April 30, 2006
Dear friends, what a wonderful time the Lord gave us this past week at Together for the Gospel. As I prepare for our assembly here this Lord’s Day morning (thank God, Ray Ortlund, Jr. is here to preach for us!) I am humbled by how many of you came, how kind and responsive and excited and enjoyable you were. Lig, Al, CJ & I were so thankful that John M, John P & RC agreed to join us. We were served very well by all of these men. Highlights were, of course, the messages. For me a highlight was hearing Al thank Matt Schmucker publicly. He (and others with him) put an unbelievable amount of time into every detail. Another highlight was seeing one brother put his arm around a pastor from another church who was struggling with special challenges. I’m sure this was repeated many times during the few days the Lord gave us together.
The response about the panels, too, has been overwhelming. We knew that since we had so many of them, this aspect of the conference would be crucial. I don’t know if the discussions themselves were always so good, but I think that seeing the preacher more 3-dimensionally relate to others is a great way to highlight the message, and gives weight to it, as you realize that you’ve listened not to a cardboard cut-out, but to a real man like yourself, someone who prays, breathes, sins, eats, confesses and preaches.
Hearing your singing was wonderful. I’m sorry that in the rush of events I couldn’t meet more of you. Pray for us as we consider a 2008 conference. And know that we have, did, and will pray for your ministries. We were all honored by the Lord once again so faithfully feeding us, the undershepherds of His flock. We now return with renewed energy, vision, encouragement and direction to the task He’s set before us–to care for His flock, until He comes.
People keep asking me what will come of all this. Brothers and sisters, we don’t know. Only the Lord does. I remember when John Bunyan was arrested for having an illegal meeting to preach the Gospel, the judge said to this uneducated tinker before him, that he [the judge] "would break the neck of all such meetings." Bunyan replied quietly "It may be so." Man proposes; God disposes.
Pray that we would have wisdom about many discussions that are being encouraged, cooperations that are being proposed. I don’t desire to see a new organization. I do desire to see the Lord’s work cross-fertilized–let’s drink together from the riches of Calvary. Let’s observe each other doing that as well, and so undermine our prejudices. Let’s learn from each other and pray for each other. And let’s see if God will not once again own the ordinary means–the preaching of His gospel, the life of our churches, prayer–in extraordinary measure. Will God give us revival? Will He give us great ingatherings? We cannot say. But, we can pray and labor and preach. And we can know that it may be so.