Friday, April 13, 2012

Some T4G 2012 thoughts

A lot has changed in the four years since my last T4G. Mainly: it is much bigger. The crowds are simply massive. Though this is starting out on a negative note, I'll say that I find that a minus. One is lost in the crush and, while I'm happy to see so many so eager for such good teaching and preaching... well, it reminded me of the seventies, when I'd go to Ticketmaster to get the very best seats the very second Chicago announced a concert -- and I'd end up in row XXXXX.

Also, the selection of books given away was not as uniformly stellar as in 2008, though it did feature some very good titles.

The highlights for me and my observations, mostly in random order:
  1. Spending a lot of time with Frank Turk and his wife was probably the highlight. They were already two of my favorite non-relatives in the known universe, but for me hearing them chat and interact and cut up was a deluxe hot fudge sundae with lots of nuts and no cherry. (Don't care for cherries on sundaes.) Only thing that would have made that better would have been having my dear Valerie with us. In fact, that would have made absolutely everything better. But I digress.
  2. Seeing Phil and Darlene Johnson is always a treat. (Readers: "Duh.")
  3. The warm greeting and chats with Ligon Duncan and Jim Hamilton. Love those brothers, absolutely love them; what gifts to Christ's church they both are. My bucket-list includes finding some way to spend more time with each of them. Both made my day. Wish I could take every one of Jim's classes, and wish I could be an undercover Calvidispiebaptogelical apprentice to Ligon. (More on Ligon, below.)
  4. Meeting and chatting with Chris Brauns, author of the stellar book on forgiveness (if you don't have it, you need it), and hearing of his writing plans.
  5. Meeting and chatting with Dr. Matt Harmon, one of the readers for my TWTG manuscript, and discussing our book plans and thoughts. Matt has some terrific projects in the works, I'm excited for him. Also a brief chat with Brian Rickett, one of the gracious TWTG endorsers and a good guy who sounds like he's got a terrific work going.
  6. Meeting -- and here I despair, because I know I'll forget someone I shouldn't -- Kim and Neil Shay for the first time in person, The Blainemonster (real name Blaine... Moore, I think?) Andrew Lindsey, Daniel Comings, Danny Wright, Steve Weaver, Evan May, Staci EastinSpencer DeBurghLogan Paschke, a missionary to Peru and then Mexico named Kenan Plunk, and Brad Williams.  Seeing David and Kelly Kjos again, and spending more time with them. I know there were others -- a David, a Chris, others -- and I apologize for not remembering better. Saw Joe Thorn for, as I recall, the first time since the conference at Tulsa where the seed-thought for TWTG was planted.
  7. Dinner with Carl Trueman, along with my fellow Pyros and their wives, and Phil's associate Travis Allen. I think I understand many things better that affect me personally and evangelicalism at large, though not in a happy way. The dinner was very helpful, informative, fun. I think and hope it was good for him; I know it was good for us.
  8. Carl appeared on a panel with celebrity pastors talking about celebrity pastors. Carl was winsome and persuasive, made excellent points. He said he is concerned that, when he asks students who are the most influential figures on their lives, they name celebrity pastors they've never met and seldom (never) name their own pastors. Trueman is concerned about the impact on students' aspirations and expectations. Carl said he understands the need to sell tickets, but asks why all conferences always feature "the same twelve names." Indeed. I leaned over to Frank and whispered that they should ask him for his recommendations, and just then Carl (reading my mind) said "Why can't you have one or two sessions conducted by a faithful and unknown pastor of a small church?"
  9. On that: my mind went to the first session, where Mark Dever did his usual elimination rounds. I thought I might win one of them. He was closing in on the pastors there who'd been pastors for the least amount of time at their current churches. I was annihilated by a fellow who'd been a pastor for two days. But in the other direction, he discovered a gent who'd pastored the same church for (as I recall) well over fifty years. Now, other things being equal, that is a man I'd like to hear talk. I hope they kept his name.
  10. By the way, if any of the leaders are reading this: here's how you do it. Get a no-name or a relative no-name. Have all the speakers ready to talk at every session. Then simply draw a name before the session, and have that brother speak. That way, attenders won't flock to favorite celebrities and shun the faithful unknown. There y'go, problem solved.
  11. You will find audio of all the talks here. The talks I heard were all varying degrees of good. The most helpful and/or challenging to me were those by C. J. Mahaney, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Ligon Duncan. I spoke briefly with C. J. mainly to express appreciation. (In case anyone's fixing to accuse me of namedropping, C. J. stands in that vast majority of people who clearly don't know me from Adam.)
  12. Mahaney's talk was first. He has that George W. Bush gift for lowering expectations, then exceeding them. His text was 2 Corinthians 4, and I'll be listening again. In particular, he made a terrific observation about verses 4 to 6: verse 4 shows the impossibility of the situation, verse 6 shows God doing what only god can do, and verse 5 places the preacher of Christ right there in the middle.
  13. Thabiti talked about 1 Timothy 1, with particular emphasis on verses 11-17. He says the mention of the Gospel in v. 11 was like a favorite song for Paul, triggering a flood of associations. Thabiti's main challenge was that we not underestimate the Gospel, not exclude anyone as a lost cause -- for that exclusion surely would have excluded Paul. He challenged my cowardly timidity, left me with much to think and pray about. (I'm not sure Thabiti remembers me much, either, just to add to the previous.)
  14. Ligon's talk was devastating to the degree that I'm not sure I'm ready to say much about it, or ever will. Just listen to it. My handkerchief was pretty wet at its close. Ligon's text was 1 Kings 19, and he preached it with a pastor's heart and a scholar's eye. Absolutely wonderful, absolutely devastating, absolutely glorious. I will definitely plan to listen to it again, and incorporate much in my BibleWorks notes.
  15. Oh, and since several have asked, yes, a certain "recent book" was there, though not featured or mentioned by any particular T4G leader:
  • Dr. Jim Hamilton.
  • View from the nosebleed section:
  • Love these guys.


Marla said...

Thanks Dan -- I definitely will check out the links. All of Team Pyro within driving distance of my town *sigh* hopefully there will be a next time...when more of my kids are grown.

I think you should update your picture with the one of you with Jim Hamilton.

Robert said...

Glad that you had a good trip and were edified by the speakers. I'm anxious to listen to Ligon Duncan's message...I've liked him ever since I heard him speak at the first conference I attended right after I was saved.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Wow, Dan, you were so right about Ligon Duncan's message.

I loved this quote of his (not verbatim, though): "God ruthlessly crushes our idolatries so that we can have a greater joy!"

Haven't we all experienced this?

Thanks for the links!

Stephen said...

Wonderful! The more you feature Hamilton and the more I read of him elsewhere (e.g., a couple-three of his articles were posted at TGC in the featured "Finding Christ in Genesis" round-up), the more I want to move to Louisville and pursue a Th.M./Ph.D. (yikes!) with him.

On the Book table picture, you can be thankful your stack was not the one placed under the sign!

Chris Brauns said...

It was so nice to finally meet you in person. I wish there was more time to chat. I pray for your new beginning in Texas.

Staci Eastin said...

I was so sure you were going to win the newest pastor elimination round.

I enjoyed meeting you as well.

Staci Eastin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Comings said...

Hey Dan,

As much fun as it is to poke fun when meeting "celebrity" bloggers, I must say that meeting you, Frank and Phil was like meeting "regular" (whatever that means)people. (And I mean that as a compliment just in case there was any doubt)

You guys seldom fail to encourage and put a smile on my face.

Andrew said...

Daniel Comings...that's my bro!

Scot said...

Ligon's talk was wow. I didn't have the same waterworks, but I did need to hear that message. I'm look forward to listening to other messages.

The picture of you with Jim Hamilton looks just like your profile picture, only someone photoshopped the shirt color. :)

Aaron said...

Any thoughts on David Platt's message?

DJP said...

That was the evening we had dinner with Carl Trueman, so no. I didn't know Platt from Adam, and the topic was missions which, frankly, suggested to me that it was missable.

And then absolutely everyone who was there said he blew the roof off. Figures!

So it's on my must-listen list when I get back home. But haven't done yet.

The Blainemonster said...

Moore is indeed the surname! Thanks for the time, Dan. And Ligon's message was exactly, EXACTLY, what I needed. Wow.

Logan Paschke said...

Great to finally meet you and chat a bit. Yes phenomenal messages that all deserve to be listebed to again. Though in honesty and bearing in mind that I'd driven 5 hours and rocked a redeye by the time mohler's session came around I was falling asleep from pure exhaustion. And then feeling even more jetlagged I fell asleep through half of mckinley's breakout session. Will listen to them both again. I'll also blog about my experiences. What a blessing it all was.

danny2 said...


I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on Chandler's handling on Revelation 22 and the New Jerusalem. Talking with other pre-mil types (of which I am) they seemed about 50-50 as whether the description is of New Jerusalem or the Church.

Obviously, i think the bride language is what causes the trip up.

Marla said...

Just listened to Ligon's message. Your description is apt. We need to finish well.

Steve Weaver said...

Great to see you, Dan, although you only knew me by my dad and brother! :) Looking forward to dipping into your books soon.

Stephen said...

I know you're not looking for podcast-pastor recs, Dan, but I would encourage you to give Platt a chance. His first book got a little pushback from both James Mcdonald and Kevin DeYoung, which is probably actually a great compliment. But his exegetical/homiletical process is generally spot-on and driven towards a proper evangelical response to the gospel. You may need to invest in good speakers to listen to him though, because while he speaks in full confidence of the word, he doesn't speak with full use of the diaphragm often!

CCinTn said...

Dan, so glad to have met you, Phil and Frank although it was literally for only about 1 minute as our group headed for a different restaurant than you all.
I'm still digesting my time there and the messages heard.

I can say that it was straight up 3:00 pm before Matt touched the text his message was based on. Unfortunate considering that the day before he was on the panel discussing contextualization! He spent about 30 minutes 'setting up' what he was going to say and not much time actually speaking to the text. Even when he did finally read his scripture text, he spent additional time afterwards talking about things other than the text.
I was really disappointed by that, but on another note, I have been reading through his book, The Explicit Gospel and it is at least better than the message he gave at T4G. I'm only a few chapters in, so I'm not giving a ringing endorsement yet! It will have to get MUCH better before it rises to the level of TWTG...

DJP said...

Yeah, I already got that. Tried starting to listen on my ntnook, and bailed out after a few seconds.

DJP said...

Or "Netbook."

danny2 said...

Just to be clear, I didn't mean for my comment to be dogging on Chandler. I actually think he's a faithful preacher and am excited to see him leading A29.

I also think conference speaking is a whole different animal than preaching in your own I'm not sure using a stopwatch to see when a guy gets in the Text is really applicable. (Matt often simply begins his sermons at the Village with "Open your Bibles to..."

My question was simply intended toward the Text. As a pre-mil guy, my first inclination was to discount the idea that revelation 21:9 (and following) is about the church, but just thought it was describing the New Jerusalem. However, it does say "the bride of the Lamb."

Of course, my brain was so full by then, it's possible I missed some things that were being said that help clarify it.

I was simply curious on how you handle Rev 21, Dan.


David said...

Visiting with the eminent author and (more importantly) pastor Phillips was a high point of our week. Seriously, I can download any of the conference sessions, but there is no substitute for meeting brothers face to face. And collecting their autographs to sell on eBay.

Just kidding. I will treasure my signed God's Wisdom in Proverbs as I read it over again, and, I expect, again.

God bless you, Dan, in all your ministries.

DJP said...

The pleasure was mine, David. I was just thinking how I regretted not finding a way to spend more time talking with you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for these thaughts!
Tpp bad I couldn't be there...