Wednesday, February 2, 2011

still not a Calvinist, but I love these brothers

Why would this non-reformed pastor go to a conference for reformed pastors?
For several years I attended the Desiring God Pastor's Conference faithfully when it was held at Bethlehem Baptist. I loved the fellowship of the pastors, the stirring worship, and the challenging messages of the speakers. But then something happened. I'm not entirely sure why I missed a year, but then I missed the next one and the one after that. Before long, I realized that I've probably missed most of the last decade.
I went back this year because of the theme of prayer. My heart needs to be warmed again by hearing others talk about prayer. Prayer is often such an intensely private experience. There is nothing in all the world like connecting personally to God. Even in silence I am warmed by his love and communion with him. But at times I fall into a pattern (rut, really) that drains the joy out prayer. I needed to be reminded again how incredible this gift is. I needed to hear from others in their journeys. I needed to gain a fresh perspective and a new look.
Have you ever seen a person walk over live coals? Do you want to know their secret? Part of the answer lies in the thin layer of ash that covers each coal as it burns. The fire is deep in the coals, but the outside layer is insulated by this ash. My heart forms ash as it burns. The passion of my love with God goes deeper and the flame may be very alive, but my heart is well insulated. Sometimes I don't even feel it.
Even though I'm not fully reformed in my doctrine (still can't embrace all of that third point of Calvinism) I greatly appreciate my reformed, Calvinistic brothers. I drew on their passion for Christ and listened attentively to their heart. It's something just to hear John Piper pray! His intimate prayer and his passion for God leak out of every pore of his body. I long to burn like that.
In the days to come, I'll be reading on prayer. (I got about 6-7 books on prayer at the conference – all free!) I'll be writing sermons and Life Group lessons on prayer. I'll be studying Christ's prayers (especially John 17). But mostly I plan to pray. I am simply longing for God to gently blow off the ash that has once again insulated my heart.

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