Dear Graduate, Advice From Someone Who Cares

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Dear Graduate,

Congratulations! You have reached a very important milestone in your life, and you should be very proud of your accomplishment. Your parents could not be more ecstatic, your grandparents think you are awesome, and even your siblings can not keep from shedding a tear of joy. You, my friend, are a bona fied rock star! And then, you wake up and find yourself on the other side of graduation day with a big ole “welcome to the real world” staring you right in the face. What are you going to do now? You could not wait to get here, and now you are not so sure you are ready to enter into the unknown.

grad1Do not fear. First of all, start by remembering that graduation is a commencement. Commencement means a beginning, a start. There is something beautiful about a new beginning such as spring or a new born babe. Likewise, this commencement of your adult life is also beautiful and fresh. Embrace it! Welcome the many possibilities with open arms, an open heart, and an open Bible. Let the Word of God be the lens through which you view every situation, and the filter through which you wisely discern each decision.

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Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”

Always remember, you are not alone. You have family and friends that want nothing more than to help you succeed. But even more than that, your Father in heaven wants to help you succeed.

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Philippians 4:6

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

So, with all these people who have your back, the question that begs to be asked is, “what constitutes success?” After all, you didn’t work this hard and come this far to settle for mediocrity, right?

1. Is success getting into the best university?

2. Is success keeping a 4.0?

3. Is success earning a college degree?

4. Is success obtaining a prestigious career?

5. Is success becoming famous?

6. Is success amassing a fortune?

The answer is yes and no. I know, I know. This letter is supposed to be helpful and not confuse you even more than you already are. Just hear me out. Most of these things, in and of themselves, are admirable goals to set for yourself. There is nothing wrong with furthering your education, becoming a productive member of society, and planning your financial future. In fact hard work definitely has its reward.

Proverbs 13:4

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
    while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”

Being richly supplied is a great reason to work hard, but let me encourage you to concentrate your effort on treasure that is incorruptible.

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John 6:27

“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

You see true success really has nothing at all to do with numbers 1-6. True success is a home in heaven. True success is eternal life.

Matthew 16:26

 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

You are at the beginning of the rest of your life. Your future requires you to make many choices. Some will be failures and some will be successes. My hope for you is that you will accept nothing less than TRUE SUCCESS, graduate. Why reach for the stars when you can reach so much higher?

capsIn Him,

Shanna

 

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Ten Lessons Learned By a Note Taker

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Not too many days ago, my youngest son came to me with a new revelation brought on by self-evaluation. He said, “Mama, I think I need to start taking sermon notes. I think it would help me stay focused and better remember what was said.” If my face could have been captured at that moment, I am almost certain my wide grin would rival the infamous smile of the Cheshire Cat.

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You see, I am a note taker. I fully understand the benefits of note taking. I have notebook after notebook filled with notes taken at my home congregation, various Gospel Meetings, ladies days, CYC, PTP, and various other arenas. I cherish those pages filled with nuggets of wisdom that have been pulled from the Word of God.

James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere”

These notebooks are extremely valuable. Is it because they were expensive expenditures? No. The majority of them were purchased for less than two dollars each and several of them cost me nothing at all. Is it because they are filled with private thoughts that I want to remain hidden? No. On the contrary, they are filled with important thoughts that were shared with me. They are valuable because they are treasure troves that I can return to again and again to revisit ideas, topics, and thoughts that will benefit me spiritually.

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It has been my experience that taking sermon notes helps me deal with information overload. I have found that at times I can have so much information thrown at me that it can be extremely difficult to mentally digest. When I take notes, I can rest assured that although I may not be completely wrapping my mind around the subject matter, revisiting it is close at hand only a few pages away.

biblepageThe month of April is the month of Gospel Meetings in my little neck of the woods. Chances are, that time of the year can mean back to back Gospel meetings, especially if you are a preacher’s wife like me. While I love being completely immersed in God’s word, I often find myself having trouble retaining all the good news presented to me. This is when my note taking really shows itself to be more than beneficial.

1. I find I focus more clearly when I am in the process of putting what I hear down on paper.

2. If my mind is in the right place, I am able to internalize and retain more than I even realize.

3. If I did not completely retain everything in the sermon (and who can?), I can go back to it as many times as needed and restudy it.

4. I have found myself going back to my notes time and time again when I am writing or preparing to teach others.

Here is a case in point. Our spring meeting at our home congregation was right on the heels of a meeting my husband held at a sister congregation. I went into it pretty exhausted both physically and mentally. I had really been looking forward to hearing some great lessons from our guest speaker, Bro. Jeremiah James Tatum, but was worried I was dulled down too much. Let me tell you, note taking was the answer that quelled my fears. It enabled me to be relaxed enough to savor the Word, and focused enough to listen for understanding. Did I take it ALL in? Probably not, but I got to go back and “hear” it all over again. Here are just TEN things that I was blessed to hear and REMEMBER because of my notes.

1. Obedience to God is a matter of life and death. Choose life!

Deut. 3:19

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”

2. The Word of God is available, attainable, and doable!

Deut. 30:11-14

” Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.”

3. In an attempt to not have to deal with things we don’t like, we often stop up our ears, just like those who stoned Stephen. Regardless of how well we listen, the truth remains and we will have to answer for our rejection of it.

Acts 7:57-58

“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

4. Satan has us distracted and tells us there is no hurry.

John 8:44b

 “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

5.In order to have times of refreshing, a cleansing must occur first.

Acts 3:19

” Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”

6. Conversion is a complete and total destruction of self.

2 Cor. 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

7. People who truly love Christ will think about the cross daily.

1 Cor. 1:18

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”

8.If you have Christ, you have more to offer the world than anyone else.

Acts 3:6

Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 

9. God created us so that all men have a God shaped hole in their heart.

Acts 17:27-28

“so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring‘”

10. God has promised no matter how far we stray from Him, He will always take us back.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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I am almost certain that had I not taken notes, many of these great thoughts would be far removed from my memory. Had I relied on memory alone, not only would I miss out on returning to this edification, but so would you. Note taking, as simple as it seems, can be a great tool in your spiritual growth. If you are not a note taker, listen to some smart advise from the mouth of a babe, my 10 year old son, and give note taking a try!

Shanna