We drove our last 2 1/2 hours this morning through the smokey mountains, which was beautiful. Look for pictures from Joe since I was driving and he was free to take some shots. We arrived too early to check in, so we ate at Bruegger's Bagels (diced chicken fajita on an everything bagel, which included jalapeno cream cheese) and figured out how to get around Greensboro.
We checked in at around 2pm and completed our convention registration around 4pm. Then we had dinner with Chris Turner of LifeWay and a couple of guys he had with him. The conversation was reformed theology. Joe Thorn kept trying to give me a chance to speak (which I did a little), but if Joe has a chance to help someone understand reformed theology then you just let him speak. It was really encouraging, especially since I haven't talked through the Doctrines of Grace (et al) for a while.
Then we headed to the convention in order to catch Johnny Hunt's Acts 17 message (at one point the lights totally went out due to a powerful thunderstorm). He said some good stuff about character and holiness and how much that matters in ministry. If you are a person of integrity you can be bold and not worry about someone digging up stuff on you. Very cool. Of course, that good point was mixed with a bunch of fairly angry preaching, nostril flares, an anti-Calvinism dig or two and a highly offensive tan.
Point of Privilege: At one point in his message Johnny Hunt had the opportunity in a room full of pastors to either 1) drop laws and harsh words against struggling pastors who are not doing their job well, or 2) encourage struggling pastors to be strong in the grace that is in Christ (2 Tim 2:1) with gracious words. Guess which he chose. Sometimes we feel like truth-centered, prophetic preaching must be wielding the sword of law and guilt, but law without grace is a killer. Sure speak to the problems, but point to Jesus. Sure share stats, but then point to grace.
Then we waited for Rick Warren's talk, only to find out that Rick decided to skip out for a round of golf (well, I'm not really sure what he's doing but he isn't here). So they said they were going to show him preaching on video which was a strong argument for us to leave. So we did. Look, we didn't drive to North Carolina to see a Purpose Driven VHS tape.
Note to those here in Greensboro...
For those wanting to meet up, we are mostly free Monday evening since we are skipping the evening session of the pastor's conference but will be at the Missional Network (younger leaders) meeting later on. Joe and I will probably be in the exhibit hall from 7pm-10pm or so. On one side is the LifeWay store and the other side are the exhibits. On the exhibit side there are a bunch of round tables; we will try to snag one. Ideally you may want to call in case something comes up, but we hope to be around.
One last thing. This news from Tom Ascol's blog, "I just heard that Dr. Al Mohler had emergency eye surgery today at the Duke Medical complex. He has had eye difficulties for years and I do not know the nature of this procedure. He is still scheduled to speak at the pastors' conference on Monday." Please pray for Dr. Mohler.