Posts Tagged ‘Oklahoma Christian’

Sherrylee and I attended a wonderful celebration yesterday for Dr. Ken Adams and his wife Lindy at Oklahoma Christian University. Ken is retiring after serving forty years as the choral director and as professor/mentor for literally thousands of students.  About two hundred chorale alumni came from all over the country to participate in a final concert last Sunday in his honor.  Hardeman Auditorium was packed—and profoundly moved by the beautiful music of Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace,  written in 2000 for the Millennium celebration.  If you appreciate classical music, let me strongly recommend you order a copy of this piece immediately!

One of my strongest thoughts as Ken masterfully directed the full orchestra and the two-hundred voice choir was why is he stopping now?  This may have been one of his greatest performances, so he is not suffering from diminished capacities!  He is not old! (Somewhere I read that Baby Boomers don’t think a person is old until they are around 78.) He is not ill!  So why does one retire from doing what one still loves and can do so well?

According to the statistics that I just found, only 20% of Americans between 60-64 are still in the workforce.  In the UK, it is only 10%, and these cousin nations rank far above most other industrialized countries. Austria, Belgium, France, and Italy have only 1% in that age bracket still employed, and Spain has ZERO per cent!

Spain is #8 in rankings for life expectancy (80.9 years) and the US is #36 (78.3). In fact, all of the above countries have a higher life expectancy than the U.S.   But even without quibbling over a few months, on the average most of us have 15-20 years of life left after we retire!

Retirement, as a social policy, is just a little over a century old, so Jesus was never faced explicitly with this issue; however, those commissioned to take his words to the world did sometimes live longer.

I’m thinking about the Apostle Paul—most likely in his sixties–writing to Timothy and saying, “Well, I’ve been working now for over thirty years, so I’m thinking about retiring so I can do things that I’ve been wanting to do—travel, visit my relatives in Tarsus, just hang out with Peter’s grandchildren.  I’m just tired of the constant pressure to produce, the hassle from the brethren, even just the burden to write all these letters.  No, I’m just ready to call my own shots –while I’m still healthy and can enjoy life.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

Our confusion regarding retirement, I’m convinced, occurs when we confuse retirement from employment with retirement from our life, our passion, our purpose, our commitment, yes, retirement from our faith and from faithfulness.

If Jesus had been a carpenter for thirty or forty years, he might have stopped at some point in life, but, whether he was 30, 60, or 90 years old, He would have never stopped being the Son of God. He was the one who said, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).

Paul might have closed his tent-making company down at some point in his later years, but he would never stop going to the synagogues to speak on Saturday or down to the river where the prayer group was meeting, searching for Seekers.

And Ken and Lindy will always be great servants. They won’t stop being who they have been because of retirement. If anything, they will likely find even better ways to serve God and those around them.

I want to retire someday too—but what I really, really want is to write as my last words what in his last days Paul wrote to Timothy:   “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Jesus might have retired—but He would never have quit! 

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Oklahoma Christian University has been a best-kept secret for too many years!

Last night Sherrylee and I were on their campus again for the 35th Annual Cocoa and Carols, a wonderful program that our dear friend Dr. Ken Adams has produced and directed from its inception. He is retiring at the end of this year after forty-one years at OC, so we especially wanted be there to share it with him and his wife Lindy.

One of the reasons I enjoyed teaching at Oklahoma Christian for so long was that OC has always been committed to excellence, and excellence is difficult to pull off when you are small and in the middle of Oklahoma! Cocoa and Carols is a great example of this kind of excellence, however.

For thirty-five years, Oklahoma Christian has offered its community a classical Christmas program, almost always using a full professional orchestra to accompany its own student choir. Each year they offer their audience a master work by not only the likes of Bach or Mozart, but also modern composers like the Gloria by John Rutter this year! (You can find excerpts of this modern classic on Youtube, if you are unfamiliar with the work like I was.) And this Christmas gift has always been given free to the public! I love it!

I’ve always believed OC has had an excellent academic program, if anyone cares about that anymore! OC has strong majors in sciences, with an excellent record in students going into medical school and other health-related fields. The school of business is highly recognized and the MBA program is one of the best in the State of Oklahoma.  OC has an outstanding engineering program, with a very hands on approach because many of the engineering professors have come directly from their industry to join OC’s faculty.

Of course, I’m a big fan of the liberal arts, so I can say that OC’s English department, history and political science departments, music department, art and graphic design areas all have outstanding professors and, though small, give their students just as much with more personal interaction than is really possible at larger schools.

No, you won’t find a big football program at Oklahoma Christian, but you can find championship golf, tennis, and  track and field, as well as baseball, basketball, women’s softball, and soccer! Social clubs and intramural sports offer plenty of time for play

And I do believe that Oklahoma Christian is still committed to delivering a Christian education, something that not even all colleges with Christian in their name are doing any more.  You can go to church with your professors, or work in inner city missions with them—not just your Bible professors, but your accounting or your biology professor as well.  They may invite you to join them on an overseas mission project during summer break, or they may just sit down with you in the coffee shop to check on your life!

I was trying to decide what keeps Oklahoma Christian hidden from the mainstream of Christian education. Part of the answer is its location—Oklahoma. I have a friend here in Fort Worth, who although living only about 100 miles away from the Sooner state for decades, had never been to Oklahoma.  It’s not Malibu!

Sherrylee would admit to thinking that God had made a big mistake when He sent us to Oklahoma Christian in 1979.  We thought He had taken us way off the map, but I can truly say now, that our years in Oklahoma were just wonderful!  And, although Oklahoma Christian likes to identify itself with the Oklahoma City community, the town of Edmond, to which it truly belongs,  was selected in 2011 #1 on CNBC’s “10 Perfect Suburbs” list!

Let’s don’t keep Oklahoma Christian a secret! It’s not perfect! It’s not the right university for every student! But don’t skip over it just because . . . . You and/or your student might find a wonderful oasis of people who love God and who are committed to offering excellence.

Thank you, thank you to people like Ken and Lindy, to Stafford and Bailey, to Ron and James and Lynn and Bill and John and Joe and Elmo and Kim and so many others who have committed the major years of their lives to teaching young people to be excellent Christians!

Well done, Oklahoma Christian!

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