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Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

2003 Ministers Retreat

Written by Rev. Eric Moerdyk
It is an important spiritual principle that those called by the Lord to work in His kingdom need times of spiritual reflection, fellowship, and refreshment. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught this to His disciples on several occasions. For example, in Luke 9, after the 12 returned from teaching and preaching, Jesus took them aside privately into a desert place. During such times the Saviour would pray with them, and instruct them more fully about Himself. This precedent has led to our churches organizing an annual ministers retreat for a few days in the fall. On October 22-24, almost all of our pastors were able to gather in the little hamlet of Puslinch, Ontario, for the second such retreat that we have held. The conference center is situated among rolling hills and woods, giving the opportunity for long walks during breaks.

Each year we have two speakers: Dr. Gerald Bilkes from the seminary, and a guest speaker. Dr. Bilkes prepares three lectures that focus on how to preach various Bible books. This year he spoke to us about preaching from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. We were provided with helpful outlines and overview of each book, as well as helpful practical instruction about how to preach the grace of Christ from each of these three books. So do not be surprised if you hear some sermons from these books in the coming months!

To give you a taste of what we heard, a few remarks from the lecture on Proverbs are included. Solomon, in his great wisdom, is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is wisdom, and who teaches wisdom. Dr. Bilkes quoted to us the words of Charles Bridges: ÒWe look into this book, and, as by the aid of the microscope, we see the minuteness of our Christian obligations; that there is not a temper, a look, a word, a movement, the most important actions of the day, the smallest relative duty, in which we do not either deface or adorn the image of our LordÉ The true man of God will honour practical instruction in its place, no less than doctrinal statement. The truth as it is in Jesus is practical truth.Ó

Our guest speaker this year was Rev. Maurice Roberts from the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). He also brought with him two pastors from the North American presbytery of their churches. It was good to meet these brothers and fellowship with them. Rev. Roberts gave two stimulating lectures about the life of the Dr. John Kennedy, pastor at Dingwall during the 19th century. Dr. Kennedy was a friend and contemporary of the well-known Spurgeon. He excelled in God centered, discriminating, experiential preaching. Rev. Roberts said of the preachers of this generation that their zeal for a sound creed was equaled by their desire for godly experience. They loved the power of godliness. There was something vital about these men that breathed closeness to God, devotion to Christ, together with the warmth of Òfirst love.Ó Rev. Roberts also delivered a lecture on the doctrine of adoption.

These lectures were helpful and refreshing for your pastors. Rev. Schouls, in his closing remarks to our speakers, put our thoughts into words when he said that as older students we continue to profit from learning more about the Scriptures. In this sense we sometimes long again for the days of seminary. But most of all we want to sit at the feet of Christ. As pastors we are grateful for this opportunity.

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