Category Archives: Miscellaneous Mondays

T4G Overview: It’s the Dad-gum Second Commandment!

Me & Kevin
Me, Mike, & Becky

This past week I attended the Together for the Gospel conference with approximately 12,500 other men, women, and children (collectively).  I will say that it did not disappoint.  Every one of my top 10 listed reasons for being excited were met.  I saw friends that I hadn’t seen in years and others that I hadn’t seen in a month.

We sang songs of old and new.  My favorite coming away was “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.”  I’m told that we sang it at the previous T4G, but I don’t remember it.  Perhaps I was more in tune (pun intended) with the song this time around that it struck a chord (I’ll stop) with me.  As I looked for a link to share for this song, it appears that it was sung then.

The preaching was phenomenal.  I would say that overall, this year’s sermons and/or talks were the best yet.  In the past years, there was a theme that was advertised, but the sermons, it seemed, may or may not have connected.  At very least it was hard to figure how they connected to the theme.  This year, there was no doubt.  Every single sermon/talk was about being distinct from the world.  Over the next few Miscellaneous Mondays, I will be dealing with two or three speakers and giving an overview and my thoughts about them.  Of course, like everyone else at the conference, I proclaim Ligon Duncan’s “The Whole in our Holiness” sermon was mind-blowing and, I would argue, simply the best sermon hands down of all sermons in T4G history.  (Incidentally, the second greatest in its history was also by Ligon Duncan on Elijah: “The Underestimated God.”)  The line coming out of T4G came from Duncan as he said, “It’s the dad-gum second commandment!” (referring to “love your neighbor as yourself.”)  I will say that H. B. Charles, Jr. preached an amazing sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.  I had preached that same passage on Resurrection Sunday, and after hearing him, I came away saying, “Now that’s how you preach that text!”

The fellowship that was experienced at T4G was unsurpassed.  We talked, laughed, and reminisced about this conference and previous conferences.  We talked on the way to Louisville and on the way back from Louisville about life and ministry and various topics that were not discussed from the speakers, but helped us to continue to grow in knowledge of each other.

Of course, there were the books.  Many, many fine books.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control, the books were not in one central location, which made them somewhat hard to find.  However, never underestimate a focused pastor on a book-hunting mission.  “We have a very particular set of skills; we will look for you, we will find you, and we will buy you.”

Lord willing, those who went with our group will be making some short videos about our experience.  Over the next few Monday’s I hope to recap sermons and thoughts on them.  I would love your feed back, whether you went, watched live, or went back and watched the recordings.  What did you think?

Specks and Beams

So often we are able to see the slightest of sins in another person, when there are glaring sins in our own lives that we are blind to.  A person sleeps in on Sunday and doesn’t attend church and so we condemn them in our hearts, meanwhile, those very same hearts are asleep to God’s mercy and grace and are far from true worship.  We condemn people silently in our hearts for smoking or drinking, all the while we are gluttons.  We see their sins and are oblivious to our own.

Like the parable of the lost son.  The brother saw that his younger sibling ran off with dad’s money and squandered it all. How sinful!  How awful!  Yet he was completely blind to his own anger and hatred.  Jonah saw the Ninevites as ruthless, evil, wicked sinners in need of judgment.  Yet when they repented he was angry and sat in judgment of God for saving them.  He saw their evil deeds but was blind to his own evil heart.

The irony is that we believe that the tiny speck of sin in someone else’s eye is a beam, while the beam in our eye is just a speck.  Jesus told us to get our house in order before we try to get someone else’s house in order.  A good rule of thumb is that the moment you see someone else’s faults, stop looking at them and turn your eyes to your own life and heart.

Let me give you a personal example.  While at the conference once, there was a young man in our hotel who needed a ride to the Yum Center.  We let him tag along for the ride.  The entire ride he talked about himself.  He talked as if he had all the answers.  As I am driving, I am getting irritated just from listening to him.  In my mind, I am listing all his faults or pride and arrogance and presumption and the list was getting longer by the second.  And as I am thinking this, I started to pride myself on not being prideful, and knowing that I don’t have all the answers, and not being presumptuous.  I was guilty of the exact same things I was condemning this young man for.  But my pride and presumption wasn’t nearly as glaring to me as his were.

It is so easy to allow the actions of others to cloud the thoughts of our own hearts and blind us to our own actions.  They don’t clean the way we want.  They don’t school the way we think they should.  They don’t preach the way we feel they should.  They don’t stand up for the things we stand up for.  And soon we have a heart that condemns and a heart that is critical.  And we forget that we were dead in our trespasses and children of wrath, but God, in his love for us, in his mercy made us alive together with Christ.  Our hearts and mouths are filled with harsh, critical, judgmental words while at the same time receiving the grace, love, and mercy from God for our own sins.  O! What hypocrisy we commit!  So Jesus gave a warning against hypocrisy.

(Excerpt adapted from my sermon on Matthew 7:1-6).