October 6, 2008

Good bye to a friend ...

Less than two weeks ago, we received the call from Texas that our dear friend and former pastor had exchanged his faith for sight. He was no longer looking as through a cloudy glass; he was finally able to see what he had so faithfully believed and taught. He was only 58 years old, but his time here was still not one day shorter than what our sovereign, loving God had purposed from the beginning. With that telephone call came the confirmation for me to do the funeral. It is difficult to bury a friend, yet God's Word is true - we do grieve, but not like "the rest of men, who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). Jeff and I had enjoyed many conversations over the years, brown bagging our lunches in a nearby park or including our wives as we prayed for the people of our church. Thursday evening's service was a celebrtion of his life and his God. The graveside service was Friday morning. And then, just 5 hours after leaving my friend's casket and his family at the cemetery, I was surrounded by excited conference attendees at the 2008 Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis. Life goes on. That transition was a difficult one, but made easier by the number of guys I'd met before who were looking to connect again. Seth from Memphis emotionally shared how much God had used Banner of Truth books to disciple him for so long when he was without access to a solid, Bible-preaching church. Robby and Matt said they had accepted my challenge from last year; they did work through Thomas Watson's "Godly Man's Picture," and it impacted both them as individual guys and also as Christian brothers! How always encouraging it is to hear what God is doing with shipments that leave this Banner of Truth U.S. warehouse.
In addition to your feasting on the Word, of course, what Banner of Truth book are you reading today? My current one ... the latest small paperback from Walter Chantry, "Habakkuk". I had never spent considerable time in this Old Testament book, but Chantry takes those three prophetic chapters and makes them live, and with great application for today because our God never changes! Highly recommended.
Grace & peace to you today,

September 18, 2008

Through the Year ...

I've been spending a few minutes most mornings before our daughters leave for school reading one of the daily Bible readings from a book that Banner of Truth recently published, "Through the Year with William Still." Sinclair Ferguson has referred to Pastor Still as probably the one person who has had the greatest spiritual impact on his life.
Let me share today's reading with you, from "Through the Year with William Still."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no-one can boast (Eph. 2:8,9).
Faith is not a faculty which fallen humanity has by nature. It cannot issue from sullied and polluted hearts. It is purely a gift of God, which he bestows solely according to the will of his grace. It lights on whom in his sovereignty he wills.
The fact that we wake up one day and know that it has lighted upon us, so that we are enabled to realize our true condition in God's sight and lift our needy hands to him for rescue, is cause for infinite and everlasting thanksgiving. But let us see the underlying doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in clearer terms, so that we know what this great verse is saying. The ground of God's grace to us is the forgiveness of sins through the blood which Jesus shed for us.
The instrument of that grace, which the Almighty places in our hands and our hearts to enable us to respond to his kindness in saving us, is the gift of faith. We are only saved by faith because grace has bestowed it upon us. We have nothing to boast about in our salvation; it is only God from beginning to end.
To him be the glory!

September 10, 2008

On The Road Again!

This weekend, Banner of Truth will be on location, in Columbia, SC for both conferences taking place at First Presbyterian Church. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson is the Senior Pastor there at First Pres. The conferences are being sponsored by Erskine Seminary.
The first conference, "A Conference For Preachers," is titled "Preach the Word: Expository Preaching, The Need of the Hour" and will take place Thursday & Friday, September 11 & 12.
The second conference, open to the general public, is titled "The Grace of God in the Gospel" and will take place Friday & Saturday, September 12 & 13. Speakers at various times during the weekend will include: Sinclair Ferguson, Ligon Duncan, Alistair Begg, Hughes Oliphant Old, David Jussely and Mark Ross.
To see the conference brochure, click here.
Banner of Truth's next "on location" stop will be later this month, September 26-28, for the 2009 Desiring God National Conference in Minneapolis, MN.
Will we see you at one of these locations this month?

September 3, 2008

From Grief to Glory

I'd like to draw your attention, if you haven't already seen it, to a new Banner of Truth publication (even though it was previously in print through our friends at Crossway Books). It's titled From Grief to Glory: A Book of Comfort for Grieving Parents, by James W. Bruce III.
"Truly a remarkable book" - Pastor Eric Alexander
"A tremendously helpful book" - Nathan Williams, for Pulpit Magazine
"Pure, solid-granite, Biblical truth wrapped in the warm sobs of the saints of previous generations" - Pastor Bill Marsh

Indeed, that is what makes this book so unique - and, I confess, surprising to me when I read it - namely its approach to providing comfort. It is clear that the book's author approaches the subject of grief from the experience of having, he and his wife, lost a child. But unlike other books on grief and grieving, "Bruce does not attempt to share his own experience and wisdom to help other parents. Instead he reaches into the volumes of church history and extracts multitudes of stories from eminent saints who have journeyed through this lonesome valley long before our day" (Nathan Williams, Pulpit Magazine).
So, in this paperback of a couple of hundred pages, we meet and are comforted by the likes of John Bunyan, Martin Luther, Robert Dabney, Philip Melanchthon, C.H. Spurgeon, Johann Sebastian Bach, John Bradford, Hetty Wesley (sister of Charles & John Wesley), Abraham Kuyper, John Calvin, Matthew Henry, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Selina Hastings, Lemuel Haynes, Frederick Douglas, George Muller, Fanny Crosby, John Owen, Samuel Rutherford, John Flavel, J.C. Ryle, Benjamin Morgan Palmer, John Brown, plus writings and quotations and poetry of so many others.
The reviewers are right. This book is "remarkable," "tremendously helpful," and "pure, solid-granite, Biblical truth wrapped in the warm sobs of the saints of previous generations." If you know anyone in your church or community who is traversing one of life's deep valleys, please give them a copy of this one. Even combine it with Sharon James' biography of Elizabeth Prentiss for added encouragement and comfort from the source of all comfort!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
by Eric J. Alexander
Retired Pastor, St. George's Tron Church, Glasgow, Scotland:
"This is truly a remarkable book. Since reading it, I have often wished it had been available when I was pastoring a congregation. It is the very book I would have wanted to put into the hands of grieving parents.
"My friend Jay Bruce has written out of the deep pain Joni, his wife, and he suffered when their little boy died after only fifty-five days in this world. The book is not just an account of their pilgrimage at that harrowing time. It is also a fascinating compendium of the experience of men and women whose names are familiar even to some non-Christians - Calvin, Luther, Bunyan, Charles Wesley. These people all experienced the same tribulation and have set down their inmost thoughts and expressed their heartache.
"The book would be significant for this unique collection of quotations alone. But the spiritual insight and godly grace with which Jay Bruce writes make this volume a real treasure to own and a particular blessing to read."

Testimonials for the Book:

JONI EARECKSON TADA (Best-selling author and founder of Joni and Friends) - "There are few joys to match that which a child brings to a family. And even fewer sorrows that rival the pain of burying a child. James Bruce and his wife, Joni, knew that pain when their infant son died. They found comfort in the words of others who had known similar loss: fellow Christians such as Martin Luther, Charles Spurgeon, and John Bunyan, who also wept and yet were comforted by the Father of mercies. Their intimate, emotional expressions of pain, peace, and hope - and their prevailing faith - are shared throughout these pages in both the short accounts and the eloquent poetry gathered here. If you or a loved one is walking through the valley of weeping - especially at the loss of a son or daughter - know that you are not alone, and let those who have come before remind you of your heavenly Father's sovereign grace and the mystery of joy in the midst of suffering."

JAMES MONTGOMERY BOICE (Late pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia) - "I can say, from the perspective of a pastor, that this book has significant value for ministering to Christians who have lost children. I have been moved to tears while reading it. The book is useful, among other reasons, simply in reminding us that so many of God's faithful ministers have suffered in the same way."

SUSAN HUNT (Women in the Church, Consultant, Presbyterian Church in America) - "My heart resonates with this book. It instructs and inspires. It comforts and convicts. The pages pulsate with the wisdom and hope of saints down through the ages. They comfort us with the comfort they received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4). This is as it should be."

August 28, 2008

Special Prices - 2009 Banner of Truth U.S. Ministers' Conference

Wow! You might spread the word ... Banner of Truth is offering the 2009 U.S. Ministers' Conference at 2008 conference prices, but for a limited time only before new rates go into effect. Speakers will include Sinclair Ferguson, Alistair Begg, Walter Chantry, William Edgar, Mark Johnston and Jonathan Watson. Here's the link with the details:

August 27, 2008

The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards

Among several new titles to arrive here at the Banner of Truth U.S. warehouse recently is "The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards," by Dr. John Carrick. I am happy to say that the reviews coming in for this new release are exactly what we'd hope for. Have you seen the two back-to-back posts on Tony Reinke's blog? If not, here at the links.
Tony's Post #1
Tony's Post #2
Here's the book's summary from the inside jacket:

"Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) is widely regarded not only as America's greatest theologian and philosopher, but also as one of her greatest preachers. It is a remarkable fact, however, that his preaching has been somewhat neglected, both in academic circles and in the Reformed churches. Published in the year that marks the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his death, this book successfully straddles the church's and the academy's interest in Edwards and supplies that omission.

Dr. Carrick demonstrates that Edwards was preaching and writing at a unique moment in history when the Puritan spirit and the spirit of the Enlightenment intersected; he traces the remarkable fall and rise of interest in the great American preacher-theologian in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; he interacts, both positively and critically, with the now complete Yale edition of Edwards' Works and also with the ever-burgeoning field of Edwards scholarship; and he cites extensively from Edwards' sermons, treatises, and Miscellanies in order to demonstrate the power and the profundity of his preaching and thought.

The author's main focus is, throughout, primarily homiletical; but interwoven in the homiletical focus are theological, philosophical, historical, and biographical strands. He constantly seeks to place Edwards and his sermons in their New England context - indeed, in their wider eighteenth-century transatlantic context - thus providing, wherever possible, the historical background for Edwards' sermons.

The 'New York period', the 'Great Apostasy' at Yale, the Bolton interlude, the Yale tutorship, the Boston Lecture of 1731, the Enfield sermon, the Yale Commencement of 1741, the great revivals, the landmark funerals, the Edwards-Stoddard-Williams dynamic, the Communion controversy, the Farewell Sermon, the romance of the Stockbridge years -- these are all treated within the context of a systematic analysis of Edwards' preaching under a number of different themes.

Dr. Carrick does not shrink from sounding a note of critique at certain points and he warns against the danger of slavishly imitating the New England preacher. But he is also clearly convinced of Edwards' extraordinary greatness and of the tremendous value of his sermons for Christians today. 'Iron sharpens iron'; and the iron of Edwards' marvellous expositions and applications is sure to sharpen the minds and souls of all those who study them carefully."
For more on book, click here.

August 25, 2008

Running the Race

The 2008 Olympics are over. Whew! My family and I can finally get back to getting some sleep.
Although it had nothing really to do with the Olympics, it was fun to run my first race ever during Olympics week. Saturday morning, my youngest and I took off at the sound of the starter's pistol in Hershey, PA. Just 28 minutes and 45 seconds later, I crossed the finish line. To my relief, I wasn't the last person to do so!

Be it the Olympics or my own 5K race, at some point in time my mind usually brings up Scriptures that deal with the subject, and I'm left challenged anew. This time, I landed in Philippians ...
"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Phil. 3:13-14

I so like what Sinclair Ferguson writes in his "Let's Study Philippians," part of the Let's Study series from Banner of Truth. "Rather than look back to see how far he had travelled in his pilgrimage, Paul pressed on towards Christ. He resisted an all-too-subtle temptation that comes to Christians in the mid-years of their spiritual journey: to feel that they have come a reasonable distance. Why is that a mistake? Because we cannot look back and simultaneously keep our eyes fixed on Christ! So Paul repeats himself: he forgets what lies behind and strains forwards; he presses on toward the goal. He is flat out for Christ." (Through Banner's "Let's Study" books, I love having Dr. Ferguson (and others) guide me through the Word).

Without a doubt, some of the people we've seen on television during the past couple of weeks could not imagine a prize greater than Olympic gold. Oh, but there is! Forgetting what lies behind, let's strain forwards to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. Let us be "flat out for Christ."
Grace & peace to you as you begin this new week.
Steve B.

August 20, 2008

The Sinfulness of Sin

We don't get it. That is, we do not come close to fully grasping the fallenness of this world, the awfulness of sin, the power of the evil one. Why is this on my mind?
Yesterday, I spoke with a young pastor who was in the midst of dealing with a college couple who had admitted to committing sexual sin. The temporary tantalizing pleasure was long gone; they were now in the ugly reality of what sin does to those who commit it and also to the rest who are impacted by it. I prayed with this young pastor, for his own protection and that the Lord would give him wisdom in counselling these young people and their families.
Just this morning, a pastor visited us here at Banner of Truth to check out our ever-so-slightly-damaged books (50% off). He shared with me that his brother had committed suicide just three weeks ago, and that he was the one who officiated at his own brother's funeral. We stood together at the bottom of our steps as I prayed for him and his family, dealing with the pain.
Have any of you read Ralph Venning's, "The Sinfulness of Sin"? It was first published in 1669 and available as a Banner of Truth Puritan Paperback. Venning writes, "Nothing is so evil as sin; nothing is evil but sin. As the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us, so neither the sufferings of this life nor of that to come are worthy to be compared as evil with the evil of sin. No evil is displeasing to God or destructive to man but the evil of sin. Sin is worse than affliction, than death, than Devil, than Hell. Affliction is not so afflictive, death is not so deadly, the Devil not so devilish, Hell not so hellish as sin is. This will help to fill up the charge against its sinfulness, especially as it is contrary to and against the good of man. The four evils I have just named are truly terrible, and from all of them everyone is ready to say, Good Lord, deliver us! Yet none of these, nor all of them together, are as bad as sin. Therefore our prayers should be more to be delivered from sin, and if God hear no prayer else, yet as to this we should say, We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!"
Indeed, we beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord! Deliver us from sin.

July 30, 2008

"Brokenness Like a Tidal Wave!"

I just got a comment on my Facebook "wall" from a student at the University of Pennsylvania. I met him last month at a conference where I gave him a copy of John Owen's "The Mortification of Sin" after he'd told me that he had never read anything by a Puritan. Here's what he just sent me:
"Steve - I finished The Mortification of Sin. Excellent book. By the last chapter my brokenness hit me like a tidal wave. I actually broke down crying on the train in my commute. First from brokenness and despair, but then from joy of grace. Do I want more? Yes."
I am not surprised!
That's why I am so excited that Banner of Truth's first-ever Study Guide for a Puritan Paperback is on John Owen's "The Mortification of Sin" (for those of you who have been guessing). It just arrived here in the U.S. warehouse. It was written by an RUF campus minister in Athens, GA for his own use with guys on campus. But this is NOT just a study for college students and adults. In my mind, THIS is also what today's church youth ministries ought to be studying! We've already sent quantities of this study guide to a youth pastor in Maryland and to another in Ontario. These guys get it! And the young people in their churches are going to get it, too. Oh, that more churches, and more youth pastors would give up on the "sucking-spaghetti-through-our-noses" youth ministry activity games and "Bible-lite" devotionals. Instead, let's raise the bar for what we expect from our young people and they will reach and exceed it for the glory of God! I would encourage you to get this information to your own youth pastor right away. And let's pray for hundreds or thousands of young people to also experience "brokenness that hits them like a tidal wave" as they truly grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord.
For more information or to place an order, visit http://www.banneroftruth.org/.
Grace & peace ...

July 29, 2008

A Mid-Summer Night's Update

Either the earth is spinning faster than when I was a kid, or something happens to one's perspective on time the older we get. It's probably the latter, isn't it?
With about 4 weeks to go before the unofficial summer season comes to a close, here are some noteworthy (and not so noteworthy) bullets from this part of the world:
(1) My oldest daughter, whom I can still remember leaving my sight for the first time on her tricycle about 17 years ago, completed her first semester of college and safely made it to and from Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Italy .... Her dad made it through the ordeal, too.
(2) Two of us "Banner men" attended another CBA/ICRS in Orlando (that would be "Christian Booksellers Association" and "International Christian Retail Show"). I always come home from that saddened at the state of the church ... seeing attendees being photographed with "Jesus" (or whoever was donning the costume and walking the aisles) was the "over the top" moment this year.
(3) I learned that not all barbers understand "Take a little off the top" the same as other barbers. My wife and daughters said it will grow back. :-)
(4) We at Banner of Truth are excited about the release of our new Pocket Puritan series, AND are just days away from making available the very first study guide that we've ever published for any title in the Puritan Paperback series. Any guesses? Perhaps a free copy to the first few who are right! :-)
(5) Our family was personally challenged by our attendance at Alex & Brett Harris' "Rebelution Conference" recently. Their book is titled, "Do Hard Things" and presents a worthy challenge to all. Not many 19-year olds could lead an 8-hour event with five sessions in front of more than 3,000 people and say something worth listening to.
(6) Family vacation time is not far away - camping in the woods, swimming in the lake, hiking on the trails, and reading lots of books ... Nice!
I hope you're having a great summer - at work, in ministry, with family, and in fellowship with the Lord! Don't the miss the new Banner of Truth titles for August; I'll be putting them on the Web site in the next few days - http://www.banneroftruth.org/. And my next trip will bring Banner books to a few thousand of you at the Desiring God National Conference, September 26-28, 2008.
Grace & peace ...

June 30, 2008

People are talking ...

... and bloggers are blogging!
I wanted to make sure you're aware of a great resource that appears from time to time in the Articles section of the Banner of Truth web site. It's an index, really, of recent comments and blog posts that reference Banner of Truth titles. Personally, I find it interesting and very helpful to read what someone else thinks about a book that they've just read. Was it good? Was it helpful? Is it worth my time? The latest such "index" can be found here:

June 7, 2008

Sping is Done; Summer is Here

I knew going into it that this year's Spring season was going to be an incredibly busy one. With a desire to reach out to the younger generations as well as a desire to keep Banner of Truth visible and "in your faces" at the major conferences attended by a good number of people, I added a number of conferences to the schedule that Banner either had not been to for some time or never attended at all. So there we were at the Desiring God Pastors' Conference; there we were at the Shepherd's Conference; there we were at the Ligonier Conference; there we were at the Together for the Gospel Conference; there we were at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology; in addition to the close-to-home Christian Homeschooling Association of Pennsylvania Conference and our own hosted Banner of Truth U.S. Ministers' Conference. Minnesota, California, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania. Whew. I hope you've received the message that Banner of Truth is reaching out to the church in a variety of ways, still providing "Biblical Christianity Through Literature," as our tag line so accurately says. If the book bears the Banner of Truth logo, by the grace of the Lord, you can still rely on its contents. I wish that could be said of many other publishers, but sadly, it cannot. The likelihood of a newly released Banner title making the New York Times Bestsellers List is probably not even measurable, but that's not our goal. Our goal is to impact the church and to facilitate its revival. So ... be it one of the new and little Pocket Puritan Series books or something like the newly released 2-volume "Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales," you can be absolutely assured that it will be a good, and valuable, and potentially life-changing read!
As for the immediate future? I'm off to Dallas early Monday morning to take Banner of Truth to the 2008 PCA General Assembly. If you'll be in Dallas, be sure to stop by Banner to say hello.
Grace & peace,

May 28, 2008

Inside Out at the U.S. Banner Ministers' Conference

How is it possible that a conference's music is hailed as a highlight when it simply includes hymns of the faith and a little bit of piano? Don't you need a band? A worship leader? A worship team? And yet, each year I hear the same thing from guys who, with hymnal in hand, were ready to sing, but were so overwhelmed at the sound of the first note that they just couldn't. Thanks Nathan Eshelman for trying to capture this (link below), but having been in that chapel today, I have to tell you, it simply cannot be fully captured in a recording! Listen to Nathan's recording and see some other pictures here (but where's the pic of Tim and me?):
Overall, day two went very well. Our warehouse manager began his day at 4:00 a.m. and me, an hour later, as we got the conference book room restocked with Banner of Truth books. Between the sessions and the fellowship - some great talks - it seems to have been very beneficial to many guys. And the word is now "out" as to next year's conference ...
The Dates: May 26-28, 2009
The Speakers: Sinclair Ferguson, Allistair Begg, Walter Chantry, Bill Edgar
The Reasons to Come: Rich spiritual nourishment from the Word of God and close, personal fellowship from other men in the ministry, either as pastors, elders, deacons, chaplains, missionaries and seminary students.
I hope you'll get it on your calendar now for May!

May 27, 2008

The U.S. Banner of Truth Conference is Underway

Today kicked off the 2008 U.S. Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference, a gathering of "men-in-ministry" that's been going on for years. If you'd like to follow the main events of the conference, I'll direct you to any number of bloggers who are with us this year, some of which include the following (any others, please let me know) ...
Tim Challies (www.challies.com),
David Bissett(www.thebreadline.wordpress.com),
Nathan Eshelman (www.nathaneshelman.blogspot.com),
Michael Dewalt (www.gospelcenteredmusings.com).
Dan Layman (www.thelaymanchronicles.blogspot.com)
Obviously my perspective is bit different: behind-the-scenes, you might say. And from where I sat (or stood), it was a little hectic, as all first days are (I still can't believe I got lost between Carlisle and Grantham!), but relatively smooth. We've increased the number of titles in the conference bookstore by more than 100 as compared with last year alone. Discounts were good, but got even better since Iain Murray did his bookstore tour. What a delight to listen to this man share his own personal insight into so many of these books! But I think I would say that a big "stand out" feature of the day was seeing and participating in a number of reunions between brothers in Christ. This may be hard to believe, but these guys really do develop some pretty close friendships at this event, friendships that continue through the year and are then rekindled at the next Banner conference, year after year. Like I've said before, I haven't been to many conferences that resemble this. To share one example, one young guy who just graduated from college two weeks ago came up to me tonight after dinner, visibly excited, even exuberant. He is seeking the Lord's guidance and direction regarding his future and apparently he shared that with the guys he sat with at dinner. To his surprise, I guess, these other guys really rallied around him, encouraged him and even prayed for him, right there, together, in the college dining hall ... guys he didn't even know and had never met before. "This is so great," he exclaimed! And I thought, "Yeah, you know something, it really is!" If you're not among us, perhaps next year!
Well, since we're restocking the conference book room at 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning, I guess I'd better get some sleep!
More to come ...

May 19, 2008

A NEW SERIES from Banner of Truth!

A new series of books has been released and is now available from Banner of Truth. It's called "The Pocket Puritans." Check it out at: http://www.banneroftruth.org/.
I happen to have already received a copy of all four of the initial titles in this series and readily see how each would be perfect to always keep on hand and give away, to help in each area addressed, but also to easily introduce others to the Puritans. Each book lists for $6.00, but with the Banner 25% Web order discount, they're just $4.50. Imagine, $4.50 for a great little book that's small enough in size to fit in any normal shirt pocket, with or without one's pocket protector ... but its content is huge! Enjoy!
The New POCKET PURITANS Series, from Banner of Truth:

May 13, 2008

Praying for the Upcoming Conference ...

It's great to begin seeing the anticipation of the upcoming Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference among pastors who blog. Here's one recent post, from Jim in Canada.
If you cannot be at the conference, I would certainly welcome your prayers for the guys who are coming. Thanks.
Jim wrote, "It is only two more weeks until our group leaves for the Banner of Truth Minister's Conference. I can already feel the anticipation growing. I have been very drained from a very busy couple of months. Even when it wasn't busy, I found that I have been spiritually flat. God has been gracious in that sermons did get written every week, but each week the task became more and more difficult. Just knowing I will have some time off to recharge is encouraging. Knowing that, DV, I will be doing that under the preaching of God's word with other men who serve as pastors, elders, and those who are studying to do so, is something I look forward to even more."

May 2, 2008

Pictures from T4G

It was definitely an interesting week in Louisville recently, as the every-other-year Together for the Gospel conference converged upon this Kentucky city.

Here's where most of my time was spent - the conference bookstore!

The Together for the Gospel bookstore was quite the caverness place!
you were among the 5,500 people there, you well understand what I mean. How good to see the Banner of Truth billboard standing in the midst of it all!

And how good to meet so many people, young people in particular, who stopped to visit and
either expressed appreciation for the work of the Banner or, in some case, got to hear about Banner of Truth for the first time.
I'm pictured here with Bo and Cam, a couple of guys from Eastern Kentucky University. Actually all of these pictures are courtesy of these guys (thanks). Uhhh, I'm the one in the middle, in case you weren't sure.

It was a good, yet busy time!

The Positive Road to Joy

"An inadequate understanding of our own sinfulness is probably the greatest single cause of our failure to rejoice in the Lord always, and to realize that this message is the greastest good news that the world has ever received. Let us therefore examine ourselves. If you are lacking in joy, the thing to do is not to try to work up some joy within yourselves; it is to go to the Bible, to the law, and to see your sinfulness. The positive road to joy is always via the depth of sin."
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Romans: Exposition of Chapter 1, The Gospel of God
Banner of Truth Trust, 1985

April 30, 2008

Not to Sound Like a Broken Record, But ...

This Friday, May 2nd, is the "early bird" deadline to register for the upcoming Banner of Truth 2008 U.S. Ministers' Conference. The price goes up after Friday! I am really looking forward to having Iain Murray with us this year. Also, I had several conversations with Rick Phillips at last weekend's PCRT in Philadelphia; Rick will be with us, too, in addition to others. But I'd like to get away from pushing conferences through the "Christian celebrities." Instead, just know that you'll get solid, reformed, biblical teaching/preaching plus personal fellowship among like-minded guys in ministry that you just don't get at other such conferences.
"Them's the facts!"
You can download a conference brochure and even register online through the link you'll find at http://www.banneroftruth.org/.

April 22, 2008

I am not ashamed!

I have restarted my read through D.M. Lloyd-Jones sermons on the book of Romans. I confess to really not having been a reader of sermons much before coming to work at Banner of Truth, but I have been converted, without a doubt, to believing in the incredible value that they hold. And the Lloyd-Jones series is so rich; I am reading it together with a 17-year old guy from our kids' school. Now there's a challenge for you ... keeping up with a 17-year old!
"I am not ashamed of the gospel ... it is the power of God unto salvation."
My family are I are heading into the woods today for two days of camping. D.M. Lloyd-Jones is going with us. In addition to playing with the fam, and perhaps as a follow-up to last week's T4G, I want to both meditate on and relish in the thought of the gospel. In just one part of Lloyd-Jones sermon, he preached about this "salvation" that this gospel is "the power of God unto" - "What does it mean?" he asks. His answer: First, it must mean that man is delivered from sin ... from the guilt of sin, from the power of sin, and from the pollution of sin. Secondly, it means that we are completely reconciled to God; our communion with God is completely restored. And the third thing he mentions is that it restores to us the hope of glory. You know, I have to ask myself ... why would anyone be ashamed at such a thing as that?
I hope you take time to medidate on the gospel today, as well.
Grace & peace to you,

April 18, 2008

Starbucks Musings After T4G

Sitting in Starbucks at the Louisville airport, I got to enjoy a rare, relaxed conversation with a dear brother who works for another well-known ministry organization. Such relationships are just one of the many "perks" I enjoy from doing what I do. So as we sat there, we reflected back some on the just-concluded T4G. Part of our discussion included mention of the significant percentage of the audience that was so young (and it's not just that I am getting so old!). And we pondered ... just perhaps, might it be possible that the Lord is awakening a new generation? There have, of course, been other signs to this effect as documented in various places. Clearly we at Banner moved a lot of books, obviously good and solid books, hand chosen by Mark Dever and crew. And I also engaged in conversation after conversation with many a young person who exhibited what appeared to be a genuine thirst for the deeper things of God. Oh, may we be so honored as to play some small part in such a grand movement!
Praying towards that end ...

April 14, 2008

Headed to Louisville ... BEFORE Launching a NEW SERIES for Banner!

This week is the second "Together for the Gospel" conference in Louisville, KY ... and my first. Looking forward to seeing many. Stop in to the conference bookstore and say hi if you're headed to Louisville, also! And after I return, I'll start telling you about a totally new series of books that Banner of Truth is on the verge of releasing! Exciting stuff!

April 12, 2008

Why Has Reformed Theology Surged Among the Younger Generation?

This was the recent subject of an interesting post at reformationtheology.com and there is an summary post on David Westerfield's site. You might want to check them out.

April 5, 2008

Calling Fellow Bloggers ...


Theme: "The Preachers' Task"
May 27-29, 2008 ... Grantham, PA
Questions have been coming in, so here are some answers. Yes, Iain Murray will be with us this year along with Richard Phillips, Craig Troxell, David Campbell, Ian Hamilton.
Also, Tim Challies of challies.com will be here, continuing his daily blogs. It would be GREAT if we could spread the word through the blogging community about this event. Invariably, after it's all over, I'll hear from some disappointed guys who would have come if they had only known! Here are some pictures of last year's conference. If you're a "man in ministry," as in pastor, elder, deacon, missionary, chaplain, or preparing for such as a seminary student, download the brochure HERE, or register online by clicking HERE. The price is certainly right (make sure you know it includes lodging and meals, plus more!). We would absolutely love to have you a part of this Banner of Truth event. Questions? Let me know.

April 3, 2008

Looking Forward to May!


It's hard to believe, but we are once again coming up on another Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference, May 27-29, on the campus of Messiah College in Grantham, PA. I get to a number of conferences, and even with admitting my bias, I so appreciate the intimate fellowship of like-minded men in ministry that takes place at the Banner conference - men ministering to men, brother to brother, and interacting/fellowshipping around such spiritual nourishment that pours forth in that chapel building. And we're not just talking old guys here! Seminary students and guys in their first pastorate are really engaging with others who have been in the ministry for 30+ years. It's great!

Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Missionaries, Chaplains, Seminary Students ... here, read some of what I've gotten in the mail from guys who are returning again from last year:

"Three years ago I was invited to attend the Banner of Truth Conference by another minister - what a blessing it has been to me ever since.... It is where I go to sit under the sound preaching of the Word and have my soul fed in great abundance. This year was no disappointment."

"I consider the Banner Conference the highlight of my year and plan to be there! As a preacher we seldom get the time to sit under the Word as a live minister of the Gospel opens and applies it to our hearts. What a joy to sing with so many men and then fellowship around the mealtimes. Praying with brothers down by the river is another highlight I look forward to. I would not miss the conference for anything but the most sovereign providence of God."

"I have been there about twenty (20) straight years and, the Lord willing, I plan to come again this year."

"I've been looking forward to this conference from the minute I got in my car at the close of last year's conference. It was my first year and I fell in love with everything that went on in those wonderfully Christ-focused three days. I envied the stories of those men who had been attending for a lifetime and quietly looked forward to the day when I'll be able to wear the coveted Banner polo shirt from decades back. :-) "

"YES, I am coming, so add me to your list! I would walk to Pennsylvania to attend the Banner Conference. It is the mainstay of my collegial fellowship and my primary time to sit under the preaching of the Word of God each year. And I cannot begin to find the words to share how vital Banner books are to my soul and my ministry."
To download the conference brochure, CLICK HERE or on the brochure image above. Like-minded men in ministry, coming together in a relatively small gathering, enjoying the nourishment from a bountiful spiritual smorgasbord from the Word of God and the sweet fellowship of dear brothers in Christ. Consider it this year, would you?

March 22, 2008

From The Valley of Vision: "Crucifixion & Resurrection"

A prayer for you to consider this weekend:
"O Lord,
I marvel that thou shouldst become incarnate,
be crucified, dead, and buried.
The sepulchre calls forth my adoring wonder,
for it is empty and thou art risen;
the four-fold gospel attests it,
the living witnesses prove it,
my heart's experience knows it.
Give me to die with thee that I may rise to new life,
for I wish to be as dead and buried
to sin, to selfishness, to the world;
that I might not hear the voice of the charmer,
and might be delivered from his lusts.
O Lord, there is much ill about me - crucify it,
much flesh within me - mortify it.
Purge me from selfishness,
the fear of man, the love of approbation,
the shame of being thought old-fashioned,
the desire to be cultivated or modern.
Let me reckon my old life dead
because of crucifixion,
and never feed it as a living thing.
Grant me to stand with my dying Saviour,
to be content to be rejected,
to be willing to take up unpopular truths,
and to hold fast despised teachings until death.
Help me to be resolute and Christ-contained.
Never let me wander from the path of obedience
to thy will.
Strengthen me for the battles ahead.
Give me courage for all the trials,
and grace for all the joys.
Help me to be a holy, happy person,
free from every wrong desire,
from everything contrary to thy mind.
Grant me more and more of the resurrection life:
may it rule me,
may I walk in its power,
and be strengthened through its influence.
From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
Edited by Arthur Bennett
Published by The Banner of Truth Trust

March 19, 2008


'Tis Thursday of the week before Easter. Maundy Thursday, as it is known in some circles. The day of the Last Supper and the Agony of Gethsemane. Please, do force the busy-ness of the day aside to contemplate and perhaps even weep.
The following is from the Banner of Truth book, "The Cross He Bore."
May you rejoice in Him today.
"It is true that Christ in his sinless human nature recoiled from the prospect of death and shrank from it with horror, for death came with sin. It is also true that he sensed the approach of Satan who after the temptation in the wilderness 'departed from him until an opportune time' (Luke 4:13). It is also the case that he anticipated the approaching wrath of a holy God. But none of these facts can account for the distress and sorrow that were to prove too much for unaided human nature (albeit sinless) to bear. There must be something deeper and more actual to account for our Lord's struggle in Gethsemane.

Gethsemane means 'the oil press'. David could say, 'I am like a green olive tree in the house of God' (Psa. 52:8). Israel in her long history could say the same. But the suffering Saviour could say it best of all, for there in Gethsemane - the oil press - he was crushed and bruised without mercy. But how and why? How is the sudden and dramatic change of atmosphere between the upper room and Gethsemane to be explained, even in a measure? Christ knew all along the death that awaited him. He had grappled with Satan and his legions more than once. He had repeatedly spoken of his death to his disciples, telling them what that death would accomplish. He had prayed with the utmost confidence in his high priestly prayer (John 17). Why, then, is there this sudden plunge into such awful agony, why this shuddering horror? Why is this fruit of the olive tree so severely crushed? Why does the divine record say that in Gethsemane our Lord BEGAN to be sorrowful, sorrowful in a new and terrible way? Was it not because God began forsaking him then? How else is this sorrow unto death to be understood?

'Jesus wept', but never like this. No previous sorrow of his could match this. At the time of his arrest he declared, 'Shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given me?' (John 18:11). That cup was constantly in view as he prayed in Gethsemane. What cup? 'THIS CUP' - not some future cup. The cup that was symbolized in the feast (Matt. 26:27,28) was not actual; God was placing it in the Saviour's hands and it carried the stench of hell. But stop! Schilder is right. 'Gethsemane is not a field of study for our intellect. It is a sanctuary of our faith'. Lord, forgive us for the times we have read about Gethsemane with dry eyes."

The Wonder and the Glory!

I'm back in the Carlisle, PA office and warehouse for Banner of Truth after being at two conferences and getting an incredible number of books into the hands of many people. Several of those books are especially fitting for this week, one of them being Banner's recent release, "Jesus Himself: The Story of the Resurrection" by Marcus L. Loane. I hope to spend some time in this book here during the next few days. Join me in it, won't you?
From the Foreword:
"The wonder and glory of the Resurrection are far greater than we can ever conceive. That great drama took place in the silent tomb a great while before it was yet day. No one else was there when God raised Jesus from the dead: no one saw it happen. there was neither man nor angel as a witness in that sacred moment. He emerged from the grace-clothes and left them lying undisturbed on the ledge. He left the tomb while the stone was still in place at the mouth of the sepulchre. It was later when an earthquake shook the site and the stone was rolled away. When the women arrived, the guard had fled and they found the tomb empty. The grave-clothes were there; angel watchers were there; but him they did not see.
But no one had seen how he awoke from the sleep of death in newness of life. All that was mortal had put on immortality; death was swallowed up in victory. And it was in his risen glory that he made himself known to his disciples."
May you spend this week contemplating on the wonder and glory of the Lamb of God.

March 13, 2008

At the Ligonier Conference in Orlando

The Banner road trip continues ... After a great week in LA with more than 3,000 guys at the Shepherds' Conference, this week has me in Orlando with apparently as many people registered for this year's Ligonier event. Our own trustee chairman, Sinclair Ferguson, is among those speaking this week. It will be good to see and spend time with him again, in addition to everyone else. Today was set-up day; the conference will kick off Thursday and run through Saturday afternoon. If you're among those here in Orlando, be sure to say hello!
More to come.

March 6, 2008

At the Shepherds' Conference in LA

Once again, it's great to have the opportunity to represent Banner and introduce a number of guys, younger guys in particular, to the works of Baxter, Watson, Spurgeon, etc., that Banner makes available ... this time, I'm here in the Los Angeles area at Grace Community Church's Shepherds' Conference. Attendance this year is at their full capacity of about 3,400 or so. Yesterday, it seemed like most of them were in the bookstore at the same time! Twelve hours later, it was clear that our piles of books had gone down significantly, including a number of titles that I was spending my time working to introduce guys to, ones that they may not just naturally be drawn to or have heard much about before.
As for the personal ministry times, indeed, there have been opportunities for a number of substantive conversations, hearing testimonies of how some of these guys came to faith in Christ. The circumstances are different from one guy to the next, but some things are constant in every story ... the intervening power and grace of God, through the instrument of His Word.
I've had some great conversations outside of the conference, too, with guys who clearly don't know Christ ... a young Penn State student in the DC Dulles airport who lives close enough to me back in PA that he already said he'd like to get together back home. Also, I learned that even a broken laptop ought to be viewed positively as an instrument of the Lord providentially at work. That's what took me to a store that fixes laptops here in LA, which got me into the life of a young guy named Chris for three hours the other night. What a great opportunity! "Forgive my frustration, Lord, with not having a machine that worked when I wanted it to. Help me to continually and positively resign my will and my DayTimer to yours. And please use my conversation with Chris as you see fit!"
No matter what you're faced with today, see it from the perspective of our sovereign God at work both in and through you. Broken laptops, interruptions, cars that don't work ... avoid getting angry and frustrated by looking toward the Lord and saying, "Ok, Father, so what I had planned is different from what you desire for today. Help me to go with your plan, and to do so without my usual kicking and screaming!"
Blessings to you, today, from here in LA.