2015 Shepherds’ Conference (Day Three)

11025953_10205935546054140_7216709272944882813_nOne of the difficulties in a summit on inerrancy is the need to be clear about what we are affirming. Traditionally within the inerrancy debate a middle ground position has been what has wrongly called infallibility. Infallibility has often wrongly been understood as a limited form of inerrancy. While the term is hopelessly lost in confusion by now, it is valuable to remember that the real definition of infallibility is actually stronger than that of inerrancy. While inerrancy means that the text is without errors, infallibility actually means that the text cannot fail. It means that it is impossible for the text to fail or to err in any way. While even a newspaper article can be said to be inerrant (free from errors), only the Scripture is truly infallible.

11041775_10205935441851535_7673217055841048997_nWe were blessed again this morning to have Fernando Ortega leading us in worship. Followed by a powerful sermon by Steve Lawson. Lawson’s message was titled the Invincible Power of the Inerrant Word. The message was comprised of seven symbols of Sacred Scripture: 1) A Sword that Pierces – Hebrews 4:12-13, 2) A Mirror that Reveals – James 1:23, 3) A Seed that Reproduces – 1 Peter 1:23, 4) Milk that Nourishes – 1 Peter 2:2, 5) A Lamp that Shines – Psalm 119:105, 6) A Fire that Consumes – Jeremiah 23:29, 7) A Rock that Shatters – Jeremiah 23:29. Lawson has always been a favorite preacher of mine, but this morning was an especially powerful message. I was in the Family Worship Center where the message was being broadcast. At one point the audio feed failed (they’ve had quite a few technical difficulties this week) and the entire room audibly groaned because they were so engaged in what Lawson was saying. You can read Busenitz liveblog here.

11027501_10205935441811534_1087936623694792518_nThe second session of the day was with Dr. Greg Beale and was titled “The Use of Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15”. It was a much more technical / academic treatment that I found thoroughly riveting…although I’m afraid it may have been a little much for those not accustomed with the academic nature of the discussion. Beale’s basic answer to the difficulty of Matthew’s use of Hosea is that Matthew is actually alluding to Hosea in this passage, not looking to Hosea as a direct fulfillment. Beale’s argument pressed this point even further by demonstrating how well versed Matthew was in Hosea’s writing and how thoroughly appropriate his citation of Hosea 11:1 is at Matthew 2:15. You can read Busenitz liveblog here.

The last session of the day was with Dr. Mohler who preached on Inerrancy & Hermeneutics. Mohler listed 12 hermeneutical principles for those who believe in inerrancy: 1) When the Bible speaks God speaks, 2) The Bible establishes the limits of its interpretation, 3) The importance of the analogy of faith, 4) Grammar matters, 5) The canon establishes the limits of God’s revelation, 6) The forms of literature are essential as the author intended, 7) No external authority can correct the Bible, 8) The historical claims of the Bible are historically true, 9) The Bible is a story that consists of many stories, 10) The Bible is true in all it claims and all of its promises will come to pass, 11) Our understanding is dependent on the Holy Spirit, 12) Study is not an end in itself. The message was classic Mohler and was profoundly helpful. You can read Busenitz liveblog here.

11046769_10205935441771533_5098416672033949393_nIn other news, I’ve really enjoyed running into old friends and new friends here at the conference. I got to spend a lot of time with the men from Emmanuel Baptist (so excited that they’re still coming to the Shepherds’ Conference) and I actually ran into my High School Youth Pastor and got to catch up with him as well. Finally, Grace Community has added a coffee shop to their campus (see photo), which serves some delicious coffee!

March 05 2015 | Shepherds' Conference | 3 Comments »

2015 Shepherds’ Conference (Day Two)

11053282_10205927249366728_1289885907303731492_nThis morning started off with a special surprise as Fernando Ortega lead us in worship. Speaking of surprises, apparently John MacArthur is a Pandora listener. Who would have guessed Smile.

Miguel Nunez was the first speaker of the day. He preached a powerful message on Inerrancy & the Great Commission. Two of the big takeaways I took from Nunez sermon were 1) Without a robust doctrine of inerrancy missions loses all of its authority to confront and engage with foreign cultures, 2) In the global north people lost their confidence in the Bible through the assaults of higher criticism, but in the global south people lost their confidence in the Bible through the belief in extra biblical revelation. If the Bible still needs to be completed through dreams, visions, etc. than it is a very short step to the Bible needing to be corrected. You can read Busenitz live blog here.

The second plenary session of the day was delivered by Carl Trueman on the topic of Inerrancy & the Reformers. Trueman’s message was truly epic! Using historical theology he addressed two of the most common objections to inerrancy 1) Inerrancy is strictly an enlightenment issue, 2) Inerrancy is an American eccentricity. One of the most jaw dropping statements that Trueman made was taken from Augustine’s Letter 82 written to Jerome in which Augustine states that any supposed errors in the Scriptures can be explained by either 1) faulty manuscripts, 2) poor translations, 3) misunderstandings in his own interpretation. This is a profoundly significant witness to the doctrine of inerrancy well before the enlightenment. The essence of the message was 1) The Reformers had a high view of Scripture because they had inherited a high view of Scripture and did not need to question or refine it, 2) The Reformers believed that the Scripture is trustworthy because God is trustworthy. Ultimately our view of the Scriptures and our view of God are two sides of the same coin. You can read Busenitz live blog here.

11041805_10205927249326727_4662897901822858980_nThe evening plenary session was delivered by Mark Dever and was an exposition of Psalm 119. Mark started the message by reading the entirety of Psalm 119. The message centered around four questions: 1) What is the God’s law? The Bible. 2) What is God’s Word like? It is true. It is good. It is eternal. 3) What does God’s Word do? It blesses God’s people by inspiring awe, bringing them to grief over their sins, encouraging them to stay pure in the midst of temptation, bringing hope to the hopeless, and deliverance to the suffering, 4) How should we respond? We should obey God’s Word, love God’s Word, meditate on God’s Word, trust God’s Word and fear God. Dever closed by exploring the ways in which Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 119.  You can read Busenitz live blog here.

In other news, this was an exciting day for me because I was finally able to complete my MacArthur New Testament Commentary series. I’ve been working on collecting the series for more than 16 years and they finally came out with the last two volumes just in time for the conference!

March 04 2015 | Blog and Shepherds' Conference | Comments Off on 2015 Shepherds’ Conference (Day Two)

2015 Shepherds’ Conference (Day One)

Inerrancy-SummitIf Sunday is the best day of the week, then I’m convinced that the Shepherds’ Conference has to be the best week of the year. I’ve been coming for 12 years and I have never walked away unblessed or unmoved by the ministry of Grace Community Church to so many thousands of pastors.

If you’ve never been to a Shepherds’ Conference here are some stats to give you an idea of the scale of this year’s event:

  • 4,500 men are in attendance this year (1,300 for whom this is their first time at a Shepherds’ Conference)
  • 70 different countries are represented (including many countries in the Middle East)
  • The messages are being translated live into Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Mandarin, and Portuguese
  • 1,200 Volunteers are here to serve at the conference
  • 50,000 free books will be given away
  • 100,000 books are expected to be sold
  • 7 local Chipotle restaurants shut down today in order to come to the conference and serve lunch

10422175_10205918923318582_2683220718051613673_nOf course a conference of this nature and of this magnitude is bound to attract attention. We arrived at the campus to find several protestors who were for the most part ignored. Additionally, the conference’s website (www.shepherdsconference.org) was maliciously attacked and taken down for most of the day. Fortunately, the site is back up now so you should be able to watch the live stream tomorrow. If something happens again tomorrow, you can always go to Grace Community’s website where they are also live streaming the event (www.gracechurch.org). Also, you can find Nathan Busenitz Live Blog of the conference here.

The morning began with a Keynote Address from Dr. MacArthur in which he addressed the question of “Why host a conference on the doctrine of inerrancy?” His four points were 1) Because the Scripture is being attacked and we are called to defend it, 2) Because the Scriptures is authoritative and we are called to declare it, 3) Because the Scripture is Accurate and we are called to demonstrate it, 4) Because the Scripture is active and we are called to deploy it. You can find Busenitz live blog of the session here.

The next session began with the Getty’s leading us in worship and introducing a new song that was specially written for this conference on inerrancy. Alistair Begg preached a message on 2 Timothy 4:1-5 called “Let the Lion Out”. For me personally this was the most moving message of the day. Begg explored 1) Timothy’s Charge (v. 1-2), 2) Timothy’s Challenge (v. 3-4), 3) Timothy’s Character (v. 5). You can find Busenitz live blog of the session here.

One of the best parts of the conference is catching up with old friends over lunch, coffee or at the book store. I was blessed to run into several of the pastors and elders from my former church and to hear about all of the wonderful things happening up in Washington. It was a joy to see these men again and to be encouraged by them.

RC Sproul lead our third session through a recorded message. Sproul’s main point was that Jesus believed that the Scripture was inerrant and that we ought not have a lower view of the Scriptures than Jesus does. You can find Busenitz live blog of the session here.

I suppose that now is as good a time as any to confess that me and the guys skipped the fourth session with Stephen Nichols in order to get dinner, but fortunately Nathan Busenitz was there and you can read his live blog of the message here. In our defense, this is a lot of preaching to listen to and we fully intend to listen to the message on the way home from the conference Smile

10353023_10205922568569711_2483588022726477406_nAfter dinner we returned for the last session of the day with Ligon Duncan on 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Duncan broke the passage down into three points 1) What the Bible is, 2) What the Bible is for, 3) What the Bible does. One of the most helpful parts of the message was at the very end when Duncan said that we all know that you won’t obey what you don’t believe, but many of us need to learn that you won’t believe what you don’t obey. In other words in order to believe something to be true, we must begin by acting like it is true (obedience). We must obey in order to believe. You can find Busenitz live blog of the session here.

A couple other interesting things about the conference this year:

  • Master’s Seminary alumni got express registration in the newly remodeled seminary welcome center. It was just finished last week and it really is stunning.
  • The book give away has been streamlined so that each man can pick up his box of 11 books in the book store at any point in the conference. The books included:
    • A new edition of BB Warfield’s The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible
    • The Scripture Cannot be Broken edited by John MacArthur
    • Biblical Authority by John D. Woodbridge
    • Fundamentalism & the Word of God by JI Packer
    • Christianity & Liberalism (CD) by J. Gresham Machen
    • In Defense of the Bible by Steve Cowan & Terry Wilder
    • The Quest for the Historical Adam by William VanDoodewaard
    • Why Believe the Bible by John MacArthur
    • The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper
    • Can I Really Trust the Bible by Barry Cooper
    • Sanctification: The Christian’s Pursuit of God-Given Holiness by Michael Riccardi
  • Because the sanctuary only holds 3,000 people they’ve assigned each man to one of three groups (Augustine, Tyndale and Warfield). During each of the sessions 2 of these 3 groups are in the worship center, while the third group is in one of the other venues where the service is live streamed.
  • I have never seen this many people on Grace Church’s campus! It’s amazing how efficiently the staff and volunteers are able to serve each man’s needs.
  • For 10 years I’ve been waiting for The Master’s Seminary to have a shirt or a coffee mug or something that I could purchase to show my support and enthusiasm for TMS and this year they finally did it. I was able to purchase a nice polo shirt with the seminary logo on it that I am REALLY excited about!

March 03 2015 | Blog and Shepherds' Conference | 3 Comments »

Shepherds’ Conference Blog

inerrancyI’ve been attending the Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Community Church for over 12 years and in that time I’ve heard some amazing preachers (RC Sproul, CJ Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, etc.) and some amazing sermons (Dr. MacArthur’s sermon “Slave” still move me to tears today), but I have never been more excited than I am for this year’s conference on The Inerrant Word.

Grace Community is pulling out all the stops this year and bringing in more top-caliber preachers then any point in recent memory. Here’s just a short list (you can find the full list here): John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan, Carl Trueman, Mark Dever, Gregory Beale, Al Mohler, Iain Murray, Kevin DeYoung.

They’ve brought in so many speakers that they had to add an extra day to the conference in order to fit everyone in. Not only that, but in spite of increasing the maximum attendance from 3,500 to 4,500 the conference sold out months ago.

In keeping with tradition I will be posting daily recaps of the conference here at www.shepherdsnotes.com. I hope you’ll come visit everyday to catch up on the latest conference news.

March 02 2015 | Blog | 1 Comment »

2013 Shepherds’ Conference Audio

SC2010The audio from the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference was just recently made available online. You can find all of the audio listed at the Shepherds’ Conference website here. The following are a few of my favorite messages:

John MacArthur’s sermon Isaiah 53

Tom Pennington’s sermon on the ministers life of prayer

Steve Lawson’s sermon on the doctrine of hell

John MacArthur’s sermon contrasting Judas with Peter

If I had to choose just one sermon that had the greatest impact on me at the Shepherds’ Conference this year, it would have to be Tom Pennington’s sermon on prayer. It was exactly what I needed!

March 11 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Shepherds’ Conference Audio

2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 3)

It’s funny how God gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it. This morning’s keynote was from Tom Pennington on the topic of prayer and it was exactly what I needed. While most pastors will confess that they don’t pray enough, they will usually follow that up with a lament about how busy they are. But Pennington made it clear that busyness is not the reason we don’t pray. We don’t pray because of 1) A lack of humility, 2) a lack of faith, 3) a lack of obedience. The antidote to our prayerlesness is to go back to the Lord’s Prayer where we see that 1) Prayer is a spiritual priority that requires great commitment, 2) Prayer is an intentional practice that requires deliberate time, 3) Prayer is a practical skill that requires practice. I immediately began to make significant changes to my calendar as a result of listening to Pennington’s sermon, it was extremely helpful.

For the last breakout session I attended Phil Johnson’s seminar on Four Liberalizing Trends that Threaten the American Church. Johnson gave an extended talk about the history of Socinianism and than made applications to the situation we find ourselves in today. He said that the four errors of Socinianism are the same four errors of modern theological liberalism: 1) It nullifies the authority of God’s Word by making Scripture subservient to human reason, 2) It denies the importance of the deity of Christ, 3) It diminishes the role of grace by inspiring a works based religion, 4) It obliterates the meaning of the cross because the denial of Hebrews 9:22 is at the heart of liberal thinking.

After a very rainy lunch I picked up a few more books from the campus bookstore and got ready for Steve Lawson’s afternoon session. Lawson gave a powerful sermon on the reality of hell from Luke 16:19-24. It was a haunting sermon for me and convicted me that this is a topic I need to talk about more in my public preaching.

The guys and I got away for one final dinner at the Elephant Bar in Burbank and of course a quick Starbucks run before coming back to the conference for our last session with Dr. MacArthur. Dr. MacArthur preached on a tale of two preachers, contrasting the Apostle Peter and the Betrayer Judas Iscariot. It was a powerful sermon that again haunted me as I thought about some friends I have had in the ministry who have abandoned the faith.

We’re back at the hotel right now, planning on hitting the road at 6:30am tomorrow morning and racing back to see our families. I’ll probably be taking it easy with the blogging next week as I try to recover from this spectacular trip and get ready for the next three weeks as we prepare for Easter. Thanks for sticking with me this week.

March 08 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 3)

2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Conference Guide)

Every year the Shepherds’ Conference gives a conference guide to each of the attendees. The contents of the guide are pretty standard fair with directions to restaurants, gas stations, etc., but it also contains short essays from each of the keynote speakers dealing with various pastoral questions.

I found the following quote from Tom Pennington to be extremely helpful. Pennington is writing about how he balances the needs of the ministry against the needs of his family. He writes:

When I am tempted to neglect this priority, I remind myself that in my marriage I picture Christ’s love for His church. So if I neglect my wife, I am lying about Christ. I am telling my wife, my kids, and my church that in His busyness to advance His kingdom, Christ also often neglects His bride.

March 08 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Conference Guide)

2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 2)

Day 2 of the Shepherds’ Conference did not disappoint at all. Dr. MacArthur started things out with a powerful exposition of Isaiah 53. He contends that Isaiah 53 is a still future confession from a redeemed Israel of the sin of rejecting their messiah. In many ways Isaiah 53 is the answer to the riddle of the Old Testament. The riddle being how God can be both just and the justifier of the ungodly.

The first keynote of the day was quickly followed by a Q&A Panel with all of the keynote speakers from the conference. As you would expect the conversation covered a lot ground, but one of the most interesting takeaways was the fact that each of the men encouraged us to write our sermons out by hand, rather than with a computer. Dr. Mohler made the point that writing things out by hand forces you to slow down and to think more clearly about what you’re saying. Having made the switch to handwritten sermons a few years ago, I can testify to the value of avoiding the computer in this stage of sermon preparation.

Lunch today was In-N-Out, which was of course delicious. Along with lunch we were given a large bag of books for our reading enjoyment. I’ll give a list of the books at the end of this post.

I attended Steve Lawson’s seminar on the life and preaching of Martin Luther, which was something of a refresher for me as I’ve spent a lot of time studying Luther’s life. Nonetheless, it was moving to hear the story again and to catch some details that I was unaware of.

One of the most precious parts of the Shepherds’ Conference experience is the volunteers who serve here every year. This afternoon I had my shoes shined by a man who works for LAX waxing and washing airplanes. He told me about his daughter who attends The Master’s College and how he and his wife came to Grace Community. As we were talking I asked him what shift he works at LAX and he told me that he worked the graveyard shift. He had only slept two hours the night before and then took the day off to come and serve us at the conference. He said that there was no place else that he would rather be than serving the men at the Shepherds’ Conference.

After dinner at Subway we came back to the church for our final session with Dr. Mohler. Mohler preached on Hebrews 12:18-29 and strengthening dropping hands and weak knees with the Word of God.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, so I’ll be posting tomorrow night and than heading back to Cool the following morning just in time for the Awana Grand Prix. Here’s the list of books we received today:

  • Fox’s Book of Martyrs from Christian Audio
  • Encouragement for Today’s Pastors by Joel Beeke
  • The Book of Beginnings by Henry Morris
  • God in Everyday Life by Brad Brandt and Eric Kress
  • The Man Christ Jesus by Bruce Ware
  • Christ’s Prophetic Plans by John MacArthur
  • Hard to Believe by John MacArthur
  • Christ Crucified by Stephen Charnock
  • The Everlasting God by Broughton Knox
  • One Perfect Life by John MacArthur
  • The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent by Erwin Lutzer
  • Turning to God by David Wells
  • Delighting in the Trinity by Tim Chester
  • Exemplary Life by Andy Chambers

March 07 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 2)

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.


March 06 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Shepherds’ Conference (Day 1)

2013 Shephehrds’ Conferece (Travel Day)

Well it’s that time of year again. Time to pack the guys up, grab our Bibles and head down to the Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Community Church. We left this morning at 8am with coffee in our hands and breakfast burritos (courtesy of the Cork & Fork) in our stomachs. We’ve come hungry for fellowship (which we’ve already been enjoying), expository preaching and more books than we could possibly read in the next year :-).

Our travel was thankfully uneventful. We even got checked in here at the Airtel Plaza early enough to catch a quick nap before heading over to Universal City Walk to take in the sights and enjoy some Bubba Gumps cuisine.

Tomorrow will be a full day with John MacArthur starting things off at 10:00am and Steve Lawson rounding the day out with the evening session. The conference has been sold out for over a week now and I’m told that it is the biggest crowd that Grace Community has ever had for any of their conferences.
I plan on blogging as much as I can to give you a feel for the excitement surrounding this conference and the joy of what God is doing in our hearts down here, so stay tuned all week long.

March 05 2013 | Blog | Comments Off on 2013 Shephehrds’ Conferece (Travel Day)

Next »