Sutherland Springs lesson: God is in control

Stephen Willeford poses for a photo with his wife, Pam.

by Brenda Slatton
SAN ANTONIO – When tragedy strikes a community as it did in Sutherland Springs, a town outside San Antonio, in early November, people ask, “Where was God?” And the answer is, “God was in control.”
Stephen Willeford, long-time member of the Church of Christ, lives a half block away from the First Baptist Church where evil took the lives of 26 people on a late Sunday morning. The gunman stormed the church during Sunday morning service, emptying fifteen 30 round magazines; that’s over 450 rounds of ammunition.

Stephen was able to use his own gun to stop the shooting. According to some, Stephen is a hero but according to Stephen, God gets all the credit. (more…)

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‘King of My Heart’: CTLTC to move to Texas A&M campus

COLLEGE STATION – Central Texas Leadership Training for Christ is moving its March 30-31, 2018 event to College Station.
The 2018 convention is over the Easter holiday and will be held in the Memorial Student Center across from Kyle Field, A&M’s football stadium.
CTLTC Chairman Tom Hagan invites all churches to celebrate how their young people honor God with their talents from Christian Art to Signing to Evangelism Challenge.
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McQuien’s Musings by Paul McQuien – Authenticity of Acts

One of the study aids in the New International Study Bible (2011 edition), “Major Archaeological Finds Relating to the New Testament,” contains 35 specific archaeological discoveries relating to the New Testament. Of these, almost half (16) confirm passages in Acts. Some of the more remarkable finds include the Sergius Paulus inscription on Cyprus (Acts 13:6-7), the Gallio inscription at Delphi, Greece (Acts 18:12), and the Politarch inscription at Thessalonica (Acts 17:6), where the city officials are called “politarchs” in the Greek text.

One additional example of the authenticity of Acts (not mentioned by Wills) is the remarkable passage in Acts 12:19-23, which recounts the sudden and gruesome death of Herod Agrippa I, as a punishment for allowing the people of Tyre and Sidon to venerate him as a god. Luke’s contemporary, the Jewish historian Josephus, independently narrated a very similar account of this incident in his famous “Antiquities” (xix.8.2).

In fairness to Garry Wills, a practicing Catholic who has written several best -selling religious, as well as historical books, his intent was not to discredit Acts from a purely secular, atheistic perspective. What Paul Meant was dedicated to “The Catholic Workers, who know what Jesus meant.” Nevertheless, the book demonstrates a lack of respect for the validity of Acts that wouldn’t get very far in our Men’s Bible Study.

The Men’s Bible Class at my home congregation recently completed a months-long study of the Gospel of Luke. Now we are launching into a similar investigation of the Acts of the Apostles. We believe that Luke wrote these two books under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but not every student of the Bible shares that assumption.

In 2006, for example, Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian, published a book titled, somewhat presumptuously, What Paul Meant. It served as a companion piece to another of his books, published the same year, titled What Jesus Meant. In What Paul Meant, Wills dismissed the Book of Acts as Luke’s attempt to write “theological novel.”

Specifically, Wills stated that “the Acts of the Apostles has been called a theological novel, and it does share some traits with the Hellenistic [Greek language] novels being written at the same time as Acts—wandering preachers, miracles, sea adventures, long rhetorical speeches.” Of course, it helps to keep in mind that Luke, after all, was a Greek speaker, the only non-Jewish author of a New Testament book.

Wills followed up his disparaging comment with a discussion of the apparent inconsistencies among the three accounts of Paul’s conversion experience in Acts 9, 22, and 26, respectively. While it is accurate to say that the details of the three accounts vary somewhat, the context of each was different, the first being narrated by Luke, the second and third being recounted by Paul himself to different audiences.

For example, Wills made a big deal of Paul’s companions being left standing in the first two accounts but all falling to the ground in the third account, where Paul said, “We all fell to the ground” (26:14). Is it not possible that Paul might not have remembered this exact detail in this context? After all, he was explaining his supernatural conversion experience to no less a figure than King Agrippa.

In addition, the comments made by Jesus to Paul in Acts 26 are more extensive and detailed than those in the earlier versions, but this doesn’t jeopardize their validity. In fact, besides the minor inconsistencies in the details of the three accounts, they are remarkably consistent overall, especially considering the passage of years involved. The same claim can be made for the New Testament books overall.

The three accounts of Paul’s conversion experience are just one among several inconsistencies that, according to Wills, jeopardize the accuracy of Acts. In opposition to Wills’ claims, the Book of Acts corresponds remarkably well to historical and archaeological details that have been uncovered in recent years.

I Don’t Have a Clue by Marsha Dowell

What is my purpose in life? What is God’s purpose for me? I used to think I had to search for it, looking for clues, hoping I was on the right track. What if I was following the wrong breadcrumbs? I would worry about that.

I held on to the hope that one day I would finally see God’s purpose for me and start living it. In the meantime, life went on with its time-consuming tasks and responsibilities, many joys, some tragedies, wonderful surprises, and disappointments.

I still was not sure what my purpose in life was. I would go one way and be disillusioned; go another way and face failure.

I bet Joseph of the Bible asked himself what his purpose in life was. If I were in his shoes, I would have worried that I was on the wrong track, hoping God would show me more clues. Joseph was the favored son in his family, which would open up so many opportunities. Then, unexpected tragedy – he found himself in a deep pit, being sold by his brothers as a slave to a foreigner.

This could not have been his purpose in life; maybe he took a misstep. In the house of the Captain of the Egyptian Guard, he worked his way up from slave to overseer. Then, disillusionment – the captain’s wife turned on Joseph, and he found himself in jail. OK, I guess being an overseer was not his purpose in life either. He needed more breadcrumbs; more clues.

But Joseph was a self-starter, and before long the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of the other prisoners. One of them was quite thankful when Joseph saved his skin, but he promptly forgot Joseph after he was released and went back to his job as Pharaoh’s butler. What a disappointment.

When would Joseph find his purpose in life? Days in prison turned into two years. Then for some inexplicable reason, Pharaoh summoned Joseph to interpret a dream; he did, and then Joseph found himself raised to second in command to Pharaoh. This must be God’s purpose for Joseph! The journey is complete! Right? No, it is not.

When did Joseph discover his purpose in life? When did Joseph understand God’s purpose for him? In Genesis 45: 5-8 Joseph tells his brothers, “Do not be distressed… because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to save lives… So, it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

Similarly, in Genesis 50:20, Joseph sums it up for his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Joseph did not comprehend his purpose for a long, long time. It was only when he could look back did he see that he had been living his purpose in life all along. And so may we.

It does not matter what happens to us; what matters is that we handle it and that we continue to trust God. Our journey in life IS our purpose – the highs, the lows, the living day by day, become the essence of our purpose: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Prov. 16:9).

One step – even if we think we have lost our way – leads us to the next step – until finally we look back and say, “Aha! Now I see!”

“Who Cares?” event set for teens

DRIPPING SPRINGS — “Who Cares????”

Raoul Ferris says, “God Does!” Ferris will lead a devotional for area teens to “Rise Up!”, and place the focus on “Spiritual Apathy and Its Cure” at the Dripping Springs church of Christ on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 4-6:30 p.m.

An honorably discharged Marine, Ferris works as an educator and coach and serves the Riverside church of Christ in Kerrville as youth minister.

At the gathering, the Dripping Springs members will also provide dinner. To let them know you’re coming, email the church office at dscofcoffice@gmail.com or call 512-858-4500 asap.

See where Lord walked with Moore

DRIPPING SPRINGS — The literal paths on which the Lord Jesus walked hold a fascination that many seek to satisfy by taking Holy Land tours. Others learn about not only the literal, but the spiritual flagstones, capstones, slingshot-stones and cornerstones in studies such as “Walking Where Jesus Walked: Faith Lessons from the Land of the Bible” by Carla Moore. The experienced Holy Land traveler will hold a class for women at 3 p.m. in Rm. 101 of the church building here on Sunday, Nov. 19.

Says Moore, “2000 years ago in Jerusalem, Jesus said that even if His disciples were silent, ‘The very stones would cry out’ with evidence of His glory. The stones still cry out today with Jesus’ message of hope, peace, forgiveness and love.”

For more information, email the church office at dscofcoffice@gmail.com or call 512-858-4500 asap.

Marriage retreat: Lasting love benefits church

SAN ANTONIO — Area couples are invited to the “Making Love Last Forever” marriage retreat and seminar at the Embassy Suites Hotel on the Riverwalk here on Nov. 10-12. The Highland Heights Church of Christ in Houston is hosting the “weekend of romance, relaxation and spiritual renewal” for the 29th time.

Said Minister Tommy Brooks, “If our marriages are strong, we will have a stronger church family, so I encourage you to consider attending. Let’s go relax, fellowship and enjoy quality time with our spouses.”

The $600 registration fee is due Nov. 5. It includes the hotel accommodations for two nights, the breakfast buffet, the welcome reception, a formal three-course banquet, all other meals and the enrichment seminars. For more information, call the church office at 713-694-7976.

Schertz lectureship reboots with Psalms

SCHERTZ –After taking a year off from its yearly intense study, the church here will enter the Book of Psalms during the 14th Annual Schertz Lectures at the building on Nov. 12-15. Providing fundamental, sound Bible teaching to help all grow in Christ, the lectureship is back.

Minister Stan Crowley will introduce the book during Sunday morning’s 9:30 session. The “Studies in the Psalms, Volume 1” lectureship will cover Psalms 1 to 72.

The sessions taught on the first day will go through chapter 18 and be led by Keith Mosher, Dan Flournoy, Tim Burroughs, Ken Ratcliff, Rick Brumback and Billy Bland.

The weekday lessons begin with the 9 a.m. class and end after the 8 p.m. session each night. Ladies classes are held each day at 4 p.m. in the fellowship building beginning on Monday. Carlie Bond will kick it off for the ladies with a lesson over the “New Song” of Rev. 5:9, 14:3, and 21:5.

LuAnn Rogers will take up “Mary’s Song” from Luke 1:46-55 On Tuesday. Jennifer O’Banon will follow on Wednesday with “Hannah’s Prayer” from I Sam. 2:1-9.

Monday’s lessons with Robert Sholl, Michael Light, Josh Romo, Mel Hutzler, Jim Word, Clay Bond, Shawn Price and Jason Rollo will cover Psalms 19-30, chapters 69-70, and 33-36.

Tuesday begins with Psalms 31-32, and then goes on to chapters 38-41, 56-58 and 45-55. Tim O’Banon, Joey Davis, Tim Hayes, Johnie Scaggs, Tim Wacaster, Dave Rogers, Sam Willcut and Ronnie Hayes will bring the word.

Trent Kennedy will kick off Wednesday’s classes with a study of Psalms 42-44. Randy Robinson, Daniel Lange, Josh Ortiz, Phillip Patton, Devin Dean and Don Walker will follow. They will teach on chapters 37, and 59 – 68 and 71-72. The lectureship will close with BJ Clarke’s summary of Psalms, Part 1.

The “Annual Lectures” link at schertzcofc.org carries the hourly schedule. For more information, email the church at Schertz@swbell.net or call the office at 210-658-0269.

Get ready for January’s adult Bible Bowl

SAN ANTONIO — Now there’s a Bible Bowl for adults. The San Antonio church of Christ City-Wide Singles Ministry invites area congregations to urge all of their adults, not just singles, to form teams and compete in the 1st Annual Bible Bowl. It will take place on Jan. 27, 2018, from 6-9 p.m. at the San Pedro church of Christ here and will cover I Cor. 1, 7, and 13.

Associate Minister Bryon Curry is coordinating the event. For more information, contact him at bryon.curry72@yahoo.com or call 210-822-3305.

NLBM gifts to double on Nov. 14 by Buck Griffith

CORPUS CHRISTI — Fight hunger, support children, improve health, reduce homelessness – right here in the Coastal Bend. You don’t have to live here to donate. You just have to love others as Christ does during the “Coastal Bend Day of Giving.”

During that 24-hour give-fest, people go online to coastalbenddayofgiving.org and donate to the nonprofits who are the first to assist the neediest of our neighbors. This community give-together begins at midnight on Nov. 14 with a minimum gift of only $10.

Friends and donors who give to Family Upreach (dba, NewLife Behavior Ministries) on this day will see the gifts matched by the Coastal Bend Community Foundation up to $17,000. The first $17,000 will be matched but everything contributed will be given to the nonprofit.

NLBM reaches out to those who need help with behavioral improvement. We have developed a Bible-based curriculum that our teachers use for classes in state prisons, county jails, with offenders’ families, with ex-offenders, with those overcoming addictions, and with those who need help meeting life’s challenges. Texas, 43 other states and many foreign countries have approved and use the lessons. In addition, NLBM sponsors community 12-step support groups using the “Christians Against Substance Abuse” course.

This is the third year that NLBM has been listed among the 45 nonprofits benefitting from the event. Last year, we received almost $50,000. Help us go over that this year.

After contributing to NewLife Behavior Ministries, go ahead and donate to some of the other outstanding programs in our community. Visit coastalbenddayofgiving.org to learn more about all the nonprofits. At nlbm.org, learn about how the agency reconciles individuals to God, families and society.

 

Come join the fellowship at the 4h Annual Hymns In The Hill Country

Area-wide Outdoor Singing

November 4,  2 p.m.

Activities Include:

Singing 2 p.m.

Congregational Meal Provided 5 p.m.

Pie social—Bring your favorite pie!

Location:

Camp Ben McCulloch

18301 FM 1826

Driftwood, TX 78619

Youth Praise: To Eat or Not To Eat Ice Cream By Madison Campbell

SAN ANTONIO— “I would give up ice cream easily to come to another area-wide youth praise night,” said Leila Ebrahimnejad, 13, from MacArthur Park Church of Christ. “Plus I don’t like ice cream that much anyway,” added Ebrahimnejad.

Ebrahimnejad’s first area-wide youth praise night was on Oct. 22 at the Arms of Hope’s Medina campus. Despite the fact that she didn’t win any of her matches of Connect 4, she said that she still had a lot of fun. More than 80 students from three different congregations and Arms of Hope attended the area-wide youth praise night.

West Bexar County’s Gregory Campbell, Sr., led the singing and Mark Drew conducted the devotional. During part of the lesson, the students considered the question, “What is so important that you would give up ice cream for it?”

After the singing and devotional, the students had ice cream and played games. “My favorite parts were the posing game and worshiping with the other kids,” said Kitty Ramirez, 14, from West Bexar Country Church of Christ.

Everyone cheered as Gregory AJ Campbell Jr., 7, hit the ball over the pipe in a game of 9 square. AJ was one of the youngest children at the area-wide youth praise night, which is aimed for teenagers. “I was happy to play and be with the big kids who made me not feel little,” said AJ.

“My favorite part was when I got to mingle and play with people I didn’t know,” said Brynlie Murphy , 12, from MacArthur Park Church of Christ. “I would give up ice cream to come to the next one,” added Murphy.

“I also would gladly give up ice cream to come again,” Hallie Whittington, 16, also from MacArthur Park.

After savoring about three different flavors of ice cream, cookies and brownies, many students agreed that their favorite part was not the treats, but, rather, being around others, playing and fellowshipping.

The churches take turns leading the area-wide youth praise night. The next rally will be on Feb. 11, 2018. “I can’t wait until the next one to make some more memories,” said Ramirez.

The students issue this challenge: “We had board games, barnyard, enormous Jenga, 9 square, and ballgames. And with an awesome devo it was perfectly wrapped into a memory. But, hey don’t take my word for it. The next one is February 11th, so save the date, come and make your own memories!”

Kidney still needed for Kim by Paul Mcquien

SAN ANTONIO — In the January and June issues of “Christian News of South Texas,” we printed an appeal on behalf of Kimberly Shields. She is presently on dialysis several times a week and is desperately in need of a kidney transplant. Her father, Allen Shields, was able to donate a kidney to Kimberly 17 years ago, but it had to be removed a few months ago.

Allen earlier reported that one volunteer had been dismissed on account of high blood pressure. Volunteers at her home congregation were also willing to provide a new kidney; however, a suitable match was not located. The Shields family, who are members of the Southwest Church of Christ here, are still hoping and praying that someone with a matching kidney can step forward and donate it to Kimberly. Please keep her and the family in your prayers.

For more information about donating, or any further questions, feel free to contact the family in these ways: Email: rshields001@satx.rr.com; Cell phone: Allen Shields 210-537-5376; Transplant hotline: 1-800-888-0402.