by Norm Miller

CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews)—Gov. Sonny Perdue delivered the commencement address as Truett-McConnell College conferred baccalaureate degrees on 102 graduating seniors, May 24.

More than half the graduates earned Latin honors: 23, magna cum laude; 11, summa cum laude; and 23, cum laude.

Before introducing Perdue, President Emir Caner noted the Memorial Day weekend and offered deep appreciation for the more than one million Americans who sacrificed their lives in military service to the United States. He also thanked veterans attending the commencement service for the freedoms enjoyed in the United States.

Caner welcomed all the graduates’ families, thanking them for the sacrifices they made to ensure their students “received the most biblical and broadest education possible.”

Graduates will leave the college “not only as the best professionals in their fields, but [as] witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ,” Caner said.

Noting that he had taught most of the graduates, Caner said he was sure they would forego their diplomas for the eternal sake of anyone who did not know the salvation available through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

“God loves you,” he said. “Christ died for you that you might be set free from sin.”

Caner introduced Perdue, saying: “Today we are honored to have the 81st governor of the state of Georgia … two-term Governor Sonny Perdue.”

Among the litany of Perdue’s accolades, Caner noted SAT and ACT scores were the highest ever in Georgia’s history during Governor Perdue’s tenure “because of his love for education.”

Caner said the most important thing to Perdue “is that he knows the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Perdue took the podium amid welcoming applause, saying he would use a word that “would be very, very rare in commencement speeches across the United States.”

“I didn’t ask permission from President Caner to say this word, but I’m going to use it anyway,” Perdue said. “It’s a rarely heard word. It’s a powerful word; it’s Jesus.”

The name of Jesus marks history’s calendar, “is a name above all names,” and is a name at which “every knee shall bow” one day, Perdue said, even though that word is not welcome in modern culture.

“You can’t utter that word in polite society because you will be labeled a peculiar person, weird and strange if you talk about the name,” he said. “But that’s exactly what you’ve been trained to do, and that’s the reason for your education.”

Titling his remarks as “The Power of Predetermined Obedience in the Favor of God,” Perdue said God would likely call those willing to obey him to uncomfortable places.

“God would not tell me what he wanted for me to do until I said to him, ‘Wherever, whenever, whatever, I’ll go,’” Perdue said. “That is the principle God honors.”

Perdue said he never intended to run for governor. “But the Holy Spirit started scrubbing on me with a Brillo pad … and the message was, get out of your comfort zone.”

Running for public office is “getting out of your comfort zone,” he said, because “you take your heart all the way out, where people can stomp on it all over the state.”

Regardless of the 2002 election’s outcome, Georgia’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction said he would have been victorious “because there is victory in obedience unto the Lord.”

Perdue noted the Old Testament character, Daniel, who was kidnapped into forced slavery, but who resolved to obey God and did not bow to the Chaldeans’ idols.

“Graduates, you are walking out today into the land of the Chaldeans,” Perdue warned, and you will be “besieged by a different thought process in the United States than has ever been here.”

“Your faith will be challenged in the marketplace and in the ministry if you are resolved to stand for Jesus,” he said.

Such challenges come as compromises to one’s faith and convictions, and Perdue said he faced this dynamic in his political career. “But God will honor your resolve to obey him.”

Perdue said graduates had received a “special gift from Truett-McConnell College to empower you, to embolden you, to teach you how to withstand” the challenges of compromise in a culture hostile to Christianity and its principles.

“Will you resolve not to defile your own conscience, your own Lord?” Perdue asked the graduates. “This decision isn’t a moment-by-moment decision. It is a predetermined resolve to remain undefiled.”

Such commitment to God will “enable you to defeat the power of evil, the power of the Chaldeans in your personal life, and in society as you go forth,” Perdue said. “Then your enemies will say, ‘Blessed be the God of Truett-McConnell College.’”


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