Spending the day at a Board of Trustees meeting may not sound like a super-charged way to spend your birthday. But, every time I'm filling my trustee seat on the CSU campus I get a lift. In a day when many private colleges are struggling, CSU is thriving. It gives me a buzz.
Teaching is central to the commission Jesus gave his disciples and the church. You know it by heart, what we call the Great Commission---
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I
have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20, ESV
How his followers pursued every aspect of that commission in the Book of Acts helps explain the rapid expansion of Christendom beyond the confines of Jerusalem. Once again, teaching marked their progress, an essential element of their obedience to his command. Note some of the occasions---
In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and
Acts 1:1, ESV
He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who
came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus
Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Acts 28:30-31, ESV
Make a note that the first and last verses of Luke's historical account mention the teaching ministry of Jesus and the Apostle Paul, the man who's mission was so obvious in the church's movement. Not only does the teaching of the early church bracket the growth, health, and spread of the Gospel, it is also what occupied them throughout their expansion to the farthest points on the map. Once again, a couple of examples---
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of
the Lord, with many others also.
Acts 15:35, ESV
And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
Acts 18:11, ESV
...how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and
teaching you in public and from house to house...
Acts 20:20, ESV
So, fast forward two-thousand years and marvel at the teaching ministry of the church, the colleges and universities that teach the truth of Scripture, and the educational systems that move the Gospel around the world.
My affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention was hereditary at first. Our families of origin were Southern Baptists as far back as we can record. It shifted to be a conscious choice when I discovered Southern Baptists mission commitments and dedication to higher education. To serve on the CSU Board of Trustees provides an even closer look into what I consider to be one of my greatest blessings as a believer---the rich opportunity for a first-class education.
Churches of the South Carolina Baptist Convention support three outstanding universities---Charleston Southern University, North Greenville University, and Anderson University. Not only that, the Cooperative Program of the SBC provides substantial support for six first-class seminaries. Today they are all preparing young people with a Christian foundation in every walk of life. The seminaries are training pastors, chaplains, professors, missionaries, counselors, church staff members and others for kingdom service around the world. They are all healthy, vibrant educational institutions with impact that reaches around the globe.
CSU is special to me. My first association with them was as a local pastor in the early 1980's. They were struggling as a relatively new Baptist college. Today, under the leadership of President Dr. Jairy Hunter they are financially sound, have a beautiful campus on the outskirts of Charleston, SC, compete in inter-collegiate athletics, and prepare teachers, accountants, pastors, nurses and other health care professionals, coaches, law enforcement professionals, and just about every other human discipline. In my book, what is most appealing is their commitment to integrate faith and learning. Spending a birthday hearing about their 3,500 full-time equivalent students, their outstanding administration and staff, and gifted faculty is really high octane time. To see the next generation of leaders in this environment gives me a boost.
So, yesterday was my birthday, the 66th to be more precise. The other trustees and staff who were present sang Happy Birthday. It was nice. The real gift, however, was to note this alive campus and the difference they are all making in the lives of young people wanting to make a mark in their world. It reminded me of what Paul wrote to the Colossians---
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built
up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in
Colossians 2:6-7, ESV
Thank you CSU for establishing so many in the faith by teaching them.