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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reflections from Together for the Gospel '08

Like 5,000+ other individuals, I too just returned from T4G '08. You can find the audio of all the speakers at the T4G website. This conference like the one in '06 was thoroughly edifying to my soul for numerous reasons:

1. The messages were just the kind of spiritual food I needed. It is hard to know the weight of pastoral ministry if you have never pastored. All the speakers have pastored and the majority of them are still lead pastors at their churches. In particular, Mark Dever and C.J. Mananey always deliver soul food to the weary pastor, and they did not fail to deliver this year. Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler instructed us who are younger in our years to stay the course on issues like Systematic Theology and Substitutionary Atonement. Both are widely being called into question especially in the Emergent Movement. Like wise teachers, they reminded us of the great value of these issues. Thabiti Anyabwile and John Piper brought great challenges for us. Thabiti called upon us to truly and un-hypocritically live out our faith seeing everyone as made in the image of God. Piper issued the challenge for us all to go outside the gate like Jesus and suffer for the cause. John MacArthur reminded us of man's complete inability to come to God apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, which helps the Pastor not get overly obsessed about success, but encourages faithfulness. Last, but certainly not least, R.C. Sproul delivered in my estimation the most powerful message centering on Christ becoming a curse for us. Just go and listen and worship.

2. The singing at these conferences is always encouraging, not because the newest and latest songs are used (they aren't) and not because of a grand orchestra of musicians (there wasn't one), but because 5,000+ souls gathered together sing with such passion and vibrance. I know it will not even compare to the singing that will take place in the next age, but I could not help but think of the line in the hymn Blessed Assurance, where it says, "Oh, what a fortaste of glory divine."

The hymns chosen always deepened the worship that had just taken place in the message. I am now encouraged to try to choose more carefully our own closing hymn as a result.

3. Visiting with friends was especially encouraging at the '08 conference. Back in '06 I came by myself. This time one of my best friends, Brent Blake (also a pastor) came along too. The conference is better when you can share it with a dear friend. Maybe in '10 extreme blogger Seth Bible might join us too.

Looking forward to 2010.

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