************ Motivational Speech on Daniel 1:8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This speech was delivered on October 21, 1997
Motivational Speech for Central Valley Christian School
Topic: WorldlinessThis story tells us that surroundings count, that the environment of a person or a thing is important.
Subtopic: Conformity to the World
Title: Don't be like the eagle
There is a legend among Native Americans in the west about a brave who found an eagle's egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.
All his life the eagle thought he was a prairie chicken, so he did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that's how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.
One day he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
"What a beautiful bird!" the eagle exclaimed to a prairie chicken who was his neighbor. "What is it?"
"That's an eagle — the chief of the birds," the neighbor clucked. "But don't give it a second thought. You could never be like him."
So the eagle never gave it another thought. And he lived and died thinking he was a prairie chicken.
King Nebuchadnezzar was certainly aware of this. He knew that surroundings count, that the environment of a person or a thing is important. Listen to what the Bible says about King Nebuchad nezzar:
(Dan 1:1-5) In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. (2) And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god. (3) Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility-- (4) young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. (5) The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king's table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king's service.
Consider, for a moment, the Jewish boys Ashpenaz was told to pick out. He was told to pick out young men. They were boys actually — somewhere between the age of 12 to 14 years. Not only that, but Ashpenaz was also told to pick out the cream of the crop; he was to pick out those young men who someday would hold positions of leadership among the Jewish people. These young men were the future judges, governors, mayors, rabbis, generals, and kings of Israel.
Notice what Ashpenaz was to do with these young men, these future leaders. He was "to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians" (vs 4). Do you know what this really means? This means that Ashpenaz's job was to inject the heathen Babylonian spirit into the hearts and minds of the Israelite youth who had been imported from Jerusalem. These children of the covenant was supposed to become totally Babylonian in their outlook and conduct. They were to be completely captivated by the Babylonish culture, religion, language, thought forms, and ways of life. Their wills were to be bent, their minds were to be shaped or reshaped. This was not just wishful thinking on Nebuchadnezzar's part. With youth of that age the character and conviction were not yet fixed and hardened so it was totally possible that he would succeed. Those of you who know history realize that the Nazis and Communists tried the same thing with children.
What would have happened if the king had succeeded in his plan? Those Jewish boys would have acted like Chaldeans instead of as children of God. The boys, we can say, would have been like the eagle who thought it was a prairie chicken.
I say again: surroundings count, the environment of a person or a thing is important. After all, that is why we have this fine Christian School. We want to give our children and youth the right surrounding, and the right environment. We don't want to raise children of God who end up thinking and acting like children of the world. We don't want to raise children of God who act like prairie chickens rather than eagles.
The surroundings and environment of our children and youth are so important. Surroundings and environment are important because that controls what our children think and what they become. For this reason we passionately believe in this Christian school.
If you want your children to believe this world has been created, rather than an accident, then you send them to this Christian School. If you want your children to believe pre-marital sex is wrong, then you send them to this Christian School. If you want your children to know that they need a personal relationship with Christ Jesus, then you send them to this Christian School. If you want your children to know that others must always be treated with dignity and love, then you send them to this Christian School. If you want your children to be told that certain kinds of music and TV programs and movies are bad for them, then you send them to this Christian School. If you want your children to act like children of God rather than children of the world, then you send them to this Christian School. If you want your children to act like eagles rather than prairie chickens, then you send them to this Christian School.
That's the choice we have: do we want our children and youth to have the right or the wrong environment, do we want to raise eagles or prairie chickens?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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