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Calvary Preps for Global Engagement Think Tank

Calvary Preps for Global Engagement Think Tank

Josh Paxton teaching recently in an Intercultural Studies classroom.

Where is the School?

With Calvary’s Conference on Global Engagement just around the corner, Josh Paxton, Director of the Burnham Center for Global Engagement, is gearing up for the conference’s Think Tank. Scheduled for Friday the 31st, the Think Tank addresses the question of how the church, mission agency, and school work together in training missionaries for the field. Paxton said, “The conversation has generally centered around the mission agency and the church. And… as I’ve been in these conversations, the constant refrain in the back of my mind has been, where is the school?” He noted that, as Christian schools have closed over the past few years, mission agencies have turned their recruiting focus toward churches. While recognizing that “the church is God’s primary vehicle in the world today, and the local church bears responsibility for local missions,” Paxton said, “I think the school still very much has a role to play.”

Concurrent to the conversation is Calvary’s Synergy program that has already forged a stronger connection between the school and the mission agency. As the program grows and develops, leaders and students are finding ways to involve the church more in discipling the individuals preparing for the mission field. Paxton said an integral part of the Synergy program is “making sure that [the student’s] local church is behind them, and that they’re being mentored in the process.”

The Think Tank brings together local pastors, Calvary leadership, missions agency representatives, and students around the idea of, “how do we do this better together?” The format of the Think Tanks will be “Ted Talk style,” featuring 30-minute presentations followed by discussion times. Paxton is excited to bring students into these conversations, “because it strikes me it does no good for pastors and teachers and missions agency leaders to sit around and talk about students without students actually being there to give their input.”

Examining how the church, agency, and school work together to disciple and train leaders, Paxton said, “I think we need to take a real hard look at what are the roles of each: what’s the church good at? What’s the school good at? What’s the agency good at? What are our niches and how do we work better together?”

Unseen Reality: God’s Call to Be A Nikao

Unseen Reality: God’s Call to Be A Nikao

…And behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.

Revelation 4:2

“Why are You silent?” 

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand asked God this question in the midst of his sermon. But this was not the typical new year’s sermon. The message was delivered at some point during his 14 years in solitary confinement. If you’ve seen the movie about his life called, “Tortured for Christ,” you know that he had been imprisoned under the tyranny of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu in the 1950’s and 60’s for teaching and preaching the Word of God. 

You read that right: a sermon preached in solitary confinement. Wurmbrand explained in a book he wrote later called, Alone With God

“During my years of solitary confinement I composed 350 sermons. I created them in my mind, because I could not write them down. I delivered them every night to an unseen audience. I also committed them to memory by using the simple mnemonic device of summarizing them in short rhymes, which I repeated again and again. When I was released from prison I did not sleep until I had committed all of them to paper. I managed to do so for 348 out of the 350.” (Prologue, p.7)

One of those sermons caught my attention as I read Alone With God. It was entitled simply, “New Year.” As you read a portion of that sermon, try to put yourself in his shoes for a minute or so. Put yourself in that dark cell. Alone. Not knowing when the solitary confinement might end. Not knowing when your torturers might return. Read Wurmbrand’s words with shoes removed. To enter that cell and listen in on a conversation between a tortured brother and the Sovereign Lord is to step onto holy ground: 

“HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY BELOVED FRIENDS. Outside, the wardens interrupt the silence. They wish one another a happy new year. It is midnight. The year 1948 has passed. I cannot congratulate Jesus. It has been 1915 years since He was crucified. The 1916th nail will now be driven into His cross. I know that every doubt of mine causes Him more pain, as if a new dart were piercing His heart… There was a time when Jesus ‘had no fault, or I no fault could spy, when He was all beauty or all blindness I.’ But now, since I have nothing left in this whole world but my wit to live by, it has begun to value itself very highly. All else seems of little importance. My wit has questions to ask and I cannot stop it.

“I realize now that the New Testament had never satisfied me really, because I found the miracles recounted there much too small for the Son of God. Three people were resurrected, but millions of corpses remained dead. Only three families had the comfort of seeing their beloved ones restored to life. Many widows whose only sons died remained without consolation. Jesus stilled a storm, but on so small a lake as Galilee. Tempests on the ocean sank countless ships, and men drowned. He did not help them. On one occasion 4,000 and on another 5,000 (plus women and children) had a good dinner through miracles performed by Him. What about the next day when they were hungry again? And what about the millions who have starved throughout the ensuing centuries? He sent an angel to free Peter from prison. The incident stands alone. James was beheaded, and since then thousands have been martyred. 

“Why? How can the world go on? It is New Year’s Eve … I don’t understand You. Don’t You have power enough? Don’t You have the will to wipe away all tears? …If I were in the pulpit today dressed in a beautiful cassock, I would speak about the one great miracle, that a lonely Galilean who hung upon a horrible cross became the subject of thousands of confident songs, that the painful execution of a Man deemed a criminal proved to be the means of salvation for the whole world. But inwardly I would be dissatisfied. What you have done is beautiful, but too little for an almighty God who could make the whole drama cease at once. Why are You silent?” (pgs.84-87)

We can relate — on some level — to Pastor Wurmbrand’s questions. We have questions of our own: Why did God allow 245 million believers (according to Open Doors International) to experience high levels of persecution last year? Why does He allow persecution to grow? Five years ago, only one country — North Korea — was on the “extreme level” list produced by Open Doors. Today, there are 11! Why did God allow 4,136 Christians worldwide to be killed/martyred for following Jesus last year?

Maybe — as you embark on a new year — those things are too distant. Your problems, your suffering, the struggles you face are causing you to ask, “Are you listening, God? Are you there? Why are You silent?”

No doubt, good Christians throughout every century have had the same questions. First-century Christians and churches were threatened by the same species of persecution as that which Pastor Wurmbrand faced some 1900 years later. 

But make no mistake: God was not silent. 

Jesus dictated letters to the Apostle John — not with promises of immediate health and wealth or deliverance from all trials and suffering and evil. No, Jesus instead challenged those second-generation believers to be “Nikaos” (“him who overcomes”; Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7). How? What could possibly give persecuted, suffering and terrified believers the strength to overcome such horrible threats? 

God’s answer came in a vision given to John more than 60 years after Christ died, rose and ascended. John was shown something that was intended to give strength to all who live with questions. He was shown something that should help all believers keep the suffering and struggles of this life in perspective. John saw the unseen reality of God seated on His throne.

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.” (Revelation 4:1-2, NASB95)  

Of course, the “One sitting on the throne” is God Almighty. And even though Revelation 4-5 will mostly take place in the future, this part of John’s vision describes the present reality as well. John was given the privilege of seeing the future when the “Lamb” of God will take the scroll, break open its seals, and begin the end of evil’s tyranny. That moment will be the beginning of the judgments of God (see Revelation 6-19) leading to the return of Christ — the King of kings and Lord of lords (Ch.19) — the millennial reign of Christ (Ch.20), and “a new heaven and a new earth” (Chs.21-22). 

But don’t skip ahead too quickly. 

Stop for a moment and take it in — read Revelation 4 as an act of worship! Don’t miss the significance of the imprisoned apostle being shown God on His throne. Don’t forget those for whom this vision was being recorded. And then, join with the “four living creatures” as they “do not cease to say”:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (Revelation 4:8, NASB95)  

Fall down on your knees with the “twenty-four elders” who “will (future tense, but we can do it now too) worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying

‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’” (Revelation 4:10–11, NASB95)

Why worship? Why fall down? Why cast our crowns at His feet? Why should we seek to be overcomers? Because God is on His throne! That is reality! It is the ultimate reality! It is the unseen reality! God is presently seated on His throne! God will forever rule and reign in majesty and splendor! No matter what nonsense is happening in the world, no matter how out-of-control it may seem, God is on His throne! 

Revelation 5-22 tells us God will — in His perfect timing — bring an end to the trouble, suffering and evil of this world. He is not neutral between good and evil. He is not disinterested in our struggles. He has a plan to wipe away every tear. But, Revelation 4 reminds us — those who are currently incapable of seeing the invisible reality in the heavenly places — of the constant invitation of the Bible: Trust the Sovereign God!

Pastor Wurmbrand’s “New Year” sermon did not end with the question, “Why are You silent?” He concluded with these words: 

“Probably I am too small — not Your miracles. I am a disciple of Yours… How could an architect explain his designs to a disciple? Only a master builder could understand him. I suppose that all the beautiful things I crave exist, but I cannot see them yet. We must also reject the mistaken notion that a whole can be perfect only if each of its parts is perfect. Iago is vicious, an intrigue-maker and a liar, but he is a necessary part in a perfect work of art, Othello. For my part, I am in a small cell. We are all confined to too small a world. Imperfections seen by me can be a useful part of a perfect reality. Thank You for one more year. I will try to use it well for growth. Perhaps I will question You less next New Year’s Eve.” (Alone With God, p.87)

These thoughts of John’s vision and Pastor Wurmbrand’s sermon are offered especially for the alumni, faculty, staff and students of Calvary who may share Pastor Wurmbrand’s dissatisfaction at the turn of a new year; who perhaps desire to cry out to God, “I don’t understand You!” 

Whatever questions you carry over from 2019, whatever the 20’s bring, whatever frustration you feel, whatever struggles you face, whatever suffering you must endure, let us thank Him for another year. Let us seek to use it for growth. And, let us seek to be true “Nikaos” by keeping our focus on the “One sitting on the throne.”

Shaun LePage is Chair of the Ministry Studies Department, Instructor of Ministry Studies, and Associate Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Calvary University.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

The names and titles for God found in the Bible are carefully brushed strokes on the canvas of God’s most awesome work: The revelation of Himself.

Shakespeare’s Juliet asked, “What’s in a name?” 

The irony of the question lies in the fact that her name was her biggest problem! The reason she could not be with her Romeo was precisely because her name was Capulet and his was Montague. Capulets didn’t love Montagues — they hated them. But Juliet protested:

“That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title.”

Juliet didn’t think his name mattered at all — what mattered was the person. And perhaps in that case, she was right. And perhaps in many cases, the name or title of something makes no difference whatsoever.

Ask for the whatchmacallit or the doohickey or the thingamajig and you’ll probably get what you want. Call him Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Saint Nick — it doesn’t matter. Name your son Austin, Peter or Max — it probably makes no difference. 

But not so with God. 

If Juliet was speaking of God and said, “What’s in a name? Call Him whatever you like,” she would be dead wrong. It’s true that this “Rose” — the true and living God — would “retain that dear perfection which He owes without (the Biblical) titles.” But, the names and titles of God found in the Bible were not given to us in a random and pointless way. They are not incidental. 

The names and titles for God found in the Bible are carefully brushed strokes on the canvas of God’s most awesome work: The revelation of Himself.

Each time we come across a name or title of God in the Bible, we learn another great truth about the God who created us. 

“YHWH” tells us He is eternal and personal. 

“Father” tells us He is the perfection of love and discipline.

“Shepherd” tells us He is our protector and provider and guide.

On and on it goes. The more we encounter these one-word revelations, the more we know Him, the more we appreciate Him, the more we — along with the psalm writers — see that “His name alone is exalted” (Psalm 148:13) and we want to “sing praises to His name for it is lovely” (Psalm 135:3). 

When we come to the stories of the birth of Jesus, we find them rich with names and titles for the newborn King. He is…

“The Messiah…son of David, son of Abraham…Jesus Christ…Immanuel…King of the Jews…a Ruler who will shepherd…son of Mary” in Matthew 1-2. 

“Jesus…great…Son of the Most High…the Holy Child…the Son of God…A Savior…Christ the Lord…her (Mary’s) firstborn son…a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” in Luke 1-2.

“The Word…light…life…the Only Begotten God (God the One and Only, NIV), who is in the bosom of the Father” in John 1.

“Jesus” is just one example of how each of these names is like a blast from God’s trumpet of revelation. The “angel of the Lord” told Joseph to give this name to the Boy because “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “Jesus” is a Hebrew name that means “Jehovah is salvation.”

Notice the word “son” popping up several times: “Son of David…Abraham…the Most High God.” He is called Mary’s “firstborn son”. All the “Son” references add up to tell us that He alone was qualified to fulfill two of the greatest covenants God ever made with humans — the Davidic and Abrahamic covenants (see the very first verse of the New Testament). As Mary’s Son, He not only took on human flesh that He might bleed human blood for the sins of the world, but He also became Heir to the promises God made to David and Abraham. 

“Son of the Most High…God” tells us His life did not begin in Bethlehem — He has always existed in an eternal relationship with the Father. This explains what kind of King can have a kingdom that will last forever: the Eternal King, God’s only, unique Son.

Or what about “Word”. What is a “word” for? Communication! What did this “Word” do, according to John? He wasn’t just another self-proclaimed guru speculating about things he didn’t understand. His perspective is like no other: “No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18, NLT).

With all this in mind, read the Birth Narratives as part of your Christmas celebration. And when you do, let God’s Self-revelation — through His names and titles — renew your mind as you celebrate Christmas. Stop and enjoy every name. Underline every title. Each one is a delicate brush stroke deserving of close examination. But when seen together, they are a jaw-dropping revelation that should result in nothing less than what the Magi did when they saw the Child in His mother’s arms: “They fell to the ground and worshipped Him (Matthew 2:11).”

_______________

Shaun LePage is the Ministry Studies Department Chair and Assistant Professor in Ministry Studies and Bible and Theology. He also serves as Associate Vice President of the CU Marketing and Communications Department. 

 

Join Calvary in the Philippines next Summer!

Join Calvary in the Philippines next Summer!

Serving orphans and “street kids” growing up in poverty

Calvary University’s Intercultural Studies, Education, and TESOL studies programs are teaming up to provide a conversational English program at Cuatro Christian Academy in the Philippines in the summer of 2020!

Cuatro is part of Kids International Ministry (KIM), a dynamic, Gospel-centered ministry that has specialized in serving orphans and “street kids” growing up in the poverty stricken areas around Manila.  Orphans, street-kids, and the children of Philippine believers study together in this unique environment nurtured by a committed Christian community.

Calvary faculty and staff recently visited KIM, stayed in their guest housing, and had the joy of interacting with Cuatro students at KIM’s orphan home.   We are EXCITED to take KIM up on this opportunity to serve.

We will be working primarily with students in the upper grades.  These students are taught in a dual-language environment, but need to have their conversation and pronunciation skills sharpened.  Your involvement could be a step in helping these students have opportunities outside of high school that can lift them out of poverty.  You will also have plenty of opportunity to interact with the children at the orphanage itself, as our group will provide devotionals and activities for these children as part of our service.

Our TESOL studies program at Calvary will be working with Cuatro to design the curriculum.   If you are willing to be trained in how to effectively lead a conversation group, and to raise the necessary support, we would love to have you apply!  Space will be limited to 12 total, with priority given to Education, TESOL studies and Intercultural Studies students.  

Calvary University’s Intercultural Studies, Education, and TESOL studies programs are teaming up to provide a conversational English program at Cuatro Christian Academy in the Philippines in the summer of 2020!

Click for Info about all the trips Calvary is offering this summer.

Dates: July 9-26, 2020
Location: Philippines
Cost: $2,500 (covers airfare, housing and meals)
Contact Tim Hange (below) to apply!

Contact Tim Hange

11 + 15 =

Graduation Events Postponed

Graduation Events Postponed

Calvary University looks forward to our Graduation weekend with much anticipation every year. It is a time to fellowship with each of our students and celebrate what God has accomplished through their lives in their studies here at Calvary.  In light of recent...

Calvary Announces Strategic New Partnership with Child Evangelism Fellowship

Calvary Announces Strategic New Partnership with Child Evangelism Fellowship

Dr. Christopher Cone (seated, left), President of Calvary University, and Reese Kauffman (seated, right), President of Child Evangelism Fellowship®, signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement this week giving CEF’s workers in the St. Louis area, and around the world, even greater opportunity to further their education through Calvary University. Dr. Allan Henderson (back row, center), Vice President of Eastern Initiatives, Eastern Missouri Site Director, and Professor of Education and Bible at CU, looks on with (from left to right) Ron York, CEF Executive Director of Support Services; Linda Pongracz, CEF Director of Education; Ron Tant, CEF Vice-President of USA Ministries; and Moises Esteves, CEF Vice-President of International Ministries. 

“We can accomplish great things because we join together.”

 

Warrenton MO, August 12, 2019 — Child Evangelism Fellowship® and Calvary University (CU) signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement at the International Headquarters for CEF® in Warrenton.

Students in the greater St. Louis area can now more easily attend CU by attending classes offered at convenient times at the International Headquarters facilities for CEF. Likewise, CU will make their facilities in Kansas City, MO, and Fort Morgan, CO, available for CEF ministry training. Credits for attending CEF Children’s Ministries Institute® will be awarded by CU and CMI students are encouraged to further their education through Calvary. Tuition discounts and financial cooperation are part of the agreement.

Dr. Christopher Cone, President of CU, said, “Over the years I’ve had a lot of opportunity to teach church history. I have assessed many different ministries, to see how God has worked. I’m so thankful for the ministry of CEF because it’s so impactful … around the world. I have seen no greater ministry in the history of the church, that has had the impact CEF has had.”

Child Evangelism Fellowship reached well over 25 million children with face-to-face teaching around the world in 2018. Ninety-six percent of its 3,500+ full-time workers are nationals, strategically equipped and supported by CEF to effectively reach boys and girls in their nations with the Gospel. More workers are needed for the great harvest, so CEF is pleased to partner with quality institutions to help students gain a vision for the world’s children.

CU continues to be recognized for excellence in Christian education. CU’s graduate Ministry and Pastoral Leadership programs were recognized among the nation’s best ministry degrees by BestSchools.org this year. In addition, CU was awarded the #2 ranking in the “Best Online Christian College” category by BestSchools.org.

Reese Kauffman, President of CEF, said regarding the partnership with CU, “A partnership matters when both sides can accomplish something they cannot do separately. We can train children’s workers, but we need to attract them to this ministry. Calvary University can further educate and attract students. We spent much time together and have a kindred spirit. We both realize that without God and His Word and His Spirit working in our midst and in our lives, nothing can be accomplished. In that spirit we can accomplish great things because we join together.”

Dr. Allan Henderson of CU will be the new site director. He said, “Ministries overall need to come together instead of being isolated. I see this partnership as giving Calvary more global impact through CEF, learning how to be more equipped in teaching children, and giving our students ministry opportunities.”

Child Evangelism Fellowship is an international, nonprofit, Christian ministry that has been teaching the Bible to children since 1937. CEF has 400 offices in the USA and is organized in most nations of the world, with over 3,500 paid staff and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. In its last ministry year, CEF ministered to over 25 million children in its face-to-face teaching ministries.

Special thanks to Lydia Kaiser of CEF for writing this press release.

Dr. Christopher Cone (right) and Dr. Allan Henderson (center) of Calvary met with Reese Kauffman, President of Child Evangelism Fellowship® this week in Warrenton, Missouri, at the International Headquarters for CEF®, to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement. 

Calvary Ranked in the Top 15 Bachelor’s Ministry Online Programs in the Nation

Calvary Ranked in the Top 15 Bachelor’s Ministry Online Programs in the Nation

CU ranks in the top 15 online ministry degrees in the nation

Calvary University’s graduate Ministry and Pastoral Leadership programs have once again been recognized among the nation’s best.

“Like other BDC rankings,” according to BDC, “editors began by researching accredited ministry, religion, and bible degree online programs in the US. This process included schools with regional accreditation and accreditation by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. From our initial list, all schools were ranked according to five equally-weighted criteria: Cost, Reputation, Graduation Rate, Employment Rate, and Alumni Salary. Data was taken from College Scorecard, IPEDS, and Niche.

With these parameters, readers can trust that BDC has ranked programs that will have a real return on investment, providing opportunity to grow in leadership and faith while enhancing a career with meaning.”