God’s Wisdom for Parenting (Part 3)

by Pastor Patrick Cho

One of the places in Scripture to find a wealth of helpful principles for parenting is the Proverbs. Almost every book on parenting will reference these Scriptures repeatedly because of the wisdom they contain. Besides the plethora of verses that apply to parenting indirectly, several passages address parenting specifically.

The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother. (Proverbs 10:1)

As the heading to the verse suggests, this passage marks the beginning of the long list of Solomon’s proverbs. Chapters 1-9 of Proverbs are generally introductory, focusing on the incalculable value of pursuing wisdom and warning against the tragic consequences of falling to the temptation of sexual sin. But starting at Proverbs 10:1, the author offers many short but substantial nuggets of wisdom gold.

The proverb, “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother,” is not arbitrary, but flows out of the previous context warning against foolishness and encouraging wise living. The previous chapter included the theme verse for the entire Book of Proverbs. Proverbs 9:10 states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This theme verse helps us to understand that there is no true wisdom apart from God. To depart from God’s instruction to trust in one’s own understanding is folly.

It is significant to understand the meaning of the word “wise” in this context. The Hebrew word has the idea of someone being skilled in what they do (Heb. chakam). In this sense, wisdom is more than just what a person knows. It also involves how well they live in accordance with what is good and true. This is why Solomon tells his son that wisdom begins with fearing God. A right understanding of the Lord will make an impact on a person’s way of life. To fear God and thus live wisely is to love the Lord and walk in His ways, forsaking the foolishness of the world and of the flesh.

In contrast to the wise is the foolish (Heb. kesil). “Foolish” can also be understood as dull or insolent. Foolish ways are particularly enticing to those who are young and immature, and there is great peril with walking in foolishness since it can lead to destruction. But foolishness does not only have consequences for the person who is foolish. It also affects others around him, so passages like Proverbs 14:7 encourage people not to associate with fools lest their wisdom also become dulled.

Because of these biblical definitions of wisdom and foolishness, of course godly parents desire their children to pursue wisdom and forsake foolishness. No parent wants their child to walk the path to destruction and to be a spiritual detriment to the well-being of those around them. Every God-fearing parent wants their child to make choices consistent with God’s revealed Word. In this way, a child that pursues godly wisdom brings joy to his parents, but a child who departs from godly wisdom will only bring grief.

Missions Monday #8 – Door to Door Evangelism

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

One of the unique aspects of an LBC missions trip to Argentina is the opportunity for the team members to share the gospel by going door-to-door in the different neighborhoods in Tucuman. In a culture that is very receptive towards family, friends, and visitors entering into homes, Iglesia Biblica Misionera (Missionary Bible Church) has taken advantage of this great opportunity to get a foot in the door, literally, to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to all who would hear. We have been blessed to be able to partner with IBM to declare the saving truth of Christ to children, youth, university students, mothers, fathers, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, blue-collar and white-collar workers.

When a team of LBC members travel to Tucuman, Pastor Jorge Ahualle, along with the leadership, plan an evangelistic campaign composed of members of IBM, LBC, and translators, who will be sent to a neighborhood for the purpose of going door to door and evangelizing the people there. Past trips have been such an ordeal, that half the team would go to one neighborhood, while the other half will visit a different one. Every neighborhood has a home base, of which one of the members of the church will open their home to prepare for the day’s schedule. Any tracts that are to be passed out, meeting with the entire group for fellowship and prayer, and instructions on where to go happen every day. Each LBC team member will have a translator and a member from IBM to give more details about the regular events at IBM.

As we go out, each small group would walk around the block, clapping our hands to get the attention of the residents, and ask if they have a few moments to spare. Sometimes they come out to the gate to hear what we have to say, other times they invite us in and even provide mate (tea leaves steeped in hot water) to share with one another. Even in the midst of family life, many are willing and eager to listen to what people from America have come all the way to say. While we tell them what Christ has done here on earth to deal with our sins, many nod in agreement, as if they understand or are familiar with what we are telling them. This can seem encouraging, but many times, it is part of the culture to not offend strangers who enter their homes.

Upon returning to the church, we usually eat and spend time with one another for a brief period of time, then spend some time back at our hotel for a nap. This is to prepare for the evening program where we return to the same neighborhood to invite the people to. We will have music, a skit for the children to watch, and a gospel presentation to the crowd. We then stay and try to speak with those who have come and continue the conversation. Any questions they may have, we seek to answer with the Scriptures, which has promised to be sufficient for every good work.

Some of you may wonder what effect these door-to-door evangelism campaigns have on the people of Tucuman. The first is the fact that every year, more and more people in these neighborhoods hear the gospel of God’s amazing grace, some for the very first time. Second, many grew up going to the Catholic church, yet never understood why Christ came to die on the cross. They were completely mystified as to the need for a perfect sacrifice, and what that means for everyone today. Parents and children are exposed to where in Scripture God calls all men everywhere to repent, how the death of Christ provides a way of escape from sin and God’s wrath, and how they can have a new way of life in Christ.

Third, LBC and IBM members work side-by-side in the fellowship of the gospel. This has solidified some of the friendships between churches, as we have come to be gripped by the same gospel that saved each of us, and now we unite together to proclaim that same truth to others. We embolden one another to call people to lay aside their sin, and to lay hold of Christ as the One who is worth living and dying for. As we continue this partnership, spiritual conversations concerning the day’s events, as well as what we are learning and growing in come to the fore. It becomes easier to talk of spiritual matters when engaged in ministry together.

We pray that as we return to Argentina this summer, the Lord would see fit to use His Word to bring about the salvation of many to Christ. We pray that He will use our feeble efforts to make us faithful to the task of making disciples, primarily by supporting Pastor Jorge Ahualle and his family. We also ask to be faithful in the task by working with those who are there full-time to make disciples of Christ in their respective neighborhoods, whether amongst their own neighbors, or within their own families. We have much to look forward to, and hope you will be with us in prayer! To God be the glory!

Who Hath Saved Us, And Called Us With An Holy Calling

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

2 Timothy 1:9

The apostle uses the perfect tense and says, ‘Who hath saved us.‘ Believers in Christ Jesus are saved. They are not looked upon as persons who are in a hopeful state, and may ultimately be saved, but they are already saved. Salvation is not a blessing to be enjoyed upon the dying bed, and to be sung of in a future state above, but a matter to be obtained, received, promised, and enjoyed now.

  • The Christian is perfectly saved in God’s purpose; God has ordained him unto salvation, and that purpose is complete.
  • He is saved also as to the price which has been paid for him: ‘It is finished’ was the cry of the Saviour ere He died.
  • The believer is also perfectly saved in His covenant head, for as he fell in Adam, so he lives in Christ.
  • This complete salvation is accompanied by a holy calling. Those whom the Saviour saved upon the cross are in due time effectually called by the power of God the Holy Spirit unto holiness: they leave their sins; they endeavour to be like Christ; they choose holiness, not out of any compulsion, but from the stress of a new nature, which leads them to rejoice in holiness just as naturally as aforetime they delighted in sin. God neither chose them nor called them because they were holy, but He called them that they might be holy, and holiness is the beauty produced by His workmanship in them. The excellencies which we see in a believer are as much the work of God as the atonement itself. Thus is brought out very sweetly the fulness of the grace of God.

Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord is the author of it: and what motive but grace could move Him to save the guilty? Salvation must be of grace, because the Lord works in such a manner that our righteousness is for ever excluded.

Such is the believer’s privilege-a present salvation; such is the evidence that he is called to it-a holy life.


Weekly Links (5/19/2017)

“Part of the reason grace bothers us so much is because self-righteousness distorts our perception of reality. We see our goodness as far better than it really is, and we see others’ sins as worse than they really are. In the midst of such unclear vision, grace makes no sense at all.” (Randy Newman, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! We have a number of links for you to power through and enjoy, and so we hope you do!

  • A new book has been making its rounds in the abortion discussion from an abortionist who claims to be a Christian. Author Charles Bellinger reviews the book and gives an overall indictment of pro-choice literature in its lack of awareness of pro-life arguments. Very well-argued.
  • Pastor Ben Edwards gave a presentation on the Sunni Muslim worldview, addressing the top four elements and answering the main seven questions every worldview has to answer. This is a good summary of the largest Muslim group within Islam.
  • Joss Whedon, famous director of The Avengers movies, has created a short film in support of Planned Parenthood, that is on its way to going viral. Over at the Life Training Institute blog, Clinton Wilcox calls it a ‘propaganda piece,’ giving some context for what is really going on with Planned Parenthood. Don’t miss this testimony from a mom who just graduated college in response to Whedon’s video.
  • Pastor Brian Croft just posted video messages from the Sacramento Gospel Conference 2016, where he addresses the gospel in relation to the church, home/family, and sickness/death. Pastor Greg Gilbert was also a speaker there, and gave talks that addressed the components of the gospel. Here is the playlist that has all the talks from both, including a Q&A session with Croft and Gilbert.
  • At the True Woman blog is a story of a marriage tainted by sin, but renewed by God’s grace in forgiveness.
  • Our smartphones are changing us, and surprising remarks come from actor Denzel Washington about that. Author Tony Reinke gives us 12 gospel themes to address with others in relation to our smartphones. May it be a help and source of encouragement to be creative in your bridging the gospel in every conversation.
  • Amy Hall at Stand to Reason, gives some great advice, and links, to many resources for how a high schooler can get involved in Christian apologetics. Though we may not entirely agree on everything with regards to method, there is much value in learning from seasoned apologist who have been on the field for many years.
  • There is a horrifying new practice from an Australian jeweler to turn frozen embryos into jewelry for their parents. Abigail Dodds at Desiring God points out the wickedness of the practice, and the inconsistent labeling of the embryo as a baby from the practitioners of death. Pray that this ends ASAP.
  • What does true, Christian friendship look like? When Desiring God Ministries answers this question, you know it will be a very God-centered answer. Take a look, and pray you become that kind of friend for others.

That’s all for this week! Continue to be in prayer for the youth and collegians, as they meet tonight for Bible study. See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

The Elder Son

by Roger Alcaraz

When we think about the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, not much attention gets placed on the older son. Granted, he doesn’t occupy as much space as the younger, nor is his story as happy. But I do think his story related the most to Jesus’ audience.

Jesus spoke this parable in the context of both the religious heroes and zeros of the day: the scribes and Pharisees versus the tax collectors and sinners. And one would expect the religious leaders to be the ones gravitating to Jesus, but it was more often the wretched sinners that drew near to him. And the parable of the prodigal son was about how lost sinners were being found, and the joy that consumes Christ whenever one of his children is back with him.

Christ is represented by the father in the parable who saw his son, felt compassion, ran to him, embraced him, kissed him, gave him a robe, gave him a ring, gave him shoes, killed the fattened calf, and celebrated. That’s quite the welcoming, especially when you consider that this is a man who had wished his father to be dead, abandoned him, and squandered away his inheritance. You would think that even if the father received him back, there might be conditions to pay back at least some of what he lost, but there are no conditions to pay back the father at all.

This man’s list of good deeds is empty and still the father receives him, and that must have driven the scribes and Pharisees crazy. Jesus was offering salvation to these deplorable sinners just for coming to him. He would disregard their whole past and call the people with the worst lives and say, “I don’t care what sins you’ve committed, only that you follow me now.”

What an offer! But I can imagine how infuriating it would be for the scribes and Pharisees. These are people who devoted themselves to obeying God’s word and who felt they alone were entitled to God’s kingdom because of their deeds. But Jesus knows that what they’re feeling is wrong, and so he concludes his parable by introducing the older son who represents the scribes and Pharisees.

It’s not a complicated story by any means. The older brother is tending the field, being a diligent and hardworking son, and as he comes in, he hears music and dancing and finds out his younger brother has returned. And upon hearing the news, the older brother is outraged. But notice this: nowhere does he take issue with his brother. He’s not angry about the son’s return; he’s angry at the father’s celebration. The father has thrown this huge celebration and even killed the fattened calf which would have been reserved for a wedding. All this for a son who spent his inheritance on prostitutes, when the older son has always obeyed and served the father, and he never even got a young goat.

He contrasts his relationship to his father against his brother’s relationship with his father. He essentially says, “I’ve done so much and have received so little, whereas my brother has done so little and received so much, and it’s not fair.” And in the older son’s heart, he has concluded that his father is not fair or good. And so the father reminds him of his love for the older son. The father loved his older son and this celebration didn’t diminish that. But the father reminds him of why they’re celebrating.

They’re not celebrating because the younger son did something to earn the fattened calf. They’re celebrating because the father is overwhelmed by the son’s return. And so it is a time of celebration. But the older son can’t celebrate. All he’s thinking about is, “Well then, what was this all for? What have I been spending my life doing if my father is receiving this sinner who laid with prostitutes back into his household?” How infuriating.

And this was what made Jesus’ teaching so difficult for the scribes and Pharisee. They spent their whole lives believing that if they lived a certain way, they would be accepted by God. And for Jesus to come and say, “You’re doing it all wrong” was unacceptable. “What was all this for? How can you tell me after all I’ve done that none of it mattered?”

Often times, we consider the cost of following Jesus to be one involving sacrificing our worldly pursuits. But for many, the biggest cost of following Jesus is going to be sacrificing your pride. Sacrificing the list of reasons you think you’re so wonderful and deserving of Heaven and calling everything you’ve ever done as useless. The cost of following Jesus requires that you lay down your pride and confess that everything you’ve done in life, if Jesus wasn’t in it, is useless for salvation. That’s a greater cost than you might realize.

Imagine you spent 30 years building a house and you’re still building on it to perfection. And it’s a beautiful looking house. But then someone says, “Your house is built on sand, and eventually, it will fall.” Would it be an easy for you to say, “I better stop building it and start building on a more solid foundation.” That might be a logical and safer thing to do. But if you’ve spent 30 years building a house, at a certain point, it’s a hard thing accept that the last 30 years was a waste. I get that. Most people would probably come up with an excuse to keep building on it and say, “It’s held up so far. I’ll just continue living in it and building it up.” And the tragedy is that as they build the house, they’re only adding to the rubble that will one day be their grave.

Let us not be like the scribes and Pharisees who refused to admit their need for a savior. But no matter how far we’ve come in this life, as difficult as it may be to admit that our works are useless for salvation, there is great reward for laying down our pride and submitting to Jesus.

Renewing Our Minds for Rejoicing, Pt. 3 – “Think Reverently”

by Pastor James Lee

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8)

Paul says in v. 5, “The Lord is near” or “The Lord is at hand.” If my lack of joy, my lack of contentment, my lack of patience, says anything about me, it says that I don’t functionally believe He “is near.” Those sins always occur in the context of God’s omnipresence and omniscience. So that the Lord is right next to us, in the same room, and we’re behaving like He’s not enough, like He’s not holy, like He doesn’t actually care about us, like He’s not powerful or loving enough to be the answer to our struggles and problems. It’s one thing to believe the attributes of God, it’s quite another to see it and live it every moment. It’s both convicting and comforting, isn’t it? It is for me, big time… the “Lord is near” both in terms of our time and space. It’s both His presence and His imminence. He’s right here with us now, yet He’s coming back soon.

Depending on the state of our minds at a given time, we can view that positively, so that we’re running to God, rather than running from Him. His nearness in a sense equals His grace. Or we can view that just as accurately yet negatively, realizing we’re not getting away with anything. But, the good news is that the gospel addresses both in glorious mercy. So on one end, we should be deeply comforted, that Christ our Friend and Savior is with us all the time, and will never forsake us. He’s keeping us, our bottom line, our rock, our anchor, and if we ask, He’ll guide us, enable us, help us, transform us. On the other hand, there also ought to be a reverential fear, expressed by a poem titled, “If Jesus came to your house.” It challenges us about the things done, said, thought, and watched in the home, and asks what changes would there be if Jesus turned up as a guest for a day? But the point of the poem, of course, is that He is there every day. How true are the things we say? How different would our lives look if we each took holiness more seriously? How does our noble Savior judge our attitudes, the way we might deal with company expense forms, our critical spirit, our greed, or when we gossip about others? What would we do less of, or not at all? What would we do more of? What greater joy also might we experience? Greater usefulness and witness in the name of the Lord? How deep is our pride when we refuse to forgive brethren? Gerard Chrispin asks, “He will treat all His children with the same grace and favour. How can I face Him, and give an account of my life as a Christian, if I fail to treat some Christian brothers and sisters sensitively and gently, possibly just because our personal chemistry differs?” Therein, I believe, is the rub. Think reverently of God with me now. Do you know that every sin is a direct violation of the Great Commandment, which Jesus says is the sum of the law? Every sin is a failure to love God and love people, whether by commission or omission, correct?

That should cause us to pause and make us realize both how much grace we’ve received and how much grace we need. We’re washing others’ feet with joy and seeking to understand others and not just be understood. Everything has a horizontal and vertical component. Romans 12 is an example of that. To be a living sacrifice of worship to God, will mean humbly loving our fellow brethren. Philip Ryken comments, “We need to be honest about the fact that all of our dissatisfaction is discontent with God. Usually we take out our frustrations on someone else. But God knows that when we grumble, we are finding fault with Him. A complaining spirit indicates a problem in our relationship with God.” Right relationship leads to joy!

Missions Monday #7 – English Camp

by Hanka Rodgers

Ever since LBC started going on missions to the Czech Republic, the main focus of the summer trips has been week-long English Camps. It seemed then that the best way to share the gospel with the Czechs would be to offer to teach them English and share the gospel while doing so. That’s because he Czech Republic has about 10.5 million people, and that’s about how many people in the world speak Czech! That’s why every Czech needs to learn a foreign language, which is often English due to its universality. All kids have to take foreign language classes in elementary as well as high school and often even in college.

Sixteen years after this initial decision, not much has changed. Czechs are still very aware of the need to speak at least some English and are often willing to spend time and money working on their skills. English teachers in Czech schools are usually Czechs and even though today’s young people watch a lot of American TV shows (that’s also why they might think everybody in southern California surfs and looks good), personal interaction with native speakers is usually rare and for the most part is in demand.

That’s why a big part of the day at the Camp is spent learning English and interacting with the team. There are four hours of English classes in the morning and one hour of optional English conversation in the afternoons. Team members are assigned a class level to teach and all the campers are divided into classes depending on their English level. Seeing the same group of campers every day for at least four hours really helps not only with teaching English, but also with building closer relationships.

However, when Czechs are invited to these English Camps, it’s clearly stated that they are organized by a Christian church and there will be evening programs with Christian themes. When I was first invited to the first LBC English Camp in 2000 as an unbeliever, this was enough to deter my sister and me from going. We liked English just fine, but we wanted nothing to do with Christians. That’s how I missed the first year of the American and Czech church partnership. In 2001, due to some circumstances that year, I decided last minute that I would go to the Camp despite it being run by Christians. Thankfully, God often brings people that wouldn’t otherwise be interested in attending a church-organized event.

The Czech Republic is sometimes ranked as one of the most atheistic countries in the world. I think that in general, people dislike religion and the church more than they dislike the idea of God or a “higher being.” Whatever it is, most Czechs grow up in a worldview that the Christian God is not real and that the idea of a Christian God is an irrational crutch for people who are weak and uneducated. Even though some people think about God more than others and have a different level of understanding of the Bible, people generally don’t rush to repentance and don’t run to churches right after hearing the gospel. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I was 16 when I first heard the gospel clearly and even decided it might make sense, but becoming a Christian still felt like too much of a change compared to what I had believed the first 15 years of my life. It took months before God softened my heart completely and I repented being willing to deal with all the implications of my decision. The Czech Republic is definitely not one of those countries where people are eager to hear the gospel and believe in Christ.

This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to come to these English Camps ready to genuinely love the people God places in our lives. Even though we want all unbelievers to be saved more than we want anything else, they are not a project we get to work on. They need to know, see, and experience that thanks to God’s love for us, we can love others like ourselves. We want to show them that we care about them, not just about having another tally on our “evangelism list” and we want to share with them that life with God is better than the life they are used to.

As you can tell, this is no easy task. Please join us in prayer for God to soften hearts this summer and for unbelievers to be miraculously saved. Please pray for the team as a group of naturally selfish people is trying to share God’s truth in love with unsaved people. We are working hard to prepare, but we are ultimately so grateful to know that it’s by God’s grace that lives are saved, not by our own doing. Let’s plead with our Father that He saves Czech souls this summer.

Thou Art Weighed in the Balances and Art Found Wanting

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Daniel 5:27

It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God’s Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, ‘Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God’s mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?’ Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to His likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which He constantly inculcated and displayed.

Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did-‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death’? Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, ‘For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain’? If we thus read God’s Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, ‘Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be ‘found wanting,’ when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment.’ ‘Judge yourselves that ye be not judged.’