Blog Archives

Sit, Walk, Stand

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Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11

I hate prep work!  Whether it’s painting a room, trying out a new recipe, or getting ready for a conference in a new state, I would rather just get to the meat of things. Sometimes I get the cart before the horse, and I wonder why things didn’t work out.

We can do this in our Christian walk as well.  We rush in to “help” someone or offer advice or try to stand against evil, but we haven’t done the prep work.  We get things out of order.  I know I do!  I would rather get to the battle than to sit and listen to the Commander and learn His ways.

Watchman Nee, a Chinese theologian, has a book out about Ephesians called Sit, Walk, Stand.  It is an excellent resource that teaches us that we must sit at the Savior’s feet through prayer and Bible reading if we are to be successful at walking each day in His way.  Then we must walk consistently in purity and holiness if we want to be victorious in the battles of life.

Sit: “But God, being rich in mercy…raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”Ephesians 2:4-6  This is our position as born again believers saved through the blood of Jesus.  It is not only our inheritance and forever promise, but it can be a reality of today.  We can come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).  Here, at Jesus’ feet and in the presence of God we can have our minds transformed (Romans 12:2) and our spirits strengthened.  I like to visualize myself dancing before God’s throne or worshipping with uplifted hands before Him or walking with Jesus in a garden. This helps me to sit with my Savior and Lord and prepares my heart to read and hear from Him. I enter His presence with praise and thanksgiving and then I sit with Him in prayer.  Sitting allows us to know the mind of Christ.  It empowers us to be able to walk.

Walk: “Therefore I…implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…” (Ephesians 4:1).  Once we have sat at the feet of Jesus learning His ways, then we are empowered to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2) and to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1).  If you are not able to resist temptation, then go sit some more.  If your walk is up and down then go and sit some more.  If your works are not producing fruit, make sure that they are in line with God’s will and not your own. God is gracious and compassionate and picks us up when we fall (Psalm 37::23-24), but as we mature in our faith through Bible study and prayer, we should be walking without the faltering steps of a toddler.

Stand: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). If you want to be able to fight against Satan, then make sure your armor is in place.  Have you spent hours sitting with Jesus? Are you believing His word and His will by faith?  Are you standing on the truth?  Are you girded about with His righteousness?  When we have sat and practiced walking, then we are able to stand firm. God is calling us to spiritual warfare.  He is expecting that His children are ready for the battle.  Our sword is the Word of God.  Is your sword sharp?

For victorious Christian living we must sit, then walk, then stand.  Are you ready for battle?

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The devotional this week is provided by Dara Halydier.  Dara Halydier attended HPU in 1985 and now lives Early, Texas with her husband Tracy who graduated from HPU in 1986. They have five grown sons and run Abiding Truth Ministry which consists of writing curriculum, teaching at women’s retreats and speaking at homeschool conferences.  Dara has written Practical Proverbs for Older Students which is aimed at upper high school to college age students.

Courtney Beene – Surfing in California

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Courtney Beene is a senior education major from Red Oak, Texas. This summer, she traveled with the exercise and sport science department to learn how to surf in California.

As a young student, you dream about getting out into the world and experiencing anything and everything you possibly can. Here at Howard Payne University, students are blessed to have such an opportunity. Students have a variety of different activities from backpacking in the wilderness to skiing the slopes in Colorado – all offered right here at HPU.

beene blog 1What seems to be one of the most successful classes offered here would be the surfing class taught by Dr. Rick Beelby. This class not only allows students the opportunity to travel to the beaches of California but also offers an insight into a completely different way of life. On this trip, the students will drive to Encinitas, California, to camp out only approximately 100 yards off the beach at a surf camp called the Eli Howard Surf School. This camping experience is unlike any other. While we stay in tents, the tents are located in an enclosed area that provides a different experience than that of the typical camping tradition. This camp is equipped with an outdoor living area, a kitchen, showers, fun outdoor games, a Ping-Pong table, and a campfire area. Crazy, right?! Greg and Emily run this camp, as well as live there, and their primary focus is finding a way for students to come and get a one-of-a-kind experience. They believe that students should play an active role in the planning of the week, so they encourage students to help plan out the week’s activities. Students ride bikes as transportation to most of the activities. This is very different than driving a car around everywhere. After all of the extra time gets squared away, students have an allotted time to surf every day. During these times, the students get into their wet suits and are taught how to surf. They are educated about all that goes into the sport by not only Greg and Emily, but by an entire team of surfers. These instructors actually go out into the water and teach students one-on-one how to surf the proper way.

Despite what most people think, surfing is easy to pick up at a beginner’s level and can be done within the first hour or so during the first session of the week. The waves here on San Elijo Beach are perfect not only for beginners, but also experienced surfers. The waves can range anywhere from 1 to 6 feet and provide the perfect opportunity for surfing. Surfers normally stay out on the water for about 2 hours (by that point, you are exhausted) and when they are done, they simply ride a wave right up on the beautiful sand beach and step off. The feeling when a surfer is able to ride a wave and step off onto the beach is one of pure magic. Those moments are rare, but when experienced can change your life and your perception of the sport forever.

Aside from surfing, the trip holds so much more! When the students finish surfing for the day, they are allowed to get out and experience the culture of Encinitas for themselves. In California, it is not out of the ordinary for everyone to be walking around downtown. On the trip, students meet a variety of new people. On this most recent trip, students had the opportunity to go and serve the community by helping feed the homeless and sharing their own personal testimonies. This had never been done before so students and professors had no idea what was in store for them at a small park downtown. This experience bonded the students and faculty of HPU even more so to the area by investing such personal relationships with people from the area. Although that was a new experience, I hope that it is carried out again in the future.

beene blog 2Another fun activity would be the trip that students get to completely plan themselves. The class will research throughout the semester to see what looks like fun and then they will plan out an entire day devoted to that activity. This year, we chose kayaking. Kayaking on the sea is no simple task. It is an activity where you really find out who you work in sync with and who you do not. During this leg of the trip, students were paired up, hopped into a boat, and began paddling out to sea. Once out past the area where the waves break, students sat peacefully and gazed out on the open sea. The water, although not perfectly clear, does offer a degree of visibility. This is the best part because it is where students are able to sit back and admire the beauty of a new world underneath them. Once everyone made it out past the waves, we paddled to a cave and jumped out of our kayaks and entered the water. Being able to swim in the ocean is an extremely different experience than that of a pool or river. We were swimming side by side with seals and watching as the state fish, the Garibaldi, swam beneath us. The funniest thing about the little orange fish is that when they get scared, they begin to blow bubbles! This was another first for the trip and proved to be a great experience!

The surfing trip to California is one of the best trips offered at HPU. This trip is packed full of activities that students themselves plan. The way this trip is designed, students get a chance to develop leadership skills by planning and acting on what they have decided should be done. With students planning a majority of the trip, each year it is completely different. Students learn because they have a chance to experience everything for themselves. This experiential learning is a major part of what draws students in because it is unlike any other. Just about every classroom a student will walk in, the professor has designed just about every detail. Here, Dr. Beelby believes students are more likely to learn and develop at a much higher rate if given the chance to not only plan, but experience their planning in full effect. Students come to class with the campsite pre-booked but nothing else. Students plan and execute meals, activities, and extra trips. This is very unique in the sense that HPU has taken the student and made them the professor. Overall, this is an opportunity that should be experienced once in everyone’s lifetime. Students will always remember this unique experience and carry it with them into their future endeavors.

I Am Amazed

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In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Genesis 1: 1

It is amazing to see how far technology has advanced since Thomas A. Edison invented the electric light.  His discovery was exciting.  Through the years, each new invention has brought excitement and this excitement will continue as new technology is discovered.  In the Sunday Comics, Chad Carpenter’s TUNDRA showed a cartoon strip that caught my eye. It had two human characters standing on a plain with no vegetation.  On the distant horizon you could see the mountains and a beautiful blue sky.  One of the characters threw a rock and hit the head of the other character as he said, “Hey!” . . .  “History’s First Use Of Wireless Technology.”

The creation story in the book of Genesis tells us God created the world from a mass of nothingness without form, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  His creation did not need technology, even Wireless Technology.  God didn’t use any type of tools or equipment for His work. He just spoke, and it was so.

“Let there be light” and it was so.
“Let there be firmament” and it was so.
“Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry
            land appear.”
and it was so.

Throughout the creation days, each time God spoke “Let there be”  . . . it was so.  His omnipotent power through the spoken word was sufficient.  That was the only thing He needed.  Each time I see a sunrise or sunset, the moon, the stars, the trees, the wildflowers, the crops growing, the babbling brook, or the distant mountain landscape, I breath a thank you to God for His power in the creation of our beautiful world.

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The devotional this week is provided by Raymond Tharp ’54.  Sixty years ago my wife, Dixie Stoneman ’54, and I graduated from Howard Payne University. That graduation launched us into a journey of service that we could never have envisioned.
I continued my education with Master Degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Baylor University.  My career has included Director of Guidance and Placement at Central Texas College, public school counselor, teacher, and pastor.
Dixie received her Master Degree from Baylor University.  She retired after 35 years of teaching.
We have enjoyed traveling to a number of countries.  Among these are Great Britain, Israel, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canada, and Mexico.  One of our great experiences was teaching English in Estonia.  They had gained their independence from Russia three years earlier.  This program was sponsored by a joint effort of IMB and Texas Baptist.  It was a great experience for us.
We have had an incredible journey.  We thank God for the many blessings He has provided us in our journey.  Thank you Howard Payne University for our launching.

The Righteous—Like Palm Trees and Cedars of Lebanon

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12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” 
Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)

We lived in Lebanon for almost thirty years. We saw plenty of palm trees down near the coast and often made picnic trips to the cedars way up in Mount Lebanon. In what ways are the Righteous like palm trees and cedars?

Palm trees come in various kinds and bear various fruits. We enjoy both coconuts and dates from palm trees. The Righteous bear the fruit of the Spirit. They also enjoy telling others about the Lord Jesus and what he means to them and how they can come to know Him, too.  Thus producing the fruit of another Christian.

The Cedars of Lebanon are huge trees and very old. Some of them have died and people have counted over 2,000 rings, meaning they were there when Jesus lived a few miles to the south in Israel.

Both the palm tree and the cedar are very hardy trees. They can withstand a lot of storms. Both have strong root systems. The palm bends with the wind and survives in deserts. The cedar lives best above 6,000 feet above sea level where winter storms blow hard and leave deep snow in freezing weather.

The Righteous are like that. They exhibit flexibility and withstand the storms of life because their deep roots are set in God and His promises. They have learned to trust the Father’s wisdom and care.

They bear fruit even in “old age” and they stay “fresh and green.” Have you known people like that? Have they blessed your life? Are you becoming a person like that who is or will be a blessing to others?

Heavenly Father, grant me grace to bless others like a fruitful palm tree and like the refuge formed by a strong cedar of Lebanon. Thank you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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The devotional this week is by David King.  He and his wife, Claudie Maxine King, graduated from HPC in 1952 and were awarded honorary doctorates in 1988.
They served as IMB missionaries from 1959 to 1989 in Beirut, Lebanon at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. David also did leadership training during summers in two countries in N. Africa over eight years.
Since retirement they have helped start a new church in New Jersey (1990) and taught at East Texas Baptist University from 1991 to 1996. He has also written S.S. materials for adults over ten years and Open Windows for three years. They are very involved in First Baptist Church of Marshall 1991 to the present.

Catherine Mullaney – NCCFI Nationals with SSB!

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Catherine Mullaney is a recent graduate from Boylston, MA. She was an English major and a member of the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

mullaney blog 1

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The Howard Payne University Speech and Debate Team – Student Speaker Bureau – is a group of students from all majors and disciplines at HPU who compete at intercollegiate speech and debate tournaments, host our own high school UIL speech and debate workshops, adjudicate elementary, middle and high school UIL tournaments, and emcee HPU and area public events. We are members of the National Christian College Forensics Association (NCCFA), the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA), the American Forensics Association (AFA), the National Forensics Association (NFA), and the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA). The team also competes in World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) tournaments and the International Public Debate Association (IPDA). For more information on this program contact Dr. Julie Welker.

This spring, the Student Speaker Bureau (SSB) speech and debate team traveled to California to compete in the invitational tournament for the National Christian College Forensics Association (NCCFI). The team spent the first half of Spring Break at California Baptist University competing in a wide variety of events from two forms of debate to speeches ranging from prepared persuasive presentations to impromptu or limited preparation events. We also had an amazing time traveling to Disneyland together and sleeping on each other’s shoulders on plane rides.

Benjamin Palmer, my fellow team captain, and I led discussions during preparation time for NPDA (parliamentary) debate rounds. Each school team only gets 15 minutes to prepare for debating each topic presented to the debaters, whose sides have already been chosen for them by tournament officials. Debate prep is an exhilarating time filled with Google searches, frantic scribbling of notes, and occasional jokes about funding policy proposals with government cheese.

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These times of preparation, and the debate rounds that follow, have been one of the most educational experiences of my time at Howard Payne. Not only do we learn about history and philosophy, we are able to apply these facts and concepts to events happening in the world today.

Many members of the team also competed in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) style debate, an individual event that SSB has never competed in before. Andres Zambrano, a freshman on the team this year, advanced to the bronze medal round. Jaclyn Bonner, also a

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freshman, was named national novice informative speaking champion. Adam Jones, sophomore, received the third place award in extemporaneous speaking. Each of these nationally ranked students exemplifies the excellence that we strive for as a team.

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After the successful tournament, the team headed to Disneyland for a day to wind down and spend time together following the last event of the year. We stood in many lines together, ate overpriced food, and met a cast of characters I can only imagine were actually exuberant actors sweating inside costumes with gigantic heads. Our experience at Disneyland is indicative of many times we’ve shared together as a team – fun, memorable, and incredibly exhausting. SSB has been an amazing blessing to me during my time at HPU; without

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the guidance and support of Dr. Julie Welker and Professor Kim Bryant none of our successes or good times had on trips would have been possible. This team is a family and no matter how often it changes its makeup we remain close and have fun while working tirelessly to bring awards back to school and represent Howard Payne well. I’ll never forget the amazing experiences I have had as a member of SSB, including this unforgettable trip to California!

Photo cutlines, from top: Catherine Mullaney with teammate Marcos Corley.

Catherine, right, with Dr. Julie Welker and Kim Bryant.

Team picture outside the convention center where final rounds were held.

Team picture at dinner.

Marcos Corley inside a teacup at Disneyland.

Members of the SSB at the park entrance.

 

Forgetful Christians

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“10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV)

Israel was blessed according to God’s promise.  They were to become richly favored, and had to do nothing to earn it, not unlike many of us.  We have roads to drive on and cities that we live in which we did not build ourselves.  We live in houses not build by our own hands.  Even when the economy is poor, we are still some of the most blessed people on earth.  In many regards, we have it all!  Moses, says, when you have it all, it becomes easy to forget about God.  Repeatedly in scripture, people who have everything they need, physically forget their spiritual neediness.  Often cultures of great affluence are rife with spiritual poverty, and not only spiritual poverty, but spiritual perversion.

In our own culture—so fast paced, technology driven, consumer centered, and celebrity obsessed—the remembrance of God seems like a faint and distant memory of times gone by.  People who have it all seemingly do not need God, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The Israelites were a people who God delivered from captivity and blessed with the promise of land.  The covenant God makes with us is freedom from the bondage of sin.  Often times our allegiance to an earthly kingdom—a corporation, a sports team, a dream to retire comfortably, or even a nation state—far outweighs our allegiance to the kingdom of God.  Affluence and privilege may make it difficult to relate to the heart of God, who cares for the poor, the afflicted, and the brokenhearted.  There is nothing wrong with being blessed, or even living a comfortable lifestyle, but Moses’s words still ring true: “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  Remember today that God has delivered you from slavery to sin, and give thanks to the Lord for the comforts and blessings you enjoy in life.

Prayer:
Lord God,  I quiet my heart before you now.  Thank You for all the many ways you bless me.  Help me, in the midst of blessing, not to forget Your providence in my life.  Thank you for the freedom from sin that comes in Christ Jesus.  Give me the strength to walk in Your freedom, the courage to stand for what’s right, and the humility to give You the glory that is already Yours.  Help my allegiance to Your kingdom grow, and to my kingdoms fade.
Amen.

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The devotional this week is provided by Rev. Jonathan Davis who is the pastor of Urbanna Baptist Church in Urbanna, Virginia.  Jonathan is married to Audrey Davis (HPU class of ’05) and has two sons, Eli, and Andrew.  He is the founder of www.studentministryideas.com, where he blogs regularly, providing free resources and ideas for youth ministers everywhere.  Jonathan is an HPU graduate (class of ’04), holds an M.Div. from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and is currently doing doctoral studies at Logsdon Seminary.

Track Record of Trust

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“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.  I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land… I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.”      Psalm 143:5-6, 8

How do you build trust in someone?  I believe that is by looking at their track record.  If they have been trustworthy in the past, then you can put your trust in them.  If they have broken your trust in the past, then you will probably be wary of trusting them again unless you have seen a radical change in their lives.  These verses start with remembering the days of old.  This is looking back at God’s track record both in the Old and New Testament and in your life.  It is good to write down answered prayers and times when you saw God’s hand in your circumstances.  Our brains tend to forget.  But by looking back you will see that God can be trusted.

Now, there may be some incident in your past where you believe God let you down.  Take a closer look and really ask yourself if it was God’s doing, Satan’s doing, or your own doing.  More than likely, God was not to blame.  He is faithful and true by His very character.  You might say, “Well, He didn’t make it happen, but he sure didn’t take me out of the situation either.”  That’s fair.  But again, sometimes God allows hard situations into our lives so that we will draw closer to Him, we will trust Him, we will realize our need for Him, or that we might be pruned so that our character more closely reflects Him.  God is at work.  He loves you.  If your past cries out that God is unfaithful, then you need to really look at the character of God and recognize that we live in a world ruled by Satan.

When we begin to see God’s goodness and faithfulness in the past and meditate on it then we can stretch out our hands to Him.  He was faithful then, He never changes, so He will be faithful now.  Lean on God.  Don’t look for what God can do for you, but rather, look at God – sit with Him, read His word, know Him.  He wants to know you!  When that track record of trust is laid down in your mind then you will be able to say, “Teach me the way in which I should walk.” because you know that God will not let you down.  His eternal purpose will be met in you and you will have been transformed to be ready for eternity!

As you look back and remember, if you find that you are angry at God, that’s okay.  Tell Him.  He is big enough to handle your anger.  Get it out.  Talk through it with someone and then let God begin to heal the hurts of the past.  He is the God of comfort and healing.

The devotional this week is provided by Dara Halydier.  Dara Halydier attended HPU in 1985 and now lives Early, Texas with her husband Tracy who graduated from HPU in 1986. They have five grown sons and run Abiding Truth Ministry which consists of writing curriculum, teaching at women’s retreats and speaking at homeschool conferences.  Dara has written Practical Proverbs for Older Students which is aimed at upper high school to college age students.

Be Still

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Be Still

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

“Still” is not an easy adverb for me. My job is to “do.” My affirmation comes primarily from doing. As a Christian I am expected to “do” the will of God.

Thus, I have chosen to be a part of a doing church‑‑a church and denomination noted for activity and involvement. And I am thankful to be a part of such a church. But I sense that I, and my fellow church members, often run out of steam and spiritual peace in the practice of our doing.

Could it be that to truly know God and “to do” His will, I have to “be still.” Paul Turnier, the noted physician and author, once said to a group of us that, “When God really wants to get our attention, He whispers.” Maybe I need to pause in my busy-ness and dampen the noise of life about me so that I can hear that whisper. Then, possibly, my doing will take on more direction and meaning.

Be…

Be still…

Be still and know…

Be still and know that I am God.

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The devotional this week is submitted by Wilson Wayne Grant, a 1962 graduate of HPU. He is married to Veronica Sorley, a 1965 graduate of HPU. They have two children and four grandchildren. He completed his medical training at the University of Texas in Galveston. He practices pediatrics in San Antonio. He loves writing, and his latest book is Living the Lord’s Prayer Day by Day. Dr. Grant currently severs on the HPU Board of Trustees.

Devotional – August 11

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Ever felt yourself melt down to a puddle on the floor? It happens when we get so disappointed we don’t see much future in going on. It happens when we set our expectations too soon.

I’m as prone as anyone to want instant gratification, instant success, instant pudding. I’m a great sprinter, not so great in marathons. As a result I tend to evaluate things before their time.

Our lives can be chopped up into segments, some of those segments are better than others. If I evaluate my life at the wrong segment I can come up with the wrong opinion as to how things are going.

If I make a road trip out West and have a flat in one of those segments and then evaluate the trip based upon that segment, the whole trip is a bummer. But if I look at the trip as a total experience, that flat becomes insignificant. It’s just a blip.

I could just be having a bad day. Those happen, you know. If I evaluate my life based upon that day, my whole existence is in the toilet. That’s why I can’t expect every moment to be the single criteria by which I judge the worth of what I’m doing. I need more data.

Raising kids, taking a job, beginning a project, living a life all have great and not so great moments. But taken as a whole, they are amazing adventures.

The bad times of our lives are relatively brief when we consider the over-all. The problem comes when we get hung up on one segment and can’t move past it. We’re letting one flat tire ruin a very good life.

The best approach is to pace ourselves, live each segment fully and keep an eye on the goal.

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The devotional this week is provided by Cary Smith, a ’72 graduate of HPU with a degree in Bible. He married Jan Nettles a music major who graduated in 1975. Both, actually, were a part of the Class of ’73. Cary graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and has served a variety of churches in Texas, California and Nevada. He pastored for eleven years in Las Vegas, Nevada. He currently serves as Associate in Senior Adult Ministry at West Conroe Baptist Church, Conroe, Texas. Jan teaches music at Covenant Christian School in Conroe. They have three boys and eight grandchildren scattered from California, Nevada, Texas and Alabama. He is a published author and songwriter.

Forgetful Christians

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10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.    Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NIV)

Israel was blessed according to God’s promise.  They were to become richly favored, and had to do nothing to earn it, not unlike many of us.  We have roads to drive on and cities that we live in which we did not build ourselves.  We live in houses not build by our own hands.  Even when the economy is poor, we are still some of the most blessed people on earth.  In many regards, we have it all!  Moses, says, when you have it all, it becomes easy to forget about God.  Repeatedly in scripture, people who have everything they need physically forget their spiritual neediness.  Often cultures of great affluence are rife with spiritual poverty, and not only spiritual poverty, but spiritual perversion.

In our own culture—so fast paced, technology driven, consumer centered, and celebrity obsessed—the remembrance of God seems like a faint and distant memory of times gone by.  People who have it all seemingly do not need God, but nothing could be further from the truth.  The Israelites were a people who God delivered from captivity and blessed with the promise of land.  The covenant God makes with us is freedom from the bondage of sin.  Often times our allegiance to an earthly kingdom—a corporation, a sports team, a dream to retire comfortably, or even a nation state—far outweighs our allegiance to the kingdom of God.  Affluence and privilege may make it difficult to relate to the heart of God, who cares for the poor, the afflicted, and the brokenhearted. There is nothing wrong with being blessed, or even living a comfortable lifestyle, but Moses’s words still ring true: “be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  Remember today that God has delivered you from slavery to sin, and give thanks to the Lord for the comforts and blessings you enjoy in life.

Prayer:

Lord God,  I quiet my heart before you now.  Thank You for all the many ways you bless me.  Help me, in the midst of blessing, not to forget Your providence in my life. Thank you for the freedom from sin that comes in Christ Jesus.  Give me the strength to walk in Your freedom, the courage to stand for what’s right, and the humility to give You the glory that is already Yours.  Help my allegiance to Your kingdom grow, and to my kingdoms fade.  Amen.

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The devotional this week is provided by Rev. Jonathan Davis, pastor of Urbanna Baptist Church in Urbanna, Virginia.  Jonathan is married to Audrey Davis (HPU class of ’05) and has two sons, Eli, and Andrew.  He is the founder of www.studentministryideas.com, where he blogs regularly, providing free resources and ideas for youth ministers everywhere.  Jonathan is an HPU graduate (class of ’04), holds an M.Div. from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and is currently doing doctoral studies at Logsdon Seminary.