As I have shared, I am at the 2014 Basics Conference at Parkside Church this week. Here is a summary of what happened on the second day (which is the only full day) of the conference.
Main Session - Gary Millar
My only exposure to Gary Millar is in reading his book, Saving Eutychus, a cleverly entitled book on the basics of preaching. Sometimes when you listen to someone preach after you have read their book on preaching, you become disappointed. This was not one of those times. His words from 1 Kings 18 were timely and helpful for my life.
One thing stood out for me, and it is in his comparison between Elijah and Obadiah in that chapter. Elijah is a black and white, hard-core prophet; Obadiah seems to be in all shades of grey, almost cowering in his position as assistant to Ahab. And yet, God used both of them. God uses all kinds of different people and it is always based on His grace. When the big leader is affective for the kingdom, it is just as much God's grace as when the nobody does something great for Him. That was helpful for me to think through in my own life.
Main Session -- Christopher Ash
In his second main session. Ash preached from Psalm 146. While there were many things in this message that impacted me, some of the most helpful parts was when he gave several general questions to help interpret the Psalms. He said the Psalm teacher should ask these questions in this order . . .
- What would it have meant for an Old Covenant believer to sing or pray this Psalm?
- What would it have meant for Jesus to sing or pray this Psalm?
- What does it mean for us corporately in Christ to sing or pray this Psalm?
The main thrust of this sermon was that God is the one that deserves praise, men do not. We are not to put our trust in princes (any influential person) because they die. And when they die, they take their plans with them. This is a shot across the bow of the Christian Celebrity. In fact, the real danger in putting someone on a pedestal is that we soon begin to believe that they are worthy to be trusted. That is dreadful.
Breakout Session -- "Maintaining Pastoral Zeal While Avoiding Burnout" by Christopher Ash
This session is very important and helpful for pastors. In fact, I would encourage all pastors to watch or listen to it if you have some time. And even if you are an elder or church leader, I would encourage you to think through how you can help your pastor think through these things. Ash shared several helpful thoughts for the pastor who is on the verge of burnout.
- Dust - He tried to help us remember that we were created from dust and we will return to dust. The point being is to help us remember that we are human.
- Sleep - God might not need sleep, but we do.
- Sabbath Rest - One out of seven rest pattern is a Christian mandate
- Renewal - He encouraged us to find what it is that energizes us and make the conscious effort to make room in our schedules for them.
- Friends - We all need people who will tell us the truth.
- Rebuke - We need people who will be able to tell us to quit seeking our own glory.
- Encouragement - Pastoral ministry is worth it. It is difficult to measure the success of a ministry, but it is worth it.
- Joy - Rejoice in being a recipient of God's grace, that even if we do nothing else in ministry in our life, we can still rejoice over the fact of being a Christian.
Breakout Session -- "Preaching Simply, Preaching Richly" by Gary Millar
Much of this session was taken out of his book, Saving Eutychus. But it was still very good. He is a masterful communicator and it came through as he shared how the preacher is to preach simply! SIMPLIFY! And as you simply, it always goes back to Jesus and the gospel.
But once you learn to preach simply, you need to learn to preach richly. We should not only know the main idea of the text, but also the vibe of the text. What is the emotional tone of the text? That should influence the message as well.
I regret to say that I was unable to attend the evening dinner or session by Gary Millar. But I heard good things of his treatment from 1 Kings 19. I look forward to watching it soon (all of the resources can be found HERE).