Men For God Conference 2015
Did you hear the one about a Canadian, a Malawian, an American and a Zambian who all walked into a church? Turns out a conference broke out!
This past weekend I attended the Men for God Conference. The speakers were Fletcher Matandika, Tim Challies, Doug Nichols, and Conrad Mbewe. The conference was well attended for a first time event, with around 120 men. The venue was the Langley Free Reformed Church and was officially hosted by Joy to the World Ministries, which was founded by Fletcher Matandika. I am very happy that this conference happened, especially since I was not able to attend the one put on by men in the Canadian Reformed Churches (Reformed Men of Integrity) earlier in the year due to health reasons. It was awkward since I knew only a couple people, but in my introversion, it was actually kind of nice to be anonymous and not be asked, “Hey are you One Christian Dad?” Although one person did suggest I put “One Christian Dad” on my name tag…
Friday evening opened with singing “Joy to the World”. Since it is associated with Christmas, that’s probably first time I have sung that song in the month of June. We sang a few more hymns and the singing was vibrant, god glorifying and simply wonderful.
The first message was by Pastor Conrad Mbewe. Who preached a sermon from Ezekiel 22:30, which says, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” He actually preached 3 different messages on this text. This evening’s message was entitled “God’s Persistent Search For Men.” God is looking for men who will stand in the breach and not go with the crowd. It was a wonderful way to open the conference, and I finally understood after hearing him speak, why he has earned the nickname, “The African Spurgeon.”
Next up was Doug Nichols, with a message entitled, “Garments For the Man of God.” Reading from Colossians 3:1-14 he showed us how a man of God must put on the garments of a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, patience, forgiveness, and love. Doug is a man from “sketchy” beginnings as an illiterate burglar and alcoholic, who was met by God in the midst of his sin, confronted with the Gospel, saved, and ended up serving 48 years on the mission field. His catch phrase was, “Do you believe in the sovereignty of God?” He showed us how God moves people and events for his own purposes. He gave the challenge to us to be more and do more for God. He even asked us to join the mission field in lay capacities, because well, “It’s a lot cheaper to die in Africa!”
Both speakers challenged us to be more than we are, to stand in the breach, to go against the flow of society and its views on manhood, and to be men for God. I went home that evening all fired up and looking forward to Saturday’s Sessions.
Saturday morning opened with a communal prayer meeting at 7:30am, which we were late for…
I needed breakfast…and the car needed oil…
For the first session of the day, Tim Challies preached a message on 1 Thessalonians 4, entitled “A life pleasing to God.” The focal point was on verse 11 which says, “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” Pastor Tim expounded on this and basically said that in spite of the books we all read that encourage us to be bigger, better, and do fantasticly over the top things for God, we don’t need to be radical for God, we can be ordinary.
Because after the previous evening I was ready to move to Africa and do radical things for God!
Next up was Fletcher Mantandika who expounded on Psalm 86:11 which says, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” His message was entitled, “Men of One Holy Passion.” It was a convicting message that challenged us to pursue one holy passion – rather than all the “passions” that divide our attention, and take our focus off of God…passions like, money, prestige and lust.
For the third session Tim Challies spoke on “From Bondage to Freedom”, which was an excellent message on the bondage of pornography. Using PowerPoint, he spoke on why Christians hate pornography and then walked us through three steps to freedom from pornography. Funny I thought there were 12 steps… Regardless of how many steps are used, the point still stands that this is something that is destroying our men, and we must wage war on it. As John Owen said, “Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”
After lunch Conrad Mbewe again exposited Ezekiel 22:30 with a sermon entitled: “God’s Gracious Role for Men.” The gist of the message was that we are to be interceder’s. We are to be prayer warriors. Do we pray for our children, the church and the community around us? Do our kids see us pray? Are we known as pray-ers? Then I remembered that I kinda, sorta, skipped out on most of the prayer session that morning…oops.
For the break out session, I surprised my self by not staying inside to hear Tim Challies speak on the porn free family – who I consider one of my mentors in the blogging world – but rather followed Doug Nichols, along with about 30 other men outside, where we sat under the trees and listened to him speak a message on 1 Corinthians 16:9, entitled “Wide Door, Many Adversaries.” I was brought to tears during this message – it is a good thing that we were outside as I had my sunglasses on. Doug spoke more about the mission field and how God sovereignly opens doors to share the gospel. He showed us that while the way and the gate are narrow, once we step through there is a wide door for service to Christ. But if we do it, we will face many adversaries and sufferings for Christ’s sake. Satan does not want the gospel to spread! He gave us some resources on how to get involved in missions in various capacities.
I again wanted to go serve, suffer and possibly die for Christ in Africa…
Where is Challies when I need him…
Then we met back in side where Doug Nichols spoke on Colossians 1:27-29 which says, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” The message was entitled, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Filled with personal anecdotes from his 48 years on the mission field, he did absolutely nothing to sway my desire to go into the ghettos of Manilla, the favellas of Rio, and poverty stricken areas of Africa to share the gospel and love of Christ with street kids and prostitutes.
I wonder what my wife thinks of all this…
The last message was Conrad Mbewe’s third sermon on Ezekiel 22:30, which was an uplifting motivational speech entitled, “God’s Grim Displeasure With Men.” Yeah this guy does not pull any punches (and I was being sarcastic about the uplifting motivational speech part). It was however a God glorifying call out to the men to be what God intended us to be. I have to say that after 3 sermons on Ezekiel 22:30, I cannot read this text without hearing Pastor Mbewe’s powerful voice and Zambian accent…
Finally was the panel discussion Q & A to end the day. We all had the opportunity to ask them any question we wanted. The questions showed that there was a desire to in fact be “Men For God.” My favourite question was from someone who appeared to be a recent convert who asked, “Can we lose our salvation?” Fletcher Matandika took the mic and responded simply, “No.”
Most of us laughed.
Then he said, “Seriously, the answer is no.” And after a short pause he went on to explain why that is from the bible.
All in all this was a very good conference. I came away with a renewed appreciation for my role as a husband and father, and my role in God’s World as a man. We now need to apply what we have learned here, and pray that we might become Men for God.