Giving Thanks Always

PA - Jo - Michael HeuermannBy Dr. Charley Holmes, BMA Theological Seminary President
From Mission:World Magazine November/December 2014

Many people have read the second half of Ephesians 5:18 and immediately strained mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically to become “filled with the Spirit.” Many are soon disappointed when it seems all their exercises and perhaps even the suggestions of some charismatic preacher fail to produce the sought after “filling.” They would be much more satisfied by simply looking at the following verses which tell us three things to practice in order to be filled: verse 19 says to be engaged faithfully in worship with God’s people, verse 21 tells us to be in proper submission in our different stations in life, and those two things lead us to be “filled”/controlled by the Spirit. Verse 20 adds perhaps the most difficult discipline to practice: cultivating a thankful heart.

Verse 20 instructs us to give thanks always. At times believers begin to take God’s blessings for granted. It is easy to do when we enjoy a greater degree of personal liberty and material wealth than most, especially when both of these were largely provided by previous generations. When familiarity with daily blessings or the hectic schedules take their toll, we feel less than “filled.” Taking an inventory of acts of grace in our lives can push the needle on our thankfulness gauge back towards full. As we enter the Thanksgiving season, it is especially timely to take “inventory.” I realize that no inventory of God’s blessings could ever be complete, but just making this short one for the Seminary makes me feel a little more “filled” with the Spirit.

BMA Seminary’s list of reasons to be thankful:
  1. Faithful Churches: Since the founding of the Seminary in 1955, the vast majority of its operating income has been from churches that include the Seminary in their monthly giving to mission causes. This past year approximately one-third of our churches gave about 60% of our operating budget.
  2. Faithful Individuals: A number of individuals give regularly, similar to our faithful churches. These individuals also occasionally send even more when special needs arise, such as this summer when we had unexpected roof repairs to the classrooms. Some individuals even make legacy gifts. This past year we received two gifts from estates. Both gifts were planned and put in place before I even began classes at the Seminary. One of the gifts had been arranged decades before. This was done without anyone on campus knowing anything about the gift, or meeting the giver.
  3. Faithful Associations: We are thankful for the spirit of cooperation in the departments of the BMA of America (BMAA) throughout the integration process. We are also thankful for the foresight of the BMAA in beginning the work of the BMAA Foundation and to Brother Charles Attebery for providing leadership in this area. Brother Charles has already worked with several families in our area to set up legacy gifts such as the ones mentioned earlier. In addition, we are thankful for the many local and state associations who provide special gifts to support our students through scholarship funds and the general fund, which provide for day-to-day expenses and the upkeep of our buildings.
  4. Faithful Trustees: We appreciate the time our trustees spend away from their families and churches, especially when we were going through the accreditation process. Presently, one trustee has served the board longer that most others. Forrest Priest was first elected to the Seminary Board of Trustees in 1995. He faithfully served for ten years, was reelected in 2007, and is currently serving as Vice Chairman of the Seminary Board of Trustees.
  5. Faithful Teachers: Our two longest-serving teachers are Dr. Greg Parsons and Dr. James Shine, who together have taught a total of 57 years at BMA Seminary in the Biblical Studies Department.

Dr. Parsons holds the following credentials: B.S., University of Central Arkansas, 1970; M.Div., Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, 1973; S.T.M., Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975, 1980. Dr. Parsons has many published works. For example, he has been contributor to The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version (1997), now called The NKJV Study Bible (2007); The Holman Study Bible (2010); and Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. Walter Elwell (1996). He has also written several articles in theological journals (Bibliotheca Sacra and The Criswell Theological Review).

Dr. Shine holds the following credentials: B.A., Central Baptist College, 1971; M.Div., Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, 1978; M.A., Stephen F. Austin State University, 1981; Ph.D. studies, Baylor University, 1986; D.D., Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, 2006. In addition, Dr. Shine has faithfully pastored Enterprise Baptist Church near Jacksonville, Texas, for nineteen years.

We are also thankful for the two most recent additions to our teaching staff: Brian Rickett and Dr. Andy Snider, who are adding new vigor and devotion to the BMA Seminary Arkansas site in Conway, Arkansas.

Brother Rickett serves as Arkansas Extension Site Administrator and Professor of Biblical Studies. He holds the following credentials: B.S., Central Baptist College, 1996; M.Div., Th.M., The Master’s Seminary, 2000, 2003; Th.D. studies, The Master’s Seminary; D.Min. studies, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2014. He currently pastors The Bible Church at Beebe, which petitioned into the BMAA this past year.

Dr. Snider comes to the Arkansas site as professor of Theological–Historical Studies with eleven years of teaching experience at The Master’s Seminary. He holds the following credentials: B.A., Cedarville University, 1989; M.Div., Th.M., Th.D., The Master’s Seminary, 2000, 2002, 2007.

  1. Faithful Ladies on Staff: We are thankful for the ladies who work on our staff. The two ladies who have served at BMA Seminary the longest are Carol Shine and Alicia Johnson. Together they have served a total of 48 years. Two other ladies that have joined our staff more recently are Keri Southern in the Business Office and Lisa Satterwhite in the Dean’s Office.
  2. Faithful Students: Jo Yaebeang from Thailand came to the Seminary a few years ago with the help of former Director of Missions Brother Jerry Kidd. Jo’s education expenses were paid through the International Student Scholarship (ISS) Fund. These scholarship funds are provided by faithful churches, Sunday school classes, WMA groups and individuals. Jo is now faithfully serving the BMA in his home country as a new missionary and is thankful for the support of the ISS Fund.

Michael Heuermann is a second-generation BMATS student. His father Paul, class of ’86, was a BMA missionary in Africa for many years. Michael was raised in BMA churches and on the mission field in Africa. Michael has earned a BA in sacred music and is now completing an MACM (Master of Arts in pastoral ministry). He is faithfully pastoring Antioch Baptist Church near Gilmer, Texas. Michael has received more than one scholarship in addition to the Asher Award for academic excellence provided by Glenfawn Baptist Church near Cushing, Texas, formerly pastored by Brother Louis Asher. Brother Asher taught many years at BMA Seminary. Brother Michael is thankful for Glenfawn and the legacy of the Asher Family.

After taking this short inventory of God’s blessings on BMA Seminary, even though it is not complete, I feel a little more “filled” with the Spirit. It reminds me that all the blessings on the list were made possible as God moved through faithful churches, individuals, WMAs, and Sunday school classes. It reminds me of the one by whose hand these blessings come, and I “Give thanks unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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