What the Pastor Did on Vacation

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

We did what needed to be done in order to say with no hesitation: It is good to be back!

There has been some reshuffling in the neighborhood. The Pipers don’t live on Elliot Avenue any more. We sold the duplex to two Bethlehem couples and moved to the house with the peeling blue paint smack on the biggest intersection in the 5-state region. You can see it from the church if you look south along 13th Avenue across 94. On July 15, thirty-five Toshavim with a U-Haul truck, a pickup and a van moved all our belongings in four hours. And they did it with joy and skill. (Thank you again! I love you all.) We will be sure to have our yearly open house for all of you to come see, if you promise not to compare it with our old place: it’s not as pretty, it’s noisier, it’s not as energy efficient, it’s not as maintenance free. But it will hold more of you in the living and dining room and it’s still close enough to walk to church. You’ll see.

Well, the move took about a week and a half of work. But it was fun work for a pastor—a good sweaty diversion from my usual head and heart labor.

Big-hearted Rollin let us escape to his place on Spectacle Lake for two weeks. The fish are trained to perform for kids. Abraham caught one on a bare hook. And the rest of us used hot-dog meat. They would hook themselves on the line before it touched the water. No kidding—they jumped out of the water onto the hook. Now I know that most of you fishermen would regard that as no sport and no art. True. But it’s great for three boys with cane poles and very low boredom thresholds.

Noël gave me the mornings alone with my books and prayer. I gave her the afternoons alone with her books and prayer and sewing machine. During the mornings I planned the fall sermon topics and texts (more on this in another Star [Taste & See]). During the afternoons I swam and fished with the boys. When we were tired and after supper I read John White’s The Tower of Geburah to the family. We finished all 300 pages the last day. I recommend it highly to all who love to see the beauty and power of Christ in fresh allegorical colors.

I also read J. I. Packer’s essay on John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, (a classic which I now resolve to read soon). Two other books I am deeply moved by are E. J. Carnell’s Christian Commitment and a biography of Mary Slessor, a Scottish missionary to Africa.

We attended seven different churches, including Baptist, Christian Reformed, Independent, Covenant and two varieties of Lutheran. Impressions: I really like Bethlehem! Let’s keep making a good thing better.

Perhaps best of all were the leisurely talks with Noël about our life in ministry together. God was very kind to give me in our times of prayer a strong sense of call to my pastoral life at Bethlehem. He filled me with joy at the prospect of serving you in his incomparable fellowship. We come back happy and humbled to be your shepherd family. We need your prayers. God is going to do a new work at BBC and Satan will oppose us. Christ will conquer.

Glad to be back,

Pastor John