Winter 2002 Rapport: Thoughts From the Prez
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A Reality Check
world has been significantly altered due to the events of September 11. The World Trade
Center epitomized so many of the elements our society has come to treasure. Reliance on
technology, free market economies, honest hard work to make a good living, and international/global
interconnectedness all met the reality of evil head-on. As if we needed to be reminded
one more time, bad things do happen to innocent people. The results are painful, long-term,
and alter forever the way of life we have come to assume was immune from the evil and
chaos we see from a distance on CNN. We may have often even thanked God that the evil
and chaos viewed was something distant from U.S. shores. On September 11 we watched our
televisions in shock and realized the tragedy we observed is now our own story.
We are a nation groping for some type of anchor. Our prosperity has softened us into
believing that material acquisition is the goal of choice in life. We find it hard to
accept that there are people in this world who dont live by a consumerist-based
value system. We are even more puzzled at intruders who actually give their lives as a
sacrifice to an alleged holy cause.
The reality that has shaken our nation following the unspeakable tragedy is really just
a 21st century version of the age-old saga of the destructive force of evil and misguided
lives. Just several days before the terrorist attacks, I spoke in the opening chapel service
here at the Seminary. I had in my heart a growing sense that AGTS was poised to enter
a period of time where we needed to most fully realize our mission. I even used the word
destiny in my sermon. I felt then and feel even more passionately now: Our destiny
as a seminary is preparing leadership for a church that understands first and foremost
that we are a people whose future lies in the redemptive mission of our Lord that is ongoing
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The poignant reflection by the apostle Paul (Philippians 3:10-14) reminds us of the seriousness
of following Jesus. Paul clearly states in verses 10 and 11 that our destiny does not
lie in a selective consumer-based relationship with Christ that serves only our self-devised
agendas. Paul says our relationship with Christ must be all-consuming and, therefore,
central to every activity of our lives. We can expect the mighty power of the resurrection
to be our resource for ministry, yet we can expect vehement opposition from the forces
that seek to usurp Christs Kingdom rulership. Paul is quite clear in verse 12 that
our present can be confidently lived in the light of the future that has been secured
for us by the work of Christ.
Verses 13 and 14 are the clincher for me, as I understand my own destiny and the future
of AGTS. The past does not control our destiny nor is it our primary reference point.
What is past may leave scars, but it does not determine our future. Our future is determined
by the fact that our Lords resurrection has made the future the magnetic north of
all eternity. Life with Christ points toward our destiny; it releases us from the grips
of the past that Paul says must be forgotten because of its sheer lack of power in comparison
with the victory secured by our Lord.
Ira Stanphills old gospel song states it simply: Many things about tomorrow
I dont seem to understand; but I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my
The reality check we received as a nation on September 11 has created and will continue
to create many challenges for which we are ill prepared as a nation. I do believe that
for AGTS this can be our finest hour. In the middle of the shaken foundations that so
many people have experienced, AGTS commits itself to forming leaders who negotiate uncertainty
with deep reliance on the Spirit and divine resource. Therein lies the destiny (the opportunity
to do eternal business) that energizes this president and makes me believe that AGTS stands
on the threshold of the future for which God has prepared us.
Thursday, August 7, 2003 3:34 PM