I had the pleasure of giving a talk for the 8th grade Fellowship Of Christian Athletes at Southside School in Lebanon, Tennessee. Here’s what I told them:
I must say I was pleasantly surprised when I received the request to address your group. I don't have the opportunity very often to be among your age group and I accepted the invitation gladly.
Since there is such a difference in our ages and I'm old enough to at least by your grandfather if not your great grandfather, it would seem that common ground would be hard to find.
I'm sure your interests are vastly different from mine, you more than likely listen to different music, watch different television programs and talk about far different subjects than would interest an old gray haired fiddle player like me.
But I'm truly amazed at some of the things your generation is able to do, the ability to play sports to the degree you do at such an early age, the energy you put into everything you do and the agility and speed with which you can text message using a cell phone.
I came from a day when we used rotary dial phones with party lines and you had to talk to an operator to call long distance, and to imagine that one day I would be able to talk to the world from something I hold in my hand, would have been nothing short of mind boggling back in my day.
But mine is a wondrous generation to be born into also. I’ve seen the advent of wonder drugs, jet airplanes, wireless communications and when I was 15 years old I finally saw a picture on a television set and it changed my life.
Of course it changed everybody's life, because the first time in human history we could see other places in real time, actually see Times Square as the big ball dropped on New Year's Eve, and the World Series was no longer just a tinny voice coming our of a radio, but happening right before your eyes.
I remember I was in London the night of the first lunar landing and walked outside to gaze in wonder at the thought that a man was actually walking on that moon.
Things that are every day and mundane to your generation are fantastic and otherworldly to mine.
So with such a disparity in years, cultures and ages what can we possibly have in common?
What we have in common is that we all believe that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to be mocked, beaten, reviled and finally to suffocate on a Roman cross with nails driven through His hands and feet. That He was laid in the grave, and three days later He came back to life.
We believe that He did this to pay for the sins we commit and presented a pardon to us as a free gift of eternal life to all who accept and believe.
We believe that on some awesome day in the future He will return, not as the crucified human but as King of Kings and Lord of Lords returning to gather His faithful to live with Him forever in a place human minds cannot even imagine.
Because we believe this, we call ourselves Christians and that's what we have in common. That despite the differences in our ages, I am actually your brother, did you know that you have a 75-year-old brother?
So, starting there, let’s see what else we have in common.
I make my living playing music and have for the past 54 years. Now it's probably not the kind of music you listen to, but it has taken me on a journey I would never have thought possible when I was your age.
My music has taken me to much of the world, to people of different languages and different cultures. It has earned me honors and accolades and I have been granted so many desires of my heart.
But it all started with a dream by a weak-eyed, farsighted country boy down in nowhere North Carolina, a dream I've followed through some wondrous places and some even more wondrous experiences.
Do you have a dream? Is there something in life that you really want to accomplish?
Have you got in the back of your mind to become something special?
You're all athletes, you know how hard you have to train and how many hours of practice it takes for every hour you're on the field of play and you know that those of you who work the hardest are the ones who do best in the game.
Are you ready to separate yourself from the crowd, to be the first one to get there and the last one to leave, develop the attitude that even if you have to work twice as hard as anybody else you're going to possess your dream?
It's there for you, you can have it, don't listen to the naysayers who stand on the sidelines and tell you that there are no longer opportunities to be had in America that you'll never achieve what you set out to accomplish.
If a nominally talented chubby kid from rural America can make something out of himself, so can you.
Don't ever let anybody take your dream away from you, don't ever let anybody tell you that you're not worthy of success.
You're a unique being, wondrously made, you're an original, and there is not another person on Planet Earth that is exactly like you. Our Creator never made any two of us exactly alike and nobody but you can live your life, nobody but you can be the singular, one of a kind individual that God made you to be and do what He made you to do.
You're a child of the King and He has a plan and purpose for your life, and no power on earth can keep you from that goal if you go after it hard enough.
But you'll be challenged. You'll be challenged by those too lazy or too preoccupied to be committed to a higher place in life; you'll be challenged by people who are jealous of what you achieve and will belittle your accomplishments.
But, most of all, you'll be challenged by yourselves to break through to that second wind, to reach down and grab something you probably don't realize you’ve got until you desperately need it.
And, most importantly, your Christianity is going to be challenged by those who consider themselves too cool, too sophisticated and too suave to admit faith in Jesus.
They'll tell you that there many ways to the mountaintop, that God accepts all who strive to be good people and that believing that there is only one Savior of mankind is old fashioned and out of date.
But our book tells us that there is only one way, one truth and one life. That there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved, and His name is Jesus Christ.
Hold on to your dream, hold on to your uniqueness, hold on to your youthful enthusiasm, but most of all, and hold on to your Christian faith.
It's the only eternal thing on this earth that we can actually touch.
But, take it from one who’s been there and done that, the prize is worth the effort.
Thank you for inviting me this morning, I know you're all anxious to start your summer vacation and as you do, be safe, be careful and be blessed.
Thank you, God bless.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops, and for our country.
God Bless America
See more "Right Views, Right Now" opinion and analysis.