The best conference on the planet.... T minus 73 days

It is official. Today I booked my room and in 73 days myself, and 3 lovely cohorts of mine, are venturing to Louisville, Kentucky. A lovely 7 hour drive from Pittsburgh. In order to attend the Together for the Gospel Conference, featuring: John Piper, RC Sproul, John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, CJ Mahaney, and Mark Dever. The topic is the Cross and Christian Ministry.

It will be a blast.
Can you feel the excitement?
3 days with marvelous teaching, 2 nights with 3 sweet dudes (including my advisor- Schaefer), 14 hours worth of driving, listening to Sons of Korah/indelible grace, missing classes for a good cause.

the sessions are:

Ligon Duncan: Sound Doctrine – Essential to Faithful Pastoral Ministry: A Joyful Defense and Declaration of the Necessity and Practicality of Systematic Theology for the Life of the Church

Thabiti Anyabwile: Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church

John MacArthur: The Sinner Neither Able Nor Willing: The Doctrine of Absolute Inability

Mark Dever: Improving the Gospel: Exercises in Unbiblical Theology

R.C. Sproul
: The Curse Motif of the Atonement

Albert Mohler: Why Do They Hate It So? The Doctrine of Substitution

John Piper: How the Supremacy of Christ Creates Radical Christian Sacrifice

C.J. Mahaney: Sustaining a Pastor's Soul


The only thing we bring to our salvation is our sin.
- Iain Duguid


Studying Scripture with Dale Ralph Davis

(Taken from the first chapter of The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach from Old Testament Narrative Texts)

Deep into our study time the thought occurs to us that we have not looked - not did we think of looking - to the God who breathed out this Scripture to give us an understanding of the Scripture. He will likely give that understanding through the tools we use, but when we use tools while neglecting him the tools have become idols.

in facing Scripture one must take account of two realities: Spirit and Text. This fact forces me to one of my operating presuppositions: God has given his word in the form of literature, part of which is narrative; I should therefore use all available tools for understanding such literature. So I seek the Spirit's aid and use an approach suited to the form of his word. Hence, at the very least, I ask questions of the text.

It is safe to say that usually the writer's purpose is theocentric - he intends to communicate something about God.

Whenever we are at a loss as to what we should preach on a passage, we will never go wrong if we focus on God, his actions and his requirements.

I especially focus on what may be puzzling - it may be a word or phrase or idea which I feel I must understand in order to grasp the passage properly. I want to isolate the conundrums that keep me from understanding the text - and solve as many as possible.


You can be sure of one thing, though: when you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness. (the Discipline of Grace, pg 60)


books on godliness for 2008

Ever since I read Living the Cross Centered Life, it has been my goal to live a gracious life. But boy is it easy to be distracted from that "holy task." With the aid of my trusty Moleskine journal this year, I am setting out on a venture to study from seasoned saints to learn, and by God's grace, to live a grace-filled life. This is going to be my reading focus for 2008. The first read will be and currently is, The discipline of grace by Jerry Bridges.

I find Bridges to be a solid author who has written much over his life on Christian spirituality. For this reason I am also going to read:
The Practice of Godliness
Transforming Grace
Trusting God
Growing Your Faith

Sinclair Ferguson's In Christ Alone (Reformation Trust, 2007). It looks amazing.
JI Packer's Knowing God (A classic that I am told that I must read every year) and Praying
John Piper's Desiring God, Battling Unbelief, God is the Gospel, and 50 reasons why Jesus Came to Die
Tim Lane and Paul David Tripp's How people Change and Relationships a Mess Worth Making
The Transforming Community: How the Gospel informs Church Discipline
by Mark Lauterbach

C. John Miller's The Heart of a Servant Leader and A Faith Worth Sharing

I hope to get several of these books from the WTS Bookstore when I am out there in 2 weeks (I am looking forward to this visit). The list is purposefully short as I will have to finish my last semester at Grove City.


John Frame is a spectacular author. Last week I completed his book, Evangelical Reunion. Since then I have had the opportunity to share several thoughts from that book with several people. And it struck a cord with them. Thankfully you do not have to buy this book as Frame puts a number of articles, and several of his books online for universal consumption.

I believe this book matured my thoughts on denominations and the church, particularly the reformed wing of the body of Christ.

Here is the link (scroll down to Evangelical Reunion)


The Discipline of Grace.

God is no longer our judge. Through Christ He is now our Heavenly Father who disciplines us only out of love and only for our good...

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace...

God looks to see if we are trusting in the merit of His Son as our only hope for securing His blessing.

If the love of Christ for us is to be the motivating force for a life of discipleship (2 Cor. 5:14), how then can we come to the place where we are acutely conscious of His love? The answer is, through the gospel. It is, of course, the Holy Spirit who pours out His love into our hearts, but He does this through the message of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus paid for all our sins on the cross and that we are thereby forgiven. As we continually reflect upon that gospel, the Holy Spirit floods our hearts with a sense of God's love to us in Christ. And that sense of His love motivates us in a compelling way to live for Him.


Around the Web

Anthony Bradley on "why men leave the church?" (Quotes Driscoll a lot.)
Tim Keller on "Prayer and the Gospel"
Jerram Barrs, of Covenant Theological Seminary, is coming to Grove City in March

This movie looks good...


Frame on the Importance of Doctrine

We cannot brush doctrine aside as a mere impediment to unity, as many users of that slogan (Doctrine divides, Experience unites) would like to do. A doctrinally indifferent church is a church that does not care about the gospel message for the gospel is precisely a doctrine, a teaching, a narrative of what God has done for our salvation. Certainly any church worthy of the name must be doctrinally united, in the sense of being fully committed to one message, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is doctrine that unites us in our love for Christ and it is our foolish trust in our own experience that leads us to compromise that message. Doctrine unites, experience divides! (pg. 84)


Frame on the difference of church and denominations

The difference between the church and the denominations is indicated by this fact: that the birth of a denomination is always attended by sin, but the birth of the church was attended by rejoicing among the angels of heaven. (Evangelical Reunion, pg. 38)


Frame on Unity

Frame comments on Christ's high priestly prayer, "that they may be one, as Christ and the Father are one."

Some exegetes understand Christ here to be referring to spiritual unity rather than organizational unity. Certainly organizational matters are not the emphasis of this prayer. The emphasis is on the vital union of the believers with Christ in the Spirit. However, that union is not wholly invisible; it is visible in the conduct of Christians in their relationships to one another as well as to God himself. Therefore the spiritual and the organizational cannot in fact be sharply separated. Our lack of organizational unity is caused by, and in turn causes, the lack of fellowship, harmony, and cooperation that are certainly aspects of, or manifestations of, spiritual unity. (Evangelical Reunion, pg. 28-29)