PHOENIX (BP)–Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, joined Chief Justice William Reinquist and Sam Moore, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, in receiving an honorary doctorate from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix along with eight other notable leaders.
“I’ve been impressed over and over again by Morris and his achievements,” said Michael Clifford, vice chairman of the university. “He teaches that faith is a matter of taking God at His Word. I’m sure that attitude is part of the reason why he has helped the SBC grow during a time when many mainline denominations are experiencing a decline in membership. He is a friend and a real bridge builder among men.”
Chapman also spoke during a baccalaureate service at the innovative Christian university May 6.
A native of Kosciusko, Miss., Chapman is a graduate of Mississippi College. He earned the master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and he has received two other honorary doctorates — one from Mississippi College and the other from Southwest Baptist University in Missouri.
Rehnquist, a Lutheran, practiced law in Phoenix from 1953-69.
“I want to say it’s a great honor to receive this honorary degree from Grand Canyon University,” he said in a videotaped message at the commencement ceremony May 7. “I lived in Phoenix for 15 years, and I know what good work the university does. I shall always be honored for having received the degree and I thank you for it.”
Others receiving honorary doctorates included Gerald Cramer, co-founder of a premier Wall Street financial firm; Stephen Douglass, president of Campus Crusade for Christ; Rufus Glasper, chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges; Naomi Judd, a retired entertainer; Bryan Lee, an attorney; Joyce Meyer, a speaker and author; Stanley Moger, an entertainment industry pioneer; and Laura Schlessinger, host of a popular radio program.
CHAPMAN DELIVERS BACCALAUREATE ADDRESS
During his address before graduation, Chapman urged the students to rely in the future on the same strength of God that has carried them through previous years of their lives.
“As you come to this milestone in your life, you may tend to forget what God has already done for you,” Chapman said. “At certain moments of life, we may so anticipate the future that we forget God has been with us all along.
“I want you to reflect with me about what God has done in your life. What has God done in your life that brought you to this significant moment?” Preaching from Joshua 3, he said, “Just think about what God had already done when they came to cross the river Jordan.”
Chapman recounted how God had led the people of Israel with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as they escaped bondage in Egypt.
“God’s desire is to guide us through this life,” he said. “He has birthed us for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify Him. So He wants to guide us in His way.”
Just as God parted the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to walk through on dry ground before their enemies were obliterated by the floodwaters, He stands ready to fight for His children today, Chapman told the audience. They need only be still and know that He is God, he said.
“Graduates, don’t ever let a wall be too high or the opposition too strong or the discouragement too depressing to press on toward what you believe in your heart God has called you to do,” he said.
Chapman read from a letter he wrote several months ago to the 13-year-old son of a friend. He had been asked to send the boy a letter of encouragement and what he may need to know in life, and Chapman said what he wrote to the adolescent could apply just as well to a 21-year-old, a 55-year-old or a 70-year-old.
The list, Chapman said, was as follows:
1. Knowledge comes from looking around us, but wisdom comes from above.
2. The will of God is the safest place in the whole world.
3. “Delight thyself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The promise is conditioned upon your genuine daily relationship with the Lord.
4. “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:1-2).
5. “I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.” — Abraham Lincoln.
6. A thirst for knowledge, a cultivation of intuitive and innovative thinking and a longing to be close to Jesus are indispensable qualities for finding fulfillment in your life.
7. Do not be overly burdened by criticism from others. If you are overly impressed by the praise of others, you will be overly discouraged by their criticism. When you are praised, give the praise to the Lord. Then you earn the right to give the criticism to the Lord and free yourself for following God’s commandments, not men’s suggestions.
8. Life is a marathon, not a hundred yard dash.
9. God’s timing is a huge factor in God’s will. Don’t grow impatient. He reveals each step in His will according to His timing, not yours.
10. Tell the truth, and you don’t have to remember what you’ve said.
11. Giving is one of the happiest experiences of living. In time, a giving person will be richly rewarded with blessings.
12. Jesus sees your heart and knows your motive. He blesses a pure motive.
13. If someone gossips to you about others, they will gossip to others about you.
14. Be confident but not arrogant. Give God the glory for all the things He has done.
15. Seek the mind and heart of God in all things.
“Each of us simply needs to be where God places us,” he said. “I can’t be in your place and you can’t be in mine. But each of us should rejoice that we believe we’re where God has put us.”
Southern Baptists founded Grand Canyon University in 1949, and in 2004 its self-governing trustee board sold it to California-based Significant Education, LLC, changing the institution from nonprofit to for-profit. The school offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in nursing, education, business, science and the arts.