Category Archives: College Life

Right in His Own Eyes

by Josh Liu

College Life had its annual luau at the beginning of October. It was a great time with all of our semester and quarter students back together! We welcomed a number of new students as well! It is exciting seeing all of these students begin or continue their college careers. This stage of life provides unique opportunities to explore, learn, and mature; lifelong friendships are often formed during this time; habits and decisions are made that often lead to a particular direction of life. It can also be a confusing time.

CL Luau Group Photo

During the devotional, Pastor Patrick began with recounting Israel’s lawlessness. Israel forsook God as their rightful King and did what was right in their own eyes (cf. Judges 21:25). Israel’s rebellion against God’s authority is illustrative of every person’s rebellion against God. Every person, in his or her depraved nature, rebels against God (cf. Ps. 2:1-2; Rom. 1:18-32). Sinners deceive themselves by believing that they are the rulers of their own kingdoms, declaring what they believe is right or true. Opinions, preferences, and personal desires become “law.” This self-inaugurating authority reveals itself in many ways. For example, a person may believe anger or premarital sex can be right simply because he or she feels that it is right, whereas God proclaims such acts as damnable sins (cf. Gal. 5:19-21). Or, abortion is declared right because of one’s personal claim over the body, though God declares every life precious and the body to be used to glorify Him (cf. Gen. 9:6; 1 Cor. 6:20). God has ultimate authority over all of His creation, over your life (cf. Rom. 9:20-21). God has the authority to righteous judge sinners, and the authority to graciously forgive sinners (cf. James 4:12).

By God’s grace, Jesus Christ came to redeem rebels into obedient servants (cf. Rom. 6:4ff; Titus 3:3-7). Those who repent of their sins and submit their lives to Christ through faith are liberated to truly live with Christ as Lord and King.

Here are some questions to examine your heart on what authority might be ruling you:

  1. What can you not live without?
  2. What would ultimately satisfy you?
  3. What do you sacrifice for?
  4. What do you spend most of your time, energy, thought, and money on?
  5. Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, or security?

Some common authorities (idols) may be a relationship, respect, material possession, accolade, comfort, control, etc.

Brad Bigney provided an insightful caution: good things can become god-things [idols] when we exchange the glory of God [God’s authority]. Let us seek to live for and submit to God in all that we do.

Here are some principles to help you live with God as your authority:

  1. Prayerfully examine your own heart through what Scripture teaches on the responses to the questions above.
  2. Prayerfully study and practice Scripture before coming to a judgment or decision based on your own experiences, opinions, or preferences.
  3. Prayerfully practice appropriate silence or flexibility where God’s Word has not specifically spoken.
  4. Prayerfully seek biblical counsel from godly mentors and leaders who will direct you back to the Word of God in all situations.
  5. Pray through the truths, promises, and commands of Scripture in all situations.

God’s Word is our final and absolute authority for life and godliness (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). We must be saturated with God’s Word in order to appropriately live under the beautiful lordship of Christ. And we must be immersed in God-centered prayers–approaching His throne of grace through prayer (cf. Heb. 4:16).

Small Group: Life on Life Discipleship

by Josh Liu

The Mission of LBC is to make disciples of Christ, which encompasses baptizing and teaching (cf. Matt. 28:18-20). Small group ministries can be an effective means of discipleship for many churches. At LBCSD, it is one of the ways we extend accountability, instruction, and fellowship so that believers would spiritually mature.

Pastor Patrick has written on being a faithful small group participant:

We also desire to equip small group leaders to serve with excellence.

A small group leader is simply a servant of Christ seeking to help other servants of Christ mature. Therefore, small group leaders must prove themselves qualified with exemplary godly character, worthy of being followed. The Apostle Paul was able to humbly exhort other believers to follow in his example as he pursued Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6; 11:1; Phil 3:17). To those considering or serving as small group leaders:

  • How are you growing spiritually? Are you pursuing Christ first?
  • How are your spiritual disciplines?
  • Are you being faithful to Christ according to His Word?

Consider the following passages on godly character: Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-2:8; 1 Thess. 2:1-20; Rom. 12:1-21; Gal. 5:16-26; Eph. 4:17-32; Phil. 3:7ff; 2 Pet. 1:3-7.

Small group leading is essentially life on life discipleship. Discipleship is not a program; it is life (cf. 1 Thess. 2:8). The Apostle Paul’s example of shepherding and ministry illustrates this principle. He does not simply impart facts or govern decision-making. Paul not only pours out his heart into those whom he ministers, but also lives life with them. While structure or programs may help facilitate discipleship, they are not the defining marks of discipleship. So, a small group leader seeks to invest his or her life into the lives of the small group members in a way to walk with them and to mutually help one another grow. To those considering or serving as small group leaders:

  • Are you willing to walk with individuals through their trials and failures?
  • How are you practicing the “one another’s” with your small group members?
  • Would you consider learning from your small group members and be vulnerable when appropriate?

Since small group discipleship is life on life activity, it requires love, time, sacrifice, and patience. Without a spirit of love, discipleship ministry will eventually become frustrating and will lead to sinful attitudes. A leader’s love for the Lord must be the foundation for his love for others (cf. Matt. 22:37-40). Also, life on life ministry is going to require time in order to make a good investment. The time required may be inconvenient or longer than expected. So, a small group leader will be expected to make some level of sacrifice. Discipleship ministry is seldom convenient for the leader. If a person’s attitude is that others must do all they can to accommodate him or her, he or she is not fit for leadership. Spiritual growth and change is oftentimes slow. The small group must practice compassionate patience because people most often do not take in lessons after being instructed only once. A leader must be prepared to teach the same lessons over and over until the small group member understands and applies that spiritual lesson. To those considering or serving as small group leaders:

  • Have you considered or are currently practicing the appropriate love, time, sacrifice, and patience to be an effective small group leader?

The goal of small group discipleship is maturity in Christ (cf. Col. 1:28) and becoming a disciple-maker (2 Tim. 2:2). Small group members ought to be equipped to make other disciples (cf. 1 Thess. 1:6-8). The teacher needs to help students teach others. This is the disciple-making work that all believers are called (cf. Matt. 28:18-20). While it is a humble goal, leaders should desire others to excel beyond them. To those considering or serving as small group leaders:

  • Are you equipping others for the work of ministry and to be disciple-makers?

We depend and praise God for His work to transform souls and sanctify His people into the image of His Son. We are also humbled that God may use us as His instruments to accomplish His sanctifying work.

Tongue Un-Twisted

by Josh Liu

Our lives are filled with words (e.g., speech, communication). Many of us acknowledge the power and influence–and source of problems–speech and communication have. However, very few of us discipline our speech with careful discernment. Paul Tripp has said,

…even though we aren’t always aware of it, every day of our lives is filled with talk. Every moment is infected with talk. Every relationship and situation is dyed with words. We’re word-ish people. You could hardly identify a more formative aspect of our daily lives than our world of words. Yet whenever I begin to think, speak, or write about this topic, I experience a bit of frustration. What frustrates me is the vocabulary of communication. The terms are so mundane–words, talk, dialogue, conversation, communication. They just don’t seem to carry the freight of how profoundly significant and important this area of life actually is. (The Power of Words and The Wonder of God, 23)

Words are ultimately significant because of what God reveals in Scripture concerning our words (the Book of Proverbs contain over 100 verses related to speech). Our words are a window into the human heart. We speak thoughts, intentions, desires, wishes, beliefs, and so on contained in the heart (cf. Prov. 18:4; Matt. 15:18; Luke 6:45; Mark 7:21). Our words command power and can be a source of destruction (cf. James 3:2-12). Our words are so important that Scripture describes controlling the tongue as one of the keys to a successful life (cf. Prov. 21:23; 1 Pet. 3:10). Frighteningly, God will judge our words (cf. Matt. 12:33-37).

So, how aware are you of your speech and communication? Do you think before speaking, or do you more often find yourself regretting your words? Is there any sinful speech you need to repent of and work to root out of your life? Is there any edifying speech that you to include more in your life? What are some helpful communication skills to practice in applying biblical principles on speech? These are important questions to reflect on.

Christ’s servants are commanded to silence sinful speech. In other words, believers are to silence, put away, stop, mortify, mute, reign in all speech that dishonors or disobeys Christ and tears down others (cf. Eph. 4:29). This is not exclusively about profanity; this is any speech dishonors Christ and tears down others. E. Bradley Beevers says,

Evil speech isn’t just talking when you should be silent or saying things you immediately wish you hadn’t said. Some things we say are bad for other reasons. For example, with some speech, we determine whether it is evil or good by asking when, to whom, under what circumstances, with what tone of voice something is said. At the other extreme, we distinguish “foul language” from the rest of language; “foul language” is inherently bad. It’s not a matter of saying something at the wrong time or to the wrong person. Such “evil talk” is always wrong, always to be avoided by the believer. (“Watch Your Langauge!”, 24)

Believers’ speech is not to be characterized with the world’s speech. The Bible describes a variety of sinful speech that must be silenced. Below is a summary of a personal study on sins of the tongue with questions for reflection.

Sinful Speech Description Scripture Questions
Sinful Speech About Others Gossip The spreading of unfavorable information about someone,
even if that information is true.
Prov. 11:12-13; 18:8; 20:19
  • Do you sweetly cherish secrets so that you can talk about it with others?
  • Do you inappropriately pry for information so that you can talk about it with others?
  • Have you said, “don’t tell anyone else” for fear of repercussions by sharing something that was shared with you in confidence?
  • Will you betray anyone’s trust by sharing?
Slander Speaking about another person (whether false or true, an accurate or inaccurate/misrepresentation) that defames or damages the person’s reputation (or character). Prov. 16:28; Eph. 4:31-32
  • Would what you say impugn someone’s reputation or character?
  • Would it cause conflict if discovered?
Lie Making a false statement; exaggeration for selfish reasons
(e.g., greater recognition); intentionally withholding the whole truth for sinful reasons.
Prov. 10:18
  • Do you lie or exaggerate truth claims to create a certain perception about yourself or someone else?
  • Do you intentionally mislead because you rejoice in deceit (for compulsive liars)?
Critical speech Negative comments about someone that may actually be true but doesn’t need to be said, but said for the purpose of tearing that person down. Prov. 21:9, 19
  • Do people seem to walk on eggshells around you, afraid of provoking you to typical negative comment?
  • Do you mostly criticize and not praise?
Instigating Stirs up strife or conflict; to provoke. Prov. 17:9; 23:9
  • Do you call out individuals to specifically set a certain context? (i.e., romantic relationships)
  • Are you a hype-man just shooting out “oh” to any comment that would normally be regarded as innocuous?
Sinful Speech About Others Harsh words Words spoken inconsiderate, thoughtless, reckless, imprudently, impetuously. Prov. 12:18
  • Are you brash or rough in speech?
  • Do you excuse bluntness as simply a personality trait or basis of perceived intimacy of friendship, excusing a lack of discernment in words and tone?
Joking or sarcasm Crude or coarse humor (words or actions/pranks) intended to amuse oneself at the expense of others (ridiculing, putting down, belittling, provoking a response, etc.). Prov. 26:18-19
  • Do you find your jokes often hurting others?
  • Have they been the source of conflicts or misunderstandings leading to conflicts?
  • Do you often excuse the shock value of your words by saying that you’re only joking?
Insults To wound, put to shame, humiliate, disrespect, dishonor. Matt. 5:22
  • Do you directly insult others without remorse?
Discourage To put down, shut out, or sadden Num. 13:31-14:4
  • Do your words remove biblical hope from someone?
Boasting To exalt self above others, and to belittle others Luke 18:11
  • Are you the hero of your stories?
  • Do you make comments to compete with others (e.g., you slept for 5 hours? I slept for 3 hours)?
Unbiblical counsel Communicating a choice, decision, or expected response as biblical yet purely based on opinion, preference, experience, or worldliness. Job’s friends; Prov. 18:2
  • Do you misrepresent or misapply God’s Word to someone’s situation?
  • Do you counsel out of personal opinion, preference, or experience and place it as God’s standard?
Internal speech Indicting God’s character, entertaining sinful fantasies (e.g., immorality, vengeance), excusing or justifying sin, or internal complaining Prov. 20:22; Mark 2:6-7; Phil. 2:24
  • Do you think about what you would say as a comeback to insult someone?
  • Do you rationalize or make excuses to sin in your mind?

Christ’s servants are also commanded to speak sanctifying speech. In other words, as a servant or disciple of Christ, you seek to do all things, including communicating, for the glory of God. Seek to not bring reproach or stain upon the testimony of Christ with your words. Rather, be known as one filled with the sweet words of your Lord and Savior. This is not about saying sweet nothings, tickling people’s ears with what they want to hear or what makes them feel good. This is about honoring Christ and loving your neighbor. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

Some examples of sanctifying speech about others are giving the benefit of the doubt (cf. Prov. 18:13), believing (or speaking) the best about another (cf. 1 Cor. 13:7), commending others (cf. Rom. 16:1), and giving thanks to God for one another (cf. Rom. 1:8; 1 Cor. 1:4; Phil. 1:3).

Some examples of sanctifying speech to others are words that build others up (cf. Eph. 4:29; consider the timing, Prov. 27:14), encourage (cf. Acts 11:23), exhort (cf. Prov. 27:6; Heb. 10:24), comfort (cf. Prov. 15:4; 16:24; 18:23; 2 Cor. 1:3-4), confess (cf. Prov. 28:13; James 5:16), and seek understanding (cf. Prov. 15:1; 18:13). Do you build others up and encourage? Kevin DeYoung helps to describe encouragement,

Encouragement means highlighting the evidences of God’s grace in the gospel or in a gospel-centered person to the glory of God. Each part of that definition is important. Encouragement is not spotlighting a person but underlining God’s grace. It is not about commending nice people to make them feel good but about commending the work of the gospel in others to the glory of God. The definition above can help differentiate encouragement from flattery. Encouragement is based on what is true about a person. Flattery affirms through exaggeration or falsehood. Encouragement keeps human praise in proportion, lifting everything up for God’s praise. Flattery gives too much influence to human agency. Encouragement blesses for the sake of the blessed and the Blessed One. Flattery harbors ulterior motives and looks for favors or reciprocal affirmation. While God despises flattery, He delights to see Christians encourage each other. (“Encourage One Another”)

Be careful of becoming the tongue or speech police. This is first and foremost an opportunity to examine your own life and heart to discern any spiritual logs in your eyes. Take this as an opportunity for you to consider how to honor Christ with your words and love your neighbor.

Spiritual Anatomy

by Josh Liu

The Bible is replete with references to various parts of the human body (e.g., foot, hand, tongue, arm, eye, head, etc.). While many references to body parts are in a literal sense (i.e., a physical organ), Scripture often uses body parts figuratively to represent or address some spiritual principle. For the 2016-2017 academic year, College Life Bible study went through a topical series entitled “Spiritual Anatomy.” We examined what the Bible taught on specific body parts to further understand how we ought to honor God with our whole being, physically and spiritually.

The following provides a brief overview of the topical series:

1. “Body Worship” (Rom. 12:1-2)

Sinners rightly deserve God’s wrath for their unrighteousness. Yet God would be merciful to justify sinners by faith in Christ so that they would never face His condemnation (cf. Rom. 3:21-22; 5:1-2; 8:1). In response, believers are commanded to spiritual worship by presenting their bodies (i.e., lives, whole being) as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice. This is a comprehensive body (whole person) response–a life of worship to the God Who saves.

2. “A Theology of the Flesh” (Rom. 7:14-8:1)

Besides literally, Scripture also refers to man’s flesh metaphorically, representing all that opposes God. Theologically, the flesh represents the principle of indwelling sin in believers–that which remains of his former, unregenerate, old self (cf. Gal. 5:13, 19; Eph. 2:3). While believers have a new nature in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17), they will still battle sin on this side of eternity. Believers should not be discouraged, but persevere in opposing the sinful flesh.

3. “A Heart for God” (Selected Scriptures)

The heart is like the control center of man, being the source of life, thoughts, and actions (cf. Gen. 6:5; Prov. 4:23; 20:5; Luke 6:45). However, sinners’ hearts are also corrupt with sin (Jer. 17:9) and require God’s transforming, regenerative work (Ezek. 26:26; Acts 15:9). In response to a transformed heart for God, we are commanded to seek the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 4:29); love the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37); serve the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 10:12); obey the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 30:1-2); turn/return to the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 30:10); follow the Lord with all your heart (1 Kings 14:8); give thanks to the Lord with all your heart (Pss. 9:1; 86:12; 111:1; 138:1); and trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5).

4. “Mental Metamorphosis” (Selected Scriptures)

How would you evaluate your thought life? When you are not required to think about something, what do your thoughts drift toward? How well do you control your thought life? Are you concerned with what fills or influences your mind? As God transforms and renews believers’ minds (thoughts, desires, intentions), they are commanded to proactively set their mind on the Spirit. One means is by being devoted to the things of the Spirit: edification of believers (Eph. 4:7, 12), worship (Eph. 5:18-20), submission (Eph. 5:21-6:9), etc.

5. “Spiritual Nephrology” (Selected Scriptures)

In Scripture, the human kidney is sometimes figuratively used to refer to man’s inmost being, mind, or affections and has been translated as mind, heart, and feelings. Since the areas surrounding the kidneys are sensitive, the kidneys were believed to be the seat of emotions (cf. Job 19:27; Ps. 73:21; Prov. 23:16). Often times, people have been told to ignore their emotions and grunt through some situation by sheer will power. While we are not be led or dictated by our emotions, we must redeem our emotions to honor God.

6. “Tongue un-Twisted” (Selected Scriptures)

The mouth, tongue, and lips are often used to refer to the activity of speech and communication. Scripture confronts the misuse of speech (cf. Prov. 10:1-32; 12:18; 20:19; etc.). God will judge every person for his or her words (cf. Matt. 12:33-37). Christ’s servants ought to seek to honor and glorify God with their speech and communication. They must silence sinful speech (e.g., gossip, slander, lying, critical speech, insults, etc.) and communicate sanctifying speech (e.g., edifying words, encouragements, comfort, etc.).

7. “Covered and Unashamed” (Selected Scriptures)

Scripture uses a variety of words to euphemistically refer to the sex organs. The sex organs are also used to refer to the activity of sex. Unfortunately, these (literal) parts are sinfully abused and used to pursue immorality and wickedness. Figuratively, Scripture references the sex organs in contexts of shame and guilt. For example, after Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked and ashamed (cf. Gen. 3:7). However, for those who have ever sinned sexually yet have submitted to Christ as their Lord and Savior, Christ covers their shame with His righteousness and allows them to stand unashamed (forgiven, reconciled, and sanctified) before God.

8. “God’s Good Design – Part 1: Male Headship” (Selected Scriptures)

Scripture uses a variety of words to euphemistically refer to the sex organs. The sex organs identify mankind’s gender–male or female. God created mankind in His image male and female (though God is not gendered). Men and women are created equal as God’s image-bearers, and fulfill differing functions or roles. As heads (or leaders), men are called to be mature–spiritual maturity, character maturity, relational maturity, and stewarding maturity.

9. “God’s Good Design – Part 2: Female Helpership” (1 Tim. 2:9-15)

Men and women are created equal as God’s image-bearers and fulfill differing functions or roles according to those genders. One of the primary responsibilities for women is the role of a helper. A significant aspect of understanding this helper role is authority-submission. The Apostle Paul provides further instruction on authority and submission in the church by addressing women’s appearance, conduct, design, and blessing.

10. “Eye Exam” (Selected Scriptures)

The eye is used in its literal meaning and in connection with expressions relating to seeing. Figuratively, the eye refers to the seat of perception, understanding, and realization. Theologically, sinners are spiritually blind (cf. Jer. 5:21) and Jesus Christ gives spiritual sight (cf. John 8:12). Sinners ought to turn to God for spiritual sight through repentance and faith. Also, believers ought to fixate (focus, behold, look toward in anticipation and priority) on God (as oppose to worldly things), purity (as oppose to immoral images), and eternity future (as oppose to only the present).

11. “Beautiful Feet” (Rom. 10:1-15)

Scripture often uses the feet to refer to activity and movement. Believers are to be busy (active) in witnessing, evangelizing, and making disciples. The Apostle Paul declares, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Rom. 10:15). To be active in evangelizing (declaring the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ), believers can remember to be impassioned for the lost, recognize man’s responsibility, be confident in the promises of salvation, make no distinctions between persons, and carry the Gospel wherever they go.

12. “A Spiritual Physical” (Ps. 38)

A brief observation of the world (and human history) will reveal at least one thing: the world prizes health. There are many who are ailing and ill in need of care, recovery, and cure. It is often during ill health where man recognizes the fragility of life, true priorities of life, the blessing of good health or relief, and so on. Believers can idolize health in much the same way as the world. Scripture reveals that sinners are spiritually sick and in need of Christ, the spiritual Physician (cf. Luke 5:31-32). Our physical and spiritual health–emotional, cognitive, and physical state–can be affected by sin. Psalm 38 is the portrait of one who is in poor physical and spiritual health due to personal sin. Such experiences are opportunities to worship God, examine oneself for personal sin, and patiently endure suffering.

13. “One Body” (Selected Scriptures)

One cannot miss the absolute unity of believers as the body of Christ (cf. Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:14ff; Eph. 4:4-5). Each believer is to be a healthy, functioning member in the body (i.e., church), with humility and harmony.

Conclusion

As sinners, man’s body and spirit is corrupt with sin. By the mercies of God, He transforms man’s spirit in Christ and promises a bodily resurrection. So then, while believers await new glorified bodies, they are to steward their bodies (literally / physically) and lives (figuratively / spiritually) for God’s glory as an act of worship. May the Spiritual Anatomy series exalt God, edify His saints, and evangelize the lost.

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

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.

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!

A Brief Overview of Covenant Theology

by Josh Liu

Editor’s Note: There’s been a fair amount of discussion at LBC regarding Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism lately. Josh has graciously reworked a paper from his time at seminary that provides a helpful introduction, and I heartily recommend it to you.

Seriously, I know it’s long. And a PDF. Read it anyways. It’s very, very good.

If you’ll permit me one additional editorial comment: while LBC unashamedly takes the Dispensational position, we also recognize that the Covenant Theology position falls well within the boundaries of historic orthodoxy. Folks who subscribe to alternative positions (including traditional Westminster Covenant Theology, New Covenant Theology, variations of Dispensationalism, etc.) but are unwavering on the gospel are brothers and sisters in Christ. To use an actual example: if John MacArthur and RC Sproul can be best friends and golfing buddies, then we would do well to emulate both their unwavering commitment to Biblical truth and their graciousness.

But really: read Josh’s paper. He worked hard, and I may quiz you on it.

Total Depravity

by Josh Liu

During seminary, I was presented the following scenario and question:

I have heard a lot of talk lately about the doctrine of “total depravity.” What is total depravity? I have some neighbors who are not Christians but they actually seem pretty nice. Are they totally depraved? They are actually nicer and more gracious than a lot of Christians I know.

Unfortunately, the experience that some unbelievers are “more gracious” than believers is a scathing evaluation of how many Christians are not living in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. It’s true that many non-Christians are genuinely nice! However, that is not what the doctrine of total depravity refers to.

Total depravity refers to the fallen nature of man. Man (or mankind) is completely polluted by sin in such a way that sin affects everything that he does, says, thinks, and desires. As such, man cannot change himself. There are two parts to this doctrine.

First, every person, both non-Christian and Christian, is born totally depraved–sin has corrupted every part of man. Every person is sinful. The Bible attests to this fact. Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” This assessment of man is true of every unregenerate person presently. In 1 Kings 8, Solomon, addressing Israel after the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the Temple in Jerusalem, makes a comment that “there is no man who does not sin” (v. 46). Even the New Testament affirms this teaching. The Apostle John says, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The Apostle Paul drives home this teaching in Romans 1:18-3:20, where he declares Jews and Gentiles are sinners. He emphasizes this reality by declaring, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). No on escapes this condition. King David recognizes that he was born depraved: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). The reality of man’s total sinfulness is also seen in Ephesians 2:1-3,

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Man is ultimately dead in his depravity to the extent that he lives according to his depraved nature (e.g. disobedience, indulging the desires of the flesh). The only way this can be changed is God’s merciful intervention to transform man’s nature:

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezek. 36:25-27; cf. Eph. 2:4)

Second, man’s depravity touches every aspect of humanity; hence, “total” depravity. Man’s will is polluted by sin (cf. Rom. 1:32; 7:18-19; Eph. 2:2-3). Man’s intellect is polluted by sin (cf. Rom. 1:21; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:17-18). Man’s heart is polluted by sin (cf. Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Mark. 7:21-23). Man’s actions are polluted by sin (cf. Is. 64:6). As a result, man cannot please God. Romans 8:8 declares, “those who are in the [sinful] flesh cannot please God.” “Niceness” is not enough. If you aren’t part of Christ, which is only through repentance of sins and faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection to transform your depraved nature, then you can’t be good before God (cf. John 6:44; 15:5).

All of this is not to say, however, that every person is as evil as he could possibly be at all times. Depraved sinners can manifest some “goodness” at times, which is attributed to God’s common grace and restraint of sin. Also, this is not to say that sinners can’t “do” good things. Unbelievers can certainly contribute positive things to society, relationships, and so on. Yet Scripture is clear that such “good works” do not please or honor God since they are not in right relationship with Him (cf. Matt. 7:21-23).

The doctrine of total depravity recognizes that there are varying degrees of manifestations of one’s sinful heart, as well as varying degrees of the seriousness of individual sins. So, you can’t conclude that someone like Adolf Hitler was necessarily more depraved (in the doctrinal sense) than someone like Mother Teresa. Every person is totally depraved, in the sense that no part of their material or immaterial being is exempted from the influence of sin. It is by God’s grace that not every person manifests that evil in every way possible, or to the greatest extent possible. In other words, it is by the grace of God that we fail to live up to our evil potential…but we all still have it.

For your non-Christian friends that seem like good people, remember that they are not “good” before God. Remember God’s perfect standards. He, being the perfect, righteous judge has declared “for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). Yet we have not just stumbled at one point in God’s perfect law, but our offenses are perhaps uncountable. Even more so, we ourselves have fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). You may commend good works in others, but don’t confuse that with equating it to being good before God. Remember Christ’s warning that those who did “good works” but aren’t in a right relationship with God will be cast away in judgment (cf. Matt. 7:21-23).

For your Christian friends, encourage and exhort them to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, which will manifest the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Eph. 4:1; Gal. 5:22-23). May you live as salt and light, bearing testimony to the transforming power of the gospel so that those who see will give glory to God (cf. Matt. 5:13-16). Praise God for His mighty power and lovingkindness to transform a depraved sinner to a new nature, covered by Christ’s righteousness!