Saturday, June 7, 2014

Branson Trip Part 3 - The Conference

 Last year's conference had been so encouraging and edifying that I was very much looking forward to the one this year! Many of the speakers that were going to be there I was unfamiliar with, but some were ones who had been there the year before, and I was especially looking forward to hearing them speak again.

The conference began Friday evening and went through Sunday morning, and there were ten different speakers. Jesse Johnson's two sessions were some of my favorites of the weekend as both were excellent and powerful. He spoke so true to God’s Word, and one could feel his heart and compassion for those he was speaking to as well as his love and commitment to the Lord and His truth. 


 One of his sessions was on persecution and how Christ brought division. A couple of the things that he said that especially stood out to me were these: 

“When the gospel divides families, it proves how precious is the gospel”

and

persecution for your faith “glorifies God and magnifies the truth of the gospel.” 

Having undergone 'light' persecution before (though it doesn't really feel light when you are going through it!) and some more recently, what he shared really ministered to my heart exactly when I needed it. How good the Lord is! 

If we are persecuted for our faith, mocked, ridiculed, rejected, etc., it truly shows "how precious is the gospel". What's more, it shows how precious our Savior is! I had not thought of it in that light before, but it is very true. We love Him so much that whatever this world sends to us, while it may hurt and cause pain or sorrow, allegiance to the One who died for us and the One who adopted us is stronger. What's more, His strength and love is so strong that He can bear us up through these times.

Mike Gendren, another of my favorite speakers of the weekend, spoke on contending for the faith, apostasy, and much more. It was very good! Although sobering as well.


Here are some of the sections that were in the workbook sheets for his session . . .

Four steps into Apostasy - the departure from the faith occurs from a gradual erosion of biblical truth and practice over a period of time.

A. First step

1. God's Word is neglected as the supreme authority
2. Religious traditions cause confusion and divide loyalties.
3. Evangelism is corrupted by unbiblical methods.
4. The power and purity of the Gospel is compromised
5 People are given what they want instead of what they need

B. Second Step

 1. Scripture is twisted for man's self-serving agendas.
2. Biblical ignorance provides fertile soil for false teachers.
3. Satan sows tares with no resistance
4. God is honored with lips but hearts are far from Him.
5. Legalism and religious bondage trumps sound doctrine.
6. Worship is replaced by entertainment

C. Third Step

1. Religious Pride blinds people from the light of the Gospel.
2. Truth becomes subjective and hearts are hardened
3. Love for God grows cold
4. A form of godliness exists but it's void of the Gospel's power, the offense of the Gospel is removed
5. Biblical warnings to expose false teachers are ignored.
6. Doctrinal error is embraced and discernment is dying.
7. Sin and immoral lifestyles are tolerated.

As he taught and went through these different points, it was again very sobering . . . and sad. How far, how very far, the 'church' and Christianity as a whole have come from what the Lord designed and called it to be! All the more reason why we must "contend earnestly for the faith."

And how do we contend?

A. Use the authority of God's Word as your objective standard for truth and discernment

B. Speak the truth in love as you confront those who are in error

C. Never let a lie of the devil go unabated

D. Make sure your motivation is for the glory of God, the sanctity of His church and the purity of His Gospel.

E. Be bold, courageous and passionate in defense of the Gospel. 

Just like last year, he spoke so gently on a difficult topic, and one could sense his love for the truth and heart for those he was exhorting.

Dr. Henry Morris was another speaker I really enjoyed. He taught on ‘unlocking the mysteries of Genesis’ which was very good. It is always so interesting hearing more about science as it relates to the Bible!

 
Jimmy DeYoung spoke regarding the end times and while I agree with the basic timeline he gave (rapture before the tribulation, etc.), he made a lot of speculations as facts, saying that something ‘is’ when Scripture isn’t at all clear on it. I wrote down notes on some things that were questionable that I would like to investigate further at some point.

One speaker that I had looked forward to hearing was Usama Dakdok, but unfortunately I only heard the tail end of his talk on Sunday as some of our friends were heading home that morning in hopes of beating the severe storms that were on the way, and we were helping them load up. The bit I heard, though, was excellent! 


Some of the audience at the conference 
(photo from Laura)

Justin Peters shared about hermeneutics and how to study the Bible which had quite a few helpful things in it.

Brannon Howse spoke on “Twisted Scripture, Twisted Theology”, and I appreciated a lot of what he shared and especially in the first session. He examined and expounded on various passages of Scripture that are often taken out of context and then explained the true meaning of them.


One thing that I did notice as he spoke which was disheartening to me, was to have confirmed that he is indeed moving towards Calvinism. I had noticed prior to the conference through various posts, etc. that he has done that he appeared to be leaning that way. Now after listening to him speak, as well as hearing his praise of some of the other speakers who taught Calvinistic doctrines during the conference, it appears that he has become a Calvinist, though seems to still want to be on both sides of the fence so to speak.

As the conference progressed, there seemed to be an underlying theme of Calvinism. Many of the speakers were Calvinist, some openly taught Calvinism while others alluded to it. Beyond that, the tone of several of the sessions just seemed different . . . I am not sure how to say this gently, but there seemed to be an arrogance about several of the speakers as they taught. There was also a fair bit of irreverent humor by some of them, and with at least one of the speakers, I did not sense a true love for the Lord and heart for His Word as he taught.

By the time the weekend was coming to an end, all of us were feeling a little disappointed as the teaching and atmosphere of the conference was different from what we had so enjoyed and been blessed by the year before. Yet even with that, the Lord used the weekend to encourage us in many ways and all of us left edified in the Lord and thankful for many of the speakers we were able to hear!

And one of the sessions left a lasting impression on all of us . . . Michael Furchert gave his amazing and very powerful testimony of first his grandparents during Nazi Germany and then his growing up behind The Berlin Wall. We all sat captivated as he passionately spoke from his heart . . .


It was sobering, and very convicting, to hear how as a little seven year old boy, he stood strong in his faith even amidst ostracism and persecution. And how his strong faith, willingness to be persecuted for his faith and to follow the Lord regardless of the cost, continued through all of his growing up years to the present. I wish you all could have heard him speak! It was an incredible testimony.

Sprinkled in between sessions were enjoayble times spent with many friends who were able to go to the conference. I also had opportunity to meet a family that I had 'met' online yet had not met in person before so that was really nice!

Saturday afternoon was the time we spent the most together with friends as there was a four hour break between sessions so we all met at a pizza place and spent several hours there.

Some of our group
(photo from Laura) 

Sunday morning those of us who had stayed in the same hotel were able to enjoy some time together and had such good and edifying conversations about a wide variety of topics, from the conference, to relationships, to growing in Christ, and much more.

Emily, Valencia and I talking with Mrs. Baker . . . it was so nice to visit with her and learn from her!
(photo from Laura)

All of us
(photo from Laura)

Leah and Emily
(photo from Laura) 

Everyone else headed home either that morning or in the afternoon after the conference, but Leah and I ended up staying an extra day as the direction we would be headed to get home was right into some of the severe storms. In the quiet of our hotel room, we enjoyed talking about the past several days, visiting with our parents on the phone, and finally catching up a bit on sleep. :) The next morning we were up early, loaded up the car, and headed home . . .

Fog rising up from the trees near Branson

The rolling, tree covered hills of southern Missouri

And thus concluded our wonderful time in Branson!

27 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 07, 2014

    I can certainly understand the disappointment that comes when a looked-for event appears to be heading in an unsatisfactory direction. But please, if you have the time, could you explain why you are opposed to Calvinism creeping into the circles of your faith? So many conservative Christian sects have welcomed Calvinism, or at least the arrogance that comes with the doctrine of being "one of the select" - or perhaps just they like the assurance of believing they alone are correct. I confess that after following you for a year or so, I am unable to distinguish some of these devout believers from your own faith - could you clarify for the confused?

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  2. Sarah, it sounds a most interesting weekend. I think the last speaker you mentioned was speaking from very personal knowledge, and that always comes across as true and straightforward.

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  3. Thanks for sharing with us about your time at the conference. I'm glad you enjoyed it for most parts of it. I'm sorry to hear that some speakers disappointed you. I never heard the word "Calvinism" before. What does that mean and how can you tell few speakers are heading in that direction instead of towards God. Hopefully next year's conference will be better than this year if you go again.

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  4. What's wrong with Calvinism?!?!?!?!?
    I'm a Calvinist!

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  5. Sarah, I enjoyed reading all of your comments about the conference. I appreciate your honesty about what you thought about the teaching of the different speakers. I'm encouraged that you are willing to truly examine what they say and compare it with Scripture. It's sad how often Calvanism creeps it's way into Christian circles. I'm glad that, even though some of the conference was disappointing, you were able to get a lot of good out of it, as well as spend time with friends! :-)
    Thanks for another great post! :-)

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  6. Hi Sarah! It's been a LONG time. Been so busy but I'm still around. I choose to lurk and read when I can. We see you are a busy auntie gardening, sewing, and raising baby goats. Guess you don't have time to nap much do ya? Ha ha. Tried to comment earlier so hopefully this will go through. Man will sometimes disappoint you...but your faith is strong. You went on your trip with faith and returned with the same faith. I'm glad you got to travel with your sister and spend time with friends. Please continue to post pictures of Missouri. That's as close as I'll get to visiting for a while. Take care and many blessing for you Miss Sarah. I drop by again soon. :)

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  7. That is a good question, Anonymous! Thank you for asking, and I hope that I will be able to clear up at least some of your confusion!

    I would like to share first that my family’s and my faith is based upon God’s infallible Word and our earnest desire is to follow what the Lord teaches in His Word, the Bible.

    The reason why I am "opposed" to Calvinism, is simply because it is not a scriptural belief system. While it uses a lot of Scripture, it takes Scripture greatly out of context in several areas in order to support its different doctrinal points.

    Calvinism presents a wrong view of God and also presents, in a sense, a different gospel. It in part teaches

    ~ that every single man is 'totally depraved' and completely 'dead' without any ability whatsoever to recognize or seek God
    ~ that God causes every single thing, including sin
    ~ that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die only for the elect and thus, only the elect can be saved from their sins
    ~ that God has to regenerate the man before they can have faith in Christ
    ~ that God withholds from anyone who is not of the elect the ability to believe and be saved.

    The Bible presents a gospel that is different and is for everyone. In a quick summary . . .

    ~ all of mankind are sinners and have broken God’s laws and are separated from Him
    ~ the wages of sin is death
    ~ yet God so loved all of man that He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to die in the place of all men, taking our sins upon himself and enduring our punishment
    ~ so that “whosoever believes” in Him will be forgiven their sins and will be eternally saved.

    I hope that helps to answer your question! If you have any more please feel free to ask. :)

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  8. It was, Elizabeth! And I would agree with you regarding the last speaker . . . when what one is teaching on or sharing is coming from personal knowledge and experience, it has much more of an impact.

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  9. You’re welcome, Leah! And thank you for your comment. :)

    That is a good question! Calvinism is a denomination (like Lutheranism, Catholicism, etc.) that's foundational beliefs aren’t biblical which is why it was concerning to me to hear it being taught.

    Some of what it teaches is that Christ died only for the ‘elect’ and not for everyone and that no one can believe in Jesus Christ unless God causes them to believe and gives them faith. And the only ones that God causes to believe are the ‘elect’, and the rest He condemns to hell without giving them the opportunity to believe in Christ. There is more than this, but these are some of the more significant things.

    The way that I could tell that a few of the speakers were either Calvinists or were moving towards Calvinism is because they were teaching about some of these things and were using words that come only from Calvinism. Does that help make things clearer? If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!

    I hope so, too!

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  10. Welcome to my blog, Jessica, and thank you for your question! I appreciate you asking.

    I would like to share with you something I wrote several years ago regarding Calvinism, and while it is not nearly exhaustive and only scratches the surface, I hope it will be helpful to you! Here is the link to it . . . .

    http://followinhissteps.blogspot.com/2010/11/reformed-doctrine-does-scripture-teach.html

    After reading it, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

    And may I ask in turn whether you have studied Scripture to see if the Calvinistic definitions of ‘elect’, ‘predestination’, ‘chosen’, ‘sovereign’, etc. are scriptural? Have you studied Scripture to see what it teaches about man’s will, who Scripture says Christ died for, etc. taking Scripture as a whole and in context?

    If you do so with an unbiased heart, seeking to truly understand what Scripture says apart from what Calvinism teaches, then you will understand what is wrong with Calvinism.

    Again, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

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  11. I am glad that you enjoyed it, Karen! And you’re welcome. :) Thank you for your encouraging words . . . I appreciated them!

    It is indeed sad, and especially with how it is becoming much more prevalent.

    I was, too! Even with the disappointments, it really was a wonderful and encouraging time.

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  12. It was so nice to hear from you again, Angie! I hope you are doing well! Thank you for your kind comment and for the encouragement you gave. It was a blessing to me!

    Yes, life has certainly been busy. And no, there’s not much time to nap. :) It has been pleasantly busy, though, and after last year’s experience, I am especially enjoying everything!

    I will indeed continue to post pictures. I’m glad that you enjoy seeing them!

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  13. I do have some questions actually, what do you call yourself then? A sinner? What doctrine do you believe in? Why did you go to the conference? I would also like to invite you to go to ligonier.org and look around a bit. It is a very Calvinistic site.

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  14. I am grateful for your stand on Calvinism. It is not Scriptural.

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  15. Thank you for sharing about your weekend - I enjoyed all three posts! I have never been to a Worldview Weekend Conference, but it sounds very inspiring and educational and like it addresses many topics that I would be interested in. I'm sorry to hear of the disappointments that you experienced in the direction that some of the people are going. I have faced those situations before, as well, and it's at those times that I am thankful that the Lord never changes!

    I especially appreciated some of the thoughts that you shared from Mike Gendren. What really stood out to me was the first point under the first step - neglecting God's Word as the supreme authority. It is those "little things" that are so important. God's Word must be our foundation!

    How nice that you and Leah got to spend some special sister time together! I always love times like that with my sisters :).

    (I remember coming over to your blog a couple of days ago to post a comment but I think that I must have gotten distracted as I obviously never finished!)

    God's blessings to you!

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  16. You've done a wonderful job explaining Calvinism, Sarah. I know others may not agree but its so important to know what you believe and to be able to use scripture to prove it! It's a concern we have too with different speakers we hear. Missouri sure is beautiful!

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  17. Hello again, Jessica! I call myself simply a believer in Christ. Thankfully no, I am no longer a ‘sinner’ (though I still sin) as I have believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior and He has washed me in His blood, forgiven my sins, and made me a child of God.

    The doctrine I believe in is simply what the Bible teaches. To find more specifics, here is a link to our church website which has a “what we believe” on it: www.homechurchincolumbia.com

    As far as why we went to the conference . . . we had so enjoyed the conference the year before and had been so blessed by it, that we wanted to go again this year. We were not aware how many Calvinists would be speaking there or that Calvinism was going to be in part taught.

    I appreciate the invitation to visit the site, however I and my family have already investigated Calvinism very thoroughly and actually part of our family ministry is to help bring to light the error in Calvinism.

    Again, if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask!

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  18. Thank you for your encouraging comment, Homeschool Mom! I appreciated it!

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  19. You’re welcome, Anna! I’m glad you enjoyed the posts. :) The conference is indeed that. I am wondering, though, what next year’s conference will be like. I’m really hoping it takes a turn away from Calvinism!

    It is indeed a blessing that the Lord never changes! And His Word, the perfect truth, never does either and is always that perfect light for our path.

    I am glad that what Mike Gendren had shared was a blessing to you! I wish you could have heard everything that he taught. It was very good!

    That was one of the things that really stood out to me as well . . . when we begin to neglect God’s Word, then we lose our only sure guide and we are left open to being led astray by various “winds of doctrine”.

    It was very nice! I am sure you can relate. :)

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  20. Thank you, K Family, for the encouragement! I really appreciated it. Thank you!

    I would have to agree :), Missouri is indeed a beautiful state!

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  21. Hello, Sarah. I enjoyed reading the 3 posts about your time at the worldview conference. I found your description of Calvinism interesting. I am a Calvinist--as you know--but I've never heard that Calvinism teaches that God causes sin. Certainly we don't believe that, nor have ever been taught that in our churches. May I ask where you learned about that?

    Betsy

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  22. I am glad that you enjoyed them, Betsy!

    Perhaps the reason you have not heard that Calvinism teaches that God causes sin is many do not want to teach it or perhaps do not even realize it. It is the logical and necessary conclusion of Calvinism, though, as well as part of the very foundation of Calvinism.

    I went back through some of my research and found the below quotes which certainly are not all the ones that there are:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “All things that happen in all the world at anytime and in all history – whether within organic matter, vegetation, animals, man, or angels (both good and evil ones) – come to pass because God ordained them. Even sin – the fall of the devil from heaven, the fall of Adam, and every evil thought, word, and deed in all of history, including the worst sin of all, Judas’ betrayal of Christ – is included in the eternal decree of our holy God . . . Sin is not only foreknown by God, it is also foreordained by God.”

    (Edwin H. Palmer The Five Points of Calvinism)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “The Bible has well over a hundred examples in which God brought sin to pass . . . God ordains sin . . .”

    (Edwin H. Palmer; Sovereignty pg. 97-100)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeable ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”

    (Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 3(1))

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Sin is one of the ‘whatsoevers’ that have ‘come to pass’, all of which are ‘ordained’.”

    (W.G.T. Shedd Calvinism: Pure and Mixed)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    God foreordains everything which comes to pass. His sovereign rule extends throughout the entire Universe and is over every creature . . . God initiates all things, regulates all things . . .

    (Arthur W. Pink; The Sovereignty of God pg. 240)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Foreordination means God’s sovereign plan, whereby He decides all that is to happen in the entire universe. Nothing in this world happens by chance. God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen. He is not sitting on the sidelines wondering and perhaps fearing what is going to happen next. No, He has foreordained everything ‘after the counsel of his will’ (Eph. 1:11): the moving of a finger, the beating of a heart, the laughter of a girl, the mistake of a typist – even sin.”

    (Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 24-5)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should . . .”

    John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion Book 3: 23: 8

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “we hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, - that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, he decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by his providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined. . . .”

    John Calvin Institutes of the Christian Religion; Book 1: 16: 8

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    As can be seen by just these few quotes, Calvinism clearly teaches that God is the ordainer and cause of every single thing, including sin.

    Since you do not believe that God causes sin, I sincerely hope that the quotes shared here will at least raise a question in your heart regarding Calvinism. I earnestly entreat you, Betsy, as a friend who cares very much about you and your family, to please take the doctrines of Calvinism and examine them in the light of Scripture, letting Scripture interpret Scripture . . . if you truly do so with an unbiased heart, you will begin to see the other errors within Calvinism.

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  23. Thank you, Sarah, for your reply.

    ~ Betsy

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  24. You're welcome, Betsy!

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  25. AnonymousJuly 21, 2014

    Hmmm...The comment I sent must have not made it through...or you didn't approve of what I wrote. If you didn't get it I'll be happy to re-send my comment. Otherwise, I hope you find the time to look at the sermons/class video I sent (again, there were people there from *both* viewpoints, and they asked some great questions). At least watch the first session (or the first 15 minutes even). It's important for us to understand what the other side (whichever that may be) really believes, as opposed to what we think or have heard they believe. It's also so important that we work hard to let go of our presuppositions and our feelings, and look at the *whole* of scripture (not just individual verses) and allow the word of God to speak for itself.

    Peace to you, sister,

    ~Jessi

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  26. AnonymousJuly 21, 2014

    P.S. Hope I didn't confuse you by posting with two different names! Sometimes I use a pen name...so sorry if I wasn't consistent!

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  27. Hello, Jessi. :) Yes, the first comment that you left, I did refrain from publishing and if I would have had a way to contact you, I would have done so and let you know why! I took a look at the link you shared and saw the strong leaning towards Calvinism.

    Yes, it is very important, vitally important, to look at the whole of Scripture in context, to set aside presuppositions, etc., which is exactly what I and my family have done when thoroughly examining Calvinism, and it is what I encourage all Calvinists to do.

    We have actually done very little reading of teachings against Calvinism, yet have read many writings of quite a few different Calvinists, including, for my Dad, reading almost all of Calvin’s Institutes. Our beliefs regarding Calvinism are not at all based upon what we think or what we have heard that Calvinists believe, but upon what Calvinists themselves actually teach and what the founder of Calvinism, John Calvin, taught.

    The findings from these studies and holding them to the pure and true light of God’s infallible Word showed without a doubt that Calvinism is not scriptural. With that knowledge and all of the studying done so far, there is no need for me to study it further to see if it could be true. Because of what we know regarding Calvinism, I also do not want to share links on my blog that could lead another to believe this doctrinal system.

    May I in turn ask you, have you thoroughly examined "the other side" . . . have you held Calvinism to the entirety of Scripture and in context and sought to set aside your presuppositions, apart from men's teachings regarding it? If God’s Word is allowed to speak for itself apart from Calvinistic definitions of words and their teachings, the results will lead away from Calvinism.

    P.S. No, it didn't confuse me! :) Thank you for clarifying, though!

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Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)