Reflections on Advance09 (Part One)

This past week I had the privilege of attending the Advance09 Conference in Durham, North Carolina.  I wanted to take a few posts to share with you my reflections on the weekend.

My brother mentioned the conference to me because it was going to be in Durham, NC, and John Piper was going to be there. So he knew that, if Piper was coming that close, I would want to see him. So one day, at lunch with a couple of my pastors, we discussed the latest Mark Driscoll controversy and the articles regarding it at the Shepherds Fellowship (I’m not sure what to make of Driscoll – I’ve got some real concerns but I haven’t written him off and would actually love to see God glorify himself through that roughneck). I sent information about the conference to my teaching pastor, Rich Ryan, jokingly offering him a chance to hear Mark Driscoll in person, and oh yeah – Piper too. Well…he totally took the bull by the horns and the next thing I know I’m going to this conference with him and about twenty other guys from our church – AWESOME! I love this guy and his intentionality and initiative.

However, even with Rich’s intentions and initiative and even with my brother’s invitation and even with the draw of John Piper’s preaching, there is no way I would’ve gone to this unless my wife saw the greater good of me going. She is the real and precious visionary in my life. She sees what good it is for me to attend things like this and then she determines to send me off to it and does what it takes for that to happen. She is the one who sacrificed for the three days. She is the one that endured a kidney stone (yes she passed a kidney stone during the first night – and that sucker was big) and the sleepless night that came with it so that I could experience these things and have these reflections. I love her for seeing greater things for me and for us and her endless acts of self sacrificial service that are required to allow me to do something like this. So thanks Dr. Piper for making the trip. Thanks Rich for getting it together. Thanks Jason, my brother, for the invitation. But thank you God for giving me the gift of Jenn and the ever growing display of a servant’s heart that defines her life and ministry to me and our children. May your blessings continue to abound in her life.

Now, back to Advance09…in Rich’s words – “That conference soooo exceeded my expectations.”

Overall, I was very encouraged by the overwhelming theme of Christ-centeredness in the church and the obvious commitment, by all the speakers, to scripture and to the preaching of the true gospel message to all peoples as a necessary “mission” of the church. I was convicted by the call to be “mission-minded” in all areas of life and in the local church and the global church. I was convicted of the idolatry in my life and my lack of a war time attitude regarding prayer, evangelism, and missions.

I determined to pray for my elders on a more regular basis. I determined to buy Patrick Johnstone’s, “Operation World”, and begin learning about the unreached peoples of the world and teaching my family about it. How can the Holy Spirit call me or my family or you to go and reach a certain people group unless we know that they exist?

In part two I’ll give my reflections on the music and the individual speakers.

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