Encouraging You to Come to the Desiring God National Conference on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Dear Bethlehem,

I am writing to encourage you to come to the third annual Desiring God National Conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center on October 7-9, 2005. The theme is Suffering and the Sovereignty of God. I believe this conference has a great potential to forge a deep unity in our church by the fires of God’s truth. Few things come closer to marking out our identity than the biblical phrase “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). The sorrow is owing to the prevalence of pain in the world. The rejoicing is owing to the power and purpose of Christ.

The relevance of this theme in the aftermath of the nameless Tsunami and the hurricane named Katrina, not to mention ten thousand sorrows in our own lives, is plain. The need for a God-centered vision is even more clear when you listen to television and radio commentators speak about God. If they stumble over such a small local calamity (millions is small compared to what I have in mind), what will they say when the words of Jesus come to pass?

11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. . . 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives. . . . 22 . . . these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. . . . 25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. (Luke 21:11, 19, 22-23, 25-28)

Besides the relevance of this theme and the biblical demand for God-centered vision, the speakers are another reason to come. I really want you to hear Joni Eareckson Tada as she speaks to us from her walk with “the God she loves”; and David Powlison as he puts the gospel at the heart of our struggle with suffering; and Carl Ellis as he tackles the issues surrounding suffering that come from racial prejudice and ethnic hatred around the world; and Mark Talbot as he helps us with the issue of human freedom; and Steve Saint, as he treats suffering in the context of Christ’s call to take the gospel to the nations.

What a golden array of diverse wisdom and suffering these people bring. I wish I could help you see what a remarkable opportunity you have to hear them in person. I believe this is going to be one of the most intense and powerful conferences Desiring God has ever held. One person told me that he knows a young person dying of cancer who is praying that he will live long enough to come. Do realize the weight of glory that expectation brings to this conference?

The worship will be joyfully serious. The messages will not be trite. Eternal reality will be as close as every heartbeat. I feel very inadequate for the task of speaking at the beginning and ending of this conference. So even if you can’t come, please pray for me and all the speakers. I believe God’s will for this time together is to magnify his Son as never before. I base that on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 where the Son of God said, "My power is made perfect in weakness." To which Paul responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Pray that the power of Christ would be perfected like this in our hearts and bodies.

I love you and urge you to come only because I believe it would be good for you and all whom you love.

Pastor John

To register call Desiring God at 1.888.346.4700 or register online.

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