31 October 2010

Book Notes-October 2010

1.  Job by John Piper (2008).  John Piper wrote an interpretive poem regarding the book of Job.  It provides a unique perspective on Job.  When combined with the excellent artwork, makes it an enlightening read. 3.5 stars.

2.  Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? by Ligon Duncan and J Nicholas Reid (2009).  The short volume by Duncan and Reid deals with the issue of suffering, particularly from the perspective of Christians.  The book, clearly developed from a series of sermons, is scripture saturated and a relatively easy read.  He was repetitive at times.  (I cannot believe this is coming from my mouth, but) I would have appreciated it more with additional practical application.  It is a quick, useful read, but I have read books about suffering in the past year that have moved me more deeply.  3 stars.

3.  If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn (2009).  This 500 page tome on evil and suffering is wide ranging, informative, and challenging.   Alcorn presents numerous personal examples and narratives that flesh out his points made about the role of suffering for the Christian.  In his treatment of the subject, he not only addresses evil and suffering per se, but apologetics, sanctification, sovereignty/free will, and a host of other topics as well.  For anyone wondering how an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God can allow evil and suffering, this book is for you.  Take time to digest the nearly 50 chapters that address the topic with excellence.  5 stars.

4.  Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton (2008).  This is apparently the first book of a trilogy that Mike Horton is writing.  The second is The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World and the third, which focuses on the great commission, is not yet released.  Horton issues a strong challenge to the American church, asking why the Good News has been replaced with a focus on ourselves, on mysticism, or on moralism.  He makes a strong case that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only news that matters, but that we seem to have lost sight of that in the American church.  This book is a challenging read (not technically, but cognitively) but should be read by church leaders and parishoners alike, even if you end up disagreeing with Horton at points.  4 stars

5. What Is the Gospel? (9Marks) by Greg Gilbert (2010).  This little book helps to answer what is the Gospel, what is the good news.  The author makes it clear that there is a lot of misinformation about what the gospel actually is.  This book is good for believers and nonbelievers alike.  3.5 stars.

6. The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer (1968).  Schaeffer was a visionary Christian in the 20th century.  He was deeply intellectual, demonstrating a more than passable knowledge of philosophy, art, music, theology, and psychology.  He was fully able to think deeply about God and man, yet he used his abilities to love people--both believers and unbelievers.  This book demonstrates the origin of despair for modern man and the answer.  Schaeffer offers not just a band-aid, but a deeply satisfying answer in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Though I felt bogged down at times early on, I am glad I persisted as I found myself nodding in assent as I continued through the latter half of the book.  4 stars.

7.  Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper (2010).  Piper addressed the issue of the importance of the Christian mind.  He beckons us to think, to read, to engage our minds to the glory of God.  He persuasively argues against anti-intellectualism that is all too common in modern evangelicalism, yet he similarly cautions against intellectual snobbery that is grounded in pride.  His consistent appreciation for Jonathan Edwards, who linked the mind and affections, came through here strongly.  4 stars.

8.  Helping Children Understand the Gospel by Sally Michael, Jill Nelson and Bud Burk (2009).  This useful little booklet discusses how to present the gospel to our children touching, importantly, upon developmental stage.  Further, it goes through 10 devotionals to actually present the gospel.  4 stars.

9.  Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T David Gordon (2009).  This interesting volume was written by a media ecologist addressing that decline of preaching in society.  He points a finger at the changes in media as a significant cause of poor preaching.  Members of society in general no longer wrestle through larger texts, instead relying upon easier forms of communication such as the telephone and internet.  Although I am not a preacher, I found this book to be an interesting perspective on one of the plagues of modern communication and persuasion.  3.5 stars

27 October 2010

Sharing the Gospel with your Children

When I was at the Desiring God 2010 National Conference, I happened across a small, spiral bound book entitled, Helping Children Understand the Gospel.  I thought it might be worthwhile to share a few thoughts from the book as I happen upon them. 
  • As God's sowers, we are called to: 1) Pray for the hearts of children, because without the Spirit of God working in them they cannot be saved (1 Corinthians 3:5-7), 2) Teach the Word of God diligently all the time, in all places, under all circumstances (Deuteronomy 6:7), and 3) Model a life of faith evidencing that we love the LORD our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might (Deuteronomy 6:5).
  • When presenting the gospel to children, it is important to emphasize that salvation is not based on anything they do, but on what Jesus accomplished on the cross.  In the Introduction to the Firm Foundations curriculum, Trevor McIlwain explains it this way:  "The Gospel is not man accepting Jesus as his savior, but that God accepted the Lord Jesus as the perfect and only Savior two thousand years ago.  The Gospel is not man giving his heart to Jesus, but that Christ gave His life, His whole being, in the place of sinners.  [...] The sinner is only to trust what has already been done on his behalf." 
  • There are genuine conversion of young children, but many times we confuse spiritual interest with saving faith.  It is easy to confuse childhood curiosity with conviction. [...] We need to impress upon children that the person who is truly trusting in Jesus will continue to trust in Jesus.  [...] Persevering faith is a sign of genuine faith. 
  • The job of the sower is to keep the Gospel in front of the child--to keep sowing the Word of God upon every opportunity; to break up clumps of soil with discipline and training; and to water the seed with unceasing prayer. 
  • We must also be intentional in cultivating the soil when sowing spiritual seed.  If we want the Gospel message to be understood and embraced, we should create an environment where the Gospel will flourish.  A child without rules or discipline will have trouble embracing the Gospel.  He has not learned that rules are non-negotiable, that there are consequences to actions, or that authority must be respected.  Why would he ever believe that God is sovereign over all His creation?  Or that the Ten Commandments are God's absolute rules of conduct?  Or even that wrongdoing results in punishment--that he needs a Savior because hell is real?  We are so afraid of being labeled "legalistic" or "fundamentalistic" that we don't give children behavioral expectations or even moral standards. 
  • Chlidren will never love the atoning work of Christ on the cross if they don't understand how much they need a Savior. 
  • In days gone by, children learned the commandments before they learned John 3:16, because only then did John 3:16 have real meaning for them. 
  • A big mistake that many Christian parents make is to jump too quickly to the Gospel without giving the child time to grasp the implications of God's holiness and his sin. 
  • Remember that conversion does not always happen instantaneously but often involves a journey of questioning, evaluating, struggling, and learning to trust.  Conversion is a process.  The struggle is good--the ugliness of the human heart needs to be experienced and grieved over. 
  • Conversion is a process, not an event. 
  • The danger we need to be wary of is assuming that a child is saved because he articulates a knowledge of God and the Gospel.  [...]At times we may not know for sure whether faith is genuine or not.  We can have a reasonable hope that a child may be truly converted, but if we do not know, we should continue to present the truths of the Gospel. 
  • We do have hypocrites among the children of our churches.  For those who think they are saved but show no evidence of saving faith, we need to lovingly discern whether there are evidences of saving faith and challenge them to examine their hearts and lives. 
  • Embracing the Gospel is not simply a one-time decision.  The truths of the Gospel should embrace all of life.  We must therefore teach the Gospel diligently--when we sit down at home or walk along the way, lie down, or rise. 
  • Ultimately, saving faith is not determined by our presentation of the message, or the manner in which we present it.  We are called to be faithful and "acquaint" our children with the sacred writings, but it is God alone who brings about saving faith.  We can prepare the soil of a child's heart.  We can plant the seed of the Gospel.  We can water the Gospel by explaining and reviewing its amazing truths.  But that Gospel seed will lie dormant in the heart of a child until God, if He wills it, by the power of the Holy Spirit causes that seed to burst forth into newness of life. 
The authors conclude by going through 10 devotionals for presenting the gospel to your children.  If you are interested in obtaining a copy, you can get it here for $7.50. 

Avoid Wrongheaded Thinking

In his book Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, John Piper concludes by encouraging thinkers and non-thinkers.  I particularly enjoyed this quote:

Even though you don't often think about the way you think, try to avoid the worst mental mistakes in dealing with the Bible and those who teach it. For example, if you are listening to a preacher and he says something like, "God can't be completely sovereign and yet humans still be responsible for their choices," don't suddenly jump on that misguided intellectual train.  Instead say to him, "sure he can; both are in the Bible."  Then go on about your work. 

26 October 2010

Overextended Kids

Jen Wilkin writes:

My oldest son started high school this fall. At his orientation the counselors took a portion of the program to speak to parents about the greatest challenge they see students face in school. I expected to hear about poor study habits or substance abuse, but to my initial surprise, these were not at the top of the list. Apparently, the greatest challenge presenting itself in the office of the high school guidance counselor is a growing number of kids struggling with anxiety and depression. Can you guess why? A combination of over-scheduling and sleep deprivation, linked to two main contributors: electronics use and extracurricular activities. We were encouraged as parents to go home and talk to our teenagers about setting boundaries in both these areas. Parents across the auditorium scribbled notes furiously as the counselors outlined some suggestions: limit texting, monitor bedtimes, cut back on team practices. I couldn’t help but think to myself: tonight there will be many demonstrations of teenage angst when mom shows up with her new list of suggestions.

There are many issues covered in this article that I worry about for my own kids and, frankly, for myself.

Read the rest here

Turn on your light this halloween

Michael Patton writes a great post on how we, as Christians, can respond on halloween. 

A choice quote:
  • I can’t believe I am going to say this but, WWJD? Really, what would Jesus do? Can you see it? Jesus with his lights turned off on Halloween? That would be the Jesus history never knew. That would be the Jesus of western fundamentalism. The one who is not a friend of sinners and tax gatherers. The Jesus that was never accused of being a drunkard. The Jesus who looked from a distance at the wedding of Cana waiting for the sinners to wipe the dust off their feet before he talked to them. The Jesus who saw a child dressed up as a Ghost and said, “I can’t take this anymore. It is not worth it. Give me that stone so that I can turn it into bread.”
 This is an issue I have long struggled with.  Take time to read the whole thing if for no other reason, to engage your mind.  I would also encourage you to read the comments as the comment threads on Parchment and Pen are often lively and challenging.

23 October 2010

Francis Schaeffer on Christian Love

"We must remember that the person to whom we are talking, however far from the Christian faith he may be, is an image-bearer of God.  He has great value, and our communication to him must be in genuine love.  Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person's place and see how his problems look to him.  Love is a genuine concern for the individual "as ourselves."  This is the place to begin.  Therefore, to be engaged in personal "witness" as a duty or because our Christian circle  exerts a social pressure on us, is to miss the whole point.  The reason we do it is that the person before us is an image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique to the world.  This kind of communication is not cheap.  To understand and speak to sincere, but utterly confused twentieth-century people is costly.  It is tiring; it will open you to temptations and pressures.  Genuine love, in the last analysis, means a willingness to be entirely exposed to be the person to whom we are talking. "

Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There. 

22 October 2010

A gentle reminder of grace

Last night, I took a big step that has been a long time in coming.  I returned to a Weight Watchers meeting after an absence of nearly two years. 

Looking back, when I departed Weight Watchers, I had an air of confidence.  I gathered up my inheritance of books, knowledge, and previous success and ventured away into a far country on my own.  I soon discovered, though, that I had lost my way.  I found myself floundering, longing to be back.  Yet I felt a deep sense of failure.  I came to a point about a week ago when the longing to return eclipsed my pride. 

I walked slowly--hesitantly--to the meeting room.  I muttered to the receptionist that I did not know what to do because I had been gone so long.  She asked my name, a tell-tale sign of how far away I had slipped.  I told her my name and the meeting leader, emerged from a nearby room and said, "I was just talking about you today, about how much you contributed when you were here."  I was a dead man walking, following her to be weighed.  I gingerly stepped on the scale, immediately apologizing, making excuses.  "I know I have gained a lot.  It has been a really hard year."  I suppose in the back of my mind, I expected her to say, "wow! You certainly have gained a lot.  See what happens when you don't come? Are you going to stick around this time or how long before you slip away again?"  Rather than judgment, I received grace.  She reminded me how glad she was to see me back without a hint of disapproval.

As I was waiting for the meeting to start, I began thinking about the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).  God does the same thing for us.  In my sin, I turn away from God.  I venture to a far country to live a life of debauchery.  When I finally remember the life I have in my Father's house, I return humbly.  He does not sit me down to review all of my sins with me asking for repayment, he shows grace (Psalm 103).  He welcomes me back in to His house.  Every time.

19 October 2010

Crystal Cathedral, Bankruptcy, and a watered down gospel

Christianity Today reported yesterday that The Crystal Cathedral, the church started by Robert Schuller, has filed for bankruptcy.  I grew up watching Robert Schuller a lot at my grandmother's knee.  Schuller, a pastor in the Reformed Church in America was highly influenced by the late Norman Vincent Peale.  I recently read these comments from a radio conversation between Schuller and Mike Horton on the White Horse Inn.  The statements made by Schuller here make me much sadder than their church filing for bankruptcy.  If a church is preaching a false, or watered down, gospel, I would prefer they not be on television. 

Here were 2 examples:

MH (MIKE HORTON): Dr. Schuller, how could the cross as you write, "sanctify the ego trip," and make us proud, in the light of passages that say, "I hate pride and arrogance (Prov. 8:13), "Pride goes before destruction" (Prov. 16:18),"The Lord detests all the proud" (Prov. 16:5), "Do not be proud"(Rom. 12:16), "Love does not boast it is not proud" (1Cor 13:4). In fact Paul warns Timothy that in the last days men "will be lovers of themselves" (2Tim 3:2). Why should we as Christian ministers, myself included, why should we do anything to encourage people to become "lovers of themselves" if Paul in fact warned others that that would be the state of godlessness in the last days?
RS (ROBERT SCHULLER): I hope you don't preach this, I hope you don't preach this!
MH: What, the texts?
RS: No, what you just spoke into the microphone right now. I hope you don't because you could do a lot of damage to a lot of beautiful people. But maybe if you preach it, maybe you will demonstrate your knowledge of human relationships and maybe you'll demonstrate a sensitivity of caring about these pathetic, pathetic people that are so lost in pain and suffering because of their sinful condition, and I think you'd want to save them. I think you'd want to bring them to Jesus. And so if you preach that text, oh man, I sure hope you give it the kind of interpretation that I do or, I'll tell you, you'll drive them farther away and they'll be madder than hell at you and they'll turn the Bible off, and they'll switch you off, and they'll turn on the rock music and Madonna. Just because it's in the Bible doesn't mean you should preach it. And if you do, you have to say, "Who's listening to me? Will they understand? And will the love of Jesus come through my words and through my message; through my personality. Will it come through my spirit? Will I come across as a humble person or will I come across as a person who's kind of mean and know-it-all: I've got the answers and when people like Schuller come along, they're heretics! Be careful, it is so difficult to preach some of those texts and not come across as lacking humility...
RS: I do let people know how great their sins and miseries are. How do I do that? I don't do that by standing in a pulpit and telling them they're sinners. I don't do it that way. The way I do it is ask questions. Are you happy? Do you have problems, what are they? So then I come across as somebody who cares about them because every single human problem, if you look at it deeply enough, is rooted in the sinful condition. We agree on that. So the way I preach sin is by calling to attention what it does to them here and now, and their need for divine grace!
MH: But what about what it does for them in eternity?
RS: Listen, I believe in heaven. I believe in hell. But I don't know what happens there. I don't take it literally that it's a fire that never stops burning.
MH: As Jesus said it was?
RS: Jesus was not literal. See, now this is where you have differences of interpretation. I went to a different theological school than you did. And there are different denominations, like about four hundred in the United States of America, and we don't belong to the same denomination. In my denomination, Jesus stood outside Gehenna, the city dump, and said that's outside the walls, that's hell. And in the dump there were always worms, and there were fires....

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Read the rest here

17 October 2010

The Church's Love Affair with America

RC Sproul writes:

Evangelical Christians love America. Some see in her the last hope of creating a Christian nation. But it is not a Christian nation. It is pagan to the core. It is in danger of becoming, if it is not already, the new “Evil Empire.” The Mayflower Compact is a museum piece, a relic of a forgotten era. “In God We Trust” is now a lie.

Yes, we must always work for social reform. Yes, we must be “profane’ in Martin Luther’s sense of going out of the temple and into the world. We do not despise the country of our birth. But in what do we invest our hope? The state is not God. The nation is not the Promised Land. The president is not our King. The Congress is not our Savior. Our welfare can never be found in the city of man. The federal government is not sovereign. We live—in every age and in every generation—by the rivers of Babylon. We need to understand that clearly. We must learn how to sing the Lord’s song in a strange and foreign land.

Read the rest here

13 October 2010

Advice for single men (and women)

Owen Strachan wrote this "Letter to a (frustrated) single young man" today.  It is packed with rich advice and wisdom.  If you have any input into the lives of young men and women, or if you are a young man or woman, or if you can read, you should take the time to read this through. 

He writes,

Men today are in trouble. Many need a stiff challenge.

Many evangelical and particularly “new Calvinist” commentators are noting problems endemic to modern manhood—Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll, Darrin Patrick, and Rick Phillips, to name a few. This could not be more welcome. Guys today have been taught by countless sources and media outlets that they are inherently dumb, ignoble, and inferior to women. Guys hook up with girls, shirk responsibility, take only unserious things seriously, and generally neglect the great opportunities before them. The statistics related to college attendance, marriage, and workforce entry and advancement offer boundless testimony to this reality. A generation raised on Maxim sees women as conquests and children as an inconvenience. A generation devoted to Jackass embodies it. A generation obsessed with fantasy football gives itself over to a fantasy world, where games and players replace serious pursuits and leadership of others. Men are in trouble, with Christian men falling prey to many of these lesser things.

So let the horn sound. Challenge boys and men to follow a different path. Model what this looks like. Show them how to live for Christ, and to serve family, church, and society. Absolutely.

Read the rest here.

Spurgeon on Free Will and Determinism

That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see.  They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not.  It is just the fault of our weak judgment.  Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other.  If then, I find taught in one place that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other.  These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind shall pursue them farthest, will never discover that they converge; but they do converge, and will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring.  -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

12 October 2010

10 reasons why a daughter needs a dad

I found this on The Resurgence today.  It is a list of 10 items taken from a book by Greg Lang (Why a Daughter Needs a Dad: 100 Reasons).

A daughter needs a dad...

  1. to show her that true love is unconditional
  2. to teach her that her value as a person is more than the way she looks
  3. to teach her that family is more important than work
  4. to show her that a man can be trustworthy
  5. to be the safe spot she can always turn to
  6. to teach her that a man’s strength is not the force of his hands or his voice, but the kindness of his heart  
  7. to be the standard against which she will judge all men
  8. to help her take risks that will build her confidence
  9. to hold her when she cries
  10. to teach her she is important by stopping what he is doing to watch her

11 October 2010

What if?

What if forever attaining the highest good in the universe means not getting what we think we want now?  What if the highest good means learning to trust God and becoming more Christlike?  What if the author chose the right setting and plot twists after all, and in the end we'll be eternally grateful for our God-given part in the story?

Given the option, surely Joseph would have walked off the stage of God's story.  After betrayal and abuse and the false accusation by Potiphar's wife, Joseph had surely had enough for one life. 

Talk to Job in the middle of his story--with ten children dead and excruciating boils covering his body, his friends haranguing him and his feeling abandoned by God.  Ask him if he wants out.  I know what he'll say: "why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came out of the womb?" (Job 3:11).

But that's all over now.  On the New Earth, sit by Job and Joseph at a banquet.  Ask them, "Be honest, Job.  You too, Joseph.  Was it really worth it?

"Absolutely," Job says.  Joseph smiles, nodding emphatically.

"But Job, had God given you the choice back then, wouldn't you have walked out of the story?" 

"In a heartbeat.  I'm just glad he didn't let me." 

-Randy Alcorn, If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

10 October 2010

A Saving Father

A few days ago, I had not heard from Tessa in a few minutes. It dawned on me that she and Ian had been playing in the garage together but that he was now inside. I went to the garage and found a frantic child, fearfully running to and fro. Once she spotted me, she ran to my arms, assured that I could save her. I was able to comfort her merely by embracing her.  Had I left Tessa alone in the garage, she would have been hopeless to save herself. There was nothing in her that could have freed her from the garage. She required her father to save her.

We are also hopeless to save ourselves. We need our Father to save us. Once he opens the door, we can run to Him in faith, but He is still the one who does the saving because we are absolutely powerless to do it ourselves.  Praise be to God, that He saves us even in our powerlessness. 

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. -Romans 9:16

09 October 2010

A Good Lesson

My friend Gen shared today about her daughter Amelia, about cancer, and about trials.  I was struck by this piece (and not just because she mentions my name).

She writes,

"God often digs wells of joy with the spade of sorrow."

We sat with friends this past Monday night, mulling over a new difficulty that has arisen in our lives. Our friend Jason (who, incidentally, is a neuropsychologist and *may* have some counseling experience) asked us what God has taught us, how He has changed us, through all of this pain in our lives. My answer is that God has taught me to quit fighting.  He has made me a peaceful woman through all of this. The internal temper-tantrums that were a daily failure in my earlier years of mothering are few and far between today, maybe monthly? You have to go to the brink of losing something to understand just how precious it is to you.

04 October 2010

A Broken Mirror

A spiderweb crosses the mirror in front of me
Between each strand are shards of reality,
Truth hinted at in each broken piece
at present distorted, seeking release.

I try to make sense of the images I see
Understanding in part, but not fully
What should I believe, I cry out
Desiring clarity, what is this about?

I am helpless to repair the broken looking glass
I wish this discomfort quickly would pass
I am confused, unsure of how to go on
I want wholeness, but I see none.

"Patience my son, I know you are in pain
Under the curse, distortion remains
One day soon, we'll meet face to face
The image restored, in the light of My grace."

1 Corinthians 13:12

03 October 2010

Desiring God-2010-Conference Recap

I was blessed to go to the DG National Conference this weekend.  It was entitled "The Life of the Mind and the Love of God."  Let me say first off that my mind, after this weekend, seems to have little life left in it.  I feel wrung out.  I feel convicted.  I feel excited.  I feel. 

I initially entitled to write extensively on each of the speakers.  I don't have the energy.  Instead, I am going to write some brief reflections on what I did watch. 

Kevin DeYoung asked his audience to rethink the idea of being missional.  He argued that the term "missional" has lost meaning in the modern church and that we need to redefine what we mean.  He pointed out that too often, Christians are replacing what missions should actually do, with something else (e.g., social justice).  He argued instead that the purpose of missions is to make disciples.  His phrase, "get disciples, not decisions" seemed to capture much of what he said.  He pointed out that if those following the great commission are not actually preaching Christ, they are really not doing things any differently than...say...Angelina Jolie, or something along those lines.

Randy Alcorn preached excellently on Romans 8:28.  I didn't take many notes, but he pointed out that the evil and suffering in the world allows us to see the extent of God's grace. 

Rick Warren, of purpose driven fame, was telecasted in due to a number of family crises.  He is a gifted speaker.  He presented 5 principles to teach church members: 1) don't believe everything you think, 2) Guard your mind from garbage, 3) Never let up on learning, 4) feed yourself daily with God's word, 5) you must let God stretch your imagination.  Warren shared many useful ideas and practical strategies for continued growth.  I particularly appreciated two ideas.  First, he said that in fighting against sin, we should not just resist, but replace temptation.  Second, he said that we only believe the parts of the Bible that we actually do.  There were several concerns as well.  He has a strong self-help, pull yourself up by your bootstraps approach, which didn't seem to fit with the other speakers who are so utterly reliant on God's grace.  One thing he said that I really struggled with was "where there is no vision, people perish." I wrote in my notes, "where there is no Christ, people perish."  It was quite unfortunate that the Q&A between Piper and Warren did not happen though I hope it does in the future. 

RC Sproul opened the Saturday session.  I was tired.  He was deep.  Not a good combination.  He began by talking about the philosopher Thales who was looking for a singular explanation for all the diversity seen around him.  He concluded it must be in water.  He then traced the lines of philosophical thought through Aristotle finishing with Paul's ministry on Mars Hill and how Christ was the only explanation of unity in the diversity.  I need to listen to it again to see what I missed.

Thabati Anyabwile discussed sharing the gospel with Muslims and as a former Muslim who converted to Christ, he was uniquely positioned to give this talk.  He suggested that the goal for Christians was "truth entering the head, igniting the heart, and flowing out through the hands."  He noted that as Christians, we seem to assume the unreachability of Muslims and, out of fear, we don't evangelize these folks.  I thought the most important point he made was twofold: 1) "we need to work for the faithful containment of the established religion in the state" and 2) "defend Islam's ability to practice their faith."  He believes that the more firmly the separation of church and state is upheld, the less likely it will be that sharia law will dominate or take over.  Everyone should listen to this teaching.  It was exceptional.

Al Mohler preached on Romans 1 regarding how God gave us up to a depraved mind--all of us--at the fall and that our only hope is that God reveals himself to us.

Francis Chan preached on loving people.  A basic point that increasing in knowledge is for nothing if it is not used to love other people.  If you watch nothing else from this conference, please watch his teaching.

John Piper concluded the conference on how we might use our minds to the glory of God.  I particularly liked this quote, "There is an odd notion that, if we use our minds to grow in our knowledge of God, mystery will diminish and with it a sense of wonder and reverence. I call this notion odd for two reasons. One is that, no matter how many millions of ages I use my mind to know more and more of God’s majesty, his glories will never be in danger of being exhausted. What is not yet known of God by finite creatures will always be limitless. You honor this truth more by shameless growth in the knowledge of God."

I also had the opportunity to see a taping of the White Horse Inn, a favorite radio show of mine.  It was exceptional weekend with old friends and new.