In the last podcast, you mentioned living now in the middle of nowhere Tennessee. And this is the first time we’ve recorded “Ask Pastor John” from different states. You are in Tennessee for the next fourteen months. So give us a quick personal update, because you recently moved. And maybe give us some updates on projects you hope to work on in the next year.
Tony, we drove down to Tennessee with a one-third-full Penske sixteen-foot truck. I think I overestimated. We didn’t bring furniture. We just brought books and stuff we would need for a year because we were renting a furnished house from one of Noël’s cousins.
And bless their heart, Marshall Segal and Stefan Green drove the truck for us, and we drove our car, and so we got here and moved into this place and are still getting our offices in order. Talitha is going to have a little place in her room, because she is going to do college courses online while we are here for this year. Even though she is a senior in high school, she is going to be taking college courses that count for dual enrollment. Noël is getting her little study set up in this master bedroom here so that she can work on her biography of Esther Nelson who is a missionary nobody has ever written about, and she hopes to get that basically done, I think, this year. And as for me, I hope to work on “Ask Pastor John.”
Actually, there are a few other things. We are going to be working on a new creative Bible teaching vision through Desiring God that we hope to roll out in a few months or so that we will tell people more about later. And then there are at least three book projects and a fourth that I have not decided on yet.
Projects in the Works
One is called Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace to help believers know what has happened to them so that they can enjoy God more and love him and feel a sweet thankfulness that comes when you know what he really did for you and can help you, then, spill over in gospel-telling for others. So it is a book about reformed soteriology at its most basic level. And my desire is that people would see that these things are for our joy and for our steadiness, and they are not mainly about arguing or debating. They are right at the heart of what gives us peace and sweet communion with the Lord because of the majesty of his salvation in our lives. So that is number one.
Number two is called A Godward Heart: Treasuring the God Who Loves You — 50 Meditations for your Journey. It is a collection of fifty short readings. And the vision behind this is that we have published A Godward Life and, let’s see, Pierced by the Word and Life as a Vapor. All of those are collections of short readings that I have written over the years, and our aim is to try to get that number up to 365 so that we can then publish a series of volumes in which we have a reading for every day of the year. So this is a step in that direction.
And then, the third one is a new Swans book — volume VI in “The Swans are Not Silent” called Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield and C. S. Lewis which is kind of a surprising combination, I think. But I think I have seen something particularly in George Whitefield. George Whitefield is the surprising member in that trilogy, I think, because he was an evangelist and a preacher rather than a poet. And yet, when you see how he preached, there is a way that he had his own peculiar poetic effort. And I will try to define that — that I think is a kind of unity to these three heroes of mine that I hope will be very helpful to people.
Discernment for Future Ministry
But here is the overall goal for this year away, Tony. I do plan to move back to Minneapolis some time in summer of 2014 and the reason for getting away is, number one, to give as much freedom for Jason Meyer, my replacement in the pastoral role at Bethlehem, and second, for God to give me discernment for the next chapter of my life. If God gives me ten years, that is how long my dad was really lucid. I remember hearing my dad preach when he was 77. That is ten years older than I am. And it was a powerful sermon. I have got a video of my dad preaching at 77. I said, “Boy, if I could preach like that at 77, I will be so thankful.”
“I think we should always plan for life, but never presume upon life.”
I mean, I don’t assume. I think we should always plan for life, but never presume upon life. And so I am going to plan for it, and the question is, What is the configuration of teaching at Bethlehem College and Seminary and producing audio and video and written content for Desiring God and speaking at conferences and ministering to missionaries and encouraging pastors — all those things that are possible now: Lord, show me. So, I would ask people if they listen to this, just join me in prayer that this year would be a year of great illumination so that the last chapter could, in God’s mercy, be the most fruitful of all.