Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thoughts from the Hill

This is the first Saturday morning I have had at home in a very long time. Saturday mornings are the time that I go through mail and balance the books for the church and for our personal finances for the last 10 years or so. While trudging through the bills, credit card receipts, solicitation for donations, statements and other junk mail that Jackie placed in my overflowing box, I stumbled upon a jewel of a newsletter from Bob Warren.

I have copied the letter from his online version for your convenience.


No event has issued a personal wakeup call like the event which I will “attempt” to describe. It was the ultimate litmus test, the result of which rocked me at the core as I consider how far we have strayed as a nation. If after reading the following you can conclude that we remain a nation which heralds the truth, you might need to rethink your position.

A few months ago I received a call from a local high school principal asking if I would agree to speak at his school’s graduation ceremonies. I was honored that he would call, especially sense several of the students graduating would be either children or grandchildren of many of my friends. I was also honored because of the man I knew the principal to be, a man well respected in the community and a fellow believer. I asked if there were parameters to the subject matter I might address, to which he replied, “no.” He said I had twenty minutes and a free reign to say whatever I deemed necessary.

The thing I knew going in was that I needed to be sensitive to the environment and honor the students who were graduating. They did not need a sermon (chapter and verse), but they needed to hear something that would encourage them as they faced the world of their day. In the next paragraph I will begin writing as though I were presenting the speech to you, but understand that it was addressed to a student body of over two hundred and an audience of approximately four thousand. Because I very seldom write my speeches, what follows is not an exact replica of what I stated, but a partial reproduction. Here we go!

It am honored be with you tonight. You have paid the price to be here, having completed the requirements necessary to graduate and pursue your dreams. In fact, sitting where you are confirms that you can process information and draw conclusions, validating that you are thinkers. Don’t you love to think? Isn’t thinking fun? It should be, for your generation has accessible to itself the largest information bank of any previous generation. As a result, each of you has developed a world view—a grid through which you run everything that stimulates your senses and penetrates your mind. This world view is what you use to define for yourself what you deem to be truth and what you deem to be error. In 1964, when I graduated from high school, we called this “perspective,” or “what made a person tick,” but your generation has labeled it “world view.”

However, as you “think” and continue to develop your “world view,” your world view cannot violate the following principle—“the fundamental law of thought is the law of noncontradiction.” In other words, if what you believe contains contradiction, it is non truth, it is error. Therefore, if A=B, and B=C, then A=C. We also know that 2+2=4, not 5, because 2+2=5 is a contradiction. Therefore, no matter how sincerely or passionately someone teaches that 2+2=5, he or she is sincerely and passionately wrong. There is little doubt that none of us would have darkened the doors of this building had the architect who designed it began with the presupposition that 2+2=5. For sure, he may have designed one building based upon that mindset, but I dare say that anyone would have hired him to design a second.

I say all of this to make a point. When you leave this high school there will be those who say to you, “There is no such thing as an absolute.” However, in making this statement they have stated an absolute, creating a contradiction and validating their error. Postmodernism is running rampant in our society, a mindset that deems absolutes as taboo and nonexistent. However, we have just proven that postmodernism is taboo in itself and has no foundation on which to stand.

When I graduated from high school I owned a world view (perspective) much different than I possess today. It was different because I lacked wisdom, wisdom being the correct use of knowledge. Let me explain.

There are four terms that I defined in 1964 as follows:
(1) Wealth—The ability to do anything I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it;
(2) Notoriety—Doing something well enough that everyone in the country knows who you are;
(3) Power—Putting my thumb on others for the purpose of having them accomplish my desires;
(4) Success—This was a term that I had difficulty defining because success is basically a synonym for fulfillment, and the people who were labeled as successful were in many cases grossly unfulfilled.

However, some thirty-two years ago, and ten years after high school, I began pursuing truth—“absolutes” in other words. I desired to know truth above anything else in life. The reason I possessed such a passion was because I saw the majority of the world as ill-equipped to give adequate answers to the tough questions of life. As a result of my journey, my world view has changed and I define the previous four terms as follows: (1) Wealth—Being content with what you have; (2) Notoriety—Living your life without fanfare or public acclaim, never promoting yourself or your agenda, only to have society realize after you are gone that everyone should have known what you were about; (3) Power—Serving others; (4) Success—Basically a synonym for fulfillment, is realized only after properly defining the first three terms.

In my pursuit of truth, I have discovered that it is found only in a Person, a Person who is invisible, a Person who claimed to be the way and the truth, and His name is Jesus Christ. I have studied the major religions of the world and found Him to be without equal—the only one capable of answering the tough questions of life void of contradiction. And just think, He is my best friend and confidant, in fact, my very life.

I have an old ABA basketball with me for the purpose of illustration. I was offered $1,800.00 for this ball only a year ago. Obviously, it has lost its color, is flat, and is basically worthless in most circles. However, the man who offered me such an inflated price knew something. He understood that it possessed worth because of the individuals who had touched it—people who knew more truth about the game of basketball and how to apply that truth than anyone alive. They were men like Julius Erving, George Gervin, George McGennis, and others who were the best of the best. My point is this. If we will but allow possessors of truth to speak into our lives (touch our lives), in the end we will possess worth, and at the same time, be an example of what truth can do in the heart of its possessors. I would encourage you to enter into the pursuit of truth and the corresponding adventure of faith. Again, thank you for your time and willingness to make me a part of you special celebration.

After I finished my speech, I had no idea that a local TV station had filmed it. When I returned home, I began receiving calls from individuals who stated that they had seen me on the 10:00 pm News. What I had not realized was that the same TV station had interviewed both the principal and a portion of the senior class beforehand about my coming as a “religious speaker.” I did not personally see the broadcast, but was told that the only portion of my twenty minute speech aired was as follows: “In my pursuit of truth, I have discovered that it is found only in a Person, a Person who is invisible, a Person who claimed to be the way and the truth, and His name is Jesus Christ.” I found it interesting that the only segment aired was my statement containing the name “Jesus.”

What I took away from this experience was priceless. First off, I saw a principal walk out on a limb, put his name and neck on the line in having a “religious speaker” address his senior class. He is to be commended. God is already honoring that decision and will continue to do so in the future. I also saw the local interest this generated, even resulting in a newspaper writing a very solid story about what had transpired. One of the greatest things I have learned, however, is that many who saw the broadcast viewed my speech (and the fact that I would use the name “Jesus”) as an act of bravery. Please don’t misunderstand what I say in response. I have been very encouraged by all who have given me positive input and greatly appreciate their hearts and concern. But this, more than anything else, has shown me where we now live in America. Since when does using “the name” in a public setting indicate that an act of bravery has been witnessed? Would Paul would classified it as such or would he have laughed at the thought?

2 Corinthians 11:24-33 Think about it, and as you do, walk on!

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