Oklahoma Baptist University's new president, Dr. David Whitlock, addressed OBU alumni, students, faculty and friends during a special homecoming chapel service Saturday, Nov. 8, in Raley Chapel, bringing a message of grace and purpose to those in attendance.
"You're going to be surprised that I'm going to bless you this morning with a Scripture of genealogy," Whitlock said as he began reading from Exodus 6, which conveys the lineage of three of Jacob's 12 sons: Levi, Simeon and Reuben.
Exodus relates the story of God's plan to deliver his people. Right in the middle of the story, Exodus cuts to the genealogy of the three sons who had committed disgraceful acts.
"God just diverts for a moment, and reminds them of their past," Whitlock said. "If it says anything about God, it says this: 'My salvation, My deliverance isn't because of anything good in you. I use who I choose, and I choose who I use. And I choose to redeem you. To illustrate My overwhelming grace, I'll just remind you who you are, Levi, Simeon and Reuben.'
"God chooses even the ones who make incredible messes of their lives," Whitlock said. "He loves and uses even those who seem to have forfeited all rights to the grace of God."
Whitlock told listeners that God's grace - his unmerited love - is something that has not ceased to amaze him since becoming a Christian as a young adult.
"The past doesn't matter," Whitlock said. "He loves you anyway, and there is nothing that you can do to change the fact that He redeems even the most unworthy among us."
Whitlock conveyed a modern-day parable - a story with a purpose - related especially to OBU's mascot, the Bison. He told of a bison bull calf whose mother died giving birth, so the bison was raised by a farmer with a litter of pigs. The bison wallowed in the mud, ate the slop and generally believed it was a pig.
However, one day, something on a hill caught the eye of the bison. It was something majestic - a herd running - and the bison immediately felt connected to it. The young bison ran like it had never run before, easily clearing the low fence that had kept it confined with the pigs.
"It ran free," Whitlock said. "After all, that's what bison were made to do.
"For those of us still wallowing with the pigs, look up! You're better than that! You were created in the image of God. You were created as a royal priesthood, a people of regal inheritance. Start acting like the Bison instead of the swine."
The chapel service also recognized 13 Profile in Excellence Award recipients. The award is given to former students who have "demonstrated recognizable accomplishment in his or her profession, business, avocation, or life service in such a way as to bring pride and honor to the University." The 2008 recipients were Gerald Adams, '78; Richard Cole, '75; F. Don Cooper, '60; Shirley Coyner, ex '52; Judy Elledge, '68; Sam and Donna Friend, '58; Dr. Marvin Hall, ex '54; Dr. Lynn Hughes, '61; Charles King, '80; Jeremie Kubicek, '93; Reggie May, '81; and Col. C.E. McDaniel, '55.