Category Archives: Biola University

Be mature

Back in the dark ages when I was a freshman at Biola College, Dr. Curtis Mitchell addressed his Old Testament Survey class. He encouraged us, “Be mature about the rules of Biola.” At that time, all the students had to subscribe to “The Pledge,” five things that Biola students could not participate in while a student at the school.

I would echo Dr. Mitchell’s words by saying, Be mature about the rules of COVID-19. If required, wear a facemask, and wear it properly over your nose and mouth, not just over your chin or only covering your mouth. Wait patiently outside a store until you can enter. Follow the directional arrows and go with the flow. Practice social distancing. Register for church attendance if you are allowed to attend.

Be mature by accepting the rules and guidelines with good grace. The apostle Paul wrote, “give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Stop complaining about wearing facemasks, school closures, directional arrows, and oft-repeated words that you have grown tired of. Model maturity, contentment, and peacefulness to those around you.

Be mature about what God is doing in your life. The apostle James wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). Stop chafing against what you cannot control. Through your mindset, demonstrate that you have confidence in God’s plan and purpose.

Be mature about how God uses trials to help us grow up. John 15:1-11 describes how God uses pruning and shaping to move us from no fruit to fruit to more fruit to much fruit. James 1:2-12 and Romans 5:3-5 explain how God uses trials to produce proven, mature character in our lives. Give God permission to use this pandemic to help shape your character and make you more effective for his service.

Be mature.


Making decisions about gray areas

This post was originally published in 2009. I was reminded of it during a Bible study I participated in two weeks ago. I hope you find it helpful.


During my days at Biola University (1973-77), one of my professors was Dr. Curtis Mitchell of the Bible Department. Loved his classes, hated his tests.

One of the more helpful lectures I remember from Dr. Mitchell was on how to deal with gray areas. He gave us a list of six questions to ask ourselves:

  • Does the Bible speak to the issue? If so, follow the instructions. If it is a black and white issue and Scripture is clear about what to do or not to do, then obey the commands of Scriptures.

However, life is not always black and white. Scripture does not always speak to every issue. Where Scripture seems to be silent about a seemingly gray area, ask the following questions:

  • Will it help me? 1 Corinthians 6:12a – “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.”
  • Will it build up the body of Christ? 1 Corinthians 10:23b – “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
  • Is it addicting? 1 Corinthians 6:12b – “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.
  • Will it cause others to stumble? 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
  • Does it glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

I developed my own flow chart to use as a grid when dealing with issues of this nature. Here it is as both a jpeg and pdf file.


Of headwinds and tailwinds

Flying from Boston to Los Angeles usually takes about six hours. Flying from L.A. to Boston can take from four and a half to five hours. One is against a headwind and the other on the back of a tailwind.

On Saturday, Carol and I attended a lunch for Biola alumni with Dr. Barry Corey, Biola’s president. He shared about some of the challenges the school is facing, some of the headwinds that push against them. Some months back, he said he was sitting at a table contemplating the challenges when God seemed to impress upon him, “My tailwind is stronger than any headwind you may face.”

If God calls you to a seemingly impossible task, ride on the back of his tailwind. He will make you successful in accomplishing his plan and purpose. God’s tailwind is stronger than any headwind you may face.

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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Biola University, Quotes


Intellectual proof for serious questions about the Bible

Book Review: Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (The Completely Updated and Expanded Classic), by Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell, Ph.D.

I was first introduced to Josh McDowell and Evidence that Demands a Verdict in the mid-70’s when I was a student at Biola University. The book was instrumental in helping me get a better grasp on the trustworthiness of Scripture. His second volume, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict added and built on that earlier foundation. Both books were instrumental in my research, writing papers, and helping answer questions in sharing my faith.

Josh McDowell has now partnered with his son, Sean, who teaches apologetics at Biola to update and expand his classic work. The updated version is close to 900 pages of valuable resources on the Bible and Jesus. Part 1 deals with evidence for the Bible. Part 2 provides evidence for Jesus. Part 3 adds evidence for the Old Testament. Part 4 contributes evidence for truth. This last section provides answers for postmodernism and skepticism. In the Appendix, the authors provide responses to the challenges of Bart Ehrman, who is one of the leading critics of Christianity today.

The book is written in outline form. Coupled with a complete table of contents, it makes it easy to find and research the specific question you want to answer regarding the reliability of the Bible or evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, to name just two of the many topics covered in the book.

The updated version is a valuable and welcome resource for serious students of Christianity. It is a welcome addition to any library.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on October 17, 2017 in Apologetics, Biola University, Books


Seminary cannot prepare you for every situation

Seminary does a wonderful job of preparing men and women for ministry. I admit my bias in saying I attended two of the best—Dallas Theological Seminary and Talbot School of Theology at Biola University—for my masters and doctoral programs. They taught me how to think, study, and reason. They gave me skills and helped shape my character.

But as good as my preparation was, there are some situations seminary did not prepare me for. There are many events I had to go through and learn on the job how to deal with.

Seminary did not prepare me for:

Family life events—The first wedding I performed was my mother’s. My dad died of cancer after he and mom were married 44 years. When mom remarried four years later, she asked me to perform the wedding. One of the first funerals I led was my brother’s. I had to be son/brother/pastor all at the same time. I performed one of my daughter’s weddings and will be part of the second one in a few weeks. Seminary taught me how to organize a wedding and a funeral, but not how to marshal your emotions when they involve family members.

Difficult funerals—During one season of ministry, our church had four families lose children under the age of two. I led the funeral for one baby who died at birth. I was present in the hospital when another died after nine days of life. It was like sitting in the doorway of heaven watching someone enter eternity. Seminary doesn’t prepare you for these experiences.

Difficult conversations—While serving as a singles pastor, a transvestite starting attending our group. He was dressed as a she. One of our male leaders took him/her out on a date without realizing what he was getting into. I had to explain the facts of life to him. Seminary doesn’t adequately prepare for those kind of awkward conversations.

Dealing with mental, emotional, and substance issues—A veteran with PTSD; an individual who was suicidal; people addicted to alcohol, drugs, or pornography are all on the list of things I was never trained to deal with. While I took counseling courses, they still did not adequately prepare me to walk with people through life’s challenges.

Disappointment, failure, betrayal—I’ve been fired once, pushed out twice, betrayed a time or two, and had my integrity questioned by those close to me. I was interviewed by a writer who then printed a scathing critique of our church. Seminary does not offer courses on this topic.

Saying goodbye to family—My wife and I made a commitment years ago to follow Christ wherever he led. In the 36 years we’ve been married, we’ve only lived near our families for two of those years. We minister on the east coast while two of our children live on the west coast and one lives on the other side of the world. My wife’s parents live 3,000 miles away.

I love Jesus. I love ministry. I am grateful for my seminary education. However, I have learned more on the job in the school of life than all my educational degrees combined. After 30 years of ministry, I’m still learning. Perhaps I’ll be more effective during the next 30 years.



Proposed State Legislation Jeopardizes Religious Freedom of California Christian Higher Education


Office of the President

Biola logo

Dear Biola alumni, donors and parents,

It is unprecedented for Biola University to reach out to our community regarding legislative issues, but California Senate Bill 1146 could significantly challenge Biola University’s ability to continue in the mission that has guided us for 108 years. Though Biola and other faith-based colleges and universities have worked closely with California lawmakers in recent months to find an agreeable compromise on the language of this bill, negotiations seem to have now reached an impasse. SB 1146, if passed, would substantially interfere with the ability of California’s faith-based colleges and universities to live out their religious convictions and expect their students to do the same.

As the president of Biola University, I am asking for your help today. I am asking our community of supporters, even those who live outside of California, to raise awareness about Senate Bill 1146 and the consequences it could have for California’s faith-based colleges and universities.

SB 1146, introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), seeks to eliminate the current religious exemption in California that fully protects the freedom of Biola University, along with dozens of other California faith-based universities, to operate in a manner consistent with our religious mission and faith tenets. The provisions of the proposed bill represent a dramatic narrowing of religious freedom in California. It would mean schools like Biola would no longer be able to determine for themselves the scope of their religious convictions as applied in student conduct policies, housing and restroom/locker facilities, and other matters of religious expression and practical campus life. Though the free exercise of religion is guaranteed by both the U.S. and California Constitutions, SB 1146 would make religious institutions like Biola vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits and unprecedented government policing.

This bill, if it became law, would diminish religious liberty in California higher education. It would unfairly harm faith-based institutions and it would weaken the rich educational diversity of our state.

Faith-based institutions of higher education are making profound contributions to the intellectual and common good of society, contributions not in spite of but because of our deeply held faith convictions. Our presence in society enriches it rather than diminishes it. We provide economic vitality to our communities. Our graduates leave with servant-leader hearts. Our focus on ethics and integrity is inherent to all our programs. A disproportionate number of our graduates seek careers in public service or non-profit organizations. Why would California want to harm institutions like this?


Right now SB 1146 is being heard by the California Assembly’s various committees. It has already passed the California Senate. On Tuesday, June 28 it will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. If approved, it will then move to the Appropriations Committee and then the Assembly for a full vote, likely in August. The best chance to stop it is before it reaches the Assembly floor for debate and vote. Updates on the status of SB 1146, and timely action steps you can take to help oppose the bill, will be posted on this website, so check back regularly to stay informed.


·        Step #1 — Spread the Word. Forward this email to parents, students or alumni of faith-based colleges and universities, churches or others who value religious freedom for faith-based institutions in California. Anyone who has an affinity for faith-based higher education should know about this threatening bill.

·        Step #2 — Social Media. Express your concerns about the bill on social media using hashtag #SB1146. On you can find suggested social media posts, as well as FAQs about the bill. Please express your concerns with civility and respect.

·        Step #3 — Pray. Pray for this moment in California history when our deeply held beliefs are being challenged. Pray that Biola is able to continue living and educating in ways that are consistent with biblical convictions. Pray that our mission can remain unchanged: to prepare our students in mind and character, through a biblically grounded education, to impact the world for Christ.

In closing, I want to assure you that while this law is intended to alter the heart and soul of schools like Biola, we will continue to advocate for our religious liberty. If this bill is passed and signed by the governor into law, we would join other California religious institutions in exercising our constitutional rights to pursue legal action and, if necessary, ask the Supreme Court to intervene. If SB 1146 becomes law, it would likely not impact Biola in the near future as legal action would be filed. We would prefer, however, that this bill be stopped or amended now rather than resorting to litigation later. So please join us in raising awareness about this bill and its consequences for faith-based higher education in California.

Thank you for your prayer and support in this issue.

In Christ,

Barry H. Corey President

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. (Psalm 108:5-6)

Biola logo 2.jpg


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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Biola University, Culture


Five Words to Live By

During the Baccalaureate Service for the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University on May 26, 2016, Dr. Michael Wilkins gave the charge to the graduates. During his remarks, he shared five words to live by, five phrases that he said he has followed throughout his life.

Know yourself (as God knows you) – You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Accept yourself (as God accepts you) – God created the universe, yet he cares for men and women. He has crowned them with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3-5).

Build on the good; Grow on the bad – God has created each of us with a unique package of strengths and weaknesses. Recognize and accept both (Romans 12:3). Our strengths give us a platform to accomplish great things. Our weaknesses teach us to depend on God and others. Don’t compare yourself with others. “Comparison tends to rob us of the uniqueness God has given us.” Dr. Robert Saucy.

Forget about yourself – As Christ followers, we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus (Mark 8:34).

Get into God’s people – Follow the example of Christ—serve others and give yourself sacrificially (Mark 10:45).


Jon’s Graduation

Yesterday, we celebrated Jonathan’s graduation from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. It was a typical SoCal day–sunny, low-mid-70’s. Carol’s mom, Barbara, and Carol’s sister, Nancy, Amanda & Phillip, and Carol and I were there to cheer Jon’s accomplishment. Tonight we’ll take family and friends out to Lucille’s Smokehouse Barbecue for a celebratory dinner.



Carol and I are in So Cal to celebrate Jonathan’s graduation from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Jon is receiving two master’s degrees this afternoon, one in New Testament and one in Old Testament. Thursday evening was the Baccalaureate service where the graduates were hooded. The graduates were hooded by the professor of their choice and each gave words of thanksgiving and praise. With about 200+ grads, it made for a very meaningful, personal evening.

After the ceremony, Carol and I reconnected with one of my mentors, Dr. Donald Sunukjian. Don was one of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary 30+ years ago, where he taught me much of what I know about preaching. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Don and his wife, Nell, spoke at two of the Couples Conferences we held during my time on staff at Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, WA. It was encouraging to get caught up briefly.



Pass the Piñata

During this election season, it appears that America’s newest national pastime is “Bash the Politician.” Political candidates and elected officials alike are treated like piñatas. Presidential debates are akin to watching a rousing game of Whack-a-Mole. The candidates attack one another and then act surprised when the news media, commentators, and general public take pot shots at them. As Biola University President Barry Corey pointed out in his book, Love Kindness, our nation has lost a sense of civility in public discourse. Because of how we treat one another, perhaps we have the candidates we deserve.

As those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, we need to get back to what Scripture calls us to be and to do. In relation to public officials, we need to practice respect, submission, and prayer.

Mark 12:17 – Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Romans 13:1 – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

1 Timothy 2:1–2 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

The attitude of disrespect, disobedience, and thinly veiled contempt even creeps into the church at times. Perhaps this is why the writer to the Hebrews includes verse 13:17 in his letter.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

The next time you are tempted to criticize someone who is in leadership or aspires to leadership—whether in the State House, the White House, or church house—stop and pray for them instead.


Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Biola University, Books, Politics, Prayer, Scripture