Archives for May 2022

Arrival in North Carolina

I spoke one more time in Budapest Thursday morning on “Growing Through Family Worship.” Please pray that these church leaders will be encouraged, and that they will lead their flocks in the paths of Scripture, to be lights on the hill and salt on the earth. A young family wanted a picture of me holding their precious little girl. My heart suddenly longed for our grandchildren!

We said our good-byes, and they immediately took us to the airport. The first leg of our journey was delayed, which would make us miss our connection and North Carolina conference. So, they re-routed us. Instead of Budapest-Paris-Detroit-Charlotte, we flew Budapest-Amsterdam-Atlanta-Charlotte. Despite some computer glitches, we made it safely. God is so kind.

The Charlotte airport was super busy even at midnight. We missed getting a hotel shuttle by five minutes. A young man overheard us trying to get a taxi to the Wingate hotel. He said, “I just got kicked out of a taxi, so I called for a Uber. I’m going to the Wingate; you can ride with me.” “OK, great!” After we’d been on the way for too long, we suddenly asked from the back seat, “Hey, which Wingate are you going to?” It was the wrong one! It was 2:00 a.m. by time we dropped exhausted into bed.

Busy Day In Budapest

Today was packed: I preached four more times on the subject of Spiritual Growth to the Reformed Presbyterian Conference in Budapest, Hungary to about 100 people (mostly Hungarian ministers, but also some Romanians, and a few people from Moldova and Malaysia; photo 1). My subjects were Growing in Prayer, Growing in Knowing and Profiting from the Puritans, Growing in Reformed Experiential Preaching, and Growing in Coping with Criticism Profitably. I also did a QA session–the questions were excellent. My three translators were all very good.

I also spent some time signing my two new books in Hungarian–one on prayer (coauthored with my brother Jim) and one on marriage (coauthored with Mary). In photo 2, you can a minister buying a dozen copies for all the members of his session, wanting each one signed.

After the conference concluded for the day, the organizing ministers took us out for an evening meal and fellowship (photo 3) that afforded us an excellent view overlooking Budapest (photo 4).

Finally, I also squeezed in a helpful 45-minute with 6 ministers from the Bible Bond (photo 5). They represent a group of about 40 conservative Reformed ministers of the 1900 ministers in the Hungarian Reformed Church, most of whom have become liberal.

Arrival In Hungary

This morning we arose early to beat Glasgow, Scotland rush hour traffic. We were sad to say good-bye to David and Fiona Carmichael. We had a clear and beautiful view of Dutch farmland as we flew into Amsterdam (photo #1). Our plane was a bit late and we had a short layover, so the border control agent put us in the front of the line. But then another agent put someone in front of us. When we got up to the counter, the guy said, “You only have ten minutes, you shouldn’t have let those people ahead of you. You must stand up for yourselves. Go!” So we ran! It was about a half mile, but we made it! So thankful.

We arrived safely in Budapest, Hungary; however, Mary’s suitcase did not. After filling out forms, Gyula Bagoly (a PRTS ThM graduate) whisked us off to the ministers’ conference, where we arrived at 6:20 p.m. and fifteen minutes later (only five minutes late!), I delivered the first of six addresses on “Growth” to a group of eighty ministers, elders, and friends of Reformed persuasion. The first address was on “Growing in Assurance of Faith.” The leaders of this conference are Peter Szabo and Gyula (photo #2).

Please pray for us as I address the conference on four more topics of growth tomorrow, D.V. 

Leaving Scotland

Yesterday morning we took a walk around Lesmahagow, Scotland and spent some time looking at the home Rev. David and Fiona Carmichael recently purchased for their upcoming “retirement” years as well as a large abandoned building that was originally a mansion, then became a hospital for disabled people, with some dream now of renovating it into a hotel (photo 1). After an afternoon of catch-up work, we drove into Glasgow where I spoke in the evening at a quaint little Reformed Baptist Church (photo 2) to a few dozen ministers and their wives and some friends on “Thriving in Babylon,” and then enjoyed an hour or two of fellowship (photo3–taken at the end of the fellowship after most had left).

On the way back to the Carmichael home late that evening we had a flat tire on the highway, which took a while to replace so that we didn’t arrive home until close to midnight (photo 4). We were just grateful to arrive home safely, and to get up at 5:30 this morning to fly to Hungary via Amsterdam. Pray for our upcoming conference in Hungary please.

Continued Hospitality of the Carmichael’s in Scotland

We had a full and blessed Lord’s Day yesterday in Scotland. We are still living in the parsonage of David and Fiona Carmichael, enjoying their warm fellowship and hospitality (right side of photo 1). In the morning, we walked next door to the adjacent Abbeygreen Free Church of Scotland in Lesmahagow to worship (left side of photo 1), where Rev. Carmichael led the first part of the service from the lower pulpit and I preached from the high pulpit on Isaiah 49:14-17 to 125 people (photo 2–this beautiful church built in the 1840s also has a high balcony that covers three sides of the church’s interior).

In the afternoon, we had a thoroughly enjoyable visit with three generations of the Carmichael family (photo 3), and then drove 15 minutes to preach for Rev. Steven Reid (photo 4–Reid on the left and Carmichael on the right) in the little valley village of Crossford, Scotland where I spoke on “It is finished” (John 19:30) with some freedom. Sixty people from Rev. Carmichael’s flock joined with us in worshipping in this small village church of about 25-30 people. Afterward I enjoyed visiting with a retired, humble, and wise Scottish minister who just finished writing his 300-page autobiography for his extended family. We then returned to the Carmichael home for a late dinner and more good fellowship until 11:15 p.m.

The 31st Scottish Reformed Annual Conference

The Queen and I were privileged to attend the 31st Scottish Reformed Annual Conference (the first post-Covid one!) in Hamilton, Scotland. The SRC Committee was very grateful for the 300+ attendees (photo 1) and the fellowship throughout the day was robust. Rev. Rupert Bentley-Taylor spoke on “The Truth and the Lies” (Jer. 27-28–photo 2) and I gave the other two addresses on “Christ Forsaken!” (Matt. 27:46) and ten ways to “Consider Christ When We Feel Forsaken” (Heb. 12:3). This is the third time I have been privileged to speak for this very helpful conference (the other two were in 2008 and 2011), which is one of the largest Reformed conferences in Scotland where the number of Reformed people has been decreasing substantially in recent decades. We are grateful that we may believe the Lord was in our midst today. Please pray that God will follow this conference with His continued blessing and revive needy Scotland by granting repentance, reformation, and revival.           

After returning to the David and Fiona Carmichael home by 5:30 p.m., Rev. David Carmichael (MC for the Conference and Chairman of the Conference Committee) challenged me to a little 15-minute putting competition in his front hallway–which I think I won (photo 3)! Afterward we enjoyed a 5-star dinner and excellent time of fellowship with the SRC Committee and their wives at the home of Dr. Richard and Gail Buckley (photo 4). 

Sightseeing at New Lanark

We did a little sight-seeing today with David and Fiona Carmichael (photo #1). New Lanark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a cotton mill and community for its workers, built in 1786 along the River Clyde. The founders, Richard Arkwright, David Dale, and later his son-in-law, Robert Owen vastly improved working conditions by providing good food and clean living quarters for their workers. Later, they provided education and child care. Still later, they strove for “utopian style” community living. What started as Christian philanthropy moved toward a socialist way of living. The mills operated until 1986, when the industry declined. The buildings are now used as a hotel, apartments, offices, and tourism sites (photo #2). At the top of the trail are beautiful waterfalls (photo #3), as well as along the way (photo #4). We enjoyed a delicious lunch after our hike.

Northern Ireland and Glasgow

Yesterday I addressed a group of ministers, elders, and friends from a variety of denominations at the Evangelical Fellowship of Ireland (EFI), a biannual gathering, on “Union with Christ and Our Sanctification” and “The Puritans on Sanctification” at Moira Presbyterian Church, near Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was really good to connect with a friend whom we have not seen for many years, Pastor Mark Johnston (Photo #1, on the right). We also enjoyed conversing with Andrew Curry (photo #1, left), a pastor who helps with administering the DMin program at Master’s Seminary in California. We enjoyed fellowshipping with the attendees of EFI over lunch (photo #2).

After the conference, Pastor Aaron Dunlop took us to his home for supper with his beautiful family (photo #3), before heading off to fly to Glasgow. A gentleman recognized us in the airport and shared that he has been blessed by my books and other RHB titles (photo #4). Rev. David Carmichael greeted us at the airport and brought us to his home.

Northern Ireland

We flew Monday into Tuesday to Belfast, Northern Ireland. On Wednesday, Gregg and Evie (daughter of our friends, Rev. Ray and Linda Lanning, from Grand Rapids) Somerville took us to Down Cathedral and Museum in Downpatrick to learn about the history of Patrick, the “Apostle of Ireland,” who brought Christianity to this land. His grave is marked by a stone near the cathedral (photo #1). It was a beautiful day for a ride through the countryside of the “Emerald Isle” (photo #2). We enjoyed a delicious lunch at a renovated farm with Gregg and Evie and their baby (photo #3).

After supper in the home of Rev. Robert M. and Emma McCollum, we went to his church, Lisburn Reformed Presbyterian Church, where I gave an address on “Assurance of Faith” (photo #4 with Rev. McCollum) to about 150 people. Folks from a number of local churches attended, including dear friends of many years, Rev. Andrew and Joan Woolsey (photo #5), whom we rejoiced to see and visit with again.

After the meeting, we fellowshipped with a good number of people. It was great to converse with a group of warm Brazilians (photo #6), now living in N. Ireland, whose former pastor in Brazil, Rev. Breno Macedo, is studying for his PhD at PRTS in Grand Rapids. It’s a small world.

Weekly Sermon Quote––May 8, 2022

From the sermon last Lord’s Day, titled “Jesus Christ’s Resurrection and Our Hope”, on 1 Corinthians 15:19-20. Find the whole sermon here.