Category Archives: Together for the Gospel
The every-other-year family reunion called “Together for the Gospel” has come and gone for 2014. Somewhere near 8,000 persons gathered for a week of preaching and teaching on the theme of evangelism. There couldn’t be a timelier theme or a more encouraging group with which to consider it.
As with all edifying events of any length of time, there’s much to give God thanks for and to reflect on. And there’s many way to distill one’s thoughts into a summary of sorts. In fact, there’s probably too much to comment on for any one debrief post. So, I’m going to narrow my thoughts to a series of superlatives. Mark Dever doesn’t like superlatives, but I think they’re the best! So, here goes….
1. Best sermon for my heart
Without question, Lig’ Duncan’s exposition of Numbers 4, “The Gospel by Numbers,” was the best sermon for this often weary, sometimes heavy, frequently wandering heart! As I listened, I felt a new appreciation for the Savior’s words, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me.” Christ was majestically lifted up and extolled as glorious! From Lig’s meditation on sin as defilement to his biblical theological run to Christ as the One who cleanses, my heart mourned over sin and rejoiced in my Lord! Thank you, Lig!
2. Most convicting sermon
That superlative goes to David Platt’s passionate exhortation to prayer, “Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence” (Exodus 32). I wept listening to …
A couple days ago, David Murray posted a second reflection on T4G where he asked, “Where were all the African Americans?” Murray expressed some timidity raising the question for fear of saying something offensive or incorrect. We’ve all had enough hand-slapping when it comes to reaching into the “race” and ethnicity cookie jar. I appreciate the courage to press into the issue. As far as I’m concerned (and who am I to offer an opinion?), it’s okay to ask the question, even though something feels “off” with the question.
For anyone interested, here are my quick responses:
1. Murray guesses that African Americans made up about 1-2 percent of the crowd. That might be correct. But here’s the question for me: What percentage of the Reformed Christian world do African Americans comprise? I’d think we’re not much more than 1-2 percent–tops! The Reformed world is small and the African-American Reformed even smaller. Perhaps this is what seems “off” about the post to me. On a percentage basis, I wouldn’t be all that concerned even though I’d love all my kinsmen according to the flesh to adopt this robust, God-exalting, and biblical theological world and life view.
2. Murray mentions that the Man Up! conference was happening at the same time and might have attracted some who otherwise would have attended. That might be true. I know a couple guys who opted for Man Up! over T4G. And I think they made the correct decision. Here’s why. Man Up! represents an important movement …
By “my favorite sermon,” I mean the sermon that helped my soul most and the sermon where I had the most “I never saw that in the text before!” moments. I was particularly gripped with the Mt. Horeb to Mount of Transfiguration to 2 Cor. 4:6 connections Lig made. Masterful.
Some one-liners that ministered to me:
“Discouragement is no stranger to the lives of faithful pastors.”
“There are things we’re meant to learn in our disappointments. Our disappointments, if we will study them, we will see what we love. When the bottom falls out, I will learn things about what I love that I didn’t know before.”
“In deep discouragement we are tempted to forget that God is God and God is good. And it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been teaching the people that God is God and God is good, I’m still tempted to think this.”
I. Even people who believe in the sovereignty of God can fail to believe that the Lord is God.
II. Even people who fight against idolatry can succumb to it.
III. Even when it looks as if God is being hard on His servants, His goodness, grace, and gifts are lavish.
“When you hear a voice that says, ‘You really ought to have everything you want,’ that voice comes with a hiss!”
“God ruthlessly crushes their idols in His mercy and grace because He wants them to have a superior joy.”
“Don’t think God will use me in His service then leave me to writhe in my disappointments …
As you probably know, the every-other-year conference known as Together for the Gospel was held in Louisville, KY last week. I had the privilege of traveling there with my darling wife and 14 others from FBC Grand Cayman. I’m still processing the tons of good stuff I heard and received while there. ”Drinking from a fire hydrant” doesn’t quite capture the experience. I’m soaked and pray it’ll take a long time to dry out!
In order to process some of what I heard, I plan to offer some short reflections over the next several days. I welcome your interaction and thoughts. Before I give some overall observations, I want to point to a few others who have sifted some nuggets for reflection: Kevin DeYoung, Mike McKinley, Dan Phillips, Carl Trueman, and Trevin Wax. All these were worth reading, especially Trevin’s.
As for my own overall take, a few things stand out.
1. This was the most encouraging T4G of the four to date. I found the entire time filled with that peculiar and precious hope that comes from life with our Lord. All the plenary addresses were flavored with pastoral concern throughout. In previous meetings, at least some of the talks were either polemical or historical in nature. They were great, but I really enjoyed the pastoral tone of this meeting. More than that, I needed the injection of pastoral care.
2. This year’s conference made the theme far more prominent and compelling. If someone could leave under-estimating the gospel, …
There were a number of things that encouraged me about the recent T4G gathering in Louisville. I wrote about a few of them here.
But one thing I didn’t write about in my previous post was the joy of seeing so many parents bring their children to the conference. There were parents there with infants, caring for them in their strollers while taking in a speaker or an exhibit. There were parents there with their adult children, like my friends Jeff and Barbara who attended with their son (hey, you owe me some pictures :-)). And there were parents with their teenage and pre-teen children. One afternoon I had the pleasure of walking behind a father with his three daughters, who looked to be about 10-15 years old. They casually strolled along and playfully talked. I eavesdropped (don’t tell anybody). It was sweet.
And then there were faithful fathers like John, who brought his son Jerod. What a privilege to see John’s faithfulness, and to share in Jerod’s enthusiasm to be with his dad sitting under the word. Here’s a pic with Jerod, who makes an old gray-haired man look rather joyful.
And I especially enjoyed the time with the FBC gang. Here’s a photo of our last prayer huddle. We prayed a lot, and the Lord has answered with so much grace. Next to being with my wife, being with the saints from FBC was the highest highlight for me.
Notice Kurt Gebhards, faithful pastor in NC, looking on wanting …
Well, the every-other-year family reunion known as T4G has come and gone. It was a wonderful time of word, fellowship, and singing.
It’s impossible to do a complete re-cap, but there are a number of things I cherished about T4G this year.
1. My Bride: I had the honor of being with my bride of almost 19 years, sitting under the preaching of the word and enjoying one another’s company. Since I preach most Sundays or at most conferences we attend together, I don’t often get to sit with her any more. It’s one of life’s finest pleasures to sit real close to my wife, whisper in her ear, and have our attention drawn to Jesus as the word goes out.
2. FBC Crew: After the time with my wife, I was most honored, encouraged, strengthened, and humbled by the attendance of about 15 people from FBC Grand Cayman. These dear saints took time off work; left children and family members back home; paid for airfare, hotels, and meals; and braved a crowd of 7,000 faithful to feed upon Christ. They came primarily for the word, but my heart was simply giddy at having them meet/hear some of my closest friends and knowing their prayer and support. I am grateful beyond words for each one of them, and for all the saints who couldn’t come but blessed us with their prayers. I’m the most blessed pastor in the world because I have the privilege of serving the saints at …
Registration for Together for the Gospel is over 6,000 strong. Now, I’m not measuring the success of the conference by the numbers. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just me and a few of my closest friends hanging out.
Here’s what excites me about that number. Last year, there were over 5,000 people in attendance and the singing was out of this world! There are over 1,000 more people added to the “choir” this year! I’m so looking forward to singing Jesus’ praises with all who attend, and anticipating the Day when we shall these praises to the Savior’s face! Oh, come Lord Jesus. That’s how I felt singing last time–”Oh! Come Lord Jesus! Come!”
If this is your first time at T4G and the Lord blesses us in any way like 2008 or 2006, you’re in for a treat, my friend! You just may leave saying this was your favorite part of the time together. And to whet your appetite, here’s Bob Kauflin talking about the music at T4G, the approach, and a bit about what you can expect.
Yeah… that’s me and my wife in the middle. One guess as to who is to the left and the right of us! I hope to see you April 13-15 in Louisville, KY!
Take this tour and you’ll see what I mean.
Jesus. Love. Joy. Gospel. Reward. Love. Did you hear that running through these videos? That’s what I love about T4G! Can’t wait for them to release the rest of these brief recaps and to gather in Louisville in April! Find out more and register here.