Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Watching My Words

This past weekend my wife and I had the privilege of being able to attend the Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis. The theme of the conference was "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God." You can watch, read, or listen to the messages here.

If I were to share all the highlights of this conference, this post would be extraordinarily long. So, let me just share some "highlights of the highlights" for me.

Sinclair Ferguson kicked off the conference Friday evening with an exposition on James 3:1-12. The tongue is such a powerful part of our body because it speaks out what is already in the heart, and so it is connected to the whole of my being. Toward the end of the message Ferguson exhorted us all to allow the Word of God to dwell in us so richly that we cannot help but to speak with an accent.

Saturday morning's message by Bob Kauflin was probably the best message on the role of music in the Christian life that I have ever heard. I strongly urge everyone to hear what Bob had to say. The bulk of his message was dedicated to showing the ways in which music relates to words. He gives three ways that music helps serve the word: 1) Singing helps us remember words; 2) Singing helps us engage emotionally with words; 3) Singing helps us use words to demonstrate and express our unity. This message is full of practical advice for worshiping God through song, and it will make you think deeply about the importance of music.

Mark Driscoll spoke next. His topic was the use of cutting, strong words in the Scripture. If you know who Mark Driscoll is, you can probably guess how exciting this message is; if you don't know who Mark Driscoll is, and you decide to listen to this message, be prepared to be surprised by what you hear.

Dan Taylor and Paul Tripp finished up the day on Saturday. Taylor is a literature professor. The thesis for his talk was that the single best way of conceiving of faith and the life of faith is through a story in which you are a character. He then gave 12 reasons to back up his thesis. One of his points that stood out to me was that stories call us to action, even if we choose to act disastrously. If faith is only agreement with a set of propositions, then we are no different from the demons (James 2:9). Tripp spoke (at length) about the use of words in everyday, relational life.

Sunday morning John Piper closed the conference by addressing the question, "Is There Christian Eloquence?" The question is an urgent one in light of 1 Corinthians 1:17 and 1 Corinthians 2:1. Piper concludes that the eloquence Paul rejects in these verses is not the convention of language itself but rather the use of language to exalt self and/or to simultaneously belittle the crucified Lord. So two questions we should ask ourselves in our use of language are 1) Am I using language to exalt myself, boast my ego, and make myself look clever? and 2) Am I keeping the cross in the shadows so that I am exalted in its place? Piper's application to these exegetical conclusions were both challenging and entertaining. He shared five ways that eloquent words can be effective for the sake of the gospel. I must say that I have thought very little about these things, so Piper's insight here was quite helpful for me.

There are few things that could be discussed in a conference that would be more practical than "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God." Words are a major part of everyone's life whether spoken or written. I have found myself several times since coming back from the conference asking myself, "Are my words being used to build my kingdom or God's kingdom?" This is a very helpful question we should all keep in mind all the time. For as James wrote,

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:10)


Bob Hayton said...

I enjoyed your post. I'm a member of John Piper's church, who has also gone from Christian Legalism (in the form of extreme independent Baptist fundamentalism) to Christian Hedonism. Unfortunately I couldn't attend the conference, but I am listening to the messages.

Blessings to you in Christ,

Bob Hayton
Fundamentally Reformed

BCJ said...

Bob, I was glad to hear from you. I checked out your blog and have subscribed to it. I also grew up Independent Fundamental Baptist, and my blog is dedicated to trying to help those who are (or who need to be) journeying out of their legalism. But not wanting them to sacrifice passion for God, I want them to consider Christian Hedonism (big John Piper fan here!) as the healthy approach to their passion for godliness. Thanks for introducing yourself. I look forward to reading more from you as well and perhaps we can meet sometime.

Bob Hayton said...

Great to find another out there with a story like mine. Praise God for His grace. Blessings on you and your family.