We're almost home, awaiting our fly from the Miami airport. It's been a great trip, refreshing in all the most wonderful ways.
First, we were able to connect with some of my oldest and dearest friends. It was a real treat for me to have time together with Peter Rochelle, a brother I consider my first pastor and first example of faithful exposition, and at the same time to hang out with Mark Dever, a brother I consider my second pastor and most formative mentor when it comes to the life of the church. A real treat.
Then there was catching up with old friends and new. It was fun for me to introduce Bentley, my assistant pastor, and Stephen, new seminarian at Southeastern and former director of youth and missions, to my brother Clyde Alston, perhaps one of the most faithful servants you'll ever meet and a real Barnabas to me. The ribs at Applebee's were great, and the concrete from Goodberry's hit the spot!
Folks at FBC will be very encouraged at Stephen's start in seminary. He has established some really good routines and is thinking in all the right ways about building fellowship and relationships with others. He's found a really strong church, North Wake Baptist Church. He's enjoying his classes and has some fine teachers. And he says he's probably doing better spiritually than at any point in his life. On a personal level, it was probably most encouraging to get an update on Stephen.
The conference itself was outstanding. In a nutshell, I think the overall unofficial theme that emerged was "God does the work; trust Him." Each of the speakers addressed preaching and pastoral ministry in some way and the Lord instructed us all.
Mark Dever began with an exposition of Mark 4. He unfolded two parables that demonstrate that it's the word that does the work and that the advancement of the kingdom does not depend on us. Listen to this sermon if you're a pastor who has trouble sleeping at night because you worry about anything in your church.
Baptist21 sponsored a lunchtime panel discussion on "Great Commission Churches." Daniel Aiken, Mark Leiderbach, J.D. Greear, Mark Dever and I had a fun but informative time fielding questions on this broad theme. The first few minutes feature a spirited, friendly exchange between J.D. and Mark on multi-site churches.
Dr. Akin addressed us from Ecclesiastes 12:9-14, "The Preacher on Preaching." I found the emphasis on choosing our words carefully very helpful. What a privilege to use the gift of language to communicate about a God who speaks through His word.
My man Mike McKinley, looking very stylish in the new specs, served us from Luke 10 on the centrality of listening to Jesus. Excellent exposition that demonstrated the liberating power of making the word and listening central to our Christian lives.
C.J. Mahaney closed the night with an insightful and encouraging exposition of 2 Tim 4:1-5. If you struggle against impatience and unrealistic expectations as I do, C.J.'s meditation on pastoral discernment and skill and sanctification is pure relief and help.
I had the privilege of addressing the topic, "Will It Preach? Exposition in Non-White Contexts." We considered some objections to expositional preaching arising out of certain cultural assumptions, and then considered Neh. 8 as an example and apologetic of exposition.
There were lively panel discussions following each message. Those exchanges are often some of the most informative.
I assume some audio will be up at some point soon. In the meantime, Andrew Sherwood live-blogged the conference here.
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