The seniors asked me to give the commencement address at graduation this past Sunday. Here were a few of my thoughts:
"As you move on, let me remind you of a couple things. Verse 5 says, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” You are turning a new chapter in your life, you are going into a world that is sometimes cruel, you are going to have new experiences and your going to meet new people. But know this and let me make it abundantly clear . . . YOU ARE NOT ALONE, EVER! You have the ever-present, relentless, pursuing love of God that will never, ever, ever leave you. There are going to come times when you are going to want to drink from that source and let me encourage to draw deep from that well and bring it all the way in. Let it be your substance. In addition to that, you need a community. You need people who are for you in all circumstances. I’ll never forget one of the vows my wife said to me 12 years ago this very day during our wedding. She said, “when the hard times come, I’m not going anywhere” and she has proved that to me time and time again. You need the “not going anywhere” kind of friends, because when you have them, you are truly never alone.
The Lord goes on to say , “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Bible is not an academic subject that you get credit for, within it are the very words of life. If you’ve ever watched a surveyor at work, they are plotting points and making boundaries all based on fixed points. Fixed points don’t move and you can gauge everything else based on it. The words of God are fixed points for living. Gauge your life on them. When you are hungry, it is the kind of bread that doesn’t make you hungry anymore. When you are thirsty, it is the kind of living water that makes you thirst no more. Make His words your center, anchor yourselves in them and you will find prosperity when others have found misery. His words are life for those who want real living.
“So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.” My final words for you are this. There are 2 types of Christians in America. There are some who think our best idea is to hunker down and wait for Jesus to come back. They fear the world and its influence on them. They focus on circling the wagons and creating their own safe sub-culture. This all seems right but I don’t think it’s a Jesus kind of Christianity. It simply is not a big enough idea. He did not call us to fear, he called us to take land. The other type of Christian is one who takes the Incarnation seriously. Who understands that Jesus left the comfort of his Father’s Kingdom for the painful muck and mire of earth for one reason alone, it was the will of the Father. The Father’s will is not for you to merely hang on to your faith, His Kingdom is a faith that hangs onto you. His will is not for you to build a bomb shelter, His will is for you to unleash an invasion. We did not prepare you to hang on, we prepared you to take land. God did not give us a Spirit of timidity, he gave us a Spirit of Power and we need to live in it.
Im wondering if your going to cross that line? Im wondering if you have that kind of courage? Where you see the unloveable, will you love them? Where you see the poor in need, will you help them? Where you see the lonely, will you befriend? Where there is temptation, will you resist? Where you see injustice, will you stand up? When others judge, will you show compassion? When the Enemy is seeking to recruit, will you swear singular allegiance to the King?
15 years ago, I crossed that line. I decided to join the war and my best days are the ones that I pick a fight with the enemy, many of the times on behalf of you. You are no longer my students, but now I’m asking if you would be my partners on this battlefield. I need you, the war is hard and its time for some reinforcements. Graduates of 2005, will you answer the call and fulfill the will of the Father? We are a part of an unshakeable Kingdom and its time to take some more land.
I love you and I bless you to go and walk out of these doors with courage and with power and may the peace of Christ be upon all of your journeys. Amen.