Chapel: Don’t let stress get the best of you
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Variety has been the spice of Chapel at Grand Canyon University this school year, but Monday morning featured the most unusual recipe yet: a dash of poetry followed by a seasoned preacher.
It was a delicious combination.
The poetry, an exclamation point to the Chapel band’s performance, was recited by Hosanna Poetry. She first performed at theGathering last fall, and Dean of Students Pastor Tim Griffin said she was such a hit, he decided to bring her back for Chapel. She will be at theGathering again at 8 tonight in Antelope Gym.
The main course Monday was served up by Tom Shrader, and it was like nothing Chapel attendees had experienced in the previous 16 talks since September. The white-haired, 65-year-old pastor of Redemption Church, which has locations in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Gilbert, displayed a wry and delightfully dry sense of humor in talking about everything from the curly hair on the back of his head (“I look like a poodle.”) and the bell-bottom pants he wishes he still fit in to his love of Oprah Winfrey and the terror of stepping onto an escalator when you’re older.
Those might not sound like topics that would interest the average college student, but Shrader’s down-to-earth, self-effacing manner was as much a hit as the poetry that preceded him — which didn’t surprise Billy Thrall, GCU’s director of church relations. “I’ve known him for at least 20 years, and he’s always been witty,” Thrall said.
Amid the wit was wisdom about stress, which Shrader called “essentially the wear and tear of living.” We all feel it, he said, but he urged listeners to remember that “what you know trumps what you feel.” And, he added, the five things we should know about God and their corresponding Bible verses are:
1. God is in control (Colossians 1:15-16): “It feels like things are out of control. They’re out of your control and my control, but they’re not out of God’s control.”
2. God forgives sins (1 John 1:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:11): Shrader referenced the main point of Poetry’s performance, that “Those chains are broken,” and pointed out that the Corinthians verse (“… you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”) is written in the past tense.
3. God is our only hope, and this life is temporary (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18): To underscore this point, Shrader noted that in the last year he has had a six-hour open-heart surgery (“They told me my lungs are hardening — what does that mean?”), kidney stones and lupus. Before all this, he didn’t have any significant health problems. “It made me more sympathetic to the hurting person,” he said, adding that he thinks every day about dying. “All of this is temporary. That’s not to say it doesn’t matter. But if our faith and hope isn’t in Jesus, we will ultimately be disappointed.”
4. God causes all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28): Shrader said it’s on the same tangent as Oprah’s “everything happens for a reason.”
5. God does not change (James 1:17): Our hope, Shrader said, is rooted in the character, sovereignty, faithfulness and promises of God.
Shrader said it all comes back to James 1:3, which reads in part, “the testing of your faith produces endurance.” He called stress “spiritual aerobics.”
Afterward, students told Shrader they, too, felt stressed out and said his message was exactly what they needed to hear. But it starts at a young age, he said — even one of his eight grandchildren, 4-year-old Lucy, told him recently that she felt stress.
And Shrader is including himself among the stressed. He amused the audience with a lengthy discourse about how nervous he was as he figured out what he would tell them Monday during his first visit to the GCU campus.
“I think that’s who I am right there,” he said afterward.
It blended well on a Monday morning that had all the right ingredients for a memorable Chapel session.
● For a replay of Shrader’s talk, click here.
● For Chapel Rewind, click here.
● Next week: No Chapel because of the Presidents Day holiday. Chapel returns Monday, Feb. 23, with Griffin as the speaker.
Contact Rick Vacek at 602-639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.