I returned safely from Minneapolis last night. The journey home was quick and uneventful. While I had a wonderful time at the conference, I am always glad to return to the comforts of home and family. Today is Thanksgiving Day (yes, we celebrate it on a Monday unlike our American neighbors who prefer Thursday) so I intend to spend the day with my family. But first I thought I’d provide a few topical reflections on my weekend at the Desiring God National Conference.
Doug is a nice guy – at least as nice as you’d expect if you’ve communicated with him via email or read his web site. His love for God and his desire to know Him more fully is evident within minutes of meeting the guy. He is far more out-going than I am and likes to talk just as much. One thing you probably did not know about Doug is that he shaves with Baby Magic, some sort of baby cream. He insists that he has sensitive skin, but I’m guessing he probably just wants to have baby-soft cheeks. If you ever have opportunity to spend some time with Doug (and that is unlikely because he lives precisely in the middle of nowhere) I’d recommend you take him up on that opportunity.
I did not get to spend as much time with Justin as I would have liked as Justin was kept busy taking care of John Piper. I have often wondered what the job description is for a “theological director” and after seeing one in action I believe it is composed of several aspects. First, compiling indexes for books. Second, chasing after the most eminent theologian within a certain proximity and making sure he stays hydrated and comfortable, whether that involves fanning him or giving him a back rub. Third, I think Justin is also responsible for security, a task he seems well-built to handle – he is a big guy and could make short work of me if I got too enthusiastic about insisting that Piper sign my copy of Desiring God. As for something you didn’t know about Justin, it would probably have to be that the wallpaper on his computer is a picture of the cast of “Dr Quinn Medicine Woman.” Oh, and the home page in his browser is Girl Talk blog. This is a guy who must be quite secure in his masculinity.
In all seriousness, Justin seemed like a deep and genuine guy who is very clearly well-suited to be a theological director. I’m sure we’ll be hearing his name a lot in the future.
I only met John Piper very briefly so have no real thoughts on him from a personal level, but I was blessed to see and experience him as a pastor and speaker. I was almost surprised to see what an experience it is to sit under one of those “only a few every generation” type of preachers. When Piper preaches he seems to do little more than bridge one Bible verse to the next, building to a deeply biblical conclusion. With some preachers you begin to feel that they could get along just fine without the Bible, but with Piper you feel that if he didn’t have the Bible he’d have nothing to say. It is easy to see the Spirit moving in John as he preaches. He begins slowly, but builds in forcefulness and excitement with every passing minute. His passion for God and his passion for preaching must be obvious to all who sit under him.
I was deeply impressed with Desiring God as an organization. The conference was well-planned and seemed to go like clockwork. There was a great emphasis on prayer and worship through the proceedings. A prayer room was open throughout each day and there were people constantly interceding before the throne on behalf of the attendees. The worship in song was biblical and with primary emphasis not on when a song was written, but whether it focused on God or man. Every member of the Desiring God team with whom I came into contact was pleasant and eager to serve me however possible.
I flew Midwest Airlines and had four flights when them in three days. I very much enjoyed travelling with them and it was easily the best flying experience I have had thus far. The fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies are every bit as good as you’d expect. They had me at, “would you like a warm cookie?”
I returned home to cries of “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy’s home!” as my daughter raced not towards me, but away, to find her brother. I then got bowled over with hugs. And when the kids had finished with me, I embraced my wife, whom I am not accustomed to being away from. She took great care of the kids while I was gone and seemed to have a good time with them. I love her dearly.
I had a great time at the conference and came away with a lot of things I need to think about. I did a lot of writing during my journey home and I would assume you’ll see some of that writing over the next few days. I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to participate in this conference. Will I go back next year? I don’t know if I will be asked, but if I am, I’ll go in a heartbeat. I was blessed with the comments I received both at the conference and by readers of this site. It seems that this live-blogging was a useful addition to the convention and I hope that in the future there will not be a major ministry that does not include live-blogging at its conferences.