As You Go, Don’t Leave

You are a transitory generation. And that’s mostly a good thing. You are less tied to your geography than your grandparents; Less defined by your hometown than your mother or father. There are pros and cons to all of this, but I would like to simply focus on the positive for our limited time this morning: Your future is in so many ways territorially boundless.

By the way, the earth went flat while you were eating glue in kindergarten. Seriously.

At least, that is, according to the award winning author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman who in his book “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” argues that globalization or “the flattening of the earth” really took root at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

For those of us old enough to remember that event, we know it affectionately as Y2K.

Some of you may still have survival rations and bottled waters stored in your basement from your parents’ diligent preparation for this mainly media created, over-hyped, near-miss apocalypse. As for me, I was a college kid at Y2K and I took advantage of the cheap airfares caused by “international Y2K anxiety” and I flew to London, England, to visit my brother over New Year’s weekend. The plane was mostly empty and my round trip ticket cost only $400.

So with the new globalization ushered in by the dawn of the twenty-first century we find it easier to be, for example, on the other side of the earth in less than 24 hours. So, now you can pray for China before you eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast in the morning and then pray in China as you prepare to eat sushi for dinner. That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but certainly not much.

So here you are: poised to graduate and be ejected across the flat globe at record setting speeds.


But let me offer you five simple words to keep in mind as you depart this sacred ceremony and say goodbye to our beech tree covered campus.

Here they are: As you go, don’t leave.

You’ll go from here. It is right that you go. It is necessary that you go. It is urgent that you go. For the vast majority of you, with very few exceptions, it is God’s will for you to go.

But as you go, don’t leave.

Don’t leave the rich teaching of your faithful faculty.

Don’t leave the tender moments you’ve experienced on our campus as God has shaped your life.

Don’t leave the holy ambition that God has birthed in your hearts throughout your studies here.

Don’t leave the love for Scripture that under-girds our academic programs.

Don’t leave the gospel-seriousness that defines our student body.

As you go, don’t leave.

As you go, don’t leave the heart for worship modeled by Scott Connell as he and his sweet wife Mary have displayed God’s glory for us through their consistent Christian witness in the midst of Mary’s cancer.

As you go, don’t leave the doxological manner in which Jim Orrick approaches all of life from Shakespeare, to deer hunting, to rapping about philosophy, to keeping honeybees.

As you go, don’t leave the passion for global evangelism that John Klaassen invests in his missions courses, that led him to difficult places, and in God’s providence, brought him back here to lead our students who are called to go.

So go, but don’t leave.

As you go, don’t leave the brokenness for sharing the gospel with world religions that Travis Kerns has so faithfully modeled, and that has propelled him to move his family to Salt Lake City this summer.

As you go, don’t leave the commitment to the Bible as the sole authority for counseling hurting people’s problems that you have learned from Heath Lambert.

As you go, don’t leave the love for the New Testament, and the love for people, so clear in the life of Dave DeKlavon. And I have to add Jan in here, because she is as much a vibrant part of the ministry to students here at Boyce as any full-time administrator or faculty member.

As you go, don’t leave the conviction for the careful, responsible, and passionate teaching and preaching of Scripture that you have learned both in and out of the classroom from Brian Payne.

As you go, don’t leave the joy in drinking from the deep well of church history that Chad Brand inspires in his classes.

As you go, don’t leave the meticulous discipline of interpreting Scripture rightly that you have learned from Barry Joslin and Denny Burk.

As you go, don’t leave the love for the Bible that you have learned from Charlie Draper, who may be the only faculty member with an ongoing and active, student developed, facebook fan page.

As you go, don’t leave the devotion to reaching teenagers and their families modeled by Gary Almon and Troy Temple.

As you go, don’t leave the innovation to use all means available to take the gospel to children evidenced by the fact that over 80% of those in our teacher education program desire to use their degree on the foreign mission which is a real tribute to the leadership of Al Hickey and Melissa Tucker.

As you go, don’t leave the care for orthodox theology and its implications for, well, everything, that you have learned from Owen Strachan.

As you go, don’t leave the faithful words that have been sacrificially invested in you from so many godly professors like T.J. Betts, Gunner Gunderson, Dan Dumas, James Risner, Jeff Walters, Greg Brewton, and many others.

As you go, don’t leave.

The sixth chapter of John’s gospel records a penetrating question once asked by Christ. He had amassed a large following, but time revealed they were principally interested in physical blessing and less so in the person of Christ. They pressed him for another miraculous multiplication of bread, and he simply offered himself, saying, “I am the bread of life.”

And they left in droves. Even those described as disciples grumbled over Jesus’ words and eventually left.

Jesus then turned to “the twelve” and asked a simple question, “Will you also leave me?”

Peter answered, “Where else would we go, you alone have the words of life.”

I pray that you will inscribe the words of Jesus’ question and of Peter’s answer on your heart and think about them often, and never—ever—forget them.

Where else will you go if you leave Jesus?

You’ll have plenty of temptations to leave Jesus and his hard teachings:

You’ll be tempted to adopt easier words, words that tickle the ears of large audiences.

You’ll be tempted to edit Jesus’ words as the culture continues to close in on biblical morality and you’re labeled a narrow minded bigot.

You’ll be tempted to censure the words of Christ when your public reputation is on the line.

Don’t do it.

As you go, don’t leave the words of Christ.

You might think about leaving when hard times come:

When life in a fallen world seems to be too much; when you feel the bitter sting of sin’s curse: death. When you lose those you care so deeply about. When the grave claims the life of a friend like Shelby Tyler Smith or a family member as experienced by Taylor Kinney whose father Bob went to be with the Lord last year.

Never leave the words of the Apostle Paul—penned in 1 Corinthians 15— that at the trumpet sound, at the return of Christ, the perishable will put on the imperishable and the mortal will put on immortality, and then shall come to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Where will you go if you leave these words?

So as you go, don’t leave them. Cling to them. They are life and hope.

Cling to the gospel.

Cling to Jesus.

You might feel like leaving when you hit hard times in ministry. When people misinterpret your actions, misjudge your motives, and misrepresent you through gossip and slander.

It will hurt. But don’t leave.

As you go, don’t leave.

You might think about leaving when you come face to face with your own failures. When you don’t feel worthy of him. When your life doesn’t perfectly match your message. When you feel like the world’s biggest hypocrite.

But where will you go if you leave Jesus?

So as you go, don’t leave.

Jesus, just before ascending into heaven, gave his disciples something of a paradox. He was ascending to be with his Father and he was sending them out as sheep among wolves. And He said to them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

He was going up, they were going out, but they would never be alone, for he, Jesus, would never leave them.

So as you go, don’t leave.

Don’t leave the gospel.

Don’t leave the Scriptures.

Don’t leave the church.

Don’t leave Jesus.

He will keep his promises.

He will build his church.

He will advance his kingdom.

And the gates of Hell will not prevail against his blood bought bride.

And one day he will return to reverse the curse, to kill the grave, and to crush the serpent.

And He will be with you wherever you go.

So go.

Go far.

Go wide.

Go for the edification of the church.

Go for the evangelism of the lost.

Go for the completion of the Great Commission in this generation.

Go for the glory of God.

Go so that every boy and girl, and every man and woman, might hear of the relentless loving kindness of God revealed in Christ.

But as you go, don’t leave.

And in the end, you will discover that you never left him, only because, in all reality, he never left you. You will discover what you already know to be true, that he was keeping you all along.


Go and make Disciples of all nations.

He will be with you wherever you go—even to the end of the age.

Congratulations and may God bless you on this important day, and in your future ministry.

Soli Deo Gloria.

(This is my transcript from my sermon at the 2013 Boyce graduation)