The mental faucet seems to be either on or off for me when it comes to the business of blog. There are times (though quite rare these days) when the ideas and entries come fast and easy. But most of the time I can’t get motivated to put this weblog above the host of other options begging for my time. But thanks for sticking with me. I guess it could be worse . . .
I did want to post a few reflections on the Desiring God, ’06 conference that I attended two weeks ago before my memory becomes too fuzzy. For both of you who don’t know, you can read summaries from all the sessions at Challies.com. Or even better, listen to all the sessions at DesiringGod.org.
This was my first time to attend a Desiring God or Bethlehem Baptist conference. It was also my first time to visit Minneapolis. I actually arrived in Minneapolis on Thursday, about 30 hours before the conference was to begin. To redeem the time, I took advantage of Thursday afternoon to read and prepare for some teaching I will be doing in Bosnia in another week. After an early dinner on Thursday evening, I headed back to the hotel and was dosing off by 7:00 pm. I turned on the news and noticed that the Twins were playing at home. I am not at all a baseball fan, but I do like visiting ballparks. The Metrodome was just blocks away from the hotel, so I hiked over there and paid my $6 to sit in the outfield. I lasted for about 2 1/2 innings. But in that time, I was able to get a taste of the Minnesotan culture by observing the devoted Twins bleacher creachers all around me. With a stat sheet in one hand, a lukewarm beer in the other, and headphones tuned in and turned up, they provided plenty of people-watching entertainment to make those 40 minutes tolerable.
The other humorous baseball-related part of the weekend took place back at our hotel. The Chicago White Sox were in town and stayed at our hotel. That meant that the autograph hounds were in the lobby and on the curb outside the hotel the whole weekend. There were 2 or 3 guys who stood on the sidewalk by the hotel from dawn til dusk the whole weekend. Every time someone who had the “look” of a baseball player came out of the revolving door, they would flip through their college ruled spirals with baseball cards taped to the pages to see if they happened to be a White Sox player. I’m not particularly skilled at reading people, but I would guess that these guys are single, live with their parents, and flip burgers to help pay for packets of Topps.
Anyway, I was certainly not in Minneapolis for a sport I don’t care about. I was there to be challenged by the preaching of God’s Word and encouraged by conversations with His people. By God’s mercy, both of these desires were abundantly met. I was half-expecting the conference to be primarily an evaluation of and response to post-modernism and the emergent church. Some of that certainly took place. But the actual theme of the conference, “Above All Earthly Powers,” thankfully dominated the preaching. With rare exceptions, the constant supremacy of Christ, not the passing fads of liberal Christianity took center stage.
It was also great to catch up with some old friends and make several new ones. I looked over my shoulder in the first session and saw Dave Cleland across the room. I walked over to greet him and saw that he was talking to Tim Pickard. Both men are friends, former classmates at TMS, and co-workers at Grace Community Church. I also ran into an old friend from my college days. Whenever I see someone from my alma mater at a conference like that, I am overjoyed–one more person escaped from the sinking ship of syncritism. I was able to make a new friend, Frank Kelly, who shepherds students in Chickamauga, GA. He is a like-minded brother and we had good conversation over a few meals (plus he managed to save me a seat right in front of the stage for several sessions).
I know this is a pretty lousy conference recap. My notes from the conference are at the church, so I am having to rely on fading memories. I do thank God for my church who not only allows, but encourages and enables me to go and be sharpened at conferences like this. I pray that the effects will not be flashy and brief, but gradual and enduring.
In other news . . .
-Sean also has been busy pounding pavement and tapping keys. He reminds us that Spurgeon reminds him of the importance of prayer. I again encourage everyone to read C.H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership for a much needed kick in the pants.
–Mike is back from the dead–and expecting a child! My baby is all grown up now. You’ve made me proud.
-Brook and I leave on Wednesday to go to Gorazde, Bosnia for a week. We will be traveling there with our senior pastor, Howard Dial, and his wife. This will be my third trip there, so I look forward to re-kindling relationships with many folks in this all-Muslim part of Bosnia. Brook is excited to go for the first time, but it will be a challenge for her to be so far away from our monkeys for a week. Our purpose in going is to bring encouragement to and do some training with the missionary team in that field.