Friday, December 12, 2008

An Encounter at SBU

During a recent discussion with the parents of a prospective student, I was asked about the qualities that make Southwest Baptist University distinctively different. While, this inquiry is not unlike many other encounters I have had with visiting families and their future scholars, I was confident that my response was probably going to be one of the determining factors in their decision making analysis. The certainty I felt regarding my answer was the result of a short but intense encounter where I felt the presence and pleasure of God. As I recall my response to those questions today, I am flushed with the knowledge that God has a unique role for me at this university.
So, what makes Southwest Baptist University distinctively different? Many private universities claim to present a Biblical worldview. Southwest Baptist University fulfills that claim and additionally offers to its students the opportunity to establish a relationship with the faculty and staff that is based upon the love of Jesus Christ. This university has truly created a community that is “Christ-centered,” “caring,” and unabashedly “academic.” Having spent nearly fifteen years of my nearly twenty years in higher education at public universities, I bring a perspective that is framed by a lack of freedom in spiritual matters. At this university, I have found a committed group of Christians who are engaged in the spiritual lives of the students they encounter. On this day, I was pleased to have been able to communicate this special quality to the family in my office.
But more than that, this university has taken a leadership role in preparing students to become “servant leaders” once they venture off-campus. I am proud to be associated with an institution of higher education that prepares its students to be global ambassadors in this regard. I challenged the family I was talking to that day to identify another university that provided both the scope and depth of opportunities to impact this country and the world as ministers of the good-news gospel of Jesus Christ. Because I have been travelling to Siberia for the last four years with our students I am acutely aware of how Southwest Baptist University fulfills this mission goal. Ultimately I discovered that my pride in this university is based on equal parts of the final product we help produce at graduation and about glorifying God as we prepare our students for life. At the conclusion of our discussion that day, I privately thanked God for the opportunity to respond to such direct questions about my employer. I am certain that the encounter that day was as much about me identifying my role at this university as helping a family decide where to send their daughter to college.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Light Please

I love this time of year. All the Christmas songs, themes, symbols, and shows. Oh, the shows. I grew up watching them all: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon version); Rudolph; Frosty; and Charlie Brown. I got to where I had some parts memorized. Who can forget, "It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!" Or when the elf and Rudolph are going to off and be "Independent, together." (Go figure that one out).

But the classic scene I remember the most is the one where Linus, in answering Charlie Brown's question "Does anyone know what Christmas is about?" He simply steps forward and says, "Lights please" and begins the Luke narrative about the birth of Jesus. That was how I memorized scripture early on.

That simple story, that perfect narrative, enlightens us all, as to what Christmas is about. And while it may have been set on a school stage, the Christmas story sets the stage for the True Light, who came to redeem us all. So instead of saying "lights please," I think what we need this year, more than any other, is to say, "Light. Please."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It Costs What?!!

Just recently it was reported that if one were to "buy" all the gifts mentioned in the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," that it would cost $86,609 (AP story). Say what? That's almost a house for most people. That's almost the cost of an education at SBU (over four years). And, of course, the cost of those "12 days" gifts will keep going up. Well, I think, in this day and age of materialism and the way the economy is going, I am going to go a different route with gifts this year.
Fancy Christmas Card $4.50
Christmas candy for kids $12.00
Stocking Stuffers $15.00
Something for the wife $55.00
TOTAL $86.50 (Less than .1% of the cost for the 12 days)
But celebrating the Birth of Jesus, with my wife and my kids