It’s Been Great!

In this issue of the God’s Revivalist you will read about my decision to step down as president when my term ends in 2017. This information is not completely new for a lot of people since I have freely shared it with the campus family, alumni groups and some friends of the school. Almost invariably when I talk about it there are three responses: First, why are you leaving? Second, who will ever take your place? Three, what do you plan to do next?
Why are you leaving?
For twenty years I have always asked myself a group of questions before making any administrative decision of consequence, “Is it in harmony with God’s will and Word and is it good for GBS?” Those are the same questions I have asked about this decision and the answer that I have come to is YES. It is time to step aside and allow fresh leadership at the top. No one is asking or even wanting me to leave – not the Board, not the faculty, not the students. I don’t really want to leave! But I am leaving because I know it is the right thing to do. The average tenure for a college president is 8.5 years. There is a reason why the tenure is relatively short in comparison to other positions of equal significance. To succeed as the president of a small Bible college like GBS, you must be willing to invest large amounts of time in both the people and the processes that make a school great. You must willingly give huge amounts of physical, emotional and spiritual energy – this is doubly true if you are concerned about the spiritual development of your students. Your creativity and vision must be fresh, relevant and forward looking. You must be willing to live with a constant eye toward friend making and donor development. We have made wonderful progress on all fronts in the last 20 years and I do not want the pace to slacken so I know it is time for a fresh set of hands on the wheel.
Who will take your place?
When people ask me this question I smile both outwardly and inwardly. I know it is a way of passing on a subtle compliment to me and I really appreciate their kindness. However, I know that God already has His hand upon the next person that will follow me. God is forward looking. He is not contemplating the last twenty years but rather is looking toward the development of the next twenty and He already has someone in mind to do the job! And in my opinion, it will be someone who can lead GBS in the fulfillment of its mission in ways that I never could! As a matter of fact, I am quite excited about the future of our school!
The school has an outstanding Board that is well equipped and well prepared for the task of selecting the next president. The entire Board has been praying and fasting and will continue to do so over the next two years. I am anticipating a smooth transition and a great future for GBS!
What do you plan to do next?
Great question! I just don’t know the answer to it yet! But I do know that the God who has led me in every major decision of my life will lead me as to what I am to do next. I do know that I am not retiring (I will only be a young 60 when I leave). I want to give the remaining years of my life to Kingdom work of some sort. I love preaching, teaching, solving problems, helping people with strategic thinking and planning and mentoring. I hope that God will allow me a chance to influence another generation of Christian workers and leaders. The Kingdom needs leaders desperately and those developing leaders need a mentor and a life coach like no other time in the history of the church.
As the clock ticks down to 2017, I will be sharing things with the Revivalist family that I hope we can accomplish together before my departure. I will also be sharing articles that reflect my thoughts and burdens for the church and the holiness movement of which we are all a part. The days head are exciting and filled with promise. I can hardly wait to see what He has in store for GBS!

A Tribute to Wingrove Taylor

This past May, the Board of Trustees of God’s Bible School and College gave a sad farewell to its longest serving member Dr. A. Wingrove Taylor. At age 92, Dr. Taylor felt that he did not have the physical strength necessary to continue his role as a Trustee – a role that he filled with distinction for 44 years.   His interaction with the board was always professional, his contributions profound and his influence powerful. No man alive, who has not actually been an employee of the school, has had more impact on the life of this institution than Wingrove Taylor.

The Taylor connection to GBS began in 1905 with the arrival to campus of Irene Blyden (Dr. Taylor’s mother).   She was from the Caribbean Island of Sabba. It was at GBS that she met another student from the Caribbean Island of St. Kitts, Richard Taylor, who came to GBS to prepare for the ministry. Some years later they married and gave a lifetime of service to the development and expansion of the Pilgrim Holiness Church on the Caribbean Island of Nevis.

Wingrove came to GBS in 1948. He enrolled in the Christian Workers Course but eventually moved to the college where he completed two diplomas in music, a ThB degree and a BA degree. He graduated with honors in 1953. He returned to the Caribbean where he gave 41 years of service as a pastor, District Superintendent, College President, Field Superintendent and finally as the General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Holiness Church of the Caribbean. Dr. Taylor served as an annual camp evangelist for the GBS Camp meeting for almost 40 years.

Dr. Taylor had a remarkable influence on thousands of GBS Alumni and friends through his pulpit ministry and personal counsel. His influence on me personally was profound. Immediately after I became President Elect in December of 1994, he asked me to accompany him to the “old” men’s prayer room. We sat down in a couple of chairs and he talked to me about the value of prayer in the life of a leader and then prayed for me. In the following 20 years, I have turned to him again and again for wisdom and advice.

Dr. Taylor was gifted in so many ways. He was a musician, singer, scholar, author, preacher and administrator. He was peerless; he was fearless; he was orderly (he once told me that next to his Bible Roberts Rules or Order was his most treasured book); he was saintly; he was professional; he was careful; he was logical; he was Biblical; he was sensitive; he was sensible; he was authentic. However, the greatest gift he has given to me and to all who know him, is not what he has done in ministry, but what he has become while doing ministry.

The people I have put on a pedestal and felt they were worthy of emulation have been very few indeed, but Wingrove Taylor is one of them!

Children Obey

Having children may be doing what comes naturally, but raising children is another matter altogether.   Parenting doesn’t really come with a set of instructions. For most parents, it’s like trying to put together a complex jigsaw puzzle without having a picture on the front of the box at which to look. For Christian parents, the bar is set even higher because of their desire to raise children that love and follow Jesus. At least, for these parents, there is the wisdom and guidance that comes from the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Bible is the first place I looked as I began to prepare for this article. I wanted to refresh my mind on the major Biblical passages that spoke to the subject of parenting, but what I discovered was remarkable – something I had not seen before in all my years of study.

My discovery was two-fold. First, I was surprised at how little the Bible had to say specifically on the subject of parenting! Some claim there are 17 passages that address the subject; my findings were closer to 10. That is not to say that the Bible is void of wisdom and instruction on child rearing. Transforming babes in Christ to spiritually mature saints and raising children into responsible adults is very similar with many parallels.   The Bible, of course, is filled with instruction for growing new Christians and the carry over application to child rearing is clear, relevant and extremely valuable.   Many of the articles I have read by experts on parenting used these passages to make their points.

My second discovery was that the passages that do speak directly to parenting were divided equally among the subjects of discipline and instruction. But what I saw for the first time was that all of these passages pointed to one thing: obedience! The reason for discipline and instruction is that the child might learn to obey!   The New Testament reinforces this with the single command “children obey your parents” that is given in Eph. 6:1 and Col. 3:20. This is the only command to children in the New Testament.

My studies in spiritual formation have convinced me that all formation in Christlikeness is oriented toward explicit easy obedience. The transformation of the heart, by grace, into a state of obedience allows the disciple to willingly obey the “all things” commanded by our Lord. Furthermore, a yielded heart is the inner condition that allows the Holy Spirit to enable the outer life of the individual to naturally express the character and teachings of Jesus.

The same is true in raising children! The formation of character through discipline and instruction is for the purpose of obedience. Once a child understands that he must obey and that he must do so with a willing attitude, then you scarcely have to teach him anything else! Once he knows he must obey, you can simply “ask” him to do whatever it is that you need or want him to do and he will do it. When a child has learned to obey willingly, then your discipline will be cut to a minimum and you can spend the vast majority of your time teaching, nurturing and forming that little one into the kind of man or woman you want them to be! So children, “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right!”

OBEDIENCE IS THE KEY!

Having children may be doing what comes naturally, but raising children is another matter altogether. Parenting doesn’t really come with a set of instructions. For most parents, it’s like trying to put together a complex jigsaw puzzle without having a picture on the front of the box at which to look. For Christian parents, the bar is set even higher because of their desire to raise children that love and follow Jesus. At least, for these parents, there is the wisdom and guidance that comes from the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Bible is the first place I looked as I began to prepare for this article. I wanted to refresh my mind on the major Biblical passages that spoke to the subject of parenting, but what I discovered was remarkable – something I had not seen before in all my years of study.
My discovery was two-fold. First, I was surprised at how little the Bible had to say specifically on the subject of parenting! Some claim there are 17 passages that address the subject; my findings were closer to 10. That is not to say that the Bible is void of wisdom and instruction on child rearing. Transforming babes in Christ to spiritually mature saints and raising children into responsible adults is very similar with many parallels. The Bible, of course, is filled with instruction for growing new Christians and the carry over application to child rearing is clear, relevant and extremely valuable. Many of the articles I have read by experts on parenting used these passages to make their points.
My second discovery was that the passages that do speak directly to parenting were divided equally among the subjects of discipline and instruction. But what I saw for the first time was that all of these passages pointed to one thing: obedience! The reason for discipline and instruction is that the child might learn to obey! The New Testament reinforces this with the single command “children obey your parents” that is given in Eph. 6:1 and Col. 3:20. This is the only command to children in the New Testament.
My studies in spiritual formation have convinced me that all formation in Christlikeness is oriented toward explicit easy obedience. The transformation of the heart, by grace, into a state of obedience allows the disciple to willingly obey the “all things” commanded by our Lord. Furthermore, a yielded heart is the inner condition that allows the Holy Spirit to enable the outer life of the individual to naturally express the character and teachings of Jesus.
The same is true in raising children! The formation of character through discipline and instruction is for the purpose of obedience. Once a child understands that he must obey and that he must do so with a willing attitude, then you scarcely have to teach him anything else! Once he knows he must obey, you can simply “ask” him to do whatever it is that you need or want him to do and he will do it. When a child has learned to obey willingly, then your discipline will be cut to a minimum and you can spend the vast majority of your time teaching, nurturing and forming that little one into the kind of man or woman you want them to be! So children, “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right!”

Hindsight Theology

“A resolution on reflection”

            For years the Psalms were a mystery to me.  There was something untidy and elusive about them that I just couldn’t wrap my head around.  There were exceptions of course – Psalm 23, 34, 100, etc.  Nevertheless, I primarily saw the Psalms as a “spiritual espresso” that one used when one needed a bit of a lift!  It was Phil Yancey that first provided some interpretive light for my “psalm blindness” in his book, The Bible Jesus Read.  He pointed out that the Psalms are primarily personal letters to God and one must read them as an “over-the-shoulder” reader since the intended audience was not other people but God.  In more recent years, my understanding of the Psalms has grown appreciably by reading Dennis Kinlaw’s book, Lectures in Old Testament Theology. This remarkable book helped me to see the Psalms as a treasure trove of profound theological insight into the person and nature of God.

Today, I read the Psalms and thoroughly enjoy the no-holes-barred look into every aspect of David’s life – identifying with many of his emotions and struggles.  However, it is the practical and theological insight that flows out of these experiences that I find most helpful.  David was a master at taking life’s experiences and turning them into a form of Hebrew poetry that is filled with both wisdom and deep insight into the character of God. Obviously, David wrote most of his Psalms after he had experienced the particular trial or difficulty he is writing about.   This allows him to write from “hindsight” and it is out of that reflective “look back” that he offers some practical advice for every spiritual traveler as well as some of the most remarkable insights into the character of God.   I like to call this “Hindsight Theology.”

An example of this is found in Psalm 40 (read it now).  David is journaling about a time of inward disquiet, deep anxiety or trouble.  What valuable truth comes out of David’s reflections?

Patience is a key ingredient in navigating difficult times.

David says he “waited patiently for Yahweh”.  The Hebrew implies that he waited and waited and waited.  David learned that, “God will avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bears long with them?” (Luke 18:7).  The key in coming through the trials of life successfully is patience.

Patience finds its footing in the knowledge of a faithful God.

             David says, “He turned to me” – “He heard my cry” –   “He lifted me out” — “He set my feet on a rock” – “He gave me a firm place to stand.”  Verse 11 says, “thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me”.  David is testifying to the truth that God will always respond as He does because that is the kind of God that He is.

 Personal transformation is the silver lining behind every dark cloud.

“He put a new song in my mouth, even praise to God.”

                 Horatio G. Spafford, a successful Chicago attorney, Presbyterian Church elder and a dedicated Christian is a sterling example of this truth.  Within a three year period, Spafford lost his only son to scarlet fever, his vast real estate holdings in the Chicago fire and his four remaining daughters in an accident at sea.  Out of the tragedy, Spafford penned the words to the famous hymn, It is Well with My Soul.  It is believed that Horatio took the words “It is well” from the words of the Shunammite woman who lost her only son but was later raised from the dead by Elisha (II Kings 4:26 ).

 Difficult times are not just about us. God can use them to exalt His name and extend His kingdom.

“Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him”.

             As I face this New Year, I am resolved to do a better job of reflecting on the “ups and downs” of life with the intent of seeing God’s loving hand at work in molding me into the image of His dear Son.