other people.

The true marks of the Kingdom have very little, if anything, to do with what happens inside your church building between announcements and prayers. Instead, the Kingdom of God is grounded firmly in the weightier matters of justice and mercy and love and faithfulness. The requirements of living in the Kingdom are not keeping the rules as much as they are about acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly before God.

Maintaining our institutional status quo is not necessarily the same as being faithful to Jesus and his mission. Being a member in good standing or a middle-of-the-road church is not necessarily the same as living under the reign of God.

Our King came into this world to sacrifice and to serve and to save. And that is the business of his subjects, too. When we get it through our heads that this calling trumps every other calling we think we might have as children of God and followers of the Son, then we are not far from the Kingdom of God.

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Carley’s 10! 

Carley’s ten. Or at least she will be Thursday. We had her party at the house Saturday. A whole bunch of silly 4th grade girls. Kate won the limbo contest. Elizabeth took the hula hoop prize (although Carrie-Anne beat her later in a head-to-head). And then Whitney and I beat it for the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and the OU-BYU football game.

At BYU-OUOur great friend Glenn Branscum set up a bunch of guys from Legacy with seats in his suite for the game. And when I say seats in his suite, I mean huge, fat, oversized, reclining leather seats with armrests and cupholders. Most every one in the room was a big Sooners fan. That’s why they were invited. Of course, most every one of the 80,000 in the stadium were Sooners fans. And everything Norman Southwas great.

Until about halfway through the second quarter when it became obvious that OU has some serious offensive line problems and some major gaps in the secondary. It got really quiet in there when Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford went down with his injury near the end of the first half. Whitney was excited (“Darling, you can’t cheer an injury. He’s a real person” “But, dad, this is good for BYU!”), but most of the rest of our crew spent the last two hours of the evening in a dark, dark, depression. Brandon didn’t say anything or look at anybody. Paul chewed off all his fingernails and then started working on the coasters. Dillon was in a catatonic trance. Ken and Ada prayed the whole second half (I’m sorry, God is NOT an OU fan). And I spent those last two quarters trying to keep Whitney from rubbing it in.

Words can’t describe this stadium. I have a lot to say about it. Maybe nothing you haven’t already read somewhere else. But I’ll save it for later. My sincere thanks to Glenn and Karen and the Branscum family for setting us up with a fantastic evening together. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Jimmy Shay MitchellAlways a blessing to see great friend Jimmy Mitchell. He and his youth group and sponsors from the Northside Church in Benton, Arkansas worshiped with us at Legacy yesterday after a weekend at Six Flags. “Hi” to Elizabeth and Jenniva. We wish we could have seen y’all, too.  And update your blog, Jimmy!

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Tim SederJust six more days until the Cowboys kick off their season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the second-best player in Cowboys history to ever wear #6 is Tim Seder. He was a kicker from Ashland who played two seasons in Dallas (2000-2001). He converted 72% of his field goals (36/50) during his tenure here and never missed a PAT (39/39). The interesting thing about Seder, though, is that he scored rushing touchdowns on fake field goals twice, once in each of his two years. I don’t have time to look them up. Who cares?

Yesterday’s #7 is quarterback Chad Hutchinson. Sorry, I just can’t go with Randall Cunningham, just like I couldn’t give Red Ribbon Review #7the nod to Harold Carmichael a couple of weeks ago. Hutchinson entered the picture during Jerry Wayne’s brief period of fascination with baseball-playing quarterbacks. He preceded Michigan’s Drew Henson in Dallas by a season.

Hutchinson had played the 2001 season as a reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals where he appeared in three games, allowing 16 baserunners on nine hits and six walks and a hit batter in a total of four innings of work. He gave up eleven earned runs and completed his MLB career with a 24.75 ERA.

Chad HutchinsonAnd he didn’t fare much better with the Cowboys. Following a four-interception performance in a loss to Arizona, Jerry pulled Quincy Carter and handed his team to Hutchinson, promising that this pitcher from Stanford was the future. However, his first ever start, at Texas Stadium against the Seahawks on October 27, was overshadowed by Emmitt Smith’s historic breaking of Walter Payton’s all-time rushing mark. The Cowboys, as you recall, lost that day. And Hutchinson went 2-7 in his nine starts that year, completing 51% of his passes for seven TDs and eight interceptions. The second-best #7 in Cowboys history is just another mediocre quarterback in a revolving door of them since Troy Aikman stepped down nine long years ago.

Peace,

Allan

Not Far From The Kingdom Of God

You Are Not Far From The Kingdom Of God

Mark 12 – Jesus is debating with the chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the elders. They’re walking through the temple courts. I imagine they’re somewhere on the South side of the temple, probably on the huge steps that led up to the Huldah gates and the temple’s main entrance. If not, they were probably somewhere in the maze of courtyards below, the busiest and most crowded area of the temple grounds. They’re going back and forth on all kinds of things: Jesus’ authority, the rejection of the Messiah, politics and taxes, marriage and the resurrection.

Then one of the teachers engages our Savior in a topic that really matters. This question counts. “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus answers with what he always said perfectly summed up every word of the Law and the Prophets: Love God and love neighbor. “There is no commandment greater than these.”

The teacher of the Law agrees. In a humorous way, only because we know Jesus’ true identity as the holy Son of God, he actually commends Jesus for his wise and true answer. “Well said, teacher. You are right.” (Duh! Jesus was there when the commands were given!) But he takes it a step farther. In fact, this teacher of the Law, a comrade of those who were questioning Jesus and attempting to trick him and trap him and get him out of the picture, takes it one huge, giant, leap forward. He makes the bold claim, to Jesus and in front of all his cohorts, that loving God and loving neighbor is “more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

I imagine this teacher actually pointing to and gesturing toward the people and the animals and the altars, the priests and the books and the chants, that surrounded them in this scene. Loving God and loving neighbor trumps all of this, he says to Jesus. Loving God and loving neighbor means more, it is more, than anything that happens in here!

And our Lord — does he smile? Does he wink? Does his face break out in a massive ear-to-ear grin? — looks this teacher right in the eye and says, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

I often wonder what Jesus was thinking at this point. “This man gets it! Here’s a guy who really understands! He’s in the middle of all the trappings of the religious establishment, he’s being blocked and detoured and slowed down and held back by all the rules and regulations and rituals and ceremonies, but he understands it’s not about any of these things! He gets it!”

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

When people asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God, not once did he ever say, “It’s that group over there that meets on Sundays for worship and Bible class.” When Jesus explained the Kingdom of God, he never once said, “It’s identified by those who take communion once a week on the Lord’s Day and sing acappella.” Jesus never told a story about the Kingdom of God and interpreted it by claiming, “You’ll know the Kingdom when you see two songs and a prayer and announcements either at the beginning or the end. Or sometimes both.”

No.

Jesus always says the Kingdom is about hurting people being comforted. It’s distressed people being encouraged. It’s cold people being warmed. It’s the outcasts being brought in and made a part of the family. It’s God using his people to help other people.

The true marks of the Kingdom have very little, if anything, to do with what happens inside your church building between announcements and prayers. Instead, the Kingdom of God is grounded firmly in the weightier matters of justice and mercy and love and faithfulness. The requirements of living in the Kingdom are not keeping the rules as much as they are about acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly before God.

Maintaining our institutional status quo is not necessarily the same as being faithful to Jesus and his mission. Being a member in good standing or a middle-of-the-road church is not necessarily the same as living under the reign of God.

Our King came into this world to sacrifice and to serve and to save. And that is the business of his subjects, too. When we get it through our heads that this calling trumps every other calling we think we might have as children of God and followers of the Son, then we are not far from the Kingdom of God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carley’s 10! 

Carley’s ten. Or at least she will be Thursday. We had her party at the house Saturday. A whole bunch of silly 4th grade girls. Kate won the limbo contest. Elizabeth took the hula hoop prize (although Carrie-Anne beat her later in a head-to-head). And then Whitney and I beat it for the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and the OU-BYU football game.

At BYU-OUOur great friend Glenn Branscum set up a bunch of guys from Legacy with seats in his suite for the game. And when I say seats in his suite, I mean huge, fat, oversized, reclining leather seats with armrests and cupholders. Most every one in the room was a big Sooners fan. That’s why they were invited. Of course, most every one of the 80,000 in the stadium were Sooners fans. And everything Norman Southwas great.

Until about halfway through the second quarter when it became obvious that OU has some serious offensive line problems and some major gaps in the secondary. It got really quiet in there when Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford went down with his injury near the end of the first half. Whitney was excited (“Darling, you can’t cheer an injury. He’s a real person” “But, dad, this is good for BYU!”), but most of the rest of our crew spent the last two hours of the evening in a dark, dark, depression. Brandon didn’t say anything or look at anybody. Paul chewed off all his fingernails and then started working on the coasters. Dillon was in a catatonic trance. Ken and Ada prayed the whole second half (I’m sorry, God is NOT an OU fan). And I spent those last two quarters trying to keep Whitney from rubbing it in.

Words can’t describe this stadium. I have a lot to say about it. Maybe nothing you haven’t already read somewhere else. But I’ll save it for later. My sincere thanks to Glenn and Karen and the Branscum family for setting us up with a fantastic evening together. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jimmy Shay MitchellAlways a blessing to see great friend Jimmy Mitchell. He and his youth group and sponsors from the Northside Church in Benton, Arkansas worshiped with us at Legacy yesterday after a weekend at Six Flags. “Hi” to Elizabeth and Jenniva. We wish we could have seen y’all, too.  And update your blog, Jimmy!

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Tim SederJust six more days until the Cowboys kick off their season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the second-best player in Cowboys history to ever wear #6 is Tim Seder. He was a kicker from Ashland who played two seasons in Dallas (2000-2001). He converted 72% of his field goals (36/50) during his tenure here and never missed a PAT (39/39). The interesting thing about Seder, though, is that he scored rushing touchdowns on fake field goals twice, once in each of his two years. I don’t have time to look them up. Who cares?

Yesterday’s #7 is quarterback Chad Hutchinson. Sorry, I just can’t go with Randall Cunningham, just like I couldn’t give Red Ribbon Review #7the nod to Harold Carmichael a couple of weeks ago. Hutchinson entered the picture during Jerry Wayne’s brief period of fascination with baseball-playing quarterbacks. He preceded Michigan’s Drew Henson in Dallas by a season.

Hutchinson had played the 2001 season as a reliever for the St. Louis Cardinals where he appeared in three games, allowing 16 baserunners on nine hits and six walks and a hit batter in a total of four innings of work. He gave up eleven earned runs and completed his MLB career with a 24.75 ERA.

Chad HutchinsonAnd he didn’t fare much better with the Cowboys. Following a four-interception performance in a loss to Arizona, Jerry pulled Quincy Carter and handed his team to Hutchinson, promising that this pitcher from Stanford was the future. However, his first ever start, at Texas Stadium against the Seahawks on October 27, was overshadowed by Emmitt Smith’s historic breaking of Walter Payton’s all-time rushing mark. The Cowboys, as you recall, lost that day. And Hutchinson went 2-7 in his nine starts that year, completing 51% of his passes for seven TDs and eight interceptions. The second-best #7 in Cowboys history is just another mediocre quarterback in a revolving door of them since Troy Aikman stepped down nine long years ago.

Peace,

Allan

Mere Christianity

MereChristianity“Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times…that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son.” ~ C. S. Lewis, from the preface to Mere Christianity, 1952.

Our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study group today began what promises to be a rich discussion of C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Rich and contemporary and provocative and difficult. Based on today’s session which covered only the book’s preface, our study will be all those things.

Today, I want to comment on something in the preface that, as disciples of our Savior, we should carefully consider. Of course, you can’t really get the full context of Lewis’ thoughts without reading the book yourself. But check this out:

Lewis writes that the questions which divide Christians from one another — and I’d say even divide Christians and congregations within the same faith tradition — are usually points of high theology or even ecclesiastical history. These points have very little, if anything, to do with the pure Gospel of Jesus. Lewis writes, “I think we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold.” Who can argue?

My thought here is that, while our petty disagreements and arguments actually turn people off and repel them from our Lord’s Church — Jesus said it would — don’t they also stifle our own evangelistic efforts? When we draw lines of fellowship and put lids on boxes and erect other boundaries that are nowhere to be found in Holy Scripture, it keeps us from actively seeking and saving the lost. Because we can’t keep it all straight. We’ve complicated things to the point that only the perfectly schooled in our tradition or heritage can confidently teach others.

What if somebody I’m talking to about Jesus asks me a question about worship? Well, we’ve drawn so many lines and made up so many rules about what constitutes worship and what doesn’t, what is a worship service and what isn’t, depending on what room we’re in and what time of day, where the prayers fall and at what point we allow the LTC chorus to perform, we can’t confidently answer the questions. We’re afraid of contradicting ourselves.

How do I teach Jesus to a person who asks me about women’s roles in the Church? What about church music? How about communion practices? Bible versions and translations? Doctrine versus culture? Inference versus example? Innovation versus aid? How do I explain that we do this or that because of Scripture but we also do this or that despite Scripture? We’re afraid we don’t understand all the lines and the logic behind them.

What if somebody asks me why we claim we’re not a denomination but everything about the way we speak and act and teach, regarding one another and those outside our faith stream, looks and sounds denominational? I don’t know. That’s a good question.

The farther away we move from “Mere Christianity,” the harder it is to seek and save the lost. The harder it is to talk to my unbelieving neighbor. I don’t want to mess it up. I don’t want to give the wrong answers. So I don’t even try.

Mere Christianity. Unity among all disciples of the Christ. Is it impossible? Should we even make the effort?

What Lewis writes is at the very heart of our Restoration roots in Churches of Christ. We’re coming up on the 200 year anniversary of Thomas Campbell‘s Declaration and Address  in which he states, “Division among Christians is a horrid evil filled with many devils. All who are enabled through grace to make a profession of faith in Christ should consider each other the precious saints of God, and should love each other as children of the same family and Father.”

That founding document of our faith tradition claims that it’s heresy to pray for “that happy event, where there shall be but one fold, as there is but one Chief Shepherd” and not strive to obtain it.

Ending division among Christians was, at one time, the chief aim of our movement. It should be still. Mere Christianity.

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StephenMcGeeI don’t know Stephen McGee, the Aggies QB who just got drafted in the 4th round by the Cowboys. But I’m happy for him. Not because of Stephen. I’ve never met the guy. But because of his dad, Rodney. Rodney McGee was the head varsity basketball coach in Burnet during the seven years I served as the News & Sports Director at KHLB in Marble Falls. He had some great teams during those years, taking the Bulldogs all the way to the regional tournament down in Kingsville in ’96. Coach McGee also served on the football staff and helped lead the team to the 3A State Championship game in ’91. That year, the Bulldogs overcame Vernon, Marble Falls, and Southlake Carroll in back-to-back-to-back dramatic come-from-behind-ties (before the days of OT in Texas high school football) to finally come up one miracle short in a 7-0 title game loss to Groesbeck in the Astrodome.

And I love Coach McGee. He was the Fellowship of Christian Athletes coordinator for the Burnet School District. The kids always knew there was a Wednesday night devotional at Coach McGee’s house. And we all knew he was dedicated to our King. He was forever positive, optimistic about everything. Laid back. Always smiling (nearly always). Fair to a fault. Patient with everyone. Forgiving and kind.

I don’t know Stephen. I’m a little disappointed in his statements this past weekend guaranteeing he would have been a first-round pick if he hadn’t been forced to run Franchione’s option offense in College Station. I’m chalking it up to what has to be a mountain of frustration he’s been running his head against with the coaching changes and the injuries during his college career. And he’s young.

I don’t know Stephen. But if he’s ANYTHING like his dad, he’s a guy you can feel good rooting for.

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Go Mavs. Why not?  DallasMavericks

Allan

Plunder Taken, Captives Rescued

“Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce?
This is what the Lord says:
‘Yes, captives will be taken from the warriors,
and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.'” ~Isaiah 49:24-25

“No one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.” ~Mark 3:27

PlunderTakenCaptivesRescuedAs Jesus teaches and loves and heals and drives out demons in Mark 3, he’s accused by religious leaders and his own family of being possessed by Satan. But Jesus makes it clear: what’s happening is not the result of some civil war within Satan’s ranks. This is a direct frontal assault from the outside. The strong man is Satan. His house, his domain, is this world which he’s trying desperately to secure and hold on to. His possessions are his victims, these people he’s taken captive. He’s trapped these victims. He’s imprisoned them with sin and fear and death and disease and demons. He’s holding them with divorce and crime and addiction and unemployment and cancer. He’s got ’em. But then along comes the stronger one, Jesus. He comes from God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to cross the barriers of time and space, to smash through the walls of the devil’s house, to tie Satan up and carry off his precious possessions. To free the captives. To rescue the prisoners.

God himself overcomes the mighty one. He destroys forever the destroyer.

Satan uses our fears of the awful things we see all around us. Hebrews 2 says Satan holds the power of death and holds us in slavery, keeps us paralyzed, holds us in prison, by our fear of it. And then God himself breaks through, as the divine Son of Man. Jesus comes to earth, right into the middle of Satan’s house. He walks our streets. He teaches our people. He hugs our kids. He eats with us. He touches us. And he brings with him the eternal Kingdom of God! He wages war—not against the petty tyrants and selfish leaders and evil empires. He comes here intent on destroying THE Kingdom of Satan which has enslaved all of humanity. Christ Jesus, by his birth and life and teachings and ministry and death and burial and resurrection and exaltation, takes Satan’s plunder and rescues Satan’s captives and he ties Satan up and makes him watch.

We are that plunder taken. We are the captives rescued. This is us. We were the ones imprisoned by Satan. We were the ones held in slavery by our sins and paralyzed by our fears. We were the ones stuck, doomed, distressed, condemned. We were the hostages. We were the sentenced prisoners. We were headed to an eternity of death and despair. Damned by our own selfishness and sin. We were hopeless. We were already given up for gone.

But now we are rescued. We’re freed. We’re liberated.

We’re not just rescued from ourselves and our sins, we’re snatched from the life-choking clutches of Satan himself! We’re freed from the Kingdom of Darkness to walk eternally in newness of life.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” ~Colossians 1:13-14.

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Several of you have been asking about Debbie Miller, the wife of one of the Four Horsemen, one of my dearest friends. Her surgery was yesterday. And it couldn’t have been more successful. It couldn’t have gone any better. And our Father couldn’t have answered our prayers in any more of an amazing way. All the cancer is totally gone! 100% gone! There wasn’t any in her muscle tissue. There’s not any in her lymph nodes. It was all contained in the tumors and the tumors are gone! Praise God!

I talked to Dan last night. He told me it was the greatest and happiest day he’s had since….and then he said it’s the greatest and happiest day of his entire life. Our God is great. He answers prayer. And he delivers his people. And we rejoice today with Dan and Debbie.

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We’re leaving Friday for Searcy, Arkansas to spend about 24 hours with my brother, Keith, and his wonderful family. And then it’s off to Benton, Arkansas to hook up with Jimmy Mitchell and the Benton Church of Christ. Jimmy was our Youth Minister in Marble Falls when we were there from ’05-’07. I’ll be preaching for them in Benton on Sunday. Please keep our family in your prayers. And ask God to bless our time with great family and great friends.

Peace,

Allan

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