Thursday, November 07, 2013

5 Big Takeaways, 1 Big Idea, & Picketers - Day 2 of R13

Day two of R13 is over. Many of you who read this will either be home already or traveling back some place around the world. Pastor Mark shared some of the stats on how many people participated in the conference and it's just amazing. Thousands upon thousands wanting to hear the gospel preached boldly and learn from great men to lead us in the charge toward preaching Jesus even more boldly in the face of growing opposition.

As with yesterday, I had five big takeaways from the day. I also share the one big idea I grabbed that was at the core of all the teaching and I have a nice little bonus for you. I'd love to hear what your takeaways were, so I'd encourage you to share in the comments below, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

  1. You're not great: James McDonald took the privilege to tell Mark Driscoll, you and me what we should already know, yet can tirelessly pursue in our sin: you are not great. Greatness is reserved for the only one who is truly great, Jesus Christ. There is no need to be a great Christian, great husband, great father, great preacher, great counselor, great friend, great evangelist, great strategist, etc. But, and this is enormous, are you faithful in these? With what God has given you, are you faithful to the one who is truly great? Faithfulness isn't sexy, but it's what God wants. Oh, the freedom that comes with remembering that I am not great, but run after, praise, point to, and lead others to the one who is truly great. This, then, takes you and me to the only place we can serve best as pastors, and that's the place of humility.
  2. Willing to risk failure: Rick Warren had this gem. This dropped on me like a massive hammer. It is too easy to settle for a regular paycheck. Now, I am not saying that a regular paycheck anywhere is bad or evil or that you're in sin if you do it. Warren wasn't saying that either. But the key term is settle. We know we're settling when we think we deserve it, that we've earned it, that it's our right and we try to protect it like a newborn child or our favorite baseball card growing up. You know what I'm talking about? It's encased and secured. Warren said point blank, "If you don't trust him with your money, you don't trust him." When we do that, we will become too quick to compromise the thundering force of the gospel in those moments when people need to hear it most. On the flipside, then, is to risk failure. With regard to the gospel and serving others, are you and I willing to dream as big as our God is, run after it, risk it all for the sake of Jesus' name, and fail?
  3. Years of wanting to give up: Rick Warren stated this near the end. You and I tend to think that Warren, and all these guys, have it easy. Because we may only be exposed to their preaching, which includes the massive crowds that hear them, we tend to think they have no doubts, no fears, no moments of despair. But Warren shared that through the years he has had so many moments of all of that and probably more than you and I will ever have in our lifetime. But he said that he himself hated some of his sermons and wondered how God could use him. It's important to know that he, and probably all of them, have been there, just as you and I have. I remember reading that the great 20th century theologian, Karl Barth, said preparing to preach was like banging his head against a brick wall. How do we respond? We persevere! We keep preaching, keep teaching, keep looking like fools so that Jesus is glorified all the more when our dumb talk about the gospel penetrates peoples' hearts. You and I pull the string on the bow with our eyes closed and think the arrow is missing the target, but the Holy Spirit controls the wind. 
  4. Anticipate the objections of your hearers: Mark Driscoll's closing message was huge and there are a ton of points from it that refer to where we are in the culture today. That is timely. What I also appreciated was the timelessness of some of his words, particularly the point on anticipating the objections of your hearers. There will always be opposition to the gospel. The Puritans knew this and while many of us think the world of the Puritans was pretty much all Christian, that wasn't the case, otherwise they would have no need for this key aspect of preaching. Too often we preach knowing the objections, but not addressing them directly. So you may assume it in the words you say, but you never directly tell people you know their objections. Or, perhaps more often, you just don't know them because you aren't doing our homework, you don't know non-Christians, and you aren't talking to or praying for your people. This is much harder work than translating the Greek or Hebrew, exegeting the text appropriate, finding illustrations, and making application. It is exegeting the culture, people, interpreting where they're at, hearing their objections straight on, and addressing them both in truth and love. I wish there were classes upon classes for this in seminary, where they just tell you to go out and talk to people, listen to them, take notes, and say thank you. That's it. But we don't need a class for that. Just do it because you love all of those who are made in the image of God and need the gospel desperately.
  5. Teach the Bible: This is so important today. I heard a story about a teacher who tried to teach his class about Jericho and the walls coming down. The kids said they didn't do it, the principal said he would try to find out who did and the police would help with it all. We live in a biblically illiterate culture. More and more people aren't agreeing with the Bible while they know less and less of what is actually in it. In an experience-driven culture where feelings lead first, people respond emotionally to it without ever being informed of what is in it or the story God tells. So our job is not only to preach, but to teach. We must get back to the basics and teach as if anyone who listens is like a child opening up the book for the first time, not even to read it, but to tear out the pages. So we tell what the Bible is, who its about, the central message, the key people, the historical facts, and assume nothing. Our preaching and call to people cannot be devoid of solid biblical teaching. 

There's so much more from this conference. Each of these points could be long posts in and of themselves. I will be chewing on them for days and weeks. God moved powerfully in my life throughout this conference and I honestly hate conferences. I hate them because in my pride I think I have nothing new to learn. Thank you, Lord, for breaking me of that this week. And that leads to the biggest idea that was communicated by every single one of the speakers over the last two days:

Let your character be shaped by God's character and the Spirit of God will do a greater work than we can all imagine. And have a ton of fun in the process.
Got to chat with Trent and hook him up
with Pastor Mark's book.

BONUS: Two fundamentalists were picketing the conference. They stood outside the exit so that as everyone was leaving they could tell them to repent. Many who left were baffled. "We're all saying the same thing as you" they would say, passing the picketers as they went to their hotels.

I decided not only to talk with one of them, Trent, but also hook both of them up with Pastor Mark's newest book, A Call to Resurgence. It just seemed to make sense. Trent's basic problem with Mars Hill and the conference was that "too many people in our church look like they are of the world." I tried to graciously explain that it might very well be the case that they are of the world because they aren't Christians at all! I shared that we have non-Christians come to the church and see their lives change through the gospel and the call to repentance. The conversation was very good, overall, and I hope he sees the short-sightedness of his preaching and general inconsistencies of his definition of being "of the world." I was struck by this when kept pulling his worldly cell phone (old school though) out of his pocket. He then ended the conversation abruptly because his meter had ran out and he had to move his worldly car.

By His Grace.

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