Chapel Message from Ryan Blackwell

The Choice to Influence the World
February 17, 2011

“As I look around this room, I see seminary students,” said Ryan Blackwell, pastor of First Baptist Church of San Francisco and 2008 Golden Gate Seminary graduate. “I know you have made a choice, the choice to come to seminary, and this choice has the potential to influence the world.”

That choice is to follow God, Blackwell said to students, faculty and staff of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary at chapel on February 17, 2011. Referring to Daniel Chapter 6, Blackwell recounted the story of Daniel and King Darius. “In verse 10, Daniel faces a conflict between praying to God and loyalty to Darius. Daniel chooses personal abandonment, the willingness to give up personal safety and trust God completely.” Blackwell explained that Daniel’s choice was to continue to pray to God even though Darius had decreed that all should pray only to him.

“Obedience to God comes first,” Blackwell noted. “Those who have gone to the mission field, you know this first hand. God never calls us to safety. You must be willing to abandon your personal safety and your personal efforts.” Blackwell reminded his listeners that the Christian life is all about surrender. “It’s normal to feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, more than you can handle on your own. That’s when you surrender, abandon personal efforts, and trust God to take charge.”

Referring to Daniel’s experience in the lion’s den, Blackwell pointed out that we frequently put our trust in our family, in our church, but we must put our trust first and foremost in God. “What I love about this story is not that Daniel was rescued but that God was with him,” said Blackwell. “The times of greatest trust are when we step out and do something we can’t do on our own. When you trust God completely, God will take you places you would never go on your own.”

The decision Daniel made of personal abandonment, to trust God completely and abandon his own safety and hand his life to God, led Darius to worship God, which influenced the world at that time. “The story isn’t about Daniel,” Blackwell said, “it’s about God’s character, God’s purpose, and God’s plan. It’s about personal abandonment and trusting in God.”

Time after time, Daniel made the choice to follow God, to choose God. “Where does God want to take us? What does he want us to do with our lives?” asked Blackwell. “You have two choices: trust God and abandon yourself, or trust yourself and abandon God. Your ministry and eternal life will be determined by your choice.”

The 26-year-old Arkansas native concluded by saying, “The story of Daniel is not a children’s story. It is a story of radical abandonment. Leave this room and make an incredible impact on the world for Christ.”