I have been away from home for a couple of weeks, attending a couple of conferences and a holiday in between. My first conference was the Banner of Truth annual event in Leicester where I enjoyed meeting up with old friends as well as listening to informative lectures and sermons. Two addresses on the Sabbath by Iain D. Campbell and a biographical account of an African church leader by Palmer Robertson spoke to me the most.
Having said that, the most interesting detail for me from the conference was the news that the Banner are going to republish the biography of John Milne of Perth by Horatius Bonar. I read this biography years ago and easily recognised that I was reading about a spiritual giant. Since I still have my copy, I will not be purchasing the Banner edition. But I would recommend it to all.
Something else happened to me at the Banner conference – I only purchased three books. What does this say? Am I running out of money? No. Am I becoming more sensible with my money? Probably not. Have I decided to read the books I already have? Hopefully.
After I returned to Scotland, my wife and I went on holiday to Ireland. We spent the weekend in the North and took the opportunity on the Sunday of visiting Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church in Newtonabbey where we heard two excellent sermons by Ted Donnelly and experienced a warm welcome and kind fellowship from the congregation.
On the day before, I was led by an unknown impulse straight to the door of the Evangelical Bookshop (it is true, I found what I was not looking for, but was grateful I did, and not just for the warm welcome by John Grier). I mention this because I purchased several books there, which proves that nothing serious happened in Leicester to my book-purchasing practice.
After that, we went down to Killarney, a very beautiful area. I managed to read two books for review in the Free Church Record, and I will post them here soon. One is John Piper’s book on Ruth and the other is Roger Steer’s biography of John Stott.
One benefit of spending our time there was that we escaped all the hype, mail shots, TV analysis, desperate promises, third leaders’ debate (I didn’t watch the previous two) and other matters connected with the final week of the General Election competition. Sadly, for me at any rate, my absence from the country did not prevent the leader (and party) I liked least from getting the most votes.
We returned to Scotland in time for the Scottish Reformed Conference at which we heard two excellent preachers and three very good addresses. Dale Ralph Davis gave helpful insights into Christian living from David’s experiences at the end of I Samuel and Kenneth Stewart challenged us to the reality of our discipleship. There was a large number in attendance, with a large proportion being young people. The conference was a good boost for returning to work.
The lesson from all this: whenever a general election comes along, apply for a postal vote, arrange a holiday, attend a conference, read a couple of Christian books, return home and, despite the media hype and excitement, discover the same needy world as existed before.