Saturday, April 25, 2009


I just went to Chicago for a pastor's conference - The Gospel Coalition. It was a really sweet time. A few of my seminary pals and I try to go to one every year for good fellowship and encouragement. The Spirit really challenged me to "fan into flame the gift of God" [2 Tim 1.6] and "fight the good fight" [2 Tim 4.7].

The conference theme was "Entrusted with the Gospel: Living the Vision of 2 Timothy."

One thing I absolutely detest about these conferences is that usually it feels like Calvinists patting other Calvinists on the back for being Calvinists. How utterly stupid. I usually walk into the huge conference hall and am immediately drenched with pride. I feel like I know more than at least 80% of these yahoos, who have only read every John Piper book and can give you 8 proof texts for each point in TULIP.

I was talking to this one guy who was probably about my age. I asked him what had encouraged him the most thus far. He mumbled off something vague and then jokingly said that he wasn't going to wash his hand because he shook Mark Driscoll's. I wanted to equally throw up, cry, and kick him in the face.

But our God is good and wise. The way that He humbled me in all of this, which was almost worth the trip itself, was through music. On one side you have the older pastors with their high-water pleated pants, braided belts, and "casual" Sunday morning blazers. On the other hand you have your late 20s/early 30s, black rimmed glasses, bed-headed [or faux hawk] church planters who are going to change the world because they have a tattoo.


When all 4,000 of us came together to sing, those oddities didn't mean a thing. I just can't have pride in my heart at the Mark Driscoll-look-alike seven seats down when we're all belting out "He breaks the power of cancelled sin. He sets the prisoner free. His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me."

Slowly, my arrogance was shot down. And it was not only shot down, but transformed. By the end of our time, I didn't look at those different from me and think, "What the heck? Are you kidding me?!" I was able to look them eye-to-eye, smile, and ask our Father in my heart to mold them, use them, and humble them.

Lastly, the reason that guys like Tim Keller, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll are loved is because they DO love Jesus and the Spirit has empowered them for kingdom work. So, it was a great blessing to sit under their teaching and wisdom. Did I agree with every small detail they said? No. Am I still a young idealist? Yes. Was I hugely convicted and prodded to more diligently put my hands to the plow and plead for grace in the journey? Absolutely.

Go listen and read [also here and here]. Good times.


Anonymous said...

we are at a denominational assembly for the western Canadian baptist churches in Banff Alberta...and I think we are feeling similarly, except that we are finding that most of the speakers and workshop leaders are speaking in this sub-culture Christianity well-educated mumbo jumbo, and we keep thinking that even Jesus would be confused by it. One guy called himself an existentialist..and that is never a good thing to call yourself, even in context...

thanks for this post. oh and your prego wife sure is purty :D


Julie said...

Great post. Glad you guys had a good trip!