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NO ONE RESPONDING? TRY TO REFOCUS

By DANNY MINTON

          Have you ever lost anything and couldn’t find it? Have you ever worked on something only to have it get destroyed in the blink of an eye? Well, that’s what happened to me recently. I had spent an hour writing my Thursday Thoughts for Southern Hill Church of Christ and went to save my work. It was then that the unimaginable happened. Every Word document I had opened suddenly turned completely white, and the message popped up “Word is not Responding!”

Danny Minton

Danny Minton

I thought, surely it had auto-saved and would allow me to retrieve it when I restarted Microsoft Word. I restarted Word, and there it was, my document! I opened it up and there staring at me was a blank page. I decided to check the file so I opened up Explorer. There it was, my file! Then moving to the right to the file size column the horror was there expressing itself, file size, “0 kb.” Nothing saved, all my work had gone “down the drain.”

          It was a good lesson, too! All about “Hitting the Gap.” It mentioned our current lesson series and a lady who had great plans. It was well-written and corrected. I used the perfect anecdote of Jesus from the Gospel of John. I know you would have read it and said, “This is really good!” But alas, it has made its way to the computer of lost documents in the sky. And it was good, too!

          Have you ever been in that situation, where you worked so hard to try and get something done, feeling you’ve done a great job and then met with people “not responding?” You feel like it’s all been a waste, your time, your effort, and your desire to achieve something you feel is worthwhile.

          I believe we all go through those moments. I know Jesus did. I picture him standing on the hill and crying out “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!” He had the pain of his work going for naught in so many lives. You could hear it as he spoke to his apostles and sadly said, “O you of little faith!” It was tough having something so great to say and do, but feeling like sometimes all he ended up with was a blank white page and an unresponsive public.

          We will all go through that feeling at times. Our excitement may fall on deaf ears. Our enthusiasm may be squelched by others apathy. Our dreams may become nightmares when no one acts as if they care. It is in those times that we just have to start over and move forward. The nice thing about a blank white page is that it gives you a place for a fresh start. So next time you feel like no one is responding, just sit down and refocus, look at that white page and think about other possibilities. Mainly, never give up on your dreams and what you want to do. Jesus always responds, even if no one else does.

          Oh, by the way, you might save your work more often as well.

_______________________

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Psalm 119:71

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

LIFE OF LEO SCOTT CELEBRATED

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Members of the Shiloh Baptist Church, top photo, and the Minda Street Church of Choir, video, added soul and inspiration to the Feb. 12 celebration of the life of the late Rev. Leo Scott at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. Photo and video by Loretta Fulton

 

 

 

 

By LORETTA FULTON

The title of an exhibit that runs through May 19 at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature is “Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards.”

But on the evening of Feb. 12, the NCCIL became “Our Voice: Celebrating the Life of the Rev. Dr. Leo Scott.” Choirs from local African-American congregations added soulful gospel music to the celebration. Guests sat on chairs set up in the middle of the large exhibition room, surrounded by imaginative works of art by African-American artists featured in the exhibit.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards have been given annually since 1969 to African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults for demonstrating African-American culture and values. The exhibit will be at the NCCIL through May 19.

But the evening of Feb. 12 belonged to the late Rev. Scott, an Abilene pharmacist and pastor of New Light Baptist Church. Scott endured racism when he first arrived in Abilene but persevered and became a local icon, becoming the city’s first African-American elected to the City Council. Scott, a Rockdale native, died Dec. 28, 2009, at 76.

Speaker after speaker praised Scott for his contributions to the city and to the church. Emcee for the evening was Iziar Lankford, pastor of Southwest Drive Community United Methodist Church. Lankford recalled that when the nation needed a leader, the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. answered the call. Scott did likewise in Abilene.

“Dr. Leo F. Scott heard the call that Abilene needed a leader,” and answered, Lankford said. “We are here to remember a great, great trailblazer.”

Phil Christopher, pastor of First Baptist Church, echoed that thought with his prayer.

“We give thanks,” Christopher said, “for the way you changed this community through Leo Scott.”

One of the speakers for the evening was Nita Slaton, operations director for the Community Foundation of Abilene. In her previous job as scholarship director, Slaton worked with Scott and his late wife, Piney, to establish a scholarship.

“They both believed that God placed them here to make a difference,” Slaton said.

Being in charge of scholarship funds was a thrill, Slaton said, because of being able to bring good news to so many people. Scott understood how important it was to provide educational opportunities for all young people.

“I came to see a man who was extremely passionate about education,” Slaton said.

Eddie Jordan, current pastor of New Light Baptist Church, met Scott in 1984 when Scott was getting ready to return to New Light, his home church, to preach. He recalled how the scholarship fund the Scotts established at the Community Foundation of Abilene helped provide an educational opportunity for thousands of children.

“To be here tonight to honor him,” Jordan said, “is a privilege.”

 

 

 

ECUMENISM, INTERFAITH SHARE GOALS

Ecumenism and interfaith share many of the same attributes and goals as guests at the February meeting of the Abilene Interfaith Council learned.

DougFoster

Dr. Douglas Foster

Guest speaker was Douglas Foster, professor of church history in the Graduate School of Theology and director of the Center for Restoration Studies at Abilene Christian University.

Foster, a popular speaker at various venues in Abilene, spoke Feb. 12 on “The Global Ecumenical Movement.” Foster shared his PowerPoint presentation with Spirit of Abilene. Following are highlights:

 

ECUMENISM AND INTERFAITH

1. Both proceed from a reconciling impulse.

2. Both embody goals of mutual understanding, respect and enrichment.

3. Both seek ways for religions to collaborate with one anther in response to common societal problems.

4. Ecumenism‘s unique goal is unity in faith and worship with all other Christians.

Ecumenism Has Existed for Many Centuries

  • Efforts to heal the East-West Schism have been ongoing.
  • The Institutional Ecumenical Movement Has Existed a Little Over a Century.

Important Dates in the History of the Ecumenical Movement

  • 1908 Federal Council of Churches USA
  • 1910 Edinburgh World Missionary Conference
  • 1921 International Missionary Council
  • 1925 after WWI—Life and Work Movement
  • 1927 Faith and Order Movement
  • 1948 (delayed by WWII) World Council
  • of Churches
  • 7. 1950 National Council of Churches USA

Ecumenism Exists at Many Levels

  1. World Level—World Council of Churches
  2. National Level—National Councils of Churches

World Communion Level

  • A. 1867 Anglican Communion
  • B. 1875 World Communion of Reformed Churches
  • C. 1881 World Methodist Council
  • D. 1930 World Convention of Churches of Christ
  • E. 1947 Lutheran World Federation

The World Council of Churches Marks 70 Years in 2018

The WCC Meets in General Assembly Every Seven Years. The 10th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches took place in Busan, South Korea, in October 2013.

The WCC is a worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.

 

 

 

 

BE LIKE CHAD THIS VALENTINE’S DAY

By DANNY MINTON

This time of year made me think of a story I read in “Chicken Soup for the Soul” by Dale Galloway. It’s about a young boy named Chad. Chad decided that he wanted to make Valentines for all his classmates. His mother had wished he wouldn’t because she knew others treated him as an outcast. She’d noticed him always walking behind the others on the way home, and she didn’t want him to be disappointed. As the little story goes, Chad went ahead for three weeks making Valentines for every classmate. When Valentines Day came, he happily headed with the 35 treasures to place in the decorated boxes of each of his classmates.

Danny Minton

His mother expected him to be disappointed so made some fresh cookies and had them out with milk waiting for him, hoping it would ease the pain of maybe not getting many Valentines himself. As expected, down the street after school, here comes Chad, head down behind the other kids, empty-handed. As he entered the house, his mother, holding back the tears of disappointment for her son, heard him say, “Not a one. Not a one.” Her heart sank. Then he looked up at her and said: “I didn’t forget a single one!”

It’s easy to love someone who loves you back. We all have friends that we spend time with at parties, travel on vacations with and most often just hang out with. We invite them over to our home, and in turn, we go to theirs. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and family milestones. We’ll check on them when they are sick, taking food, watching their kids, and making sure they are okay.

There are two things about Chad in the story above that bring out some thoughts. First, there are a lot of Chads in our world. There are those who have few friends and are often alone, living a lonely isolated life. They aren’t invited over for dinner or to hang out with the group. They don’t receive cards and phone calls on their birthday and will often celebrate it in the privacy of their own home alone and feeling unloved. Sometimes they are outcast because of how they look or act. Sometimes for unknown reasons they are just left to themselves. They are the Chads of society with few friends, seemingly invisible to those around them.

However, another thing about Chad that stands out is that he sees people in a different light. He wants to make sure that everyone in his class feels recognized with a Valentine. He’s not concerned about just a few but every one of them. To Chad, there are no outcasts, only classmates. His pride comes when he knows he didn’t leave anyone out. He didn’t forget to show his “love” for each one no matter who they were or how they treated him.

What about us? Do we pay attention to those who others shun? Do we have the eyes of Jesus in seeing the lonely and forgotten? Jesus was always seeing people with different eyes than others. He looked at a leper and saw a man who wanted to be healed and reached out and touched him. He stopped cold when touched by a woman in the crowd and loved her. He passed by a blind beggar and felt compassion for him.

Yes, it’s easy to love someone who loves us back. Just think what the world would be like if each of us took the time to give a Valentine to the lonely or to invite someone who never gets invited to a party. Every Christmas we invite some of our friends and Bible class over for a party. One thing we always do is to try and invite some who we know will probably not be invited anywhere else. It’s a simple gesture for us, but a light in the life of someone who feels alone.

Take time to send a card or note to someone who is lonely. Let those in the world who may feel unloved know that they are just as important as everyone else in your eyes and the eyes of Jesus. Look for the Chads in your life and show them, Jesus.

____________________

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.

Matthew 8:3

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

‘IT’S NOT OUR CHURCH, IT’S GOD’S CHURCH,’ ORTHODOX PRIEST REMINDS

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Father Joseph Huneycutt of Houston, left, led a retreat Feb.6-7 at St. Luke Orthodox Church, led by Father Philip LeMasters, center. Among the visitors was Father Mark McNary, right, of St. Peter Orthodox Church in Fort Worth. Photo by Loretta Fulton

By LORETTA FULTON

Father Joseph Huneycutt sometimes has to fight back the urge to say what’s on his mind, like when a teenager asks why there are no longer any miracles.

“I want to say, ‘you are a miracle,'” Huneycutt, pastor of St. Joseph Orthodox Church in Houston, said during a talk Feb. 6 at Abilene’s St. Luke Orthodox Church.

Huneycutt conducted a two-day retreat at St. Luke on evangelism. What the teenager really means, Huneycutt said, is “Why aren’t prayers answered?” People die despite fervent prayers. Why?

“God’s normal is not our normal,” Huneycutt said.

A person looks the same after confession, Huneycutt noted, but he or she is a new creation in Christ. Ordinary bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ and humans are changed by partaking in the Eucharist.

Huneycutt answered questions from the audience about the struggles the Orthodox church, and others, are facing for members. Huneycutt said there are seven churches in his deanery and all but one are suffering financially. But the church must continue to serve.

“It’s not our church,” Huneycutt said, “it’s God’s church.”

Huneycutt was asked if he sees people going deeper into ancient worship. Huneycutt’s own faith journey shows that he did. Raised in a Southern Baptist home, Huneycutt became an Episcopal priest and then converted to Orthodoxy. Everyone has to go deeper, Huneycutt said.

“For me,” he said, “I have to go to a monastery from time to time to recharge.”

 

 

 

MORE ‘RADICAL HOSPITALITY’ NEEDED

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Richard Beck talks about his new book with guests at a lecture Feb. 7 at First Central Presbyterian Church. Beck is chairman of the Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University. Photo by Loretta Fulton

By LORETTA FULTON

“The battle to be like Christ is won or lost in a millisecond.”

It happens as quickly as looking away from someone in need–or looking at them. Everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan, Richard Beck said to a group Feb. 7 at First Central Presbyterian Church. But we don’t become the Good Samaritan ourselves because we don’t notice. Seeing “Good Samaritan opportunities” takes intentionality and sometimes a change of heart

“To rewire one’s heart is hard,” Beck said, but worth the effort.

Beck, chairman of the Department of Psychology at Abilene Christian University, was guest speaker for the Feb. 7 Wednesday evening program at First Central Presbyterian. He based his talk on his new book, “Stranger God: Meeting Jesus in Disguise.” A promotional blurb for the book says that when Beck first led a Bible study at the maximum-security French-Robertson unit north of Abilene, he went to meet God.

Beck’s faith was flagging, but he still believed the promise of Matthew 25, that when we visit the prisoner, we visit Jesus. And sure enough, God met him in prison. In his talk and in his book, Beck talks about how psychological experiments show how we are predisposed to like those who are similar to us and avoid those who are unlike us.

The call of the gospel, however, is to override those impulses with compassion, to “widen the circle of our affection.” In the end, Beck turns to the Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux for guidance in doing even the smallest acts with kindness, and he lays out a path that any of us can follow.

The Bible is filled with stories of “radical hospitality,” which Beck called “God’s thermometer,” and that is what the church should practice. We may be good at welcoming people into the church, he said, but there is a bigger question.

“Will we welcome people into our hearts?” Beck asked.

“Radical hospitality” calls for widening our moral or “affectional” circle, Beck said. That circle includes people who are like us. Expanding that circle to take in people we sometimes turn a blind eye to is what Jesus calls for.

“That’s a challenging practice for all of us,” Beck said.

Beck not only is popular guest speaker, he also is extremely popular with ACU students. He is an award-winning author, speaker, blogger and professor. During his tenure at ACU, Beck  has been selected Teacher of the Year, Honors Teacher of the Year, McNair Mentor of the Year and has won the College of Arts and Sciences Classroom teaching award.