Sunday, March 30, 2008

Epistles Video for Crossroads Church

Below is a video I made in February for Crossroads Church of Cottage Grove, MN. This video is one of a series of videos used to supplement the sermons as the church works through the different books of the Bible in conjunction with their reading of The Divine Mentor by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. My video was a summary of the Epistles. I took my idea of this summary from Grasping God's Word by Duvall and Hays. Shout out to James Brown (yes The Real James Brown) for making this video happen. JB recorded, edited and produced this video.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Strep Throat

I just got back from the Doctor's office and the news wasn't good. I have strep throat. I haven't had this in a really long time. My throat started to be irritated Tuesday night, and by Wednesday night it was like I had been drinking lava from Kilauea in Hawaii.

I told the doctor all my symptoms, and he agreed that it didn't sound like strep. He looked down my throat, and agreed it didn't look like strep (I've been looking myself for a couple of days). He said let's do a culture anyhow while you are here. Shazam! You've got strep!

So I got some drugs, and hopefully I'll be on the mend. My biggest concern is that it has begun to affect my voice some, and I have to preach on Sunday. So I'll be pumping fluids and popping penicillin for the next 10 days.

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First Congregational Church of Waseca - Statement of Faith

Below is the statement of faith I inherited when I took over as Pastor for First Congregational Church of Waseca, MN. Other than there being some unbelievably LONG sentences it seems to be pretty well thought out. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Statement of Faith:

We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love; and in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord and Savior, who for us and our salvation lived and died and rose again and lives evermore; and in the Holy Spirit, who takes of the things of Christ and reveals them to us, renewing, comforting, and inspiring the souls of His children.

We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures, and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord made known or to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel to all mankind, exalting the worship of the one true God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and laboring for the progress of knowledge, and promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood. Depending, as did our ancestors, upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the kingdom of God; and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and life everlasting.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The demon in my sinuses...

I think a demon moved his family into my sinus cavities. Yesterday I had a mildly irritated throat. Today I woke up feeling like I had swallowed molten lava for most of the night. Compound that with a bad night's sleep because of my throat and I'm feeling rotten today. I got some stuff from Hy-Vee in Waseca at about 7:00 this morning, and hopefully that will do me some good. I feel like my head is in a fog. I'm trying to focus on putting a sermon together, but it's not going all that well. So pray that the demon up my nose finds a new zip code.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pastors, your life is different

Craig Groeschel wrote the following on the Swerve blog for LifeChurch.

Pastor, here are just a few ways your life is different:

  • You prepare new messages every week for the same crowd. (I can’t think of any other profession who does this without the help of curriculum or speech writers.)
  • You do what many managers or business owners do. (The short list includes: maintaining the building, building new facilities, hiring, training and firing staff, overseeing the budget, raising money, recruiting and leading volunteers, etc.)
  • You shepherd the flock. You might counsel someone who is suicidal, meet with a couple who is about to divorce, do a funeral and a wedding before your preach on the weekend.
  • You are rarely “off duty.” Like the doctor who might be on call one weekend a month, you are almost always “on call.”
  • Though your hours are flexible, they are generally long and unusual. You work many nights, weekends and most holidays.
  • You have the pressure of life in the “fish bowl.”
  • Your role creates many social obligations.
  • No matter how much you do, your ministry is never “finished.”

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Why I allow Mark Driscoll to influence me

I dare you to read this post by Mark Driscoll and not be inspired.

A few choice quotes:

Something broke this weekend, spiritually. I’m not sure how to explain it, but God’s favor was evident everywhere. We had 8,070 people attend on Sunday, plus however many could not make it into the Eastside Campus or stand up outside the building to listen on speakers because there was no room in the parking lot or on the sidewalk. We had 3,648 for Good Friday services plus however many hundreds got turned away from the 7 p.m. service at Ballard. We had at least 11,718 people altogether this weekend, somewhere near 200 baptisms yesterday alone, and are still trying to figure out how many people got saved.


Yesterday while singing with the congregation at each of the five services I preach live, I could not stop weeping. People were singing loudly with their hands in the air. They cheered all day as people came forward to give their lives to Jesus and be baptized. The pastors were up front laying hands on people, praying over them, and leading them to Christ by the dozens at every service.

Wow. Praise God! God is good!!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

I love and am annoyed by

For those of you who use, maybe you'll understand this following post. If you don't use Amazon (Really?) then ignore this post. I emailed the following to a friend of mine who works for Amazon.

I was using Amazon today, and had a thought that I figured I'd share with you, as it has been an annoyance of mine for some time. I fully understand this isn't your department, I'm passing it onto you because maybe you can get some credit for it or something.

I love Amazon and nearly all of it's functionality. The one thing that annoys me is the wish list. It annoys me in two ways. The one that prompted this email is that when I am viewing a product (today it was a book called Fusion by Nelson Searcy) I see "Add to Wish list" in the right side bar. You may question why is this an annoyance? Because this item is already on my wish list. But my wish list is long. Hundreds of books (and other things too). Too long for me to remember them all. Could Amazon code something to tell me this is already in my wish list (switching the button to say "In Wish list)? This would be saving me from clicking the add button to only then find out that it is already in my wish list, wasting my time and frustrating me. Or maybe Amazon could tell me "Hey, you've looked at this book 3 times now." Amazon could offer an incentive like "If you buy this widget you've looked at 4 times now with this other really good widget that pairs well with it (or that many other buyers are also buying) and we'll give you free shipping." Obviously more concisely stated than that, but you get the idea.

My other annoyance covers two areas - the wish list and the recommendations. When I am looking at my wish list and editing it (removing things generally) the system is pretty crappy. Say I am on item #34 and I delete it. When the page refreshes it moves my location on the screen. Ideally I'd like to see the screen updated with the old #34 deleted and what was #35 now as #34 so I can continue on editing from this point rather than scrolling all around trying to figure out that I was indeed on #34 (since now that one is gone I've lost my marker for where I was working). The recommendation system is similarly screwy, but worse in that it will change the order of things as I work to improve my recommendations. I understand it triggers a reassessment of what would be the best recommendation for me, but I'd suggest a built in time lapse function so I can edit my recommendations without new recommendations being updated. Then have a button or something where I can manually trigger a new set of recommendations. Set a cookie for this to expire a few hours later, so that I have time to make my edits, but the next visit I will be able to get all my recommendations fresh without having to manually trigger updated recommendations.

I really think this would trigger an improved customer experience on

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Sermon and Prayer

Tomorrow is Easter. Or perhaps better stated, TOMORROW IS EASTER!

I ask that you stop for a minute or five and offer up a prayer for our worship service (or the service you might be attending). As Perry Noble says, "Pray like crazy for this weekend's service." I have no idea who will be in our church, but I know they will hear about Jesus. I'm sure there will be people far from God who need to hear this message, I pray their hearts are soft, that they are fertile soil. For others I pray it will be a sweet reminder of the Christ we follow.

Easter has an inherent tension for pastors. The "C & E Christians" (Christmas and Easter) will be making an appearance. People who don't normally come to your church will be visiting. There is a chance that lives will be transformed and eternities changed. I don't take that lightly, but I always fear that many do not take that serious enough. There is added tension because Easter is the celebration of the risen Christ, and the joy and grace we are afford through what he has done for us, that which we cannot do.

For my sermon I will be stealing a framework from Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I will be talking about the words and works of Jesus Christ. I believe it is a good sermon, but more importantly is is a God-honoring Christ-centered message that makes clear who we worship is fully worthy of that worship. To borrow a bit more from Perry Noble, we will make His name famous and we will push back the gates of hell a little bit further.

So pray. Pray for me, for those coming to the church, for my message, for God to act in amazing ways, both in our church and in this world.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

We're back!

Just a quick update on why the blog has been so silent the past few days. My church was gracious enough to allow us to take some vacation earlier this week. We took off Sunday after church, and got home yesterday. It was a fun trip, and most importantly it was relaxing. We visited Wisconsin Dells where we took in Wilderness Water Park one day (we didn't stay there though, too expensive!). The next day we went through Cave of the Mounds and spent the night in Dodgeville. We took in House on the Rock yesterday, and then came home. On the way home we drove by Taliesin - which is Frank Lloyd Wright's home near Spring Green, WI. Taliesin is not open this time of the year, so we stopped and took photos from the road and headed home.

The best part of the trip was being with my wife for a few days. We haven't had a few days off together in quite some time, so it was a great get away. My next favorite part was the water park at Wilderness. The lines weren't too bad this time of year, though there were quite a few Spring Break families visiting.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Christ Suffered and Died...So that we might belong to Him

From John Piper's Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die
Pages 64-65

You also have died to the law through the body of Christ,
so that you may belong to another,
to him who has been raised from the dead.
R o m a n s 7 : 4

You are not your own,
for you were bought with a price.
1 C o r i n t h i a n s 6 : 1 9 - 2 0

Care for the church of God,
which he obtained with his own blood.
A c t s 2 0 : 2 8

The ultimate question is not who you are but whose you are. Of course, many people think they are nobody’s slave. They dream of total independence. Like a jellyfish carried by the tides feels free because it isn’t fastened down with the bondage of barnacles.

But Jesus had a word for people who thought that way. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But they responded, “We . . . have never been enslaved to anyone.
How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” So Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:32-34).

The Bible gives no reality to fallen humans who are ultimately self-determining. There is no autonomy in the fallen world. We are governed by sin or governed by God. “You are slaves of the one whom you obey. . . . When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. . . . But now . . . you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God” (Romans 6:16, 20, 22). Most of the time we are free to do what we want. But we are not free to want what we ought. For that we need a new power based on a divine purchase. The power is God’s. Which is why the Bible says, “Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart” (Romans 6:17). God is the one who may “grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after
being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26). And the purchase that unleashes this power is the death of Christ. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And what price did Christ pay for those who trust him? “He obtained [them] with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Now we are free indeed. Not to be autonomous, but to want what is good. A whole new way of life opens to us when the death of Christ becomes the death of our old self. Relationship with the
living Christ replaces rules. And the freedom of fruit-bearing replaces the bondage of law. “You also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

Christ suffered and died that we might be set free from law and sin and belong to him. Here is where obedience ceases to be a burden and becomes the freedom of fruit-bearing. Remember, you are not your own. Whose will you be? If Christ’s, then come and belong.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

10 Ways to Stop Me from Discovering Your Church...

The following was posted by Bill Reichart on Ministry Best Practices Blog. Bill is one of the pastors at Big Creek Church in Forsyth County, Georgia. This post is fantastic because it is soooo true.


Does your church erect invisible barriers toward people getting connected with your church? Is it easier to find the Lost Ark rather than your church on a Sunday morning?

Certainly there may be many legitimate reasons why someone may not come to your church (personal preferences, driving distances etc..). Those are issues that you can't control. But there are plenty of other issues that you can. So, if you are determined, for people to not come to your church or get connected then,

Here are 10 ways to Stop Me (or anyone else )from Discovering Your Church

1. Don’t have a website: This is the information age, even 107 year old women have blogs, but not your church. No website, no blogs, nothing, nada, zero. In order to feel more comfortable before I visit, I want to see something about the the church. I want to be able to kick the tires before I show up on Sunday. And even if you must have a website, make sure it is poorly designed, lacking in information, hard to navigate, lots of rainbow and dove graphics, and definitely out of date.

2. Be completely inactive in the community: If you’re not doing anything in the community then no one will talk about your church. That makes it a lot harder for me to accidentally find out anything useful. So don’t serve the community or partner with other churches or non-profits. In fact it’s really just best if you stay completely inward-focused and don’t do anything missional in your town or city.

3. Don’t answer your phone: Regardless of what time I call (weekday, weekend, morning, afternoon, evening) don’t answer the phone and don’t have an answering machine or voice mail for me to leave a message or prayer request. If you do have voice mail, don’t include your website address, service times or directions to your church on your message, and don’t ever answer the phone on Sunday mornings. That way when I’m lost en route to service, I’ll have no choice but to drive around aimlessly until I give up and go home.

4. Allow misinformation: When contact information changes about your church, make sure you don't update websites, online directories and phone books. It is important to make sure you keep me on my toes and misdirected every chance possible.

5. Lack clear signage: Even if I’m determined to visit your church, you have several on site options to discourage me. The first is to play hide and seek. Is your church in a nondescript building or on a street with several other churches? Have absolutely no signage; none, whatsoever. Except maybe on the mailbox, where you abbreviate things beyond comprehension.

6. Have insufficient parking/seating: Other discouraging on-site options are lack of adequate parking and seating. Does your church seat 200? Only have 30 parking spaces and make sure that all the church volunteers are using them. Been running at capacity for weeks or months? Don’t start another service, so that there will be standing room only. Have visitors’ parking? Put it in the corner of the lot away from the entrance. Have adequate parking? Don’t stripe the lot or have parking attendants; chaos is best. Have adequate seating? Make it as uncomfortable as possible.

7. Ignore Visitors: Despite your best efforts to discourage me, you think that you have won -but I have found and attended your church. In fact, I even filled out a visitor’s card requesting more information. Don’t acknowledge my visit in any way. Don’t call me, don’t send me a thank you card, don’t answer any of my questions or give me any information about how to become involved or learn more about Jesus. Also don’t have any literature available for me to take home and don’t train your volunteers to be courteous or helpful in anyway.

8. Respond half-heartedly to inquiries: If responding to information requests at all, do so extremely slowly and only partially. Wait 1 week or more to return emails or phone calls and if I ask several questions, don’t answer them all. Instead just tell me I should come to a service to find out more. That saves you a couple minutes of response time and makes you look very busy and important. Whatever you do, do not start a dialogue with me.

9. Be evasive about your beliefs: When I ask a direct question about the church’s beliefs, ignore the question or act like you don’t understand and then start telling me about your denomination or church programs. For “What We Believe”, only include the Nicene Creed on your website or literature. If I’m adamant about wanting positional clarity, instead tell me about the love of Jesus and how Christianity isn’t about division. For those times you do answer my questions, act offended that I would even ask, then try and make me feel stupid or sinful for questioning you.

10. Continue to be difficult: You might just get a few months of attendance out of me before I just give up out of frustration. Don't help me get into a small group. Don't help me find ways to volunteer and use my gifts. If you keep making the process of involvement and connectedness difficult and unclear, you will eventually wear me down and I will go elsewhere.

(adapted from a post at Church Redone)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Resurgence Conference: Text and Context Audio Now Available!

Today is a glorious day! The audio from the Text and Context Conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA is now available. For those of us poor saps who were unable to attend (and who have poor DSL service so watching it live via webcast wasn't an option), this is the next best thing.

Sessions 1-8:
Mark Driscoll - Putting Pastors in Their Place
CJ Mahaney - Pastoral Character & Loving People
John Piper - Why I Trust the Scriptures
Jim Gilmore - Fear & Trembling in the Experience Economy
Matt Chandler - Preaching the Gospel from the Center of the Evangelical World
John Piper - How My Pastoral Ministry Shapes My Pulpit Ministry
Mark Driscoll - The Ox: Qualifications of a Church Planter
Matt Chandler - Vision of a Church Planter

I'll be burning down my DSL line tonight to download these sessions.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Easter Sermon

(originally posted at

If you are reading this, I want you to stop and think for 10 seconds about who you are going to invite to First Congregational Church of Waseca (or your church) for Easter. I'm serious. Start thinking. Who do you know who is far from God? Invite them. Do you know someone looking for a church home? Offer them a ride. Is there someone new to town? Invite them to church and lunch afterwards.

I'm working hard on my sermon for Easter. I have actually been working on it for a couple of weeks now. I have listened to at least 15 hours worth of other Easter sermons in the past 3 weeks just to get me in the right mindset. I have to tell you, it is getting me excited! I can hardly wait for Easter to be here! No, that's not because I'm a Cadbury's Eggs addict.

There are no secrets about my Easter sermon. I'm preaching Jesus, the resurrected Christ. I will bring Him glory and make His name known.

I'm praying for God to work in and through First Congregational Church, and I challenge you to do the same.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Thanks to Crossroads Church and Pastor Phil Print

I just want to thank Pastor Phil Print and everyone at Crossroads Church for their encouragement and prayer. Today to close our 11:00 service Phil asked my wife and I to come to the edge of the stage where he introduced us, explained that we were leaving the church to serve in a new church, and then led the church to pray for us. That was really awesome, and I deeply appreciated it. He didn't have to do this, but he understands having been there before, and cares enough to disrupt the "normal" flow of a weekend worship service to pray for us. I'm both humbled and blessed.

I'm going to take this opportunity to brag on Phil Print for just a couple of paragraphs. Phil Print is without question the most gifted preacher I know personally. His ability to regularly craft sermons is at a level few others can hit with their very best sermons, and no, I'm no where near that level. He is a preaching freak. If you could rate preaching ability, he'd score at the top of the charts. Not only is he gifted in preaching, but he raises the level of everyone else around him as well. James Brown, Brad Kindall, Ryan Lunceford, Jake Kirchner, James Racine, and everyone else who serves under Phil get the opportunity to learn and be refined by one of the best. Beyond that he is a great leader, having done amazing things at Crossroads Church in Cottage Grove, MN. Phil is passionate about Jesus and making Jesus known. He also leads his family well. I both respect and admire Phil for who he is, and what he has done.

If you would like to hear Phil preach you can download sermon audio. They don't (yet) have the fancy iTunes setup.

A bit of background to my knowing Phil Print:

I first met Phil at Bethel Seminary - he had been called in to grade one of my sermons for an Intro to Preaching course everyone is required to take. He gave me a good grade, but had some piercing insight into how to improve my preaching. A year later I found myself as his Teaching Assistant, as he had taken over the Intro to Preaching course from Pastor Bob Merritt of Eagle Brook Church (Phil and Bob are friends).

At first I wasn't sure what to make of Phil. He comes off as both focused and unassuming. He's a fairly high energy guy with a laid back approach. He has a runner's build, a well trimmed mustache, and a voice that is very unique. As I served him, I came to see his genius. He is a truly gifted communicator. Little did I know then at how gifted he is in preaching and crafting a sermon. I always told Phil that I'd like to visit his church, but Cottage Grove is more than just a short trip from where I was living (on campus) in Arden Hills. I also was on staff of another church, an additional 15 minutes away from his church.

When I got married, I moved to East Saint Paul, a short 15 minute ride from Crossroads Church. I had been telling Phil for the better part of 3 years that I would someday come visit his church, and now I had nothing holding me back. Crossroads Church has been our home since that first visit.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

CJ Mahaney is blogging!

Check out CJ Mahaney over on the Sovereign Grace Blog. His passion for Jesus inspires and challenges me. His humility humbles me, and his humor tickles me. His preaching is completely engaging, and his writing (books) has never let me down. That's not to say I have high expectations for his blog or anything...

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Waseca County Minnesota - Demographics

Below are some data nuggets for Waseca County, MN where First Congregational Church is located. These are based off of the 2000 Census, so there will be some variation that isn't reflected. It will still give a good general overview of the area I will be ministering in in the years to come.

A few thoughts - Ethnically, it is very white. I have more ethnic diversity within a 3 block radius of my current house in East St. Paul than in the whole county. A very low rate of rental - 20%. A low rate of unemployment - 2.5%. A low poverty rate - 6.5% living below the poverty rate.

Any reader thoughts?

Selected Counties:
Waseca County MN

County, MN


Pop. Density (per sq. mile)

Land Area (in sq. miles)


10,199 52.2%

9,327 47.8%


Median Age


18,960 97.1%

American Indian
111 0.6%

89 0.5%

435 2.2%

Hawaiian/Pacific Is.
6 0.0%

18,198 93.2%

8 0.0%

2+ Races
113 0.6%

566 2.9%

Hispanic Black
6 0.0%

Hispanic White
284 1.5%

Hispanic Other
276 1.4%


Total Households

Family Households
4,990 70.7%

Non-Family Households
2,069 29.3%

Population Households

Population In Households
18,077 92.6%

In Family Households
15,658 86.6%

In Non-Family HH
2,419 13.4%

Population In Group Quarters
1,449 7.4%

Median Household Income

Median Household Income

Median Family HH Income

Median Nonfamily HH Income

Unemployment Age 16+

Population Age 16+

In Labor Force (Civilian)
10,008 99.9%

247 2.5%


Person Poverty (universe)

Income Below Poverty Level
1,182 6.5%


Total Housing Units

Occupied Units
7,059 95.0%

Owner Occupied Units
5,654 80.1%

Renter Occupied Units
1,405 19.9%

Vacant Units
368 5.0%

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Mark Driscoll talks on CJ Mahaney and John Piper's influence in his life

Below is a post from Tim Challies.


Last Sunday, at Mars Hill Church, Mark Driscoll preached a sermon on the Regulative Principle. For a few minutes, just at the end of the sermon, he discussed some “behind-the-scenes” time he has spent with both C.J. Mahaney and John Piper. In this brief audio excerpt, posted below, he explains to his congregation some of the ways he has failed to serve them and how he hopes to grow in and by God’s grace. This is in light of some private brotherly correction and feedback he received from John Piper and C.J. Mahaney at the recent Resurgence conference.

When I hear things like this, I am filled with gratitude for this incredible, unique body called the church. I love to see Christians serving, challenging, exhorting and blessing other Christians in this way. I thank God for Piper and Mahaney and their ministry to Mark Driscoll and, through him, to the church at large. Listen and be encouraged.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Mark Driscoll punches John Piper!

And Piper, in Chuck Norris-like fashion doesn't blink. And in Christ-like fashion turns the other cheek.

OK, not really. But it does look like it doesn't it? The photo is from the Text and Context Conference Q&A session.

If you didn't hear about this conference, a quick synopsis is available on the Acts 29 site by Scott Thomas.

Justin Buzzard did a good job of capturing some notes from the conference.

Desiring God Blog has John Piper's thoughts and resources from the conference.

Acts 29 will eventually make the audio and video available from the conference (for FREE!) and when I catch wind of that I'll pass it on. One session might not be fully available, as Mark Driscoll brought his wife Grace Driscoll on stage to answer questions. Last I heard he is debating whether to open this segment to the public, as he wants to protect his wife. I for one would LOVE to hear what she had to say, but I understand and respect his need and desire to protect his family. I'm sure he'll make the right choice.

I watched a bit of this via streaming video, and am excited to see it all when it becomes available.

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