Excellence in Leadership!

Tom CedelLast Friday night Terry and I joined over 500 of our nearest and dearest friends at the annual Concordia University Texas Excellence in Leadership Gala. Okay, not all in attendance were nearest and dearest friends. However, it was obvious that we all had much in common:

  • Attendees cared enough about Concordia University to spend a lot more than pocket change for a very nice dinner and more than a very nice contribution to benefit Concordia students.
  • All respected Dr. Tom Cedel, this year’s honoree, enough to offer three standing ovations and extended applause when he was introduced and at the end of his brief Christ-centered remarks.
  • We all joined in thanking Tom’s wife, Penny, who has worked faithfully at his side voluntarily representing Concordia locally and nationally as a cheerful ambassador of good will.

During Dr. Cedel’s 12 years as president of Concordia, the University has, among other things:

  • Moved from its 23-acre site in north central Austin to a 389-acre site near Lake Travis.
  • Doubled in enrollment. Ten times more students now graduate from Concordia each year.
  • Added several new undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
  • Developed the Accelerated Degree program for part-time and adult returning students.
  • Formed partnerships with local school districts for teacher education programs.
  • Developed a nursing program that is one of the fastest growing in central Texas.
  • Achieved numerous academic and athletic milestones.
  • Grown in success in achieving its mission of Developing Christian Leaders.

Thanks to God for his healing hand through months of successful chemo and radiation treatment for Tom’s recent illness, discovered shortly after he announced his retirement last summer. Being chosen as honoree at the Excellence in Leadership Gala is an appropriate testimony to the gifts God has given Dr. Tom Cedel and the excellence with which he has used them to God’s glory!

Tom, Terry and I wish you and Penny the best, in the words of a toast learned from my father many years ago. I originally learned it in Spanish, but it’s spoken here in English: “May God bless you with his gifts of good health, much love, sufficient money and enough time to enjoy them all!”

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Another Move

House 1Not long ago Terry and I counted the number of times we’ve moved since our marriage on January 29, 1966, which was also my 23rd birthday. But I digress. The number we counted at that time was 15. Earlier this week, that number climbed to 16.

A few of our close friends and colleagues knew before the move occurred. We didn’t know exactly where we were going to end up, so we spoke in general terms to them and many others who had heard the rumor. To all who inquired we emphasized the primary reason for this move—to eliminate the beautiful but rapidly becoming onerous winding stairway with 18 steps.

Terry and I considered the reality that someday I might not be able to climb those steps to get to my study. In addition, many of the folks who come to our home for an overnight stay are close to or even beyond my age. That generates concerns for their stairway safety and, in some cases, creates impenetrable barriers to their access to our guest rooms, all upstairs.

Of course, we have liability insurance, which we hope will never be used. Oh, one more thing— I’m often the one who ends up carrying our guests’ 40-pound luggage up and down the stairs, which is always happily done, yet somewhat cumbersome, to say the least!

Not yet having succeeded in finding a home that meets our needs, we are temporarily ensconced in a very nice, significantly smaller, fairly new, single story rental home, awaiting clarity on move #17. We anticipate that will occur next spring.

Those who have moved recently enough to remember can testify that the process is always interesting, sometimes traumatic, often exciting. This move for us, and the one to follow, is a strange mixture of all these emotions. Perhaps I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, tiring and testing though it has been, this move, like most of the others, has generated within us a strange sense of calling. That includes the clear hand of God in the selling of our previous home and the purchase of the new one yet to come. We’re excited to see how it all turns out, clearly convinced that home is where the heart is and where God is honored!

A Person’s Reputation

Credit: blog.entrepreneurthearts.com/

Credit: blog.entrepreneurthearts.com

Today’s article marks the end of the fifth consecutive year of Perspectives articles! While I’m occasionally tempted to cease and desist, I receive enough feedback from those who appreciate these weekly blurbs to persuade me not to stop. So, at least for now, I plan to continue.

In a previous season of my life I had a few most unpleasant experiences, putting it mildly. The particular incidents of which I’m thinking today are those affecting any person, not just me, who is the subject of a lawsuit or other biased, judgmental, defamatory communication.

While I could list a number of egregious results, the one of greatest concern is the harm done to personal and professional reputation by allegations and accusations that are totally unfounded. If you’ve ever been the target of a lawsuit or other spurious charges and allegations, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have not had that experience, count your blessings!

The most troublesome part of dealing with untrue or only partially true statements, written or spoken, is how to set the record straight. How can the injured (see the Fifth Commandment) person possibly tell the rest of the story, including the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, to everyone who has heard the malicious allegations?

The problem is simple but complex: The person who speaks or writes untruthfully about you communicates that hurtful message to unknown numbers of people. Some of them you know; others you don’t know. Some of them know you; others have never heard of you.

Unless these people also hear or read the actual truth about you, whether from you or others who know the person you really are, they may form a false impression as a result of what they have unilaterally heard or read. Our sinful human nature all too often delights in hearing bad things about people, even good people, including people we know and love.

The meaning of the Eighth Commandment: “We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him and explain everything in the kindest way.” (Luther’s Small Catechism)

Remember those words, dear friends. And when you hear or read something derogatory about any person, check it out before believing it’s accurate and true. A person’s reputation is a blessed gift, hard earned, and way too important to discard on the testimony of anyone who is not interested in defending and speaking well of that person. My childhood Catechism used to say it this way: “We should fear and love God that we may … put the best construction on everything.”

God bless you abundantly!

Immigration

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

In recent months attention has been given in our country to the tens of thousands of people, including many children who are making their way to our border. Seeking admission as immigrants, many of them come from countries in Central America, where life is, in many ways, not very good. In addition to poor living conditions, violence is prevalent in their homeland.

An Associated Press article this week stated: “The U.S. government announced Monday that it will soon close three emergency shelters it established at U.S. military bases to temporarily house unaccompanied children caught crossing the Mexican border, saying the flow of illegal entries has declined and capacity at other shelters has been expanded. Since Oct. 1, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been apprehended crossing the border. Administration officials have said as many as 90,000 child immigrants could cross the border by the end of the budget year in September. ”

While the dilemma facing our country is probably a whole lot more complex than most of us realize, two issues come quickly to my mind:

  1. The freedom they seek is not free. Somebody has to pay for the food, clothing, shelter and education needed to survive and to thrive in our country. That burden falls mostly on the federal government and/or the communities in which these modern day immigrants ultimately settle. Some communities simply say they cannot afford to bear that burden or that they do not want to be responsible for the care of illegal immigrants.
  1. Immigrants are children of the heavenly Father. Simply to turn them away, many miles from the homes and families they left, is difficult to reconcile with biblical injunctions such as the words of our Lord Jesus himself: “I was hungry and you fed me…I was a stranger and you welcomed me…As you did this to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 5:35, 40)

There are many considerations to this dilemma in addition to the two mentioned above. The issue of immigration has legal, moral, biblical, humanitarian, spiritual and emotional components.

If there were an easy solution, someone would have suggested it by now. To ignore the problem, hoping it and the children at the center of the controversy will simply go away, is irresponsible.

Individual Christians, who are also law abiding American citizens, have something to say and many things to do. Let our voice be heard! Let our love be seen! Let God’s grace abound!