2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 1)

We headed over to the conference this morning at 6:45am to get checked in and to get my friend John registered. With over 3,500 attendees this year I was a little nervous that he wasn’t going to be able to get in, but God was very kind and allowed him to get registered as a walk-up.

The first session started at 10am with John MacArthur opening things up. Pastor John took us through John 3:1-12 looking at the style of Jesus’ evangelism. Jesus uses the analogy of being born again five time in this passage making the point that salvation is a work of God and God alone. When he tells Nicodemus that he must be born again he isn’t giving him a command, he’s telling him what needs to take place in order for him to be saved. The problem with Nicodemus was that he came wondering what he needed to do, rather than what God needed to do. The question remains what does a sinner need to do in order to be saved and the answer is they need to ask to be saved, they need to believe and God promises that those who seek him will find him and that of all who find him he will lose none.

After the first keynote, I wandered around the conference book store and the conference gift shop. Over the years I’ve put together quite a collection of Shephehrds’ Conference bling, from my shepherds’ conference watch to my shepherds’ conference garment bag sometimes I feel like a walking billboard for these guys :-). This year I ended up finding a great pen and a very nice travel bag for toiletries, etc., so next year my roommate will be able to bask in the glory of my bling even in the bathroom.

I went to Dr. Grisanti’s seminar on “The Noble Lie” where he dealt with the question of whether it’s ever permissible to lie (i.e. to preserve life, etc.). Grisanti’s preferred position is to say “no, it is never permissible to lie under any circumstances” and while he made a good case for his position, I ultimately didn’t find it convincing. At this point (and I know I’m not done thinking about this yet) I would hold to a “Modified Non-Conflicting Absolutism” which asserts that we are to be truthful at all times, but in some very select circumstances (specifically when someone is an enemy of God or an enemy of the state) we are not required to speak the truth (or disclose the whole truth) because they have forefeited their right to the truth (i.e. Nazi soldiers looking for Jews in World War II).

After Dr. Grisanti’s seminar it was time for the next keynote with Phihl Johnson. Phil addressed the core responsibilities for pastoral ministry and drew a very stark line between the “church growth movement” (represented primarily by Andy Stanley and Leadership Network) and the model of humble shepherding. Stanley told Christianity Today that the word pastor “needs to go away” because “it isn’t culturally relavent today.” In contrast to Stanley’s position Phil took us to Acts 20:28-32 with three exhortations for shepherds: 1) Pay Attention to Yourselves, 2) Pay Attention to the Sheep, 3) Pay Attention to the Wolves. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his talk:

  • “The Egyptians despised the Israelites because shepherds were an abomination to them. It looks like the Egyptians are back in charge.”
  • “We are ministers, not managers. We are servants, not CEO’s.”
  • “A CEO must pay attention to the vision, a shepherd must pay attention the flock.”
  • “Wolves are not scarce in these parts.”
  • “The church is full of hipsters (those trying to be cool), hypesters (those trying to sell themselves) and hucksters (those trying to sell you something).”

We enjoyed a delicious meal together at the Outback and made a bee line back to the church to find standing room only in the sanctuary. Fortunately, there are a number of overflow rooms throughout the campus with the service being broadcast on large screens.

Steve Lawson was the last session of the day. He gave a powerful exposition of Revelation 1:9-18 and a vision of “The Glorified Christ.” Lawson said that everything in our church hinges upon our view of Christ. Here are a few quotes:

  • “If you please Him, it does not matter who you displease; and if you displease Him, it does not matter who you please.”
  • “The darker the world becomes, the brighter the light shines.”
  • “We are safer in the fire in His right hand, than out of the fire and on our own.”
  • “Will you choose to be trendy and trite or transcendent and timeless?”

Everything I experienced today was wonderful, but I think that the most moving part of today was sitting next to one of my elders, Dale Wilson, who I very nearly lost last year due to several health complications. To sit next to him at the Shephehrds’ Conference and is a tremendous evidence of grace and a great comfort to me. I’m looking forward to what else God has in store for us tomorrow.

 

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March 06 2013 10:48 pm | Blog

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