Monthly Blog Archives: July 2014

The Discipline of Meditation

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I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts.   
 Psalm 77.12 (The Message)

There is a great difference between glancing and gazing.  We glance at a friend’s familiar face, but we gaze into the eyes of a person we deeply love and are moved by the power of such emotion.  We glance at a newspaper article, but we gaze at a legal document we are expected to sign and realize that understanding is a powerful thing.  We glance at a snowman standing on a neighbor’s lawn, but we gaze at a snow-covered mountain and find ourselves awed and humbled at the majesty spread before us.  It is the same with our relationship with God.  When we want to move from the glance of acquaintance to the gaze of intimacy, we are ready for Christian meditation.

Unlike various other forms of meditation, Christian meditation is not about us or “getting in touch with” ourselves.  The psalmist wrote, “I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts” (Psalm 77.12, The Message).  Like the other spiritual disciplines, meditation involves slowing down and being unhurried.  It is then that we can gaze upon God’s Word, His amazing works in our lives, His people (seeing them as He does and rejoicing in them), or His creation.

A gaze not only lingers longer than a glance, but a gaze also produces far more than a glance.  The gaze upon God that we enjoy in meditation will produce within us a stronger love for Him, a deeper insight into His truth, a sweeter appreciation for His creation, and a calmer, more serene spirit just because we are more keenly aware of how near He is.

In 1903, after two of his nieces died from diphtheria, Cleland B. McAfee wrote the words to the beautiful hymn, “Near to the Heart of God.”  It is a spot that he described as a place of quiet rest, a place of full release, and a place of comfort sweet.  Meditation ushers us into that chamber of precious intimacy.

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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.

We Have Lost Our Tears

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Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…”  Colossians 3:1

Flip Wilson is on my list of Top 10 Funniest Comedians.  Although I am not a fan of cross-dressing, Geraldine came up with a few memorable lines.  For example, perfectly choreographed into the skit, she would blurt out at the most appropriate times, “The devil made me do it!”  She blamed the devil for everything from getting a speeding ticket to signing her husband’s name to a check to buy a new dress.

What Geraldine made us laugh about no longer seems as funny to the Christian who is really struggling with sin, and that’s just about every one of us.  We fight it every day of our lives.  The Apostle Paul likened the battle as a struggle between the old self and the new self, good and evil.  It’s a battle that’s as old as the Garden of Eden.

“You were taught to put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self…”  Ephesians 4:22-24.

Why do we continue to struggle with sin after becoming a Christian?  Because the old self never completely disappears; the battle is never-ending.  And Satan really loves to mess with our minds because of this truth.  He says to us, “It’s not so bad; everybody does it; no one needs to know; just this once (that’s a good one).”

The longer we remain captive to any kind of sin, the more calloused we become toward it, until that evil thing has its way with us.  Christian friend, giving in to the desire is easy; resisting it takes effort and prayer.  The more we give in to sin, the more indifferent we become toward the will of God for our lives, until one day we may awaken to find that we have lost our tears, that sin doesn’t bother us like it once did.  Where sin once left us feeling sorrowful after we did it, no further thought is given than when we decided to do it in the first place.

There is a better way than this for us:  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above…”  Colossians 3:1.

Prayer:  Father, if carrying the old self around is a life sentence, I beg that you will render it impotent by my tears for having yielded to my sinful nature.  Restore my new-birth passion to be like You in true righteousness and holiness.  Amen and amen.

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Dr. Tommy Harrison ’67, 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.

Worth the Wait

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“Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14

We sometimes grow impatient when waiting for a word from the Lord. Invariably, I get in trouble if I get ahead of God’s plan!

But how does God speak to us? It seems there are four basic ways that He communicates: (1) His Word, (2) the church (godly people), (3) His Spirit (still small voice) and (4) circumstances. Without a doubt, His Word, the Bible, is the primary way God speaks to our lives about certain issues and situations, but sometimes we need to “listen” to the other ways He speaks. We need to stay alert because God may choose to speak in a way we are not expecting. Remember Elijah’s experience with a strong wind, an earthquake, a fire and a gentle whisper (Check it out in 1 Kings 19).

While we are waiting it is important that we keep a worshipful heart; stay connected to the Lord even if we don’t have a word from Him. He has a purpose for the wait. Many times He may be protecting us from a great disappointment or danger. Other times He may be testing our faith. We may never know the reason for the wait but we can trust Him in it. His plans for our lives are incredible, and His timing is perfect. Be thankful for a loving God who is active in our lives…and enjoy the wait!

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The devotional this week is provided by Craig Hughes, a 1975 graduate of HPU.  He married Katha Doole (class of 1976) while attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Following seminary he served churches in Texas and Georgia before coming to GraceLife Baptist Church in Christiansburg, Virginia as Minister of Music and Worship in 2000. They have two wonderful children and a beautiful granddaughter.

Wrestling With God

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“a man wrestled with him until daybreak”  Genesis 32:24 (NASB)

Jacob was in trouble.  His father-in-law wanted to kill him.  He was returning to his brother Esau who had threatened to kill him.  Jacob had schemed, plotted, cheated and become a real scoundrel. Now he was left alone with his fear and despair.  It was then that the man wrestled with him.  Thus occurred some new things in his life.  He had a new awareness of God.  “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved” Gen 32:30 (NASB).  He received a new name.  His name, Jacob, meant trickster, cheat, schemer; now he will be called Israel, prince of God.  He had a new reminder.  He limped for the rest of his life because of his experience with God.  He had a new start in life.  “The sun rose over him just as he crossed over Penuel” Gen. 32:31 (NASB)  He had a new brother.  “Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”  Gen. 33:4 (NASB).

When we wrestle with God, He gives us a new awareness of Himself as we trust Jesus as our Savior.  He gives us a new name.  We had been known as sinner, now our name is Christian.  He gives a new reminder.  He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us as a constant reminder of our relationship with God.  We have a new opportunity of service.  “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” 2 Cor. 5:13 (NASB). We no longer live as enemies but become part of a fellowship of love.   Jesus said, “love one another, even as I have loved you.” John 13:34 (NASB).

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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.