My good friend, Dr. Eric Johnson, recently spoke at the CCEF National Conference here in Louisville, KY. He spoke on the topic of Understanding Depression: Weakness, Willfulness, or Wisdom? Below is his description of the session:
Sadness is a common experience in a fallen world. It was even prophesied of the Messiah that he would be a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3). In this session, we will look at the range of sadness that humans can experience (from healthy to disordered and sinful), the different kinds of dynamics that can contribute to it (biological, social, situational, psychological, personal, and spiritual), and the different approaches the church has taken to severe depression over the centuries. Attention will be given to the contributions of contemporary naturalistic research on depression as well as its inadequacies from a Christian standpoint. Diagnosing symptoms and labels for extreme sadness have their place, but only as means to help suffering and sinful saints to cope with and transform their sadness by means of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the sake of God’s glory.
Click hereto download the outline for this session.
Click here to download the PowerPoint for this session.
One of the beauties of this conference is that it strives to give us a heart for adoption precisely because, we, as believers, have been adopted by God. Even though we were once God’s enemies (Romans 5:10) and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1) God, because of the great love with which He loves us, has made us part of His family. We can know share in God’s inheritance (Colossians 1:12). We can now draw near to God as our Father (Galatians 4:6).
My friend, Matt Perman, recently guest blogged at the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek. He wrote that John Dickson’s message on humility was the best he’s heard on the subject. Dickson is Director of the Centre for Public Christianity and Sr. Minister, St. Andrews Anglican Church, Sydney, Australia. I had the privilege of meeting him at a conference we held for pastors back in 2008. He’s the real deal – probably the clearest (and most encouraging) speaker on the topic of evangelism I’ve ever heard.
I encourage you to read John’s books and listen to some of his messages here.
Alistair Begg, John Dickson and Rico Tice teamed up for this year’s Basics Conference at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. The theme: Doing the Work of an Evangelist. Everyone loves Begg. Dickson is one of the clearest speakers on evangelism I’ve ever heard. And Tice spent the last few years developing the highly acclaimed, Christianity Explored. Quite a line-up.
My pastor, Tony Rose, said it was one of the best conferences he’s been to in awhile. Check out all the sessions here.
Whether you’re a morning person or a night person, there’s something to be said about giving your eyes the habit of looking upward from the minute you wake up. As John Piper said, “it’s not about legalism, it’s about desperation!” Here’s one snippet of his message on Robert Murry McCheyne:
McCheyne’s scheduled disciplines aimed at fixing the habit in his heart of living in constant communion with Christ. He had formed the habit of rising early to read the Scriptures and pray, and he tried to maintain this to the end of his life. He loved to meet Jesus early. He journaled, “Rose early to seek God and found him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company?” He wrote to a student, “Never see the face of man till you have seen his face who is our life, our all.” Or in another place, he said, “I cannot begin my work for I have not seen the face of God.”
This week I hope to post some of the highlights from last week’s DG Conference on prayer. After reading Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life, I was excited to hear him speak on this topic in person. His approach to prayer is so freeing! Here are some notes from his message:
What does it mean to come like a child in your prayer time? You get out of bed and start praying. It is not long until your mind begins to wander to the problems that you have. You think there is something wrong with you, and there is! You need Jesus. Being a child in prayer means to just come. Children are not tied up in all the details when they come to their parents. They just come.
Jesus says those are weary and heavy laden are to come to him. He doesn’t call the organized and fixed up but the broken. Why do we forget that when it comes to prayer? The dirty, muddy you is the real you. Don’t try to put on the spiritual façade in prayer. You can talk to God about whatever is on your heart, so just come as you are. Be weak and open in prayer before God. It is the same as the gospel. I’m just applying the gospel to your prayer life. We need to learn helplessness. That is what a child reflects.
One of the most encouraging parts of the DG conference for me happened during the Q&A time with all the speakers. The panel was asked the following question: Should we be having a daily quiet time or prayer time with our wives? Here’s Francis Chan’s humble response:
FC: I’m learning a lot from this conference and especially from Joel’s talk last night (on Family Worship). I want to build up and so I don’t want you to follow my example. My wife and I don’t pray regularly together. When needs arise, we pray. I don’t have a regular family worship time. I spend a lot of time with children one-on-one. I’m thinking of Ephesians 4:29—I don’t want to say anything that won’t build you up, but I want to be honest with you. I look at what Joel was saying and I want that. I have issues in my life. But I almost feel weird sometimes talking about spiritual things with my family. Maybe it has something to do with my upbringing. When I do pray with my wife, it is awesome. I just have this weird block with praying with my wife.
Later he added this:
FC: We prayed a lot when we were dating. When we got married, she told me honestly that she thought we would pray and read more together. I was concerned for her walk and that everything was through me. I told her if I saw her praying and reading on her own more often, then it would be easier for me to do that with her. I have some great examples here and I’m going to go home and start trying this daily thing.
I got the opportunity to meet Chan after the conference, and I let him know how much I appreciated his honesty and vulnerability. I told him that we (as young leaders) need to see models of broken, humble leaders like himself. He said that he already called his wife and prayed with her on the phone. Wow. I am convinced that Chan’s confession will have a ripple effect on hundreds-perhaps thousands-of men who struggle to pray with their wives.
I’ll end with Piper’s challenge to the pastors (and all of us men!):
JP: Try this: go home, and if you never regularly pray with your wife, tell her you are going to try some new things. When you wake, roll over, take her hand, and say a short prayer before getting out of bed. Start there. Praying together is an awesome barometer of how things are going. If you can’t talk to God together, you can’t talk to each other. This is important for Francis and me and you to start doing this. Just take thirty seconds when you go to bed and commend both of you to the Lord. “Lest your prayers be hindered” should start at home. This is the most intimate relationship you have on the planet. Jesus is the most intimate vertically. If those don’t connect, there is something wrong.