I attended the Sufficient Fire conference on Friday and Saturday of last week, and truth be told, I’m still reeling a bit. So much information. So much good teaching. I didn’t attend all of it (just the 6 general sessions), but I took about 30 pages of notes and my mind and heart were sufficiently overwhelmed by the end of it.
I’ll post some choice quotes/paraphrases from the sessions this week, but I wanted to start with a bit of an overview and some feedback.
The conference consisted of sessions taught by Phil Johnson, Dan Phillips, and Frank Turk, who blog(ged) collectively at Pyromaniacs. (Phil has retired from blogging, but his posts are often reposted for the benefit of current readers.) This blog has been an incalculable benefit to my growth as a Christian, and as a Christian thinker. Dan is a pastor here in town, so by God’s providence, they decided to host their very first conference here, for free, about 30 minutes from where I live.
The subject of the conference was the sufficiency of Scripture: how the canon of Scripture is complete and fully sufficient for Christian life, and how extrabiblical “revelations” or “prophecies” or “experiences” are not only unnecessary but downright dangerous and even damning. Throughout the six general sessions, the speakers demonstrated what the Bible consistently teaches that God interacts with mankind through His Word(s), and that these communications require the proper response. The truthfulness and trustworthiness of Scripture has ramifications and repercussions on the conduct of our lives and the content of our message.
So what did I get out of Sufficient Fire? First and foremost, it gave me a renewed and refreshed love for God’s word. Hearing the Word read publicly and preached so passionately filled my heart with joy. Secondly, the conference challenged me to love people more, especially in the Church and double-especially those who I’ve been given the responsibility to serve. Most importantly, I think this conference served to remind me of what’s really important, how the message of the Gospel of Jesus is more important than any other endeavor I could pursue with my life.
I’m still working out the implications of this, but: for the last few months, I’d been starting to doubt my desire and commitment for the ministry. I’ve been reading and listening to the work of several types of creatives, writers and entrepreneurs and artists. The draw of a writing career grew more and more attractive. Meanwhile, I found myself growing weary of the idea of lifelong church-work.
The two days I spent listening to and interacting with faithful ministers and churchmen reminded me why the work of a pastor is so vital, and why the message of the Gospel is worth spending my life and energy to proclaim. This is not to say that writing won’t be a part of that; God made me a writer, and words are my gift and my tools for doing what He has made me to do. But if my words only serve to build my platform and advance my name and reputation, they would be worth nothing and would benefit no one. If my hope is to write blogs and books that change lives, my words must be in service of a greater message than the fancies of my imagination. There is only one message that will change the heart, the life, the world: Jesus died to save sinners.
My hope is that I’ll never grow tired of proclaiming it.
I’ll post notes from the individual sessions this week. As soon as the audio/video from the conference has been posted, I’ll link it here.