Sister to Sister: Don’t Just “Like” this…Let Him Know!

On February 25, 2013, this blog reported a decision by Freed-Hardeman University president, Dr. Joe Wiley, to provide the FHU Lions’ cheerleaders with uniforms consisting of full-length pants for the 2013-2014 cheering season. While I know that there are those who have complained about this decision to present modestly dressed cheerleaders at FHU’s athletic events, the vast majority of this blog’s readers are extremely supportive of the decision.

While I understand that what a cheer team wears may seem a relatively small thing in the big scheme of a university’s workings, I want to restate that I believe the new uniforms represent a desire on the part of FHU’s leadership, particularly her president, to represent Christian values in every department. I do not believe this desire is insignificant. I believe, since the athletic program is certainly one of the university’s most visible departments, that the move represents a bold statement of distinction and that it honors the Biblical teaching of I Timothy 2: 9,10.

And now, last year’s announcement is reflected on the gym floor. The FHU Lions celebrated homecoming this year on November 8th and 9th on the campus in Henderson, TN. and, as promised, the cheerleaders kicked off the basketball season in uniforms that distinguish them in a very classy way from any other cheer squads at any other Christian universities of which I am aware. I know of some denominational schools that have blazed the trail among their universities, but this is a first in the past 30 years for our brotherhood schools. 1378681_10151639327421396_1375563159_n

Once again, I intend to write a letter of appreciation to Dr. Wiley for his clarity and boldness–for his willingness to make decisions in this and other areas that he understands beforehand will be controversial and even unpopular. I hope you will take the time to do this as well. He can be reached at jwiley@fhu.edu or at the following address:

President Joe Wiley
Freed-Hardeman University
158 East Main Street
Henderson, TN 38340

And once again, if you are able, it would be a great time to send a donation of any size to FHU. It’s a rare opportunity to support a university decision that honors God, women and righteousness.

Finally, I hope you are planning to listen to the Digging Deep podcast next Tuesday night at http://new.livestream.com/whcoc/for-women. Jessica Benavides, a sophomore at FHU, will be joining me. This study is life-changing when approached with a heart of submission. See you there!

Living it Down

It was an old fashioned silent auction. People from several states had assembled bringing items from their respective states to be auctioned to the highest bidder. The attendees were excited and eager to bid, aware that all the proceeds were going to benefit the E. Claude Gardner Scholarship fund, helping needy students be able to attend Freed Hardeman University. The room was a fun place to be. Live bluegrass music and the happy chatter of Christians (one of my favorite sounds) filled the air. I really couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be. As I was intently perusing the items and thinking about the price I wanted to bid on the half gallon of homemade sorghum syrup from Tennessee or the variety of jellies from Kentucky, I sidled up to my husband, put my arms through his and feeling of his fresh starched shirt, made the playful comment, “Oooo! Let’s dance.” I thought he was ignoring me (and it was really hurting my feelings), as I stopped looking at the wares and turned to him, making sure my eyes met his. This was the moment of truth; the moment reality smacked me right in the perception place; the moment I realized that I had spoken those three little words, not to my husband, but to someone else’s husband. I had just asked Eddy Gilpin to dance with me.
The fact that I never intended to dance with anyone (not even my husband) did not matter. The fact that they are close to the same build and my husband always wears that white starched shirt was even less consoling. The horror of being in the moment that will never be “lived down” consumed the blush in my cheeks. Turning pale, then three shades of red, I stammered, “Woops! You just really are NOT my husband!” He was not. He was the preacher that had just delivered an amazing lesson on how to build great churches and I had asked him to dance right there in front of lots of people from lots of states. My mistake was not lost on them, either!

That was my most embarrassing moment of the Christian Training Series, held each second full week in July, on the campus of Freed Hardeman University. Now I want to tell you about other moments of the week. There was the moment the President of FHU addressed the attendees and made me very thankful that the university is being led by a man who believes in the authority of the scriptures and the New Testament pattern for the worship and organization of the church. There was the moment when I heard the first of four excellent chapel presentations on New Testament worship by Stan Mitchell of the FHU Bible faculty. There were the moments when I heard numerous Christian women encouraging each other and making decisions to go home and implement things they had learned in order to make their congregations grow. There were lots of moments when I thought the singing could hardly be any better if we had already crossed through the pearly gates. There were the bus trips to restaurants and sweet times of fellowship. There were memorable moments of intense prayer and silly moments of laughing at corny jokes. There were amazing teacher workshops and luncheons centered on the Restoration Movement. There were very funny talent shows and games. These were all the moments that make up one of my favorite times of the year: CTS at FHU.

Now several readers have already indicated to me that they would love to have known about this week earlier in the year, so they could have planned to take off and participate. I hope if you are reading this now and you want to benefit from the best-kept secret in the brotherhood, you will go now to www.fhu.edu and click on the Christian Training Series. Go ahead and mark it on your calendar. Housing for the week is in very clean and comfortable rooms and apartments. The lectures and workshops are all in a very beautiful building and the fellowship is some of the best this side of heaven. The fee is likely the most nominal you will find for any program of this quality. Speakers and planners are very generous to largely donate time and talent to keep the costs down for those who attend.

You could go home next summer energized and ready to bring souls to the Lord. You could go and enjoy “living it up” with fellow-Christians who have the same upward focus. (Of course you could come home after living it up and realize you’ll forever be trying to live it down!)

***For the remainder of the month of July, this year’s lessons from CTS may be downloaded free of charge: www.clearcomconnect.com/cts2010

What’s Right With FHU

It seems that in the past few decades, there’s been much to criticize among the universities in our brotherhood that identify themselves as Christian universities. Some have become so much like secular universities in standards of dress and decorum that they are largely unidentifiable as being “Christian.”  Some, in their Bible departments, weakened or rejected any teaching acknowledging the New Testament pattern for the church; its organization and its worship. Some have introduced musical instruments into chapel services and others have allowed women to lead prayers in mixed public assemblies. Some have placed an inordinate emphasis on sports to the neglect of academics or the preservation of moral standards. Recently it was brought to my attention that, among our universities nationwide the number of enrollees who are non-Christians far exceeds the number of Christians.

Not that my opinion generally holds a lot of sway, but I have discouraged friends who’ve asked my advice about sending their children to various ones of these institutions.  But I always encourage enrolling in Freed Hardeman University. I hope that I always can. While I understand that I do not know all that there is to know about the policies of any of these schools, I have had extensive opportunities to be on this campus and to interact with many people in administrative and faculty positions. I also am aware that there certainly is no perfect university experience available to our children. While this is true, I am amazed at the good things that are still happening at FHU. Perhaps you will think that my summation is overly simplistic. Keep in mind, that while I am very impressed with the academic preparation that students in all disciplines offered receive at FHU, that is not the focus of this post. I am speaking to the spiritual preparation that kids receive while attending FHU. I still believe that God’s blessings of Providence on our careers and advancements are the greatest factors in our successes. Remember that true success, in the end, is living our lives and going to heaven. I believe the years between the ages of 18 and 22 and the directions taken therein are very crucial in this pursuit of success. What’s right, for your kids, about Freed Hardeman?

  1. Freed Hardeman University has a sound and faithful Bible faculty. I personally know almost all, if not all, of the faculty members in the department. As a praying mom at home, while my kids were making their way toward undergrad degrees, I was thankful every day for the solid, Biblical teaching they were ingesting every single semester in their required Bible classes. Every student in every discipline is required to take a Bible course each semester while attending FHU. Inasmuch as I can see, their instructors are not only men  (and one woman for the ladies) of the Book, but they are great examples of practical Christianity and are bearing the fruits of the Spirit in their lives.
  2. Freed Hardeman University has a compassionate faculty. I have been amazed time and again when my kids would encounter a challenging assignment, a difficult ethical decision, or even physical illness, at the amazing way that faculty members have opened their living rooms for times of discussion and prayer with them. They have been given keys to homes of faculty members and they’ve also been contacted by people in the administration who’ve extended hospitality to them and given them emergency numbers to call. Faculty members have called them to see how they were making it in times of personal crisis or physical illness. Having had a child in another brotherhood university and one in a state university, at various times, I have come to know what a great and rare blessing this compassion can be.
  3. Freed Hardeman University’s student body is composed largely of students from Christian backgrounds; kids who have tender hearts toward the Will of God. Now, are there kids at Freed Hardeman who could care less about spirituality? Oh, yes. Are there those who are from church backgrounds in which there has been little sound Bible teaching? Definitely. Are there those who will violate moral codes at FHU and engage in premarital sex, drink alcoholic beverages, dress immodestly and cheat on assignments? Yes. Are there groups of kids who are not respectful in the way they speak about and treat others? Well, yes. Are there congregations in the area around FHU in which your children can be influenced by unsound teachings? Yes. But I can still promise you this: If your children attend FHU with the desire to find friends who will help them grow spiritually, they can easily locate them. If your children want to be leaders and influence other tender hearts to stand for right, they will have ample opportunities to do this. If your kids want to sing praises with fervor to God in chapel and devotional assemblies, they will not be alone and they will not be taunted for spiritual zeal. If your children aspire to be preachers, elders, or leaders in the Kingdom, their aspirations will not be squelched, but will be encouraged and developed. There are faithful congregations (notice the plurality) very close to campus where your kids can get involved, teach classes, lead singing and be on visitation teams. See, the Freed Hardeman experience cannot do what you should have been doing for the first eighteen years of your children’s lives. But if you have sought the Kingdom first in those years, it can reinforce the goodness that you have put into your children.  I recently heard from President Wiley, the statistic about FHU’s ratio of members of the church of Christ to non-members. It remains true that some 90% of students attending FHU come from Christian backgrounds.  President Wiley wants to preserve that ratio. It stands to reason that the percentage of strong and faithful students that will surround and influence yours in the dorm, the social club and in classes will be higher than in the average “Christian” school, much less the average state university. 
  4. Freed Hardeman University has some wonderful women and men who are helping your children adapt and thrive in their residence halls. These residence hall supervisors are, in my experience, rarely recipients of the praise and appreciation they deserve. But I want to offer my kudos in this post because I believe their contributions to our children’s positive Freed Hardeman experiences is far bigger than the students recognize during their passage through the four years they spend there. I have found that these people are going way above and beyond the call of duty in “taking care” of our kids. “Dorm moms and pops” as they are called have gone to the store and gotten medicine for my kids when they were sick. They have cooked meals for them. They have prayed with them. They have allowed them to stay in their own quarters when they needed short-term housing. They have counseled them with wisdom and objectivity. They have spent late hours with them and given them gifts. They have contacted me to check on them when they were in sticky situations or physically ill. I just realized that this sounds as if I have very needy adult children. =) Perhaps so. But I’m convinced that these people of God are indiscriminate in their care for individual students in their halls. My children continue to be close to these dorm mentors even after their graduations from FHU. Hannah has had supper with one of her former residence hall supervisors twice this summer. Another dorm mom frequently shares holidays with our family. Do you think this is typical at other universities? I do not know, but I think there are some great and carefully chosen employees in these positions at FHU.
  5. Freed Hardeman University has a great leader at the helm. We have not known our brother, Joe Wiley, for very long. I think it has been about two-and-a-half or three years since he became president of Freed Hardeman University. That’s when we first met him. I’m thankful for the wisdom of Mark Castleberry, who chairs the current board of directors, and all of the members of the search committee for the choice of Dr. Joe Wiley as president of Freed Hardeman University. It’s really a blessing that Glenn and I have been privileged to have some long and deep conversations with him. He is an humble man who wants to live for the Lord. While he is adept and experienced at administrating, carefully directing issues of fiscal importance, relationships that promote growth, and academic accreditation, he makes it clear that his faith is the umbrella under which all decisions are made. He is unwilling to compromise moral codes to please majorities of students. He is unwilling to allow teachers to remain on the Bible faculty if they are espousing teachings that compromise the singularity of the body of Christ or the pattern of the New Testament church. Dr Wiley makes plain statements about his personal determination to maintain a high percentage of Christian students, placing spirituality and its accompanying high moral standards as the clear priority over added sports programs.
Everything is not always right about FHU. That’s the way it is in human arenas. (That’s certainly the way it is in my very small and personal arena.) But for parents whose children are approaching high school graduation in the near future, and who are university shopping, may I advise you to take a look at Freed Hardeman? There’s a lot that’s right about it.