Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shock and Awe

Photo of PaigeDear Friends,

Please forgive me while I brag a little bit...

Our daughter Paige graduated from Cascade Christian High School last night. Cascade has been a blessing for us and our daughter. Paige got a good education, and made a lot of wonderful friends as well.

She and Nikki were the two salutatorians (the person with the second highest grade point average) - they tied. Chad was the valedictorian, a great guy with an award-winning smile, athletic, and nice too. All three of them got one A- somewhere along the way in their four year high school experience, and all of them had better than a 4.0 GPA (if you get an “A” in an Advanced Placement class it counts as a 5.0). Chad had the highest GPA because he took one more AP class than Nikki or Paige.

The best part about all three of them is that they’re Christian. Each of them knows that through Jesus’ death and resurrection they are justified, forever freed from the curse of the Law. If you meet any of the three of them, you’ll know why they are all something special, not because of brains, but because of their attitude.
“For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20
About the only concern that we’ve had with Cascade has been that it’s a “generic” Christian school, meaning Reformed/Evangelical. Lots of Law and exhortation. For Paige, at times it’s been a living four year apologetics course. She would occasionally come home after chapel and mention that the message was often the same - rededicating your life and being “on fire for Jesus.” She was able to figure out from her own observations over the years that these messages were useless. Nobody’s behavior changed - they were all still sinners. This was a good opportunity for us to discuss what the Bible has to say about our lives in Christ and instill in her a truly confessional Lutheran understanding. It’s also been an opportunity for her to present her Lutheran beliefs in what she says and writes in the course of her normal school work. There might be a teacher or two at Cascade that now has a true understanding of what Baptism is all about because of Paige.

This is where the “shock and awe” part comes in. Since Paige was one of the salutatorians, she had the opportunity to present a speech. She was tasked with giving her classmates some kind of a challenge. Her challenge, (coincidental to the name of the blog), was stand firm. At this point, her speech departed the realm of anything anybody had ever heard before in this particular building (a big auditorium-like church named “Champions Center”). It was a beautiful witness of her faith and a clear presentation of Law and Gospel. She had the whole thing memorized, and presented it slowly, clearly, with a smile on her face, and with feeling. Rather than try and summarize it I’m posting it below.

The few Lutherans who were there raved about it afterwards, including our pastor, who said it was a better sermon than some he’d heard from Lutheran pastors. He was nice enough to spend his Friday night at Paige’s graduation; he truly is a servant.

I pray that all of her fellow graduates listened carefully to what she was saying, because it was the opening for them to true Christian freedom. I hope they’ll take that speech with them and remember it for the rest of their lives.

We praise God for blessing our daughter with a sure trust in His promises, and for blessing her with her wonderful ability to proclaim the true light that gives light to every man.

Here’s the text of her speech:

Good evening. My name is Paige Diekmann. I am honored to have the opportunity to speak to you tonight. I was asked to give my classmates a challenge. And here it is in only two words: Stand Firm. This challenge comes straight from one of my favorite passages of Scripture, First Peter chapter five, verses six through eleven:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Stand firm. This is the command Peter gives in his letter to the early Christians, and it is meant for Christians today as well. We must resist the devil, standing firm in the faith. This means we must adhere to our faith despite the most difficult opposition. We must turn down offers to do things we know are wrong; we must have integrity even when no one is holding us accountable; we must speak boldly in defense of the Christian faith when it is ridiculed. These things are not easy to do, and yet God says, “Be holy because I am holy.” How can we accomplish such an impossible task? I could never meet this challenge. No one could. Yet 1 Peter 3:18 has good news for us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” Christ has already met our challenge for us. He lived a perfect life on earth. He stood firm in every situation, even when faced with rejection, ridicule, and ultimately, death. But he didn’t stay dead. He rose again conquering sin, death, and the devil. Now, because of Christ’s work on the cross, when we fail to stand firm, we have forgiveness. God doesn’t look at us and see our sin; he sees Christ’s righteousness covering us.

When we stop looking to ourselves and look instead to the Gospel promise, it takes away the burden of relying on ourselves to stand firm. We know that though we may fail, Christ’s promises do not. Through faith in Him, we are forgiven and renewed daily to once again rise and continue our battle against Satan the roaring lion. We are free from the burden of our own failures, focusing not on ourselves and what we must do, but on Christ and what He has done for us.

Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

So our challenge to stand firm is answered not by reliance on ourselves, but as St. Peter says, through our faith in Jesus Christ. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Amen.

Thank you for hearing me tonight. May God bless your celebrations and your life endeavors, and may you stand firm.


Susan said...

I am so very happy for you! You are truly blessed! :)

Frank said...

I know pride is not usually a good thing but I think in this case there is absolutely nothing wrong with being especially proud of Paige. That girl must have some good parents;-)