Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Reading Recommendations

I'm writing today from northern Oklahoma, where Marsha and I are spending some quality time together at the family wheat farm. This land of small towns and big skies is special to us. The pace of life slows here. My hope is that each of you, too, have been blessed with renewal as you spend time connecting with family and friends this summer.

Summer is also a time for me to enjoy reading. Some of my favorites this summer have been:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown

While Hitler was taking control of Germany and planning the 1936 Berlin Olympics to showcase his Nazi regime, a strong, young Joe Rantz was working to survive the Great Depression, earn an engineering degree from the University of Washington, and make sense of a troubled relationship with his father. This true story tells how nine young men from Seattle won the gold medal in rowing and stole some of the spotlight from the Nazi public relations effort. What you learn about rowing will make you wish for a rowing team here at LETU.

Called by Mark Labberton

This book by the president of Fuller Seminary reminds us that in our quest to find God's call in our life, we shouldn't miss the clear essential charge he has given us: to love God and to love others. LETU has been equipped with a unique calling to claim the workplace for Christ. Yet, we only understand that calling in the context of our mission to love God and the neighbors God has given us.

My Promised Land by Ari Shavit

From the chaos of the holocaust to the present danger of Iran with nuclear arms, the history of Israel is more complicated  than I had understood. This narrative history of the modern nation of Israel is written by Israeli journalist and commentator Ari Shavit from interviews, personal diaries and letter, as well as historical documents that tell a compelling story of the Israeli-Arab struggle. Shavit writes:

"The act of concentrating the Jews in one place was essential but dangerous. If another historic disaster were to strike here, it might be the last. The founding fathers and mothers of Zionism realized this. They knew they were leading one of the most miserable nations in the world to one of the most dangerous places in the world." This dramatic story is still being written in the headlines of our daily news coverage.

Many of you may have read other great books you have enjoyed this summer. Send me your favorite books. I always keep a list of what to read next.

Friday, July 10, 2015

LETU Lands Spot on Beautiful Campus List

LeTourneau University is a beautiful campus.  We all know that.  But it sure is nice when others take note, too, like this past week when Online Christian Colleges website listed LETU as one of the top 50 in its "Most Beautiful Campuses."

The website ranked LETU 19th in its list, ahead of some other campuses you may know: Baylor (37th) in Waco and SMU (49th) in Dallas.  The honor was also featured this week in the Longview News-Journal and local television news.

While our campus doesn't boast expansive "ocean views, majestic mountains, stained-glass windows and enchanting cathedrals" (like many of the campuses ranked ahead of us), we do have a beautiful campus steeped in history as a former World War II-era military hospital.  Our campus is a special place set aside for the important work of higher learning. This "most beautiful campus" is the work of our Facilities Services Department, led by Ben Haywood.

Their time and talent (and sweat!) have gone into the careful planning and meticulous upkeep of our university buildings and grounds. Their work was recognized only a few months ago when the local Keep Longview Beautiful Award was presented to the campus. 

All work done well can bring glory to God.  Our facilities team demonstrates this truth -- and it's thrilling to see the world notice.

I hope the world knows that the most beautiful thing about our campus is the life-changing moments that happen here.  Marty Lane and her Conference and Events Services team have welcomed hundreds of campers so far this summer.  She reported that in the past two weeks of IMPACT camp, 55 students made first-time decisions for Christ, along with 40 other re-commitment decisions, here at LETU.  We still have two more residential camps coming this summer, so let's all pray for the Holy Spirit to continue this work.

All of this reminds me of Isaiah 40:  "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."  Now that's beautiful!