Well, the Liberate 2012 conference is over, and it was AMAZING. Here are my impressions:
Worship: The worship was very moving and effective. The musicians were great, I especially liked the violin player. The piano player clearly had some jazz chops peeking through. They made very effective use almost exclusively of old hymns done in new ways that emphasized grace and Christ’s blood. Here are some titles that I kept a list of:
Come Thou fount of every blessing (tune my heart to sing Thy grace) (I love that one!)
Hallelujah glory be to our great God
And can it be
Amazing love how can it be!
There is a fountain filled with blood
Be thou my vision
Be the fire in our hearts
In Christ alone
My hope is built on nothing less!
O the blood of Jesus
When I survey the wondrous cross
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe
Alas and did my savior bleed
Great stuff, I was crying like a baby a number of times. Big kudos to the worship team, it really helped make this a great conference.
Tullian Tchividjian: “Grace Liberates” – This was an electric message. One of the things that really stuck out in my mind was the example of the Macedonian believers:
1 We want you to know, brothers, 1 about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints – 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
We fear license and sin under radical grace, but in reality look what the grace of God produced: they gave way beyond their means and were begging to give more! Obligation and coercion and law cant touch that level of service! If we want on fire churches with on fire congregations, we need to let the grace tiger out of the cage. I can also testify after hanging out with and eating with a number of the people who attend Coral Ridge, they really are on fire and cannot stop talking about grace and are doing more than you can imagine around there.
Darrin Patrick: “Grace Liberates Our City” – This was a lot about contextualization of the gospel, and some programs for their inner city church. It was good in some ways, but I am left wanting to explore ways under grace to contextualize the gospel, especially in having patience with the ability and flawed membership of the church, and working under compassion instead of under coercion.
Elyse Fitzpatrick: “Grace Liberates Our Discipleship” – This was one of the best talks of the show. Elyse is a complete delight. My takeaway insight from this was that justification isn’t making me just as if I’d never sinned, but also just as if I had always obeyed. Jesus didn’t just come live for 5 minutes and die for our sins, because He lived perfectly in all the stages and situations of life that I didn’t, and can intercede for us from childhood to deathbed. It makes His blood all the more precious.
Q&A with Tullian Tchividjian, Elyse Fitzpatrick, and Darrin Patrick – The question that stood out in my mind was this: do we then exert no effort under grace? What do you say to the mother of 4 little kids with all the duties that entails, that wakes up and reads “do all things without grumbling and complaining”? The answer was, what is it in you that hates this? This is a point of confession, like the tax-gatherer; we go boldly to the throne of grace to confess and to receive mercy and help in our time of need. There is no condemnation there. Sanctification is not primarily behavioral, but is an ongoing daily response to grace.
David Zahl: “Grace & Pop Culture” – David Zahl is the founder of mockingbird ministries (mbird.com), and he gave an excellent talk about how grace leads us to participate in and embrace the gospel truth that culture inevitably has to stumble over. He showed some excellent clips; the one from Downton Abbey left everyone teary-eyed, and was one of the most powerful illustrations of the one-way love of grace in the whole conference. Mockingbird is an amazing ministry, and I love David Zahl.
White Horse Inn LIVE TAPING: “Scandalous Grace” – This was a session with 4 hard-hitting theologians, mostly Calvinist, talking through Romans 1-3. It is probably going out on the Whitehorse Inn podcast soon, and is well worth the listen. Even though I’m not calvinist I didn’t find too much that I disagreed with in the discussion.
Paul Tripp: “Grace Liberates Our Marriage” – Paul ended up shifting gears and talked about grace in family relationships in general. He is really funny, really insightful, and of course really grace-driven. I want all of our family to watch this.
Michael Horton: “Grace Liberates Our Message” – This was an exposition of Romans 4 and the one-way covenant God made with Abraham. Very deep, very great stuff.
Scotty Smith: “Grace Liberates Us From Our Idolatry” – This was a very transparent message where he shared some very difficult things from his youth, and how he ended up coming into faith and grace.
Q&A with Tullian Tchividjian, Paul Tripp, Michael Horton, and Scotty Smith – This was pretty much the kind of questions you expect – don’t we have to do anything under grace? Of course, but not as earning it. I liked Mr. Horton’s story about the boy in Sunday school who was asked what a thing with a bushy tail that gathered nuts is called. He answered, “Jesus?” No! It’s a squirrel. Sometimes, things in the scriptures are simply saying what they are saying, and we ought not read something into them that they aren’t saying.
Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson – “Give Them Grace”. This was EXCELLENT. Oh my! It was a ton of extremely good grace-oriented thinking about how to raise your kids. Nothing makes more sense than this. As parents we need grace, and we need to be praying for ways to interpret grace into the everyday debacles with our children so that they are free from shame and from unrealistic expectations to be ‘good’. There is a book and a DVD set that is well worth the price for this material, they are very much on the mark.
That is my quick rundown of thoughts about the conference. Official DVD’s will apparently be out around the end of March.
I also met some very amazing people, like Jake Goff. This is a young guy very fired up about the message of grace, who was on his way right after the conference to Europe to stay somewhere in Amsterdam on the cheap and spread the good news! He is armed and dangerous with the message, and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with him. If you read this, bless you Jake, our prayers are greatly with you!