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Killing the Dragon: Graduation Speech for the Class of 2024

Killing the Dragon: Graduation Speech for the Class of 2024

Principal's Pen - May 2024

Good evening,

I'm Principal Nicholas Harris, and I, too, want to welcome you to Berean Christian High School's 55th commencement in honor of the Class of 2024. Today, we celebrate sending these graduates into the world, where they will join nearly 4,000 Berean alums who have gone before them.

Only God knows the experiences that lie ahead in their journey through life—the places they will go, the things they will accomplish, and the marks they will make on this world – this world that God has created for Himself. Graduates, you were made for God, and if you are rightly related to Him, He will undoubtedly use you to display His glory. He will use you in your colleges, churches, neighborhoods, and businesses - in relationships with coworkers, friends, in your marriages, and, Lord willing, to disciple the children you bring into the world or in the lives of the ones you teach.

Like those who have gone before you, you too will leave artifacts of your presence here. Artifacts that tell of a people with an eternal perspective – a people, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, who are "strangers and exiles on this earth" – artifacts of "people who are seeking a homeland, a heavenly homeland and a God who is not ashamed to be called their God."

Graduates, the Bible assures you that God has a path for you to follow all the days of your life—a path that is good, a path that makes much of Him every step along the way! You need only to trust Him, thank Him for every moment, listen to His voice, and say "yes" to whatever He asks of you. For that is the secret to life! A willingness to say "yes" to God, even before you know His questions, is what it means to live as a Christian. Doing so will always ensure you are right where God wants you to be! The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, declared: "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." May you always have a posture that says "yes" to God and walk in the path He has for your life!

From my vantage point, I see the Class of 2024 poised and ready to move into their next stage of life. They possess diverse interests and callings and showcase their talents in numerous ways. This is seen in their scholarly achievements, contributions to the performing arts, and various clubs at our school. Their dedication to serving the Lord is evident in their commitments to their local churches, food pantries, and homeless ministries in the East Bay. I celebrate their service at a summer respite camp for families of special needs children, the graduates who volunteered weekly at John Muir and other hospitals, and the impressive $65,000 of Lego sets one of these graduates raised and donated to children with life-threatening diseases while they stayed in local hospitals.

And I must comment on their athletic achievements. At a school with an enrollment of 400, competing against public schools with thousands of students, seniors in the Class of 2024 led their teams to the playoffs in 18 of the 20 sports we offer. We had 23 first-team all-league selections, 2 league MVPs, 4 team league championships, and, ladies and gentlemen, for the second year in a row, Berean Christian High School earned a NorCal State Championship. And ladies and gentlemen, our women's softball team won the North Coast Section Championship just three hours ago!

While we are pleased with all the Seniors have done, we are thrilled that they did all those things with a charge to be "salt of the earth" and a "city on a hill" as Jesus envisioned in His Sermon on the Mount. One of the greatest joys of being the principal of Berean Christian High School is receiving comments and emails from outsiders and public school parents after they spend time with a group of our students or watch them compete in the secular setting. One of my favorite all-time comments came in the form of an email from a mother after a football game we played at her son's public school. She wrote:

After watching last Friday's game, I felt the need to reach out to you. Seeing your team interact with our team and invite them to pray after the game was the most amazing thing. Then, to say the final shout-out together was the most heartwarming thing I've ever witnessed in my son's football career. Believe me, it resonated with my son and the rest of the team. My son made that interception at the end of the game, but when he came home, the first thing out of his mouth was how cool it was to join your players in that prayer. He said your kids were the nicest guys. That warmed my heart. As proud as I was of my son for expressing this and not the highlights he had during the game, I was just as proud of your team for being so gracious. Many of the parents I spoke to felt the same way. We have played teams that beat us, and they would talk smack at our team and be disrespectful to us. It was just nice to see a team react in such a positive manner. It's rare. It may not mean much coming from a mom, but I felt you should know our thoughts and feelings. You have a great group of kids there. I'm sure you are super proud of them also. Thank you!

I am proud! I am very proud! But there's more I want to tell you…

A few weeks ago, I gave our graduates a survey to let us know of their future plans and callings. Here's what the survey revealed about them: Ninety-six percent plan to attend college next year. Their top intended career choice is in Medicine and Health Care, followed by Business and Finance. Many aim to become Engineers or Architects, while some want to pursue careers in Science and Technology or Computer Science. A handful are interested in Performing Arts, Education, Politics, and Law. I am pleased to announce that this class has reported receiving scholarships totaling $3,432,800.

I'm also proud that 3 graduates in the Class of 2024 plan to serve our country in the United States Armed Forces! And several graduates in this class have told of their intentions to take the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, to the nations by becoming Christian missionaries.

From my perspective, the Class of 2024 is ready to move out from our Christian school into the world and to the path God has laid for them. But graduates, before we send you out, I want to remind you, one last time, of the biblical perspective of the world you are going into – I want you to see a picture of the landscape in front of you from God's eyes. And in so doing, I want to tell you the question He is asking of you – a question to which I pray you say "yes" for the rest of your lives.

Some have referred to the world you are moving into as "post-Christian" or "the secular age," a world where divine transcendence has been lost, and mankind, not God, has become the measure of all things. It's a place where people decide for themselves what is right, fostering a culture where the only sin is to claim that there is such a thing as sin. A world where individual rights and perceived identities have triumphed over the collective good; a place where marriage has been redefined from the creational norm; a place where the educational system teaches children that gender and sexuality are fluid; a place where material wealth has become the sole measure of a successful life; a place where youth soccer and baseball games on Sunday mornings have usurped worship with the local church; a place where social media shapes thinking without conscious consent; a place where people discuss news, and the lives of the famous and infamous, and neglect to discuss truth, ethics, and godly living; a place where people look to political candidates as saviors, believing a mere human can make everything right. In short, we live in a world that is moving further away from faith and worship of the one true God.

What does the Bible say about this? The Bible says a world like this is to be expected even in the midst of Jesus growing His church. In the book of Revelation, John tells us – through vivid apocalyptic imagery – what has happened in the past, both on Earth and in the spiritual realm, that has real-world ramifications, the very ramifications that are causing this world to drift further and further away from the Creator. In chapter 12 of Revelation, John tells of a war that ensued in heaven between the angels of God and a great red dragon. At the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin and death, the angels of God win the battle, and the dragon is cast out of the heavens. Verse 9 of chapter 12 reads, "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." But after his defeat, the dragon is overcome by rage, and though he's a defeated foe who knows his time on Earth is short, he sets out to do as much damage on the Earth as he can. Since then, the dragon, the Devil, has existed to cause chaos, lead believers into despairing sin, and turn the heads of the lost away from God and away from faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 17 reads, "Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. 

Photo Credit: DALL-E

Who are those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus? Christians! 1 Peter 5:8 reads, "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Do you feel it? Do you feel the battle that is going on for your soul, your thoughts, your affections, your devotion, and your love for Jesus?

As has been said many times, the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. We think that the problems in this world are economic, political, and with other people; yes, those things are real. But the Bible tells us that our struggles are deeper than that – deeper than what we can see. Ephesians 6:12 – "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Graduates, you are moving into the center of that battle! What are you to do? How are you to live? How can you win? I'm glad you asked. Revelation 12:6 tells you how to win – here it is – listen closely! "They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death."

Graduates, three powerful truths are contained in that statement!

First, above all else, you win through Jesus Christ, who has already won the battle by His life, death, and resurrection. His blood has redeemed you, ensuring peace with God and your place in God's eternal kingdom.

Second, your testimony is a powerful weapon against the forces of darkness. Your words and actions, rooted in your faith and enabled by the Spirit, will shine light in the darkness wherever God takes you from here. May you be bold in sharing the gospel, standing firm in your convictions, and living out the love of Christ in every interaction and relationship you have.

Third, a true disciple of Christ lays down their life. And graduates, that is the question God is asking you today and every day! Will you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ? I pray you answer "yes" every day of your lives!

Graduates, as you step into this new chapter, trust in God's plan for you. Lean on His strength, listen for His guidance, and say "yes" to His call. May you go forth with courage, faith, and an unwavering commitment to live as Christ's ambassadors in this world. Remember, the battle is already won, and you are on the victorious side.

May God bless you all!

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