Faculty, staff, students, and guests of Wayland Baptist University: welcome to Convocation Chapel and the new school year at WBU. This semester promises to be a good one, and all of us who work at Wayland are excited about the possibilities and potential of the coming months.

This event is one I always embrace enthusiastically. Convocation gives me a unique opportunity at the very beginning of a new school year to share with you something of my thoughts and my heart. Thanks for being here today.

Dr. Linda Hutcherson read from Romans 12:1-2 earlier. The Apostle Paul was writing to the Christians in Rome about what they were to believe and how they were to act. In a world of incredible wickedness and immorality, Paul challenged his readers to live distinctive lives. This is what Christ’s call means to all of those who follow Him.

Paul shares with his readers (and with us) a simple truth: some things really do matter. From Paul’s perspective, what we do with our lives, our thoughts and our bodies is without question or doubt deeply and truly important. His plea is intense and personal. He strongly and passionately urges his readers to be unique, distinctive, and transformed persons. The verb used for “transform” is the same root term from which we get the noun “metamorphosis” and the verb in this passage is passive in voice. That means transformation is not something we do to or for ourselves, it is something God does in us because we trust in and follow His Son, Jesus. Paul is affirming this simple fact: because you follow the Lord, you will be different.

Using the Apostle’s thoughts, I want to share three brief affirmations, three challenges, with you.


You have probably come to Wayland for many reasons. You came to follow your dreams. You believe what you want to do and what Wayland offers in its educational ministry align closely together. Your friends are here. You have received a scholarship to attend the university. You want to play and compete on one of our athletic teams. You want to prepare yourself for your future. You feel that God has led you to this place.

I hope you have also come to learn. One of the things Paul speaks to in Romans 12 is the “renewing of your mind” which includes the importance of growing through new knowledge. Ben Franklin once observed “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

Wayland’s mission speaks of a “learning-focused” environment. You are here, in part, because you understand that you don’t quite really know everything. Our faculty wants to enable and empower you in your quest for knowledge. That is why the professors behind me have given their lives to the study of their own particular academic discipline. More than 80% of our professors have terminal degrees in their fields of instruction. In other words they possess the highest academic certification available in their own academic arena of expertise. They want you to know the truth of our world and the One who created it.

At its best, real learning is never easy. There are no shortcuts. Yet dishonesty and plagiarism are rampant on university campuses all across our nation. Permit me just one example: In November of 2010, an article appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “The Shadow Scholar.” The article was written by “Ed Dante”, a pseudonym for an East Coast writer who for a decade made a comfortable living writing papers for a custom-essay company. In the article, he describes the rampant cheating he has observed among university students in America. Their cheating—by using “Mr. Dante” to write papers and projects for their assignments—provided him with a very comfortable income. This is what he writes in the Chronicle article: In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won’t find my name on a single paper. I’ve written toward a master’s degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I’ve worked on bachelor’s degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I’ve written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I’ve attended three dozen online universities. I’ve completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else…On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

“Mr. Dante” makes more than $60,000 a year because students are willing to cheat by using his services. One New York Times survey in 2009 indicated that more than 60% of those college students surveyed indicated that they had in—some way—cheated on their school assignments. Now, a whole new industry (like Blackboard’s Safeassign and “turnitin.com”) has sprung up which checks writing projects for plagiarism and source accuracy. By the way, you will encounter Blackboard’s Safeassign program during your time at Wayland.

You would know by the material in our student handbook that cheating and plagiarizing is prohibited at Wayland. But let me share with you some additional and important reasons for you to be honest in your university assignments.

First, when you use someone else’s work and claim that it is your own you don’t really learn much. You haven’t searched for and evaluated and studied the source materials critical for your knowledge of a particular subject. One of the most important things you will learn at Wayland is how to both discover and critically evaluate information on any given topic about which you have an interest or assignment.

But most importantly, cheating and plagiarism is a form of theft, and such activities reveal a great deal about the quality and content of a person’s character. If you wouldn’t steal from a bank, why would you steal another person’s academic effort and use it for your own benefit? And if you would steal from a bank, you and I need to have a serious and open conversation about integrity. Learning really does matter.


In Romans 12, Paul speaks of transformation–metamorphosis. It is something God does in and to us. It is something only Christ can do. The changes we need most can occur only through our Lord’s involvement with and intersection of our lives. Such encounters with Christ happen through faith—the simple act of trust in God’s Son.

At Wayland, you will be surrounded by faculty and staff who are comfortable with the idea and practice of faith in God. I believe Wayland is a Christ-centered family. Certainly, we’re not perfect. But we honestly do believe in and know about the power of faith. We’re willing to talk to you about faith in your own life. We won’t coerce or manipulate—but we will be open and honest. What you believe (and in whom you believe) matters.

Once a week we will ask you to attend chapel. The reason is simple: faith matters. We will talk about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. We will talk about the challenges of living a life of faith in today’s world. And I would be the first to tell you that such a life is filled with challenges and, sometimes, pain.

As a pastor, I often encountered tragic circumstances for which there was no satisfying personal or philosophical answer. A young couple whose son dies unexpectedly and suddenly; an Air Force wife’s husband commits suicide; a couple desperately wanting a child yet unable, for some unknown reason, to conceive; an elderly man who lost his wife, the love of his life, after more than 60 years of marriage—these are just a few examples of the people I’ve encountered through the years who have questions. What I learned is that ultimately, no rational answer will ever be adequate or, even, very comforting. I also learned that in the final analysis, we don’t need answers as much as we need the presence, the partnership, and the comfort of our Lord Jesus Christ. C.S. Lewis, in Till We Have Faces, struggled with this same question and came to the same conclusion: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?

Augustine once observed in his Confessions “Our heart is restless until it rests in You God.” Faith matters students. What you believe—in whom you believe—is important. If you don’t already know that, my prayer is that you will make that discovery while attending Wayland. If you are open to that journey, we would love to walk along side of you in it.


Actions are profoundly revealing. You behavior is a clear and compelling indication of what lives in your heart. That’s part of what Paul means when he challenges us to shape our bodies and their actions into “living sacrifices—holy and pleasing to God.” Actions matter not only because of what they mean in our interactions with others, actions actually depict and reveal the true character of one’s identity. Proverbs says “As a person thinks in his/her heart—that is what they are.” That’s why in Matthew 5 Jesus talks about murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation and the treatment of our enemies. He tells us that such actions are not just a matter of what we do with our hands—these issues are really a matter of the thoughts we nurture and cultivate in our minds. Our thoughts (not just our actions) actually reveal the content of our souls.

In many ways I hurt for you, students. The world in which we currently live does not attach much significance to actions, especially in matters of sexual expression. Just a few snapshots of the second decade of the Twenty-First Century:

Almost half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce. This doesn’t include common law relationships and breakups.

Infidelity is more pronounced now than at any time in recent history. Traditionally, men were more likely to become sexually active outside of their marital relationship. Interestingly, more and more women are becoming involved in  affairs. To illustrate, Ashley Madison is a large web site dedicated to “casual encounters, married dating, discreet encounters and extramarital affairs.” Ashley Madison founder, Noel Biderman, reports that the website has 15 million members in 25 countries. Honestly, I want to cry.

Think about it: a business built on broken promises, broken hearts and broken families. This is a world in which children are bewildered and shattered by the selfishness and stupidity of a parent or parents. In my 25 years as pastor of local Baptist congregations, the most devastating experience my church members faced was not the loss of a loved one to death, but the breaking of a promise by a spouse. Duanea and I have walked with and tried to care for a significant number of individuals whose whole world crumbled because of broken promises. I can’t begin to express the pain and sadness I feel when I think about some of those folks and the forever damaged lives and hearts which have been left in the wake of selfish and egotistical extramarital encounters.

Most of us who have had a more or less traditional wedding ceremony made a vow which typically included “forsaking all others, I will be faithful only to her/him for as long as we both shall live.” In some ways, it seems that that promise means less in our world today than it ever has. Marriage has so many wonderful dynamics: talking, dreaming, holding hands, laughing, sharing scenes and things of beauty, working together in a strong partnership towards a common goal, looking into each other’s eyes, spoiling grandchildren, and even weeping together. Yet there is something special and endearing and binding about the sexual side of a marriage relationship. The biblical principle of the “two becoming one flesh” is important and special because that joining is reserved for that one to whom you have committed both your heart and your life forever. In a healthy marital relationship, sexual intimacy is an incredible gift—a joyful joining of lives and hearts as well as bodies. Outside of marriage, the act deteriorates into a passing moment of physical pleasure without any lasting significance or importance. To use a good gift like sexual intimacy for less than God intends cheapens it and makes it superficial and empty.

It seems that in contemporary society, however, consent is the only guiding principle which governs the physical relationship between men and women. Students, please understand that there are greater issues and realities at stake than consent. Important questions need to be asked: Is this right? Is this action really fair to the other person? Will this please God? Will this help me to find my place in His plan? When I marry the person I love and with whom I want to spend my life, will this action build up that relationship or will it compromise and, even threaten it?

I know you know that sexual coercion is prominent on colleges campuses—especially at secular institutions of higher learning. One study of two Midwestern state universities found that 1 in 5 women were sexually assaulted during their student days. The use of drugs for purposes of forced sexual relations is particularly despicable and criminal and is, in fact, a form of rape. As the father of two daughters who attended college, if I had known of a forced sexual encounter involving my girls, I would have used every legal means available to me to bring the perpetrator involved to justice.

Incidentally, four undergraduate students at North Carolina State University concerned about the exploitation of females on American college campuses have developed the formula for a new product called “Undercover Colors”. It is a nail polish which detects the presence of date rape drugs. So if you are served a beverage while wearing this nail polish, you just dip your fingernail into the liquid and if it changes color, it is time to call the cops. I love it! The product is not on the market yet because the young men are looking for development funding, but they already have a large Facebook following.

Your promises matter. I like what an anonymous author once observed, “People with good intentions make promises. People with good character keep them.” Remember what Robert Frost wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.” Promise keepers know a serenity and a satisfaction in the journey of their lives that promise breakers cannot ever know or experience. Let your words and your commitments be strong and unwavering—let them be a reflection of a heart totally and wholly committed to God. Because that, students, is where real life—dynamic, exciting, challenging and incredibly meaningful life—is found.

So today, I have shared a few simple truths with you.

What you learn and how you learn matters.

What you believe is important.

How you live your life matters. How you make and, hopefully, keep promises reveals the kind of person you truly are, and shows the real content of your soul.

It really does matter.

My challenge to you today is simple: Embrace God’s best for your life. Look to Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Present your lives and your bodies as living sacrifices to Him, and find the reality and transformational power of the joy of faith.

Oh, my student friends, you are so special. You have such incredible possibility and potential. We—the faculty, staff and administration—carry you in our hearts, thoughts and prayers daily.

Have a wonderful semester.

Have a wonderful life!

Grace and peace to each of you…

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
On behalf of the faculty, the staff and the trustees of Wayland Baptist University, I am honored to welcome each student to the 2002-2003 school year. We have been preparing for your arrival for a long time and we are very pleased that you are here.
As this service continues, we will follow the order of the printed program. Please stand for the invocation and the pledges to the American and Christian flags.
The beginning of the semester is an exciting and possibility-filled time. We find ourselves with new classes, new friends and blank grade reports. I hope that this is a wonderful school year for you. I pray that each day will be filled with learning and growing. University days are very precious days. Use this time wisely, in keeping with God’s will and your incredible potential.
What do you really believe about yourself? What kind of potential do you believe you possess?
Individuals who have a negative self-image tend to be blamers. They blame others. Sometimes, they even blame themselves.
In the very old days of vinyl recordings, a radio disc jockey reported that at work one night he accidentally bumped the record player, sending the needle screeching across the record. To distract from his error, he immediately grabbed the microphone and shouted, “Ok—which one of you listeners out there bumped into your radio and made my record skip?” To his embarrassment, several people actually phoned the radio station to apologize. They were more than ready to accept blame for something that went wrong even though it was certainly not their fault.
As you think about this new school year, I hope you’re thinking more about responsibility than blame. What kind of potential and possibility are you willing to embrace?
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Jesus made some astonishing statements about our potential. These statements are especially amazing in light of all that Christ said, all that he did, and who he was:
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.
Permit me to speak to you for a few moments using these verses as catalytic elements for reflection.
I. You have been given the greatest possibility that there is.
You have been given a great gift at Wayland: an opportunity to learn about our world and the God who created it.
While you are here, you have an opportunity to learn from some of the finest teachers in the world. Our academic standards are high because we want you to do and be your very best.
We also are open and honest about the importance of faith in God and his son, Jesus Christ. We have been given an incredible possibility : the opportunity to say yes to Christ and the life he wants to give us. It is quite simply a matter of believing in him. That is why he qualifies his statement of potential with the phrase “anyone who has faith in me.”
I am haunted by voices of the past that speak of missed opportunities and unrealized possibilities.
For 25 years, I served as a local Baptist church pastor. My last pastorate was the First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi, Texas. My wife, Duanea, and I pastored that wonderful congregation for 9 years.
On Sunday, I preached a sermon about getting through the dark nights of life. In those days, the services were broadcast on live television through the local CBS affiliate. A few days later I received the following letter:
Dear Dr. Armes,
I wake up in time to watch you give your Sunday sermon on TV. This act in itself may not strike you as being such a big deal, but the fact that I’m an atheist may make my habit a little more interesting for you to know…I watch you and listen and I admire and respect your seemingly unshakeable faith in your higher power. I wish I still had it, faith, or some of it, anyway. I grew up in an alcoholic home, was raped, lost jobs, moved numerous time, lost family and friends, and will be needing to move again soon. I write this letter in my own apartment, on a computer, and there’s food in the refrigerator so, in a manner, I have survived and will continue to survive. But there is very little spiritual food in my life and that is why I tune in to you. Today you talked about the dark night. I have been and will continue to be plagued by dark nights for the rest of my life. Still, if you or anyone were to ask me to accept Christ into my life or to believe in God, I would be that one atheist who would die in the foxhole. I have tried during the dark nights to believe there is a benevolent god but in the end I could no more believe in god than I could the Easter Bunny or tooth fairies. I cannot go back. I’m writing now because I will be moving soon and will not hear your sermons anymore… Sincerely, Dakota
The Sunday afterwards during our live broadcast, I shared a message about Nicodemus. You remember he was a teacher of the law who came to Jesus at night to ask him several questions about life. The wonderful thing about that encounter is this: Jesus never rejected Nicodemus just because Nicodemus didn’t understand clearly what it meant to be born again. Christ met Nicodemus where he was—reaching out to him with great patience and love. Then, looking directly into the television camera, I mentioned the letter I had received earlier in the week and spoke to the girl named Dakota: “I understand and know you have faced difficult and painful times. I know there is much about God you don’t understand, but, Dakota, if you will reach out to God I believe with all of my heart that you will discover that he is already reaching out to you.” The next day, Monday, I received a call from one of Dakota’s friends who told me she had already left town without leaving a forwarding address.
Dakota still haunts me. I wonder where she is…
Students, wherever you are today in your understanding of spiritual things, whatever questions you may have for our Lord, please know that he doesn’t reject you just because you don’t understand everything there is to know about faith and life in him. With all of my heart I believe that if you will reach out to him you will indeed find that he is already reaching out to you.
If you let him, Christ will change your life forever!
II. In Jesus’ eyes, you are more than you think your are.
One commentator noted that if one were to read the gospels for the first time—without any preconceived ideas or conditioning—the thing that would impress you most would be our Lord’s faith in his followers. He believed more in them than they believed in themselves.
The history books are full of stories of gifted persons whose talents were overlooked by a procession of people until somebody, somewhere believed in them.
Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read.
Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.
A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas.”
Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college, and Werner von Braun failed ninth-grade algebra.
Hayden gave up ever making a musician of a slow and plodding young man with no apparent talent whose name was Ludwig von Beethoven.
Each of these individuals eventually succeeded with incredible giftedness and effectiveness because their lives finally intersected the life of someone who became a mentor and friend to them, and pointed them towards what they could become.
We who work and serve at Wayland believe that Christ sees something in us we often fail to see in ourselves. Our challenge and opportunity is to look at you with our Lord’s eyes. You need to know—you are more than you think you are.
Scott Peck says that our tendency to see in ourselves less than God sees in us may be at the heart of original sin. It is the sin of not giving God a chance in your life because you have concluded that you do not matter, that your possibilities, your potential, your involvement have no consequences. By coming to that conclusion, Peck notes, you are really concluding that God does not matter—that God cannot take all of your weaknesses and inadequacies and humanity and do something great with them!
You are surrounded by a large group of faculty and staff who do believe that you can do something great with your life. That is why Wayland exists, to help you lay hold of the greatness within you which God has given to you. Let us be your mentors in the journey of learning and faith. It is why we are here.
These are exciting days at Wayland. We are glad you are a part of them.
May our Lord bless you as you work and study and play. May he give you insight to see with his eyes the possibilities and potential in your own life.
Have a great semester.
Grace and peace…


Thanks for reading. My plan is to go back through the years of my tenure at Wayland and to publish some of my presentations to our students, faculty, staff and Trustees. My only reason for doing this is so that those of you considering Wayland as an educational possibility might catch something of the Spirit of this caring and committed university.
Again, thanks for reading…
Grace and peace,
Paul Armes, PhD

On behalf of the Wayland Baptist University Board of Trustees and our faithful, committed, and gifted faculty and staff, I would like to welcome you to this Convocation which inaugurates the 2001-2002 school year at WBU.

I would like to thank all who have made this event possible.  I believe we are off to a great beginning. Students, we are thrilled that you are here.  Please know of our prayers for you as you continue to grow intellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually throughout this school year.

Wayland Baptist University began as a dream. A group of West Texas pioneers understood the power of knowledge.  They also knew personally about the power of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  They believed that faith and learning are not contradictory realities, but instead form the strong and sure foundation of a dynamic and productive life.

Dr. and Mrs. James Henry Wayland, a local physician and his wife, (his Bible is on the platform stand in front of you) offered $10,000 and 25 acres of land toward the construction of this college. This gift was given very early in the Twentieth Century, and it represented a truly significant and sacrificial gift in those days. My understanding is the dollars alone that Dr. Wayland gave for the founding of the school would be worth more than $250,000 today.

Dr. I. A. Gates, the first president of this school, paid tribute to Dr. Wayland in his book Watching the World Go By: If it had not been for one man, the college would never have been built.  Dr. J.H.Wayland, who gave (over the course of his lifetime) around one hundred thousand dollars, was the gamest, most determined, self-sacrificing man that I ever knew…he put his last dollar behind the school, and then borrowed money at the banks and even mortgaged his choicest property to see it through.

That was the passion that brought this university into existence.  You see, students, you really do have a wonderful heritage at this school.

Past professors and mentors always taught me to use visual aids when possible, so here goes (a large green stuffed frog is placed on the front edge of the podium):

I would like to share a passage of scripture with you this morning.  The passage is Luke 19:1-10:

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a Sycamore fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.  When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately.  I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’”  But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

On a subway in New York City, someone scribbled a message on a poster depicting the beautiful face of a young model advertising a particular brand of cosmetics.  The message read, “I like grils” (obviously misspelling the word “girls”).  Someone had written another message below the first which said “That’s girls stupid!”  Finally, a third message appeared under the second: “But what about us grils?”

Zacchaeus was a gril.  A fallen eagle of Abraham.  He was like the prince on whom an evil spell had been cast.  He had become a frog—covered with the warts of his own selfishness and the scales of his own ambition.

Of all the people despised by the Jews of Jesus’ day, none were more hated than those who became tax collectors.  And the chief tax collectors were the worst of all.  These were individuals who had sold out to the Romans—the enemy.  They collected the proscribed Roman tax levy, but they kept any excess they could collect even though it was a dishonest practice.  They were seen as individuals who profited off of the slavery of their own people.  Proper Jewish society treated these individuals as “sinners,” even though they were by blood children of Abraham.

Zacchaeus was a lonely man.  Hated by his own people, not really trusted by the Romans, Zacchaeus walked through life feeling like he didn’t really belong anywhere.  And on top of everything else, he was vertically challenged—short.  Yet on this day his life was changed forever.  He met Christ.

So as we begin this semester, let’s learn a few simple lessons. You probably didn’t think that Convocation would be one of your first classes of the new semester! But here goes:

I. No matter how many mistakes you’ve made or how lonely or isolated you may feel, Christ loves you.  He wants to be involved in your life.  He hasn’t given up on you. You don’t have to be a frog forever. Wayland exists, in part, to be sure that that message is clearly heard by every student who attends this school.

All around you are people who want to help you become all that God wants you to become—intellectually and spiritually.  Our faculty and staff are not only gifted academicians, they are caring and committed Christians who know the difference the love and life of Christ can make in a person’s life.

II. Be open to Christ—Go climb a tree. Zacchaeus was willing to risk embarrassment to see Jesus.  By climbing that sycamore fig tree, Zacchaeus was simply acknowledging his need.  Someone aptly observed that by going up that tree, Zacchaeus was actually getting down on his knees.  He found a love that changed his life.  The same love is available to you if you’re open to it.  It will change your life like it changed the life of Zacchaeus.  At Wayland, I believe you will find that we seek to cultivate a climate of openness—openness to the truth of our world and openness to the One who created our world.

III. Learn how to care about others like Jesus cares for you.  That is one of the things so special about Wayland.  People care here.  Most of the individuals who serve this university could earn more money elsewhere, but they teach and work at Wayland because they care.  They love seeing frogs become princes and princesses.  They love to see young men and women grow into more mature and committed individuals.

Students, you, too, are an important part of this caring family. Don’t ever underestimate the kind of impact you can make on others’ lives.

Jim Burns in his book Radically Committed: Using Your Life to Make a Difference in Your World (W Publishing Group, 1991), tells about his own unforgettable experience as a senior in high school.  A girl named Marie had been in his classes since early elementary school.  To his knowledge Jim had never once spoken to her.  She was very intelligent, but not very attractive; and many of the kids made fun of her.  Jim says he’s sure this caused Marie to withdraw and shy away from people even more.  Marie lived around the corner from Jim growing up, but they never once walked home together.  In fact, he confesses with embarrassment there were times he would walk to the other side of the street because he didn’t want anyone to think he walked home with Marie.  During his senior year, however, some major changes took place in Jim’s life.  He had become a Christian the year before, and during that next year he realized that as a Christian he was to become other-centered.  He was even to love people like Marie: frogs.

One day at lunch as Jim was going to his usual spot to eat with the clique of friends he walked past Marie, who was eating alone.  Something compelled Jim to stop and ask her questions.  The look she gave him was startling, he says.  It was as if she were saying “Why would you, a social snob, talk to me after all these years?”  The next day he decided to bring some of his friends together and eat lunch with Marie.  Their little group ended up eating with Marie for a week, and then they invited her to come to Christian youth club meeting one evening.  She accepted.

One night after a Bible study, Jim was about to drop Marie off when another friend in the car asked to be taken home first.  This meant Jim would take Marie home last.  When they pulled into her driveway, she reached out turned the key off, pulled it out of the ignition, and asked with piercing sternness, “Why are you and your friends doing this to me?”

Jim stuttered and stammered something about his new found Christian faith. She blurted out, “No one has ever eaten lunch with me from the seventh grade until the time you and your friends sat with me last month.”

Jim could not fathom the thought that there was a person who had eaten alone at school every day for five and a half years.  His experience in school had been so different.

Eight years after Jim’s conversation with Marie he was speaking at a Campus Life camp in southern California.  After his first talk one of the key camp leaders walked up to him with young high school girls hanging all around her and said, “Do you remember me?”

“You look like a girl I knew in high school,” Jim said.

“That’s me,” she said, “I’m Marie.”  She was now in charge of the women’s ministry for an entire county in southern California.  She then added, “Thanks for having lunch with me ‘way back then.”

After Marie and the girls left, Jim said he cried.

Don’t forget—wherever you’re coming from, wherever you’ve been—our Lord loves you.

Be open to that love—climb a tree and catch a glimpse of Jesus.

And (I say this with some fear and trepidation to university students) go kiss some frogs.  There are princes and princesses out there (even on our campus) waiting to be liberated.  Jesus himself said The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

To paraphrase the intent of this passage with deep reverence, Jesus came to kiss some frogs. And he encouraged us to do the same.  In fact he said—By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

May you have a wonderful semester!  May you both know and share the life-changing love of our Lord in a personal and powerful way.

Let’s go find some frogs…

Grace and peace to you!

Welcome to Convocation Chapel for the fall semester of 2013. My thanks to all who have made this event possible: faculty, staff and students. We are glad you are here, and we’re looking forward to a productive and meaningful school year.

It is a time of beginnings…

Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel was entitled Angle of Repose. At one point in the book, he places these words on the lips of the wheel-chair bound narrator, Lyman Ward, regarding the new beginnings of the fall:

That old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air… another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.

Maybe that’s how you feel today: last year’s mistakes have been wiped clean by the summer.

It is, indeed, a time of new beginnings.

The word “convocation” is defined by Webster in the following way: “An assembly or meeting of the members of a college or university to observe a particular ceremony such as the opening of an academic year.” That is why we are here—to initiate a new opening, a fresh start, a beginning.

We try to do convocation right at Wayland. The faculty and administration are in what we call academic regalia. Pretty, isn’t it? And I get to wear jewelry—this medallion. It is about the only time men get to play “dress up”!

These garments and even the colors used on our robes and hoods symbolize the academic degrees we have earned which have prepared us for this educational calling. Well over 90% of the full-time professors who teach at Wayland have earned what is called a terminal degree: the highest academic certification they can obtain in their chosen field of study. The rest of our faculty have a master’s degree or its equivalent.

So why do we dress up in these robes for this occasion?

Partly, it is to acknowledge that this is a significant moment in the life of the university. We also wear regalia at graduation/commencement which is also, obviously, a time of great celebration for us. Regalia reminds all of us that this journey of higher education is significant and important and potentially truly life-changing.

But I believe there’s another reason we wear regalia. It is really not so that we can brag about our academic accomplishments. It isn’t that we believe that we look attractive or handsome in these robes. (The truth is, these things are hot and most of us will need some Gatorade after convocation is over!)

No, we wear this regalia because we want you to know that we have done the very best we can to get ready for this wonderful and important responsibility of teaching students. God’s call to teach has and continues to consume the lives and hearts and minds of every faculty member, every administrator seated behind me on this stage.

And while it took most of us some years of pretty hard work to be able to dress like this, I am confident that the primary focus of every teacher in this room is this: we hope and pray and believe that the academic experiences we have had enable us to teach you more effectively. Whether you realize it or not, students, you are our calling—our very life. You are the reason Wayland Baptist University exists. That is why we dress this way—it is an illustration of our commitment to you.

Wayland is a teaching university. That means that while we cherish and celebrate research and discovery efforts by both our faculty and our students, our primary institutional focus has been and will continue to be effective and compelling instruction within a classroom setting. We want you to learn and grow and expand both your life and your heart.

Convocation is a celebration and an acknowledgement of the fact that we are starting a new semester.


Have you ever thought about the fact that the Bible begins with a single verse that is both simple and yet incredibly profound? “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In Eugene Peterson’s translation The Message the verse reads: “First this: God created the heavens and earth—all you see, all you don’t see.”

There are some interesting things about this verse of beginnings I would like for you to think about.

The definite article “the” is not in the original Hebrew language. Literally, the verse should read “Beginning, God created…” That’s why Dr. Peterson states it: “First this: God created…”.

One implication of this phrase: there was never a time when God was not. He stands outside of linear history as we know it. Yet this creator God—who is over and in and also outside of history—has invaded history to offer Himself to us by way of a personal relationship: a relationship which begins the moment we place faith in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Another insight provided by this verse: God is ultimately the source of everything that is. Whatever processes God used to form the world into the life rich environment that it is today, he was the source—the beginning—the initiator—the creator. He hurled the world and the universe into existence by his unique and distinctive and sovereign authority and power.

The word used for “created” (bara in the Hebrew) is also significant. The Old Testament uses this word uniquely and solely to describe the activity of God. Only God creates. Only He has that kind of power, potential and possibility.

This is the idea Paul expresses in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Dr. Peterson in The Message expresses it this way: “…anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!”

Making the universe and its worlds is something only God can do. Making any individual a new person—an entirely new creation because of that’s person’s faith in Jesus—is also something only God can do. The power of God is something Wayland affirms and embraces. Many of us believe that that power is the only real hope for our world.

Permit me to share an analogy—not perfect but perhaps helpful.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a general principle which states “In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state.” Ok, let’s put it another way. This is the statement made by Regina Bailey (who wrote one of the ‘Idiot’s Guide to…’ books on science and so explains things a bit more simply): “When energy is transferred, there will be less energy available at the end of the transfer process than at the beginning.” This is also referred to as entropy.

Here’s an example: an old windup watch runs on the stored power of a tightly wound mainspring. Energy is released until the spring has unwound and that energy has been expended. That’s entropy.

The only way to re-energize the watch is to wind the mainspring.

But notice this: such action can only happen when an outside force of energy invades the mechanics—the system—of the watch to wind the mainspring again. An outside source of power is needed if the watch is to work as it was designed.

The only way to solve entropy is to have a power outside the closed decaying system invade that system with a new source of energy so that change can be effected—in essence, so that the system can be recreated.

Sin brings spiritual and personal entropy into our lives. The only solution for the decay of sin comes from outside ourselves in the person and work and power of our Lord, Jesus Christ. When I trust in Christ, spiritually I become a new creation—changed by something and someone outside of my self—and it’s something only God can do.

So from a biblical perspective, the act of physical creation (of our universe, for example) is something only God can do. Likewise, lives decaying because of sin can only know new life i.e. spiritual recreation, if a transforming power comes from outside the inner “system” of our own existence. Recreation comes only through Christ. Only God can change our lives and hearts.

So both creation and recreation are actions God alone can accomplish.

Over the last school year, Wayland has focused and throughout this school year will continue to focus on the importance of civility—treating each other with respect and love. This year at Koinonia, we talked about connections—between one another and with God.

How can this happen in a world of entropy and decay? How can we—the imperfect and flawed and entropic human beings that we are—be what God really wants us to be?

It can only happen through an invasion…an invasion of our lives by the very person, love and power of Jesus Christ.

So I hope you learn a lot this year. I hope your mind expands and grows as you explore this wonderful world with all of its complexity, beauty and entropy.

But I also hope you heart is changed and transformed this school year. I hope you will be open to that which only God through Christ can do in your life and heart. It is called regeneration, and it simply means being recreated by the power of Christ. And this miracle of recreation begins with a heartfelt prayer of repentance and faith. It is, to put it simply, turning from your sin and trusting in Christ. If you don’t understand what that means or how that can happen, there’s a whole host of folks around me on this platform who would love to walk beside you in this part of the journey of your life. You see, the faith moments of your pilgrimage are the most important moments of all.

So this is my prayer for you—that today and this entire school year will be a time of new beginnings. My prayer is that these fall and spring semesters at WBU will become opportunities for change in your life—a time of new beginnings. I want you to be transformed—both by the growth of your knowledge and by the invasion of your heart by Jesus.

Creation is something only God can do. With all of my heart, I hope you learn that personally and existentially this year.

I hope this is truly a time of new beginnings…

I close with a passage from Jude:

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen”

In a moment, I will ask you to stand for Wayland’s alma mater and for the benediction. After the benediction, please remain at your seats while the platform party and faculty exit the auditorium. Thanks for being here today, and for listening so well.

Please stand.

Heritage chapel is a time of remembering.

George Santayana, the philosopher and historian, is perhaps most remembered for his statement: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” He also believed in the importance of history. He once observed: “A country without a memory is a country of madmen.”

I agree with Santayana: it is important to remember our history. Ideally, you see, history can help us to reflect and to learn and to grow in the arena of human relationships and progress.

Wayland Baptist University’s alma mater, written by Guy Woods, has as its concluding line “Pioneering Wayland, hail thy blue and gold!”. The fact that Wayland has been a “pioneering” institution of higher learning is true for a wide variety of significant reasons—not just because of our mascot (pioneer Pete). Let me share just a few historical examples with you of why this is true—why Wayland is, indeed, pioneering.

Dr. Bill Marshall became president of Wayland in 1947. Dr. Marshall did many good things for the university. In terms of student recruitment, he brought a decidedly international flavor to the school.

Perhaps his most notable achievement was accomplished in 1951. As Dr. Estelle Owens notes in her article on Dr. Marshall in the Summer/Fall 2003 edition of “Baptist History and Heritage,” Dr. Marshall’s awareness of and opposition to racism began early. When he was eight years old, he witnessed a cousin striking one of his African-American playmates during a game. That event made an indelible impression upon Bill, and it made racism obnoxious to him. As a teenage boy, Marshall worked at various odd jobs: selling newspapers, working on the family farm, becoming a soda jerk at the local drugstore. All during his young life, Bill maintained his friendships and relationships with minorities, Native Americans and African-Americans. To Dr. Marshall, all people were the same—made in the image of god.

In 1951, an African-American teacher from one of our surrounding communities made application to attend Wayland so that she could enhance her teaching credentials and retain her position. Dr. Marshall brought her request to the Board of Trustees. Largely because of the president’s quiet yet strong leadership, the board voted not only to approve her request, but also to allow any other sincere students, regardless of race, to enroll at Wayland. This meant that Wayland Baptist University was the first school in the states of the former Confederate South to voluntarily integrate. These decisions were made at Wayland some 13 years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed educational discrimination.

Marshall and Wayland received extensive publicity for the decision. Ebony and Time magazines published articles on the school’s action. We have in our archives 90 pieces of correspondence Dr. Marshall received in response to the school’s new policy. Eighty of the notes praised Wayland, the board, and Dr. Marshall for their courage. Ten were critical. Many of those negative letters passionately vilified both the president and the school for the action and several were, incidentally, unsigned. As Dr. Owens observed in her excellent article of 2003, it is interesting to note that one of the ideals advocated in the 1950-51 academic catalog for Wayland was “Maximum Christianity, Applied as well as Advocated.” In that moment of Wayland’s history, this university was true to that ideal.

Permit me to share another example of “Pioneering Wayland” with you.

From the earliest days of her history, Wayland has emphasized and embraced the right of women to participate in athletics. Eventually, this moved beyond an effort to encourage the ladies of the university to be part of the intramural recreational program of the school. Wayland came to believe and recognize the fact that women should be able to compete, as men do, for national athletic awards, achievements, and recognitions.

Dr. Estelle Owens, University Historian, tells me that the earliest mention of women’s basketball she has been able to find was in the Hale County Herald edition of October 14, 1913. “Wayland college girls won from Floydada by a score of 23 to ___ at basketball.” The paper of November 10, 1914, reported that “The Wayland college boys and girls are playing basketball now in practice games.”

We have pictures of women’s basketball teams in 1916 and 1922 but no particular details about their schedule or competition.

The turning point for women’s athletics and, particularly, women’s basketball, came when Harley Redin was employed as the athletic director and men’s basketball coach of the school in 1945. The next year, coach Redin became the “tutor” of the women’s program.

In 1947-48, the Harvest Queen Mill sponsored the women’s basketball program, giving rise to the name Wayland Harvest Queens. At that time, Sam Allen was the coach and the team finished 6-0. The next season, Allen led the team to the AAU national tournament, where they lost in overtime in the second game. In 1950, however, the queens made a return trip to the national tournament, this time finishing in second place.

In 1951, the Harvest Queens changed their name to the Hutcherson Flying Queens after Claude and Wilda Hutcherson’s Flying Service became their sponsor. Claude was a 1926 Wayland graduate. The move helped put Wayland on the national map because the Flying Queens traveled around the country and internationally in Hutcherson’s fleet of Beechcraft Bonanza airplanes. The Flying Queens became the premier women’s basketball program in the nation for decades.

In 1953, the Flying Queens began a winning streak of 131 games, a record that will, I predict, never be equaled by a female collegiate basketball team.

In 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957 (four years in a row) the team won the AAU National Championship. The members of that team will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 8th of this year in Knoxville, Tennessee. They are being honored as “Trailblazers of the Game,” and join the distinguished company of only three other women’s teams: the “All American Red Heads,” the “Edmonton Grads,” and the “Former Helms/Citizens Savings/Founders Bank” team.

Harley redin began coaching the women’s team in 1955. During his career, Redin also became a catalytic force in changing the women’s game from a 12 person half court experience to a full court 5 on 5 contest—just like the men’s game has always been.

As the parents of two daughters who played basketball in high school, Duanea and I are grateful for the trailblazing Flying Queens who have helped to affirm and develop the importance of women’s collegiate athletics.

Just two more brief illustrations of Wayland innovation:

Wayland was a pioneer of external and military education. For example, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, Wayland opened her doors to military students to teach them both general education courses and “military science,” a euphemism for drill exercises. In 1945, Wayland was one of the first institutions to offer education to World War II veterans. In 1948 Wayland began a language school in Mexico, one of the very first collegiate external education efforts. In the early 1970’s, teaching centers were opened in Lubbock and Wichita Falls for law enforcement officers and their training. The university began teaching at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls in 1974, marking Wayland’s first teaching center on a military base of the United States armed forces. Now, Wayland teaches in 14 locations around the word. About 40% of our external campus enrollment of well over 4,000 students is active servicemen and servicewomen. Our external education program even extends to the nation of Kenya in eastern Africa. We truly have gone into the whole world with the light of the Gospel and the discovered truth of our world, as our university seal challenges us.

Early on, Wayland came to believe that taking education to where people in need of that education are would become the wave of the future. God has blessed that effort in a special way.

One last example:

Around 1985, Wayland began a remedial educational program called “Academic Achievement.” We were one of the very first institutions of higher learning to initiate such a program.

Ac-Ac is designed to help students who need to sharpen their skills in study habits and practice, reading comprehension, writing, spelling, mathematics, English proficiency and academic and/or personal confidence. For students who dream of a college education and yet lack some experience in one or more of these areas, Ac-Ac has been and continues to be a great gift and blessing. It has enabled a significant number of individuals to fulfill their educational goals and to become fully qualified and academically proficient students and graduates. The program was birthed for a simple reason: Wayland is more interested in helping students succeed than watching them fail.

Incidentally, remedial education is now a legal requirement of every state university in Texas.

You are part of a very special family—a creative, nimble and synergistic university undergirded and strengthened by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A school that believes that the reason it exists are two in number: our students and our Savior.

You are part of school which has historically and repeatedly been courageous and committed. You are part of pioneering Wayland.

Have a great semester.

Now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you each and every one throughout the remaining days of this school year.

Discussions in Washington in light of the impending “fiscal cliff” have floated new ideas for generating additional revenue. One of the proposals deals with limiting or eliminating the income tax deductibility of charitable financial gifts. Several organizations in Washington which represent the independent sector of higher education have expressed grave concerns about such a change in policy. The Association of Governing Boards, of which Wayland is a member, has written ranking government officials expressing their opposition to this proposal. I plan to do the same. The content of my communication will be as follows:


Our university and its leadership carry you in our thoughts and prayers daily. Although we face challenging days in so many ways, we are all hopeful that significant progress can be made regarding those issues which threaten to impact the future of our great country.

As the discussions continue regarding possible solutions to the “fiscal cliff” we are facing, my Board, administration and I are gravely concerned about the suggestion that the search for needed revenues may lead to limits on the federal income tax deduction for charitable donations.

Respectfully, we would like to request that you think long and hard about the consequences of restricting or eliminating the deduction for charitable contributions. Our university faces unique financial challenges because of the economic downturn in our nation. The decline in our endowments we have experienced over the past several years limited our ability to respond effectively to many of these challenges. Add to these facts the current and proposed reductions to state and federal aid to our students, and the picture seems very bleak.

Gifts from individuals and families, particularly from those who itemize their tax deductions, add significantly to the excellence of our university. For institutions like ours which are facing more than their share of economic challenges, charitable gifts are critically important for maintaining financial viability and stability. At our university, private gifts fund student financial assistance which backfills federal and state assistance programs. The tax incentive which the deduction provides also encourages private gifts to help build facilities and/or take advantage of the latest innovations in educational technology. Other gifts underwrite student service and ministry projects. Wayland Baptist University is also blessed with a large number of first in family college attenders who simply must have significant institutional aid if they are to start and continue their education. Dollars from charitable giving support all of these necessary activities and save governments billions of dollars of additional support and underwriting.

Colleges and universities received $30.3 billion in charitable gifts in 2011. With each passing year, these gifts grow in importance. The decline in charitable gifts which will likely result from any limits in the federal tax code would hurt our students, faculty, and our academic and service programs. As you and the government move through the important conversations of the coming days, we strongly urge you to protect the charitable giving deduction allowed by the current tax regulations.

I will be glad to visit with you at any time about these issues.


Paul W. Armes, PhD
Wayland Baptist University

Trustees: (names will be listed)

I hope this proposal does not gain traction. It could have a significantly negative effect on Wayland’s fund raising efforts.

Grace and peace…


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