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April 25, 2011

C.J. Mahaney tells a story about a man that I think we can all identify with—a man who went out into the world with a cringe-worthy problem. I am quite sure the story is not an original Mahaney (I do not have his book in front of me at the moment so cannot check for a citation). Nevertheless, here is how it goes:

As I sat with my family at a local breakfast establishment, I noticed a finely dressed man at an adjacent table. His Armani suit and stiffly pressed shirt coordinated perfectly with a power tie.  His wing-tip shoes sparkled from a recent shine, every hair was in place, including his perfectly groomed moustache.

The man sat alone eating a bagel as he prrepared for a meeting.  As he reviewed the papers before him, he appeared nervous, glancing frequently at his Rolex watch.  It was obvious he had an important meeting ahead.

The man stood up and I watched as he straightened his tie and prepared to leave.

Immediately I noticed a blob of cream cheese attached to his finely groomed moustache.  He was about to go into the world, dressed in his finest, with cream cheese on his face.

I thought of the business meeting he was about to attend. Who would tell him? Should I? What if no one did?

You may not have an Armani suit and a finely groomed moustache, but something like this has happened to each of us at one time or another. Maybe you left the bathroom with a piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe or maybe you went to church without noticing that your baby had spit up down your back. We’ve all done it. We’ve all gone out into the world completely oblivious to something that is utterly obvious to everyone else.

Mahaney uses this illustration to go far beyond fashion. He uses it to speak of the importance of having people who will keep watch on our lives and who will tell us about those sins or character flaws that are hidden to us and so obvious to everyone else. “As you and I walk through life, no matter how closely we watch ourselves, we are acquiring fresh blobs of cream cheese on our faces. We all have ‘cream cheese’ moments.” Do you have someone in your life who will point out the cream cheese smeared on your face?

Over the past couple of weeks Carl Trueman has been writing a series of blog posts about the big Christian conferences—American Christian conferences. The reaction has been interesting to see. While I wouldn’t say the reaction has been one of outrage, it certainly does not seem that American Christians are eager to hear Trueman’s critiques. His posts have been rather informal, most of them speaking to a particular kind of reaction or feedback. Here they are if you’d like to give them a read:

May 15, 2010

Would you like to go to a conference this year? Would you like to get in for free? If so, I’ve got some conference passes here that may interest you. Read about the conferences and then feel free to sign up to win tickets to any one of them. However, please only sign up to win if you can actually make it to the conference (in other words, check when and where they are before signing up!).

The Expositors’ Conference

In this conference, Drs. R.C. Sproul and Steven Lawson will focus upon the biblical preaching that is God-centered and God-exalting. Our goal is to ignite a renewed passion for God’s glory in our exposition of Scripture. In each session, we will be challenging expositors to hold forth an elevated view of our sovereign God in preaching. When the absolute holiness of God is once again recovered in contemporary preaching, worship will be transcendent, Christ will be treasured, discipleship will be galvanized, and evangelism energized.

Focused squarely at preachers, this conference is generally relatively small allowing much closer access to the speakers. It runs from September 26-28 and takes place in Mobile, Alabama.

Learn More Here

The Exchange Conference

To learn about one-ism and two-ism and see how it plays out in all kinds of ways in our church and culture, you may want to take a look at the Exchange conference in San Diego. Mark Driscoll, Peter Jones, Francis Chan, Kevin DeYoung, and others will teach you how to distinguish the Truth from the Lie in all of life. Exchange takes place June 17 & 18 in San Diego, California.

Learn More Here

Ligonier Ministries 2010 National Conference

Christ has redeemed us to be a light that directs others to Him. Fulfilling this call requires us to be able to deal with the most difficult questions asked about the Christian faith. If we are unprepared for the darkness around us, it will be harder to counter it with the truth of God’s Word. The speakers at this conference will look at some of the toughest questions Christians face. The goal is to equip you to answer questions that all Christians and non-Christians find perplexing.

Speakers at this conference include Alistair Begg, Michael Horton, Steve Lawson, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Burk Parsons, R.C. Sproul. R.C. Sproul Jr. and Derek Thomas. If you’d like to come to the Pre-Conference you can also see Ed Stetzer and me. The conference runs from June 17-19 and takes place in Orlando, Florida.

Read More Here

Enter to Win

Registration will close Wednesday May 19 at noon.

December 13, 2009

You know that every now and again I like to post a prayer here. Sometimes it is a prayer from long ago, sometimes it is a prayer that is much more recent. This week I was looking at pastor Scotty Smith’s blog and came across a great prayer—one I could fully identify with and one I so badly needed to pray, too. Smith based it on this passage: “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:16-19).

Here is his prayer:


Dear Lord Jesus, I’m very much convicted by and drawn to Mary’s response, early in her journey of nursing you and knowing you—the very God who created all things, sustains all things and makes all things new. She “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

“Hurrying off” like a shepherd to tell others about you has always been easier for me than sitting still… and letting you tell me about yourself.

It’s always been easier for me to talk than to listen, to stay busy than to relax, to be “productive” than to be meditative… I confess this as sin, Lord Jesus. This isn’t okay. It can be explained, but not justified. For knowing about you is not the same thing as knowing you. An informed mind is not the same thing as an enflamed heart.

To know you IS eternal life, and I DO want to know you, Lord Jesus, so much better than I already do. Lead me in the way of treasuring you in my heart and pondering who you are… and pondering everything you’ve already accomplished through your life, death and resurrection… and everything you’re presently doing as the King of kings and Lord of lords… and everything you’ll be about forever in the new heaven and new earth, as the Bridegroom of your beloved Bride. There’s so much to treasure and so much to ponder…

It’s not as though I’m a stranger to treasuring and pondering, for I treasure and ponder a whole lot of things, Lord Jesus—things, however, that lead to a bankrupt spirit and an impoverished heart.

May the gospel slow me, settle me and center me that I might be able to say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps 73:25-26).” So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ name.

March 16, 2009

Toronto PastorsI dedicate a fair amount of attention on this blog to conferences. This is the first time I’ve done so for a conference my church is hosting. We are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2009 edition of the Toronto Pastors Conference is now open!

If you are a pastor or a church leader-or just interested in knowing how to serve to build Christ’s church-we would love to have you join us on June 1-3, 2009 at Richview Baptist Church here in Toronto.

The speakers for our main sessions will be Mark Dever and Matt Schmucker. We anticipate a tremendous blessing as these two hugely gifted and qualified men come to share with us from God’s word how he would have us serve his church.

Make sure to register early! The earlybird registration cost is only $100 for the three days of the conference. Also, if you register early there is free billeting available through some of the families at our church-but space is limited and offered first come, first served. So register fast!

Want more information on speakers, schedule, location, topic, or anything else to do with the conference? Check out the TPF website for all the details!

December 27, 2008

Christians love their conferences. Calvinists love their conferences. Put the two together and, well, you’ve got an awful lot of events in any given year. Many major ministries offer their annual conferences along with a selection of regional conferences; churches offer small conferences designed to serve a local constituency; ministries like Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition offer bi-annual conferences designed to attract and coordinate pastors or ministry leaders from around the nation and around the world. If you live in the United States, it is likely that you do not have to travel very far to find a great conference in the coming year.

All of this got me wondering: how many conferences do you anticipate attending this year? I’ve changed up the poll on this site so you can vote and let us know how many you’ll be at least attempting to attend.

Do note that if you are reading this via RSS, you’ll have to click through to the site to actually answer. All voting is anonymous…

December 05, 2008

My buddy Scott wrote me recently to ask if I happened to know why the Together for the Gospel blog has gone silent. I took a look at the blog and, sure enough, it has not been updated since April. I snooped around some. As far as I can tell, the reason the blog has not been updated is this: the four “friends” are no longer talking to one another. There is a bit of a spat going on that they’ve been unable to resolve. I gave this scoop to Scott and thought I’d let you in on it, too. Here’s what I wrote him.

You probably knew this already, that after the Together for the Gospel conference wrapped up, all of the speakers went back to Al Mohler’s place to relax and play some Dungeons & Dragons. They’re all huge fans of the game and have been gaming together for years. Dr. Mohler has a whole gaming setup in his library. It’s pretty impressive, really. He’s great at painting up the D&D miniatures and has an extensive collection of them.

Anyways, a couple of hours into a quest, when they were clearing out a dungeon, there was some kind of argument over whether Dever’s level 6 dwarf ranger had actually destroyed Mahaney’s level 7 cleric. I guess Dever happened across an enchanted Threnalian war blade that he thought would enable him to balance Mahaney’s Inflict Moderate Wounds spell, so he attacked. But, as it happened, he ended up losing. He misunderstood the ratings of his gnashtooth chainmail, not realizing that it costs him -3 HP against clerics (which is funny because that’s pretty common knowledge). Dever came on strong and inflicted a fair bit of damage with his new sword, but Mahaney kept casting regenerate spells to fix it up. He also cast some spell (I never found out which) to counter the benefit of the dwarf’s surefoot boots. He actually ended up winning by a pretty good margin. This kind of swung the balance of the game. How could it do otherwise, really?

Mohler, playing a level 4 halfling bard, turned on Duncan’s elf rogue even though they had earlier decided to work together (and had even completed the Caverns of Shaagh quest together, and you know how long a quest that is!). So suddenly you’ve got Mohler’s halfling ditching Duncan in favor of Mahaney. Piper was dungeon master and ended up ruling in favor of Mahaney and Mohler! Well, you can imagine how well that went over. Dever said something about “not as well as I deserve” and threw a handful of 20-sided dice at Mahaney. C.J. told Dever to preach this to himself, and smacked him upside the head with the rule book (The 4th Edition one from Wizards of the Coast, which, as I’m sure you know, is like a six-pound hardcover). Mohler tossed a glass of water at Duncan and told him something about “now you’re baptized too” while Duncan rolled up his sleeves and yelled “Time to bring on the hurt!”. And things just went downhill from there. MacArthur and Anyabwile waded in and did their best to break it up while Sproul sat back and watched the show, a single tear falling slowly from his eye.

So pretty well the guys avoid each other now. The T4G blog has gone silent, as has their World of Warcraft clan and the fantasy football league. I’m hoping they can work things out. T4G 2010 just won’t be the same if they won’t talk to one another.

That’s how I see it. I guess I could have gotten confused in some of the details, though.

August 30, 2008

I don’t know what the Catalyst Conference is and I don’t know how they know who I am. A few days ago I went to my post office box and found there are a rather large package. I do not receive a lot of large boxes at the post office—it is usually either books or mysterious letters from conspiracy theorists who just *have* to let me know who is taking over the world and why (no joke). The rather large box contained a strangely-shaped triangular box which, it turns out, was an advertisement for this upcoming Catalyst Conference. Because of the sheer originality of the package, I snapped a few photos and figured I could post them here.

So here is the funky triangular box that was inside the rather plain brown shipping box.

And here is a close-up of one of the sides of the box.

Cracking the box open, I found all kinds of interesting things.

And here they are. A basketball and hoop, magnets, fliers, temporary tattoos, paper footballs, some kind of weird foam stuff, a deck of triangular cards and so on. Almost all of it was branded with the Catalyst name and logo.

I don’t think I’m going to be heading to this conference. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m too old to do so. But at the very least, I’ve got to give them kudos for the originality of their advertising…

May 12, 2008

I am off to Cleveland in just a few moments. I’ll be attending The Basics Conference which is held at Parkside Church (which is, of course, pastored by Alistair Begg). Cleveland is somewhere around five hours away by car so I decided to drive rather than fly. I will be there until the conference wraps up Wednesday at around noon.

If you could remember me in prayer, I’d be grateful. Not only would do I ask for traveling mercies, but I’m also leading two different seminars at this year’s conference (an upgrade from the one I led last year). The first will deal with blogging (with quite a bit of overlap from last year’s seminar) and the other with discernment (as you might expect).

Speakers at this year’s conference are Alistair Begg, Jerry Bridges and Voddie Baucham. It promises to be a good event as it focuses on “the weighty responsibility, spiritual energy, exacting demands and increasing joy of ministry shaped by ironclad commitment to careful study and clear communication of the Bible.”

Check in later this afternoon or evening and I’ll begin to provide updates.