Testimony of the Week: Nick Kaneshiro

Nick is a second year Public Affairs pre-med who enjoys being in nature, singing in the car, and hanging out with his small group homies (past & present!).

***QUICK NOTE: if anything in my testimony resonates with you, please feel free to reach out! I’d love to be your amigo (: ***

I used to think the best life someone could have was to grow up as a non-Christian so they could experience all the “joys” of life when they were young, and then at some point, when it was time to get serious, God would save them and then they’d get to go to heaven. Even though I professed to be a Christian for most of my life, this was basically how I saw the world. I knew that living by the Bible was right, but I believed that living by the world was better.

My parents, who are very faithful Christians, raised my siblings and me in the local church. I used to see that as the start to a very “boring” and “basic” testimony, but now I see it as a testament to God’s faithfulness, that he would surround me with his love and truth even before I could understand either of them. Growing up, church was the place to be! I loved Sunday School because I knew all the right answers and all my best friends were there. People would tell me, “You’re so mature for your age,” and I became prideful by their love rather than being humbled by their kindness. I was baptized in 5th grade, not because I truly understood what baptism meant, but mostly because my brother was baptized when he was in 6th grade, and I wanted everyone to know that I was more mature than he was.

Even though I grew older and learned more about what it meant to be a Christian, I continued to care more about my outward image and less on the content of my heart. It was easier to hear and follow the application part of messages than feel the convicting truth that was presented for most of the sermon. I was like the Pharisees (Matthew 23:27); I did whatever I could to look good: volunteering to pray at church, being friendly at church camp, going on missions trips, and discipling younger guys. I thought I was living so faithfully, but looking back, my heart was full of pride. I went to church not to be humbled before God but to be praised for being the “alpha.” I loved that my friends would come to me for advice, not because I had a heart of compassion, but because I was “wise” enough to help them. I idolized friendships, being liked, being thought of as smart, and being a leader, so I pursued those things more so than I did holiness.

Despite what looked like growth and maturity, I was exposing myself to more sin and giving into more temptation. It was around middle school when I started to struggle with my sexuality. I knew it was wrong, but I kept it to myself because if my sin didn’t affect my image, then I didn’t feel the need to change. For years, I would let that sin fester and grow in my heart while pretending to be a repentant Christian.

Coming to college, I realized how comfortable I was at home. For the first time, I was really challenged in my faith. I wasn’t the one with the most Bible knowledge, there wasn’t someone to make sure I was at church every Sunday, and I didn’t have the reputation I spent so many years building up. It became apparent that I needed to change my outward appearance to fit in with this new crowd of GOCers. I started to read my Bible more consistently, watch Desiring God videos, and listen to more Christian songs so that I could fit in and thrive in this new environment. But God’s word is so powerful that even my ulterior motives were no match for his truth. As I started to fill myself with the word, God started to soften my heart to his Gospel. Broken, but for the first time seeing clearly, I finally realized how helpless I was.

In my helpless state, God convicted me to address my sin. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” I remember reading this verse and feeling not only convicted but also encouraged to confess my sin. I wanted to be healed and I knew that repentance was the only way, but talking about my sexuality was difficult. The first time I opened up about my struggle I made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, as if it was something that I used to or sometimes struggled with, but not something that serious. Because the truth was, my flesh still didn’t want to struggle. My flesh was so convincing that my confessions came out half-hearted and scared. My flesh told me that the world was still the better way to go and that I still had time later in life to settle down and “be a good Christian.” But through God’s relentless faithfulness, I eventually was able to be transparent and talk about my struggle honestly with dear brothers. These conversations were some of the first moments in my life that I truly felt that living according to scripture was better. The Bible did exactly what it said it would do. I felt healed. I felt its power. For the first time, I felt in my heart all of the truths I thought I knew all my life.

When I used to end my testimony, I would say something nice about how even though I still struggle with sin, I know that God is better and now I’m better because of that. But, I think a more honest way to end my story is to say that all of those sins that I talked about, all of the sins I should have moved past, I still struggle with all of those sins daily. As it says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The more I want to desire holiness the harder I have to struggle. And sometimes, I don’t want to struggle; I want to give in. And so if I want to end my story with how good I am, there really is no nice ending. So why do I struggle if I can’t win? Why do I fight a battle that I’m going to lose? Because my story doesn’t end with me. It ends with Christ. And looking back, my story began, was carried through, and ends with Christ. God was glorified in every moment of my life, whether I wanted to be a part of it or not. And I can take heart because God promises that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). What a testament to His patience, love, and mercy! PTL!

I’m not gonna lie, it’s still hard to follow Christ. It’s hard to have everything about your life be changed after you’ve lived in such a way for so long. But God can change your heart just like he did mine. The Bible says,

“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Promise after promise is given to us, all with great certainty. I know now that living by the Bible is better, because it is right. My desire to pursue holiness is no longer driven by a selfish fear of man, but a genuine love for and fear of God. I couldn’t escape the truth, and rather than losing hope because I was caught in my lies, I have a newfound sense of freedom because I have a Savior who took the punishment for all of my sins. And even though my sin might change how others see me, it even more so points to how insanely great Jesus’s sacrifice was, that he didn’t just bear the sins of a “good” person, but all the sins of a truly broken sinner (Romans 5:20). So although my outward image is that of a sinner and not of the perfect person my sinful self wishes it could be, I can still rejoice because I know that Christ, the perfect man and Holy God, is in my heart, and He promises that through his righteousness, there are better things yet to come.

Constant Devotion to Christ

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter 1:8-9).

Our devotion to Jesus should be so precious to us! Unlike Peter, who had personally seen Jesus, we did not witness Christ’s transfiguration. The vast majority of believers who read through Peter’s account have never seen Christ, yet still by God’s grace, He opened our eyes to love Christ, have faith in Christ, and rejoice in Christ. Peter even marveled at this. This could also be cross-referenced to Jesus’ word to Thomas in John 20:29. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. We should be immensely thankful to our heavenly Father for opening our eyes to the truth of the Gospel even though we lived thousands of years after Jesus’s journey on earth. It is truly through grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone that we  are  able to experience the inexpressible joy Peter was able to taste through following his Rabbi, personal Savior, and Lord on earth. 

Peter also showed us that our faith and joy in Christ are interconnected with our love for Christ. The soul that loves Christ cannot help but believe in Him, and the soul that believes cannot help but love Christ. When our heart loves Christ, His commandments are not burdensome (I John 5:3). His commandments are reasonable, and it’s easy for us to love Christ because we strive to be holy as our God in Heaven is holy (I Peter 1:16).  When we fill our thoughts with Scripture, we come to understand Christ’s truth, nature, and character more deeply; as a result, our ability to love Christ also increases. God gives us a new heart to love our Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might (Deut 6:5). Even when times are hard, Scripture shows us that God will not only give us the ability to love Him, but also to believe in Him and suffer for Him (Philippians 1:29). As promised in Scripture, God is faithful, and He will give us the strength to endure these trials if we look to Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). 

As we continue to trust and love Christ, our heart should naturally rejoice!

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus ( I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

We should rejoice in Christ at all times — when life is hard or when life goes smoothly. We should remind ourselves daily of the Gospel. We should rejoice and praise our Heavenly Father for giving us Christ who suffered a human death on earth by lowering his divine position for us sinners. We should be thankful to God for giving us salvation, the outcome of our love, faith, and suffering in Christ. Without Christ, our life is meaningless. Without Christ, we would still be enslaved to sin and be in eternal enmity with our Heavenly Father. So, allow our devotion to Christ be the priority of our life because He is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him! As we step in 2021, let us be drawn to Christ with full confidence (Heb 4:16)! By fixing our eyes upon Jesus because we love Jesus more than anything in the world, we should actively fight sin, be a light in the world to this crooked generation (Philippians 2:15), but not be of this world, engaging in its distractions. We can love and trust Christ more by always searching truth in Scripture, actively learning about His character and nature. We can confidently go to Christ for our burdens in prayer, knowing that He deals gently with sinners because He has a gentle and lowly heart (Matthew 11:28). May we all make our devotion to Christ so precious this year  that our time on earth may bring our God the most glory!

12.11.2020 Fall 2020 Week Ten

Shao Wang

Trusting an Almighty God

If 2020 had a theme, uncertainty would definitely be a front runner. With a timely message from the passage of Genesis 3:1-7, Isaias reminded us of the consequences of not trusting God. Taking a deeper look into the fall of Adam and Eve reveals the serpent’s techniques as he leads Eve towards disobedience. 

The serpent begins his deceit through the doubting of God’s Word. Covered in verses 1 through 4, the serpent misquotes God, which leads to Eve misconstruing the commandment that God clearly explained in Gen. 2:17. With Eve lacking accuracy in God’s Word, the serpent continues his attack on God, this time through the doubting of the creator’s character. In verse 5, Satan poses the idea that God is a deceiver himself, withholding godly knowledge from Adam and Eve. As the spiral of doubt continues, verse 6 describes Eve losing trust in God’s wisdom and leaning on her human intelligence to decide on what is suitable for her consumption. The doubting of God’s Word, character, and wisdom all come together as Eve partakes in the fruit with her husband. Although Eve was deceived, Adam fully disobeyed God’s commands and in doing so, cursed mankind.  

As Christians, we must always be wary of losing our trust in God. Life will be difficult at times, and God’s faithfulness will seem fleeting, but we can hold fast to the fact that God disposed of all doubt in his Word, character, and wisdom through the life and death of Jesus Christ. God fulfilled numerous prophecies and cemented the inerrancy of scripture through Christ. (Isaiah 53:5-12 is one of many) Additionally, the solution for the salvation of sinners showcases the wisdom and character of God. The gospel being an answer that only God could accomplish while staying constant in his justice and his mercy.  

Trust in God is a key component of life for every Christian. As we see the consequences of Eve’s loss of trust in God’s Word, wisdom, and character, let us take heed of her mistakes and strive for wholehearted commitment with God. We can do so by first seeking the truth through scripture. God’s word contains not only his very clear commandments, but also the showcasing of his perfect wisdom and character. Secondly let us always keep in mind the gospel, and trust that the God who sacrificed his son for the sake of sinners will be eternally working all things for our good.   

12.4.2020 Fall 2020 Week Nine

Mark Kaneshiro

Convinced of Contentment

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

Friends, this is a verse that we often repeat—but when we do, are we fully convinced of our contentment in the Lord? Can we say confidently that we have given up all our worldly desires and have turned to God alone for our source of everlasting joy? 

Isaias’s message on Micah 2:1-5 was a timely reminder that the sin of covetousness should not be taken lightly. What is covetousness? A lack of contentment in God paired with an insatiable desire to be pleased with something (or someone) that does not belong to us. “You shall not covet,” says the Lord (Exodus 20:17). But these oppressors in Israel have not only blatantly disobeyed God’s command; they have twisted their very legal system so as to make their wicked actions just in the eyes of the law. They have orchestrated opportunities to abuse, seize, and steal for their personal gain. They thirst for satisfaction in land and inheritance, having forgotten their Maker and Master––the only One able to quench that thirst.

Just like all wickedness, God is absolutely intolerant of covetousness (Isaiah 10:1-2; Ephesians 5:5). It robs Him of rightful worship and mocks His sovereignty and provision over His people. And Micah shows us that just like all wickedness, God’s judgment is upon that sin. God has a plan, too—a plan of disaster that will humiliate His people. A day is coming where God will give land to the Assyrians (a pagan people!), and the men of Israel “will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the LORD.” As the rich oppressors took from the poor, so God will take back that which He gave as judgment on the nation.

We look at this passage and praise God for His righteousness and justice, but how foolish of us to think that we are any better than these ruthless oppressors! All of us are guilty of wanting what belongs to someone else, and when we covet, we are saying to God that He is not worthy of our utmost praise and worship. We are displaying our discontentment with God and all that He has given us.

But God did not send His only Son to die for us to be dissatisfied with Him.

God could take away all our material possessions, even our very lives––and that would not contradict His righteousness, simply because we are wretched sinners who deserve death. Yet He has kept us alive––and not only that, He has offered us eternal life, a life that infinitely surpasses that of our lives on earth. What reason do we have not to give thanks to Him who has set us free from the chains of death? What reason do we have to be discontent? What reason do we have to covet the fleeting pleasures of this world?

We have none. God has given us all we need through His Son.

The gospel has revealed to us the breathtaking glory and loveliness of God, and in so doing, it has lured our hearts away from temporary things and has left us enthralled by Him instead––we must live in a way that reflects this! Let us give thanks; let us sing praise; let us be fully convinced that absolutely nothing should rob us of the joy we have in our God who redeemed us.

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

11.25.2020 Fall 2020 Week Seven

Christine Grace Pamplona

Testimony of the Week: Charlotte Chan

Charlotte is a third year MCDB major who enjoys knitting, drinking coffee, and taking walks on her free time 😀

I’m so thankful to have parents who dedicated me to God in front of their church before I could even remember. They sent me to Christian school where I learned a lot of verses and sang worship songs, and prayed with my teachers. It must have been part of the curriculum because every year teachers would meet with me personally and ask me if I wanted Jesus in my life, and I would pray and accept Jesus once again because I was just never sure if I truly accepted Jesus the year before.

Growing up, it may be cliche to say, but God was a vending machine to me. I would give a dime or two only when I needed something. And weirdly, or maybe by God’s grace, it always seemed to work for me. In fact, things worked out so well for me that I distinctly remember telling my camp counselor one year at youth camp, that I didn’t feel like I needed God because my life was just too good. Pridefully, I really felt like I had everything I needed and wanted with friends, family, and school. There was little actual room for God in my heart. But still, I called myself a Christian and tried to be one, thinking that God would continue to give me the things that I wanted. And partly because I wanted to please the people around me.

Eventually, telling people that I was Christian and going to church started to feel like a lie. I felt so fake when I was praying and I couldn’t sing in church because when I sang, I felt like a liar. And honestly, it started to feel very scary because I knew what the consequences were. I knew in my mind very clearly that the wages of sin were death (Rom 6:23), and I knew very well all the verses about how someone who might say they’re Christian might approach Christ in the end and Christ will say “I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23). And that scared me because deep inside, I knew that was me.

I had this internal struggle for a long time, and I began to feel so bitter towards God because I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel like a Christian even though I thought I knew John 3:16 well enough in my mind. Then one day, my friend was sharing with me about how she’s been going through the gospel of John. There were the Pharisees who rejected Christ and sought to kill him, and then there was the woman at the well who believed and shared the good news with the whole town (John 4). What separated them was that the Pharisees thought themselves too good for the need of a savior, whereas the woman saw her own sin and knew she needed the all-satisfying living water, eternal life and freedom from sin, that only Christ can give her. The gospel is only valuable to those who realize they need it.

I thought about what she said for a long time. I realized that God himself was never important to me because, like a Pharisee, I never really saw myself as a sinner. I had focused so much on all the ways that God is a giver, a giver of eternal life, a giver of good and perfect gifts, that I forget that God also takes away, he takes away sin by giving his Son to die on the cross on our behalf. I prayed for God to show me how much of a sinner I am and how much I needed to let him take my sins away.

God showed me that my heart had gotten used to rejecting him and giving into sin, so used to it that I wasn’t even aware of my own sin anymore. And my greatest sin wasn’t lack of love for others, pride, envy, discontentment, anxiety, disobedience, idolatry, though I regularly did all of those too, but it was that I had turned my back on God, rejected him with bitterness, and continued in the sin that put his son on the cross.

Looking back, I was certainly the person who desired too little, and was satisfied with the things of this world, being ignorant to what I truly needed. I asked God to fulfill my greatest need, to forgive my sins and reconcile me with himself, and to be my truest joy and he has already answered me through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Funny enough, since then, God has given me many more circumstances in my life where I felt like I needed him all the more. But through all these trials, I know fully that God is good because he grows my faith and draws me closer to him, making me more like his son. Even in this broken world, where death, pain, and sinfulness are at every corner, God does all for the good of those who love him. The truth that I had taken for granted, now makes me praise and worship God even more so as I am humbled and brought low. And God faithfully continues to teach me daily that I need him just as much when I’m in green pastures as when I’m in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23).

Does God Punish Sin

The events of 2020 have brought the concept of “justice” to the forefront of our public conversation. With all the different voices in our culture trying to define justice these days, it is important for us as Christians to turn to the Bible for our definition of justice. Austin’s message on Micah 1:10-16 this Friday helped us to understand the concept of justice from a biblical perspective. In this passage, the prophet Micah lists the various judgments that God is going to send on the people of Judah for their disobedience to His commandments. Before diving into the passage Austin showed us three categories of the Biblical idea of justice as outlined by the old, dead theologian Charles Hodge. The first category, rectoral justice, is the idea that all justice —the very idea of what is right and what is wrong — comes from God (Romans 1:32). The second category of justice, distributive justice, based on Romans 2:7-8, is the idea that God will judge each person according to what he or she has done. This justice can either be retributive, punishing people for their sin, or remunerative, rewarding each person according to his or her righteousness. Finally, because all people are sinners, the only way any person can receive remunerative justice is through redemptive justice  in which, through placing one’s faith in Christ, their sin is transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness is transferred to that person. In the passage we studied on Friday, the prophet Micah is proclaiming that God will exact his retributive justice on the cities of Judah. The prophecy is presented as a poem  with  wordplays on the name of each  city to describe the kind of judgment that will take place there. For example, the city of Shaphir, whose name means beauty, will be made naked and ashamed.

The kind of justice described in this passage does not sit comfortably with a lot of people, including myself at times. It is important to remember, however that all of us deserve the same kind of just judgment described in this passage. Because God is perfectly holy and has set the standard of right and wrong, we all deserve God’s retributive justice, to face His wrath for eternity. Instead,  in His love, God sent his Son to live a perfect life and take the right penalty for our sins so that if we believe, our sin is transferred to Christ and his perfect righteousness is transferred to us.

The idea of God’s justice should first make us thankful for our salvation because God, through the death of his Son, saved us from the judgment we justly deserve. Second, God’s justice should provide us with a sense of urgency to bring the gospel to a lost and dying world. More important than fixing any temporal ill in this world, more important than any social cause we may support is the need to get the gospel to those who, in their sin, are heading for God’s judgment. 

11.13.2020 Fall 2020 Week Six

Bobby Hekel

Testimony of the Week: Christine Chen

Christine is a third year nursing major who enjoys having deep conversations & sipping oat milk lattes in coffee shops. 

Amazing grace

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost

But now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see

This is the story of amazing grace, how God saved a wretch like me. 

I was born into a loving family with God-fearing parents and attended my parents’ Chinese church for most of my childhood. I grew up learning about many of the bible stories, and I even memorized verses for my youth group’s yearly “Bible Challenge” event, but my heart was hardened to the truth from those words. I never doubted God’s existence, but I had a skewed view of God’s character and my own sinfulness. Really, I did not feel like I needed God because I was blind to my own sinfulness and depravity before His perfect holiness and sovereignty. 

Growing up, I prided myself on being a morally good person who was friendly, extroverted, and enthusiastic. In my early years of high school, I worshipped my reputation before man. The compliments of others fed my ego, and I genuinely thought I was better than most people. I continued to attend church twice a week and was an active member of my youth group, but I did so out of obligation and as an excuse to spend time with my friends (fun fact: they are still some of my closest friends to this day – God doesn’t waste anything!). 

As I progressed in high school, I lived for myself and the things of this world. I was consumed with academic success and the approval of man. My GPA and the praise of others determined my happiness, and as a result, I was never satisfied. My selfish heart always wanted more than what was meant to be sought after in this world. In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” My heart is certainly no exception. 

In the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I fell into a depressive episode. That summer, I was preparing to take the SAT, and there was not a day that went by where I did not think about college. I measured myself to a worldly standard and coveted my personal success in life. In the eyes of man, I would never be good enough. Never smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough. Never enough. Blinded to my sinfulness, I was filled with egocentric thoughts, building and basking in a kingdom of self. This self-focused way of living eventually led me to this low point in my life. In retrospect, this dark time in my life was God’s blessing in disguise. 

During this time, It was difficult for me to get out of bed every morning because I felt insignificant. Yet even though I felt hopeless, by the grace of God, I somehow still had hope in my heart. I clung to the possibility that my life was not going to end in despair, and that I was meant for something greater than myself. Thankfully, this rang true. 

I realized that living for myself and my desires was a hopeless endeavor. I would always want more, and I would never be satisfied or content.The slight yearning in my heart that possibly, just possibly, my life was meant to be lived for something much greater than myself, kept me searching for God. And search, I did. 

In my junior year of high school, I decided to find a Bible-believing church in San Diego, and my older sister, a GOC alumnus, recommended Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego to me. I fondly recall the first time I attended LBCSD and heard Pastor Patrick preach. I remember hearing the gospel for what felt like the first time. After service, I remember feeling terrible but genuinely repentant. I was sorry for the ways that I lived for myself and thought nothing about God. God convicted me of my sinful state, and I realized that I needed to repent and transform internally. God opened my eyes to His word, and I began to find meaning in every verse I read. I was in awe of a gracious and holy God who loves sinners despite our obvious and apparent shortcomings. Romans 5:8 gripped my heart. 

Romans 5:8

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

God, holy God, who knows how deeply we offend Him as wretched sinners sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, who is deserving of no wrong, who deserves our pure worship, who chose to love us. That is amazing grace.

From that season forward, I was so utterly convinced of God’s goodness and kindness in my life. I was in desperate need for God. I did nothing to deserve His kindness and care. In fact, I rebelled against Him, and yet He preserved me in spite of my sinfulness. 

I joined the youth group at LBCSD, learned so much about the Bible, experienced the sweet joys of being served by hospitable families, met up with many older godly women who I’m still very close to, babysat children from the church, and went on late night boba runs with college students after bible study. Through all of this, I experienced the bliss of being a part of a Gospel- centered, Bible-believing church family that has so much love for God and each other for the first time. I became a member of LBCSD the fall of my senior year and got baptized the following Spring. Needless to say, I am so glad God used this church as a part of my testimony to saving faith. 

In my time in college, I can say with confidence that my love for God and hatred for sin only increases with each passing day. As a result of God’s great love for His people, I strive to love others more perfectly. My life is characterized by Psalm 16:11, the joy that comes from God.

Psalm 16:11

“You make known to me the path of life;

    in your presence there is fullness of joy;

    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Now, I feel significant not because of my worldly achievements but because my identity is in Christ, not in the things of this world, and I can boldly proclaim that I am a daughter of God. While I still struggle with battling my anxiety, worldliness, pride, and sin, as I will until the day I die, I know that this is not a hopeless battle; it is a battle that I joyfully endure because the Lord, my God will help me overcome it. I take comfort in the promises of John 16:33.

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

My constant prayer for my life is Psalm 19:14.

Psalm 19:14

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” 

While there are many areas for growth in my life (..like a LOT y’all), I’m excited to see how God will continue to shape, sanctify, and use my life for His glory. Soli deo gloria. 

2 Corinthians 4:16 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

God’s Judgment and a Prophet’s Compassion

This sermon by Pastor Austin Duncan covered Micah 1:2-9. God pronounces judgment on Israel and Judah for their disobedience and sinfulness against Him. The first two verses focus on how God is sovereign above the heavens and earth, yet still comes down to meet His people where they are. Verses 3 and 4 cover the judgment that no longer feels distant when the Lord comes which is terrifying for sinners like us. Micah’s message shocked the Israelites because they thought that God was pronouncing judgment on their enemies- Assyria and Babylon. However, God was declaring judgment on the Israelites due to their unfaithfulness and corrupt worship. Pastor Duncan emphasized that the judgment first begins in the house of God. Verses 8 to 9 illustrate how Micah responded to the coming judgment. The prophet weeped, understanding that God’s people deserved judgment. The ultimate model of compassion is Christ, and when we reflect on the incoming judgment that the world will face, we should be in tears like Micah and Jesus. 

This message is particularly applicable to us sinners today, because we know that the sinful world will soon be facing God’s wrath. As the tumultuous year of 2020 comes to a close, we are reminded of how fallen the world is by the many events that occurred and are currently happening. It is all too easy for Christians to look forward to the coming judgment of non-believers and think that the world deserves punishment. However, Pastor Duncan’s point about how the house of God will be judged first resonated deeply with me. The judgment of a perfect and holy God is terrifying, and even though we are sinners saved by grace, we still deserve the Lord’s judgment. We are no better than those who reject the Gospel; it is God in His mercy who chose to save us. Therefore, the coming judgment on the world should sadden us, just like how Micah and Christ cried.  

From this passage, I am reminded to guard my heart against judgment and pride in my attitude towards non-believers. There is no reason for us as Christians to be judgmental or prideful, since we are sinners prone to wrongdoing also. Instead, just like how Micah was in tears for the Israelites and how Christ showed compassion towards everyone, we should be mourning for the world. Ultimately, we are also sinners who deserve God’s wrath, and as we go about our daily lives, we should be saddened when thinking about judgment. Likewise, we should constantly reflect on what a blessing it is to be saved and adopted into God’s family instead of facing His wrath because Christ paid it all for us. 

11.6.2020 Fall 2020 Week Five

Samantha Kan

Who is Like the Lord Our God?

This past Friday, Austin preached on Micah 1:1, particularly focusing on the details of who Micah was, where he was proclaiming God’s Word, and who he was proclaiming to. We learned about the history and geography of Israel and Judah and learned how it was applicable to the book of Micah. We also looked at the structure of the book of Micah and how there was a common theme of judgment with subsequent hope, repeating in three sections of the book. All in all, it was a quick overview of the circumstances surrounding Micah when he wrote this book which we will be studying this year.

The main highlight of Austin’s sermon was related to Micah’s name which means “Who is Like the Lord Our God?” Austin discussed how Micah was preaching to the Israelites whose responsibility was to strive to be like God, holy in all His ways. But in their sin, they had forgotten their purpose. So then came Micah who was named “who is like the Lord our God”. Micah’s name reminds Israel of their whole reason for being. 

But who IS like the Lord, our God? Is there anyone who can match the mercy, love, and compassion that the Lord has so bountifully bestowed upon us? Can we even understand how great His divine attributes are? Austin argues that we cannot even come close to comprehending just how great God’s hope is for us without first understanding God’s judgment and our sin. In our daily lives, we need to be constantly reflecting upon our sinful nature in order for us to fully understand and apply God’s love in our lives. 

10.30.2020 Fall 2020 Week Four

Timothy Ho

Nothing Minor about Micah

Micah is not a common book we hear from on a regular Friday night. Typically, the book is regarded as mysterious and sometimes the passages may seem irrelevant to today’s 21st century. However, as we take a closer look at the book, the mysteriousness begins to fade away, and a clearer vision of God’s profound lessons and messages is seen. The invaluable treasures found in this minor prophet — the relatable sufferings of Micah in his generation, the overtones of judgment and salvation traced throughout the book, and the promise and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ — points us to God’s faithful character, encouraging our hearts to hope and ponder deeply on the profound words spoken ages ago in Micah. 

What I love about the overview of Micah is the display of God’s steadfast faithfulness to His people. He doesn’t leave us alone in our chaotic state of injustice, human governance, lovelessness, greed, treatment of the poor, and so much more, but gives us guidance through the lessons of Micah. I am reminded that this book is a provision and grace from God, who cares deeply about our own personal struggles with the chaotic society around us. Secondly, the overtones of judgment and salvation traced throughout the book reveal God’s faithful plan to judge the wicked and save sinners for the glory of His name. He gives a glimpse of God’s redemptive plan by foreshadowing the ministry of Jesus Christ, which now, centuries later, we can see God’s faithfulness in bringing this plan into fruition. This display of God’s faithfulness gives me faith and perseverance to press on in this world — whether it would be enduring the implications of the pandemic or reaching out to maintain deep fellowship — because I have hope that our faithful God is still in the process of fulfilling the promises He has made in His Word and to His children. 

As a response to God’s faithfulness displayed in Micah, we can wholeheartedly pursue loving one another deeply, persevering in a chaotic world, and forbearing in faith as we live on in this life. His steadfast character and His promise to trample sin gives us the hope to cling to as we navigate the ups and downs of life’s trials and joys. Much of this has reminded me of the verses founded in Hebrews 10: 23-25:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

10.23.2020 Fall 2020 Week Three

Nicole Lam