Archive for December, 2008

Pastor John Kim

by Steven Hong

No, that’s not a guest speaker preaching on Sundays. That’s our head pastor, John Kim. After a hiatus from ministry, he’s back in full-swing, one month earlier than originally scheduled. The Beacon had a chance to catch up with him to discuss the purpose of his time off, how it was spent and what we can look forward to as he jumps back into ministry.

First of all, to clear up any misconceptions, what was the purpose of your time-off?

The past year and a half has been difficult, to say the least, as we have faced a number of challenges at church that have been quite unlike anything that we had faced before. There was the turmoil with the pastoral staff that really brought much pain and discouragement. I felt like my heart had been torn out. It also affected a good number of relationships within the church as well as in my personal life and so the consequences ranged pretty far and wide to the point where I felt like I had been emotionally and mentally battered. I know it sounds a bit dramatic but I can’t even begin to describe the pain that was in my heart. There was also the stress of our moving to the new facilities and adjustments in leadership. There were various trials at a leadership level that at times had been very disheartening and all of these things put together had a severe affect on my body as well as my spirit. As I shared a number of months ago, I started to get severe chest pains and a host of other ailments that led to visiting the emergency room and medical specialists. I have been put on several medications and also various recommendations regarding health care. So as a result I asked for a medical leave of absence that would give me time to address both my physical and spiritual issues. It definitely was not a time of sabbatical where you would seek refreshment and opportunities to study and grow. It was more of a time of laying aside my pastoral responsibilities fully so that I could get physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual recovery time as I was at the point of severe exhaustion and emotional depression. To be honest, I was very close to the point of wanting to simply resign and pursue a quiet life. The job that appealed to me the most during this time was to be a librarian, as you know that I love to read. But God was gracious to give me time to recover and get my heart and head straightened out enough to be reminded that whether it was my physical ailment or spiritual struggles, He is faithful to provide all that I need.

How were you able to spend the time off?

For the first time in 21 years of ministry, I actually set aside my pastoral responsiibilities fully and was disengaged from the regular duties. I took the time to get some sleep, visit doctors, and spend time with my family. There were two weeks that I was able to visit Austin, Texas and stay with my brother-in-law. It was there that I was truly able to experience some solitude, rest, and reflection as it was literally very quiet all day and I had the whole day pretty much to myself. I did a lot of reading, watching football games, and sleeping. It’s amazing what happens when you get sleep. I was thinking back to the point where my sleep debt had started to accumulate and I believe it was in 1988 when I started seminary. I was just starting out in ministry as a youth pastor and so since that time, I really had not slept well or consistently. So getting some good prolonged sleep was pretty significant. I also started exercising so as to strengthen my physical state. I really felt my body deteriorate over the past year and a half from the stress and troubles that I had been going through. It got to the point where I really was troubled at how I felt. It even scared me because I didn’t know that my health could go downward so fast. So I started working out and have been pretty consistent since then.

How is your health currently?

As I mentioned, I have been exercising and that has been helping me a lot. I am still taking various medications and will be monitored as to my heart condition, my digestive tract, as well as my general health. So I would still appreciate prayer for the state of my health. But while addressing my physical condition was significant, my spiritual health was of a greater concern because I had come pretty close to the point of despairing and giving up. But I am happy to say that I am doing much better spiritually and much of that has been related to my spiritual disciplines.

Has your mindset in regards to ministry changed in the course of your time-off?

I have definitely learned many lessons during this time, many which are still ongoing. Just to share a few:

    1. Trusting in the Lord needs to be a higher priority, particularly when circumstances are stormy. Proverbs 3:5-6 has always been a favorite passage but I think over the years it has become more precious. But I realize that I still struggle tremendously with FULLY trusting the Lord alone. I still tend to want to add my two cents. I rely on my past experience to guide me rather than seeking heavenly wisdom. I wrestle with fearing man and what people would think and say. But I am driven back again and again to the simple reality that I am ultimately helpless and God is ultimately sovereign and that it makes much more sense to trust Him than myself or other human beings that will ultimately fail.

    2. Take time to rest and pace myself. Yes, the Christian life is a race and I tend to, as a former sprinter (all of my one year in running track my sophomore year in high school), run hard and fast. There is much to do and I don’t want to waste even a day not giving my all. But I am learning that it is not all up to me and more importantly, I need to ask myself the question, “Am I truly worshipping God in what I do? Or am I just busy with a lot of activity that makes me feel spiritual?” I need to spend more time in God’s Word for my personal growth, not just to preach. I need to pray, not just because there are so many prayer requests, but because I need to just commune with God. I need to serve the church family, not just because I have gifts or need to show that I am involved in ministry, but because it should be a natural extension of my love for God (Matthew 22:37-40). While I need to make the most of each day, taking time to rest and strengthen my body and soul is not a waste of time.

    3. I need to delegate more but take time to train up trustworthy people to pass on the work of ministry. I do tend to carry a heavy load because I want to get a lot done. But I do not have the gifts and talents to do all things well and one of the things that would maximize the ministry would be to focus on the depth of growth so that the breadth of the growth can be increased. This takes longer and at times seems not as quick a solution to the present needs that we have. But the reality is that we can’t just delegate responsibility to anyone. 2 Timothy 2:2 talks about faithful men that Paul passed on his legacy so that they might pass it on as well. That is my hope as well.

    4. To focus more on the positive and not get dragged down by the negative. I tend to be very sensitive to criticism (I don’t know too many people who aren’t) and so I do easily get discouraged. When people are deliberately hurtful and inflict pain, all the more it really gets me down because I just don’t understand how someone who is a Christian can be cruel and mean. Yes, we are all capable of hurting people with our words and actions, but there always seems to be a few in any church that make it their business to really inflict the kind of damaging hurt that is meant to really last. I think this is what affects me the most as I have experienced this now a few times in my years of ministry. But then I read about the apostle Paul in Philippians 1 and see that he is able to still experience joy, even though others are taking advantage of him. So one of the things that I am resolved is to really be thankful and purposefully focus on the good things that God is doing in our midst.

How can we as a church be praying for and encouraging yourself and the other elders/pastors?

I think it would be helpful that every member would be careful in considering how they are fulfilling their role as Scripture calls them in relation to the leaders. I don’t say this to be self-serving but there is a very clear reason why many pastors end up getting disillusioned and then even quitting. I talked with many pastors and the majority of them struggle with all sorts of discouragements. Recently one pastor asked me how often I thought of quitting. He told me that he thought about it every week. I think if church members really knew what was going on in the hearts of their pastors, they would be horrified to think that they might have contributed to their discouragement and even despair. John MacArthur has given a message titled, “The Sheep’s Responsibility” based on 1 Thessalonians 5:13. Here is the link (http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/52-25). Read it, or you can even listen to it for free since Grace To You now allows you to download all of John MacArthur’s sermons for free. If you take this message to heart and apply it, I think you will do much to bring encouragement to the pastors.

Anything else you want to share with the body as you jump back in the ministry here?

I just want everyone to know that I am so thankful to God for our church family and that I am excited to be back. Please be patient with me though. I still am not in the best physical shape. I haven’t preached in almost five months at Lighthouse so I’m a little nervous. But at the same time I am very anxious to get reconnected and involved in the life of the church.

Monthly Comics

by Ed Yip

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Christmas Concert Preview

by Ed Yip

The air chills, clouds cover the skies, and snow prepares its descent on cities upon cities…except for San Diego. Christmas time is upon us once more. Though we might not count on snow to come to San Diego this year, one thing we can count on to come is the Lighthouse Christmas Concert. And with the concert comes hidden talents scattered throughout the church that come out of hiding once a year to perform and to encourage the body. Though the acts may change from year to year, it remains a great opportunity to bring believers and non-believers alike together to share in the true meaning of Christmas through performances and a full fledged Gospel presentation.

For those who are new to Lighthouse or have never been to a Christmas Concert, Christmas Concert is a wonderful time to celebrate Christmas with the church body and year after year has provided many highlights and memories for all. Two years ago, Eugene Park fondly recalled memories of a pianist known simply as “Ned Rip” who graced the piano to perform in what became the most epic mess up in Concert history. (But this writer would like to humbly remind you that the pianist is human and just as needing of God’s grace as the rest of you.)

That year, the LBC Orchestra performed, Eugene Park led the worship, the skit team performed, there was body worship, and of course a message from Pastor John. Last year, the LBC Orchestra performed once more and new talent was displayed once again. One of the performers, then-new member Obadiah Lee, had this to say about the night, “The performances were amazing! Eugene really did a wonderful job putting the choir and orchestra together, let alone the whole concert! The skit team put together a heartfelt drama that pointed the audience to Jesus…what more can I say?” Not much more, Obadiah, but if you think last year was good, wait till you see what’s in store for this year!

This year will be the first Christmas Concert in our new building and as the year comes to an end, what a fitting way this will be to remember God’s faithfulness to our church and in our lives. With Christmas time inevitably comes distractions from the true meaning of Christmas. If a befuddled Charlie Brown could once have trouble finding the true meaning of Christmas, it is likely that others could have the same trouble as well. This year, let Christmas Concert be the Linus to those Charlie Browns. Be it through song, dance, skits, or other kinds of performances, Lighthouse Christmas Concert has always been a time of great encouragement and entertainment to those who come, but most importantly, it has always been a time to reflect on the significance and glory of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel. So invite your friends and family, believers and unbelievers for what will most assuredly be a blessed and Christ-centered Christmas Concert.

Fall Festival 2008 Review

by Jennifer Shin

Colorful decorations plastered all over the walls. The aroma of hot dogs, spicy chili, and sweets filling the air. Cardboard boxes fabricated into robots and Tetris pieces. The sound of balloons popping, DDR music jamming, and children laughing. These can only mean one thing – Fall Festival is here! Fall Festival is an exciting Halloween alternative that we have here at church each year, in which both kids and adults alike eagerly look forward to.

This year, our church building has been transformed into a Dr. Seuss wonderland. The walls and ceilings were covered with giant Cat-in-the-Hats, the Lorax, and rainbow-colored Truffula Trees.

Some sort of game station occupied almost every room in the church building. Kids and adults wandered from room to room, attempting to pop balloons with darts, decorating cookies, dancing to the rhythm of DDR’s techno music, and participating in the infamous Screaming Game. When asked what her favorite part of the Fall Festival was, Megan Yi said, “I think all of them. But I wasn’t doing the screaming game. I liked making cookies.”

As always, the highlights of the Fall Festival are the costumes. This year, we had an array of costumes, ranging from Top Gun characters to praise band equipment, Eugene Park included. This year’s winner for the woman’s solo costume award was Angela Kim, who was dressed from head-to-toe as one of the Power Puff Girls. Garrett Glende walked in covering the bottom half of his face with a cardboard fence, and won the men’s solo costume award as Wilson from Home Improvement. The group award went to all the ladies in the Alice in Wonderland crew. Of all the costumes, Megan liked her sister’s the best. “I think I really liked Aarolyn’s. And she was, like, dancing.”

When bedtime struck and all the children went home after a fun night, the adults stayed and partied on. It was a wonderful time for our whole church family to get together.

All-Church Retreat Review

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

At a time when rest from the daily grind of school, work and other responsibilities become tedious, All-Church Retreat last month was a helpful time for many to come together as a church family and look afresh at Jesus Christ, the center of our faith, our Lord. This event gave many people in Lighthouse Bible Church to be in an environment to learn great truths from God’s Word together, and spend time reflecting on what was just preached.

Kurt Gebhards led the retreat in four sessions that looked to Christ, and our response to His life and character. The first message, titled “The Ironic Rest,” dealt with Matthew 11:28-30 and Jesus’ call for us to come to Him. Anthony Ngai believed this message to be the one that stood out for him: “I thought it was such a blessing to have it applied directly to our service in the church.” Lives were re-evaluated, and hearts were challenged to see whether they truly have come to Christ at all in their time spent at church. There was an awakening for many to see that life in the church directly reflects whether you are obeying Christ by being yoked with Him. Angelo Metra said, “I was provoked to examine my heart as to how I see my role as a servant in relation to Christ, to Lighthouse, my co-workers, and my family at home.”

The next three sessions then dealt with Christ, His act of humility, the Father’s act of exaltation, and our response. Going over Philippians 2:6-11, Pastor Gebhards explained the life of Christ on earth and in heaven as a “Great Parabola,” hence the title of the sermon. Jesus’ act of laying down the outer appearance of His deity to become a lowly servant, was the left side and low point of the ‘U’. From His being crucified, the Father hyper-exalted Him to His right hand, thus the parabola extending up again. His life now is to be an example for us to follow. Our attitude is to be like Christ’s, a self-denial of our interests. Caroline Shin expressed that “the sermons were a great reminder of Lighthouse’s motto, that life is not about you.” She also spoke on where change needed to take place: “I was challenged to work applying my service to others and putting their interests above my own in practical ways, starting with my apartment.”

These times were spent not only to reflect, but to respond and apply the messages as well. Many of the singles got to interact with the collegians, and vice-versa. New relationships formed, and old friendships were renewed. Courtney Chow explained, “It was a good time of reaching out to people I didn’t know and getting to know them and see what God’s been doing in their life.” The air might have been cold outside but the Christ-centered thoughts and conversations filled the room as people hung out and even played games to enjoy their time together. The talent show was also a hit with acts like “The Evolution of Pants” from Sunday Elementary staff, “Joo and the Gentiles” from the collegians, and song and dance from “High School Musical.” It was a sight to see with everyone being entertained and even challenged, from Keilah and Matthew Lim playing their own instruments to the children and youth singing songs of Scripture for the edification of the church. Such impact for the cause of Christ was concentrated at this retreat. With a question, I think Courtney expressed well for all of us to consider: “What am I contributing to the glory of Christ?”

Youth Group (Lumos)

by Courtney Chow

Video games, formals, football games, parties, and shopping for prom dresses are some marks in the life of a typical American teenager. However, that has not been the story of a unique group at Lighthouse. Students from grades 6-12 are welcomed to the youth group, also known as Lumos, which is Latin for “light.” Their name is inspired by Matthew 5:14-16, and is a ministry that is committed in glorifying God by being a light to this dark world through proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Teen years are known to be a time when students are developing in all aspects as individuals and the staff (led by Pastor JR Cuevas) strive to help the students as they start to fully grasp and understand what sin, accountability, God’s holiness, and their responsibility toward God is.

The philosophy the Lumos staff was summed up in three points by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz. The first point is to “exalt God, in that all we do in youth ministry must be God-exalting and God-centered, and not youth-centered.” They challenge the youth to have that same mindset, by preaching the Gospel and keeping Christ the focus when they break off into small groups. Kristen Lim, a sophomore in Lumos shared that “Pastor JR does not try to sweeten the Scripture to tickle our ears; he treats us like adults and knows that we are capable of applying the things that we learn in our lives.”

Secondly, they strive to edify the saints. Cesar said “We are to teach them the whole counsel of God, that the youth may be able to know how to live as a Christian at home, school, and in all areas of their life, equipping them to know how to apply Scripture.”

Thirdly, the students are encouraged to “Evangelize the lost, in that we want them to know the Gospel passionately that it would lead them to witness to their classmate… We’re hoping that the youth don’t merely see this ministry as a social club that’s for making friends (though we want them to all love each other), but to see this as a place to grow and lead to ministry.”

Lumos meets for a weekly Bible study on Friday nights. “The youth have been learning humility displayed in the person of Christ through our study in Luke” said Jenie Chung. They also meet on Sunday mornings during the Sunday school hour and have been spending that time learning about the attributes of God. Kristen Lim described their Sunday morning studies: “The first group of attributes we learned about were the incommunicable
attributes, which are attributes that solely God has and cannot be emulated
by us. Now we are going through the communicable attributes, which are attributes that we can develop.”

Anyone who has seen the youth group knows that they have an immense amount of fun together. In addition to Bible study, every last Friday of each month is an activity night such as bowling, movie night, scavenger hunts and even had opportunities to join other youth groups such as Chinese Bible Church for ice skating and Faith Bible Church for a retreat.
God has been faithful to this small group and Lumos has been steadily increasing in both staff and student numbers over the past few years. He has also been blessing the relationships that have developed amidst the tight-knit group. Jenie said: “Serving on youth staff I’ve been very humbled by the other staff and their love for God and the youth. I know that sometimes being on staff I can be tempted to think that it’s the youth who need to hear the messages by JR but God has been really teaching and blessing me during all of the teaching times. God’s truth is always applicable and always relevant no matter what the circumstance or setting.” The church family can pray for humility for the students and staff; that they would be loving to one another and to help each other grow in our faith, as well as to have teachable hearts, and to be doers, not just hearers of the truths they learn about every week. For more information, please contact Pastor JR Cuevas.

Economic Recession from a Biblical Perspective

by Garrett Glende

As this article is being written, shoppers around the country are crunching the numbers in their checking accounts, wondering if they will be able to provide the kind of gifts their children are used to receiving this Christmas. The past months have brought a recession to the United States which has not left many unaffected. The decline has been brought about by many factors including the decreasing value of the dollar, the subprime mortgage crisis, and the bankruptcy of many large investment banks. To be certain, these are tough times for the average worker, but the Christian must not cry out “the sky is falling!” But what should be the proper response to this economic crisis? What wisdom does God offer?

In order to develop a biblical attitude toward the current state of the economy, it is necessary to look to Scripture to see how God has told us to handle our finances and the rest of our possessions. First, we must realize that what we have is truly not our own. Everything that is ours has been given to us by the grace of God. Paul reminds the Corinthians, “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did not receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). We need to recognize that our belongings are God’s and it needs to show through in our actions. Also, we should guard ourselves from any temptation to covet money or material things. The Christian’s first affection is Christ. When we place money and wealth above all else, we have fallen into idolatry and have dethroned Christ as Lord in our hearts. Jesus warns us that “you cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). 1 Timothy 6:9 says that “those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.” It is easy for the man who pursues riches to become blinded by his quest for worldly possessions that he forgets what is most important, ruining his soul in the process. We must store up heavenly treasures, for our treasures are in the same place as our hearts (Matthew 6:19-21). With this in mind, the Christian must also work hard to provide a healthy life for his family, doing all to the glory of God. We aren’t to be lazy and just trust that God will provide, but we should work diligently and with excellence to make a living.

So how are we to respond today? One thing that would be more than appropriate is prayer. We must acknowledge our utter dependence on God, the provider of every gift. Pray for protection from the love of money. Pray for God to provide only what you need. Pray that the poor would be provided for and that our leaders would handle the situation responsibly. Ultimately, we must remind ourselves that God will provide all that we need in life. He does not guarantee wealth, success, or health, but he has given us a promise that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love [Him]” (Romans 8:28). God will not be unfaithful to this promise. Christians can rejoice in the fact that no matter how difficult circumstances are, we have a God who works all things out for good. Constantly worrying about the falling stock prices is not a healthy attitude to have. Instead, it would be good for us to continually give thanks to God for granting us everything that we do have, while believing that He will continue to sustain us through this period of time.


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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