Friday, May 15, 2009

Basics Final Reflections

What a conference it was this year! Basics is always a great experience, but this year was really a treat. I've reflected on Monday's messages already, so I'll pick up with Tuesday. There were two morning sessions on Tuesday. In the first, Alistair Begg preached his first message on the importance of persuasive preaching, drawn from 2 Corinthians 5. Alistair gave a great challenge to a largely-reformed crowd to not let our belief in the sovereignty of God become an excuse for dispassionate, unpersuasive preaching. Following a coffee break, John Piper gave his second sermon, "Preaching Regeneration Undiminished," from John 3. It was a fantastic call to pastors to truly comprehend the weight and glory of the new birth, and to know and preach God's great salvific love for his people, a love that is "greater than the love of John 3:16."

After lunch (Chick-fil-A!!!), I attended a seminar by blogger-extraordinaire Tim Challies on "Training Your Church to think Biblically." Challies had some great practical advice, and his Q&A time was especially helpful. After an afternoon break and everybody's favorite dinner, barbeque night, John Lennox preached the evening session on "Using Scripture to Engage the Mind and Imagination." As I remarked before, it was perhaps the most powerful sermon I've ever heard. Take an hour this weekend and listen to it, and I promise you'll end the hour with a more magnificent view of God and his rule than you began it with. Afterwards, we had an informal Q&A with Alistair, a time that is always interesting and - thanks to his wit - very entertaining.

Wednesday morning began with a Q&A time with all the speakers and then concluded with Alistair's second sermon on persuasive preaching, this time from Acts 26. He broke down Paul's address to Agrippa wonderfully, and gave us a powerful charge to take a "foolish" gospel to a "wise" world with full confidence and expectation in its power. It was a great note to end the conference on.

It was a long drive home, complete with an Ohio monsoon and a nail in our tire, so it was certainly good to get back home to my wife and baby girl - who amazes me at how much she can grow up in three days. The conference was a time of tremendous spiritual refreshment and encouragement for me, and I would recommend a trip up next year to any pastor or church leader. Though the speakers have not been set yet, Alistair revealed a short list that includes Tim Keller, C.J. Mahaney, and Sinclair Ferguson. In short, I think we'll be OK.

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