Friday, 2 November 2012

Canberra men are Sons, Slaves and Saints

Last Saturday I attended the Canberra Mens Christian Convention (CMCC). I always like the CMCC as it's local, had good teachers and the conference seems to run well. Obviously it's aimed at guys, and in that regard I think they excel. The conference is not over the top, instead it's practical and there is a lack of fluff and tacky trendiness I see at other conferences. The gimmicks we did get were cool. We got a free coffee (made by baristas) first thing in the morning and a 2GB USB stick with all the past talks from the conference since 2005.

Rowan Kemp was the speaker this year. He is the head of the Evangelical Union at Sydney Uni. The talks he gave were the same ones he gave at NTE last year, which is a bit interesting as that conference was also held in Canberra. If you were a uni student last year and attended this convention I might have felt a little ripped. (Although the the average age of attendees were in the 40's this overlap would be small). Since Rowan had given these talks before we were able to get a copy of those talks as well on the free USB stick.

Rowan gave three talks on the Christians identity under the framework of Son, Slave and Saint. Rowan saw that Christians suffer from current identity amnesia and they forget who they are in Christ. Each talk also had a "tough tackle" in which Rowan would deal with an issue that the talk would raise (plus he would show some epic footy tackle before the segment for kinda a laugh).

Under the topic of "Son" Rowan stepped through the ideas of sonship conferred by God throughout the Bible. Israel was considered Gods first born son, the king of Israel was consider Gods first born son, Jesus was called Gods beloved son and now because of Jesus Christians are considered God's son. This is possible because God has dealt with our sin and broken it power so we can now be adopted by Him. The tough tackle he looked at was why be called 'sons' and not children? Here Rowan walked a tight balance saying that 'sons' was not that important in some places 'child' is used in the bible and that the idea is not about gender but relationship. However he also said it is important as 'sonship' is based on Jesus' sonship. Because we can share in Jesus' sonship it means we can share with his relationship, love, inheritance and spirit with the Father. In Question time, someone also asked about sharing in Jesus' suffering as well, of which Rowan affirmed and stated that he should have included that in his points. What Rowan stressed was that when we pray, we should start of with "Our Father" and not "Dear God" as if we are writing some impersonal letter, also that is how we are instructed to pray as well...

The second talk was about being a slave. This might not be a trendy idea, but it is a frequent title that the writers of the New Testament give themselves. Christians are called slaves because we submit to Jesus' divinity. The obvious tough tackle in this was a moral question about slavery. Rowan pointed out that human trafficking is an evil thing as it goes against the will of the person, but back then (some) people would sell themselves into slavery. He pointed out that slavery is not condemned in the Bible but there are instructions about it to stop it from becoming destructive and the most important point was that it all depend on who your master is.When we become Christians we are not set freed from the bondage (slavery) of sin but transferred to a new master. Interestingly enough that master is the one who serve. His goal was not to be served by us, but it was to serve His slaves, which really undoes the whole institution of slavery. In question time someone pointed out that in 1 Tim 1:10 the Bible does condemn those who enslave people, which agrees with the human trafficking idea.

The last session of the day was on being a saint. Rowan looked at the idea of a saint and pointed out that as protestants we do not think saints are the special people who when they die avoid purgatory and go straight to heaven. Instead all believers are saints. All have been "holyified", or sanctified. In sanctification each person of the Trinity is at work. The Father has chosen us in Christ to be holy, the Son gave himself in death to make us holy and the Spirit works in us as He has taken up residents in believers and He empowers them to live a holy life and helps put off sin. The process of sanctification is complete and yet ongoing.

All of Rowan's talks were positive and never was there anything like "this is what you must do to be a Christian", instead he spoke about the Christians identity and gave them a vision for who they currently are giving them hope and confidence to live a better way.

The whole day was great. It was good to catch up with old mates, the bookshop was cheap, subway for lunch isn't bad at all and the weather was great. The only negative comment I have about the event (and this is more reflective of my own OCD) is that the audio on the USB stick didn't have any or consistent mp3 metadata. This means that when you load the talks into some sort of playlist you get things like "cmcc2009 3" appearing with no author, album, title and sometimes no year (I've fixed up my own library so the issue at my end is resolved). You can download all the talks for free here, but again that page isn't useful for you to know more about the meta information about the talks. Also I remembered one year John Dickson spoke, and his talks didn't seem to be on the sick. This page, seems to have better information about the previous CMCC talks.

Past CMCC conferences I have reviewed:
2008 Men's Convention on Ambition by Dave McDonald and Paul Dale
2009 Men's Convention on Tough Times by Al Stewart


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