Love The Glory That Comes From God: Commencement Address, Homeschool Class of 2019

May 11, 2019 Dear Ashley, Libby, Sam, and Sienna -
Congratulations. I hope you know how proud everyone here is of you. Your parents have treasured you from the moment they knew you were coming. They changed your diapers, held your hands as you learned to walk, and tenderly washed scraped knees. Countless sleepless nights and long days were poured into nurturing and guiding and teaching. Today's ceremony marks both a celebration and a loss. Even as you still have to finish some coursework, today we also celebrate your readiness to enter the world: the hope and dread of every parent who still sees in your eyes the same baby they held in their arms when you first arrived. Take to heart the words of scripture: honor your father and your mother.
It is customary in such commencement speeches to share words of inspiration and motivation. But, for those of you who have read Winnie the Pooh, I'm afraid I'm more of an Eeyore than a Piglet. What I bring for you is a sentence - breathed…

The Victory of the Cross - Reflections on Good Friday

I count it an immense blessing to live in a country where Good Friday is a national holiday. Yesterday, a parade went by our home. Pontius Pilate led the way with his wife, followed by Caiaphas the high priest, a large group of Roman guards, and finally Jesus carrying the cross.
We protestants often don’t think too much about Good Friday. But it was the climax of Jesus’ life on earth up to the resurrection. It is in his arrest, trial, and execution that Jesus is seems to be defeated. And yet it is here that the Gospel writers find him victorious.
John records the deep irony of Jesus’ trial with Pilate. There are three main characters: Jesus, Pilate, and “the Jews.” (It is important to understand that “the Jews” is John’s way of talking about the Jewish authorities, not just a random group of Jews.)
Jesus had been arrested and brought before a local council of Jewish leaders. There were no credible witnesses against them, but they still wanted him dead. They brought him to Pilate appa…

How Eugene Peterson Changed My Life - a Tribute

Today (Monday the 22nd), Eugene Peterson breathed his last breath in this life and his first in the next. 
Eugene Peterson was perhaps best known for his lesser accomplishment: The Message. If you see any tributes to his life, you may read about his meekness and quiet nature; but his tongue could fire arrows off faster than the legendary elf-prince, Legolas. His target? The American church and the American Pastor. He would critique himself before any other but never pulled any punches when it counted. I cannot overstate the influence Peterson has had on me and our ministry. He has four books on pastoral leadership: Five Smooth Stones, The Contemplative Pastor, Working the Angles, and Under the Unpredictable Plant.
Too many times have I found myself been gasping for breath as the prophetic words of this gentle man tore at my worldly outlook on ministry, as Aslan tore the dragon-flesh from Eustace. I read his books slowly so that the sting of the words could sink deep enough to brand…

Commencement Address, Homeschool Graduating Class of 2018 - San Jose, Costa Rica

April 28, 2018

Good afternoon – for those who do not know me, my name is Jonathan Hunter. I have had the honor of knowing these young men and women through their high school years as their youth pastor. Jaci mentioned that everyone prefers funny speeches for graduations. She’s probably right. But, to your disappointment (I’m sure), I don’t have that luxury. You see, I have been given a responsibility toward these wonderful young men and women that I take very seriously A responsibility to continuously remind and point them to faith, to assurance in God and his promises.
For years we have gathered in this room and we have opened these pages to eat from the Scriptures. And as I began to prepare for this speech, I realized that for you four, this is my last chance to stand here to impart to you the Word of God. For my last words, I would leave you with one final warning. It is basic. So basic that might seem insignificant: like bringing a pencil to taking the SAT or wearing a bathing suit…

Second Sunday of Advent: Peace

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-16
While Simeon watched the sun go down in Jerusalem (remember the story from last week?), little Benjamin huddled close to the fire. As soon as the sun had slipped below the horizon, the wind started. It was a cold, biting wind and Benjamin quickly grabbed his cloak. His father, James, looked across the fire at Benjamin: “Getting cold, son?” he asked.
James was a rugged man. His hair was tossed and his beard tangled. And he smelled like sheep. But Benjamin didn’t notice—his dad always smelled like sheep… or did the sheep smell like his dad? “Benjamin,” his dad called again, “are you dreaming already?”
Benjamin shrugged his shoulders. “Just a little cold,” he said. His father nodded. “It looks as if it will be a cold night tonight. Why don’t you go look for more firewood? We’ll be out here until the sun comes back.”
“Ok.” Benjamin said quietly.
Have you ever been in a dark place where the wind howls and there are no electric lights? Benjamin hated the …

Hoping and Waiting - First Sunday of Advent

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 7:14; 9:2-7; Luke 2:25-26
Simeon was young when the Romans had come. But even now in his old age, he could still hear the pounding of feet on the street, the ringing of the swords; the shouts of the guard;, the groans of the wounded. And the smell of blood--oh how he wished he could forget. His people was a conquered people. For a hundred years they had scratched out freedom, but it was short-lived. Now even as he walked through the city some forty years later, Simeon could feel the eyes of the Roman guard boring into his back.
Simeon loved this city. Once the seat of glory and conquest, now a symbol of resilience and of the faithfulness of God. It refused to be permanently destroyed. They would always keep on rebuilding. 
Oh, his knees. They creaked with every step Why so many stairs? Slowly, one at a time, up, up, up to the temple. When he was a boy he used to run up these steps – sometimes two or three at a time – always with his mother calling for him to slo…

Commencement Speech for Silas, June 11, 2017

“Guard the deposit entrusted to you”
We’re here to celebrate Silas’s graduation. But Silas, you haven’t accomplished much. In a fact, everything we’re celebrating today is a gift that has been given to you. There have been sleepless nights devoted to your arrival at this moment. Thousands and thousands of dollars spent. You love to read. But that didn’t come from you. It came from hours and hours of books upon books being read to you. You love to learn and love knowing things. But that love of knowledge and learning was imparted to you from someone other than yourself.

You have not scaled an impassible wall, nor have you swum the breadth of the ocean. You have actually accomplished little in the grand scheme of things. You were simply given a gift. You have been entrusted with an upbringing and an education that had at its climax, this ceremony: which signifies an end not only to your secondary education, but to your childhood.

But your upbringing and education is not all that has …