My Baccalaureate Address To the Class of 2015
1. Education does not always equal learning.
2. Passion, Practice, and Gratitude will make you stand out more than any degree or badge on your clothing.
3. There are no shortcuts to good character.
4. To find, fulfill, and finish God’s plan for your life is The great adventure.
5. To know Christ experientially and to love Him passionately is life’s greatest privilege.
To pray successfully is the first lesson the preacher must learn if he is to preach fruitfully; yet prayer is the hardest thing he will ever be called upon to do and, being human, it is the one act he will be tempted to do less frequently than any other. He must set his heart to conquer by prayer, and that will mean that he must first conquer his own flesh, for it is the flesh that hinders prayer always.
Almost anything associated with the ministry may be learned with an average amount of intelligent application. It is not hard to preach or manage church affairs or pay a social call; weddings and funerals may be conducted smoothly with a little help from Emily Post and the Minister’s Manual. Sermon making can be learned as easily as shoemaking—introduction, conclusion and all. And so with the whole work of the ministry as it is carried on in the average church today.
But prayer—that is another matter. There Mrs. Post is helpless and the Minister’s Manual can offer no assistance. There the lonely man of God must wrestle it out alone, sometimes in fastings and tears and weariness untold. There every man must be an original, for true prayer cannot be imitated nor can it be learned from someone else. Everyone must pray as if he alone could pray, and his approach must be individual and independent; independent, that is, of everyone but the Holy Spirit.
Thomas à Kempis says that the man of God ought to be more at home in his prayer chamber than before the public. It is not too much to say that the preacher who loves to be before the public is hardly prepared spiritually to be before them. Right praying may easily make a man hesitant to appear before an audience. The man who is really at home in the presence of God will find himself caught in a kind of inward contradiction. He is likely to feel his responsibility so keenly that he would rather do almost anything than face an audience; and yet the pressure upon his spirit may be so great that wild horses could not drag him away from his pulpit.
No man should stand before an audience who has not first stood before God. Many hours of communion should precede one hour in the pulpit. The prayer chamber should be more familiar than the public platform. Prayer should be continuous, preaching but intermittent.
It is significant that the schools teach everything about preaching except the important part, praying. For this weakness the schools are not to be blamed, for the reason that prayer cannot be taught; it can only be done. The best any school or any book (or any article) can do is to recommend prayer and exhort to its practice. Praying itself must be the work of the individual. That it is the one religious work which gets done with the least enthusiasm cannot but be one of the tragedies of our times.
Tozer, A. W., & Bailey, A. M. (1992). God tells the man who cares (pp. 63–64). Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread.
2014 Year in Review
Part of my list of ideas and hopes for this year is to write and post more frequently than in previous years.
- What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Enjoyed wonderful meal at Japanese place in Knoxville, then celebrating with family. I was 44.
- What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?
Exhaustion from working so many hours at KIA. Then fear and peace about moving to Hardin Valley. Elation at being with my family so much after being gone too much the previous 14 months.
- What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
Moved older children from their friends.
- What did you want and get?
Wanted to spend more time with family and be involved in the work of God full time.
- What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?
A book written.
- What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Following God’s will to an unknown, unfamiliar place. Also, not taking credit for any of the awesome things He did. That is His glory alone.
- What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?
The Lord and my sweet wife, Andrea.
- What song will remind you of this year?
When God Has Another Plan sung by Andrea Holloman
- Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).
“In Your Everlasting Arms, All the Pieces of My Life, I Can Trust You”
- What was your most enjoyable purchase?
Samsung Galaxy S4
- What do you wish you’d done more of?
- What do you wish you’d done less of?
- Compared to this time last year, how are you different?
- Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?
Confident that God Can
- What’s a life lesson you learned this year?
I can always trust the Lord.
Based upon questions from RA.
I discovered these questions on one of my favorite former student’s blog Dash of Ash . She also frequents twitter at http://twitter.com/ashleybmcneese
In my traveling, I am doing more reading than writing (other than sermons !)
I read this this morning, enjoy!
The Days of Our Years
A few days after these words appear in print the old year of our Lord will have gone to join the long procession of years and centuries that move on into the shadows of a past that can come no more.
In the year just gone the world has been writing history, not with ink only but with blood and tears; not in the quiet of the study but in violence, terror and death in city streets and along the borders of nations; and other and milder but more significant history has been written by incredible feats of power in sending man-made objects out to circle the moon and the sun.
But what is more important is that each of us has also been writing history. That the church has made history is not so significant as that you have and I have. What is done by a group is possible only because individuals have been at work. A company cannot work as a company nor will it be judged as such. Paul by inspiration singled out the individual and stood him up alone to receive judgment:
Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire: and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:13–15)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
At that day there will be no hiding in the crowd. Each one will come carrying his own book of history under his arm. So we should close reverently the book of the year just gone; we shall see it again.
To each one fortunate enough to live out 1959, God will have given 365 days broken into 8,760 hours. Of these hours, 2,920 will have been spent in sleep, and about the same number at work. An equal number has been given us to spend in reverent preparation for the moment when days and years shall cease and time shall be no more. What prayer could be more spiritually appropriate than that of Moses, the man of God: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Tozer, A. W., & Verploegh, H. (1993). The warfare of the spirit (pp. 133–135). Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread.
Great section from one of my favorite books!
The labor of self-love is a heavy one indeed. Think for yourself whether much of your sorrow has not arisen from someone speaking slightingly of you. As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol. How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them.
Such a burden as this is not necessary to bear. Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.
Tozer, A. W. (2006). The Pursuit of God (pp. 105–106). Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread.