Inspirational

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

‘MY WORDS CAME BACK TO HELP ME’

LIFELINES

By LARRY BAKER

My words came back to help me.

No, I didnt muff the line. I know the cliché says, Your words will come back to haunt you.

LarryBaker
Larry Baker

I have seen it happen–words previously written, pulled out of a file folder and read for others to hear. The exchange took place between two ministers. One was on the offensive and the other under attack. The examiner, the Reverend Dr. Peacock, asked, “Brother Greene, have you changed your mind on the topic?Brother Greene answered Noand nothing more. The Grand Inquisitor used the answer, one he didnt like, to launch an impassioned statement of his position. When the exchange neared its end, Brother Greene pulled a letter from a folder, read it aloud for all in the room to hear, and finished with the writers closing and name. The writer had previously expressed appreciation for Brother Greenes position on the topic under debate–and the writer was none other than the Reverend Doctor Peacock himself!

The Reverend Doctor Peacocks words had come back to haunt him!

Happens all the time. Politicians and pundits have staffers scouring articles, interviews, and speeches of their competitors with a fine-tooth comb to find words that might incriminate or undercut others. Nominees for government posts have elected officials and their aides digging through private documents, public records, and published accounts for words that might haunt their writers.

But words sometimes wing their way home with help and healing. That happened to me. More than once. I remember an occasion, years ago. I was unusually tired and disappointed in some folks and that combination plunged me into a funk. Over lunch, a friend and I talked through the matter. When we had eaten most of our food and I had said most of what I needed to say, my friend asked, Do you remember when_____?Then he asked, Do you remember what you said to me?I didn’t, but he did, and he repeated my earlier counsel. My words came back to help me!

Some of my words have come from others–the Bible, a favorite hymn, a treasured friend, a cherished book, a beloved parent–but I have tucked them away in my memory. When I least expected, they spoke up, Hey, remember______” and the words came out like stars on a cloudless night. They had come back to help me.

Some Bible words hang in my” room at home. My mother gave them to me when I was a college student: l can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me(Philippians 4:13, King James translation, no less) printed in calligraphy and modestly framed, a work created by a minister in her church. I have made them mine.As I look at them from time to time, they help me.

Words, however, can also rend the fabric of relationships and the social order. A brief look at the 20th Century puts us in touch with the Third Reich, Nazi Germany, and Adolph Hitler, who used words to attack, divide, destroy and throw the Western World into cataclysmic conflict. Or, take a look at what is taking place all around us now–in our society and others around the world. We often feel the dreadful power of words, within the church as well as outside.

I have seen an individual shatter a personal relationship with a few harsh words. Two sisters, former parishioners, took part regularly in worship — but refused to speak to each other because of harsh words hastily spoken decades before I became their pastor. Came in and went out different doors. Sat on opposite sides of the sanctuary. Encouraged me but never at the same time. All that because of some heated words.

Words are powerful. This may be why Paul counseled the Philippians: “whatever is true…. noble…. right…. pure….lovely admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (4:8). When we have filled our minds with the likes of such and made them ours, those words will come back to help us. Words have power to change us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My words have power over my thoughts and actions. Poorly chosen words can kill my enthusiasm, shape the way I feel about myself, lower my expectations and hold me back. Well-chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision. 

Maybe we could make a few good words from one of Davids prayers our words: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NRSV ). Who knows? Maybe without warning, our words could come back–to help. We might call them lifelines.

 

 Larry Baker is director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Hardin-Simmons University. 

GRIT LEADS TO BOOK FOR HSU GRAD

By Loretta Fulton

“Determined, dedicated, delightful.”

Those three words pretty well define Jan Eastland. Two words that she never let define her were “cerebral” and “palsy.” Even though Eastland has lived with the neurological disorder her entire life, she never let it define her. That was proven again Jan. 12 when a reception was held for her at Hardin-Simmons University marking the publication of her memoir, “Assorted Nuts.”

The book was made possible by Lanny Hall, chancellor of Hardin-Simmons who was president of the university when he first heard that Eastland wanted to get her memoir published. Hall took it upon himself to make sure that happened.

“We’re going to get that published,” Hall promised.

Eastland had the typed pages stored on a computer disk, which Hall, his assistant Donna Hall (not related) and others got into the proper format to be published through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

Eastland has proven all her 74 years that she wouldn’t let cerebral palsy, the result of an injury at birth, define her or limit her. It took her 17 years to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from HSU, but she did it. One of her professors was Julian Bridges, who defined Eastland as “determined, dedicated, delightful.”

He recalled that when Eastland got her degree in 1978, something special happened at the commencement ceremony.

“All of the graduating class stood up and applauded,” he said during the Jan. 12 reception.

Hall noted in his remarks that Eastland first enrolled at HSU in the 1960s and has met all of the university’s presidents since then.

“She’s seen a lot of nuts,” he said, a reference to the book title, which Eastland chose.

In addition to seeing people buying her book, enjoying a beautiful cake, and being greeted by a crowd of well-wishers, Eastland received a couple of special notices. State Rep. Stan Lambert, who was unable to attend, got a state resolution adopted honoring Eastland.

Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams, who also was unable to attend, signed a proclamation naming Jan. 12 as “Jan Eastland Day” in Abilene. The proclamation was printed on a plaque, which was presented to Eastland.

Current HSU President Eric Bruntmyer said Eastland sometimes visits his office and always is a blessing.

“You can see her spirit,” Bruntmyer said, “as she goes throughout the campus.”

 

 

 

FAMILY REUNIONS

By Danny Minton

Every year, I try to attend the family reunion on my dad’s side. Like many families, the Minton family has always made it a point to get together on a yearly basis to keep in touch. I believe this is an important part of a family’s legacy and should be a practice that every family should make a part of their tradition.

DannyMinton

Danny Minton

While driving home a few years back, my mind raced back to reunions of years past. I remember the Fourth of July reunions that took place in, I believe, my Uncle Carl’s backyard when he lived next door to my Granny Minton. I remember when the cousins went around to all the uncles gathering everyone’s change together and then being carted off to the fireworks stand, returning with a treasure box of exploding missiles, bottle rockets, and Roman candles.

I thought of all the Christmases that the family would get together in Granny’s house. I remembered the joking and laughter of my aunts and uncles and the cousins racing through the house and being made sure their every need was met by Granny. I can still hear the knock on the door as my Uncle Clyde came in dressed as Santa Claus. “Where are your reindeer?” several of us shouted. Without a pause, he quickly told us “You didn’t have a chimney, so I parked them down at the corner.” Of course, we all believed him.

The sounds of dominoes shuffling as my uncles played “42” at the kitchen table are still clear in my head. I see my Aunt Mary enjoying and doting over every niece and nephew. I hear the distinctive laugh of my Uncle Troy. I listened to my Uncle Carl talk about the antique Ford he was restoring in his garage. In fact, as I remember it, every single aunt and uncle had a great fondness for every niece and nephew. I can still see the presents, taste the food, hear the stories, smell the tree and feel the presence of love in the small house in Dallas, Texas.

Years later as I returned it was all still there. Yes, most of my aunts and uncles are now gone, but their spirit lives on in their children and grandchildren. There were familiar and not so familiar faces, yet there was still a bond that pulsated through the room. It was the bond of family. A bond of love that had been started years ago by a hardworking matriarch. A woman who after the death of her husband moved forward with a house full of children for whom to provide. A woman who I watched iron clothes for a living at 10 and 15 cents apiece, when most women her age were sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch.

As I looked at the house full of people I thought to myself, “What better legacy to leave than a family that continues to love each other and wants to be with each other decades after you have left this earth.” I felt the ever-present remnants of family love that remained from bygone years.

I’m also reminded of a second family reunion. This one is not yearly but weekly. It’s the reunion we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we gather together with Him on Sunday mornings. It’s a time of joy and love provided by our most great and wonderful Patriarch. The one who loves us and takes care of our every need.

I’m reminded of the church in Acts 2. “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

It is there too in this setting that you will feel the presence of love, the love of our Lord and Savior and our God, our Patriarch. When a church continues to have this spirit, when it continues to band together, it will grow both numerically and spiritually. It is up to leaders to keep the flame alive in the hearts of people and not let it burn out. We are family.

________________

There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.

Deuteronomy 12:7

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

A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

“Sometimes your light goes out but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” Albert Schweitzer

(Danny Minton writes “Thursday Thoughts” for the church leadership at Southern Hills Church of Christ. He shares one of those weekly writings with readers of Spirit of Abilene.)

By Danny Minton

I’ll have to admit that there are days when I’m just tired and worn out, not from manual labor but from dealing with people, problems, and stressful situations. We all have those types of days. It may be something at work, home or church that just becomes such a burden that we just don’t feel like going on. Maybe we just want to resign or quit what we are doing, dreaming that life has got to be better on the outside. Maybe we go through bouts of not feeling appreciated for what we do.

DannyMinton

Danny Minton

In my 50 years of ministry, my light has been to the point of going out several times. There have been stressful situations and confrontations that have moved me to the edge of “throwing in the towel,” and moving on to something else. However, I have found that whenever I get into these dark times that God always adds a little breeze in my life to kindle the flame again.

As we look around us, there are scores of people who need a little breeze to keep their inner light kindled. They are people who faithfully serve day after day without any reward. They often go unappreciated for their hours of work.

I recently finished a book entitled, “Life in a Jar.” It’s a true story brought to life by three teenage girls who attended high school in a small school of 300 students in Kansas. In researching a school project, they came across one short internet piece on a woman named Irena Sendler.

She had been a forgotten figure from WWII, even in her home country of Poland. From a short local play about Irena, these young girls brought to light the story of a woman who was a light to people in the Warsaw Ghetto of Poland. She was responsible for saving over 2,500 children from the death camps.

Irena’s story not only was a light to those she helped but became a light to the young girls who brought her story to light. She became their hero and as a result of the girls project become a hero and light to the country of Poland.

Are we light to those around us who are losing theirs? It’s important for each of us to take every opportunity to keep the light of those who work so hard burning brightly. Also, we need to be mindful and thankful for those who rekindle our light, keeping us going when it starts getting dark.

Make it a point each week to be a light to those you encounter on your daily journey. Be that gentle breeze that lifts people up and brightens their day. Never leave those you meet in a dark room.

The three teenage girls also became a light to Irena, being able to visit her in her later years in Poland. In the end, the girls and Irena kindled a light for each other and their light touched the lives of thousands. It all started with just being a light for one small child in 1939.

________________________

The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

Proverbs 20:27

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

GRATITUDE IS A CHOICE

 

By Mike Patrick

Evelyn Bailey became a well respected artist in San Antonio. Her father deserted the family for another woman and left her mother to raise the children. In addition to enduring that difficulty, Evelyn (as well as one of her sisters) contracted polio as a child. Following experimental surgeries, she had a severe limp the rest of her life. In spite of these hardships, she chose to be grateful.

mike patrick2014

Mike Patrick

Though Evelyn had no children and her abusive husband left her, she never complained nor showed resentment. Evelyn didn’t attend church, enjoyed smoking, yet she had a joyful spirit, accepting and understanding others.

She became a commercial artist for a San Antonio department store in the day when ads were drawn by hand rather than generated on a computer. With her limp, she climbed to the third floor every day to work. She eventually displayed some of her art in a gallery on the River Walk. She loved painting all the Spanish missions in the area.

Evelyn taught this attitude of gratitude to her nephew who lived next door. She painted his portrait as a 10 year-old boy with his beagle Kit at his side.

PhilChristopher

Dr. Phil Christopher

Today that nephew is a minister in Abilene who recently shared with his congregation Evelyn’s story and her impact on his life. He is Dr. Phil Christopher, senior pastor of First Baptist Church. He learned from Evelyn that gratitude is a choice.

 

 

 

 

Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.

LIFE LINES: LOOK BOTH WAYS

By Larry Baker

I caught myself acting on a childhood lesson on a one-way street.

I walked from a building and headed toward my car across the street. At curbside I stopped, as a voice in my head instructed, “Look both ways!” I looked first right, then left, and caught myself chuckling. “Why?” I wondered. “Traffic’s only coming from one direction.” That lesson had directed me for decades, and now barked its orders as I started across a one-way street.

LarryBaker

Larry Baker

“Look both ways!” As I write, I am looking at a calendar about to say, “I have done my job. Get another one. Only a few days remain in 2017. Another annual trek almost over! Here comes next year, a time to “look both ways.”

The Bible wants us to be thoughtful, discerning, and mindful about our lives. “Consider” is a high-profile word in the Old Testament and New, in Jesus’ teachings and in the prophets.

Year’s end is a good time to look backward. Someone contended, “Strong and well-constituted persons digest their experiences (deeds and misdeeds) just as they digest their food, even when they have some tough morsels to swallow.” A longtime friend will sometimes end part of our conversation with a brief statement, “Well, I think I understand that better now.” Looking back can offer new understanding.

In midlife, another friend lost his wife to a rare cancer after a valiant battle. On Christmas he wrote, “We are experiencing Christmas in a sea of great joy and gratitude, while never being outside the looming shadow of debilitating grief.” He continued, “We…all of us, live on Dichotomy Circle.”

Before ending his lines, he observed, “We are not alone and neither are you! Yes, there is this ….all of us are always living within earshot of the Baby cooing and crying in a manger. Emmanuel, God with US! There is always this. Thanks be to God!”

Standing on the banks of tomorrow, we can look backward and see ways God guided us and blanketed our lives in goodness. Our backward survey will chronicle God’s loving kindness and tender mercies. We will recall happily those occasions when God met humankind and pulled us heavenward.

Such memories can help us live in the present. Memory can keep us in touch with who we are as well as our purpose and goals. Now one year prepares for the sleep of history and the other readies itself for birth, and I catch a new glimpse of the importance of looking back.

Year’s end is a good time to look forward. We can look, not with anxiety but with assurance. We can look, not with apprehension, but with anticipation. As we look ahead, we cannot be certain about much, but we know all we need. My calendar already contains notes – reminders, names, appointments, and signals, all tentative. As I think ahead, I remember a colleague who often ended a conversation with “I will see you, God willing.”

We know the Bible is chock-full of visions of good things coming. Promises of wonderful and exciting things in store for God’s people saturate the Bible. Read carefully, watch for the word “shall,” and remember the word runs in front of something good that will happen. God promises things to look forward to, even when skies are dark and life is daunting. That is what “anticipate” means – to look forward to, to await eagerly, and to foretaste.

Standing curbside and looking both ways, we might take a fresh look at some words from the psalmist: “I consider the days of old, and remember the years of long ago….I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:5, 12, NRSV); good for God’s 21st century people as for the ancients. We might recall Moses’ word: “….it is the Lord your God who goes before you’ he will not fail you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NRSV); true then, true now. Jesus’ words assure us, And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NRSV) — even in our turbulent, unpredictable time.

On second thought, there are good reasons for looking both ways!

 Larry Baker is director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Hardin-Simmons University.