Reflections from the 2008 Shepherd’s Conference

by Pastor Patrick Cho

This year, eleven men from Lighthouse attended the 2008 Shepherds’Conference. The conference, which was held on March 5-7 at Grace Community Church, was a tremendous blessing because of the amount of teaching we were able to take in. Spiritually, it provided a time for rejuvenation and refreshing. It also promoted wonderful fellowship as there were many opportunities to converse about the seminars and messages.

The Shepherds’ Conference this year did not feature some of the same big name speakers as in previous years. Although John MacArthur and Al Mohler were there, past conferences also included speakers like John Piper and R. C. Sproul. Though there might have initially been some disappointment from not being able to hear some of the more popular pastors, in many ways this conference proved to be more encouraging and edifying than those of previous years. Those who attended the conference agreed that this year’s messages were among the best of all the previous conferences combined.

Tom Pennington offered a wonderful exposition about fruitful Christian living from Psalm 1, Rick Holland delivered a challenging message from Leviticus 9 about the dangers of casual familiarity with God, Phil Johnson spoke on the counter-cultural approach of Paul’s preaching in Athens from Acts 17, Al Mohler addressed the theology of exposition from Deuteronomy 4, and Steve Lawson enlivened everyone at the conference with a sermon about the invincible weapon that the preacher wields from Hebrews 4:12. But the highlight messages of the week came from John MacArthur.

MacArthur spoke the most frequently giving three of the general session sermons as well as a Q&A. His first message on Wednesday morning was about the church in the Book of Acts and how important it is to maintain a biblical ecclesiology. He addressed some of the recent church growth trends and explained that the church today is unfortunately moving farther and farther away from the prescribed and lucid instructions from God’s Word. Instead of adopting church growth methodologies that simply cater to sinners’ wants, the church should stick to the strategies of the early church: focusing on the Word of God, raising a believing and sanctified congregation, and appointing qualified and godly leaders.

That evening, MacArthur presented a masterful exposition of the account of the widow’s offering in Luke 20:45-21:6, but the message that seemed to make the biggest impact on all in attendance was the final sermon of the conference. He prefaced the sermon by explaining that it contained the material for the rewritten first chapter of the 20th anniversary edition of his book, The Gospel according to Jesus. In this message, he carefully examined the master/slave motif of the New Testament and outlined how the Bible calls all believers of Christ to be His slaves. The premise of the sermon was if Christ is to be Lord and Master (cf. Jude 1:4), then His followers are to be His slaves. This is how the Apostles identified themselves and this is how the Lord regards His followers even unto eternity future (cf. Rev. 22:3). MacArthur was careful to explain that though all true believers are slaves of Christ, Christ is ever the gracious and wonderful Master because, though we are slaves, He treats us as friends (cf. John 15:14-15).

The fellowship at the conference was encouraging. Seeing the servant hearts of the members at Grace Community Church throughout the entire week was humbling. The gifts, food, and free books provided at the conference were blessings. But the real highlight was the clear exposition of God’s Word, which was delivered again and again. In many ways, it was like drinking from a fire hydrant trying to take in that much teaching in such a short time. All in all, the conference lifted our spirits and challenged us to lead in the church the way God intends. It was surely a weekend that will remain in our hearts for a long time.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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