March Madness

March 10, 2006

I’m here, Mark, but I’m a little distracted because March Madness has begun! I am very concerned Maryland will not be invited to the big dance, but I am looking forward to Duke losing in the tournament. I will be sure to let you know when that happens.

Hey, I experienced quite the surprise on Monday when Al called me to talk about college basketball. On the way home from the conference he read Last Dance, by John Feinstein. I was stunned. There is hope for Al, but I’m afraid I have no hope that you will develop even the slightest interest in sports. You are missing out big time, my friend, especially at this time of year. Luther would have loved March Madness.

There were a number of topics I considered posting on this week. I still intend to do a post about the importance of a plan for reading and study. But I must first add my voice to the reflections on last week’s Shepherd’s Conference–an extraordinary conference indeed. I would like to briefly draw attention to one of the pronounced evidences of God’s grace I observed.

John MacArthur, Dan Dumas, and the members of Grace Community Church put on a clinic in the art of serving. Though the preaching at the conference was outstanding, the example of servanthood (truly the fruit of expository preaching) was compelling. Every individual I encountered, from the first moment I arrived to my final moment at the conference, served with excellence–and not only excellence, but cheerfulness as well. The hundreds of members of Grace Community Church who took time off work in order to serve us were a compelling illustration and demonstration of the content of the preaching we heard. True greatness as biblically defined was on display each day of the conference. Sadly, in time, I will forget much of the excellent preaching I heard, but I will not forget the example of servanthood that I observed. I hope John, Dan, and the members of Grace Community Church feel our gratefulness and more importantly, God’s pleasure.

I do, however, have one recommendation for next year’s conference. Athletic events should be added to the schedule. Given that the overwhelming majority of the men who attend this conference are athletically inclined, there must be some way to make this a priority. How about a late night basketball tournament? This could take place from 11:00-12:00 each evening. Actually, I have already formed and finalized my team for next year’s tournament. The following guys have agreed to play on my team:

Ralph Drollinger
Joey Penberthy (And Joey’s brother, Mike, if he is back from Europe)
John MacArthur
Adam Bailies
Kurt Gebhards

These are my guys, and we will take on any other team that would like to be schooled and humbled at the conference. Of course, I issue this challenge in the spirit of servanthood and ultimately for the glory of God.

Finally, Mark, one of the unique joys for me at The Shepherd’s Conference was the time I spent hanging with and learning from you, Al and Lig. Being with you guys is exhilarating and exhausting. You seem to have another gear you shift into after all the meetings are over. At around 11pm, you get a burst of energy that carries you into the morning hours. And after a few hours of sleep, you guys do it all over again. I try to keep up, but never succeed. Even though it’s Friday and the conference ended last Saturday, I am still tired. But I love staying up late with you guys. You men work hard serving the Savior and His church. You personify 2 Timothy 2:15, and you do so with joy. And what a memory it was to be included in the panel Friday night and honored along with you men.