Do You Know Someone Graduating this Year?

Probably all of us know at least one young person graduating from high school this year. A Barna survey from 2011 put into statistical form what all of us in the church have realized in our own ministries. Here are the findings:

  • 1/10 students who grow up in the Church leave after High School never to return.
  • 4/10 students who grow up in the Church leave after High School for a season and later return most often as young adults after marriage and having children.
  • 2/10 students who grow up in the Church leave after High School but not necessarily their relationship with Jesus. They leave over frustrations with the Church. (This is dangerous I might add. It will be very difficult, if not impossible to have a vibrant faith outside the context of a local church).
  • That leaves just 3/10 who remain connected to the Church after High School with no “wilderness-like” experience.

These numbers scare us as parents, pastors, and church leaders.

But, it’s not just high school graduates. It can be anybody. I have known scores of people in different settings of life who just abandoned the things of God.

We are familiar with 1 Peter 5:8, which says, “Be sober-minded! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” (CSB)

One of my life verses serves as a counterbalance to Peter’s warning. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 16:9, which says, “For the eyes of the Lord roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to Him.”  (CSB)

Join me in praying for this year’s group of graduates that they will have hearts surrendered to Him who is ready to show Himself strong.

An Untangled Life

When Nick Saban was the coach of the Miami Dolphins, President George W. Bush was in Miami and wanted to meet Saban. Saban said that he did not have time. To most people Saban’s attitude might sound arrogant, but not to me. In essence, Saban said, “It’s not political for me; it’s football for me. It’s my job. My job is to prepare my team to play, and I don’t have time to meet the President.” Say what you will, but I will say there is a man who had identified his priorities and was sticking to them.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be able to establish and follow priorities. Paul instructed Timothy, as is recorded in 2 Timothy 2:4, “To please the recruiter, no one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of everyday life.”

I have learned that no one is going to help me keep my priorities. In fact, most people are going to tempt me with helping them deal with their priorities.

Our constant prayer should be that we not get entangled with the things that will keep us from fulfilling God-given priorities.

Swimming with Alligators

Graduation season is once again upon us. Almost all of us know someone who will be graduating in the next weeks.

Do you remember graduating from high school? When I think about graduation I think about a story I heard about a wealthy man who invited a large number of people to his home. At one point in the evening, he brought them outside to a pool and said, “I want to give a brand new BMW to the first person who can swim across this pool. There was only one problem—the pool was filled with very large alligators. For a while, no one moved. Suddenly, there was a splash and everyone watched this frantic young man swim as fast as he could from one side of the pool to the other. Coming to the other side of the pool, he jumped out unharmed by the gators. The host of the party was there to greet him with the keys to his brand new car. The host said, “I can’t wait to see you in your brand new BMW.” The man who had just come from the pool said, “I can’t wait to get my hands on the person who pushed me in the pool!”

The truth is, in a manner of speaking, graduating from high school or college (for that matter) is like being pushed into the deep end of the pool, and the pool is filled with very large gators.

So, how do we survive? The writer of Ecclesiastes gave us these words:

But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books, and much study wearies the body. 13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:12-14)

In order to survive the pool of gators, we need to …

Have a Big Perspective about Life. Often times our perspective is too shallow. We think if we can accumulate more, we will be happy. The writer of Ecclesiastes challenged that perspective when he said, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” Without God, all things will be empty. With God, all things can be enjoyed. Have a Big, God-sized perspective regarding life.

Have Few Priorities. Discovering God’s plan for life means discovering that life will have relatively few priorities. In fact, the writer of Ecclesiastes is able to condense those priorities down to two. Fear God. Keep His commandments.

Have one Purpose. Our purpose must be to glorify God with our lives. If you really want your life to have ultimate meaning, know that in the end, our lives will not be measured by how much we have in this life, but how much we have stored up for eternal life.