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Shepherds’ Conference (Day 3)

To say that I hit the ground running after Shepherds’ Conference would be an under statement. I’ve had ample opportunity to apply what we learned at the conference and it’s been a joy to watch God work even in the midst of a very busy and wearisome season. But more about that later, here’s the recap of day three of the Shepherds’ Conference.

Phil Johnson started out the morning with a general session on Titus 2:11-15. This was something of a followup sermon to his message 3 years ago on bad boy Christian pastors. The big take away was that the gospel does not abandon the moral commandments that are found in the law, so it is not legalistic to appeal to holiness and preach in such a way that moves people to greater holiness. Phil reminded us that 1) Grace trains us to repudiate the works of the flesh, 2) Grace teaches us to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, 3) Grace teaches us to anticipate eternal blessings. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Phil’s message: “The greatest threat to the gospel today is not the government, or secularization, or atheists but worldy pastors who make Christianity trivial and light.”

I went to Jack Hughes seminar on preaching that cause people to hang on your every word. Jack wrote a book a few years ago about using “Word Pictures” in preaching and this seminar was kind of a recap of the book and the class that he teaches at the seminary. In short, it was great! It was a good reminder for me to incorporate more word pictures into my preaching.

Steve Lawson preached the afternoon general session on 1 Corinthains 2 and the kind of preaching that God blesses. Lawson used a “trinitarian outline” to remind us that God blesses preaching that focuses on 1) The Preeminence of Christ, 2) The Power of the Spirit, and the Predetermined plan of the Father. He had a lot of great quotes. Here are just a few:

“There is no one too weak for God to use, only those who are too strong.” – Lloyd Jones

“Preaching without passion is not preaching at all.” – John Murray

“Dispassionate preaching is a lie.” – RC Sproul

“A sleepy preacher will hardly awake drowsy listeners.” – Richard Baxter

“It is contempt to speak of great things without passion and fervency.” – Richard Baxter

“A preacher whho will not preach Christ is like a barber who will not cut hair.”

John MacArthur ended the Shepherds’ Conference with his evening sermon covering part two of his emphasis on the Holy Spirit. It’s another one of those sermons that you’ll just have to listen to, but it was nothing short of outsanding. My favorite quote was “Hard preaching produces soft people, but soft preaching produces hard people.”

And that was pretty much it for this year’s Shepherds’ Conferece. As I said, it’s been kind of a rough re-entry here. All of the guys who went with me ended up getting sick (including myself) with some kind of a cold. It was like a hospital ship driving back to Northern California :-). The night that I got back, I received one of those phone calls that you never want to get as a pastor and rushed over to a dear friends’ home who had just lost her mother. Through it all, I can confidently reaffirm that God is good and that He has sustained me and my family through this. I appreciate your prayers and look forward to what God has in store for our church body through all of this.

March 12 2012 | Blog | Comments Off on Shepherds’ Conference (Day 3)

Shepherds’ Conference (Day 2)

This morning started out with one of the best messages that I’ve ever heard at a Shepherds’ Conference. It was Voddie Baucham on Ephesians 5 and the gospel in marriage. I can’t possibly summarize the whole message here, but one of the big take aways was that a man has no business in pastoral ministry if he does not intentionally love, nurture, and disciple his children and his wife, because that relationship is a picture of the gospel so to neglect the care of our families is to neglect the gospel. Here are a few choice quotes:

“We can’t confuse what the gospel requires (repentance and faith) with what the gospel produces (obedience).”

“Our love for our wives is based on our love for Christ, because it gives glory to Christ when we love and sanctify our wives.”

“We don’t think enough of sex, which is not to say that we don’t think enough about sex. In other words, don’t make sex less than it is, a picture of the ecstasy of our union with Christ.”

After Voddie’s message, MacArthur did a Q&A with Phil Johnson that was very moving to me. He talked about how difficult Monday mornings can be when he feels like he’s failed the day before in his preaching. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Dr. MacArthur speak so introspectively, but it was very encouraging to me to know that a man of his stature still struggles with the same things I struggle with. He also talked about the pain of suffering in ministry and gave some personal stories from his family.

This is the biggest attendance that the Shepherds’ Conference has ever had with literally thousands of pastors milling about Grace Community Church. It takes an armor of over 700 volunteers to pull off the Shepherds’ Conference and they are some of the nicest people that you will ever meet. I was blessed to have my shoes shined today by a man who works for NASA flying space craft around asteroids! The humility with which these volunteers serve, is one of the most moving parts of the conference.

After lunch (In-N-Out) I attended Phil Johnson’s session on the question of “Is justification enough?” He gave a great summary of the modernist / fundamentalist controversey and made this powerful observation. “The mistake of the original fundamentalist movement was the failure to defend the actual fundamentals. They became infatuated with various personalities who lead the movement astray into all kinds of sillyness until there was no distinction between soul willing and self-promotion.” The point is that the gospel is enough, but justification by faith alone is not enough because that doctrine alone leaves out many of the implications of the gospel allowing for some pretty bizzar people to enter into the movement (i.e. TD Jakes and the Elephant Room controversey).

Carey Hardey gave a great session on the relationship between biblical counseling and possible physical illness. This is something that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately, so I was very interested to hear what Hardey had to say. He gave a good summary of the biblical understanding of suffering and difficulty and then explained the theory of chemical imbalances to us. Hardey is a licensed pharmacologist who has spent decades practicing medicicine, so he speaks with a good bit of authority when he reminds us that the the theory of chemical imbalance is nothing more than a theory and it’s one that medicine is actually starting to abandon now. He gave some good questions to ask the doctor when considering taking medication for depression or other psychological conditions like: 1) What tests were run to prove a physical problem is present? How do those tests prove the presence? Is the condition a proven, demonstrable fact, or simply a theory? How do you know the diagnosed physical problem is the cause of the emotional or behavioral actions of the personand not a result? Is the link a proven, demonstrable fact, or simply a theory? What proof do you have that the medicine you are recommending corrects the physical problem? While these are great questions for a patient to ask their doctor, one of the big take aways for me was that I do not practice medicine. I have no business telilng someone to take medicine or to get off of medicine, my job is to deal with the heart.

The evening session was with Al Mohler, who is one of my favorite preachers. He preached on Colossians 1:24-29 and the pastor’s job description. The whole sermon was great, but this point was especially poignant. He pointed out the fact that the pastors job starts with suffering and it ends with toil and the glory of pastoral ministry is sandwhiched between these two things as we preach, teach, exhort, love, and present every man mature in Christ. My favorite quote from the sermon was, “Every particle in the universe was created so that you could do your job and proclaim the Word.”

Every year the Shepherds’ Conference gives attendees a $50 gift card, which I used to get a really nice pen and a couple of coffee cups that I had my eye on. They also give us a huge stack of books. Here’s the list from this year:

  • Moments of Truth by John MacArthur
  • We Proclaim by Ekklesia Music
  • The Book of Beginnings by Henry Morris III
  • Eight Songs that Teach by Sovereign Grace Music
  • Begin by Ken Ham & Bodie Hodge
  • Sermon on the Mount by Charles Quarles
  • Transforming Prayer by Daniel Henderson
  • Reformation: yester, Today and Tomorrow by Carl Trueman
  • Lit! by Tony Reinke
  • Knowing God Audio Book by JI Packer
  • What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn
  • Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland
  • If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch
  • The Treelis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
  • Worship by John MacArthur
  • The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski
  • Picking up the Pieces by Lou Priolo
  • The Gospel According to the Apostles by John MacArthur


March 09 2012 | Blog | 3 Comments »

Shepherds’ Conference (Day 1)


For the past 3 years or so I’ve been blogging my way through the Shepherds Conference. I was planning on taking a break from it this year, but after being prevailed upon by a friend I’ve decided to put down at least a few things about the conference and to try to sum up some of the things God is doing here for me and my guys.

I drove down on Tuesday with four other guys from Cool Church. We had a great drive talking about doctrine, listening to some sermons and laughing until our sides hurt at each other’s jokes…we are admitedly easily entertained. We got down here to the Burbank Marriott about 2pm and then went to a nice dinner at Bucca de Beppo’s and Universal City Walk, which is the one of the coolest and most random places you’ll ever visit (they have an entire store dedicated to random socks).

One of the unique things about the conference this year is that I seem to have an abundance of shepherding issues that I still have to attend to, so I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone in between sessions practicing what I’ve been learning.

The conference started at 10am with the first session with John MacArthur. After preaching through the New Testament for 43 years, MacArthur just finished his last sermon on the gospel of Mark a few months ago which he recapped for us tonight. It was a powerful explanation of the reliability of Scripture…although preaching through Mark myself, I kind of feel like he spoiled the ending for me 🙂

As great as it is to listen to MacArthur preach, the real highlight of the morning was the worship. There’s just something about sitting in a room with over 3,000 men singning that moves you to tears. In a lot of ways it’s a real release for me from all of the strain and pull of pastoral minsitry to just come here and be fed and moved by the worship and the Word, I know that was especially true this morning.

I’ve been running into dozens of friends from seminary, from Northern California and a very special group of guys from Emmanuel Baptist Church. I actually got to meet Eric (EBC’s new youth pastor) for the first time in person, talk to Colin, Scott and Lewis P. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see the rest of the guys tomorrow at lunch or something.

We only had one seminar today, so I went to one of the history of the biblical counseling movement which was outstanding. Heath Lambert has recently written a book chronicling the movement since Jay Adams and he was there to answe questions and dialogue. It was very insightful.

The second General Session was with Tom Pennington who did an exposition of Ephesians 4:7-10, with a specail emphasis on verse 13 and the mission of the church. He laid out three goals for the church from verse 13, 1) Unity in Biblical Doctrine, 2) Unity in Devotion to Jesus Christ, 3) Unity in Likeness to Jesus Christ. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

“They’re can be doctrine without maturity, but they’re cannot be maturity without doctrine.”

“Men, are you more devoted to Jesus Christ today than you were last month?”

“Is your life sending a different message than your sermons?”

“Genuin spiritual maturity is an accomplishable goal.”

“You take care of the depth of your ministry and let God take care of the breadth of your ministry.” – Which is actually a John MacArthur quote.

MacArthur did the last General Session tonight and preached on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. It was one of those sermons that’s bound to get a lot of attention and reaction, which is something he’s really good at. The basic point he was making was that the Holy Spirit is one of the most neglicted topics in evangelicalism today and that it’s time to give the Spirit His rightful place in the church by praying to Him, worshiping Him, and clearning up the doctrinal confusion that has come with the neglect of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Looking at Romans 8 he made the powerful point that the two primary things that the Spirit does, which are not taught on very much, is that He sanctifies the believer and He secures the believer. Like I said, it was one of those sermons that you’ll probably want to listen to for yourself because it’s sure to be much talked about, but I know that I was really blessed by what He was bringing out.

Well, that’s about it for tonight. It’s been a great day and I can’t wait to hear even more tomorrow. It really is a special privilige to be down here with the guys I’m with. We’re havign a great time and some great conversations. I really am blessed.

March 07 2012 | Blog | 4 Comments »

Shepherds’ Conference 2011–Day Two (Thursday)

IMG_0531Well, for me today was about catching up with old friends. I ran into person after person from past churches, college, seminary, etc. It was a tremendous blessing to catch up and hear what God has been doing in their lives. In many ways, coming to the Shepherds’ Conference is like coming home for me. It really is a tremendous blessing!

IMG_0533The morning started out with a powerful message from Rick Holland on 1 Peter 5:1-4. Rick gave us 3 sobering realities of pastoral ministry. The first was that it is a Serious Responsibility. The second was that it is a Delegated Responsibility, because the flock belongs to God and we really just get to serve as “sheep dogs” helping the Shepherd. Additionally, the only reason that you would accept this responsibility is because you have a deep love for souls. Thirdly, it is a Honorable Responsibility.

The second General Session was a Q&A with John MacArthur. I love these Q&A Sessions, because they really give you a lot of insight into Pastor John’s heart. He talked about texting his grandkids, a new biography that Ian Murray has written about him, and his great love for Grace Community Church.

IMG_0534Of course, Thursday is the great book give away. They gave us 12 different volumes this year, all of which are excellent resources that I’m looking forward to diving into. Lunch was the famed In-N-Out, which was a real treat. We followed lunch up with a few more visits to the bookstores and an excellent Seminar Session on responding to criticism in the local church.

After the last seminar of the day, we ran down to Outback for dinner and rushed back to the church just in time to hear Al Mohler give a powerful message on Acts 18:24-28.

I better sign off now, since I have a very early morning appointment with one of the students from my first youth ministry at Starbucks (where else?).

March 11 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on Shepherds’ Conference 2011–Day Two (Thursday)

Shepherds’ Conference 2011–Day One (Wednesday)

IMG_0527Wow, well I’m not even sure how to summarize day one of the Shepherds’ Conference, except to say that it was moving. The morning began with The Master’s Seminary student body leading us in worship. I was so moved by the powerful worship, I was lead to tears.

Phil Johnson launched the conference with a stirring message on 2 Timothy 4:1-5, that centered around the nine facets of our one responsibility to preach the Word. He reminded us that we are to 1) preach the word with dignity, 2) be ready to preach the Word whether its fashionable or unfashionable, 3) reprove those who are in sin, 4) rebuke error, 5) exhort with tender affection, 6) handle the word accurately, 7) endure suffering, 8) preach the gospel, 9) and fulfill your ministry.

After our time with Phil we enjoyed a great lunch together and then made our way to the bookstores. They’ve got some great deals here on good resources. I picked up 8 copies of The Trellis and the Vine to go through with the elders.

IMG_0525The conference is divided between General Sessions and Seminars. The General Sessions are all together, while the Seminars give a  wide array of choices. Rob and I attended a seminar with Carey Hardy on leadership from 1 Corinthians 4:14-21. Carey gave us four essential qualities of godly leadership: 1) Godly leaders are Concerned for the flock. They genuinely love the people entrusted to them. 2) Godly leaders have exemplary Character. They make the right decisions consistently over a long period of time. 3) Godly leaders exercise Courage. They don’t shy away from tough decisions and they never quit in the middle of difficulties. 4) Godly leaders practice Contentment. They resign themselves to the goodness and sovereignty of God and are willing to have their plans interrupted.

After our seminar, we had another general session with Tom Pennington who brought a powerful message on the danger of pride in the ministry from 1 Peter 5:5-7. Tom brought home the point that the path to humility includes three steps: 1) You must submit to human authority, 2) You must become a slave to everyone, 3) You must embrace God’s providence in your circumstances. The way that you know that you’re on the path of humility is when you consistently cast your cares upon the Lord, because you know that He cares for you. Another way of saying this would be: When I hold onto anxiety, I am not practicing humility.

After Tom’s message we went and got dinner at Del Taco and rushed back to visit the bookstores again, where I bough some more Shepherds’ Conference bling (a jacket, book holder, and a killer pen).

IMG_0526The last General session started at 7:00pm with a stirring performance from the Master’s College Coral and a powerful message from John MacArthur on the gravity and seriousness of ministry in the local church. Dr. MacArthur walked us through Mark 11:12-18 and drove home the point that if you are going to call the church the house of God, if the church is where people go to meet with God, than it better be run the way that God says it should be run. Suffice to say that we have all had the fear of God properly put into us about what we’re doing as leaders of the local church.

We got back to the hotel at 9:45am exhausted from a great day of being fed God’s Word. Tomorrow morning kicks off early with a message from Rick Holland and another message from John MacArthur.

March 09 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on Shepherds’ Conference 2011–Day One (Wednesday)

Shepherds’ Conference 2011–The Journey Begins (Tuesday)

Well, our journey to the Shepherds’ Conference began this morning at 8:00am. We made a quick stop at Starbucks (where else?) and hit the road. After a great lunch at The Elbow Room in Fresno, we journeyed through the Promised Land (Bakersfield, CA) and finally arrived here in “Beautiful Burbank” around 5:00pm.


Barb and Cindy are thinking about all of the mischief that they’ll be getting into this week with their husbands gone Smile






Why is it that I’m always the shortest guy in whatever group I find myself in Smile






After a quick break at the hotel (we’re staying at the Marriott Burbank), we headed out to Universal City Walk for some dinner and fun.

Mike was desperate for shrimp, so we decided to get dinner at Bubba Gump’s.IMG_0518IMG_0519

After dinner we walked around City Walk and ended up at the Universal Studio’s Globe.


We’ve got an early start tomorrow with registration at 8am and the first General Session with John MacArthur at 10am.

March 09 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on Shepherds’ Conference 2011–The Journey Begins (Tuesday)

2011 Shepherds’ Conference

sc-2010I started attending the Shepherds’ Conference in 2003 as a student at The Master’s Seminary and immediately fell in love with the conference. There really is nothing like the Shepherds’ Conference, when it comes to ministering directly to pastors and elders. Over the last 8 years, I’ve only missed two Shepherds’ Conferences (one when my son Micah was born in 2006 and the other when Luke was born in 2010).

During the years that I served at Emmanuel Baptist, I lead several trips to the Shepherds’ Conference with our elders. We would leave at 4am on a Monday morning to drive to Redding, stay the night and then drive from Redding to Burbank the next day. Those were some of my favorite memories with that leadership team, as we fellowshipped in the car, talked about what we’d learned at the conference and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.

This year, I’m heading back down Grace Community with 6 other guys from Cool Church to sit under the teaching of men like John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Rick Holland and a host of others. I’m planning on blogging my way through the trip (like I’ve done in years past), so stay tuned to the blog to catch up on all of our latest shenanigans (with pictures) as we travel and for recaps of what we’ve been learning. The posts should go up some time in the evenings, as during the day I’ll be engaged with the conference but hopefully this will give you a feel for some of the things that we’ll be experiencing.

March 07 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on 2011 Shepherds’ Conference

Shepherds’ Conference Books

For anyone who may be interested in what books they gave away at the Shepherds’ Conference this year.  Here is a quick list.

  1. The Passion Driven Sermon by Jim Shaddis
  2. Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice
  3. Dying Thoughts by Richard Baxter
  4. A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards (Audiobook) by George Marsden – I listened to this on the drive back home, it was very good  
  5. Teaching Romans by Christopher Ash
  6. New American Standard Bible, Compact Edition – This is what I call “Shepherds’ Conference Bling” it’s go an inscription on the front and the staff on the spine.
  7. Reasons we Believe by Nathan Busenitz
  8. A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, Volume 1 by Rolland McCune
  9. Touchpoints by Randy Alcorn
  10. Truth Ednures by John MacArthur – This is a collection of 12 of MacArthur’s most significant sermons over the last 40 years and a 70 page Biography of John written by Iain Murray.
  11. Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong by John MacArthur
  12. The Darkness and the Glory by Greg Harris
  13. Love or Die by Alexander Strauch
  14. John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion by burk Parsons
  15. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew, Volume 1
  16. Culture Shift by Al Mohler
  17. When People are Big and God is Small by ed Welch
  18. Instructing a Child’s Heart by Ted & Margy Tripp
  19. Pastoral Ministry by John MacArthur

March 09 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Shepherds’ Conference Books

Shepherds’ Conference Day 5 Recap

I’m sitting in the sanctuary at Grace Community Church waiting for the last General Session with John MacArthur.  It has been an amazing weekend learning and being fed by some of the world’s great Bible Expositors, but even with how great the teaching has been the real benefit of the Shepherds’ Conference for our church is the fellowship and the like mindedness that it produces amongst our leadership.  Somewhere between eating together, driving 40 hours together, late night conversations together, and drinking large amounts of coffee to stay awake we have bound our hearts together with a love for the Scripture, a love for each other and a commitment to the glory of God.

Sorry for the brevity of this particular post, but I’ll try and put some pictures up tomorrow as we make our way to Grant’s Pass and than back to our families, who we miss very much.

March 06 2009 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Shepherds’ Conference Day 4 Recap

We had another great day today at the Shepherds’ Conference.  Rick Holland lead the day off with a sermon on Pastoral Theology.  He encouraged us from 2 Corinthians 11:3 to have a Fearful Ecclesiology, a Functional Bibliology, and a Jealous Christology.  Rick was one of the primary men who taught me how to preach, so I greatly appreciate his ministry.

After Rick, we got to listen to a Q&A Session with John MacArthur and after that we had In-N-Out and got to walk the campus, look over the book store and generally have a great time.

Mike, Gary and I went to a session with the Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church called “Making Waves without Sinking the Ship,” which was about leadership in the church.

The day wrapped up with a sermon from Al Mohler on authority in preaching.  Mohler said, “Too much preaching leaves us with a question mark instead of an exclamation point.”

I was poking around the web and found some great resources for anyone who is looking to keep up with what we’re doing and especially what we are listening to.

You can listen to any of the sermons that have been preached by going here and registering for a Shepherds’ Fellowship account.  They already have most of the general sessions up and available for download for free.

Or, if you have some time today you can listen to the general session sermons live online by going here, also for free!!!  Tomorrow’s schedule includes:

Fridays Schedule:

9:00am – Phil Johnson

2:00pm – Steve Lawson

7:00pm – John MacArthur

You can also find summaries of the conference and the seminars over at the Pulpit Blog.

Finally, one of the big highlights of the day is the books!!!  Each year the Shepherds’ Conference gives each attendee a massive stack of books.  This year, they gave us 21 great books!!!  In addition, they have a conference book store with deep discounts.  I’ll close with a picture of Collin sitting next to both of our stacks.


March 06 2009 | Blog | 2 Comments »

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