I had the great privilege of attending most of this year's Clarus Conference at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque. This was my second year, having thoroughly enjoyed hearing Dr. D.A. Carson, and Dr. Micheal Horton at Clarus 2008.
In addition to the great preaching/teaching from Dr. Ray Ortlund, Jr. and Dr. Sam Storms, I have come to appreciate the worship ministry of Zach Nielsen at Desert Springs. Even though I am, at age 50+, firmly planted in the "traditional worship" camp, I am flexible enough to recognize that other worship forms are valid. This is especially seen in Zach's ministry, where traditional texts are reworked in contemporary clothing. We sang some of the great classics of the faith, from Watts, Wesley, and others, with fresh upbeat arrangements. Even those contemporary songs that are used at Desert Springs are fully "meaty" such as "In Christ Alone" that we sang Saturday morning, and which moved me to tears and thanksgiving for God's goodness. This is not performance ministry for the purpose of eliciting emotional "fuzzies", but rather full strength worship of the living God.
You will want, no, you need, to download the audio files from this conference once they are posted on the Desert Springs website.
Just a couple of highlight notes:
"Delight determines destiny." - Ray Ortlund speaking on Psalm 1
"Loving Jesus, Trusting Jesus, Enjoying Jesus; you can't have one, truly, without the others" - Sam Storms, 1 Peter 1:8
"If you need more than Jesus to make you happy, then your heart isn't right." - Ray Ortlund, 2 Corinthians 11:1-4
"We delight in election because God delights in it." - Sam Storms, John 17:1-2, Ephesians 1:3-18, 1 Peter 2:9-10
There was only one (small) black spot on the weekend. Following Dr. Ortlund's message Saturday morning, where he concluded by presenting a full and free offer of the Gospel, I bumped into one gentleman next to the bookstore and remarked how much I was enjoying the conference. His response was "it was OK until that guy turned into a flaming Arminian." (!?!) It appears that hyper-calvinism is still with us, and is something against which we need to always be vigilant. I spoke later with Dr. Ortlund, and related this conversation. In our short discussion he spoke about the importance of Iain Murray's "Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism" a small book that I have read and have even given copies to others, and the need to guard against this pernicious belief. What I found ironic about this situation is the fact that the theme for the conference was "The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight". God delights in His children's obedience, which includes our participation in His Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations. Doctrine, even the matchless doctrines of grace, is worthless unless we make it real in obediently following Christ.