Conference Highlights

So we’ve just finished up at the latest Acts29 New Zealand Conference in Wellington and man was it a great time. It’s always a great time hanging with what I like to call ‘my tribe’. Like-minded men and women that seek to deepen their understanding of the gospel and widen their hearts towards God and his mission in the world.

This year the conference threw something a little different in the mix. Not only was their keynote sessions by Dr Jim Renihan, Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler, there were also four live Doctrine and Devotion Podcasts with Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler that were super insightful. If you are interested in learning theology but in a very raw, real and conversational way, then I encourage you to head to their website, and download their podcasts. They are super helpful.

The Doctrine and Devotion conference centred around the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. Here are a few take aways from this year’s conference.

Christ is Pre-eminant 

Joe Thorn kicked off the conference with a great session on the Pre-eminence of Christ. Teaching from Colossians 1:15-20 he reminded us that the entire point of the reformation and the church at Colossae was a reforming around Christ. Christ is the priority. He is the supreme one, he is the maker of all things and the holder of all things. 
The church is the church of Christ. It is his church, He is the ruler of the church, the builder of the church, the sustainer of the church. Therefore as his church, we must submit to him through his word and trust him and our worship and practice should be for him, because of him and simply all about him.

“You cannot celebrate the Reformation nor call yourself a Protestant if you do not preach, teach, love and follow this Christ… and anyone that stands in the place of Christ is anti-Christ” Joe Thorn


Faith as Knowledge, Assent and Trust 

In one of Jimmy Fowler’s session, he gave a really helpful analogy of understanding levels of faith. The analogy was that of a chair. First, we can see a chair and ‘know’ it’s a chair. We can see the legs and see what it is designed for.  Secondly, there is assent. We not only know it’s a chair based on its design, we actually believe it to be true. While these are both necessary elements of faith. True faith moves us towards trust. We not only know it’s a chair, believe it’s a chair we trust it is a chair knowing that if we sit in that chair it will hold us up.

So too with Christ and the gospel. Faith in the truest sense is resting in Christ knowing that he will hold us up in the palm of his hand and will never let us go. Man, this was such an encouraging reminder.

Katie Luther is a genuine hero and you need to learn about her

Dr Jim Renihan did a very different session on Martin Luther’s wife Katie. Rather than a typical teaching session, it was more of a biographical talk of her life. It was the only session I didn’t take any notes. Rather, I sat and listened to an incredible story about an incredible woman in history. Her amazing faith in a good and gracious God in spite of her continual grim circumstances throughout her life was an incredible encouragement to me. 
Martin Luther’s love and devotion to her was also beautiful to hear. The way he wrote about her and to her calling her the greatest joy treasure of his life was heartening and helped me to take stock of my own affections and affirmations of my wife. I hope they make a good movie about the Luthers as it will lead to tears of joy of what is possible in a godly marriage during harrowing times.

Theology Matters. It really matters

As a pastor of a local church, I genuinely love our people and I want our people to love God. The best way I can see both of these realities is through good theology. Our people need to know the truth of God found in scripture alone. Joe Thorn gave another great analogy of how to understand the importance of good theology. Often theology is spoken of as the foundation of a building or the church, Without a good foundation, there cannot be a good building. While this is true and somewhat helpful, Joe challenged us to think of theology more like the sail of a sailboat.
Our theology is the sail, high and lifted up to harness the wind. It has to catch the power of the wind, which comes from without itself, in order to move forward. It’s possible to have a boat (church) but without the sail, you’re just not going to go anywhere and in fact, you’ll end up dying out in the waters of nowhere.
My job as a pastor is to consider first and foremost my own life and doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16), then that of my family and then additionally that of our church in order that God may move us by the wind of his spirit towards himself through his word. 

Without good theology, experienced and expressed there will be no true safety, genuine salvation and progressive sanctification of God’s people.

Thank God for his word, his Spirit and his people, past and present, that remind us of the goodness and graciousness of our glorious God that loves us and has given himself for us in Christ.
Looking forward to flying home and loving my wife and kids after another great time with Gracenet Community Church and the team.

Now get on over and start listening to and learning from Doctrine and Devotion at

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