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.

Andy Being a Christian and His Guest Week

Andy is a blog friend of mine in the UK.  For some reason, he thought it would be a good idea to include me in his guest “week”.  So I wrote up a post regarding something I’ve been convicted of in the past months and something that has helped my walk with Christ in recent years.  So visit Andy’s blog and leave a comment or two.  He’s a fairly young Christian and could use some encouragement regarding his “being a Christian”…especially with the controversy that has kicked up over there.  Your contribution would be welcomed I’m sure.

Battling Against Living in the Flesh @ Andy Being A Christian

How To Play the Man on Vacation

I’m going on vacation next week and it brought to mind this fantastic series of blogposts from CJ Mahaney regarding the husband/father and their role in family vacations.  Play the man even when on vacation (So whether you eat or drink or [go on vacation or] whatever you do… – 1 Cor. 10:31).  So go here and check out the posts and pray that God would prepare your heart for your family vacation this summer.

Here’s a great tidbit from the first point in this series of blogposts –

cj-mahaney1“Husbands are called by God to serve and lead. But we are all vulnerable to viewing the family vacation as a well-earned time away from work where we can rest and relax! But this attitude and approach to a vacation normally reveals a self-centeredness that does not please God or serve our families. Actually, God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making vacations are not supposed to be a vacation for the father. Instead of simply resting and relaxing the father has the privilege of serving, leading, planning, initiating and working.

And you will know you are serving and leading effectively on your vacation when you fall into bed at night more exhausted than at the end of the most grueling day of work. The father must enter family vacations committed to serve, lead, plan, initiate, and work, and do all this with joy. This isn’t your time to rest. Only your wife deserves to rest on vacation (because no one works harder than she does the rest of the year).

But for the husband, vacations are a unique opportunity to serve and lead and work harder in some ways than he does during the normal work week. But this kind of work is a pure joy like no other work.”

My Podcasts – Capitol Hill Baptist Church

I apologize for the absence, but there are some things that are more important than blogging.

…so where were we?  My podcasts – Capital Hill Baptist Church.

The first time I heard of Mark Dever was when I happened upon the 9 marks of a healthy church on the internet.  Dever and the 9 marks ministry have been a blessing to me ever since.  This podcast is of his weekly sermons.

Mark Dever heads up 9 Marks ministries, is one of the four men who arranges the Together for the Gospel conference coming up next year, has written and is writing excellent books, speaks at engagements for Ligonier Ministries/Desiring God ministries/Shepherd’s conference to name just a few, runs a pastoral training program at his church, and sits on the council at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Busy guy, huh? Well, he is also the pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in downtown Washington D.C. and so preaches there nearly every Sunday. You can’t find much more consistent and expository preaching than what takes place in the pulpit and Capitol Hill Baptist Church. I thank God for the congregation and it’s leaders.

He is an excellent expositor, committed to biblical exposition in the pulpit every Sunday. Plus, I believe, just about every message he has preached in the pulpit at his church contains a clear gospel message. His messages are challenging and filled with wisdom. He is currently making his way through Revelation.

Dever has a real gift for giving the listener a view of a passage that encompasses all of scripture. He never has his blinders on as he teaches a passage of scripture. His messages always contain a perspective on a passage that fits it into the overarching message of the Bible. It is a real gift.

So check out this podcast and especially pick up the older podcasts so you can listen to the entire series on Revelation.

My Podcasts – The Albert Mohler Program

mohlerprogram-icon1Monday through Friday Dr. Albert Mohler spends a little over 30 minutes commenting, teaching, answering questions, and interviewing a variety of individuals on a wide array of topics on his radio show.  It is produced in Louisville, KY where Mohler lives and works as the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Mohler is a polarizing figure.  You either love him or hate him for the most part.  He has a lot of enemies, and he has a lot of followers.

I happen to enjoy Mohler’s teaching and writing.  I find it challenging and he always makes me think.  Another helpful thing I find from reading Mohler’s books and articles and listening to his podcast is that he assists me in thinking in Biblical terms regarding the most current of issues and debates.

Love him or hate him, you have to admit that the man is well read and has a giant intellect.  Any person who desires to think like a Christian has to consider Mohler’s point of view.  Any person who wants to be informed about the most debated of moral issues has to consider Mohler’s words.

Mohler’s podcast comes every day so it can be difficult to stay up to date.  The podcast title for the day details the topic of discussion so you can bypass it if you want.  However, I would suggest just listening to the first segment if you don’t care to listen to the topic of discussion because in the first segment Mohler goes over the headlines and offers an excellent Christian worldview perspective on the days latest news.  On Wednesdays Mohler does an “Ask Anything” program, which is always entertaining if not informative.

Tuesday’s program was great as Mohler responded to an article in Monday’s USA Today which attacked the truth claims of scripture.  He offers a brief response to the article, but his brief response will challenge you and help you as you contend for the faith.  So today is good day to start subscribing to the program because it is “Ask Anything Wednesday“, but you should also be sure to get yesterday’s program as well.

My Podcasts – The Whitehorse Inn

In my last post I wrote about my brother’s latest sermon series and the podcast that I subscribe to which keeps me current on his latest sermons.  So I thought I’d go with that theme and post a series on the different podcasts that I subscribe to.  Feel free to comment with any suggestions you may have or podcasts that you find helpful.

White Horse INN Logo

The Whitehorse Inn is a podcast that I think is essential to any Christian with an iPod.  It’s Michael Horton (author of Christless Christianity, which I am currently reading – a book that came out of the theme for 2008’s podcasts on the Whitehorse Inn) and 3 of his colleagues sitting around chatting about theology, church culture, societal trends, and so on.  They always make the listener think and they always bring up the best points on any number of topics.  Currently, for 2009, the theme of the podcast is Christ in a Post-Christian culture.  And this is extremely relevant, just check out this article in Newsweek and see.

This past Sunday (the newest installment comes once a week on Sundays) the discussion centered around 1 Corinthians 15 and Paul’s teaching on the resurrection.  It is excellent and worth the time to listen to.  So if you have a commute to work or you workout with your iPod or have the time to listen to the podcast, it comes once a week and this would be a good week to start.

I would also recommend bookmarking the website – www.whitehorseinn.org – because they always post helpful articles and book recommendations that go along with the current podcast and you can check out the archives of past podcasts.  Enjoy.

Resurrection Sermons

My brother is a pastor and has preached a great series of sermons leading up to Resurrection Sunday – Dying to Live.  The series is based in 1 Corinthians 15, which would be a great chapter in the Bible to memorize.  You should go and listen to this series of sermons – and his others while you’re at it.  Also, you can subscribe to the podcast that his church produces.   Enjoy.

Dying to Live – The Reality of the Resurrection

Dying to Live – The Necessity of the Resurrection

Dying to Live – The Eventuality of the Resurrection

Dying to Live – The Continuity of the Resurrection

Dying to Live – The Victory of the Resurrection

The blessings of having our 5th child

On March 13, 2009, our son Carter Shane Barber was born.

Me and Carter (photo by Kim)

Me and Carter (photo by Kim)

I took the week off to stay at home while my family adapted to this new way of life with Carter. Here are some of the blessings from that week:
1 – Watching the faces of my children as they hold their new baby brother in their arms.

Emmie holding Carter for the first time

Emmie holding Carter for the first time

Coleman holding Carter for the first time

Coleman holding Carter for the first time

Calvin holding Carter for the first time

Calvin holding Carter for the first time

Ellerie holding Carter for the first time

Ellerie holding Carter for the first time

2 – Having my youngest daughter look into my eyes as she held her baby brother for the first time and say, “Dank you Daddy” with complete sincerity of heart.
3 – Waking up every morning (even though I’m dog tired) and enjoying the children treat the beginning of the day as if it were Christmas morning.
4 – Driving home with my wife from the hospital and watching her in the rear view mirror as she sat next to our new baby boy and slept so peacefully she nearly felt out of her seat.
5 – Finally being able to sleep in the bed with my wife because she is comfortable enough to actually sleep in the bed again.
6 – Hearing my son Calvin, who rarely speaks, be so willing to talk to and about his new baby brother and then always giggle with glee whenever his baby makes a sound (although my wife can’t stand it when Calvin does this in response to the baby crying..so I correct him for this, but for some reason I still really love to watch him do this).
7 – Watching my son Calvin, the roughest/toughest/filthiest of the bunch, hold and kiss his baby brother.
8 – Watching my oldest two, Coleman and Emmie, hold their new baby brother and feed him a bottle and then help them burp him – and then their reaction when he actually burps.

Emmie giving Carter a bottle

Emmie giving Carter a bottle

Coleman giving Carter a bottle

Coleman giving Carter a bottle

9 – Making pancakes almost every morning.
10 – Friends and family visiting and bringing all kinds of great food.
11 – Being so well served by my parents every single day – before, during, and after the birth of this baby.

Waiting with Grannie to see the new baby

Waiting with Grannie to see the new baby

Grannie holding Carter for the first time

Grannie holding Carter for the first time

PawPaw holding Carter for the first time

PawPaw holding Carter for the first time

12 – Working so hard to feed a baby that will barely wake up and then hearing the nurse say, over the phone, that the bilirubin count has gone down!
13 – Putting Carter in the glow-worm outfit – but for only a day.
14 – Hearing my oldest son Coleman pray for his mommy and new baby brother right before he thanks God the Father for sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.
15 – Watching my wife be so exhausted each night she can barely hold her head up and yet continue to patiently and lovingly care for the new baby boy we have been blessed with…
16 – Realizing there are way too many blessings that have come with having our 5th child for me to possibly count.

Carter Shane Barber (photo by Kim)

Carter Shane Barber (photo by Kim)

Christ’s Death Effects Our Glorification

Eph. 1:7, 2:4-7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

John Owen writes in his book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, that Christ’s death effects our glorification. Grasping this truth  is very similar in difficulty to grasping the truth that Christ’s death effects our sanctification. For we can easily see Christ’s death bringing us reconciliation with God and bringing us justification we so desperately need and adoption as children of God.  However, the connection between Christ’s death and our glorification is often overlooked because it, like our sanctification, does not appear to us as directly connected to Christ’s death on the cross. In the believer’s experience, glorification, like sanctification, is not an immediately realized benefit. This is primarily why it is helpful for the Christian to consider ultimate things and the death of Christ purchasing those ultimate things for us.

The crucial question in this matter is what kind of connection does the scripture make between Christ’s death on the cross and the ultimate glorification of those who are in Christ. In other words, did Christ’s death on the cross purchase the glorification of those who are in Christ? If Christ’s death did purchase the glorification of those who are in Christ, then those who are in Christ are ultimately secure in their salvation. However, if Christ’s death only made it possible for those who are in Christ to be glorified then what, if anything, ultimately secures the salvation of those who are in Christ? Did Christ’s death secure the believer’s glorification or merely make it possible for them to be glorified? The New Testament’s answer? – Christ’s death on the cross secures the ultimate glorification of those who, in faith, look to Christ’s death on the cross as the only acceptable satisfaction of the penalty for our sins in the eyes of God.

Read John 6 and you’ll see the phrase used by Jesus himself over and over that he “will raise it/him up on the last day”

v. 39 – And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
v. 40 – For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
v. 44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
v. 54 – Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The use of the word “him” or “it” above refers to those whom the Father has given to the Son, who look on the Son in faith, who are drawn by the Father to come to Jesus, and whose life comes from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Notice the definite language that Christ uses. He doesn’t say it is a possibility that he will raise these up on the last day. He says he WILL raise these up on the last day.

You can see the connection in the first two chapters of Ephesians. The phrase that makes the connection appears in 1:7 and 2:7 – “riches of his grace.” In 1:7 the phrase is used to point the reader to the blood of Christ, shed on the cross, for our redemption – Christ’s death. Then in 2:7, Paul uses the same phrase to describe for us the kindness of God toward us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul explicitly proclaims to the reader of the epistle that part of God’s work in Christ was to raise up with Christ those who are redeemed by his blood and to seat them with him in the heavenly places – our glorification. Christ’s primary work is accomplished at the cross. This was Christ’s focus in his earthly ministry and it is what we will behold in our glorified state for all eternity as we sing the songs proclaiming the worth of the Lamb who was slain. Christ’s death effects our glorification.

Christ’s Death Effects our Adoption

Romans 8:15-17 – For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Christ’s death effects our adoption.  Consider the illustration of adoption in relation to our life in Christ.  Without Christ’s death on our behalf to pay for our sin, then we are not brought into God’s family as his children.  Adoption is a potent illustration of what happens in the life of a sinner when they are awakened to their need for Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross.  I recently heard of the experience of Dr. Russell Moore, the dean of the school of theology at Southern Seminary, when he adopted two Russian baby boys.  I heard this story and I saw my life portrayed in the experience of these two little Russian boys.  Dr. Moore writes:

When Maria and I first walked into the orphanage, where we were led to the boys the Russian court had picked out for us to adopt, we almost vomited in reaction to the stench and squalor of the place. The boys were in cribs in the dark, lying in their own waste. Leaving them at the end of each day was painful, but leaving them the final day before going home to wait for the paperwork to go through, was the hardest thing either of us had ever done. Walking out of the room to prepare for the plane ride home, Maria and I could hear Maxim crying out for us and falling down in his crib, convulsing in tears. Maria shook with tears and I turned around to walk back in their room just for a minute. I placed my hand on both their heads and said, knowing they couldn’t understand a word of my English, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” I don’t think I consciously intended to cite Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 14:18. It just seemed like the only thing worth saying at the time.
When Maria and I at long last received the call that the legal process was over, and we returned to Russia to pick up our new sons, we found that their transition from orphanage to family was more difficult than we had supposed. We dressed the boys in outfits our parents had bought them. My mother-in-law gathered some wildflowers growing between cracks in the pavement outside the orphanage. We nodded our thanks to the orphanage workers and walked out into the sunlight – to the terror of the two boys. They’d never seen the sun and they’d never felt the wind. They’d never heard the sound of a car door slamming or had the sensation of being carried along at a hundred miles an hour down a Russian road. I noticed that they were shaking and reaching back to the orphanage in the distance. I whispered to Sergei, now Timothy, “that place is a pit, if only you knew what’s waiting for you. A home. With a mommy and daddy who love you. Grandparents. And great-grandparents. And cousins and playmates. And McDonald’s Happy Meals.” But all they knew was the orphanage. It was squalid but they had no other reference point, and it was home.
We knew the boys had acclimated to our home, that they trusted us, when they stopped hiding food in their high chairs. They knew there would be another meal coming, and they would not have to fight for the scraps. This was the new normal. They are now thoroughly Americanized, perhaps too much so, able to recognize the sound of a microwave ding from 40 yards away. I still remember, though, those little hands reaching for the orphanage. And I see myself there.

Why do we not live for Christ as we ought?  Why do we not hate sin as we ought?  It is because lying in a bed of our own waste is all we know and we spend little to no time considering what it is like to live beyond the walls of our orphanage – to live outside of our slavery to sin.  We’ve come to love our sin more than the one who can free us from our sin, just as those little boys had come to love that squalid orphanage more than those who had come to free them from it even though they were crying out to be freed from it.  The reason we continue to fall back into sin as if we were enslaved to it is because without even knowing it, we have become so comfortable with the conditions in the orphanage and have spent so little time thinking about the reward – Christ, whose death effects our adoption.