What does 3,500 men singing the “Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” sound like? Well…very, very deep. Grace laughed as she thumbed through the hymn book published for the Shepherd’s Conference that I went to last month. She described many of them as “all the man songs,” since they hit– and linger– at all those low, resonating notes that women just can’t pull off (usually).
Prior to the conference we had quite the time getting a place to stay at for our time in California. Long story short, we secured 4 nights as the lovely Motel 6 of Van Nuys (pronounced “eyes”). Van who? Van Nuys, you know the place renowned for that 97′ bank heist with the two men with assault rifles and impenetrable body armor. Yea…but thankfully the motel came complete with full-time security sitting at one of those checkpoint-style car blockers at the entrance. Did you know there are smoking rooms at motels still? Grace’s dad and I didn’t. Our reservation gave us, by default, one of these rooms. The place was full, so no option remained to change. It worked out fine since all we needed to do was sleep there. Our clothing did absorb a bit of that old smoke smell and the beds where a bit springy, but then I was quickly reminded that many non-ideal sleeping situations are bound to be in the near future.
So men from every state descended upon this conference. It was quite the international gathering as well since many associated with The Master’s Academy International were there. It was sometimes distracting when the guy sitting just south-east of you had a live translation of the message going to his not-so-noise cancelling headset. I ran into a handful of friends from Austin Bluffs church in Colorado. I ran into some New Tribers, as well. I found one guy on staff at the NTM Bible school limping around since he blew out his ACL and had a rather impressive brace on. One good thing for him was that he was able to wear shorts. Coming from Michigan we had about a 60 degree swing. Literally, we went from 7 degrees to 70 degrees in just a day. No beanie hat required–or gloves, or Carhartt jacket, or thermals for that matter. I was definitely looking to trade in my pants for some shorts, but it was a rather formal event, so only guys with blown ACLs were allowed shorts.
The Shepherd’s Conference is hosted by Grace Community Church (connected with John MacArthur). They really just sought to encourage pastors and ministers of the gospel by providing a venue where they could be fed by the Word and be shepherded a bit themselves. They really did a exceptional job taking extra care of these men. One of my faves was the free ice cream parlor, of course. The conference itself was $300, which was ironic because they gave a set of over a dozen books to all of us which easily added up to $300 worth of material. Not to mention the additional $50 they gave each man to buy other books or “shepherd’s swag,” as we called it.
Some of the main speakers were Al Mohler, Mark Devor, Paul Washer, and of course Johnny Mac. Fernando Ortega came around to lead music for a couple of nights, too. I’ll leave you with one link to a session by Paul Washer entitled, “The Great Commission as a Theological Endeavor.” It was well presented, with no punches held back. It forced me to take some inventory of my heart, for sure. Listen to it.
Lord-willing I’ll be able to attend next year as well, since it’s scheduled for March, right before we’re looking to leave.