Author Archives: Stephen Rodgers

Missions Monday #4 – Introducing the Czech Team

Patrick Cho

I have served as the senior pastor of Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego since 2010. My wife Christine and I have been married for almost twelve years and have three beautiful children. I am thankful to have been involved with our summer missions trips to the Czech Republic since we first started going in 2000. Working with Meinolf Mellwig and the church there has been a wonderful blessing, and it is a tremendous joy and privilege to go back each year to build on the relationships we’ve established and to assist the Christian Church of Beroun in the work they’re doing to reach the Czech people. It is also exciting to work with this year’s team. I am looking forward to see how the Lord will use them and cause them to grow through our time together overseas. Some of my hobbies include singing, cooking, watching movies, and playing volleyball. One fun fact about me is that I smile a lot. Even when I honk at bad drivers (I’d like to think very, very rarely!), I do so with a smile.

Christine Cho

I am a stay-at-home mom to three adorable children. Eden is eight, Ezra is four, and Emma is currently four months. I’ve been married to Patrick for almost twelve amazing years! We have a lot of fun together as a family. Some of my interests include singing, playing / watching football, watching movies / shows with Patrick, and all things Disney. I also love fruit, animals, and bargain shopping. I have a Mary Kay business on the side but am a bit undisciplined with my own skincare. I think flowers are beautiful but don’t care to receive them. I don’t mind washing clothes but dislike folding and putting them away. I’m excited to go to the Czech Republic again to partner with the church in Beroun, see familiar faces, and meet new ones! Praying for the gospel to impact those who attend the English Camp!

Eden Cho

I am eight years old and currently in third grade. I enjoy riding my bike, going to the beach, doing coding on my school computer, taking taekwondo lessons, and watching Netflix. Some of my favorite shows are Pokemon, Ninjago, My Little Pony, Shopkins, and Home. I also love to read (especially spooky stories) and recently started reading the Harry Potter books. I love to eat carbs and dislike any kind of sauce. I have no problems singing and dancing in front of others, but acting gives me stage fright. I’m excited to go back to the Czech to see my friends and attend the English Camp!

Ezra Cho

I am fou years old and currently attending Pre-K. I love going to school, playing with my friends, riding my Plasma Car, and playing ABC games. I know how to read but I’m not super interested in books. I’d much rather draw or write letters to people. My current obsession is whatever the latest movie I watched. I recently switched from a Moana obsession to Trolls. I love to eat fruit, sugary cereals, and noodles. I’m excited to be reunited with my friends in the Czech!

Emma Cho

I am four months old! I love to be held. I’m not the best daytime napper, but I make up for it by sleeping well at night. I enjoy making loud, high-pitched noises while Papa is trying to watch TV. I also enjoy sucking on my hands, playing with my toys, and recently discovered my feet! I haven’t tried solids yet, but my mommy is hoping I’ll enjoy it. I’m excited about my first plane ride and my first trip to the Czech Republic!

Stephen Rodgers

I currently work for a medical device company as a technical analyst and developer.  I’ve been a member at LBCSD for twelve years, and have been going on missions trips to the Czech Republic since 2008. I actually met the woman who would become my wife while on one of those trips, which was a bit of a surprise for both of us. God as used the Czech Republic and the church family there in profound ways in my life, and I always look forward to returning to work alongside them year after year.

Hana Rodgers

I have been a member at LBCSD for almost six years, but I have known the church and some of the church members since 2001 when I went to my first LBC English Camp in the Czech Republic as an unbeliever. In fact, I met some LBC members, whose children I have the privilege to teach in Sparklers now, when they were only dating! I am a third grade teacher at a Christian classical school, which is one of the many blessings God has graciously sent my way. I love the Czech Republic, the Czech people, and the Czech church and I am so grateful I have the opportunity to work alongside my Czech and American brothers and sisters to share the gospel there. I truly see it as a privilege and thank God for a church that considers missions important.

Curtis Yee

Hi! I am a graduating senior at UCSD studying both cognitive science and literature and I hope to find a career as a UX designer or journalist once I graduate (stark contrast, I know). I really enjoy photography and taking pictures with friends!

I’m extremely excited to serve in the Czech Republic with this year’s missions team. Recently I have been particularly convicted by the reality that the gospel is necessary for everyone, not only my friends and relatives and those in my social circles, but every single person on this earth. Truly caring for the lost means caring also for people whose lives and cultures and languages I had no connection with. This is why I chose to go on this missions trip, because even though I don’t know these people and may have little in common with them, we are all sinners in need of a savior.

Eugene Park

I’m currently a middle school math teacher in the San Diego Unified School District. It’s hard to believe, but this is my twentieth year teaching in the district. And I think I can honestly say I enjoy teaching more and more as each year goes by. One interesting thing about me is that I’m just about the most un-Korean Korean you’ll ever meet. I don’t like most Korean food, my Spanish is better than my Korean, and I don’t hang out on Convoy. This will be my fourth time going to the Czech Republic and one of the things I’m looking forward to seeing the people of the church again and hopefully support and encourage them in their ministry.

Hansol An

I am a husband to Angella and father of four boys, ranging in age from four to ten years old. I work for a professional services firm as a manager while also being active in business development. Though I don’t readily admit it, I used to be into comic books to the extent that in high school I contemplated becoming a comic book artist. God had other plans, and so did my very Korean mom who would never let that happen. In 2001 and 2003 I went to the Czech to serve as a member of the missions teams sent by LBC. Since that time, God has placed a strong desire in my heart to return but due to life circumstances I wasn’t able to until now. Now I’m looking forward to working with the Mellwigs again and the church in Beroun to reach the lost.

Richard Shin

An electrical engineer by trade, I currently work as a patent scientist for an intellectual property law firm, and I am planning to attend law school this fall. I have been at Lighthouse for almost eight years, and this is my second time going to the Czech Republic for missions. One fun fact about me is that I grew up in Korea for most of the 90s. So when people bring up a 90s pop culture reference, I usually smile and pretend like I know what they’re talking about, hoping they will move on. My cultural ineptitude notwithstanding, I am thrilled to go to the Czech Republic this summer because I get to partner with my Czech and German brothers and sisters in sharing the gospel to unbelievers. I am looking forward to reconnecting with the church in Beroun and enjoying our union in Christ!

Chelsea Preslar

Hi there, church family!  I am currently a full-time student and part time barista at my favorite San Diego coffee shop, Copa Vida.  Aside from my knack for pouring liquid art in the form of frothy caffeinated beverages, I love talking to strangers everywhere I go (sorry mom and dad).  Hearing about other people’s lives brings me tremendous curiosity and joy, and many opportunities to share about the life I have in Christ!

I am very excited to meet our church family in the Czech Republic, but more importantly, I’m looking forward to being a part of a team that works diligently to fulfill the Great Commission, to see lives turned over to God, and making our big church family just a little bit bigger!

Cindy Chu

During the day, I work as a business analyst at UCSF School of Medicine. At night, I am a mother to my fur-baby (dog). If you ever talk to a former roommate of mine, you will learn that I am an amazing storyteller…in my sleep. I am known for having one-sided conversations, telling jokes (while laughing), and giving instructions in my sleep. Unfortunately I have yet to remember any of my dreams. I am going on missions this year because I have a better story to tell (one that we cannot forget). This will be my fifth trip to the Czech Republic, but my reasons for going remain the same: proclaim the name of Jesus wherever I am (UCSF, LBCSJ, Beroun, etc.). In short, this is an opportunity to be faithful in another part of the world, continue building on relationships from past trips, and reflecting Christ through my life.

Joyce Kang

I teach second grade at a classical Christian school in Valencia and am also a graduate student at The Master’s University. One unique fact about me is that I am a health nut and yet I have a serious weakness for desserts, especially ice cream or anything with dark chocolate. This will be my fourth trip to the Czech Republic with LBC and my reason for returning is two-fold: I love Christ as well as the people there. The Lord has called us to make disciples wherever we are and summer missions is just another context in which we can practically live out this commandment. I’m excited for the opportunity to share the Good News with the people we’ll meet at the English Camp and for the time we’ll have to encourage the church there.

Joyce Tai

Hi! I’m currently a fourth-year at UCSD studying human biology. I’m planning to graduate this spring before starting to hopefully work as a nursing aid and stay in San Diego! One interesting fact about me is that I enjoy learning about coffee and tea brewing. For me, there wasn’t really any particular reason I wanted to do missions in specifically the Czech Republic, nor am I personally drawn to short term missions. As Joel James (Master’s seminary alumni) has said before, “Missions is your ecclesiology armed with a passport.” Likewise, I view this trip more as an extension, though different structure and location, of ministry here in San Diego, but I also have the specific vision of being an encouragement to LBC and the Mellwigs as we come alongside their church to support their work in making disciples of Christ throughout the nations. May our Lord’s name be proclaimed by all peoples.

Kara Kim

Hey y’all! My name is Kara Kim, and I just recently graduated from The Master’s University with a degree in Communications. I’ve been keeping busy with job hunting and wedding planning, and plan to get married in the spring of 2018. I have undying love for boba, white chocolate mochas, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and the entire Harry Potter series. And even though I’ve been to the Czech Republic for summer mission trips more than a dozen times, I am returning this summer because I believe in the work Lighthouse and the church in Beroun are dedicating their time and energy toward. The precious relationship that’s developed over the past seventeen years is invaluable to me as I have grown up with the Mellwig family since I was four years old. I believe in the power of the Gospel, the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and the paramount importance of the church. As long as I have breath in me, I will share the good news of the Gospel with anyone who cares to listen, whether that is in the Czech Republic or any other country in the world.

Renewing Our Minds for Rejoicing, Pt. 2 – “Think Reasonably”

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)

Thinking well will mean thinking reasonably, gently, and patiently. After all, that’s a manifestation of growing Christlikeness, which is a fruit of contentment, as verse 5 says, “let your gentle spirit be known to everyone.” One translation says “sweet reasonableness.” It refers not just to an outward gentleness, but a genuinely gentle spirit.  If we’re thinking after Christ’s thoughts, we’re going to resolve to be gentle, patient, and reasonable. But if we’re not thinking to honor Christ, we’re not.  Even if life seems to be coming apart at the seams, reasonable thinking will remind us that God is sovereign and in absolute control, and nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God!  We think, “Come on, don’t you remember God is still on His throne, and He’s for you, not against you.”  It’s irrational to think otherwise.  And so you’re gracious and forgiving and lending careful thought to what’s in your heart. You’re thinking how to properly relate to others, not merely reacting out of the flesh, but responding by the Spirit. Reasonable thinking remembers God’s call upon His children to love as He loves us, to forgive as He’s forgiven us.

Thinking well means thinking reasonably as it pertains to our hearts. For example, the actual cause of discontentment and depression is not people or circumstances, it’s us, it’s our response. We’re not victims in this. The reality is that no situation automatically produces a result inside you. And if it did, then there are three blasphemous consequences: (1) then we can blame God who is in control of all situations, (2) call God a liar declaring that 1 Corinthians 10:13 wouldn’t be true, and (3) so that there is no hope for contentment. We might convince ourselves otherwise, but it’s our response to adversity that’s the difference. So it’s never the circumstances. And if it’s never the circumstances, then we can have joy in any situation.

Adversity can build character, or it can break it down into something ugly. It’s how we respond. Ideally, we would like to respond well from the start, but I’m speaking ultimately too. It reveals where we put our trust and satisfaction and worship.  We can allow it to make us better, or we can allow it to make us bitter. For example, sometimes if I’ve had a difficult day, I come home from work or a painful meeting, and I sadly take it out on my wife and kids. Even though what might have angered me is so trivial and inconsequential, or plainly not even wrong.  Either way, I’ve sinned against them. It might be that they didn’t clean up their toys, or that they’re too loud… but, then I sinfully get upset.  And then I react with a blameshifting, unloving heart.  Why?  Because of my wife and kids?  No.  The real answer isn’t that. So, why?  Because of me, because of what’s stirring violently in my heart and painfully entertained in my mind. But hopefully and thankfully, I come under the Spirit’s conviction… and my wife Sandy’s godly correction helps a bunch too.  And God’s Word drops like a hammer on my proud heart.  And reasonable thinking recalls God’s grace. Therefore, I’m looking for the kids to ask them forgiveness, I hope, in bearing fruit in keeping with genuine repentance. Daddy is confessing his sin, and giving them hugs and kisses, serving them with affection, because I treasure my relationship with them. Reasonable thinking puts on joy and self-giving, and puts off anger, arrogance, aloofness, anxiety, apathy, as being contrary to a life that is saturated in the glories of the gospel.

Sadly, that wasn’t happening in verse 2 with fellow believers Euodia and Syntyche, so much so that their stubborn rift had to be publicly addressed. With a gentle spirit, we’ll discover that there is no façade, no posturing, no insecurity, no anxiety about what people think of us, because God knows the worst of us and sent His Son for us!

Make sure that your character is free from greed, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” (Heb 13:5-6)

If we believe that, then we’re going to seek to be soft, winsome, vulnerable, healing, a relational red carpet, an attractive spirit, an inviting haven, not self-protecting, not fearful of getting hurt, but one that reaches out to the hurting in a spirit of humility and service.  Otherwise, our bitter discontentment with God becomes both self-destructive and other defiling.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” (Heb 12:14-15)

Unaddressed, people start walking on eggshells around us, wondering what little thing will set us off like a truckload of C4.  Then feeling guilty when it does happen, we withdraw even more, and we deepen our suffering, becoming more bitter and more lonely. It unleashes a cascade of sad consequences, until we lose our witness, lose friends, and lose our bearing. But the good news is the sufficiency of Christ that undergirds right thinking that leads to joy!

Missions Monday #3 – Why Czech Republic and Argentina?

by Pastor John Kim

Introduction

When Lighthouse Bible Church San Diego was being planted, the commitment to have a worldwide view toward ministry was something that we wanted to see integrated into the life of the church from the very beginning. While we had little in terms of resources and manpower, I really wanted to see our church have a heart for the world and invest into a long-term relationship with another church in some other country.

Czech Republic

Having attended the Master’s Seminary, I had a good number of friends and classmates who had become missionaries and were serving in different countries all over the world. I emailed many of them inquiring if there were any opportunities for us to partner in some way. Initially it was quite discouraging as no one seemed to have time… or were too busy… or already had what they felt was adequate. It seemed as though no one really had the time to consider such a relationship.

But one friend from my days at Grace Community Church responded with interest. His name was Peter Smith and along with his wife Sonya, who was a classmate of mine at Los Angeles Baptist High School, had gone to a town called Kladno, just outside of Prague to do missions work. I was pretty excited because I knew Peter to be a very enthusiastic and dedicated Christian and had watched him serve at Grace Church. I was especially encouraged by his character and heart for people. I had a pretty discouraging experience with a short term mission trip while in college, and so the importance of Christian character in the lives of pastors and missionaries really stood out to me as a requirement. After some initial discussions, Peter then brought up the opportunity to possibly partner with a friend of his in a city called Ostrava, which was close to the border of Poland on the eastern side of the Czech Republic. He shared that he was already partners with some pretty big churches at the time and while he was open to partnering together, he asked if I would be open to considering Ostrava because not too many people were interested in going out to that part of the country. It was a coal-mining industry and a place where criminals and problematic people were sent during the communist era, so it was definitely not a tourist destination compared to Prague. But the most important thing was the character of the missionary, and after Peter assured me that this missionary was a solid man of God. I thought it would be good to go on a scouting trip to meet the missionary and his family and get a chance to see what it was like.

So in the spring of 2000, I went to the Czech Republic for the first time. I definitely did not know much about the Czech Republic, other than that they had surrendered pretty early in World War II to Nazi Germany, and so the city of Prague was not bombed like so many other cities in Europe. After arriving in Prague, I went to a train station where I took a train to Ostrava. The city of Ostrava was the third largest city in the Czech Republic and I found out that there was very little evangelical presence there. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to meeting the missionary and his family.

I wasn’t too familiar with what the missionary looked like. He told me he would be wearing a beige jacket and had a beard. There were two stops that sounded very similar and so I was a bit confused. At the first stop I looked out the window and saw someone that seemed to fit the description, and so I stepped off the train and met Meinolf Mellwig for the very first time. I had been told that he was a German missionary who had come to the Czech Republic with his wife and children, and that they were in the same missions agency as my friend Peter. I anticipated meeting someone stoic and serious but hard-working and dedicated. My first interactions with Meinolf were very straightforward. I met his wife Martina who was very friendly and kind. They had a little girl, Anika who was almost two years old and they drove me around town to see the sights. They also had four other children who were in school – Katrin, Johannes, Matthias, and Lukas and lived in a three story home in a village called Polanka. I got to attend a church service which was held in a small room in some kind of building that they were renting. I found out it was a Brethren church, and that they had the Lord’s Supper every Sunday which was a little different since they used a common cup for everyone to share. Everyone seemed friendly and though I couldn’t understand anything they said, it was neat to meet them all for the first time and get a chance to fellowship with Czech believers.

So we decided that we would partner together in running an English camp that coming summer. It would be in the mountains at a hotel and we would plan to teach several levels of conversational English as well as plan sports and games. The evening meetings would be where we would sing Christian songs and then teach on different topics with an evangelistic purpose. Since it was the first time for both the Ostrava church and our church, it was looking to be a very interesting experience. Since both churches started around the same time in 1999, we figured that our churches were pretty much at the same stage of development so we would be able to grow together in this way.

The summer of 2000 provided the most incredible opportunity for our young church as a team of fifteen went to the Czech Republic for the first of what would turn out to be thirteen teams in seventeen years. We were introduced to a side of the Mellwig family that we would come to cherish, as they were not quite the stereotypical stoic German folks that we thought, but were quite funny and willing to pretty much do anything for the sake of ministry. The hotel was terrible, the service was horrible, but our time was memorable and we had numerous opportunities to share the gospel, build relationships, and truly enjoy a wonderful time partnering with the church in Ostrava.

In the years that followed, we were blessed by God to see a long-term relationship develop where the bond of the Holy Spirit was clearly seen as we grew in unity and like-mindedness in ministry. The dream of finding a long-term partnership came true and to this day we are blessed by the relationships that started back in 2000. The Mellwig family are some of the closest friends our family has, and they truly have become like family over the years as we stayed with them and they have come to visit us. The Mellwigs recently planted a new church in the city of Beroun in 2013, and we are now partnering with them there as they do the work of gospel ministry in that region.

Argentina

In 2004 I was given the opportunity to partner with some pastor friends at a conference in Argentina. Since I was the junior delegate in the party, I gave a couple of seminars but for the most part had the chance to observe and engage with the people I met. It was truly an enjoyable time as I was introduced to pastors from all over the country. One individual that was particularly interesting was a gentleman by the name of Eduardo Buldain. He was involved with a church-planting ministry that partnered with folks from the Word of Life Institute that was located just outside of Buenos Aires. After the conference I had a chance to talk with him about the opportunity to find another partner church where we could send short-term summer teams like we already were doing in the Czech Republic.

That was when we were introduced to Jorge Ahualle. It was quite a memorable trip in that Mike Chon (a fellow elder at Lighthouse San Diego and now at Lighthouse LA) and I went on a scouting trip to get to know the pastor and the church. Little did we know what an adventure it would be. We flew into Buenos Aires the spring of 2005 and upon arriving, we were met by Eduardo Buldain who informed me that I was to be speaking that evening as well as several times that weekend. I had not been told that I was preaching, and in an effort to travel light, I had not brought my laptop with me either. I thought he was kidding…he was not. We had another flight to take from Buenos Aires to Tucuman, which was the city where Pastor Jorge and the church were. They had planned a whole weekend of events including four preaching times. So I preached three times and Mike preached once. I recall in seminary that they had told us to always be ready to preach, and so I had memorized three sermons years earlier in case I ever needed them. That weekend I preached all three : one on the MVP of Lighthouse, another on the Peacemaker Pledge, and the last on the hand illustration from Fundamentals of the Faith regarding how to take in the Scriptures – hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating.

Pastor Jorge, his wife Norma, and son Josue welcomed us and we soon were embraced by the whole church. They showered us with love and food – this was the first time we had the famous empanadas (even in Argentina, Tucuman is known to make the best empanadas). We enjoyed Argentine beef and other meals with the church members, and I remember it was a joyous time as the people were very expressive and excited to see us. It was the first time that I was introduced to the Argentine custom of kissing each other on the cheek, and it was a pretty strange experience to have both men and women come at you and kiss you on the cheek. We also tried maté, the Argentine tea which would be passed around and shared from the same cup and metal straw. It was quite a contrast to our experiences in the Czech Republic, but at the same time it was such a blessing to know that we could be united in Christ even though we were from different cultures and spoke different languages.

The plan was for Lighthouse to send a team during the summer (which was their winter). They did street evangelism and they would go door to door and share the gospel as well as host events in the community where they would invite everyone to come and hear some presentations. We quickly realized as we set things up that there were challenges our work in the Czech Republic had not prepared us for.  Despite some initial issues (differences in doctrine, philosophy of ministry, and learning to work with translators), we were able to establish a very good relationship with the church in Tucuman and the first summer trip took place. While things were a bit crazy at times, the opportunity to partner with another young church provided great blessings in the coming years.

Conclusion

So that’s the story of how it happened. From our early desire to partner with like-minded churches around the world, the Lord providentially led us to two very different places: the Czech Republic and Argentina. And while our church has grown tremendously in terms of resources and manpower compared to those early days, one thing that has not changed is our longing to see all the LBC churches have a heart for the world that manifests as support for the local church…wherever that might happen to take us.

They Are They Which Testify Of Me

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

John 5:39

Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega of the Bible. He is the constant theme of its sacred pages; from first to last they testify of Him. At the creation we at once discern Him as one of the sacred Trinity; we catch a glimpse of Him in the promise of the woman’s seed; we see Him typified in the ark of Noah; we walk with Abraham, as He sees Messiah’s day; we dwell in the tents of Isaac and Jacob, feeding upon the gracious promise; we hear the venerable Israel talking of Shiloh; and in the numerous types of the law, we find the Redeemer abundantly foreshadowed. Prophets and kings, priests and preachers, all look one way-they all stand as the cherubs did over the ark, desiring to look within, and to read the mystery of God’s great propitiation. Still more manifestly in the New Testament we find our Lord the one pervading subject. It is not an ingot here and there, or dust of gold thinly scattered, but here you stand upon a solid floor of gold; for the whole substance of the New Testament is Jesus crucified, and even its closing sentence is bejewelled with the Redeemer’s name.

We should always read Scripture in this light; we should consider the word to be as a mirror into which Christ looks down from heaven; and then we, looking into it, see His face reflected as in a glass-darkly, it is true, but still in such a way as to be a blessed preparation for seeing Him as we shall see Him face to face. This volume contains Jesus Christ’s letters to us, perfumed by His love. These pages are the garments of our King, and they all smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides, and it is paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem. The Scriptures are the swaddling bands of the holy child Jesus; unroll them and you find your Saviour. The quintessence of the word of God is Christ.

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Missions Monday #2 – Philosophy of Missions at Lighthouse

by Pastor Patrick Cho

Since starting its ministry in 1998, Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego has been committed to proclaiming the glorious gospel to those who need to hear it. The goal and slogan of the original church plant was to be “a beacon of God’s truth and love” in the San Diego area. We wanted to see souls saved and for people to come to know our amazing God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We knew that the church might experience some transfer growth, having believers join from other churches, but what we really desired was for those who did not know the Lord to come to know Him and be transformed through the preaching of the Word.

This all stemmed from the clear command of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). In His final instructions before ascending to the Father, the Lord commands His followers to make disciples of all the nations by serving as His witnesses even to the ends of the earth. The extent of the Great Commission is global, but the means of accomplishing it is clear: baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and by teaching them to observe all His commands.

By issuing the instruction to baptize, Jesus was calling on His followers to help others understand their need for salvation – the seriousness of sin against a holy God and their desperate need for forgiveness. This is wrapped up in the term “baptize.” It is more than just a commitment to an ordinance or an external rite. It involves everything that is associated with baptism, which is the ordinance that is tied to a person’s initial conversion. People need to hear the gospel in order to be saved, and they need to be taught that to believe in Jesus means turning from their sins and becoming His followers. Baptism is the public confession of one’s faith in Christ through an act of obedience. The ordinance depicts a person’s death to their old life and the newness of life that is found in Christ.

The second element of the Great Commission is to teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded. It is not “fulfilling” the Great Commission by simply making converts for Christ. Being a witness for the gospel and helping people come to know the Lord is certainly a crucial part of the work, but disciple making involves helping newborn Christians grow in their faith as well. Fulfilling the Great Commission requires coming alongside a person not only to help them come to the point of salvation, but also investing in them so that they understand and obey the Word of God, that their lives might bring glory to Him. These are the principles that Lighthouse sought to apply from when the church was first planted that drove our missions philosophy.

Seeking to be faithful to the Great Commission, there were two non-negotiable principles that the church committed itself to: a commitment to God’s Word, and a commitment to God’s methods.

1. A Commitment to God’s Word

While we had a strong desire to see people saved, our first commitment, ironically, was not to an evangelistic effort or missions program. While we understood that these needed to be an integral part of our church, a greater and deeper foundational principle drove our ministry: a commitment to live out the truth of God’s Word faithfully for the glory of His name. This became the driving force behind all we endeavored to do as a church, including missions and evangelism, and so it ought to be for any ministry seeking to honor the Lord through loving obedience.

It is through this commitment that we understood how best to measure our success in outreach ministry. It could not be measured by lives changed because that was completely out of our hands. God is sovereign in salvation and is merciful to whomever He chooses to be merciful. Our responsibility was not to find the key to a person’s heart that they might be saved. We knew that we were called to be faithful to the command of Christ and to be obedient to the Word. That way, we could say we were successfully accomplishing what we set out to do. Whether or not anyone actually became a Christian through our ministry, we knew we needed to be faithful to the message and faithful as God’s messengers.

The ultimate motivation of the church to be committed to missions and evangelism, then, is not first and foremost because of a love for the lost, but because of a love for the Lord. This is primarily because the true gospel is not ultimately man-centered but God-centered. John Piper famously and helpfully communicates the theological basis for this distinction when he writes, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” [1] God must remain central in our outreach and our desire must be to honor and be pleasing to Him in our obedience.

This means that as those who are called to be His ambassadors to this lost and dying world (2 Cor. 5:20), we leave ourselves open and available to the Lord’s leading – whatever He would have us do, wherever He would sent, whenever He would move us. This is what shaped our missions philosophy and helped us stay focused on what we were called to do. There were certain non-negotiables for us in thinking through church-planting, missions, and evangelism.

2. A Commitment to God’s Methods

When it comes to missions philosophy, we saw in Scripture that missions and church planting were indissolubly connected. To do missions is to plant churches. This makes sense given the instructions in the Great Commission. The church is the institution established by God to not only help bring a person to saving faith but also to help them grow in faith by teaching them the whole counsel of God. We see this missions strategy worked out particularly through the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Wherever he went to spread the gospel, his ultimate aim was to establish churches and to appoint elders in every church. His ministry was very church-oriented.

Pastor John Kim, who helped first plant the church in San Diego, once defined missions as “doing church somewhere else.” I always appreciated that definition if for no other reason that it removed the romanticized view of missions work that so many Christians seemed to have. Missions was not only for the extreme few who were willing to explore unknown regions armed with a machete carving paths through the Amazon, often by themselves. Missions was taking what we were doing in San Diego and looking to plant that elsewhere, in the context of and with the cooperation of a local church. The consistency of the work was encouraging and communicating it this way opened people up to the possibility of participating in it.

Doing missions God’s way also meant keeping the message of the gospel central. John MacArthur writes, “The key to biblical evangelism is not strategy or technique. It is not primarily about style, methodology, or programs and pragmatics. The first and preeminent concern in all our evangelistic efforts must be the gospel.” [2] We were not interested as much in church planting and church growth strategies as we were in faithfully disseminating God’s truth to those who needed it. Scripture makes it clear that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), and God does not need our help to improve on His strategy for reaching the lost.

These two non-negotiable principles helped shape our ministry. In fact, we incorporated into them into our Mission, Vision, and Passion statement (MVP).

  • The Mission of Lighthouse Bible Church is to make disciples of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). This is our commitment to help others come to know Christ and to teach them so that they can grow in faith.
  • The Vision of Lighthouse is to be a church planting church (Acts 1:8). While Acts 1:8 does not say anything specifically about church planting, the verse does serve as a sort of outline for the rest of the Book of Acts. Beginning in Jerusalem, extending to Judea and Samaria, and proceeding to the ends of the earth, the Book of Acts shows how the Spirit worked through the early believers to take the gospel to the nations. Through Acts and the Epistles we learn that the primary vehicle used by God to accomplish the work is church planting. We simply wanted to be a part of that work, and all our members know from the outset of their commitment to the church that this is our direction. Our hope is to remain committed to this as long as the Lord allows.
  • The Passion of Lighthouse is to love God and people (Matt. 22:37-40). While we could put every effort into the Mission and Vision of the church, we also know that if it is not motivated by a love for the Lord and for others, we accomplish nothing, we gain nothing, and we are nothing, according to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. The Passion statement serves as the constant reminder that we are not just part of some work, but that all of our service is rendered to the Lord in joyful worship. It also reminds us that our faith in Jesus Christ has a direct impact on those around us. Our love for the Lord is fleshed out in our love for others.

Since missions is just “doing church somewhere else,” and the MVP summarizes how we “do church,” missions naturally dovetails with and is summarized by the MVP as well. It also illustrates why missions is essential rather than tangential. Because at the end of the day, while the particulars often look a bit different than what we’re used to here in southern California, “missions” and “church” are inseparable.

[1] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010), 35.

[2] John MacArthur and Jesse Johnson, “Introduction: Rediscovering Biblical Evangelism,” in Evangelism, ed. by John MacArthur (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), viii-ix.

We Live Unto The Lord

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Romans 14:8

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, He might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven?

The answer is-they are here that they may ‘live unto the Lord,’ and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the ‘salt of the earth,’ to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as ‘workers together with Him.’ Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to ‘the praise of the glory of His grace.’ Meanwhile we long to be with Him, and daily sing-

‘My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
‘Rise up, and come away.’ ‘

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Weekly Links (4/7/2017)

by Stephen Rodgers

Alright…happy Friday once again. Since this particular happy Friday is the first of the month, that means it’s time for a postload of free stuff. So, in no particular order…

  • Know Why You Believe by Paul E. Little (audio book) – I’m not familiar with this particular book, but it’s free if anyone wants to check it out.
  • Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by Randolph and O’Brien (Logos resource) – I’m familiar with the central thesis of this book (that “WEIRD”…Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic) readers are prone to misunderstanding or failing to understanding cultural and social norms that are foreign to our experience. And up to a point, that’s a completely valid observation. What I don’t know is whether this book occupies the “responsible scholarship” end of the spectrum, or the “nut with an agenda” end of the spectrum. Again though, it’s free if someone wants to roll the dice or is a collector.
  • JBMW 21.2 (journal) – The latest edition of the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is out, and I have no problem recommending it. Apparently Denny Burk lays out his vision for its parent organization, so that will be interesting to see.
  • “Luther at 500” (magazine) – As I mentioned last time, CredoMag was advertising a year of Reformation-themed issues, and the first one has arrived! Again, this is a resource that I’m happy to recommend.
  • “The 17th Century” (magazine) – Of course, I’m MOST happy to recommend Tabletalk. (Although they can only milk this “xxth century” theme a few more times before they’ll either run out of centuries or have to start in on the BC ones). Still…a name Tabletalk is always a good thing.

Enjoy!

One Body: Running Together for the Faith

by Josh Liu

How would you evaluate your understanding of church? How would you evaluate your heart attitude toward the church? How would you evaluate your participation, involvement, and commitment to the church? We would do well to elevate our view of the church to the beauty, priority, and responsibilities Scripture instructs. For that, I am deeply thankful that our College Life Retreat addressed the theme of the local church.

Chris Gee

Overview

The 2017 College Life Retreat theme–One Body: Running Together for the Faith–focused on the beauty, commitment, need, and responsibilities of the local church. Pastor Chris Gee presented a thoroughly robust ecclesiology! Here is a brief overview of the sessions:

Session 1 – What Is the Church? (Selected Scriptures)

The church is the temple of God, a pillar of the truth, the bride of Christ, and the family of God. If the church does not feel like family, serve!

Session 2 – For Better or For Worse (Selected Scriptures)

The case for church membership and why being committed to a church will result in the deepest and most authentic love. The early church models church membership, our leaders’ responsibility to us implies it, church discipline necessitates it, the one another commands demand it, and the metaphors for the church illustrate it. The greater the commitment to one another, the deeper the love we will experience.

Session 3 – One Another (John 13:34-35; Heb. 10:24-25; James 2:1-13)

We love sacrificially like Christ loved; we fellowship in a way that provokes each other to holiness; and we love and serve in the church without partiality. We do not show favoritism and we do not exclude people.

Session 4 – The Power of Encouragement (Eph. 4:29)

Our tongues play a big role in promoting unity in the church. Biblical encouragement can draw us together. Good encouragement is God-centered, specific, genuine, thoughtful, and verbal.

Session 5 – Give Your Life Away (Acts 20:17-38)

The greatest joy is found in giving your life away to God and to others. Apostle Paul models for us what it is to knit your heart to a group of people so closely that you sweat, weep, and bleed for them.

Beside the sessions, other retreat highlights include discussion groups, lost nametag punishments, playing outdoor games in the rain, hosting a “lipdub” music video competition, and corporate sharing!

Below are brief reflections from the sessions that serve as a primer to meditating on, studying, and applying ecclesiology.

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Five Brief Reflections

Reflection #1: The Church Is Important (cf. Acts 20:28)

This might seem elementary, but many do not understand the depth of the importance of the church. Practically, there are many in the church who treat the church as a low priority (e.g., committing to extracurricular activities over the church).

Pastor Chris powerfully reminded us of the importance of the church: “Why is the church worth your life? Why is the church valuable enough to give your life? Because Jesus thought it was valuable, so valuable that He gave His own life. Christ thought the church was precious enough to die for; we ought to think the church is precious enough to live for.”

Reflection #2: The Church Is Needed (cf. 1 Cor. 12:14-27; Heb. 10:25)

The pictures and metaphors (the temple of God, a pillar of the truth, the bride of Christ, the family of God, the body of Christ), responsibilities of, and commands to the church make it needed for each believer to be committed to a local assembly. It is within the church that the believer beholds the fullness of Christ, faithfully carries out the good works that God prepared, and stands as a corporate witness to the world.

Pastor Chris shared an account about Charles Spurgeon (which I have adapted from other sources but have not been able to verify as fact, yet believed it was a helpful illustration):
One day a young man came to visit Spurgeon and the young man said to him, “I can be a Christian without the church; I don’t need others.” They were sitting in the lounge by an open fire and Spurgeon picked up some tongs, took a coal from the blazing fire, and placed it on the hearth. They continued talking and after awhile, Spurgeon said, “Look down at the hearth. What happened to the coal I took out of the fire?” The young man answered, “Well, it’s become black. It’s lost its heat and its flame.” Spurgeon replied, “Young man, that’s why you need to be part of the church, because it is only together we are stimulated and together that we grow. But like this coal taken out of the fire, on its own it dies out. But in the heat of the fire all the other coals are stimulating it to go on glowing and give off heat.”

Reflection #3: The Church Is Active (cf. Rom. 12:4-8)

There are many who simply attend church without any participation or involvement in the body of Christ. The church is not simply a program or service to witness, after which an attendee returns to his or her life. Each individual member of the body of Christ is expected to be active for the healthy functioning of the whole body.

Pastor Chris highlights three myths about serving in the church: (1) my church does not need me to serve; (2) ministry is programs; and (3) I am too young to make an impact.

Scripture describes every believer as a unique part of the body with spiritual gifts given for the edification of the church, since ministry (i.e., church) is people, not program. There are no age prerequisites for the active functioning within the church.

Reflection #4: The Church Is Beautiful (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18)

I cannot help but be in awe of the biblical descriptors of the church! Too many find the church as an unattractive religious institution, outdated or offensive.

God sanctifies His saints from one degree of glory to another, unto Christlikeness. It is a beautiful image of the Gospel of Christ. The church is the temple of God (1 Pet. 2:4-5), the pillar of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:25; 31-32), and the family of God (1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1-2). It reflects the glory of God and His redemptive work!

Reflection #5: The Church Is Family (cf. Rom. 8:16-17; 1 John 3:1-2)

Many complain about a lack of intimacy, fellowship, or community in the church. There may be valid points for particularly difficult experiences; however, each believer is united in Christ becoming a child of God, brother and co-heir with Christ, and joined to the family of God.

The family of God produces authentic intimate community, overflowing in acts of love, unified in experience and devotion, and pursuing the same direction of life (cf. Acts 2:41-47; Rom. 12:9-21; Matt. 28:18-20).

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Conclusion

Implied above is that there are many who have a distorted, unbiblical understanding of the church. They often consider the church unimportant, irrelevant, unnecessary, passive, unattractive, and, at best, weekend acquaintances. These reflections serve as primers–preliminary thoughts and exhortations–to studying and being a faithful member of the church to the glory of Christ–the head of the church.

Missions Monday #1 – Introduction

by Stephen Rodgers

I’m extremely happy to introduce a new series here on the Beacon that addresses the topic of “missions” in the context of LBC. Our little church isn’t so little anymore, and there’s a pretty sizable number of attendees who have come since the last set of trips in 2015. So this will be a fantastic opportunity for people who’ve been-there-done-that to reflect and reminisce, as well as for the relative newcomers to discover why missions is such a big deal at LBC. And more than just knowledge, the hope here is that this will lead to greater church-wide involvement in this particular ministry.

Maybe you’ve asked yourself one or more of the following questions:

  • What is LBC’s theology of missions?
  • Why do we go to the Czech Republic and Argentina?
  • Who’s going?
  • What even happens on a missions trip anyways?
  • How can the church help?
  • What’s a “Meinolf?”
  • Where can I immerse myself in media relevant to past trips?

All of these and more will be answered in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to it myself, and I’m really looking forward to getting these articles in front of all of you.

See you next Monday!

Search the Scriptures

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

John 5:39

The Greek word here rendered search signifies a strict, close, diligent, curious search, such as men make when they are seeking gold, or hunters when they are in earnest after game. We must not rest content with having given a superficial reading to a chapter or two, but with the candle of the Spirit we must deliberately seek out the hidden meaning of the word.

  • Holy Scripture requires searching-much of it can only be learned by careful study. There is milk for babes, but also meat for strong men. The rabbis wisely say that a mountain of matter hangs upon every word, yea, upon every title of Scripture. Tertullian exclaims, ‘I adore the fulness of the Scriptures.’ No man who merely skims the book of God can profit thereby; we must dig and mine until we obtain the hid treasure. The door of the word only opens to the key of diligence.
  • The Scriptures claim searching. They are the writings of God, bearing the divine stamp and imprimatur- who shall dare to treat them with levity? He who despises them despises the God who wrote them. God forbid that any of us should leave our Bibles to become swift witnesses against us in the great day of account.
  • The word of God will repay searching. God does not bid us sift a mountain of chaff with here and there a grain of wheat in it, but the Bible is winnowed corn-we have but to open the granary door and find it. Scripture grows upon the student. It is full of surprises. Under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, to the searching eye it glows with splendour of revelation, like a vast temple paved with wrought gold, and roofed with rubies, emeralds, and all manner of gems. No merchandise like the merchandise of Scripture truth.
  • Lastly, the Scriptures reveal Jesus: ‘They are they which testify of Me.’ No more powerful motive can be urged upon Bible readers than this: he who finds Jesus finds life, heaven, all things. Happy he who, searching his Bible, discovers his Saviour.

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