Columns

Life with Father: When Life Dumps on You

by Marsha Dowell

In Matthew chapter 19, disciples and religious leaders were crowded around Jesus. The religious leaders were interested in the legalities of marriage and divorce; Jesus began explaining the differences between legalities, and the matter of the heart.
An interruption came when children were brought for Jesus to lay His hands on them and pray. The religious leaders and disciples were NOT amused. They had important things to learn. But Jesus stopped them in their tracks with this verse: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.”
Heaven belongs to the children? Why? What about us? (more…)

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McQuien’s Musings: A Question of Inspiration

by Paul McQuien

Attitudes toward the inspiration of the Bible range across the entire spectrum from the agnostic denial of divine inspiration of the text, other than in a literary sense, to the polar opposite that every word, at least in the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, was divinely inspired. Other viewpoints accept the general inspiration of the Testaments but question the idea of “verbal plenary” inspiration of every word and sentence.
One helpful approach is to examine what the Bible itself, especially the New Testament, tells us about divine inspiration of the text, and the short answer is, not a whole lot. In general, the Scriptures assert their divine origin without attempting to prove them. After all, proof would negate the necessity of faith, which is central to Christianity. (more…)

Life with Father: I Was adopted

by Marsha Dowell

When I was 11 years old, my mom told me I was adopted by my father. All I could think of from that point on was, “I have a stepfather! He must not love me as much as my younger sister.”
When traveling in the car, sometimes I would think, “He could just drop me off on the side of the road and leave me, ‘cause I’m not his real daughter.” After all, I was not as pretty as his real daughter, who was a blonde-haired beauty. (more…)

McQuien’s Musings: Lord, Take Control

by Paul McQuien

When my second oldest granddaughter was five or six years old, she and I got into a squabble over a broken videotape that got stuck in a video recorder. She got so upset with me that she let me have it: “Grandpa, you’re just out of control!” Being a high-spirited little girl, she had probably heard those same words directed at her. Less amusing was the adult I encountered while walking recently in a nearby park. She was screaming obscenities uncontrollably into her cell phone at the apparent object of her wrath, who had perhaps already hit the off button on his (or her) cell phone. (more…)

McQuien’s Musings: The Dilemma of Suffering

by Paul McQuien

The topic of human suffering is too complex to be addressed adequately in a brief editorial or perhaps, for that matter, in a lengthy book. Yet the reality of suffering is central to human experience, including faithful Christians. It has even led some believers to deny their faith and some non-believers to reject the idea that a beneficent, loving God even exists. (more…)

“The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve” by Stephen Greenblatt – A Book Review, by Paul McQuien

Recently I read a book by Stephen Greenblatt titled “The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve” (W.W. Norton, 2017). No, the book didn’t focus on the biblical account of their creation and fall but rather on their theological, cultural, and scientific treatment from antiquity to the present. Greenblatt himself is a prolific author and Harvard scholar, who won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction in 2012, not to mention numerous additional awards and literary accomplishments, especially in Shakespeare studies.
Being a liberal Jewish scholar, Greenblatt doesn’t accept the account of Adam and Eve as a literal event, but he does express great respect for its significance as an influence on Western thought and creativity. For example, he observes that “Something happened at the beginning of time . . . that led to the way we are . . . and if we want to understand the way we are, it is important to remember and retell this story.” (more…)

A Wayfarer Pauses: What Tone Of Voice Does God Use With You?

by Marsha Dowell

When our son was little and did something wrong, all I had to do was look at him and he would stop. His father would look at him, and he was in full contrition.
When our daughter would misbehave, a look alone was nothing. Words would have to be exchanged, but that might not do it. The big guns would have to be pulled out. When she turned off her cell phone so we could not reach her while she was out with friends? Big Guns required. She became cell phone-less, electronic-less, car-less, makeup-less, and bedroom door-less.
Several years later, she wrote about that particular “talking to”, and how it was the turning point in her life. That’s all it took to get her back on the right path. (more…)

Guest Column: Royal Hospitality

by Mark Adams

CORPUS CHRISTI — When we speak of our Presidents, we evaluate their performances in one way by looking at what they have done during their first 100 days in office. In fact, as I am composing this, Donald Trump is just wrapping up his 92nd day in office.

Mark Adams

Presidents, kings and prime ministers have unique opportunities to act in ways that affect large numbers of people, reaching even billions through what they do. It is hard to know, during the time of a leader’s tenure, exactly which deeds will be defining actions in the years that follow, especially after some of the political banter has died down. (more…)

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.

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…)