Monthly Blog Archives: June 2014

The Sparrow’s Song

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Make music to the Lord with the harp…and the sound of singing…   Psalm 98:5

I love our backyard and much of my morning quiet time is spent listening and watching my feathered friends, the robins who just added three little ones to their family; and the wren who sleeps in a hollowed out coconut shell hanging  on the back porch…all bring a delight to my soul.

Last spring a sparrow’s song was my morning joy, very early on a Sunday.  I could hear it but could not find the chorister, and spent several moments quietly positioning myself to find the source of this cherub-like music. There he was!

Tiptoeing around the yard, I could both see and hear the little fellow but when he saw me, he stopped chirping momentarily and scurried out of sight from the unwelcomed audience; soon he began his song again.  He certainly wasn’t singing to me!

This little dance went on for several more minutes.  I would strain to find him; the singing would stop.  Once out of sight, he would start up again.

Why was he singing this day so beautifully?  Was he singing for the other birds in the neighborhood?  Why did he want to be alone?  Or, was the little bird singing to the heavens in honor of his creator?

There are times when we all want (and need) to sing alone.  I don’t know about you, but I cherish my quiet times.  I am not lonely during those precious moments, and the truth is, I am not alone, either.  Just my Heavenly Father and I, sharing, laughing, crying, and singing!  Glory!

Father, teach me more about being a sparrow, singing my heart of praise to You.  Thank you for meeting me on that morning in the backyard.  See You there again, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow! Amen and amen.


The devotional this week is provided by Dr. Tommy Harrison ’67.  Dr. Harrison, a Southern Baptist pastor for 25 years, has taught university courses for 17 years including New Testament, Old Testament, Life and Teachings of Christ, Introduction to the Gospels, Christian Doctrine and Business Ethics at LeTourneau University, Houston, TX; Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN; and Victory University, Memphis.  Upon graduation from Howard Payne University he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees.

Dust Storms

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“Ah Lord God!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!   Nothing is too difficult for You…”   Jeremiah 32:17

That is perspective! Eternal perspective!  I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get my hand in the sand and can’t see past the dust storm!  But God made the heavens and the earth!!!  And that in just 6 days!  If He can do that, my piddly requests are nothing.

Getting a broad perspective by reading the whole word of God is essential to our faith.  In Exodus, I read about God coming down to Mt. Sinai to speak to His people that He had just brought out of Egypt with His mighty hand. (Nothing is too difficult for You!)  Then in Daniel, I read prophecy that has been fulfilled and prophecy that is to come.  If God fulfilled prophecy, He will surely continue to keep His word in the future (Nothing is too difficult for You!)  I read in Psalms about David’s suffering because of sin – his own and others and saw God’s great compassion and forgiveness. (Nothing is too difficult for You!)  Finally, I read in Luke about God’s great provision for His people through Jesus Christ as well as for our earthly needs. (Nothing is too difficult for You!)

I have to ask myself: “If I choose not to believe, after all the great and mighty things that God has accomplished through creation, in history, in prophecy, and in my life, is not that pride?  Are my problems more significant than those of the nations, of history, than of others that I would declare God unable or unwilling to reach down and be there in the midst?  I dare not.  I will proclaim that “Nothing is too difficult for You!  And then I will walk in faith and let God who ordained my steps, fulfill His perfect will for me.  The dust storms will still come, but God…!


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.

The Case of the Broken Heel

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As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, Oh God.    Psalms 42:1
And we know that all things work together for The good to them that love God. …    Romans 8:28
(21st Century KJV)

Cathy, a home nurse, was making her weekly visit to my wife.  My wife, who had lost her front teeth partial, said, “I cannot go to church until I get my new partial.” Cathy responded, “Don’t let that keep you from going to worship the Lord.” She went on saying how one Sunday she was all dressed up in high heels to go to the worship service. At the time she desperately needed a job. She and her son were walking when she took a misstep and her shoe heel broke. Her son said, “Mom let’s go home, you can’t go to church like that.” However, Cathy was determined to go worship her Lord. Her son reluctantly accompanied her as she limped down the aisle to a seat. Cathy would not let a broken heel keep her from worshiping God. After the service, as she limped to the exit, she heard a woman call her name. She was a lady Cathy had not seen in quite some time. “Cathy I have been looking for you. I have a job for you at the Community Center. Will you accept it?” Cathy did accept it and through that job she was given a job as a Home Nurse, which was her real expertise. God works in His wonderful ways – even in the case of a broken heel. He richly blesses His faithful children.


The devotional this week is provided by Silvester Ayala.  Dr. Ayala was saved at age 14, and he committed his life to Christ at age 18. He surrendered to the ministry in Las Vegas, Nevada while serving in the Air Force.
Sil holds a BA degree from Howard Payne University – 1958.  M. Div., MRE, a MFMC from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and a D. Min. from San Francisco Presbyterian Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California.
Sil and his wife, Ruth, are appointed missionaries by the Southern Baptist Convention. Sil worked with the New Mexico Baptist Convention for 10 years. He was the Missions Program Leader for the Native American and Hispanic communities throughout the state. As a pilot, he used his airplane in his extensive  travels around the state. Sil was a professor and Dean of Student Affairs at the Hispanic Baptist Theological Seminary in San Antonio, Texas, for 18 years. After retiring from the seminary, he maintained a private counseling practice.
Sil and Ruth are now retired. They have two children – a son, Danny, who is a Christian ministries television producer, and a daughter, Susan who is pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and is involved in ministries for special-needs children and their families.

Spring Has Sprung

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The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come.  Yes, spring is here. 
The Song of Solomon 2:12-13 (TLB)

Spring has truly come to our backyard.  Although it is still early, daisies, columbines, snapdragons, and pincushion plants are a profusion of color.  My herb bed is coming to life again, as are other plants, flowers, and trees.  The birds are singing!

However, when we returned home from a recent trip, we discovered that a late freeze had damaged our five crape myrtle bushes.  The tips of their branches had turned dark.  These plants have been a part of our yard for many years.  It will be a waiting game to see if they begin their growing cycle again.  What if we have to dig them up and start over again with new plants?

Inspecting those bushes reminded me of one of my writing attempts.  After researching, writing, and following the guidelines for submitting, I sent one of my favorite children’s stories to a publishing company, confident a sale had been planted.  A short time later the manuscript was returned to me with a generic rejection note.  I was devastated.  No doubt my countenance while reading that note resembled those darkened crape myrtle bushes.  I did not understand that writing, submitting, rejection, revising, and submitting again are a natural cycle all writers experience in the process of growing.

The crape myrtle bushes will be replaced.  After a time to reflect and make changes to the manuscript, it will be submitted to another publisher, and the waiting game will begin once more. Perhaps this time my manuscript will find a place to bloom.

Lord, You created the cycle of seasons that remind me there are cycles for writers, too.  I praise You that for every winter of disappointment, there follows a spring of hope.


The devotional this week is provided by Maurice Parsley Mallow, 1970, who first attended Howard Payne University in the early 1950’s.  In October, 1953, she married James A. Mallow, a former student, who graduated from Hardin-Simmons University.  After 14 years, and 2 children, Maurice returned to the HPU campus, commuting from Brady, Texas, to complete her degree, graduating in 1970.  She taught in the elementary schools in Brady for 21 years, while James was the Brady Schools Band Director for 26 years.   Both of their children, Melodianne and Morgan, also graduated from HPU.  Maurice and James have been active members in the First Baptist Church of Brady for 53 years.  Maurice also served on the HPU Alumni Board in recent years, which was a very rewarding experience.

Making a Mess

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Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox.    Proverbs 14:4

I’m messy. I’ve always been messy. I can’t open the hood of my truck without getting grease on me. When I’m building things in my garage, I make a mess. Sawdust, scattered wood, tools, coke cans litter the floor. I can’t create without mess.

Okay, blame my mother for not disciplining me to clean up after myself. Blame me for being lazy. Bottom line: I don’t let cleanliness interfere with creating.

Solomon said, Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. If you want the advantage of the ox, you’re going to have to deal with (well) his messiness.

Sometimes God gets messy with us. Since faith is developed by trials and tests, things have to get messy for us to learn to trust Him. Nobody learns significant lessons of truth simply by taking notes in a Bible Study. We haven’t learned anything. We’ve simply noted something significant.

For those truths to become a part of our lives they have to be worked in. Like reading a book on working out and noting the importance of certain exercises but never going to the gym and doing what we read. God doesn’t grow us by information any more than a coach can strengthen us by lecture.

I can check out projects in books or on line all day. But if I’m going to make something that had only existed on paper, things are gonna get messy. Growing faith gets messy. But we won’t grow without it. Just be sure and clean up after you’re done.


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 pastured 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.