Laurie and I recently had the privilege of attending the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky. This conference is an encouragement, primarily to preachers, but to the Church as a whole. Laurie and I had not been to a conference together in a long time. We heard great preaching, informative panel discussions on particularly relevant topics, and incredible worship. So, I want to give you my First Five on the conference. A few will have web links to some of the BEST sermons we heard (they were all great). I encourage you to listen if you can.
5. We looked for many friends from Oklahoma, but continuously found ourselves running into the “main speakers” of the conference. I stood next to David Platt in the airport in Detroit, had John Piper wave at me coming out of a restaurant, talked with Mark Dever at the hotel, Russell Moore walking to get coffee, Tom Pennington while we were walking to the bookstore (he smarted off about my OU shirt – he is an Alabama fan), and Phil Johnson while in the Zero Dollar bookstore. If you don’t know who all these people are, think of running into your favorite players from your favorite football team that you thought you would never meet – in two days.
4. But it got better than that. Laurie and I had lunch with two of our favorite people – Ted and Jerri Kersh. Ted is the pastor of South Tulsa Baptist Church and has been a mentor for me for many years (even when he didn’t know it). You know that saying “they don’t come any better than this”? Yep. That is Ted and Jerri Kersh.
3. David Platt’s sermon on prayer. Wow!
2. Ligon Duncan’s sermon on The Gospel by Numbers. Wow! You have to stick with it through the first 20 minutes, then…hold on to your seat.
1. Kevin DeYoung’s sermon on God’s Unbreakable Bible. Wow! Wow! Maybe the best sermon I have heard in the last year.
OK, so this does not include my favorite preacher John MacArthur or my favorite cultural commentator Al Mohler. Both gave incredible sermons. So did John Piper. And Mark Dever. They were all good. And…they gave us each 15 free books. But I only had room for my…First Five.
5. Hearing team leaders say “I have the BEST team. I can’t wait to do this again.” People bond over serving together. The leaders led their teams to serve…and they did it so well.
4. One young father excitedly reported of sharing the gospel with a resident who later came to the church for the rally. The Great Day of Service is about works AND words – the Word of Life.
3. Observing senior adults directing traffic, handing out hot dogs, holding trash bags and raking up leaves. Their example has impacted many lives. They remind us that as long as there is breath in the lungs God can use any willing vessel.
2. Seeing children and teenagers joyfully serving alongside parents and other adults. The predominantly self-absorbed attitude of the age took a right hook on the chin concerning the upcoming generations!
1. Churches working together. God must be pleased.
That’s my Great Day of Service 2014 First Five.
So I have decided to go a particular direction with my blog. Actually, I have had NO direction for the blog because I have not been writing. Well, it’s time to get after it. Cutting to the chase, my blog will be a weekly submission encouraging Christians toward holy living. Each week I will choose a topic and give you the First Five principles of living it out. It might be the first five that come to my mind…or what I see as the five most important things to say about the issue. Either way, I hope this will be helpful. As usual, I probably will be the one who gets the most out of it. Since all of us daily deal with sin I have determined to give you the First Five on determining right and wrong.
I am glad that Paul tells us “All have sinned…” (Romans 3:23) because, frankly, many Christians fall into the trap of thinking they are the only ones struggling with something. It’s not just that we cannot control ourselves (obviously we DO NOT many times), but that we honestly deliberate the moral classification of an action or thought before us: “Is THIS a sin?” Now, I believe we all should DEEPLY delve into the Scriptures on every issue of life. But there are those moments when you better make a decision pretty quickly before you make a really bad decision. “If only there were some kind of grid to run through with these kind of issues…maybe, five steps or so. ” OK, I have enough melodrama in my house right now with the rise of “Frozen” – let’s just get right to the First Five of determining right and wrong.
1. Start with the obvious. Question 1 – Do I KNOW what is right? “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17
2. Question 2 – Is it helpful? Will this benefit me spiritually, socially, mentally, physically? “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
3. This one demands honesty – Question 3 – Am I a “slave” to this? Does this action or attitude have control over me instead of me controlling it? “All things are lawful, but I will not be enslaved by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
4. Question 4 – Does this offend other people? Are people turned away from Christ if I do this? “If food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:13. Obviously, food is the example. But any issue could be used here.
5. Finally, Question 5 – Does this bring glory to Jesus? Immediate glory. Don’t try to stretch this. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
5 questions. These may save your life. There you go – the first First Five.