Yesterday was an amazing day. The relational warmth of the people here and their passion for Jesus is infectious. It was exceptional to meet Sam Storms, who I interviewed via email back in 2006, and whose ministry I have watched from afar. Look out for a video interview with him in the not-too-distant future here.
I went to a “pre-conference” with Paul Tripp. He relentlessly pursued us all to make sure our private lives matched the public, urging pastors to make themselves vulnerable to others. He was so persistent, I thought he was almost like a dog with a bone. Not for the first time I found myself being glad that, although I get to serve in leadership, I am not at the helm of a church as the lead pastor. It can be a very lonely, and at times discouraging, task. We need to learn to do everything we can to support our pastors and be a blessing to them, not a curse.
I then had the opportunity to finally meet two of the many incredible people who have been working so hard behind the scenes at Crossway Books. I spent a few minutes drinking Coke (to help with my jet lag) with Angie Cheatham and Ben Krueger. To partner for the gospel with a group of people like those who work for Crossway is one of the many great privileges of my life, for which I am so grateful. Before I got involved in this whole process I naively thought that book writing was a solitary activity. It really isn’t.
Nothing I had heard about the conference prepared me for the exhilaration of joining my voice to what seemed like around 2000 other men as we worshiped King Jesus. It was great to see the way they enthusiastically welcomed the wives who had made the effort to come, and we all applauded them. As we sang arms were raised, and the presence of God’s Spirit was strong.
Sam Storms preached about the central place of joy in God. The message of Christian hedonism is intoxicating. It is well worth watching this message even if you think you know Desiring God inside out. We must be reminded often. I must be reminded often. Alhough I preached myself on “Rejoice in the Lord” not long ago, I so needed God’s reminder via this sermon from Storms of the need to really pursue joy in God. I especially loved a segment of this talk when he spoke about “joy inexpressible.” He explained that you know you have this joy when human words are no longer enough to express it. The joy rises to the point that mere words cannot express it. Spurgeon described this well as follows:
“But there is yet another sense in which the Holy Ghost advocates, and that is, he advocates our cause with Jesus Christ, with groanings that cannot be uttered. O my soul, thou art ready to burst within me! O my heart, thou art swelled with grief; the hot tide of my emotion would well-nigh overflow the channels of my veins. I long to speak, but the very desire chains my tongue. I wish to pray, but the fervency of my feeling curbs my language. There is a groaning within that cannot be uttered. Do you know who can utter that groaning, who can understand it, and who can put it into heavenly language and utter it in O celestial tongue, so that Christ can hear it? Oh! yes; is God the Holy Spirit; he advocates our cause with Christ and then Christ advocates it with his Father. He is the advocate, who maketh intercession for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered.” Spurgeon “The Comforter”