Archive | June, 2012

Education, Experience & Excellence

Education, Experience & Excellence

Posted on 28 June 2012 by admin

As Dr. David Barnes takes the helm at Grace University, he is positioned personally and professionally to lead the University to the next level. After a year-long national search, Dr. Barnes was selected by the Board of Trustees because of his strong Christian character, proven ability to lead strong teams, and his successful execution of proactive plans to build academic institutions.

“We are excited to have someone of Dr. Barnes’s caliber leading the University. He has the knowledge and experience to build on our mission and enhance our historic strengths to meet the needs of today’s Christian students,” said Mike Whealy, Chairman, Board of Trustees.

With 25 years of practical experience in ministry, business, teaching, and administration, Dr. Barnes has proven his leadership skills. His education and career have prepared him for the Christian servant-leader model that is the vital center of Grace University.

“The faculty and staff have worked hard with the Trustees to build Grace University into a strong, stable institution,” said Curt Hofer, Search Committee Chairman, and Board of Trustees. “We are pleased that Dr. Barnes is up to the challenge of taking the University to the next level.”

Dr. Barnes is coming to Omaha after serving at the Phoenix, Arizona, site of Ottawa University (OU) based in Ottawa, Kansas. While at OU, Dr. Barnes gained a reputation for being skilled in strategic planning, the accreditation process, community relations, and undergraduate and graduate program development. He used his experience working in faith, business, and academic communities to increase enrollment and revenue.

“What I look forward to at Grace University is getting to know those already serving at Grace, students, and constituents; to join in with what God is doing and to add my gifts and abilities to God’s purposes for the coming days. Isabel, Noah, Lucas, and I are thrilled to follow God’s call to join the Grace family,” said Dr. Barnes.

His most recent position at OU was Dean for the New School of Education where he was tasked with building a nationally recognized teacher education program with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In addition, he has been responsible for launching new academic programs, expanding revenue, increasing awareness of the school within the community, enhancing facilities, increasing enrollment, and expanding the donor base.

While at OU, Dr. Barnes held the titles of Professor of Education, Provost, Vice President for Adult and Professional Studies, and Vice President for Enrollment Management. Through these positions, Dr. Barnes gained experience in marketing, personnel management, and program development. Prior to working with OU, Dr. Barnes served at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix as the Executive Vice President and he was the Founding Dean in the School of Adult Learning. He also served as the Associate Vice President for Adult Programs at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he oversaw the development and management of accelerated programs for nontraditional students.

Dr. Barnes’s academic degrees provide a solid mix of biblical studies and professional studies across disciplines. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Mars Hill College, Master of Divinity in Christian Education from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Education from Spalding University.

Accompanying Dr. Barnes to Omaha are his wife Isabel and their sons, Noah and Lucas. Dr. Barnes and his family are looking forward to relocating to the Metro Omaha community and serving the Lord as the next President of Grace University.

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Individual Conscience in a Pluralistic Culture

Individual Conscience in a Pluralistic Culture

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

The Health-Care law of the Obama administration has caused no small controversy. Most recently, the provision that all employers must provide contraceptive products to their employees as a health care benefit regardless of the religious convictions of that institution (e.g., Roman Catholic Church hospitals or clinics) is one of the most egregious. This provision and the subsequent discussion and debate within our culture gets to the heart of conscience, a precious biblical concept and a precious concept central to religious liberty in the American culture. With the subsequent Susan B. Komen controversy and the absurd and inane stupidity of Rush Limbaugh’s remarks about a Georgetown University law student, one would conclude that American women are up in arms about the perceived anti-women bias of those who oppose this health-care provision. The facts show otherwise. Indeed, as columnist Michael Gerson has shown, by a plurality of 46% to 44%, women believe that employers should be able to “opt out” of providing birth-control coverage for religious reasons. But when it comes to the question of whether “religiously affiliated employers, such as a hospital and university” should be able to opt out of offering coverage, women support this proposition by 53% to 38%. Americans do overwhelmingly endorse contraception but that is not the issue in this debate. What Americans, including quite strongly American women, do not endorse is the state forcing a social consensus on all private institutions. For centuries in America, religious liberty has meant a freedom of conscience that is protected and advanced by the autonomy of religious institutions. Therefore, the state has honored institutional pluralism—“the ability of people to associate, live and act in accordance with their religious beliefs, limited only by the clear requirements of public order.” The opposing view of religious liberty defines freedom of conscience in purely personal terms—the absolute autonomy of the individual person. The state, therefore, has the clear power to intervene to protect the individual from the oppression of illiberal social institutions, especially religious ones, such as the Roman Catholic Church or evangelical Protestant ones. This is the resiliently articulated position of the American Civil Liberties Union and, apparently, now of the Obama administration. Thus, the current view of our president and his administration is that “Catholics are free to worship. Catholic institutions must be forced to reflect liberal ideas and values.” I believe very strongly that the autonomy of religious institutions in the United States is essential to the expression of individual conscience and important to the common good. The president of the United States apparently does not agree with that. Instead, he believes, as Gerson comments, that “contraceptives must not only be legal and generally available; they must be provided (directly or indirectly) by Catholic institutions to their employees.” The president’s position and that of the ACLU are reprehensible and terribly threatening to religious liberty in the United States!!

For that reason, I believe it is important to review the biblical concept of conscience. A few years ago, I wrote an article on this very topic. Here is the substance of that article:

Introductory Thoughts: The term “conscience” is not found in the OT. Perhaps the closest OT term to conscience is “heart” (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:5).  In the NT “conscience” is used 31 times, mostly by Paul. The key passage is Romans 2:14-15. Scripture teaches that humans, made in the image of God, have an innate sense of right and wrong, a moral monitor that either “approves or accuses” (see Romans 2:14-15). Conscience serves as an umpire, which disposes the human to view life situations in a moral/ethical light, thus judging/determining that some actions are “right” and some are “wrong.” The Fall has drastically affected conscience but has clearly not destroyed it. Evidence of this innate sense of right and wrong is a general agreement in all cultures about certain basic ethical issues (e.g., murder, incest, pedophilia, lying, stealing, etc.).

How Conscience is Developed in the NT: A human being may actually be sincerely following a wrong moral standard that deepens convictions about the “rightness” of certain actions. Consider Paul before his conversion: Saul (as he was then known) persecuted Christians with a “good conscience” (Acts 23:1). His deep-seated conviction (i.e., his conscience) told him “do right” and his ethical standard was “it is right to persecute Christians.” Thus he followed his conscience but what he did was wrong, because his deep-seated conviction (i.e., his conscience) was ill-informed. God needed to change his convictions, which He did–beginning at the Damascus Road with his salvation.

  1. When a person becomes a Christian, his/her conscience is heightened, as it were, by being informed both by Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit. This is in many ways a lifelong process. When we then violate personal, societal or biblical standards, we experience guilt. This is one of the blessings of the conscience for the believer. This “thermostat” keeps us from doing what might prove injurious to ourselves and to others and ultimately to our relationship with God. When we willfully sin, conscience in conjunction with the Holy Spirit causes us to experience guilt. We are then prompted to confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and experience the love and forgiveness of God.  This is now the ongoing process of how we deal with guilt in our lives—via confession (i.e., agreeing with God about our sin).
  1. For you as a believer, conscience may accuse you of something [or you may have convictions about something] when in actuality the action you are contemplating may either be morally neutral or even right. This is essentially what Paul is discussing in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14. Here the believer’s conscience is “weak,” (i.e., his/her convictions are not in conformity with the truth—the correct theological “knowledge” about idolatry and food). So, at that point the mature believer must decide to either press his/her freedom or, because of the undeveloped conscience of the weaker brother/sister, choose not to exercise that freedom. This “weaker” believer then must be open to the liberating teaching of the Holy Spirit who uses God’s Word to teach the truth about all things, including how to look at cultural standards, traditions and practices.
  1. For the believer, there is such a thing as a “seared conscience” (e.g., 1 Timothy 4:2). If conscience is disobeyed repeatedly or if a believer refuses to develop the deep-seated convictions about issues of life and the maturing process is then halted, one’s sensitivity to moral issues soon becomes dulled. If this continues, then the result is a seared conscience: Convictions about a particular issue are developed that the believer knows are wrong or those convictions have not been fully informed by God’s Word. In this case, conscience is then “seared.” This is what I believe occurs with some genuine believers when it comes to homosexuality, for example.  Convictions are developed that to practice homosexuality is not wrong ethically. Continued sin then desensitizes the conscience and the conscience has been seared—either by conscious disobedience to the clarity of God’s Word, or by convictions developed without the clear teaching of God’s Word. Moreover, Scripture teaches that unconfessed sin and ongoing unbelief can also lead to a desensitized conscience (see Hebrews 3:12-13). As Postmodernism is intersecting with evangelical Christianity, this is occurring with greater frequency.
  1. Conscience can also “malfunction” in the sense that it becomes overly sensitive or hypersensitive. Here the conscience “over-functions,” condemning and accusing the Christian for small errors, forgiven actions and normal human failures. This constant self-criticism and self-reproach rob the Christian of joy and any sense of progress in growth toward Christ-likeness. The result is often a performance-based Christianity that focuses on actions, not God’s grace, as the basis for acceptance. Performance-based Christianity is what produces legalism and so much defeat in the Christian life. [“If I am not performing the way I think I should, the way my pastor thinks I should, or the way my friends think I should” can produce the over-sensitive conscience, and thereby false guilt.] False guilt is one of the lethal results of performance-based spirituality.

The goal of the Christian believer, then, is to develop a mature conscience. The Holy Spirit teaches the believer most clearly what is right and wrong from the objective Word of God. That Word informs us of the truth; the Spirit then enables us to “welcome, embrace” that truth (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-16), so that it transforms us from the inside out; and then we begin to develop those deep-seated convictions in the nonmoral areas of life that can guide and direct us.  The Bible teaches that it is wrong to go against “conscience” but it also clearly teaches that we must be careful to have our conscience informed by God’s Word.

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Following God’s Call

Following God’s Call

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

Chris Pruitt, Dean of Enrollment Management, had never thought about working in college administration when his wife heard a commercial on KGBI about a job opening at Grace University. Fortuitously, Chris was obedient to God’s call and came to Grace to serve as Admissions Counselor and then Director of Adult Education Services, before being promoted to his current position where he oversees admissions, financial aid, and marketing. During his tenure at Grace, the campus has seen solid freshman classes begin each fall and good retention and graduation rates.

Chris was headed to law school when he felt the call to ministry. He accepted a position as regional youth director for a nonprofit ministry doing evangelism and organizing youth activities in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Colorado. When he married his church camp sweetheart Carissa, they settled down in Omaha. They have a three-year-old daughter Peyten. In addition to his work at Grace, Chris followed in his father’s footsteps and pastors The Refuge Church that meets on campus.

Chris’s favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 4:6 “It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.”

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Legacy Behind the Name

Legacy Behind the Name

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

There is a story behind every name on the buildings across campus. The name Waldo Harder is so much more than the name of the men’s residence hall. Waldo Harder was the fourth president of Grace University and grandfather of junior Teacher Education major Byron Reimer, who hopes his personal legacy at Grace is being remembered as a man who represented Christ.

Mr. Harder served Grace Bible Institute from 1961-1971 and greatly increased enrollment and expanded the educational options for students. His heart was for missions and Mr. Harder was only available to serve at Grace after being forced to leave the Congo during political unrest. Mr. Harder resigned at Grace when God called him to return to his beloved Zaire where he had served as the director of the pastoral training school Institut Biblique. The example he set as a servant and missionary transferred to his daughter and son-in-law David and Priscilla Reimer who served with Avant Ministries for 30 years on the small island Eleuthera in The Bahamas after graduating from Grace.

It is fun to contemplate if Mr. Harder ever imagined that his personal legacy would be felt in the generations beyond. As he was working on articulation agreements, overseeing the start of KGBI, and managing campus building projects, did Mr. Harder ever think about there being a the third generation of his family attending Grace and preparing to carry on its mission?

Psalm 78:4-9:  We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

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More Than Money

More Than Money

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

It is such a difficult thing! Giving to reduce debt may not seem like a good investment. But at Grace University, when we pay off our only debt, we free up needed funds to better meet our mission.

Each year, we must divert $380,000 in debt payments toward low-interest Nebraska Educational Finance Authority bonds. Instead we could fund:

  • 30 full scholarships or
  • 7 faculty positions or
  • 300 computers or
  • 30 fully-financed mission trips

We want you to know that we value your partnership as we work together to make Grace University a vital player in God’s work.

Just click here to donate. Thank you in advance for your investment in the “Retire the Debt” campaign!

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Alice M (Wedel) Johnson

Posted on 27 June 2012 by Mel Friesen

Alice Johnson, was ushered into the presence of her Savior on June 9, 2011. She was an incredible woman who touched the lives of so many around her. Alice had a love for Jesus Christ, her family, gardening, and music. She was a devoted wife of 46 years and was adored by her daughters and her only granddaughter. She was an active member of Temple Baptist Church and worked for Pfizer Animal Health in the animal care area for more then 30 years. Alice was a true example of a Godly Proverbs 31 woman and consistently inspired all those around. She will be missed here on earth, but will be reunited again with her family in heaven.

Survivors: husband, Ross Johnson, Lincoln; daughter, Peggy (Greg) Cline, Lincoln; daughter, Sandy Johnson, Lincoln; granddaughter, Lauren Cline, Lincoln; brother, Elmer (Elaine) Wedel, Eden Prairie, Minn.; numerous adoring nieces and nephews and their families. Proceeded in death by, parents, Theodore and Marie Wedel; sister, Eleanor Fullerton; brother, Ben Wedel.


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Eileen Kay (Entz) Doran

Posted on 24 June 2012 by Mel Friesen

1992, Eileen Kay Doran, 42 of Pensacola, Florida went to be with her Savior June 16, 2012.  The daughter of Wynona and the late Walter Entz of Whitewater, Kansas, Eileen was born in Newton, KS.  A graduate of Grace College of the Bible, Omaha, NE, she made her career as a Marine Corps wife and mother, making a home for her family in seven states.

Her love for life, and her laugh and smile were contagious, and she brightened every room she entered.  She found her greatest joy with her husband and children, teaching, playing and traveling with them.  A great chef, she loved to travel and experience new cultures and cuisines.  Children flocked to her and she was often found on the floor playing or reading with them, especially with her own children, nieces, and nephews.

She is survived by her husband of 18 years, Peter Doran, and their children Christopher and Emily Doran.  Other survivors include brothers Stanley Entz of Whitewater, KS, Byron Entz and wife Susan of Parker, CO, Gerald Entz of Omaha, NE, Lloyd Entz and wife Virginia of North Platte, NE, and sisters Sharon Block and husband Roger of Benton, KS, and Annette Entz of Whitewater, KS.

The celebration of her life will be held at First Baptist Church, Pensacola, FL, at 10:00 a.m., Thursday June 28, 2012.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to her children’s college fund.  Condolences may be sent to  National Cremation & Burial Society of Milton has been entrusted with the arrangements.

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Olga M. (Wiebe) Busenitz

Posted on 21 June 2012 by Mel Friesen

1945, Olga M. Busenitz, 91, died June 7, 2012, in North Newton.

She was born Dec. 15, 1920, near Whitewater, daughter of Emil H. and Margaret (Epp) Wiebe.  She married Gerhard A. Busenitz May 31, 1946. He died in 1972.

Survivors include: children, Laverle, Arvin, Elroy and Merle and Vera Hart and Dee Anderson; brother, Elvin Wiebe; 12 grandchildren and a great-grandchild. Visitation 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Friday and funeral 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Emmaus Mennonite Church, Whitewater.

Memorials go to Gideon’s International, in care of Lamb Funeral Home, Whitewater, Kansas.

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Elissa Marie Nies, October 30, 2011

Posted on 18 June 2012 by Mel Friesen

Elissa Marie Nies was born on October 30, 2011 weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and was 17 inches long. She joins big sister Hannah, who is 4 years old. We praise God for a healthy baby girl!  Parents are Greg (1996) and Becki (1994) (Loewen) Nies.

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