I have a few "real" posts in the hopper but the time to flesh them fully out is scarce, so I thought I'd offer a placeholder of sorts with some random news, updates, and musings.
Got back from the Houston area yesterday. I preached the first (and only? :-) Gospel Wakefulness Conference at Conroe Church of Christ on Friday and Saturday. (All the audio is now available here.) What can I say about my hosts? These people were sweethearts, very good and affectionate with me and others attending who were not of their congregation. I was just blown away by how gladly they received the word. The group discussion time we built into the conference schedule was a highlight as well, and I was blessed by the sharing of some older men with complete strangers their own stories of gospel astonishment and life transformation. I loved my time with them.
Also loved my time Sunday morning preaching at Crossbridge Church, which is in the Acts 29 Network. Pastor Chuck Land and elder Glenn Smith were marvelous hosts. I really enjoyed getting to know Chuck better; we share a lot of background, both coming from the Northwest Houston area, knowing a lot of the same people and circles. We even had the same watch on, which was kind of weird. ($15 Mossimo from Tar-jay.) Crossbridge peeps were fantastic, even when I dogged Houston in the intro to my message (which you can listen to here). I got to preach on Mark 14:43-52, which I'm sure Chuck assigned to me as some kind of homiletical variation of Saw's torture puzzles. ;-)
But seriously: my mind and heart enjoyed the exercise of finding the gospel key in that narrative snippet, and I think the church was blessed.
God was good to me and answered my prayers not to get sick before I had to go out of town. He graciously waited until the day I got back to Vermont. I'm a little under the weather right now and tired, so now I'm praying to be over it by Sunday.
Next week I will be at The Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago. I'm extra excited this year because I get to take my lovely wife with me. I only started going to conferences 2 years ago (before that, my last conference was Willow Creek in 1996), and while I've been at TGC and T4G I kept finding myself thinking, "Man, if only Becky was here to experience this!" So this year I decided to bring her so I could stop wishing. This will be sort of our 15th anniversary getaway (3 months early).
One of the things I enjoyed working on for The Gospel Wakefulness Conference was a couple of talks developing some material in a book I have coming out next year from Crossway. It is tentatively titled Grace Upon Grace: The Many Glories of the One Gospel. I am stoked to get it written by this summer.
And of course, keep an eye out for Gospel Wakefulness, which releases this October.
In the meantime, though, I am pleased to be able to assist Matt Chandler with his first book. This has been an incredible experience, not just because Matt has an incredible set of messages to share, but because Matt is an incredible person. This effort has been a high privilege and a great joy. The book is tentatively titled The Explicit Gospel, although we are still retooling that. :-) Look for it in April of 2012. I know you will love it.
When I get a second to breathe, I am also assembling and editing a collection of essays in tribute to Michael Spencer. Contributors include Steve McCoy, Trevin Wax, Jason Boyett, Travis Prinzi, myself, and others. I hope to have this ready in the next month, and since we are going the p.o.d. self-publishing route, it should be available for purchase in that time, as well. 100% of proceeds will benefit the Spencer family. It will be called A Jesus-Shaped Spirituality.
Today is the one-year anniversary of Michael's passing. Here is a previous post of mine reflecting on Michael's voice and friendship; it was written shortly before his death, anticipating its inevitability. Here is a post from his wife Denise, published on today's solemn occasion.