Why you—yes, YOU!—need to come to TruthXchange 2015

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There are a lot—a LOT—of conferences you could go to every year. In all honesty, probably too many. But with all the options out there, how do you decide where to go?

One of my favorites to attend is the TruthXchange Think Tank, a conference I’ve been a part of as an attendee and now as a speaker for several years. Here are three reasons why I think you should come to this year’s Think Tank (that have nothing to do with beautiful southern California weather):

1. Its celebrity-free culture. I first learned of the ministry in 2010, when I attended a Resurgence conference in San Diego, and met its founder and executive director, Dr. Peter Jones. During the event, I was impressed that Dr. Jones didn’t do the thing you so often see with speakers: rather than being off hanging out with his fellow speakers, he was out in the foyer at the TruthXchange booth, interacting with the attendees.

When I attended my first Think Tank in 20111, I was impressed to learn this wasn’t just Dr. Jones’ personality, it was something he and the team have built into the culture of the ministry and these events. There isn’t that kind of strange celebrity vibe that you get at a lot of other events—the one that seems to create a peculiar division between the attendees and speakers (which, in many cases, I genuinely believe is unintentional). Instead, and perhaps it’s because it is a smaller group, or perhaps because the speakers really are just like the rest of us, everyone interacts with one another quite heavily, and it’s just really cool to see.

And if you don’t believe me, just remember: I am speaking at this year. Point proven.

2. It’s about the message. Related to the the previous point, one of the things I often see people lament about some conferences is the “I’m really looking forward to hearing [insert name here] speak” attitude that comes up. You see it everywhere—people go to T4G because they want to hear Mohler, Dever, or Piper. They go to TGC because they want to hear Keller, Carson, or Piper. People go to the Shepherd’s Conference because they want to hear MacArthur, DeYoung, or Piper.

And it’s not that these guys don’t care about their message (far from it!), nor is it wrong to appreciate them and their teaching. But at an event like this, the attendees aren’t there because they’re hoping to get a selfie with Chris Poblete and me. They’re coming because of the message.

3. The message really does change lives. Built upon the foundation of Romans 1:18-25, the fundamental message of TruthXchange’s ministry is helping Christians see the beauty of Two—to see, understand and celebrate the Creator-creation distinction, and how it makes the world make sense.

Does it get a bit heady sometimes? Sure. But when you begin to wrap your mind around the simple-yet-not concept that there are only two religions—Oneism (all is One) and Twoism (all is Two, or the biblical worldview)—when you begin to recognize how the failure to acknowledge God as God is playing out in our world, it helps you understand how to better engage the lost in our communities. And it also helps us to see the dangers within our own local churches, and encourage our fellow believers as we minister to others.

And that’s the important thing to grasp: this isn’t a message that’s for you—it’s for you to use to equip others. What I learned at TruthXchange was the foundation of what I was able to teach the teens in our homeschool co-op. And the great thing is the kids got it. And this was such a great blessing to me, not because it meant I did a sufficient job teaching, but because it means there’s a good chance they’re going to be able to use it in their own lives going forward.

And if those reasons aren’t good enough, remember: It’s California in February. If your backyard more closely resembles Hoth than anywhere hospitable for human life, that’s a pretty compelling reason right there.

This may or may not be my backyard right now.

This may or may not be my backyard right now.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself registered now!

Generational Lies; Timeless Truths

I never gave God much thought before becoming a Christian, unless it was to make fun of Christians. But what I did know didn’t really make sense when confronted by God’s character as revealed by God.

I was not alone in this. When you talk to people around us—both outside the church and within it—you quickly see that many have some strange ideas about God:

  • We treat Him like a divine butler whose existence is centered around making us happy.
  • We act as though God doesn’t matter or exist at all, until a loved one dies unexpectedly; then we ask how God could have let this happen.
  • We imagine God as being solely about love, and forgiving us is His job.

As we all become increasingly confused about who God is, and what He demands of us, it’s more necessary than ever for us to be able to understand what lies beneath the lies we believe and be ready to respond lovingly and clearly.

Generational Lies; Timeless Truths

That’s why I’m excited to be a part of TruthXchange’s 2015 Think Tank, “Generational Lies; Timeless Truths.” During this event, the speakers and participants will be discussing the lies we’ve passed on for generations, and respond with the unchanging and life-giving truth of Scripture. Speaking at the Think Tank are Peter Jones, Calvin Beisner, Joe Boot, Ted Hamilton, Rebecca Jones, Jeffrey Ventrella, Thaddeus Williams… and me.

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(And yes, Canadian friends, the idea of being on the same roster as Joe Boot is just as terrifying as you’d imagine.)

What will I be speaking on?

I’m speaking on a subject close to my heart: social justice. I love that there are so many young people—both Christian and non—who are fired up about helping those in need and making a difference in society. But that zeal needs to be built upon a solid foundation. So, in my session, I’ll be digging into the roots of the “deeds, not creeds” mindset and offering a look at how the gospel informs and transforms our desire to act on behalf of those in need.

When is it happening?

The Think Tank will be held February 3-5, 2015 in Escondido, CA at New Life Presbyterian Church. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll make it out for what is sure to be a challenging and edifying few days. Register now at TruthXchange.com.

Cliff Notes from the Xchange

Recently I spent a few days in Escondido, California, basking in the mid-teen temperatures (sorry, folks, I still think Celsius when it comes to temperatures), enjoying the sunshine… and taking part in the TruthXchange 2011 Think Tank. The theme of the conference was One-ism: A Poison Pill for the Church?

Building on the messages from The Exchange Conference in 2010, the Think Tank addressed issues of the gospel, social justice, environmentalism, spirituality, missiology, gender, worship, education, eschatology, literature and epistemology (that is, thinking). While my full notes would be too intense (I’ve got something like 12,000 words worth), I wanted to share some highlights from the sessions I most appreciated.

The One-ist Gospel

Brian Mattson spoke on the One-ist gospel by examining Brian McLaren’s most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, asking two key questions:

Is McLaren’s Christianity new—and is it really Christian at all?

The answer to both of these questions, says Mattson is no. McLaren’s new kind of Christianity is nothing more than classical Enlightenment liberalism. Mattson’s analysis suggests that the gospel put forth in this book (and by many like-minded thinkers within the Emergent stream of evangelicalism), is actually Universalism, which is necessarily Gnostic, not Christian.

In the Gnostic gospels, you’d run across a motif that runs through all of them; it’s not enough for the Gnostics to claim that the “violent, tribal deity” is a lesser God—they call Yahweh, the God of the Bible an ignorant God; “the bastard child deity of a screw-up.”

The explanation is elegant and simple. The God revealed in the Old Testament Scriptures claims to be the only God. He actually says “I am the only God and there is no other.” His ignorance is manifest in his claim of exclusivity.

On the one hand there’s a God who claims to be the only God, to whom all allegiance is owed. On the other, there’s a group of people saying, “no, this cannot be true because divine love is universal.”

The question is, how do they know?

They know because they are “Gnostic.” He can claim that he is the only God to whom all allegiance is owed, but they know better.

All claims to Universalism are claims to have access to spiritual knowledge beyond bounds of God’s revelation. It goes all the way back to the first temptation in the garden; his “new kind of Christianity” is actually the oldest kind of heresy. [Read more…]