Desiring God Conference for Pastors – Day One

We made the trip today from Janesville, WI to Minneapolis, MN for the Desiring God Conference for Pastors.  The theme this year is “God, Manhood & Ministry: Building Men for the Body of Christ”. I was really looking forward to being challenged in this area of fatherhood, and raising up men in the church.  Tonight’s speaker, Doug Wilson, spoke on “‘Father Hunger’ in Leading the Home”.  I had not heard of Doug, but John Piper introduced him as Bible-centered, reformed, and someone who has said about himself – “I’m such a foreigner to this earth that I’m surprised I don’t need a green card”!

Here’s a few highlights from his talk tonight about the Biblical role of fathers in the home:

  • Four Foundation Stones to build on
    • Fatherly Pleasure
      • God the Father sets the example for us on how to be a Father by how He treats His Son, Jesus Christ. At His baptism, the Father was there, made His presence felt, made His presence known by speaking, identified with His Son, expressed His love for His Son, and expressed pleasure in His Son.
      • Even though our children are not like Jesus, and we’re not like the Father, we need to express pleasure in our children to them
    • Fatherly generosity
      • We are to be open-handed and generous with our time, love and joy to our children, as the Father was.
    • Masculinity carriers
      • Father’s and husbands are reflectors of His masculinity; we are not the source, but we are the designated carriers.
    • Biblical headship is assuming sacrificial responsibility
      • What is masculinity? It’s the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility
      • “Masculine toughness has to lay underneath masculine tenderness. It is a velvet covered brick.”
      • Authority flows to those who take responsibility for sacrificial service (i.e. – Jesus)
  • Four Applications from those principles – What are we to do?
    • Provide and Protect
      • God has designed us in this way
    • My authority was given to me as a gift to my kids
      • That which God gave for good should not be used for harm
      • Our authority should be used to build up, not tear down
    • Second hand imitation is true Biblical imitation
      • The blessing of biographies
      • If we have not had a strong role model, we can study biographies about great fathers – in Scripture, in history, in literature
      • We can imitate what we see, but we can also imitate what we hear about or read
    • Father by modeling
      • By whatever we do as a father, kid’s learn what fathers are like
      • Kid’s will test the limits, but they want to be fathered, and want to see that we love them enough to correct them
      • Fathers need to learn how to be strict in the same way the Father is strict and merciful in the same way the Father is merciful.
      • If we’re only strict, we crush their spirits; if we’re only merciful, we create sense of entitlement; we have to be both, and by all means, don’t swap the two and be merciful where God was strict and be strict where God was merciful
      • Similar to Garden of Eden – everything there was “yes”, but there was one “no”. When Adam went against His “no”, God was consistent and made them leave.
      • But, He wasn’t so strict that he made a garden with all “no”s and one “yes”.  What are our homes like? All “yes”s and one “no” with boundaries clearly known and enforced; or all “no”s!
  • Wrap-Up
    • Take heart! Just because we mess up and don’t act like our Heavenly Father, He is still the same, and not like us. He will not receive us poorly, even though we may receive our kid’s poorly. He is the prodigal son’s father, waiting with open arms.

To read more quotes from Doug’s talk tonight, you can go to the Desiring God website.  You can also watch the livestream of the conference this week!

The Powerful Life of the Praying Pastor – Day One

This week, I have the privilege of being here in Minneapolis at the Desiring God conference for pastors, led by John Piper.  The theme this year is “The Powerful Life of the Praying Pastor”, with an emphasis on prayer.  I’m here with all the pastors from our church, along with about 1,800 other pastors from around the country.

We had a long drive here today from Janesvile, WI, especially as the snow was starting to fall in what they’re saying could be one of the biggest blizzards in years!  But, we made it here safely, and in plenty of time for the first session tonight.

The conference kicked off with a time of worship led by the team from Bethlehem Baptist Church, Piper’s church here in Minneapolis.  The group of pastors, mostly men, sang with full voices on the familiar songs and hymns that were chosen, reminding me of Promisekeepers event from years ago!

The speaker for Session One was Joel Beeke, and he spoke on “Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor”. Joel is the president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and pastor of Heritage Netherlands Congregation in Grand Rapids, MI.

Beeke’s opening message on prayer was so good! He challenged us to not fall into the trap of prayerless praying, but the need to live a life of private prayerful praying.  He challenged us with stories of the prayer life of several heroes of the faith like Martin Luther, John Calvin and others.  They devoted so much time to private, powerful prayer and to their own personal time with the Lord.  Today, many people see prayer as an appendix or interruption to our work as a pastor, rather than the foundation. He said the goal isn’t necessarily longer times of prayer, but quality times of prayer. One thing he said that really stuck out was “if we don’t draw near to him in private, when we pray in public, we’ll be lacking in content, heart and passion.”  That’s so true!

If we’re to live a life of private, prayerful praying we need to take hold of ourselves and take hold of God.  To take hold of ourselves, we need to remember the value of prayer, maintain the priority of prayer, pray with sincerity, cultivate a continual spirit of prayer, work towards organization in our prayers, read the Bible for prayer and keep a balance in our prayers.  To take hold of God, we need to plead God’s promises in prayer, cling to the glorious Trinity in prayer and believe that God answers prayer.

He expounded on each of those items with some practical tips in each area.  He said we should never engage in any activity in ministry without praying first.  We need to put prayer first in our priority list, and plan prayer into your schedule throughout the day.  Also, whenever you have the least impulse to pray, then pray right then.  As you read the Bible, pray God’s Word back to Him.

I’m looking forward to hearing John Piper and Francis Chan speak tomorrow, along with others. You can actually watch along from wherever you are on the livestream from the conference tomorrow!   I’ll try to post again tomorrow night with a recap.