McQuien’s Musings by Paul McQuien — “What If. . .?”

Shortly after the San Antonio Spurs got swept in the NBA Western Conference finals, a sports writer for the San Antonio Express-News followed up with a “What if” article. It obviously included Kawhi Leonard’s season-ending ankle sprain as one of the “What ifs.” Similarly, a magazine article I recently read asked people to identify “What if” situations that dramatically changed the course of history.

One respondent wondered what if Louis Pasteur hadn’t taken a job at a French university and explored why wine went bad?  His subsequent experiments led to the germ theory of disease and the pasteurization of milk and other liquids.

In 1914, what if Archduke’s Franz Ferdinand’s driver, according to one respondent, hadn’t turned down the wrong street in Sarajevo, resulting in the Archduke’s assassination and World War I?

Another reader wondered what if, in 1928, a dish of bacteria had not been accidentally contaminated with the penicillin mold? This accident led to Alexander Fleming and two colleagues developing penicillin as one of the most effective drugs in fighting bacterial infection.

More recently, what if MLK and other black leaders’ call for passive resistance had been rejected by the black community during the Civil Rights era?

What if President John F. Kennedy hadn’t sent American troops to Viet Nam in the 1960’s and President George W. Bush hadn’t sent them to Iraq in 2003?

We can also apply this question to a biblical and religious context.

In the Old Testament, what if Adam and Eve hadn’t disobeyed in the Garden of Eden? What if Noah’s depraved audience had listened to his preaching and mended their ways? What if Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, had listened to the older, wiser advisors instead of the hotheaded young ones?

In the New Testament, what if the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day had accepted him as the Messiah instead of conspiring to have him crucified? What if God had allowed the cup to pass and sent down legions of angels to rescue his divine Son?

What if the Sinaitic and Vatican manuscripts of the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Old Testament, as well, as other early manuscripts, hadn’t been discovered, mainly by accident?

These are just some of the hypothetical “What if’s” of sacred and secular history. We could go on “ad infinitum, ad nauseum,” because every individual has his or her own “What if’s” related to personal junctures in life. The poet Robert Frost wrote in a famous poem (slightly paraphrased), “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . . I chose the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Does all this mean that we live in a world of chance, on one hand, or a world in which God determines everything on the other hand? Perhaps we live in a both-and world where God allows some things to follow the natural law, which he established in the first place, but sometimes intervenes, all according to his divine will.

What we do know for sure is Romans 8:28: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

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Speakers teach on the Tie that binds at Riverside

KERRVILLE –This summer, servants of the Word throughout South Texas will bring a moving vision of the church to the Riverside congregation here on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. Minister Kevin Kasparek states that “One of the most beautiful pictures the scriptures provide for the body of Christ is that of family.

“Jesus planted the seeds for that thought as Matthew recorded in his gospel, ‘And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” ’ (12:49).

“Within our society some of us may belong to many different organizations. We may be members of civic groups, neighborhood associations, country clubs, political committees, etc. But within the body of Christ we share a special bond unlike any other community. The blood of Christ ties us together. And in that unique family we share both the blessings and the responsibilities of that relationship.

“Join us in this special series of lessons as we remind ourselves that we are not just members of a church . . . we are brothers and sisters.” In June, Rick Brumback, Mark Hammitt, and Wayne Jones spoke, respectively, on welcoming, comforting, and having the same care for one another.

Here are the remaining dates, lessons, and speakers.

July 5 – Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another by Greg Neill, Marble Falls church of Christ

12 – Confess Your Sins to One Another by Marvin Bryant, Northwest, San Antonio

19 – Forgive One Another by Kevin Kasparek, Riverside

26 – Serve One Another by Tom Washburn, Austin Ave., Brownwood

August 2 – Do Not Consume One Another by Robert Garrett, Stringtown Rd., Medina

9 – Bear One Another’s Burdens by Raoul Ferris: Riverside

16 – Submit to One Another by Paul Shero, Southgate, San Angelo

23 – Encourage One Another by Joseph McWhorter, Canyon Lake

30 – Seek to Do Good to One Another by Chris Curley, Oldham Lane, Abilene

Sept. 6 – Love One Another by John Moore, Dripping Springs

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Northside Series: Jesus in the city

SAN ANTONIO – A benevolence outreach lesson series is taking place at the Northside church of Christ on Wednesday nights. The unifying theme comes from Luke 22:27: “I am among you as one who serves.” Some presenters will offer specific lessons from the life and teachings of Jesus, recounting his selfless ministry to humanity. Others will describe opportunities to assist the needy in the San Antonio community through specific ministries.

Northside’s Adult Education Minister, Bruce Utley, opened the series on June 7 with the topic, “The Servant, Jesus (Phil. 2:5-11).” On the following Wednesday, Kenny Wilson, President and CEO of Haven for Hope, discussed the work being done at his agency to benefit the homeless people in the downtown area.

Professional marriage counselor Clifton Fuller of Northside spoke at the June 21 session on “Recruiting Servants (Acts 6:1-7),” and Eric Cooper of the San Antonio Food Bank closed out the month by addressing the topic of food-deprived San Antonians and how to meet their needs. John Travis, a highly respected Bible class teacher at Northside, began the July sessions with the topic “Service that Astounds” (Jno. 13:1-17).

The remaining speakers and topics include the following. All ministries and speakers are based here unless otherwise indicated.

July 12 – Daily Bread Ministries by Craig Fuller

19 – Special VBS Service, Dessert Fellowship

26 – Serving a Sinner (Lk. 19:1-10) by Rick Fyffe, Houston Southeast

August 2 – A Surprising Servant (Lk. 10:25-37) by Mark Abshier MacArthur Park

9 — 4Kids of South Texas by John Wilhelm

16 – A Heritage of Service by Doug Foster, Bible Department, Abilene Christian University

23 – Global Samaritan by Danny Sims, Abilene

30 – Christian Assistance Ministry, Dawn White-Fosdick

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Golden Agers camp coming up

SAN ANTONIO — When this photo went up on a media site last fall, Camper Darlene Burton said, “Congrats Gary. We love ya and know good things are in store for you!” Connie Willson said, “Send me info! I want to try to go to camp next year.” It’s next year and interest in the 37th Annual Golden Agers Camp, set for Sept. 14-18, is building up.

The Austin Ave. church of Christ in Brownwood hosts the session at the Bandina Christian Youth Camp between Medina and Bandera each year. The event serves senior saints who are 55-years-young-and-more.

According to Coordinator Jerry Biehle, the registration forms are in the mail. He may be reached at sjbiehl46@yahoo.com.

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Workshop offers teacher resources, ideas

AUSTIN — “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17 ESV) – In the spirit of this passage, the Central Texas Bible Teachers Workshop organizers are readying the program for July 21-22 at the Cameron Road church of Christ here. Speaker Kirk Eason will keynote this mission. The CTBTW’s aim is to equip Bible class teachers, ministers and other church leaders with the tools and resources needed to convey Christ’s message more effectively.

Eason, Development Director- USA for Southern Africa Bible College, will bring lessons on what it means to reflect the glory of Christ. The first one, “Look Like Jesus: No Beauty or Majesty” uses scripture to present the vision of His attributes as displayed in a teacher’s life.

During “Look Like Jesus: A Fisherman’s Guide,” Eason takes instructors on the apostle’s journey as a guide for the transformation that learning brings. The last lesson, “Look Like Jesus: What’s in a Reflection?” delves more deeply into what reflecting the glory of Christ might look like.

Registration forms are available online at the site below and through the church. The cost is $25 if received by July 14 and $30 at the door. There is no childcare available.

Sign-in is from noon to 1 p.m. on Friday. The sessions go from 1 – 4:30 p.m. that afternoon and continue on Saturday. Registration runs from 8 – 9 a.m. and the classes go from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Each day’s schedule features two tracks: one for teachers of adults and the other for those who educate children.

For Teachers of Children

In the children’s track, Naomi Bentley (Northern Oaks, San Antonio) trains the class to  teach hands-on lessons. The first is about classroom tools that make a Bible lesson stick and another is about conducting a make-and-take session.

In their respective classes, Lisa Hall and Mike Bolinski will also show how to conduct Make It/Take It sessions.

The “Learning to Be More Like Jesus through Music” classes come in three parts. Beverly Fannin and Paula Johnson are the instructors.

Justin Hopkins, who has spent the last five years designing Bible class lessons from scripture will teach two sessions. The first is “Considering Developmental Readiness in the Bible Class,” followed by “Using Technology Effectively to Teach.”

Southwest School of Bible Studies grad Leah Hopkins will address some special challenges in her lessons on “Teaching 2s and 3s” and Teaching Multiple Ages in One Classroom.”

With a focus on partnering with parents to raise God-loving and God-knowing children, Courtney Kirk of the Leander church of Christ will present three sessions. One leverages the students’ own makeup to enhance engagement for all, but especially those with ADD/ADHD: “Raise Kids for Christ: Teach to Retain with Learning Styles.” The others cover age-appropriate approaches for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The resources presented on loving and knowing God in “Raise Kids for Christ: Grow K-5th Classes” also help with class management and reinforcing lessons at home. The “Raise Kids for Christ: 3 Years through the Bible” class shows how to teach God’s one big story as it leads to the cross from Genesis to Revelation.

UT-Austin alum Dr. Sharon Jackson of the city’s East Side church of Christ will present in both the children and adult teacher tracks. The session for teachers of children is titled, “Imitating the Master Teacher: Strategies to Teach Like Jesus.” This lesson will include information about the Qualities of Bible School Teachers Assessment, discuss its features, present hands-on strategies based on how Jesus taught to meet classroom needs, and provide other resources.

For Teachers of Adults

In the track for adults, Dr. Jackson will conduct one class on “Building Capacity for God’s Servants to Become Bible School Teachers.” Participants will learn about a new teacher program and discuss how to implement its components at their home churches. Her second class is on “Recruiting and Retaining Bible School Teachers.”

Daesha Cuttrell (League City) tells one family’s story as related to the Christian’s adoption into son-ship in “Adopted and Loved Forever – A Place in God’s Family.” The two-part lesson explores what son-ship means, one’s place in God’s family, the adoptee’s response and the cost to the Father.

Lake Travis High School teacher, Patrick Hinson’s lessons will focus on the power and purpose of the Name. Although the class may have broader applications, its primary one is on teaching teens.

Don Boyd serves as the Church Relations Representative for World Bible School out of Abilene. The Harding University graduate, preacher and missionary will speak about WBS at two different times.

Bob Hughes will present two sessions on “Racial Diversity through the Decades in churches of Christ.” He is a graduate of the Nashville Christian Institute, where he had the opportunity to hear the great Marshall Keeble and study with many other inspiring teachers.

Does God still use “regular people” to work His will in the world? Can he use a sheepherder and a seasonal farmer to teach God’s righteousness? Retired Army Chaplain and Education Minister Dr. Les Maloney of the Kings Crossing church of Christ in Corpus Christi will consider these ideas in his lesson: “I’m Not Who You Think I am: God’s Prophet, Amos.”

Lt. Col. Maloney’s two sessions on Jeremiah will take up these questions: “Is it possible to work with God even when you don’t feel like it? Is it possible to put duty ahead of desire and teach those who need to know God?” and “How do we capture hope in our own hearts and then communicate hope in hopeless situations?”

Brentwood Christian School administrator Mel Witcher will teach three sessions: “Preparing the Heart of the Teacher,” “Understanding the Hearts of Our Students” and “Designing Lessons to Touch Minds and Hearts.” The Brentwood Oaks elder holds degrees from Abilene Christian University, the University of North Texas, and the Austin Graduate School of Theology. In 2013, the TCSA named Witcher Teacher of the Year for Outstanding Contributions to Christian Education.

For more information, see the site at crccaustin.org/ctbtw/ or call 512-452-0639.

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Work Camp: At the Heart of It All By Kennedy Lewis

SAN ANTONIO — “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 NIV): inspired by this verse, I began my first day of work camp at 5:45 p.m. at MacArthur Park Church of Christ on Wednesday June 7. I entered the building and my stomach turned. I could feel more anxiety kicking in. This was my first year participating and I had no idea what to expect, except – work.

We had fellowship and were briefed on what was expected of us. All I heard was “work”. All I could think was “What did my mother sign me up for? I’m going to be spend the next three days helping someone with painting a home and praising God?”

I’m outgoing, but the group members knew each other from years before and I felt like an outcast. I would shiver and quake whenever others tried interacting with me or when I tried talking to them. Fast forward to June 10: I make tons of friends, learn the gift in giving, and I’m wearing a recycled tablecloth as a cape.

What happened? Work Camp.

The camp assigned groups to different houses and off we went scraping, taping, painting, and singing. We started each day at MacArthur Park at 7:20 a.m. and ending at 7:45 p.m. everyday except Friday, when we got to leave at 6:45 p.m. I was working over 12 hour days not to mention travel time and prepping for the next day with making lunch, showering and getting clothes out. The hours of work could be draining but with my team’s enthusiasm it seemed less like work.

Every day it felt like we were connected by something and it only took a second for me to realize that the “something” was God, the warm and comforting love of God. The best part was that we could see that the homeowner could feel it too.

Tears raced down her face as we took some time to talk to her or pray for her. She said, “I wish I knew your names so I could see you again.” I, for one, have never heard someone say that to me.

We set aside time each day for fellowship and worship, to humble our hearts. It constantly reminded us that we’re connected by one heart and one God.

By Saturday, our last day of work camp, I felt joy and sadness. I was happy, to say the least, that it was my last day to wake up at 5:30 a.m. during summer break. I was happy that I got to fellowship and have a meal with the homeowner and family that we were helping.

I was blessed by it all. I hope that this blessed feeling was shared with everyone else who participated in Work Camp.

It was an uplifting experience that I will not easily forget, and a great start to my summer. [Kennedy Lewis is home-schooled and worships with the West Bexar County church of Christ. See her comic strip also in this issue.]

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Hammitt and Timothys learn at Bear Valley camp

SAN ANTONIO — Several dozen young men gathered recently to prepare to imitate Paul even as he followed Christ to preach for congregations of the Lord’s people. The 2017 session of the Bear Valley Future Preacher’s Training Camp convened in Denver on June 11-18 with one South Texan in attendance, Payton Hammitt of the Weber Road church of Christ in Corpus Christi.

The youth comes with some experience gained at his home church, where the leaders train their young men to lead prayer and singing, as well as teach Bible classes and preach. A team of these trainees gets practice by leading worship for area congregations as well as for Weber Road whenever possible.

At camp, the work goes on with training classes on the “Earthly Story – Heavenly Meaning” transformation and its transmission. Classes on the Bible, working up sermons, preaching, the life and work of the minister, and outreach mix in with the swimming, putt-putt golf, basketball and other recreational activities which also make up each day.

Online, the “Summer Camp with an Eternal Difference!” is described this way: “The Bear Valley Future Preacher’s Training Camp is one of the oldest camps of its kind in the brotherhood. This camp is design to fan the flame for preaching in young men ages 13-18.

“Campers are treated to a full week of training in sermon preparation, Bible study, personal evangelism and more, all while enjoying the beauty of Colorado. These classes help the campers strengthen their spiritual lives while they form fellowship bonds with other like-minded young men.

“Recreational activities throughout the week allow them to enjoy the beauty of Colorado and the Bear Valley church family.” Registration opens in February of each year.

There is no cost to the camper except transportation to Denver and pocket money for off-campus activities. For more information, see the site at: wetrainpreachers.com/future-preachers/

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Apps, holiness inspire teens at youth media day

SAN ANTONIO – Almost two dozen young people from the church and the community gathered for the Shenandoah congregations’ Youth Day on June 10. Local Minister Gabriel Rodriguez and resource speakers Christian Torres and Randi (and daughter Erin Hernandez) Jackson of Corpus Christi encouraged, challenged and entertained the young people.

Torres, who serves as minister for the Weber Road church, inspired them with fear right off the bat with: “People say that you are the church of tomorrow. But I say, ‘You are the church already’.” In addition to discussing the good that responsible media use can do, the presenters covered the other side, too.

He garnered smiles and good answers for his questions during one session of “Remaining Holy in a Social Media World.” He deadpanned, “We’re serving hot dogs for lunch. If you do well, we’ll even shave the hair off the dogs for you. But that’s only if you do well!”

The lessons were peppered with the Bible illustrations that students can appreciate. Torres compared the inappropriate-content apps to the stench of a dead body that is making a home uninhabitable. He said that seeking out what is harmful compares to a dog’s vomiting up his pizza and then enjoying it again.

Coach Rodriguez moderated the activities when the group broke up into the Holy Gamers vs. the Dream Team. They went neck and neck for a while on the app-mediated games, but the Holy Gamers pulled ahead at the end and got to eat lunch first.

In a separate session for the genders, Jackson presented several scenarios after a brief introduction. During the discussion, she and the young ladies brainstormed on the best options for handling difficult situations.

The presenters noted that the young people not only seemed to appreciate the event; the teens also gave many indications that they are making forward progress on their spiritual journeys.

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Deacons: Boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus by Chyrece Campbell

SAN ANTONIO – The worship service started as normal on that Sunday June 11 at the fledgling West Bexar County Church of Christ (WBCCoC). The members and visitors filled the room with acapella singing as their voices lifted to praise and worship our Lord and Savior. Yet before members were dismissed at the end of service, the elders had named four deacons: Clifton Price, Casey Culpepper, Gregory Campbell and Kris Willis.

At the beginning of the installation, Elder Phil Hamblett informed the congregation that the brothers had been tested and would probably face more challenges, as well as become a bigger target for Satan. He read verses from I Timothy and other letters and then asked the four: “Are you willing to fill this role and look out for the physical needs of the congregation while the elders focus on the spiritual?”

All the men replied with a yes. Hamblett encouraged the members to keep the new deacons in their prayers. He also stressed that “We still need and value everyone’s service. Just because we have elders and deacons doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for you to do.” Elder Mark Charles Drew then led the church in prayer.

“I’m humbled,” said Price, who has been a very active member. He works in the outreach ministry and as a children’s Bible study teacher. He also helps with worship service and devotions for Bible study. He works for a major auto insurance company. He and his wife, Michelle, and their children have attended WBCCC since it began on the first Sunday of January, 2015.

Culpepper works for the San Antonio Fire Department. He said that as a deacon, he plans to “Help spread the word while serving.” He and his wife, Kara, are raising three children.

Campbell participated in Texas Bible Bowl along with his family this year. He and wife, Chyrece, both come from having served in the military. Their seven children range in age from fifteen to one year old. Readers may see the work of Kennedy, the eldest, in this issue.

Saying it is a privilege to serve the Savior, Willis accepted the charge. He does information technology work for a major communications company. He and wife Mandy are raising three children.

More than 70 people are members at WBCCoC. Some travel from as far away as Camp Bullis and La Vernia. See the location and other information in the Church Directory in this issue. [Chyrece Campbell of the WBCCoC is a new contributor this month.]

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