Archive for July, 2007

Convalescent Home Ministry

by Kevin Au

As a body of believers, we are constantly challenged to love and serve one another. We have been particularly challenged recently, in light of Romans 12, to consider how to be devoted to each other in brotherly love and to give preference to one another. Though the mercies of God ought to be the driving force behind these actions, when we consider all the ways we are blessed by our fellow Christians, serving each other seems to be logical, appropriate, and to some extent, even easy. While we are commanded specifically to love each other in the church, we are also called to love those outside the church. In most cases, we are less tangibly blessed by our efforts to love those outside the church, so loving people becomes quite a new challenge, and when we consider those that can give us nothing in return for our love, the quality of our love is tested, and the character and integrity of our love is revealed.

This is a regular struggle for those who participate in the convalescent home ministry. Being a part of this ministry means interacting with people who are physically and mentally unable to even care for themselves, let alone someone else. Many are even unable to coherently understand the clearest explanation of the Gospel. Loving them means deliberately and purposefully sacrificing time and energy for someone who will not be able to tangibly repay you.

The ministry at Mission Hills Health Care in the Hillcrest area revolves around group activities that take place one Saturday a month, with a second event every other month. These activities, planned and run by members of LBC, typically include a time for crafts, times of singing, sharing of devotionals, as well as ample time to personally interact with the residents and share the Word of God with them. Participants especially appreciate the consistency that the ministry offers. While spontaneity and inconsistency are characteristic of other local outreach ministries, there is consistency in seeing the same people over multiple trips to the convalescent home, giving more potential to the task of discipleship as relationships can develop over time. Since few of the residents are believers, the current focus of the ministry remains evangelism and the sharing of the gospel of Christ in an understandable manner. All this is done in light of the ideal goal of having mature believers living at the facility who can minister as insiders and be a light within the nursing home, without dependence on our church members.

These would have the testimony of Christ in the character of their day to day lives, as well as be more consistent and accessible than the limited activities our church can provide.

The ministry does have its share of struggles. Many have expressed the discouragement of not seeing the fruit of their efforts, even though they have tried to explain the same things to the same people time and again. There is also the challenge of trying to accommodate schedules around other commitments and church activities on Saturdays while at the same time trying to promote more involvement from the church. These issues make consistency from participants a primary struggle as well. Yet, despite these struggles, there has been encouragement through the ministry. Through open communication, there has been a change in attitude in the staff of the nursing home, to a point where the group from our church is openly welcomed and even encouraged to come. This has opened doors to even be able to witness to members of the staff as well.

The residents themselves also enjoy the activities and they look forward to seeing our church come and visit them, often expressing their happiness in seeing groups come for Saturday events. While it is a challenge to make the time there more than just a time to cater to them, there is a welcoming attitude among many of the residents. Those who have been going out to the convalescent home regularly have been greatly challenged in their faith and their own witness. Though they haven’t seen as much progress in many of the residents, the way that this ministry has helped their own walks has been valuable. Some have learned to persevere and the importance of remaining faithful to the Word, as well as exercising the faith needed to remain committed to a ministry despite discouragement, trusting God and knowing that people turning from their sins and towards His Son is ultimately His work. It has been a humbling yet profitable time as some have learned how to better point to Christ rather than themselves, both in action and in attitude.

The ministry as a whole is looking for more commitment from those who do take the time to attend the events, as well as participation from those in the church who might not have had the chance to get involved yet. As the ministry becomes more structured there are many opportunities for more people in the church to get involved and serve. It is by no means an easy ministry, but the convalescent home presents church members with a place to exercise their faith and evangelism, and show the love of Christ in a very real way.

For more information on the ministry, please speak to Teddy Yu.

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Do-It-Yourself Christianity

by Tim Sohn

I love to do things myself. I enjoy building my own computer, cooking my own food, eating my own food, and hopefully someday fixing my own car. Why give others the enjoyment of the activity, when I can do it cheaper and faster while having fun? Although a “do-it-yourself” mentality is great for saving costs and having fun, this type of mentality can be disastrous and detrimental when we apply it to our Christian lives. In the church today, do-it-yourself Christianity has become the common way we approach our new lives in Christ. When we talk about the Gospel, we tend to view the good news as only the means by which we enter into the kingdom of God. We think that once we are saved by the Gospel it becomes a memory that we look back to, and the way we live out our Christian life is by doing it ourselves through hard work and obedience. But hard work and obedience that is not grounded in the Gospel will not sanctify you – it will strangle you.

A frequent phrase among Christians is “I need to be a better/more devout Christian”. This phrase comes up in many forms, but all of them are related to “trying hard”. An even more subtle way that this type of thinking enters our minds is “I need to try to be more like Jesus.” While we absolutely want to be like Jesus, when we try to do it ourselves our efforts spiral us downwardas our hard work strangles us. In essence, we are crushed by the weight of Jesus’ perfect example because we see Him solely as one we should imitate, divorced from the fact that He is first our Savior. The key to becoming more like Jesus through the sanctification process is not do-it-yourself Christianity; it’s to “use” the Gospel in every area of our lives and allow it to go deeper into our hearts. Gospelcentered sanctification will not strangle you – it will free you.

Tim Keller writes, “The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).” Our problems often stem from a lack of understanding of the Gospel. The solution to the problems we face isn’t to try harder – it’s to reorient ourselves to the truth of the Gospel.

Several weeks ago I found out that a co-worker had advanced farther than me in his professional pursuits. He was experiencing success, while I had recently been experiencing some failures. Inside I felt jealous and dismayed, but outside I showed signs of excitement for my co-workers success. I told myself, “I’ve done better in the past, so I have no need to be jealous”, “You shouldn’t be jealous. Just stop it.” “People like you, it’s okay.” While this may have addressed the sin problem at hand (jealousy) in a do-it-yourself manner, it ignored the deeper problem. My deeper problem was that I had two idols: my self-image and my own success. These were the things I saw as being my real savior instead of Jesus. As long as I had a longer list of successes I would be “better”. If others liked me, I would be accepted. My problem was bigger than simply having a jealous heart – I did not have a proper orientation of the Gospel. The Gospel-oriented response would have been to repent of my idols that were at the root of my problem, and use the Gospel on them. Instead of my past success or my self-image before others being what I turned to, I should have seen that I am unbelievablyloved and accepted by Jesus. In essence, I needed to use the Gospel to take over the space that the idols had in my heart. If I had simply followed my thinking to try and sanctify myself, I would have been deceived into reinforcing the idols, which would later manifest themselves through other types of sin. However, by not trying to do it myself and by using the Gospel to crush my idols, it provided a freeing path for grace to stream in. This is not a process that will happen once or twice; it must occur daily with every problem that we face.

Do-it-yourself Christianity sounds great, but is the beginning of a long, hard road to nowhere. The only way to avoid it is to identify areas in our lives where we need to use the Gospel. Ask God to reveal them to you, and to lead you to repentance. Look at the ways you address your sin, and think if it’s about hard work and obedience without the Gospel. Always remember that you are deeply flawed, but because of Jesus you are incredibly loved.

Ulrich Zwingli and the Reformation

by Steven Hong

Because of the political climate, and perhaps due in part to the difference in proximity from Rome, the Reformation in Switzerland can be characterized as more radical than the Reformation in Germany. As a confederation of states or cantons, the Swiss lived in a spirit of democracy. Though Roman Catholic influence was still substantial, it wasn’t enough to hold back a more liberal brand of Reformation in Switzerland.

God’s primary agent of reform was Ulrich Zwingli. Born in 1484, Zwingli was born to a family of clergymen. His father decided early on that young Ulrich would enter the clergy too. He was given a proper education in Basel and at Berne, and then was sent to the prestigious University of Viena. After several years of classical scholarship in Italy, he returned to Basel, where he studied theology under Thomas Wyttenbach, an active opponent of indulgences who actually preached that Christ’s blood had covered over sin once for all.

As Zwingli was finishing his M.Div. in 1506, he accepted the pastorate at Glarus, and remained there for ten years, continuing his rigorous studies of the classics, honing his Greek and saturating himself in the Epistles. As he did so, his love for the Word of God grew, and he would declare that the only way to truth was to listen to the Bible expounding itself. Until then, Zwingli had been loyal to the Pope, but as his understanding of the Bible grew, his allegiance to Rome began to fade.

In 1516, Zwingli began to vocalize his convictions against the corruptions of the church. On a trip to Einsiedeln, he was distraught at the crowds worshiping the shrine of the Winking Madonna. He preached, “In the hour of death call upon Jesus Christ alone, who bought you with his blood, and is the only Mediator between God and man” (Lindsay, 63).

Zwingli’s preaching became more vehement, and the Pope became increasingly agitated. The Pope tried to silence Zwingli by promoting him, but the Pope’s advances were refused. Only when Zwingli was invited by a council of citizens in Zurich to be their pastor, did he accept. Zurich would soon become the focus of the Swiss Reformation.

When the preacher of indulgences, Bernhard Samson, came into the Canton, Zwingli publicly opposed him and the practice. He also began a series of sermons on the Doctrines of Grace, expounding the Epistles of Paul he so diligently studied the decade before. The citizens of the Canton were eager to hear Zwingli, who was a gifted speaker.

At the time, the Swiss Infantry was feared by all neighboring states, and were often available for hire in foreign battles. Zwingli, who had been an army chaplain in the past, knew the atrocities of this practice firsthand. Eventually, his preaching would compel Zurich to desist the practice, and again, he would draw the ire of the Pope, who was often a client of the army’s services. In fact, this patriotic resistance raised more opposition than Zwingli’s preaching itself. A mandate had come from Rome, to destroy all books of Lutheran influence that had found their way to Zurich. Though this edict was obeyed in part, the council of Zurich also issued a mandate that all clergymen are, “to preach the Holy Gospels and Epistles agreeably to the Spirit of God, and to the Holy Scritpures of the Old and New Testaments” (Lindsay, 63). It was clear that the Swiss Reformation was picking up steam, and Zwingli’s publications during the period only fueled the fire. He wrote against the forbidding of certain foods during Lent, the celibacy of the clergy and the host of other corruptions in the Church. Though the Pope was unhappy, he was unwilling to come down too hard and too fast on Zurich, for fear of losing the loyalty of other Swiss Cantons. Instead, Zwingli convinced church officials to a series of public discussions, where he would increasingly win the support of Zurich citizens by his reasoning from Scripture.

As the Reformation gained momentum, Mass became abolished, along with idol worship. Services began to be held in the common vernacular, and the Bible was translated for the people several times over. Zwingli’s doctrine began to spread to neighboring Cantons. One of these was Basel, where a young Frenchman from Dauphine, named Farel, was studying. Farel would eventually win over another young Frenchman, named Jean Calvin, to active work in the Reformation.

Lighthouse Missions: Cart Before the Horse?

by Grace Wu and Steven Hong

As Christ asends to heaven, His final exhortation to the Apostles, in the Great Commission, is to go and make disciples of all nations. From the inception of Lighthouse Bible Church, these words of Christ were present in the hearts of the leaders and their conviction trickled down to its laypeople. The call continues from the pulpit, in the membership classes, and is even built into our MVP statement—our vision is to be a church-planting church.

The founding leaders and charter members of Lighthouse, went against conventional wisdom, and placed a lot of focus on establishing a strong international missions mindset from the beginning. “When we first started Lighthouse, I really wanted to see our church get involved with international ministry from the beginning, so that it would be seen as something vital and not secondary in the life of the church,” Pastor John recalls. For such a young church-plant to already be focused on planting more churches, it may have been seen by some as putting the cart before the horse. But according to Pastor Patrick, the leaders remained resolute and came to the conclusion that missions, “was one of the non-negotiables with our young church.”

At the time, Pastor John had been corresponding with a number of his friends already in the missions field. One particular contact in the Czech Republic followed up by coming stateside along with a small contingent of his church, which proved to be the perfect occasion to organize the first Lighthouse Missions Conferences in 2000. It was a refreshing time of teaching and fellowship—but the fruit of that meeting would be enormous. It was this friend that eventually put the Lighthouse leaders in contact with Meinolf and Martina Mellwig, who were in the eastern city of Ostrava. That summer, a Lighthouse team was sent to Ostrava to work with the Mellwigs, and that would be the beginning of an eight-year partnership in ministry, which remains strong today.

In September of 2004, another ministry opportunity arose when Pastor John was invited to Argentina to speak. During Pastor John’s short stint as an itinerant speaker, God began to open doors for more ministry opportunities. One particular missionary, named Eduardo Buldain, put Pastor John in contact with a small church in the central northern part of Argentina, in a small barrio called Tucuman.

Several months later, when Pastor John and Mike Chon made a scouting trip to the church, it was clear to them that the believers in Tucuman were hungry for the Word of God – even asking these foreign missionary “scouts” to preach on several accounts, without much time to prepare. Since that time, we have had a team go out the past two summers, to assist the church in door-to-door evangelism, encourage the older believers, equip the younger ones and essentially be at the disposal of Missionary Bible Church’s leaders.

Lighthouse’s missions efforts are certainly not secondary in the life of the church, by any means. It is not limited to a certain season and to a select few. Because missions is preached so faithfully from the pulpit, encouraged by members and, most importantly, commanded by Christ, it has become a church-wide effort, integral to Lighthouse’s life and identity.

“The biggest surprise to me was that each year the teams were not flooded by collegians,” Pastor Patrick observes. “ I always thought with summer trips that the only people who would be willing to go were the ones who received summer breaks, like teachers and students.”

Instead, working members take vacation days; families bring their children, even infants; and sending members devote themselves to continual. prayer, organize perpetual fundraisers, and give tremendous resources and funds, all with the united heart to “make disciples of all nations.”

Missions in Argentina (AR07)

by Moon Choi

This year, Lighthouse has the privilege of going back to Tucuman, Argentina to assist Pastor Jorge Ahualli and Iglesia Biblica Misionera from July 12-26. Team Argentina consists of sixteen members, led by Pastor Patrick Cho, who are diligently preparing through various meetings and also by reading For the Sake of His Name by David Doran.

“It has been a helpful book because the principles come straight from God’s Word and the author upholds a strong view of God’s plan for missions work to be done through the local church,” said Pastor Patrick. On top of that, they are undergoing specialized evangelism training as they anticipate encountering Catholics and responding to the “easy-believism” gospel. They will also be planning more specific events, such as evening programs held at the church. They are even preparing by shaping up physically, preparing for four days of door-to-door evangelism and a packed schedule that requires them to sleep late and wake up very early.

Aside from evangelism, the team plans to serve Pastor Jorge and IBM by any means possible, be it through helping with music, providing books (as resources are limited in Tucuman) or even cooking.

The goal of all this is centered around Christ and having the gospel preached accurately from the Word, not only in Tucuman but in the surrounding barrios.

The sixteen members of Team Argentina will not need only monetary support but just as importantly, support through prayer. Please consider partnering with the Argentina Missions in this capacity (specific prayer requests found below).

Needs for Prayer:

    – The sixteen team members to be God-honoring.
    – Pray not only for these Lighthouse members but also for Pastor Jorge, IBM, and all the Argentineans that the team will encounter.
    – Pray for the relationships between the interpreters to be good as well, as many of the solid interpreters from last year will not be joining the team this year.
    – Pray for the monetary needs of the team, as the entire team needs to raise around $40,000. (That’s a big number!)
    – Pray that God would use this team and Lighthouse to fulfill its vision to plant churches and world evangelization.
    – Please keep the team in your prayers during their preparation and after they leave for Argentina!

Missions in the Czech Republic (CZ07)

by Stephanie Shin

Since 2000, God gave Lighthouse Bible Church the opportunity to serve at the Christian Church of Ostrava in Czech Republic, and we have been returning annualy since. He has been faithful in building the partnership there and strengthening relationships with Meinolf and Martina Mellwig, the missionaries from Germany, have spent much of their lives in ministry to the Czech people and also the church members.

In past years, LBC’s primary ministry in Ostrava was focused on the English camp—a one week program devoted to teaching conversational English and to sharing the gospel with the unbelievers that attended. God has been sovereign in softening the hearts of many of the Czech people to the gospel message. And, in His constant and superabundant goodness, we have also been able to encourage and spur on the Church of Ostrava and genuinely see a spirit of likemindedness in Christ grow—this is the heart of this year’s Czech mission trip.

Now in the year 2007, much has changed for both LBC and its ministry in Ostrava. For this year’s team members, preparation and training finds an emphasis not only on the motivation for missions, which is wellexpressed by John Piper: “Missions exist because worship doesn’t,” but also on the correct theology of missions found in the book For the Sake of His Name by David Doran.

“Missions should be an extension of the local church and people should see the importance of not only them going but who’s sending,” said Pastor John. “What is the end goal of what we want to see happen? An ongoing work? A church being established? Or if someone is just going to share the gospel, while that’s good, is that the complete mindset?”

Training is not the only thing that’s changed this year. The Meinolf and Martina Mellwig won’t be there this year due to home-service in Germany. Although they will be sorely missed, this gives the Church of Ostrava different opportunities for ministry. Seasoned simply by virtue of the many years spent going to Ostrava, LBC has been made aware of the needs of the Christian Church of Ostrava for leadership training and a proper view of ministry in both the family and the church. Working closely with Ales and Eva Novotny—leaders at the Church of Ostrava—the team will be helping out with the church’s family camp. “The nationals are going to have to step up in terms of providing leadership and running the program,” Pastor John remarks. There will be a direct focus on building up the church in terms of investing in them and going over the lessons of the camp’s theme: Disciplines of Godly Man and Woman. Unbelievers are also invited to come out and efforts will be made to reach out to them as well during the course of the camp.

There is a hope that the team will be able to invest more in the church people, not only to strengthen the relationship with the Church of Ostrava, but also to cultivate a mentality of ministry in the LBC team members that will extend beyond the trip itself. “Since every person on our team is teaching at one point or another, we want to be well prepared and to be able to encourage them in the way they need to be encouraged and challenged,” Courtney Chow, one of the team members, says. “I expect to learn a lot and be humbled. I expect to grow a heart of compassion for the Czech people.”

Needs for Prayer:

    – Full provision of all the resources our team needs for this trip in terms of financial and prayer support
    – Team unity and training so that the team would be fully prepared for the work of ministry
    – Many opportunities to share the gospel, including on the plane trips over and back.
    – Preparation of the hearts of the unbelievers to hear the truth of the gospel.
    – Preparation of the church members to be receptive to training.
    – Safety and good health of all the team members.

The Importance of Regular Church Attendance

by Pastor John Kim

After doing a bit of research in American Church History, I was surprised to find that the sin of nonattendance was a major reason for many cases where church discipline was exercised. At first glance it seems like such a minor issue to address in such a dramatic way, but when you take some time to think about it, it really makes sense.

Attending church is more than just about showing up to the church facility on a Sunday morning. It is about being who you are called to be as a believer. We have been called out to be the body of Christ and the assembling of believers is meant to reflect the common bond we have in Christ as we share in His love with one another through fellowship that is focused on God’s glory. Hebrews 10:24-25 is often used to show the importance of not forsaking the assembling together of believers and while on the surface we might agree that it is important, I think that there are deeper implications than just physically being present at church.

To truly attend church is to have your heart, soul, and mind loving God so much that the natural overflow of love extends to one another. 1 John 4:7-20 describes the simple relationship between the command to love one another and the claim to know and love God. It is more than just not hating your brother. That is to have an “I just want to avoid getting in trouble” kind of mentalitty. It is about fervently loving one another and the only practical way you can do that is to actually be involved in each other’s lives. This means there needs to be the actual presence of people interacting in people’s lives, applying the “one anothers” that the Scriptures call us to do.

I have described this in the past as the “ministry of presence,” where your actual physical presence is what provides the opportunity for fellowship to even take place. As I have often pointed out, when people get together, we are often quick to notice who is NOT present. It is discouraging when you sense that people don’t want to be together for genuine Christian fellowship. But I believe this is where Satan really tries to lead many astray. It starts as maybe a slight hesitation to go to church on any given Sunday. Maybe you don’t feel so great. Maybe you’re tired. Maybe you have had a conflict with someone or maybe someone was insensitive and brushed you off one Sunday. Many have shared that they feel like they don’t connect with people or feel like they fit in. There are a multitude of reasons which seem innocent enough, but a lack of discipline toward attending church will quickly lead to a pattern of missing church. And this is just in regards to Sunday worship, not to mention other opportunities of fellowship.

The issue of non-attendance is usually paired with some deeper issue, either that of some sin issue, relational conflict, or a selfish attitude that is not willing to step forward and build relationships. Granted, it is not easy to start relationships and get to know people, but if anything, we have the Lord Jesus Christ in common and that should provide more than enough of a starting point if we are truly in Him. But I think for the most part that those who stop coming to church usually stop because coming to church would make them feel guilty or maybe even force them to hear God’s Word which they know would convict them and that is something that they want to avoid.

It is unfortunate that there are many in the church who don’t take seriously the call to be the church. And to be the church, you need to be present, so that you are actually in contact with the rest of the body, so that together we might honor the head of the church, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Do you love God? If you say you do, it should be evident through your love for your fellow believers. A commitment to the local church should be one that is dedicated, devoted, and enthusiastic because it is the institution which God intended for His kingdom purposes to be carried out, both for now and eternity. His glory is at stake in the church so let’s make sure that the glory doesn’t depart. We don’t want to be an Ichabod church. We want to be a church where the glory of God shines brightly in order that others might see and bring Him even more glory.


About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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