Contend Earnestly: February 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

John Piper: Filling of the Holy Spirit

I found this quote on Adrian Warnock's blog and found it to be a good one:

"Let me use an illustration from Martin Lloyd-Jones in his book Joy Unspeakable to describe the difference between common Christian living and what happens when the Holy Spirit "clothes" a person with power or "comes upon" a person with this unusual power.

He says it is like a child walking along holding his father's hand. All is well. The child is happy. He feels secure. His father loves him. He believes that his father loves him but there is no unusual urge to talk about this or sing about it. It is true and it is pleasant.

Then suddenly the father startles the child by reaching down and sweeping him up into his arms and hugging him tightly and kissing him on the neck and whispering, "I love you so much!" And then holding the stunned child back so that he can look into his face and saying with all his heart, "I am so glad you are mine." Then hugging him once more with unspeakable warmth and affection. Then he puts the child down and they continue their walk.

This, Lloyd-Jones says, is what happens when a person is baptized with the Holy Spirit. A pleasant and happy walk with God is swept up into an unspeakable new level of joy and love and assurance and reality that leaves the Christian so utterly certain of the immediate reality of Jesus that he is overflowing in praise and more free and bold in witness than he ever imagined he could be.

The child is simply stunned. He doesn't know whether to cry or shout or fall down or run, he is so happy. The fuses of love are so overloaded they almost blow out. The subconscious doubts—that he wasn't thinking about at the time, but that pop up every now and then—are gone! And in their place is utter and indestructible assurance, so that you know that you know that you know that God is real and that Jesus lives and that you are loved, and that to be saved is the greatest thing in the world. And as you walk on down the street you can scarcely contain yourself, and you want to cry out, "My father loves me! My father loves me! O, what a great father I have! What a father! What a father!"

. . . I think this is basically what happened at Pentecost. And has happened again and again in the life of the church."

— John Piper: You Shall Receive Power, 1990

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Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions

This book was definitely different than Mark's previous works. This was Mark's chance to just tell it how he sees it through the Word of God. In just 233 pages Mark and Gerry do their best to give the reader a better or a more refreshing look at who Jesus truly was, is, and is to come and how this should affect our lives.

The basic set up of the book is one of my favorites that I have ever seen. Mark answers a specific question to fill up each chapter (i.e. Is Jesus the Only God?) and then after answering the question, filled with biblical quotes and references, then goes on to answer common objections (usually 3 or 4 questions) at the end of each chapter (i.e. Does the Bible clearly say that Jesus is God?). This was very well thought out and done very well, to help engage the reader to what they might be thinking as possible objections to the original question posed in each chapter.

If you are used to Mark and his preaching this book will be nothing surprising or different than how he preaches every week. If you are not used to it, you might have some initial objections if you are "churchy" or might be surprised to hear such a down to earth approach to theology if you haven't grown up in church. But, I will tell you from experience, once you listen to what Mark has to say, he will allow you to see what Christ's mission truly was and continues to be in our daily lives.

Vintage Jesus tries to tackle a lot of subjects in a smaller book (233 pages), but does a great job of giving the reader something to grasp and look into further study without overloading them with content. I personally enjoyed the book and thought it was a good reminder and add on to Mark's preaching series that bears the same title.

This is a great book to give to someone who is unfamiliar with Jesus and is also filled with great material for those that have leaned too much on traditional views or legalistic ones of Christ. Mark brings every question back to the Word and challenges the readers to do the same.

The book is filled with humor and Mark really just "brings it" and because of this, like usual, he will have some haters that will say that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Which would make me laugh if they weren't so serious about it. I do laugh though everytime Mark describes these kinds of guys...cause I used to be one of them...Anyways...great book and look forward to the next title in October. Highly Recommended

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Resurgence Conference: Final Thoughts

So. The conference is over and back to the real world. Everything was good about the conference. The music, the speakers, the volunteers, the venue, the coffee, and especially the messages preached.

We found out that 46 states and 11 countries were represented and only 24% of the attendees were from Washington. I found this to be very encouraging to see that people are listening to men like Driscoll and Chandler, but let's not kid ourselves, they also came to hear Piper and Mahaney.

The one thing that I really appreciate about these two men (Piper and Mahaney) is that they wouldn't agree with everything that Driscoll and Mars Hill are doing, even Piper took a poke at the music at Mars Hill, but they completely support them, knowing that they are of Christ and doing the work of evangelists. I won't name others, but there are other well known pastors around the country that can grow up and learn something from Piper and Mahaney in this regard.

The hard part of going to these kinds of conferences is seeing and hearing men and churches where it looks just like you want things to look at your own church, but then you have to remember the resources and budgets they deal with, and the resources and budgets that are a reality at your own church.

My pastor has given me some good insights on this, and that is: take what you learn and apply it at the level that our church is currently at. I like that. And I will do that.

If I could take some things from all of these guys and what they spoke about, it would be this:

Driscoll: The Emergents are idiots, the Scriptures are timeless, the methodology is timely

Chandler: The Scriptures are authoritative, don't try and be a Driscoll, but be who God has called you to be

Mahaney: Look for the grace in those around you, love them, have faith in them, and then, exhort and admonish...but only if you have those first things down

Piper: Trust the Scriptures. Make sure they are guiding and directing your ministry.

Gilmore: uhhh...what? Still not sure.

I will honestly make this point. I believe these four guys are doing ministry the exact way that I would. There are a few things I wouldn't do, but very very few.

I absolutely loved the conference and it will have one of those lasting impacts on me and my ministry that God has placed me in.

I can't wait to go back next year.

Also, just as an update, all the conference material should be up on the Resurgence Conference website within the next couple of weeks, so look for it. I would especially draw your attention to the Q & A with Chandler, Piper and Driscoll on Tuesday night. Probably one of the best Q & A's ever...funny and informative:

Just some insights:

Piper doesn't have a TV and wouldn't plug it in even if Mark bought him one
Mark was thankful that Piper gives him and Chandler some slack on the rope, and Piper just doesn't want them to hang themselves
Piper makes fun of the music at Mars Hill
Chandler has a photo of Piper on his fridge
Piper thinks that Doug Wilson has a bunch of dumb guys around him (cue the Driscoll and Chandler fist pump)
We are still in the dark how much Piper can bench press

If you didn't get a chance to go to the conference, look for the free audio online in the upcoming weeks. If you can, be ready for next year, as I will.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Resurgence Conference 2008: Tuesday Afternoon

This is not going to be the most detailed session, because Piper asked us to put away our notes and just listen. He told us that the notes and the session would be online, but because it was a 32 point sermon, yeah...seriously...Piper did a 32 pointer...How ya like that for exposition MacArthur? ;)

I would highly encourage you to check out the notes and sermons by clicking here.

It was very well done and one that I will need to listen to again to get all the details but the passion was high and thought invoking, as usual,when listening to Piper.

After Piper, Driscoll and Chandler came back with a church planter focus. Although I don't feel called in any way to be a church planter I wanted to hear what the focus would be on. Because my computer was charging I didn't take great notes on these sessions either.

What Driscoll's focus was, was a walk through of what it means to be an elder in the church, and I have to say, I have a lot of work to do before I am comfortable with the calling. I guess everyone says that though so it probably just sounds like lip service, but truly it is not. And...if you know know, sadly, that it is not lip service. That is an idictment on my sin and not on the work of Christ.

Of course the focus was on men being the elders and then he walked through 1 Timothy 3 and just exposited the Scriptures and spoke to the hearts of the men.

Chandler ended up speaking about what it takes to be a missional church. Chandler's message was again, top notch and everyone was blown away. From what it seems, many do not know about Chandler, so I don't think they were expecting much. What is funny, is that this was a specific Acts 29 church planters message and totally optional. Yet, I found the auditorium packed to hear the sermon, because of the truths that he had brought in the morning.

Chandler's main focus was on making sure that we walk in the way that we preach. That instead of being scared and running from sinners, we are to love and run to the sinner with the message of Jesus as the God that came and died for them.

This was classic Chandler, and this message was just like the ones that helped bring me out of fundamentalism and legalism, to a Christ incarnational focus.

One thing that stuck with me is when he was speaking about us in heaven with the new wine. He said,

When you tip your cup to tell of the works on this earth, the more of you that is in this "toast" the less we will sing of the glories of Jesus and therefore the less you will be able to share. But, if it is all about the glory of Christ, then we will all be able to toast together and praise God for the work that He did for His glory. Matt then said, this is a toast that I don't want to miss out on.



Soli Deo Gloria!

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Matt Chandler: Resurgence Conference 2008

Okay...I know that I am seriously biased towards Chandler since I have been podcasting him over a year now because "Orthy" turned me onto his preaching. But, Matt brought it today. He poured his passion towards the congregation and the Spirit of God was felt. I know that sounds little hokie, but completely true.

The "sermon" was titled, "Preaching the Gospel in the Center of the Evangelical World." I put sermon in quotes because it was more of an admonition and exhortation than biblical exegesis. Chandler's main point was to understand and practice the sufficiency of Scripture.

The main focus being that we need not only preach the "how" of Scripture but also the "why?" He mentioned that it isn't enough to preach how to be content, or how to be committed, but to focus in on also the "why" of these things. The why being focused in on the exaltation and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matt's focus in on this is because of the fundamentalist charge against liberalism was to rebut them through the liberal questioning of the inerrancy and infallibility of the word with a focus in on the word being a combination of a lock. Meaning, if you have an issue, you just needed the right combination of verses to unlock the power contained within it. The outcome was then a bunch of big headed jerks with no hearts. It was, as Matt put it:

All about the head, and not about the heart.

Matt then went on to show the shape of our problem is also found in the enlightenment. Matt pointed out the following:

The poison of the enlightenment was the death of the soul, earth became the new heaven. Rational pragmatics became king. Numerically in size was a bigger importance instead of the number of transformation of lives.

Then he pointed out that the sixties brought about sermons that, because of the frustration with institutions and progress, were more contemporary relaxed models of worship and really religion with light fair.

The best part of the entire message is when Chandler told everyone to allow God to bring about your calling and stop trying to be the next Driscoll, or the next Piper, or the next...whomever...

He said, and I quote,

The Holy Spirit uses Driscoll in a lot of ways. Driscoll can tell you that you are stupid on a Sunday morning and everyone will say, "yes I am, how can I be saved?" But, if you try and be Mark, instead of who God has called you to be, you are going to look like a bunch of jackasses!

It was on point, and drew a lot of "oohs" and "ahhhs" and ultimately seen as truth.

In the end the "sermon" was very well done. It was on point and the ultimate understanding that I came to, was that the gospel is the truth and it is sufficient for the apostles culture, the reformers culture and even our culture.

Matt really brought it today, and not sure if anyone can live up to his billing.

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Jim Gilmore: Fear and Trembling in the Experience Economy

This morning Jim Gilmore brought his first message to us. Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to hearing Gilmore and his economic outlook of today's culture.

I was pleasantly surprised but still wonder how I am supposed to take it home with me as a church leader. I am hoping that he will uncover this more tomorrow, but I really enjoyed his presentation. It was also interesting to find out that he is a reformed Christian first, and an economist second. He even put the conference in its correct context, by pointing out that it is called, Text and Context, in that order, for a reason.

The focus of Gilmore was to uncover the transgression of the experience economy and then how it is effectively sold. As an example:


Coffee costs 3 to 4 cents a cup

If someone gives you the coffee for you to make: 5 to 10 cents a cup (think Maxwell House)

Then if someone makes you a cup of coffee: 50 cents to $1 (restaurant, Dunkin Dounuts)

If they provide a place for the experience of coffee: 3 to $5 per cup (of course we are speaking of Starbucks here)

Now, I know what you are thinking, but Gilmore strongly asserts that we are not to make the church a business, but we are to take the church (the people) into business and learn to change it. The reason being that the experience economy is ultimately leading us to the transformation economy, which will sell us the thought of becoming perfect. Gilmore stressed, both in presentation and in his book, "Authenticity" that we are not to sell perfect but focus in on the perfection of Christ.

I hope that more will be brought about how to take this to our actual church tomorrow.

Next comes Chandler.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

John Piper: Why I Trust the Scriptures: Resurgence Conference 2008

The night ended with John Piper, but started with Pastor Tim Smith and the worship band Ex Nihilo. That was some of the best worship music that I have heard in a long time. All of the songs were hymns that were redone by the band. I have heard most of these songs through the Phillippians series that Mars Hill went through in 2007, but it was a lot more amazing worshiping live with them.
Not a bad way to end a day of preaching and teaching from the word of God. As Mark Driscoll introduced Dr. Piper, you could see the importance that Dr. Piper has been in his life as Driscoll dropped some tears in his introduction.

Dr. Piper came forward to give us what I felt was an hour and half introduction for his sermons for the rest of the week. Because there is so many questions still unanswered, as it was an introduction, there will be much more meat the rest of the week. This doesn't mean that tonight didn't have meat, but you could tell that tonight wasn't the climax of the week.

Dr. Piper started off this night with the question:

Why do we need to preach on Trusting the Scriptures? Why this really matters.

Dr. Piper gave eight reasons why this needs to be answered when looking at today's culture.

1. Many in our day deny the existence of truth
2. One trait of secularism is the bible is a mixture of truth and error
3. The competing body of holy books are coming increasingly close
(They aren’t far off anymore, but very much accessible to everyone)
4. One trait of liberal Christianity is rejection of inerrancy of Scripture and finding a canon within the canon

The NT is not the basis of the unity of the church, but, it is the basis of the disunity of the church. Multiple theologies in it and you need to figure out which one to follow

5. In every generation there are new creative attacks on the trustworthiness of the Bible.
6. If it is true, the message of the bible is the only message of eternal life
7. Building our lives on sacrificial service when it is all a mistake it is all pitiful
8.The bible makes claims of inspirational authority and inerrancy

Dr. Piper then came with two assumptions for us:

1.In asking the question, Why do I trust the scriptures?, I am agreeing that there should be a, “why’? cf. 1 John 4:1; Acts 17; 1 John 5:13; Acts 1:3

2. God is not honored by leaps in the dark

Dr. Piper then ended with his five steps he takes into a warranted solid confidence into the word of God. Again, I stress, as he stressed, this was Dr. Piper's steps not necessarily what everyone should follow.

1. I met Jesus in the gospel and his self authenticating glory has won my affections, and I could not turn away

2.Turn to the apostle Paul as a contemporary witness to Jesus who more than any others lets us see his own soul and his own ministry

3.I go to the gospels…I say Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell me about the Jesus I now believe in. Show me the story. Show me this man. As they show…he is the same as those found in steps 1 and 2. These also show Jesus' affirmation of those in the Old Testament speaking the word of God. cf. Mark 12:36 (David is speaking in the Spirit); Matthew 19:4 (Moses is talking, even though Jesus says, God said)

4. Westminster Larger Catechism:

How do we know that the Scriptures are the word of God?

- the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God cf. John 7:16-18; John 5:41-44

The thrust of the Bible is that you don’t get the glory, God gets the glory!

- but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very Word of God.

Calvin on the Testimonium Internum Spiritus Sancti - How can we know the authority of Scripture? Calvin believed that “Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color or sweet and bitter things of their taste” (I, 7.2). The persuasion that God is the author of Scripture was established in us by the internal testimony of the Spirit. The Word of God does not derive its authority from the Church, but the reverse. The authority of the Word arises from the testimony it receives from the inner work of the Spirit in the regenerate mind:
J.I. Packer on Calvin

“The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit” (I, 7.4).

John Calvin

Overall, this was a great first day of the conference. Dr. Piper's introduction, although long, was well worth the length for him to set the precedence of the conference. Of the three that we heard today, I would definitely have to say that I enjoyed Mahaney's and Driscoll's messages more, but that is just because they were able to finish their thoughts, and Dr. Piper is still yet to be determined. This isn't to say that Dr. Piper's message wasn't well done, for I believe it was. I just feel as though there was a lot of ground that he was covering and a lot of foundation was being laid. I look forward to see how this sermon works its way out in the next couple of days.

Until tomorrow.

Soli Deo Gloria

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And it begins...Resurgence Conference 2008

The conference started off with a bang. Seriously. It was started off with an urban hip hop mission organization with some live performances of some of their songs that they have written and performed for the sake of witnessing for the cross of Christ. It was funny to watch a bunch of white dudes clap awkwardly at first and almost looking around to see if it was okay for them to enjoy young black guys worshiping the Lord in a way they might have called heresy in the past. But, then, it just clicked. The words were coming forth, the Spirit led, and the awkwardness went away as everyone saw that these men of God were bringing a message of repentance for the glory of Christ. It was seriously...amazing.

After that, Pastor Mark got up to bring the message laid on his heart. It was supposed to be a message on Incarnational Ministry, but he admitted that he changed it this weekend as he was studying. The topic was right on and hit with power. This message was entitled, "Putting Pastors in Their Place." The idea of the message was making sure that the pastors understand that preaching is for today and relevant, even though others, specifically in the emergent postmodern movement, would deny this fact.

Mark went on to show this fact from Genesis to Revelation. His main resting spot was in Acts where he went through all the circumstances that faced the church and its people and the one congruent thought was that the message must be preached. After convincing everyone from the Word of God that preaching must take place he made sure everyone understood the calling of what it is to be a church. Driscoll laid out some distinctives of a church:

1. Christ is high and exalted
2. Qualified male elders
3. Preaching of the word, rightly divided (word is heard)
4. Sacraments rightly given (word is seen)
5. Church discipline rightly enacted (word is protected and guarded)

One of the things that really stuck out with me is this statement:

We live in a day when authority is really the issue, and there are two things that are consistantly taken out of the postmodern "churches":
Preaching and its authority
Discipline and its authority

All in all...Mark brought it and it was seen throughout the faces of the audience.

Now C.J. Mahaney's turn

C.J. came to bring a message entitled, "Pastoral Character & Loving People", focusing on 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. This message was very much needed by yours truly.

It was a three part message broken down into:

1. Seeing the Call of God in Yourself and Others
2. Paul's Recognition of God's Grace
3. Confidence in God's Faithfulness

I am not going to rehash the entirety of this message but its intent was to first understand the calling of God in your life and to continually remind yourself of it. After you have done so, make sure that you understand that those around you were also called, with just as much sin in their lives, by the grace of God. C.J. said:

Think of the doctrine of Sin as job security

CJ simply asked, "Do you see people as being called by divine initiative or their dificiency/immaturities?" This caused quite the deep breaths by the audience as the statement was felt throughout.

CJ also reminded us that,

Progressive sanctification is gradual and not a moment, it is not sudden, it is gradual." and "Don’t correct anyone you don’t have faith for or affection toward. Remind yourself that they are the object of divine initiative and that God has started in them a good work. You will find fresh faith in them and for them. For the Corinthians, correction is coming but first divine understanding of their call is the start for Paul towards the Corinthians.

CJ continued to show that Paul looked for the grace FIRST in those around him so that he could then come to them with a humble attitude of correction.

CJ remarked, "Only the humble can notice the presence of Grace in others."

As he moved to the pastors of the group he made sure that we were in an understanding of what we must do to keep a right perspective.

When you think of the pastors, the church, your children, your wife…what do you feel coming on? Evidences of grace, or areas in need of adjustment and growth? Your evaluation of your church must start with the evidences of grace in your church. Do you perceive where and how God is at work? This understanding will protect you from being discouraged.

He then added,

"Sadly, We are more aware of sin instead of grace, we are more aware of sorrow instead of joy. Draw attention to the evidences of Grace because, GOD IS AT WORK!"

This, so far as been very good and we haven't even heard from Piper yet. I hope that the God honoring word continues to be the focus, which I can't imagine it wouldn't be, for the groundwork has been laid.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Resurgence Conference Check In

So, I wanted to give you an idea of what things look like around the church and the start of the Resurgence Conference. Because Mars Hill wants to be kind to its neighbors they have made sure that everyone parked away from the church so that businesses weren't affected by a huge stream of cars not using their services. For those of us around the Seattle area we were asked to park at Seattle Center and then we were shuttled in. Mind you, these aren't normal Chevy 15 passenger vans taking us to the church, but were remodeled Seattle Metro buses with tall the "stankonia" taken out of them. We went and picked up a group at the local Holiday Inn and it was funny to hear one of the guys say that he didn't get the memo on the dress code. He was way overdressed, by just having a collared polo and corduroy pants. Most of us were sporting our cargos or jeans and t-shirts. I failed to mention to him that you must also have a minimum of 3 tattoos to be admitted as well.

Like last year, when I arrived we were greeted friendly by those at the registration table and given some SWAG. In our bag this year was Pastor Driscoll's new book, Vingtage Jesus and also John Piper's new book, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright. Of course I already own and have read Vintage Jesus, so someone will get a free book from me as an early Christmas present. As far as Piper's book, I was just reading some stuff online about it and so I was excited to see that I got it for "free" instead.

I arrived really early, so to get a good seat and have had the opportunity to take some pics on my iPhone. I hope you enjoy as I know that I will. I also found out that you can watch the conference online as well.

Here are some pics:

:::Shuttles from Seattle Center Parking lot:::

:::Front of Church:::

:::Foyer of Church, Check In:::

:::Internet Cafe:::

:::View from Back of Church "Sanctuary":::

:::Dr. Steven Crain speaking with people:::

:::Driscoll doing a sound check:::

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Friday, February 22, 2008

The Resurgence Conference

So, I know that I have been away for a little bit. It has been very busy around my office and also getting things kicked off for the new year at my church. I apologize for this and I will get back to the debate soon. I will make sure I email Turretinfan to let him know what is going on so that we can pick back up when I get a chance.

What I also wanted to do is give everyone a heads up that I will be blogging this next week at the National Resurgence Conference: Text & Contenxt. Slated to come and teach are most of the guys that I respect highly around the nation:

John Piper
CJ Mahaney
Matt Chandler
Mark Driscoll

What I plan on doing is some live blogging at the conference to keep everyone in touch. I went to the Resurgence Conference last year with Bruce Ware and was very impressed with Mars Hill's hospitality and can't wait to be with them for three straight days this year. Click below for the schedule of the conference. I will only be there for the Monday thru Wednesday part of the conference being I am not part of the Acts 29 network, nor am I planning on planting a church. Hope you enjoy.

Conference Schedule

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