Monthly Blog Archives: May 2014

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

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The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
“The Unpardonable Sin”

28 “…Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” 30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”   Mark 3:28-30

During the more than thirty years of serving in the office of pastor in various Baptist churches, there were more personal questions addressed to me by believers and unbelievers concerning the “Unpardonable Sin”,  than any other biblical topic.  To my surprise there was great misunderstanding of Jesus’ words spoken in Mark 3:28-30 about the “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”.  If I were guessing, I am sure that even many Christians today have an uneasiness about this topic.

To the Pharisees, Jesus claimed to be “The Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28; meaning He was God in the Flesh). According to Mark 3:6, these “Religious Scholars” then decided to work with political forces in order to “destroy him” (When Religious and Political forces join together, Evil Always Results).

Jesus went to his home town of Nazareth and both his earthly family (his mother and brothers) and Jewish religious leaders (Scribes) were convinced that he had gone out of his mind. (Back then, insanity was believed to be caused by Beelzebul or Satan). They had reached the same conclusion as the Pharisees. The thing that all three groups held in common was that they had already decided who Jesus was; a person who was mentally unbalanced.

Interestingly enough, before going to Nazareth, while healing people of various diseases, the demons of Satan declared the apparent truth concerning Jesus that was missed by those mentioned above. The demons cried out: “You are the Son of God” (Mark 3:11b). These demonic beings were unwilling to submit to Christ’s authority. What was the difference between the two perspectives?

It was obvious that the presuppositions of his family and the Jewish religious leaders did not allow them to consider Jesus’ claims in spite of the evidence. To those who rigidly rejected the concept that God could be present in human form, Jesus’ words and actions were insane. There was no reason to even consider anything different; therefore they certainly were not going to follow him at this point. On the other hand, created demonic forces are not candidates for God’s redemptive work.

At the end of this episode Jesus said: “… whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:29). The Holy Spirit always testifies truth to the inner being of all sinners that Jesus Christ is God in the Flesh and that those who repent of sins and believe in him will have forgiveness of sins. To refuse to be open to the voice of God and to be convicted by the words and actions of Jesus make it impossible to be eternally saved.

Thus the unpardonable sin is simply a refusal to hear the truth from God Himself and respond appropriately.  Such a stubborn attitude does not allow lost sinners the least opportunity to know God now and excludes them from eternal bliss in heaven.   Thankfully, later, members of Jesus’ family and some Pharisees did repent and experienced complete forgiveness of sins. Always be grateful for the Eternal God’s Revelation of Himself by the Holy Spirit and the Crucified Resurrected Christ.

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Dr. Art Allen ’67 has been married to Gayle Richardson ’69 for 46 years. They have two daughters Myka ’98 and Marla ’99 and four grandchildren. Dr. Allen is a Professor of Christian Studies at HPU for twenty-five years and Pastored Baptist Churches in Louisiana and Texas for a total of thirty years. In addition to his bachelors from HPU he is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Seminary and New Orleans Baptist Seminary.

Department of Exercise and Sport Science recognizes four

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ESS.StudentAwards2013-14Four graduating seniors claimed the department’s top awards during the university’s Academic Awards Convocation on April 30, 2014. Amber Jones (Houston, TX) was named the Outstanding Graduate in the Athletic Training major, Hannah Hicks (Flower Mound, TX) and Mallory Orms (Springtown, TX) were named Outstanding Graduates in the Exercise and Sport Science major, and Rachel Moore (Sierra Blanco, TX) was recognized for maintaining the Highest GPA among 2013-14 seniors.

(L > R: Jones, Hicks, Moore, and Orms)

2014 graduate Hannah Hicks recognized by the American Kinesiology Association

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Hannah Hicks ESS for webHannah Hicks, was recently named as the department’s first Undergraduate Scholar to be recognized by the American Kinesiology Association.  Hicks (Flower Mound, TX) received her BS in Exercise and Sport Science, with a Personal Trainer emphasis, during spring commencement exercises on May 10.

His Presence is What We Want

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Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take away Your Holy Spirit from me.  Psalm 51:11
God said to Moses, “I Am who I Am”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Have you ever talked to someone who kept glancing at his or her smart phone to read a text or social media update? Or, worse, they send a text or update their social media while you are talking to them?

Confession time—how many of you do that yourself? Raise your hand…go ahead, tweet it or update your Facebook status with the following—”I confess that I read text, Twitter or Facebook messages on my smart phone while I am ‘listening’ to a person that is right in front of me.”

What is up with that? Do we understand anymore what it means to fully engage our present reality?

I am as guilty as the next person. And for those friends of mine that are patting themselves on the back because somehow they have resisted the smart phone and social media world so far…you are just as guilty, you just use old-school tactics.

Here is what I think the issue is…

God created us with a hunger for satisfaction and fulfillment.  We want to associate with and feel connected to something that matters.

The problem is that all the things, people, celebrities, etc. that scream for our attention are not able to nor never will satisfy or fulfill us. Yet, we continue to crave each other’s attention. Today’s technology feeds this addiction.

What we really want is God’s Presence.

A term God uses to describe Himself is…I Am! How interesting. The name God uses for Himself demonstrates the essence of Presence.

God is the only One who can make our present reality fulfilling. He is the One who makes sense of this life.

Do you want healthy relationships that have meaning?

Invite I AM into the relationships with your spouse, family, friends and neighbors. If you spent time interceding for these in your life instead of texting, tweeting and Facebooking, I bet you will see an incredible shift in these relationships.

We want God’s Presence when we worship

And, what would happen if our focus were on His Presence when we gathered to worship instead of on the attendance of well-adjusted people able to give their time and money?

Let’s stand on His promise that He will draw all men to Himself if we lift Him up.

Forgive us Lord for our short attention span. We really are like sheep gone astray, each to our own way.

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The devotional this week is provided by Kenneth A Camp, known by friends and family as Kenny.  He attended HPU 1979-1984 as a Bible major. He married Danielle Reneau Camp in 1988.  They have lived most of their married life in the Austin, TX area except for six months in 2007 when they served as volunteer missionaries in Thailand. Kenneth has held jobs in the secular world as well as served on three different church staffs. Currently, Kenneth is a published author, Adopting the Father’s Heart,  a blogger at www.KennethACamp.com, and a father to a three-year-old son that he and his wife adopted in 2012.

The Hound of Heaven

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43 But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.
Luke 4:43-44 (NRSV)

In the 1800’s, there lived a man who wanted to be a writer.  Like many writers, he started off struggling to make ends meet.  He sold matches and newspapers for a living, barely making enough money to buy food.  Depressed and nearing the end of hope, he began abusing opium.  He even tried killing himself, but he stopped when he had a vision of another poet who committed suicide nearly a century before.  Was the vision from God or from opium?  Who knows?  Shortly after the suicidal episode, a prostitute found him and had sympathy on him.  She took him in, fed him, clothed him, and nursed him back to health.  Just as quickly as the woman entered the picture, she mysteriously disappeared.  In 1893, Francis Thompson would write his famous poem, The Hound of Heaven, describing God’s unrelenting pursuit of the human soul.

Jesus relentlessly and intentionally pursued people in “the other cities.”  God has a way of chasing after us, even when we do not realize it.  The Hound of Heaven still hunts as Thompson wrote, “With unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy.”  The intellectual father of the civil rights movement in the United States was, in many ways, Howard Thurman.  Thurman wrote in his 1953 book, Jesus and the Disinherited, that “Wherever His Spirit appears, the oppressed gather fresh courage; for he has announced the good news that fear, hypocrisy, and hatred, the three hounds of hell that track the trail of the disinherited, have no dominion over them.”  God’s Spirit is in relentless pursuit of not only the souls of humanity, but of righteousness and justice for the oppressed.  How is God chasing you?  How may God use you in the Divine pursuit for lost souls, the Divine pursuit for righteousness in the world?  Jesus said, “I was sent for this purpose,” and so too, God sends you.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank You for Your relentless pursuit of my soul, and Your gracious desire for relationship with me.  There have been so many times when I have run from You, yet You chase me still.  Today, make me an instrument of your Divine purposes on this earth.  Help me to realize that You are, with unyielding love and Holy intentionality, seeking the salvation of humanity.  Help me to participate in bringing “the good news of the kingdom of God” to those I meet today.  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.

Rebekah Johnson – My London Experience

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Rebekah Johnson is a senior majoring in History and Youth Ministry from Buda, TX. For more details on the HPU London studies program, visit www.hputx.edu/studyabroad.

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Coming on this study abroad tour has been such an amazing opportunity. I had no idea what to expect when I got here, but from the moment I landed in the Heathrow Airport I have absolutely loved every minute of studying in London. I have had the opportunity to make new friendships, experience London, and live with students from UMHB and HSU. We all live in flats here in Central London. The flats are great, and because we live in such a great place in the City, I am always prepared for the daily adventures and sights that London might bring. You never know if you might get your shirt or backpack stuck in the door jumping onto the tube, or when you’ll get lost in the British museum.

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Getting to take classes here has been an unforgettable experience. Most classes are tours of the city or of an amazing art exhibit. In the morning I could be looking at the crown jewels, and the in the afternoon I could be learning the Tudor history in the National Portrait Gallery. The shows we have gotten to see have been wonderful; my personal favorite was Billy Elliot, but I will never forget, waiting at the stage door to get Jude Law’s autograph in the rain after seeing Henry V. We have taken several day trips to Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, and even to Canterbury where we toured the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral.

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All in all favorite part of this experience has by far been the friends I have made, the history that this city holds for me to see, and of course learning to love the fog and drizzling rain.

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There is a Lad Here

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“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”  
John 6:9 (NASB)

I realize that imagination can be the most dangerous method of understanding the Scriptures, but bear with me.  I can imagine the lad rushing into the house saying, “Hey Mom, may I go see Jesus and listen to him?”  I can imagine her saying, “yes, but you had better take a lunch.”   I can further imagine him coming home, slamming the door and saying, “Hey Mom, guess what, Jesus and I fed five thousand people!”

In John 6:5-12 (NASB) Jesus asks his disciples how to feed 5000 people, already knowing what he would do.  Andrew said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” This is the only reference to the lad and nothing is said about how he gave his lunch to Jesus.  Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed the bread and fish to 5000 men.  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “gather up the leftover fragments that nothing be lost.”

I wonder what happened to the lad when he grew up.  Did he become a great servant of Christ?  I do not know.  I do know that in his youth he had a glorious experience with Jesus.

The lad’s experience reminds me that regardless of my age or the smallness of my gifts, Jesus will take them, give thanks, bless others and magnify His name.

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The devotional this week is provided by Rev. Darrell Tapley who recently passed away. At the beginning of the year Rev. Tapley submitted this devotional.
Rev. Darrell Tapley was born in Broken Bow, Oklahoma February 12, 1928.  He finished High School in Pearsall, Texas, received his BA degree from Howard Payne University in 1950 and BD degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1954.
He received Jesus as his Savior at 11 years of age and surrendered to the ministry a few years later.  His 53 years of active ministry include being missionary to Latin Americans, pastoring Baptist churches and serving as director of missions in Texas and New Mexico.   He was bilingual and preached in English and Spanish his entire ministry.
He and his loving wife, Fredalene, were married for 59 years.  They had three children and three grandchildren, all of whom are active in the Lord’s service.  His son and three grandchildren are also graduates of Howard Payne University.