As I have mentioned already, I am thankful that I was able to get away for a few days and participate what many have called a "reunion" at Together for the Gospel. The first day was quite long as I had to drive eight hours to get there. I arrived a bit later than I first hoped, but was able to get in the last thirty minutes of the Band of Bloggers meeting. After this I made my way over to my room only to find my friend Gordon Broadbent who pastors in Lansing Illinois - our families have been together on several visits since seminary, and I have always been grateful for my brother's long distance relationship over the phone. He has quite a sense of humor & often at my expense: knowing that I enjoy Starbucks coffee, Gordon did not cease from telling me that a new Starbucks store was being built just a few blocks from his house. I counted his first announcement of this matter as just a matter of simple news-reporting; the subsequent ten times were just plain harassment! It was a blessing to have his fellowship and sit through the sessions with him - that is, all but one.*
On Thursday we went over together for a TMS alumni lunch - it was a great blessing, but we could have had more time for fellowship (30+ pastors in a room together - what else?). It was also a blessing to see Dr. George Zemek at the lunch - many thanks to Doug Sachtleben and others for setting everything up.
The conference speakers were very encouraging overall. What stood out for me were Ligon Duncan's presentation on the importance of preaching the OT, C. J. Mahaney's message on (and demonstration of) humility and John MacArthur's presentation on pastoral ministry. Everyone's contributions were profitable, but these particular messages were especially encouraging for me. I am especially challenged when I spend time with other men in the ministry - hearing about what the Lord is doing in their lives, thier families and their churches. It was a great time to see old friends as well as make some new ones.
A T4G statement of faith was distributed towards the end of the conference - it was very sound and encouraging, but I do hope that in the future there will be a firm foundation of Scriptural references added to it. The statement itself contains no Scripture references (except for two at the end). Now let me say this - in the context of the conference itself, the statement of faith had a biblical framework (in some ways) since it was essentially presented amidst the Scriptural messages of the conference speakers. However, for the long term, the statements that have been made in this document, while wonderfully agreeable, really do need textual justification if they are going to communicate the truth of Sola Scriptura along with Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Gratia & Soli Deo Gloria. I am quite sure that the document will be refined and scripturally under-girded more in the future. One article in the statement that was especially refreshing to see is this one:
Article XVI: We deny that the distinction of roles between men and women revealed in the Bible is evidence of mere cultural conditioning or a manifestation of male oppression or prejudice against women. We also deny that this biblical distinction of roles excludes women from meaningful ministry in Christ's kingdom. We further deny that any church can confuse these issues without damaging its witness to the Gospel.
Praise the Lord (Titus 2:3-5, Ephesians 5:22-33)!
*Finally - Jerry M., it was good to see you again brother. I hope that you enjoyed that Starbucks™ Grande Marble Mocha Machiato™ - I was saving it for my dear brother Gordon, until I realized that he hadn't saved me a seat for the afternoon session ; )
(Well, he can just get his own at that new Starbucks of his!)