Pat Aldridge and I went up to the Desiring God Conference for Pastors, and of course immediately met up with Steve McCoy. The conference was exactly what I had hoped for. You can check out the audio here - all of which is worth your time, though I was most impacted by Dr. Joel Beeke.
Early today I got a text message from David Mathis, Executive Pastoral Assistant for John Piper, who asked if Steve, Jonathan McIntosh, and I (and the men with us) were up for grabbing lunch with him and John Piper. What followed was a two hour conversation that eventually settled into a truly helpful discussion about the business end of sanctification; our fight against sin and pursuit of holiness.
Sitting at a table with friends and Dr. Piper talking about what it means to follow the imperatives in Scripture was--as you would expect--exciting. We have all profited from John's preaching and writing ministry for years, but to hang out and ask him questions with the aim of listening and learning was a rare privilege.
I'm still thinking through much of what was said, and believe it will bear fruit in my life. But, I wanted to share what John was like during the conversation, since so many of us only interact with his personality from a distance while he addresses us in a formal context.
1) John Piper was fun. No, he didn't laugh uproariously at our jokes, but he was smiling and engaged in the goofy stuff.
2) He was interested in every person at the table, asking about each man, and following up with more questions.
3) He was transparent about his own life and struggles, allowing us to see that a godly man is a still a fallen man who longs for greater intimacy with Christ.
4) He was thoughtful and passionate as he answered our questions. He didn't speak of faith plainly, but enthusiastically, with a lot of gesturing and sound effects. Yes, sound effects. I got the impression that he wasn't satisfied with only choosing his words carefully, but also felt the need to present those words dramatically.
5) He is still learning. I guess it's tempting to think a man eventually "arrives" in one way or another. But, Paul tells us he hadn't, and John shared with us some of what he learned during his sabbatical. It was encouraging to see that as a man walks with Christ over many years he continues (and needs) to grow.
The Desiring God Conference for Pastors was an amazing time of fellowship and instruction that I believe will bear fruit in the lives of many. I pray it does for me.