Assemblies of God Theological SeminaryThanksgiving  2014
Hail to the Orange! Hail to the Blue!

The Thanksgiving season has become a time when we can offer a nod of affirmation to a good idea without getting overly involved. An attitude of gratitude seems to be a bit cheesy these days as we whoosh through Thanksgiving toward Christmas and the intense frenzy of consumerist worship that surrounds "the Holidays." The Holiday Season seems to have been on the radar screen since the Halloween frenzy faded and those trendy costumes were jettisoned to e-Bay. Now we get to cringe at all the Christmas albums by musicians who should be embarrassed that they that let their names be associated with such trashy musical renditions of Christmas classics, let alone their half-hearted attempts at offering "what certainly will become a new Christmas classic." Bah hum-bug!


You can obviously tell that I'm getting cranky as I approach my "Medicare" birthday. You would be correct that I may be imploding, as per the prophetic voice of Alvin Toffler, who, decades ago, voiced warnings about what would happen to people as all forms of change took their fullest effect. He said we were facing Future Shock!  


I had an experience this past weekend that provided me a stiff dose of gratitude in my heart that is simply ... the real deal. Lois and I went to meet some friends in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. In the fall of 1968, I entered the University of Illinois to follow my dream of getting an agriculture degree to prepare me to take over my grandfather's farm. In my first week, I met Jay Allen in a math class and we have been close friends ever since. His dreams were similar to mine: get a solid education from a premier agriculture school and take over the family farm. Long story short, he accomplished that dream; I've had a few detours. This last weekend, we visited the classroom where our friendship began-a hard to find, non-descript place in a century-old building that seemed old even in 1968. Bottom line, I am grateful for friends who simply are friends. Standing there in front of that classroom, our wives took our pictures-two old guys remembering the fall of 1968 when we had just passed through the assassinations of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy. We had lived through the tumultuous Democratic convention in Chicago and were to experience the regular visits of the National Guard to the University of Illinois, as Vietnam War protests turned violent. In the middle of that season, we forged a human bond for which I am deeply grateful.


Friendship that simply includes respect and appreciation between two human beings, endures and walks together through the years and rejoices and grieves as the trajectory of life unfolds. Jay waited a long time before he married. I performed the wedding for him and his wife, Linda. I was there at the little Methodist church in Triumph, Illinois, when their infant son, Jared Byron, was baptized. I was there at the funerals of his parents, Fred and Shirley. This past weekend, Jay, Jared, and I sat in the stands at Memorial Stadium and watched (yelled a lot) as the Fighting Illini beat the Penn State Nittany Lions on a field goal with 8 seconds left in the game. Next spring, I will return to attend the graduation of my god-son, Jared, as he receives his agriculture degree from the University of Illinois.   


This past weekend, I also visited another key location in my life journey. While at the University of Illinois, I attended Urbana Assembly of God, a church planted by Dick and Ruth Foth just a short time before I arrived in the fall of 1968. Their influence on my life was profound. It was there that I wrestled through the exchange of a dream to take over my grandfather's farm for a clear direction, guided by God's Spirit, to serve as a leader in the Church. Dick's guidance of my life started in Urbana, but remains strong to this very day. I took a picture of the original building there on South Race St. and texted it to Dick with these words: "Went to honor one of my spiritual homes today. Urbana Assembly. Thank you, Dick and Ruth, for your incredible influence on my life. BDK"


So, that's how I spent the weekend before Thanksgiving. I am deeply grateful for enduring friendships. I am overwhelmed at those singular moments in my life. Thank God for the fall of 1968, where I experienced the hand extended toward friendship that I've enjoyed for decades and the spiritual wisdom offered that has shaped me toward God's direction for my life.


The words of an old Fanny J. Crosby song sums things up for me this Thanksgiving:


"All the way my Savior leads me, what have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt His tender mercies who through life have been my guide?

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith with Him to dwell,

For I know what 'ere befall me, Jesus doeth all things well!"  



Byron D. Klaus, President
Assemblies of God Theological Seminary

Thank you 


for your prayerful support as we


shape servant leaders with knowledge, skill and passion to revitalize the church and evangelize the world in the power of the Spirit 


at the 




President Byron D. and Lois Klaus



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