WBC Sanctuary Choir & full orchestra
By Jim Gladson
Give a fond goodbye to the four Recycling Carts. The 4 carts were acquired from the City of San Antonio in October, 2012. In the four years that Woodland set its carts out, an estimated total of 625 carts were used. Now we have a new kid on the block from Republic Services. It’s big, blue and heavy duty steel. At 74″ w x 42″d x 33″h, it will hold a bunch of recycling. Keep putting the recycling in the blue containers.
There will be a new information feature coming in 2017. It will help you at both church and home. You’ll learn all about Garbage, Recycling & Organics in 24 different articles. You’ll be able to “read all about it” in the online TWIG, the Woodland Blog, Facebook and Twitter. So be looking for the first article on January 8th.
By Lance Mayes
A few days ago woodlandbc.org was hacked. Malware was put on many pages on our site. It took a couple of days of some experts working on it, but they got it clean. Thanks to Gordon Atkinson (consafo.com) and his team of techs!
Here are a few things we learned.
- All websites, no matter the size or content, are a target.
- Google will let you know by email if you’ve been hacked.
- Google will not list you in searches if they think you’ve been hacked.
- Internet browsers (like Chrome and Firefox) will let you know if a website you visit might have malware.
- Keep your theme, engine, plugins and scripts up-to-date. (Ours all were.)
- Make sure your passwords are strong. (This was likely how we were attacked.) Use upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. According to Gordon, you can also “string together four unrelated words if you’re having to log in and out and want to remember. ex: DonkeyHouseBlueFriend. Those are actually very strong passwords.”
- Unless you know quite a bit about web programming and the file system, you will need help getting rid of all the malware. It will probably be everywhere and complex.
- You have to request a malware review from Google after you get all the malware off your site.
We are very thankful for people like Gordon who take care of us.
By Ellen Di Giosia
I’ve been giving up things for Lent for a number of years now, and it’s become a bit mundane. I could give up Starbucks, of course, or chocolate, or eating out, but I’d just go hog-wild on Easter Sunday, and something tells me that Jesus wouldn’t care for that. So for the last few years, I’ve thought about disciplines that, once practiced during Lent, might become long-term changes for the better. This year my friend Pam Durso wrote something* that seemed to be calling my name:
“What I have come to understand is that the intent of Lent is not just to give up or take on. The intent is to pay attention. Lent calls us to be attentive to our relationship with God, to our connection with others. Lent also asks us to be attentive to our own our bodies and to our souls.”
Pay attention! I thought. Truly meaningful (and maybe not too hard). Ash Wednesday went well. But by day 2, I was seriously questioning my commitment when my 8-year-old son got off the bus and launched into a 40-minute non-stop monologue about, among other things, what kind of laptop he wants (Good luck with that, kiddo!) and how many video games he will need to invent and sell to buy a mansion. I persevered that day, though I’m not sure the itch of my smartphone-addicted fingers brought much glory to God.
As we’ve moved through Lent, I’ve begun to pay attention to some other things: What’s with the tension in my shoulders and neck? I’m holding some anxiety there – maybe that’s something requiring my attention. I’m so easily moved to tears these days. Is it possible that the emotions on the surface are a reminder that recent griefs cannot so easily be set aside? This woman I don’t know well is telling me an awful lot of personal stuff. I have an opportunity to be a friend to someone feeling isolated and confused.
Paying attention has given me more sweet times with my family, more wonder in the universe, and more rest for myself. But the more I pay attention, the more I’m also aware of how much brokenness is inside me – and how much brokenness is in the world around me. Easter Sunday, I’ll pay attention to what I’m wearing and how many eggs need to put out for the hunt and how to play my role in the services, but I’ll also be paying attention for that moment when I realize once again that Jesus has come to make all things new.
*Pam’s blog post to link: http://www.nextsunday.com/pay-
By Bob Flynn
I don’t recommend reading the Bible from the beginning to the end, especially for children. I don’t remember how long it took me to read the Bible my parents gave me when I was nine. I do know that much of what I was reading was just words because I didn’t understand the text, the historical and cultural context or the intent of the writer.
The audience to whom you are writing deserves some consideration. You want the reader to stretch a little bit to understand but not so much the audience gives up in frustration. Have you recently read 1st Chronicles, Chapters 1-4, with all its begats? Some of the Bible is record-keeping and important to Biblical or cultural historians and many Jews, but unlikely to entertain or educate most Christians. That’s also true of the dimensions of the temple. The dimensions of Noah’s ark have provided believers with centuries of arguments with much entertainment but little insight.
That’s also true of the language of Revelation, another biblical book that you may not have read recently. You can make the symbols mean many things especially if you pretend the book was not written to be meaningful to its first audience but to you and your time in history. When I read my astrological predictions it isn’t often and it’s always when the prediction is out of date. That’s so I can watch myself shape yesterday’s, last month’s or last year’s prediction to fit the time period, fully aware that 12% of the world’s population received the same forecast that I did.
I can read Revelation and parts of Ezekiel and some other books the same way. But I don’t. Parts of those scriptures are applicable to me and to my time on earth, but only in the huge context of God’s relationship to his creation. More on symbols later, but keep in mind that symbols grow out of the theme of the book and sometimes the audience sees symbols that the writer does not. Read Freudian interpretations of common fairy tales and see what you missed.
That means we will have to differentiate between the factual and the truth, between literal language and figurative language, between writing styles such as historical, political, imaginative, symbolic, poetic, irony and sarcasm, etc. The most important thing is not to lose the intent of the writer in arguments over individual words.
By Ellen Di Giosia
We all know summer is a ton of fun. Whether you’ve spent it at the beach, in the pool, or on vacation, it’s good to get away from the grind for a little while and hang out with family and friends. But by August, the newness has definitely worn off. The beach is just so . . . sandy, and the chlorine in the pool burns the eyes. Even vacation seems harder – bickering from the backseat, too much fast food, long lines at airport and destination.
So there may be tears from students – and perhaps from parents of kindergarteners and college freshmen – but that whooping sound you hear is from many tired parents ready to drop the kids off at school and get back into the routine. Even homeschool parents relish a return to a more structured day and the clearer expectations that come with it. The summer reading may have been haphazard, but new folders will soon be filled with book titles and parent signatures. There’s just something about a routine that engenders commitment.
And guess what? It doesn’t just apply to kids and schoolwork! Now’s the perfect time to get back to church. Discipleship opportunities are all around you at Woodland, and Sunday School is an ideal weekly routine. Whether you prefer in-depth Bible study or topical groups, there is a class for you. Most importantly, on “just a routine Sunday morning,” you’ll be making friends, growing spiritually, and finding support for life’s difficulties and celebration for life’s joys. Before long, you won’t want to miss a single Sunday!
On Sunday morning, August 25, we’ll have a Kick-Off Coffee Hour to celebrate a new Sunday School year. We have some new class names, mission partnerships for each class, and a whole new slate of seminars. It’s the perfect time find a place that works for you. Our children and youth will promote to their new grade levels that day, so everything will feel fresh and new! Join us at 9:00am in Maresh Hall to get more information and catch up with friends you’ve missed over the summer. Hope to see you there!
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.”
The explosions this week at the Boston Marathon have shaken our hearts and minds. We have been awakened again to the terrible reality that evil lurks here and there in this world. It’s a tragedy. It’s scary.
As Christians we respond as best we can through prayer and compassionate action. Pray for peace. Give blood. Pray for justice. Thank a police officer for serving. Pray for forgiveness. Donate to the Red Cross. Pray for guidance as you grieve. Donate clothes, gifts cards, and food to the Salvation Army. Pray.
The question that skulks through our minds tends to be, “Where is God?” It’s a difficult question. But, I think that Psalm 46 gives us a clue. The psalm says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” When the earth shakes or when we are rocked by tragedy look and see where help comes from. You might see God.
After the Newtown tragedy and again this week a quote from Mr. Rogers has gone viral. The quote says, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother always said to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Just after the bombs went off this week, the helpers jumped into action. Some of these helpers had just run 26 miles. At the end of most marathons you see people either collapsing at the finishing line or walking gingerly to embrace loved ones after the race. Yet, by the grace of God these marathoners caught their breath and began tearing back the barrier between the road and the crowd to get to the wounded. Police and first responders leapt into action to direct the effort. The terror of this act cannot be undone, but the response of the people in Boston is a light in great darkness.
God has not promised us a life free of trouble and suffering. But, God has promised to be a present help in trouble. Paul writes in Romans 8, “In everything God works for good.” God is in the reaction — inspiring courage, rousing generosity and grieving with us. God is our refuge and strength. As the bombs went off Monday, God’s was the first heart to break.
“God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.” ~Psalm 46
I was recently at a funeral for the elderly relative of a dear friend. It was a beautiful service – Scripture readings and songs from the woman’s great-grandchildren, glorious choral and congregational music, and moving eulogies by both her daughters. Lois Jeane had been a lifelong Christian who brought her husband to faith and raised four children in a loving, creative, God-honoring home.
When the pastor rose to give the sermon, he compared Lois Jeane to several characters in the Bible. Like Sarah, she had shown great faith. Like Esther, she had tremendous courage. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, she had been obedient to God. But, he said, the Biblical characters that Lois Jeane most resembled were three ordinary women – the three who were first at the tomb on that surprising Sunday after his death.
You see, these three – whom Mark names as Salome, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James – were going to anoint Jesus’ body. In the midst of their grief and bewilderment, they went to the market in preparation for the next morning. They bought spices and rose early the next day. As they ascended the steep path, they expected to find things as they had been left, with a heavy stone blocking their way. They even wondered aloud how they would move it to perform the task to which they had assigned themselves. But out of sheer love, they journeyed on, faithful to the calling to anoint the body of Christ.
And Lois Jeane? Her pastor marveled at how often Lois Jeane had spoken words of encouragement to him. Her friends told him stories of her devotion to the Body – her own money, time, and energy freely given to those around her. The positivity she brought to every interaction. And all in the service of strengthening her family, her fellow worshippers, and church leadership. She did these things out of an abundance of love for the Church, without any expectation for a return.
What would it look like to be like Lois Jeane? To be like Salome and the two Marys? How might we anoint the Body of Christ with our own love and encouragement?
Several weeks ago we planted some tomato plants in our backyard.
We’ve been told that squirrels and birds love to hijack the fruit. So, Nancy also planted two bird feeders among the tomato plants. So far, the feeders and our Golden Retrievers have kept the squirrels and birds away from the tomatoes.
One squirrel has figured out how to tip one of the feeders over and spill its seed everywhere. Now, there are all kinds of weeds growing in the flower bed near the feeders and tomato plants. I mentioned them to Nancy (code for “You have some weeds to pull.”). She then told me that those are plants growing from the seeds that fell out of the bird feeders and took shallow root. Using no code whatsoever, she told me that they won’t be hard for me to pull.
Though we intended the seeds to give life to the birds, the thieving squirrel made sure they fell to the ground. Now, given time, those seeds born of stolen seed will produce even more seed. Sometimes, what we intend for one thing becomes something else better than we could have ever imagined.
When the bombs went off in Boston this past week, two things happened. First, a lot of people were killed or maimed for life, not to mention those who will live with emotional scars that may never heal.
The second thing that happened was even more spectacular. The bombs blew loose the seeds of heroes, scattering them all throughout the crowd in thousands of different directions. Total strangers rushed to tend to the wounded and carry them to safety and medical care.
We saw a graphic picture of a man being carried to safety in a wheel chair by two total strangers. Both of his legs had been amputated beneath the knees.
One of the rescuers was pushing the wheel chair with one hand and clamping several inches of the victim’s severed femoral artery in his other bare hand so the victim wouldn’t bleed to death. The line of people wanting to donate their own life’s blood was out the door and all the way around the block.
This is something that cowardly terrorists have never figured out. They can blow up hundreds of people. What happens next they can never control nor can they conquer.
The moment the bomb goes off the seeds of heroes are scattered, instantaneously taking root by the thousands. The history the terrorist intended is rewritten, not in the blood they spilled but in the life blood others give. What one intends for evil always spawns something of greater good.
After Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and then got caught red-handed, they just knew that Joseph would have them enslaved, tortured or killed as payback. Except, Joseph knew the seed-to-hero scenario God always works. “‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’” (Genesis 50:20).
Our redemption story is literally written in the blood someone spilled with evil intent that God only used to fertilize the seeds of heroes.