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  • Pastor Trevor Killip

Coram Deo Pastors Conference: The Trip Down & Day 1

This week I have the privilege of attending the inaugural year of the Coram Deo Pastors Conference hosted and put on by Kevin DeYoung's church, Christ Covenant Church, in Matthews, North Carolina. I thought it might be proper, and perhaps, even beneficial to report on my time and my experience of the week, seeing how my attendance is by the blessing of the church. I chose to attend this conference for a number of reasons.

First, conferences in general are opportunities of fellowship with fellow pastors that allow for encouragement through robust singing, conversations, great messages, and of course, the reminder, that no matter how lonely or difficult ministry can get, you're not alone. Second, I chose this conference in part due to the speakers that are scheduled to speak. I am familiar with most of them and I am often deeply edified and challenged by their messages and books, which in turn, I pray, equips me to be a better shepherd and pastor for your sake. And finally, the timing and location of this conference worked. Not too far where I would have to pay to fly, nor is it during a time that conflicted with other obligations.

The Trip

Seeing how I'm not a fan of flying, especially the cost of flying, I drove down here from Wisconsin. I left early Monday morning, with a Kwik Trip coffee in hand, that had me east of West Salem by 6 AM. I stayed the night at Beckley, WV, a small beautiful city, where I was able to enjoy a nice invigorating dinner from the local Sonic. A restaurant that I deeply miss, so it was a nice blessing to start the week. I arrived here at Christ Covenant Church this morning around 1130 AM. The weather on the drive was nice and it looks to be that way through Thursday. To give you an idea, it's sunny, and in the upper 60s today, with 70s coming tomorrow.

On the way down, I was able to listen to two audiobooks. The first book was Endure: How to Work Hard, Outlast, and Keep Hammering by Cameron Hanes, and narrated by Cameron Hanes. Overall it was a good listen, though the foreword, by Joe Rogan is full of language to be avoided, and does not add to the book. Granted, foul language does pop up from time to time during the book as well. The book is a good perspective on hard work and how to "keep hammering" at life. It's mostly a biographical account of Cameron's life which intersects bow hunting, with faith, physical training, the desire to succede and standout, along with pain, lots of pain. Essentially, it's a book about life. It is raw, honest, and very profund. At times, Cameron's writing is even able to pierce the depths of one's emotions, causing long forgotten wells that were once dry to run once again with water. I would recommend it, especially to the men.

The second audiobook was even better, it was utterly fascinating and enthralling. In fact, it was so captivating that I'm not sure it was a wise choice to listen to while driving 65-75 mph on various interstates and state highways. I intend to purchase the actual book that I've been seeing at Barnes and Noble for several months now. There are portions I would like to revisit, and my oldest son, Isaac, I know would thoroughly enjoy it. The book is The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann, narrated by Dion Graham. It's recounting of the tragic voyage of the HMS Wager and its crew. The book is well written and will have on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Along the way you'll learn all sorts of interesting facts not just related to the Wager or her crew, but you'll learn the history of a number of nautical terms we use in every day language now, along with all sorts of various historical information. Some of the names involved with the Wager you may recognize if you're familiar with poetry or the history of England. There's much to say about the book, but I really don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it or is not familar with the Wager's account. If you've never heard of the Wager, read the book first, before you do any research on it. I was so gripped by the account, I felt like I had traverse Cape Horn myself. Now, one more thing to note, this time in regard to the audio version of the book. The narration by Dion Graham was superb. With audiobooks the narration can be hit and miss and when you find someone who does an excellent job you want to be remember who they are so you can keep an eye out for them. Dion Graham is one of those names.

Day 1 - Sessions 1 & 2

The conference today started as most conferences do, with a brief introduction, then some music. The music at these conferences are always a highlight, and this conference did not disappoint. Two men, one on a piano, the other with an acoustic guitar led us in some hymns. We sang a number of hymns with singing that was joyful and robust. I had sat up in the balcony hoping to find a spot where the sound may be more gentle on my ear, but I did not find such a spot. Nor did I later in the day or in the evening. I'm guessing that means the sanctuary is well designed for the acoustics.

The sanctuary is beautiful, of course, the PCA rarely fails in this regard. Maybe I'll get some pics uploaded tomorrow or the next.

The first session was Joel Beeke speaking about the pastor's piety before the face of God. By the way, coram deo is Latin for "before the face of God". Beeke pulled from 1 Timothy 4:7-8 and Romans 11:33-36 to highlight the need for piety, or godliness, as many modern translations call it. He highlighted that if piety (godliness) is needed for the believer, how much more so for the minister of those believers. He went on to speak about the comprehensiveness of the pastor's piety, followed by what that piety looks like today, then he emphasized the importance of piety for the pastor and his ministry, and he then concluded with how pastors cultivate such piety today. The message was a good reminder that I must live before God faithfully first, if I am to faithfully serve His saints. Without piety, the well runs dry, cracks form, and eventually, if not tended to, the well caves in on itself.

Following the first session there was a brief panel discussion with John Piper and Joel Beeke on navigating the various challenges of pastoral ministry. Piper and Beeke each have have over 70 years of combined ministry experience between them and it was a blessing to hear encouraging and admonishing words of wisdom from them.

Then in the evening we had a full service in the style of the PCA. The worship was led by a group of musicians holding a variety of instruments (band? orchestra? symphony? ensemble? There were strings, brass, woodwind, percussion, piano, and an organ). We sang numerous songs, said numerous prayers, read a number of Scriptures, and then Colin Smith, a fellow EFCA pastor from the Orchard church gave the message.

His message was pulled from John 6 speaking on the topic of sustaining gospel ministry. Three things that I jotted down from his message are:

  1. What is in my sermon that would cause people to draw near to Christ or would want to come to Christ?

  2. Obey Jesus even when you don't know what He is doing.

  3. "Those who try to use Him, lose Him."

And with that day one was wrapped up. Tomorrow is a full day starting at 9 AM and ending at 9 PM. A panel discussion, four more speakers, and plenty more singing. Depending on how the day goes, I might wait to do day two and three together.

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