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.

Upcoming Travels

Your prayers are coveted as I head out this afternoon with my Queen for preaching and giving 15 addresses at four conferences in No. Ireland, Scotland, Hungary, and North Carolina this week and next. We need divine benediction in every way. Many thanks in advance for praying.

Dr. Silva and the PRTS Picnic

Here I am with our PhD graduate last evening, Dr. Felipe Silva (photo 1), who is returning to Brazil to shepherd a congregation and to be involved in teaching for Martin Bucer Seminary, also in conjunction with Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS).

This evening, about 150 PRTS students and their wives and children gathered for a graduation/post-semester picnic (salad and pizza; photo 2). Please pray for many of our 28 graduates who will return in the coming weeks with their families to their 15 countries to proclaim the gospel in a variety of ministries.

Our Very First Grandparents’ Day Program

Yesterday my Queen and I thoroughly enjoyed our very first Grandparents’ Day program as our two oldest of seven grandchildren (plus one more coming soon, D.V.) are now old enough to be students in our Christian school. The entire 2-hour program was outstanding and absolutely precious as grandchildren ministered by way of song, Scripture memorization, and musical instruments to their grandparents.

It makes a grandparent overflow with love for God’s covenant mercies, love for the grandchildren and their parents, and love for Christian education and the teachers. And it also makes a grandparent pray earnestly for the genuine conversion of every grandchild, pleading for the spiritual legacy and promise of Psalm 128:6: “Yes, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace [that is, true spiritual peace in Christ most of all!] upon Israel.” Will you bow your head right now and plead for this spiritual legacy and this promise in prayer with me also for your grandchildren?

PRTS Graduation

We had a blessed evening last night with a great dinner and fellowship with our seminary graduates and their families, followed by the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary graduation of 28 theological students (our largest class to date) from 15 different nations, and the awarding of our first two honorary doctorates (photo 1, graduates with faculty, including Dr. Felipe Silva who earned a PhD, and two honorary doctorates, Dr. Neil Pronk and Dr. Franklin Ferreira who are on the first row, far right).

The Board of Trustees chairman, Kevin Ash, awarded the degrees. Our commencement speaker, Dr. John Tweeddale, spoke movingly to the students from Acts 1:8 about being witnesses for Christ (photo 2 of the speaker and photo 3 of the audience of about 600 attendees). I then gave a personal charge about living out of the triple office-bearing ministry of Jesus as prophet, priest, and king from Luke 22:31-32, and spoke some personal words to each student (photo 4) as well as to thank Dr. Michael Barrett who is passing on the baton of Academic Dean to Dr. Jonathon Beeke; Henk Kleyn who is retiring after serving PRTS faithfully for 17 years as the VP of Operations; Dr. Bill VanDoodewaard who served us well as church historian for 12 years and accepted a position VP of Academic Affairs and church historian at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary; and Dr. Greg Salazar who after serving us for 5+ years as PhD professor in Puritan theology accepted a call to serve as pastor in Savannah, Georgia. The imminent coming into the seminary of Dr. Bruce Baugus (systematic theology) and Dr. Maarten Kuivenhoven (church history) was also announced. The service concluded with the conferring of honorary doctorates.

Afterwards the fellowship was robust for another 1.5 hours in conjunction with delicious refreshments, and lots of picture taking with the graduates, including our son-in-law who received his MDiv degree (photo 5). God is good! Please pray that God will bless all these graduates with long, faithful, and fruitful ministries of preaching, teaching, church planting, and/or evangelizing in their various countries.