Hometown In The News

My hometown of Longview, Texas has been in the news lately, even Jimmy Fallon commented on it.

In short a women who is 34 was arrested for impersonating a high school sophomore.  Read more here.


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Unexpected Sighting: An Emmaus Moment

Flat tire.

Flat tire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a typical Sunday in South Texas for the Dolive crew.  We got up, went to church, worshiped, sang and I preached.  We got into our vehicle and made our way back home.  We have done this cycle numerous times but this one ended with a twist.  We were about 5 minutes down the road when my wife and I hear our daughter saying “hi” to someone.  I noticed a truck trying to pull up next to us and waving frantically.  My first thought was “did I leave something on top of the car?”  or “is this a prank?”; it was neither.  The people in the truck called out “you have a flat” and pointed to my front tire.

This group of people couldn’t have told me at a better time; we were near an exit for a gas station where I confirmed that I indeed had a flat time.  I filled it with air and we made our way back home.  We stopped a few miles down the road and checked the tire again… it was back to its deflated status.  Luckily we were close to the next town where I thought there was a auto parts store or a tire shop or something where we could fix the tire.  (In hindsight I should have just changed it but then again that’s hindsight.)

As we were exiting the interstate I heard the dreaded rumble… the rumble of an extremely flat tire.  I turned into a gas station and I knew what was ahead of me, changing a tire…in a suit… in the heat of Texas.  (By this point it was in the 90s with the Heat Index of about 100… see below).

I’ll admit I have never had the best of luck when changing tires.  Sure I remember the 30 minute video that we all saw in Driver’s Ed but that was like 14 years ago.  On other occasions when I have had to change a tire I could never loosen the lugs to actually change it.

So there I was lugging the tire out of the car, the wife and kids walking to the Dairy Queen next to the gas station and I am already beginning to sweat.  As I am trying to place the jack under the car a gentleman comes up and inquires if I need help.  Emphatically I answer yes.

We get to work on tire… breaking the lugs, jacking the car up, rolling the tire which was coming apart at the seams (literally) and replacing it.  We didn’t say too much to each other.  I don’t even know what his name was, what he did for a living or where he hailed from- all I knew was that he took time out of his day to help me.  In a relatively short amount of time we had changed the tire and as quick as he had arrived, he was gone.

I packed up the old tire and jack and drove out of the gas station and headed for the DQ (that’s Texan speak for Dairy Queen).  My lovely wife had ordered me a meal and I came in and sat down.  I was dripping with sweat, I had road grime on my face (because  I had wiped the sweat away from my dirty hands) and I was thankful for cold A/C.

After a few minutes in the restaurant it dawned on me what had taken place, in some weird way I had experienced a mini Emmaus moment.  (The story in Luke when Christ was walking with two people on the road to Emmaus [a town outside of Jerusalem] after the crucifixion); they didn’t know it was Christ until he was gone.

Questions began to swirl in head:  Had I been touched by grace in the face of a stranger?  Did I not recognize the presence of Christ especially in the man who stopped to help?  I felt bad for not recognizing what was happening in the moment.  Maybe that’s the point of the Emmaus story to remind us that Christ’s presence and essence can be seen and felt in every aspect of life including changing a tire on a hot Sunday afternoon in South East Texas.

Have we missed those moments where God is hitting us over the head by using people to continue the work of God in the world?  Has the church been so focused on bodies, babies and baptisms that we have failed to see the goodness of God outside the four walls of the church?

I talk to people nearly every day about the presence of God in the world.  I speak of how God knows us, cares for us and is abiding with humanity in every time and place.  But as with most things they are easier said than done, sometimes it takes something drastic to get our attention instead of trying to navigate this thing called life alone.

For one to actually contemplate the presence of God in the world is a bit overwhelming; God is present in every aspect of human life– from the trees, to the clouds, the faces of people we interact with each day are all created by the same hands of God.

My only hope is that it doesn’t take another flat tire for me to be aware of the presence of God in my life.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

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Final Sermon at Bethany Christian Church (DOC)- It All Ends With Love

On May 26, 2013, I preached my final sermon at Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

I was serving there as their Interim Minister.  On June 3, I will be a Staff Chaplain at Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, Texas.

Leaving is never easy to do but I am looking forward to the new opportunities that await me.

To the members and friends of Bethany, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Interim Minister.

Sermon Link (Romans 5:1-5)


In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Finding God In Tragedy: A Review of “Faith Under Fire”

On February 14-17, Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Houston, Texas will host the first annual Texas Christian Film Festival.  From now through the festival I will be posting reviews of the films shown.  You can learn more about the festival by going to TXCFF.com.

June 22, 1980 was no normal Sunday. This particular Sunday in the quiet town of Daingerfield, Texas will never be forgotten. On this date, Al King, Jr. entered the First Baptist Church and opened fire, killing seven people including a seven year old girl.

This day and the days after it are the subject of a documentary entitled “Faith Under Fire.” (Trailer Below)

This film recounts the moments that changed so many people’s lives on a typical Sunday morning in Daingerfield.   Director Sondra Martin Hicks takes the viewer on a emotion filled retelling of the tragic events.

You can hear the pain, the anguish, the heartbreak, the “what ifs”, the “why them?” and the raw emotion still after 30 years.   Hicks weaves the story of the event and the the reflection of the event in a powerful way.  At one point, the viewer is able to hear the original church audio of the moment when King entered the church and opened fire.

“Faith Under Fire” examines how faith, community, love and justice co-exist.  For some this experience brought them closer to God, for others it was years before they could return to a relationship with God.  I began to question how I would react if my child or wife was killed.  Would I call for the death penalty?  Would I chose to forgive?  Would I hate the person who did this?  Could I ever learn to “deal with it”?

During this film you hear the reaction and thoughts of the family of Al King, Jr.  It was surprising to hear their version of that fateful day.  King was cold, mean and abusive and his wife and children were powerless under his reign.  In their minds, there was nothing that could have stopped him from committing the act of violence that he did.

In the end, this film brings up so many different emotions.  But through it all, the viewer  is left with a sense of how faith even under fire can hold up and restore people.

4 of out 4 stars.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan Dolive