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With a theme Bible verse taken from Jeremiah 29:11, the baccalaureate program last Wednesday at Vandalia Community High School included several references to the past, present and future.
That verse reads: "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
The student-led program included thoughts on the past (Christian Schroeder), the present (Quenten Austin) and the future (Stephanie Boas), as well as prayers by Bryan Hosick and Schroeder. Songs included a duet sung by Jordan Brown and Maresha Mitchell, and solos by Ian Murrell and Olivia Bowen.
The main speaker was VCHS science teacher Doug Forbes. He also used the Jeremiah text in his speech titled "A Life of Courage."
He told the graduates that as they finish high school, they have many options in the paths that lie ahead.
"You are free to choose which path you take," he said. "Tonight, I want to talk to you, not about which path to take, but about how you should walk on that path, whichever path you decide on.
"God desires to have a relationship with you, so that you will have someone to turn to, in the good times and the bad.
"That type of life takes courage. When you truly seek God with all your heart, you will be mocked and made fun of. Our culture makes fun of purity, holiness, integrity, self-discipline and character. But if you want to live a life of peace with yourself, and with those around you, these things – purity, integrity, character and self-discipline – must become central to your life.
"These things are not easy; in fact, they are pretty hard. It takes a strong man or a strong woman to live a life of courage. But here is the secret: the strength doesn't come from you; it comes from God, through his son, Jesus Christ. If you seek him with all your heart, you will find him, and his peace will live in you, and you will live with him forever."