I Thank God


To say that the last week has been full would be an understatement. Between my inauguration on Sunday night and the relaunch of Serious Joy: The Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, our week at Bethlehem has been full of activity. And as we reach the end of it, I am full of gratitude to God.

  • I thank God for the gathering of so many friends, family, and churches on Sunday night to participate in my formal inauguration and investiture as the second president of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
  • I thank God that my wife, my two oldest sons, my mom, and my in-laws could be in attendance for this special occasion.
  • I thank God that the tone of Serious Joy was struck from beginning to end as we worshiped God in song.
  • I thank God for Jonathan Parnell’s word of testimony about the influence of Bethlehem College & Seminary on his ministry.
  • I thank God for the prayers of Sam Crabtree, Lewis Guest, Kenny Stokes, and David Livingston throughout the evening. 
  • I thank God for John Piper’s threefold charge to me as president: 1) Hold to our Sovereign God; 2) Hold to his sacred Book; and 3) Be held by the Spirit of Serious Joy that animates our school.
  • I thank God for the opportunity to set forth a vision of Christian Hedonism, Christian Maturity, and Education in the 21st Century.
  • I thank God for the many in attendance who earnestly prayed that God would uphold my raspy and weakened voice during my address (and I thank God that he answered their prayers).

And then, moving into the rest of the week:

  • I thank God for Amy Rabon, our Events Manager, who not only planned and executed an inauguration, but planned and executed a marvelous conference for pastors.
  • I thank God for the army of students, staff, and church members who volunteered to set up, tear down, work in the bookstore, staff the info desk, provide transportation, and man the prayer room for the three days of the conference.
  • I thank God for the 500+ attendees who gathered to worship and be encouraged, despite the challenges posed by COVID protocols. 
  • I thank God for the rich and powerful worship to God, led by Chuck Steddom and his team of Bethlehem pastors, seminary apprentices, and alumni.
  • I thank God for the breakout speakers who so ably taught in the conference on technology, preaching, and interpreting the Bible.
  • I thank God that five of the seven breakout speakers were professors or alumni of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
  • I thank God for Lewis Guest and the capable way he hosted the conference and led our panel discussion.
  • I thank God for the Bethlehem alumni who returned to Minneapolis to gather and reconnect with classmates and professors.
  • I thank God for John Piper’s exegetically penetrating address on the joy of the Lord being our stronghold in Nehemiah 8.
  • I thank God for Mark Dever and the extensive lessons from the Puritans that he offered pastors in their shepherding care.
  • I thank God for Kenny Stokes and the combination of biblical insight and pastoral experience he brought to his communication of God’s all-sufficient grace.
  • I thank God for Steven Lee and the way he wove together the Bible, biography, and his own family history to call pastors to lift up the glory of Jesus among unreached people groups.
  • I thank God for the pastors of Bethlehem, Cities Church, and Jubilee who lingered after Tuesday’s plenary session to pray with weak and weary pastors for God to show up in ways that feel impossible.
  • I thank God for the robust panel discussions where we sought to sharpen each other and encourage the saints.
  • I thank God for the 200 attendees, led by Bethlehem Baptist Church global partners, who prayed for over an hour that the nations would be glad in Jesus.

And behind and in and through all of it, I’m thankful for the Christ who met with us this week by his grace in and through all of this activity. May God give growth to the seeds of joy in Jesus that were planted in Minneapolis this week. 

In the face of all of this gratitude, would you join us in asking God for more of his grace upon Bethlehem College & Seminary?

Please pray with us in the following ways:

  • That God would fill our college and seminary classes for next fall
  • That God would direct our way to new contributors who would resonate with our vision of education and fund the Serious Joy Scholarship
  • That God would sustain our students in the midst of this semester and prosper their time in the classroom

Clinging to Jesus with you,


Joe Rigney, Ph.D.
Bethlehem College & Seminary