C.J. Mahaney has been one of my heroes ever since I saw the interviews on the Together for the Gospel website, oh, probably a year or so ago. There he was in all his glory, sitting with Dr. Mohler, Mark Dever, and Lig Duncan, and I felt like the song, "One of these things is not like the other" should have been playing in the background. Lig Duncan and Al Mohler were in dark suits and conservative ties. But not C.J. He's a bloke, a mensch -- he's just folks, as we would say in the South, totally without theologian airs. I've seen him in a suit twice this week, which is highly unusual, evidenced by the fact that he called suits "an effect of the Fall." On the videos, he was in a button-down with the collar open and a pair of very comfy-looking cargo khakis.
And understand that the T4G videos were somewhat promotional in purpose; in other words, people were supposed to get excited about coming to T4G after watching these impressive leaders of the faith preview the topics they were going to teach on at the conference. But C.J. is so genuinely joyful that he couldn't help falling into gales of laughter at even the most benign comment by one of the other participants. The man laughed so hard that he literally bounced in his formal queen Anne chair. (Oh! Good news! The videos are still available!)
This week, I've had the total joy of getting to hear C.J. teach three times (well, four if you count the audio message on the Song of Solomon that I listened to online), and the privilege of speaking with him in person three times (all too briefly) as well. He is truly a man of humility and a man of the Cross. I've been challenged both by his excellent treatment of Scripture and by his obvious love for the church and for the Lord. The moment that brought tears to my eyes was watching him worship in chapel -- since he was up on the stage during worship, we all got to glimpse his time in God's presence. Even at a stodgy Southern Baptist gathering, he raised his hands, and tipped his head back, and sang with gusto, periodically wiping tears.
I respect his teachings, but admire him as a man of God even more now than before. He laughs quickly and often, cries easily, confesses readily, and eagerly passes the credit for his incredibly successful ministry to his team of elders and ultimately to the Lord. Praise God for this man.
If you've never heard him teach, you are seriously missing out. Check out Southern's website for audio versions of his messages this week, or go to the Sovereign Grace website to download outlines and order CDs, or head to the CBMW website to listen to his (fantastic) messages on sexual intimacy in marriage, and on submission in marriage.