Coming Soon  

Posted by Dan Layman

Hey all - sorry for the delay in updating. The schedule is quite full this summer. I am currently working on three book reviews to put up here:

"A Better Way," by Michael Horton
"A Primer on Postmodernism," by Stanley Grenz
"The Contemplative Pastor," by Eugene Peterson.

Check back soon!

Reflections from Banner Part II  

Posted by Dan Layman in

One of the best sessions of the whole conference was Wednesday night when Iain Murray spoke to us about "Our Present Needs." What's funny is that I missed most of this talk, but managed to get in right when I needed to (aka when the Lord wanted me to...). I came in right on his third point: "Our Need for Guidance on the Best Use of Our Time". Here he gave six timely points of application that all ministers should heed:

1. Take a day per month or a few days a year to examine our lives closely in light of eternity.
2. Watch your temperament. If you love being locked away in your study, then you should get out more and visit people. If you love being out and about you should probably be in your study more often.
3. Read the best books and only the best books. When you do have a pencil in hand and devise some system of recall for future needs.
4. Don't let emails and websites control your priorities. It is amazing just how much time is lost when we sit down first thing in the morning and catch up on emails or the latests blogs and news. Prioritize your time accordingly.
5. Avoid spending and losing too much time on controversies. Sometimes it is necessary to invest a lot of time on these, but most times it is not.
6. Do not "see" in your churches what you cannot change. Lots of times in our churches there are things we would like to see changed but we just cannot change them. Sometimes you just have to ignore such things. Tackling a disputable yet unchangeable matter can disrupt and destroy a church.

This is timely and wise advice from a man with much experience. For me, I know that number 4 hit the hardest. I can spend so much time checking news websites, facebook, and other blogs and then catch myself surprised when an hour or more has passed by before I know it. Surely there is some benefit in checking those things, but I know I need to moderate my time more when doing so.

Reflections from Banner Part I  

Posted by Dan Layman in

I made it home from Banner late Thursday night and spent most of the day yesterday recovering and readjusting. What a blessing it was to be able to attend! Several times before I even registered for the conference, I almost changed my mind about going. Even after I registered I had second thoughts. Our enemy is crafty, but thanks be to God that the Spirit enabled me to overcome such temptation. Being fed by the fellowship with brothers and by the wisdom of the speakers was just what my soul needed.

On the way home we stopped for dinner and Rev. Welsford asked me to sum up the conference for him in three words or less. After talking him into giving me a fourth word, I said it was, "take my calling seriously". The theme of the whole thing was, "A Preacher's Task," and throughout the speakers focused on the calling and duty of the preacher in shepherding and feeding their flocks. Seeing all of these Christian soldiers gather at this event this week (some even being wounded from fierce battles) reminded me of just what the Lord is calling me to. I am not fit in and of myself for the task, that is sure. But I came away with a greater confidence and hope that God is much bigger than my deficiencies and is more than able to overcome any part of me that gets in the way of serving him.

To serve him faithfully, I must rest in his grace and take my calling seriously. This first hit home when speaker Craig Troxel reminded us Tuesday night of the picture painted for us in the words of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress where Christian comes to the Interpreter's house and sees the men pouring water on a flame trying to put it out. But as they poured the water on it, they were unsuccessful. Why? Because there was another Man pouring oil into the flame on the other side and it was keeping the flame burning. Here we see that our Great Lord and Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is feeding the flame by the sufficient provision of the Holy Spirit (represented by the oil). So it is with us as men called to serve. Paul calls Timothy (and us) to "fan into flame the gift of God" in 2 Timothy 1:6. Surely we must fan the flame with our exercise of the gift that God is given but we must not forget that we did not light the flame. As Rev. Troxel put it, "we are called to fan what we cannot kindle." Oh that I would ever remember that the gift given to me by God is not of my own inherent ability but a precious gift; a gift given for the use and sake of the Giver of that gift. To take my calling seriously, I must serve to glorify and honor God in humble dependence and thankfulness.

On Thursday morning, Rev. Ian Hamilton spoke to us regarding the minister's character. He exalted the Lord Jesus as the ultimate model of true servant ministry by unfolding Isaiah 42:1-4 for us. From this passage he revealed four things that we must behold and imitate of the Servant Jesus: (1) His complete dependence on God, (2) His unyielding faithfulness to God, (3) his personal humility before God, and (4) His unimaginable grace that magnifies God. This was a fantastic message and I was specifically challenged by the calls to practice grace (not just preach it) and to have a deep and sincere heart for God's people. To take my calling seriously, I need reflect the ministry of the Servant Jesus in my own life and truly love and care for God's people in a way that they know that their good is of the utmost importance to me. The people I will be called to minister to must know and see in my life that I have a deep commitment to serve them - not just in word but in deed.

And this is but just a sampling of the way God worked in my heart this week...

Banner sessions  

Posted by Dan Layman in

Hey everyone! Things are going well here at Banner! The sessions have been excellent thus far and I really sense that the Lord is impressing upon me more and more the weightiness of the call to preach the gospel. I know that I am completely dependent upon him to equip me for the task, and it is refreshing to be reminded of exactly what it looks and feels like to trust the Spirit all along the way.

The living arrangements here are quite interesting. There are five of us in a sort of dorm-condo. Brandon, Andy, and I are in one room and two other gentlemen we don't really know are in the other room. To be honest, I forgot just how uncomfortable it was to sleep on dorm beds. And I forgot just how "interesting" dorm food is. Nonetheless, I try to press on with thankfulness for what the Lord has provided.

I have pretty much spent most of my book budget. I brought some money with me but an anonymous donor gave a considerable amount to the five seminary students in our group. This has given me the privilege of purchasing several commentaries as well as some biographies and other stuff. I still am trying to figure out how all of us will manage to get our boxes into the van. I guess we'll be holding them.

Oh, the books  

Posted by Dan Layman in

13 ministers and seminary students surrounded by lots of discounted books would be deemed by some to be a recipe for disaster - for those of us participating, it's called heaven on earth!

Here is the Rev. Iain Murray giving us Banner "newbies" a tour of the conference book room as well as announcing special discounts:

We're here  

Posted by Dan Layman in

Well, we made it safely to Carlisle, PA. It was a fun trip, filled with good fellowship and conversation. I have met lots of wonderful men who love the Lord and delight in serving him. I am really looking forward to seeing how God works the rest of the week.

When we arrived at the hotel this evening, we played some whiffle ball until the guys from Canada showed up:

When they finally arrived, all of us went to dinner (20 total) at the Olive Garden. I really enjoyed it and was excited to hear how God is at work in Ontario through the ARP and the CRC.

Tomorrow is book shopping and then the conference begins later in the day. Should be fun!