I flew out on Tuesday morning, April 1, to Phoenix, Arizona, to deliver three evening messages on the sufferings of Christ (Christ in Gethsemane, Christ at Gabbatha, and Christ on Golgotha) for the ARBCA General Assembly, hosted by Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, Arizona. The evening meetings were open to the public and drew about 250 people, most of whom were pastors and their wives.
During the days this assembly, which includes about 75 Reformed Baptist churches, addressed a variety of issues related to missions work, received reports from the representative churches and various church plants, and discussed budgetary matters. David Campbell gave an address on Eric Liddell and James Renihan spoke on Symbolics, providing a summary of the London Baptist Confession of 1689.
Twelve boxes of books from Reformation Heritage Books didn’t arrive until the second day, but the ministers were such great book buyers that by the end of the following day, all but half a box of books were sold. The local church bought the balance.
I really enjoyed fellowshipping with many brethren here. A few of the men, such as Fred Malone, James Renihan, and two PRTS long-distance students, I had never had a chance to visit with before. It was also good to see John Giarrizzo (founding pastor of Grace Covenant), Sam Waldron (my former next-door neighbor), and other friends again.
On Friday, April 4, I flew from Phoenix to Orlando via Houston, where I had a surprise meeting in the airport with Cees VanBreugel, the brother who arranges my itineraries every other year in the Netherlands. He just happened to be on his way back from Nicaragua and landed in Houston. I also had an opportunity to evangelize a shoe-shiner, who gladly received one of my books. In Orlando, I met Mary and our daughter Lydia who had flown in from Michigan. We had a delightful overnight stay at the home of Jonathan and Alisa Bos, and then breakfasted the following morning with three professors who teach at R. C. Sproul’s Reformation Bible College, located in Sanford, Florida. The conversation was stimulating and helpful.
After breakfast, we drove to Bradenton, Florida, where we enjoyed the ocean and a male peacock showing off his plumage in an attempt to win one of three females. I then preached the following day two times for the Florida Reformed Fellowship in Bradenton to a group of twenty people. It was good to be there again—also to stay between the services with our Grand Rapids friends, Marinus and Connie Staal. (Marinus organizes the work for this group during the winter months.)
This week we are vacationing in Florida, enjoying a relaxing time. Besides enjoying my wife and daughter, and lots of walking, I have enjoyed catching up with the typesetters on editing the King James Version Study Bible, The Beauty and Glory of Christian Living (a book consisting of last year’s conference addresses), our denominational Yearbook, and a number of other smaller projects. I also caught up with grading student papers, which is always a great feeling! And I’ve even had time to prepare my sermon for the coming Sabbath and to dip into a few books I have long wanted to read. Mary, Lydia, and I hope to take a boat to Key West to spend the day there. We hope to fly home on Saturday, God willing.