New and familiar faces filled the MacArthur Center for the 2017-18 Convocation Chapel on Wednesday, Aug. 30. Professors in their academic regalia—black, red, royal blue, emerald green and more—filed into the room as “God Almighty, Strong, Secure,” The Master’s University alma mater, played in the background.
Dr. Kevin Hill, dean of faculty, began by introducing the newly appointed deans of the six new schools that together form The Master’s University. This exciting next step is a continuation of what began a year ago when the college transitioned to a university.
The schools and their deans, who will report to the senior vice president and provost, Dr. John Stead, are as follows:
Pearl S. Wismer School of Education: Dr. Jordan Morton
School of Biblical Studies: Dr. Tom Halstead
School of Business & Communication: Dr. Kevin Hill
School of Music: Dr. Paul Plew
School of Science, Mathematics, Technology & Health: Dr. Joe Francis
School of Humanities: Dr. Gregg Frazer
TMU Online: Dr. Mitch Hopewell (school coming soon)
After this announcement, four students from the School of Music performed a beautiful rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and then the faculty and student body welcomed Dr. Stead to the stage.
Standing behind the podium, he addressed the student body, “I hope you graduate from The Master’s University with more than a degree—a humility of spirit that develops you into a lifelong learner… You are engaged in the pursuit of a lifetime.”
He outlined the three qualities this pursuit requires and develops: contentment no matter the situation, focus on the ultimate goal and trust in God’s omniscient providence.
True to his passion and profession, Dr. Stead defended each of these points with not only Scripture but also historical documents and examples.
“When I was a young man, a man came along that really made a difference in my life in apologetics, and that was the late Francis Schaeffer, who back in 1979 predicted this for America: that people would adopt two impoverished values, personal peace and affluence.”
Personal peace is to “be left alone and not be troubled by the troubles of other people, to live one’s life with minimal possibilities without being personally involved or disturbed,” Dr. Stead explained. “Likewise, affluence desires nonstop prosperity, a life made up of things and more things.”
He stated that many people look at school like a product to consume for profit post-graduation, yet he encouraged the new and familiar faces looking back at him to view it as a God-given opportunity to learn and pursue Him.
“Secondly, a pursuit of a lifetime… is a matter of focus,” Dr. Stead said. “Young people, listen, you are at the starting line of a marathon, a race that ends only when you meet Jesus face to face. Our goal is Christlikeness.” He put this in the context of Hebrews 12:1-3 and Philippians 3:12-14, which exhort believers to strive towards the goal and look towards Christ instead of the distractions offered by living in a fallen world.
Finally, this contentment and focus can only come from a correct view of God and His absolute sovereignty. Dr. Stead discussed Romans 8:28 and the emphasis we need to put on the word “together,” that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
He discussed Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln understood sorrow, he understood suffering: his fiancée died of scarlet fever, he lost two sons—he lost Edward and then he lost Willy when he was president—and then on top of that he had the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln understood providence,” he said as he began to read a section of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, which Dr. Stead considers to be the most theologically perceptive speech ever delivered by an American president because it discussed God’s sovereignty in the midst of a massive trial.
Ultimately, he concluded with this: “Young people, your life is a tapestry and over a lifetime in times of uncertainty there will be pain and suffering as well as good times… But, you can rest in the fact that your salvation is secure and that a sovereign God is in control. And remember, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Focus on Jesus, remembering that nothing will touch your life that is not under and directed by our sovereign, loving and heavenly Father.”
Whether new or old, every person in the MacArthur Center that morning is part of the same purpose, the pursuit of a lifetime.