2005 Founders Conference

Last week the 23rd annual Founders Conference was held at Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach, Florida. The theme was “The Gospel and the Family.” Ted and Paul Tripp were the keynote speakers. Anton Fourie, pastor of FBC Birmingham, host of next year’s conference, preached the opening message from Psalm 84. It was warm, passionate and Gospel-focused and set the tone for the whole meeting.

Don Whitney spoke convictingly on Family Worship. It is sad that so many Christian adults are negligent in worshiping God together with their families in their homes. This is true even in many pastors’ homes. Sometimes the fear and hesitancy is born out of misconceptions of what family worship should look like. I remember the liberty and encouragement that came to me in this area when our firstborn was two years old and we visited in a home that, after supper, had a simple Scripture reading, prayer and singing. I remember thinking, “That’ simple!” It was considerably simpler than the full-blown, Sunday-morning-type worship services I had repeatedly tried (and failed) to institute in our home. For the last twenty years family devotions have been a sweet time of togetherness, conversation, Bible study and prayer. Don Whitney’s message is scheduled to be aired on Dennis Rainey’s Family Life radio show on August 30-31.

The Tripp brothers were very helpful in their analysis of family issues and dynamics. “The problem is the heart and the solution is the Gospel.” That was the recurrent theme in all their messages. I was convicted, challenged and encouraged by their ministries. I was also reminded of the absolute importance of having a proper grasp on the relationship between God’s Law and God’s Gospel. The law–in it’s strictness and spirituality–gives no wiggle room for us to find any comfort in the sin that remains in our lives. But the Gospel assures of of grace both to forgive sin and empower for the ongoing pursuit of holiness. A firm grasp of the grace of God in the Gospel enables us to deal honestly with the law as it examines not only our actions but also our thoughts, motives and intentions. It exposes the idols in our hearts. We can afford to see the reality of sin in our lives because the Gospel provides real salvation in Jesus Christ. The Gospel not only provides the entry into the Christian life, it is the ongoing power to live that life.

I highly recommend the CDs from the conference. They are available from Sound Word Associates (www.soundword.com).

Next year’s theme is “The Doctrine of Salvation.”

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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