Columns

Guest Editorial: The Collage

One Christmas our adult daughter gave me a collage she had created. She said it was a patchwork of my life from her perspective.
I saw things I love: hummingbirds, butterflies, and leafy trees with trunks too huge to wrap my arms around. I saw the imprint of her and her brother’s hands in the cement we poured one year.

A pineapple represented a hospitality which translated to many meals for her and her brother’s friends, who now reminisce about their favorites when they see me. “Godlight,” a scene of the sky, pictured rays of sunshine that peeked out from a cloud and swept down to us. And finally, there in the bottom corner of the collage, I saw these five typed words: “Sighs too deep for words.”

Oh my, what a tell. This was the essence of what I wanted my daughter to learn from me, and I was glad!
She was referring to Romans 8:26. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”

We had talked about this verse during low times in her life. Life is hard. Tears. Changes. Disappointments. Tragedies. Inexplicable loss. While we are here on this earth, we try to help our children through these events. We try to cushion the hurt, explain the unexplainable, and even attempt to make it go away.
But what happens when we are gone? Who do they lean on then? When I saw those five words, I knew our daughter would be just fine. And our son. We might be gone, but God will be there, and the Spirit will be there to help them.

They have learned through seeing lives that show how God can be counted on to love us no matter the circumstances. They have seen that sometimes words just don’t say it. Sadness or confusion cannot be expressed. But there He is – the Holy Spirit – helping in our weakness and inability to speak, interceding for us with sighs too deep for words so that what is inexpressible in our hearts still gets through to God.

Combine that with the knowledge that Jesus came to earth and experienced a physical life that brought Him to His knees to seek help from His Father, and we have all that we need to get through our lives here on earth. In John 14: 15-18, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to us once He was gone. He knew what we needed.
That we are loved and that we are not alone – isn’t that the foundation that we want our children to have? If we have taught our children to trust God and go to Him no matter the circumstance, they will have all they need.

When we have to leave, He remains with them.

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McQuien’s Musings: The Greatest Irony

During Easter week, which came rather early this year, people all over the world who adhere to the Christian faith commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus, followed by his resurrection and ascension.
Concerning the Lord’s willing self-sacrifice, the book of Hebrews contains a relevant passage which reads, “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4 NIV). Here the anonymous author of Hebrews was referring to the inadequacy of animal sacrifices to atone for sin, in contrast to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (more…)

GUEST EDITORIAL: Why Did Jesus Teach in Opposites?

by Marsha Dowell

Why did Jesus frequently present opposing ideas like these: “You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say to you…if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other” (Matt. 5:38-39), and, “You have heard that it was said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44)?
Jesus does this quite often. Was He a rebel, trying to change what people usually accept as normal? Trying to stir things up?
His apostles were brought up short by this one: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9: 35). It is understandable to respond, “This makes no sense!” (more…)

McQuien’s Musings: Luke on Lucre

Among the four Gospels, Luke is the favorite of many. Perhaps one reason is that Luke, having been an educated Gentile physician, is easier for modern readers to identify with than the other three Gospel authors, especially Matthew, who reflected a more traditional Jewish perspective. One of Luke’s themes having special relevance in the 21st century is his emphasis on money and wealth.
Luke sometimes used money and wealth in a positive—or at least neutral—sense. One positive example is the “Good” Samaritan giving money to the innkeeper to take care of the bruised and beaten Jew. Another parable, concerning the lost silver coin that a woman finds, provides a positive application to the kingdom. Even Jesus’ shrewd reply to the spies sent from the chief priests and teachers of the law to question him about paying taxes to Caesar portrays money neutrally: “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (20:25 NIV). (more…)

McQuien’s Musings: The Holy Spirit and Romans 8

by Paul McQuien

Understanding the nature of the Holy Spirit is difficult because of his seemingly enigmatic, abstract nature. With God the Father we can at least draw a paternal analogy, and Christ the Son was incarnated and lived in the physical world as a man. Viewed superficially, the Holy Spirit seems to lack these corporeal comparisons, which has sometimes resulted in confusion and misinterpretation. (more…)

Guest Editorial: I Love Her Legacy

by Marsha Dowell

Lois Murphy. She was the author of the “A Wayfarer Pauses” articles that filled this same space in Christian News of South Texas for so many years. When I first met Lois, I already knew of her from her writings. She walked in the door of the Whataburger on Bandera, accompanied by her family. I knew she was a writer, and that instantly put her at the top of my respect list. I felt honored to be introduced to her. (more…)

McQuien’s Musings: Challenges and Opportunities in 2018

With the New Year having just turned the corner, we face a number of challenges and opportunities confronting us in 2018. On the international level we face diplomatic and military crises in far-flung locations such as North Korea, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe. On the national level we face political, economic, and moral issues, including income inequality, controversial income tax legislation, and sexual misbehavior in high places. (more…)

David S. Vanz’s Book, “Rediscovering the Holy Spirit”

SAN ANTONIO —

Anyone who attempts to write a book on the Holy Spirit is undertaking quite a challenge, considering the complexity of the topic as revealed throughout the Bible and, more specifically, in the New Testament. David S. Vanz’s book, “Rediscovering the Holy Spirit,” (Archway Publishing, 2017) has done just that, although he has focused principally of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. The subtitle of his book makes this emphasis clear: “Proponents, Opponents, Components in His Conquest to Expand the Kingdom.” (more…)

An End and a Beginning

GUEST COLUMN by Mark Hammitt

CORPUS CHRISTI — 2017 is gone! It was another year of opportunities that we either took advantage of or wasted. Twelve months of choices, joys, struggles, worries, and prayers. 365 days of being able to shine our lights in a world darkened by sin (Mt 5, Jn 3).
How did you fare? For a private exercise, try sitting down and listing on a piece of paper all the things you did or attempted to do for the Lord in 2017. Do you need more than one sheet of paper? (more…)

Grow Old With Me by Marsha Dowell

“Grow old with me…the best is yet to be…” I like to quote this poetry when my husband Sid and I are laughing at each other struggling to get our stiff bodies out of our recliners. Or when he says one thing and I hear another: “Did you take out the trash?”

“No. I forgot to go to the bank today to get the cash. Sorry.”

The 24/7 life is hard on our bodies. Things we love to do take a toll on us. Sid loves to portray Santa Claus, and he is great at it; but his knees do not love it. I love to eat all kinds of breads, but my body mass index does not pretend I didn’t.

Sickness, disease, and injuries take a toll on us. Stress, anger, and fear weaken our physical bodies. Aging is a part of life – the physical body, once it stops growing, starts wasting away.

But as I get older, inside I feel stronger. Life has led me to trust in God instead of giving in to fears and uncertainties. I have learned to keep looking up, no matter how life tries to bring me down. If something does not turn out the way I had hoped, I have faith that it will turn out as God intends. My focus is less on the outside, more on the inside. (more…)