Men's Conference on Pursuing Genuine Biblical Revival

May 5 & 6, 2017

Theme: "Capture Our Hearts Again!"

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ray Ortlund
Pastor of Immanuel Church (Acts 29 plant in Nashville, TN)
President of Renewal Ministries
Regional Director of Acts 29 Network
Formerly Assoc. Prof. of OT & Semitic Languages @ Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL)
Council Member & regular blogger at The Gospel Coalition
Author of commentaries and many books including Isaiah: God Saves Sinners in the Preaching the Word Series Commentary Series, When God Comes to Church: A Biblical Model for Revival Today, The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ in the 9 Marks Building Healthy Churches Series and most recently Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel.

Pre-Conference Workshop - 2 Sessions (Content to be released soon)

Special Guest Speaker: Dr. Tom Schreiner
James Buchanan Harrison Prof of New Testament Interpretation, Professor of Biblical Theology and Associate Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY)
Author of many commentaries and books including The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law, The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance; The King in His Beauty, and Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament Series.

Registration opens soon at

Hosted by:
Union Lake Baptist Church
8390 Commerce Road
Commerce, MI 48382

Friday, January 30, 2009

Leadership Lessons

To quote Albert Mohler, "Here is a simple rule to keep in mind: When D. A. Carson writes a book, buy it." Well, back in 1993 Carson wrote a book that is particularly apropos for our conference: The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians. It is simply a must-have. Through his careful exposition of specific texts in 1 Corinthians, Carson has pinpointed reliance on the gospel as the essence of Christian leadership. This book is so good, I'll whet your appetite with the first paragraph of the preface on page 9:

"For too long, many evangelicals have viewed the cross exclusively as the means by which God in Christ Jesus achieved our redemption. Of course, no Christian would want to minimize the centrality of the cross in God's redemptive purposes. But if we view it as the means of our salvation and nothing more, we shall overlook many of its functions in the New Testament. In particular . . . we shall fail to see how the cross stands as the test and the standard of all vital Christian ministry. The cross not only establishes what we are to preach, but how we are to preach. It prescribes what Christian leaders must be and how Christians must view Christian leaders."

Carson points out time and again how the gospel is critical to genuine Christian leadership. For example, after unfolding the folly of "man's wisdom" as seen in 1 Cor. 1:25, Carson reminds us (on p.26) that the church in our area of the world "tends to run through cycles of fads" (e.g., many books being written on ministry planning and "vision"). While acknowledging that these fads often bring about helpful emphases for Christian leaders, he warns of a subtle yet dangerous shift that can take place:

"I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry."

What he is saying is that we need to be vigilant to keep the gospel at the center of what we do, for when it ceases being at the center we cease being good leaders. Paul told Timothy the same thing in 1 Timothy 4. In verse 10, he said that godliness is "the end [to which] we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe." Paul affirms in this verse the way in which leadership efforts are infused with real power: when they are done in the hope of what Jesus has already done. Despite all of this effort toward godliness, Paul then warns Timothy just six verses later to "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." Strive for godliness in the hope of the Savior. Even if you're doing it at one point, you can lose the focus if you are not watchful! If you guard your life and your doctrine (i.e., by making sure they center on the hope in the cross), salvation for you and those you lead are the result. Carson's warning of idolatry is what is the result if you don't.

Pray that the conference will be full of this type of teaching and warning. That the hope of the risen Savior will be what stands out in the messages. And that we will fellowship in that hope, both at the conference and beyond.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Power of a Leader

When most think of Paul, images are evoked of the apostle as an almost overbearing figure, thundering the good news to people he met, almost forcing them to receive God's gospel. But hear these contrary words from his own mouth in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5,

"And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."

Many things could be said of this passage, but consider just a few observations.

First, you don't hear a lot about Paul's delivery, his command of the language, his confidence in his own abilities. Keep in mind that this is Paul describing himself: "weakness," "fear," "trembling," no "superiority of speech," no "persuasive words," no "wisdom" of his own. Most of us would no doubt have tried to keep our reputation in tact by at least throwing in words describing our adequacy to the task. Not Paul. He was being used by God to teach us something different.

You might say: "Doesn't sound like much of a leader." But whatever your definition of a "successful leader" is, I'll bet it has something to do with a man understanding some source of power upon which he can draw. In a football coach, perhaps it's his ability to impress a young man with motivational stories. In a foreman, perhaps it's his ability to threaten employees with the fear of job loss. In a corporate ladder-climber, perhaps it's his ability to slander his competition.

For a Christian leader like Paul, however, he knew that the source of power that he would need to draw upon was quite outside of himself. Notice how he had reconciled himself to that fact: "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." Paul added no original thoughts. No ingenuity. No sales techniques. Just the plain facts about Jesus and why He had to die for sinners.

Was this a "successful" strategy? Well, here at last we read of Paul's confidence. Not confidence in himself, but in those strange and wonderful facts about Jesus. Listen to Paul speak of it: "my message and my preaching was . . . in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." He provides the reason for his strategy as well. It was so that their response to his message wouldn't fade after they forgot how charismatic or persuasive Paul was, but would endure because it was based upon "the power of God." So Paul knew that the gospel was the only way to show the Corinthians the true power of God. He also knew that it was only if they saw that power and were changed by it, would it stick. Paul comprehended that there was nothing about himself, certainly no innate ability to lead, that would eternally change any of those folks in Corinth.

So often I want to be seen as a strong, knowledgeable, capable leader because of my own natural abilities. Oh, that I would rather desire to be a weak, trembling, forgettable leader that wields the power of the cross in the lives of others.

Pray that God would cause my leadership team (me especially) and the conference speakers to live out Paul's lesson in this text. Pray that the teaching at the conference would reflect it. Pray that conference attendees would receive this teaching and become leaders that, perhaps nobody remembers, but who leave Detroit radically transformed by the power of the crucified Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Continue the Way We Began

Some twelve years ago, I received Christ Jesus the Lord as He is: Savior of the World. He rescued me, a self-absorbed lover of self and hater of God. I had no hope in the world but rather justly deserved God's eternal wrath poured out on me in Hell. Through no merit of my own, Jesus mercifully suffered for my innumerable sins on the cross where he died. He has granted me repentance and faith. And His resurrection from the dead is now the hope of my own resurrection one day.

Today, I hear Paul's heart-felt words to the Colossian and Laodicean believers (whom he had never met) in Colossians 2:6-7. Paul was concerned that these young Christians were going to try and face the struggles of their lives with a hope that was different than the one they began with: "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." Amazing. They had been changed in the most profound way. The spiritually blind given the eyes of faith. And yet they were succeptible to believing that something other than the Savior... something without any power...could grant them understanding in how to live.

How I need to be reminded of my own succeptibility! I need my brothers to have the concern for me that Paul had for those early believers. This is where the conference title came from. We need to have fellowship in the gospel, to point each other back to the only one with power to save (initially and each day thereafter). We love ourselves and, even after being radically transformed, our sin nature still wants to preempt the power that Christ has for us after our justification. To fellowship in the gospel is to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus and his power that is readily available to us.

Brothers, pray for the conference speakers, their messages, their spiritual lives and the fiery darts of Satan that will no doubt come due to this endeavor. Pray for the conference. Pray that many men will come from many different regional churches.

Pray that it will be an event that will have supernatural impact. Pray that it will result in . . . our growth in the ability to "walk in him" in the way we "received [him]" . . . the region in which we live being significantly impacted for the kingdom . . . the men of the church being equipped in such a way that they will live in the hope and power of the gospel . . . Christ's Kingdom will expand in Michigan . . . the church will stand so that the gates of hell will not even prevail against it.