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

Saturday, March 9, 2013

With this Kind of Friend, Who Needs the World's Love

The intimate conversations Jesus had with His disciples known as the Upper Room Discourse are captured for us in John 13-17. They are so rich with promises that govern how the disciples -- both then and now -- should live! I'm preaching a short series in John 15 this month. Lord willing, tomorrow I'll preac the third sermon from vv18-25:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled:‘They hated me without a cause.’"

The theme of the text is that the world hates Jesus and that hatred will show itself in its hatred of the disciples. Sounds depressing right? Except when you read the text closely and see it in light of its context.

The text itself contains the hope that some will "keep [the disciples'] words" v20c (i.e., Jesus' words that they will carry - see v20b & back in v7). Despite the world's repulsion and reviling, some will hear with ears of faith and be rescued. Just as the disciples did themselves.

The context also speaks of Jesus' love for the disciples (vv9, 12) -- which includes the foretelling of laying His life down for them (v14) -- and the promise of experiencing full joy (v11).

Being liked by the world, being respected by the world, being thought well of by the world is not just a good alternative to experiencing joy in Jesus' love. The world is against Jesus, hated Him first, persecuted Him first. It stands against Jesus and His mission. Turn your affections to the One who knows the difficulties you will face, longs to commune with you about how He can help you overcome them in this life, and ultimately delivered you through His substitutionary death.


Come Fellowship in the Gospel this May 3-4, 2013.
Early Registration is EXTENDED thru March 17th at Online registration is easy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grace to the Different

By a wonderful providence, God had a friend invite me to drive down with him to the initial organizing meeting of The Gospel Coalition - Michigan Chapter. What a delight to fellowship with many brothers in a freezing basement room warmed by the fire of the gospel!

One particular brother, Eric Russ, is a church-planter in Detroit...Lead Pastor of Mack Avenue Community Church in Detroit. He spoke on two non-negotiables of church-planting: (1) gospel-clarity (and the culture's blurring pressure) and (2) horizontal reconciliation...this is what I want to highlight. His exhortations in this area were stirring for my soul. His thesis was basically that the reality of vertical reconciliation (i.e., our being made right with God) should be necessarily evidenced by horizontal reconciliation. What was so challenging to the status quo thinking of my own heart was how he explained this "horizontal reconciliation." Simply put, Eric thundered in that little room the need for us to reach out to those who are different from us (e.g., because of handicaps, color, socio-economics, cultural differences, etc.) BECAUSE GOD DID LIKEWISE FOR US!

He was absolutely right. I was as different from God as I could be, when He rescued me through the powerful story of what His Son had done for me. And not different in an attractive or valuable way, different in an evil, worthless way. Meditating on Romans 5:6, 8 and 10 helps me to remember:

"While we were still weak...while we were still sinners...while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his son."

In light of His reconciliation of a sinner like me, how much more should we talk to people unlike ourselves with this powerful message of grace (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)!

I'm grateful for the Spirit speaking through this new friend of mine, urging me to think about people different than myself...but who have the same need that I had when I encountered the Savior. I pray that my heart will yield to the urging.


Come Fellowship in the Gospel this May 3-4, 2013.
Early Registration is thru March 1st at

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Your Life is Calling

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." 1 Corinthians 7:17

Isn't it wonderful how the Lord assigns each of His people to a life and, what is more, calls them to it?

Before you consider the actual details and contours of your life, Christian, consider the reality of your spiritual life. Despite God's knowledge of you--your total depravity, rebelliousness and hatred of Him--He bought you back at the great cost of His Son's slaughter. He knew you intimately, and showed you the costliest of mercies anyways.

Now consider the Lord's intimate knowledge of you: your hopes and struggles, your strengths and weaknesses, your needs and desires, your past and your future. Given this knowlede, He then plans out a life of behaviors and actions and beliefs and decisions you will engage in. He gives you this life and then provides you a particular venue in which to live it out. To say it another way, He assigns you to the life He has designed specifically for you. This God who always does what is good, who always acts lovingly toward His people, who desires for you to have in increasingly greater dependence on Jesus, has carefully stitched together a life for you. And it is not just a meaningless drudgery of an assignement, it is also a calling. He has called you to live this life as a mission, a mission of speaking about and living a life reflecting what Jesus Christ has done for you.

How do you view the circumstances of your life? Do you see the difficulties and sacrifices as a disappointment, an unfortunate accident or as a platform from which to celebrate your redeemed life?

Join us at www.FG13 as we examine our lives of Standing & Striving in a Faith that Transforms. Early Registration until March 1st @

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Reputation of the Church - Part 2

I've been thinking about these words with which Paul charged Titus:

"This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town..." Titus 1:5.

What was out of order? Was it simply that elders were not appointed or was it something else? The language that Paul chooses is evocative. To "put into order" is a verb meaning to "thoroughly set straight." What is interesting is that this word was used by medical writers about doctors setting straight broken bones or crooked limbs so that they would heal or grow properly. Thus--to run with the metaphor--the Cretan church was trying to walk on legs that were broken and needed to be set straight.

But I come back to my original question: What was out of order? What needed to be straightened out? What problems were there in the church that Titus was left to fix? At least these three are seen in the text: (1) The absence of spiritual leaders, (2) the presence of false teachers with reprehensible lives, and (3) church members who had been influenced by the false teachers.

And these three things resulted in the Cretan believers not being devoted to good works or (to say it another way) not living holy lives. You see, they were following the leading of men who were "unfit for any good work" (v16). Shamefully, the Church in the various Cretan towns throughout this large island shared the infamous reputation of its non-believing inhabitants: "always liar, evil beasts, lazy gluttons" (v12). Paul underscores this dishonorable reality by simply writing: "This testimony is true" (v13). 

The context provides further emphasis of this tragedy. Notice that the qualifications for elders specifically requires a man to be "above reproach." This is found in successive verses  vv6 & 7). The remainder of the qualifications (in vv6-9) are an exposition of what is above reproach and thus to be seen in elders (e.g., a faithful husband to one wife, a lover of good) and what is reproachful and thus not to be reflected in elders (e.g., not arrogant, violent or greedy). The implication? The leaders of the church needed to have a good reputation, one that was markedly different than those from the non-believing community.

What is more, the leaders would begin to have a sanctifying effect on the rest of the church (Chapter 2 will bear this out). The reason that the false believers didn't have the capacity to sanctify the faith community is that they had no teaching that had the power to genuinely purify anyone. Paul says they had defiled minds and were "empty talkers" (vv10, 15). They had only deception at their disposal, not words of power. Put simply, they did not have the gospel. If they had truly known God, they would have come into that relationship through the life-giving message of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Their lives revealed that they did not know God (v16) and so the gospel was not possessed or taught by them. The result was that the true believers were not sanctified and continued to live lives stained with their old nature. 

Can you relate to these mixed up Mediterranean Christians? They were genuine converts but continuously falling back into the habits of their pre-conversion lives. Does this characterize you?

Praise God, that the powerful, transforming grace He gives to converts souls is the same grace He gives to continue His sanctifying work in the church. He does this by faithfully preserving the truth of the gospel [i.e., the truth that provides "hope of eternal life...[from] God our Savior" (vv1-3)] generation after generation through pastoral church leadership. This is seen by the fact that elders must "be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it" (v9). This is a powerful sanctifying force that continuously changes the course of peoples' lives and rescues reputations.

So what was "out of order" was that the reputation of Jesus Christ was marred by the Cretan church living unholy lives. What needed to be "straightened out" was both their sinful lives and establishing the only means by which those lives could be set right: the teaching of the sanctifying gospel.

Paul knew Cretan Christians living holy lives was possible. It is also possible for us today. But there is still only one way...placing ourselves under the regular instruction of biblical teaching that centers on the person and work of God our Savior.


This Fellowship in the Gospel is about practical sanctification in the lives of believers. The theme is "Standing and Striving: A Faith that Transforms." 

Register today at

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Reputation of the Church - Part 1

What if the church has the same reputation as the society in which it is found? What if when people talk about the sinful people in a certain neighborhood, they don't make an exception for the people of the church? What if, in effect, the word of God is reviled because of the lifestyle of Christians in a faith community? What if, the Christians' poor reputation results in the opponents of the cross having evil to say about Christ's church?

Our church is currently studying the Book of Titus. This is an excellent place to find answers to address the situations described above. Paul left Titus on the Island of Crete to fix just such a church. Actually many such churches. All of them with the same basic problem: they had the same behavior as the unbelievers on the island.

Paul said much to Titus about how to go about this colossal task, but let us focus first on the mission Paul describes at the opening of the letter. Consider Paul's mission as he was commissioning Titus in that same mission. He lays it out in the opening:

"Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior." Titus 1:1-3

Paul's mission as an authoritative servant was "for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth." Some important things to note in this phrase. The first thing is that faith and knowledge of the truth are inextricably linked. People of weak faith need to be encouraged with the truth. Peter describes ineffectual Christians as "having forgotten that [they were] cleansed from [their] former sins" (2 Peter 1:9). But the opposite is also true. As Christians become intimate (again?) with the truth, their faith strengthens. This is critical for Titus to meditate on as he was faced with an island of churches filled with people not growing in their knowledge of the truth, filled with people of weak faith . That is why they were so susceptible to false teaching with devastating results. Paul speaks of "empty talkers and deceivers...upsetting whole families" (1:10-11). The churches were being taught doctrine that was empty, devoid of the power to change. Thus, the reputation of Cretan believers was indistinguishable from that of the non-Christian islanders (1:12-13). Paul's mission communicates to Titus that a knowledge of the truth was the cure.

Note, however, that not just any truth will strengthen a believer's faith (and powerfully affect his reputation), but only the kind of truth that issues forth in the "hope of eternal life." Only the truth about a Savior who has secured eternal life for his people will cause their faith to be able to stand when they are assailed with deceptive, satanic doctrine that "ought not to [be taught]" (1:11). Help the church to mature in their understanding of what Jesus has already accomplished for them, remind them of their present standing with God because of Christ, and encourage them in the hope of their future with Him. Do this and one-by-one the church will begin to distinguish itself from the rest of the community. People free from guilt, growing in the experience of Jesus' ever-present love, and joyfully awaiting His return act different. And that was what the ultimate goal of Titus' work on Crete was to be...a church with a reputation markedly different than the world around it. 

Think on your own reputation. If you sometimes muddy your identity as a Christian by your behavior or you've upset your whole family by your empty leadership, the culprit is your sinfully weak faith. If this describes you, begin by meditating on the truth of the gospel of Christ and the blessed results that flow from it. Growing in your understanding of this most significant truth will build up your faith and begin to distinguish you as a man set apart from the world.


Have you registered for Fellowship in the Gospel yet? Early Registration ends March 1st. Go to

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Men's Conference on Practical Holiness

I'm bursting with excitement for the upcoming Fellowship in the Gospel Men's Conference. The keynote speaker is Dr. Bryan Chapell, chancellor & professor of practical theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also a renown expository preacher who carefully handles the Scriptures, deftly connects the fallen problem of the biblical characters with his listeners, and gracefully shepherds them to hope in the Savior.You may know him most from his wildly-helpful book, Christ-Centered Preaching.

However, I have asked Dr. Chapell to speak to us on the great need for Christians to be actively pursuing holiness while avoiding a legalistic approach, to pursue holiness by grace, which happens to be the title of another of his books. The conference theme is Standing & Striving: a Faith that Transforms. Come and enjoy three keynote addresses on the dual truths of standing firm in the faith of what Jesus has accomplished for you and striving to apply that faith in a practical way leading to practical sanctification. You will no doubt recognize the language of Philippians 1:27 as the genesis of the conference theme.

If you are not familiar with Fellowship in the Gospel, it is a gospel-centered conference designed to minister specifically to the local churches of Michigan. This is the 3rd biannual conference which meets on the years in-between T4G. The dates are May 3-4, 2013. Early registration pricing is available until March 1st. You can register online at

If you've never attended, you should visit the website ( and sample past conference keynote addresses or the many rich and helpful past break-out sessions. For instance, you could listen to:

  • Pastor Josh Waltz (Preaching Pastor at Parker Hill Bible Fellowship in Colorado) who spoke in 2009 on Gospel-Centered Leadership OR
  • Rico Tice (Associate Pastor at All Souls in England) who spoke in 2011 on Recovering the Gospel: the Ancient Message of Power & Hope.
The goal of the conference is to offer preaching, teaching and other resources that are painstakingly screened and selected so that what is offered to the men is distinctly gospel-centered. Along the way, we hope you will develop lasting and wonderful friendships in the faith. So come join us May 3-4, 2012 and Fellowship in the Gospel!

In Christ,

Jeff McKeever
Pastor of Men's Ministry
Berean Baptist Church of Livonia