Missions Monday #12 – AR Testimonies

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz (and other contributors)

Over the years, many people from our church have been a part of the Argentina missions trips, and have been very appreciative of their time there. I personally have benefitted greatly from the multiple conversations I’ve had with Pastor Jorge Ahualle, Eduaro Buldain, and many of the leaders and members of IBM Tucuman. They have been a joy and a model of how to do ministry, wherever you are. Here are some other members from previous trips who have some experiences to share with you. We hope you enjoy them!

Hwa and Suzie Park (LBCSD)

I think Suzie and I were recently married when we went together to Tucuman to share the Gospel to the beautiful people of Argentina. Looking back it was an amazing experience we both shared that set the foundation for our marriage of what it means to make disciples of Christ. Going door to door, sharing matte with complete strangers all while avoiding wild dogs were both exciting and adventurous. We still talk about Tucuman  from time to time and would love the opportunity to go back one day for sweet fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Tucuman.

Ryan McAdams (LBCSD)

The Argentina Missions Trips have a very special place in the story of our family. My wife and I essentially met preparing for the 2007 trip, and after both also going on the 2008 trip, we returned on the 2011 trip for the first time as a married couple! We also took our baby daughter with us when we returned on the 2013 trip. Though we haven’t been able to return since then, the trips have still helped to shape the very core of our family, inside our home and out.

Every trip emphasizes the M of Lighthouse’s MVP statement, the fact that the Lord Jesus has called us to make disciples of all nations. Every trip demonstrates the difference between coercing an individual to answer Yes (or , as the case may be) to a series of questions and the implantation and germination of the seed of God’s word into a person’s very being, that making of a disciple that results in a true follower of Jesus Christ. While these truths drive our planning and execution of the mission trip, they also affect our family’s home life, even in the shepherding and development of our children. Rather than force an insincere confession of faith from them before they understand the truth, we want to trust God with the regeneration of their hearts, and will work to provide an environment that will present the truth of God to them in its fullness and majesty.

The trips have also reinforced the idea that missions doesn’t just take place overseas. Perhaps, by definition, missions happen somewhere else, but then the work of missions should not differ much, if at all, from the work of our own church. This idea has anchored our family as well, as we have sought to avoid compartmentalizing the church, and including it as a vital part of our family life instead. During our time in Tucumán, the church would have almost every meal together, and while they certainly meet together more often during our visitation, the principle of community as a platform for ministry drives our family’s willingness to spend time together with the rest of our church body. Even this serves the goal of disciple-making, since those among the family of God minister internally by helping each other grow further in obedience to all of God’s commands.

Even though we miss dearly our brothers and sisters in Tucumán because of our absence from them, God has used our times there to draw us closer to him individually and as a family even to the present.

Josue Ahualle (son of Pastor Jorge Ahualle, Iglesia Biblica Misionera)

Hello! I am pleased to be able to share with you some of my experience with the LBC visits to our church in Argentina.

The first time we visited I particularly was very small but I will never forget the joy and the unity that was produced in our congregation. It was beautiful to see how we struggled to communicate, the funny signs and gestures that harmonized an atmosphere of happiness and love between brothers and sisters. Each year we were able to make new friends and even though we do not share a lot of time together, each one of these brothers who came won a place in our hearts.

Today I can understand what it means to be part of a missions trip… Sacrifice, time, preparation… that’s why I give thanks to God for each and every one of you! Without a doubt God used you all greatly in our lives. It’s been a great encouragement and help each year you have visited us, many brothers and sisters who are attending today, are the result of the evangelistic campaigns that we have done together. There are many experiences that God has allowed us to enjoy together and I hope there are many more.

Once again I want you to know that I am very happy to have known you and I very much admire the love you have toward God and his work.

God bless you!

…Because We Have Sinned Against Thee

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Daniel 9:8

A deep sense and clear sight of sin, its heinousness, and the punishment which it deserves, should make us lie low before the throne. We have sinned as Christians. Alas! that it should be so. Favoured as we have been, we have yet been ungrateful: privileged beyond most, we have not brought forth fruit in proportion. Who is there, although he may long have been engaged in the Christian warfare, that will not blush when he looks back upon the past? As for our days before we were regenerated, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love-light which has really penetrated our minds, and love in which we have rejoiced.

Oh, the atrocity of the sin of a pardoned soul! An unpardoned sinner sins cheaply compared with the sin of one of God’s own elect ones, who has had communion with Christ and leaned his head upon Jesus’ bosom. Look at David! Many will talk of his sin, but I pray you look at his repentance, and hear his broken bones, as each one of them moans out its dolorous confession! Mark his tears, as they fall upon the ground, and the deep sighs with which he accompanies the softened music of his harp! We have erred: let us, therefore, seek the spirit of penitence. Look, again, at Peter! We speak much of Peter’s denying his Master. Remember, it is written, ‘He wept bitterly.’ Have we no denials of our Lord to be lamented with tears? Alas! these sins of ours, before and after conversion, would consign us to the place of inextinguishable fire if it were not for the sovereign mercy which has made us to differ, snatching us like brands from the burning.

My soul, bow down under a sense of thy natural sinfulness, and worship thy God. Admire the grace which saves thee-the mercy which spares thee-the love which pardons thee!

6.14p

Weekly Links (6/23/2017)

“Worry begins when a person is trying to love equally both the Creator and something in creation (or when they are not trying to love the Creator at all, having replaced him with something in his creation). That something may be ourselves, of course. And to love Creator and created equally is impossible.” (Timothy Lane, Living without Worry: How to replace anxiety with peace)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! Praise God for those who have been blessed with a summer off! Hopefully, that translates to more undistracted devotion to Christ! Here are this week’s links to get you all started!

  • Paul Tautges examines Scripture’s call to the older and younger men in the church. May we never get tired of hearing what God calls us, both young and old, to be.
  • Not to leave the ladies behind, over at the True Woman blog, Laura Elliot provides some great encouragement to anyone who may not see themselves as teachers to see their calling within the church to bless those who are younger. Please take this to heart, ladies!
  • What in the world is a worldview, and what does it consist of? RTS professor James N. Anderson gives a concise overview of the topic, while mentioning some of the predominant contenders in opposition to Christianity. If this is your first foray into the subject, Anderson is a great guide.
  • After the showing of the documentary Is Genesis History? some of the people behind it have created a conference for students, ministers and educators going into more detail about the many topics covered in the film. A schedule with names of all presentations can be found on their website, while the videos of all presentations are currently on their Facebook page. This will definitely be an in-depth introduction to young-earth creationism, if you are looking for a good place to start studying the topic.
  • Tim and Michael Keller have been doing a series of posts on evangelism at the university that should be a source of interest of anyone who knows college students. It’s been a great read thus far. Here are the posts: “The Uniqueness of University Evangelism,” “The Challenge of University Evangelism,” “4 Promising Opportunities in University Evangelism,” and “5 Principles for University Evangelism.”

That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for youth group, as they have their Grad Night/Lock-In today and tomorrow. See you all on Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria

A Gospel of Repentance

by Roger Alcaraz

Back in high school, I would always sign my close friends’ yearbooks with a message, and somewhere in that message would be the words, “Don’t ever change.” That was because, in my mind, that was the greatest compliment or sign of love that I could give. It’s like saying “You’re perfect just the way you are.” It was only after I became a Christian, I realized how wrong I was.

Nobody is perfect, and the gospel we proclaim is not only about the forgiveness of sins, but about repentance. “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46-47).

Repentance is a complete change of heart that grieves over sin and, in response, seeks to live a changed life. It’s turning your feelings, thoughts, and actions away from sin and toward Christ. This has always been the heart of the gospel call. We often think of evangelism as preaching the forgiveness of sins, but Christ has told us to also preach repentance. Why? Because without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins. Yet repentance is perhaps the single most neglected aspect of contemporary evangelism, especially in an age when it’s all about accepting people as they are and just letting them be. This nation teaches that if you want to show love to someone, you must accept them as they are, without changing them.

Now, I’m not arguing that acceptance is bad. But there is definitely a good way and a bad way to practice it. If a doctor had a patient with diabetes, and the doctor accepted his patient without wanting him to change, that’s bad. But consider Scripture and how the heart of mankind is desperately sick and how mankind is heading to Hell. Would accepting people without any desire for change be what’s best for them?

Coaches tell their athletes to change all of the time. Parents tell their children to change all the time. If you saw a child practically inhaling sugar, and the parent casually said, “Let him be,” you would say, “You’re a bad parent.” And so if calling for change is the mark of a good parent, and it’s the mark of a good coach, isn’t it also the mark of good friend?

The world has believed that calling someone to change is unloving, but as I consider my life, it’s quite the opposite. The people who have loved me the most were the people who called me to change. And the greater test of love isn’t whether a person accepts you as you are; love is demonstrated when, as a person seeks change and growth another, that they bear with them with gentleness and patience. So we’re not beating people over the head with the command to repent and believe. We’re urgent yet patient, firm yet gentle, always seeking what’s best for them based on the truth of Scripture.

And so while the world might look at our gospel of repentance and say, “Why can’t I just keep living how I’ve always lived?” you can say, “Because I love you too much.” If your friend were planning to rob a bank and you knew that this bank was an impenetrable fortress guarded by hundreds of police officers, you would probably tell your friend to stop or else he’ll be thrown in prison. And he might object and say, “I thought you supported me. Can’t you just let me be me?” And if you were a good friend, you would say, “No.”

But would you be quicker to warn people of prison than you would of Hell? We have to remember that as each person dies, they will stand before the God who created them and have to give an account for their entire life. Everything will be exposed before God as he determines their fate. How sad would it be for people to stand before God and think, “I had Christian friends. Why didn’t they tell me I would be here one day?” Therefore, let us warn the world of their fate if they do not turn away from their sins and turn to Christ. It is a loving thing to turn them away from fire.

Making the Most of Your Ministry

by Pastor Patrick Cho

One of the potential challenges of local church ministry is that most of the people who serve do so on a volunteer basis. If you are serving on a ministry staff, the reality is that while you might want to give your all to it, you most likely also have other commitments like work, school, and family that rightfully demand your time and energy. Being involved in church does not mean that you are called to abandon all other commitments. Providing excellent service in church ministry does not require quitting your job, dropping out of school, or leaving your family.

However, it is sadly easy to treat church ministry as if it is on a lower tier of importance than these other commitments. One reason for this is an incorrect assumption that most of the ministry should be performed by the pastors and leaders of the church, while the rest of the members are simply there to assist. There are some who believe that since pastors are paid to do ministry, it is only right that they shoulder the bulk of the work of ministry. Another reason is that people in the church compartmentalize spiritual things and do not see how Christ impacts every area of their lives. One outworking of this error is that people pursue marriage and career much like the rest of the world, treating these things as of ultimate importance. Church ministry, then, is relegated as optional or time-permitting, not much different than any other hobby or recreation. The thinking is essentially, “God, let me take care of all the ‘me’ stuff, and then I will give myself to the ‘You’ stuff.”

Because of these reasons and more, there can be a tendency to grow lax in service of the church. We put in less of an effort and do not strive for excellence in what we do. It is easy to procrastinate, get lazy, and drop the ball. Since you are probably not paid for your ministry to the church, it can be easy to develop a mentality that you will only serve when it is comfortable or convenient. On the other hand, it might simply be that you have been running so hard for so long that you are simply tired and so you are not serving at the level of excellence you once did.

While there is an understanding that church ministry is not all you are supposed to do, what you do ought to be done well to the glory of God. There are several reasons we need to be careful not to relegate church ministry as an inferior commitment.

  1. The Lord is ultimately the one you serve. Whether it is at home, at school, at work, or at church, God is the one we ultimately serve (cf. Col. 3:23-24). He is Lord of all. Thus, we must not compartmentalize certain aspects of our lives as ours and others as His. It is all His. Additionally, when it comes to our service in the church, we ought to strive for excellence because what we do is offered to God as worship. Everything we do is to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). God demands our best because we have been set apart unto Him who is most excellent.
  2. You are called to serve, so you are not just a volunteer. A volunteer is someone who freely offers to do something. But believers do not serve out of the goodness of their own hearts. We are commanded to serve, and this service is to be done from a loving, willing, and joyful heart. The Bible teaches that this is the higher purpose for which we were created (Eph. 2:10). It is not only the responsibility of the church leaders. Ephesians 4:11-12 says that the members of the church are equipped to do the work of ministry. It is something all believers are called to do.
  3. You have been gifted and equipped by God to participate. Your service in the church is a stewardship of what God has entrusted to you by His grace. Oftentimes, we fall into the mentality that our talents, skills, gifts, and abilities are there to heighten our experience as individuals. We want to improve ourselves. While this is not necessarily evil in and of itself, believers are given a greater purpose. God has blessed you to be a blessing. This is why Paul employs the body metaphor in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14. Although each member of the body is unique in its ability and giftedness, all the parts are required to work in conjunction in order for the body as a whole to thrive and mature. You have not been given what you have only to invest it in you. You have also been given these skills and abilities to employ them in the service of the church that others might benefit and be blessed.
  4. Other people are counting on you. When you are unfaithful to your ministry commitments, it affects more than just you. Again, Paul likens service in the church to the physical body. Imagine if part of your body decided to take a break or not function at 100%. That is detrimental to the entire body. We can serve with excellence as an act of love to our fellow brothers and sisters. In Christian discipleship, our commitment to excellence can also serve as a helpful example for others to follow.
  5. You can reap an eternal reward. When we commit ourselves to the service of the church in obedience to Scripture with excellence and from a right heart, we can be assured that God is well-pleased. It is good to be reminded that we strive for something greater than the rewards and accolades of this life. By investing in what is eternal, we store up a heavenly reward that is imperishable and unfading (1 Pet. 1:4).

In the end, consideration needs to be given to each side. The church should not overburden its members requiring so much that other commitments suffer. Take family for instance: if the church demands so much of your time that it is detrimental to your family because you are honestly left with little time for your spouse and children, then the church should reconsider its program to ensure that it is not designed to cause you to sin against your family by neglecting them.

At the same time, there are many people who use family as an excuse not to get involved in the ministry of the church. We need to be wary of using family this way as a sort of trump card. The Bible does not say that we are all members of one another until we have families of our own. It does not command us to love one another and serve one another until we start a family. Of course, it can be challenging to discern how to be excellent both in church ministry as well as in our homes, but we are called to both.

Delight Thyself Also In The Lord

by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Psalm 37:4

The teaching of these words must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to vital godliness, but to the sincere believer it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is here described as a delight in God, and we are thus certified of the great fact that true religion overflows with happiness and joy. Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either that they may gain thereby, or else because they dare not do otherwise. The thought of delight in religion is so strange to most men, that no two words in their language stand further apart than ‘holiness’ and ‘delight.’ But believers who know Christ, understand that delight and faith are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them. They who love God with all their hearts, find that His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. Such joys, such brimful delights, such overflowing blessednesses, do the saints discover in their Lord, that so far from serving Him from custom, they would follow Him though all the world cast out His name as evil. We fear not God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.

Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower; as indivisible as truth and certainty; they are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold.

”Tis when we taste Thy love,
Our joys divinely grow,
Unspeakable like those above,
And heaven begins below.’

6.14a

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.

Renewing Our Minds for Rejoicing, Pt. 4 – “Think Humbly”

by Pastor James Lee

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

To think well is to think humbly. And anywhere we’re not humble, we’re not thinking well. And to think humbly requires us to think reliantly, think prayerfully, so that we’re refusing to be anxious or fearful about anything, trusting Him, and not ourselves. Remember v. 6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We need to dwell on that… prayerfully. If we’re anxious, then we’re not believing His promise, are we? The sooner we get a grip on ourselves that we’re nothing, outside the grace of God, the sooner we’re going to be rejoicing. Paul writes, repeats our Lord Jesus, don’t worry! Anxiety is opposite of being primarily concerned about others. Prayer reflects and effects. Worry, anxiety and discontentment, Dr. Sam Storms, rightly says are all self-centered, rather than God-centered, when he writes,

“Anxiety is rooted in self, while prayer is rooted in God. Anxiety is the fruit of a narrow, constricted view of life. The only thing one can see is the problems or perplexities surrounding us. Prayer is the fruit of a broad and expansive view of life in which God is so big that everything else, even our worst problems and worries, shrink into insignificance. Anxiety is horizontal in focus. Prayer, on the other hand, is vertical in focus. That is to say, when you worry you are consumed with looking to the left and to the right, forward and backward. When you pray, you can’t help but look up. Anxiety never raises your eyes above your problems, your situation and your circumstances. Prayer raises your eyes above and beyond yourself to God and His power. Anxiety looks to self to solve problems. Prayer looks to God to endure problems. When you are anxious, your circumstances and problems control you; they have sovereignty over you; you invest in them a power and authority to shape your life. Anxiety is an expression of fear. Prayer is an expression of faith. That is why prayer is an antidote to anxiety.”

Realize anxiety is an indictment on God’s flawless wisdom and a mocking of His infinite power. And that’s not very humble, for the creature to say that, about the Creator, is it? We might not think about it this way, especially when we’re struggling, but it’s self-righteous arrogance. But the opposite is humility, which is to do as 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us.” The opposite of prayer is pride. But heartfelt prayer is an expression of humility. John MacArthur said, “If you are going to be stable in the tough times of life, it is born out of an absolute distrust of yourself and a total trust in the sovereign God of grace and power.” Spurgeon said, “If you believe everything turns on the free will of man, you will naturally have man as the principle figure in your landscape.” Then you’re going to be disappointed, by putting all your hope in what people might provide you. Because the dilemma you’ll come face to face with, is how weak and how fickle people are. And, then you’re going to have every reason to be full of anxiety! When the Source of our joy is unshakeable, then our joy becomes unshakeable, and we get HIS peace.

Question: if God already knows what we’re going to ask and what we need, before we pray, then why do we pray? There are different biblical reasons, but one is that we need it, not Him. Prayer is not to inform Him, but to rely on Him, and to glorify Him. And a big reason why we don’t pray well, is because we don’t think well. We’re not desperate enough. We haven’t come to the end of ourselves, so that we’re not expecting anything beyond the grace of God. We realize we don’t deserve anything anyway, and what we do deserve, God’s wrath, is not at all what we’re getting. Thus, we haven’t been cheated out of anything, we haven’t received the short end of the stick or a raw deal. So we’re not looking for kudos or appreciation or understanding from others. So, we will not be disappointed, only thrilled and thankful when we get anything good. And humble people are always thankful people! Because humble people are not thinking that they deserve something better, but discontent and angry and greedy people think they do. That’s why Paul says we pray, “with thanksgiving.” That’s why we can be content, in hunger or in plenty. Do we not tend to be plentiful in requests, but minimal in thanksgiving? But if we know He’s worthy, that He’s already solved our biggest problem, then we’re going to be habitually thankful. It’s no surprise then that Paul says in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

The irony is that we usually think that our complaining is due to our unhappiness, but in the context of the cross of Christ, very often, the truth is that our unhappiness sometimes is ironically due to our complaining. Spurgeon said, “If we complained less and were more thankful, we would be happier, and God would be more glorified.” FF Bruce on the flip side, warned us, “Lack of gratitude is the first step to idolatry.”

Missions Monday #11 – CZ Testimonies

by Hanka Rodgers (and other contributors)

I have been to so many English Camps by now that I can’t keep all the people and years straight. The only team I remember vividly is my first English Camp in 2001 that I went to as an unbeliever. Most of the people who were on that team are now not only married with children, but serving as leaders of the church. I still remember Patrick telling me about his desire to become a pastor (I guess he was trying to evangelize me?); being in awe of Brian Chan’s and Peter Park’s (now in San Jose) piano skills; Angella and Hansol Ahn being the cutest dating couple ever; Jin Lee getting a floss through his nose and mouth; and being completely confused about Jane Min dating Min Kim (I thought maybe when Asian people date, the girl takes the first name of her boyfriend as her last name?). In some ways, I am the perfect product of what Lighthouse believes missions is. The Camp of 2001 had a profound effect on how I thought about Christians and God, but it was the perseverance of the church members in Ostrava that God eventually used to save me. The LBC team did what they came to do – they shared the gospel clearly and made me think. Then they left and the local church took over. Add God’s grace and His sovereignty and you have a perfect salvation story.

Throughout the years, there were more stories of salvation, though perhaps not as many as we would all wish to see. But saving souls hasn’t been the only way that God has been using these missions trips. We have compiled a few testimonies from different people and asked them how they benefitted from the LBC Czech mission. Two of them are from the Czech church and the other two from San Diego. It’s obvious that these trips benefit the Czechs, but God also chooses to work in the lives of the team members. Even though our church doesn’t believe that the primary reason for going on mission should be to grow spiritually, I think it’s foolish to think that the team members only serve others and don’t learn anything from the trip. Jin Lee’s testimony below is (and should be) an exception, but missions often expose things we haven’t seen before and challenges us to grow in areas we need to grow in. Christian life in the Czech Republic is usually not as comfortable as it is here (especially when it comes to the number of Christians they get to fellowship with) and it’s often encouraging to see Czech Christians persevere.

Enjoy reading a few paragraphs about how God has used your financial support and prayers to work in people’s lives – often in ways that they themselves never imagined He would!

Meinolf Mellwig (church in Beroun)

I have the privilege of having seen about 15 lighthouse teams come to Czech to serve with our church.

There are many areas in which Lighthouse teams have been a huge blessing for me and for my family.

Through one of the first English camps, Jirka got saved who later became our son in law. Also in the life of Anna, our daughter in law, English camps have played a big role in bringing her to Christ. The same is true as least for one of our children. These have been very personal blessings for our family.

In addition, Lighthouse teams have played a fundamental role in shaping our church. This is true in terms of theology as well as practical issues on how to run and lead a church. The many books and commentaries that the teams have brought over the years have contributed and enforced this influence.

The teams have always been a testimony to our church members in terms of commitment, attitude and desire to serve the Lord and see people to get to know the Lord. They have been always very well prepared and their servant heart was clearly visible to everyone. Through their intensive ministry to the campers many hearts were touched and directed toward Christ. The ultimate fruit of their selfless ministry will be seen in eternity. In both churches, Ostrava and Beroun there are church members who got saved and added to the church because of the impact of English camps.

Another personal blessing has been the precious friendship with Patrick and John. Many hours of good, deep talks have helped me personally to grow and think through various spiritual areas concerning ministry and church as well as personal issues and family matters.

To wrap it up in just one sentence, for my personal life as well as for my whole family the connection to Lighthouse is one of the strongest and best influences in our spiritual walk with the Lord.

Pavla Nawratova (church in Beroun)

When I look back and remember all the times I had a pleasure to meet members of each team there is one thing that comes to my mind: astonishment. How big must be the love and passion to serve Christ that brings people who could spend this time according to their heart desires, to invest this time in other people and tell them about God. This is something that amazes me every year since the first time I met people from Lighthouse. This happened twelve years ago and I am so happy that I can look forward to the thirteenth one. Apart from these “spiritual” thoughts there are also fun memories of Hagoo times and also of those “The most smelly shoe and the longest armpit hair” contests. Also, when I was a kid I had no chance to meet Asian people. We all thought that they look same and are very serious. No way, they look totally different (some of them) and are really funny (most of them). Yeah and they think we all look the same too. So to close up, I would really, really, really!!!, like to thank all of you who are willing to come to this small strange country and serve. You are all very much needed.

Jin Lee (LBCSD)

Wow! What can I say. Our God is almighty and sovereign! I decided to go on the Czech Mission Trip in 2001 not to do missions but more to “Czech” out and travel around Europe. Almighty God was able to take my selfish motives and use the mission trip to confront me with a decision I had to make. At the fork in the road, God made it very clear that I could not call myself a Christian and continue to live in sin. Either I needed to stop calling myself a Christian and do what I wanted to do, or live my life as a Christian in total obedience. He allowed me to see how powerful the Gospel is with right living. God, rich in His mercy called me to submit my life to Him. God used the 2001 mission trip to save me. I can’t remember if we had anyone else come to know Christ in 2001 in Czech Republic but I came to know Christ for which I will forever be grateful.

Thank You Lord Jesus!

Kevin and Mabel Tse (LBCSD)

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.” (John Piper)

Dear LBC family,

We wanted to share with you all how missions to the Czech Republic back in 2006 was a blessing to us, and how even today (over 10 years later) we continue to see the spiritual fruit being born out of that trip. The goal of missions is not necessarily to make “converts”, but rather to make disciples. As part of the call to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20), it is our belief that missions ought not to be done apart from the local church. That doesn’t just mean being sent out by a local church (with all the accountability, support and prayer that comes with that), but also partnering with a local church in the area that we send missionaries to. In the case of the Czech Republic, those local church planters are Meinolf and Martina Mellwig. The Mellwig’s warm friendship over the years has been an encouragement to us, even to this day. This same kindness and love is shown through the members of the church, who treated us like family from the moment we got off the plane. It’s an interesting idea when you think about how one Gospel and one Truth really tie all true believers together – so much so that complete strangers on the other side of the world can treat each other like best friends almost instantaneously. This too was an instant blessing for Mabel and me to experience, and still is an encouragement to us today as subsequent teams report the same experience year after year, without fail.

There is also the blessing of seeing people come to faith. The English camps have been used by God to bring about true, genuine salvation to the lives of many. When we were there in 2006, we met many people who had been ministered to by LBCSD team members from previous years, and by Meinolf’s church after we leave each year. Mabel and I recall feeling like we weren’t just part of the 2006 Czech missions team, but that we were also a part of a bigger “mission” – one that didn’t just span the two to three weeks we were there, but linked us to previous (and subsequent) missions teams that were sent to the Czech Republic.

In Heaven there will be no missions because there will be no need. In the meantime, we are called to make disciples of Christ. Whether that occurs locally/domestically or overseas, the goal is the same – to make disciples of Christ and to see Him being worshiped everywhere including places where true worship had previously not existed. Being able to be a part of the summer missions team to the Czech Republic has given us front row seats to the demonstration of His abounding love as He calls His sheep from around the world to come into the family of God.