Blog Archives: Alumni Relations

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.

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.

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.