Monthly Blog Archives: March 2014

The Discipline of Simplicity

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We brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.   1 Timothy 6:7-8 

Have you ever wondered why every Thomas Kinkade painting of an isolated mountain cabin or thatched-roof cottage draws us in and causes us to stop and stare?  Without ever getting a glimpse of the inside of those humble dwellings, we just know we would love to sit by the fire that is producing the stream of smoke rising from that chimney.  It certainly looks like a simple life, and instinctively we know that simple equals free.  For just a moment, we breathe a little easier.

While most of us are not ready to live in a single room furnished only with a table, chair, and bed, we readily admit that almost every area of our lives could use some de-cluttering.  Our homes are crowded with “stuff” we will never use again, books and magazines we will never read again, and clothes we will never wear again.  Our calendars are crammed full of activities and commitments we’re not even sure we enjoy.  Our relationships are filled with unresolved feelings, unexpressed love, and unconfessed sins.  Our minds are so focused on yesterday (which cannot be changed) or tomorrow (which is not promised) that we are missing out on the today that God has placed in our hands.  With all this clutter there seems to be no time or space for ourselves, our families, or even God.

Pastor and author A. W. Tozer prayed, “Father, I want to know you, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys…I come trembling, but I do come.  Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long…so that You  may enter and dwell there without a rival.”  The beautiful discipline of Simplicity is the key to spiritual freedom.  Less clutter means a simple life.  A simple life is a free life.  A free life is a breathe-easier life.  It’s also a Jesus kind of life.

This week’s devotional is provided by Vicki Vaughn who committed her life to Christ as a nine-year-old child.  She is a graduate of the University of Corpus Christi with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, of Fuller Theological Seminary with a Master’s Degree in Theology, and of Truett Theological Seminary with a Doctor of Ministry degree. She is the mother of Dr. Melody Bynum Pickle and Austin Bynum, both of whom are graduates of Howard Payne University.  She is the grandmother of one grandson, Asa (8 years old), and two granddaughters, Megan and Skylar Rae (11-year-old twins). Vicki has been in vocational Christian service for the past forty-six years.  She has partnered in ministry with Dr. Richard Jackson, as his research/administration/counseling assistant at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and as the Executive Director of the Richard Jackson Center for Evangelism and Encouragement, located in Brownwood. Also, Vicki has served as the Ministry Guidance Director at Howard Payne University where she teaches Theology of Worship, Spiritual Formation, Evangelism, Introduction to the Ministry, Supervised Ministry, and Introduction to the New Testament.  Her responsibilities at HPU also include supervising internships of students who are pursuing their Master’s degree.


God’s Multiplication Principle

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10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.     2 Corinthians 9:10-11 NIV

It was a typical Sunday morning and a typical worship service for our small congregation. I don’t remember there being much response at the end of my message, at least initially, but when I made it home my 15-year old daughter, Micaiah, told me of her experience. At some point in the message I had made a comment about being faithful to missions and in helping the poor, and while I am passionate about that subject, on that day it was more of a passing comment than anything.  Micaiah explained that when upon hearing my comments she began to ask the Lord as to how she could be involved in missions since she is only 15 and wouldn’t be allowed to be a missionary yet. As she continued to pray it dawned on her that she had been successful in the past in organizing fundraisers for missions. She said to the Lord, “I can do that, but I need money to start the fundraiser.” This was her closing prayer that morning. It was private and no one else knew.

We had a visitor that morning, an elderly man who occasionally attends our services. As he explains, the Lord had spoken to him that morning and told him to give my children money. I have a 13-year old son as well. He wasn’t sure he was hearing the Lord, so he asked the Lord after the service to direct his path home. If he crossed paths with my children then he would give them the money. Well, you can guess what happened. He ended up at Wal Mart, where my wife had stopped by for a few grocery items on the way home from church. He followed through with his promise and gave each of us $10, resulting in a $40 gift to our family. Micaiah knew this was seed money and her fundraiser plans were put into motion. We decided that the Philippines would be our target because of the tsunami that had recently devastated them. We bought the items for the fundraiser – hot chocolate and ingredients to make hot cider – since it was so close to Christmas. We employed our church youth group, set the event for that Saturday and began putting the word out. When the day came we opened up our church facility and served free coffee, hot chocolate, cider, and cookies while asking for donations to help the Philippines. We also collected money throughout the next week as well. When it was all done, my daughter had amazingly raised just over $1,500. Hallelujah! We sent the money to World Vision, a reputable Christian relief organization that combines benevolence with the preaching of the Gospel, and earmarked it for the Philippines.

I’m amazed by how quickly God raised up such an effective event. I’m amazed at how well my 15-year old daughter hears the voice of God and seeks to obey Him. I’m amazed by the generosity of so many people who responded. And I’m amazed that God can take the $40 gift of an elderly man and in two weeks multiply it to $1,500. This is the Kingdom at work – God using weak people to accomplish His divine agenda. I wonder just how much harvest of righteousness can be accomplished through a $40 gift and an obedient 15-year old?  Only heaven knows.

What gift has God told you to give? What mission has He put in your heart? Does the mission seem too big? Does the gift seem too small? Perhaps it’s time to step out in faith. Perhaps it’s time to attempt the “impossible” plan God has laid on your heart (Matt. 19:26). Perhaps it’s time to put aside the despising of small things and give an “insignificant” gift (Zech. 4:10). For the God who can use a 15-year old can certainly use you, and the God who can turn $40 into $1,500 can increase your small gift as well. For He can supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

“Lord, deliver me from the indoctrination of a culture that says something small doesn’t matter. Deliver me from the lie that says I can’t do great things in Your name. Empower me to obey You, no matter how big or how small and insignificant a project may seem.”

The devotional this week is provided by Steve Norris from Ralls, Texas. He graduated from HPU in 1989 with a BA in Bible and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1993 with a Masters of Divinity. Steve married Tina Yvette Bybee in 1994 who also has a degree from Southwestern Seminary in marriage and family counseling and Religious Education in 1994.  Steve was youth pastor and later the pastor of Arrow Lane Baptist Church in Sansom Park (North Fort Worth area) from 1994-1997.  From 1993-1998 he worked for the Youth Sports Counsel of Fort Worth Inc. as their League Coordinator where he helped organize the City of Fort Worth Park and Recreation Youth Sports program.  Steve moved to Carmi, Illinois and served as the youth pastor of First Baptist Church from 1998-2003.  He is currently the pastor of Mercy Gate in Carmi, Illinois 2003-present, where he has started what is called the Downtown House of Prayer in efforts to unite the church in praying for revival.  Steve and Tina have two children, Micaiah (15) and Seth (13) who both are musicians and worship leaders in the congregation.