Appreciate the process of grace, Brian Mueller stresses at Chapel

GCU President Brian Mueller weaved his talk around the topic of grace at the opening Chapel of the semester on Monday.

Photos by Ralph Freso / Slideshow

After highlighting the 75th anniversary of Grand Canyon University at Chapel and speaking about a new sculpture on campus called the "Grace Tree," President Brian Mueller emphasized the concept and importance of grace.

“I think the biggest challenge for the Christian church going forward is that grace never become cheap, that we understand the full gravity of how costly that was,” Mueller told the audience Monday in Global Credit Union Arena.

He referenced the grace of botanical artist Joe Tyler, who gifted the 75th anniversary sculpture, which was installed after Chapel between the Lope Shop and Prescott Field. He also spoke about the grace of actresses and Childhelp co-founders Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, each of whom reached out to Mueller for GCU’s help in assisting their organization, which is dedicated to meeting the needs of abused, neglected and at-risk children.

Mueller then vividly recalled the short-term pain of separation he experienced as a father while making a presentation at the Phoenician several decades ago. Mueller told his two oldest sons to stay near the hall where the event was conducted, only for the boys to be missing after he completed the presentation.

Mueller stopped every guard for help at the resort and admitted it was “about as frightening as I’ve ever been in my life” during the first 40 minutes, adding that he was ready to call 911 as his heart rate soared.

Alex Ramirez and the Worship team perform.

Mueller walked by the swimming pool to find the boys, who were asleep in two lounge chairs. “The thought of separation from those two kids was overwhelming,” Mueller said.

But that pales in comparison, he said, to losing an acquaintance or family member in a sudden death.

“You hear stories of people that have been married for 50 or 60 years, and one spouse dies, and the other one goes a couple of weeks later or a couple months later because they've become so connected,” Mueller said. “The pain of that separation is very difficult to deal with.”

In John 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

“The Word was Jesus,” said Mueller, adding later, “When you get to Jesus and understanding Jesus and understanding grace, how costly it was, I think you have to understand the closeness of that connection.”

Brian Mueller, GCU president, discusses the concept and costliness of grace.

Mueller emphasized that Matthew 26:36-46 is a “pivotal story in human history” because of the overwhelming sin of the world Jesus carried on his shoulder to Gethsemane, the garden where He was arrested and eventually crucified.

“All of a sudden, He goes and He's going to pray and He's preparing for what He knows is going to happen,” Mueller said. “And He's overwhelmed by it. Luke said He was actually sweating blood, which is physiologically impossible.”

Ephesians 2:1-10 is “probably the most apt description of costly grace there is in the Bible,” Mueller said: “Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath, but because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” 

Jilly Freid and the Worship team inspire the audience at Chapel.

“I think this is so important for the church to understand that we are God's handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” Mueller said.

As an example, Mueller pointed to Nick Schuerman, who founded Victory Collegiate Academy. His intent was to operate the school at one of the impoverished parts of Phoenix and expand it from a K-8 facility to accommodate high school students and eventually open the largest autism school in the state.

“We quickly took Building 71 and turned it into an academy for those autistic kids, and then as the first semester went on, so many of you got involved in that academy,” Mueller told the students.

O’Meara and Fedderson, who rose to fame as girlfriends of the two sons on the 1950s hit show "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," started raising money for orphanages for abandoned interracial children after entertaining military troops following World War II and again after the Vietnam War.

President Brian Mueller lauded the efforts of several individuals working with GCU.

They asked Mueller if they could build a facility near GCU as part of Childhelp, which supports victims of child abuse. The intent would be to serve the kids while allowing O’Meara and Fedderson to “study the process” that would require GCU’s services.

“We have a major university to run here,” Mueller said. “But you know what? There almost always is a way, and I start to think, ‘We can't do that?’ Of course, we can do that. Jesus was in the garden, and He was about to say His cup is 'too big for me. Is there another way?'

“But there wasn't, and He was obedient anyway. And when God brings us these opportunities, He's doing it because it was planned before we were even born.”

Senior writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected].

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