I had the privilege of speaking at the Desiring God National Conference last Saturday morning. It was a whirlwind trip that I made with my daughter (and assistant) Chelsea. We got there for dinner on Friday and caught a 7 PM flight out on Saturday. It came at the end of our two week beach vacation, and I decided not to try that again. Too distracting.
Chuck Steddom, a good friend from John Piper’s church, led the singing along with a team from his church. It was encouraging to hear them introduce “Praise the Lord,” a song from our recent Psalms CD. Sinclair Ferguson gave a message the first night called “The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing,” based on James 3:1-12. It was vintage Sinclair – biblical, compelling, and gospel-saturated. You can download a copy of my notes here.
I spoke the next morning on “Why Does God Want Us to Sing?” These were my main points, and the implications I drew from them:
1. Singing can help us remember words.
In the church we should use melodies that are effective.
We should sing words that God wants us to remember.
The lyrics to our songs should reflect the broad themes of Scripture.
We should use seek to memorize songs.
2. Singing can help us engage emotionally with words.
We must differentiate between being emotionally moved and spiritually enlightened.
Singing should be an emotional event.
We need a broad emotional range in our songs.
3. Singing can help us use words to demonstrate and express our unity.
Every voice in the church matters.
We should seek to sing songs that unite, rather than divide, the church.
Musical creativity in the church has functional limits.
We must be clear that it is the gospel, not music, that unites us.
You can download the message or read some more extensive notes at the Desiring God blog.
Mark Driscoll shared later that morning on Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words. Mark acknowledged in his message that he’s made some mistakes in the area of knowing how far to go in the areas of sarcasm and “cutting words,” and expressed gratefulness for the input of men like John Piper and C.J. Mahaney who are seeking to help him grow.
Later that afternoon I was on a panel with Dan Taylor, Paul Tripp, and John Piper. Justin Taylor moderated, and began by asking me to share about the “dark night of the soul” I went through in the mid-90s. I also shared thoughts on physical expressiveness in worship, and giving and receiving encouragement. John Piper shared some great thoughts on pursuing “self-forgetfulness.” You can listen to or download the panel discussion here.
Desiring God excels at serving others and this conference was no exception. All the messages are available for free as downloads, transcripts, or videos at the Desiring God blog.