Pastor Larry's Category

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Articles submitted by Pastor Larry.

Saturday, 01 October 2005 13:40

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry October 2005

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


October, 2005


Wow, what a sudden change in the weather yesterday (9/20)! There were lighting and thunder, followed by pebble-sized hail, and finally a gush of short but heavy rain. In the end, there was no harm done to our beautiful homes in the Bay Area. Such is not the case in the Southern parts of the country. At the wake of cleaning up the mess created by Hurricane Katrina, and with the rise of Hurricane Rita, it keeps the residents in the Gulf area on high alert. From a tropical storm, Rita has changed to a category four hurricane within a relatively short period of time. I can only imagine the chaos and the stress the people in that region must be feeling and having to endure, especially those who are in New Orleans. It is difficult for us to judge the cause of such a devastating natural disaster.


Again, some good-intentioned Christians claim that God is punishing the city of New Orleans because of city’s annual MardiGras, which basically is a festival to parade immorality. Before we give God a “bad name,” we need to separate our own individual speculations and the truths. When Christians make such outrageous claims, they seem to speak for God, when in fact they have no right to do that. I’m not saying that God is blind to the sins of the world, and it is also true that no unrighteous person can escape His judgment, but how and when He judges is His prerogative. When evil seems to have the upper hand or when immorality is on a rampage, remember what the Apostle Peter said: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9) As healthy Christians, we should not use disasters as lightning rods to “zap” people. We need to have compassion for those who suffer, just as Jesus did when He saw the hopeless multitudes.


It seems not too long ago I wrote about the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and it wasn’t that long ago we had to face the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. Why are there all these tragedies? Though the time and the hour is a mystery, the signs of the “End of the Age” are clear that there will be tribulations caused by men and nature. Are we entering this so called “End of the Age”? Nobody knows for sure because one may argue that wars and earthquakes have always been around. It is true, but no one can disagree that the magnitude is becoming greater. Come to think about it, how could Jesus and the disciples, especially John, who were not well-traveled nor had they viewed any CNN reports, predicted these kinds of disasters so long ago? The answer rests on the “behind the scene” author of the Bible—God, who remains ruler of history, regardless of how bad this world seems to be heading. His plan is beyond anyone’s understanding.


Before I sign off, I encourage all Christians to take time to reaffirm your faith in Christ. He hasn’t lost control of the world. He is directing this world and all these signs we have seen lately should direct our thoughts to rely on His promise—His Glorious Return. If you have yet to believe in Christ, I wish you to take some time to meditate the value of things you work so hard to build. If there is no eternal value, it can vanish in a matter of hours. All you can do is to watch and mourn! God is preparing an Eternal dwelling for you only if you believe.


Pastor Larry

Friday, 01 October 2004 14:37

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry October 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

October, 2004


During one of my sermons, I talked about the importance of having a balanced life. Too often we run into extremes. This is particularly true for Christians, who with good intentions try to do their best, but end up running their lives aground. In the process, they lose their joy and feel despair. The danger of living in extremes is that we are too close to the edge. One slip, and we’ll fall off the cliff.


Recently, I came across some examples that can help us understand this danger. I’ll mention a couple just to let you chew on them. First example, loving and learning from the Bible, but not worshipping it. One time I heard a speaker telling his audience that they shouldn’t put coffee on top of a bible because it shows disrespect. Now, I’m not saying we should ruin the bible in any form or shape, which is the other extreme we should avoid. I’d rather see you make notes or draw pictures to help you understand or remind you of the words of God than to keep it squeaky clean. Another example is being active and involved in the local church, but not getting neurotic about attending every meeting. There are always people who ask, “Is attending all the church meetings a gauge of spirituality?” The answer is, “Of course not!” On the other hand, we shouldn’t be going to the other extreme thinking that we don’t need to attend worship because worship is a private matter or that we don’t need to fellowship with other Christians because we only need God. We need to value what God values. He loves to see His people getting together in public worship and fellowshipping so that the world may learn from us how to worship and see from us the genuine care and love we have for each other.


We have to ask God to give us the wisdom to live a balanced life. The reality is that the more balanced it is, the more tension it will create. Imagine the force you have to withhold while being pulled from both sides of extreme. One time someone asked St. Augustine about the secret of living the Christian life. He replied, “Love God, and do as you please.” Now, that’s balance. In response to this, Ken Gire, the author of The Reflective Life wrote this, “The thought of that is both liberating and confining. Liberating because it means we are free to do whatever we want. Confining because it means our love for God sets the boundaries of that freedom.” A balanced Christian takes God seriously, but does not take himself all that seriously. It means times of discipline should be balanced with times of relaxation, fun and laughter. This kind of balance is not only wholesome, but is healthy. Life is not frowns. Life is beautiful!

Before I sign off, I would like to share with you that a life with Christ will change your perspective from temporal to eternal. Only through viewing Life from an eternal perspective will we find true meaning in this temporal dwelling.


Pastor Larry

Tuesday, 30 September 2003 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry October 2003

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

October, 2003


Recently, I read an article on “How to survive a heart attack while alone” written by Dr. Daniel Rochman MD. I thought it would be beneficial for you to learn this survival skill.


“Let's say it's 6:15 p.m . and you're driving home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job. You're really tired, upset and frustrated. Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to radiate out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately, though, you don't know if you'll be able to make it that far.


What can you do? You've been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course neglected to tell you how to perform it on yourself. Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this article seemed to be in order. Without help, the person whose heart stops beating properly, and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness!


However, that person (victim) can help himself or herself by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A cough must be repeated about every 2 seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again. The deep breaths get much-needed oxygen down into the lungs, and the deep coughing cause muscular movements that squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The muscular squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it to regain its normal rhythm. By following these steps, most heart attack victims can get to a hospital.”


Of course, I don’t wish anyone to have to use this survival skill, and may not be fool-proof also, but knowing something that is so simple, yet has the possibility to save lives, is significant. In fact, there is another simple truth that will not only help you through this rugged life on earth, but also ensure your eternal dwelling. Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms . . . I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am.” It is a great promise by the Son of God. Unlike reviving from a heart attack, which one will eventually die, this promise provides an eternal security and is fool-proof also because the one who made this promise is the Origin of Life. The only way to embrace this promise is to believe in Him. I don’t want to sound too simplistic, but believing in Jesus means you have to accept that you can’t save yourself.


Before I sign off, I wish that none of you will have to use the technique to revive from a sudden heart attack, but I do wish all of you will believe in Jesus as your Personal Savior. For those who already have, continue to believe in Him that He can carry you through this rugged life on earth.


Pastor Larry

Monday, 30 September 2002 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry October 2002

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

October, 2002


While we were on vacation, my family and I went to a National Wildlife Refuge Complex with an old lighthouse in Kauai, Hawaii. After a short walk, we were at the coastline of the Pacific Ocean overlooking the abundance of different wildlife—birds, seals, and plants.

It was a clear and sunny day. I was able to see far away to the horizon where the ocean and the sky meet. Every wave that crashed on the cliff appeared to be the same, yet they were all unique. The clashing sound from the waves caused me to respect the mighty power of the ocean. Standing by the fence looking at the scenery, I reflected on God’s awesome creation. What I saw was only a minute part of the vast universe He bara (a Hebrew word which means to make something out of nothing, only used with regard to God). I remember what the Psalmist said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Ps. 19:1) At that particular moment, the “silent” proclamation of God’s greatness spoke to me. I worshipped Him right there in my heart.

Then I saw a few dolphins swim above and below the water, and, after a few minutes, disappeared out of sight. Nature itself is enough to declare the glory of God, and with the living creatures He bara that move gracefully around added to the beauty of God’s creation. When I looked up, I noticed a White-tailed Tropicbird flying solo in the sky. It looked so peaceful. It sure gave me the feeling the bird was enjoying itself as much as I enjoyed watching it. For a moment, I thought the bird was putting on a show just for me, and it helped me to think about God. I thought we, as Christians, are very much like that bird. The purpose of our existence as Christians in this world is to help people appreciate God. Like the bird flying over the sky caused me to reflect on God’s glory, our serving to Him should also help others to praise God. We don’t parade our own beauty, but that of God. That is our ultimate purpose in life.

After several minutes of flying alone, other comrades joined in. It gave a fuller picture of the sky. Suddenly I saw a bigger bird fly up the sky. It was a Great Frigatebird, with a wingspan of seven feet lifting a four-pound body. Most birds that migrant there dive in the ocean to catch fish as food, with the exception of the Great Frigatebird because their legs are too short and weak to take off from the water. Instead, with their size, they force other birds to drop their food—earning its Hawaiian name ‘iwa or “thief.” Like the Great Frigatebird, many things in life or even people around us try to rob us of what we are supposed to do—draw people to God. The only way from falling prey to this robbery is to hold tight to the spiritual food in our mouth, just as the Psalmist said, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14)

Before I sign off, I pray that you will consider joining in the flight to reflect God’s glory because He has bara a pure heart in you.


Pastor Larry
Sunday, 30 September 2001 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry October 2001

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

October, 2001


It has been a few weeks now since the 9/11 Attack on America. We’ve seen so much on the TV screen, heard so much through the airwave, read so much from magazines and newspaper, of stories that brought tears to our eyes, and at the same time, a sense of fear and helplessness, especially during the first few days. It seemed that there was a sheer of fear hovering over the whole country. The sense of insecurity overwhelmed everyone; the kind of feeling that was never felt before. This reminds us once again that America, though is one of the better places to live on earth, is not our permanent home.


I am sure glad that President Bush took a first step in the right direction. It would have been too easy to react out of rage from situation like this, but he rallied the whole country to pray first. From the National Day of Prayer, it triggered many prayer meetings around the country. We’ve been hearing about the recovery and the rebuilding of New York City. I have no doubt that it will happen. In time, New York City will be rebuilt to its former glory or even surpasses its former glory. I’m sure the construction will be stronger and its design will be more elegant, but let us be convicted that physical rebuilding is secondary to a spiritual revival. This is what we need in America. And maybe this is what we need in our homes. We spend a lot of effort and energy building our physical home, making it looks “nice,” ensuring financial security and physical safety. Rightfully so, we should, in all diligence, do that, but let us not forget that the foundation of our homes and our country is on its spiritual strength. The Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” So let us keep praying, keep clinging on to God for our families and our country, though you might think He is away, but He is not.


Through prayers, we are able to remember God’s unfailing love and care. This unfailing or loyal love is demonstrated on the cross. The Hebrew word of this unfailing or loyal love is hesed—a very important word to remember. Amidst the uncertainty of the world where we don’t know how long this war on terrorism will last or what the outcome of this will be, we can still trust in the hesed love of God, for in God’s hesed love, there is no forgetting. The world may not change for the better, and even if it would, it will only be for a short time, but if we trust in the hesed love of God, we are promised peace, a peace that transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.


This article is an excerpt of the sermon I preached on September 23. Before I sign off, I invite you to accept Jesus’ hesed love for you. It is a free gift by which you could gain a peace that transcends all understanding. And that is Security!


Pastor Larry

Saturday, 30 September 2000 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry October 2000

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

October, 2000


"Praise our God, O peoples,
Let the sound of his praise be heard;
He has preserved our lives
And kept our feet from slipping"


This is part of a praise psalm (66:8-9) written for people to sing glorious praises to God who delivered them in the past. Sometimes it was the deliverance from wicked attacks, other times it was the preservation from further decay. Looking back at these twenty years of our church history, we too have had experienced many evil attacks and had made wrong decisions on our own. I think if it weren’t for the grace of God, we would have slipped into a depth beyond restoration. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate to borrow this psalm to praise God for what He has done for our church.


Twenty years is not a short time by any stretch of imagination. In human development, twenty-year old is a turning point for most people. For many, it is leaving the "rebellious and the notion of know-it-all" stage and entering in "Am I ready to be on my own?" stage. We are given the capability to look back in past years and evaluate our decisions. Some were silly, some were defiant, some were great, while others didn’t make any different one way or the other. What makes a person successful is the discernment to glean through the past and have the courage to develop the positives and eliminate the negatives.


What is true for an individual is also true for a church. We should ask for spiritual discernment to evaluate our past ministries and a sincere heart to make adjustments in order to faithfully fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. The world we live in tells us that doing our best sometimes is just not good enough. We are demanded to perform with desirable outcome. Anything short of the desirable is deemed to be failure. But we praise God that He doesn’t look at the outcome. He alone is responsible for what is to come. All He wants from us is to try and keep on trying. At the very end, it isn’t the result that will be rewarded. It is our effort. Time and again, the Bible says, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Faithfulness is the key word. This is the reason why we praise God amidst all the failures and successes . . . of course from human’s perspective.


Happy Anniversary!


Pastor Larry


Wednesday, 31 October 2007 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry November 2007

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong

November 2007

By the time you read this newsletter, the fire in San Diego should have subsided. So far this fire has destroyed over a thousand homes and took six lives. By Wednesday, October 24, close to a million residents have to be evacuated from their homes. San Diego Qualcomm Stadium had to be opened to house the evacuees. UC San Diego had to shut down for a week due to polluted air. This brought back the horrifying memories of the destructive power of wild fire four years ago in the same county that leveled 4,847 homes and businesses and took fifteen people.

Whether I watched the news or read the newspaper, I saw the uncontrolled fire that consumed everything in sight. There was no stopping! Trees that took years to grow to those heights were burnt to ashes in a relatively short time. Houses that took a long time to build were leveled in minutes. All that was left was ashes.

There are stories within the story in every tragedy such as this. There are families who lost everything, but were still thankful for having their lives; while others seemed to have lost all hope. This led me to think about the things that I build. I believe all of us are building something every day. Whether it’d be something tangible like a beautiful house, successful career, assets for retirement, and so on, or something intangible, like a loving home, genuine friendship, personal character, spiritual vigor, and so on, we are builders. In this building process, we need to prioritize the list, lest we spend too much time building something that has no true and long lasting value. Imagine someone dispenses all his energies to make money to build his house, yet leaves no time to build a healthy and strong-bonded family. It would be a shame. Having strong families is essential to withstand tragedy. Maybe this is a good time for us to think about the things we build today. Do those things have true and lasting value?

Since this is Thanksgiving season, I’m also thankful that God has kept us safe. I found that I often take “Life” for granted. I should be thankful to be able to get up in the morning; and if I have health on that day, I should be even more grateful. When it comes to thanksgiving, I’ve learned to be thankful for the things I have, rather than hoping to have the things I don’t have. I believe true thanksgiving relates to contentment, as the Bible says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” I’m most grateful to God for giving me Eternal Life, so that I don’t worry about where I will go after my life ends in this world. I’m also grateful God has put a purpose for me in this life, so that I won’t be aimlessly dispensing my energies for no reasons.

Before I sign off, I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving season, and during this season, show your thankfulness by being gracious to someone

Pastor Larry

Tuesday, 31 October 2006 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry November 2006

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Larry Tong


November, 2006


Last Sunday, my family and I went to San Rafael after the Discipleship class. While the children were enjoying an late afternoon nap in the car, I enjoyed the time just being together. As we approached the Toll-booth on Richmond Bridge, something unexpected happened that took me a little aback. We were recipients of someone’s act of kindness. As I handed my fee to the toll collector, he said, “It’d been paid for.” I said, “What! Who paid?” “The lady in front of you.” I looked up and saw a red SUV pulling away as we spoke. I asked my family if any one of them recognizes the car. The response was “No!” So I sped up and tried to find out who this lady was, but due to the bridge construction, I wasn’t able to pass her, so I patiently followed her. It was almost to the end of the bridge before I could switch to the adjacent lane and sped up to driving next to her. I looked over and realized she was a total stranger to me. I waived and gave her a “thank-you” gesture, and went on my way. For the next few minutes, we talked about how nice it was for this lady to do something kind to others. It wasn’t the three dollars I saved that thrilled me, but the act of kindness of a person. I remembered there was a movement a few years back that called something like “Do a random act of kindness.” It was a suggestion for people to do something nice to others, preferably strangers, so as to promote kindness in society. I always thought it was a good idea to surprise others with a random act of kindness. Unfortunately, these kinds of acts of kindness are far and few in between. Therefore, it was such a breath of freshness to see someone is actually doing it, and out of all these people, we were the recipients!


It also reminded me of the movie Pay It Forward that was aired few years ago. The movie was about a young student who did a class-project to invest kind deeds to people in hope of making the world better. The idea was if I would do kind deeds to a few, and the few in turn do kind deeds to a few, very soon, the whole society would feel the impact. It was a good movie. This world (at least this society) will be different if more people participate in random acts of kindness to strangers.


Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Have we really thought of the meaning of Thanksgiving rather than having family reunion around dinner table covered with ham, turkey, yams, and other delicious food? Thanksgiving is a season to be thankful to God for His provision. In order to really show our appreciation, maybe we should extend our gratefulness to people beyond our families. Maybe we really should extend random acts of kindness to strangers. Think about it!


Before I sign off, I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your time with your families. Most importantly, thank God not only for the provisions He has given you so that you can enjoy a good life, but for the most precious gift of all—His Son Jesus Christ. If you’re yet to know Jesus Christ as your Savior, I pray that you will know Him one day for He came to give you Life, and have it to the full.


Pastor Larry

Tuesday, 01 November 2005 13:38

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry November 2005

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


November, 2005


Just about five years ago, California voters passed Proposition 22, in which it stipulates that it is the people’s choice to uphold marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Since then, advocates for “same-sex marriage” have been challenging the spirit of Proposition 22. The mayor of San Francisco, Gary Newsom, openly issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples as a defiant opposition to this measure. In addition, the legislature passed the legislation of “gender-neutral” marriages (only to be vetoed by the governor). These are a couple of examples to show how liberal politicians are trying to undermine the will of the people and the state constitution. Recently, a judge in San Francisco found a loophole in the wordings of the Constitution, and has thus ruled that there is a “right” to have same-sex marriages under the California State Constitution. It is now pending the ruling by the appellate courts.


As this issue is being battled in the political arena, many Christians have jumped on the “bandwagon” to protect the traditional marriage by petitioning to amend the Constitution, which reads, “A marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” Rightfully so! I believe it needs to be done. Our church is collecting signatures to support this amendment. This is the very least and the first step towards the right direction that we can do in the political arena to uphold our belief.


As Christians, I believe there is a higher calling for us to protect the wholesomeness of marriage by living out what “Christian marriage” is all about. It is sad to say that there are so many broken Christian families. The percentage of Evangelicals who file for divorce is no less than that of the pagans’. If we claim God’s love is so wonderful, why can’t people see that in our marriages? The short-term remedy to stop the avalanche of the same-sex marriage, if at all possible, is through the political channel, but the long-term remedy to “fix” this problem is having Christian couples live out wholesome marriages so that it may create a thirst for society to pursue biblical marriages. Can we change everybody’s minds? I would love to say, “Yes,” but in reality, the answer probably is, “No.” Before we want to change the world, let’s try to change ourselves and the peers who are around us. If our marriages are successful in the midst of unsuccessful marriages, I imagine we can raise some eyebrows. Apostle Peter said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” The principle of explaining our hope extends to explaining our happy marriage.


Before I sign off, it is my wish that all of you will have a deeper and fuller understanding of what it means to love our spouses sacrificially. It is seeking the best for him or her, according to God’s will. I also wish you a happy Thanksgiving. Come to think about it, maybe you can take this opportunity to thank God for your spouse, and also to verbalize it to your spouse.


Pastor Larry

Monday, 01 November 2004 14:35

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry November 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

November, 2004


Recently I came across a story about a prince and his newly wedded wife. Due to the length of the story, I have to summarize it in order to fit this newsletter. During their honeymoon, they were extremely happy. However, one thought disturbed them, and that was how to retain their present happiness. A wise man who often gave advice told them, “travel through the country and wherever you meet a completely happily married couple, ask them for a small piece of linen they wear close to the body, and when you receive it, you must always carry it with you all the time.”


So they went. In one of the castles they visited, they heard of a knight and his wife who were said to be living the most happily married life. They went to ask him if the rumor was correct. “Yes, of course,” was the answer, “with one exception that we have no children!” That didn’t work for them. So they continued their journey. They came to a country where they heard of an honest citizen who lived in perfect unity and happiness with his wife. So they went to him and inquired if he really was as happily married as people said. “Yes, I am,” answered the man. “My wife and I live in perfect harmony; if only we didn’t have so many children, for they give us a lot of worries and sorrows!”


Disappointed, they went on looking for the perfect couple. One day, they came across a shepherd cheerfully playing the flute. Just at that time, they noticed a woman carrying a child on her arm, and holding a little boy by the hand, walked towards him. As soon as the shepherd saw them, he went to embrace them with tenderness. They ate a simple meal on the grass. All this was observed by the prince and his wife from a distance. They approached them and asked, “You must be a truly happily married couple.” “Yes, that we are,” said the man, “God be praised; no prince or princess could be happier than we are!” That’s it! The prince quickly asked for a small piece of linen garment as instructed by the wise man. The shepherd look puzzled, and finally said, “God knows we would be only too happy to give you not only a small piece, but the whole shirt, or undergarment, if we only had them, but we own not as much as a rag!”


The prince went back to the wise man discouraged from an unaccomplished mission, who taught them that true happiness is contentment—a rare gift on this earth. A simple story, isn’t it? But how difficult it is to have contentment. May be that’s the reason why there are so many unhappy people.


Before I sign off, I would like to remind you “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim. 6:6) God has given you the best gift—His very own life. Anything else is “icing on the cake.” During this Thanksgiving season, take time to thank God for what He has given you already. You’d be surprised how much peace and happiness contentment can bring. Happy Thanksgiving.


Pastor Larry
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