SALT helps the church rise to the challenge

SALT Director Bob Turner

LUBBOCK – “The majority of congregations in this country have no … or not enough elders to meet the growing needs of the congregation and the cultural changes within our society,” maintains Bob Turner of the Sunset International Bible Institute. To meet this challenge, SIBI has recently launched the Sunset Academy of Leadership Training.
Turner, director of the initiative, states that “One of the greatest challenges we face involves this leadership crisis. SALT is designed and prepared to assist congregations across this country in four major areas.” The program offers seminars and workshops for certification in areas such as organizational leadership, vision, planning, developing character, leading through biblical models, communication, resolving conflicts and meeting change.
SALT will also offer regional training events across the country that focus on current issues in light of biblical and practical answers. Leaders will have access to resources that bolster their current shepherds and equip the next generation of servants.
Through the leadership consulting and mentoring arm, SALT puts out help from experienced staff members. Consultants and mentors will be available to help local congregations deal with the issues and challenges that come their way.
The SALT program also offers free online tools and resources. Among them are a congregational talent assessment, web courses from saltLessons and a saltCast.
The saltCast comes in the form of an online audio discussion led by Turner and others. Listening in, church leaders and members can learn about developing skills for the three major areas of life: the home, the world and the church. In the Jan. 2 episode, Brandi Kendall focuses his lesson on how Jesus handles conflict resolution in biblical terms. Says Turner, “We invite you to join us, subscribe, and listen as we dig deeply into the current issues facing leaders today.” All episodes jump from the saltCast link on the page listed below.
For more information, or to schedule training, go online to salt.sibi.cc or contact Turner at bturner@sunset.bible.

Become Lord-shaped at SoulLink

HOUSTON — Jesus offers a passion and a soul-filled purpose for living. With this call, the Bammel church of Christ and her young people invite all to come learn more at: “Witness SoulLink 2020.” The congregation will host the gathering on the weekend of Feb. 28-29 at the building.
The church affirms that “SoulLink is more than a youth rally. More than an event. More than a spiritual high. SoulLink is rooted in being shaped by our teacher, Jesus Christ. This is our means which leads to an eternal end.
“Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been coming for years, welcome! We’re so glad you’re joining us for this weekend of worship, serving, learning, and fun!”
The early bird registration for $45 ends on Jan. 15. Those who sign up for regular registration by Jan. 31 can get in for $50 each. Late registration is set at $55. Sign up through the web page linked below.
The resource people include T. Scott Allen of San Angelo, Kera Hubbard of Arlington, Jay Blackburn of Galveston, Doug Page of Kaufman, Dustin Bartee of Bastrop, Brad Cox of McKinney, Sean Palmer of Houston, Bryan Borden of Dallas, Jeff Hubbard of Arlington, Tquan Moore of the DFW area, Chris George of Houston, Justin Bagwell of Dunwoody, Ga. The Mercy House ministry and United Voice Worship will also serve.
Students from Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and other locations usually attend. Youth Minister Sean Richardson leads the Bammelteens.
The congregation meets at 2700 Cypress Creek Parkway, Houston, TX 77068. SoulLink is also on social media. For more information, visit soullink.org.

Life with Father: What Did You Give for Christmas?

by Marsha Dowell

The small child’s body was twisted; she could move only with the help of a wheelchair. But in a western U.S. city during the wintry Christmas, 2019 season, she waited in line, anticipating her turn to see Santa. All of the children, each one bundled up against the cold, had to stand outside while awaiting their turns. The little girl could not keep warm despite her heavy coat. Finally! It was time for her visit, and her parents wheeled her inside to see Santa Claus.
Santa’s day had been busy. He had heard many requests from the children. Some requests were for magnificent presents; and some requests were for loved ones or those in need. Santa liked to call the latter requests “selfless wishes”, and he kept special tokens to give to those children, encouraging them to continue to think of others.
The little girl had a grand time with Santa. He took her hands in greeting and said, “My! Your hands are freezing!” She giggled. Her parents smiled and laughed, and positioned the little girl with Santa so she could have a picture taken. She shared with Santa her wishes, and Santa asked her about her school, and her friends, and what she loved to do.
Santa was amazed at the family. It was evident they had so little, and they faced so much, yet they were one of the happiest families he had seen that day. It gave him great joy to visit with the small child, and toward the end of their visit, he took her hands in his gloved own to wish her well. Even through his gloves he could tell her hands were still freezing! What could he give her?
Santa pulled off his gloves. They were lightweight, and nylon, and would not keep one degree of cold out; but he gave them to her anyway. He had nothing else to give. The little girl looked at Santa with amazement, and you would have thought he had given her the moon. He had given what he had.
She had Santa’s gloves! She could not believe her good fortune, and neither could the other children as she was wheeled back outside, wearing his gloves. Her parents were touched by Santa’s thoughtfulness and loving gesture, and knew their little girl would always keep this memory in her heart.
Santa sat back for a few minutes to compose himself before seeing the other children. He had given her so little, and the small child had given Santa so much: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving” (Mother Teresa).
The promise of the Christ who came in the manger to that child in the wheelchair awaits: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will not lose [her] reward” (Matt. 10:32).

McQuien’s Musings: Warped and Crooked Generations

by Paul McQuien

In one of the Bible classes I was attending recently we were studying Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians and came across this passage:  “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation’” (2:15 NIV).  Apparently, Paul was partially repeating an earlier quote, and indeed the emphasis on a “warped and crooked generation” does appear in several earlier passages. While this quotation is generally bad news, it can have a more positive implication.
The word “generation(s)” is used numerous times in a completely neutral sense, especially in the Old Testament, mainly to denote the groups of God’s people through the ages, from Abraham to Jesus. Matthew’s gospel points out that “there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah” (1:17).  Later, Jesus prophesied, “Truly I tell you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matt. 24:35).
On the other hand, the term has a negative connotation in several passages. As early as Deuteronomy the LORD swore, “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh” [and Joshua] (1:36).
Similar language is used twice in Psalm 78.  Faithful Israelites “would not be like their ancestors—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God” (v. 8).  Yet the overall unfaithfulness of God’s chosen people, especially Ephraim, led the Psalmist to conclude later in the chapter, “Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow” (v. 57).
When we get to the synoptic gospels, we find that Jesus used this negative connotation on several occasions in characterizing his contemporaries.  In Matthew 8 he compared “this generation” to irresponsible children, sitting in the market place, vacillating between dance music and a funeral dirge (vss. 16-17). In Chapter 12 Jesus declared that “a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign” (v. 39), which he compared to a cleansed spirit that allows seven more wicked spirits to corrupt it. He concluded the section with the observation, “That is how it will be with this wicked generation” (v. 45).
The Gospels of Mark and Luke follow up with similar accusations.  Mark concluded Jesus’ call for radical discipleship at the end of Chapter 8 with the rejection of “this adulterous and sinful generation” (v. 38).  Luke’s Gospel alludes to this “wicked generation,” which asked for a sign, but none would be given but the sign of Jonah, a symbolic reference to Jesus’ own burial and resurrection (11:29-30).  Even as the New Testament church in Acts was being established, the Apostle Peter pleaded with his audience, “Save yourself from this corrupt generation” (2:40).
All this emphasis on human corruption and depravity throughout Scripture might call into question my mention in the opening paragraph of a positive side of the coin, but consider the second part of Paul’s statement in Philippians 2 that “children of God” can “shine like stars among them in the sky” (v. 15).  This passage echoes Jesus’ admonition in his Sermon on the Mount, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5: 16).
While there has always been evil in the generations of mankind from the Edenic fall up to the present, there have also been bright spots. We read in the Pew and Barna polls about declines in church membership, including Churches of Christ, especially among young people.  On the other hand, the Gospel of Christ has made great headway in foreign areas, such as Africa, China, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
As we enter the New Year (2020), we should resolve to be careful not to become discouraged and cynical.  Instead we should take Paul’s advice, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21) and continue “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

New Year’s Hope: The One Who makes all things new

Minister Robert Miller of the Pleasanton church expresses the thinking of many as the year 2020 begins.
“Our hope is not in the new year, but in the One who makes all things new: ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’ (2 Cor. 4:16).
“As we say goodbye to 2019 and welcome in a brand new year, may this passage remind you of the wonderful mercies that are new every morning. May these words provide you with comfort, remind you of the perfect love that comes from our Heavenly Father, and give you both rest and hope for a wonderful 2020.”

Guest Editorial: God Is the Giver

by Thomas Bonham

God is a giver. Better yet, God is the giver. And when God gives, He goes all out. He doesn’t give a little of what He’s able to. He doesn’t give only some of what He’s willing to. No, when God decides to give, He goes big, because He is the giver.
From the beginning of life to eternal life, God is the giver. In 1 Tim. 6:13, Paul refers to God as the one who “gives life to all things.” He could and can, because He’s the giver. Romans 6:23 declares that God has made available the free gift of eternal life. He did and has, because He is the giver.
Since the universe was spoken into existence, no one has given more than God. And when the world comes to an end, no one will have given more than God, for God gives generously, graciously, mercifully, abundantly, compassionately, completely, consistently, and willingly.
Because God is the giver, He can and does shower us with “every good and perfect gift” (Jas. 1:17). Because God is the giver, He can and does supply every need of ours (Phil. 4:19). And, in order to meet the world’s greatest need – the need for a savior – the giver gave not just a piece, not a portion, not a section, not a sliver of the greatest gift ever given, but He gave all of His Son (John 3:16). He went big, because He is the giver.
In Hebrews 10:12, Christ is referred to as the “single sacrifice for sins.” God didn’t just give His Son; He sacrificed His Son. A sacrifice, by nature, is not an easy thing to give. And yet God, being the giver, went all out and gave all to us and for us.
No other religion offers a unique gift like Jesus. According to one fanciful but insightful story, a man became lost in his travels and wandered into a bed of quicksand. Confucius saw the man’s predicament and said, “It is evident that men should stay out of places such as this.”
Next, Buddha observed the situation and said, “Let that man’s plight be a lesson to the rest of the world.” And then, Muhammad came by and said to the sinking man, “Alas, it is the will of God.” Finally, Jesus appeared: “Take my hand, brother,” He said, “and I will save you.”
Indeed, of all the world’s religions that have ever existed, Christianity stands alone in having the gift of a loving Savior. Christianity is unique because of Jesus. Jesus’ uniqueness makes His church unique. He is the founder and foundation of a special assembly (Matt. 16:16-18; 1 Cor. 3:11). Nowhere else will you find a body of people who serve a founder who gave His very life to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:2).
No other group of people can say that its founder left heaven itself, came to earth, lived as a man, served mankind, suffered and died for mankind, before returning to His rightful place in heaven (Phil. 2:5-11). The church belongs to Jesus. The church worships Jesus. The church preaches Jesus. Indeed, the church’s identity is found in Jesus, and it is He who makes the church so distinctive.
[Thomas Bonham drew on work by Jacob Evans and Troy Albers for this column. Read more of Bonham’s posts on the web at wilsoncountynews.com or ontheroadtoforever.blogspot.com

Holiday celebrations mark the season

SOUTH TEXAS – Christians across the region took time during the holidays to enjoy fellowship at special events and to reach out. These are some of the activities through which members of the church served each other and their communities during this season.

Stars from the Pleasanton congregation blessed Arms of Hope children and families during December. The church members chose one bright orb each from the star display, purchased a gift card for the amount listed, filled out the information on the back and turned it in to Stamo Andrews in the office. The gifts were taken to the AoH home just before Santa got there.

The Pleasanton church’s young people also enjoyed a winter retreat at HEB camp on Dec. 13-15, caroling on Dec. 20 and a New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31. Robert Miller preaches for the church there.

In Corpus Christi, the Arlington Heights church of Christ invited members and visitors to enjoy food, fun and fellowship at the Christmas Luncheon after the assembly on Dec.8. On Dec. 15, they staged the 15th annual play, “A Family Christmas to Remember.” Together with visitors, they watched as one family learned the true meaning of that silent night. Jerry Keene serves Arlington Heights as minister.

The Victoria members at Midtown exchanged white elephant gifts at their Dec. 15 gathering. The church also enjoyed a night of singing on Wednesday, Dec. 25. Ronnie Scherffius preaches for the congregation.

In Kerrville, the Riverside church came to the attention of local law enforcement, who sent this note: “Thank you very much for the platter of homemade cookies. Everyone has greatly enjoyed them. Thank you for your support of the police department. We appreciate all you do for us. Blessings, Mary Krebs, Kerrville Police Dept.

The church also gave 66 pies to the teachers and staff members at Starkey Elementary on Dec. 18. Kevin Kasparek preaches for the Riverside.

The Southwest church of Christ members in San Antonio held their annual Christmas party on Dec. 8. The white elephant gifts they prepared for each other brought smiles and laughter. Adrian Siller serves the church as minister.

Further up Loop 1604, the Northwest church reached out in several ways this year. Earlier, the members brought small toiletries, clothing, school supplies, toys, the New Testament in Spanish or English, hard candies, nutrition bars, reusable bottles, flashlights, batteries, hair accessories and other incidentals. They packed them in more than 200 Magi boxes and sent them to a Rio Grande Valley church members who distributed them to area children at Christmas.

The church held a well-attended Breakfast with Santa in mid-December. Children’s Minister, Ashley Lankford organized the event. The congregation also celebrated Cookies and Carols during the midweek assembly on Dec. 18. Marvin Bryant preaches for the church.

In the north central part of the city, the San Pedro members became gift sponsors for the children from the Sunny Glen Children’s Home in San Benito. The shoppers chose from a wish list written by each student and purchased an item as a gift. The church also loaded the home’s truck with a selection of requested groceries.

On Dec. 31, Mark and Mollie Drew of the West Bexar County Church of Christ hosted a game night. Daughter Macy and Mattie encouraged that all wear subtle costumes and bring fireworks to enjoy.

In serving and reaching out in these ways, the church followed in the footsteps of her Master, the Reason for the season.

Divine power for teens at CYC

SOUTH TEXAS – As the Christian News goes to press, area young people, their leaders and sponsors are meeting in Dallas for Challenge Youth conference 2020: “Power of the Word • Spirit • Cross • God.” The Jan. 17-19 event at the Dallas Marriott Las Colinas trains young people to grow up in this society in light of living a life for Christ.
According to CYC Executive Director, Larry Davenport of Florence, Ala., the program utilizes a “solid and sound scriptural emphasis.” One high school senior will win a $1,000 scholarship to attend one of the four universities sponsoring the conference: Faulkner, Freed Hardeman, Heritage Christian or Harding.
In 2015, about 100 students attended CYC in Dallas. By 2019 it had increased to 460. How high will it go in 2020?
The power line-up includes speakers, song leaders and heart lighteners. These men will teach the lessons: Sage Bridges of Greenville, Raoul Ferris of Kerrville, Ben Hayes of Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Lonnie Jones of Huntsville, Ala.; Parker LaGrange of Dripping Springs, Chris McCurley of Abilene, Texas; Kenneth Pinckley of Corpus Christi and Zachary Waugh of Wichita Falls.
Events begin with a welcome and singing with Robbie Daniel of Temple and Jon Podein of Montgomery, Ala. McCurley, preaching minister for the Oldham Lane congregation in Abilene, brings the first lesson: “Power Restored.”
During the Challenge Class segments on Saturday morning, Pinckley will speak on the “Power of the Word.” Waugh will follow with the “Power of the Spirit.”
On Saturday afternoon, Bridges will teach on “When We Forget the Power.” LaGrange’s class on “The Power to Change” comes next.
After dinner, Jones presents the “Power of the Cross.” He also concludes the workshop on Sunday morning with the “Power of God.”
Throughout the weekend, Ben Hayes and Travis Creasy will bring some of the fun. They say that they have “been experts of goofing off since birth. So now with their powers combined, they use those talents to entertain anyone who is willing to smile and laugh at the goofy side of life!” Both are family men. Hayes serves as the family minister at Highland Park church of Christ in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Creasy is the campus minister at Riverside Christian Academy in Fayetteville, Tenn.
In addition to receiving training in the Word, CYC students have raised money to aid victims in the United States and other countries. Aid has been given to those affected by disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis as well as to students in orphan’s homes. Some groups provided resources for health care to the suffering residents of third world countries.
Event information is online on social media and at cyconline.com. Conference videos and class materials are on YouTube. The Pigeon Forge, Tenn., event is set for Feb. 28 – March 1.

Our Departed: Carmen R. Barrera

Carmen R. Barrera, loving wife and mother, passed away on December 5, 2019, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.  Her funeral was held on Friday, December 27, at the Northside Church of Christ in San Antonio, followed by internment at the Fort Sam Houston Cemetery.
Born in San Antonio more than 75 years ago on June 4, Carmen graduated from Brackenridge High School.  As an only child, she spent a lot of time with her cousins while growing up.  She enjoyed nature, animals, growing plants, journaling, and collecting ideas from magazines on how to decorate her home.
Carmen and Jesse met through an aunt and uncle of hers.  They married and were blessed with three children.  Carmen had wanted 12 children but always thanked God for the three she was given.  She took care of all three, nursing them when they were sick, making costumes for school programs, taking them to school and picking them up.  She made sure that she instilled the love of God in her husband Jesse and all three children, Roni, Jesse, and Michele.  She was the first one up on Sundays, making sure that her husband and children were up and ready for church.
A believer, Carmen was especially passionate about her relationship with the Lord.  In church she could be heard singing enthusiastically, her hands and arms raised in worship. At the Oak Hills Church of Christ, Carmen enjoyed assisting in the Resource Center because she could share Jesus with the children in her native language, Spanish.
Later she went on a Mexico mission trip while she was a member of the New Braunfels Church of Christ. She also volunteered at the Northside congregation in the Preschool Department and Breakfast with Santa.  While a member of the San Pedro Church of Christ, she and Jesse taught the Good News in Spanish.  She also held a Ladies Bible Class in her home for Spanish-speaking women.  Her favorite book was the Bible, and in all forms of worship, she poured herself out to the Lord and expressed her love for Him.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Juan and Angelita Robles and her son, Jesse Barrera, Jr.  She is survived by her husband, Jesse G. Barrera; her daughters Roni Wulf and Michele Mayo; her sons-in-law Ron Wulf and Eric Mayo; daughter-in-law Elisa Barrera-Ward; and her 12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. Carmen Barrera, an exemplary Christian wife and mother, will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Memorial donations may be made to San Antonio Hope Center, Oak Hills Church – Westside, 321 N General McMullen Dr., San Antonio, TX 78237 or Northside Church of Christ Children’s Ministry, 19818 U.S. 281, North Dr, San Antonio, TX 78258.

Our Departed: Kimberly Dawn Shields

Kimberly Dawn Shields, 44, passed away on December 11, 2019.  She was born in San Antonio on July 14, 1975, to Robert and Cheryl Shields, who are members of the Southwest church of Christ there.
Kimberly touched many people with her positive strength. Her laugh was contagious, and she had the ability to make friends quickly. Her positive drive really propelled her through a very trying ordeal of kidney problems, which included a transplant from her father, followed ultimately by kidney failure. 
She is preceded in death by her grandmother, Vi Johnson; grandfather, Fred Shields; uncle, Alan Johnson; step-daughter, Savannah; and her precious cat, Tuxi.  She is survived by her parents; her brother, Adrian Shields (Tanya) and their children, Breanna, Christianna, Darian and Anthony; her sister, Wendy Taylor (Karyl) and their children, Kristan, Kaleb (Kirsten), Keyanna, and Karyl, Jr.
Visitation was held at Castle Ridge Mortuary in San Antonio on Thursday, December 19, followed by her funeral and interment.
She will be greatly missed by all who knew her. Memorials in Kimberly’s honor may be made to Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, 6701 Bandera Rd., San Antonio, TX 78238.

SAN ANTONIO — “These girls will be headed to compete in South State,” the announcer said. As my daughter stood before the crowd in that number, a feeling of excitement and pride began that had me feeling great for days. “Please pray for us ‘cause my daughter McKinley is going to South State for gymnastics on Veterans Day weekend,” I said to our West Bexar County church of Christ family and to everyone and anyone else who would listen.
Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 11, we went to League City, southeast of Houston, for the state competition. McKinley went on the bars first. I watched her go in what seemed like slow motion as she made several mistakes. My heart sank. The score of 8.6 posted on the big screen among other scores, all of which were higher.
I watched as over 60 girls competed. I watched them post scores of 9.5, 9.75 and 9.8. My stomach churned and my prayers got stronger.
“God please let my baby win a medal,” I said over and over in my head. Then McKinley went on beam and scored a 9.1!
“Yes thank you LORD!” I said quietly. I slowly watched others girls score high 9s on beam. McKinley continued to compete, receiving 8.65 on floor and 9.2 on vault, with an overall score of 35.550. I felted defeated and sad for my baby girl.
“Mommy do you think I’m good enough to go to the Olympics?” McKinley had asked just months prior. I had looked in her eyes and told her that she could do anything, but I wanted her to be her best for God.
“I want to be just like Simone Biles,” she replied.
“You be the best you is all I ask.”
“Mommy, I want to be better than Simone Biles,” McKinley replied. Simone Biles, the 2016 all-around, vault and floor gold medal Olympic gymnast and 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year, has 35 medals in all, and my McKinley hasn’t competed in the Olympics even once, yet. I thought, “God, that is a big order.”
But is anything too big for God?
Everyone finished the competition and walked over to the awards area. I went and sat in the back row feeling a little down about how my seven-year old daughter finished her first state competition. I knew how much it meant to her.
“God is in control and we need to be proud of all that she has done,” my husband Greg said. I listened as the announcer called the girls up, winners from vault, bars, beam. And I clapped. I tried to keep a smile on my face.
“For fifth place from Sunburst Gymnastics McKinley Campbell,” the announcer said. I leaped to my feet and screamed like I had won the lottery. McKinley got another medal for competing all around. Two medals. My little girl got two medals.
“Mommy look,” McKinley said as she showed off her medals. “Can we go out to eat?” A mother wants only the best for her children, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my kids.
A year ago I put five of my kids into gymnastics. I thought it would keep them busy and active. Yet, McKinley excelled and moved from recreational classes to pre-team to Level 3 Junior Olympics in just months, and on Nov. 10, she competed in her first South State Competition at the Above the Bar Gymnastics Academy in League City.
I’m not sure where God will take her with gymnastics. I celebrate what He has done for her this far.
And, yes, we all went out to eat.

Bible bowlers come together over the Word

CORPUS CHRISTI – “I am so proud of everyone who competed in Bible Bowl 2019! You all did a fantastic job for challenging yourselves!” With praise like this, Weber Road Youth Minister Kenneth Pinckley shared his love for the students and what he calls a “Proud dad moment” with the church after Bible Bowl. He and the church hosted the competition there on Saturday, Nov. 9.
The more than 155 kids took tests over the gospel of Mark. It was the culmination of the efforts of many. Parents and sponsors across South Texas gave of their time to coach the Bible Bowlers for several months.
The students represented these sixteen congregations: Arlington Heights (Corpus Christi), Adams St. (Beeville), Brenham, Ft. Houston (San Antonio), Graeber Rd. (Rosenberg), Laredo, Laurel St. (SA), Nixon, Odem, Pleasanton, Price Road (Brownsville), San Pedro (SA), Shenandoah (SA), S Union (Houston), University (San Marcos), and Weber Road.
As part of the events, Ministers Mark Hammitt and Pinckley thanked all of the parents, coaches and sponsors who helped from Weber Road, and also all of the others from various locations like these from the Pleasanton church: Karen Duncan, Melissa Theis, Holly Kunkel, Brandy Schjang, Anna Kindrick, Jenn Maxwell, Corinna Velasquez, Tina Torres and Mary Pawlik.
If the Lord delays His return, the time of study, pride, fun, tests and fellowship will happen again on Nov. 14, 2020. Students will be studying Genesis, Chapters 1-25 until then.
This year, these are the top five teams in each age group by place, congregation and last names.
Elementary Teams:
1st – S Union (Lewis, Galloway, Bailey, Chatman)
2nd – Graeber Road (Albers, Albright, Baker, Meador)
3rd -Weber Road (Charlebois, Brinn, Honig, Bailey)
4th – S Union (Chatman, Tucker, Simpson, Lewis)
5th – Pleasanton (Maxwell, Parr, Mendoza, Kunkel)
Middle School Teams:1st – Weber Road (Bailey, Yaws, Hunt, Meza)
2nd – S Union (Lewis, Tucker, Lewis)
3rd – Graeber Road (Albright, Meador, Harnage, Hall)
4th – Laurel Street (Nauls, Mendez, Mendez)
5th -Weber Road (Price, Gonzales, Yaws)

High School Teams: 1st -Graeber Road (Albers, Luna, Martin, Campbell)
2nd – Laurel Street (Trevino, Nauls, Zimmerman, Mobley)
3rd – University (O’Bannon, Moseley, Underwood, Jones)
4th –Nixon (Tamez, Valerio, Valerio)
5th – Graeber Road (Hankins, Vaughn, Kraus, Matthews)
These are the top ten scorers in each age group by place, name, and congregation.
Second Grade
1 – Blakeley Hall (Graeber Rd)
2 – Jas Bailey (S Union)
3 – Nora Albright (Graeber Rd)
4 – Demetris Kelly (S Union)
5 – Ethan Vranes (San Pedro)
6 – Claire Baker (Graeber Rd)
7 – Jacie Carroll (University)
8 – Carynton Hughes (S Union)
9 – Kate Martin (Graeber Rd)
10 – Ethan Vasquez (Shenandoah)
Third Grade
1 – Weston Collier (Brenham)
2 – Alani Tucker (S Union)
3 – Dakota Simpson (S Union)
4 – Ian Bailey(Weber Rd)
5 – Joshua Thomas (S Union)
6 – Zoe Garza (Beeville)
7 – Chloe Alanis (Price Road)
8 – Emilee Kunkel (Pleasanton)
9 – Mady Yaws (Weber Rd)
10 – Brennan Vella (Laurel St)
Fourth Grade
1 – Audrey Baker (Graeber Rd)
2 – Hayden Copeland (Odem)
3 – John Brinn (Weber Rd)
4 – Kassidy Chatman (S Union)
5 – Emma Allen (Brenham)
6 – Ray Mendoza (Pleasanton)
7 – Keegan Shepherd (Beeville)
8 – Jenna Sylva (Beeville)
9 – Robert Vranes (San Pedro)
10 – Maci Gateley (Graeber Rd)
Fifth Grade
1 – Nia Lewis (S Union)
2 – Remington Albers (Graeber Rd)
3 – Morgan Galloway (S Union)
4 – Jameson Bailey (S Union)
5 – Macy Albright (Graeber Rd)
6 – Andrew Charlebois (Weber Rd)
7 – Kailee Chatman (S Union)
8 – Mikenna Maxwell (Pleasanton)
9 – Jensen Meador (Graeber Rd)
10 – Riley Vranes (San Pedro)
Sixth Grade
1 – Leila Albright (Graeber Rd)
2 – Katie Allen (Brenham)
3 – Elliot Harnage (Graeber Rd)
4 – Erik DeJesus (Laredo)
5 – Dylan Yaws (Weber Rd)
6 – Harmony Benson (Ft Houston)
7 – Juan Jesus Moreno (Price Rd)
8 – Yizel Galvan (Nixon)
9 – Caleb Alanis (Price Rd)
10 – Karen Romero (Ft Houston)
Seventh Grade
1 – Annora Bailey (Weber Rd)
2 – Ajani Lewis (S Union)
3 – Bryan O’Banon (University)
4 – Randall Tucker (S Union)
5 – Grace Meador (Graeber Rd)
6 – Mario Olvera (Nixon)
7 – Laynie Bryan (Pleasanton)
8 – Kenna Hall (Graeber Rd)
9 – Abel Mendez (Laurel St)
10 – Chloe Chavez (Laredo)
Eighth Grade
1 – Isabela Hunt (Weber Rd)
2 – Peyton Yaws (Weber Rd)
3 – Lainey Moseley (University)
4 – Jude Meza (Weber Rd)
5 – Amia Nauls (Laurel St)
6 – Calil Lewis (S Union)
7 – Spencer Ford (Beeville)
8 – Jazyln Price (Weber Rd)
9 – Isabela Mendoza (Pleasanton)
10 – Tavian Braziel (Ft Houston)
Ninth and Tenth Grades
1 – Dalton Trevino (Laurel St)
2 – Timothy Tamez (Nixon)
3 – Kayli Nauls (Laurel St)
4 – Mikayla Theis (Pleasanton)
5 – Davis Flemming (S Union)
6 – Omar Ortiz (Price Rd)
7 – Alfredo Valerio (Nixon)
8 – Viviana Vaughn (Graeber Rd)
9 – David Kraus (Graeber Rd)
10 – Bailey Jones (University)
Eleventh –Twelfth Grades
1 – Rebekah O’Banon (University)
2 – Addison Albers (Graeber Rd)
3 – Jared Theis (Pleasanton)
4 – Lila Moseley (University)
5 – Payton Hammitt (Weber Rd)
6 – Mya Luna (Graeber Rd)
7 – Parker Martin (Graeber Rd)
8 – Devyn Underwood (University)
9 – Troy Zimmerman (Laurel St)
10 – Blane Campbell (Graeber Rd)

Life With Father: Happy Birthday! Love, Father

by Marsha Dowell

I love celebrating birthdays. The world focuses on Jesus Christ’s birthday each December. Birthdays are joyous occasions. They signify new beginnings, filled with hope for the future.
When Jesus came to this earth, He added a new dimension to birthdays. He said we must be born again (John 3). A second birthday? Why?
Jesus shows us why through His life, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4). We, too, can die and live again through a second birth. We die to sin, and then Christ lives in us; it is a spiritual birth. When we are “born again,” spiritually, it is a new beginning for us, and we are filled with hope for the future.
One of my college roommates died unexpectedly several years ago. She was a preacher’s wife, and mother to three grown Christian women. I sat among the mourners as the youth minister of the church gave the eulogy.
The first words out of his mouth were: “You know, she actually died a long time ago.”
I was stunned and felt a bit offended at his words. I was thinking, “What? Had she been sick? What is he talking about?”
But then he explained: “When I saw her, I saw Jesus. She had died, and Jesus was living in her place.” What a wonderful testimony about a Christian life.
As Christians we, too, have already died. A Christian has a second birthday, and as we grow, we seek the things that are above, and we set our minds on things that are above. As a result, when someone sees us, they see Jesus, for we are hidden in Him: “For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3). God our Father gave us a most wonderful second birthday: a new life that is an eternal one.
Our response is to show the world Who we REALLY are. Let Christ live in you.

McQuien’s Musings: Jesus and the Women

by Paul McQuien

In all four Gospels, the interactions of Jesus Christ with women were extremely positive. This consistently positive treatment of women is even more remarkable, considering the generally lowly status of Jewish women in first-century Palestine. For example, a typical Jewish girl was practically owned by her father, until she was considered ready for betrothal at age 12. After marriage she essentially became the possession of her husband, with few rights of her own.
One good example of Jesus’ counter-cultural approach to women occurs in Matthew 15, when a Syro-Phoenician woman (not even a Jewess) approached him and begged him to heal her daughter. Jesus pretended harsh rejection at first to test her faith, but her persistence concerning the dogs eating the scraps under the table elicited from him the commendation, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted” (v. 28 NIV).
Mark’s Gospel is the first of the Synoptics (followed up by Luke) to narrate the episode of the poor widow putting two small coins in the temple offering and Jesus validating her action when others would have ignored or scorned it. In his divine opinion, “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (12:43-44).
Luke had even more to say about Jesus’ compassionate treatment of women. Early on, only Luke mentioned the prophetess Anna, who blessed the Baby Jesus (2:36). When Luke identified the twelve Apostles, he also included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and “many others,” who “were helping to support them out of their own means” (8:3). Luke also emphasized Jesus’ compassion for the grieving widow of Nain: “His heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry’ ”; then he brought her only son back to life (7:14-15).
Especially memorable is the episode at a dinner recorded in Chapter 7 when a sinful woman anointed his head with oil, poured perfume on his feet, and wiped them with her tears. When the host Simon complained, Jesus rebuked the Pharisee with the parable of the two debtors, and he forgave the woman’s sins for her great love and humility (vss. 41-48).
But the most moving details of Jesus’ interaction with women in Luke’s Gospel appear in the cross episode. Because of the devotion of his women disciples, several of them followed him to the cross and witnessed the crucifixion from a distance, instead of fleeing the scene like most of the Apostles. It was to these “Daughters of Jerusalem” that he uttered the ironic beatitude, “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed” (23:28-9), because of the impending destruction of 70 A.D.
The Apostle John’s comments on women contain some of Jesus’ most important teachings. His confrontation with the Samaritan woman in John 4 reveals the living water metaphor and the fact that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the spirit and in the truth” (v. 24).
In the disputed but dramatic Chapter 8, Jesus was confronted with a morally questionable woman caught in adultery. Chastising the duplicity of the men who manipulated her, Jesus said to her what he essentially says to all believers, “Neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more” (v. 11).
Two additional episodes occur later in John, this time with faithful women. In chapter 11, on the way to raising Lazarus, Jesus was met by the grieving Martha, and he comforted her with one of his great I Am sayings, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (v. 26). And at his resurrection, he revealed himself first to Mary Magdalene: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (20:17).
All these episodes of Jesus’ interaction with women reveal his great compassion and concern for the downtrodden and vulnerable, as well as the faithful. We should strive to follow his example.
[I am indebted to Gary T. Burke, author of “God’s Woman Revisited,” for some of the details in this editorial.]