Monthly Archives: March 2012

Happy Birthday, Maddy

Maddy celebrated her twelve birthday a few days ago, but because it fell on the first day of the Shepherds’ Conference, we couldn’t do much on the day.  Tonight, we celebrated her birthday by going out for dinner at a place of her choice – now that we are students, long gone are the days of extravagant birthday celebrations.

So we headed to Wahoo’s for dinner.  Maddy loves this place and when you can buy a kid’s meal for $2.99, I tend to like it as well.  Besides, the  blackened fish burrito is pretty good and the salsa has a real bite to it.

After eating at Wahoo’s, we headed across the road to Menchie’s for dessert.  Menchie’s has been a very regular thing for us since we discovered it in our third week in the United States.  Back in New Zealand, we maintained a Family night every Friday evening and we have continued that tradition here where Menchie’s frozen yogurt has become a regular feature every week since.  It is quite an inexpensive night out, and the girls still look forward to it week after week before we head back home for episodes of ‘Little House on the Prairie’.  The thing that I like about Menchie’s is that they usually have at least one new flavor each week despite the fact that the girls tend to go for the most sickly-sweet toppings in contrast to my very tried and true (and classic) vanilla, nuts and chocolate fudge.

We enjoyed our night out which served as another reminder of how grateful to the Lord we are for the way He has  richly blessed us with Maddy.  She brings us much joy  (as well as a few challenges) and we love what she adds to our family. Happy birthday, Maddy.

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Shepherds’ Conference 2012

For many, the Shepherds’ Conference, which is hosted by Grace Community Church is the premier event for all pastors and church ministry leaders.  Men from all over the United States and the world travel to Sun Valley, California each March to spend three days being taught, encouraged, refreshed, enlivened and invigorated by some of the foremost evangelical preachers of our time.  It is not every week, you can sit under the preaching of men such as Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. R. Albert Mohler under the same roof and in the same day.  But at the Shepherds’ Conference, you can.

As a student at The Master’s Seminary  (which is based on the campus of Grace Community Church), we don’t have any classes during the week, but we are required to attend much of the conference.  It is the highlight of the year for most students and I can assure you, it is hardly a chore to attend.  Even though Shepherds’ Conference week is considered a week of catching up on classes or papers, most students forego the catchup to soak in the atmosphere, meet new people and revel in the teaching from the pulpit.  And there is a lot of teaching, from early morning to late evening, there is session after session.  It is like drinking from a fire hose.

As is customary at every Shepherds’ Conference, the entire student body of The Master’s Seminary opens the first session by singing two hymns.  This is the first time that I have been involved in any sort of choir and I found the occasion thrilling. For the week leading up to the conference, we rehearsed for the event and were led carefully through the hymns by Clayton Erb who was very patient and gracious as he taught us.  I managed to end up in the bass section of the choir which suited me perfectly as I knew I couldn’t match those tenors.  Boy, some of those guys can go really high.

Once our duties were done opening the first session, we were free to find seats somewhere to hear Dr. John MacArthur preach the first of the three general sessions that day.  Apparently at this years conference, they was a record number of attendees – somewhere in excess of 3500 men.  Wow! As a result, there were other buildings set up as an ‘overflow’ with a large screen, so you could catch each general session if you couldn’t find a seat in the main sanctuary.

Over the three days, there was three general sessions each day preached by one of the six keynote speakers, and in between, there were break-out sessions held all over the campus where you could sit and listen to your favorite preacher or hear a topic or issue that you were particularly interested in. Throughout the day, a wide range of beverages, food, snacks and other refreshments were available and served to you by one of the very friendly helpers from Grace Church.  If you wish, you could get your shoes shined, get a haircut or spend the fifty dollar gift voucher at one of the bookstores or the Shepherds’ Shoppe or even ask one of the TMS faculty manning the Scholars Desk a very challenging question.  All three main meals were served and I was especially pleased to enjoy on of my favorites, IN-N-Out Burger for lunch on Day Two.

The Shepherds’ Conference, for me was a great experience.  I listened to some great preaching, met men from all over the world and was given no less than nineteen free books and resources as well as the books that I bought with my gift voucher.

I am grateful to The Master’s Seminary and Grace Community Church for their wonderful generosity and servanthood over the past three days.  But, I am especially thankful to God, that despite my constant failure to obey Him fully, He is so gracious and good in that He has given me the privilege of attending this event and given my family the experience of a lifetime over the next few years.
“For great is the LORD and greatly to be praised”: Psalm 48:1a.

Living Waters

This morning, I had the great pleasure of accepting an invitation, along with a  few  of my fellow seminary students to meet the men behind the Living Waters ministry at their base in Bellflower, California. It was a thrill for me especially, as the founder of Living Waters (and another prominent ministry, ‘The Way of the Master‘) is Ray Comfort – a fellow New Zealander, who since 1989, has almost single-handedly changed the landscape of evangelism in the United States. I can remember as a kid, poring over a Ray Comfort book that my parents owned:  ‘My Friends are Dying’ and being captivated by the book’s vivid illustrations and powerful messages. So, I was very excited to meet Ray and his ministry team.

The morning started off with a tour around the ‘Living Waters’ offices and studio.  It was fascinating to see from where the radio shows are broadcast, where they film the various Living Waters and The Way of the Master TV programs and to see and understand the background processes that are involved in producing the programs. We were also shown the customer service center, bookstore, packing room and other aspects of the ministry.

After the tour, we were able to sit and watch a live broadcast of today’s program (March 6, 2012) of the TV program ‘In the Box’ where the hosts, Ray Comfort, Tony Miano and Mark Spence responded to some questions and objections to The Way of the Master. We even got mentioned on the show as being guests (I am mentioned at 22:27 and 22:34)! The show was great to watch and I was surprised at how relaxed they all were and how much fun they were having during the show.

We ended the morning by having lunch with the whole Living Waters team, spending some time with them and gleaning what we could, especially regarding evangelism. I am especially interested in their open air preaching as I would like to do some open air preaching at some stage and learn how to effectively share the gospel in this context.

What a great way to spend a morning. Tomorrow, Shepherd’s Conference. It just gets better.

Sons of Korah

This weekend, the Sons of Korah are playing two free concerts at Santa Clarita Baptist Church up in Canyon Country and tonight we were blessed to get front row seats to the first of the two concerts.

Sons of Korah are a four-piece Australian band who put the Psalms to largely acoustic music. They have a great deal of variety and creativity in their music which has an alternative folk sound influenced by different ethnic and world beats. As Sons of Korah put it, they present ‘a musical journey into the spiritual drama of the Psalms’. And their concert was exactly that: it was a thrilling ride from the anguish of the lament Psalms to the praise laden Psalm 146 and Psalm 148.

We are thankful to Pastor Scott Basolo for helping to make this concert possible and for the wonderful hospitality of the members at SCBC.

Sons of Korah have one more free concert at SCBC this weekend (Sunday night at 6PM) and if you love the Psalms and love music, I would strongly recommend you get along and catch this wonderful band play live.

2012 TMS Spring Banquet

The Master’s Seminary Spring Banquet is generally regarded by the students and faculty as one of the highlights of the year and I think this year was no different. We appreciated the banquet which allowed us to have an elegant night out together whilst fellowshipping with my fellow students, their wives and various members of the faculty away from the context of the seminary. The location of the spring banquet was the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley.

Our day started with a tour of the Reagan Presidential Library which is a massive
complex measuring over 243,000 square feet and was built in honor of the much loved and popular president. With many fascinating exhibits on display, the library traces Reagan’s life and career from his early beginnings in Illinois, his
radio broadcasting and acting careers to his time as Governor of California and President of the United States. We allowed ourselves two hours to walk through the museum, but in reality, we needed much more time as there was much to read and see. Some of the more interesting exhibits was the suit, complete with bullet holes, that was cut away from Reagan’s body whilst in hospital after the 1981 assassination attempt on his life,  a complete full-scale replica of the Oval Office modelled on the year Reagan left office in 1989, items from his presidential retreat in Camp David, and finally, the amazing Boeing 707 which served as Air Force One during Reagan’s administration.

The forty-year old Air Force One aircraft is permanently housed in a 90,000 square foot hangar and was in operation between 1973-2001, serving seven presidents: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Snr, Clinton and Bush Jnr. It was quite a buzz to be able to take a tour through the Air Force One, although we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside the aircraft. In the hangar, there was also a presidential parade limousine, a secret service vehicle and LAPD police car
and motorcycles from the mid-1980’s. Very cool exhibits.

As well as the Reagan exhibits, there was also an exhibition on the Berlin Wall and a new one (for a limited time only) on George Washington. This very nice exhibition had over 100 original Washington artifacts (they even had his dentures on display) and several life-sized figures to help explain his life as a land-surveyor, a farmer, and shrewd entrepreneur as well as President. These exhibitions gave us a good insight into the lives of two of the most well-respected and important U.S presidents in American history. We are grateful for the opportunity.

After the tour through the library, we were served hors d’ordevours on the patio of the presidential library which overlooked Simi Valley and allowed us to mingle with fellow students and take in the breathtaking views. From there we had dinner which was really nice with great food and marvelous company. The table we were on was a real international affair, consisting of an American (Dr. Harris), two New Zealand couples (including us), an English couple, a South African couple (lekke) and a student from … oops, his home country escapes me. Sorry Alex. Between courses we listened to a challenging message from guest speaker Dr. R. Kent Hughes who charged us to keep the faith and a good conscience.

We enjoyed the evening immensely and rounded the night off with coffee with a few other couples. It was a pleasure and a privilege to attend the TMS Spring Banquet and we will definitely be registering for the same event next spring.