The text of the Speech given by Pastor Jermin…
When I was told that I had 20 minutes, I thought: ‘That’s All? Seriously’??
Just kidding, but it did put me in mind of a ‘preacher joke’.
Pay attention, because this will be important in the next few minutes. Ready? When a preacher says, ‘I’m Almost through’ that means that you have to add 15 minutes. When he says, ‘I’m about to close’, add 10 minutes, and when he says ‘In conclusion’ add 5 minutes. Got it? Say it with me!
As the joke makes clear, there are things that are said so often, that no one believes them, things that because they are almost never true, become almost an ‘inverse truth’. Here are some examples:
‘We do not negotiate with terrorists’, or when, in the midst of whatever scandal, you hear the accused claim that they will be ‘transparent’ and ‘cooperate fully’ with the investigation…Um, sure…
Or even better, when you click on that software install box that says: ‘I have read and accept the terms and conditions’
Yep. Think about that the next time you hear the phrase ‘Free Exercise of Religion.’
I have worked in Higher Education for more than 30 years, and I have, to my horror, watched the gradual waning of critical thinking skills, paralleled by the rise of relativism. I believe these things to be a catastrophic combination.
Why? Because every one of us sees the world through the lens of our worldview. What is your worldview? It is the lens through which you see and interpret the world around you, usually formed by your beliefs, suppositions, opinions and experiences.
So Worldviews Matter . . . they matter a lot.
- How we view ourselves
- How we relate to those around us,
- How others relate to us, and
- How we act all depend on our worldview.
Your worldview has consequences because it determines, actually sets the boundaries of your life’s goals and accomplishments.
It is a fact that individuals and societies will never exceed the limits of their worldview, without a new worldview either being willingly adopted, or forcefully imposed on them.
Our society’s dominant worldview determines the very structure of our nation, its policies and practices and our lives, whether we agree with it or not…
This is why the decline of critical thinking and the corresponding rise of relativism is so dangerous.
Think about the implications of a relativistic worldview, and the confusion that results from it…
Relativism (which says in part that all things are true or have some measure of truth) has become the new truth.
When there is no absolute truth, everything is true, relatively, until someone comes along and says that there is absolute truth, The result is that all truths are then true except that one, because anything absolute is intolerant of non absolutes. You follow me? Does that make sense to you? It shouldn’t.
And when everyone is right relatively, everyone is wrong.
As I watch the American Church, and this distinctly American Christianity that we practice, I see that more and more these days, that like the church at Thyatira in the Book of Revelation, we (Christians) are adopting the culture’s relativistic worldview.
This is by no means a good thing, no matter how it is posited by those who support it.
- Jesus said that no man can serve two Masters,
- Jesus said a little leaven leavens the whole lump…
- Jesus said that the world would hate us, because it hated him first…
Doing what is right rarely gains you any friends…
Here’s an example: My brother is a chef (in fact one of the best in the country)
One evening he was travelling home from work, and as usual for his commute he got on the subway. As the train pulled in, he saw an empty car, and he and a bunch of people piled in, but they had forgotten one of the rules of the subway: An empty car usually means something is not good… and so it was:
A Homeless woman with a very severe olfactory malfeasance (if you get my drift). At the next station stop, everybody ran disgusted to the next car, but my brother felt guilty about how he had felt and thought about the woman.
We discussed it, he repented (and as these things happen, in that every act of repentance is soon tested) he saw her again 3 or 4 days later.
This time, he embraced her, told her that God loves her and so does he. She wept in his arms for 10 minutes. But what was the result? There was an exchange, as there is with every human interaction, and now they each carried a bit of the other with them, so when he got on the bus, right. Everyone moved away from him, because he now smelled like her.
Sometimes doing what’s right will alienate you, it may cause you to have to stand alone.
When that happens remember that though to the world it can create a stench, it is a fragrance, a sweet smelling savor to God…
But we want to fit in, we want to get along, and we are suffering the consequences…
A couple of statistics make this point clear: According to the Barna Research Group,
Only 32 percent of born-again adults in America believe that absolute moral truth exists. Two out of three born-again adults in America reject the concept of absolute truth altogether . . . I have no idea how Jesus claim to be THE Way, THE truth and THE life is handled by those folks…
What has that translated to?
Only 9 percent of born-again teenagers believe that absolute moral truth exists. Over nine out of ten born-again teenagers in America have bought into post-modernity rather than authentic Biblical Christianity.
Jesus said a little leaven leavens the whole lump…
Why am I bringing this up? I mean after all, this is Graduation, a time of excitement, pomp, circumstance, and speeches filled with well-practiced time-worn predictable cliches, pithy and passionate words, about your potential, perseverance, passion, and promise (I worked really hard on that, fitting all of those P’s in one sentence…) and all of those things are good and true.
You have all worked hard (we all have) and you are to be commended, congratulated, and encouraged, there is no doubt, but now is not the time to sit back and relax, now it’s the time to prepare, more now than ever, because:
The real battle is beginning now…
Battle? I thought this was a Graduation speech, not a military pep talk…
Yes, I know, actually it’s both. Hear me out…‘I’m Almost through’
You see, the battlefield is not political, or fought on some foreign theatre, Gil Scott Heron was right when he said that ‘The Revolution will not be televised…’ Why? Because it is here, between your ears… The Battlefield is the mind.
And people today, are not trained to think critically. As a result, they have no defenses and no weapons… They’re in a war that they don’t know that they’re in, and utterly defenseless…
That is by design, and it is to the detriment of most people.
Make no mistake, you are a commodity, more importantly, your mind is, because whatever impacts your mind, impacts your wallet (your spending habits) your voting habits, your social habits, and your lifestyle…
So, on behalf of your parents, I am going to ask you to do a couple of things for us as you go forward in life:
The first thing is to Think. To Ponder, to consider, to examine, to contemplate, to inspect, to deliberate, before you accept, before you agree with any ideology, or any idea… Why? Because what the book of Proverbs says is true: As a man thinks, so He is…
The next thing that I would ask you to remember to do is to ‘Guard your Gates’
Yes, these holes in our heads are gates, in that they let images, sounds, opinions, beliefs and thoughts both in and out (eyes, ears, nose, mouth) We parents have been charged with guarding them, and teaching you how to… Now you’re going to have to, especially those of you going to College, you’re going to have to do it for yourself, and it is no easy thing…
The traps are subtle, and even the most vigilant and well-meaning of us can get caught up… Have any of you read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar? Remember Brutus?
Do you remember his exchange with Cassius in Act One? Cassius asks him if he can see himself. Brutus says essentially that no one can see himself except in reflection.
Cassius then tells him what others see in him, Flattered, He allowed the words of others to define him, and he paid a heavy price.
Guard your gates.
The Apostle Paul made it clear that life transformation is a mental thing. You all know the verse, ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’ right?
He is making the point that life transformation is a mental thing.
So the things that you hear, the things that you see, the things that you read, all color your thoughts and opinions, in essence they impact your worldview, and as we said earlier, your worldview has consequences because it determines, actually sets the boundaries of your life’s goals and accomplishments. This can be either positive or negative.
If you know how to think critically, and to guard your gates, you will learn to, and here is my third request, that you respond to thoughts and ideas, instead of reacting.
What do I mean? By and large, responses are borne out of consideration and thought, whereas reactions are borne out of emotion.
Responses are borne out of consideration and thought, whereas reactions are borne out of emotion.
When confronted with a thing, idea, or situation, thinkers examine ponder, and then make a decision. They respond..
More often than not, however I see people react to things/situation, as opposed to responding to them, and it is clear that unless we are taught to distinguish between the reacting and responding, we will not. (That one is for we parents as well)
Advertisers, politicians, religious purveyors, the media, salesmen and propagandists of all types all know this, and use it to their advantage. If they can get you to react (especially emotionally) to an idea, a product, a belief, they have a better chance of getting you to buy whatever it is that they’re selling.
Salespeople know that the longer someone thinks about a purchase, the lower the probability that they’ll purchase it. This is why infomercials, and drug ads are structured the way that they are. This is why children’s cereal boxes are always on lower shelves, with bright colors, and characters that look right at you…
The purpose is to get you to react in the moment, instead of evaluating and then responding. (Ooh look!!! Sugar frosted maple toasted sugar bombs Mom, with extra sugar! Can I Mom, PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEASE????) Yes, we’ve all been there.
As some of you may know, Adolf Hitler is quoted as saying the following,
1- “All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.”
2- “How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”
Do not, I beg you, do not, let that be true of you:
And I’m about to Close…
This is a great day. There has been a lot of hard work put in to make this day a reality. You all are the products of purpose, vision, dedication, and love. It is, though joyous, for me particularly bittersweet, because our only child is Graduating, and unless we adopt, we will not have the pleasure of homeschooling any more. But in all things to God be the Glory, and I have relished this time.
Congratulations again to all of you, parents and students, families and teachers, supporters and encouragers, and even you critics, because your concerns were noted, and helped us to be ever more vigilant, and driven.
For those of you still in the journey, stay the course, and keep fighting the fight. Teach them to guard their gates, and you guard yours as well. You may have to do what the Israelites did in the book of Nehemiah, they went in the river to bathe and refresh with their armor on, because they never knew when Sanballat and his army might show up while they rebuilt the walls…
But you can and will make it.
To you Graduates, and those of you still in school:
Keep in mind the three things that we ask of you:
Think critically, Guard your Gates, And Respond, Say that with me:
Think critically, Guard your Gates, And Respond
I would like to read from the third Chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, it is my prayer for all of you:
For this reason I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit, and that the Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know the Messiah’s love that surpasses knowledge, so you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.