Saturday, December 31, 2005

Three Billys and a Benno

We spent most of today assembling Ikea furniture and re-arranging our house. I love ikea. Not just for the good prices on sturdy furniture, but more because going to Ikea feels like you are stepping out into the cosmopolitan realm. You see people from all over the world. It's a touch of cosmopolitan, urban life in our boring suburb.

For pix of today's adventure go to my flickr

The adventure ended tonight when Debbie's mom had to be taken from the rehab hospital to the emergency room for uncontrollable blood sugar. The hospital got it stabilized. Still some concerns though...

Gotta run...

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

No longer in the lead!

I've always been ahead of my parents as far as obtaining technology goes. They still had a camcorder that took VHS tapes til last year. They also were still using a Sony Mavica digital still camera which took floppy disks. They could fit 20 jpegs on a single 1MB floppy disk.

This all changed Saturday night when my Mom opened a gift from my Dad. It was a new digital camera. I figured it was probably 5 megapixels like mine. I was so glad to see my mom (who loves to take pictures) be able to abandon those floppy disks. She didn't get into the camera box immediately but sat it aside to open other presents.

I waited and waited for her to get into the camera but then curiousity got the best of me. I went over to take a look for myself. It wasn't 5 megapixels like mine. It is 7.1 MEGAPIXELS.

Ok... I'm jealous... Mom and Dad I have to say you are the new technology leaders in our family.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas Pictures 2005

Today we went to this nice new urban development in our area (intriguing place for a vox cafe!). We like to take pix of our kids in their Christmas clothes. I'm finding that the pictures I enjoy most are ones of candid action instead of posed shots. Also, $10 in ice cream bribe is a lot better than $100 in a photo studio!













Friday, December 16, 2005

A conversation I had

I had a very interesting conversation this morning with a guy while I was working out at the rec center. He is originally from India, has spent time in the northern US, and is looking to leave our suburb near Dallas to head back north as fast as he can. He says that as a result of Sept 11, he finds the southern US to be very skeptical of him. He can feel the discrimination often down here and says that there is a lot less of a condemning eye on him in the north.

It's sad to me that we in the Bible Belt still can't impact our culture to embrace people from every land. We are so behind.

It's also sad that this gentleman says he needs to go soon to England or another European country to receive some medical care he needs. If Republicans are going to be for small government and personal responsibility in caring for people in need here and around the world then churches and conservatives need to step up and take care of the needs. I think many try to have the best of both worlds... they want to control most of their own money and then they use most of the money on themselves.

I was really energized by meeting this new friend this morning. World concerns and people from around the globe keep popping up in my life. In our conversation, I tried to downplay any role I have in the church since it seemed that being down on the politics in the south led him to also be down on the evangelical church. I did gently but boldly weave the gospel naturally into the conversation. I apologized for the discrimination he feels in the south and I offered to pray for him and his needs right there on the spot. He was a little apprehensive but consented. I prayed for him.

I'd ask you to pray from him too. He has no job. He has no insurance. And, he has a medical condition that needs attention.

If this tugs on your heart and you would like to help him out and show him the true church, you can donate money to help him through this difficult time at BE SURE TO INDICATE "HELPING HANDS (BENEVOLENCE)" FUND and TYPE IN THE FIELD AT THE BOTTOM THAT THIS IS FOR "ALLEN'S INDIAN FRIEND". I'll be sure the money gets to him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Audio blogs

Playing with phoned in audio blogs. See Deb's explanation

Emmaleigh Laugh

this is an audio post - click to play

Em Cupcake Joke

this is an audio post - click to play

Alex Pickle Joke

this is an audio post - click to play

Alex Brownie Joke

this is an audio post - click to play

Alex Brownie Joke 2

this is an audio post - click to play

Susannah Rabbit Joke

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

LA Trip

Originally uploaded by allen texas.
In LA last weekend I bought my son a Mexican wrestling mask at the market. He thinks he is quite the superhero.

Indian Food!

Nice halo BreathFire





Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

Morning of Solitude

I participated in a "Morning of Solitude" Thursday morning which was called by our pastor. We were just to show up at a certain parking lot near one of the walking trails in our suburban city's parks system. The plan was to walk alone and pray and think for as much of three hours as we could.

It was a great time. The air was very cool and the sky was bright blue without a cloud. It's been a while since I took a big chunk of time to just be quiet before the Lord. I feel like I received some real insight from Him on the trail.

Do you occasionally take extended time to just be quiet with our amazing God?

A long time ago I heard a cute little way to remember to do this and the principle has always stuck with me (though I rarely execute it well). What follows each bullet is "my take" on what those words mean.

  • Divert Daily - a daily "quiet time" with God
  • Withdraw Weekly - block out an extended hour or two weekly to spend in worship, meditation, God's word
  • Quit Quarterly - take a day each quarter to get away and refuel
  • Assess Annually - take a retreat overnight annually to dig in and assess how the year has gone and what should be different next year

Thanks, Gene, for calling us to that morning of solitude. Right now my life is running so fast that it takes someone else making me slow down and refresh.

BTW... have you heard Crowder's new tune "Here is our King". I am loving that song! Who are your favorite worship leaders, bands these days?

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I've been thinking about a simple acrostic that I heard recently from someone who does "life coaching".

Goal - Articulate what it is that you want to do or feel called to do.

Reality - Discern the realities of your current life situation.

Options - Think inside and outside the box for ways to accomplish your goals given your present reality

Will - Decide on an option and do it.

I need to spend some time and work through this process in several areas of life. While the model looks simple, I think each of the four steps is pretty difficult. I remember in the early part of our marriage when Deb and I went through a course on managing personal finances. It wasn't like Crown; the teachers looked at all of your budget and actual numbers and counseled you one-on-one. As we were being counseled by this guy, he kept saying that I wasn't talking about reality. He forced me to look hard at the numbers and see that my idealistic thoughts about my money were not in the realm of the real.

I think growing is difficult in these ways. A clear goal can be hard to see. Reality is hard to face. Options are hard to find especially when realities seem to extinguish goals. Will is hard to muster.

Have you ever used a life coach?
Have you ever formally used the G.R.O.W. process?
Is there an area of your life that would benefit from systematically going through this process?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Good Week

Sometimes I don't feel like I do that much good at church. I know I probably do, but I don't always see real fruit up-close and personal. This week was different.

I've been leading out on making our hospitality better on Sunday mornings before worship. I've got different LifeGroups each week bringing juice and snacks. A couple of people man the food table while others act as greeters in the atrium.

Last Sunday I was out there in the atrium with the LifeGroup doing this. I met a middle aged couple who were just coming back to church for the first time since childhood. We had a good conversation. I told them about some LifeGroups. I followed up with them later in the week. They said they were planning to come back this Sunday. They showed up today and I was able to introduce them to another LifeGroup leader and they exchanged contact info. Maybe this couple will stick and see their lives transformed as they are in community with our church body.

Today our greeters introduced me to a lady with her two children. They had just moved here from the mid-west. It was a great pleasure to show her around as we dropped her 10th grader off with our great youth guys and as we dropped her kindergarten child off with my wife for a great program up in Adventure Street. I'll follow up this week with two contacts for getting in a LifeGroup.

We started our new LifeGroup on Thursday night. It was cool to have our neighbor come and her daughter to do childcare for us. Had good fellowship and good chips, salsa and ice cream! I pray that this group takes off and that all of our lives are transformed through it.

Just excited to be making a small difference in some lives...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Being anxious

Erwin's podcast on "Extraordinary Excellence" really nailed something for me this morning.

It was just a small segment of the message... He said that we become anxious when we:
1) Try to control things that are not our business to control
2) Neglect to take action on things that are our business to control

Where am I currently anxious? In exactly those two ways...
I'm thinking too much on church issues that I'm not in a position to control.
I'm thinking too little about areas I am meant to control... like personal finances, health, discipline of kids, etc.

I need to break these patterns. Maybe I should do a mental exercise for a while... every time I find myself putting energy and thought power behind something I can't control I'll consciously shift my thinking over to spend 10 or 15 minutes working on something I can and should control.

Do you resonate with what Erwin is saying?
Are you anxious because there are things you are trying to control and shouldn't?
Are you anxious because there are things you should be working on but aren't?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Back from vacation

We had fun at Sea World. For pix see Debbie's blog at this link. Back to a busy week at church trying to prepare a video for this Sunday on our church's local Katrina efforts.

Was reading Stephen Hammond's blog out of Mosaic of Arlington, Texas. I like his list of shifts that are happening in the church.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New morning routine

Today we started a new morning routine. We're having the kids get our simple breakfast ready all by themselves. We eat and have a devotion and then the kids are supposed to clean up. The kids had fun today.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Prayer tomorrow

Tomorrow it's my turn to lead our 30 minute church staff prayer time. Can't decide what to lead them to pray. We could each pray for 3 of our lost friends. We could pray for clarity in a particular area of each of our ministries. We could pray for more leaders to emerge from the congregation. Just thinking as I type here... Maybe we should use our Barbarian Way discussion guide for this week. It's taken from Erwin's message on David's Mighty Men in 1 Chron 11. We could talk briefly about resolve, tenacity, loyalty, humility, and ingenuity from that text and then pray for each other in whatever area each claims he/she needs to grow in.

Resolve - I've almost completed something that God wants me to do. I need to keep on going.
Tenacity - I will not fight half-hearted. I must do whatever it takes even when others won't.
Loyalty - I need to risk my time, convenience, comfort, career, safety, etc for others in the body of Christ and for those who don't yet know him.
Humilty - I need to humble myself under God's hand and let Him raise me up in due time.
Ingenuity - I need to be creative to do what God wants even though I seem to have inadequate resources.

I think we'll mention each of these five traits, read the corresponding passage from 1 Chronicles 11, take a little individual time to ponder, share as a group which one people need the most of right now. Then we'll break up in threes and pray for that.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Homeschool seminar today

Debbie and I attended a houseschool seminar today by Carole Joy Seid about how to get our children to love books. It was a really great seminar. She handed out a list of what she considers the best literature for babies through high school. She also outlined a plan to teach western civilization using literature, history books, art, music, and film.

I have always wished I were more of a reader. I read leadership books or "Christian living" books, but I have never read many of the classics. We've always read to our kids some, but Debbie and I have both wanted to help our kids really love to read. I think that Carole's vision for loving books and the convenient list of resources presented at the seminar will give us the push we need to start our family on the path to loving reading. We just need to stay focused and make reading great books a priority.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Susannah Pix

Susie is looking so big today. From baby summer clothes to jeans and a t-shirt for the fall. It's wild how fast she is growing up.

Continued Katrina work

Today we moved the donated items from our church that had not been used in the adoption of our ten Katrina families. These "left over" items from our sheltering efforts completely filled a 17 foot uhaul. We took them to a big Salvation Army warehouse in Dallas.

Some guys from our church went down to serve in Biloxi last week. They were blown away by the devastation and the amount of need. I'm sure we'll be sending some more people down there and we'll also be continuing the relationship and assistance with the 10 families in Plano.

Again, my biggest question is how we can keep up this level of caring and serving...

Thursday, October 06, 2005


My allergies have fully kicked in for the fall in Texas. That -- on top of moving a lot of Katrina stuff this week -- is wiping me out. Even so, it's a good day. All three kids went with me to buy things for our Katrina family's home tonight. We got to talk about why we do things like this.

Not much else to say at the moment...

More tomorrow,

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Big day of moving

Debbie and I worked tonight on furnishing the new apartment of one of Legacy's Katrina families using the hurricane relief funds given by our church. Other Legacy people have "championed" all the other families like this and have done an awesome job. We wanted to take one of the families so that we could have the full experience of that ourselves. Tonight we moved in beds, sofa, love seat, and some other furniture along with all the kitchen stuff we got yesterday. It's really great to see a totally empty apartment begin to be filled with places to sit, things to cook with, etc. We'll finish up tomorrow or Friday.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I ate Indian food today!

A few weeks ago I wrote here about how I feel convicted that I should learn to like more foods of different cultures if I'm going to engage people in those cultures for Christ. People at church who read my blog have been nagging me ever since.

Well... today I gave in and let them take me out to the Sitar Indian Buffet. I'm a big meat and potatos kind of guy, so this was a stretch. I tried just about everything. Most of it wasn't too bad except that some of those flavors hang around in your mouth much longer than I'd like. It turned out that the food wasn't nearly as bad as the conversation. Everybody thought since I was trying new food they should tell stories of the strangest food they'd ever heard of or had ever eaten themselves. One guy told of his five part snake meal... they poured the blood in a glass, the gall bladder bile in another glass... and on and on... he had also been served a chilled goat head on a platter. Another guy talked about people who kill cobras and eat the still beating heart. Between the food and the stories I wondered if I should have brought our "hook bucket" (pronounced like the oo in food). In our family we call throwing up "hook-ing".

It was a good experience... but I still really wanted to go across the street for some On the Border queso afterwards.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Why do we in the church copy the world?

The world segments to population into all of these little age groupings. Seniors, adults, youth, kids. People are taught by the world to enjoy only things geared precisely for their age group and to loathe everything else. I think we perpetuate this problem in the church. There isn't a children's body of Christ, a youth body of Christ, an adult body of Christ, etc. We are all in the same body. Why did people long ago let the church become so segregated along age lines? The church is one of the few places that the family has any chance at all. Let's not send our youth and children off to their own worlds to learn about God in their own way. Let's instead grow as one body with many members each member having a different function and a diversity of age.

Why am I thinking about this? It started with the question of "how does a church simplify?" My church has 7 different programs on Sunday morning for about 400 people... separate worship for adults, Jr high, Sr high, 3rd-5th, K-2nd, preschool, and nursery. If you don't count nursery we have 6 worship/programming leaders, 6 teachers, 6 small group caring structures. What if we just had one service that speaks to the whole body of Christ (all ages) and we had family-based LifeGroups? Then those other 5 worship leaders, other 5 age group leaders, other 5 LifeGroup structure leaders, and many other age group volunteers could be freed up not to make the church run week-to-week, but they could be dreaming up ways to use music and teaching and all their other skills out in the community engaging people with Christ's love.

Also, it's a whole lot easier to have a church without a building if you only need to find one room to meet in as a large group. It would be almost impossible to find a place with 7 rooms for all the worship services and nursery we currently have.

Any thoughts?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Lots of stuff in my head

Legacy now has 8 Katrina families that we are helping with furniture and household essentials. 3 are almost complete, 1 is in progress and 4 are just getting started. This has been a great experience working to mobilize Legacy around all of this. The two biggest things I've seen are these:

1) The faith community in our city is getting a reputation for truly caring about people and doing whatever it takes to help.

2) Members of the body of Christ can do so much. I've just been a coordinator. The real work has been done by the church members who have each volunteered to be a "champion" for one of the Katrina families and those who have donated money and delivered lots of great donated furniture. People are capable of much when the need is pressing and great. I think that the challenge coming out of Katrina is how to inspire these immensely capable people to give this much and serve others this much when we are finished with hurricane recovery and are back to only having people's eternal relationship with God at stake.

Other thinking these days...

How does a children's ministry in a barbaric "mission outpost" look as opposed to a children's mininstry in an institutional/educational church or a "seeker" church? How does the church partner with parents to teach kids how to be risk-taking, radically obedient Christ-followers?

What does a church do when it's body of missional Christ-followers is strong but relatively small and it finds itself in an infrastructure of buildings and staff that is large? Do you vision-cast the heck out of downsizing and then move to a rental facility and be prepared to send staff back into the marketplace--not to go look for a bigger church to work in... but to continue on at the church--simply getting income somewhere else? Or do you count on growing the church and expanding people's faithfulness in giving? I know one thing to do is pray.

What should my own LifeGroup do to get back on track? Meeting on the weekend doesn't seem to be working because people are so often out of town. Moving back to Tuesday night would mean childcare problems. I'm wondering about having a LifeGroup made up of families. When you meet it's families - parents and kids all in the room together working on how each familiy can be barbaric... how they as a family can spend money in a Godly way... how they as a family and as individuals spend time with God... etc...etc... It would be very different, and I don't have my head around how the "curriculum" would look... but I'm intrigued. Then, you could have he guys of the group and the girls of the group meet separately at two different times of the week (or even every other week) for deeper adult discussion and accountability.

Anyone have any thoughts?

Monday, September 12, 2005

From Legacy's Katrina Blog

September 12, 2005
Adopting Katrina Families

As we mentioned on Sunday, the city of Plano is asking the faith community to adopt Katrina families as they are moved out of shelters and hotels into apartments. "Adopting a family" means that a church will find furniture and other household essentials for the family and then physically move those items into the family's new apartment.

Our plan at Legacy looks like this:

We are asking the Legacy church body to think about what nicely used or new furniture or household items you have which could be donated to the Katrina families. Late Tuesday we'll activate an online form (with a list of specific needs) that you can use to indicate what things you would like to donate. For now, be thinking about what someone would need if they were starting out in a three bedroom apartment from scratch. Of course, we'll be able to give the families almost everything that had been brought in last week for our shelter, and we can also use the funds that have been given toward Katrina relief as needed.

Once the church body signs up online to donate furniture and kitchen/bath essentials, a "champion" from Legacy for each Katrina family will contact those who have committed to donate and let you know when and where to bring the items you are donating.

If you have friends, neighbors, or co-workers who would like to donate things, please let them know about what Legacy is doing and direct them to use our online form when it is available late Tuesday.

I've already gotten to know several of the families that we'll most likely be adopting. They are wonderful people and SO appreciative of the help we are providing. I can't wait for you to meet them.

Thanks for your service to others!
Allen Arnn

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From Legacy Church's Katrina Info Blog

September 11, 2005

Next phase of relief
We want to thank you for your incredible outpouring of grace and love as you helped make Legacy's building ready to act as a shelter for hurricane survivors. The latest from the city of Plano is that Legacy will not need to house evacuees as the need for shelter is diminishing in Plano. We were called to prepare and we prepared in an amazing way. Thank you!

Next Phase: The city of Plano is now shifting the focus from sheltering people in large facilities to transitioning them into apartments. The city is asking churches to "adopt" families. Adopting a family" means finding or buying enough furniture to make an apartment livable and then helping the family move the furniture and their belongings into the apartment.

On Tuesday, I will attend a meeting with city of Plano officials and a few people from other Plano churches. We'll be pairing Katrina families in Plano with available apartments and with churches who can adopt them. Then, churches like Legacy can begin to use the money we've already raised and our further donations and volunteer hours to help these people get a fresh start. Legacy is making the faith commitment to adopt up to ten families if needed. By Tuesday, we'll have names and current location of families who we'll be adopting. Then, we'll send emails, update this website, and mobilize our body to act.

Here's what we need today:
- If you do not ever receive emails of Gene's "Pastor's Posting" please send your email address to Allen so that we can add you to the list and send you details this week about how you can volunteer.

- Be thinking about whether you have furniture or kitchen items (toaster, dishes, etc) that you could donate.

- If you gave a blow up mattress or used regular matress... thank you very much but that is the ONE item we will not need due to city requirements that matresses used in furnishing apartments for evacuees be new. If you can identify your blow-up or used matress in the Legacy Center, please take it some time this week. Please leave the pillows and bedding since we can use those for the families.

- Check your email and this website after Tuesday this week and prepare for the blessing of personally giving people a fresh start.

Thank you very much for all of your support so far. The biggest blessing is yet to come as we begin to personally minister to hurricane survivors by meeting their needs. Be praying for the Katrina vicitms; many of them are going through the hardest time of their lives.

Allen Arnn

A meal with hurricane survivors

Over the weekend my wife and I met a bunch of people from 5 households who make up a big extended family of hurricane survivors. They are staying at a hotel in our city until they can get apartments in the area. Tonight we had our small group families each bring a main dish for a big potluck. The families all came to our church building where they played basketball, jumped in bounce houses, ate a homecooked meal and "shopped" for free stuff in the "store" that our people have stocked with all kinds of necessities.

Our new friends were so appreciative. They could not stop thanking us for having them over.

The blessing was really all ours.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Our week at church

From my church's blog of "Katrina updates"

September 04, 2005

Legacy Shelter
Legacy has been designated as a Hurricane Relief Shelter by the City of Plano. This is part of the Collin County Emergency Operations Center relief efforts. Those coming to Legacy will be processed through the City offices and will be monitored by the city's processes of locating and caring for the evacuees.

We are humbled to join the City of Plano and the other churches in Plano and the surrounding communities who are opening their doors to those who have lost so much in the storms. Our prayers go out to them all, and we open our hearts and hands to serve them in the name of Jesus.

Currently, we are preparing for the arrival of evacuees by purchasing personal toiletry items, bedding, and bottled water. We will make needs known to you on this website as they become necessary.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact Allen Arnn or call the church office.

We give this comfort because we have first received comfort from Christ:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

(2 Corinthians 1:3-6)

September 05, 2005

Labor Day Update
The latest information from the City of Plano is:

The City has placed 118 evacuees at three Plano churches since Saturday evening.

The City currently is in a holding pattern until Wednesday or Thursday to receive other evacuees. The City is waiting for more who could be leaving hospitals and hotels in the next few days.

The City of Plano has set up three donation sites to collect and distribute goods to victims as needed.

Based on this information, Legacy has put all volunteer and meal efforts on hold til Wednesday at 2pm. We will keep the schedule beyond Wed 2pm as is but will call people if we need them before Wednesday at 2pm. We do not need more items for the shelter at this time.

Legacy Church is prepared to receive evacuees as we requested on Sunday. You responded immediately and in force. Your compassion and enthusiasm to serve those in need was exemplary of people on mission with Christ.

If our church is not chosen as a shelter site, we will decide the best way to share your donations of money and goods to the hurricane evacuees and invite you to help us in the distribution of those resources. We will also make you aware of volunteer opportunities in the community and beyond.

A possibility remains for work and relief groups to go to the hurricane areas to serve the people on location. We will continue to explore those possibilities and communicate them to you as they become possible.

The Pastor, staff and leadership of Legacy would like to thank everyone who has contributed your time, talents, and treasures to provide a potential shelter for those in need. You are a positive example to this community of the length Christ followers will go to serve other in the name of Jesus.

Please return to this site Wednesday and Thursday, September 7, 8, for the updates on our efforts to respond to the evacuees' needs.

If you have questions or comments, you can contact Allen Arnn or call the church offices at 972.618.4600.

Latest Update
Sept 7, 5:13 pm

Today we attended a city of Plano meeting with all the churches who are set up to act as shelters. Three churches are housing survivors and several, including Legacy, have not yet been needed. The situation continues to be very fluid. Some indications are that more sheltering will be needed in Plano; other indications are to the contrary.

The city of Plano has asked Legacy to remain ready to shelter people for 72 more hours. We will, however, lower our level of readiness. We are, for now, cancelling all volunteers scheduled for shelter work. If the city does need us, they will give us 6 to 8 hours to ramp back up. We know that Legacy will be ready to sign up again for volunteering later this week if the need arises.

The city asked Legacy to be prepared and thanks to your help we are prepared in an incredible way. If we do not end up housing survivors here at Legacy, we'll have the great privilege of sharing all the donations we’ve received here and also our volunteer hours with other shelters or with Katrina survivors in some other way.

Please come Sunday ready to participate in the next phase. God is in control of everything and I know that whether we house survivors or give in other ways God is pleased with Legacy’s servant heart. We have an amazing church body!

Allen Arnn

Latest Update
Friday, Sept 9, 5:45pm
I'll post more info later, but here is the latest. At this point, the city has determined that Legacy does not any longer need to plan for the possibility of housing survivors in our building. The city of Plano is very, very appreciative of our being prepared, but the need for shelters is diminishing to a level of need that can be met by the 3 churches in town which are already housing people.

There are some very exciting things which the city is asking us to do as a church here locally for survivors using the money we've collected, the things donated and our volunteer hours. I'll write more about this later tonight and we'lll talk about it on Sunday.

You are a great church body!
Allen Arnn

September 09, 2005

What we can do
As I mentioned earlier, we have exciting job ahead of us in helping the hurricane survivors among us in Plano. The city of Plano is working very closely with churches to assist survivors as they move into more permanent housing. The city's part of the deal is to find apartments and get the rent and utilities paid for a certain number of months. The city is asking churches to assist by "adopting families". "Adopting a family" means finding or buying enough furniture to make an apartment livable and then helping the family move the furniture and their belongings into the apartment.

On Tuesday, I will attend a meeting with city of Plano officials and a few people from other Plano churches. We'll be pairing Katrina families in Plano with available apartments and with churches who can adopt them. Then, churches like Legacy can begin to use the money we've already raised and our further donations and volunteer hours to help these people get a fresh start.

Though I'm glad we prepared to be used as a shelter, I think this shift toward helping people move into their own new home will be even more rewarding and more helpful to the survivors.

In case you did not read yet: The city of Plano has determined that the demand for shelter in Plano has diminished to the point where Legacy will not be needed to house survivors. Six churches prepared as shelters; three churches were actually needed. I say, "Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared".

I'll close this post by saying that I think the city officials in Plano are doing a terrific job of responding in a situation that is VERY difficult to manage. I've heard that hurricane survivors living as far away as Grand Prairie are coming to Plano for assistance because Plano is doing a good job of meeting the needs that exist.

We'll talk more about all of this on Sunday. Be thinking about whether you have furniture you could donate and prepare for the great blessing of physically helping a family move into a new home.


Providing Katrina Relief in North Texas

I’ve had a very interesting week. On Friday, Sept 2, I attended Red Cross training on “shelter operations” with the plan of volunteering in one of the Dallas shelters. On Saturday I got a call from my pastor that I needed to attend a city meeting in our suburb where churches were being asked to set up shelters in their buildings. So I went from shelter-ignorant… to shelter-aware… to leading my church’s shelter efforts in 2 days. We committed to the city to act as a shelter, and we were ready to house 50 survivors. Our church body gave AMAZING amounts of supplies, bedding, food and money. Our worship center has been tranformed into a dorm. Our 24/7 volunteer schedule was on it’s way to filling up. Only one problem… we had no Katrina victims for our shelter. Six churches were prepared to shelter, but only three ended up being needed. I'm glad we had too many shelters instead of too few.

Even though we did not shelter people in our church a lot of good came out of the effort.

- We have greatly increased community among our church members
- We’ve seen our fairly small church respond in incredible ways
- We’ll be ready next time there is a disaster or terrorist attack
- We can give our loads of supplies in other ways
Now, we have further opportunities. I'll copy the posts from our church's Katrina "latest update" blog.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Relief for Katrina Refugees

I've been trying to figure out what I should do to help with hurricane relief in some way. Should I go the the coast? Should I send money?

As I began to hear that a large number of refugees would be right here in the Dallas metroplex, I knew I had to get out and do something. With the tsunami, I didn't have serious thoughts about actually going. With this disaster I can't not do something. It's too close to home. If I just comfortably go about living a surburban, Plano lifestyle right through this tragedy I have no business calling myself a Christian. I either need to give sacrificial amounts of cash or I need to give sacrificial amounts of time or both. In this case, I don't want to just give cash. I want to encourage some refugees face-to-face. I want to learn close up what they are experiencing and provide for their needs. I think this relates to what Bill Hybels has said... Don't medicate your holy discontent... feed it and grow it until you do something about it. A relief effort on this scale can change us if we'll let it.

So... I'm trying to get involved. Tomorrow I'm going to a day of training with the Red Cross to learn how I can help as they provide shelters in the Dallas area.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Memorizing Scripture

Steve Watson asked a question today about memorizing Scripture. I thought I'd share my plan for memorizing passages of the Bible which I wrote up a few years ago. I know people often have very different ways of learning, but maybe this personal plan could be adapted by others. I'm not memorizing right now, but I've been meaning to get back to it. Memorizing has done more for my spiritual life than anything else.

Why memorize Scripture?
1. “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11
2. Memorizing Scripture leads to meditating upon and internalizing Scripture.
3. Memorized Scripture is readily available for use in encouraging, teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)
4. Memorized Scripture gives basis for deeper prayer.
5. Memorized Scripture is always with you. In the worst case… if we were ever imprisoned for our faith and weren’t allowed a Bible, we’d still have God’s Word with us.
6. The more you memorize, the more you can memorize. It gets easier with practice. Psychiatrist Bronson Stilwell says that when we memorize something, our brains are trained how to better memorize. He says that it is like Velcro. The more we memorize, the more Velcro “hooks” our brains create so that even more stuff can “stick”.
7. Waylon Moore says - Memorized Scripture sheds light on the rest of the Bible.
1 memorized verse sheds candlelight on the Bible.
10 memorized verses shine a flashlight on the Bible.
100 memorized verses beam a spot light on the Bible.
1000 memorized verses pour stadium lights on the Bible.
8. Memorizing Scripture has been to most beneficial thing I’ve ever done to grow in my walk with Christ.

Why memorize large, continuous blocks of Bible?
1. You get to know the author.
2. You can remember more Bible this way with the verses flowing in a narrative than if you try to remember scattered verses.
3. You can better understand the context of a particular memorized verse.
4. We humans need goals. It’s more motivating to think of learning a whole chapter or book than it is to plan to memorize a certain number of scattered verses. But DON’T BE PROUD! Be careful about telling people you are doing it, or it may be like fasting with a somber face (Matt 6:16-18).
5. The goal is memorizing, meditating upon, and doing God’s Word. Don’t do this to show God how committed you are or to somehow earn His favor. Do it for the joy of knowing Him better.
6. The last reason I memorize large blocks instead of scattered verses is personal preference. There are definitely benefits in memorizing scattered verses (especially for evangelism). There are many programs available to assist with that type of Scripture memory. Whether you fit into my plan provided here to memorize large blocks or into another type of memory plan, I encourage everyone to memorize Bible!

How I memorize large blocks of Bible…
1. Pick an interesting Bible chapter or book that you would like to dig into deeper. Certain passages are easier to memorize than others. Here are some ideas:
-- Philippians
-- Colossians
More difficult:
--1 John
-- Psalm 139
-- Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7)
2. Use an easy-to-read translation (like NIV).
3. Each day, memorize one new verse just to the point that you can say it without looking. Since writing the verse helps me memorize it, I like to write the new verse each day on a card or in a small notebook and then carry the written verses with me for reference when I practice. Auditory learners may prefer to record themselves reading the verses and then listen or listen to an "audio Bible" of the passage in order to practice.
4. Practice reciting the new verse several times a day.
5. Each time you practice reciting your new verse for the day, recite the last 30 memorized verses. You will not know the current day’s verse well at all, and you’ll be unsure of the last few day’s new verses, but you’ll be a pro at reciting new verses learned a week or two earlier.
6. If you are memorizing several chapters or a whole book, you should recite all learned verses once per day. It won’t take as long as you think. You can recite Philippians or Colossians in just a few minutes.
7. It is good to have a partner in memorizing. It is great to be able to recite learned verses back and forth with a friend sometimes when you see each other. It is even better to one day reach the goal together and be able to get together to recite a whole chapter or book.
8. This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s really not. You will be able to learn your verse for the day to the point where you can say it without looking in a few minutes. Then, the practice of reciting known verses can happen anywhere throughout the day.

Ideas for where to practice:
- In the car.
- During breaks at work.
- While getting ready/shower/etc in the morning.
- Recite to you kids.
- Recite to spouse or friend during car trips
- During housework.
- During yard work.
- While exercising.
- As part of your personal time with God, etc.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Leadership Summit - P.E.A.C.E.

Thurday Session 2 at the Summit was Rick Warren. Warren brought before the 53,000 viewers of the summit what he thinks are the 5 biggest global problems.

1) Spiritual Emptiness
2) Ego-centric leadership
3) Poverty
4) Disease
5) Illiteracy

He says there is a new reformation brewing... one not of creeds but deeds... not of beliefs but of behaviors.

He says we should follow Luke 10 and find a "man of peace" in our towns, schools, churches, and organizations to help us do the following:

P - lant churches
E - Equip leaders
A - Assist the poor
C - Care for the sick
E - Educate people

I'm not usually big on cute acromyns but Warren's tying together of the five global problems, the Luke 10 man of peace and the five things we should be doing was pretty powerful.

Who are some "men of peace" in your town who could help you tackle some of these 5 global giants?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Leadership Summit - Holy Discontent

I don't do a lot these days with Willow Creek but one thing I do attend is their Leadership Summit satellite broadcast because of the great people they have as speakers. I'll journal here some of my thoughts from the 2005 summit earlier this month.

The opening session had Willow Pastor Bill Hybels talking about our "holy discontent". Popeye used to say "That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!".

Hybels pointed to Biblical figures who got fed up with certain things. They couldn't stand it any more, and they did something about it.

David - you can't mock my God
Nehemiah - we must rebuild the wall

He also mentioned modern day people... Martin Luther King Jr. couldn't stand racial oppression any longer. Bob Pierce started World Vision when he couldn't stand the problem of hungry children any longer.

So what is my holy discontent?

I'm not sure yet what my one big one is, but these things come to the forefront:
1) Organizations with great potential operating in a mediocre way
2) The lack of authentic relationships in my suburb
3) My own lack of discipline
4) Prayerlessness in myself and in churches
5) Racial oppression
6) The Church (universal I mean) being behind when we should be leading the way (esp in things like world relief, leadership skill, creativity)

What is your holy discontent?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Jennings today. I had always chosen to watch ABC's World News Tonight because of Jennings and I have always admired him. I remember conciously thinking many times how amazed I was that he could be so calm and professional while also being very warm and somehow hopeful. When he would cover the election way into the night or cover an intense breaking news story he had such an ability to convey the story in a clear and professional way even when I'm sure people were speaking all kinds of information into his ear.

I think Charles Gibson and the others at ABC have some pretty big shoes to fill.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Blogger Photos

Just trying out the photo feature of

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Famine in Niger, West Africa

One more thing to highlight today...

Please be aware that there is a very serious crisis underway in Niger in west Africa. Severe famine... between 800,000 and 5 million people in danger of starvation. Steve Watson has laid out the need on his blog...

Something to Derail Your Day

What do we do about Niger?

I'd encourage you to give to the relief effort for Niger either directly through or at and designate "Niger". Monies given to Legacy Church for Niger will be sent to World Vision for Niger relief. Every dollar counts in saving lives.

Back to blogging...

Man.. it's been almost a month since my last entry. I've had lots on my mind but little that I felt like typing in here.

I've been thinking a lot about the family of the church... how much we all need care, love, and encouragement.

Here's something I wrote to our small group leaders at my church:

QUESTION: Could Paul write to the people of Legacy the same thing that he wrote to the Thessalonians?

Paul writes to the Thessalonians…
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.

Paul was writing about the incredible love these Thessalonians had for others!  This leads me to wonder how someone who has hung around Legacy a while would view us.  When someone spends some time with Legacians I want him to say… “man, you guys at that church really love each other!”  I want him to reel off story after story of how he saw people loving others, caring for others, serving others.  Many of the stories he tells are of Legacy people helping and loving each other through this life.  Many other stories are about Legacy people loving, serving and leading people in the community and world. 

When Jesus wanted to “show the disciples the full extent of His love” he found a wash basin and a towel and began to serve them by washing their feet.  Let’s be about serving each other and truly caring about each other this year… not in a little Christian huddle but rather let’s serve and love each other AS we go about the work of risking, reaching out, and winning our cities with the love of Christ.

Each day ask yourself this question:  “God, how should I love and serve others today?”  Make an Outlook “appointment” with yourself about this if you need to until it becomes a habit.


Sunday, July 03, 2005

GIfts to give our children - Part 3

Another gift we'd like to give our children is the gift of language and culture. Debbie has basically a minor in Spanish. She has been to El Salvador and Guatemala; together we have been to Honduras and Mexico. These mission trips have grown our love for Hispanic people. Through my engineering studies/work I have also developed a love and appreciation for Chinese, Japanese and Indian culture and language (even though I haven't yet developed a taste for all of these foods!) We have also been blessed to know several Iranians. As the world melts together we want our kids to love all people. We want to help our kids not just to treat everyone equally, but to be comfortable striking up true friendships across cultural/language lines.

Beyond Spanish we'd like to at least explore together with our kids the language of some of our friends... Farsi and Chinese for starters!

I think I'm feeling convicted....if I'm going to help the kids love other cultures I'm going to have to learn to try their foods more. Food is such a central part of fellowship in most cultures that I can't neglect it. I'm a meat and potatos guy so this'll be a challenge. Lord help me try and enjoy other foods! I remember when You've helped me start to enjoy some new foods... but Indian, Japanese and Persian foods are a "whole nother level"!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Auto-emails of good news!

The other day, I was in a meeting about a possible new database system for our church. In the midst of the conversation, I suggested that they add functionality to support auto-emails to certain people when certain criteria became true in the data. For example, there could be an automatically generated email to the pastor whenever the given numbers drop for a second month in a row or an auto-email to small group leaders whenever LifeGroup attendance drops by a certain amount. I left my suggestion at that and didn't think much more about it until I was driving home.

In the car on the way home from church I was thinking (as I usually do!) and realizing that I had made a grave error in my suggestion. I had only thought of sending auto-emails when bad stuff happens. What about sending auto-emails when good stuff happens??!!?? Auto-email the pastor when giving is up three months in a row... email the whole church staff to celebrate every 10th person who signs up to serve in God's work, auto-email the staff when volunteers approach anniversaries of their faithful service to a particular team.

I guess my mind got slanted toward the "negative" automated messages when I worked in a large company as an engineer. I would get auto-paged at all hours of the day when a machine mulfunctioned or when there was another problem in production. Beep beep beep.... "NI401 down -- out of spec voltage"... "Lot 9014323 on hold - contamination". Why could there never have been a positive auto-page? Imagine... The pager beeps and I pull it out to read "NI601 - New record reached in machine up-time! Way to go!".

I need to always remember to celebrate what's right while not neglecting to fix what's wrong.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Insights from a day of fence-building

Two insights from building a fence:

1) Leading a project requiring physical work is a good place to practice being clear. My two neighbors and my dad worked all day today on the fence with me. When people are looking to you for exactly how this should connect to that or exactly what order things should be done, it really requires clear communication... anything less than clarity frustrates people and wastes their time.

2) The fence we were building is our common fence with the neighbor behind us and neighbor next door to us. It's strange that my neighbors and I built relationships today while we erected wooden barriers to divide us.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Gifts to give our children - Part 2

One of the gifts we want to give our children while they are with us is the arts. From a very early age my mom gave me a love for music. Even at age five I was interested in classical music and broadway music. She taught me piano for years informally and I owe my love of music still today directly to her.

Though music is the only art I'm remotely good at, I want to also do what I can to encourage any other artistic gifts in our children. I'm not a painter or a sculptor, but I really love to see the work of others gifted in those ways. I love to see a person's creativity (whether they are a good artist or not) come out on paper or some other physical medium.

We are going to try and give our kids all the opportunities we can to express themselves through music, dance, painting, whatever.

So... that's one of the gifts...

the gift of the arts

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gifts to give our children - Part 1

Taking the lead from Alex McManus, Debbie and I spend most of our drive from Allen, Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas yesterday talking about what we would like to give our children while they are under our care. Here's what we think so far ... I'll process through this here through the week.

The gift of the arts
The gift of language and culture
The gift of following Jesus
The gift of confidence
The gift of a family that loves each other
The gift of a good education

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What does a barbarian Christ-follower do?

I've been reading Erwin McManus' "The Barbarian Way" and trying to put into my own words what he is saying. I've started talking about barbarianism in this way:

Being a barbarian is having a radical faith in Jesus and acting accordingly.

I was at the gym Monday morning and between sets on the weights I began to make a list of some examples of what a barbarian might do.

As a barbarian you might:
- Ask a stranger or lost friend how you can pray for him (Jessie Prim models this for us)
- Tell someone a story of how God has been working supernaturally in your life
- Have a meaningful and vulnerable worship and prayer time with your family
- Invite neighbors over for dinner
- Start a new LifeGroup to reach more people
- Listen to God and take a risk in doing what God says
- Spend time serving others
- Dig into God's word, not out of tradition or obligation, because out of a deep longing to know God better
- Pray!
- Work on your character to become more like Christ
- Give away significant and reckless amounts of money to others in need
- Invite someone to come along whenever there's time to talk or a chance to serve other together instead of just doing things by yourself
- Keep God's commands (John 14:15)
- Go through life with incredible peace (14:27)
- Risk engaging in a friendship with someone very different from you (John 4)
- Stop doing stuff that makes you so busy you can't build relationships with others (Richie Morris' idea)

The list is endless... there are so many ways that we can live out a passionate, barbaric, primal faith. We just need to throw off everything that hinders and throw ourselves into the adventure of following Jesus with all that we are. I'm not there yet. The use of the word "you" in my list above in no way implies that I live so barbarically and you don't. It's just easier to type "you" than a bunch of "he/she"s :)

If you and I have had an amazing experience coming to know that Christ is life, let's not gradually sink down into the mundane. If you've never yet come to experience true life in Christ, I encourage you to seek that day when you decide once and for all to throw yourself into all Christ has for you.

What are some more practical ways we can be barbarians?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Accountable Kids

We kind of re-started our use of the Accountable Kids program with our two older kids yesterday. Accountable Kids is a great program that teaches kids to be accountable for contributing to the family through doing chores and accountable for their behavior. We had been a little lax with it at first. Now, we started fresh with the portion we were already doing and added a couple of new aspects of the program. Doing chores earns tickets, which in turn can be used for purchasing priviledges like playing outside or playing computer games. If the kids earn all their chore tickets and don't lose any of them due to bad behavior on a day, they get a date card sticker. Doing that ten times fills up their date card and then they get a special date with mom or dad. The idea is that they'll begin to do their work and behave well without so much direction. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Want vs Need Part 2

Well... it turned out not to be our air conditioner fan after all. The water heater is in the same closet as the air conditioner blower, and it was the water heater making the burning smell instead of the AC fan burning out. So... now we've gone a day with the AC off and now we've got two days to endure without hot water. We'll see what happens next to show us what else we don't "need".

Friday, June 10, 2005

Want vs Need

Lately, we've been trying to get our daughter, Emmaleigh, to understand the difference between "want" and "need". Today, we were goofing around with an idea of spending a day or a week or a month with only what we "need". Debbie, Emmaleigh and I debated whether we should include books... on one hand we want them for entertainment, but on the other hand we need them so we can learn and grow. Do we need electrical power to our house? On one hand we want it because it's nice to have lights and air conditioning. On the other hand, we need it because America has become a society that uses refridgerators. Companies selling blocks of ice are hard to find these days. Maybe we should just take a trip to the poorest part of Africa to find out what we really need in life. In industrialized, materialized America it would be difficult to even run a legitimate "want" vs "need" experiment.

By the way and ironically... our air conditioner went out tonight.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Time in the Bible

I don't know about you, but I can tend to read so many books about Biblical ideas or even do studies related to the Bible, but not get into (or lead others to get into) the Bible itself. Having read and studied the Bible for some time I neglect the fact that some others haven't had as much direct exposure to God's word. If we are studying in our LifeGroup a workbook about finding our spiritual gifts or plugging into serving or leadership or whatever, I tend to briefly go over the Biblical stuff and then get to the application for me and others in the group. I've been convicted lately that I need to lead my LifeGroup to better balance between application to life versus seeing the content in God's word for themselves. I'm not talking about doing half "Sunday School teacher" and half relational application time. I'm just talking about spending a good amount of time reading the Scripture mentioned in the book or study and digging into it in a relational, discussion kind of way. That way, people who have not spent much time in God's word will learn how to do so.

This is not revolutionary thinking and I hope most of us leading LifeGroups are doing well at this. It IS tempting though (at least for me) to spend LifeGroup time on relational stuff and application of God's principles without letting people in the group have a door into reading and growing in God's word themselves. Does that make sense? Can anyone relate?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Nuggets from Jack Welch

Here are a few more things that have caught my eye in Jack Welch's book, "Jack: Straight from the Gut"
- Put people in stretch jobs early on. If they are the right people, they will step up to the challenge and perform.
- Welch says that he hasn't seen businesses fail because they cut costs too much or too quickly. The problem often in cost-cutting is that managers cut back little by little, over and over, causing uncertainty.
- Welch had a "hard" and "soft" side to his vision for a new GE. He preached that any business in GE that could not be number 1 or number 2 in the world had to go. But, he also desparately wanted to create a "soft" feel. He wanted a company that was "high spirited, more adaptable, more agile". He wanted to make a huge company feel like a small company.
- Welch insisted on getting people to see reality. He made them break through their emotional attachment to some business or practice to see what what really happening and act accordingly.

What applications could these prinicples have in the church world?

Monday, June 06, 2005

What is growing in Christ?

Is growing in Christ simply a striving to spend more quiet times with God in the Bible and in prayer? I don't think so. I think that somehow our times with God and actions throughout the day need to connect. If I'm REACHING out to someone, I need to be praying for them and for that divine moment when our conversation goes a little further than it had before. If I'm working on my CONNECT relationships with family and friends and colleagues I need to study in God's word how people are to get along. I need to pray for others. I need to memorize scriptures that will help remind me of what human beings in community need to look like.

Somehow grow is becoming like Christ... not checking off "Bible read daily" and "Prayed"

Gotta go... My wife says dinner is ready!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Will we do whatever it takes?

I led worship at a church plant that meets in a preschool building this morning. I love seeing people do whatever it takes to be the church and reach people for Christ. People arrived early to set up everything. Though it is hard work on Sunday mornings, it must be really nice not to be tied down to debt on a building. The pastor of that church has been delivering pizza to both make some extra money and also to spend time out in the community.

I'm constantly challanged these days to determine whether I'm personally going to do whatever it takes or if I'm just going to take it easy.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Build confidence in people

Just starting to read Jack Welch's book, "Jack: Straight from the Gut". Two things so far:
1) Build confidence in your kids - Welch talks of how he didn't know he was a small kid because his mom made him believe he was so big.
2) Build confidence in everyone around you and those who work for you. Don't "pile on" criticism when a good person and hard worker knows he made a mistake and is already feeling badly about it. Build him up!

What do you think?

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Character Matrix

I been thinking through Erwin McManus' "Character Matrix". If you haven't heard of that it is a tool to help people grow from self-centered life to being the servant leader that God wants us to be... the trip from greed, foolishness, and pride... TO... generosity, wisdom, and courage. In certain areas of life, I've made it through the matrix but in others I'm still far away. Even when you somewhat go through the matrix in some area of life, you don't stop - you just take another interation through the matrix and grow some more. I have a lot of greed and foolishness.

The Character Matrix is a part of Erwin's Promise Keepers book "Uprising". I think that Erwin has plans to publish the matrix in a form more accessible to everyone (instead of Promise Keepers geared).

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Copying church mission and values

I visited Mosaic of Arlington Texas this week. Had great time. Very cool to see a church getting to start from scratch with good mission and values. Actually, they are not "from scratch"... they have adopted Mosaic of LA's mission and values exactly. At first, that struck me a little weird. But then I thought about how a megachurch may have 20,000 people adhering to the same mission and values. Since people don't see anything wrong with that, why do we have a problem if like-minded people (for the sake of my argument - 20,000 people) across the country adopt the same stuff (maybe with some tweaks to relate to local culture) and build a church using it?