Archive for March, 2008

Book Review: Love Your God With All Your Mind

Book by JP Moreland

Review by Stephen Rodgers

Love Your God With All Your Mind may just be JP Moreland’s most didactic book yet-and that’s saying something. In this text, weighing in at a scant 200 pages (but a tad denser than you might expect), Moreland is a man on a mission. He has seen his students trying on the anti-intellectual attitudes of secular society, and like a man trying on a shirt with a too-small collar, he doesn’t like the fit. CS Lewis once remarked that “[Christ] wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head,” and it is in support of this premise that Moreland throws himself into the fray.

Caveat emptor: this is not the irenic Moreland from Kingdom Triangle. Rather this is Moreland-with-a-bee-in-his-bonnet discoursing on a topic that has apparently struck a bit too close for comfort. I do NOT think that his argumentation suffers as a result (it certainly isn’t a viciously-circular polemic as some Amazon reviews would suggest), but the man is certainly not dispassionate or shy in his presentation.

The book is divided into four main sections: why the mind matters in Christianity (history, Biblical support, and the role of the intellect in sanctification), how to develop a mature Christian mind (descriptive and prescriptive techniques), what a mature Christian mind looks like (emphasis on evangelism, apologetics, worship, and worldview), and guaranteeing a future for the Christian mind (closing comments on ecclesiology and some appendices which are fantastically useful).

It would, quite frankly, be impossible to give you a decent overview in this space in The Beacon. Suffice to say, you should read this book, your friends should read this book, and you should have deep discussions over ethnic food regarding what you’ve read. It’s a dense book, so order dessert.

That is NOT to say that I agree wholeheartedly with everything that Moreland concludes (I find his views on senior pastorship disagreeable); and I would suggest that it would be the height of irony to blindly accept the premises of a text devoted to rationality and logic without engaging in critical reasoning of your own. To that end, I’d like to suggest some topics for discussion (framed in a classical pedagogical style, in honor of the text in question) that I found to be of interest from throughout the book. What does it mean to “love God with your mind” and has the church betrayed this position (Chapter 1)? What are the implications of total depravity in regards to reason (Chapter 2)? What is the “empty self” (Chapter 4)? Should all Christians be logicians as well (Chapter 5)? How can we best honor God by reading (Chapter 8)? According to Moreland, what is the role of the senior pastor (Chapter 10)?

On the bright side, concluding with Moreland’s ultimate premise, it’s an open-Bible test.

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Book Review: In Christ Alone

Book by Sinclair Ferguson

Review by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

In Christ Alone is a collection of articles that were first written by Ferguson in both Ligonier’s Tabletalk monthly magazine and Jim Boice’s Eternity magazine, each one displaying a different aspect of the foundation of what it means to be a Christian: a follower of the crucified Lord, Jesus Christ. This book is one steeped in love for the Savior by giving pastoral and theological insight into the Person and work of Christ. The chief desire of the Christian must be to know Christ, who He is and what He’s done, to die to ourselves and to live for Him above all else.

The book is cut up into six sections that deal with: Christ’s incarnation (Word become flesh), the work of Christ in His different offices while on this earth (prophet, priest, king), the Spirit who testifies of His glory, the blessings of grace that is given to every believer, wisdom that is harmonious with the glorious Gospel in our own lives, and encouragement to live on in this world where unbelief seems to run rampant. Each chapter is roughly 4-5 pages each, and should be read slowly and carefully to take in the Christ-centered thoughts and kernels of truth brought out from the Scriptures. It could be a great meditation not just for the new believer who is on the path to be captivated by God with new eyes, but also for the believer who has possibly lost sight of God and His weighty glory. Reading the ways of the Old Testament rituals continues to draw me closer to God, in that faithful Jews were so motivated by their glimpse of this Almighty God that they had great faith in the promised Messiah who was to come and deliver them from the bondage of sin that laid in every one of them. They did not know the Messiah by name; we do and yet are still not stopping to gaze at His wonderful face. We need the Christ-centered Gospel to break us again. Ferguson’s exposition of John 1 could not sit still without singing afresh psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Col. 3), placing many songs that would be an instrument for you to worship the risen Christ, who lives today as the Great High Priest. The cross should bring us to that point where our eyes are exhausted upon a continual straining to see Him in all His beauty, compassion, and unrivaled love. As CJ Mahaney writes, “This book is a feast that will satisfy both mind and heart, sharpening your thinking and deepening your devotion to Christ Alone.”

This book was written to call us to look fresh at Christ, and to be enthralled with what you see. It was not meant to be a work that involved your own opinions or musings, but a recognition that God was not silent and did reveal Himself through the ministry of the Word, by the illumination of the Spirit, to testify about Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, that we may truly be, as the subtitle says, living the Gospel centered life.

Eugene and Sallie Yang

by Jennifer Shin

If there are two people at our church who always wear genuine, heartfelt smiles on their faces, they are Eugene and Sallie Yang. Though they usually serve behind the scenes, those who know the couple know that they serve faithfully at church and joyfully invest in people’s lives. Sallie and Eugene have been married for over five years now, thanks to God’s sovereign plan for them and a little assistance from Sallie’s youngest brother, David, who attempted to set up a group ski trip for the two to meet. The plan didn’t go accordingly because Eugene wasn’t able to make the trip, but Sallie did get to meet him that weekend at church. The following summer, Sallie came to San Diego for an internship at Sav-On and the two got to know each other better and started dating before she left for school. Eugene and Sallie invested in this long-distance relationship and were married on September 7, 2002. Eugene stated, “When I reflect back on our initial meetings, I’m always grateful for David making the effort to introduce us. To have a guy to want to set me up with his sister – well – that was an experience I’ll always be thankful for. A few LBC folks were involved as well in the early days, like Jin and John Yi. Thanks!”

Through their marriage, they see how God has blessed them. Sallie mentioned that in being able to grow, be challenged, and learn – she now has someone to share these things with. “Eugene is such a great support, and he leads by example,” she stated, “We have a lot of fun together.” Eugene agreed, stating that it’s a tremendous blessing to have a lifelong partner by your side. “Sallie has been so supportive and encouraging,” he said, “Even when external circumstances are tough, it has been a source of great comfort knowing that I can return home to my loving wife.” Though there is a countless number of blessings that come with marriages, they admit that there are challenges that come with it as well, ranging from balancing work and playing out the role of being a wife to taking blessings in marriage for granted to fighting against focusing on themselves to reflecting on and investing in making sure their marriage is on the right track of honoring God.

It is an exciting time for this married couple as they are expecting their first child later this year. Sallie said, “I’m so very thankful and happy for this amazing opportunity to be parents. It still hasn’t fully hit me that I’m pregnant. But, I do love it. It’s exciting but also kind of scary as everything will be new for us. I know that my trust and dependence on God will greatly increase.” Eugene replied, “I’m excited too, but the reality of it hasn’t really set in yet. I still can’t quite comprehend what life is going to be like! I’m grateful though, for the example and support of the many other parents at LBC.” Let’s keep the Yangs in our prayers as they move on into the next stage in life and welcome the new addition to their family!

Fun Facts:

    Sallie on Eugene: “Eugene loves golf. So, with any opportunity he gets, he’ll start practicing his golf swings with his imaginary golf club. He’ll take a few swings, and then look for a reflection somewhere so that he can see his swings. I’m thinking this is common among golfers.”

    Eugene on Sallie: “In our bedroom, we have a ‘clapper’ hooked up to our lamp. You know, ‘Clap-On, Clap-Off…the Clapper!’ Well, the routine had been that right before it’s time to go to sleep, I would gaze at my lovely wife, and then clap twice to turn off the light. One day Sallie decided it would be fun to make faces at me while I was trying to turn off the light. So now, every night before the light goes out, I get to see a different funny face before it goes dark.”

Pastor John Kim

by Moon Choi

Pastor John Kim. Everyone at Lighthouse knows him. He’s the guy who preaches every Sunday. Twice. Though he is often seen yelling from the pulpit, he is actually soft spoken away from the pulpit. I remember being very surprised by it when I had a casual conversation with him and his wife, Angela, my freshman year.

You can pretty much figure out Pastor John’s upbringing and life story just from his sermons. But here’s a quick rundown: Pastor John grew up at Grace Community Church. After graduating from UCLA in 1988, he attended the Master’s Seminary. Then, in 1989, he and Angela were married. He served at Grace Community Church as a pastoral intern in the youth ministries and then as youth pastor at Valley Korean Community Church. After helping to establish a number of ministries there, he, Angela, and their daughter, Jenna, moved out to Baltimore, Maryland in 1993. After four years of ministry there, the last being especially difficult, they moved back to San Diego with another member of the family, Kara. Here, he and Angela, and two other families started a Bible study, eventually leading to this church plant known as Lighthouse Bible Church. In San Diego, Pastor John and Angela had two more daughters, Alyssa and Olivia.

Though we primarily know Pastor John as the head pastor, he also has other ministry responsibilities: leadership training, shepherding the church (including the elders and deacons/deaconesses), being the Grace Life and Single Life shepherd, and international outreach. When asked what he enjoyed about serving, Pastor John replied, “The greatest joy comes when I see people growing in Christ. I would agree with the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the present of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”

However, ministry does present a lot of difficulties. Pastor John points out his own insecurities, particularly in dealing with people. Though he says that it is a “tremendous struggle to not bow to the fear of man.” Overtime, he has learned that in the midst of ministry, he can only trust Christ and were he not laboring for His glory, “then it would indeed be a burden that would never become joy.” However,
Pastor John praises God that He has sustained him, especially during the past several months. He exclaims, “God’s grace is not only sufficient, it is super-abounding!”

There were two ministries that Pastor John wanted to highlight: Sunday services and Lighthouse’s international missions to the Czech Republic and Argentina. He is so greatly encouraged and amazed by the hunger for the Word that people at Lighthouse have. He recalls, “I still remember the time that for some reason, we had to shorten the sermon due to other elements within the service. Afterward, there were a number of people who made the comment that they got short-changed.” Pastor John is also awe-struck with how “God has given us the privilege and honor, not only to go out and take the work of the gospel to other countries, but that He would bless us with situations that have grown into partnerships with churches that we have truly come to love. Meinolf and Martina Mellwig in Ostrava and Jorge and Norma Ahualli in Tucuman have become dear friends to our church family as God has given us a kindred spirit and heart to serve Him.” He noted how the summer missions trips give a unique and wonderful chance for members to not only grow closer and to work together but also to “come alongside with our brothers and sisters… to do the work of the Great Commission.”

When asked what his opinion on the state of the church was, Pastor John reiterated what he had said during his State of the Church address: “Our church has grown…a church that really has been blessed by God to grow both in depth and in breadth. There is much to be thankful for… But we also see the signs of complacency, complaining, and at times, even falling away of members… we all need to be reminded to go back to the basics of really loving Christ with all our heart as our first love, to humbly and selflessly seek first the kingdom of God, and to really be dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us as we face the challenges ahead.” Pastor John also mentioned his excitement for the prospect of moving into new facilities. Lord willing, there is a certain anticipation of increased numbers, but Pastor John said, “As I learned from my pastor growing up, John MacArthur, he always shared how he would just focus on building the depth through the preaching ministry of the Word, and that he would trust God to grow the breadth.”

Though there are many difficulties and responsibilities in ministry, Pastor John is still so greatly encouraged by “the generous hearts of those who are here at Lighthouse.” No matter what affinity group, he notes how “there are many who have been so sacrificial.” He also mentioned how overwhelmed he was with thanks to God while reading through the messages in the scrapbook that he and Angela received. He is also encouraged by seeing members emulating the love of Christ with one another, “especially with those that are new or those who are kind of on the fringe.”

And the one challenge that Pastor John has for Lighthouse? “Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and run the race with endurance, enthusiasm, and unity so that we might bring maximum glory to God in fulfilling the Mission, the Vision, and the Passion!”

Argentina/Czech 2008

by Grace Wu

In four months, Lighthouse will be sending a team of members to Tucumán, Argentina and another team of members to Ostrava, Czech Republic. With the missions applications out, we wait eagerly to see who God will call to fulfill the Great Commission in South America and Eastern Europe.

The trips, which are scheduled for July 10-24 for Argentina and July 30-August 14 for the Czech Republic, will have similar objectives as previous years. In Ostrava, LBC plans on partnering with the Mellwig’s church ministry. They will be holding an English camp and community outreach as an avenue to evangelize to the Czechs, many of whom have grown up in an atheist and Communist environment.

In Tucumán, LBC will be partnering with Iglesia Biblica Misionera, pastored by Jorge Ahualli, in door-to-door evangelism and neighborhood activities to evangelize to a predominantly and nominally Catholic population. Though the format this year will be somewhat similar to those of the previous years, there is a change in leadership. Eugene Park, who used to be just the team leader’s supporter, will now be taking on the position as Argentina team leader for the first time.

“My worry is being an adequate team leader. Every year… decisions have to be made on the fly. I hope that I would make wise decisions that would honor God. In a sense it’s been easy these past couple of years because I just focused on being a support to the team leader. My goal was to support them…because I know it’s stressful being the leader,” Eugene said.

As stressful as these trips can be, members from the teams from past years have been blessed by the experience. Teddy Yu, who went to the Czech Republic in 2007, is reapplying for the Czech trip again this year for a number of reasons, one being the natural longing to fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ in Ostrava.

However, beyond the sentimental reasons many people wish to reapply for Argentina or Czech trips, there is also a greater calling. “I want to be involved in missions overseas… while it is not a sin issue whether or not people do overseas missions, there is the Great Commission, and with regard to how I will obey it as a sender versus goer, I know God has blessed me with a heart to evangelize and also minister and encourage the church in Ostrava,” Teddy said.

As Lighthouse prepares to send the two missions teams out, remember to be mindful of the importance of prayer for these trips and the financial needs of financing these trips.

For the Love of the Game

by David Ahn

Over the past 3 months, the sports world witnessed two of its marquee stars signed to record-breaking, long-term contracts. In baseball, the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10 year, $275 million dollar contract in December. Just a couple months later, the hockey world watched the Washington Capitals sign Alexander Ovechkin to a 13 year, $124 million dollar contract extension. While it might be easy to get caught up with the mind-blowing salaries, allow me to draw your attention to the lengths of the contracts as well. 10 and 13 year contracts! To gain some perspective, Lighthouse Bible Church has not even been around for 10 years. 13 years ago, I was in the middle of my fifth grade; 13 years from now, I will be in my upper thirties, hopefully practicing as a full-fledged doctor and supporting a family (Lord-willing). It is amazing to think that these sports franchises consider it a worthy financial investment to commit to one player at such a high price, and for such a long amount of time.

Obviously, these lengthy contracts aren’t given to every athlete that walks into the clubhouse. They are reserved for the most consistent players who have shown a dedication to the sport that will not fade after the check clears. If these athletes were doing it solely for the money or for the celebrity or for a comfortable life, they wouldn’t spend hours on end in the off-season training, or in the film rooms studying their game, or on the field/ice honing their skills. Why can certain athletes be trusted to put their all into every game and every practice, even after the security provided by a long-term contract? It’s because, for some of them, the money is not their primary motivation. Instead, their desire is to be able play their sport at the highest level, in hopes of achieving as many accolades and trophies as possible. They are being paid to do what they enjoy, what they truly love. It’s because of their love of the game. Now, you might be asking, why is this article in the LBC newsletter and not on ESPN? It is because, for those of us that are genuine Christians, WE have been given a contract of infinite value that is guaranteed for the length of eternity, by God’s grace and through Jesus’ death on a cross. After the point that we have dedicated our lives to Christ and genuinely believed the truth of the gospel, we now have Christ’s righteousness standing in the place of our sinfulness. The question is, how do we respond to this?

Unlike A-Rod or Ovechkin, we might find ourselves dragging our feet, hesitant to put forth any effort or sacrifice that might be required to grow in the process of sanctification. Some of us might struggle with the most basic of disciplines, looking to expend the minimal amount of energy to just limp into heaven, content with the security of our salvation. Maybe some of us ran hard initially, but over time have grown complacent with just maintaining our spiritual knowledge and level of commitment.

But this is not the biblical picture of a Christian. Rather, we are called to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), to “lay aside every weight and sin,” and to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). How and why are we to do these things? The writer of Hebrews continues in verse 2: “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”

For those of us that might find ourselves struggling to run hard, we must remember what we are running for! We must fix our eyes on Christ. We must remember the cross and the immeasurable grace that we, deserving of absolutely nothing, have received. Left to our own will, we would be continuing further and further on the path to destruction, but God loved us so much to sacrifice His own Son to pay the penalty for our sin. This sacrifice on our behalf should cause us to love Christ and treasure Him all the more. Comparing sports and the Christian walk is not something new. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”

Sports stars might strive for the perishable wreath of the Pennant or the Stanley Cup; we strive for the imperishable “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14) They aspire to be in the record books and the Hall of Fame; we aspire to be in the Book of Life and the Halls of Heaven. They do it for the love of the game; we do it for the love of Christ. We can not and must not allow ourselves to lose sight of this.

Augustine

by Kevin Au

Few figures stand taller among even the most prominent men in the halls of church history than Augustine. The man’s influence emerges from a time even when world history threatens to drown it out with the momentous fall of the Roman Empire. His writings and teachings have shaped history to an unimaginable extent. Before Luther, before Zwingli, before Calvin, Augustine’s influence predates and sets a foundation for them all. The impact of the reformers and men after the 5th century all owe something to this man’s testimony and work, as his work has oft shaped the thoughts and works of later theologians.

Augustine lived in the tumultuous time in the dying days of the Roman Empire. Born in Thagaste, North Africa in 354 to a middle income farming family, he was bred to pursue worldly pursuits by cultivating his talents as an orator and teacher. His father was an unbeliever, but his mother exemplified a woman of prayer, with her well-documented persistence in praying for her worldly son.

His mother’s prayers would prove fruitful, but not without much persistence, as Augustine did not come to faith until relatively late and after much inner struggle and turmoil. By his own confession, Augustine was a man inflamed with the pleasures of this world and ignorant of the pleasures in heaven. He took a mistress in his youth and had a son by her at the age of 16. After his childhood he took off for Carthage to study and soon after began teaching. Eventually, his teaching took him to Rome and Milan, where he encountered the philosophy of the Manicheists which taught perversions of true Christian doctrine. Augustine was heavily influenced by these worldly philosophies, but later in his life, he became dissatisfied with them as he found them unfulfilling. He encountered Bishop Ambrose in Milan, and after his re-exposure to true Christianity turned away from the worldly philosophies and began to pursue the truth and stop running away from God. He soon came to conversion in Milan.

Augustine, a new man, stripped of the traces of his old life as he parted ways with his mistress and lost his son, would soon receive his ordination as priest and became the bishop of Hippo, a region in Northern Africa. It was here where he began the work that would define his life. It was during this time that Augustine wrote Confessions. He also wrote The City of God, a work written in response to the sacking of Rome, addressing politics and society from a Christian standpoint. He also completed a host of other major works during this time, contributing much of early Christian thought and doctrine.

Many have posited as to why Augustine is such an influential figure in Church history. Much it owes to his place in history, politically and ecclesiastically. With the exception of the Apostles themselves, his work came much earlier than anyone comparable to his stature in church history, so his influence is immeasurable. He also came at a crucial turning point as the world turned over into the medieval ages, also near the beginning of the established Roman Catholic Church, which ironically hails him as a prominent figure in Catholicism as well. Some point to the humanity and breadth of his appeal as the reason for his influence. The details of Augustine’s coming to faith are well known through his most famous work Confessions, a theological yet personal autobiography of his journey wrestling with truth and philosophy, experience and God.

The genuine humanity that readers can see in his Confessions, theologically and personally tells the story of every believer and their struggles with the truth. The philosophical struggles appeal to the intellectual, the earthly passions appeal to even the least of men. The story of a man running from God is one that we all share.

The greatest reason, theories and propositions aside, lies simply in the fact that he had a voice. He did not keep the thoughts and truths in his brilliant mind to himself. He stood against the heresies of his day, and behind it was a man who could not deny that he had been saved from the pitfall of early desires, transformed into a heavenly minded man, who lived and loved 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.

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