After a long drive on Tuesday — including the annual traffic tie-ups around Scranton, PA (30 minutes stalled on an interstate highway while workers picked up cones) — I arrived at the campus of Messiah College just in time for the annual Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference. The Banner of Truth Trust is a book publisher based in Edinburgh, Scotland, which features wonderful Christian writings from the past and present with a theologically reformed point of view. Anything they publish is worth reading, and some of my most cherished books have their logo (George Whitefield preaching) on the spine!
This is my 19th annual conference. I dearly love the fraternal relationships here, the sweet times of worship (hundreds of men singing psalms & hymns), and, of course, the passionate preaching of God’s Word from esteemed brothers from around the world. 19 years ago Pastor Irfon Hughes brought me here from New England where I was serving at the time. Irfon is featured in a promotional video clip HERE (and at the bottom of that same web page, you can see me in a photo — blue shirt carrying my briefcase over my shoulder!). Irfon is not here this year; he is missed. I am also missing my dear friend (and Banner founder) Iain H Murray this year.
I have seen some dear old brothers, and met some new ones, too. The older ones are like familiar fixtures in my world of friends — bringing the comfort of familiar faces, and remembrance of many shared joys and tears; the new acquaintances are like a welcome, fresh breeze, as I get to hear new stories of the work of grace in their lives. I am encouraged each year at what God is doing in so many places in our land, especially in the younger generation (I can speak like this now that I am 50 years old!).
This is so much more than a conference with plenary sessions, and a bookstore of resources — it is a reunion of friends and colleagues, a time of deep theological thinking, a season of physical refreshing (on a beautiful campus), and, sweetest of all, a closer encounter with the Lord my God. The Spirit of God is working on me here — through the Word preached, and through the ministry of many dear brothers.
Pray that I learn what the Spirit is teaching me, and consecrate myself afresh to the service of my Lord Jesus Christ — for the glory of God the Father.