dord (dôrd), n. density of mind; chiefly exhibited by one who attempts to demonstrate supposed knowledge --adj. dord'ish


The Quest Continues

How do I try to sum up a The Quest? Do I try to give a journal-style step-by-step, simply summarize each message, or just describe the biggest things I took away from it? Probably some sort of combination of all three. But first, a word on the name: it says a lot. The Quest: A Journey Through Biblical Masculinity. What exactly does that mean? Did we all get medallions or certificates at the end, congratulationg us on arriving at perfect Biblical masculinity? No, because The Quest is about far more than just a conference. About 1600 men spent three days being equipped. The real quest, the day-by-day living out of what we heard, is here now. There is no moment of "Congratulations! You've arrived at perfect Biblical manhood!"

Perfect Man
What is perfect manhood, anyway? Dave Harvey addressed that question in Thursday evening's opening message: "Perfect Man." Preaching from Romans 5:18-19, Dave reminded us of the importance of that "one man's obedience." Jesus Christ's subsitutionary death (His passive obedience) is essential to the Gospel; but it is not the whole Gospel, for He also lived a substitutionary life (His active obedience). I'll quickly summarize the two main points of this message.

1. The Perfect Man is essential for man because it fills out what God sees when He looks at us
2. The obedience of Christ positions us so that our obedience can be meaningful in life.

Because of the cross, obedience is from approval, not for approval. We can't be perfect men. We've sinned. We are sinners. But because of the perfect life of Jesus Christ, and because His righteousness is now counted to us, we do not obey to try to earn right standing; rather, we obey out of love for God and out of gratefulness for His mercy to us.

Functional Masculinity
On Friday morning, Pete Greasley delivered a message on "Applied Masculinity: Complementarianism in Real Life." Having grown up in a home and church that pursue complementarianism (as opposed to egalitarianism), I went to the session thinking I had a good understanding of how complementarianism shapes Biblical masculinity. I came out with a fresh view of the gap between understanding and applying. This was actually one of the points Pete made: many evangelicals are functionally much more egalitarian than they realize. A guy's tendency is to slide into passivity.

The first half of his message, Pete talked about the importance of complementarianism in (1) our concept of God, and (2) our understanding and demonstration of the Gospel. In the second half, he went over four marks of Biblical masculinity: conviction, protection, provision, direction. Two questions from these points really stood out to me. First: would I rather be liked or respected for my convictions? Second: do I choose to defer because I don't want to decide? But, lest any think that all of Pete's talk about men needing to be initiators and decision-makers would excuse selfishness, he was very clear: male headship is not about male privilege.

Enduring Temptation
Josh Harris gave a message on "Enduring Temptation" from 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, explaining four lies which this passage exposes: a particular temptation can't touch me; my temptation is unique; God has let me down; there is no escape from this temptation. I won't elaborate on most of it, but I will share a few specific things he said. One is that sometimes the way of escaping temptation can make us look foolish. The other two things are the simple-yet-true steps Josh gave for escaping temptation: look for the way of escape, and use it.

The Price Tag of Discipleship
Josh also delivered the final message, "The Price Tag of Discipleship," preaching from Luke 14:25-33. Salvation is completely free, yet there is still a price tag on being a Christian. First, following Jesus will cost us relationships. Probably all of us have wondered what Jesus meant when He said "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (v26). Josh explained that "hate" in this verse essentially means "love less." Following Jesus means putting Him first, obeying Him even when it contradicts the wishes of everyone else. Second, following Jesus will cost us desires. We cannot be His disciple while embracing our selfish desires. Third, following Jesus will cost us posessions. This can be especially difficult, because it's so much easier to say that what we have belongs to Him than it is to actually joyfully release what He takes away. One last quote (which I think may be from another author or speaker) is this: Christianity without a cross is Christianity without a crown.

The Pursuit
Early Friday afternoon I attended Bob Kauflin's breakout session: The Pursuit--A Fresh Look at the "C" Word (Courtship) for Father's, Singles, and Sons. I've read Josh Harris' books and heard a few messages on the topic, so what Bob said wasn't really new. Nonetheless, I was still very glad that I went. (It was also neat that I was able to attend with my dad, as Bob was speaking to both fathers and sons.) As a father of six--three of whom are married--Bob spoke on the topic with both Biblical wisdom and personal experience. While he said a number of practical things, I came away with two main impressions: first, that the same attributes we as young men need to develop to be godly men are those which we need to develop to be ready to marry and become godly husbands; second, that it's imperative to constantly seek counsel from those who are wiser than myself--as he put it, "Mistrust my own heart."

What A Man Is Alone On His Knees
Conferences can play an interesting role in our Christian walk. I find that, while I learn and benefit from each message, usually one or two which really impact me. Why? A lot of times, they are on topics which God has been bringing to my attention for a period of time preceding the conference. (For instance, this happened last year at New Attitide with Eric Simmons' message on evangelism.) So it has happened that, since returning from Hershey, the message from The Quest that has had the most immediate impact in my life is Jim Donohue's message, What A Man Is Alone On His Knees. Jim had a several hard-hitting quotes (some of which I might use here in the coming months) and talked about how much not praying demonstrates pride, but here's what he said that stuck with me: the way we grow in prayer is not through the latest strategy or some drastic vow; rather, growth in prayer flows from an increased view of God. Basically, we don't pray because we don't have a high enough view of who God is. Jim then spent a large chunk of his message talking about twenty-one different attributes of God. Again, I didn't hear anything new per se, but after many times of being convicted about a lack of prayer and not doing anything about it... by God's grace I've been able to apply some of what I heard.

Final Thoughts
I'm grateful to have been able to attend The Quest. I know, however, that what I do with the teaching I heard is what matters. Hearing without application is of no value. Yeah, it can seem overwhelming. It's imperative, especially when we feel overwhelmed, to return to the topic of Dave Harvey's opening message, and remember why we seek to obey.

I can elaborate (with the help of my notes) on any of the messages should anyone want me to, but this post has grown long as it is. In some ways, I wrote this to personally review what I heard. I hope also to have served any who read this. To that end, please let me know what you think (what about this post "worked" and what didn't). Too long? Too scattered? Too vague? As I consider my focus for this blog, and what type of posts I will be writing in the coming year, it does help to know what of my writing others find to be worthwhile reading.



Blogger Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Thanks for blogging about the Quest, Jason! I tell you--watching my friends respond so wholeheartedly has given me incredible impetus to rediscover/affirm what biblical femininity is. Reading your response has been very helpful and encouraging. This post may have been long for you, but I've read some that were much longer and verrrry detailed. Keep writing! :-)

2/12/2007 12:01 AM

Blogger Clear Ambassador said...

Thanks Jason! Reading this post just refreshed my mind and turned my thoughts to far better places than they had been. Whatever you do in directing the focus of your blog, I hope you don't stop writing posts like this. And the length was great. A conference like that merits a longer post, but I never felt like I was reading a long post. Each section was kept to an appropriate yet thorough length. I appreciate your discipline in that!

2/19/2007 11:16 PM

Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for the feedback. I always appreciate comments (what blogger doesn't?), but these were especially helpful.

2/26/2007 5:03 PM


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