Tuesday, February 02, 2010

We're Not Here!

Some of you may be wondering why nothing has been posted on this blog in a long time. We are now posting all our pastors' articles on the online church newsletter. Please visit The Beacon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it's a little bit late, but I still thought it would be good to reflect on some things I am thankful for:

1. Salvation. I know this is the default #1 item on almost every believer's list, but it still shouldn't be overlooked or trivialized. Every time I think about the kind of sinner I am and the kind of God He is, it amazes me that He would desire to know me and for me to know Him. I bring nothing to the table. I have nothing to offer. He gives it all and accomplishes everything for me to be counted righteous before Him. All this was done by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Amazing love!

2. Family. Christine and I have been married over four years now and have seen Eden grow through her first year of life. I'm thankful that I still have vivid memories of the day Christine and I were married (especially after hearing from so many who don't remember their wedding day at all because of how busy it was). I remember the day Eden was born and how weird it was to think I was a dad. I'm extremely thankful for it all.

3. Church. Lighthouse is the best church I have ever attended! I'm thankful for the relationships we have in our pastoral team and elders. I'm thankful for loving members who encourage and support their leadership and are eager to grow in their relationships with Christ. I'm also thankful that we have a congregation that believes in the MVP and is excited to see the Vision put to action! (Go San Jose!)

4. Friends. I'm thankful for God-centered friendships that I have been able to cultivate over the years. For many of these relationships, we don't have to stay in touch often. We just pick up where we left off even if it has been months since our last conversation. Good friends are oftentimes hard to find. I'm so thankful for the ones I have. I'm especially thankful that they are believers and we have the hope of spending time together for eternity in the pursuit of knowing God more. I'm also thankful that I have friends who are not afraid to say the hard word and are comfortable enough with me lovingly to tell me when I am wrong.

5. God's Kind Patience. Even though I know that God has saved me, I still continue to do the things that God needed to save me from. I know that I will be a lifelong project, but sometimes I wonder if God is thinking I'm taking much longer to grow than I should. Praise God for His steadfast love and patience toward me. If my salvation was not secure in Him, I would have no hope.

There's so much more I am thankful for, but these are the first five things that came to mind. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! Remember that the good things we enjoy come from the hand of our loving God. Give praise continuously to Him!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trust in the Lord

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make straight your paths."

This passage really humbled me this morning as God has revealed more and more how self-sufficient I strive to be. It is so sad how sometimes when I am busiest and most in need of God's aid, I strive to be more independent and reliant on my own strength? Sometimes I feel like I will be crushed by the weight of all that needs to be done, and still I fail to pray and trust in His power. This passage was God's way of reminding me that this is His church. It is His ministry. And if I would but surrender to Him and allow Him to use me as His instrument, I would see how much better He can do it than I.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Truth Is What Matters

A while back, I had a fun little debate posted on my blog about whether Coke or Pepsi is superior. I remembered this earlier today and it got me thinking. People generally have a tendency to go with what feels good or seems right in their hearts. Decisions are not based on objective reasoning. Instead, you often hear encouragement to “go with your gut” or do “whatever seems best.” But how do you know your gut can be trusted? How do you know whether what seems best to you really is best? These strategies only prove themselves to be reliable if we actually possess the ability to make these determinations on our own. Certainly with some decisions the consequences are not all that significant (e.g. “Which flavor ice cream should I order?” Or “Should I go to the mall today?”). However, it is scary when people use this criteria as the basis behind life’s bigger choices.

The fact is, the Bible teaches that the heart is ultimately deceptive. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Romans 1:21 speaks of sins effect on the mind, namely that sin causes futility in thinking and foolish darkened hearts. Although feelings and emotions can often be helpful, they can also be very misleading and so must not be the final determiner of truth. I don’t think any true believer would argue that truth is ultimately within them. Obviously, Christians fight for the objective truth of God’s Word from passages like John 17:17. However, many Christians violate their view of authority practically, and they manifest this through their reasoning in decision making. Instead of banking on objective, faithful, biblical principles, the thought that determines choices is, “What do I feel is best?”

Our circumstances and experiences obviously are going to influence how we feel. We like to talk about “getting up on the wrong side of the bed” or “just knowing that it is going to be a good day.” It is difficult to find joy when life is tough and it is easy to feel down when trouble comes our way. We must remember, though, that while circumstances are significant, they ultimately do not make us what we are. Our circumstances are not to govern our emotions. Instead, by the Spirit’s working in our lives, we are to exercise temperance and control our emotions and desires regardless of our circumstances. This is why Scripture calls us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). This is why Paul and Silas could sing even while in prison (Acts 16:25). This is why even the thought of death cannot steal our joy (Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:55).

Truth matters. Without God’s truth anchoring our hearts, we are likely to follow the inclinations of our hearts. But our hearts are fickle, limited, and deceitful. How much better is it to base our decisions upon principles that have been established by God and have stood the test of time? It is foolishness to forsake God’s truth and exchange it for anything else. What does this have to do with Pepsi or Coke being best? It just means that whatever the decision, it ought to be made based on objective truths and not just on an emotional bias or appeal. All factors considered, Coke is the obvious choice.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Body of Christ

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach about the basis behind the unity of the church as it is stated in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. Just as the body has many different types of parts, but they all come together to make one body, so it is with the church. The various members of the church with all their different spiritual gifts, abilities, and talents come to serve together as one symbiotic whole.

I particularly appreciated that Paul writes in vs. 12, "so it is with Christ." He does not say, "...so it is with the church," or even "...so it is with the body of Christ." He makes the point that the church is the physical representation of Christ on earth. When the members come together to serve in the church, they are fulfilling their role as part of Christ's body. In other words, to be committed to the church is to show one's commitment to Christ Himself.

Paul writes in vs. 13 that the church is made one by God's Spirit in whom we have been baptized by Christ (cf. Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Acts 2:33). By being baptized in the Spirit, we are made one body in Christ. It does not matter whether we are Jew or Gentile, slaves or free; if we are in Christ, we are one body. Paul is clear to indicate that all the believers at Corinth had received this baptism. It was not a second work of grace in their lives but came as a result of their salvation. When they were saved, they were baptized in the Spirit and made part of the body of Christ. This is a profound statement. In a real sense, church membership came as part of the package when they became Christian!

Not only have we been immersed in the Spirit, but Paul concludes that we have been made to drink of that Spirit as well. By this, Paul is referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Not only do we have the external support of the body of Christ having been baptized in the Spirit, but we also have the Spirit's internal influence as well! Certainly this is great cause for rejoicing for the believer. We who were completely void of the Spirit before coming to know Christ now have the Spirit's influence around us and within us. It bears witness to the fact that when God saves an individual, He does not withhold His blessing (cf. Luke 11:13).

The following passages in 1 Corinthians 12 go into the practical outworkings of this unity and are very applicable for the church, so I can't wait to get into those passages in the coming messages.