McQuien’s Musings by Paul McQuien — “Finding Jesus” – and Peter

Quite a lot of ink has been spilled over Peter’s temporary denial of Christ, as recorded in all four Gospels. Perhaps Peter’s behavior was such a human desire self-preservation that we can all identify with it. Personally, when it comes to pain being inflicted, I’m a big coward. I can’t help asking myself if I would have exhibited any more courage than Peter did, if I were confronted with a similar situation. At least Peter’s denial ultimately resulted in “Godly sorrow” and repentance, in contrast to Judas’ remorse and despair, leading to suicide.

Peter’s denial of Jesus and his regeneration are indirectly re-visited in John 21, where the resurrected Savior visited Peter and some other disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus asked three times if Peter loved him, using a form of the Greek word agape the first two times, to indicate a profound, spiritual love. Each time Peter replied with a form of the Greek word, phileo, indicating friendship.

It’s easy to see that the three questions and responses spoken here by this seaside cooking fire correspond to Peter’s three verbal denials of Jesus by the warming fire in the courtyard of the high priest, Caiaphas. Jesus’ follow-up instructions to “feed my sheep” indicate Peter’s regeneration and readiness to do so (with a little help on the roof-top in Acts 10).

At the same time, perhaps his inability to use that powerful word agape indicates the need for Jesus to take Peter as he was and allow Peter to grow in faith and commitment. Fortunately, the Lord is willing to do the same with us as we stumble along in our pursuit of faithful service.

Incidentally, a segment on Peter appeared in CNN’s recent Sunday night documentary series called “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, and Forgery.” This specific episode focused on the supposed discovery of Peter’s bones in the Vatican. Although “finding Jesus” was not the topic here, the segment did involve the Catholic hierarchy’s “faith” that these indeed are the bones of Peter.

However, the documentary’s narrator pointed out the lack of proof that Peter was even in Rome. Peter’s first epistle does mention his being in Babylon (5:13), although that could be a symbolic name for Rome, as in Revelation 14 and 17.

More telling from the standpoint of “fact” is the CNN narrator’s statement that the first group of forensic investigators was skeptical that the bones belonged to Peter, while a second investigator was convinced, without any compelling evidence, that they were Peter’s bones. Consequently, the Catholic Church enshrined them and recently displayed the bones but refuses to let experts conduct carbon dating tests to determine whether the bones date from the first century A.D.

While all this speculation may be interesting to some of us, biblically-centered faith doesn’t depend on the validity of shrines and relics but on the validity of what the New Testament reveals to us about Peter and his contemporaries, and especially how it helps us to “find” Jesus Himself.

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Salt Is Good by Kim S. Hawkins

Upon entering the community recreation hall, one could not help but look at the tables set up for the meal. They were all decorated in various ways. No two were decorated the same, but they all had one thing in common—salt and pepper shakers. No table setting is complete without them, right?

It’s funny how some traditions stay with us while others fall to the wayside. When dining in a group setting, our best table manners magically appear. There are no elbows on the table, napkins are automatically placed in laps, and the salt and pepper shakers are passed together, even if only the salt is requested.

Before the meal began, a few announcements were made, one table was selected as best decorated and each person at the table was given a prize. Then the prayer for the meal was offered.

As I studied the faces in the room, it occurred to me, salt and this little community (much like the church body) had a lot in common. The people who made up this community were your “salt of the earth” types. Their core goodness permeated the air and the conversations were sprinkled with warmth and laughter, as though seasoned generously (Col. 4:6). That condiment is essential to life and this community had not lost its flavor.

We are made salty through shared experiences that bring about blood, sweat, and tears which are essential to humans. Those experiences include birth, death, gain, loss, joy and grief, just to name a few.

As Christians, when we get to sprinkle our salt throughout the world we help to preserve morals and spirituality: “Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50 NASB). When we let our light shine and do good works, we are the salt of the earth. How will you pass the salt to others?

[Editor’ note: Kim Hawkins is a former board member who works as a social media consultant. She worships with the North Mission church of Christ in Palmhurst, Texas.]

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NE hosts outreach, workshop

SAN ANTONIO – The Northeast Church of Christ is hosting the congregation’s first series of lessons with Michael J. Shank, author of the best-selling books, “Muscle and a Shovel” and “When Shovels Break.” On June 11-14, Shank will lead a three-day Personal Evangelism Workshop and bring a gospel message each weekday evening.

Several congregations in the San Antonio and South Texas area have been invited to participate in the workshop and the open house each evening. Classes will be conducted on Monday-Wednesday afternoons, and will feature an opportunity for ministers, elders, teachers and students to discuss and ask questions and prepare for the outreach.

The church will invite area residents to a reception before the evening program that will feature Shank and other speakers. The gathering will provide a comfortable setting for visitors to come and learn about the New Testament church.

The schedule is as follows.

Sunday morning

9:30 and 10:30 Bible study and Worship assembly

2 p.m. Area-wide congregational singing

 

Monday-Wednesday afternoons and evenings

2:30 – 4 Personal evangelism workshop

4 – 4:30 Open forum/questions from participants

6:30 – 7 Open house/reception, light refreshments

7 – 7:30 Introduction to area churches of Christ

7:30 – 8:30 Gospel lesson by Michael Shank

Shank’s books have been used along with the Bible to lead many people to become Christians. During the workshop, he will discuss how congregations may use the books in their Bible classes and also in one-on-one studies.

The Northeast congregation is located in one of the fastest growing areas of San Antonio and Bexar County. New and future growth includes 5-7,000 new homes in several neighborhoods and a new roadway that will connect Interstate 10 and Loop 1604 to Interstate 35. This area includes the communities of of Converse, Kirby, Schertz and Universal City, as well as Randolph Air Force Base.

The elders at Northeast, James J. Nelson III and Joe N. Wiggins, are prayerfully planning to spread the gospel to this area as more and more people move in. The church is preparing to serve the existing community better and to reach out to new residents.

For additional details, see the ad in this issue and visit the Northeast website at http://www.churchof christnortheast.org or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NorthEastSanAntonioChurchofChrist.

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Focal Point edifies the servants

SAN MARCOS – “Keeping our feet firmly planted by keeping our eyes on Jesus” characterizes the preachers’ workshop held at the University church of Christ here from May 6-11. The Focal Point sessions focus on Jesus, strengthen His church and fortify those who make her work a priority as they preach the gospel. Pulpit Minister Wayne Jones and the elders invite all to come join in.

The classes are designed to be informative and inspiring, providing biblical insight and practical application for preachers. Special lessons for women, elders, and young people also take place during the daytime sessions on Monday through Wednesday.

The sessions begin on Saturday at 5 p.m. with David Jones’ teaching on “Give Me the Bible: Ephesians 3.” Congregational singing and a picnic follow.

On Sunday, the church’s Youth and Family Minister, Jordan Moore, has some special gatherings planned for young people from 7th through 12th grades. “Youth First Sunday” includes service opportunities, lunch, and other fun activities.

The Lord’s day workshop lessons begin at 9:30 a.m. with “Tell Me the Truth: Can the Church Really Grow Today?” with Dwayne Butler. “Give Me the Bible: 2 Tim. 4” follows with Preston Silcox.

At 5 p.m., Michael Hite teaches on “Tell Me the Truth: Was I Born in Sin?” Wade Webster closes out the day with “Esther: The Hand of God in the Glove of History (1).”

Monday morning begins with coffee and donuts at 8 a.m. Throughout the week, the lessons will help equip the Lord’s servants to edify and encourage their fellow believers, offer strategies for coping with the challenges of ministry, deepen their grasp of the scriptures and provide informative lessons on finance. On most weekdays, the 8 p.m. lesson concludes the day.

In addition to Butler, Hite, Jones, Silcox and Webster, servants such as Andy Baker, Carlie Bond, Rick Brumback, Daniel F. Cates, Barry Grider, Kathy Jones, Michael Light, Paul Meacham, Jr., Shawn Montandon, Tom Moore, Jana O’Banon, Eric Owens, Kathy Pollard, Neal Pollard, Rebecca Torres, Mike Vestal, Sam Willcut and Dan Winkler will teach.

The series concludes on Thursday with Neal Pollard’s 11:30 a.m. lesson, “Here Am I, Send Me.” The web stie below carries the full schedule.

The workshop itself is free. Some housing is available with members and in local hotels. Childcare is available for $10/day or $30/week per family. Lunch and light snacks are provided Monday through Wednesday. For more information, send an email message to univcofcoffice@gmail.com, visit univcofc.org or call 512-353-2487.

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Conference offers resources for dealing with loss

SAN ANTONIO — At Dellcrest’s “Love and Healthy Relationships Singles Ministry Conference #2” here on March 19, the three couples pictured here, who have been married for many years, served on a panel and fielded related questions. Two single members, Marshall Hyson and Barbara Rankins, also served on the panel.

The Dellcrest singles ministry is serving others even more in its Conference #3. It is sponsoring a service gathering for Saturday, May 27, from 2-5 p.m. that is open to all, not just the unmarried. Those who have undergone a recent loss are invited to benefit from the fellowship, encouragement and resources.

Minister Jerry Houston will lead the opening devotional and then dismiss the attendees to breakout sessions led by area ministers. Because the body has suffered more than usual recently, each room will focus on a different area of major heartache such as the loss of a job, a spouse, a child, a friendship, or disappointments in other areas. The sessions will draw on the Lord for perspective and resources for dealing with the challenges that such times bring.

For more information, contact Sonny Merrell at 254-535-5850 or Kristel Williams at 210-413-9381. The Dellcrest building’s location may be found in this issue’s Church Directory.

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Northside seeks Children’s Ministry Associate by Tina Wharton

SAN ANTONIO — Do you have a passionate heart for teaching and working with children and their parents? Do you communicate well with others and have a heart for Jesus? The Northside Children’s Ministry is seeking a person with excellent interpersonal and organizational skills to assist with our dynamic ministry for approximately 350 children, newborn through 5th grade.

This is a full-time, paid position, which includes weekday clerical office hours in addition to being present on Sundays/Wednesdays to teach or supervise as our children are learning God’s word. Are you interested in coming alongside our Children’s Minister as our program continues to grow? If you would like to know more about this opportunity, email your questions, or submit your resume and references, to childrenscommittee@nscoc.org.

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Come to Messiah’s Ranch camp session! by Nick Schroeder

MAGNOLIA — Are you looking for a summer camp that has a wonderful Christian atmosphere and where children ages 11-18 can make lifelong friends? Then Camp UFC is for you. Camp UFC as hosted by the Magnolia church of Christ features a week-long stay at Messiah’s Ranch Christian Camp in Bryan from June 25 – July 1.

While there, our children sing, study the Bible, play sports, eat well, have wonderful fellowship, and enjoy many other activities.

For an application and other information, go to http://www.magnoliachurchfchrist.org and find the Ministries tab. Look under Youth Events and download the application. [Nick Schroeder preaches for the Magnolia church of Christ and directs Camp UFC.]

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Trailblazers VBS serves all ages

SAN ANTONIO – “Show me Your ways, o Lord; teach me Your paths.” This verse from Psalms 25.4 is set to guide the “Trailblazers for the Faith” outreach and Vacation Bible School at Northern Oaks church of Christ from June 26-29.

The sessions will run from 7-9 p.m. each evening for people from the cradle to adult in age. The church asks that children aged 12 and under be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

According to Minister Mel Hutzler, the four lessons spotlight strategies for navigating the pathfinder’s journey through uncharted territory. “Stay Focused on God” covers Jacob’s wrestling match in Gen. 32:22-31. Elijah and the contest on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18:20-40) forms the basis for the lesson, “Stand up for What You Believe.”

The account of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 5:1-24) explains how to “Shine for God Wherever You Are.” As John the Baptist prepares the way for the Lord, so does the lesson from Matt. 3:1-12 “Show Others the Way to Jesus.”

To register online, go to northernoakscofc.org. For other info, call 210-496-1346 and see the listing in this issue’s Church Directory.

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Roll up your sleeves and rest: 36th Annual Sermon Seminar

AUSTIN – As a bondslave of Christ, do you sometimes need an island of respite in order to regroup? The Austin Graduate School of Theology Sermon Seminar offers just such a haven for preachers, Bible class teachers, and others of the Lord’s servants.

On May 22-25, weary servants may connect with the Source of Power and recharge from His Word in the company of others who know what bondslaves go through. Said President Stan Reid, “The 36th Annual Sermon Seminar provides the opportunity to enhance one’s Bible knowledge, work on delivery skills, worship with others and take strength from Christian brothers and sisters.”

Says Administrative Assistant for Public Relations, Renee Kennell, “Everybody come! The seminar offers a chance to dig into the scriptures with more meaning and purpose!”

The $210 registration includes the seminar, lunch on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and all files and handouts. To hold a seat, send in a completed registration and the non-refundable $42 deposit.

Each of the speakers will present several sessions on his topic. This year, Steve Cloer will cover “Preaching from Ezekiel,” Rick Marrs will teach about speaking on Job, and Stan Reid will bring lessons on presenting 2 Timothy. John Weaver’s classes will focus on “Christian Ministry in Digital Culture.”

Events begin at 6 p.m. on Monday night with a welcome and worship. Marrs kicks off the seminar with his first session on preaching Job. Weaver’s opening lesson follows at 7:15. Clyde Simp, Mike Young and Scotty Harris will be leading the worship assemblies.

On Tuesday, an 11 o’clock lunch features the Christian Chronicle’s Chief Correspondent Bobby Ross. He will speak on “Sharing the Good News in Print and Online.”

The limited-registration session, “From Text to Sermon,” is set for Tuesday afternoon. At that time, Allan McNicol, professor emeritus, will cover preaching Isaiah 52-53.

Cloer preaches for the Southside church of Christ in Ft. Worth. He holds degrees in Bible, math, New Testament studies, and congregational mission and leadership. He earned them at Harding University and Luther Seminary.

Pepperdine University Provost Marrs teaches Old Testament Studies and ancient languages there and also serves as professor of religion at Seaver College. He earned New Testament Greek and master of divinity degrees from Abilene Christian University and a Johns Hopkins University doctorate in Near Eastern Studies.

In addition to serving as AGST President, Reid teaches practical theology courses there as an associate professor. He holds degrees from ACU and an earned doctorate from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

As ACU’s Dean of Library Services and Educational Technology, Weaver also teaches in the College of Biblical Studies there. The preacher, technologist and New Testament scholar has ministered to the church in five states and three countries.

The AGST building is located at 7640 Guadalupe St. in Austin’s 78752 Zip code. For more information and to register, see the site at SermonSeminar.com or call 512-476-2772.

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Six more recognized as shepherds at Northside

SAN ANTONIO — “[Church leadership] is about living your life for a congregation of people who never leave your mind except for rare fleeting moments. It is like being a parent. It is who you are and the relationship you have with your church is like that with your children or your spouse. It changes you and defines you.

You are always thinking about the church on some level. You hurt for those who hurt, worry about those in trouble, problem solve troubled areas, and constantly lift them all up in prayer as you go about your day. Pastoring requires presence and massive vulnerability. Until you have carried that weight, you will never really understand.” This description by an unknown writer just about covers the burden that comes with serving as an elder. But because they rely on the Lord, not their own strength, six new men formally accepted the responsibility. They came forth when the Northside church here called them to be recognized on April 23.

During the Elder Recognition Service at morning assemblies, Barry Allison, Al Campbell, Jim Martin, Rod Syrus, Marvin Walker and Tom Zimmer were added to the list of men who, under the Lord’s hand, guide the congregation. They serve alongside Jim Bruner, Alan Cooper, Tad Dowell, Dexter Freeman, David Fulbright, David Mullins, Scott Royse and Bruce Utley.

Explaining why these men stand out, Minister David Allen underscored the vision of leaders as shepherds: “Anybody can make decisions, but it takes special men to care about people.” Each shepherd was introduced alongside his wife. The women serving as shepherds’ wives are Terry Allison, Rita Campbell, Mignon Martin, Tina Syrus, Debbi Walker, Laura Zimmer, Charli Bruner, Sharon Cooper, Debbie Dowell, Mary Freeman, Beverly Fulbright, Virginia Mullins, Becky Royse, and Sharon Utley.

As part of the program, Scott Royse asked all to consider the pledges listed in I Peter 5: “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” After he read “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20.28), the 14 shepherds stood and affirmed, “With God’s help, I will.”

The congregation was asked to consider responding to I Tim. 5:17: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching,” and Heb. 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” The members stood and pledged, “With God’s help, I will.”

“Taking off the yellow name tag that identifies the church’s shepherds, doesn’t mean that they stop working,” Allen said. He then introduced those who had been recognized formally in the past and then had stepped down. He noted that they continue to serve among the flock even though they no longer carry the title and now wear new white name tags. The congregation expressed affection and appreciation for Andy Behrends, Sam Coffee, Charles Howard, Curt Linge, Jim McDaniel, Presley Orsburn and Joe Shaver.

In another part of the program, the assembly broke off into groups around the nearest shepherd and joined in prayer. In closing, Allen urged the members to involve themselves with the work of the church and with getting to know the shepherds. He exhorted them to love them and their families, and to be in deep and on-going prayer for them.

Northside always welcomes visitors. See the location and other information in the Church Directory in this issue.

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