Monday, March 23, 2009

Nuggets of Glory Pt. 2

Having been home for a day or two, things have already began to fade in my memory. When I go over my notes they are not as fresh as they were the last time I did. However poor my memory may be, I will do my utmost to remember what was said and the impact it had on me.

There was one thing I left out of the first Q & A time that I wanted to share before I moved on, so I'll mention that and get on with it.

  • The last question that was asked in the Clavin mini-conference, if my memory and notes serve me well, was something along the lines of "What was the highlight (for each pastor on the pannel) of Calvin's work/life for you personally?" There were many similarities in answers and most common was Calvin's devotion to God as a preacher, but something Al Mohler said really struck me. He made the comment many other men made, about Calvin's example to his congregation as a preaher, he added that he (Calvin) pushed his congregation to be thinkers and learners, and then added something especially profound in its simplicity. "Calvin didn't retire...he died." I was momentarily dumbfounded. That simple statement has exceptional relevancy, not only for people aspiring to ministry, but the Christian in general.
  • The first time R. C. Sproul taught it was tough for me to take notes. Not because I was drowsy, like many of the audience at that point (due to the back-to-back-to-back nature of such short conferences), but because I was captivated by the man's vision of our Holy God. His first message was simple. It was titled "I Am the Lord, And There Is No Other." It was essentially a message/lecture on God intrinsic, transcendent uniqueness. I couldn't list out his points. I'm sure he had some sort of a formal outline but the unique nature of his topic was such that all the "points" flowed seamlessly together. I came out of that session with two things. One, I learned the term "asciety." It indicates God's self-sustaining, self-existant, eternal nature. Two, I came away with a renewed sense of awe and wonder of the holiness of God. The fact that His nature is completely apart and above us is something to vast to even begin to grasp, but as Dr. Sproul aptly pointed out: "We must try."
  • Since I've titled my blog(s) on the Holiness of God conference "Nuggets of Glory," the contentious part of my mind would tell me to skip over the next "message" due to my general dislike and disregard for the majority of what was presented. R. C. Sproul Jr's task was to tackle the issue of God's Holiness in regard to the family with an emphasis on raising up children. "Useless" would not at all be the best way to describe it, but if I was asked to evaluate it in one word and was not given much time, that might be the word I recklessly grab for. A better way to put it would be that I felt it missed the point of the conference and crossed over into the side of being too preachy, and opinionated. There were two important things I did get from this session though. First, the husband/father has an extremely important spiritual role in his family. He is called to be like Christ in relation to the church and be his family's example and intercessor. Second, Sproul Jr. aptly used the C. S. Lewis quote, "Our problem is not that we are too difficult to satisfy, but rather that we are too easily satisfied," to demonstrate that when handling such an important responsibility it is necessary to strive for excellence and "man up" and admit it when we drop the ball.

I know that was only three points but the next three sessions were on the "individual" members of the Holy Trinity and I did not want to split them up and I do not have the time to adequately handle them at the moment.

I hope some of the things God used to work in me this past weekend are able to be of some benefit to others!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nuggets of Glory Pt. 1

Yesterday was Day 1 of the 22nd Anual Ligonier's Holiness of God Conference in Orlando. It was extraordinary! Yesterday and today I heard enough to keep my spiritually and mentally busy for quite some time. I have been taking furious notes but feel like there's a lot has still gone over my head. Even though there's much I'm sure I've missed, there's tons that I was thankfully able to grasp, and wanted to share some of the highlights thus far. I'll try to expound on them a bit in the future, but felt like I should get some out while it's still fresh in my head.

  • The first half day of the conference was a "mini-conference" that focused on the life and legacy of John Calvin. Ligon Duncan spoke first and his focus was "Calvin and the Christian Life." What stood out to me more than anything else was his (both Duncan and Calvin) view of piety. Because of all the history and tradition that has come before me I have always kinda viewed the idea of piety with more than a small ammount of skepticism and have frequently just disregarded it (as what I percieved as Pharisaical religion). Calvin however regarded it as one of if not the utmost virtue, and Duncan follows suit. However, he defines it as an experiential love of God as the Father combined with a reverential fear of God as Lord. This is something I would absolutely deem worthy of our constant effort, and believe that if we disregard this we do so to both our temporal and eternal detriment.
  • Thus far my favorite speaker, hands down, is Sinclair Ferguson. Other than his fascinatong accent that makes him so enjoyable to listen to, he has a love for God as LORD and a love for the revealed knowledge of God that is contagious in his preaching. During the Clavin mini-conference he was the one given the task to tackle the Doctrines of Grace. He did it with such simple eloquence that I felt a bit dazed when he was through. "Wow!" I thought to myself, "that was so great." I look at my watch and can't believe so much time has passed, but in the same breath I didn't want it to end! Now there's not much I can add to his teachings on the Doctrines of Grace, but one of things that Ferguson said that just caused me to respond with great joy was the statement he made when he was talking about the perseverence of the saints; "[Jesus] did not come [and die]to make salvation possible, he came to save!"
  • The next session what struck me most was not a statement made by the speaker (Steve Lawson) or even a passage of Scripture, but it was the example of John Calvin's life and dedication to God. This man was regenerated and saved at age 24 and wrote the first edition of Institutes of the Christian Religion at age 25!!! This was incredibly encouraging and, at the same time, exceptionally convicting. I want a life and legacy like that!
  • The first Q & A session was focused primarily on Clavin and the love for him that the men on the pannel has was extraordinary. One of the things they kept coming back to was the balance between scholar and pastor/teacher. He loved plumbing the depths of the glory of God in Christ and in Scripture but Clavin didn't stop there! He had an unquenchable passion to share his vision of God's glory with the body of Christ and primarily his largely ungrateful congregation in Geneva. AND something that needs to be remembered about Clavin was that while he absolutely believed in and preached a wholly sovereign God he was all about evangelism and missions! He launched all sorts of international missions and encouraged the people who came to his congregation from without to go back to their home (whereever it may have been) and preach the God of Scripture!

Those were the highlights from the Calvin mini-conference and it's getting late, so that's two good reasons to wrap this up and return later.

I am loving this conference and am exceedingly grateful that things worked out so I could make it. Would love to hear any thoughts or responses!