Category: Unity (Page 2 of 5)

The Tuning Fork

“Has it ever occurred to you that one thousand pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one thousand worshipers meeting together, each one looking to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become unity conscious and turn their eyes away from Jesus to strive for closer fellowship.”

~ A. W. Tozer

A Preaching Event

I am so grateful to my brothers and sisters at St. John Baptist Church for the way they love me and honor me and make Carrie-Anne and me feel right at home and an important part of their fellowship. Anthony Harris, the powerful pastor at this faithful church, invited me to preach in their pulpit yesterday and it was an absolute thrill! Anthony and I have become great friends and partners in the Gospel together over the past year or so. He is a tremendous encourager and a bearer of God’s image to me. And I was so humbled and, frankly, excited, to preach in their church. I’ve never preached in an African-American church before – it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

You can watch the whole church service on St. John’s Facebook page (the service begins at the 10:30 mark, the sermon starts at the 37:25 mark). But it won’t do justice to the energy and the love and the unity we all experienced together yesterday.

Delivering a sermon in a Black church really is a “preaching event.” And, I must admit, it took me a few minutes to adjust. There’s a timing and a groove, it’s a back and forth, there’s a call and response – the sermon truly is a congregational event. Everybody participates!

First, Anthony arranged for Stephanie Michaels to sing “Because He Lives” right before the sermon (at the 31:05 mark). Goodness gracious! The mighty force of her voice, the conviction in her heart, the compelling connection she makes with every person in the room – whoa! Anthony calls himself my friend, but he cursed me by making me follow her. As I made my way to the pulpit and waited for the piano to finish playing…

…the piano didn’t stop playing. I waited. And waited. I smiled. And then I realized Isaac was not going to stop playing the piano until I started speaking. He’ll fade out once I start speaking over him. And that’s the way it was for the next 30-minutes. I needed to stop after every other sentence as the church responded to what I was saying. I had to learn on the fly how to acknowledge the church as they clapped and shouted “Hallelujah!” while I was in the middle of a thought. I quickly discovered there is no such thing as a rhetorical question during a sermon in a Black church – the church answers out loud! I also realized that if I don’t get a handle on this, it’s going to be a 90-minute sermon!

My brothers and sisters at St. John Baptist come to church expecting to hear a word from the Lord. They’re geared up for it, anticipating it. God is going to speak through this servant in front of us and we want to listen to him and be moved. It’s not just a head thing at St John Baptist, the Sunday sermon is a heart thing, too. The sermon contains facts and truth, but it’s just as full of emotion and feeling. The congregation was preaching the sermon with me, finishing my sentences when I quoted Scripture, answering my questions when I dared to ask them, speculating out loud during open-ended paragraphs, discovering with me the points I was trying to make – I waited on them a couple of times and they slowed down when they got ahead of me a couple of times – exalting in them and praising God the whole time. And it was an absolute blast!

It was thrilling! Completely thrilling! And exhausting. I loved every minute of it, but I’m not sure I could do that Sunday after Sunday, week in and week out.

I am so grateful to my godly, big-picture, Kingdom-view elders here at Central for allowing me – no, encouraging me! – to preach in other churches like this. My shepherds know that anytime our churches can put aside our denominational differences, our racial differences, our puny little insignificant differences, and come together in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to do anything, it’s a big deal. It is so important that people see this and know that it’s happening and experience it for themselves. If we believe Ephesians 2, that Christ died on the cross to destroy the barriers that separate us from God and us from each other, we’d better be all about it. What happened at St. John Baptist yesterday matters. It was a Kingdom of God moment. And I want to be in on more of those kinds of moments.

Thank you to Anthony and Tonya and Isaac and Stephanie and Jasmine and Ed and Trina and all the glorious saints at that important church on 14th Street. I thank God for your faithful witness in our community and for your sacrificial service in the Kingdom of our Lord. I spent all day yesterday relishing the sweet fellowship and Christian unity we experienced together. And I’ll spend a lifetime in gratitude to God.

Peace,

Allan

A Stadium Sanctuary

I’m not going to attempt to describe last night’s “Uniting as One” worship service at the Hodgetown ballpark in downtown Amarillo. All I know is that more than four-thousand disciples of Jesus came together from our city and from many of the Top26 counties, all different colors, all different races, all different Christian denominations, all different ages, and all different backgrounds, to express our love for our Lord and our commitment to the unity of his people. And it was glorious.

 

 

 

 

 

We were asked to wear masks and they had us all spread out pretty good in there. Fifty-percent capacity and assigned seats. But it was glorious.

 

 

 

 

I thank God that he’s got me in this great city with all these wonderful Christian brothers and sisters. I thank him for the opportunity to experience something that most Jesus followers in this country never experience. I’m grateful for the new friendships and partnerships in the Gospel God is privileging me to explore.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m stunned by the way God turned that stadium into a sanctuary — the holiness of what happened in there. I’m hopeful for the opportunities ahead of us together — the energy of last night translating into significant and lasting change. And I’m certain that our Lord is going to bless us as we seriously pursue his will for us to live and worship and serve together in deeper, richer community.

 

 

 

 

 

“How good, how delightful it is when all live together like brothers… For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
~Psalm 133

Peace and Unity,

Allan

Above the Fold

“Uniting as One” made the front page of today’s Amarillo Globe-News — front page above the fold! — right there next to the city’s proposed tax rate and the latest Covid-19 numbers. The city-wide, all-church, interracial, interdenominational praise and worship service is this Sunday night at the Hodgetown ballpark. We’re expecting four-thousand Christians to join us for this historic gathering, some driving from as far away as Groom, Dalhart, Plainview, and Perryton. We’re going to sing and pray to our God and we’re going to commit to one another that race is not going to divide our Lord’s people in this city.

If you’ve got your tickets, I’m looking forward to seeing you and worshiping with you at the ballpark Sunday. If you can’t be there due to geography, timing, or pandemic, the entire service will be livestreamed on the “Uniting as One” Facebook page.

Go Stars.

Allan

“Uniting as One” Tickets

Tickets for the August 30 “Uniting as One” praise and worship service at the Sod Poodles Hodgetown ballpark were made available today and they are going fast. This all-church, city-wide, interracial, interdenominational event is garnering a lot of attention in Amarillo. And if you live anywhere near the panhandle area, you need to get your tickets today.

The state of Texas, the city of Amarillo, and Hodgetown are requiring social distancing for us that night. So they’re only allowing 4,000 of us in the stadium with assigned seating. Admission is free, but you’re going to need a ticket to get in. Central members can pick up free tickets during business hours here at the church offices or you can wait until Sunday and get them in the southwest concourse before or after worship. If you’re not a Central member, you can get them at St. John Baptist Church.

The deadline to pick them up here is Wednesday August 26. We’re turning any unused tickets back to St. John on the 27th because there are more people wanting to attend this worship service than we have tickets for. The waiting list is already at over 300. People are calling from Dimmitt and Borger, from Groom, Lubbock, Canyon, and Dalhart, wanting to get tickets for their churches. So, if you do pick up tickets and decide you’re not going to use them, please turn them back in. We don’t need any of these valuable tickets wasting away in your glove box or in the back of your Bible — they all need to be used.

St. John Baptist Church pastor Anthony Harris joined me today for an episode of the Central podcast to talk about the tickets, what we can expect from the program on the 30th, and why we’re doing this in the first place. You can listen to today’s podcast by clicking here.

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The Stars won a thriller last night to go up three-games-to-two on the Calgary Flames, one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But I’m not going to write anything about it. I don’t want to jinx it. So I’m not even going to mention it.

Go Mavs!

Allan

Gearing Up

More than forty Amarillo pastors and preachers and our spouses came together Friday night to continue gearing up for the “Uniting as One” racial renewal worship service on August 30. We prayed and planned together over Delvin’s beef tips and apple pie, we laughed together as we made new friends and renewed old acquaintances, and we were inspired by James Tudman’s and Howie Batson’s calls to action from Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan and the biblical demand to love all our neighbors all the time. If not us, who? If not here, where? If not right now, when?

Most of us kept our distance and wore our masks for most of the time. Those of us who kept them on for the group picture are the true Christians.

The “4Amarillo” churches hosted the event at Polk Street United Methodist Church. Carrie-Anne and I were so blessed to be seated with Manny DeLosSantos of Power Church and his wife, Rachel, and to hear all the incredible things our God is doing in and through them to his glory. And we’re more excited than we were before for how our Lord is bringing all of his children together in our city — Black, White, Hispanic, Latino, everybody!

If you are anywhere in the Texas panhandle region, make your plans now to be at the downtown Amarillo Hodgetown ballpark at 6pm Sunday night August 30 as we proclaim to the world that what unites us in Christ Jesus is bigger and more important than anything that could possibly divide us.

Peace,

Allan

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