Tonight is an important night in your life. At no other time in your life have you been more of an adult than tonight. The completion of your formal high school education has come to an end and the beginning of learning as an adult starts tonight even as I speak to you. From this point forward you will begin to make more and more decisions that affect all kinds of aspects of your life. As each day moves forward your parents will be less involved in parenting and more of a coach and mentor. The more you mature the more your relationship will blossom into something wonderful that you didn’t even know was possible.
On behalf of every parent, all of the academy’s teachers, your principal and Berean’s team of pastors let me say, “Job Well Done!” Congratulations. You have done what many do not do each year, you finished the course. Your diploma represents your commitment to finishing the course. Moreover, you are graduating from a tough private school with many rules that most would not be able to follow. Yet you demonstrated self-discipline and self-control many times throughout your high school years—which are tremendous characteristics every employer wants in a new employee.
I wish I could say otherwise but the reality is the world you enter as young adults has many challenges which will require decisive leadership by yourselves and many of your peers. Since September 11th 2001 America and its way of life has been permanently altered. You enter life as an adult with the full knowledge that America has an enemy who hates everything about our liberty, lifestyle and legacy of democracy and freedom. I simply remind you of this fact to momentarily cause you to think about what potential challenges your generation will face.
In many ways you are like the classes that graduated during World War II. Yet the enemy we face today is even more difficult to pinpoint, track down and eliminate. This is a significant challenge. One that your generation will, without a doubt, meet we pray by God’s Sovereign blessing without compromise.
Tonight is a great night. This weekend is a time for celebrating about the accomplishments of 12 years of education. With the assistance of God’s grace you have done it!
Let me give you just a few challenges for your future before we say good bye to you as students of the academy and welcome you into the world of adulthood.
1. Separate the rules that you lived with in the academy and home from your relationship with the Lord Jesus. Living within a set of guidelines and following the rules will be something you may be called upon to do as adults in various college settings and employment opportunities for the rest of your life, but this has little or nothing to do with loving God with all your heart, soul and spirit. Do not let that affect your soul’s health.
When a helicopter pilot realizes that the cargo he is carrying via sling load below the belly of the aircraft is interfering with the safety of the crew he must cut sling load. You too must let all the baggage of the past go. From this point forward focus on what your young adult relationship with Christ will be. Please do not allow the safety and health of your soul to be jeopardized by the baggage you have from the church, school or home. Remember the best of BBA and let the rest go away.
2. Decide for yourself if the faith of your father and mother is your faith. Choose for yourself. Think for yourself. Examine yourself to see if you are in this faith for yourself or for your parents.
With your eyes you can see the battle that is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other parts of the world. But there is a far greater battle occurring that cannot be easily seen with the naked eye also all over the world and this battle is for truth. What is truth?
Eventually you must decide what you believe to be true. What are the truths that you will live by? You are and will live in a postmodern society that denies the existence of any absolute truths. Every effort is being made to minimize God’s right to rule in the kingdom of men and this is being done primarily through the notion that truth is applicable only to the person who holds it to be true.
You will need a moral compass to guide you in ethical and moral decisions. Many of your peers will rely upon what feels right at any given moment. I will tell you that if you live by that standard your life will be filled with unnecessary heartache. Let me encourage you to rise above that and choose for yourself what you believe to be true and live by those beliefs all the days of your life.
I promise each of you that you will never regret living by a biblical worldview.
3. Learn to number your days. One thing is certain you will only live once and so each of us must make the most of our days. For now you can’t even fathom being 40 years old but life is truly like a vapor and we must redeem the time.
James Truslow Adams said: "The great use of life is to spend it on something that will outlast it."
Jesus Christ said, “don’t lay up treasure on this earth where it decays but create for yourself eternal moneybags of reward.”
Don’t waste your life away. Please don’t spend the next decade trying to find yourself.
4. Work hard at avoiding a prideful arrogance that plagues talented young people like each of you. Instead, be willing to serve others. Prideful people are always such a turnoff. Moreover an attitude of pride completely denies God’s role in blessing you with skills and knowledge.
Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, pastor of the Lutheran church near Valley Forge and one of the founders of the Lutheran Church in America, noted concerning General Washington:
I heard a fine example today, namely, that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice the Christian virtues. From all appearances, this gentleman does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God’s Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness. Therefore, the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously, preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues, etc., and has hitherto graciously held him in His hand as a chosen vessel.
Strive to develop a servant’s heart. Recognize that the greatest joy and satisfaction you will get in life will be when you are serving others.
Humble yourself before God and let him exalt you before your peers. Trust in God’s promise that promotion comes from above.
5. Fear God. Never let your thinking ever get to the point that you don’t have a reverential respect for the Sovereign God of the Universe.
In October of 1816, Daniel Boone wrote Sarah Boone: The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor, and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God’s mercy for the rest.
Believe with your whole heart in the Biblical truth that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Refuse to be a foolish adult and fear God.
6. Pursue God for all the pleasure it brings you.
The idea of pursue God for pleasure is based on the idea that God knows best. Serving Him is a delight that I learn to love—it becomes a joy to serve the King. This is the only way I can be content is all circumstances. I delight in the Lord and look forward to eternity with eager anticipation. I work for the reward that the King is preparing and just the thought of such reward brings me pleasure.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-24 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.