Archive for December, 2007

The Divorce Debate

by Tim Sohn

“If God dropped us whenever we sinned and he felt neglected we would be hopeless.”

The reality of sin is that our world is filled with brokenness. We lack the ability to faithfully keep covenants, and in this age we do more covenant breaking than we do covenant keeping. Marriage is the strongest bond that we can commit to in this life. We enter into a holy covenant before God to faithfully care for and cherish our spouse for the rest of our natural lives. Yet, this commitment is often treated flippantly like a romantic first date. When the romance wears out, we get out of the marriage and go on to other things. Over the past decades we’ve seen an increase in divorce rates regardless of what faith a person confesses. The topic of divorce has once again made its way to the national stage because of last month’s Christianity Today article titled, “When to Separate What God has Joined: A Closer Reading on the Bible on Divorce.”

The traditional teaching on divorce from Scripture is that one may find grounds for divorce for marital infidelity. Yet, even then, divorce should not be the first option to be pursued. In his Christianity Today article, David Instone-Brewer argues for an alternative teaching on divorce that is grounded in Exodus 21. Instone-Brewer argues that in Jewish times, divorce was allowed on the grounds of neglect. This is more formalized later in Jewish and Christian marriages as “love, honor, and keep.” Thus, the divorce was allowed for both sexual unfaithfulness and for various forms of neglect. Neglect is a broad term that can easily be expanded to include many things.

In response to this article John Piper wrote, “To put it bluntly, the implication of this article is that every marriage I am aware of could already have legitimately ended in divorce…. Now Instone-Brewer may not want to say it, but he does say it: We have a ground for divorce if we are not “honored” by our spouse. I don’t know any spouses who are so well honored by the other that they could not make a case that they are insufficiently honored.” The main implication of Instone-Brewer’s interpretation is that any of us could make a case for divorce. This is the last thing we need in an age where one’s word is practically meaningless, and covenant breaking is treated like a bad habit.

The divorce controversy has been picked up by Time magazine to show that there is controversy within the Christian community. “Still, the controversy suggests that even the country’s most rule-bound Christians will search for a fresh understanding of scripture when it seems unjust to them. The implications? Flexibility on divorce may mean that evangelicals could also rethink their position on such things as gay marriages as a generation of Christians far more accepting of homosexuality begins to move into power.”

Reading these articles I tried to imagine what our view of marriage and divorce says about our perception of God. If God dropped us whenever we sinned and he felt neglected we would be hopeless. Marriage is designed to be a radical display of Christ’s love for His church. A witness to the world that God is a covenant keeper, and will never ‘divorce’ or abandon His people. Piper writes, “The world we live in needs to see a church that is so satisfied in Christ that its marriages are not abandoned for something as amorphous as ‘emotional neglect.’”

Advertisements

Christmas Concert Preview

by David Ahn

Although the beautiful San Diego weather might imply otherwise, Christmas is fast approaching, and we’re all eagerly looking forward to one thing… the annual LBC Christmas Concert! To get you a sneak peek at the event, we were able to track down the busy man who has been planning it (Eugene Park) and ask him some questions.

The Purpose

When it comes to Christmas and all its associated traditions and activities, it’s easy to lose track of the ultimate purpose behind why we do what we do. Eugene tells us, “The purpose of Christmas concert is to celebrate the birth of Christ. … It’s also an opportunity to invite friends, neighbors, coworkers to hear the gospel message of Christ. Though the concert might be a little more ‘entertaining’ than a typical Sunday service, it’s still a time to lift up the name of Christ. But we don’t tailor these concerts for the visitors. This is primarily a time for the church family to come together. In every event we have as a church, whether it’s a Sunday service, Mission Bowl, or Christmas concert, visitors should come and see what we do as Christians: exalt Christ alone.”

Past Memories

Surprises: “Every once in a while someone surprises the church with their ability to play an instrument or sing. One year someone told me to have Jon Joo sing for Christmas concert.” It seemed surprising initially, “but once he started singing, people saw that God has definitely gifted him.” Miscues: “One year the orchestra opened the concert with Handel’s Messiah. The pianist (rhymes with Ned Rip)” laid out all his sheet music to eliminate page turning. As we played the song, he discovered that the pages were out of order and was scrambling to fix the situation. Amidst the struggle, a page dropped to the floor, “so he tried to play it from memory. I saw the paper fall as I was conducting and thought that he purposely dropped it to get it out of his way. I also remember thinking, ‘Is he playing the right song?’” Near-Misses: “After one of the Christmas concerts, we almost decided not to have anymore concerts.” While most of them have been well-attended, “one year we only had two visitors. The place was very empty that night and at the time it was a little embarrassing. So [the leaders] discussed whether it was worth having the Christmas concert again. We decided to try one more year. That next year people made it a point to bring visitors and we filled the room.” (Hint hint: invite all your friends if you want to have another one next year!)

Touching Skits: “There was a skit about Ashley trying to share the gospel with Eileen during the Christmas season. At one point Eileen reluctantly started reading the Bible Ashley gave her. At that time a short video detailing the gospel played on the screen, basically showing what Eileen was reading. The skit was so well put together and the gospel message was clear.”

“Different” Skits: “One year we were supposed to have a skit. But because of different circumstances (I still to this day do not know what happened), the skit became a dramatic reading instead. It was a dramatic reading indeed.”

Things to Look Forward To This Year

When asked about what this year’s Concert will bring, he was pretty tight-lipped, but he DID tell us this: “There will be some surprises this year. You’re going to see people singing who you didn’t know could sing.” He also told us that the “choir is the largest one yet. I don’t know how they’re all going to fit on stage.” And finally, “the kids are always a highlight every year and this year will be no different.” So there you have it, folks. The event will be taking place twice, Saturday (12/15) and Sunday (12/16) night. Get your tickets early, and invite your friends and family to this great night of celebrating our Lord’s birth!

An Interview with Andy Snider

by Jennifer Shin

This year’s all-church retreat was a tremendous blessing as we were able to fellowship together as a church family and be challenged by the Word of God as Dr. Andy Snider preached on the topic of holy affections, addressing matters such as humility, love, anger, and joy. It was yet another blessing to be able to sit down with him on the last night in the midst of all the noise and people enjoying fellowship through games or conversations and hear him share a little bit more about his life and how God has been specifically working in him.

Andy Snider was raised in a Christian home in Pennsylvania and came to Christ as a child. The gospel was very much a part of his family and his upbringing as he even attended a Christian school. Andy’s father passed away when he was 15, which made a significant influence on him in that he had to grow up a lot quicker than he had planned. Through this, God also taught him that what he does really matters. So how has he seen God refining him since he came to know Christ? “Well, in college, and in particular after I got married, there were radical changes in my life, “ Andy stated, “I had to deal with trusting God. I never had to trust God too much.” He was forced into it at a young age with his father’s death, but even more so when his first child was born, he learned how things were never in his control.

In being a parent and teaching at the seminary, he stated that when you’re responsible to help others grow, it makes you grow as well. “If you want to learn how to pray, teach somebody else about prayer. If you want to learn how to be humble, teach somebody else about humility. And God will humble you like crazy,” Andy said.

At the Master’s Seminary, Andy teaches theology and thoroughly enjoys it because it makes him learn. “I have to learn in order to teach,” Andy said, “I just enjoy that process – taking it in and relating it with [the students]. I enjoy interacting with the guys. Interaction is very valuable not just for them, but for me as well.” He enjoys working through difficult issues that really matter. For him, it’s a ministry that has an exponential affect because he is training men who are going out to teach other believers and pastors. Teaching theology makes it frightening for him as well because the responsibility is heavy.

Apart from teaching theology, Andy loves ministering with his family. “We’re all musical,” Andy said. Him, his wife, and their three daughters are all involved together in the college ministry at Grace Community Church. At the weekly Bible studies, his three daughters even help out by babysitting the staff members’ kids. Andy’s family likes sharing music and being together, even if it is just watching movies. “I like to drag them out hiking when I can,” Andy said. Recently his oldest daughter began to sing a trio with him and his wife during the main services on Sundays. No matter what his daughters do, he wants them to use their talents for God and for serving. Andy’s passions are ministry – working with college students – hanging out with his wife, mountain biking, and reading.

What and who are some of his favorite books and authors? Andy stated that he is trying to re-establish that at the moment because he has been under a lot of influence from what he was reading for his doctorate program. He is currently reading works by C.S. Lewis in chronological order and is fascinated by his thinking and how his mind worked. Apart from that, Andy wants to read something “funky and off-the-wall – something out of the ordinary” such as A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.

All Church Camp Recap

by Kevin Au

Several weekends ago, our church family had the wonderful opportunity to come together for LBC’s annual All-Church Camp, highlighted this year by the teaching of Dr. Andy Snider of The Master’s Seminary on the topic of Holy Affections.

A bitingly chilly, yet still warmly familiar Pine Valley welcomed LBC on Friday night as our church family arrived, many aptly donning the familiar gray Lighthouse sweatshirt from last year’s Family Camp. Though recently renamed, All-Church Camp was by no means anything less than a family event, but with about 200 attending, this marked the largest Family/All-church Camp to date.

Dr. Snider opened on Friday night with a message titled “Humility, the Forgotten Essential,” alternately titled, “The Glory of Christ in the Humility of His People.” This message served as the basis for the entire theme of the camp as Dr. Snider encouraged us to consider humility as the essential virtue, and caused many to reconsider their understanding of humility as the complete abandonment of self. Many were challenged that night. “It was tough to move on from that one,” said one convicted member. “While the other messages were still very good, that first one really did address issues in my heart that I spent the entire weekend trying to apply.”

It seemed that this was a shared sentiment, as many took time after the message to discuss with one another things that they learned from the message and share in fellowship. Interaction after messages, which spilled over into meal times and free times, helped our church grow together. The retreat provided an ideal setting to foster this kind of interaction in a growing church. It was a refreshing time to be able to spend away from the things that normally demand our attention, things that cause us to run from commitment to commitment, slowing us down in order to spend real time with our church family. As difficult as it is to get to know people only in passing on Sundays, this difficulty is compounded as our church continues to grow. All-Church camp serves as great opportunity to develop those relationships, especially for those newer to our church.

“It really did have a very ‘family’ sort of feel,” remarked one attendee. “After we’ve split into the different affinity groups, you don’t see as much interaction between groups, but it was good to see people talking, collegians with singles and married, new people with old people.”

Saturday was an eventful day, beginning for some with a short hike. The day continued with an encouraging message on the love of God and its implications for us, and a sobering message on the anger and wrath of God, sandwiching a Question and Answer session where Dr. Snider thoroughly answered questions posed by those present.

The night also included the highly anticipated All-Church Camp talent show, with various acts ranging from the musical talents of our children to the choreography of the single adults to the unconventional, yet always well-received magic acts of Min Kim and Eugene Yang. “It’s pretty amazing just how talented our church is,” noted one observer.

Sunday showcased several things we have come to expect as traditions of LBC All-Church Camps. A Sunday morning Bible quiz reminded us of specific points in the previous messages, after which Pastor John and the kids led us in a time of singing songs, complete with accompanying motions.

Dr. Snider wrapped up the camp with a message on the affection of joy, both discussing God’s delight and our appropriate response to Him in joy.

A miscue in the order of worship rather appropriately allowed us to punctuate Dr. Snider’s last sermon in a time of musical worship, singing praises to God, in whom our joy rests, and to whom our joy is expressed.

After lunch we said our goodbyes to Pine Valley and All Church Camp once again. Until next year.

Sport’s Ministry

by Stephanie Shin

“We may not win games, but we may win lives!”

It’s that time of year again! Cleats tossed in with a change of clothes sit in the trunk of cars. Conversations about the Chargers fall to the wayside as coaches and team members talk animatedly about their own practices and playing positions in the foyer. It’s mission bowl season and it’s on everyone’s minds! And thanks to a memorable High School Musical performance at family camp, so is the Lighthouse Bible Church Basketball Association (LBCBA).

The sports ministry is one that a good number of LBC’ers have had the opportunity to appreciate. When asked about the greater motivation behind the sports ministry, Kevin Tse replied: “The purpose of the sports ministry is to foster Christian fellowship in the realm of competitive athletics. A model for the building up of Christ’s body is the weaving of many various parts and members under a single focus to achieve their goals. In a world that seems to reward selfishness and large egos in amateur and professional sports, LBC sports ministry preaches selflessness and teamwork as a means of glorifying Christ among one another. In sports, believers have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with one another through camaraderie and trust, while also having an avenue with which to welcome new comers to the church. Finally, through sports, LBC hopes to fulfill its mission to be a beacon of Christ’s love and truth to the world by hosting various church sponsored, city wide competitions such as Mission Bowl and LBC basketball.”

With ongoing investments in interchurch tournaments, softball city leagues (and talks of participating in a basketball city league), email lists for tennis, volleyball and other sports actively circulating the Lighthouse pulse, the sports ministry has created a unique opportunity for proclaiming Christ. In an arena easily motivated by and given to pride, anger, and blowing past the next man, LBC’s sports ministry is more committed to opening up more avenues for shining the light. A long-term goal for the sports ministry is focused on fulfilling exactly that purpose. Kevin Tse replied that what the sports ministry hopes to see happen in the next year is: “A greater city-wide scope to spread the message of the Gospel.” Randy Tsuchiyama comments on the involvement of LBC members in the city softball league: “For the most part, the other teams in the league know that we are from a church. The attitudes that we have on the field are a testimony to the other teams. We are representing Christ to the other teams there.”

And encouragement reaches inward towards the body of believers as well. Of his participation in the softball league, Randy Tsuchiyama says: “I really enjoy being able to get to know the guys on the team better. I think especially with the married guys. You are able to bond pretty well with your fellow teammates. Like winning and losing together just builds the relationships with the other guys on the team.”

What can LBC look forward to in the upcoming year? Continuing Mission Bowl and LBCBA as well as pickup games of ultimate Frisbee, soccer, and other sports. And to throw in a token cheesy analogy: we all play for the same team! Let’s play the game knowing that it’s already been won. Applicable especially to the realm of sports, the Word exhorts us: “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

Carol Kim

by Grace Wu

With a population of 1,321,851,888, China is the most populous country in the world—as well as one that is most needy of the Gospel. With a Communist and officially atheist government, Christianity is state-controlled and limited in what it can express about the Gospel. Carol Kim, a member of LBC, is currently there for a two-year extended missions trip. The Beacon was able to contact her and hear about God’s work there.

Note: Because of censorship of the Chinese government, religious terminology needs to be cryptic.

What made you decide that China was the will of the Father [God]?

Father gave me a desire to serve Him overseas since freshman year in college. Wanting to make sure that He wanted me overseas, much prayer and counsel from His Word and many [godly] individuals took place. I did not have a particular place in mind; however, I wanted to head out to a country in the 10/40 window. That’s when Father led me to a contact who shared her heart for China. With more [prayer], everything worked out smoothly for me to join a team here. Therefore, I am here!

Is there a [church] Family there where you can meet with every week?

Father graciously provided a wonderful community here. We meet each Sunday but at different times each week due to security purposes. It has been great getting to know and learn from them as we all differ in our life stages as well as ministries.

What is the most encouraging thing that has happened?

Seeing the power of [prayer] as He has already brought two wandering sheep into His fold. It has been encouraging to see how Father is working in the hearts of people and the harvest that is ready to be reaped.

What has been the most difficult?

Personally, it’s the weather. It will start snowing soon. I am excited about the snow since I’ve never lived where it snows but I do not know how well I can adjust to the cold.

How much Mandarin Chinese do you know?

Yi Dian [a little bit]. Chinese is a very hard language to learn. It seems like it will take decades before I can master the language; nonetheless, I have been thoroughly enjoying the language study. Please [pray] for a rapid language acquisition.

How often can you come home to United States to visit LBC family and blood family?

It is advised that I do not go back to the States during my term if at all possible. Therefore, I do not have any plans to go back any time soon. However, any of you can come visit me and see how Father is working in this place. You can join me in furthering His kingdom.

Any close calls happen from sharing the truth?

I was recently called into the Vice Dean’s office because he had to share some rules with my classmate and me. He shared that China has freedom of religion just like America does but it is illegal to share in public. That meeting is nothing I am worried about but I need to be more careful as they are keeping a close watch on me.

How has your relationship with Father grown from this?

My relationship with the Father has grown in various ways since I have been here. He has given me a greater love for the people here and so I have been able to understand a bit more of His heart. Living here made it evident that I needed to depend more on the Father. As I relied more on His strength rather than my own, He has been carrying me through each day with joy. Due to my need of Him, meditation upon His Word has been sweeter. His Word has been sustaining me.

Thanksgiving

by Pastor John Kim

The Thanksgiving holiday will have passed by but a day shouldn’t pass when we don’t give thanks. I have often found that I am forgetful when it comes to being thankful, as I often tend to dwell on what is negative. The grumbling and complaining that comes when the focus is on me and what I feel entitled to doesn’t seem to diminish until I take my eyes off of myself and consider how I should be thankful to God. If we recognize that all we have been given is by the grace of God, we should then know that we are not entitled to anything but have been granted mercy.

For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

This passage should really challenge you because when you look at all that you have, do you really understand that it has all been given to you by a gracious God? There is nothing that we have that we deserve. This is sometimes hard to really grasp because we live as if we merit what we own. It is because we give ourselves way too much credit. We think that by our own efforts we prove that we are deserving of what we have, when in fact, we must consider that as sinners who have defied God, we are only deserving of condemnation, no matter how hard we try to be righteous on our own.

We often show how arrogant we are by boasting as if we had not received what we have been given. By doing this we remove God from His rightful place and we promote ourselves as if we were able to generate the merit apart from God’s grace. This is to reduce the greatness of God and be self-promoting.

So how do we combat this foolishness in our hearts? By dwelling on the eternal greatness of God.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the God of gods, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:1-3) Notice in the first three verses of this psalm, it starts off with the imperative to give thanks to the Lord. To give thanks is not optional or negotiable. It is an issue of obedience. What we must also consider carefully is that we are to give thanks to the Lord, not to myself, not to anyone else. But why do we give thanks? Each verse focuses on the greatness of God’s character. We can give thanks to God because He is good. His goodness will never waver or change. We can trust that our God will always be good and will always work out all things for good.

Each verse mentions that God’s lovingkindness is everlasting. It is pretty noteworthy if it is mentioned three consecutive verses in conjunction with other descriptions of God. His lovingkindness especially stands out when we consider that it is both His love and kindness that are joined in an expression that really communicates the tenderness of God’s affections. Lastly, we see His greatness referenced by the terms “God of gods” and “Lord of lords” – our God is not to be seen as anything less that the ultimate sovereign authority over all things.

The Scriptures, especially the Psalms, give us abundant reminders to be thankful. Let us not reduce thanksgiving to one time of the year, but as the apostle Paul challenges us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” May each day find you responding with thanksgiving as you dwell on the goodness and greatness of God.


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.

Subscribe