Daniel 1-3, Psalm 55
When speaking to parents of high school and college age students, what they take pride in and therefore their focus is readily apparent. There is no shortage in references to how good a student they are, how good they are in a particular sport or activity, which college they are attending, how great their group of friends are, how difficult their major is, the great internship, the great job they just got, etc. What is glaringly missing from almost every one of these conversations is their walk in faith and their love of God. So, off we send our children to college. Here are a few statistics of how Christian children fare in the lion's den of college:
-70-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school
-Christian youth in America are not being taught to cross examine the skeptical and atheistic views they encounter when they leave home.
-Over 50% of college professors view evangelical Christian students unfavorably.
-College professors are 5x more likely to identify as atheists than the general public.
As we approach the book of Daniel, understanding a little about him and his 3 friends helps appreciate them. These boys were about 15 years old and we read in Da 1:3-4 that they were from wealthy, noble families. They were unblemished, good looking, gifted in wisdom and knowledge, and quick to understand. Practically overnight they lost their family, friends, country, money, language, names and probably their ability to father children (Isaiah 39:7 predicted these events 100 years before, "And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."). Yet despite their youth and losing everything on Earth, their faith in God was unwavering. Consider how most kids go off to college no longer under the watchful eyes of their parents and go wild. We read in Da 1:8, "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." When threatened with death unless he interpreted the king's dream, we read in Da 2:16-19that after asking the king for a little time, he didn't panic, shared the problem with his three friends and prayed knowing that God could give them the answer. Once given the answer and interpretation, the first thing that he does is worship and praise God (v.20-23). Then when he presents to the king, he refuses to take credit but shines all of the glory onto God (2:28, "But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days...). He goes further in Da 2:30 to say, "But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living...". Approximately 20 years later, now in their early 30's Daniel's three friends faced with death again if they would not bow down to the king's image stand firm for God. We read in Da 3:16-18, "...we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
In these opening chapters we see such great of examples of those dedicated to God but not of the world. When I share with my patients I strongly encourage them to study the Bible themselves and to impart it's wisdom onto their children before they go to college. As a nation we focus on everything else less important such as their college, future jobs and earnings, spouse, etc. We can not relinquish this responsibility to anyone else. Even our wonderful church with ministries like Awana, Ignite, Imprint and Impact serve as additives to our responsibility to teach our own children to serve the One True God. We must instill in our children a humility before God and an ability to hear His voice amidst all the distractions around us. After healing a lame man, Peter responded, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?" Jon Courson provides a wonderful story of what we are choosing to listen to: An Indian was walking down Wall Street with a fellow stockbroker. A businessman who had grown up on a reservation, he suddenly stopped and said, "Did you hear that?" "Hear what?" his colleague asked. "Listen", he said, walking a few steps to a gutter and picking up a little cricket. "How in the world among all these people and hustle and bustle and horns and traffic, did you hear the sound of a single cricket?" his friend asked. "It all depends on what your ears are tuned into. Watch this," he said, as he tossed a quarter on the sidewalk. As it hit, everyone stopped.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: