Monday, 9 May 2011

Easter Commitment

It is now a tradition for me to attend the Katoomba Easter Convention. This year was no different, well this time some of my family did say with us, which was nice. This years Easter convention had the topic: Commitment in the age of disposable love, and in a general sense the talks stuck to this topic. The speakers were Don Carson, Dale Ralph Davis and Simon Flinders.

Don Carson gave four talks on how the good news of Jesus' death, resurrection and example impacts on a Christian's life. Christians are called to do some good, moral and ethical things, but the Christian life is not just about moral living. It is only because of the Gospel that we can be transformed to do these good works, out of response to what Jesus has already done. Carson appealed for us to resolve to rejoice in the Lord, to be content, to be know for our gentleness, to not to be anxious but to pray, to grow in grace and courtesy and to think holy thoughts. He looked at the relationship of marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33 and how it is a symbol or typology of Christ's relationship to His Church and how human marriage can (ideally) point back to this symbol. Carson did not want anyone to feel beat up over the talks or to go away and try harder but instead he wanted us to look to the Cross for forgiveness and as a model on how to live.

Dale Ralph Davis was great. He gave four talks from the Old Testament on God's covenant and he definitely knew his stuff. In fact he was reading directly from the Hebrew text and translating on the fly, which was quite impressive. He talked about how our God is a committed God who made a staggering and gracious covenant with Abraham (who was an idol worshipper) to be God to him and his descendants. God made His will known to His people via the Ten Commandments which was different to the pagan gods of that time. Before entering the Promised Land Israel remembered the commitments God made to His people and Joshua then in turn made a commitment to follow only Yahweh which also was unheard in pagan culture as no god demanded exclusive worship. Joshua also didn't think that death was the end of God's commitment to him or his people. In Ralph's last talk he looked at 1 Samuel 12 and showed that God sometimes uses extreme measures to make His point, and that we should tremble before a frighting God. We should continue to live in God's unchangeable grace and if we stuff up, not wallow in our self pity as that is not our atonement. We can't reverse our actions but we can return to our restoring God.

The night time speaker was Simon Flinders. After his first talk we commented that he had a narrow focus while talking and that he didn't much more than repeat the passage he was speaking from, but in retrospect I think he did his task well. Simon gave three talks from Romans 8 and each talk had a clear point which he laid out at the beginning as a proposition and then he proceed to back that statement up. It was simple and logical and was squarely based on Romans 8. He reminded us that there is no condemnation from God to those who are Christians, that our present sufferings are nothing compare to our future glory and that nothing at all can separate Christians from the love of God.

After each night session there was a question time. I went and saw Ralph on the first night and he was a joy to watch as he answered questions on the fly and pulled out all these verse from memory. It was impressive. The second night we went and saw Carson and he was good, and talked about a who host of things. My wife even asked him about the context of Philippians 4:13 and how it gets taken out of context on postcards or at the bottom of notepads etc. On the last night both Ralph and Carson took the main stage for questions so people could ask questions both on the Old and New Testaments. I would have been good if that went for longer.

Al Stewart lead the sessions and did a good job at it, trying to summarise each talk into one sentence. Sons of Korah also came and played both during the morning and evening sessions on Sunday. The weather changed every day from sunny to rainy to sunny to foggy, and I also bought a book by Ralph. All in all it was a good Easter convention.

Easter Convention charge $2 for the talks, but after a quick search I was able to find these talks which maybe similar to the talks that were given at the conference:
Don Carson - Rejoice in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4-20) (His second talk)
Dale Ralph Davis - Farewell with an Edge (17mb mp3) (1 Sam 12) (His fourth talk)

Past Easter Conventions I have been to:
KEC 2010 on Christians in a Sceptical World (speakers: John Lennox, Stephen Um Ray Galea)
KEC 2009 on Time (speakers: Frank Retief, Kirk Patston and Jonny Gibson)
(I also attended KEC 2008 but I didn't write a review of that one)


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