My 28th Western commencement was great . . . again. Friday began in Anchorage with a 12:40 am flight toward Portland. I’d asked some very righteous people to pray that I could get a whole row of seats so I could get some sleep. I heard the terminal clerk tell another passenger requesting a seat change that there were only center seats left. Sigh! I went to 29A toward the back of the aircraft and watched the long line of passengers coming and seats filling, quite a few with all three seats occupied. No one joined me. Then they stopped coming. Righteous friends later denied responsibility, but I celebrated their character by curling up for two and a half hours of sleep. Not at all adequate for the day, but way better than none.
My appointments included Lebanese lunch with Bill and Robin Mounce. He was the commencement speaker. We spent two hours in intense discussion of living in a world where the devil is still quite active. He went to teach his Greek class and I went to meet with Mark and Grace Driscoll before the graduation banquet. We talked on the phone, agreeing on the meeting time at the hotel after the rehearsal for Saturday’s graduation. When I got there, the desk clerk told me they were still stuck in traffic. So I spent the next hour and a half with Mark’s parents while they looked at tail lights. My talk time with Mark was quite abbreviated!
There were six outstanding student testimonies at the banquet. The first four speakers were ones I’d done or am doing pre-marital work with. The other two were Mark and Paul Jackson, both of whom made jokes at my expense! All very fun.
Bill’s commencement sermon had a different opening: He spoke tearfully of his son’s bicycle accident back in Spokane a couple of hours earlier resulting in two broken wrists, that on top of three other broken bones in the last year and a half, and then prayed his hatred for the devil who attacks children along with his love for his son. It gave great power to his gripping exposition on the dual figure of the gate and the path. We enter the narrow gate (conversion, justification, regeneration, adoption, etc.) and then continue on the path. He took us to Romans 8:17-18:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs– heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
and Philippians 1:29
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,
He warned the graduates of the dangers of well meaning evangelists such as children’s workers who tie believing in Jesus as something to do so they can get snacks with assurance that this “decision” means they are certainly going to heaven. There is no entry into the gate and certainly no joining Jesus on the path.
Following the conferring of degrees, Bert Downs added punch to Bill’s sermon as he charged us powerfully to guard our hearts.
They were very meaningful words to me, since guarding my heart is a deep passion for me. That doesn’t keep me from hurting others, but it does mean a lifelong commitment to purity to Sherry and to Jesus as a basis for other relationships and ministry. I’m very glad for others SF who help me in guarding my heart.
I preached at Grace today on Luke 11:33-12:3, asking about religion vs. grace, ending with “what will I do with the darkness in me?” What will I do when I see blackness in another? When they tell me of my darkness? Very provocative for me. You can hear it on line in a day or two at gracecc.net. I’d love to hear your comments.