COVENANT The magazine of Covenant Theological Seminary Fall 2010 路 Winter 2011
Work in Progress Restoring Creation One Calling at a Time
FROM THE PRESIDENT
fall 2010 · winter 2011
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” —Ephesians 2:8–10
Our Mission, Renewing Our Vision
From His Story to Ours
7 Invisible 8 Building
Bridges, Not Walls
As Christians, we are all called by God to serve and glorify him. Such a calling sometimes involves a dramatic conversion experience and setting out to do missionary work in dark and dangerous lands—think of the apostle Paul, for example—but this is not necessarily so for everyone. Many of us live out our common calling to love and serve the Lord through our jobs, through our involvement in our churches, through acts of kindness to those in need, and through our speaking of the gospel to others as God gives us opportunities. Essentially, our task is to embody the message of God’s grace so that others will be drawn to it and changed by it even as we have been. Of course, none of us is able to do this as well as we would like, for we are as yet only poor reflections of the One who was himself the perfect embodiment of gospel truth. But by his Spirit who dwells within each of us, he is remaking us slowly into the very image of himself so that one day, when he comes again, we will at last shine forth in a perfect reflection of the glorious life he intended for us from the beginning. Until that time, he asks us to serve—imperfect as we are—as instruments of his grace in a world that groans beneath the weight of its own brokenness. We are works in progress, continually being shaped by God’s grace for gospel service no matter where he may place us. In this issue of Covenant, you will see how this incarnational aspect of the gospel plays out in the lives of some of our students, professors, and graduates as they seek to be faithful to the Lord in their various callings. I pray that you will also come to see more clearly how God is working in and through your life on a daily basis, even though you may not always be aware of it. As we celebrate the coming of the One who was and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—our Savior, Jesus Christ—along with his subsequent death and resurrection, let us respond in love to his voice, and let us show forth the beauty of his grace in a world that aches for redemption, renewal, and restoration by his hand. May the peace of Christ be with you always.
20 Alumnus Profile: L. B. Graham
23 Telling God’s Story Through Her Own
Bryan Chapell, President
Student Profile: Jim Butz
All Rocks Go to Heaven
PS: You’ll note that with this issue we’ve made a few changes to Covenant, increasing the overall size and page count to allow for expanded content. We’ve also rearranged the placement of some of our usual features. These changes come in response to feedback from our readers and are part of our continuing effort to make the magazine—and all the Seminary’s resources—more useful and effective tools for gospel communication. Let us know what you think; e-mail us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOL. 25, NO. 2 2
COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
The purpose of Covenant Theological Seminary is to glorify the triune God by training his servants to
walk in God’s grace, minister God’s Word, and equip God’s people—all for God’s mission.
Refining Our Mission, Renewing Our Vision Dr. Bryan Chapell reflects on how the Seminary is responding to God’s continuing call to equip his people for ministry.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:11–12 Grateful for God’s Faithfulness
Christians should not be surprised at God’s continuous outpouring of grace. Yet we often find ourselves astonished at just how much goodness he chooses to shower upon those who love him. For those of us who serve at Covenant Seminary, the past year was a perfect example of this. I’d like to share just a few highlights of the many ways in which the Lord is using and blessing our labors here. We praise him for his good gifts and pray that, as we continue planning for the future, he would grant us the resources, energy, and wisdom we need to serve and glorify him. Refining Our Statement of Purpose
In a year of many changes at the Seminary, one of the most important was the revision of our institutional mission statement. Given that the previous version of the statement had not been changed in more than
20 years, our administration, faculty, and board of trustees felt that a reevaluation was in order. The goal was not to change our conception of who we are or what we do, but rather to refine what was already a good statement to make it reflect even more accurately our deepened understanding of our calling. We also wanted to give more emphasis to certain aspects of our mission that, while implied in the old statement, were not immediately obvious. The previous statement read: The mission of Covenant Theological Seminary is to train servants of the triune God to walk with God, interpret and communicate God’s Word, and lead God’s people. This is a fine summary of the Seminary’s purpose and has helped guide our actions for more than two decades. Yet we desired to refine various phrases to articulate more specifically what we believe the Lord is calling us to do as a Confessional school with a pastoral mission. The newly revised version thus reads: The purpose of Covenant Theological Seminary is to glorify the triune God by training his servants to walk in God’s grace, minister God’s Word, and equip God’s people—all for God’s mission. We believe this new statement expresses our full-orbed approach to ministry training with our calling to equip leaders everywhere to proclaim the gospel within the context of God’s own mission-minded purposes.
E xpanding O nline G ospel I nfluence Equipping a New Generation of Gospel Messengers
G od ’ s G race
• Over the last five years, our placement rate for Master of Divinity (MDiv) graduates who, with the Seminary’s recommenda- tion, seek ministry positions is 97%. • On average, 75% of our MDiv graduates end up serving in pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). • Our alumni tend to remain in church service at a rate four times higher than that of graduates from other accredited seminaries; one in four will plant a new church within eight years of graduation.
COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
Though our purpose statement has been revised, the core of our mission remains the same: preparing pastors and those who serve beside them to equip others with the gospel for the sake of reformation and transformation both locally and globally. We do this by creating a seminary environment that aims at fostering the development of supportive relationships, nurturing spiritual maturity, and enabling students to experience more fully the life-changing power of God’s grace in their lives so that they may bring that same power to bear in the lives of others. The Lord has blessed our efforts abundantly. Indeed, by his grace our enrollments continue to increase as he brings us more students from more places around the world than ever before—and sends them off to serve in more places than ever before as well. The present student body is made up of people from 44 states and 20 countries, while our graduates currently live or serve in a variety of vocational and non-vocational ministry positions in all 50 states and in 40 countries. (See the box at left for more statistics.) Reaching Cultures and Continents for Christ Through Increased Web Presence
The enthusiastic response to our various Web-based initiatives—Worldwide Classroom, Living Christ Today, and Resources for Life—continues to amaze us. Many thousands of online visitors each month use these free resources for personal or small group study, to enrich their ministries, or to strengthen their local churches. We are thus expanding our influence for the gospel in exponential ways (see box above, right). Additionally, this fall we launched newly refreshed versions of all our sites, which feature streamlined navigation for greater usability. We’ve also added new video components to Worldwide Classroom to enhance the online learning experience, and we are working on other refinements to make all our Web initiatives more effective Kingdom-building tools.
• Since we began keeping statistics four years ago, a combined total of approximately 800,000 unique visitors have visited our various online ministries nearly 2 million times. • 240,000 users from 192 coun tries visited our sites a total of more than 530,000 times in 2009 alone. • Our free course materials on iTunes and iTunesU have seen a total of 1.4 million individual downloads.
Strengthening the Church Through Teaching, Scholarship, and Service
One of Covenant Seminary’s greatest assets is our dedicated faculty of pastor-scholars who devote themselves not only to classroom instruction but also to mentoring students and alumni, as well as serving the larger body of Christ by writing and teaching at churches, schools, conferences, and organizations in our community and around the world. (See box at the top of the next page for a sampling of recent faculty publications; see more on our main Web site.) Stewarding Resources Wisely for Long-Term Financial Health
Despite the general economic difficulties of the last couple of years, the Lord has continued to provide for the Seminary financially in ways we could not have dreamed possible through the support of generous individuals and churches from throughout our denomination. In fact, by God’s grace and through careful stewardship of the resources he has given us, we are in better financial health than many other major seminaries that have been forced to cut staff or programs—or worse—as a result of economic woes. (For more details, see the “Stewarding Financial Blessings” box on the opposite page.)
A Sampling of Recent Faculty Publications For more, visit us online at www.covenantseminary.edu/academics/ourfaculty. Jerram Barrs Through His Eyes: God’s Perspective on Women in the Bible (Crossway, 2009). Learning Evangelism From Jesus (Crossway, 2009). Chosen as “Outstanding Evangelism Resource of the Year” by Outreach magazine. Bryan Chapell Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice (Baker, 2009). Ephesians: The Glory of Christ in the Life of the Church (P&R, 2009). Robert A. Peterson Our Secure Salvation: Preservation and Apostasy (P&R, 2009) in the Explorations in Biblical Theology Series, which he also edits. Richard Winter Preparing new edition of The Roots of Sorrow: Reflections on Depression and Hope (IVP, forthcoming).
Building a Grace-Centered Community of Faith
Partnering with Our Denomination For the Sake of Christ’s Kingdom
Our ongoing efforts to improve our campus were honored this year as the Seminary received a beautification award from the city of Creve Coeur. The credit for this goes to the Lord and to our dedicated grounds crew, whose landscaping efforts make the Seminary campus a lovely place to live, learn, and work. Further improvements are planned for the coming year as we seek additional funding to help with a variety of proposed projects, including:
The ongoing support of our PCA churches is vital to the financial well-being of Covenant Seminary. Your investment in a mission that transcends geographical and generational boundaries aids in bringing the reforming and transforming power of the gospel to a hurtingworld. Thank you for being an essential part not only of the life and ministry of Covenant Seminary but also of the lives and ministries of the pastors and leaders we train. The fruit they bear for Christ is due, in large measure, to the fact that you care enough to contribute to their seminary education. As our role in preparing confessionally committed Presbyterian and Reformed leaders for Christ’s church continues to expand, your partnership with us in this mission becomes increasingly important. Together with your prayerful and financial support—and with your assistance in identifying and encouraging potential leaders for the church to consider Covenant—we can continue to build God’s Kingdom. May we do so faithfully, under the guidance of his Holy Spirit, and all for his glory!
• Renovations for the Community Center to enhance the environment and provide more opportunities for fruitful relationships between students, faculty, and staff. • The conversion of parts of Edwards Hall into new facilities devoted to hos- pitality, student services, and guest housing. • Upgrades to Rayburn Chapel to strengthen the worship life of the Semi- nary and create a more appropriate space for campus and community events. The PCA’s Women in the Church (WIC) has graciously agreed to help fund a portion of these much-needed improvements. We are in the process of working with the organization to raise the money for the projects; additional funding will be sought through other means.
DR. BRYAN CHAPELL
S tewarding F inancial B lessings GOD’S GENEROUS PROVISION • We have been greatly blessed through generous donors who have supported us through our Annual Fund, giving to our online ministries, and gifts to fund scholar ships. These funds, along with the income generated through tuition dollars, has resulted in an increase in revenue of more than $750,000 to a total of $11,444,000.
SCHOLARSHIPS • Extra giving from donors has allowed us to maintain current tuition rates. • All scholarship monies come from Annual Fund giving and from our endowment.
PAYING OFF DEBT • Thanks to the divine providence of God, and unbeknownst to us, a recently de- ceased donor with a heart for the Seminary remembered us in his estate with an amount that almost exactly equaled the remainder of our $1 million loan for the construction of Founders Hall.
Dr. Bryan Chapell is president and professor or practical theology at Covenant Theological Seminary and is much in demand as a preacher and teacher. He is the author of several books, including Christ-Centered Preaching, Christ-Centered Worship, Holiness by Grace, The Wonder of It All, and Ephesians: The Glory of Christ in the Life of the Church.
Christmas is the perfect season to ask ourselves whether our faith is merely a collection of theological facts we affirm or a living story we enter into and become a part of.
COVENANT Fall 2010 路 Winter 2011
s a pastor with four children (two of whom are fast on their way to being teenagers), I think I may be witness to an unwitting tragedy. When we’re young, we live in the world of stories—nursery rhymes, Where the Wild Things Are, Santa Claus, made-up adventures told by Grandpa, and, of course, fanciful tales we make up ourselves. Young children realize that without stories, life is not very interesting. Yet, as we grow up, such stories often lose their appeal. Or, more commonly, they are simply shelved because there are more important things that must be done and more important people who must be won. Passing the test replaces passing the football as if we were Peyton Manning. Getting the job replaces giving a fanciful tea party in the upstairs playroom. Making the team replaces marveling at the wildness of creation and fighting off its strange, unknown creatures. By the time we become adults, what is true for the reality of our lives also frames our Christian understanding. The “stories” of Christianity often recede into the background of our minds and are replaced with the “facts” we believe: Did Jesus rise from the grave? Was he born of a virgin? Is the cross a substitutionary atonement for sins? Is the Bible trustworthy? Of course! The answer to each of these questions and others like them is an unambiguous “yes.” For upon such doctrinal truths, the Christian faith is defined. However, my fear for many of us is that such facts find no other purpose than forcing the decision: Do we agree or disagree? Is it true
or false? Before long our Christian lives shrink down to an encyclopedia of religious trivia. We may know lots of facts, yet those truths are not organized in any particularly interesting or edifying way. We all know what encyclopedias are good for—collecting dust on our shelves to make us look well-informed. Sadly, I fear this characterizes far too many Christians. This is why I think it is important to remember that Christianity is not like some episode of Jeopardy where contestants spew disconnected bits of trivia. Rather, Christianity itself is a story—a true story. The doctrines of our faith rise out of God’s relational pursuit, self-giving love, and grace toward us. In other words, the Bible is not just a book of religious facts. It is the story of God’s redemption through all of history. Jesus invites us to remember and affirm the most important “events” and their meanings in that story—creation, incarnation, cross, resurrection, and new heavens and new earth. But more than that, Jesus wants us to find ourselves in the story. We are not only to be faithful believers and receivers but also faithful followers. For us to “enter” this story means that Christianity is just as much about following in the footsteps of Jesus as it is affirming the truths he revealed. In the words of the apostle Peter, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). The “storiedness” of Christianity ought to powerfully inform our discipleship under Jesus. As we await the celebration of Christ’s
birth in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we remember the importance of waiting in the Christian life. We think of the Old Testament people of God who waited patiently for the appearing of the Messiah and are reminded in the present that we still await his return. Historically, Christians have seen in this an important message, which anchors us amidst the mixed and sometimes dangerous messages our culture conveys about Christmas. As we all know, busyness tops the list of dangerous messages. The weeks preceding Christmas are often filled with frenetic activity. Through them, we try to create the perfect moment, speak the perfect word, or provide the perfect gift. Our culture teaches us that Christmas is about our plans, presents, and actions. Yet the Bible reminds us that our efforts are insufficient to secure the blessings we seek; we must wait on the Lord for them. Only in Jesus is found the hope of our longing—a new light dawning amid the darkness. Instead of getting busy, we are called to wait. Our waiting distills into longing and hoping for life to be made right. When such longing characterizes our waiting, we are then ready to ponder a “light and life” that has arrived from outside our world, which of course is Jesus, the Christ (John 1:1–5). The biblical story—because it is true— helps us focus on our own discipleship. We, like Peter at the transfiguration in Mark 9:5, are foolish, faithless, and full of hubris. We too want to freeze moments of glory in our lives. We don’t want to walk down the mountain; we want a life without suffering. Nevertheless, www.covenantseminary.edu
We’ve lost our ability to enter stories.... Nevertheless, the gospel is the one story we are invited to continually enter—and by entering become more—more real, more broken, more alive, more interesting, and more open to what God is doing in this world. God loves us too much to allow us to forgo the sharing of Christ’s sufferings (Rom. 8:16–17). Whether we experience such suffering or not, pondering the death and resurrection of Jesus teaches us to loosen our grip on the things of this world to which we cling for hope; it prepares us for the celebration of our true hope: Jesus is risen! Of course, we all agree that Jesus is risen. Yet, we often forget that because he lives, we also live new life—creatively, passionately, and powerfully! The resurrection isn’t just a theological truth. It is the fountain from which our entire lives flow. In fact, the resurrection is a waterfall of life. The resurrection ought to inform our lives and relationships at every moment. No matter how difficult our circumstance, no matter how deep our despair, and no matter how powerful the temptation, it is the resurrection of Christ that gives birth to faith, hope, and love (1 Cor. 13:13). It is this hope that allows us to climb
out of the pit, go forward in the difficulty, persevere in our marriages, and learn to say no to our temptations. Can we doubt such truths? Not if we remember and live in the story of our victorious Christ, who sits at God’s right hand and whose ascension we celebrate with joy. We can be assured that, as the one who reigns over us because he has conquered “all his and our enemies,” he will keep us on our journey, secured by his sovereign grip of grace. Where are you? Who are you? The world teaches us to answer the question of “where” by that technological marvel called a GPS. Is where we are simply a matter of geography? Do we answer the question, “Who are you?” with what we earn, accomplish, or secure by beauty or talent? We may be successful businessmen, athletes, doctors, civil servants, actresses, or lawyers. Yet, we may not have much depth or creativity—not much story. We’ve lost our
ability to enter stories. No wonder our children think it strange when we have no time for tea in the upstairs playroom. Nevertheless, the gospel is the one story we are invited to enter continually. By entering, we become more—more real, more broken, more alive, more interesting, and more open to what God is doing in this world. As Christmas approaches, I invite you to go beyond the facts of our faith and enter into the story. Perhaps in entering again into the story, we can learn a little bit more of what Jesus means when he says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). TOM GIBBS In 2002 Tom Gibbs (MDiv ’97) began Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he continues to serve as senior pastor. Prior to his ministry in San Antonio, Tom began the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) chapter at Baylor University, where he served for five years. Tom and his wife, Tara, have four children: Anna Catherine, Thomas, Lucy, and Caroline.
Visit LivingChristToday.com on December 16 to hear more about
as Dr. Chapell interviews the author, alumnus Rev. Tom Gibbs. 6
COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
There are people all around us whom we just don’t see. Through encounters with often-overlooked individuals, God reminds us that he always sees and cares for “invisible” people.
ranklin Road is one of my favorite shortcuts. I can drive fast on a long stretch of road in an industrial area where there are no stoplights. On a recent excursion with Maria, a fellow coworker at Engage St. Louis, I drove slow, trying to locate an apartment complex that I had never noticed in four years of navigating this shortcut. I drove right past the apartments. Where are they? This is an emergency. Why can’t I find them? After coming to the end of the road, Maria and I turned around and spotted our friend standing by the street near a railroad crossing sign. Sobbing, she climbed into the backseat of the car. Her young child climbed in too. While bouncing over large potholes, we entered the dreary apartment complex, situated on the “wrong” side of the tracks. The wideeyed child buried herself in her mother’s coat as our friend described the violent fight that she had with her husband the night before. Where was her husband? She didn’t know, but she was shaking. A few moments later, her husband pulled into the parking lot. Maria and I approached his truck cautiously and introduced ourselves. He looked down in shame. Then, without warning, he leaned over the wheel of his pickup truck and began to sob, years of unseen hurt streaming down his face. On the opposite side of Franklin Road, there is another apartment complex where I’ve met other “invisible” people—an immigrant family without furniture, a traumatized refugee woman dancing alone to a pounding beat,
and a group of African widows with family photos on display. I had almost forgotten them. Sometimes I wonder why I am more interested in Cardinals baseball or Rams football than in my seemingly unseen neighbors. Sometimes I wonder why we pray for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq but not for the Afghani and Iraqi
T h e S h a dow C l a s s “This is what happened, he had learned by now. You lived intensely with others, only to have them disappear overnight, since the shadow class was
con dem n ed to m ovem en t. The men left for other jobs, towns, got deported, returned home, changed names. Sometimes someone came popping around the corner, or on the subway,
t hen th ey van ish ed again . Addresses, phone numbers did not hold. The emptiness he felt returned to him over and over, until eventually he made sure not to let friendships sink deep anymore.”
— From The Inheritance of Loss, p. 112, by Kiran Desai
nant, Egyptian domestic worker in crisis. The Bible tells us in Genesis 16 that when Hagar fled the mess with Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah), God saw her. It assures us that he heard her misery. It tells us that he comforted the hurting woman. She in turn “gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me…’ ” The well where this occurred was given a name that means “Well of the Living One who sees me,” and the child she bore, Ishmael, a name that means “God hears.” Indeed, he sees and hears the invisible ones! Like his Father, Jesus also cared for a desperate foreign woman at a well. He saw the thirsty mess in her heart and offered her water to drink. This water, he said, would become a spring in her and bubble up into eternal life. Then, she ran to find her neighbors and invited them to “come, see” the Christ (John 4). May the giver of life have mercy on us this season too. May he who sees give us eyes to see our invisible neighbors. Above all, may our hearts praise the One who appeared in human flesh that we might taste and see his Father’s grace and glory. TIM BALDWIN
refugees in our midst who have lost loved ones to roadside bombs. Sometimes I wonder why we worry about a recession when our refrigerators are full.
Then, I am reminded of a young, preg-
Tim Baldwin (MATS ‘88) is a lifelong learner who serves as minister of intercultural education at Engage St. Louis (www.engage-stl.org), a faith-based, nonprofit organization that focuses on creating avenues for local churches to engage the community and for community members to enter into mutually beneficial relationships with ESTL participants. He has served as a community liaison and has been a presenter at national and international conferences. Two of his greatest joys are visiting the homes of immigrant friends and leading a weekly community group Bible study for ESTL.
For 28 years, the Berlin wall—built overnight in 1961—kept East Germans from fleeing to the west. It symbolized the divide between democracy and Communism. The wall came down in 1989.
Professor Hans Bayer, a native German, shares his thoughts about the church’s changing perspective on “missional involvement” and the concept that all believers are called to be missional disciples. For him, this includes short-term training sessions overseas to expose groups of theology students, pastors, and ministry workers to deeper biblical education. Many never had the opportunity for much formal training—especially during Soviet Times.
COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
What are some of the ministries you are involved with overseas, and how did those come about?
My involvement in Eastern Europe—mostly along the former Iron Curtain—is really an irony of the Lord. There was a divine call to leave our home in Germany to come to the US. At the same time, doors were opening for me to teach in Europe: places such as Latvia, Ukraine, Hungary, and, more recently, Austria, Scotland, and Germany. It has been a growing joy for me to be involved in this work alongside my work at Covenant Seminary. Tell us about the impact overseas teaching has had on you personally.
Initially I didn’t want to go. I felt that short-term teaching trips were not really meaningful. I thought that if someone wanted to work in Ukraine, that person needed to move there and learn Russian and possibly Ukrainian. That person needed to live with the stark realities that these wonderful people face and discover what life in Christ looks like for them. I felt it was a bit artificial to go just for one week, to dispense “some wisdom and knowledge,” have some interaction, and then leave. Thus, I initially went skeptically into that work. Upon repeat visits, I saw that they were very encouraged that someone would take time to notice and to be involved with them. I found that through multiple visits, relationships developed with translators, administrators, and students, and as those grew, I discovered the world of reciprocal discipleship—or mutual learning in Christ. I actually had the privilege of looking into the world of what God was doing there. Once I discovered that and saw God’s work and our growth in Christ together, I was hooked. I have come to realize that the lives some these Ukrainian friends and brothers and sisters in Christ live, are very hard, difficult, and challenging. And their walk in Christ, their hope, their joy in having some friendships and some relationships in Christ—and not much more—has been a real encouragement to me as well as a challenge. I came back feeling as if I were a prince with a huge privilege. I have access to books. I have some financial means to be able to help and do something. Comparatively speaking, I have immense resources. I suddenly realized the potential and the great opportunity I have here and need to use. In a way, I was sitting on a pile of salt that needed to be dispensed much more liberally. This mobilized and motivated me to be much more aware of stewardship—theologically, biblically, in resources and opportunities—and to use that. I saw in contrast how resources were much more limited there.
And yet I also felt encouraged and challenged to live a more simple life and to see that, fundamentally, life in Christ really isn’t dependent on resources or opportunities. The US is no longer viewed as the center of world missions. How do you see the face of missions changing?
Many followers of Christ leave their “Jerusalem” and go to their “Antioch.” This new “Antioch” becomes the focus of life. When we travel or reach out, there’s more reciprocity and interconnection with those with whom we interact; it’s a partnership rather than an “I’m doing something for you” approach. In some ways, I left my home turf, my cultural comfort zone by moving to the US and having a cross-cultural marriage with my American wife, Susan. My own biography is one of displacement. I’m not in “Jerusalem.” I’m somewhere in “Ephesus” or “Corinth,” away from my center. Maybe it’s been God’s way to shape my view of missions that [professor] Nelson Jennings and others are reinforcing so effectively. When we analyze Peter’s personal growth in the book of Acts, we see that he is sent to Cornelius’s house. The amount of learning he goes through as a trained disciple of Jesus is huge. We can see in the biblical account how being sent out includes reciprocal learning; Peter had much to learn, and he learned it by leaving his “Jerusalem.” I’m very thankful that I can see this truth not just academically and in terms of a “missional theology,” but also in action. I’m convinced that there’s not only giving but always also receiving and learning. I’ve had to convince students and friends
in Ukraine that they actually teach me. They didn’t believe me. They thought it was a sweet gesture until they realized and could trust that I really meant it. Their lives encourage and challenge me. It’s wonderful that there’s a changing understanding of mission as not merely going out and doing something. It’s not bringing the “know how,” the theology, but rather it is saying, “We have something that’s been entrusted to us, and they have something that has been entrusted to them; let us see prayerfully how God would put us into various partnerships under the headship of Christ, growing together into the one body written about in Ephesians.” How have you seen God use Covenant students and alumni missionally that encourages you personally?
That’s a huge question. It is wonderful that we have a colorful array of students—including those called to pastor small churches, plant or lead in churches, minister to students on college campuses, counsel, teach, write, or serve internationally. I think the common denominator to many of our students is an increasing missional awareness and passion. Being missional doesn’t mean you need to go abroad, but it does mean you need to be aware of what God is doing in other people. For instance, in St. Louis, there are a great number of immigrants from Bosnia and West
Africa. They are right here. We also have thousands of international students studying at various universities in St. Louis. The principle of missional reciprocity not only pertains to “going somewhere” but also is about being open to God’s work wherever we are and learning from people who are different from us. I am encouraged to see many of our students catching that vision and living it out in their respective settings. I have even had the joy, as have some of my colleagues, of taking various students with me on teaching trips overseas. That’s the hope I have for students and myself, that we would grow in awareness of giving and receiving, depending on Christ wherever we are. I would want to engender that in students who very much feel called to work in St. Louis or in the US. I believe God is on a mission with or without you, and if you want to be part of it, pray that you would find your part in his mission rather than thinking, “I need to do ‘missionary work.’ ” I don’t think that’s the right place to begin the process. So it’s liberating, and it’s also wonderful to see the largeness of what God is doing.
(above): These women (together with Dr. Richard Watson) basically run the Ukraine Biblical Seminary where Dr. Bayer teaches each year. (above, right): Many remnants of Sovietera life remain in Ukraine, including this statue. (right): Dr. Bayer spends long days teaching through translators.
What do you envision the future of missions looking like in the church?
I’d say a good starting place is humility. I’m so impressed with the sacrificial willingness of so many US Americans and some Europeans to serve God internationally. There is something wonderful to be preserved here. But, for the sake of people from other nations, what I would like to engender—particularly in the northwestern world of Christianity—is an increasing sense of humility to learn from others,
I believe God is on a mission with or without you, and if you want to be part of it, pray that you would find your part in his mission rather than thinking, “I need to do ‘missionary work.’ ” to learn what God has done among Christians in Ghana, China, Australia, and Iran. What are the gifts and experiences in places such as Brazil? How can these people’s lives influence and shape us? For the next generation, what I’d like to encourage is a sense of humility and teachability, and for our eyes to be opened to the larger work of God. I’d want to encourage this teachability right here at Covenant. What I’d hope
for is more connection between US Americans and international students on campus because there is an opportunity right here to begin the process of reciprocal teachability. That’s a microcosm of what I would hope to see in the next generation. The whole fire behind this is not some new strategy; new terms such as “missional,” “reciprocity,” “teachability,” and “partnership” can all become empty phrases. I’d say the heart of it is finding God in his mission—rediscovering that. Once that’s accessed, it will mobilize a new generation, maybe of more teachable, more humble, more missional-minded students than me during my student years to go out from here and many other institutions around the world. That’s my hope. In its very essence it is rediscovering God’s heartbeat. What is it that you want students get from your teaching?
At the very heart of it, though it may sound a bit trite and simplistic, is the reality of God, the presence of God, and the passion and mission of God. As those become growing realities in hearts and minds of our students, I want them to see the beauty of the counsel of God in prophecy and fulfillment, in redemptive history in Scripture, and the work of God calling us back to himself. To see churches as an outgrowth of the mission of God rather than as mere institutions is my heart’s desire. I want that to grow in my own life and in the lives of our students because that holds and drives the particular calling to pastor, plant a church, and
Dr. Bayer teaches intensive one-week courses for pastors and ministry leaders in Ukriane and other places.
get into counseling, education, Christian writing, overseas work, youth work, music, etc. I think if that heart pulsation and fire is kindled, a lot of things grow from there. I long to see the rigors and discipline of biblical exegesis, biblical theology, etc., applied to that search and openness to find the God who is speaking to us through his revealed and reliable Word and to grow in that relationship. I want to engender that kind of conviction and hope. The more I study discipleship, the more I see how Jesus exemplifies, teaches, and enables. I feel I have a lot to learn in the area of exemplifying and living that out relationally and personally. I have been very challenged because I come from a Western-European world where just conveying thought may be considered sufficient, but there is so much more to maturity in Christ in all areas of individual and corporate life. As we close, what do you want people to take away with them?
That’s hard to bring to one point. Perhaps it’s that our readers might increasingly realize that God is at work in the entirety of our individual and corporate lives here in the US and among people all over the world. I can point to myself as a broken example of a redemptive work in process. God is universally at work to redeem. I would encourage our readers to gain a lifelong perspective on God’s work—individually and corporately—and be inspired by that. I would say: do not allow the challenges and overwhelming problems in this world (philosophically, culturally, environmentally, economically, and politically) to determine the core reality of what is going on. God is capable of transforming and redeeming even in the most tragic individual and corporate circumstances imaginable. He is on a mission. To hear Dr. Bayer expand on “The Mission of God in the Book of Acts,” visit www.LivingChristToday.com. Click on “Daily Messages,” and then select “View All Webcasts.” The interview was featured on 11/11/2010.
DR. HANS F. BAYER Dr. Bayer, professor of New Testament, taught for 10 years at the German Theological Seminary at Giessen, where he also planted and co-pastored a church, before joining the Covenant Seminary faculty in 1994. He lectures and preaches in the US and Europe, and has published numerous works, primarily on the Gospels and Acts. He recently wrote a major commentary in German on the Gospel of Mark and is working on a book about discipleship in Mark.
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Stumbling Toward Glory In January 2011, Rev. Mike Higgins (MDiv ’96) joins the Covenant Seminary staff as dean of students. The path back to St. Louis—the place where he first identified and claimed the gospel—has been marked by challenges and glories. Christ has sustained him through them all.
The image we usually conceive when picturing Hebrews 12:1 (“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .”) is a Chariots of Fire-like scene—of young men running with powerful strides. But the history of the church reveals a different image—one of the spiritually lame and maimed crawling or being carried to the heavenly finish line. This is not only a more realistic image, but also a more encouraging one. A picture of redemption that looks put together in the pulpit as much as in the pew is an image of corrupt idolatry. Far from needing to hear only the stories of men who have every reason to pursue the ministry, we need even more the testimony of those who had every reason not to. We need to hear from those who, by birth, condition, background, or upbringing could justly say, “Not me!”—but who then pause and with surrender say as Christ, “Not as I will, but . . . your will be done” (Matt. 26:39, 42). It is a rare believer who does not show the scars of sufferings borne for the sake of his or her faith. How much more then are leaders of God’s people to be like wounded physicians, being called (in the words of author and counselor Dan Allender) to “lead with a limp”? Rev. Mike Higgins (MDiv ’96) is such a man. “When I first became a Christian at a storefront Pentecostal church, I sensed a call to the ministry,” Higgins says. “That was weird. You see, I didn’t know anyone who went to 12 COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
church. For me to decide to study the Word and talk to people about Jesus was out of character to the people I ran around with. I lost a lot of friends. I lost the girl I was engaged to because she didn’t want anything to do with it. Making these decisions had to be God’s doing because that was too much to lose if this was not real.” Higgins was learning what all believers eventually learn—discipleship has a price. During college, Higgins began to grow disinterested in his field of study—biology. “One day I asked myself, ‘What am I doing? I don’t want to go into premed!’ ” Higgins remembers. “A commercial for the Army came on TV. ‘Be all you can be,’ it said. I figured I could do anything for three years, so I joined.” He laughs and recalls how 3 years turned into serving for 31. From 1985 to 1992, while serving as a field artillery officer, Mike helped plant churches in Missouri, Kansas, and Germany. Also in 1985, he was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome—an inherited neurological disorder characterized by recurrent involuntary physical and verbal tics. “My battalion commander noticed my tics once we returned from training in Fort Irwin, California,” Higgins explains. “He told me to have it checked out; as a result, I was sent to an army hospital in Denver.” Higgins admits that he thought his condition seemed a legitimate reason to leave the Army. “When they looked at my physical fitness reports and annual officers ratings, the medical board basically said, ‘We’re not letting this guy out.’ I told them about my tics, and they responded by asking if I had a medical degree. Then they told me to shut up and let them determine what to do.” Those assessors supported the endorsements that Higgins received throughout his career at chaplain school—namely, that
his condition was an asset that would help put soldiers at ease when talking with a chaplain about their own problems. “What I thought was going to be a problem was, by God’s grace, the thing that enabled my ministry in the Army Chaplain Corps,” Higgins notes. During one assignment, Higgins received the Legion of Merit medal for exceptional meritorious conduct in the performance of his chaplain duties. “I didn’t think I was doing that much. I was just doing my job,” Higgins shares. The work of a chaplain never ends. With the US’s continued military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the old saying “in war, there are no winners” appears all the more true. Right may prevail, injustice may be crushed, and dictators may be overthrown, but in the end, even the victors bear the scars; they are lame and maimed, physically and emotionally. “War doesn’t just mess with husband-wife issues, but it also messes with parent-child issues,” Higgins explains. “The family-related ministry for military personnel—especially with the newest wave of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and separation issues—is enough to keep the chaplain corps and civilian pastors busy for the rest of their lives. Pastors and chaplains need to check themselves. You can only help others to a certain point before you start getting burned out yourself.” In an effort to counteract this tendency, Higgins has been involved in and benefited greatly from measures such as personal accountability to other pastors and participation in a Doctor of Ministry cohort at Covenant Theological Seminary. Higgins originally resigned his field artillery commission to attend Covenant Seminary in 1992. During that time, Professor Jerram Barrs encouraged him to become a pastor in
the PCA. “I pretty much blew off the first suggestions that Jerram made because I was used to a Pentecostal style of worship,” Higgins says with a smile. “I’d tell people I love the hymns—especially when they are assisted by a ‘turbo boost.’ ” But upon graduation, Higgins did end up in the PCA as a pastor at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with alumni Randy Nabors (MDiv ’76) and Jim Pickett (MDiv ’81). After three years at New City Fellowship, Mike became senior pastor at Redemption Fellowship, an African-American PCA congregation in metro Atlanta. He recently finished a six-year active duty tour at Fort McPherson, 18 miles from the church, so he served both places simultaneously. Through Higgins’s leadership, Redemption Fellowship took a lead role in supporting Kingdom work through the denomination. “Our church tried faithfully to provide financial support for the denomination’s agencies,” Higgins says. “We needed to give heavily to this because I believed that if African Americans didn’t have some sense of financial ownership in this denomination, there wouldn’t be an emotional buy in. I didn’t want people thinking that all black folks need financial help. Redemption Fellowship is full of professionals
with professional jobs—only they happen to be black. I tried to encourage our members to become involved in mercy ministry themselves, and they responded wonderfully.” Higgins served as the first moderator of the new Metro Atlanta Presbytery. As an African American in the PCA, Higgins brings with him a jubilant approach to worship that he believes should be present in every church. “I think it’s great for the PCA to include people like me who hopefully show that the gospel is to be celebrated,” Higgins notes. However, in his experience, he’s visited many churches that don’t seem to have much to commemorate. “The experience feels like being at a Bible study with music,” he admits. “Where is the celebration? I preached at the General Assembly four years ago in Atlanta, and about 60 of my church members came and sat down front. That night many people approached me and said, ‘This is what GA should look like.’ ” Higgins goes on to say, “I think we have a long way to go. We need to do more to bring minorities into this great denomination. I want to be a part of this opportunity to reach out and bring in people of color; however, I do believe we have some racial and cultural issues that need to be confronted if we
are to have any movement on that front.” Yes, the church is stumbling, falling, crawling, and being carried, weak and feeble, to the finish line of glory. Many enter heaven with tears—but our Savior waits to wipe them away. And when this motley crew is gathered—the Marriage Feast of the Lamb will commence in a great celebration (Rev. 19:7–9). The example of Mike Higgins reminds us that no matter how many reasons we have “not to run,” we can move forward with confidence and joy and in worship that feels like a party—celebrating the risen Lamb, Jesus Christ. JOEL HATHAWAY Joel Hathaway (MDiv ’04), director of alumni and career services, is committed to serving, encouraging, and providing support for pastors and ministry leaders. In addition to his work with individuals, he consults with churches in their pastoral search processes.
Rev. Mike Higgins and his wife, Renee (below), are returning to St. Louis to continue their ministry. Mike will serve as dean of students at Covenant Seminary. Prior to this, he was a military chaplain and a pastor of a church. The Higginses have two adult daughters (not pictured).
The Covenant Distinctive Christ-Centered Community
The following article begins a series of student-written reflections on the stated distinctives of Covenant Seminary and how students experience these distinctives during their time with us.
efore coming to Covenant Seminary, an acquaintance warned me that seminary is a place where you are changed forever. Though he was referring to a negative experience, I have been changed forever by the grace of God through professors who challenge us to study the Scriptures diligently and prayerfully because God’s Word leads us to Christ. I am thankful that our professors are people who are still growing and learning. Because they teach us what God has given them out of their personal walks with Christ, they do not come across as people who have “arrived.” From the overflow of their time with the Lord, they lead us in prayer and devotion before lecturing. Indeed, I have witnessed men and women who cherish Christ, and these professors give us personal space and the ability to process what we are learning. If we need them, they are available to help us think through some of the deeper issues of life. There is an old adage that states, “A first impression is a lasting impression.” Thinking back to when my wife, Kristal, and I visited Covenant Seminary in February 2008, we remember the warmth and welcome rendered to us through the Admissions team members such as Jeremy Kicklighter and Kent Needler. Upon arrival, we were taken aback when we found out that our entire time was well planned out. This freed us up to have many interactions with students and staff about their time at Covenant Seminary. We began to experience firsthand the communal aspects of Covenant that others had illuminated. By the end of our stay, we felt loved, valued, and accepted because we were strangers among a community that cared for and delighted in us. After visiting, we were overjoyed to know that God had answered our prayers for a seminary that embraces community and the service of Christ to others.
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We definitely have experienced the ripple affects of that first impression during our time at Covenant. Because of the picnics hosted by Student Life throughout the year, Kristal and I meet new people in an informal atmosphere. This is particularly important for her because she does not regularly spend time on campus. At a recent one, we connected with friends and met a few new students. Mark McElmurry, director of Student Life, has been a friend, brother, and encourager to many students. He has helped me and others see the value of sharing our stories through a Covenant Group for second-year students. In that group, we have been vulnerable with one another about the challenges of life we face as students, brothers, fathers, and husbands. This is a good complement to what we learn in class. Through Covenant Group, we have helped each other bring life and theology together and apply gospel-centered practices to our lives. During my time at Covenant Seminary, I realize that our community has a great first impression because of the grace of Christ. We know well from Scripture that only that which is done for Christ lasts. Therefore, I am privileged to witness and experience his lasting impression in a community that seeks to draw on him for life and service. I look forward to experiencing more of his grace in the days ahead. REMARGO YANCIE Remargo Yancie (MDiv/MAC ‘12) and his wife, Kristal, have been married for three years. They serve together as volunteers for Young Life ministry in St. Louis. Remargo also serves as a volunteer for FirstLight, a ministry that comes along side churches to minister to those struggling with sexual issues. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading and doing recreational activities with his family and friends. Kristal works as businesswoman in downtown St. Louis.
LIFET I ME O F MI N I S T RY Weekend Classes: Winter and Spring 2011
Pastors, ministry leaders, and Covenant Seminary alumni and spouses are invited to participate in our enriching Lifetime of Ministry (LOM) weekend courses, designed to encourage you and equip you to serve others. Each course is free for Covenant Seminary alumni and their spouses and only $25 for other guests. For more information or to register, visit www.covenantseminary.edu/lom. ON-CAMPUS LIFETIME OF MINISTRY COURSE OFFERINGS
GOSPEL-CENTERED PARENTING (EM531)
WOMEN IN MINISTRIES (EM555)
Date: January 7–8, 2011 Instructors: Dr. Mark Dalbey,* assistant professor of practical theology, and his wife, Beth
THE CHURCH IN GOD’S WORLD (ST555) Date: January 14–15, 2011 Instructor: Mr. Steven Garber, director of The Washington Institute in Falls Church, VA
PASTORAL ISSUES: SUSTAINING MINISTRY FOR LIFE (PT573) Date: February 4–5, 2011 Instructor: Dr. Bob Burns,* associate professor of educational ministries
GOSPEL-CENTERED SPIRITUALITY (EM534) Date: February 18–19, 2011 Instructors: Dr. Donna Hawk-Reinhard, PhD student in historical theology at Saint Louis University, and Dr. Mark Dalbey,* assistant professor of practical theology
February 25–26, 2011 Mrs. Hillary Coffee, coordinator of ministry to women at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO
PARTNERING WITH AFRICAN CHRISTIANS (WM565) Date: March 4–5, 2011 Instructor: Dr. Nelson Jennings,* professor of world mission Please also join us for the following free annual on-campus event:
DAVID C. JONES LECTURES IN THEOLOGY AND ETHICS (ST500) Date: Location: Speaker:
March 11, 2011 Rayburn Chapel, Covenant Seminary Dr. James Kombo, senior lecturer and dean of the faculty of postgraduate studies at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya
ONLINE LIFETIME OF MINISTRY COURSE OFFERINGS (PREVIOUSLY RECO RDED) Unable to join us on campus for the Lifetime of Ministry series? You can find audio recordings for many courses posted to our Resources for Life archive (www.resourcesforlifeonline.com). The following have been recently added:
MUSIC AND WORSHIP IN THE CHANGING CHURCH with Mr. James Ward: www.resourcesforlifeonline.com/series/259 CHILDREN’S MINISTRY with Mrs. Graham Behnke and Rev. Jason Walch: www.resourcesforlifeonline.com/series/242 PREACHING THROUGH THE PSALMS with Dr. George Robertson: www.resourcesforlifeonline.com/series/243
Denotes a Covenant Seminary professor
W hat do you hope your children grandchildren will hear this Christmas? and
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othing reminds us of the wonder of God like the times we gather to celebrate Christmas. As we reflect on the power of the gospel to transform lives and the hope we have in the Good News, may the Lord move us to share with others the joy we find in knowing Jesus. At Covenant Seminary, we are committed to equipping future pastors and ministry leaders with tools and training essential for a lifetime of fruitful service in ministry. Training the next generation of leaders for Christâ€™s church is accomplished both on campus through our degree programs and around the world through our online ministries. As you invest according to your Kingdom priorities, would you consider passing on your legacy of faith to subsequent generations by making Covenant Seminary part of your year-end giving plans? Your gifts ensure that our growing student body receives an educational experience that best prepares them for powerful Kingdom service. It also ensures that the theological training resources available through our Worldwide Classroom and Living Christ Today online ministries will continue to edify thousands of people around the world, surpassing the boundaries of geography, financial resources, and accessibility. May the blessings of the Lord be yours this season and always.
R. Pierson Gerritsen Senior Director of Development
TRANSITIONS & UPDATES Dan Adamson (MDiv ’04) from assistant pastor, All Souls Fellowship (Decatur, GA) to senior pastor, Cityview Presbyterian Church (Chicago, IL). Stan Armes (MDiv ’73) from teaching at the Bible Institute Eastern Cape (Port Elizabeth, South Africa) to marriage counseling and pastor training in the same region. Matt Ballard (MDiv ’06) from pastor of young adults at Perimeter Church (Atlanta, GA) to lead church planter for Southpointe Community Church (Nashville, TN).
Hopefully you have noted changes in the format and content of this issue of Covenant magazine. These changes are in response to the feedback of fellow alumni. Thank you to those who responded and emphasized the ministry content and theological perspectives you believe to be most helpful. This is not the end of our attempts to make this resource more relevant. It is just the beginning—so, please let us know what you like, what you hope to see change, and what is noticeably absent. Although we can’t implement every change, we want to continue making this resource one that you value for your personal growth and care, and for that of your family and your area of influence—for a lifetime of ministry. Your servant,
Joel D. Hathaway Director of Alumni and Career Services
Chris Bennett (MDiv ’78) from associate pastor at Crossroads Presbyterian Church (Dumfries, VA) to executive pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church (Quarryville, PA). Justin Clement (MDiv ’03) from RUF campus minister at Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) to RUF campus minister at the University of Georgia (Athens). David Crum (DMin ‘00) from senior pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church (Brandon, FL) to senior pastor of Bishop Cummins Memorial Reformed Episcopal Church (Catonsville, MD). Chris Curtis (MDiv ’04) from assistant pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church EPC (Covington, LA) to assistant pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church EPC (New Castle, PA). Ed Eubanks (MDiv ‘05) recently published the book For All the Saints: Praying for the Church. Rick Gray (MDiv ’87) from MTW missionary in sub-Saharan Africa to RUF-international campus minister at the University of Delaware (Newark). Robbie Griggs (MDiv ’04) to senior associate pastor of Central Presbyterian Church EPC (St. Louis, MO), where he was already serving. Daniel Henderson (MDiv ’08) from a clinical pastoral education residency at Christian Hospital (St. Louis, MO) to director of student ministries at Grace Community Presbyterian Church (Blairsville, GA). Robbie Hendrick (MDiv ’95) from associate
Let us know how we can serve you through this publication. E-mail your suggestions for Covenant magazine to Joel: email@example.com.
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Rick Gray and Family
18 COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
ALUMNI NEWS pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church (Nashville, TN) to senior pastor of Rainbow Presbyterian Church (Rainbow City, AL). Eric Herrenkohl (MDiv ’96) published the book How to Hire A-Players. Wes James (MDiv ‘07) from part-time pastor of Courtland Presbyterian Church (Courtland, AL) to senior pastor at Harbor Presbyterian Church (Mooresville, NC).
Christians United to Serve (St. Louis, MO). Jon Storck (MDiv ’07) from two-year church planting residency with Perimeter Church (Atlanta, GA) to church planter in Sunnyside (Queens, NY). Kyle Wells (MDiv ’06) from PhD studies in Cambridge, UK, to senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church (Santa Barbara, CA).
Laura and James Kessler (MDiv ‘05) welcome Audrey Jane, born March 23, 2010. Ginger (Madi) and Robert “Bob” Korljan (MDiv ’84) celebrate the fourth anniversary of their marriage. The Lord brought Ginger and Bob together after both lost their first spouses. Heather and Phillip Mayberry (MDiv ‘08) welcome Ava Xarin, born March 31, 2010.
Jonathan Weyer (MDiv ’01) published a book titled The Faithful.
Mandy (MAC ’00) and Mike (MDiv ’09) McBride welcome Margaret Irene, born August 7, 2010. Elisa and Caleb Mitchell (MDiv and MAC ‘03) welcome Malia Lynnae.
Jared Lee (MDiv ’09) to assistant pastor of adult ministries at Evergreen Church (Sevierville, TN).
William “Bill” Wolfgang (MDiv ’70) celebrates a lifetime of ministry and 33 years of pastoral ministry to Robinwood Church (PCA) in Youngstown, OH.
Tim Lien (MDiv ‘04) coauthored This Is for You: Forty Reflections on the Sacrament of Communion.
David Young (MDiv ’96) from senior pastor of Lennox Ebenezer Presbyterian Church (Lennox, SD) to PCA church planter in Crestview, FL.
Drew Lints (MDiv ’04) from minister to youth and families at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church (Miami, FL) to minister of college and youth at Village Seven Church (Colorado Springs, CO).
Jon Medlock (MDiv ’05) from assistant pastor at The Covenant Presbyterian Church (St. Louis, MO) to senior pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church (San Luis Obispo, CA).
Michael Barber (MDiv ’07) married Gretchen Leigh Bixler.
Mike Keppler (DMin ’03) and family enter their 20th year of pastoral ministry at Springfield Southern Church (Springfield, IL).
Rusty Milton (MDiv ’05) from senior pastor at Grace Fellowship (Canton, AL) to senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church of Christchurch (Fendalton, New Zealand). Aaron Myers (MDiv ’05) from youth pastor at Center Grove Presbyterian Church (Edwardsville, IL) to senior pastor of Providence Presbyterian church (Edwardsville, IL). Aaron and wife Danielle also welcome twins, Ashlyn Jane and Ansley Joy, born August 12, 2010. Dane Ortlund (MDiv’05, ThM ‘07) received his PhD in biblical theology from Wheaton College graduate school in May 2010. Steve Robertson (MDiv ’06) celebrated the first public worship of Christo Rey Eterno (Guadalajara, Mexico). Eric Shanburn (MATS ’06) from GreenPath Debt Solutions to director of Fellowship of Orthodox
Carl Anderson (MATS ’07) married Jill Conrad on April 23, 2010.
Luda and Derek Bates (MDiv ’03) welcome Abiel Joy, born April 3, 2010. Jeremy (MDiv ’05) and Amy (Pinner) Bedenbaugh (MAC ’04) welcome Samuel Robert, born May 22, 2009.
Jenni and David Peters (MATS ’07) welcome Cohen Daniel, born July 21, 2010. Meagan and Jon Price (MDiv ’06) welcome Samuel John, born January 26, 2010. Krista Tipton (MAC ’07) married Jonathan Yerby on August 16, 2009. Helen and David Queener (MDiv ‘95) welcome Jonathan David, born March 10, 2010. Brooke and Travis Scott (MDiv ’06) welcome Zoe Caroline, born July 1, 2010. Aubrey and Jeff Tell (MDiv ’03) welcome Judah Anthony, born March 31, 2010. Julie and Josh Vahle (MDiv ’08) welcome Samuel Kruse, born January 10, 2010. Kazumi and John Van Farowe (MDiv ’03) welcome Bianca, born April 19, 2010.
Megan and Kyle Bobos (MDiv ’08) welcome Ella Harper, born August 9, 2010.
Beth and Mike Werkheiser (MDiv ’05) welcome Penelope Joy, born July 7, 2010.
Emily (MATS ’09) and Trent Casto (MDiv ’09) welcome Anna Katherine, born June 6, 2010.
Becca and Phil Woods (MDiv ’05) welcome Cash Philip, born May 13, 2010.
Susan (MAC ‘00) and Keith Doane (MDiv ’01) welcome Amelia Lin. Annie and Nick Hathaway (MDiv ’07) welcome Martin Seth, born June 4, 2010. Megan and Marc Hunsaker (MDiv ‘09) welcome Hannah Caroline, born June 27, 2010. Heather and David Juelfs (MDiv ’08) welcome Hadleigh Joy, born March 2, 2010.
ORDINATIONS AND INSTALLATIONS Dan Emerson was ordained on July 11, 2010 in the New York State Presbytery to serve through WEC International. David Stancil (MDiv ‘05) was ordained on July 4, 2010, as assistant pastor at Resurrection Presbyterian Church (Brooklyn, NY).
David Stancil Ordination
Jon Medlock and Family
Imagining the Gospel for a New Generation The arts and the sciences do have a place in the Christian life—they are not peripheral. For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts. A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God—not just as tracts, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. And art work can be a doxology in itself. — Francis A. Schaeffer,
Art and the Bible (IVP, 1973)
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Author L. B. Graham uses the mythic power of imaginative fiction to reveal redemptive themes.
Numerous lists of “best books of the last century” place J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings at or near the top. C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia enjoys enduring popularity as well. The recent success of big-screen versions of both of these series has only whetted appetites for more among those with a taste for stories about mythic heroes, fully imagined worlds, and, in these cases at least, a strong element of gospel redemption. Covenant Seminary alumnus L. B. Graham (MDiv ’96) says that reading such works as a youngster helped set him on a path that eventually resulted in the publication of his own Christian-themed fantasy series titled The Binding of the Blade (see box on page 21). Set in the imaginary world of Kirthanin, The Binding of the Blade tells the epic story of a once-peaceful land torn apart by an ancient betrayal. Only the coming of a prophesied hero can unite several disparate groups of people in the service of the higher good—and their common God—to stem the tide of evil and bring renewal out of devastation. While that necessarily brief plot summary might sound reminiscent of many similar fantasy stories,
what makes Binding stand out is not only Graham’s attention to the details with which he constructs his imaginary world and the people who live in it, but also the care with which he integrates and illustrates the redemptive themes of the gospel as the story plays out over the course of its five volumes. The series took six years to write—the first book was published in 2004, the last in 2008— though the seeds for it were sown as far back as 1992. Graham says, “I had this idea about a warrior who had to fight so that in the end there would be no more fighting. He’d have to give up the sword he was accustomed to. Images and ideas came and went for a long time. I finally began planning and outlining the story in 2000. The idea was originally for a single book but it grew a bit in the planning process.” Graham, who teaches about worldviews and is chair of the Bible department at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, bounced ideas off of several friends and former students, who helped him refine his vision for Kirthanin and characters he was creating. While he was still working out the details of the project, a senior editor with P&R Publishing, a Reformed company based in New Jersey, contacted him about the possibility of publishing the work. The editor had been put onto the story by Graham’s brother,
a pastor at the editor’s church. Though P&R, known mainly for its theological books, did not generally publish fiction, the firm was looking to branch out into books for younger readers, and this sounded like a good way to get started. Graham provided a proposed outline and the publisher accepted it. “I wrote about half of the first book thinking they were just buying that one. When the contract showed up I saw it was for all five books. I was stunned.” Such a seemingly providential entry into the world of publishing is not the experience of the vast majority of new writers, as Graham well knows. Often it can take years of submitting manuscripts to numerous publishers before an editor shows even a glimmer of interest. Though being published by a small Christian company isn’t likely to make Graham a household name any time soon, he’s grateful for the opportunity the Lord has provided to get his work in print. “As a writer, I want people to read my stuff. I may never be to the point where I can be a full-time writer, but I’ll keep doing it because it’s what I love to do.” Although sales for his series have been relatively modest by today’s blockbuster bestseller standards, critical and popular response to The Binding of the Blade has generally been very positive—though there is a bit of an ongoing controversy among some fans regarding the handling of the fate of one of the major characters. Graham admits that he has taken some flak for this. “I made some structural choices that probably affected how people felt about the incident. Looking back I maybe could have handled it differently. But I think readers eventually see that what happens is necessary for the story.” Graham doesn’t let such things get him down, though. He continues to produce new work. Since finishing the last book in the Binding series, he has written a stand-alone crime novel (“I wanted to try something different,” he says), and is currently working on the first volume of a new fantasy series that is unrelated to Kirthanin. Neither of these is in sellable shape right now, but he plans to keep working on them as he has time. “I have a wealth of ideas to keep me busy,” he notes with a smile. “I’m always thinking about stories. The problem is how to execute them all.” So, how did a PCA pastor’s son from Baltimore, Maryland, end up in the worldmaking business? Graham says he has loved
stories—all kinds of stories—ever since he was a child. “Every week I’d go to the public library and bring home handfuls of books. Often they were comic books, but I quickly moved on to more substantial things. My mother would make detailed lists of all the stuff I read. Reading Tolkien, though, changed my life. I was impressed with his fully realized alternative world. That had a special place in my heart.” Though Graham found that he was pretty good at generating ideas for stories and for building the worlds in which they could take place, he never tried seriously to write or publish fiction until much later. A graduate of Wheaton College (like his parents and grandparents before him), Graham originally wanted to go on to graduate school to study literature. But the influence of several of his professors at Wheaton led him to think about going to seminary first. “I sensed no great call to ministry,” he notes, “but several of my professors had been to seminary, and I thought it might be good to go find out what I believed and why. For me, seminary was meant as a stepping stone, not a stopping point.” With his PCA roots and the fact that one of his favorite Wheaton professors, Bob Yarbrough, had come to Covenant Seminary to teach, Graham decided to come to St. Louis too. (Dr. Yarbrough taught at Covenant in the 1990s, then spent several years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School before returning once again this year to Covenant.) While in seminary, though, he became less sure about his plan for studying literature and began to think about the possibility of going into some form of ministry. For a while, he considered helping to plant a Reformed University Fellowship ministry at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California, but God in his providence had other plans. At Covenant, Graham met his future wife, Joanne (MAC ’00), who was then pursuing a graduate certificate but went on to earn a master of arts in counseling. The two decided to remain in St. Louis, where today Joanne serves as a licensed counselor and is actively involved with the Seminary’s counseling program. The couple has two children, a son, age 13, and a daughter, age 9. Upon graduation from Covenant in 1996, Graham found a job teaching at a small Christian school (as the bio on his personal blog puts it, “he loved school so much that he never left”) and moved a few years later to his
A Brief Guide to The Binding of the Blade L. B. Graham’s five-volume, Christianthemed fantasy series revolves around the threatened ruin and hoped for redemption of the world of Kirthanin. More information is available online at www.bindingoftheblade.com. I. Beyond the Summerland—The world of Kirthanin is enjoying a time of peace. But the servants of Malek, Master of the Forge and the betrayer of old, threaten the stability of the people’s fragile unity. (Note: This volume is also available in free e-book format from P&R Publishing at www.prpbooks.com.)
II. Bringer of Storms—Civil war is tearing Kirthanin apart, but an even greater threat looms. The only way to fight the evil is for all the people to join together—but will they? III. Shadow in the Deep—For the people of Kirthanin, the days are dark and evil. Yet, in the midst of the darkness, a long-hopedfor hero provides a ray of hope. IV. Father of Dragons—Malek’s forces close in while a small band of allies undertakes a desperate mission to the far reaches of Kirthanin in search of a legendary figure who may—or may not—be willing to help. V. All My Holy Mountain—The tide begins to turn for the defenders of Kirthanin, but a final great challenge awaits before the power of evil can be broken forever.
current post at Westminster. In the meantime, he began to think more seriously about writing and about how he could reflect his Christian faith through his work in a way similar to that of some of his literary heroes. That’s when he started developing more fully the ideas he had regarding the world of Kirthanin. Though Graham says he would not presume to put himself on the same level as writers such as Tolkien and Lewis, he feels that his work helps to fill a real need in the world of contemporary fiction. “Classic authors such as Tolkien, Lewis, and others are great, but they’re all gone now. We need someone who can write for this time, who can reflect a Christian worldview and offer healthier options than much of what’s available. Young readers especially need alternatives to some of the more problematic material that’s out there.” While Graham sees much that is good in the world of contemporary Christian publishing, he also feels that marketing works specifically as “Christian fiction” can narrow
the potential audience unnecessarily and put constraints on subject matter that hamper a writer’s ability to deal with the issues of life in an honest way. “Much contemporary Christian fiction tends in the direction of moralism, showing the characters trying to be good,” Graham notes. “On the other hand, you also have writers who feel they need to be ‘in your face’ with the gospel all the time. But neither of those ways truly reflects what the gospel is all about. Many publishers of Christian fiction seem to be uncomfortable with a subtler approach that appeals to a broader audience, which is where I see my work as falling.” That is not to say that Christian fiction (or as Graham prefers to think of it, “fiction written by someone who happens to be a Christian”) should play down the gospel. There should be a real difference between fiction written by a Christian and that written by a non-believer. “The trick,” says Graham, “is to find creative ways to reflect reality without reducing your standards. How do you write
realistically about war, for example, without sinking into the baser instincts that war often brings out of us? That isn’t easy.” The church, Graham believes, has an obligation to encourage those within it who have a talent for writing—or for any of the arts—so that they can use their gifts for Godhonoring purposes. “Too often the church has seen the arts as an enemy. And it’s true, much of what’s out there can be offensive or hostile to the values we hold dear. But abandoning the arts because of this is wrong. The arts are a crucial expression of what God made us to be. We need to nurture those who have these gifts, especially if they are grounded in their faith, and help them know that they can make a difference, that God can use them to transform the world.” RICK MATT Rick Matt (MATS ’05) serves in the Communications department at Covenant Seminary, where he writes and edits publications in a variety of media. He particularly enjoys telling stories of how God is working in and through the lives of his servants. Rick is also a ruling elder in the PCA.
Listen to L. B. Graham discuss his work in an online audio interview at www.resourcesforlifeonline.com/graham.
A Selection of Works by Covenant Seminary Alumni In addition to serving in the church and many other callings, a large number of our alumni have also published works in a variety of fields. Here we offer just a few. If you are an alumnus/alumnae with published works, please inform us by contacting Alumni Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org. · Ed Eubanks (MDiv ‘05) Covenant Discipleship Communicant’s Curriculum (Doulos, 2008) and For All the Saints: Praying for the Church (Doulos, 2010) · Stan Gale (DMin ‘97) The Prayer of Jehoshaphat: Seeing Beyond Life’s Storms (P&R Publishing, 2007) · Chuck Garriott (MDiv ‘79) Work Excellence (Riott Publishing, 2005) · Eric Herrenkohl (MDiv ’96) How to Hire A-Players: A Bilblical Perspective of Work (Wiley, 2010) · David Myers (DMin ’09) The Boy Major of the Confederacy: Joseph White Latimer (Sprinkle Publications, 2006) · Dane Ortlund (MDiv ‘05, ThM ‘07) A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards (Christian Focus, 2008) · Steve Smallman (BDiv ‘67) Spiritual Birthline (Crossway, 2006) and Understanding the Faith (P&R Publishing, 2009) · William Wall (MDiv ‘76) Your Future Foretold: Revelation Made Clear for the Busy Layman (WinePress Publishing, 2007) · Jonathan Weyer (MDiv ’01) The Faithful (Brio Press, 2010) · Sarah Young (MAC ‘77) Jesus Calling (Integrity Publishers Inc., 2004) · Stephen Young (MDiv ‘76) Uncle John, 1995
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Telling God’s Story through her own
For Laura Story, the lyrics written in the song of her life didn’t emerge until her pain and brokenness met in the steady stream of God’s faithfulness.
ccomplished singer-songwriter. National recording artist. Prestigious Dove Award winner. Touring musician. Worship leader and women’s minister at a respected 4,000-member PCA church. Many accolades and applause hover over Laura Story and make her a wellknown name in the Christian music industry. With this prominence, Laura recognizes the weightiness of responsibility in the influence that God has given her. “Songs shape the way people see God,” acknowledges Laura. “I truly want to represent what the Word says rather than my misunderstanding of what it says.” Laura earned an undergraduate degree in music and Bible from Columbia International
University (CIU) and was already serving as a worship leaders and women’s minister at Perimeter Church in Atlanta when she began to consider attending seminary. With a strong desire to convey the truth of God accurately, she desired to deepen her knowledge and understanding through graduate studies. Though she prayed on and off about seminary, she always felt compelled to remain in the ministry arenas where the Lord called her. However, the Distance Education program at Covenant Seminary provided a way for her to gain richer insight into the Bible—insights which seep into her songs. “Music is a great tool to fill the mind with ideas that are edifying and correct,” shares Laura. “I once picked up a church hymnal and saw a song of mine in it. I was struck by how important it is for me to be learning and studying God’s Word.” Laura began slowly pursing a Master of Arts (Theological Studies) (MATS), which she is about halfway through. Emphatically she declares
that the classes have made an impression on her music. “It is a weighty responsibility to find myself writing songs that churches sing,” she says. “It’s something I never imagined.” Because of the profound impact of songs, Laura recognizes the necessity for accuracy and truth in the words she pens. She says, “We repeat songs over and over—unlike sermons, which you don’t say back to pastors.” None who claim faith in and identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ can escape the missional call of God on their lives. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 applies to all believers. Some may try to suppress his voice, but deep in their hearts, they know they are out of step with their Creator. Prior to transferring to Columbia International University (CIU), Laura was a music major playing the string bass at the University of South Carolina (USC). She was well on her way to a promising and successful career—one that could surround her with praise and people www.covenantseminary.edu
Indescribable by Laura Story (recorded and popularized by Chris Tomlin) From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea, Creation’s revealing your majesty. From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring, Every creature unique in the song that it sings, all exclaiming: Indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky And You know them by name. You are amazing, God! All powerful, untameable, Awestruck we fall to our knees, And we humbly proclaim That you are amazing, God! Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go, Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow? Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light, Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night? None can fathom. repeat chorus 2x You are indescribable, uncontainable, You placed the stars in the sky And You know them by name. You are amazing, God! Incomparable, unchangeable, You see the depths of my heart And You love me the same. You are amazing, God! You are amazing, God! You are amazing,God!
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who would marvel at her talent. Then, after just one year in the program, a broken arm bone led to the shattering of a personal dream. As her body generated new and therefore stronger bone, the Lord gave Laura a new and more solid dream—one that would have eternal significance as she allowed God to use the gifts he gave her for his glory instead of hers. This led Laura on a mission trip to Mongolia where the group showed the Jesus film to native nomads. “It was the first time a lot of these people heard the name of Jesus,” Laura shares. The personal impact of this trip changed her life and career forever. In her undergraduate work at CIU, Laura studied music and Bible because, as she says, she “wanted to talk to women about what God says about life and family and look past the lies the devil tries to tell us.” God opened the door of opportunity through her calling as a worship leader and women’s minister at Perimeter Church. Her role involves shepherding the roughly 200 volunteers in the church’s worship and arts ministry. Laura desired to serve with her gifts beyond the basics of teaching songs to musicians and leading rehearsals, and leading women fulfilled that. Laura involves herself in
women’s lives through intentionally “loving on them and listening to them.” As women connect with her on deep levels, they feel known and gain freedom to express their personal struggles—from marital problems to besetting sin issues—in an appropriate context. “We worship God because of who he is, and when we don’t understand why he allows trials, he is no less worthy of our praise,” says Laura. Distant observers might misjudge Laura’s words and look at the success that the Lord has given her and wonder about the depth of personal connection with this statement. Those who know her, though, remember clearly the dark tide that rolled in the same week she was offered a national recording contract. In 2008, her fifth year of marriage, words of affirmation and life came through that offer— alongside devastating words and a seeming sentence of death through the diagnosis of her husband, Martin, with a brain tumor. “People have felt distant from God during trials. I have felt that too,” Laura shares, “but in God’s Word, we see predominately volitional statements: David doesn’t say, ‘I feel like blessing the Lord.’ He says, ‘I will bless the Lord.’ ” Though she stands in front of crowds to lead worship in church settings and at worship
Learn Wherever You Are Through Distance Education
Not every student can come to the Covenant Seminary campus for several years of study. Distance Education allows you to begin or complete a variety of accredited degree programs online from anywhere in the world. With Distance Education you can:
by Laura Story
• Choose from four online courses each semester, with additional options during the January-term and summer months.
• Work through course materials under the guidance of a Seminary faculty member and an experienced teaching assistant.
• Interact with other like-minded students in online forums.
• Experience a taste of campus life through four short residency sessions.
Learn more at www.covenantseminary.edu/academics, or call 1.800.264.8064. If you are not ready to pursue a degree but would like to enrich your life and ministry through our grace-centered curriculum, LEARN FOR FREE at your own pace through our Worldwide Classroom at www.worldwide-classroom.com. Choose from more than 25 complete courses ranging from Ancient and Medieval Church History to Apologetics and Outreach.
events, her motivation and drive originate from a desire to bring God glory rather than herself. Laura uses her national platform to propel her into ministry roles that few believers encounter, including working with young and inexperienced worship leaders in places such as Spain and Denmark. “Many international musicians may say they are worship leaders and yet they don’t believe in Jesus. Revelation 5 proclaims that Jesus is worthy of all praise and adoration. I have opportunities to go to such places and help people work through what it looks like to be worship leaders,” shares Laura. Laura and Martin have learned that living for God in spite of their circumstances provides the only path to peace. Even though that path appears dimly lit at times, it is the Lord’s light that supplies all that they need. “God’s faithfulness in the midst of pain and heartache makes everything worthwhile,” Laura says. “Martin and I feel compelled to comfort others with the comfort we have received.” As she reflects on the songs the Lord writes through her life, she says, “I have the perfect job. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing.” Through sacrificing their personal desires and adopting a posture of dependence on God instead of disdain for his unfolding
Immortal, you are not are like a man That you change your mind or change your plan. Invisible, our human eyes can’t see The depths of your majesty. You’re the God of forever and ever, amen, The Alpha, Omega, beginning, and end. We sing hallelujah, We worship in awe, Immortal, invisible God. Immortal, you are not bound by death. You’re the living God, my very breath. Invisible, you are not bound by space, But your glory is filling this place. Yes, your glory is fill this place.
plan, Laura and Martin have settled into the life to which God has called them and found rich blessing and calm in the storms. Update: As of press time, Laura’s husband, Martin, continues to make amazing strides in his recovery. He still experiences some short-term memory loss, which interferes with personal productivity and ability to work. However, the Lord continues to teach Martin and Laura more about love, commitment, and faithfulness as he revives their hope. JACKIE FOGAS Jackie has served in the Communications department at Covenant Seminary since 2005. She has a love for inspiring stories and is grateful when God gives her opportunities to share them with others.
(right): In 2009, Laura Story received the Inspirational Album of the Year Dove Award for her album Great God Who Saves. (below): Laura’s love for God, his people, and leading them to worship him in truth present her with opportunities to share her passion, just like at this recent worship leaders’ conference.
the Drama of Faith
Deep faith in Christ enables Jim Butz to bring a gospel-centered perspective to his multiple roles as husband, new father, student—and award-winning stage actor.
26 COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
Not many students come to seminary by way of the theater. Still fewer manage to maintain a successful stage career while preparing for pastoral ministry and awaiting the birth of their first child. Yet, by God’s gracious and inexplicable providence, that is exactly what Covenant Seminary student Jim Butz (MDiv ’12) has been able to do. A native St. Louisan and the tenth of eleven children, Jim comes by the acting bug naturally. Older brother Norbert Leo Butz is a successful stage and television actor who encouraged Jim to pursue his early interest in the theater, a move that has led to a long string of major and minor roles in various regional theater companies and in New York. These roles have been accompanied by a host of critical accolades, including a Kevin Kline Award nomination for his lead part in Lobby Hero for the St. Louis Repertory Theatre in 2005, a Kline Award win for his work as Marc Antony in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’s Julius Caesar in 2006, and, most recently, a stunning array of superlatives for his portrayal of the melancholy Dane in that same organization’s production of Hamlet in Forest Park this past summer. Though his success as an actor and the joy of creative expression have brought much good into Jim’s life, some of the more problematic aspects of the profession began to take their toll on him early on. He struggled with a lifestyle that he says “can only be described as seriously debauched.” Troubled relationships and drug use, a more-than-passing flirtation with agnosticism, and the sudden death of his best friend from high school only added to Jim’s sense of meaninglessness and his longing for something more “pure.” Though he had been raised in a devout Catholic family, and though one of his brothers—a born-again Baptist—had tried to share the gospel with him, Jim’s nominal faith was not strong enough to carry him through the difficulties he was experiencing. “I prayed a bit and knew who Jesus was,” he says, “but I was not a believer in the full sense.” At one point his brother gave him a copy of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, which, he says, “began to open a place in me. It revealed my crusty cynicism and fired my imagination. I longed for it to be true.” Yet still he persisted in his wild ways. It wasn’t until a particularly unhappy period of his life following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, where Jim was living at the time, that God
suddenly grabbed hold of his heart in a way he never had before. A “chance” encounter with a teenager distributing Christian tracts in the subway led Jim to a church in Times Square that met, appropriately enough, in an old theater building. “The Holy Spirit was potently present there,” Jim says. “The pastor preached a blistering gospel message about relying on Christ. I suddenly saw the evil I was doing for what it was. God opened up the abyss and showed me I had nothing to stand on. I was radically converted.” Jim made some sweeping changes in his life—dropping many of his theater friends, cleaning up his lifestyle, and moving back to St. Louis to help out at his family-owned youth ranch. He even planned to get out of acting altogether at some point but continued to take occasional roles. As often happens with new believers, however, there were times of backsliding and a refusal to live in full obedience to Christ. “I wanted church,” he says, “but I didn’t want accountability.” Eventually, Jim started attending a local Catholic parish and began to question the “Protestant gospel” he had believed after his conversion. He became fired up for his
Catholic faith—so much so that he decided to become a monk. “I spent a year visiting monasteries and finally settled on the St. Louis Abbey. I was just about ready to sign the papers when I got a call from the St. Louis Repertory Theatre offering me the lead role in Lobby Hero. That threw a cog in my wheel.” After praying long and hard, consulting two of his brothers, and talking with the spiritual director of the Abbey, Jim decided to do the play for its two-month run and then live at the monastery for a time to discern if he was called there. The play turned out to be a monumental success, giving him what he says was “one of my best roles ever.” Though he still felt drawn to the life of a monk, other roles soon came his way, including one in The Merchant of Venice at the New Jewish Theater (an odd venue given the play’s strongly negative portrayal of Jews). A fellow cast member asked him to go to a concert one evening, and that “threw a wrench in my plans for monkhood,” for that’s where he met a young woman named Amy, who had once been a Carmelite nun and would eventually become Jim’s wife. Amy now works for the Open Space Council, an environmental advocacy group that sponsors Operation Clean Stream projects on Missouri rivers. Through all of this, Jim was also working as a youth minister at his Catholic parish, but was also listening to evangelical radio programs and reading his Bible ravenously. He soon found himself drawn to the Reformed faith, and, through the advice of one of his former theater professors, made his way to the PCA and to Old Orchard Presbyterian Church in a St. Louis suburb. There he and Amy found a spiritual home where they were welcomed into a strong Christian community and fed powerfully with the Word. Jim notes, “I also liked the Reformed idea that culture is not bad in itself, that all of life is under the Lordship of Christ and that art exists to serve God.” This idea was strongly fostered at Old Orchard and helped him resolve some of the tension he had been feeling between acting and the Christian life. Though he still finds much about life in the theater challenging to Christians, Jim has continued to use his acting gifts—but in a new way. “Acting is like anything else. When I’m in a play, it’s my job six days a week,” he explains. “I show up and do it; but as a Christian, I do it for God. I’ve turned down many roles because of the worldviews
“I also liked the Reformed idea that
culture is not bad in itself, that all of life
is under the
and that art exists
to serve God.”
Photos courtesy of J. David Levy, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
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they represented. Some plays do point to the gospel in certain ways; they show the brokenness of the world and the human struggle to do what is right. I look for plays with redemptive aspects.” Meanwhile, Jim’s sense of calling to the ministry was again stoked. He loved seeing young people on fire for their faith and still felt drawn to youth ministry. Several people told him he should be a pastor. Eventually, he heard about Covenant Seminary and decided to pursue pastoral studies here. As he was preparing to do so, in July 2009, Jim’s sister Teresa was brutally murdered at her home in Seattle. Though he and his family still struggle with the grief and pain of her loss, and anger at the person who killed her, Jim’s faith has now given him a desire for forgiveness and reconciliation with the murderer that he would not previously have been able to muster. “I want him to repent,” Jim says. “I want him to be with Teresa in the renewal of all things. There isn’t any other way.” During his first year at Covenant, Jim’s previous association with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis led to his being tapped to play the lead in Hamlet. He spent eight months preparing for the role and several weeks rehearsing it at the same time as he was getting ready for finals in his seminary classes—and as his wife was preparing to give birth to their first child (Josiah Ryan, born in September 2010). Yet the Lord brought Jim and Amy through this busy and challenging time, with further accolades for Jim and with a renewed sense of calling to serve God in whatever way he wills. “Being at Covenant has only confirmed my call to ministry,” Jim says. “So I hold my acting with an open hand. If that is what God has in mind for my life, so be it, as long as he is glorified and the gospel is proclaimed. But I’m also ready to lay it aside right now if that is the Lord’s will. I have no desire to be known as ‘that actor guy.’ I just want to be known as Jim, a guy who wants to be obedient to Jesus.” RICK MATT Rick Matt (MATS ’05) is editor of print communications for Covenant Seminary. He enjoys telling stories of how God is working in and through the lives of his servants.
In the summer of 2010, Jim played the lead role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet at Forest Park in St. Louis six nights a week for nearly a month.
All Rocks Go to Heaven– What the Incarnation Says About Creation
n my office sits a rock with the words “All rocks go to heaven” painted on it. This was the thoughtful gift of one of my church members in response to a sermon I preached in which I recounted the following fictitious word battle that took place on the marquee signs of two churches located across the street from one another. Our Lady of Martyrs Catholic Church: “All dogs go to heaven.” Beulah Cumberland Presbyterian Church: “Only humans go to heaven. Read the Bible.” Catholic Church: “God loves all his creation, dogs included.” Presbyterian Church: “Dogs don’t have souls. This is not open for debate.” Catholic Church: “Catholic dogs go to heaven; Presbyterian dogs can talk to their pastor.” Presbyterian Church: “Converting to Catholicism does not magically grant your dog a soul.” Catholic Church: “Free dog souls with conversion.” Presbyterian Church: “Dogs are animals. There aren’t any rocks in heaven either.” Catholic Church: “All rocks go to heaven.” Although I am a committed Presbyterian, Our Lady of Martyrs Catholic Church wins this word battle hands down. Maybe not all rocks go to heaven, but God’s mission of redemption is not limited to that which has a soul, i.e., we humans. In fact, Scripture points to a cosmic redemption, the scope of which is as broad as the scope of creation. Paul, for example, in Ephesians 1:9–10, speaks of Christ uniting “all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” He goes on to say that “all” those “things” united to Christ are also www.covenantseminary.edu
reconciled to the Father (Col. 1:19–20). And finally, “all” those “things” that are united to Christ and reconciled to the Father include “things” with souls and “things” without souls—nothing less than “the whole creation” is encompassed in God’s grand redemptive scheme (Rom. 8:19–23). Although Paul opposes universalism (cf. Eph. 1:4), he understands God’s commitment to creation as universal (comprehensive). What does this have to do with the incarnation? A lot. The incarnation may well be the most visible demonstration of God’s commitment to “the whole creation.” When “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14), our Lord, through his body, as Scottish theologian Donald Macleod writes, “is linked” not just “to the whole of suffering humanity,” but also “to the whole of the physical creation” (see D. Macleod, The Person of Christ). Linked, in other words, not just to humans, but also to dogs and, yes, even rocks. 30 COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
The incarnation, then, is the fleshing out, as it were, of God’s voluntary binding of himself to his creation in Genesis 9:8–16. There his commitment is to “the earth,” to humanity (Noah and his “offspring”), and to “every living creature of all flesh.” Coming after the Flood, this commitment is an indication that God had not scrapped his original creation project. (For more, see Far as the Curse Is Found by Dr. Michael Williams.) The incarnate Christ, however, does more than flesh out a previous commitment; he also carries that flesh into eternity, evidencing God’s permanent commitment to his creation and God’s ultimate intention to renew that creation. The humanity of Jesus embraced in the womb of Mary was not simply a vehicle to carry the Son of God from birth to the cross. It was and is a central aspect of his identity and thus a way for God to show us that he has not and will not give up on his creation. Musician George Harrison once looked
upon his time with The Beatles as a suit of clothes he put on for a short season of his life—a suit of clothes he then discarded, one representing a commitment he no longer had. Our Lord never looked back on his humanity in that way. He is still human. He still has a body. And the body that he still has is the glorified version of the body that he once had while on this earth. That is why John Duncan, the nineteenth-century Scottish professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages, could exclaim in such a memorable way, “the dust of the earth is on the throne of the Majesty on High” (quoted in The Person of Christ). The incarnation is like a billboard standing in the middle of history forcing us to look backward to a commitment God made to his creation and forward to its fulfillment, when the dead will be raised, the bodies of God’s people glorified, and the earth under our feet purified from its fallen condition and made new. God was, is, and will always be, committed to
“The incarnation may well be the most visible demonstration of God’s commitment to ‘the whole creation.’” his creation—his entire creation. He has not given up—nor should we. If this is true—and I believe it is with all my heart—then the incarnation we celebrate at Christmas has wonderful implications for our lives. First, it means that we can experience some level of satisfaction in almost any legitimate activity. Our work, for example, whether in the ministry, the government, the marketplace, or the home, is important to God because it is one of the contexts within which we exercise our God-given callings. Contrary to the mind-set that says that only the socalled “spiritual” activities are of real significance to God, we are told, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Nothing—not even changing a diaper, as a friend used to remind me—is outside the purview of that command. Second, because the incarnation is a vivid reminder that the Father is reconciling “all things” to himself (Col. 1:20) and because
“God . . . gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18), it means that we are in the family business. Within our own spheres of influence, we are to seek to straighten that which is crooked, to bring back into a right relationship with the Father all that has been alienated from him through corruption. As theologian Albert M. Wolters puts it, “We have a redemptive task wherever our vocation places us in his world. . . . Distortion must be opposed everywhere—in the kitchen and the bedroom, in city councils and corporate boardrooms, on the stage and on the air, in the classroom and in the workshop . . . everywhere humanity’s sinfulness disrupts and deforms” (see A. Wolters, Creation Regained). Finally, because “the dust of the earth is on the throne of the Majesty on High,” it means that we can look forward to a life on the new earth that is different from life on this earth, but the same. Rather than being yanked into a world for which we are totally unprepared, we
will be welcomed into a world that is a sanctified, joy-filled, God-centered version of life as we now know it. The fire of 2 Peter 3:10 that makes way for the new earth is the refiner’s fire of Malachi 3, the fire which purifies rather than ruins. The incarnation teaches us that the new earth is this earth renewed. Maybe all rocks do go to heaven after all . . . DR. MIKE HONEYCUTT Mike Honeycutt (MDiv ’93), associate professor of historical and practical theology, joined the Covenant Seminary faculty in 2009. Prior to this he served as senior pastor of Southwood Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama.
PROFESSOR NEWS & UPDATES JIMMY AGAN Associate Professor of New Testament; Director, Homiletics Last spring, I spent three days biking 225-miles on the Katy Trail with current student Weisan Hui. It was awesome! Over the summer, I spoke at the Covenant Family Conference at Ridge Haven. We were encouraged by the sense of renewed energy among RH staff and the conference participants. I attended a presbytery meeting at which alumnus David Fisk (MDiv ’10) completed his ordination exam process. David grew up in the church I once pastored; I performed David’s wedding; and he served on staff at the same church for a year, during which time he and I met weekly to study Greek. When I moved to St. Louis, I taught some of his seminary courses, including an independent study. I was also part of his ordination service. This is a unique situation in which I participated in the whole process of David’s preparation for and entry into ministry. I will be on sabbatical in spring 2011, during which I will work on a book on the imitation of Christ in Luke’s gospel, through which I hope to point us in some healthy directions. JERRAM BARRS Professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture; Resident Scholar of the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute Jerram recently shared with the seminary community this letter (slightly edited here) he wrote to the head of the otolaryngology department at Washington University Physicians and Barnes-Jewish Hospital regarding his recovery from a long-standing hearing difficulty. He thanks everyone who has been praying for him about this for so many years. Dear Sirs, I wanted to encourage you in your work with people suffering hyperacusis. I think that I can say that I am completely healed, cured, recovered, or whatever word one wishes to use to describe my present condition. You will remember how severe the problem was and that I had a first bout of shingles that appeared to be the cause of the problems. About six months after that I began to get ringing in my head and became very sick with violent nausea, falling over, loss of balance, and acutely sensitive hearing. For the next year about every two weeks I had another bout of nausea and illness, and each time the sensitivity of my hearing became worse. All sounds were painful to me and difficult to deal with, even what would normally be regarded as very quiet. My wife’s regular breathing at night would awaken me, or a dog barking in the distance, or a train passing many miles 32 COVENANT Fall 2010 · Winter 2011
away—even when I was wearing the earplugs with which you fitted me. I learned to cope with very little sleep. As a professor, I had to ask my students to be completely quiet in class. I could easily hear people whispering in the back row of a large classroom. The opening of a snap binder or the popping of a soda can was like a pistol shot against my head and would cause me to forget completely what I was saying. Even the regular earmuffs I was wearing much of the time became inadequate to provide protection, so against your advice I bought a pair of earmuffs with sound cancelling technology. Without these it seemed that ordinary living would be impossible. I had to wear them to walk across the seminary campus, or to go into a store or airport, or fly on a plane, or attend public worship. In addition to the hyperacusis I also developed sporadic ringing sounds in my head, sometimes so loud that I would wake up thinking there was a fire alarm going off in a neighboring house or even our home. I also had a sound like a flock of grackles shrieking that was constantly present. Finally, I stopped coming to your office at the hospital as, despite the kindness, concern, and support of your staff, it seemed that there was nothing you could do to help. Almost three years ago I came to the conclusion that the more protection I wore the worse my condition became, so I reasoned that perhaps if I gradually removed the levels of protection I might be able to train my ears to become less offended by sound. I did not at first say anything to anyone about this, not even my dear wife, Vicki, as I did not want to disappoint her if my attempt did not work. She had been very distressed by my condition, mostly for my sake, and also because she is an excellent pianist and I could no longer listen to her play. She stopped playing entirely for a few years. I stopped turning on the noise cancelling button on the earmuffs—even in the loudest situations. After three or four months I stopped wearing them at all, no matter how painful it was to do without them. I found that gradually even the worst noises became less problematic. Vicki was delighted. I encouraged her to play the piano for me. She started taking lessons again, and I have been able to enjoy music once more for the first time in more than 12 years. Finally, about four months ago I removed my earplugs completely. It was very painful at first, of course, but gradually I have been able to train my ears so that I can endure almost anything. I sit in our living room while Vicki plays piano and we can sing together. Our grandchildren are all with us (seven of them, all very young) right now and they no longer have to be quiet around grandpa. Vicki and I have been to several concerts at the symphony and to a couple of movies. I can attend worship and enjoy the music and join lustily in the singing. For me all this has been like a miracle. I believed that I would have to live with this problem for the rest of my life, and I had stopped
praying for any relief from it. God has been good to me, and I am very thankful. I still occasionally get ringing in my head, but the shrieking noise is almost completely absent. Thank you again for all your care and for the excellent quality of the work you do and the caring atmosphere of everyone who serves in your department. BOB BURNS Associate Professor of Educational Ministries; Dean of Lifelong Learning; Director, Doctor of Ministry (DMin) Program At General Assembly in June, I led a seminar called “Rx for a Resilient Ministry,” based on results from Center for Ministry Leadership research. As the summer ended, my wife, Janet, and I participated in the 25th anniversary of Parkview Church in Lilburn, Georgia, which we planted. I preached on “Persistent Hope.” Over the summer, the Center for Ministry Leadership published Sustaining Pastoral Fruitfulness, a booklet outlining material from an upcoming book based on research from the Pastors Summit. We still have copies available for distribution to pastors, sessions, and to be made available at presbytery meetings. All we ask is that those requesting the booklet pay the postage. In October, Janet and I joined Drs. David and Tasha Chapman on a trip to Ireland. Tasha and I taught the DMIN dissertation class to a cohort of pastors from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. NELSON JENNINGS Professor of World Mission About once every six weeks, I translate sermons from Japanese to English for nonJapanese speakers who attend the Japanese International Harvest Church in St. Louis. At the PCA Global Missions Conference in early November, I led the “Becoming a Retro-Acts 1:8 Church” seminar. NOTE: Dr. Jennings recently accepted the senior staff position of director of program and community life with Overseas Ministries Study Center (OMSC) in New Haven, Connecticut, starting July 1, 2011. He will continue to teach at the Seminary until then. We grieve for his departure, while thanking the Lord that this wonderful scholar and friend will have such a significant role in the nurture of worldwide Christianity.
ROBERT PETERSON Professor of Systematic Theology I am on sabbatical until 2011
and am working on a book about Christ’s saving accomplishment, to be published by Crossway. It covers nine saving events—from the incarnation to the second coming—with Jesus’ death and resurrection at the core. It then considers six pictures that Scripture paints to interpret the events. Please pray for me as I aim to hit a January 31 deadline. DAVID CALHOUN Professor Emeritus of Church History Dr. Calhoun recently updated the seminary community on his health in this letter from August 2010 (slightly edited here): Dear Friends, It has been a year since my heart surgery. I appreciate so much your prayers and concern. At the moment my medical situation is better than it has been for years. After surgery and numerous follow-up procedures and continuing medication, my heart rhythm has been normal since April. The internal bleeding that I experienced (caused by radiation I had 15 years ago) appears to be under control. My cancer has been in “remission” for more than a year. In the next two weeks, I will have a CT scan and a colonoscopy (my 38th!), which will reveal what is ahead in cancer treatment. I have slowly returned to ministry. I taught the Westminster Confession course at the Seminary and, a ten-week Sunday school class during the spring, and I preached several times at the St. Louis Chinese Gospel Church this summer. In September, I will join the pastoral staff at Galilee Baptist Church. I have been able to spend a good bit of time writing. I have written three articles as part of a regular series called “Profiles in Faith” that I am doing for the C. S. Lewis Institute’s Knowing & Doing publicaton. So far I have written on Archibald Alexander, John Bunyan, and Tiyo Soga (a nineteenth-century South African Christian leader) and am now working on Mary Slessor. I also wrote an article commemorating the 450th anniversary of the Scots Confession for Banner of Truth magazine. I have completed work on Prayers on the Psalms: From the Scottish Psalter of 1595, a little book in the Banner of Truth Pocket Puritans series. And I have almost completed work on the history of the “Old” Columbia Seminary. It is a great joy to be at the Seminary and see you all regularly. I love my splendid office, which brings back many memories of Dr. Rayburn and my years as a Covenant student. A visitor, seeing my office, asked what I had done to deserve such a great office. I replied, “I retired.”
DONALD GUTHRIE Associate Professor of Educational Ministries Over the summer, my wife, Mary, and I traveled to Ecuador to visit churches and ministries, conduct ministry leader training, and encourage MTW missionaries, including alumnus Rev. Craig Pohl and his family.
Executive Editor Stacey Fitzgerald
Editors Jackie Fogas Rick Matt
PHIL DOUGLASS Professor of Practical Theology Our daughter Marta graduates from Covenant Seminary in December with a Master of Arts (Theological Studies) (MATS), concentrating in youth and family studies. She plans to move to West London in January to minister to youth in a church as well as the teenage children of missionaries in Europe. For the last eight years, I have been chairman of the Mission to North America Committee for Missouri, during which MNA has sponsored 10 PCA church plants and has another 2 in process. Rebecca and I continue to enjoy hosting Tuesday lunches in our home for 12 to 14 students. The menu of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches has remained the same, with bread from St. Louis Bread Co. as the key. RICHARD WINTER Professor of Practical Theology; Director, Counseling Program While on sabbatical, I taught in England in March at a theological college and two church conferences as well as visited family. In May, I led the in-depth teaching on counseling at the European Leadership Forum in Hungary. I traveled to Ireland in June and taught a Doctor of Ministry class on pastoral counseling to 13 experienced pastors and then visited extended family.
Managing Editor Matt Seilback
Design and Production Allison Dowlen Editorial Contributors Tim Baldwin Joel Hathaway Hans Bayer Mike Honeycutt Jackie Fogas Rick Matt Tom Gibbs Remargo Yancie Photographers and Photo Contributors David Cerven J. David Levy Michael Fogas Laura Story L. B. Graham Remargo Yancie Mike Higgins Covenant Theological Seminary 12330 Conway Road St. Louis, Missouri 63141 Tel: 314.434.4044 Fax: 314.434.4819 email@example.com Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®, ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Volume 25, Number 2. ©2010
I spent June through August in Missouri and Maine sailing; eating lobster and mussels with my wife, daughter, and friends; and working on a new edition of my book on depression. In early November, I led a conference on sexuality, in association with Wallace Presbyterian Church in College Park, Maryland. These are conversational updates from faculty members and for the most part are published how they are submitted.
Covenant is published by Covenant Theological Seminary, the Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in America. The purpose of Covenant Seminary is to glorify the triune God by training his servants to walk in God’s grace, minister God’s word, and equip God’s people ~all for God’s mission.
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