Category Archives: Ministry

Men’s Fishing Charter

IMG_5343This weekend, the men at Placerita Baptist Church chartered a fishing boat, and Mark was blessed to be able to go along on the trip, thanks to the generosity of one of the men at the church.  It was welcome respite from the studying, reading and writing seminary papers.

IMG_5371The day started early, since the boat was leaving from Newport Landing, which is based, as you can imagine, at Newport Beach, CA.  Newport is truly a seaside oasis in Southern California, with beautiful beaches, amazing houses, a 3 mile long boardwalk, lots of things to see and do, and the most perfect weather.  However, since Newport Beach is one and a half hours drive from Santa Clarita, coupled with the unpredictability of the LA freeways, an early start was necessary.

IMG_5304There was about 30 in the party, and all met up and gathered at Newport Landing to get the necessary equipment, such as rods, tackle, and a California fishing license.  From there, we boarded the Aggressor, and headed out, right on 7AM.  Immediately the crew had the grill going, so most men had breakfast burritos to fuel a day of hauling in tons of fish.  Well, that was the hope anyway.

IMG_5316We headed out for about an hour and a half, to somewhere, at a guess, between Catalina Island and the mainland.  But along the way, we stopped by a barge to pick up live bait.  Once anchored, we were in a fairly shallow part of the water, about 150 feet, but it didn’t take long before we were catching a lot of sculpin.  I had never heard of them, but they are essentially a bottom-dweller fish.  The sculpin weren’t huge, and we only kept the ones that were at least 10 inches long.  The biggest one caught was about 3-4 pounds.

IMG_5335After some time there, and grilled burgers for lunch, we set off again for some deeper water and on the search for Bass.  We had a neat encounter with a big pod of dolphins, who had decided to swim toward us and then swim both alongside and under the boat.  We anchored again and fished for some Sea Bass, which we managed to get, along with some Mackerel, Barracuda, and an odd colored fish called Sheephead.  This time, more fish were chucked back than was kept.

The crew filleted the fish for us as we traveled back to the landing.  It was a long but really fun day, so we traveled back home tired, sunburnt and eager to get the freshly-caught fish on the pan.


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.

The Annual Bible Church of Buena Park Hoopla

Back home in New Zealand, our family was quite heavily involved in an outreach endeavour called ‘Naenae For Christ’. The idea being to hold weekly outreaches within the local community of Naenae with the intention of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have had to part with that group for the time being because of  our move to California. Happily, the dedicated Naenae for Christ team is continuing to work diligently with some encouraging signs beginning to bear fruit. Whilst we cannot help them physically, we continue to pray for them and the work that the Lord is doing there.

Today, we headed down the Number Five freeway to Buena Park, which is approximately one hour drive south of our house.
One of my Seminary Professors was  holding an annual outreach event at the church where he is the Senior Pastor, Bible Church of Buena Park. I was very interested in this event not only to serve in some way, but to also glean ideas from the outreach. One thing is almost certain, when you organise an outreach event in Southern California, the weather is going to be beautiful and today was no exception.

Once we got there, we were required to sign-in. Actually, everyone was required
to sign-in regardless whether you were a player, a helper or a spectator (like us).
Once signed in, we received a paper wrist-band which was essentially our meal-ticket. I thought the sign-in was a wonderful idea. It gave the church a true indication of the number of people who turned up and it would also enable the church to follow-up on those who attended.

The Hoopla event is a half-court basketball tournament where teams once entered would then compete furiously through a round-robin of 7-minute games and then through the play-offs. The round-robin meant that you played each other several times.

Around noon, we broke for lunch and what a great lunch it was. Approximately thirty faithful servants served throughout the day and helped provide the meal: Cheeseburger and/or hotdog, a bean dish (not sure what was in it but it was marvelous) followed by a apple or peach crumble. I’m not sure how the players managed to resume playing basketball after that feast!

During the lunch break, we all listened to a very passionate and moving gospel message from one of my fellow Seminary brothers, Matthew Watson. It’s been some time since I have heard that much passion in a message. It was very refreshing and pleasing to hear.
There were approximately sixty people there to hear that message, many of whom were kids from the local Juvenile Hall (an institution that houses boys and girls between 12-18 years who have been detained pending juvenile court hearings).
I can only hope that the Lord had softened some of these kids hearts during Matt’s moving testimony.

We left before the day was done but not before Professor Bashoor took time out to give us a guided tour of the chapel and his study.

I have captured some thoughts and ideas that we can take back to New Zealand to implement back home.

Thank you Professor Bashoor, your wife Heidi and all your team for your warm hospitality. We had a wonderful family day out.

Our last Home Group session

Tonight we had a pot-luck dinner with our home group.
It was the last gathering with our home group before we travel to Los Angeles next week to study at The Master’s Seminary.
I really wanted to capture the moment with a photo of the group, but despite reminding myself all week to bring the camera, I forgot it. Doh!

I have been immensely privileged and humbled to lead this group of people who have been an absolute dream to teach.
The are a wonderfully teachable group who share my love and passion for the word of God and for it’s transforming power in our lives.
In the past three years, we have covered the book of Romans (nearly), a series on spiritual disciples and ten chapters of the gospel of Mark.

I thank my home group for their patience with me, for their incredible attendance (even through the coldest and darkest winters), for their fellowship and for their friendship. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.
We will miss you immensely.

I thank the Lord for His guidance and His wisdom.
I thank the Lord for the opportunity to teach willing people week in-week out and for the opportunity to better equip myself through the next few years at Seminary.

It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to serve the Lord in this way.
It is all for His glory.