Pastor Larry's Category

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Articles submitted by Pastor Larry.

Friday, 30 April 2010 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2010

Written by Lorsen Koo
Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


May 2010


Day Light Saving time started a few weeks ago. We now enjoy longer and brighter days. I looked out from my kitchen window this morning, and realized the Apple-pear tree in the backyard have already started blossoming. Spring time, I love spring! It gives me a sense of freshness. The sweet scent of fresh flowers is refreshing. Unless you have allergy, then it may create a little problem with your sneezing. We had plenty of rain this past winter. Yes, we did need the rain because we had a few years of drought. But I’m glad that the wet and gloomy weather, which really didn’t work for me or the building project, is behind us at least for a while.


Spring time reminds me of a new beginning. The flowers are blooming, the streams are running, the birds are singing. All these give people a sense of vitality. This sense of fresh start is important. Aren’t you glad that there is always a chance to have a new beginning every year? I can’t even begin to fathom what Life would be like if there was no chance to start over. It is true that we can’t change history, the past would always be the unchangeable facts, yet with a new beginning, there is hope. With a new beginning, we can always build on past success, and more importantly, have a chance to redeem what we have messed up before. We are not doomed forever. To me, that is the message of spring time.


It is only fitting to know that Easter falls in the spring time because of what Easter stands for. The etymology of the name “Easter” is uncertain, but the festival dated back to Christians celebrating Christ’s resurrection. According to the biblical account, we can affirm the date of Easter because Jesus was crucified on Friday during the week of Jewish Passover. On that particular Friday, Jesus’ lifeless body was hung on the cross between two thieves. That wasn’t a scene to be honored, but as strange as it might sound, it was necessary in order to achieve what Jesus intended to do on earth—died to pay for the penalty of Sin. The last statement Jesus made on the cross before he died was “It is finished!” God’s righteous demand on the penalty of Sin has been completely paid for by Jesus’ death. There is no other requirement to be fulfilled by anyone else or by any other means. It is finished! Without the crucifixion, there would not be Easter. As Christians, we remember the Saving Grace of Jesus on the cross, and we celebrate the Victorious Life on Easter: A new beginning that brings the believers into Eternity. It is more than duration; it is fulfillment of Life.


Before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to invite those, who have yet to believe Jesus’ death paid for your Sin and rose from the dead to give you a New Life to simply accept His gift of Salvation. All you need to do is to accept that you are a sinner in need of the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ.


Pastor Larry

Thursday, 30 April 2009 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2009

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


May 2009


Holding on for Dear Life


It seemed like it wasn’t too many years ago we were enjoying prosperous living. Economy was doing well, and most everybody seemed to enjoy life. I still remember a conversation with a friend about the stock market during the zenith years. I said: “Watch, the NASDAQ is going to hit 4000 before you know it.” Wow! Good thing that I’m not a financial consultant. That “prophecy” of mine never came to pass. I’d better stick to explaining the “prophecies” of the Bible instead.


I was captured by the featured title of March Time magazine—Holding on for Dear Life. The articles circled around the topic of the current economic situation we are in. It is difficult for anyone to completely analyze the main source of this global economic meltdown. One thing many people anticipate is that it will get worse before it will get better. As far as I can remember, and I have lived in California for many years, I can’t recall having an unemployment rate being close to 10%! It means one out of ten people is out of a job! If you still hold on to a job, you have plenty of reasons to be thankful.


Amidst the massive layoffs, foreclosures, and other horrible financial news, we heard Bernard Madoff scamming 50 Billion—a figure I can’t really comprehend. Then we heard the AIG mess—giving out bonuses to those who brought in businesses that sank the company. We also heard many CEOs continuing to make their millions, which they probably don’t need to survive, while at the same time laying off many employees who most probably need their jobs to pay for their mortgages. Needless to say, all these created stress and frustration. We are living in an unfair and volatile world, both political and economical. The caption from one of the feature articles in Time magazine reads, “One false step, one fierce wind, and a lifetime of work and hope can all come crashing down.” Isn’t it true? What is our security?


Yes, we do need to hold on for dear life. I can imagine a man rock climbing, holding on to a rope anchored at the top of a cliff. He has nothing else to save him from crashing down other than the rope and little clefts here and there to rest his feet from time to time. But in reality he can’t tell whether the rope is firmly secured at the top. I think this is a good imagery. If you hold on to a rope that isn’t securely fastened, you will have a free fall when you place your whole body weight on the rope. You will come crashing down. And this is what we see today. Many people are holding on to the false hope and insecure ropes, like money, power and fame. They can all vanish in a short time. Like bubbles, they burst if you squeeze them too hard. Therefore, hold on to them lightly; control them instead of being controlled by them.


Before I sign off, I would like to suggest to you that the Bible offers us a great formula to hold on for dear life. It is recorded in I Timothy 6:6. It says, “godliness and contentment is great gain.” A healthy relationship with God plus a sense of satisfaction is great gain. What will you gain? You will gain survival skill. I hope you will hold on this rope.


Pastor Larry

Wednesday, 30 April 2008 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2008

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


May 2008


First thing first: I like to acknowledge mistyping a word in the January’s Newsletter. I quoted an article from Mercury News about a drunk driver. I mistyped that Bill Cole is the husband of Sara, but instead should be ex-husband. I apologize for the error.

Pastor Larry


My wife and I went on vacation to Dallas, Texas for a week. It was a refreshing time for us to be able to get away from the hustle and bustle of ministries. We really enjoyed the slower pace of life. During the week, we had a chance to reflect on our walk with the Lord, the way we do ministries, and affirming our calling as pastor and pastor-wife. We also had a chance to visit and worship in a striving “traditional” church. We spoke with the senior pastor, Charles Swindoll, very briefly, and I told him that I am one of his secret mentees, who really appreciate his authenticity and transparency. Truthfully, what makes Christians different from the rest of the world is our authenticity and transparency. This is particularly true for leaders of a church. Our laughs, our cries are all done in ways to show that we are normal people, even though we have been born again. Though our spirits are enlightened, yet we are still bounded by many of our daily struggles, and we suffer the limitations of having a depraved emotion and a fragile life.


Then we have to come back to face reality after a short week! Of course, it doesn’t take too long after we get back to turn up our gears to once again dive back to a much faster pace of life. I think most of you agree with me that Life can be stressful. It doesn’t matter at what stage of life you are in; you will still face many challenges. Therefore, it is best to learn some stress management strategies. If we can identify the stressors, which are things that produce stress, it may help us to enhance a manageable control over them. Counselors tell us that it is impossible to remove all the stressors. About the only thing we can do is to manage them. After years of struggling, I’m still learning. But one thing I experienced over and over again is that if I have a calm spirit, I can handle much more stress. Since I can’t control the number of stressors, therefore, I need to learn to handle my very own emotional state. How can we develop a calm spirit? It is by having a positive attitude, because negativism draws a lot of energies, and thereby eliminates what is in our “tank”. We also need to set our priorities. We often spend a lot of energies on the non-essentials, and leave us with not enough strength for the essentials. “Trim-line” our works and make them effective is helpful. Of course, ask for help and learn to say no also help. I think the most important element is learning to forgive—ourselves and others. Set ourselves free of any bitterness because having a bitter spirit certainly will crush our souls, and affect our outlook of life. Our mental and physical health is important to us.


Before I sign off, I like to mention that the Bible have already given us the best remedy. It says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) Therefore, develop a cheerful heart because God loves you. If you haven’t done so, pick up a bible and read the Word of God because in it, you will find treasures of Life.


Pastor Larry

Monday, 30 April 2007 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2007

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


May 2007


When I started to write this newsletter, one of the saddest broadcasts came over the airwaves. I’m sure all of you have heard or read about the gunman who killed thirty-two and wounded over ten people Virginia Tech University (VTU). There is no record in American history that a tragedy of this magnitude has ever happened within an educational facility. Schools and universities are supposed to be safe havens for students whose desire is to be educated, and knowledge should make people better in all areas. But somewhere along the line, we, as a people, have forgotten that knowledge doesn’t really solve human’s problem. If it could, America, with its prestigious institutes, should be a utopia. There is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed—Sin. I don’t want to sound too philosophical about this incident because my heart goes to all the victims, and most assuredly, the loved ones they left behind. It’s going to take tremendous amount counseling and a grieving period before the wounds are healed, if at all possible.


When tragedies like these happen, people often ask, “Where is God?” I found myself asking the same question after hearing about the VTU massacre. Coincidentally, our minister wrote on a similar topic last month, therefore, I won’t repeat her message (available on the SCBC website under Pastor’s corner). My have already accepted that this world is not getting any better. According to the Bible, this world will grow worse before it will be transformed. As Christians, we look forward to this day: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (II Peter 3:13)

God has given people a freedom of choice to choose good and shun evil. With the choice we make, we will reap its consequences, good or bad. We often hear people ask, “Why can’t God stop evil?” Through His very own inspired Word, I know that He wants to. He has given a blueprint written in the Bible on how to live in harmony with each other, but we, often choose to reject His way. This world is how it is, because of our choosing, not God’s desire. Maybe it is time for us to search our souls and hold ourselves responsible for what we have done. History shows God rebuked the Israelites, asking them to repent and return to Him, but His words fell on “deaf ears.” They reaped severe tribulation. Only the “remnant” responded, but they also had to suffer along with the rest of the stubborn and unrepentant people. I believe we are repeating history today. For Christians, I encourage you to keep trusting God. These tragedies remind us that the Bible is trustworthy. Don’t be in denial or feel despair. You should stand firm and lift your head for your redemption is near. Jesus is coming! A famous preacher in the 1920’s by the name of Vance Havner once said, “Christians are always just a few heartbeats from heaven. It ought to make a difference.”

Before I sign off, I also would like to take this opportunity to reach out to those who are still skeptical about Jesus being the only Way to Heaven. The Bible gives you plenty of warnings, and they were written to guide you to trust in God. When the New Heaven and Earth are made, don’t get caught left outside. Come with us. This is the best choice you will ever make.


Pastor Larry

Monday, 01 May 2006 13:11

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2006

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


May, 2006


After thirty-five years of discovering the artifacts of the “Gospel of Judas” in a cave along the Nile River, its story began to surface a couple of weeks ago. The artifacts are currently being exhibited at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. As the story surfaces, we learn more of the “story behind the story” regarding the whereabouts of the discovery. There are many facets of this story, such as how the documents were looted and later returned, how the documents were partially ruined after being put in a freezer, and of course, the content itself, which reveals the “real” Judas of Iscariot.


I’ll leave it for the “experts” to determine the age and authenticity and other archeological findings, such as the missing pages and fragments. According to a partial content of the document, Judas was portrayed as the “good guy” who helped Jesus get rid of his flesh in order to liberate the divine being within. Therefore, Judas should be considered as Jesus’ friend, and not a traitor. Just as the fictional book DaVinci Code, this kind of new “revelation” certainly will stir interest from many regardless of their religious background. Is there any “truth” to what was written? If it was true, our Faith would be shaken, if not crumbled.


Regardless of the authenticity of the “Gospel according to Judas,” as Christians, how should we look at these kinds of “facts”? After all, DaVinci did paint a picture of a woman sitting next Jesus, and apparently Judas (or his confidant) wrote about his special relationship with Jesus. First, we shouldn’t be surprised with these kinds of writings. The rest of the apostles   wrote to the early churches to guard against false teachings such as these. In the early church age, there were many false teachings infiltrated into the churches. Therefore, it is only expected that these documents be found sooner or later. Second, we need to realize that what is authentic isn’t necessarily the truth. Similar to the complaint about the church suppressing the DaVinci painting, Judas’ teachings were ruled heretical by early church leaders. It would be a great disservice to the truths if the church would allow these kinds of false teachings to exist within the church. I tend to believe that every Chinese who knows about history would denounce the textbook used in Japan describing the “war” with China in Nanking as false teaching. The Japanese looked at the incident as a necessary invasion while the Chinese looked at it as a holocaust. The content may be authentic, but it isn’t the truth.


I imagine there will be more doubts cast to shake up Christians’ faith. Therefore, we must stand firm in faith and at the same time, have a full grasp of the Truths by being familiar with the Scripture. The Bible always warns that the most dangerous Christian is an ignorant Christian. Before I sign off, I would also like to say that this is a great opportunity for us to dialogue with those who question our Faith. Hold on to the Truths and grasp the opportunities to share how the Truths have changed your lives.


Pastor Larry

Sunday, 01 May 2005 13:46

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2005

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

May, 2005


Demands, demands, and more demands. Isn’t it a common occurrence in work places? Meeting deadlines with endless interruptions cause major-league headaches that Extra-strength Tylenol barely helps. Those are the times we need to slow down, get a few laughs, refresh, and think about the meaning behind what we do. It is during those moments we stop and think about the philosophy of life.


Someone once said, “The person who knows how will always have a job . . . and he will always work for the person who knows why.” That’s quite insightful, I think. People who know how are on the front lines sweating to produce and do the best they know how to survive and keep the job. They will always be the largest in number among the work force. In order to be a successful company, it must have enough people who know why. Those are the people set goals for the company, dispense energy to give direction in order to reach the goal, and motivate enthusiasm among those who know how to execute. Stop and think. It may even force you to ask, “Which am I?”


Stagnancy comes when those who know why spend too much time doing things that ought to be done by those who know how. When you have the wrong person doing the right job, it’s called “mismanagement.” When you have the right person doing the wrong job, it’s called “ineffectiveness.” If you have the wrong person doing the wrong job, it’s chaotic!


What is true with organization is also true with church ministries. We are almost halfway through this year’s theme—“Living with a mission.” As far as the church is concerned, the Lord Jesus Christ laid out a foundation for His ministries in Ephesians 4:11-12, which says, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up the body of Christ.” God has given different people different gifts. Using the gifts is the how, but please also notice the why. To equip saints is why the Lord appoints leaders. To serve is why saints are equipped. To build up the Body of Christ is why it is important to serve. It is vital for church members to not only know how, but why to serve. Once you have understood the privilege of being asked by the King of kings to build up His body, we should engage in His ministries with a thankful heart.


Before I sign off, I would like to encourage those who are married not to forfeit your missions at home. Husbands, your mission is to lead your family to walk with Christ by using the biblical principles as your household code. Wives, your mission is to submit, follow and support your husband’s vision. The saying is accurate that behind every successful man is a better woman.


Pastor Larry

p.s. Happy Mother’s Day! May the Lord bless you with beautiful and godly children.

Saturday, 01 May 2004 14:43

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

May, 2004


About this time every year, we will be reminded of our parents because we have Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June. You know, being parents nowadays isn’t easy, especially for those who live in this high-strung, fast pace, and constantly changing Silicon Valley. New toys that came out only five years ago become obsolete today. Even the “Up-to-date” parents are having a difficult time catching up with what their children are talking or maybe “rapping” about.


Parenting is getting increasingly difficult. Our children are deeply influenced by what they watched on TV and listened to on radio. For example, the latest news report stated that alcohol commercials are frequently seen on TV programs that are most watched by youths. Though it is by law that alcohol commercial has to include “drink responsibly” statement, yet if we think it’s effective enough, we’re fooling ourselves. The amount of sexual content, violent behavior, and the foul languages used on TV and movie screens are so common nowadays that they permeate into our young children’s mind. Many young people are confused with the gay issue. Unfortunately, we can’t just say, “The Bible said that’s wrong” because there are so many churches and clergies who support this unbiblical movement.


Difficult as it is, if you believe children are God’s properties entrusted to us to raise, we need to do all diligence to accomplish the mission. There are no foolproof methods for parenting. Many Christian and secular books give good advices. They do provide helpful ideas, but you can’t copy what they suggested and hope they’d work. Every child is different. Therefore, we need to know our children, not only by their names. We need to know their personality. Proverbs teaches us to bring up our children according to their temperament. We also need to talk to them. Our problem is that we only talk to them when either they are in trouble or when we are displeased with them. We seldom casually talk to them about “silly” things. But those “silly talks” are the times you can develop a meaningful relationship. And rarely do we ask them what they think. Most of the conversations we have with our children are one directional. They deemed that as “lectures.” No wonder they don’t want to talk to us. Maybe we need to make some kind of change there. Knowing them and talking to them takes time! Unless we are willing to give up some of our times for them, we will always struggle with parenting.


My wife and I hold hands to pray for our children almost every day, and they know it. It’s good that they know you really care for them. One day, one of them said, “I appreciate my parents who pray for us every day.” Maybe this is something you can start doing. It’s never too late to pray. There is nothing more powerful than having both parents praying for their children. Whether your children can see it is beside the point. The point is, if you believe they are God’s properties entrusted to you, shouldn’t you entrust God to partner with you to raise them?


Pastor Larry

Wednesday, 30 April 2003 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2003

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

May, 2003


I opened the front page of the San Jose Mercury News this morning and read two depressing headlines of the day: Valley star (financial guru) faces criminal charges and Ex-Jesuit (Catholic Association) arrested on Sex charges. Later that day, I saw a news headline on CNN of a judge was caught on camera, taking bribe in cash or gifts to make favorable judgment for the giver. How sad it is that “justice” and “judge” don’t equal to one another! Greed and sex fill the pages of almost every newspaper and television programs. These kinds of crimes affect not only the persons involved; the damage is like a ripple effect that extends beyond one’s imagination. Cases like these don’t seem to stop any time soon. Not too long ago, we learned Enron and Worldcom falsified their financial records. And who can forget the sex scandals of many Evangelical preachers and Catholic priests? Chances are high that we will continue to hear these kinds of scandals. They are not going to go away!


What happened to the moral compass of society? Are there still people who care for the better good of humanity? I would hope so, but the painful truth is that the numbers are dwindling. This led me to remember Jesus forewarning us that at the Last days, there will be an increase of wickedness, and the adverse effect of that is the love of most will grow cold. But Jesus continued to say that he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:12f). Stand firm on what? Stand firm on the truth we have received through the Word—keeping the unbending ethics even if the moral standard collapses around you. Stand firm on the truth of God’s love—segregate the sinner from his sins; accepts the sinner but reject his sins. We must learn to live uprightly in this sin infested culture, lest we become a laughing stalk of our own. We may not be on any newspaper headline, but when we fall, not only our name will be at stake; we will hurt others and put God’s name in shame.


Greed and sex are the two grand pillars of temptation at all times. For Christians, it is all the more need to know how to live in contentment with money, and practice self control with sex. We must realize these are slippery slopes, so we need to guard against walking dangerously close to the edge. If you get too close to the slope, you will certainly fall. Some will never be able to climb out of it; others will carry bruises for the rest of their lives.


Before I sign off, let me encourage you to push the temptations away. Be strong! God paid for the penalty of your sin, but He certainly will let you pay for the consequences of your sins, especially if you have committed willfully.


Pastor Larry

Tuesday, 30 April 2002 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2002

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

May, 2002


Early this year, a trial received national attention. The coach of a youth hockey team, whose son was also on the team, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the beating death of another father after a practice game. Thomas Junta, a forty-four year-old, 270 pound truck driver argued with another father over the amount of rough plays in the game. It started with verbal argument, but ended up with both of them on the floor fighting. Mr. Junta was found on top punching the other father. Before anyone could step in to stop the fight, the father (I forgot his name) was unconscious and later died.


As we can see from this case, violence comes from anger and must be defused in a healthy manner. Otherwise, coupled with daily stress and occasional relational problem, a sense of rage would plant deep inside one’s emotion and could explode anytime. The question is not what if it explodes, but rather, when it explodes. For this reason, we are seeing more and more senseless murder-suicide cases recently. There is almost never a day gone by without hearing on the news of murder-suicide. It seems to be a thing to do to solve problems. I believe this is a reflection of people who are under extreme frustration and stress without having hope in sight.


The Bible tells us that we are created with a spirit, soul, and body. The three elements are intertwined, and therefore must be treated as one whole unit. Physical well-being will affect one’s emotional response. That is the reason why when you are tired, you would find yourself having short-tempered. When you are emotionally depressed, you would get sick easier because your immune system goes down. When you have a void in your spirit, life always seems unfulfilled. Though we cannot separate the three components of our being, yet our spirit is the most important part that needs to be satisfied. If you believe and accept God is a good God who wants the best for you in spite of adverse situation, you would be at peace. I don’t intend to over-simplify a complex working of the spirit, soul, and body, but when you have serenity within, together with adequate rest, good diet, occasional exercise, and appropriate leisure, you will be able to handle daily pressure a lot easier.


Before I sign off, let me suggest to you to take a deep breath, lift up your eyes to the hills, and ask, “Where does my help come from?” Can you say, “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”? Do you know this Lord? If the Lord’s willing, I will share another lesson we can learn from Mr. Junta next month.


Pastor Larry

Monday, 30 April 2001 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2001

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

May, 2001


Saint Augustine probably was the best-known Christian theologian of all times. With his brilliant mind, he was able to integrate doctrines with Christian living and brought theology to unparalleled level. To him, doctrines were not theories to be learned, but life-style to be had. The way he crafted the Doctrine of Grace was particularly outstanding because he was able to integrate the undeniable grace of God, his personal experience, and how a person should live in grace.


Though born in a Christian family with a mother who taught him about Christianity and prayed for him, yet Augustine had a rebellious childhood. Living away from home as a teenager, he began to live contrary to everything he was taught as a child. He threw aside his Christian Faith to follow heresies of that time and lived a life of immorality, which included theft, drunkenness, and in and out with prostitute.


Finally, when he was twenty-nine years old, God, in His grace, turned him around. God’s intervention wasn’t a coincidence; it was a direct result of continuous prayers of his mother, Monica. She prayed through her son’s sin, his engagement of heresy, and his fight with God. Those were hurting years for Monica, as any mother of a rebellious child knows. Finally, she went to a bishop, pleading for him to reach out to her son; but he refused because Augustine had a reputation as a clever orator and a vicious debater. The bishop comforted her by saying that a mind so brilliant like his would eventually see through the deception, but she was not consoled by it, so she continued to plead with him through rivers of tears. With that, the bishop said, "Go, go! Leave me alone. Live on as you are living. It is not possible that the son of such tears should be lost."


The son of such tears continued to run from God and his mother. He ran for many more years. Then, one day, he listened to Ambrose, bishop of Milan and a prominent churchman of the day. Tired from years of running from God and living a corrupted life; convicted and contrite for his sins, he turned to embrace the grace of Jesus. "The hands that rock the cradle" has more power than she ever imagined. The knees of those who rock the cradle with persistent prayers and tears will bring God into her children’s life. In the parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18, Jesus told us that we should always pray and not give up. No matter what your needs are, never stop praying. God will intervene!


Before I sign off, I wish all the mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. May God’s grace fill you and your family through and through.

Pastor Larry
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