SHEPHERDS, DAY ONE: “Step on the grass. Shoot a deer. Dig for oil. NOW!”


Dr. John MacArthur, Shepherd's Conference 2009

Dr. John MacArthur, Shepherd's Conference 2009

The first day of the Shepherd’s Conference found me driving in pouring rain up I-5 past a terrible car wreck, through deep puddles of water, and searching in vain for a parking spot on the Grace Community Church’s lot.


HA!  A little rain isn’t going to ruin this day!  I found a parking spot along the street a few blocks away, waited for the rain to subside, and walked to the church campus.

How do you describe the buzz of 3500 pastors from around the world all gathering together in one place?  I don’t know.  Electric, maybe?  Everyone was giving off an air of anticipation.  Lots of smiles, hugs, and refreshments all around.  I found a seat on the organ side (for Janz) and waited the beginning of the first keynote.

The Master’s Seminary students started off the conference with a couple of historic hymns.  John MacArthur then led in prayer and gave a brief seminary promo.  Clayton Erb (music minister for 30 years–amazing!) led the massive congregation in some more hymns.  John returned for the message, which he titled “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist Must Be a 6 Literal Day Creationist” or simply put “A Theology of Creation.”  His text: Genesis 1:1-2:3.  Here are my notes on his message:

Intro: Theology is still the queen of the sciences.  The Bible always trumps science.  Whoever created the universe understands how it works; thus, He is not waiting for science to enlighten Him.  Christian science is like grape nuts.  It’s neither grapes nor nuts, like Christian science is never Christian nor science.  God spoke plainly: 6 days, mornings and evenings.

1. Fidelity – believe creation or not, but you can’t alter it.

  • There is no such thing as creation science because there is no scientific explanation for creation.  Creation had no observers, cannot be verified, or duplicated.  In fact, creation is a massive miracle and can only be understood in that sense.  We can disprove evolution but we cannot prove creation.  The natural law played no role in creation.  Job 38-end.  People reject creation because they refuse to accept a Creator who is also a Law Giver and a Judge.  To determine a person’s fidelity to the Word, ask “what is your position on Genesis 1:1?”

2. Simplicity (John 1:1-3; Deut. 4:32; Ps. 104; Ps. 148; Isa. 42:5-8; Mark 10:6; Eph. 3:9; Rev. 4:11; Rev. 10:6)

  • If you deny the creation account, you diminish glory to God.  The pattern of worship in Revelation: God is Creator; God is new Creator of those who put their trust in Him.

3. Priority – it is essential!

  • What is God’s priority? His purpose?  Everything from Creation to Consummation is part of an eternal plan.  Isaiah 46:9-11 is a worldview we must have.  What is God’s plan? Redemption — to collect a Bride for His Son.  The creation of the visible world is the setting for the creation of an invisible people.  2 Cor. 4:6–just as God created instantaneous light, so God created instantaneous spiritual light. (Jn. 1:12)  This is not a process; it is a divine miracle.

After this, John launched into a second part of his message: The Theology of Uncreation or The “Greening” of Evangelicalism.  His text was 2 Peter 3:10-13.  Some notes from this section:

  • Amidst the “threat” of global warming, ask the question: “Have you ever seen a rainbow?”  God has promised to never destroy the earth with a flood.  The polar ice caps are not going to melt and destroy the earth.
  • Christ doesn’t want to “heal” the creation; He cursed it!
  • 52% of evangelicals support strict environmental sanctions.
  • Global warming restrictions will kill 20-50 million people in the next decade by halting technological progress.
  • We live on a disposable planet.
  • Cal Tech scientist says global warming is on the same level as extra terrestrial beings. 
  • “Consensus” science is not science.  Skepticism is the brother of true science.
  • Legitimate science sees a correlation between sun spots and climate change.  Warming is not produced by man; it’s produced by the sun.
  • Vote for warming!  It’s much better than cooling in many ways!
  • So…step on the grass, shoot a deer, and drill for oil now!
  • Genesis 8:22 — Relax!!

After a delicious lunch, I attended Phil Johnson’s seminar on “What Is an Evangelical?”  Here are some of my notes:

  • Christianity Today said that diversity was the overwhelming characteristic of evangelicals.  We are living in a time of apostasy not unlike the Old Testament.  We have reached the point where everyone does what is right in their own eyes.
  • Core values of historic evangelicals: (1) authority of the Scripture and (2) Truth of the Gospel
  • The doctrine of justification by faith is the one essential of the Apostles’ Teaching and is the argument made in virtually every New Testament epistle.
  • Pelagianism is a denial of the necessity of faith.  Augustine responded by attributing all human goodness to grace showing both the primacy and necessity of faith.
  • Anselm of Canterbury believed in substitutionary atonement as the appeasement of God the Father.
  • William Tyndale wrote the first recorded English usage of the term “evangelical.”
  • Sir Thomas More has the first published use of “evangelical” as describing a theological position.
  • To be an evangelical means to submit to the authority of the Scripture and a clear, narrow view of the Gospel
  • “I am a Paleo-Evangelical!”
  • 2 Factors to the Erosion of Evangelicalism: (1) unfortunate rift between fundamentalists and evangelicals and (2) neo-evangelicalism as evidenced by Christianity Today, National Association of Evangelicals and Billy Graham, etc.

I skipped Tom Pennington’s keynote in the afternoon to have dinner with friends.

Finally, a wonderful evening service closed out the long day.  Nearly 50 minutes of musical worship.  My friend Kory Welch sang a beautiful song about Emmanuel.  The Grace Choir led us in wonderful hymns.  John MacArthur introduced a new DVD teaching series from Luke 15 published by Thomas Nelson.  Rick Holland gave a lengthy introduction to MacArthur, noting his 50 years of expositional preaching.  For the preaching time, MacArthur reflected over his ministry through the years.  My notes:

  • Over time, I came to a trinitarian view of church structure: (1) Glory to God; (2) Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; (3) Commitment to Spirit-inspired revelation.
  • “We have not reached perfection, but we know our direction.”

MacArthur then noted his non-negotiables in ecclesiology, the foundations of Grace Community Church, which are the same as they were 40 years ago.

  • Absolute authority of the Word
  • Assembly of Worshippers (John 4): Ignorance cripples worship; knowledge expands it.
  • Doctrinal Clarity: Clarity translates into convictions.  Convictions become affections.
  • Spiritual Discernment (1 Thess. 5:19-21)
  • Pursuit of Holiness, not Legalism
  • Develop Godly Leaders
  • Spiritual Development of Members (1 John 2)
  • Unity Produced by Love (the one another’s of Scripture; spiritual gifts)
  • Faithful Prayer
  • Sacrificial Giving
  • The purpose of GCC is evangelism; it is the only thing we won’t be able to do in Heaven that the Church can do today.

Was a great day!  Looking forward to tomorrow…


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Greg Oertel on March 5, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Sounds great! What is a Paleo-Evangelical? True worship brightens a rainy day. Be refreshed! Any books to buy?


  2. Sounds like so much to glean and learn! 🙂 Continue to have a wonderful time!


  3. Posted by bob on March 5, 2009 at 3:27 pm


    Thanks for this. I regret that I did not go this year. I probably should have. But this is good to read.



  4. I came upon “” while searching for a photo/graphic to depict “bowing down to science” … I recognize and respect some of the names on your roster and look forward to visiting often. But in the meantime …

    Will you help me learn how to begin a classy blog such as yours? I love the classic, professional look … everything about your presentation is appealing and respectful. (Category Cloud is unique! I will eventually visit each link.)

    I’m in the process of accumulating and formatting data for a second website for our ministry … our current website is not friendly enough for me to make the changes/additions we’d like to include, and our web host is expensive. I’m a “self-taught” 66-year-old computer learner (15 years) … always blessed when a program’s function is accidently discovered to make my work easier. I don’t have the time to search out blog opportunities so I boldly and “humbly” ask for your help and hints. You possess the expertise I’d like to reach for.

    If you’re willing, thank you. If not, please let me know so I don’t expect anything …

    Visiting here has been a inspiring! May our Lord continue to richly bless you and your blog ministry. He’s so good!


  5. PS: I don’t have a clue about html, etc.


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