Dear Senior Class 2014…

Thirteen years ago when you got home from your first day of kindergarten, most of us parents picked you up and asked, “How was your first day of school?”  A lot has happened since then. You tried to make good grades, you excelled in sports, in music, in art, or maybe in science.  It’s really amazing the talents you have developed.

This past week I picked up my daughter from school and this time my question was, “How was your last day at school?”  You have reached the last day, and just like that first day, we are excited for you and proud of you as we cheer for your success in life.

Did you know God cares about your success, too?  The Bible says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Knowledge can help you achieve the desires of your heart, of course, but God can do things no one else can. He has ultimate control over our success or failure.

I don’t know if you believe that or not. The Bible predicted “scoffers” would come in the last days and they’re here.  People will make fun of you for believing in Jesus. Religion is old-fashioned. We are evolving past it they say.  Bill Mahr says religion is the source of all our problems, and Bill Nye seems to think you can’t be a scientist or help the human race advance if you believe God created everything.

They can sound convincing, but that road doesn’t end well. The Bible talks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but it’s worth noting that it should have been Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.  Esau was the oldest son and should have been the next in line. His father loved him, wanted to pass everything down to him, but Esau just didn’t care.

He only cared about the here and now, and agreed to sell his birthright to his brother. The Bible says, he “despised” his birthright.  That decision destroyed his future.  That’s why we remember Abraham, Isaac, and his younger brother Jacob instead of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau.

You’ve heard people say God has a plan for your life, but you don’t have to care either.  The world will tell you not to worry about it. The world cares more about the here and now, but I believe if you go down that road, like Esau, you’ll miss out.

So here are three old fashioned things to hang on to no matter what the world says:

First, Jesus is the way. I think it’s pretty cool that in 2014 no one is arguing that life came from the Nile river anymore, or that some big fat guy is holding the earth on his shoulders.  All of those ancient ideas have come and gone except one, Jesus. He’s the real deal.

In Genesis, the story starts with the earth covered by darkness and the first thing God says is “let there be light.”  Then he went to work making things better.  Jesus does the same thing today in people and in the world.  He makes marriages better. He gives hope when there isn’t any. He gives people strength and teaches us to care for the less fortunate.  Jesus puts light in the darkness.

In fact, just this year sociologist Robert Woodberry finished 14 years of painstaking research and statistical analysis, and concluded something amazing.  He found that  “Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women) and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.”

In other words, everywhere that Jesus went, the world got better.  God put light in the darkness.  He always does because he is the way.

Second, Jesus is the truth.  You might be surprised at this but peer pressure doesn’t end with high school.  There will always be people who try to make you feel stupid if you don’t go along with them. In 1 Peter 4:4, the Bible says the world will be “surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living.”  It says they will “heap abuse on you.”

As you know from experience, it’s easier just to go along with everyone else.  My son is a biology major in college and just this past semester his professor showed everyone a scale and asked the students where they thought they would fit on it.  It was a scale of scientific beliefs with people who believed in a flat earth on one end, and people who believed in “atheistic evolution” on the other. On the scale, the people who believed in the Bible were close to the flat-earthers.

The inference was clear.  If you believe Jesus made everything, you must not be all that smart.  The peer pressure of the world wants you to feel ashamed of believing in God, but there are actually a great many scientists and academics who are not atheists at all but still believe in God and in Jesus and even in the Bible.  Raymond Damadian one of two men who developed MRI technology is a Bible believing Christian.  John Sanford who pioneered Gene Therapy is a leading geneticist who also believes God created the world in just six days.  Dr. Daniel Amen, a world-renown neuroscientist also believes in Jesus.  The list of leading scientists that believe in Jesus is a long list. They believe Jesus is the truth.  You can too. Don’t let anyone pressure you otherwise.

Finally, Jesus is the Life.  He puts light in our darkness too.

That’s what happens when we make a decision in our heart and mind to belong to Him.  The Bible says things like believe and be baptized. After all, getting baptized always meant belonging to something brand new from that moment on.  It’s the sort of thing we do on the outside because on the inside, we’ve made the decision that we want Jesus to be in our life.

There’s no better way to live.  Believers in Jesus were the driving force behind putting an end to slavery.  They still fight against human trafficking. They have been the driving force in building hospitals and orphanages and feeding programs and soup kitchens and disaster relief organizations and even drug addiction programs. God has used people who believe in Him, to do great things.  He created you for a reason, for a purpose, with all of your talents, hopes, and dreams.

The world wants to make you feel ashamed for trusting in Jesus but the Bible says the opposite will happen.  “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame,” it says. If you want to have a great life, follow Jesus.

It’s up to you.  We can go with the crowd, or we can grab hold of something old fashioned, but powerful and true: Jesus.  He’s the way, the truth, and the life.  Since I hope you have an awesome, successful, incredible life, I figured you should know.

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2 thoughts on “Dear Senior Class 2014…

  1. Hey, Pastor Brian, great post. Thanks so much for mentioning Dr Daniel Amen. I like to watch his episodes when they play on PBS during teleauction times. It makes me feel better about him to know that he works with Christians, Pastor Rick Warren.

  2. Thanks Carolyn. You know, I read one of Dr. Amen’s books, Making a Good Brain Great, and had no idea about his faith at the time. He doesn’t shy away from asking tough questions about free will and other things that impact how someone may interpret the Bible. He seems to be a good example of a scientist who is true to what he believes, but also true to letting evidence take him wherever it leads.

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