McQuien’s Musings by Paul McQuien — “Redeemed!”

“Redeem,” redeemer,” redeeming,” and “redemption” are variant forms of a word in the Bible that we tend to take for granted because of their familiarity and frequency of occurrence. Several of our hymns use some form of the word in titles such as “There Is a Redeemer,” “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” “I Will Sing of My Redeemer,” or simply “Redeemed.” Or it may appear frequently within songs of a different title, such as “Jesus, our blessed Redeemer” in “Praise Him! Praise Him,” or the concluding line of another hymn, “We sing the song of the redeemed.”

Of course, we’re all familiar with the secular meaning of the word in the context of a pawn shop, when someone buys back, or redeems, a valuable object temporarily surrendered for a loan.  Yet this concept plays such an important role throughout Scripture that the conservative Bible scholar John Stott included “redemption as one of the four major outcomes of the crucifixion, along with propitiation (atoning sacrifice), justification, and reconciliation.” The doctrine of redemption throughout the Bible can be divided into two major categories: human and divine.

Redemption on the human level sometimes involved the redemption of Hebrew slaves.  One use of the term involved redeeming a daughter sold as a servant.  As unsavory as this practice seems to us, at least some protection for the daughter was retained in the requirement that the father must redeem her (buy her back) if she did not please her master.  She must not be sold to a foreigner (Exod. 21:7-8).  If poor Israelites  got sold to a foreigner, “One of their relatives may redeem them,” including any blood relative in their clan (Lev. 25:48-49 NIV).  But even if they were not redeemed by relatives, they would automatically be redeemed in the year of Jubilee, the end of the 50-year cycle (v. 54).  The same policy applied to redemption of land which impoverished Israelites were forced to sell (Lev 25).

This leads us to the second and more important use of the redemption theme in the Bible, divine intervention.  The Hebrew application of this theme is effectively expressed in Isaiah 43:1:  “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”  Later in the same chapter the prophet described God as “the Lord your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (41:14).  Just as God had redeemed the Israelites from Egypt, he would redeem, or rescue, Israel from her immediate enemies, the Assyrians, and ultimately from the Babylonians, who would temporarily carry them away to Babylon as a punishment for their sins (43:14).

In the New Testament the emphasis falls on the ultimate meaning of redemption, divine intervention to rescue humanity from eternal damnation.  This application may have been hinted at as early as Job’s agonized outcry, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth” (19:25), depending on one’s interpretation of the verse.

Although The Redeemer concept is used somewhat sparingly in the Gospels, three examples carry considerable significance, one at the beginning of Luke and two near the end. In 1:68 Zechariah praised “the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them”; in 21:28 Jesus told his disciples, “Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near”; and the two travelers on the Emmaus Road expressed the hope that the crucified (but resurrected) Jesus “was going to redeem Israel” (22:8). The first and third of these probably refer to the Jews’ longing for deliverance from Roman oppression through a Messiah, while Jesus’ exhortation refers to ultimate spiritual redemption, the climax of this theme.

It therefore follows logically that the epistles make more extensive use of the word grouping than the Gospel writers, especially the letters of Paul.  One of his most dramatic uses of the term appears in Galatians: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,” through the shame of crucifixion (3:13-14).  He also wrote to Titus that Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own (2:14).  The redemption theme comes to its conclusion in Revelation when John referred to the symbolic 144,000 saints who had been “redeemed [rescued, bought back] from the earth” (14:3).

The examples discussed above represent only a sampling of the Redemption word grouping used throughout the Bible.  Yet it reveals an underlying pattern that confirms the unity and validity of the inspired narrative through many centuries.  It begins with the redemption of Israel from Egypt, the redemption of Judah from Assyrian-Babylonian captivity, the longing for an earthly Messiah to redeem the Jews from Roman oppression, ant the ultimate redemption from slavery to sin and damnation through the Great Redeemer himself, Jesus Christ.

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Kennedy Lewis – Laugh at the time to come

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by | August 3, 2017 · 10:01 pm

“An Evening of Spiritual Harmony” turns 13

SAN ANTONIO — An exciting celebration for all is planned at no charge during the 13th Annual “Evening of Spiritual Harmony” at the Northside Church of Christ, 19818 US Hwy 218N, on Saturday, Sept. 23. Before the music starts, guests are welcome to purchase and enjoy a meal beginning at 4 p.m.

Before the concert, some home-cooked, mouth-watering comfort food will be served from 4 to 5 p.m. in the youth area on the second floor. Come nourish the body with a menu that includes one  meat (roast beef, ham, or oven-roasted chicken), green beans, and the choice of two other sides (mac/cheese, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes). The plate also includes a roll and iced tea.

Prepaid tickets are $7 for children 12 years old and under. For ages 13 years-to-adult, the prepaid tickets are $12. Please make all checks payable to SwCC Fund.

For more information about this special event, the menu, or to purchase meal tickets, please contact Lynette Kennedy at 210-659-4233 or Laura McKnight at 210-337-2044.

The songfest starts at 5:30 p.m. Groups such as Sterling, the Hour of Truth Chorus and Poured Out will perform a program of spiritual melodies and inspirational singing.

New to Songfest will be the Central Texas Mass Chorus and The Johnson Family from Valdosta, Ga. These groups will be joined by the harmonizing voices of the Southwestern Christian College 2017 Summer Tour. These performing students currently attend the college in Terrell. Dr. Ervin Seamster, Jr., President and CEO of SwCC, will be present that evening to share current developments.

There is no admission charge for the concert. However, donations will be accepted and are tax deductible. The funds benefit SwCC and its students in the areas of academic support and improvement to student housing. Immediately following the concert, light refreshments will be served in the fellowship area.

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Symposium fast-tracks teens for school, work

AUSTIN — The Church of Christ at Eastside invites students in grades 6-12 and their parents to the Focus on Your Future College and Career Symposium on Saturday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The building is located at 5701 E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in the 78721 Zip code.

Said organizer Roger Davis of the church, “Our goal is to encourage students to achieve academically and vocationally, but with an awareness of the BIG role that strength of character plays.” To that end, the church will host a day full of fun and enriching activities.

The plans include breakfast and lunch, information sessions for student and parents, icebreakers, door prizes, keynote speakers and the ever-innovative “Fast Track Career Fair.”

Two keynote speakers, Dr. Tarcia Hubert and Sugar Ray Destin, Jr., will encourage students with the benefit of their experiences. Hubert is Lone Star College professor and Founding Executive Director of the nonprofit Making Awesome Things Happen (M.A.T.H.). The agency has been recognized by the White House as a promising STEM initiative for under-served students. Hubert’s lesson will help each student imagine how to go “Pursuing Your Path with Passion and Purpose.”

As capstone speaker, Destin will provide a new vision for the path to success in his presentation: “No Such Luck: When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” The CEO of CYD Enterprises says that “As a Christian, I am dedicated to changing the cycles that have plagued our communities for far too long.” The nationally-known speaker’s messages of hope, passion and promise regularly rejuvenate college groups, corporate gatherings and professional organizations.

According to Nakeenya Wilson of the church, the students and parents will attend separate college prep seminars. In that time, consultants will go over what to expect and how to get ready now for it.

Chris Haywood, Bastrop ISD college and career counselor, will meet with teens for their information session. Leah Smith, Brentwood Christian Schools academic advisor, will conduct the similar one for parents.

Parents and students are encouraged to get a jump start on the fast-approaching school year by attending the symposium. For more information and to register, please visit eastsidecoc.com/focus2017 or contact Nakeenya Wilson at nakeenya@gmail.com or 512-693-9011.

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Save the date for DRI (But don’t tell Presley!)

SAN ANTONIO – The folks at Disability Resources, Inc. invite you save the date and join in for the 30th Annual Anniversary Celebration this year. The “Fulfilling the Promise” fund raising dinner is set for  the Alzafar Shrine Center Ballroom here on Oct. 16 from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

According to Holly Holmes, the agency’s director of special events, the evening will also include a tribute: “We hope you will join us in honoring Mae and Presley Orsburn for 30 years of service, hard work and commitment to DRI.”

The San Antonio couple is suspected of doing good works, and is thus, widely respected, individually and together. But they are big fans of not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing. They shy away from recognition for their efforts on behalf of DRI, for example, or for Presley’s exploits while flying in the military, or for his work as the Christian News business manager, or for his guidance as an elder at the Northside church of Christ, or for their care as parents, or for numerous other acts of service. They prefer that the Lord be glorified, so when you see them, praise Him. And don’t forget to save the date.

DRI was founded to provide exceptional care and contented lives to intellectually challenged adults in a Christian environment. Adds Holmes, “This year’s program will feature many wonderful stories specifically about folks from the San Antonio area who benefit from the work of DRI, and more specifically, from the generous support the city has provided through the years. There will be an amazing performance from the ever-popular DRI Bell Peppers and the Ring of Fire Hand-bell Choirs.”

The ballroom is located at 901 N. Loop 1604 W. in the 78232 Zip code. The dinner is free, but donations to DRI will be accepted. To reserve a seat or sponsor a table, contact Holmes by email at hholmes@driabilene.org or call 325-677-6815.

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Begin deeper Bible training?

SOUTH TEXAS – With the fall comes the returning to learning. How about training for ministry? Or for deeper study of God’s word? Several schools are still accepting applicants for the autumn term.

Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock begins the term with opening chapel on Aug. 14. For registration information, see the ad in this issue and the contact information there.

In Austin, the Southwest School of Bible Studies also begins on Aug. 14. The ad in this issue lists  the courses of study, plus the web site, and phone number.

During a recent teacher’s workshop, Jeff Peterson, Professor of New Testament Studies at the Austin Graduate School of Theology, took a minute to invite those wanting a deeper study of the Bible to consider enrolling. He described the credit programs briefly, and then mentioned that auditing is available at a lower cost for non-credit enrollees. But the learning is just as good.

The school is online at austingrad.edu and the phone number is 512-476-2772.

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Hand-in-hand work marks Costa Rica mission by Mark Adams

CORPUS CHRISTI — From June 30 to July 8, Mark and Carolina Adams of the Kings Crossing Church of Christ here led a group of 23 to Desamparados, Costa Rica. The focus of the trip was to work with the congregation that meets with Minister Ronald Martinez and his family there. Kings Crossing has sponsored the congregation for more than 28 years.

The Corpus Christi-ans helped with the children’s programs, a construction project, and the  evangelistic meetings. In the mornings, they held a vacation Bible school for the children of both the church and the community.

The term, “desamparados,” translates as “helpless,” but the experience spotlighted the kind of weakness in which all members delight. The visiting team did not do this program for the local church, but with the church.

The Christians from Costa Rica and the U.S. worked side by side in the singing, skits, lesson reviews, crafts, and all other aspects of the VBS. The Texans made sure that the Costa Ricans remained the face of their own congregation so that visitors would be connecting with local Christians, and not only with Americans who would soon be traveling home.

During VBS, two other groups labored in different ways. A few adults went door knocking and distributing flyers about the week’s events. As they had opportunity, they conducted personal Bible studies; one led to a baptism.

Another group of adults replaced the stage at the front of the auditorium. They built a new one that was larger, more stable, and handicap-accessible.

In the evenings, a rotation of preachers brought lessons. Martinez set up all teaching events, both the VBS and the evening series, on the theme of Pescadores de Hombres (Fishers of Men).

This combination of planning and efforts resulted in several good things. First, the bonds between Kings Crossing and Desamparados became stronger. The churches encouraged each other greatly and members cultivated new friendships through their time together.

In total, seven people were baptized in connection with the trip. Five were Costa Ricans who responded during the week. Two others were American college students who participated in the trip and felt convicted through their experiences to give their lives to Christ.

The Adamses hope to go on leading mission trips to Costa Rica on a biennial basis. They will make similar efforts to coordinate with the receiving congregations so that the activities provide genuine benefit to them, yet do not put a strain on resources that may be limited.

It was a special week, and all involved were certain that God had heard their prayers and blessed their efforts. The church members were not “desamparados,” not abjectly “helpless,” but partakers in the power that is perfected in weakness, the power of Christ (I Cor. 12.9).

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Arlington Heights Cares for Michigan Neighbors

CORPUS CHRISTI –This summer, the Arlington Heights Church of Christ in Corpus Christi sent a group of young people and adults to Pontiac, Mich., in partnership with Micah 6 Community.  The outreach provided both physical and spiritual food to the people in that area who deal with the effects of Detroit’s collapsed automobile economy.

During the mid-June trip, nine members of the Arlington Heights congregation spent five days ministering to the local community. “We were busy doing something different every day,” reports David Srygley, Arlington Heights’ minister and trip coordinator. “We watered and weeded gardens, harvested fruits and vegetables, hosted a youth trip to the lake, conducted a VBS, encouraged the church, and talked with a wide variety of neighbors.”

This year marks the ministry’s sixth year in existence and Arlington Heights’ second mission trip there. Under the leadership of Coleman Yoakum, Micah 6 Community has built gardens and orchards to feed those left destitute by the tight economy.

Micah 6 Community operates in one of the most impoverished areas of Pontiac. “When you grow up in South Texas, you kind of lose touch with what is going on in the rest of the world,” stated one of the youth.

The group from Arlington Heights had opportunities to talk with addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, and the homeless. The neighbors are often unemployed and struggle with numerous personal problems.

Denise Stansbury, who attends the Odem congregation but went with the group, described the whole experience well: “The place sounds scary, and it is, but the people are wonderful. Sitting on the porch each night to greet and encourage the neighbors was eye-opening, heart-touching, and uplifting.”

On Saturday, the Arlington Heights’ group held a one-day Vacation Bible School for the children in the neighborhood. “We had to explain to several adults what a Vacation Bible School is,” Srygley points out. “These folks are about as un-churched as you can get. They don’t have a point of reference for something as common to us as VBS.”

Thirteen children attended along with four parents and grandparents. They studied the life of Paul and how God can change anyone’s heart and life.

For more information about Micah 6 Community, go to the website at micah6community.com. Arlington Heights online is at ahchurchofchrist.org and the congregation’s listing also appears in the Church Directory in this issue.

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Until Death Do Us Part By Chyrece Campbell

SAN ANTONIO — The atmosphere changed when Raymond Hook III, 25, who married his wife on June 3, 2017, said with conviction, “I understand that by being the head of the household, I’m responsible for the marriage for better or worse.” Hooks added with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, “She is my best friend and the closest person to me.”

Hooks was one of over 130 couples who attended a marriage retreat in San Antonio at the Grand Hyatt from July 14-16. Houston’s Fifth Ward Church of Christ hosted the event.

The 50 couples who attended had been married for a few weeks to over 60 years. They came  from area congregations or were family or friends of members. Some traveled from as far north as Detroit, as far south as Atlanta and as far west as Colorado to enrich their marriages and take the opportunity to walk on the San Antonio Historic Riverwalk.

“Retreats are our mini vacations with other Christian couples where we get to learn and share with others,” said Iveria Willis, who has been married to her husband A.W. Willis for 61 years. “I learn something new about him every day,” Willis added.

“When we stop learning that is when ignorance takes completely over,” A.W. Willis added as he held his wife’s hand and began heading to dinner.

The theme for this year’s retreat was “Making Love Last.” For the Houston couples, it was kicked off with breakfast, photos and announcements at FWCoC.

“We had a great breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, biscuits, fruit, juice and coffee. Fifth Ward had great food as always,” said Lawrence Gilliam Jr, who has been married to his wife Billie for nine years.

Each couple received a package to write words of wisdom to another couple. “The Words of Wisdom packets were a nice touch and I can’t wait until Sunday when I get mine back from whoever has our names. This is so exciting,” Billie Gilliam said. The Gilliams have attended every FWCoC marriage retreat since getting married July 12, 2009.

The couples loaded onto five chartered buses outside the building and at around 10 a.m., they headed toward San Antonio. When they reached Buc-ee’s, the travelers got off to stretch their legs and get lunch.

“Both our parents have been married 29 years and they made sure that we were signed up for this,” Jamie Hooks said.

Before getting off the buses in San Antonio, the couples received some of the resources needed to enjoy the Riverwalk and some of the restaurants on the first night.

Activities, sessions as couples, separate breakout classes for husbands and wives, meals and free time were on the itinerary.

“I loved how the session with Candee Wilson broke down the concepts of what it means to be a wife, cause I’m new to this. From how to be affectionate toward my husband to what he thinks are tools I am going to use,” Hooks added.

Ben Wilson, one of the elders over FWCoC Family and Marriage Ministries, facilitated the men’s session while his wife Candee facilitated the women’s.

“God has a plan for marriage and a way he wants it to work and if we trust in him and do it his way it will work,” Ben said. With marriage being an important focus, FWCoC and several other churches of Christ offer pre-marital and marital counseling to help enrich marriages.

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Egyptian Nostalgia by Mark Adams

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Perhaps. It does seem that with the passing of time, some of our memories become a bit more selective. When people pine away for the “good old days,” I’ve always wondered if the “good old days” were really as good as some people like to remember them. Sure, we all have some happy memories of childhood delights and adventures, but not everything about growing up is joyful, nor are all memories pleasant ones. Somehow when we allow nostalgia to kick in, we can find ourselves longing for a better time that might not have ever existed quite as we are now remembering it. Take the Israelites for example.

Their slavery in Egypt involved unpaid labor, whips and beatings, and targeting by government officials that labeled them as menace and threat to society. Their young baby boys were systematically executed so they’d become a people without men. They cried out and begged God to deliver them, and God answered.

Their delivery from Egyptian slavery involved the direct intervention of God himself. There were natural disasters, plagues, and miracles. There were guiding towers of clouds by day that became fiery pillars by night, leading them wherever they ought to go. And as they went into the wilderness, they neither planted nor harvested, but God dropped bread from the heavens called manna so that they had only to gather and eat what they needed, day by day.

Knowing what we know about the Israelites’ experiences, I find Numbers 11:4-18 to be one of the most jaw-dropping passages in Scripture. They complain as they weep:

“Oh, that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at…it was better for us in Egypt.”

Wouldn’t you love to grab them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them? Such whining! Such ingratitude! Your freedom came to you as nothing short of a divine miraculous intervention, and the only thing you do in response is cry and complain about the food? Are you really longing for the very place from which you begged God to deliver you?

But before we judge them too harshly, I wonder if we are sometimes guilty of the same kinds of actions. In the time since then, have you ever varied from that course? Has your passion ever diminished? Have your priorities gotten clouded with other agenda items that help you with self-promotion rather than Kingdom-promotion? Have you complained about the inconvenience of serving God and gathering with the saved?

The book of Hebrews has a conspicuous central theme: Jesus is better. The writer seems to be addressing Jewish Christians who in the face of persecution were tempted to fall back on Judaism the way that the Israelites had fallen back on Egypt nostalgia. Commenting on this exact comparison, the writer urges Christians not to fall into the same sort of disobedience as theirs, and continues:

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV).

If we are to use our memories for anything, let us remember our confession. Let us remember how badly we needed deliverance, and how strongly we had committed ourselves to walking a better path.

Jesus is better than what we had without him. Don’t ever forget it.

[Editor’s note: Mark Adams preaches for the Kings Crossing Church of Christ in Corpus Christi.]

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