Monday, September 8, 2008

A “Go With God” Moment

Let me welcome you all, whether you are a first semester freshmen or a senior…or anyone in between…to the new Noggle Christian Ministries Center. What an amazing transformation has taken place since we all moved out following the fall semester of last year. The construction began Dec 26th and the faculty and staff moved back in August 4th. We are all so thankful for the gift of a new building which will enhance the teaching and learning in our division.
Now, let me also welcome you back to IWU. Summer is a good time to rest but the campus without you is non-functioning. It was quiet, it was empty’ it was wrong. Not the way IWU is meant to be. So I say, welcome back…This is the first Monday Memo of a new school year so with it allow me to address a few words to different groups…

First, to seniors, you moved onto campus for the last time in your college careers, and I’m sure this final transitional time seemed somewhat ominous. Life stands before you and all of its glory (but that also includes all of its complexities and anxiety). As the semester moves forward, I will be writing to you specifically as I will attempt to prayerfully assist you in making decisions for the future. But this Monday Memo is not for you, but please read on…

Next, to juniors and sophomores; these are the best days of your lives. You know this campus and all its routines like the back of your hand. You have made the Wal-Mart runs (daily I might add) to buy the items which will put the finishing touches on your room. Ladies, you have put the final nick-knacks on the wall and may even have color coordinated the throws with your comforter. Guys, you have purchased a semester supply of Febreze and are good-to-go. In actuality, you are old-timers who know the people and places which are required to get things done…in only one trip to the Records rather than multiple ones. For you, IWU is comfortable and life seems so familiar. Welcome home. I will be writing Monday Memos to you as well this semester; what can God do in your lives to shake you out of the comfort zone and call you to radically abandon safety as you enter deeper into His Kingdom? But this Monday Memo is not for you, but please read on…

Finally, to freshmen and transfers, this Monday Memo is for you. Each day of this last week could probably be described as “newness overload.” Too many new places and with far too many names. There is the Phillippe Performing Arts Center but in actuality we only call it, The PPAC. We have an OLD College Church which has an alternative venue for chapel service, but it looks nothing like a church. We have a student center that looks like a Mall with its own coffee shop. We have residence halls galore (with a variety of names; have you figured out where ToHo is?) and academic buildings in every direction. You have discovered that the campus is loaded with real places with real names but often we only refer to them by acronyms or abbreviations. I aplopgize to you if you have been confused. I promise you that by fall break (another inaccurate term, because it’s only one day long), you will feel right at home.

But let me try to end this memo with a few suggestions which may help this week set a good foundation or your long-term academic success at IWU:
  1. Make Fall Summit a priority. Try to think of your education holistically rather than compartmentally. You grow as a person, body mind, and spirit. Classes for the most part are seen as your intellectual development. But if you have not picked up on it, we endeavor to offer you an integrated education; where we are concerned about your spiritual growth and your academic development. Set aside MTW morning and MT evening for worship. BTW, Dave Ward is one of the finest preachers your will hear anywhere.
  2. Get to know your professors. Make certain in the first several weeks of the semester to stop by the office suite of the Religion Division (2nd floor NCMC). If you do not know him/her, introduce yourself and set up a time for coffee or even a lunch. In my educational career, the time apart with professors had an equal or greater impact on my life than the time in class.
  3. Seek out a church home. Chapel is not a church. Certainly it is a worship experience and spiritual food. But I encourage you before the semester gets too far along to find a local church to call “home.” Now, many of you will say that your church home is, well, back home. But in the ensuing semesters, you will grow academically and spiritually in ways you never imagined. And the people “back home” will not see this. They may always see you as the high school graduate who went off to IWU. I will ask you to put yourself into an accountable relationship with a multi-generational congregation with folks who can watch you, encourage you, challenge you, etc. Moreover, many of you will never return to your “home church” with any sort of regularity. SO, finding a local church to worship and serve in now…will be setting an agenda for the rest of your lives.

    For Summit this week, I pray that You would anoint Dave Ward, embolden his heart, and quicken our ears.
    For relationships across campus, I pray that You will bind together students and faculty into an academic and spiritual collaborative community.
    May we learn from one another in the beauty of Your Spirit.
    May we see the local church as Your Body;
    May the Body pour into the students, and
    May the presence of the students encourage the local church.

Now, Go With God.

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