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Tim Challies

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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.

April 20, 2008

This is my last planned post about Together for the Gospel. I want to use it to provide some final links and information. Then I’m going to move on to other things. Or at least that’s the plan for now.

T4G Audio & Video

Here are links to each of the sermons:

Session I Ligon Duncan - Sound Doctrine - Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry Download

Session II Thabiti Anyabwile - Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church | Download

Session III John MacArthur - The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability | Download

Session IV Mark Dever - Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology | Download

Session V RC Sproul - The Curse Motif of the Atonement | Download

Session VI Albert Mohler - Why Do They Hate It So? The Doctrine of Substitution | Download

Session VII John Piper - How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice | Download

Session VIII CJ Mahaney - Sustaining a Pastor’s Soul | Download

To watch the various YouTube videos that were posted online through the conference, simply click here.

To listen to the audio from the Band of Bloggers event, visit this link.

T4G Books

Here is the first batch of books:

Here are the rest of the T4G giveaways along with most of the Band of Blogger book giveaways (though a couple were not available at Amazon):

T4G Posts

Many of the people who were present at T4G have been writing about their experiences. It may be easiest just to click here to read the Google Blog Search roundup.

One that caught my eye was Zach Nielsen’s Is There A Uniqueness To Men Singing Together About The Gospel?. He gives three good reasons that such singing is a sign of gospel humility.

Another good one is Bob Kauflin’s list of the songs he chose for the times of worship.

April 18, 2008

No sooner had the T4G ‘08 conference wrapped up than I jumped in a van with a pack of guys from my church and headed straight home. We made it back to Toronto in pretty good time and with fewer adventures than on the way down. I enjoyed talking to the guys about their impressions of the conference and benefited from debriefing with them. There were lots of laughs and lots of good talks. Though there was a variety of opinions on which of the messages was best or most applicable or most challenging, we all agreed that it was a very good conference and I think we all returned home much encouraged.

If you would like to hear the conference messages, they are all available for you (and entirely free). You can find them right here: Together For the Gospel Sermons. Though each of them is well worth the listen, I would definitely recommend R.C. Sproul and John Piper. Those were the ones I found most personally challenging and edifying.

Here is a video containing some “exit interviews” with various participants of the Together for the Gospel ‘08 event. It concludes with some words from one of the youngest participants there—very reassuring about the rising generation!

April 18, 2008

As with the first Together for the Gospel Conference, the final session of T4G ‘08 went to C.J. Mahaney. He opted to speak from Philippians 1:3 and preached a message that was pastoral in tone—a pastoral message seeking to tend to the souls of pastors. There is no true pastoral ministry apart from proclaiming the gospel and doctrinal precision and in this conference pastors have been challenged by these things. But the ministry also demands personal holiness, godly affections, and pleasing God in the privacy of our hearts. It is not solely about the mind but is also about the soul. In this message C.J. sought to address a pastor’s heart and to care for his soul. He wanted to have a personal word with the pastors to prepare them for the challenges that await as they return home from this conference.

The Apostle Paul is a model to pastors because he served and sacrificed and suffered and did it all with joy. To study this man’s life and letters is to encounter this distinctive so it is wise to give attention to joy in the life of Paul and to consider whether this distinctive is present in our lives. For a pastor to adequately do the task of ministry he must serve with joy!

C.J. offered a list of questions that would be of benefit to a pastor as he seeks to understand whether or not he serves with joy. Would your wife say that you are joyful in your pastoral ministry? What would your children say about your attitude and your demeanor every day? Would they describe you as joyful or as normally burdened, moody, irritable? Have you modeled a culture of joy within your church so that this is immediately obvious to anyone who visits?

With introductory matters aside he began to challenge pastors directly. Because a message of this nature is so immediately applicable and so personally applicable, I am providing only bare notes. There is no way I could write out what C.J. teaches and to communicate the impact. I hope that with this outline any pastor will see the benefit of downloading and listening to this message. It will bless your soul and your ministry.

C.J. turned to his text and offered several principles from Paul’s ministry:

Gratefulness to God (3-5) - Paul places great emphasis on gratefulness to God. With Paul we hear gratitude for evidences of grace that he sees in the lives of the people in the churches to which he writes. He continually exhorted his listeners to express thankfulness to God.

Faith for the Future (6) - What strengthened Paul’s confidence in the church’s future was that it was rooted in God, initiated by God. Because it was inaugurated by God he was sure that God would bring it to completion. Your certainty for the future of the church will make all the difference in your ministry. One cannot effectively pastor without faith in God. So don’t only isolate the topic of gratefulness, but focus also on the area of faith.

Affection for Others (7,8) - Paul yearns for them with the affection of Jesus Christ. This kind of affection permeates Paul’s life and ministry and as such serves as a model for pastors today.

I honestly hesitate to say much more than this. My encouragement is to find the MP3 (see the very next post on my blog), download it, and be blessed.

April 17, 2008

Here is a quick introduction to the importance of books at Together for the Gospel—and the amusing effects of free books on the pastors assembled.

April 17, 2008

Here is another gallery of photographs from the conference. Most of these are from day three of the conference, though a couple are remnants from day two:

Together for the Gospel

Together for the Gospel

C.J. Mahaney preaching…
Together for the Gospel

…and preaching some more.

Together for the Gospel

John Piper preaching.
Together for the Gospel

John Piper responding to questions on the panel.
Together for the Gospel

John Piper delivers the Word like he might deliver a pizza.
Together for the Gospel

Dr. Mohler preaching.
Together for the Gospel

C.J. praying.
Together for the Gospel

Worship with Bob Kauflin.
Together for the Gospel

And a few more photos of the times of worship…
Together for the Gospel

Together for the Gospel

Together for the Gospel

Photos are courtesy of Together for the Gospel

April 17, 2008

Here is an excerpt from a Together for the Gospel panel discussion with R.C. Sproul. He and the other men discuss the reality that preachers are often dissatisfied with their sermons. It is an illuminating discussion mixed with hilarious quips.

April 17, 2008

This morning we received the last of the free books. On our seats were copies of Christ & Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson (just printed!), Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin, The Future of Justification by John Piper and one of the smaller editions of the ESV.

The first session of the morning featured John Piper who really needs no introduction. He sought to answer this question: How does the supremacy of Christ create radical Christian sacrifice?

If Piper’s ministry to young people revolves around the message “Don’t Waste Your Life,” this, his message to pastors, seemed to me to be “Don’t Waste Your Ministry.” It was a call to a radical life; a call to put away the complacency and the safeness that plagues so many Christian lives and ministries. Though directed at pastors it was applicable far beyond. And it was powerful. I’m afraid that my notes really do not at all capture the power of the message but I will put a few thoughts out here regardless. But do wait for the MP3 or video and drink it in.

Piper looked to six passages from the book of Hebrews. He said that we would need to ask and answer correctly, what is the great reward? What is the joy set before us? What is the city to come? He looked to Hebrews 10:32-35, 11:6, 11:24-26, 11:35, 12:2, 13:12-14.

The dream for this message is that every person’s life and ministry would have a radical flavor; a gutsy, radical, wartime flavor that makes average people in the church uncomfortable; a mixture of tenderness and toughness; a pervasive summons to something more, something hazardous, something wonderful. The world is not going to glorify Christ because they see that Christians are wealthy and healthy and prosperous because this is what they already live for. We may use Jesus to get it…they use other means to get it. They are not impressed when Jesus is just a ticket because when the show starts you just throw the ticket away.

The message had much to say about suffering. Suffering for the followers of Christ is a sign that God is their Father. Do not think it strange when you come into various trials as though something unusual were happening to you. The followers of Jesus will necessarily suffer. We need to embrace the suffering as this is the only kind of life that the world will regard as anything radical.

All of this begs the question: What creates such a ministry? What creates radical Christian sacrifice? Here Piper turned to just three of the passages outlined earlier.

He shared one of his deepest, sweetest discoveries of the past two or three years. He discovered from Scripture that Christ and His work are a means to something: justification, forgiveness, propitiation, sanctification, eternal life. But here’s the catch. In Paul and in Hebrews and elsewhere, in the very moment of His supreme “means” work, He at that very moment became and displayed the supreme beauty of the glory of the grace of God which the universe was designed to display for our everlasting enjoyment. Christ in His means work becomes, at that moment, the clearest focus of the end for which we are made. We are made to praise the glory of the grace of God. The glory of God reaches its apex in the display of free grace and free grace reaches its apex in the display of the blood of Christ so sinners could be freed from their love affair with the world. This is why we will spend eternity singing about horrible things—slaughter of the Son of God will be our song forever. We won’t put behind us gross horrible events. The worst event of history will be the center of our song forever and the supreme expression of His glory and the supreme experience of satisfaction forever. In Christ’s means work He becomes our end. All of the pictures of the supremacy of Christ in Hebrews are not only to fit Him for His means work but they are also presented so that in the means work we would see our treasure, our reward. The ticket becomes the treasure.

Every glory of the Savior, every facet of His majesty, is poured into the little word “him” in 13:13. “Let us go to him outside the camp.” Jesus is not standing back and saying, “Go back!” He is saying, “I am out here! You are in there where it is so safe. But I am out here. Come to me…” The sweetest fellowship with your Savior and your treasure that you will ever know is the fellowship of His sufferings. It doesn’t get sweeter. The supremacy of Christ is not just His perfect fitness to bear our sins and not just the supremely valuable reward He will be at the end, but it is also present, personal, precious treasure. “Come to me, I’m out here,” he says. He won’t ask us to go where He won’t be with us. We will know Him in depths and ways in radical Christian sacrifice where we would never have known Him any other place.

Piper’s final exhortation was just this: My desire and prayer for you is that there would be a radical flavor about your life.

If you are a pastor, you should hear this message. If you know a pastor, you should hear this message (and so should he!). If you’re not a pastor, you should still give it a listen. This is a powerful call to radical service for God.