Southern Baptist grads reminded to proclaim the gospel
    December 22 2014 by Compiled by BR Staff

    Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

    “God is sending you into a difficult world,” Jeff Iorg explained to the 75 graduates at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s (GGBTS) winter commencement ceremony. He continued, “But don’t be dismayed, because He did the same thing to Jesus.”
    During his charge, Iorg preached from the second chapter of Luke. “When the president of the country arrives in a city, the airport is closed, the roads are shut down, and the hotels are secured and prepared,” Iorg said during the Dec. 12 ceremony held at Dominican University in San Rafael, Calif. “Jesus did not enter our world with a reception like that.”
    The world Jesus entered was one of political turmoil, confused priorities and spiritual indifference. “Herod ordered the murder of infants. There was no space at an inn for a woman about to give birth. A number of Old Testament prophecies pointed to Christ’s birth and only a small number of people were able to recognize it,” Iorg said.
    “The world God is sending you into is similar in many ways,” Iorg said. “The world you are entering is full of political turmoil, represented by ISIS, South American dictatorships, and the actions of Russia’s government in Ukraine. A world in which athletes and entertainers make millions of dollars and even churches have descended into materialism is a confused world. We very well may have gone beyond spiritual indifference in our world to spiritual opposition.
    “God didn’t make a mistake in sending Jesus into the world, and He isn’t making a mistake by sending you into this broken world.”
    Iorg’s instructions to the graduates were to apply the gospel in their own lives, in their communities, and in their churches. “True transformation requires people who live as if God is real,” Iorg said. He continued, “I receive emails from time to time from a graduate who pastors a church in a small town in central California. He told me he was sure of one thing in ministry: sharing the gospel in the community is very important. Today, nearly a hundred students walk across the street from the local high school every Wednesday night for a meal and a gospel presentation. Lives are being transformed.”
    Iorg also shared a story about the church he planted in Oregon. It recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. “This church started with 4 families and is now up to 900 members. It has grown because the members are committed to living out the Gospel in the community.”
    Iorg ended his message by telling the graduates to “do these things and make a change in the world. It will be challenging, but it needs you desperately.”
    Pastor Jae Myung Shin was awarded the William O. Crews Leadership award, the Seminary’s highest honor for students. to Jesus.”

    New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

    New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) and Leavell College, the school’s undergraduate program, celebrated as 250 students earned degrees.
    Seven of the graduates were recipients of a full scholarship from the Caskey Center for Church Excellence, launched by NOBTS earlier in 2014.


    NOBTS Photo
    New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary professors Adam Harwood, left, and Dennis Phelps enjoy a few laughs following the commencement service Dec. 13.

    NOBTS President Chuck Kelley began his Dec. 13 commencement address to the graduates with a story from his days as an undergraduate student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
    “When I first got to college, I learned what being homesick meant. I didn’t know a soul on campus,” Kelley said. “I went home every other weekend. It was a tough first semester.”
    By his second semester, Kelley had forged some new friendships and even met Rhonda Harrington, whom he would later marry.
    “I just didn’t go home quite as much,” Kelley recalled of his second semester.
    He spent the following summer involved in a camp and arrived back on campus the following fall semester as an official ‘Joe College,’” Kelley said.
    “I never went home,” he said. “I had dates and went to football games. I had a great semester. I was so rooted in college life.”
    Kelley recalled getting a late start to the Christmas break that semester, thanks to an English professor who “believed in going by the book” and not giving his class its exam early. The exam was set for Dec. 23.
    “I stayed up all night studying. I went in to take that test and left the motor running in my car,” he said. “I was so ready to be home.”
    With Waco in his rearview mirror, Kelley set off for Beaumont, only to break down somewhere en route. What was usually a four hour trip actually took eight hours.
    “I will never forget turning the corner onto Infinity Lane and there was our house, driveway filled with cars because everybody was home already. I was the last one,” Kelley said. “In the driveway, my mom had made sure there was one space left for the ‘only boy’ to park, because he was coming home.”
    Kelley said he sat in the driveway, watching the sparkle of Christmas lights inside, knowing that his family would be excited to see him and that there would be a plate waiting for him.
    “It was the first time in my life that I understood what being home meant,” he recalled. “There in that car in that driveway, ‘Joe College’ melted and that sense of home became a part of who I am.”
    Kelley said that experience helped bring new significance to the imagery and concept in the Bible of “coming home,” and the relationship to God that “coming home” language conveys. Kelley read Psalm 139, which begins, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! ... Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? ... For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
    “The Bible says God is the creator of us all. That he knows your name,” Kelley said. “He knows the color of your eyes. Ladies, he knows the real color of your hair. Guys, he knows how many hairs you used to have.”
    And it is entering into a relationship with that God who knows each person so intimately that carries with it that ultimate sense of coming home, he said.
    “And whenever we bring someone to a connection with God, we are bringing them home to a heavenly father who created them,” Kelley said. “That is what we do here. We bring people home.”
    Kelley said he sometimes envisions a time in heaven for each person when God will usher in everyone who is there due, in part, to the witness of that person.
    Kelley imagined the line of people saying, “You came and found me when I wasn’t even looking, and you brought me [home]” or “When I told you don’t ever bring up the name of Jesus again, you kept gently bringing Him into our conversations until I came to Him.”
    Kelley said St. Augustine described in “Confessions” each person’s search for God this way: “You have made us for yourself. Our hearts are restless, until they find rest in thee.”
    “That’s what we know about everybody. Whoever you are and whatever you do. Whatever you’re like. Whatever your interests or hobbies. Whatever your religious background or lack of religious background. However much you ignore, hate, love or cherish God and His ways, we know this about you: He loves and cherishes you,” Kelley said.
    “I want you to remember that you have one very simple responsibility. You’re to spend the rest of your life doing all you’re able to do to bring them home to the Father,” Kelley said, calling that challenge each graduate’s ultimate job description. “The job description is nothing more or nothing less than this: Bring them home.”
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Tyler Sanders is coordinator of communications for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Frank Michael McCormack is assistant director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.)

    12/22/2014 9:55:05 AM by Compiled by BR Staff | with 0 comments
    Filed under: GGBTS, graduation, NOBTS

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