Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Unconditional Surrender

At tradition goes, my friends and family heading up to Katoomba over Easter for their yearly convention. This year the them was "Unconditional Surrender" which is a phrase that is somethings given as a negative. They said if Piper didn't write a book called Risk is Right they would have named the conference that. This year the speakers were Kirk Patston, David Jones and Peter Jensen. These notes may not be clear (sorry), but they are helpful for me to be reminded about what what said.

Kirk, like in previous year, spoke really really well. Each of his talks looked at someone from the Old Testament and how they showed their faith. I don't think the following will do Kirk's talks justice, I think they are worth the $2 per talk. Talk 1 looked at Abraham who was told to sacrifice his only son Issac, Abraham acted with simple trust and obedience and through Abraham's faith so much good comes from it. We should follow God with simple trust and obedience, for our God lives and bleeds fidelity. Talk 2 was set in Numbers 25 where there is story about Phinehas who in a burst of zeal for God took a spear and impaled a Moabite woman and an Israelite man together who were having sex. In this story the leaders were all talk and no action, Phinehas ho took what God said seriously and a moment of almost madness acted. Where are our bursts of zeal for God, or have we, like Israel, forgotten what it's all about? Talk 3 was about the book of Ruth where we see her surrendered acts of kindness to Naomi as flowers in a vase. They point to a garden and a Gardner. Talk 4 was an honest look at that fact that if  we are to live a life of unconditional surrender to God, then things may not go so well. In Jeremiah 20:7-18 we see the prophet lamenting to God, that his life is not worth living. We need to learn the practice of lament - to really tell God how we feel.

David Jones gave three talks encouraging us to live a Christian life in light of the present time. In Luke 21 we should remember that its not the end of the world, but we can see it from here. God's kingdom is breaking in, the end is coming, so we should be ready. Romans 8 reminds us that in Christ we can do better than our best - we are more than conquerors. This frees us up to be radical as we should have the confidence that we are adopted by God and that nothing can separate us from the love of God. John 11:17-37 turns the phrase "Be happy while your living because your a long time dead" completely upside down. Jesus brings the resurrection in to the present and challenges us to live as if we are standing on his promises. We can ignore our bucket list and live a life of radical risk, because we are not a long time dead.

Peter Jensen spoke at the three night sessions as well as in the morning on last day. Peter walked us through the Sermon on the Mount, while also adding a bit of the philosophy of the day touching on issues of life and identity. Peter's main point is that what is described in the Sermon on the Mount is what a repentant life looks like. He got us to think about what the good life looks like and challenged us to think if our answer can apply to a disabled person or a poor person or a dying persons to an evil person or even to Jesus. In order to assess if you have "the good life" you need to know the purpose of life in order to judge if you are living well or not. Peter called us to repent, to not toy with lust or anger, to trust God in the face of our culture. Right actions are good, but of cause are not what save you. In Peter's third talk he challenged us to think about our identity and to see who we are in light of Christ. Our identity should help us stand against the faith and idolatry of our world such as risky behavior (gambling, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity), pleasure obsession (fashion and travel), wealth creation and ideologies (gender confusion). Peter's final talk showed that faith rests on truth and reason. He challenged us to consider that if we believe Jesus then are we doing what He said?
Jensen's slide on Christian identity for his 3rd talk
There were also Q&A's throughout the conference. Kirk showed great wisdom in answering some questions on the KEC panel and led me to think that Old Testament scholars see the world not in black and white but in all its complexities, possibly because the texts they wrestle with are narratives made up of complex people where application sometimes is not black and white.

Jensen even put on another session for Q&A. On that topic Jensen spoke about his time on ABC's QandA and how Catherine Deveny (at the end of the show) wanted to see a miracle to believe  Jensen said that two happened right in front of Deveny, but she didn't have eyes to see. The first miracle that night was that Jensen got about 2 minutes of air time at the end of the night to talk about Jesus, that along is something almost unheard of. The second miracle is that afterwards he has found out that at least two people became Christians because of what he said at the end of QandA. Go back and read the end of transcript or watch it from the 55 minute mark. The fact that someone, let alone two people were converted by what Jensen said has to be a miracle (if it wasn't then everyone who watch it would become Christians, as a miracle is something that doesn't happen too often; so again if you read what he said and don't end up believing that Jesus is God, then that only shows a miracle took place...).

The conference was good, and they gave our a CD with a few talks from the past which was nice. There was a new earlier starting times, which didn't bother us as our little one now gets us up early. She was a little disturbed after the conference, as we had never left her alone in someone else's care before, so she was a bit clingy for a few days after hoping we wouldn't leave her again. So that was kinda cute.

You can buy all the talks from the KCC online store. Kirk's one would be worth your money and time.

My wife might write about this convention on her own blog, which no doubt will be better than this post.

Past Easter Conventions I have been to:
KEC 2012 on Character - speakers: Bryan Chapell, Jonny Gibson and Justin Moffatt
KEC 2011 on Commitment - speakers: Don Carson, Dale Ralph Davis and Simon Flinders
KEC 2010 on Christians in a Sceptical World - speakers: John Lennox, Stephen Um and 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)


  1. Is it also a miracle when someone converts to Islam when they hear a talk and if so what does the miracle signify?

  2. Hey Stirl,

    Thanks for posting.

    Yes I did present a false dichotomy with my miracles comment.

    When someone converts to Islam, Apple, Ford or anything else (except for Christianity) it is because of a combination of social, environmental, rational and emotional reasons. When someone converters to Christianity it's a miracle!