Summary: Opening Convocation of the new semester Spring 2006 at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA
Welcome back young people! Welcome to Liberty University, the world’s most exciting University. And you 700 new students from all over the nation and the world we welcome you to this hallowed campus. This is our 35th year, we started with 154 students, four faculty members (Dr. Elmer Towns, our co-founder and Vice President, and three others, unqualified, I was one of them, Dr. Jim Moon, J. O. Grooms, the other two) but, there were four of us and 154 students meeting at Thomas Road Baptist Church and thus Liberty was born.
Well, that was 35 years ago and as I speak now we don’t have the final count here, but this fall we will approach 10,000 in campus enrollment for the first time and we externally this year will have 14,000 studying with us and they come from 50 states and 80 nations. The Lord has done great, great things!
NEW PATHS, NEW LESSONS, AND NEW COMMITMENTS
Most of us don’t like new things, we don’t like to start over; we don’t like the idea of changing the status quo, which is Latin for the mess that we are in. And yet God is forever stirring up our nest and redirecting our steps, and changing our circumstances so that we never ever become comfortable changing our circumstances, so that we never ever can become comfortable spiritually in one place doing one thing.
All believers have two birthdays, my physical birthday is August 11, and you know I am 72 years of age. My spiritual birthday, my 54 spiritual birthday is two days from today, this coming Friday, and I will be celebrating my spiritual birthday by doing the work of the Lord as God has allowed me to do all these years. If you don’t have a second birthday, and I am talking primarily to the 700 new students with us this semester; if you do not have a birthday when you received Christ as your own personal Savior, it’s our prayer that you won’t be here a week, two weeks before that miracle happens in your life. And so again, God wants to put us down a new path.
My text: Philippians 4:11, 12, 13, “Not that I speak in respect of want (Paul says) for I have learned (better translated, I am learning), in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content (meaning they were not Texans). I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” You are never really fulfilled in life, until you recognize your vision and begin fulfilling it.
The first life-vision is to be born again. For me that was January 20, 1952 and then we set out on another quest and that is to find the will of God for my life, every moment of every new day. You are never really fulfilled until you recognize your vision. I want to challenge you to find that vision, find that goal, and find that purpose for which God brought you here to Liberty University. Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
God has a vision for everyone and don’t settle for second best and don’t ever quit. God has a vision for you, you all have unique DNAs.
Over the holidays a man who was executed in the Virginia prison system, Roger Coleman, declared his innocence, even in the electric chair. Many people thought he had been executed wrongly and 13 or 14 years had passed, and the outgoing Governor Warner finally ordered a DNA examination of the evidence in hand and compared it with Roger Coleman’s DNA. Did he really commit the crime? He was convicted of rape and murder of his own sister-in-law. All the anti-capital punishment advocates around the nation were hoping to find that they executed the wrong man, the evidence proved that he was guilty and that he should have been executed, but the fact is that DNA is the spiritual and the physical thumbprint and fingerprint of every individual.
There is only one person in the world like you, physically, and only one like you spiritually. God has a work to do through you that He cannot do as well through anyone else. 1 Corinthians 15: 58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” I found out fifty plus years ago, God wanted me to be a pastor and I have spent the last half century doing that. Fifty years now, pastor of the same church. We are moving that new church to the campus and hopefully July 2 of this year we will move into that new sanctuary at the north end of the Liberty University campus and our academy, our preschool through grade twelve is already there, the law school is already there and the University is here, and that’s been my fifty year dream, that God would help us on this 4600 acre campus to put it all together in one place. It has taken a half century to make all that happen. But I knew a half century ago God wanted me to be a pastor.