Live from LA! Shepherd’s Conference 2009

shepconfAs I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Burbank, California. I am eager to experience the Shepherd’s Conference for the first time. Each night, I will post a recap of the conference that day.

Why am I here? There are myriads of ministry conferences a pastor can attend in the 21st Century. I, however, am not interested in the latest ministry fads, the latest church growth techniques, or the latest superstar speakers.

I am interested in one thing, the passionate, expository preaching and teaching of the Bible.

Each week, I am privileged to spend at least 18 hours in the study of the Scriptures. I schedule and protect that time as best as I can, because I believe that it is the Word of God empowered by the Spirit of God that will produce any real, significant, lasting change in the souls of men.

I am all for the constant evaluation and adaptation of ministry methodology to communicate effectively to the culture in which we live. However, it is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that God has chosen to use in its “foolishness” to bring saving and sanctifying faith to the human race.

I am hungry for such preaching and teaching. It resonates in my spirit. It is the craft to which I have dedicated the remainder of my pastoral ministry. It is God’s food for my spiritual growth. It helps me to love God with all my heart. It gives me tenacity for the defense of truth. It teaches me how to be holy. It strikes down all the sinful tendencies of my heart.

I think most pastors who are dedicated to expository preaching and teaching would readily admit its profound and preliminary work in our own hearts before a word ever leaves our lips behind a pulpit. I am radically broken down and built up in my study and preparation for preaching.

That is why I choose to invest my allocated conference dollars and time into gatherings where Christ-centered, expository preaching is the focus of all activity. Sure, there are other benefits. The opportunity to worship with thousands of other men of the cloth is exhilarating. The potential for networking and future cooperative efforts for the Gospel is real and hopeful. The chance to turn former acquaintances into deep brotherhood is worthwhile.

But when I drive onto the campus of Grace Community Church at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, I am looking forward to looking deeply into the heart of the living Word through the written Word and drinking deeply of its life-giving nourishment. I look forward to hearing from Dr. John MacArthur, a man I greatly admire for his dedication to such preaching over many decades, and other faithful guardians of divine truth. I am confident that the message of the cross will not be masked by either cheap gimmickry or manipulative discourse. It will shine brightly and clearly and penetratingly.

Can’t wait!

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