Today is your 7th Birthday. I am so proud of the young man that you are and the young man that you are becoming. This last year has been so much fun for our family. Here are a few of the highlights:
· We got a dog! You and your brothers have been asking for a dog for years, and just last month we decided that it was finally time. You love Max and take every chance you get to pet him, to talk to him, and to play with him.
· You learned to read! There were a lot of tears in the Fall of 2016 as mommy started to teach you to read. You were convinced that you’d never be able to do it. But, before you knew it, you were reading everything we put in front of you. I think teaching you to read has been one of the greatest joys of mommy’s life and it has been a supreme joy for me to watch you grow in your reading.
· You had a great summer! Last summer was filled with fun activities. You went swimming every day, either at the Folsom Aquatic Center or in our new pool in the back yard. We went camping at Lake Tahoe with the family, which I’m convinced is one of your favorite things to do. We went to Six Flags as a family and you got to ride lots of rides and see lots of cool shows.
· You are doing great at Awana! I can’t believe how many Bible verses you have already memorized. You and your brothers have already far surpassed anything that I did in Awana and I am so proud of you!
· You had the “best Christmas ever” again! We had a full Christmas together with lots of outings to see Christmas lights, special Christmas dinners, Christmas movies and so much more. We celebrated Christmas Eve with Auntie Apryl & Uncle Arlin & your cousins. Christmas was on a Sunday this year, so Christmas Day we went to church together and spent the rest of the day at home opening presents and enjoying each other’s company. After Christmas, we went to the beach house with Grandma & Papa and then over to Bakersfield.
There’s so much more that I could write to you, but the most important thing I want to tell you is that I am proud of you. You are growing into quite a young man and I continue to pray that the Lord will bless you and use you in mighty ways. Luke, there are two convictions that I pray the Lord will plant deep inside of your heart, 1) That you are a great sinner, 2) That Christ is a great Savior. I love you with all of my heart.
March 31 2017 | Comments Off on Happy Seventh Birthday Luke (2017)
Today, you are turning 9 years old. I’ve been looking back through old pictures of you and I just can’t believe how grown up you are. It seems to me that the Lord has given you a special maturity and a good deal of insight in recent years and I’m excited to see what He will do with those gifts in the future.
2016 was another great year for you and for our family. You finished second grade and started the third grade at home with Mom and your brothers. We finally put together a decent classroom at home where you have a desk, a lamp and all of your school supplies. I love coming home for lunch and finding the four of you upstairs working away at your current projects.
As usual, we had the “best summer ever” again . You spent many days at the Folsom Aquatic Center with mom and your brothers. I even got to come quite a few times. When you weren’t at the Folsom Aquatic Center, you were in our backyard swimming in our brand-new swimming pool. We found it at Costco a few weeks after your last birthday. It was way too big for our van, but somehow, I found a way to get it home by tying the back gate closed, because I knew how much you boys wanted it.
We went camping at Lake Tahoe again with Auntie Merry, Auntie Amanda, Nana, Granddaddy, Papa, and Grandma. We all had such a good time swimming at the lake, going on walks, riding scooters, etc.
The fall and winter have been a whirlwind this year. We went trick or treating in Auburn, like we always do. We celebrated Thanksgiving at Auntie Apryl’s house. Christmas was on a Sunday, so we stayed home for Christmas and went to the beach house with Papa & Grandma afterwards, then we visited Bakersfield before coming back home.
One of the best parts of being your Dad is getting to watch you grow older, understanding the special way that God made you and the special gifts that He has given you. As I mentioned earlier, you have grown a lot this year. I have especially noticed the way that you have grown in your maturity and in your insight into other people. You seem to have an intuitive grasp of what other people are going through, particularly in their joys and in their sorrows. What’s more, you actually care about them. These are very special gifts that I believe the Lord will use to serve others.
Cody, I believe that the Lord will do great things through you, if you keep two things in the forefront of your mind. 1) That you are a great sinner, 2) That Christ is a great Savior. He saved you and I, in spite of ourselves, and He has called us to serve Him and to proclaim the good news of how others might come to know Him as well.
I am so proud of the young man that you are and of the young that man that you are becoming. I love you with all of my heart.
March 28 2017 | Comments Off on Happy Ninth Birthday Cody (2017)
Daniel 12:1-4 wraps up the vision of Daniel 11 with a triad of hope.
Hope that 1) The Lord will deliver, 2) The Lord will resurrect, 3) The Lord will reward.
Our Hope is in The Lord from DrewBuell on Vimeo.
You can listen online here.
You can listen in iTunes here.
March 27 2017 | Comments Off on Our Hope is in the Lord (Daniel 12:1-4)
2016 was another full year for our “Cool” family. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- We’ve seen each of our boys grow in remarkable ways as you’ve pressed on with Home Schooling them. I am so proud of the young men that they are growing into.
- We went on some amazing field trips to Six Flags, the River Cats, Monterey Bay Aquarium and a whole host of summer activities like the Calaveras Big Trees, Camping at Lake Tahoe, and much more.
- We also got to spend a week together, just ourselves, while the boys went to their grandparents.
- The boys loved swimming in the backyard.
- We love cooking in our newly remodeled kitchen.
- In other words, “We’re living the dream.” 🙂
Of course, there’s a lot more going on in our lives than I can write about it in a single letter, but the most important thing that I want to tell you is that I have never loved you more than I do today. It is a dream being married to you and each day really is better than the last.
I was reading through Spurgeon’s autobiography the other day when I found this quote about pastor’s wives that I wanted to share with you:
If everything there [at home] is happy, and free from care, he can give all his thoughts to his preparation for the pulpit; and the godly woman, who thus helps her husband to preach better, is herself a preacher though she never speaks in public, and she becomes to the highest degree useful to that portion of the Church of Christ which is committed to her husband’s charge.”
I want you to know that what you do at home matters to me and it matters to our church. The work that you do at home is “to the highest degree useful” to our body and I am profoundly thankful for everything that you do for me, for our family and for our church.
I love you with all of my heart,
March 21 2017 | Comments Off on Happy Birthday Amy (2017)
Daniel 11:36-45 gives one of the most intimate pictures of the coming Willful King (Antichrist) that we find in scripture. Verses 36-39 describe his character and verses 40-45 give a step by step account of his final Armageddon campaign.
The Willful King – Antichrist from DrewBuell on Vimeo.
You can listen online here.
You can listen in iTunes here.
March 20 2017 | Comments Off on The Willful King (Daniel 11:36-45)
I love every part of the Shepherds’ Conference, but I think the thing that I love most about this time is the relationships that you form and the friendships that you strengthen.
For me, Day 4 was full of good and deep conversations with friends from the past and with some of the men that I was able to bring down with me from Cool. The highlight was getting to catching up with one of the students from my Youth Ministry in Washington and hearing all about what the Lord has been doing in his life. After talking with him I completely understand what the Apostle John meant when he said, “I have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in the truth.”
The preaching was everything that you would expect from a Shepherds’ Conference. The morning started with Miguel Nunez who preached on John 14:6 and what he called the “Four Spiritual Laws of the Gospel” that 1) Christ is the Only Way, which is the answer to our pluralism; 2) Christ is the Only Truth, which is the answer to our postmodernism; 3) Christ is the Only Life, which is the answer to our culture of death; 4) There is No Other Means of Salvation, which is God’s answer to our pride. One of my favorite quotes from the sermon was, “It’s true that all paths lead to God, however all but one lead to His judgement.”
HB Charles preached the afternoon session on Ephesians 1:15-23 and “High Above the Heavens”. Charles listed four ways that God displays his power in Christ: 1) God Raised Christ, 2) God Seated Christ, 3) God Placed All Things Under Christ, 4) God Placed Christ as head Over all Things. One of my favorite quotes from Charles was, “Asking if the Word or Prayer is more important is like asking which wing of an airplane is most important when your cruising at 30,000 feet.” Another one was that “Christianity is the only faith who’s adherents travel to their founders tomb just to confirm that his remains are not there.”
The last session of the day was with Dr. Al Mohler and was everything that you would expect. Mohler preached on John 15:18-16:4 and “If the World Hates You”. The message was so good that I ended up not taking notes and just listening, so you’ll have to listen online once they publish the message to catch the whole thing :-).
March 03 2017 | Comments Off on 2017 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 4)
Day of 3 of the Shepherds’ Conference started very early for us. We met in the hotel lobbed at 6:30am in order to get down to the conference on time. Fortunately, this is the last day we’ll have to do that.
The morning started off with Mark Jones preaching on Isaiah 50:4-6 and Christ’s Eternal Submission to His Father. Jones broke the passage down into four segments 1) The Servant is Taught (v. 4), 2) The Servant is Obedient (v. 5-6), 3) The Servant’s Hope (v. 7-8), 4) The Servant’s Obituary. One of the best lines that Jones gave was “God does not give us more than we can handle…He gives us a lot more than we can handle.”
Iain Murray spoke at 10am on “The Legacy of Reformation Truth in Puritan Preaching.” It was a fascinating sermon surveying puritan history and making special application to Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” where we find the original Shepherds’ Conference on the delectable mountains just in sight of Emmanuel’s land. The four Shepherds gathered for that conference represent the heart and soul of puritan pastoral ministry 1) Knowledge, 2) Experience, 3) Watchfulness, 4) Sincere. One of the best quotes from Murray’s message was “Preaching is not men teaching about God through the Bible, it is God teaching men through the Bible.”
This was a great day to do some shopping, so I skipped one of the sessions and hit the bookstore with my Dad. I picked up a copy of MacArthur’s new systematic theology, along with a number of other books that I’m really excited about. I also got something for the boys and my wife, who is making all of this possible for me :-).
Stephen Nicole preached the after session on John 1:14-18 and “The Word Became Flesh”. He surveyed the book of Ruth, the story of the woman with the flow of blood and Galatians 3:13-14 to show how it isn’t just that we are empty, sick & unclean but that we are cursed , that God is against us but that Christ became flesh to be cursed, so that we might be redeemed.
I should also mention how powerful and moving the worship has been this week. Today, we were lead in worship by Bob Kaitlin and Keith & Kristyn Getty.
The last session of the day was Mark Dever who preached on Colossians 1:18 and “The Head of the Church”. He spoke about out beliefs about Christ that are laid out in verses 15-20 and than our belief in Christ (v. 21-23). Dever gave a gospel invitation to anyone who has not trusted in Christ. he said, “I’m not sure why you would come all the way down here, spend all of the money to be here, etc. if you aren’t a Christian. But on the other hand, pastors are very clever people and perhaps your pastor convinced you to come down here knowing that you need to trust in Christ…”
With that the conference was officially half way over. Our group traveled back up to Valencia for a great Italian meal and than back to the hotel.
March 02 2017 | Comments Off on 2017 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 3)
We got off to an early start this morning and got checked in at the conference. Here are a few interesting facts and highlights from this year’s conference:
- There are men from 67 countries at the conference.
- There are about 5,000 men attending this year.
- For 1,200 of those men this is their first Shepehrds’ Conference.
- There are 1,100 volunteers serving at the conference. They range from 4 – 86 years old.
- They’ve moved a few things around this year putting the gift shop upstairs to allow for more space and putting the book store on the second floor of the tower building.
The book giveaway included 12 titles this year:
- Faith Alone by RC Sproul
- Bishop J.C. Ryle’s Autobiography by J.C. Ryle
- Why the Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves & Tim Chester (CD)
- John Knox by Steve Lawson
- The Whoel Christ by Sinclair Ferguson
- The Gospel According to Paul by John MacArthur
- Love Beyond Degree by George Zemek & J. Todd Murray
- Strength in the River by Steve Swartz
- The English Reformation and the Puritans by Michael Reeves (DVD)
- The Deity of Christ by John MacArthur
- A Habitual Sight of Him by Thomas Goodwin
- Faith Alone by Thomas Schreiner
Dr. MacArthur preached for our first session on 2 Corinthians 4:5. The title of the message was “We Preach Christ.” MacArthur said that there are 9 unwavering convictions that keep men faithful to the very end:
- The superiority of the New Covenant over the Old
- Ministry is a Mercy – “You didn’t earn the right to be in ministry”
- Maintain a Pure Heart
- Rightly Handle the Word of God
- Results do not depend on us at all
- Our own insignificance – “Our weaknesses do not diminish the gospel’s strength”
- There is Great Benefit in Suffering
- The Need for Courage
- Future Glory is Better than anything this World has to Offer
I’m happy to report that I was able to get Dr. Mohler’s autograph for the kids. Cody, is super excited :-).
After our first session we got lunch (Stonefire Grill) and I got to visit the Shepherds Shoppe.
Phil Johnson preached for our second session on Galatians 1:6-7. The title of the message was “No Other Gospel.” He explored 3 common desires that draw people away from the gospel:
- The Itch for Somethign New – “running after fads is one of the fastest ways to become irrelevant”
- The Urge to Modify the Gospel
- The Craving for the Applause of Men
Michael Reeves preached for our third sessions on John 1:1-3 and the Eternal Word. Reeves sermon was my favorite from the day. It was almost like listening to poetry as he expounded on the nature of the Eternal Word who is the Eternal Son. The sermon culminated in the statement, “The greatest privlige of the gospel is that the Son shares His sonship with us, making us the children of God.”
Ligon Duncan preached for the fourth session on John 6. The title of the message was “Jesus, the Bread of Life.” Duncan’s main point was that Jesus, the bread of life, is life and gives life by his death and the life he gives is satisfaction, security and salvation.
- The Bread that Perishes is Contrasted with the Bread of Life
- The Utter Necessity of Faith
- Jesus Displays Himself in His Glory as the Bread of Life
We have a very early morning tomorrow, as the first session begins at 8am. So I’m going to sign off now, but I’ll be back tomorrow night with a recap of the day and the seminar sessions.
February 28 2017 | Comments Off on 2017 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 2)
We set off on our great adventure at 10am this morning with 8 of us from Cool and met up with my Dad at the hotel in Santa Clarita. From the looks of things most of the conference speakers must be staying at this hotel. Dr. Mohler walked by me in the lobby and Rob ran into Mark Dever in the elevator :-).
We went to dinner at Claim Jumpers and got to talk about what we’re excited about for the conference this year, as well as some of our highlights from years past.
Here are a few pieces of advice that some of our veteran conference attendees came up with for the new guys.
- Pack Light – The more things you take, the more things you have to keep track of and the more distracted you’ll be. It’s tempting to bring everything you think you might need while you’re there, but it really is a better idea to only bring the absolute necessities (iPad, a pen, sunglasses, etc.) and leave the rest behind. I’m not even bringing a jacket with me this year because I don’t want to carry it around all day once it warms up.
- Pace Yourself – This is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s good to remember that all of the conference audio will be available online shortly after the conference. So if your brain is fried or you just need a break, don’t feel bad about sitting out one of the sessions and catching your breath.
- Use the Library – If you need a quiet place to catch your breath or just to take a break from all of the activity, the library is a great place to find some solitude.
- Enjoy Each Other – Half of the fun of the conference is getting to spend extended time together and getting to know each other. Be sure to ask good questions and have good conversations with the men God has put into your life for this week.
- Enjoy the Conference – There is so much to take in and see at the Shepherds’ Conference. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the midst of the busyness of the whole thing.
We’re going to get an early start tomorrow morning in order to get checked in and to find good seats for the first seminar. I’ll post an update and synopsis of the day tomorrow night.
February 27 2017 | Comments Off on 2017 Shepherds’ Conference (Day One)
Daniel 11:2-35 contains the densest collection of fulfilled prophesies in the Old Testament, each of which testifies to the Integrity of the Word of God.
You can listen online here.
You can listen in iTunes here.
Also, here are a couple of the graphics that we used as we walked through the passage.
February 26 2017 | Comments Off on The Integrity of the Word of God (Daniel 11:2-35)