Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Desiring God National Conference 2008 - Thoughts

This past weekend I was in Minneapolis for the 2008 Desiring God National Conference. As I mentioned previously, I met a reader of this blog (Ovidiu) for the first time at this conference. It was cool connecting with him, and I expect that friendship to grow. Plus, he made a great impression by breaking bread (and paying!) for our food at Buca di Beppo!

Friday Afternoon
We had the opportunity to attend a pre-conference meeting sponsored by the Fidelis Foundation at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Our speaker was Dr. Don (D.A.) Carson. Dr. Carson spoke on "Five Trends in the Church Today". For a great summary see Scott Thomas' write up on the Acts29 blog. We got to sit at the same table during lunch with Dr. Carson, but was unable to speak with him outside of thanking him for his great presentation. We also met the national director for The Gospel Coalition. I'm planning on attending the 2009 Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago (pending church and wife approval).

Friday Evening
Sinclair Ferguson kicked things off with a talk titled "The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing". The night was capped off with a speaker forum with Justin Taylor (my doppelganger) as host, and Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and Sinclair Ferguson all giving thier best thoughts on Justin's questions. Mark Driscoll presented Dr. Piper a cool tweed skateboarding jacket with the Desiring God logo sewed into the pocket. Driscoll has joked previously about Dr. Piper only owning one jacket he preaches in. Piper claims he owns more than one, but I'm siding with Driscoll on this having seen John Piper preach dozens of times, all with the same jacket on!

After the Friday evening sessions, I made my way out to my in-laws rather than commuting back to Waseca. This allowed me to work on a funeral message I gave Sunday for a few hours before going to bed. Saturday morning came early.

Saturday Morning
I arrived early so I could get good up front seats for the second session of the morning - Mark Driscoll. I purchased Driscoll's newest book Death By Love and was hoping to get his signature. I stood next to him for a few minutes Friday evening before the speaker forum, but he was engaged with someone else and I didn't want to interrupt. Driscoll signed my copy of Vintage Jesus previously, but I never got my new book signed unfortunately

I arrived and parked in the ramp East of the Minneapolis Convention Center (by the Lutheran Church). Upon attempting to enter the conference when the doors opened, I realized my admittance badge was still in my truck. I simultaneously realized that my keys were also in my truck, and the doors were locked and the alarm was armed. So rather than scoring sweet morning session seats for Ovidiu and myself, I had to call AAA, renew my membership ($60), wait for the tow truck (Bobby & Steve's) and help the operator break into my truck. I've been driving for something like 19 years, and haven't locked myself out of a vehicle like this. Ugh.

Bob Kauflin spoke in the first morning session on "Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing?" Kauflin was entertaining, but I didn't draw a whole lot out of it unfortunately.

Mark Driscoll followed Bob Kauflin with a message called "How Sharp the Edge: Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words." Driscoll was excellent as always, and got by far the most verbal feedback from the crowd throughout his presentation. I fully expected this to be the best presentation of the conference, and he didn't disappoint. Driscoll brought it, nearly blowing our eardrums at a couple of points as he yelled at us. I love Driscoll!

Saturday Afternoon
Daniel Taylor, a professor at Bethel University, had the tough task of speaking to us after lunch. Dr. Taylor spoke on "The Life-Shaping Power of Story: God's and Ours". Following this was the final panel discussion with Kauflin, Piper, Taylor and Tripp all again guided by Justin Taylor. We went to a Desiring God International Ministries meeting following the afternoon sessions (skipping going out for dinner). This was an interesting peek into the window of what DGM is doing world wide.

Saturday Evening
Paul Tripp spoke on "War of Words: Getting to the Heart for God's Sake." Honestly, Tripp stole the show in my opinion. I fully expected Driscoll to be the best session, and while Driscoll was amazing, Tripp was a level above that. If I had to recommend a single session for people to download and listen or watch it would be Tripp's. Powerful, passionate, and incredibly convicting. I'll be returning to this message for personal challenge in the months to come.

Following Tripp's session, there was a gathering of bloggers called together by Abraham Piper (yes of THAT Piper family). I got to meet a couple of readers of this blog (hi David!), and got to speak to Justin Taylor for the first time. I also got a couple of free books, to go along with the great haul of freebies we got signing in at registration Friday.

I was unable to attend the Sunday morning session where Dr. John Piper spoke on "Is There Christian Eloquence?", due to the fact I had to preach at First Congregational Church of Waseca, and then had a funeral to perform that afternoon. I have downloaded Piper's session (see below) and will be watching it soon.

It was a fantastic conference, well run and well organized. I expect I will attend this conference again someday.

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