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

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is Joel's Message Relevant Today?

Ever read the Book of Joel? A terrible swarm of locusts had come through the land destroying everything in its wake. There is an interesting question at the beginning of chapter 1. Joel asks this interesting question before making any comment: "Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?" The answer to this rhetorical question, of course, was that such an event had not happened in their lifetimes or even during their fathers' lifetimes. Joel was pressing his audience to ponder the reason for this monumental disaster. As they took the time to think through the locust swarm and the damage left behind and whether anything like it had happened in the past, they no doubt would have remembered the locust plague in Egypt that was poured out on a people that did not honor and love God. Frightening to look around your disaster and think, "This is similar to when God poured out His wrath on His enemies."

Listen to the damage done: "the fields are destroyed...the grain is destroyed, the wine is dried up, the oil languished...the harvest of the field has perished. The vine dries up; the fig tree languishes." (1:10-12).

This was a calamity of such proportions that they should be asking themselves why it happened. God's judgment of physical destruction of the land came as a result of the people's lack of fidelity to their God. Consider 1:13, "[G]rain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God." Is this a relevant message to our age? Do people need to hear the Joel's call to repentance?

First we are given the directive: return to God. Hear God's urging, "'Yet even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments'" (2:12-13a). Second we are given a description of God which engenders sinners to return to Him: "Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love" (v13b). The end of the chapter assures the people of the result of repentance, "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (v.32).

And so we see salvation history continue: God's judgment on men's sin and His offer to save them based in something extrinsic, or outside of, themselves. Men sitting in the rubble and ruin of their own "accomplishments," contrasted with their salvation being based in God's character and on the basis of calling on His name (not their own name or their own accomplishments). New Testament assures us that 2:32 was actually foreshadowing Jesus, "[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

It is on the basis of this ancient message of a God who saves that we fellowship together!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Imitate You How?!

Paul's exhortation for the Corinthians to imitate him (1 Cor. 4:16) was not the egotism of a charismatic leader desiring groupies. Paul was telling the Corinthians to listen for the true voice of the gospel among many other voices clamouring for their attention and allegiance. Paul uses the metaphor of a child's "guide" contrasted with his "father" to advance his argument. The guide was generally a servant or slave that would supervise a child, make sure they got to school, did their studies, etc. This was an important job, but it was not the position, authority, and relationship as embodied in the child's father! Paul tells his Corinthians brothers to listen to him over competing voices, as they would their father over a servant. Paul here reminds them that he became like a father to them, not because of anything inherent in Paul. No. Because of the gospel: "For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Note the emphasized phrase).

It's only after this important contrast is pointed out, that he encourages them to follow him, to imitate him. And as if Paul's example was not worthy of imitation--especially in light of the transformational message that he had delivered to them--he mercifully sends Timothy to assuage any of their doubts about Paul's consistent gospel-centered life. We see this in verse 17: "to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church." Such evidence, such a life, is a powerful influence on others. Paul elsewhere instructs Timothy to ensure that his life the same kind of saving influence: "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." (1 Tim. 4:16). Paul wasn't boasting to the Corinthians about his piety, and he wasn't instructing Timothy to be boastful about his. Paul's instruction to both the Corinthians and to Timothy was to follow Paul to the extent that what he believed and what he did reflected the transformational power of the gospel of Jesus!

So can we ever tell someone to imitate us? It is dangerous, I'll admit. Pitfalls of pride abound. But if you are experiencing a self-denying, sacrificial life in the hope and power of the cross and you see a brother that is running after some other source of hope or power (e.g., the love of money or prestige), I think it is your duty to tell them about how your thinking and life has been changed because of your moment by moment trust in what Jesus has already accomplished. Its what Paul did. He instructed Timothy to do it.

The caveat is that you cannot live like a hypocrite and then tell someone to imitate you. You must heed Paul's advice to Timothy to keep a close watch on your way of living and your attitudes about your life, making sure that they are informed by, motivated by, and reflective of the gospel (There may even be the need of a Timothy to come and testify to it). Only then will your call for a brother to imitate you be boasting in Christ and what He has done for you.