Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You have to be prepared for the possibility that God does not like you.

The following is the gist of a message I gave at the Wylie High School Baccalaureate service in 2002.
I vaguely remember my own Baccalaureate Service. I remember it as an excuse to wear the cap & gown early, but the religious significance was lost on me. It is my hope and prayer that my words will not fall on deaf ears, but will help impart wisdom as you being the next stage of your journey with Christ.

In Proverbs 3 we read ...
13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
14 for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.

And in Proverbs 4 we are admonished ...
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
8 Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honor you if you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

I'll read Proverbs 4:5 once again for emphasis.
5 Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.

I'm no King Solomon, but here are some insights, some bits of wisdom that I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that I offer for your spiritual insight.

I’ll talk and you’ll listen and, hopefully, we’ll finish at the same time. There just may be a quiz at the end, so be ready. Trust me, everybody else is wrong on these.

I share with you today “Gunny's five life lessons.” They will be presented in the form of 5 problems and 5 biblical solutions will follow in respective order.

1. Life is not fair; don’t expect it to be. Some folks are smarter, prettier, wealthier, more talented, etc. than you. Some folks will cheat and seem to get ahead, but God sees all (good and bad). 2 Cor 5:10 says that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” There will be a day of reckoning. Just remember, you never want justice from God, but only mercy. Remember as well that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb 11:6) and He may actually be blessing those who have less as their dependence on His grows.

2. Life is a roller coaster ride, filled with many peaks and valleys. Your situation will soon change, facing a future with with many ups and downs and much instability. Some may be motivated about graduation, some apprehensive. You will never be able to sustain the highs and the lows unpredictably come and go as well. But God alone is stable and able to get you through the valleys. Just don’t forget the Lord in the peaks, lest He bring another low to draw you back to Him.

3. People tend to reject the ends, the extremes. Picture humanity in every imaginable category on a bell curve. People can’t handle or relate to those who are too smart or too dumb, too poor or too rich, to beautiful or too ugly, even those too committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Resist the pull to the middle. Resist the pull to mediocrity. Resist the pull to fit in. Never stifle your God-given talents and never let anyone diminish your passionate zeal for Christ. If you follow Christ biblically, you will be rejected, even by those who profess to be Christians.

4. People operate according to the Law of WIIFM. Ingrained in humanity is the Law of WIIFM, an acrostic for the “Law of What’s In It For Me?” Their hearts are wicked (Jer 17:9) and self-fixated. Thus, people will always disappoint you, but God will not. You will at some point be tempted to adopt the policy of DTA, “Don’t Trust Anybody.” But you can’t live that way. You have to trust people (e.g., other drivers on the road, the kid who prepares your Ultimate Cheeseburger at Jack in the Box, etc.). The key is to trust some people with some things, some people with nothing, and few, if any, with everything. Wisdom will enable you to realize who fits into each category. But God can always be trusted, for Christ never leaves nor forsakes those who trust in Him and God works all things to the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28).

5. People are more important than things. But the temptation is to sacrifice people for things. We need to prioritize relationships over getting stuff. Don’t wait too long to learn this. Some of your parents may have recently learned this or perhaps won’t until they have grandchildren. Some of your parents had to buy you a dog so you could know what love was supposed to look like. Don’t make the mistake of far too many who look back on their lives wishing they had shown more love to people they cared about. People don’t reflect and wish they had spent more time getting ahead or regret family time. Of course, God Himself demonstrates the value of people and His love for them in sending the Lord Jesus Christ as a payment for the sins of those who would believe in Christ. (cf. Rom 5:8)

It is my hope and prayer that God will open your eyes to see the beauty and majesty of Christ, God in the flesh who gave His life to pay for the sins of others. God raised Him from the dead to show His acceptance of payment for those who believe in Jesus. I pray that you will have a relationship with God through Christ as the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, drives you to the cross for forgiveness and hope. Apart from that reality, these words of mine will at best put a Band-Aid over the gaping wound that is sin.

6 Comments:

At 20 August, 2008 12:00, Blogger samurai said...

Some serious words of wisdom there. I am saving a copy to share with my sons.

I have never heard of a "Baccalaureate" before... what exactly is it?

 
At 20 August, 2008 12:28, Blogger GUNNY said...

Thanks, brother. I've been told it's a bit of a southern thing, but I don't know for sure.

It's like a quasi-worship service for the graduating class from a high school. They wear their cap & gowns and are there with their parents and a fair number of other students.

I figured it was just for the Christian students, but apparently everyone goes (as was the case for me when I graduated).

Sometimes there will be various speeches by some of the students as well. We had different local clergy pray and read Scripture, etc.

As you can imagine, some church & state issues have impacted this practice. When I was there in 2002 the Baccalaureate was in the high school auditorium, but I know they do it at a local church now and it's more of an "optional" or elective activity.

Others may actually be able to add more or clarify.

 
At 21 August, 2008 13:12, Blogger Rev. said...

The only good graduation speech I ever heard was the one given by Pastor Doug Helms last year for a home school group. Your presentation has some remarkable similiarities to it. I give it a two-thumbs up, Gunny! So much better than "The sky's the limit, you can do and be anything and everything you ever dream, even president" slooge that permeates such gatherings.

P.S. (We had a Baccalaureate service for my graduating class in Germany - DoDDS... so I don't think it's a Southern deal, per se).

 
At 23 August, 2008 01:52, Blogger GUNNY said...

Rev, is Doug using my material again?!

;-)

Yeah, those speeches can be sappy and a real whippin. When they finish those ceremonies with Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All" I'm reaching for a barf bag.

 
At 25 August, 2008 20:55, Anonymous billie hartman said...

What? You don't believe, The children are the future"? Whitney Houston does.

 
At 25 August, 2008 21:49, Blogger GUNNY said...

So does Jackson Heights' own Mister Randy Watson.

He teaches them well and lets them lead the way. He shows them all the beauty they possess inside. He gives them a sense of pride.

 

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