Category Archives: Grace Life

God’s Wisdom for Parenting (Part 4)

by Pastor Patrick Cho

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

Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, but the descendants of the righteous will be delivered. (Proverbs 11:21)

Grace Life has been walking through a series in the Book of Proverbs examining passages that relate directly to parenting. Today’s article looks at Proverbs 11:21 which states that the descendants of the righteous will be delivered. The context speaks of God’s judgment on the evil person, so that the deliverance of the righteous man is specifically from the judgment of God. We know from the greater context of Scripture that our only hope of righteousness is the imputed righteousness of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). What makes this passage interesting is that it does not say that the righteous man will be delivered, but that the descendants of the righteous man will be delivered.

One of the demonstrations of God’s grace is generational faith. Of course, faithful, godly parenting does not guarantee the salvation of one’s children. A person is saved by God’s grace alone, and not by any personal effort or merit (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). But a pattern that we see in Scripture is that God desires one generation to tell of His greatness to subsequent generations that they would also have faith (cf. Deut. 4:9-10), and sometimes He even demonstrates His amazing grace to the future generation in spite of the previous generation’s faithlessness (cf. Ps. 78:4-8).

From experience in life, this is a pattern that we oftentimes see in the church. Those who are faithful to the truth of God and seek to live joyfully according to His commands are often blessed by God so that their children also follow their example of faith. I will never forget the testimony of one friend of remarkable faith. When I asked him how he came to live for the Lord with such rigor and strength, he said it was the example of his parents that motivated him to love Christ.

It is definitely heartbreaking to see anyone’s children stray from the faith. Again, faithful parenting unfortunately does not guarantee the salvation of your children. But oftentimes, God does demonstrate His sovereign grace to families by drawing their children to Him. This should serve as a great encouragement to live faithfully before Him. With that said, it is also a great reminder of God’s grace to bring our children to saving faith despite our own inconsistent, imperfect, and oftentimes sinful parenting. Praise God that He can use broken, damaged vessels for honor and to His glory.

Rest for Moms

by Pastor Patrick Cho

A few weeks ago, we were pleased to have Pastor Mark Chin from Lighthouse San Jose come to speak for our annual Grace Life Weekend Conference. Mark addressed the theme of “Time, Work, and Rest: Ours or God’s?” The messages were timely, convicting, and extremely helpful. One of the principles Mark walked through was the importance of maintaining a time of spiritual rest amidst our hectic lives. A question that came up several times was: How can moms do this effectively when their responsibility to their children is seemingly endless? Here are some practical helps to consider:

  1. Turn Off Your Phone. This obviously does not apply to all mothers, but many who complain about not having time for the Word of God spend significant time on social media. Understanding that this seems outrageous in today’s culture, consider uninstalling Facebook and Instagram (or at least severely regulating your usage). Enjoy life’s moments without the incessant need to capture every one of them. You might be surprised at how much time this frees up!
  2. Maximize Nap Time. If you have young children, chances are they take at least one nap during the day. It is easy to utilize this time to catch up on chores and emails or even to nap yourself! But if you are one who really struggles with finding refreshing time in Scripture, take this time to spend with the Lord and feed your soul. You can discipline your children to help you with chores, but they cannot spend time with God for you.
  3. Go to Bed Earlier. God has designed us to need rest. He is the only one who neither sleeps not slumbers (Ps. 121:3-4). Implement a stricter schedule that will allow you to go to bed and wake up earlier. If it is not practical to spend time with the Lord before the children wake up, at least you will have greater energy throughout the day.

Any husband who has taken care of the kids while mom was away understands how incredibly challenging it can be. Whenever Christine goes out even for a little while, and I have to watch the kids, I can hardly get anything else done! This should clue you in to the fact that your wife needs a break from time to time. Dads, what are some ways you can provide your wives time alone to spend with the Lord or even to recuperate from the daily challenges of motherhood?

  1. Give Your Wife an Evening Off. If this can’t be weekly, then plan for at least twice a month. This time could be used to enjoy some much-needed fellowship with other ladies in the church, or it might best be spent going to a coffee shop to read her Bible and pray. Since you know that your wife needs these times to rest in the Lord and that she seldom gets time when she is home with the kids, this is a great way to serve her and encourage her faith.
  2. Institute a Quiet Time. Most families understand that with young kids there is hardly a quiet moment in the house. One thing fathers can do is to implement a quiet time in the evening before bedtime. Try starting with a fifteen-minute period and over time extending this to half an hour. The way this works is that you, your wife, and your kids enjoy some quiet reading time together before the kids go to bed. If your child is too young to read, they can work on a puzzle or draw, but they have to do it quietly. This might seem impossible for your kids, but with perseverance and discipline it could develop to be a refreshing oasis in an otherwise spiritually barren day.
  3. Weekend Retreat. Consider providing your wife a weekend retreat away with friends. One great way to implement this is to send your wife to a biblical women’s conference. Usually, groups from church will attend these conferences together. Plan ahead to clear your schedule and watch the kids. This also gives you a chance to have some extended quality time with the kids. Take them to the park, the beach, or the zoo. Or better yet, encourage them to help you clean the house or do chores to serve Mommy.

God’s Wisdom for Parenting (Part 3)

by Pastor Patrick Cho

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Wisdom for Parenting (Part 2)

by Pastor Patrick Cho

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Wisdom for Parenting (Part 1)

by Pastor Patrick Cho

One of the places in Scripture to find a wealth of helpful principles for parenting is the Proverbs. Almost every book on parenting will reference these Scriptures repeatedly because of the wisdom they contain. Besides the plethora of verses that apply to parenting indirectly, several passages address parenting specifically. As the book is generally wisdom being passed down from a father to his son, it’s not surprising that some of the key verses are about listening to the counsel of one’s parents.

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)

This verse needs to be read and applied considering its immediate context. This is not a wholesale, unqualified command to obey anything that your parents tell you to do. I’m sure this would be a tempting verse for many parents to cite out of context. The opening verses of Proverbs speak about the value of true wisdom. Of course, true wisdom is only found in the Lord (v. 7). Solomon is imploring his son to listen to the wisdom that he is imparting because it is godly counsel and will lead to a fear and knowledge of God (Prov. 2:1-5). Especially in the opening chapters, there are multiple exhortations for his son to listen to Solomon’s counsel.

These verses are not given to emphasize Solomon’s authority as a father as much as to highlight the blessings that come with heeding godly wisdom (cf. Prov. 3:1-2). Before you as a parent expect your children to listen to your counsel, it is imperative that your children understand that your counsel is framed from the inerrant and authoritative Word of Truth. Only then will what you say prove to be that “graceful wreath” and “ornament” to help beautify your child’s life and understanding.

What’s New for Grace Life?

by Pastor Patrick Cho

Despite the fact that LBC San Diego is in its 17th year, Grace Life remains the most difficult affinity group to schedule. It may sound like a familiar excuse, but because of the life stage of so many of our families (i.e., families with young children), it is challenging to come up with a structure that can effectively minister in the best way to the most people. Last year, our attempt was to maintain our Thursday night Bible studies, but to split them up between the men and women. While it was a helpful study through the early chapters of the Bible, it became increasingly clear that it was not helpful enough. One phenomenon that we noticed was that although attendance at Thursday night Bible studies diminished, participation in the various accountability groups that met throughout the community increased. In fact, it seemed when given a choice between coming out on Thursdays or going to an accountability group, the majority preferred the latter.

This is understandable.

  • First, the accountability groups offered flexibility. Some of the groups only met once a month, while others met more frequently. Some provided in-depth study of God’s Word, and others were more focused on sharing and prayer.
  • Second, accountability groups were convenient. Since most of the groups met regionally, travel was not a great burden. Also, many enjoyed the comfort of meeting in homes rather than at the church building.
  • Third, the community accountability groups provided an atmosphere that greatly encouraged… well, community. Many found the context of meeting in small groups conducive to building and improving relationships with other brothers and sisters in Christ.

Given all of these factors, Grace Life is looking to make a significant change in its structure this year. Instead of focusing mostly on midweek large group meetings, the intention is to work with the community accountability groups (both existing and new) to provide spiritual support and help to the members of Grace Life. Large group would only meet once a month, and then the rest of the month would be devoted to small group accountability and fellowship.

Those who are already meeting in groups are not required to disband. In fact, they are encouraged to continue. Those who are in need of joining a group can either join an existing group, if there is room, or become part of a new group. We are sure that many will have all sorts of questions about the changing structure, so all are invited to a general orientation meeting on Thursday, October 6, to talk through the changes. The Grace Life staff is hoping to work with the community group facilitators to better serve the members of Grace Life by being a resource for support and help.

Let us all pray that the 2016-2017 year would be a great one for Grace Life. Since we represent the older generation of the church, many of the younger college students and singles are looking to us for instruction and to be an example in faith and conduct. May the Lord use Grace Life ministry to further strengthen His saints for His glory and thus strengthen the church for His service.

Passing It On

by Pastor Patrick Cho

One of the great privileges of being a parent is the responsibility and joy of helping our children see what a wonderful and amazing God we worship and live for. We get to pass on the greatness of God to the next generation. They get to see through our lives and example, joys and disappointments, blessings and trials, how faith plays a role in every decision and situation. Through family worship, they can witness our devotion to God and participate in ascribing to Him the glory due His name. By recounting for them the amazing grace of God in the gospel, they can come to know the love of God, which was demonstrated in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

This example of faith and demonstration of the greatness of God is founded upon a healthy and vibrant spiritual walk with Christ. It is assumed and obvious that if you want your children to learn to love Jesus through your example, that He must be everything to you and the chief desire of your heart. This is why it is so vital that parents not allow excuses and distractions to justify time apart from the Word and prayer. Even with the busyness of life, it is even more imperative that parents cultivate a deep devotion to the Lord and maintain a healthy relationship with Christ. Of course, no parent is going to do this perfectly, but it involves confessing personal sin, asking forgiveness of God, preaching the gospel to ourselves, seeking the Lord in His Word, and demonstrating faith and dependence on God through prayer. There is little hope that our children will see the greatness of God in our lives if we do not treat Him as great through our worship and obedience. In other words, it is going to take more than verbal lessons; they need to see it in our lives. Consider the commitment of Ezra, who devoted himself to study the Law of God, to live it out, and then to teach it (Ezra 7:10). This is a pattern for teaching to which all parents should commit themselves.

As our children grow, it will not be enough to be carried by the faith of their parents. It must be a faith of their own, but it can be built upon a faith that has been demonstrated. I will never forget a conversation I had with a friend who I admired tremendously because of his seemingly tireless work for the Lord. When I asked him how he could have such faith, his response stuck with me. He said, “When you see your mom each morning at the breakfast table weeping over the pages of Scripture, it is easy to grow up loving the Lord and living for Him.”

This is not just a commitment that parents need to make for their own children, but the opening verses of Titus 2 remind us that the older men and women of the church are to model exemplary faith for the younger generation. Older folks are to be examples of faith for the younger people in the church to follow. The consequences in failing to do this are grave. It is no wonder we see in today’s youth a greater immaturity, irresponsibility, laziness, lack of dignity, and foolishness than we have in previous generations. With many of today’s youth lacking strong spiritual authority and leadership in the home, more responsibility falls on the older men and women of the church to help disciple younger men and women in the faith. This is to help them discern right from wrong, better from worse. But more importantly and ultimately, it is to help them to see past the expectations, rules, and requirements to the great and gracious God who wants His best for them. The goal of passing these things on is not only to develop a more moral and responsible generation, but a more worshipful and devoted generation.

Grace Life Update

by Pastor Patrick Cho

As Grace Life wrapped up another year last week, it was great to reflect back on the past year. The Thursday night Bible study tried something new this year having the men and women meet on separate weeks. This change stretched the staff a little as some of them got an opportunity to help teach the weekly lessons. It was an enriching in-depth study taking a closer look at the opening chapters of Genesis. By year’s end, we were able to study up through the Great Flood and Noah in Genesis 6-8. One of the highlights of the year was listening to the various staff members walk through their observations of the text. It was clear that each prepared diligently to deliver helpful lessons and it was refreshing to hear from different teachers each week.

The accountability groups also continued to meet each month throughout the community, which afforded families a more flexible means of receiving accountability and prayer while also enjoying some focused fellowship. There were about a dozen groups that met periodically. Some of the groups chose to work through a Christian book together while others spent time working through passages of Scripture. Mostly though, the men and women seemed to enjoy having that time to share with and pray for one another.

During Sunday School this past term, I have had the opportunity to walk through a parenting class. We have not had a parenting class in years, so it has been encouraging to see the interest and good attendance. Grace Community Church put out an excellent curriculum entitled “Parenting for Life,” and it has been a tremendous joy walking through it together. A number of singles and collegians have joined the class as well so hopefully the class will have a long-term effect.

The plan for the summer is to take a break from our regularly scheduled midweek meetings. The staff is evaluating how the past year has gone and will think through what would be best for the upcoming fall quarter. Grace Life can be a challenging group to plan for since so many are at various stages of life. We are constantly thinking through what would be the best way to shepherd this group. We are excited, though, about the opportunities that we have to continue to grow as a ministry. This past year, we saw a number of new families join the church, and we know Grace Life is a great way for them to get plugged in and find fellowship and care.

Praise God for a wonderful year! We hope all those who came out truly benefited from the study of God’s Word. As always, our endeavor has been to stimulate more spiritual conversations in the home and thereby strengthen marriages and parenting. May the Lord continue to cause us to mature in faith and may we find each year more joyful and edifying than the last.

Reflections from (Less than) One Year of Marriage

by Sam Chung

Stephanie and I have been married a little under a year upon writing this article. There are days where we still feel like we are in our honeymoon days and there are also days where life together has become the norm. During this past year, there have been many changes and transitions for us, both individually and as a couple. Some of these changes were expected, while others were not. Through it all, we are both thankful to the Lord in sustaining us and sanctifying us. Although it has only been a year, we have already learned so much and grown as a couple in the Lord. The following are a few points in which we would like to share with you:

  1. God is The Provider (Exodus 16:31-35; Matthew 6:25-34; Romans 8:31-34; Philippians 4:4-7) – Despite its varying contexts, we see that God always provides for His people, from material, physical needs to our greatest need of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the same way, there have been many things that we were anxious about that we needed to offer up to God. We were not sure about many things: wedding planning, our housing arrangements, job security for the following year, wedding planning (yes, wedding planning had to be repeated), and the list goes on even still (more housing questions, future children, what I should do for our first anniversary). For example, we had to think about the proper timing of our wedding. I had just finished graduate school and Steph was teaching part time. I had to consider whether or not I was willing to trust in God despite not having a job lined up, or even money saved up for a wedding. What were my reasons for pursuing marriage at that moment, or waiting until a later time? In the end, we were able to remind ourselves, and one another, of our need to continually trust in a loving Father who provides. This is not to say that everything went as we had wanted or as we had planned, but God knew what was best for us, allowing what was necessary to occur. In hindsight, we see that God had always provided throughout our times of anxiety. We are still fighting to trust in God with all things. We remind ourselves that our greatest need has already been provided through Christ: His life, death, and resurrection. We have God’s Word and memorable reminders of God’s provisions already, which we use to redirect our hearts to humble ourselves in times of uncertainty. With these things in mind, we look forward to adding to our memories of how our God continues to provide for us.
  2. Marriage Takes Work (Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7) – This point is one that we were aware of prior to our wedding day. We had gone through the dating and engagement process. We had talked to married couples and gone through premarital counseling. Regardless, this fact brought a whole new meaning when it became even more personal. We quickly displayed to one another our sinfulness and imperfections even more than what we had before. We were really put to the test when we were unable to return to our respective apartments to think through conflicts and return at a later time to resolve them. We had to work things out at that instance, sifting through the emotions and sometimes at the heat of the moment, feet away from each other, to get to the heart issue. We had to put into the practice the commands to love one another, regardless of how we were feeling at that moment. Were we really willing to lay down our own desires and expectations, humbling ourselves, for the service of the other? Even despite seeing how our stance is the (perceived) better one? The reality of two sinners coming together, creating friction became very real, very fast. Although we have had our tough times together already, the commitment to peacemaking and loving one another “til death do us part” brought sweet resolution. We were able to see practical examples of God’s grace that was shown to us. We were able to learn about one another even more in order to serve the other better. We were reminded that God even provided these tough moments to refine us and prune us (John 15:1-17). The hard part is the fact that this is only regarding the two of us! We are still called to love others and serve the church on top of this. We are still working on loving one another better (and will until we die) as well as loving you, the church, better. We trust that it comes with the understanding and willingness to put aside our own desires for our call to love God and people.
  3. Marriage is Fun (Genesis 2:18; Proverbs 31:10-31; Ecclesiastes 9:9) – Just as we were aware of the work that is involved with being married, we were also aware that marriage brings a lot of fun. And just as we did not experience the full extent of the work prior to our wedding, we did not experience the full fun that we have been able to share together until we were married. Going back to our first point of reflection, God provided for us with one another. There are many things we enjoy together now. The companionship that we have found in each other is unparalleled to any other relationship on this earth. To name a few, we love eating, watching TV, eating, laughing, eating, serving and talking together. There are also areas in which we can serve one another because we are better at it. Steph is much cleaner and more organized than I am. I have the physical capabilities of killing spiders. She cooks well. I eat well. She laughs at virtually anything remotely funny. I say things that are remotely funny. Apart from my salvation in Christ, my marriage has been one of the highlights of my life. God provided for me with a spouse, a friend, a partner in ministry, and so much more packaged into 1 person. Marriage is fun and we are excited to see what God has in store for us as we continue on this walk of life together.

These three points are not all comprehensive of our reflections of marriage thus far, but they have been huge themes for us in the past year. God has provided (and will provide) for us, marriage takes work, and marriage is fun. We praise and thank God for our marriage because He is the one who sustains us. We hope that you were encouraged by our reflections from our one-year of marriage and continue to love and serve the Lord together with us.