Calvary Road Baptist Church

“COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS Calvary Road Baptist Academy Graduation 2016”

 

 

It is my privilege to deliver the 2016 commencement address to you on this occasion. It is a self-imposed honor that I selected myself as the commencement speaker some months ago because it is an opportunity I did not want to slip away. There are things that simply need to be said, need to be said in a public setting, need to be said to you students, need to be said to you this year’s graduate, need to be said to you who are staff members and volunteers, need to be said to you who are parents and alumni, and need to be said to you who like me are deficient in your formal education not having had the privilege of studying at a Christian school.

This is not a sermon. It is a commencement address, for the purpose of providing a sendoff for our graduate at the commencement of this next chapter of her life. As this delightful young woman leaves us, perhaps never to return, there are things I want to tell her and to tell you, about Calvary Road Baptist Academy and the future as I understand it.

 

First, ABOUT THIS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL’S FOUNDING

 

Last November our Church celebrated the fortieth anniversary of its founding. The founding pastor was a man named Harold C. Beigle, who passed into eternity last Saturday and whose memorial service was held in this auditorium last Thursday by his seven grown children and his many grandchildren, along with beloved friends and loved ones in attendance.

In addition to founding Calvary Road Baptist Church, Harold Beigle also founded the Calvary Road Christian Academy, as our school was once known. To the consternation of some of our school’s alumni, I modified the school’s name to Calvary Road Baptist Academy some years ago. However, we are the same school seeking to accomplish the same thing envisioned by the founder.

But it is the school, which is a ministry of the Church, both of which were founded by Harold C. Beigle, that is the subject of my commencement address.

 

Next, ABOUT THE SCHOOL’S CURRICULUM

 

When my wife and I were preparing for the Gospel ministry many years ago, we were privileged to serve in Bethany Baptist Church in Whittier. While there we became acquainted with the Hilty family, three generations of godly people with Mr. and Mrs. Hilty being the patriarchs, and with children and grandchildren faithfully serving in the Church. We also became acquainted with one daughter who had married and settled in Texas with her husband. Their names were Don and Esther Howard. They developed the curriculum that our Christian school has always used, and is used by thousands of Christian schools all over the world, from Moscow to Manilla, from Seoul to Saskatchewan, from Paris to Perth.

Accelerated Christian Education, ACE, is a Bible-saturated school curriculum that is somewhat modeled after the one-room school houses that were once sprinkled across our nation beginning in pre-Revolutionary War days, wherein students of different ages and abilities studied and learned according to their individual abilities in one small school house, with the primary mechanism for learning being reading rather than listening to a teacher lecturing. In fact, in those days, you were not allowed to enroll in school until you knew how to read, with most teachers in those early schools being the village pastor.

Accelerated Christian Education, ACE, certainly isn’t the only Christian school curriculum used today, but it is the very best. Let me relate an anecdote to you: While he was still alive, Jerry Falwell founded and was the pastor of one of the largest Churches in the world, the Thomas Road Baptist Church, in Lynchburg, Virginia. He also founded what is now the largest Christian university in the world, Liberty University. On one occasion I was in Lynchburg and present when he made this statement (of course I paraphrase): Jerry Falwell said, “The surest predictor of a student’s success at Liberty University is the kind of school he was enrolled in grades one through twelve. Those who graduate in the bottom 25% here at Liberty University are those who attended public schools. Those who graduate in the next higher 25% are those who attended non-Christian private schools. Those who graduate at the second highest 25% level are those who were enrolled by their parents in a traditional Christian school. And those who graduate in the top 25% from Liberty University are, year after year, those students who attended ACE Christian schools.” A scientific analysis of different curricula? Not at all. But the observation of a man who was in a position to know what he was talking about.

 

Third, OUR NATION’S EXCEPTIONALISM

 

No nation in the history of the world came into existence the way the United States of America did. Only two nations in the history of the world came into existence so that their citizens could freely worship the one true and living God, the children of Israel leaving Egypt to worship God in the Promised Land and the Pilgrims and Puritans leaving England to come to the English colonies to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences. Nothing like that has ever happened, anywhere in the world, before or since.

However, unlike Israel, the United States formed gradually, over centuries of development of thought and principle. It was here that freedom of thought and action passed from theory to actual practice. It was here that freedom of religion passed from theory to actual practice. It was here that a Constitutional Republic came into being designed to protect the rights of its citizens against the dictatorship of the democratic majority. It was here that the concept of limited government at the service of the citizens was first formed.

Only in the American Revolution of all other revolutions before or since were the leaders mature, well-educated, and established professional men. Only here was the goal not to acquire what the citizens did not have, but to preserve the liberty the citizens already had. Only here did the revolution not end in mass murders of those who opposed the effort to found a new nation. Only here was a nation formed that embraced in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution a recognition of God and basic spiritual principles.

The United States of America is an exceptional nation. Not because we are necessarily better than other nations, because we are far from ideal in any respect. But because we are very different with respect to our founding, with respect to our foundation, and with respect to our future. Regarding our future, we know that the great nation of China figures prominently in the Bible in the future. We know that the great nation of Russia figures prominently in the Bible in the future. We also know that our country, the United States of America, is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. That suggests many things to us. Therefore, what we do as individual Christians, as a Church, with respect to this school, and even as a nation, should be done given this Biblical reality.

 

Finally, THIS CHRISTIAN SCHOOL’S MISSION

 

I have made mention of our nation’s exceptional history and this Christian school’s founding. It is not particularly profound to note that history is a record of men’s deeds, just as this Christian school is the consequence of a man’s vision, as well as the subsequent deeds of those who have prayerfully sacrificed over the years as both students and staff members. Therefore, because the nation in which we are located does not figure in Biblical prophecy, and in light of so many heretofore unimagined changes that are taking place in our country to render us an insignificant actor on the world stage, what should our Christian school ministry therefore be?

In one respect our ministry should be what it has always been, to prepare children for adulthood, to train young people to assume the responsibilities of good citizenship, to fit our students for advanced training in a vocation or in higher education, all the while teaching important things so those who attend here will become lifelong learners with the truth set in its proper Biblical context.

Having founded an ACE school myself some thirty-five years ago, this is my second pastorate with an ACE school. Therefore, I can tell you from my experience reading PACEs and looking over the shoulders of staff and students for so many years, if you did not attend a Christian school but were limited to a public school education, and in particular, not an ACE Christian school, your education was limited. There are important things you simply do not know because you were not taught in grade school and high school what these kids have been taught. They know things you do not know. Our students learn more history of Western Civilization than do students in any of the University of California system than do students at Stanford University and most students in Ivy League schools. At least those who are not history majors. Our kids know more about the workings of the Federal government than almost anyone who has graduated from a university in the state of California. Our students know how the United States government was originally designed to work. And our students know how to read.

However, such is not our school’s mission, only our school’s means. Our mission is to plant in their lives the seed of God’s Word by various means and through numerous subjects. We love them, like them, invest our lives in them, and we pray for them. And this is all in the hopes that God will work in their lives someday, will use them to His glory whether they are here nearby or in one of the most important countries in the world. We do not invest in young people’s lives for an immediate return, but for an eventual return, ultimately for an eternal return on our investment.

It is my privilege to teach the catechism questions and answers to our students each week. It is Gary Isenberger’s privilege to conduct the chapel service each week. It is the privilege of Mrs. Isenberger and her staff to serve as instructors each school day. In various ways and to different degrees we are sowing the seed of God’s Word, and at the same time investing our lives to achieve a goal, to someday see an effect. I received a communiqué from a young man who attended our school for some years before his dad died and his mom moved him and his sister to another state. He is now in the Army, serving in the Green Berets. He wrote, “Pastor, everything I ever learned that has made me a success in my chosen profession I learned from you.” Though that is certainly not true, I appreciate the compliment. Our school’s teachers invested far more in that young man than I have. However, this is a team activity, and we have each played a part, in the hope that no student takes our offerings and throws them casually away.

To conclude, let me finally say, We like you. We love you. We want God to bless you wonderfully. Work hard. Study diligently. Use the tools and the knowledge that we have tried to give you. And always know that your success will be seen by us as our success, as well, made possible by God’s goodness and grace. Who would have thought that a small Christian school in Southern California could be a blessing to the Chinese people as well as the citizens of the United States, by training citizens from both nations to be the best of their citizens? But such is God’s goodness to make such things possible. May God richly bless you and keep you.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org