In this message, Dr. Cody Christensen challenges listeners to really listen and hear the word of God, then obey.
The Greek word that is translated as “uproar” isἐκταράσσω (ektarassō),: to agitate, to disturb wholly, to exceedingly trouble. Although an uproar is “seen,” it is preceded with a subversive force. The church operates in a similar way, being subversive to the rhythm of the culture it exists within. It is the perpetuation of this subversive force that causes and creates an uproar that is seen and felt.
It is our goal this year to explore ways for us to participate in the subversive kingdom force that will create an uproar in the culture God calls us to.
Listen to additional messages at Boise Bible College at www.boisebible.edu/messagesatbbc.
Dr. Cody Christensen: Well, there I was. It probably wasn’t the first time in the driver’s seat, but I definitely remembered this time. Hand on the wheel. Senior in high school. You’ve been there, right? Yeah, a couple of you…oh, only me and Bralyn. That’s it. We’ve been the only ones driving everyone else.. heel-toe express. I totally get that, I understand, but this was a little bit different. There have always been nights when you cruise Main street and you are the king of the world or queen of the world, as it would be. And you are in the driver’s seat and all is your kingdom but not this time. We were in the truck or we meaning myself and there’s one thing that I had failed to do. If there’s one driving principle that is gained from the movie Groundhog Day, what would it be?
Don’t drive angry, but don’t drive at the Groundhog as well. Yes, don’t drive angry. However, this time I was past angry. Driving. Yeah, you also have to understand that we’re in rural Arkansas rural Oklahoma, so it’s a truck that barely runs. You know, we got Scotch tape, baling wire, and other things. It’s really good. Oftentimes on the farm vehicles, you don’t need a speedometer because there are different shakes and shimmies as you push down the accelerator, and this time we were shimmering pretty good, because I wasn’t happy. Dad had sent me on this trip. And I was not happy about it. I was a senior in high school and the decisions of life were coming due. And as some of you know, because you’ve been there, the dreaded question. “So what are you going to do when you grow up?” I don’t know. Shut up. You know I don’t know, I’m delaying that.
So I thought a really good rationale would be like hey, “I’ll just join the military that gets away from everything.” My father was not happy. A couple of things number one, he always said “Cody you do know there’s physical activity in the military, correct?” He knew me OK, I was in band and I’m allergic to sports. We all know that. But the second thing was he desperately saw a different path for me than I did. So as a last resort, he and honestly looking back on it, I don’t know other than I just have a fear of disappointment of my parents. He sent me to his mentor. I’d known him for a long time. Riley Donica. He was a big mover and shaker down in southeast Oklahoma, Southwest Arkansas area there. And so I was on my way to see him. And I had to confront my decision in life with Riley Donica.
Don’t care. There’s no…Why do I have to talk to this man? It’s my decision, it’s my life, it’s whatever. And so as I was driving along, it wasn’t like hey, let’s listen to worship music and praise God. No, we were driving angry. I was thinking bad things about my dad. I was thinking bad things about Riley Donica, thinking bad things about the truck. All of these things come into play, and I remember sitting across from Riley Donica in much the stance that I’ve had students sit across from my desk in and it is annoying as all get out now get. As soon as you take that stance with me, I just start amping it up. You know, because as a side note, I always believe that if you have a visit to the Dean’s office, it should always be memorable. But that’s a side note, and you know if you want to have that visit, no problem, no problem. I can do that. Just, well, since we’re on the, at least when you enter and I always try to start at a three or four, that seems to be at least memorable. But if you take the stance that I did that. You’re already at a 6 or 7. Because the obstinate oozes off your persona.
And it really didn’t matter what Riley Donica had to say to me, because my personal agenda was the only thing that I could think about. Even Riley Donica said listen, “there is anyone can join the military, but not everyone can preach the gospel.” Don’t care. He said, “You do know that you have won the Preacher Boy contest at the rendezvous that we have.” Some of you know that it’s preaching, you know speech contest for kiddos, whatever…NextGen preacher is like it. There we go, some, you know that. He continued, “You could preach. you have grown up in the church. You know the ways of the church.” I don’t care. Don’t care. So I obstinately just was there. Dad left and I did my own thing.
Now God doesn’t forsake us in moments when we don’t choose plan A and I’m here to tell you that God can bless plan B. But I am concerned that we as a people, a community of faith, love to come to church and we love to sing songs like we just did like I surrender. Wasn’t that beautiful? Yes, it was. But did you?
Because for you to surrender, you have to have in mind your own personal agenda and it has to be confronted with the will of God and there must be a clash and a collision and a wrestling that happens at that moment. And the only thing we have done is just amped up our survival instincts and oscillate between, “well, this is a little bit too much painful, so I’m going to go over here, but this is a little bit too much sappy and pleasure, so I’m going to run back over here.” And we’re oscillating mainly between pain and pleasure, which is literally the lowest form of interaction with anything known. Good, gosh, the animals do that.
Very few and far between are there the times when we are able to obey God.
This sense of obedience is all throughout scripture. Let’s go to the Great Commission. How many of you know the Great Commission? OK, three or four of you, that’s great, wonderful, and what’s kind of the Cliff notes version of the Great Commission?
Go make disciples. Everywhere. Baptizing them, get them dunked. Name of the father, son Holy Spirit. Teaching them to…? Obey. All that I’ve commanded. Over and over and over again, and oftentimes the portion of obedience is often overlooked. And we want to say, “Oh God, I just surrender everything…Oh, who snapped me. This is really what? In Chapel…Surrender to you, yeah….OK oh, that’s almost inappropriate…. we’re in Chapel…Save that one for later….to you, Hallelujah.”
How old are you? Yeah, we have so many distractions and if you don’t have enough wait till your birthday and Christmas you’ll get another one. It’s no big deal.
And very few and far between are the moments and the spaces in your life that you give yourself to wrestle with the will of God in your life.
That the drive over to Riley Donica, the obstinate interaction that I had with Riley Donica, is still very real to me is because it was a moment in time where I knew whether I wanted to acknowledge it or not, that the will of God was confronting me and I took the ticket to Tarshis and got out of there.
But we’re not the only ones. This whole idea has just been ruminating around in here, and especially as we think about this year, about the theme that is going on, and I always go back to Jacob. Do you remember Jacob and Esau? Couple of you. They were twin goats that we had on campus a while back. They were great. They got out one too many times and we had a BBQ or at least some of you did. Oh, not that Jacob and Esau I’m so sorry they were twins, but they were in Scripture. Got it. Yes, yeah. And they were brothers. Have you ever had siblings before? Twice and you tried to get over it? Yeah, yeah, they’re hard to get over. Kind of a lasting thing there. I honestly believe if we’re going, to be honest, the most frustrating thing about family is…I had no input into it, you know? I mean, it’s like “no, I would not have chosen that personality.” OK, you wouldn’t have chosen them, and so now you’re stuck with whoever you got.
And Jacob and Esau, they were so different from one another. One of them was more inclined, I mean, he kept hitting the Food Network channel and the other one is like “dude TV’s gross, I’m going out back and like killing stuff and smearing blood on things and OK, whatever, you know.” And the other is like “well, I’m gonna sanitize again while I watch the Food Network. That’s gross, you know.” And there was a division that came along.
The really cool thing about some of the scripture characters that we have is that God allowed us to look into their lives and to watch their struggle, and Jacob bless his heart. He came out just hanging onto the heels of Esau in the beginning and he just kept that position. He was always trying to scam and to scheme, and manipulate the system.
Have you been there? Boy, I have. You know, and it doesn’t take long before in what game you’re playing, You’re like “there has to be a cheat code of some kind. Can I not get infinite lives and infinite money and just do whatever I want?” Boy, Jacob was there the whole time and when he had finally spent over 20 years with Leben, who actually was a swindler. But that’s a whole different story. He starts coming back, and all of a sudden, the past decisions, the consequences were coming to light.
And you can see the anxiety. You can see the…It’s just building. If you read the story in Genesis 31 and 32 as he’s coming back and he’s very concerned with coming home. He splits up his possessions, he tries to sweeten the deal, so to speak. In the last maneuver, he sends everyone away, and in the middle of the night by himself, he begins to wrestle with God.
And I think at that moment finally, God had his attention. He had been scheming and conniving and manipulating and doing whatever he wanted. Until at the shores of Jabbok, he began to wrestle fully with the will of God.
Jacob’s not the only one. Paul begins to talk about some of this wrestling. We know in Romans 7, he says this, “we know that the law is spiritual, but I am enslaved to sin. I do not understand what I do for when I want to do. I do not do, but what I hate to do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good as it is, it is no longer I myself who do it but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good. But I cannot carry it out for what I do is not the good I want to do. No, the evil. I do not want to do this. I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is the sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being, I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work and the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind, making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man am I? Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
And if the apostle Paul continues to wrestle with God, so will we, and should we. And my challenge to you is just simply this. Obey God.
Obey God. It’s really quite simple.
It’s just acting it out. That’s just the insurmountable. Mount Everest. That’s all, no problem, but I believe in this principle. When we look at obedience in and of itself, the first thing that we have to do is we must listen to God. There is a difference between hearing and listening.
You do realize that, right? We call it selective hearing sometimes. Do any of you suffer from that at all? Three or four. Thank you. Yes, I’m there as well. It’s like, oh, I’m sorry, were you talking to me the last 30 minutes? I’m so sorry. I totally zoned out. It used to be that, but now it’s like, oh, I’m sorry I was Snapchatting, texting, Tik Toking, and you know, emailing people while you were talking. I’m so sorry about that. I didn’t see you there. We have to listen to God.
We must provide margin and space in our life to hear the word of God.
Dr. Voorhees set us up on Tuesday. On what Jesus was doing, His actions to draw away, to get quiet. You hear in Jacob’s world when he fully wrestled with God, who was around? No one, he was by himself. Even if you look at David, when David really screwed up, right, we know with his whole Bathsheba incident that she got sick with child. David was concerned about the health of this child, even though he knew everything that was going on and he pleaded with God for that child seven days by himself, fasting and praying.
We must provide space for God to speak to us. My question is, do you have that space? Do you know how? I know this seems redundant, but do you know how to shut off distractions and concentrate on what you have to do?
I’m not convinced that, you need to convince me of that because I’m not even convinced in my own life. And the more and more we have, the quicker the pace comes up, the more distractions we have the harder it is to slow our minds and our hearts. To even be in a position to listen to God. So do you have space to hear that?
Then the second thing that we’ve already talked about is when you hear the word of God there must be a crisis of belief that comes in. This comes right out of old doctor Blackaby, he did some great work in wrestling with God. What is your personal agenda? What is it that you desire? And what is it that is God’s will? And how do you reconcile them?
I already told you what my agenda was. I was taking the easy way out. I was going into the military. I think it was God’s will for me to do something in, you know, not exactly sure, because I didn’t even have that space. I told you first thing was to hear the word of God. I did not. I didn’t listen to number one, but I wasn’t even hearing at all. So you have to get into that space where there is a wrestling with the word of God. I think that’s where Paul gets to. He says “I didn’t know I was sinning until I looked in the book and this is what I was doing was wrong. And I have to struggle with that.”
Each of us has temptations and sins, struggles and paths that we are dealing with. Some of that is just sin, nature, and corruption, and we’re dealing with how to pick up the pieces and allow the Holy Spirit to heal the consequences of past behavior. Now that’s another thing, but what I’m talking about is this personal agenda in what you are leaning forward with, the will of God.
This becomes evident in, how many of you enjoy doing homework? There are like three or four nerds out there and I don’t appreciate it. Generally speaking, we call it homework for a reason. It’s not like, “Hey, will you please take your home pleasure home and just do this 1500 words?” No, it’s work. It’s yuck. We don’t like to do that, but we understand the joy of wrestling through those requirements. I’m asking you to take some of these tangible things that you know and apply them to your spiritual life.
Here’s a couple of things that I would tell you about this. When it comes to this wrestling, it must involve something that is beyond your capability to do.
We just had the Olympics, or maybe they’re still going. How many of you watched the Olympics? Yep, that’s exactly what I thought. How many of you know what the Olympics are? OK, and how many of you know that they aired them at some level and you can watch them? There was less that knew you had the capability. That’s so strange to me, okay. However, you watched these Olympians and they do amazing things, right? We had like swimming and gymnastics. And what level? Did they display the work of God in their lives?
I mean, we can debate that, but just hear me out on this. They did these amazing feats through their own power. I’m not doubting that God was in the middle of them, but primarily they have worked and honed and practiced and they were able to perform at literally a superhuman level.
So it’s like, yeah? OK, and we glorify the individual. We glorify their work and we were like, “Dude, you are the man. You got a gold medal and a ribbon and a trophy and everything that is awesome work.” And so the first thing when we are wrestling with the will of God is we have to understand…Is this something big enough that God gains the glory in the end or do I?
Each and every one of you is uniquely created to do not just good works, but awesome, fantastic supernatural works in your own power. Because you are made in the image of God and can do great things. Those can often bring you the glory, but if you are wrestling with the will of God, it will be of such a nature that it is only God that will gain the glory in the end.
It also has to be so big that it requires faith on our behalf that God will show up and it also has to have an action component to it.
In this last point, it requires you to adjust your plans, your decision, and your life…to his will. And when you say I surrender. You feel it. Because you have taken your personal agenda and have sacrificed it on the altar to God.
Now, let me back up just a moment because I believe some of you in this room have exhibited this. And you know this personal struggle because it was your story getting to BBC. Right? Your personal agenda was like, “God I got a full ride to the college of my dreams,” and he’s like, “Hey, how about BBC?” And you’re like, “Hey how about, no way.” Or you were, “Like oh I don’t know how I’m going to pay for that stuff” or “I have these dreams of business or this passion,” and God says, “I want to call you into ministry and to move forth my Kingdom.” Some of you are sitting here and you know what I’m talking about.
Do you know what it is like to hear the word of God? And it probably came on all of the accounts of the admissions counselors, “Hey dude, this is like the 24th time I’m calling. Just so you know. A response would be nice, okay? I’m losing my will to live, just call me back.”
You know and you’re like, “Delete one more time. You know I’m ghosting you for a reason, yeah.” But you wrestled with that and maybe someone sent you to their mentor as my Dad did to me. And instead of you taking an obstinate position, as I did, you had maybe a little toehold to allow God to open the crack up, and you began to hear and to listen and wrestle with what God has in store.
We want to do great things to change this world, yet we are unwilling to obey God and His commandments and we wonder what the problem is.
So my vision really for this year, this uproar theme. I just want to take a moment and just kind of talk through that because my prayer is for us to take a year and do the hard work of obeying God. I told you it sounds so easy, just obey God, “Hello, it’s not that big a deal.” You know, he says, “Love your enemy,” Just love your enemy. It’s no big deal. You know like “Love your wife, respect your husband.” No big deal. Just do it. You know? Like “Do good works,” Thats no big deal. Just get on there and do that stuff you know. Like “Honor your father and mother,” let’s go. I mean no big deal.
These simple truths and commandments of God require our obedience. And my prayer is that in these quiet moments of wrestling with God. Let’s not even wrestle with God, yet. Can I just challenge you to learn to hear the word of God? I’m just going to give that challenge to myself as well because I don’t know if. Maybe you don’t know this about me, but I’m an info junkie. So I’ve just said that I’m sorry, but one thing that I really appreciated about Covid is it really fed that. So I was like and I was literally like an addict on a relapse during COVID. Here’s why because everyone known to man started pushing everything livestream. And it’s awesome because as long as you have different IP addresses, you can sign into anything you want. So typically on a really good Saturday, I could tune into a training on my phone with this earbud in. And then there’s another conference going on that I could sign into my computer on, and have this earbud in, and then I can have a PowerPoint that’s going on another computer that I have as well. And sometimes you can watch a movie at the same time and pretend to hear your kids. It was awesome. Love it. Love it. It was so great.
But I sure didn’t hear God in the middle of all that. At all, I sure did not.
And I wonder how many of you are the same way you’re putting so many distractions. So much stuff, you do not know how to hear the word of God. It’s wonderful to sing about and it’s lovely to be like “oh, be still and know I’m God. Oh my gosh, I’m putting that on a postcard. That’s fantastic. Wear that on the T shirt,” but we do not know how to slow and stop and to hear.
And so my goal for us is to look at that. So this first series that we have coming up, the subversive Kingdom. We’re going to look at what a kingdom is because a kingdom has a king and rules and people and land and we’re going to talk through that with the faculty. But then one aspect that I’m really excited about, is our character study. So in Chapel, our goal is to go through two books a year, one in the fall, one in the spring.
But this year we decided, you know, we all learn more from stories. Give me a good story, and so this fall we are going to look at some of the characters that wrestled with God. They had to make some adjustments in their life and you can see their life has changed. They were here. They had their personal agenda. They were established. They had everything going, then the will of God is introduced and they wrestle and then their life is changed and they make adjustments to that. And so my goal is for us as we take these characters one after another that we will begin to see ways that God is speaking to us. The ways that His will is interacting and coming against and refining our agenda so that we can make solid action steps towards His will.
Because when we do that, we become a people that is contentious in the society we live in.
That’s why Paul and Silas were accused of creating this big uproar. What did they do? Well, they went to the place of prayer outside the city gates, and they kept praying and talking to people about Jesus. And one day they got the kabash of it. And you know, kicked out a demon. Oh, so they were really just kind of going to church and talking people about God and it created an uproar, yeah?
The gospel. It smells like love and freedom to those that are in Christ, but it is a stench to those outside of it.
So my challenge to you is this. Hear the word of God, use this time to allow space for you to wrestle with God, and I think sometimes you don’t give each other permission for that.
Let me tell you this. When another time came for me, and this time it was Terry Stine. He was president. Boise Bible College before Doctor Voorhees took over, I had just moved to Moberly, MO. We had moved in August of 2013. It was like the November timeframe and I was in a Ph.D. cohort with Terry Stine. Well, he called me and he’s like, “Hey, have you ever thought about being Dean of students?” I’m like, “Hey, I’m always up for an adventure, you know,” and he was like, “Well, I think I might have an opening,” and I was like, “Oh, you’re real, no.”
So, I do not know what you’re talking about, but I mean, I was just trying to keep my options open. But, I was like no, absolutely not. You do realize like 3 months ago I moved my family across the country. There’s no way I’m moving that again.
And then in the process, I jokingly, no joke, told God no seven times. I can tell you this was wrestling between my agenda and the will of God again. I was not obstinant like the first time I was at least open. But the wrestling and the questions and the logistics and the finances and the what does it do to my family and all of that?
But God prevailed.
OK, so I’m here so you know what I chose at least that time.
My challenge for you is that you will continue to have a testimony to point back on and say this is what I wanted, but God’s will refined me.
Will you hear the word of God and obey this semester?