The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

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I am starting to catch my breath after returning from the US where I spent a few days travelling around with a few appointments in my calendar.

Arriving at Newark airport on a Friday afternoon, I was kindly loaned a car for a few days by a couple of the esteemed in-laws in Montville and instantly headed south and east to Flemington, where Pastor Frank Barker was formally taking his leave of the Grace Covenant Baptist Church and heading south for the sun, leaving his fellow-elder Alan Dunn and the rest of the church to fend for themselves. The church there, together with a number of friends from a variety of places, had gathered to testify of God’s blessing to them through Pastor Barker’s ministry. It was a wonderful evening with many warm testimonies of Pastor Barker’s wisdom and earnestness in ministering to the saints, and a pleasure to be present and to see some of the good things that God gives to his faithful servants before they hear his own, “Well done!”

I stayed over with Alan Dunn and his family, heading back to Montville early the next morning for the memorial service of Mrs Helen Driesse, who had died only a few days before. I know various members of the Driesse family reasonably well, and it was one of those sorrowful pleasures to hear Mrs Driesse so warmly spoken of and fondly remembered. In particular, Pastor David Chanski of the Trinity Baptist Church, Montville, spoke briefly and pointedly from Psalm 139, including the verses on which Mrs Driesse thought every time she took her medicine: “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” When I thanked him afterward, he told me that the substance of the address had been provided by Helen’s husband, Gerry. It was good and deep stuff. I was particularly struck by something else that was attributed directly to Mr Driesse. He told his friends after his wife died in his arms words to the effect that, “I have now completed the main thing that God has given me to do,” namely, the bringing of his wife safely to and through the river to the Celestial City.

Following a reception at which I had the pleasure of meeting various friends who had gathered for the occasion, I then headed back south and east once more, past Flemington and out into Pennsylvania, this time heading for Downingtown with Mitch & Nancy Lush. Pastor Mitch cares for Grace Church, Downingtown, and had invited me to speak in the adult Sunday School class on the new Calvinism, and then to preach morning and evening taking that context into account. It was again a delight to catch up with a few old friends during the day and once the work of the day was done, as well as to spend a delightful day on Monday at Longwood Gardens with the Lushes and mutual friend, the Reuthers, from Covenant Baptist Church, Lumberton.

Later that Monday, I headed back to Flemington, where I spent an evening chatting over Chinese food with Pastor Dunn and some of his family, which included a splendid few miles on Ethan’s motorbike enjoying the wind in the Walker hair. Tuesday morning Alan and I chewed the fat for a few hours before I headed back to Montville to spend a couple of days with one of my wife’s sisters, Priscilla, and her husband, Rich. I took the opportunity to pick up a few gifts for my own family back home, and also managed to get in a couple of P90X exercise sessions with Rich, while Priscilla threw in some additional torture from the sidelines. Aching all over, I eventually left New Jersey for Kentucky on Thursday evening.

Arriving in Louisville for the bulk of my labours while in the US, I was picked up by Darrel Whiteley, who – together with his delightful family – were my first hosts from the Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville, the church which was hosting the family conference at which I was due to preach. Pastor Bill Hughes, another of the preachers at the conference, arrived on Friday evening, and I enjoyed a breakfast with him and with Pastor Jim Savastio of RBC Louisville (who blogs at Main Things) and Pastor Brian Croft of Auburndale Baptist Church (and Practical Shepherding fame) on Saturday morning. I had originally been scheduled to preach at RBC Louisville on that Sunday and at Auburndale the following Lord’s day, but – due to a mix-up, humanly speaking – there was a double-booking, and Brian was able to accommodate me at Auburndale the first Sunday instead. The Lord’s most wise superintendence was immediately evident, in that during that Sunday Brian was suddenly called away to Nashville to minister to the family of one of his closest friends from college, and my presence gave him additional freedom to do so.

Brian in his study

Sunday morning therefore found me en route to Auburndale Baptist Church, in the south of Louisville, where I had a delightful time worshipping with the friends who gathered, preaching on the salvation of the man who had been born blind. Spending the day with Brian and his family, we heard another brother preach in the evening and then gathered from some informal question-and-answer with some of the folks from the church. Brian drove me home through the night of 3rd July enjoying the slightly premature Fourth of July fireworks. On Monday I spent the day at the home of other friends from RBC Louisville, enjoying the evident buzz in anticipation of the conference beginning the next day.

Heading for the Alumni Chapel

Alumni Chapel begins to fill up

I was sleeping unusually badly, getting little more than four or five hours a night, perhaps feeling something of the buzz myself. Most of my days in Louisville were filled with some sort of preparation for the conference, and a few periods of relaxation, and it was good to finally get to the conference itself. Pastor Hughes kicked off on Tuesday evening in the Alumni Chapel on the beautiful campus of the Southern Baptist Seminary. Sitting there that first night with several hundred people singing their hearts out I did wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew.

My first sermon was on Wednesday morning in the Heritage Hall, on the theme ‘The Way Forward: Encouragements for a Future, Faithful Generation.’ I preached all three sessions from 2 Kings 13No-one could find the air conditioning, and that – combined with the theatre-style lighting, left me in something of a lather by the time the sermon was over. Bill Hughes followed, preserving his gentlemanly demeanour partly on account of the fact that someone had by then found the air conditioning on-switch. I then preached Wednesday night in the Alumni Chapel, swapping over again with Pastor Hughes for our final two addresses on Thursday morning. Then Pastor Stu Johnston took up the baton, preaching Thursday evening and Friday morning on contemporary challenges, and Pastor Jim Savastio earthed the conference on Friday just before lunch. Around the sermons (all available here) there were some excellent meals, some pleasant fellowship, and some vigorous recreation, and I also had opportunity to meet up again with Brian Croft and some other friends. All too soon, it was over, and I moved on again, this time to the home of Charlie Hall and his family. Charlie is another of the pastors at RBC Louisville, and I had a great few days with the Halls, not least in helping some friends who were moving to the area unpack their truck, and a Sunday lunch that morphed from a get-together for a couple of families to a gathering of about thirty or forty in the space of as many minutes. I preached at RBC Louisville all day on the Lord’s day, kicking off with a brief introduction to John Bunyan and his books in the Sunday School, before preaching in the morning on the joining in the death and resurrection of Christ of God’s mercy and truth, righteousness and peace and in the evening on the commissioning of the Gadarene demoniac to go home and speak of the great things the Lord had done for him, and how he had compassion on him.

Heritage Hall after they heard that I was preaching next

The Halls graciously closed the day by lobbing bits of fried egg into my by-then-drooping mouth when I was breathing in the right direction, and I packed my bags and dropped into bed. Jim pitched up early doors on Monday, and I spent a morning with him before arriving at Louisville airport where I headed back home via Newark. I arrived safe and well, although tired (not least on account of the gent sitting behind me who spent the small hours playing some kind of game on the touchscreen nestling in the back of my seat headrest, a game which involved punching the touchscreen every few seconds for about four hours straight), and made it home to my family soon afterward.

Since then, it has been mainly catching up and getting back into the swing of things, my heart warmed by the fellowship of the saints and the evident working of God in the advance of Christ’s kingdom in so many places.

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for this update. I thought for a moment that I was reading Joel Beeke’s itinerary! Great series on pastoral resources too. Really appreciate the work you are putting into that.

    David Murray

    Saturday 23 July 2011 at 20:42

    • Thank you, David. It was a little busy, but it was good work for the best of Masters, and he was gracious to sustain me in it. In addition, I am just back home from a much needed holiday, for which body and soul are both grateful (not to mention family).

      I am glad that you are appreciating the pastoral resources series: it is good to know that you find it useful. Hopefully more will be coming shortly!

      Jeremy Walker

      Wednesday 3 August 2011 at 12:05


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