Category Archives: Affinity Groups

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.

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.

College Life Class of 2017

by Josh Liu

I have been able to personally witness God’s grace and faithfulness in many of this year’s graduates’ lives, which brings me to praise God for His glory. I want to simply highlight the LBCSD members that are graduating. This is an insufficient testimony to God’s work in their lives; there is so much to be said about each student’s experience and encouragement to the church family. Yet I hope it will spur your own interactions with these graduates. Please take a moment to pray for them and personally bless and encourage them.

Amanda Gon, B.S. Kinesiology

  • Note to the Church: I have been so blessed by this church body and how the members truly seek to love God and people. I have learned so much from the biblical teachings and really appreciate how Lighthouse has a high view of God and His word. There is so much I am thankful for in how the leaders and the church seek to foster a deep Christlike love and care for each other and practically living out the gospel through various ministries and in serving one another. It was here where I grew the most spiritually and thankfully, it is here where I am excited to continue to grow and serve for at least the next three years in grad school. There is so much I can continue to go on saying, but I just wanted to end by saying how thankful I am to have gone through college with the love and the support of my class, College Life, and the church as a whole.
  • Future Plans: SDSU Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (three years).

Andrew Chiang, B.S. Chemical Engineering

  • Note to the Church: LBC has been such a big stepping stone for my faith in college. Without LBC facilitating opportunities for fellowshipping and theological learning, I would have still been blinded by my sins. God sovereignty ordained my exposure to Christianity here and has been growing me ever since my initial visit. I earnestly yearn to see this church family continue to love God and people with its many gifts. Continue to love as radically and scandalously as He does.
  • Future Plans: I will be pursuing my PhD degree in Macromolecular Science and Engineering in University of Michigan, Ann Arbor for the next four to six years.

Andy Yeung, B.A. Human Development

  • Note to the Church: I am so incredibly thankful for Lighthouse Bible Church and its foundation in the Word of God. Upon entering college, I was merely pursuing my conception of who God was, not holding His word in high regard as to what was true and who He really was (and is). God has used Lighthouse to reveal Himself and His character to me through both His word and the example shown through His people. I could not have asked for a better church to serve and be served by!
  • Future Plans: In the immediate future I will be pursuing a career in technical recruiting, possibly considering MBA programs further down the line.

Brian Wong, B.S. Microbiology

  • Note to the Church: Through the preaching of God’s Word from the pulpit as well as the application of it among the congregation, I cherish Christ as my Lord and Savior so much more now than I did before coming to San Diego. Older members, thank you for your display of faithfulness and commitment to Christ and the church. Younger members, thank you for reminding me of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you for being a church that I can confidently call my home!
  • Future Plans: Lord willing, I’ll be going with the Argentina Missions team in July. Aside from that, I’ll be staying down here for work.

Curtis Yee, B.A. Cognitive Science

  • Note to the Church: Hi Church! I am so incredibly thankful to have spent the last 4 years – and maybe best four years – of my life with all of you. The members of this church have been instrumental in my spiritual growth. Whether through teaching, encouragement, rebuke, or reconciliation, I have always seen this church exemplify Biblical care in the best of ways. This church has some of the most generous hearts I have ever come across and it has spurred me on to love others in that very same manner. Continue to love all the people who come into this church, whether they be students, singles, families, weirdos, atheists, introverts, the socially awkward, people that only wear neon orange shirts, people that never wear closed toed shoes, people that only wear snuggies, or people who do soul cycle.
  • Future Plans: Who knows. The sky is the limit.

Erica Truong, B.A. Political Science

  • Note to the Church: Throughout my college career, I have been so encouraged by the way that the pastors have continuously and faithfully preached the gospel on the pulpit. I have also been highly encouraged by the church body, in that I was able to form so many meaningful and intentional relationships. With each conversation that I was able to have, I could see how genuine the people were in striving to love, care, and minister to those around them. I have learned so much and I am truly grateful for all the ways that the body has enabled me to love Christ and know Him more. Thank you for making my time in college all the more special!
  • Future Plans: Planning on working; location is irrelevant (just wherever I find a job).

Greg Hall, B.A. Political Science

  • Note to the Church: Hi Church! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a blessing to me in so many ways these past four years of college. I’ve been so grateful for times we’ve rejoiced together when we were walking well in the Lord, as well as grateful for the love and care the church has bestowed upon me when I personally wasn’t.
    COLLEGE LIFE: I want to give a huge thank you to those who helped nurture me, run alongside me, and pave the way when I was just a young freshman, sophomore, and junior. To those whom I’ve had the pleasure run alongside with this year, it’s been awesome growing with you towards greater godliness! Thanks again for all the laughs, the Korean hearts, and the portrait mode pics. Remember to keep trusting in God in all things! Through it all, this I know is true: that God is good. He always has been, and always will be. This is hopefully not a goodbye, but if and when it comes time to go our separate ways, may God be glorified and His kingdom reign forever and ever!
  • Future Plans: I’m hoping to find work down in San Diego and continue to attend LBC! Salt & Light, I’m coming for ya!

Hosanna Koo, B.A. Human Development

  • Note to the Church: Hello church! God has definitely used the past four years and this church family to bless, sanctify, and show me more and more of the immeasurable riches of His grace and how good He is. I have loved spending time with the church and getting to know collegians, singles, and families. The relationships I have built here have pointed me to true fellowship and have pushed me to pursue Christ as my only treasure. I’ll always remember college retreats and serving on VBS as a few highlights of my college years. Thank you, church, for all that you have done and for all that you have invested into me, whether it’s been relationships, time, energy, or food.
  • Future Plans: I will be returning to UCSD as a graduate student in the M.Ed and Teaching Credential program for the next year! Yay! I get to stay in San Diego with all you lovely, godly folk!

Jeremy Tsui, B.S. Molecular Biology

  • Note to the Church: I thank God for all the ways that Lighthouse has ministered to me through the solid teaching and counseling. I’ve grown in my love for the Word and for that I am so grateful for. I will miss you all!
  • Future Plans: Going home to take a gap year to prepare for entering optometry school in the fall of 2018.

Joyce Christine Tai, B.S. Human Biology

  • Note to the Church: I’m incredibly grateful for my time at this church for nearly the past four years. You, my church family, have been a resting place from the day to day grievances of sin’s effect on the world. Lighthouse has been a place where I’ve had abundance of opportunity to not only continue learning the depths of the holiness and beauty of our God, but also to so very intimately practice the calls of the gospel in learning to love the body. While surely there were difficulties and painful seasons of endurance, at the same time, my college career here in San Diego has been an overflowing season of sweet blessings predominantly because of you. God has lavished grace upon grace for me by our unique fellowship by the blood of Jesus Christ. He has used this church body perfectly and so wisely to shape me more into his image, and to treasure him alone all the more. You, my church body, are beautiful to me because Christ is our perfect head.
  • Future Plans: After returning from Czech missions and taking a few weeks’ break to spend with family and friends, my plans are to work as a nurse aid here in San Diego!

Joyce Lam, B.A. IS Economics

  • Note to the Church: I’m so thankful for the pastoring staff for leading in God-honoring and biblical ways, for the support and craziness of my class, the generosity of brothers and sisters in serving me and loving me, and the discipleship of various moms- I have learned so much from all of you. Through the past 4 years, my love and joy in Christ has deepened through tested trials, and through these, Christ and the church has become so much more precious to me. I am humbled daily by what Christ has done for me- the gospel that was presented to me in the form of a savior nailed to a cross to save sinners like us. To pick up our cross daily is indeed a battle, but it is one most worth fighting. May we continue to keep the faith and fight the good fight for the glory of God.
  • Future Plans: Moving up to norcal for work in finance, and solidifying my reputation as a crazy chinchilla lady because I just found out that my chinchillas will probably live for another 16 years (I thought they were gonna die by the time I graduate).

Kevin Wilby, B.A. Cognitive Science

  • Note to the Church: I cannot describe how much love I have received from the church during the short time I have been attending. I have been inspired more than ever to be Christ-like and to fulfill the Great Commission. Being held accountable for my character and encouraging others to grow in their faith has not only enriched my college experience but my personal relationship with Christ as well. I look forward to visiting the church after graduating and maintaining the relationships I have formed with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Future Plans: I plan on moving back home to Los Angeles while pursuing further studies in either speech therapy or nursing. I also look forward to maintaining regular fellowship with members of my home church and continue to evangelize to my friends and family that are not saved.

Wesley Wong, B.S. Computer Science

  • Note to the Church: For as big as this church is, it’s the closest thing to family you can get.
  • Future Plans: Software Engineer at Cisco

Pomp in the Circumstance of the Cross

by Elder Johnny Kim

For our senior youth group students, high school graduation is just around the corner and they can hardly contain their excitement. In the midst of trying hard not to succumb to a debilitating bout of “senioritis,” their thoughts are no doubt on that day when, before friends and family, they will walk across the stage and be presented with their high school diploma. While the momentous occasion marks the start of a new chapter in their life, be it college or otherwise, it also represents the culmination of their high school career. It’s a final act that ceremoniously signifies that they’ve done all that was needed in order to be granted their diploma. At that moment, there are no longer any more assignments to turn in, reports to write, or projects to be completed.

During our Youth Ministry Friday Night Bible Study, we have been walking through The Gospel According To Jesus by John MacArthur. After having studied through 23 chapters of the book together, we are now at the final chapter and fittingly, it is about the final act of Christ’s earthly life – His crucifixion. When we consider the various things we come to finish or accomplish in our own lives (such as high school), how infinitely more is the sense of finality and accomplishment associated with Christ’s death on the cross! In John 19:30, when we read about Christ’s final words, ”It is finished”, consequently we must understand that it was a statement shouted in victory, not a resignation uttered in defeat. It was the proclamation of a victor having accomplished something monumental. It wasn’t only that Christ’s earthly life had come to an end as He hung on the cross, but much more, the very purpose for which Christ came into the world was now finally finished:

“The work of redemption was done. All that the law of God required, full atonement for sins, everything the symbolism of ceremonial law foreshadowed – the work that the Father had given Him to do – everything was done. Nothing was left. The ransom was paid. The wages of sin were settled. Divine justice was satisfied.” (John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus)

It was not a meaningless statement and it certainly wasn’t a lie when Christ shouted “It is finished!” before giving up His spirit. As much as it was a proclamation of triumph, it was also a proclamation of divine truth. Having finished bearing the holy and just wrath of the Father and having finished paying the penalty for all our sins past, present, and future, the work of redemption was now completed and finished forevermore. Consequently, for us to be compelled to try and contribute towards our own redemption through religious rites and rituals is to make Christ out to be a liar. To offer up our “good” works in the name of making penitence for our sins is to communicate by our actions our disbelief and distrust in Christ and what He proclaimed on the cross. The divine truth of Christ’s statement means that for those who are in Christ, not a single drop remains in the barrel of God’s wrath that would have been poured out upon us. For those who are in Christ, not a single cent remains outstanding on the balance of our sin penalty accounts.

Imagine what it would be like if on the day of high school graduation, you walked across the stage amidst cheers and applause to receive your diploma, but upon opening up the cover you see in the place where your diploma should be a list of additional assignments, reports, and projects that are still due. Understandably, any of our graduating youth group seniors would find that to be tragic I’m sure! Infinitely more tragic is the situation where the Christian would stand before God ready to be ushered into His kingdom only to find out that there remains some atonement still to be made or some ransom left to be paid. Let us not take for granted that ultimately, it’s a hypothetical situation that we need not fear because of the assurance we have in the truth of Christ, the truth of His work on the cross, and the truth of His words spoken on the cross, “It is finished!”

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.

The Connection of Acts

by Ryan McAdams

I previously mentioned that we would venture into the New Testament through our curriculum in our Sonlight elementary and Sparklers preschool ministries, and we did have a profitable study through the earthly life of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But our journey has taken us now to the book of Acts, into unfamiliar territory for many of our young souls.

Through our study, I hope both we the teachers and the students can more greatly appreciate the gracious gift that God has given us in this book. Without the book of Acts, we would all struggle to make sense of the New Testament, most likely inventing wild bridges to correlate the accounts of the life of Jesus to the letters (Epistles) that followed. We would laboriously hunt for the identity of that Paul fellow, and lose the drama of the incredible conversion that God orchestrated for him. Perhaps most significantly, while we would have the Great Commission that Jesus delivered to his followers, to make his disciples in every nation, we would lack some of the understanding of how God intended to accomplish that mission, namely the vehicle of his church.

Jesus reiterated his Great Commission to his disciples in Acts 1:8, saying “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And for the rest of the book, we read how the Holy Spirit brought believers together into churches, starting in Jerusalem, and propagating to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Traditionally, the church has entitled this chronicle by Luke The Acts of the Apostles, which we shorten to Acts. And while the apostles certainly performed many acts to advance the gospel throughout the earth, the Holy Spirit empowered and drove them to establish the churches all over the Roman Empire and beyond. So, arguably more accurately, some theologians have instead called the book The Acts of the Holy Spirit.

As our pastor Josh recently taught, borrowing a bit from John Piper, God has worked to bring all nations into the white-hot worship of himself throughout both the Old and New Testament ages. Through our study of Acts, hopefully the children can see how God intends to draw all nations to himself in this New Testament age and gain a greater measure of awe for God and his sovereign hand over human history.

God’s Wisdom for Parenting (Part 2)

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.

“My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD or loathe His reproof, for whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects his son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Solomon knew the Lord’s discipline from experience. There was a keen awareness that God had purposed good for the one He reproves, and that His discipline is an act of love towards His children. While this passage is more about the Lord than it is about parenting, there is an important principle involved for parenting: Discipline, understood and exercised according to Scripture, is an act of love. When parents correct their children, the intention is always to be instructive and the motive is always to be love.

This is one of the many passages that speak against punishing children out of anger or without restraint. A loving father has a plan in his discipline, and he practices correction because of his delight in his son and not his hatred. When we as parents meet opportunities to help our children when they disobey, our first thought in the discipline needs to be, “Am I seeking to help my child in the Lord? Am I instructing my child toward greater godliness to love and fear God, or am I through my angry outbursts actually deterring faith in my child?”

One reason parents ought to discipline their children toward godliness is because this is what the Lord does for His children. Parents, then, can mimic the Lord and even represent Him through their loving and formative discipline. As their child grows up, hopefully they will come to appreciate their parents’ correction because they understand that they were being steered towards Jesus and away from the things that would take their hearts farther from Him. This is also the reason discipline must be accompanied and applied with prayer to orient a parent’s heart toward God and help curb sinful attitudes and emotions. Depend upon the Lord to use godly discipline to steer your child’s heart to Him.

A Little More Time

by Roger Alcaraz

Not many of us have gone through a life threatening situation. My closest encounter with death was back in college when I was skateboarding down a hill. I had wanted to get on the left sidewalk but I was going too fast to get on it so I ended up rolling down the outer edge of the street against traffic when, suddenly, a bus was heading my way. I still remember the feeling of that bus passing me at a relative speed of 70mph. I remember the wind from the bus physically slowing me down as it passed just two feet in front of me. It was a vivid realization for me that skateboarding might not be worth the risk, and so I traded in my cool skateboard for an even cooler Razor scooter.

That was a close call, but no matter how many times we can cheat death, eventually it will catch up to us. Death is a reality that we will all face eventually, but it’s a reality we should all consider now. It can take us at any moment. For example, an earthquake can hit and bury you in rubble. Everyone in the world might see it as tragic, but the angels in heaven who see God would simply call it fair.

The Bible says “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). Since we all sin, the question we should all ask is, “Why does God allow me to live?” And for that question, Jesus gives the following parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’ ” (Luke 13:6-9).

The story is simple. If you planted a tree for the purpose of bearing fruit, and it failed year after year, you would probably say “Chop it down!” And that is what would have happened to this tree except that the vinedresser asked for one more year. If one more year has passed, and if it still doesn’t produce fruit, then cut it down. The fruit in view here is the fruit of repentance. It’s a picture of God’s great patience toward mankind in giving us more time.

In all this, what I find baffling is that God would even endure so long for people he knows will never repent. I would tell God, “If they’re never going to believe, why are you still forbearing? It’s only bringing you more sorrow.” But what this parable communicates is that it’s worth it to God to give you more time, even if it amounts to nothing, because his greatest desire for you is that you would repent and believe. So the answer to why is anyone still alive is because God is merciful and compassionate and patient toward sinners. What is the greatest gift of God’s common grace to humanity? It’s time–time to repent, time to believe.

As I think about the time I barely scraped by the bus and how I could have easily been killed, I think about how it was my freshman year and how I did not know Jesus. At the time, whenever something bad would happen, I would mock the goodness of God, curse directly at him, and feel no remorse or any fear since I thought of it like speaking to wind. God could have said, “This tree hasn’t produced fruit in 18 years. And the bus could have been God’s way of saying, “It’s time to cut it down.” But I praise God that he said, “I’ll give him more time.” And it was later that year that I surrendered my life to Christ and now God is even still gracious to give me more time.

Sadly, patience is often taken for granted. But his patience is there for a reason. It isn’t so you would grow tired of it or forget about it, but that you would be led to repentance, as Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” The point is, there’s a reason you’re still alive–and that is because God is patient. And there is a purpose for his patience–and that is so you might repent from your ways and turn to him in faith. Tomorrow’s not a guarantee. So far, you’ve lived your whole life experiencing God’s patience. But there is a time when his waiting will end.

The parable tells us how God is giving us yet another chance to repent, but there is a definite warning that your opportunity to repent is limited. You don’t know when your end will come and when the wrath of God will fall upon you. And so while you have time, you need to call on Christ and be saved. If you trust in Jesus for salvation and follow him with your life, then the wrath of God that he endured on the cross would be done in your place. But if you don’t have Christ, then the last words of the parable are for you to hear, “Cut it down.” It’s an abrupt and sad ending for the parable, but it will be the ending for many. God’s patience is not something that should be taken for granted. And so while you have opportunity, repent.

Romans 7 and the Doctrine of Sanctification

by Josh Liu

Editor’s Note: Josh has once again graciously re-worked a seminary paper (or as I like to call it: “Pastor Mark’ed an article”), this time on the topic of Romans 7. For those who don’t know, this is a somewhat controversial chapter since opinions vary on exactly what Paul intended his readers to understand, given some rather interesting syntactical maneuvers.

On the offhand chance that anyone reading this paper also reads the blog over at the Gospel Coalition, let me just say that Josh absolutely describes Thomas Schreiner’s position qua BECNT accurately, but Dr. Schreiner does seem to have modified his view somewhat since that was published, as seen in his contribution to that blog series. Even theologians change their minds from time to time. But as Dr. Schreiner points out at the end of that article, the different positions aren’t that far apart in the greater context anyhow.

Enjoy!

Teach Them Diligently

by Leah Shen

LBC Nursery Ministry (Fireflies) serves the infants and toddlers of our church. The Fireflies ministry is divided into Nursery 1 (from birth to about 16 months old) and Nursery 2 (from about 16 months old to 3 years old). I am thankful to be able to serve with ladies of LBC through our Fireflies ministry. We endeavor to come alongside the parents and teach the children, at a young age, about God and truths of the Bible. We pray for their spiritual state and aim to be purposeful in the way we speak and interact with the children. We desire to nurture their spirit and continually point them to Christ.

With the seeds of God’s word, we hope to cultivate in them an awareness of God and our need for our savior, Jesus Christ, through lesson time, songs and Bible memorization. One lesson and one Bible verse are taught for each month. With repetition, truths about God are modeled over and over so that they may begin to understand that, for example, God made everything. A few of the other lessons are: Jesus is Alive, God is Everywhere, God Always Wins, God is Good, Jesus Loves Me, Only God is Big, Jesus is Here and Gods Knows Everything. In addition, we also teach the children scripture memorization through music and hand-motions. Parents can even review the songs on the website! For example, one lesson teaches about Jesus and Zacchaeus, and the memory verse from Proverbs 17:17a, “A friend loves at all times.” We use a curriculum reviewed by our children ministry leaders. What a delight to see the children interested and engaged during lesson time and scripture memorization.

During snack time and free-play time, teaching moments can arise. I view these moments as valuable times to reinforce and to teach the child about sharing, taking turns, and showing grace to one another by being gentle and kind towards each another. We also have an opportunity to pray together for the needs of the children. Praise God for His sovereign hand in their lives. Let us all faithfully pray for each one of them and for their salvation.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,”(Proverbs 22:6). As a mom whose children have benefited from the Fireflies ministry’s dedication and commitment to serving the children, I am greatly encouraged and thankful. I am thankful that they are able to learn about God at a young age and hope they will hold on to His word in their hearts. Even times when my child may prefer not to be in the Nursery due to separation anxiety, the ladies were gracious in taking care of them. I am grateful to have been able to join in corporate worship during our Sunday services while my children were in Fireflies. By God’s grace, during their time in Fireflies, my children have been given more examples of having a high view of God, treasuring God’s word and keeping it in their heart. So as a mom, I am thankful for the children’s ministry at LBC who continually nurture and pray for their spiritual life. And as part of the Fireflies ministry, I am encouraged by the parents’ faithfulness in teaching their children about God and allowing us to come along side them. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” (Ephesians 1:3). Joy fills my heart because my resources in Christ are adequate. Let us be faithful to God and continually pray for one another, especially for the children that they may come to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that they may belong wholly to God.