Nine and a half years ago I was driving on the 210 Freeway in Los Angeles thinking about our upcoming weekend college retreat. I had just gotten off the phone with a fellow pastor to collegians who was super excited about his group joining us for our retreat. The retreat was going to be in Riverside at the convention center and we were crunching out details.
That drive would change a lot of things for me. That day the oh-too-familiar traffic would gave me some time to think. What if we expanded our retreat to something a bit bigger? Maybe a conference?
I took that idea back to our leadership team to talk about. From the very first discussion the concept was embraced and enhanced by the creative minds of John Martin and Jonathan Rourke. Here is the truth though. None of us had any idea what we were getting into or how it would mark our lives.
We kicked the idea around for a few weeks and decided to go for it. We needed a name and batted around some ideas. I was pushing the idea of calling it “Upsetting the World” from Acts 17 where Paul and his associates were accused of such. Let’s just say that Rourke and Martin rejected my proposal with merciless ribbing. [To work in our little trio you had to have pretty thick skin.]
We widened the circle to Dan Dumas and Daniel Gillespie to think through the concept. Dan was very helpful administratively and with hotel and convention center contracts. Daniel was helpful in many ways, but none more than the day he came into my office and said, “I’ve got the name for your conference.”
A little background.
Daniel knew of my love for Jonathan Edwards and we had had many discussions about Mr. Edwards and his theology. And working with college-agers, we had talked about the 70 Resolutions of Edwards, each of those commitments beginning with the simple word, “Resolved.”
Daniel sat down in the chair across from my desk and said, “It’s staring you in the face Rick! Call it Resolved.”
In that instant things came together. John Martin and Jon Rourke agreed that this was the name and rallying point of the conference. Resolved had begun.
So I wrote a little paragraph about the conference that has been on our website since the beginning. Here is what it says:
Resolved means what it sounds like: it’s a deliberate, committed disposition.
As a 19-year old in the mid-1700s, Jonathan Edwards became serious about the direction of his life. He began to understand the nature of God, and what he discovered was both delightful and disturbing. The more he investigated the infinite tributaries of God’s nature, the more he unearthed his own sinfulness. From then on, the weight of God’s glory became the gravity of his life. He was compelled to respond.
So he sat down with a quill and paper and wrote out a series of commitments. These were simple statements, conclusions, and commitments forged in the immensity of God and the trauma of His holiness. All of them began with the same word—”Resolved”.
The Resolved conference is a call for a new generation to live with the same resolve.
So we started praying and planning. Those early prayer times were precious. We had no idea what God was going to do. Well, He did exceeding abundantly beyond all we asked or thought (Eph 3:20-21).
It was wistful to bring the conference to a close this year. Yeah, I cried. And for a brief moment, Jonathan Rourke and I hugged and swayed to the closing song before realizing it and creating some quick distance between us! But in the end I’m so glad to be sitting at my desk in my church office as I write this. It was a fun year.
Austin Duncan provided excellent leadership this year and Mark Zhakevich lent his administrative gifts in significant ways.
All of us believe what we said over and over each year. Resolved is a weekend. It’s a great weekend, but only one weekend a year. But the church is our ever-present, joyful burden.
What about the future? We don’t know except to say that we are all concentrating our ministries with a single focus right now. And that is good.
I am so thankful to God for the eight years of Resolved. It has served as a ruler by which I can measure my love for Christ. My family can reverence our growth by it as well. It has been a part of my sons’ lives for half or more of their lives. They were 5, 7, and 9 when it began. Now they are 12, 14, and 16.
I am so thankful to John MacArthur and Grace Community Church for allowing us to start and maintain Resolved. John’s preaching was an anchor from the very beginning. Someday the folks who came to Resolved will tell their grandchildren about hearing John MacArthur at the conference. To God be the glory.
Steve Lawson too was with us from the start. His unceasing support of the conference in general and me personally will long encourage my soul. His preaching was thunderous and penetrating. He kept us fueled to look to God. To God be the glory.
C.J. Mahaney was not well known in our circles when he came to the conference. He so graciously accepted our invitation to speak that first year and none of us were ready for what God had for us. His sermon on Christ’s agony in Gethsemane that first year rocked us and in a real sense defined the trajectory of Resolved. I’ve listened to that one sermon more than any other sermon. Most of it is committed to memory. His ability to apply the Scriptures and gospel truth can only be attributed to God’s gifting. No one makes me laugh and cry, worship and repent, pray and praise more than C.J. To God be the glory.
Al Mohler joined us three years ago and immediately fit as a fixture in the speaker lineup. He has an uncanny knack to provide both high-altitude theological perspective and on-the-ground application when he preaches. The way he says things makes me think about familiar spiritual realities in fresh ways. To hear him in person is a privilege few will ever forget.
This last year we heard from Jonathan Rourke for the first time as a preacher. He has served us so well in previous years as a quick-witted, caring shepherd as the conference M.C. But it was clear from his exposition that he is doing what God has called him to do in preaching weekly in his own pulpit. The San Diego area is privileged to have such an expositor in its shadow. To God be the glory.
Austin Duncan joined the lineup this year as both host and speaker. I’ve known Austin for eight years. His exposition of Acts 4 and 5 will certainly find its way into my long-term memory. His opportunities at Grace Community Church and at The Master’s Seminary will begin to surface what so many of us have seen behind the scenes for a long time. I see no ceiling on his potential for the gospel. To God be the glory.
And then there is Enfield and my friends John and Lisa Martin. Anyone who has been to Resolved can confirm that without them, Resolved is a very different conference. John’s leadership, musical skills, work ethic, and love for Christ have served us well. Enfield’s worship leading has been the thread that wove the conference into one piece. And this year they recorded the music sets for a live album to be released later in the summer.
So what’s next?
For the next year all of us on the Resolved team are taking a break from conferencing. We truly believe what was preached at the final conference. Our local churches are where our hearts are and they need our best efforts and constant attention. I’m a pastor, not a conference director.
However, I have seen and experienced the benefits of a conference like Resolved and cannot rule out anything for the future. For now though, I want to concentrate on Mission Road Bible Church.
To God be the glory.
*** You can find all the conference messages here.
*** You can find all the photos here.