10 April 2011

Psalm 119 Conference - Partial Recap

Have you ever gone somewhere for a few days and found yourself never wanting to leave? I don't mean that sadness that comes over you when your Florida vacation is winding to a close. I am referring to the feeling you get when you are surrounded by other Christians who love Christ and love the Gospel and who desire to simply serve Him more...now there is a feeling that you never want to lose! I went through my entire life (and numerous churches and "Bible studies") and never experienced this until last summer. When I stepped onto the campus of The Master's College to spend a week in study for the MABS program, I found myself first in my own personal element (I love school, I'm a nerd!). I also realized, however, that I was surrounded by men and women who were seeking not just to further their education, but to do so in anticipation of using that education to serve and further God's kingdom. I have been overwhelmed by this same wonderful sense each time I have been blessed to spend a Sunday morning at Grace Community Church. Though I have only been there twice, that church truly feels like home. And now this past weekend I felt that now more-familiar feeling as I was surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ who simply hunger for God's Word and who are passionate about defending its Truth in this age of apostasy. Perhaps it's the Christian fellowship. Perhaps it's the mere fact that, in all of these situations, I have been blessed with Biblical teaching by dedicated men of God. But I suspect it is the perfect combination of the two that leaves me both sad and encouraged. Sad, because eventually I have to leave such a wonderful environment, but encouraged because I can see how beautifully and strongly God's name is being glorified by true believers everywhere.

As I mentioned yesterday, I attended the Psalm 119 conference this weekend and all I can say is wow. This was my first time attending a Wretched Radio event and I have to send a huge "thank you" to the Wretched gang! They put together a well-organized and well-executed conference that left no one disappointed. What made the event so amazing? Well, sadly, Todd Friel didn't make a shocking entrance by emerging up out of the floor in a cloud of smoke. There were no disco lights or lasers and not one of the speakers used his time to exegete the newest movie. No one drove a motorcycle across the stage and there was no live wrestling match and no teenage pop star showed up to lead us in worship. All in all it was pretty boring by today's circus church standards! But let me tell you what they did have. They had 5 men who faithfully stood behind the pulpit (remember what those are? They've all but disappeared in today's churches!) and preached the Word of God. The Gospel was proclaimed, Scripture was beautifully taught, and most importantly, God was glorified. Whew! Now there is a successful Christian conference!

I am still working on fully digesting everything that was said this weekend, but I'll try in this post to share with you some of the highlights and points that really resonated with me. I admit that much of what was said was not exactly new to me (and I don't mean that to sound conceited as if I know everything!), but what was so important for me to hear was confirmation of much of what I did know, as well as confirmation about some things that God has been showing me lately and, even more importantly, some application for those truths.

The line-up for this conference was fantastic. The speakers included Todd Friel, R.W. Glenn, Phil Johnson, James White, and Milton Vincent. You would think that over two days and 10, 50-minute sessions that at least one of the talks would be wearisome or lacking, but no. I can honestly say that every session was edifying, applicable, and engaging. Each one of these men preached the Word of God faithfully and boldly and every person in the room was blessed and encouraged because of it. To each of the speakers this weekend I would like to say thank you. Thank you for allowing God to use you and trust me, each one of you is being used in a mighty way!

Todd Friel spoke first and made a lot of similar points that I have tried to stress the couple of times that I have spoken (to a much smaller group) on the topic of discernment. It was really affirming for me to hear him express similar thoughts on the subject. He rightly warned that, while the Church is always experiencing attacks from the outside, our biggest and most dangerous threat lies inside the church. This is something that I think Christians often lose sight of. It is very easy to get caught up in the political world and to get swept away by the thought that the liberals or the "pro-choicers," or the anti-marriage people, or the atheists, or sympathizers of any of these groups are our biggest enemy. Are these groups and movements that we want to stand up against when necessary? Of course, but they are not the biggest threat to the Gospel. Who is? The false teachers. They are our most dangerous enemies because they are veiled behind a "pastor" title and they know all the right "Christian" words to say at all the right times. But they attack the Gospel because they twist and distort it. They do this either by subtracting to it and creating a deficient gospel of merely "love" without justice, wrath and holiness, or by adding to it and creating a false gospel of "Jesus plus..." And while Christians certainly desire unity among the brethren, we never take unity at the expense of the truth. It is these false teachers and their followers who cause divisions, so beware of their accusations that it is you who is divisive simply because you are pointing out error by the light and truth of God's Word.

Perhaps what I most appreciated about Todd's first teaching was the three reasons why we discern. As Christians, we must be discerning of everything because we love truth, we love people, and we love God. This was a simple but necessary reminder for all of us who tend to get caught up in the "discernment world" and can lose sight of what should be our true motivation. If we forget that we should be discerning because we love God, truth and people, then our efforts will be lost amidst a sea of snarky, ultimately fruitless comments. When thinking of this, I will now turn to 2 Timothy 1:13-14:
"Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."
If I am not doing my work through and for the love of Jesus Christ, then am I really being obedient to the call to "guard the good deposit" of God's Word that has been entrusted to me? Or am I allowing myself to at times be driven more by attitude, with the end result of merely making noise that brings God far less glory than He deserves? Needless to say, I am gratefully pondering and praying over this, that God will help me to ensure that all of my efforts are done out of a true motivation of love for Him, for His truth, and for His people.

Well, I just looked back and realized how long this post is already! I'm going to leave it at this for tonight and visit Todd's second speaking session, as well as all of the other speakers, at another time (or more likely, times). 

In closing, let me just say one more thing to the Wretched gang (if you're reading, which is doubtful!) and to Todd especially: Todd, when we began on Friday afternoon, you told us that you wanted us to leave this weekend loving Jesus more. Well done, sir, mission accomplished! Thank you.


SEE ALSO:
I Met Phil Johnson

3 comments:

  1. This was a fantastic conference! I won tickets from David Wheaton's show at the last minute, somehow convinced my best friend to come along, and we flew up that Friday morning. When we came in a little bit late, straight from the airport, we sat down, looked up at the overhead projector, and half of the screen was in English, the other half in Greek. James White was expositing a passage. I settled into my seat and thought, oh, this is going to be GOOD! And it was, the whole weekend was a tremendous blessing. I encourage anyone thinking of attending a Psalm 119 Conference to do so, if possible.

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  2. What a small world to think we were at the same conference! It WAS a fantastic weekend - I'm already looking forward to next year!

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  3. Wish I would have gone to the one near me:( I missed out!

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