Desiring God Conference for Pastors

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.

Book Giveaway: Think

Because you didn't read it last year when you should have I'm giving away two copies of John Piper's excellent book, Think, this week on the blog. This was one of my favorite reads last year, and I've encouraged everyone I know to pick up a copy. John helps the reader to understand the value and place of the thinking in the Christian life, and through his interaction with Scripture he models the discipling of thinking deeply with the aim of know and loving God. Think truly is a book for everyone who wants to know Jesus Christ more deeply and make him known more widely. You can read an interview with John about the book at Christianity Today here. We can only ship the book inside the U.S. (sorry international friends).

To win one of the two copies of Think you need to do two things:

1. Leave a comment on this post. Include your name and email in the form, and tell us what thinkers have helped you in your walk with God. This can be people you know (professors, pastors, friends, parents) or people you read and listen to.

2. Tweet the giveaway. Point people to the giveaway via Twitter. You can specifically tweet this: "Enter to win a free copy of John Piper's book, Think." (Be sure and leave your Twitter name with your comment on the blog so I can find your tweet.)

Entries are cut off Wednesday morning at 9am (CST), and a winners will be announced shortly after.

The New Birth

My sermon notes in Wordle. I don't preach from a manuscript, just a detailed outline. This morning I preached on the New Birth/Regeneration from 1 Peter Chapter 1. For this week's "Relevant Read" I am recommending two books on the subject. One I've read and one (I never do this) I haven't yet read. The first is a classic: Regeneration by J.C. Ryle. The second is John Piper's newest, Finally Alive

Yes, I am recommending Piper's book without having yet read it. I have heard good things, and am confident I know where John is coming from. I was telling Steve McCoy that I doubt Piper says anything new on the subject, but he will probably say it better. So I'll be reading it ASAP. If you've read it I'd be interested in hearing your take.