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December 28, 2007

Matt Fowler preached the conference’s first sermon and did so from John 6:22-27. These well-known verses fall shortly after the feeding of the 5000 and Jesus walking on water—two of Jesus’ most amazing miracles. This crowd had been privileged to see both of these miracles. People reacted to the feeding of the 5000 by attempting to take Jesus and to force Him to be king. Using these verses, Matt laid down the Reformed (biblical) gauntlet, so to speak. He made sure that the people in attendance know from Scripture that people cannot know God—they cannot be saved—without the prior Sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. And He challenged them to think properly about Jesus and to see Him how He really, truly is.

He looked first at the Blindness of the People which in this passage is illustrated by the question the people ask in verse 25: “Rabbi, when did you come here?” They couldn’t figure out how He got the ten miles to Capernaum and how He did it so quickly. With all the miracles He has already done, we’d think people would be beginning to figure out who Jesus is. Yet they still don’t seem to get it; no one seems to think or believe that He could have just walked across the sea. A Christian’s knowledge of the things of God is an understanding of the reality and relevance of the works of God as testified to in Scripture and in the life of Jesus. Those who don’t believe can see the same things but not understand them. There was no reality of Christ in these people’s lives. And from this we learn that, apart from the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, we’ll never be able to see who Jesus truly is. If anyone could have done without the work of the Spirit, it would have been these people who had seen his miracles. But even they were blind.

He then turned to the People’s Motivation for Seeking Jesus which we see in Jesus’ own words. ““Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” These people were seeking Jesus because of what He could do for them. They sought Him because He had filled their stomachs the day before. They wanted only selfish gain and comfort. That’s all He was for them. And this is exactly what we hear day in and day out from many of the leaders of evangelicalism—a Jesus who does little more than fill temporal needs. They had no concept of Him being the God-man, the very Son of God. The challenge for us is to ask who Jesus is to us. Is He someone who promises to address our temporal needs or is He the One who offers so much more. When you water down Jesus, you water down the gospel. And when you water down the gospel, you water down conversion. The gospel then must start with the real Jesus Christ. Here he quoted John Piper from God is the Gospel, a favorite quote of mine:

“The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever see, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?”

The third point was Jesus’ Demands on the Seeker. We see that there are two commands in verse 27. “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” There are two commands—one negative and one positive. First, in the negative, Jesus says, “Do not labor for the food that perishes.” The people, seeing Jesus as a way to a cheap meal, began to labor after food that perishes—the wrong food. There are four reasons we must not labor after that which perishes.

  1. That labor is vanity
  2. That food does indeed perish
  3. That food enslaves
  4. That kind of labor for that kind of food leads to death

Jesus doesn’t leave us with the negative but goes on to say, “[Labor] for the food that endures to eternal life.” This is not a laboring that we are to labor to do good works that will earn salvation, but there is something for which we should seek and pursue. There is labor involved in the Christian life. There are four reasons why we are commanded to labor for the food that endures:

  1. This food leads to eternal life
  2. This food is Himself
  3. This food satisfies
  4. That kind of labor for this kind of food glorifies Him

This message, a perfect one to begin with, stood as a challenge to everyone here to see and know Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture.

December 28, 2007

So I am here in Chattanooga (the official city motto seems to be “We close at 5”), spending the weekend at a conference room at the Chattanooga Choo Choo (which is a local hotel/attraction/Holiday Inn). Somewhere around 1000 people are gathered for the Reality Check conference which will feature teaching by Matt Fowler, Paul Washer, Jeff Noblit, and Jono Sims. This event is a ministry of Anchored in Truth Minitries and caters primarily to young people, though despite this, there are many adults here. From my vantage point in the middle of the room I’d estimate they represent perhaps one in four or one in five attendees. Many parents have come with their teens—far more, I think, than I’ve seen at any similar conference. This is interesting to me and I look forward to seeing how that demographic contributes to the overall experience of the conference. Registration was so far beyond expectations that an overflow room was opened down the hall and people in that room are watching the proceedings via a video feed. This is a big event and a great way to close out a year.

The schedule for this conference gives us two sessions this evening with a short break between. Tomorrow we’ll see two more sessions before breaking for the whole afternoon. There will be two sessions that evening and one for Sunday morning worship. Each morning there will also be times for leaders’ devotions (youth group leaders, that is) and tomorrow there will be a roundtable luncheon for these leaders. Saturday afternoon gives a long period of time to explore downtown Chattanooga (which, as you’ll know if you’ve been here) is a really great place with lots to do and lots to see.

The conference’s first evening kicked off with a time of praise and worship led by Tom Clay. Accompanied by a contemporary (and loud but not-too-loud) band, he led in a variety of hymns and contemporary favorites (“Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Hallelujah, What a Savior,” “How Deep the Father’s Love,” “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,” etc). In just a few moments, Matt Fowler, will begin the first teaching session.

October 02, 2007

This afternoon Dr. Lawson got very practical, leading the pastors here through “The Ten How To’s of Expository Preaching.” He went step-by-step through the process of preparing an expository sermon. Obviously he could not go into great depth as sermon preparation is something that often takes a semester or two to teach. But he went quickly from point-to-point, suggesting how a pastor can prepare this kind of sermon. He included a helpful handout that outlined the process. Dr. Lawson is a master expositor, so if you are a pastor with any interest in this kind of preaching, you’ll want to download both the handout and the audio. I’m sure both will be available before long.

Dr. Lawson concluded the conference by preaching a sermon on Amos 8, focusing on verse 11. He did this both to provide a challenge to the preachers in attendance and to model the exposition he and MacArthur have taught over the past two days. This verse from Amos includes words that gave title to one of his books: Famine in the Land.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.”

At this time it would seem that evangelicals have more power and clout than at any other time in history, yet the church is not as healthy as she should be. The church is wretched, poor, miserable, blind and naked. There is great self-deception. What is needed is for us to understand that we are living in times of famine where there is famine for the hearing of the Word of God. We are ministering in days that are unprecedented as there has been open rejection of the divine authority of the Word.

Dr. Lawson spoke under five headings:

The Certainty of the Famine - The text begins with “Behold, days are coming.” This is as if to say, “Mark it well that this is going to happen.” God was not suggesting a possiblity but announcing a fact. The famine as going to come.

The Controller of the Famine - It is God who is going to send the famine. The most terrifying thing about this famine is that it comes from the hand of God. This famine will be a far greater famine than any punishment that may come at the hand of the surrounding nations.

The Character of the Famine - The nature of this famine will not be one of bread and water, but one of hearing the Word of the Lord. This will be no ordinary famine but one that is far worse than a famine of only food and drink! There is no greater curse on this earth than when God sends a famine for the hearing of the Word of God.

The Cause of the Famine - When the people did hear the Word of God and when the prophets came to them, they turned a deaf ear and turned away (Verses one through eight outline the transgressions of the people—their dishonesty, disregard, and ungodliness). In the days of prosperity and affluence, the nation rejected the prophets of God and therefore in captivity no prophet would be given them. No word would be heard. Could this be the case again for America today? Never has a nation been so blessed with access to the Word, to Bible training and to godly churches, and yet the nation continues to turn away from the Lord.

The Consequences of the Famine - The famine will be devastating. People will stagger from sea to sea, going to and fro seeking the Word of the Lord. Now they want a word from God (like America the day after 9/11). But they will not find what they are seeking. God will abandon them. Even the strongest of men will faint for thirst, not thirst for water but thirst for the Word.

The conclusion is this: Pastors today have the privilege of setting a table during the time of famine. They need to be men who are faithful, who will preach “thus saith the Lord!” The greatest curse that God can possibly send upon a people in this world is to give them over to blind, unregenerate, carnal, lukewarm, unskilled pastors. God has given the church over to this kind of unregenerate minister. But the greatest blessing are those who uphold the standard of sound words and who faithfully declare the Word of God. “May you be faithful. May I be faithful. May we encourage one another. May we stand for one another. May we pray for one another. That we may be faithful in these days of famine in the church…”

And this concluded the inaugural Expositors’ Conference.

One quick note: Throughout Dr. Lawson’s office and along the walls of the Fellowship Hall here at the church are many prints of notable reformers and some of history’s best preachers. I heard several of the people at the conference mention them. If you are one of those and are interested in purchasing similar prints, you can find many of them at ReformationArt.com. I’ve got a few of these on the walls of my office and love to have those great men staring down at me as I work!

October 02, 2007

In this session MacArthur continued where he left off as time ran out in the last one. As he discusses the value of expository preaching he is, in a sense, preaching to the choir (which is not to say there is anything wrong with that!). The crowd here has assembled to hear exactly this kind of information and receives it eagerly. Being a southern crowd, the sermons or addresses are punctuated by cries of “Amen!” and “Preach it!” and “Yes!” This is something we don’t hear much of in Canada. I suppose there are some who may find it an annoyance, but I love it. And I have to think it’s an encouragement to the man in the pulpit.

So here we continue with problems with failing to preach expositionally.

A failure to do expository preaching…

8. Depreciates by example the spiritual duty of personal Bible study.

9. Prevents the preacher from being the voice of God to every issue of his time.

10. Breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God and Christ.

11. Robs people of their only true source of help, the Scripture.

12. Produces an attitude of indifference toward divine authority.

13. Lies to people about what they really need.

14. Strips the pulpit of power.

15. Assumes the preacher can change people by his own ability.

16. Reduces the preacher’s words to the level of everyone else’s words.

17. Portrays an attitude of self-love rather than loving God with all your heart, mind and soul.

18. Creates a destructive disconnect between doctrine and life.

19. Denigrates the full glory of God by omitting the attributes and the aspects of His revelation that are somehow unpalatable.

20. Reduces the preacher to the level of every rival preacher.

21. Emasculates the dominion of the pulpit over people’s minds and souls.

22. Disconnects people from the legacy of the past.

23. Removes protection from error and carnality so dangerous to the church.

24. Abandons the duty to guard the truth.

25. Fails to defend threatened truths.

26. Denies de facto that all spiritual blessings flow from one’s relationship with the Lord.

27. Generates selfish, shallow prayer.

28. Fails to leads people to self-denial—to true humility.

29. Cheats people of the means to truly delight in the Lord.

30. Lacks the general manliness of message and ministry.

Once again, if you wish to hear the brief explanations of each of these points, you’ll need to download the audio. Later this afternoon there will be a Q&A and that will be followed by two more addresses by Steve Lawson.

Here’s a winning quote from MacArthur when he was discussing a recent appearance on CNN’s Headline News. They said to him “Will you come on the show and talk about yoga?” He said, “Of course! I don’t care what the subject is. I know what I want to say. I know where I’m going with it.” And those who have seen him on Larry King or any other show know that he always gets there.

Incidentally, MacArthur often mentioned the Emerging Church in this talk. At one point he revealed that he has begun work on a new book that will serve as a follow-up to The Truth War. Since the publication of that book people have said that the book was unloving and that he should not write such books but instead just join in the conversation. So he has decided to write a book that answers the simple question, How did Jesus deal with those who misrepresented the truth? Did Jesus tend towards conversation or condemnation? Those who have studied the gospels will know…

October 02, 2007

I enjoyed a declious breakfast this morning with Don Elborne (of Rebuild Lakeshore fame) and some other new friends. This followed what was a great night’s sleep—a blessing since I was awfully weary with fatigue last night. No one can make breakfast quite like the southerners, even if they do insist on including grits and gravy with everything. I was assured that the grits down here are the definitive grits and have to say they weren’t quite as bad as some other attempts I’ve tasted, but I still don’t really understand the attraction. But no matter—I need to stop blogging about grits at all these conferences I go to. I think I’m just going to give up on grits altogether.

This morning we have the privilege of having Dr. John MacArthur speak to us. He will speak twice today, both times focusing on an aspect of expositional preaching. He began by discussing the slave metaphor so popular in Scripture in order to help pastors understand how they function as slaves. And from there he will transitioned into a list of dangers of not doing expositional preaching from the pulpit.

You have to view yourself in the big scheme of things as a slave. The language of contemporary Christianity is very man-centered and is all about a personal relationship with God (even though everyone has a personal relationship with Him). It is the language of personal fulfillment—of finding your dreams and purpose. The language of the New Testament is very different—the dominant metaphor is that of a slave. The word doulos or its variations appear over 100 times though it is not always translated as “slave” because that word carries with it so much stigma. But this tends to obscure its fullest meaning and is a liberty translators should not have. It should also be noted that slavery was as disgusting a concept at the time of the Bible as today—it was the absolute lowest status a person could have. It was as hard a sell in that day as it is today.

MacArthur went through many of the New Testament books (and, primarily, through the first few verses) showing how often the authors identify themselves as slaves. See, for example, Romans 1, Philippians 1, Revelation 1, and so on. Though your translation may render the words as “servant,” the literal (and better) translation is “slave.”

A slave is a person whose life is completely controlled by another person. He is completely dependent. This may seem to take us low, but even Jesus Christ took the form of a slave, being subject to a foreign will. His slavery took him down through obedience to the point of death on the cross. The Bible neither condones nor condemns slavery—it merely finds in it the perfect model for understanding the relationship of God to His people. But God’s people are not merely slaves, for God makes them sons and joint heirs and allow them to sit in His throne.

With this paradigm in mind we are ready to understand the mindset of one who serves Christ. MacArthur shared that some time ago he began to consider this question: What are the consequences of non-expositional preaching? He decided to sit down and come up with ten of them. After he sat down and wrote for a while, he had a list of sixty three. He pared this down to fifty and began to share them in this session.

Failure to do expositional preaching…

1. Usurps the authority of God over the soul.

2. Usurps the headship of Christ over His church.

3. Hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

4. Demonstrates pride. (I’m not 100% sure whether this is really 3b or 4).

5. Severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of the Scriptures.

6. Removes spiritual depth and transendance from worship.

7. Prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ that is critical to his work.

He’s going to pick up where he left off a bit later on.

Those interested in a fuller explanation will have to get ahold of the audio. One particularly interesting quote I noted went something like this: “I never study the Bible to make a sermon. I study the Bible first and foremost for my own soul.” This is something even bloggers would do well to keep in mind! We cannot properly apply the Scripture to others until we have first applied it to ourselves. Here’s another quote that is perhaps just a bit less applicable. “In Russia, when the men are excited, they kiss you on the lips. That’s just a bad custom…”

October 01, 2007

I’m writing this evening from Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama. I am here for The Expositors’ Conference which is a ministry of Steven Lawson and this church. It is a conference targeted at preachers and one that seeks to foster their love of, dedication to, and skill at expository preaching. Dr. Lawson was kind enough to ask me to come down here to take in the conference in this, its first year. Dr. Lawson will be speaking several times tonight and tomorrow and will be joined as well by John MacArthur.

I had a very early start to my day, leaving the house at 3 something (when taking into account a time zone change) and arrived around 11 after a couple of rather uneventful flights. I enjoyed lunch with Dr. Lawson and some other gentlemen from several states to the north. This afternoon I settled in to (finally!) catch up with some emailing. And then we came to the church tonight to enjoy the first two sessions.

Dr. Lawson kicked off the conference with a message entitled “The Invincible Weapon” drawn from Hebrews 4:12-13. Every great season in the history of the church, he said, and every hour of spiritual awakening has been accompanied by a recovery of biblical preaching. The only true reformation is reformation that emanates from the Word of God. The purpose of this message is to increase our confidence in the power of this invincible weapon. There is no true preaching of the Word of God apart from biblical preaching and there is no true biblical preaching apart from expository preaching. If we wish to see revival and reformation in our day, we must recover this manner of preaching.

The message was structured around seven marks of the supernatural, invincible weapon that is the Word of God.

1. In the opening words of this text we see that the Bible is the divine Word. God is the primary Author who used other authors to record his revelation. Thus it is not the opinion of men or the wisdom of this world, but the truth of the Almighty God Himself. This gives the Word of God the authority of God so that expository preaching carries with it His authority. We speak as one sent by God, under the authority of God.

2. The Bible is the living Word. This book is alive—it is a living book. Anyone who desires a living ministry that brings forth truth must bring the living book. Only a living book, when accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit, can bring forth life.

3. The Bible is the powerful Word. Because it is living, it is powerful and dynamic and active. It is fully able to perform all that God wishes to accomplish through ministry. It is powerful to save, to sanctify, to satisfy, to strengthen, to stabilize, to steer, and to sustain.

4. The Bible is the sharp Word. The Bible is the sharpest weapon in any arsenal in the world. Nothing can compare to its razor-like sword. It is all edge—there is no dull side to it. Every chapter, every verse, every word, every jot and tittle is sharp. It cuts, converts, and changes. It cuts both ways, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, it hardens and it heals, blinds and enlightens.

5. The Bible is the piercing Word. This is similar to the last point but advances it further. The Bible penetrates the outward facade of the lives of people and the Word of God alone can get through to people and the very depths of their being. The Word of God penetrates into the hidden recesses of the heart showing a person to be what he truly is.

6. The Bible is the judging Word. The Bible has the ability to judge what it exposes within a person. It is able to sit as judge and preside over our lives and it alone has prerogative to carry its verdict. All things are open before it—it strips the soul and leaves us naked before God.

7. The Bible is the saving Word. The word “for” which begins the text points back to what has come before. Here we’ve seen a gospel invitation for sinners to come to saving faith in this superior Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. We learn, thus, that it is this Word that saves. We can only bring the Word and watch as the Spirit brings the Word to the heart, bringing life.

Though targeted at pastors, this sermon is valuable for any Christian. I’m sure the audio will be available before long and you may wish to consider listening to it that you can have a better apprehension of the wonders of the Word and its unique power and efficacy.

I’ll be back tomorrow with summaries of some other sessions and with whatever other updates I can come up with!

June 01, 2007

New Attitude is behind us now, and that’s that. Six conferences later I am home for the long-haul, or until the fall at least. We’ve moved from conference season to wedding season (something that is going to take me to Atlanta and Ottawa)! I admit that it may seem an extravagance to go to so many conferences in such a short time, but as I attempted to make clear earlier in the year, I accepted the invitation to live-blog six different conferences this spring (five of which I had never attended before) because I thought it would be really interesting to have the opportunity to observe so many Reformed ministries just doing what they do. It is one thing to experience a ministry through books or MP3 files, but quite another to visit the churches, meet the people and to watch them in action. I had the privilege of visiting ministries from L.A. to Orlando, from Cleveland to Jackson. Combined with conferences I visited last year, I’ve now been able to see and to meet most of the most prominent Reformed ministries. It has really been a wonderful experience, even if traveling really is not my favorite thing to do. I hope you’ve benefited as well, not just from reading summaries of the teachings, but in catching just a bit of the flavor of each of the conferences.

I have been continually amazed at the quality of the people working for these ministries. It did not take me long to realize that the men who gain prominence in this Reformed subculture are men who surrounded themselves with other good Christians—people who will hold them accountable, who will challenge them and serve them and protect them. It was a joy getting to meet these people. I’ve had the men who serve as leaders or second-in-command of major ministries ask me, “Do you need anything? Can I get you a bottle of water? Here’s my cell phone number in case you need something.” If we were to compare this to the second-in-command of a major corporation I suspect you would not find a Vice President so willing to serve. Rather, he’d expect to be served and would pass your needs along to someone else. But these Christian ministries are so obviously run by people who love to serve. And it’s really amazing to see.

I thought of passing out some light-hearted awards (Best Rendition of “In Christ Alone,” Most Comfortable Seats, Friendliest Ninjas and so on) but decided against it. I’ve been asked many times “What was your favorite conference?” And I’ve had to say that I honestly don’t know. None of them was directly comparable to any of the others. Each had their target audience and each reached it with excellence and with the Word. From the intimate gathering at Twin Lakes to the huge crowds at Ligonier, each of the conferences had its own flavor. The one common thread, in my view, is excellence. There wasn’t one conference where I felt the organizers were giving it anything but their best effort.

As I reflected on these conferences I tried to find a single word that helped summarize my experience and my feelings about each event. Here is what I came up with.

Resolved - Diversity

It is easy to believe that these conferences, which are all run by ministries that are distinctly Reformed, attract an audience that is largely Caucasian. Resolved was the first conference of the year and easily the most racially diverse. There was a very large Asian population at the conference (I would think it was probably about 40% or so), prompting John Piper to exclaim “I didn’t know this was an Asian conference!” Many other races were all well-represented and it was very refreshing to see the diversity of God’s kingdom represented in that auditorium. The diversity was noticeable and it was beautiful.

Shepherds’ - Service

One of the things that caught my attention the first time I went to the Shepherds’ Conference was the shoe-shine service. This is a service run by volunteers who give of their time to shine the shoes of pastors and is a perfect example of a service that exists only to pamper the pastors who attend the conference. The same is true of the books that are given out and it seems to me that it was a great idea to transition this year from quantity of books to quality. Each of the men in attendance got some good and helpful books, but also books that are significant and otherwise expensive. Pastors do love their books and they were well-served by the ones they were given at this conference.

The conference is dedicated to serving pastors through the teaching, but also through the whole experience of being there (right down to the candy shop where everything is, of course, free). It is oriented around service and it is easy to see the pastors head for home and head back to their responsibilities feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Ligonier - Detail

I felt that the Ligonier conference was exceptionally well-crafted in its logistics. It moved smoothly from session-to-session and from day-to-day. Though each session was led by a different speaker, each built logically upon the previous one so that by the end R.C. Sproul was really just left to recap each of the sessions and to add some concluding remarks. This attention to detail pervaded the conference to the extent that they even replaced the pictures on the walls of the facility they rented with ones relevant to Ligonier ministries. Of course it is not only the conference that was done with excellence, but also the ministry’s presentation through its web site and books and even advertisements. It seemed to me that no detail is overlooked.

Twin Lakes - Fellowship

Twin Lakes is different from the other conferences I attended in that it is rightly a fellowship and one that is not quite as open to the public as the others. The event centers on this word “fellowship” and on friendships forged from meeting in rural Mississippi year-after-year. It was also a time of worship as the conference is built around a series of worship services, allowing different pastors to show how they structure their services. Though a newcomer to the ministry, I felt immediately included and appreciated and had many opportunities to enjoy close Christian fellowship with brothers in Christ.

The Basics - Humility

I found that The Basics and the Shepherds’ Conference are in many ways a lot alike. The notable difference, other than its smaller size, is that The Basics does not feature speakers that have the high profile of the ones who speak at Shepherds’. So rather than featuring John Piper and R.C. Sproul it features Derek Thomas and Voddie Baucham. This made for a different atmosphere and one that was very relaxed. Somehow not having the big-name speakers seems to make the whole event seem more relaxed. The speakers were available for anyone who wished to speak to them and they seemed very pleased to interact with all those who came to them.

The word “service” would also apply well at The Basics. A large team of volunteers ensured that the pastors in attendance had their every need met and did so joyfully. I was especially moved to see men and women of means joyfully and gratefully serving in any way they could—serving with true humility. Humility pervaded the conference.

New Attitude - Passion

It is interesting to compare and contrast New Attitude with Resolved. Both conferences had similar speakers, similar crowd sizes and a similar audience of teenagers, college students, and young adults. Some people asked me about this and assumed that the New Attitude crowd would be far less sedate and subdued than the crowd at Resolved. Except during the times of worship I found the opposite true. There was plenty of excitement at Resolved and plenty of exuberant joy. To my surprise Resolved also had more production in terms of lights and lasers and other fun details. I suppose I must have been stereotyping a bit too much.

As I thought about New Attitude I thought mainly of the passion of the organizers, the speakers and the many volunteers. This conference featured a great group of speakers who were absolutely passionate about what they spoke about. There were groups of roving Ninjas (couples who distributed treats, prizes, and so on) who seemed absolutely thrilled to be able to serve us however they could. There were hoards of people wearing blue Na shirts greeting us whenever we walked through the doors of the conference center (and even when we arrived at the airport). The worship was loud and passionate. This passion pervaded the weekend and, from what I’ve been reading on the blogs of those who attended, has lingered in the aftermath.

I have a couple of conferences coming up in the fall but do not quite know yet what next year holds for me. So far I’ve accepted only one live-blogging opportunity (Together for the Gospel) and one speaking opportunity (I’ll supply the details when they are made public). Whether I will travel so widely again, I just don’t know.

May 29, 2007

After fighting our way downstairs this morning (the Galt House hotel always has elevator problems, and they are exacerbated on the last day of a conference when everyone is trying to leave at the same time-all the elevators coming down were full, so we eventually caught one going up and then rode it back down) we had a nice breakfast with Collin Hansen, who is a writer for Christianity Today and the guy who wrote the “Young, Restless, Reformed” article that was so widely read last year. It was great to meet him and his wife and to spend a bit of time with them. And then we headed over to the conference center once more.

This is the last session of the last conference I’ll be attending for a long time. The spring conference season is just about over and most of the major ones have already happened. C.J. Mahaney was given the privilege of delivering the closing message here at New Attitude. It fell to him to help the people who attended this conference to prepare to take all of the theology they’ve learned back to real life. He helped them prepare to think about how they will live what they’ve learned. This was less of a sermon and more of what Josh Harris termed sitting down with C.J. for a cup of coffee and just listening to him.

Because of the intensely personal nature of this message it did not lend itself well to a quick summary. He framed it around the priority of application and the practice of application, first showing the importance of application (while still affirming the beauty and value of correct doctrine) and then teaching three aspects of the practice of application, saying effective application is specific, requires patience with others and must be done in the shadow of the cross. If you know of C.J.’s ministry you’ll know that he is most gifted when it comes to making doctrine practical so this message was, as we’d expect, particularly convicting and useful.

We were told today that all of the conference audio will be available by Monday through the New Attitude site. I really do feel that anyone can benefit from these messages, but certainly younger Christians in particular will benefit from them. In just a few hours Aileen and I will head back home. By tomorrow I should be back to real life and back to our regularly scheduled programming at this site.