Ten Commandments for Church Members Regarding Your Pastor



1. Don’t idolize your pastor. Don’t expect him to be able to do what only God can do. Don’t make a savior of him.

2. Don’t criticize your pastor, unless he departs from the truth, and then do it with tears. And please don’t expect perfection. He is a mere man—a weak, sinful man at that, just like you. His office is divine, but his person is human. He sets before you treasure in an earthen vessel. If you don’t remember that, you will cry hosanna today, but will crucify him tomorrow.

3. Don’t avoid your pastor. Go to him, tell him your needs, open your soul, but don’t waste his precious time. It is your duty and privilege to go to him with your questions and spiritual troubles—and that will be to his encouragement and joy.

4. Do pray for your pastor. Pray for his soul, that he may be kept humble and holy. Pray for his body, that he may be kept strong and spared for many years. Pray that he may be a burning and shining light. Pray for his ministry that it may be abundantly blessed. Pray for his wife, his family, his sermon preparation, his delivery, his counseling. Pray your minister full and he will preach you full.

5. Do be a good listener to and doer of the sermons your pastor preaches. Listen to and obey your pastor. As long as he preaches the Scriptures, receive it as the very word of God. Remember, he is Christ’s gift to you.

6. Do be interested in your pastor. Don’t let all your conversation with him be focused only on you. Be kind to him. Show interest in him, his life, and the life of his family; he is human too!

7. Remember to appreciate your pastor’s strengths and minimize his weaknesses, always reminding yourself that your next pastor may not have your present pastor’s strengths. Don’t compare pastors to each other, but learn to appreciate each pastor whom God sends you for the peculiar gifts that God has given to that pastor.

8. Look above and beyond your pastor. Look to Him whom your pastor sets before you.

9. Do be coworkers with your pastor and the consistory. Be self-forgetters, Christ-exalters, and co-laborers. Covet humility, wisdom, peace, unity—and put on charity.

10. Keep an eternal perspective under your pastor’s ministry. Ask God that your pastor may give a good account of your soul on Judgment Day. Remember you don’t have to give an account of your pastor’s blemishes and strengths on the Day of days, but you do have to give an account of what you have done with the word that he will bring you. If you are as yet unsaved, look on his ministry as one more major opportunity God is giving you to receive with meekness His engrafted word. Through his ministry, the Lord is saying that He has more people from your church to be gathered into His eternal harvest—and why should it not be you? Oh, that you would know the day of your visitation under your pastor’s ministry!

Ten Commandments for Pastors


1. Give priority to your personal communion with God. Put your own soul first: your maintaining communion with God is a prerequisite for being an effective pastor to your people. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers” (Acts 20:28).

2. Give priority to prayer and holiness. Undertake no sermon, no pastoral work, no task of the ministry without seeking God’s face in Jesus Christ. Follow John Bunyan’s advice, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Personal holiness is not only a necessary pursuit but a joyful one and is usually inseparable from divine success in the ministry.

3. Be bibline all your life. Be like Bunyan, of whom Spurgeon said, that if you pricked any vein, the blood that would flow out would be bibline. Read the Word, study the Word, believe the Word, pray over the Word, love the Word, live the Word, memorize the Word, meditate on the Word, sing the Word, and practice the Word.

4. Remember that preaching is the primary task of the ministry, and that to do it rightly, you need the Holy Spirit two times for every sermon: once in the study and then again on the pulpit.

5. Be profoundly thankful and humbled for the honor of being an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Remain convinced all your life that you have a crucial vocation, for you are dealing with never-dying souls for a never-ending eternity.

6. Preach Christ to the full. Be determined to know no man after the flesh—including yourself—and to glory in nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, exalted, and coming again! Be a self-forgetter and a Christ-preacher. You can never preach Him enough. Devote the best energy of your life into preaching Him biblically, doctrinally, experientially, and practically. Resolve, like Thomas Boston, to leave the savor of Christ behind in all that you do.

7. Love the triune God; love your wife and children; love people; love your work.

8. Maintain a radical sense of dependency on the anointing of the Holy Spirit in all that you think, say, and do. Lean upon the Spirit at all times.

9. Ask God to give you a few, very close pastoral friends with whom you can hold each other accountable. Love your brethren in the ministry, and do not compete with them.

10. Live every day with an eternal perspective that fuels evangelistic urgency for the lost and pastoral love for the saints’ maturation. Keep eternity in view in all that you do, so that on the great day you may give a good account of your ministry and may hear your Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant… enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21)

Highway of Holiness

I invite you to join me at the Highway of Holiness conference on October 29–31. Here are some of my thoughts on holiness that the brethren at the NCFIC recorded on video.

The Definition of Holiness from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Kansas City: September 25–28, 2015

With Pastor Harold Miller of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA)

With Pastor Harold Miller of Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA)

I left Grand Rapids for Kansas City on Friday morning, but missed my flight in Chicago because we parked on the Tarmac for nearly 1.5 hours waiting for a gate! Our pilot, who has been flying for nearly thirty years, said he never experienced anything like it. Happily, I was able to get the next-to-last seat on the next flight and still made it to Kansas City in time for my first address. Pastor Harold Miller of Covenant Reformed Church (URC) and a friend of many years, together with his wife Carol and three children, were patiently waiting for me, and were so helpful to me throughout the weekend.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Kansas City

Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Kansas City

I spoke eight times in forty-eight hours in the beautiful Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA), pastored for the last eighteen years by Pastor Tony Felich, a graduate of Covenant Seminary. When he arrived at the church there were only eighty people; today there are more than four hundred, and they worship in a six million dollar complex that includes a Christian school with hundreds of students.

My first four addresses were for a conference sponsored by the Kansas City Alliance of Reformed Churches, which consists of seven churches. The theme was, Following God Fully, with the following addresses: How to Be a Modern-Day Caleb, Following God Fully as Spouses and Parents, Following God Fully by Teaching Our Families How to Overcome the World, and Following God Fully by Cherishing the Church.

Six of seven large boxes of books that RHB had sent ahead sold briskly. Throughout the weekend several people told me they couldn’t stop reading the books they bought. Selling books at conferences is so rewarding. I often think that the book ministry may be considerably more important than my speaking, as books have a wonderful longevity.

With Ministers of the Kansas City Alliance

With Ministers of the Kansas City Alliance

After the last address, I met for lunch with the pastors from the seven churches represented at the conference, and then spoke to them on How to Cope with Criticism. The excellent discussion that followed focused on how we as ministers could set a positive tone for our churches by being loving rather than critical in our own demeanor.

On the Lord’s Day, I preached three times for Redeemer Presbyterian. In the evening service, the seven churches came together for worship which made for a good crowd. I preached on How to Live and Die for God Fully.

I also had the privilege of meeting Sherri and Robert Reymond Jr., the son of Dr. Robert Reymond who was a great systematic theology teacher at Covenant Seminary for many years, and who also taught at our PRTS seminary a course on apologetics shortly before he died. When I heard that Dr. Reymond’s grave was only across the street from the church, I asked his son and wife to visit the grave with me. Dr. Reymond wanted a simple text placed on his gravestone that declared Christ’s gospel powerfully and looked away from himself entirely, so he chose Matthew 1:21, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Almost immediately I felt bonded to this dear couple. It was a nostalgic time, also because, providentially, Pastor Frelich’s father is buried right next to Dr. Reymond. What will it be for believers to rise together on the Great Day to eternally praise Immanuel with absolute perfection world without end!

With Robert Reymond at the Grave of His Father

With Robert Reymond at the Grave of His Father

I was up at 4:00 a.m. on Monday to take the earliest flights out which brought me home by noon to my wonderful Queen on her 56th birthday. I took her out for dinner at Rose’s on the water. What a gift she is to me! She is one of those rare women who become more beautiful in every way with the passing of years. Is it possible to be so grateful for one’s wife that you cannot put it into words? The Lord is so incredibly good.

Iowa and Minnesota: September 18–21, 2015

With Mary, newlyweds Rev. Bartel and Clarice Elshout, and Rev. Brian Najapfour

With Mary, newlyweds Rev. Bartel and Clarice Elshout, and Rev. Brian Najapfour

(The following post was written by my wife, Mary.)

We were home for 36 hours after our trip to RTS, then off to Iowa for the September 19 wedding of Clarice VanBeek and Rev. Bart Elshout—a very close friend of Joel’s for 46 years. The Lord graciously brought Clarice and Bart together as a grieving widow and a grieving widower.

Bart’s son-in-law, Rev. Brian Najapfour spoke at the wedding ceremony from Ecclesiastes 4:9–12, which concludes with “a three-fold cord is not easily broken.” His points were: 1. One; 2. Two is better; 3. Three is best. Joel spoke on Psalm 37:3–7 for the presentation of the Bible on God’s Recipe for a Happy Marriage: 1. Trust in the Lord. 2. Delight in the Lord. 3. Commit your way to the Lord. 4. Rest in the Lord.

Many emotions merged together at this special wedding among family and friends. There were the memories of parents who passed away, and the empty place left by the recent loss of Clarice’s mom. In addition to that, September 19 is also Clarice’s birthday and the birthday of Bart’s new father-in-law. Our thoughts were drawn to “God is our refuge and our strength, our ever-present aide.”

I spoke at length with Harriet VanBeek, Clarice’s sister-in-law, who just lost her husband Cornie at 73. He had been a paraplegic since he was sixteen, following an auto accident. They married and had two sons. Cornie never thought of himself as handicapped. Harriet loved him and committed her life to care for him. The hundreds of family, friends, and business acquaintances that came to the funeral visitation spoke of his exemplary character. Harriet mentioned she has their specially-equipped van for sale. A young mom of two boys (one who has cerebral palsy and will likely never walk) is interested in buying it. She too was paralyzed in her teens and got married. But her story has taken a different turn. Her husband left her. This woman wants to live independently, and the van would help, but she can’t afford it.

On Sunday morning, Joel preached for the Hull, Iowa HRC on “The Utopian Marriage” from Revelation 19 and taught an adult class on How We Should Develop Biblical Friendships. Rev. Najapfour preached in the evening on “Truly God is Good” from Psalm 73. We spent valuable and enjoyable time with my sister Linda and her family in Canton, South Dakota. Our son Calvin, his wife Laura, and her parents, and other relatives joined us for dinner, and for the afternoon.

With Pastor Judson Marvel

With Pastor Judson Marvel

Joel was also privileged to deliver an installation sermon on the ministry’s paradox from 2 Corinthians 6:8–10 in the Good Shepherd PCA church in Minnesota for Pastor Judson Marvel, a former PRTS ThM graduate. After several other PCA ministers brought greetings to the pastor and his new congregation, Judson Marvel closed the service with the benediction. He was so moved by the evening that it took him three times before he could pronounce it. Pray that God may bless his ministry to this church.

Good Shepherd PCA, Minnetonka, MN

Good Shepherd PCA, Minnetonka, MN


Jackson, Mississippi: September 14–16, 2015

With Dr. Elias Medeiros, his wife Fokjelina, and her parents, Margerita and Frans, former seminary president in Brazil

With Dr. Elias Medeiros, his wife Fokjelina, and her parents, Margerita and Frans, former seminary president in Brazil

(The following post was written by my wife, Mary.)

Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson invited Joel to speak for their seminary chapel and their mission conference. His chapel message was “Keep on Keeping On” from Hebrews 12. His mission conference addresses were on “The Age of the Spirit and Revival” and “How to Promote Genuine Church Growth.” He also lectured spontaneously for a preaching class on “The Golden Age of Puritan Preaching.”

Our dear friends, Dr. Elias (RTS’s mission professor) and Fokjelina Medieros, organized our itinerary and took us around. Elias had just returned from Brazil Tuesday morning and planned to go back Thursday to be with his ailing mother. He told how she was giving Gideon’s Bibles and evangelizing everyone from her bed in ICU, including the respiratory therapist as he was giving her a breathing treatment. Now we know from whom Elias gets his evangelistic zeal!

Fokjelina’s parents were also on campus, and were a delight to visit with. Her father served for many years as a president of a notable seminary in Brazil.

It was good to visit the RTS campus again, touching base with faculty and students. Joel also thoroughly enjoyed his serendipitous visit with Guy Richardson, the seminary’s personable president. Pray that God would richly bless RTS-Jackson and that the RTS students would go out and preach with passion.

Jackson Antique Shop with Two Widowers

After Joel was done speaking, we stopped at an antique store. The owner, Gary, had recently lost his wife. I asked him if he knew the Lord. He said he did and it was a great comfort to him. A customer, James, a bricklayer, chimed in that he had lost his wife four years before. He too was strengthened through his faith in Jesus. Joel pastored them and prayed with them. The joys and sorrows of the human condition—birth, growth, marriage, children, aging, death—were so poignantly felt. Seeking comfort and refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ created an instant bond between us. Pray for these two lonely men.


Update on Summer Travels

If you would like to read about my ministry trips this past summer (some of which have been posted on this blog already), you may download my latest pastoral letter.

Lusaka, Zambia, Africa, Part 2 (August 27-September 1, 2015)

Zambia Elephant

(The following post, a continuation of the previous blog post on our trip to preach at the Reformed Family Conference, was written by my wife Mary.)

On Thursday, Joel spoke about Willem Teellinck to the ministers; what an example that man was of piety and perseverance! At the Family Conference he spoke on “The Puritans on Prayer.” We went to a potluck lunch for about 70 people at the home of the parents of PRTS student Katolo Mendamenda. We heard an update on the proposed African Christian University (ACU): all the plans are laid, staff and faculty in place, and the venue is ready. The only thing they are waiting for is approval from the government. They are hoping it comes next month so they can start in January. This is the fruition of the bold vision and work of Ronald Kalifungwa, Conrad Mbewe, other pastors in the area, and their churches.

With Dr. Voddie Baucham

With Dr. Voddie Baucham

Dr. Voddie Baucham has come from the United States to direct the ACU Seminary. Their mission is to provide both a liberal arts university as well as a seminary of Reformed persuasion. They feel called to prepare students to be gatekeepers who carry out the Christian mandate in society to follow God’s commandments and to love God above all and our neighbor as ourselves. Rather than just complaining about corrupt politicians and business leaders, they feel called to take action. Pray for this worthy endeavor.

On Friday, Joel spoke to the ministers on “Wilhelmus à Brakel’s Biblical Ethics of Spirituality” and to the families on “The Puritans on Sanctification.” I was able to go with Sarah Kalifungwa to a market to buy some fabric. After seeing all these ladies in their beautiful outfits, I wanted to get some cloth for the ladies in my family and myself. At $1.75 a yard I was quite happy. The market was a real experience!

With Ladies from Namibia--Note Hats Like Cow Horns

With Ladies from Namibia–Note Hats Like Cow Horns

The conference concluded that evening with Joel preaching “Keep on Keeping On!” from Hebrews 12. It was very encouraging to be reminded to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, as we run the race set before us. A young man came up to Joel and Ronald afterward with tears streaming down his cheeks. The only words he could say were, “Thank you,” but his eyes said a lot more. Another young man that I had noticed the first night looked furtively around, like he didn’t want to be there, and he wasn’t singing. I have to admit I was suspicious of him. But during Friday night’s sermon, he was singing and looked less burdened. He came up to us afterward and said, “I was in withdrawal from drugs Wednesday evening. Now I know where I can find the strength to stay away from drugs, and I am determined to do so!” There was a peaceful smile on his face. Pray that he will remain strong!

On Saturday our hosts drove us to Ronald and Sarah’s house. The parsonage is on a three-acre lot, and Sarah grows all sorts of palms, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to sell. She is a true Proverbs 31 lady. The six of us went to a large game park over a long, bumpy dirt road an hour and a half away. After a BBQ buffet lunch, we boarded an open-air truck and saw lions, lynx, hyenas, and cheetahs in cages. Wandering around the 10,000 acres were giraffe, kudu, ostrich, zebra, waterbuck, impala, heartbeast, guinea fowl, kafue lechwe, wildebeest, bandit mongoose, sable antelope, and an elephant. We then took a boat ride on a beautiful lake and saw numerous species of birds, including a variety of cormorants, weaver bird, jacana, grebes, herons, paid wag, and kingfishers. Some of the birds were so different from ours, and so very colorful. God’s creation is awesome!

With Pastor Ronald and Sarah Kalifungwa and Sylvester and Joyce Hibajene

With Pastor Ronald and Sarah Kalifungwa and Sylvester and Joyce Hibajene

On Sunday, Joel spoke to the adult Bible class at Lusaka Baptist Church and then preached to the church of about 700 people about Jesus being the only one who can meet all our needs. Peter’s pride, denial, restoration, and subsequent usefulness are encouraging lessons for us. Ronald and Sarah Kalifungwa and their three sons hosted us for lunch. After a short rest, we were off to a daughter church of Lusaka Baptist Church called Kabwata Baptist Church. Their pastor, Conrad Mbewe, was preaching elsewhere. Joel preached on how the Lord matures our faith. The theme of Jesus working through hardships to mature our faith always moves people, for suffering is part of the human condition, in some parts of the world more than others. Praise God, He works all things for good if we are His children!

On Monday we headed for home, arriving about thirty hours later in Grand Rapids, grateful for the Lord’s provision throughout our journey and for the great work He is doing in Zambia. We are also thankful for being reunited with family—our own, the church family, and the seminary family.

Lusaka, Zambia, Africa, Part 1 (August 24-26, 2015)

Zambia Conference

(The following post was written by my wife Mary.)

It was a long journey to Zambia; from Grand Rapids we went to Atlanta, then to Johannesburg, and finally to Lusaka (19 hours flying, 29 hours on the way). Pastor Ronald and Sarah Kalifungwa were our travel companions. Ronald had just finished speaking at our Puritan Reformed Conference, and Joel then spoke at the Zambian Reformed Conference at Ronald’s church, Lusaka Baptist Church.

We stayed at the home of Sylvester and Joyce. He is an engineer who used to work for the government in the energy department; now he works for a private firm. She was a physical therapist and had a clothing business. They have two sons who are studying in Australia. They provided us with a comfortable, beautiful place to stay, and delicious food to eat! Other friends, Henry and Rosemary, an orthopedic surgeon and a secretary, also stayed a few nights.

A nation of 14 million, Zambia is surrounded by eight other countries in the southern part of Africa. Lusaka, the capital, has four million people. Zambia is a Christian nation by law. Poverty is a large problem, though the situation is improving. Some of the other problems that plague many African nations, such as HIV/AIDS, corruption, Islam infiltration, drugs, immorality, and unemployment are considerably less pronounced in Zambia. About 70 percent of the people attend church, though many are Arminian and Pentecostal. The presence of Christianity is attributable in part to David Livingstone, who ministered in Zambia and surrounding countries in the mid-nineteenth century.

With Conrad Mbewe and Ronald Kalifungwa

With Conrad Mbewe and Ronald Kalifungwa

Years ago, we heard of God’s blessing in Zambia. At that time, Joel overheard someone ask Conrad Mbewe, a well-known Zambian minister, how the church prospered. At first Mbewe ignored the question. When asked again, he humbly answered, “In countries where there is more prosperity, people relax in the evening with their TVs and other entertainment. In Zambia, many people don’t have those things. They basically only have their Bible, so they spend time reading and studying and having family worship.” Modernization has increased in recent times, but God is still blessing Zambia.

There are seven main tribal languages spoken in Zambia, but at least seventy-two dialects. Until 1964, the country was called Northern Rhodesia and was under the rule of the United Kingdom. All education is in English, which is a unifying factor for all of Zambia. The sad thing is that many children are too poor to go to school, so they only pick up a bit of English in society and are forced to find whatever menial labor they can find as they grow up. An elder’s wife is starting a non-profit to provide education and training for poor children.

The economy was as strong as Singapore’s in 1964, but due to the socialistic policies of President Kaunda until 1991, the country has become poverty-stricken. Nevertheless, we were told that Kaunda did promote concern for one’s neighbor and treating all Zambians equally. Since then, capitalism has replaced socialism, but they still have a long climb. The U.S. subsidizes health care and agriculture in Zambia. A lady at the conference said that under President George Bush, many lives in Africa were saved from HIV/AIDS and malaria. She was also glad that most African nations have stayed strong against President Obama’s threat to cut aid if they didn’t allow homosexuality.

Talking to Well-Taught African Children about Their Bible Lesson

Talking to Well-Taught African Children about Their Bible Lesson

The Zambian Reformed Conference started small twenty-six years ago. This year’s theme was The Godward Life. Three conferences happen simultaneously at the same venue: the School of Theology for ministers and church workers, the Family Conference for everyone, and (new this year) a conference for the youth. It was obvious from the friendly greetings and cheerful banter that this is a special time of fellowship and encouragement for many ministers and families. The 1,400 attendees come mostly from Zambia and Southern African countries, but also from many parts of Africa. Some even came from India, the U.K., and the U.S. Our dear friend Dr. Steve Lawson was the other main speaker.

We arrived Tuesday evening and on Wednesday, Joel spoke four times. He likes to hit the road running, and he surely did this time! God has given him a lot of stamina. He spoke at the School of Theology on the “Dutch Further Reformation” and at the Family Conference on “The Puritans on Receiving and Doing the Word of God,” “The Puritan Practice of Meditation,” and in the evening, “The Only Way to Live and Die.” The first three were lectures with application, but he felt he needed to just preach for the evening session, when all attendees were there. First our hearts were primed as we raised our voices in singing some beautiful, familiar songs. Then our hearts were filled with the call to live for Christ and to anticipate dying as a gain. It was a blessed time!

A middle-aged Kenyan minister named Obed came up to Joel afterward and told him how his wife of twenty years had died July 2. She had had a headache off and on for two months. She was vomiting, but the doctor would not admit her to the hospital. He asked the doctor to just admit her for rest. He left and got called back two hours later, after she had passed away. He was devastated. They have a 19-year-old son. He has never gone back to his church; the leaders have been taking care of it. He had not been able to accept this, but submission broke through for him during this sermon. He emailed, “As I came from Kenya, I felt a desire just to join her (his wife). Your message has changed all that…. To die is gain… Praise the Lord, Thank you so much for that message. It was mine.” Please pray for this dear man.

(To be continued in another post.)

Two Trips to the Creation Museum

(The following post was written by my wife, Mary.)

Speaking On "Using Not Abusing the World"

Speaking On “Using Not Abusing the World”

June 11–13, 2015

The Creation Museum was the setting for the Reforming Families Conference sponsored by the Free Presbyterian Church and Sermon Audio. It’s a great combination as families can tour the museum as well as take in the conference. The theme was “The Christian’s War against the World.” The addresses were, “Biblical Marriage and Gender Distinction” by Steve Ham (younger brother of Ken Ham), “Using, not Abusing the World” by my husband Joel, “The World Wants Your Affections” by Armen Thomassian, “Equipped to Take on the World” by Michael Barrett, and “Overcoming Evil with Good” by Kevin Swanson. This was the first time we met Pastor Thomassian—he is Irish, though his father was Armenian. He was brought up in the church, but rebelled, then was dramatically converted from atheism to Christ at age 19. He pastors a church in Calgary. He is young, serious, eager to learn from the older pastors, and a good preacher. Bill Noonkesser, Steven Lee’s assistant, presented the mission of sermonaudio.com. Our daughter Esther drove our van down, loaded with Reformation Heritage Books. As it was a family conference, we brought many books for children and parents, as well as our signature books—the KJV Study Bible and books on the Puritans.

On Friday afternoon, we flew to Atlanta, rented a car, and drove two hours northwest to Mountain City, Georgia. Grace Bible Church held a men’s conference. The theme was “The Necessity of Godly Men Leading in the Home and the Church.” Joel gave four addresses on how (1) men should conduct family worship, (2) love their wives, and (3) lead their families as office-bearers and (4) in the church. One man was broken as he was convicted of his sins that were causing his wife to divorce him. He was going to go home and confess to her. Pray that their marriage can still be salvaged. Even though this conference was small, we pray that it will impact these men and their families for good in a powerful way.

As I sat through some of the addresses, I couldn’t help but silently thank God for a husband who passionately preaches and practices this leadership. Our country needs a revolution of godly fathers taking back leadership that is strong, compassionate, responsible, and pure. We experienced real fellowship and quickly felt very close to our hosts, Pastor Kevin and Pam Hurt, Pastor Zack and Brittni Ford, and Jim and Dianne Anderson. They took us to Dillard’s Restaurant (we also stayed at the hotel) for Southern family style dining. What an experience! Plates of food—various meats, vegetables, potatoes—free refills—delicious! On Sunday, Joel preached on “Running the Race.” After dinner at the Hurts, we headed to dear friends, Dr. David and Ann Hall in Powder Springs (a suburb of Atlanta). A cup of tea, a bit of catching up, and off to church. Joel preached on “The Utopian Marriage: Christ and His Church” in their beautiful, new sanctuary. Their church just paid off their new building, and they have set a goal to raise a considerable sum of money over the next ten years to seminaries and to the translation and promotion of sound Christian books all around the world.

With Steve and Ken Ham

With Steve and Ken Ham

June 24–26, 2015

Two weeks later, we found ourselves at the Creation Museum again, this time for the Answers in Genesis (AiG) Mega Conference. Normal attendance is close to 2,000, but many folks are waiting for next year, when the life-size replica of Noah’s Ark is slated to be finished. Still there were 600 people there.

The theme of the conference was “Answering the Skeptics.” Most of the speakers are on staff at Answers in Genesis and have their background in the sciences or engineering. Each firmly believes in six-day creation, a young earth, the inerrancy of the Bible and its authority to answer questions of today. They seek to take the complexities of astronomy or biology or geology or structural design and distill it down to the level of everyday people like you and me. Their ultimate goal is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to lost sinners and to equip believers to do the same. It was fascinating to see the intricate design of creatures and plants, which are so complex and work so well that they can only point to a great Designer. Also, engineers and inventors find the most success when they follow nature’s design when building a machine.

Many of the speakers pointed out the numerous and blatant gaps in evolution theory and the Big Bang theory. It was encouraging to hear that many secular scientists are skeptical of the Big Bang, but it was discouraging to learn of the peer pressure (or persecution or loss of employment) they face if they question these theories. These theories cannot even stand up to the very principles of science itself—that they can be observed, repeated, and documented. I may be very simple, but I will believe eyewitness accounts of stories (Adam→Noah→Moses, and their families) which were passed on down through the years, first by oral tradition then written, over someone who looks all around and guesses what happened (Darwin, etc.). Sadly, many Christians today are also skeptical of creation. AiG teaches that if you start toying with the validity of scripture, where do you stop? Man’s word soon overtakes God’s word. They teach how science supports the Bible rather than being at odds with it.

In his two addresses, Joel was asked to address the historical perspective—what Calvin and the Reformers believed about creation, as well as the spiritual perspective—the only way to live and die (Phil. 1:21). The van-load of RHB books that we drove down was very well received. We were able to spend some time with Ken Ham. He is very excited about the construction of the ark as an avenue to reach millions of people. We spent more time with his brother, Steve Ham, who gave us a personal tour of the museum.

A sense of sadness descended on the last hours of the conference as we learned of the Supreme Court’s decision to legitimize gay marriage as a constitutional right. How ironic that the very symbol—the beautiful rainbow—that God designed to show His mercy, after destroying the earth because of its evil, is the same symbol that the homosexual movement has taken as its own in promoting a lifestyle contrary to Scripture. What must God think? Lord, have mercy on America!