Category Archives: Seminary

Orientation 2012

This week was orientation week at The Master’s Seminary and I was greatly humbled earlier this year when the seminary asked me, along with eleven of my fellow students, to be an orientation leader for the seventy incoming students who start this Fall.

As much as possible, and as early as possible, the orientation leaders committed themselves to welcoming the incoming students (not forgetting their wives and families) and assisting them, in any way possible, with their shift to Southern California.  This often meant, physically moving furniture, unloading trucks and generally answering any questions about the seminary or life in Los Angeles.  Once all of my guys were settled into their new homes, I combined with another group and hosted them all for a BBQ meal.  It was a great chance to get all the men together and for them to meet each other before Orientation.  The friendships formed in these early days are very important as they will all go through seminary together and even beyond.

This year, orientation was a little different.  A lot of the usual events occurred, such as the lunches, the campus tour, the dreaded English grammar and bible proficiency exams and the dessert evening, but a change to the preaching program this Fall meant that the seminary slotted the ‘Fundamentals of Preaching’ class into the orientation.  What a thrill for the new students to come to orientation and spend three hours each morning listening and learning from two of the foremost preachers going around today: Dr. John MacArthur and Dr. Steve Lawson.  Man, how I would have loved that at my orientation last Fall!  Here is the first session on the first morning which was presented by Dr. John MacArthur (I even spotted myself in the video!).

To serve as an orientation leader over the past few months has been a wonderful experience as well as enabling me to meet more of the men that God has sent to the seminary in preparation for ministry.  It is fascinating and quite astounding, how each man has a remarkably different background and story as to how they came to the seminary, yet the evidence of the providence of God working in the background in each of their lives is very familier.

I am grateful for each of these men and looking to further developing my friendship with each one as the semester progresses.

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Gladiator Greek

Over the past six weeks, I have been engaged in battle – learning Biblical Greek grammar in just six weeks.  This was very intense because we learned in just six weeks what is normally taught over one year.  I now know why this class is called, ‘Gladiator Greek’.

The amount of memorization required in this class in such a short period of time was particularly taxing and difficult.  We not only had to memorize a lot of vocab but also umpteen charts and paradigms covering most aspects of New Testament Greek including the verb conjugations, noun declensions, participles and participle parts, adjectives, periphrastics, pronouns, infinitives and much more.

The exciting part of this class, however, was the thrill of translating all of 1 John straight from the Greek New Testament bible.  Going through the translation process brought all of what we learned in class together and being able to translate straight from the Word of God was a thrill.

I am so thankful to the Lord who is using classes like Gladiator Greek to batter me and shape me into a person who can be useful to Him.
Solio Deo Gloria!

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.

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.