Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Commencement Speech

This past Friday, I had the honor and privilege to be the commencement speaker at the graduation of Foothills Christian Co-Op. Many of the graduates were students at ALIVE Student Ministry so it made it all the more sweeter. Many people asked for a copy of my speech and figured I'd post it on my website for the graduates, parents and family members to revisit. I pray the words I poured over them will grow roots in their precious hearts.  You can find the transcripts below.

Thank you for the kind introduction. It is my pleasure to be here this evening. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of doing life and working with some of these students that are graduating today, and some who I have only recently met. Regardless, I am very proud of each one of you. Congratulations!! Your big day is HERE :)

I am very excited to speak with you tonight from God’s word, but I’d like to start by saying that I, Tim Wadsworth, have an opinion. I actually have many opinions on how you should live your life, or what would be beneficial for you to do. My opinions, however, do not have any validity when held up against the Word of God. Tonight, I will be reading scripture that is God-breathed and that will light the way for your new journey.


“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

This passage of scripture holds a great deal of weight for all of you.  Today is one of the most momentous days of your life. Whether or not you are going to college or leaving home or staying put, this is a stage of life that provides a new level of freedom and independence. This is an imperative time in your life.

This is actually my 2nd time as the commencement speaker for Foothills Christian Co-Op. The last time I was here was for the graduating class of 2012. So, When I found out that I was going to be speaking again to a group of young graduates, I asked my wife what she thought would be an appropriate call to action, since she, herself, was once a young lady graduating from high school. Being a woman, her life journey was already destined to be significantly different than mine.   She’s also SUPER smart. 


So when I asked Rachael what she thought would be appropriate to discuss, she said very simply, “Tell them that they should memorize and live by Romans 12:2.” That verse reads: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I think life after high school is often simplified. It’s painted as a time for fun, friends and self-indulgence. There also might be some studying included in that mix. Some of you will be leaving to attend college, and you may be exposed to an entirely different world than you’re used to. Some of you will stay home to attend college, and others of you have ambitions that do not include higher education. But regardless of what unique paths you each go down…. starting right now…. you will spend the next several years of your life figuring out who you are, what you believe, and what you will live for.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow, but to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever." graduates, each of you will have a choice of whom you will worship. This is especially true now that you are embarking on a new phase of life with a new sense of freedom. The world is full of idols, although they don’t appear like they did in the Old Testament, as statues or jewelry. Today, idols that we often see include wealth, ambition, inactivity, entertainment and comfort. 

There was a popular Christian song on the radio back in 2011 by Chris August, and one of the lines of the song says, “The world will try to battle for your heart.” And graduates, he’s right.  There’s a constant battle for your heart.  - the world will try to battle for your heart. It will try to convince you to rid yourselves of purity and to live for the moment, because it is fleeting. 1 John 2:17 does say, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” Over the course of your life, you will be surrounded by lost individuals who only have the next 50 years in mind, and they haven’t considered eternity. 

For them, this world is as good as it gets. For us, followers of Jesus, this is as bad as it will ever get. We are to live differently. We are called to a higher standard. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are only on a brief mission here on earth. What is your mission?

The world will taunt you when you choose church attendance over sleeping in, and when you choose Jesus over temporary satisfaction. 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” There will be countless temptations that invade your life as you leave this place, but we know that God is faithful and will not tempt us beyond what we are able. But God has also given us free will. He has allowed you in His sovereignty to choose your own career path, your own outfit this evening, and ultimately, your own eternal destiny. You do not have to follow Jesus when you leave this place, but I promise you that there is no life apart from Him.  Im a walking, breathing example of that. 

I can also promise you that there will be times when the world will make you choose sides. In today’s society, being the middle-man is no longer an option on large-scale debates such as same-sex marriage, the creation of the world, which bathroom you can choose and who Jesus really is. And there will be times when you will falter, and you will say the wrong thing or live the wrong way. But ultimately, you must remember that you cannot serve two masters. There is no dual-citizenship when it comes to Jesus. You must love God or love the world. And I can assure you, the world is deceptive and will appear beautiful, fulfilling and worthwhile. But it’s just fools GOLD - Satan himself is described in the Bible as a light-bearer and morning star. But as I’m sure you’ve heard before, be cautious and remember that all that glitters is not gold. It was once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

The 3 D’s of Satan -      BE AROUND PPL WHO ARE THE OPPOSITE!!!!!
  1. Deceive  -  “Did God really say to not eat from this tree??”
  2. Divide
  3. Distract  -  No one cares how good you are at Call of Duty or how many LIKES you got on Instagram
Before we close, I want to encourage you to not fear the world. Yes, you will encounter new temptations. Yes, you will make mistakes. And yes, you will have to choose…Jesus, or the world? But for those of you who love the Lord and have chosen that path for your life, remember what John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."    -  

Talk about the painting of PEACE at the FINE ARTS CENTER

SO GOOD NEWS…. JESUS has won! In 1 Corinthians it says that he gives us victory through Jesus Christ. The world might tell you there are certain ways to be victorious, but you already are victorious. The world might try to convince you how to be happy, but you don’t just have happiness. You have an everlasting joy.

Just remember: the world is a battlefield for the soul, and like any good soldier, you must equip yourself with the full armor of God before you go into battle. Ephesians 6:12-17 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

So we have a lot to celebrate…we have a lot to be thankful for. Just look around-soak this in. This is your graduation. You’re surrounded by people who love and support you. Lord willing, you have your entire life ahead of you. But really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s the real reason why we have a lot to be thankful for, and why we have a huge reason to celebrate:
Let me READ TRUTH all over you…. 

According to scripture, we are God’s children. We are a friend of Jesus Christ, and we have been justified. We were bought with a price and belong to God. We are chosen, adopted, forgiven and redeemed through the power of Jesus’ blood. We are complete in Christ and have full-access to the throne of God. We are free from condemnation. As you go into this new chapter in your life, you can rest assured that God works all things for good. And when you fall, remember, you are free from any condemnation brought against you and cannot be separated from the love of God. You’re not guilty anymore. You’re not longer dead, but alive. You’ve been washed in the renewal of the Holy Spirit. You are anointed, sealed, and hidden in Christ. Remain confident that God will finish His good work in you. You are a citizen of heaven and have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. You are born of God and the evil one cannot touch you. You have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. You are seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm and may approach God with freedom and confidence. And never forget, you can do all things through Him who strengthens you.

And for the parents, grandparents, and anyone else in this room who has contributed to the life of one of these graduates: I would like to congratulate you, as well. This is a bittersweet moment for you, I’m sure, but these students did not come to this point alone. They had your support, love and encouragement for their entire lives, and I’m sure it wasn’t always an easy road for you. Now, as the parent of a two year old and another due next week, I can encourage you with this…. that God holds your child in His hands. Regardless of where they go in life, they are never outside the realm of Christ’s love. Please intercede on your child’s behalf in prayer. Samuel Chadwick once said, “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying.  He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.” The greatest tool that you have as your child experiences their newfound freedom is prayer.

I’d like to close with the words from a lullaby that was written by Christian artist Erin o’donnell. She wrote it for her young child, and I’m sure it rings true in every parents’ heart in this room, and I hope each graduate will consider its words carefully:

The world will try to tell you
That might is more than right
That beauty's on the outside
And being good is a losing fight
But remember what I've told you
Because the world will make you choose
Hold to Jesus
He's holding on to you

Hold on to Jesus
Cling to His love
Rest deep in His mercy
Whenever things get rough
Don't lose sight of His goodness
And don't ever doubt this truth
That when you hold on to Jesus
He's holding on to you

graduates, in closing: do not love the world. Cling to Jesus. He is all that will ever matter in your life. He will never disappoint you, and he will be with you both today and in your old age.

Congratulations, class of 2016.

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