Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-12-03

December graduates of Samford University's Beeson Divinity School were advised that their future successes may involve some risk-taking.

"The secret is in the courage to risk one's self, allied with the stone of Biblical truth and trust," celebrated preacher James Earl Massey told the new Beeson graduates during consecration and graduation activity in A. Gerow Hodges Chapel Wednesday, Dec. 3.

Samford president Dr. Andrew Westmoreland conferred degrees on 17 graduates who have completed studies in Beeson's Master of Theological Studies, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry programs.

During a Beeson tradition that involves the blessing of graduates, each faculty member quietly offered a prayer of consecration to each graduate.

The act, explained Beeson dean Dr. Timothy George, is not an ordination, but serves "to commit the student to the work of the church and to the service of God."

Recalling the Old Testament story of David and Goliath, Massey said that threatening giants of doubt, despair, debauchery and divisiveness are on the scene today, "challenging the lives and causes of God's people."

"Something needs to be done by someone, by us, by you," he said.

It was David's willingness to risk himself that made him stand tall, said Massey, dean emeritus of Anderson University School of Theology in Indiana. "You have had successes in the past, but some in the future will demand risk taking."

Doubt, he said, makes people uncertain and unbelieving, leaving them without a sense of anchor. Just as David noticed the giant's visor was up and aimed at the unprotected spot, graduates need to aim the stone of truth. "If you aim it correctly, it will attack doubt," he said.

Despair, especially in times of economic uncertainty, is a major cause of self-destructive activities. But it, too, has a vulnerable spot, said Massey, and that is the instinctive human concern to find a way out. "You can point the despairing to Jesus as a way out," he said.

Debauchery is not just in Hollywood, but up and down streets everywhere. "It can be defeated if we preach truth and show that we are converted," Massey said.

Divisiveness, the selfish giant that fosters suspicion and feeds hostility, has a vulnerable spot in the human need to relate. "The Bible reminds us that we are from one source, and we are to relate to God," said Massey.

As with the Good Samaritan, he said Christians must love everyone so that no one grows in life feeling unloved, unwanted or unneeded.

"The message is one of love in any and all circumstances."

"As you leave, don't go hesitatingly toward your task," he advised the graduates in conclusion. "Welcome your task, because the Lord is with you. With the Lord's help, no giant is too big to topple."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.