This past week, our home church in San Diego, California, generously invited Pastor Melvin Zelaya and I to fly up to Los Angeles for a conference on preaching. The Shepherd’s Conference, hosted at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, is intended to encourage professional pastors and build them up in the effective preaching of God’s Word. The keynote speaker was Pastor John MacArthur, with messages preached by other Gospel heralds like Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ian Murray, and other gifted men.
For me as a missionary in a country not my own, the generous invitation from our church was humbling. It also afforded me a much needed time to be refreshed by fellowship and comradery with men whom I am privileged to call friends. (With the recent visit from FPAM board members Josh & Dave, I am really on a high from the time with godly bros) Friends in San Diego opened their homes to me, sharing cars, beds, meals, and even funds.
Then, the Shepherd’s Conference was close to a full week of seeing the Body of Christ shower almost 4,500 pastors with Gospel generosity. Members of the Grace Community Church volunteered literally around the clock to attend to preachers from over 67 nations. The Body of believers went over and above what you’d ever see at any trade show or professional conference, rivaling that of 5-star resorts. Men from the church set up shoe shine stands, IT professionals configured robust wi-fi networks, some offered places for international attendees to make free calls home, and print documents. Doctors and nurses from the local church took time off from their jobs to provide medical care to conference attendees with medical needs, offering essential medications and sunscreen to protect us from the harsh California sun. Food service was non-stop and was elaborate. One businessman in the church with a growing LA hot dog chain provided daily snacks to thousands, free of charge.
Bathrooms cleaned hourly. Grounds tidied up non-stop. Every detail meticulously thought through. And this was not a money-making venture. This was the collective effort of the Body of Christ to demonstrate the essence and generosity of the Gospel. Indeed, these shepherds were treated like kings this week! The Gospel is the compelling paradox that serves as the example for this love given by the King who humbled himself to become a shepherd of sheep, only then to be exalted again as King of Kings!
What is the Gospel? Thanks for asking.
Here, Paul puts it simply in these four statements found in I Corinthians 15, verses 3 through 9.
· That Christ died for OUR sins (in accordance with Scriptures)
· That He was buried
· That He rose on the 3rd day (in accordance with Scriptures)
· That He appeared to many
The fact that God would condescend to even be in our presence is Gospel generosity. That Christ would willfully lay down His life in a cruel and painful death for us is Gospel generosity.
Understanding the cost, the incredible cost of Christ’s sacrifice to settle our account with God the Father requires a response of gratitude from each recipient of this grace & mercy. Naturally, this gratitude produces a generosity that spills over and is shared with others. I was richly encouraged through Gospel generosity this week, and Christ’s redeemed people showed it to me and others with acts of service, shared provisions, and words of affection.
How is your appreciation of what Jesus has done for you? Are you serving others extravagantly? Are you giving with Gospel generosity because of what God has done for you?
Here’s a verse to chew on:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
P.S> Please take advantage of the resources on-line at shepherdsconference.org and listen to the refreshing and vital news as Christ is preached!
Thanks and God Bless!