Pastor Larry's Category

Pastor Larry's Category (97)

Articles submitted by Pastor Larry.

Thursday, 31 July 2008 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry August 2008

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


August 2008


Wow! Over $4.50 per gallon! And I’m talking about gasoline. The Dow Jones Averages have been declining as of late. The housing market is in chaos. I don’t know about you, but I see my fortunes falling. Last week, a statistic showed that 63% of Californians say they are worse off financially than they were a year ago. This figure doubled since December of last year, when only 33% felt the economic pinch. There are so many foreclosures in real estate, and so many people filed for bankruptcy. The federal government is trying to patch up this chaotic situation. We also see the US dollar dipped to an all-time low against other currencies. A few months ago when I went to Toronto to visit my in-laws, the Canadian dollar was higher than the US dollar for the first time. Will this economic situation rebound? Nobody knows for sure. Some put their hope on the next President. Some think that it depends on when the troops in Middle East will be withdrawn. There are too many unknowns.


What can we learn from this? First of all, things change rapidly these days. One of the reasons for this is the tremendous speed of transferable information around the world. Things happened on the “other side” of the world can be seen on TV or via Internet within seconds. The Book of Daniel, which was written some twenty-five hundred years ago, prophesied that knowledge will increase at the end time. Surprised? We shouldn’t be. After all, the Bible is the word of God. It allows us to see a glimpse of the future. This brings out an important point, and that is, the Bible is a trustworthy document.


Second, economy is going to be the controlling factor of the world. Money is important to every individual and nation. On a smaller scale, nobody can survive in this world without it. The Bible speaks of money as an asset given by God, and therefore, we need to be a good steward of it: give generously, spend wisely, and save purposefully. Develop a plan to control money. Otherwise, it will control you. I’ve heard a line that may be helpful for you: “A plan today is better than a ‘better’ plan tomorrow.” No doubt money is important, but is not the most important asset in life. The Bible says, “In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!” (Rev. 18:17) Money could vanish in a very short time, so do not hang all your hope on it. Though it is useful, it cannot buy you everything. It can’t even buy the most basic need of humankind. It can’t buy love! Psychologists tell us that when we are loved, it will change our perception of life.


Before I sign off, I would like for you to imagine being loved by no other than God Himself. What a warm and secure feeling! But this can never be experienced except through believing Jesus Christ who died and rose from the death to ensure this possibility. He is inviting you to come to Him. He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) What are you hungry and thirsty for?


Pastor Larry

Monday, 31 July 2006 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry August 2006

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Larry Tong


August, 2006


A couple of weeks ago, I accompanied my wife to Washington, D.C. where she had to attend a medical related conference. I also used this trip to rest and to catch up with writing the devotional journal.


While Helen was in the conference, I spent a day visiting the Smithsonian. I even watched a 3-D movie, the Aliens of the Deep. It is amazing to see living creatures not only surviving, but thriving at the bottom of an ocean where sunlight can’t even penetrate. How can countless shrimps survive at the mouths of volcanic openings with extreme heat while the freezing ocean water is just inches away? As technologies bring us up close to a deeper ocean and higher space, the more we are amazed with the unknown. God’s creation is truly beyond our understanding. No wonder after God appeared to Job, he uttered “Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3c). With human’s technologies and knowledge, we are still incapable of knowing the all-wise God. We are only capable of being in awe of the God who created all the amazing lives, some of which can only be seen with a high power microscope.


The hotel we stayed in Washington D.C. is only about four blocks from the zoo. On our last day there, we decided to walk to the famous zoo, which was in the midst of a residential area that houses the Panda from China. On our way back to the hotel, sirens, police cars, paramedics and fire trucks caught our attention. Our curiosity drove us to walk a couple of blocks to find out what happened. I asked a resident on the street who watched what happened. She told us that a water-main was broken, and that the water shot twenty-five feet up in the air for at least thirty minutes. She even showed us the “geyser” picture she took with her camera. Within minutes, the whole area was declared “unsafe” by the authority. Cars that were parked on the street had to be towed away. We didn’t stay long enough to find out whether the residents in the area had to be evacuated. I was thinking what caused the authority to determine that the area was unsafe. When we got there, the water had already been turned off, and everything seemed to be as normal as it could be. There were no visible sink-holes or cracked pavements.


I thought of life from this incidence. Things can look very “normal” from the outer appearance, but beneath the surface, there may be a big void that makes us feel empty, like a street with broken water main. It may look perfectly normal, but when too much pressure is on top, the street will crumble. It is the same with our lives. If we don’t fix the void inside our heart on time, disaster awaits us when we are under pressure. Life isn’t what it appears from the outside or what it should have been or could have been. It is what is underneath the surface. If we are strong inside, we can withhold pressures from the outside, but if we only look good from the outside, without any strength from the inside, we will be crippled when pressure comes our ways.


Before I sign off, I would like to quote what a theologian, Pascal, once said. It goes something like this: “Inside a man’s heart there is void that only God can fill.” When God fills your inside, you will develop strength from within to withstand pressure. God, in His love, came to die on the cross so that you may not only have life, but have an abundant life—a life with meaning and purpose. That’s what life is all about: thriving, not mere surviving.


Pastor Larry

Monday, 01 August 2005 13:43

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry August 2005

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


August, 2005


I read a story about Orville Kelly and his wife not too long ago. He was informed two years ago that he had terminal cancer. They prayed as to how they should prepare. The answer was that they should play about it, so they decided to give a big party. They invited their friends and during the party, Orville held up his hand to make an announcement: “You may have wondered why I called you all together. This is a cancer party. I have been told I have terminal cancer. We decided to start a new organization. It is called M.T.C.—Make Today Count.” Since that time the organization has grown across the country. Orville has been too busy to die, pointing out the way Christians should play into the jaws of death—singing, loving, not losing a minute from “the joy the world cannot give nor take away.” How could someone who faces this kind of trauma be so “upbeat”? It is attitude!


Nothing can adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer we experience life, the more we would find that there is very little we can control. Nearly the most significant decision we can possibly make on a day-to-day basis is the choice of our attitude. Our attitude either keeps us going or cripples our progress. When our attitude is right, there is no huddle too high, no valley too deep, no dream too big, no challenge too overwhelming, and no task too difficult for us. On the contrary, if we have a negative attitude, dreams will never become reality, hope vanishes in a dash, and possibilities become impossibilities. Everything will seem to be covered by dark clouds and we will soon end up smaller and smaller.


In one of the concluding chapters of his book, Attitudes that attract Success, Wayne Cordeiro shared with the readers the Four keys to building an extraordinary attitude (the following are a few quoted from the chapter): “(1) Aim for the Right Target: Everything depends on what you are shooting for. When we aim at the wrong target, life itself become elusive. Answer this life-changing question: What has God asked me to do with my life?” (2) Run the Right Race: Instead of telling God what you will do for Him, ask Him to do His work through you! (3) Understand What Satisfies Your Soul: Contentment cannot be acquired directly. Rather, it is a by-product of a life that is focused on the right things. (4) Make Contentment an Inside Job: Contentment is vital in developing an extraordinary attitude. It’s the final and critical key in your process.”


Before I sign off, I would like to remind you that the Bible tells us to “number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) Make everyday count! Complaints don’t get us anywhere except dispensing all the energies that are required to do what ought to be done for the day. When you gain true biblical wisdom, you will be able to handle life as it comes.


Pastor Larry

Sunday, 01 August 2004 14:40

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry August 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

August, 2004


I was watching “Court TV” earlier this week to catch up with the Peterson’s case, just for fun. To my surprise, the host interviewed a psychic to whom Peterson’s mother and Modesto police investigator sought for help in locating Lacy Peterson before her decomposed body washed up on the rocky beach. Though not publicly revealed, police investigators often use psychics to assist them in solving unsolved cases.


“In the past, entire civilization saw the earth as a magical place filled with spirits and miracles of gods. Gradually, the world changed. Science and rationalism began to give natural explanations for processes that used to be regarded as supernatural” (quote from “Do you believe in Magic?” by RBC). In recent years, our world is again showing and increased interest in the supernatural. Television programs such as Angels, Charms, and movies such as The Harry Potter series captivates many audiences. There seems to be a growth of interest in black magic, witchcrafts, and sorcery. Even Christians read horoscopes, just for fun, they claim. The question we should ask isn’t, “Is it fun?” But rather, “Is it right?” What does the Bible have to say about this supernatural world that seems to have the power to control the future and the unseen?


You might have assumed that the Bible only talks about God, angels, and human beings. But both the Old and the New Testaments also talk about the unseen world, where the good and evil spirits carry out spiritual battles, and unfortunately, the world that we live in is the battlefield. From the beginning (Genesis) to the last (Revelation), we are presented with a view that spirits interact and intersect our visible world of space and time. The reason we don’t see them is because God, in His grace, shields us from seeing the evil spiritual forces that rule this physical world we live in. One question you may have is, “Why can’t God let us see the good spirits and shield the evil ones?” The Bible tells us that Satan and his messengers masquerade as angels of light. We will be disillusioned, not knowing who is who and what is good and what is bad.


The Bible firmly warns us not to engage in the spiritual world by any means. While God will protect you, yet if you choose to reject God’s protection, you’d be able to make contact. It is dangerous. Since they are evil, they don’t have your best interest in mind, and you won’t have the ability to discern their thoughts. In other words, we’re not equipped for the warfare. For those who can read English, I recommend you to read this small booklet “Do you believe in Magic”? by Thomas Nelson, published by RBC Ministries.


Before I sign off, let me assure you that the God in the Bible is the only True and Good God. He has your best interest in mind. To authenticate that, He exchanged His life for yours. Put your trust in His nail-pierced hands in guiding you through this world that is covered by a dark veil from the evil forces.


Pastor Larry


Thursday, 31 July 2003 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry August 2003

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

August, 2003


My wife and I went to a National Health Conference for Pharmacists a couple of weeks ago. We signed up to attend a two-day seminar on Diabetes Care. Two days of intensive lectures were good and informative. It was great to be able to refresh some of the medical knowledge that have been fading ever since I became a pastor. The worse part was the final examination at the end of the seminar! During the training, we learned about the different types of Diabetes, its treatments, and mostly importantly, I believe, the preventive measures one can take to avoid this dreadful chronic disease. Other than caused by heredity, which no one has any control over, the good news is that diabetes can be prevented by diet and exercise.


In many cases, diabetes is directly related to body weight. One alarming trend is that Americans are gaining weight by the year, and a dangerous sign is that the over-weight population is getting younger and younger. Now, we have more obese teenagers than ten years ago. One of the reasons contributing to this problem is the growing availability of “super-sized fast food.” For only thirty-nine cents more, you can have your “fast food” meal super-sized. Who can pass up such a good deal? Little do we know, the extra grease and calories have no place to go except being stored as “unused” fat! Lack of exercise to “burn off” these calories means trouble. The heavier the body weight, the chance to exercise becomes slimmer. Eventually, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes can occur. It is true that we all will die one day, but losing one’s health is losing something extremely important in life. For example, uncontrolled diabetes will cause a person to lose his eyesight, his limbs, and other vital organs. But giving up the good tasting food and the sweet savory desert proves to be most difficult for many because men’s chief pleasure is to eat, that is, until it’s too late. Avoid or decrease eating certain food and having adequate exercise will certainly enhance physical health.


Not giving up instant pleasure to the taste buds could create plenty of undesirable complications. You know, it is the same with “Sin,” because sin may bring you instant physical or emotional gratification, but the deadly consequences will follow, without a doubt. God warns us to avoid them at all cause, not because it isn’t fun. But when the “Fun” dies down, pain and sorrow will follow. Avoid sin and use your time to exercise, do something meaningful for God and your fellow men. You will then experience more joy in the long run.


Before I sign off, I just want to remind you to look further ahead, not just at your immediate present, though that is important at times. Are you on the way to Eternal Life in God? If so, great! Keep on the path. If not, I wish you would believe in Jesus Christ so that you will be.


Pastor Larry

Wednesday, 31 July 2002 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry August 2002

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

August, 2002


A couple of months ago, an asteroid the size of a soccer field narrowly missed Earth by 75,000 miles, which is less than a third of the distance to the moon. From our perspective, it seemed to be quite far away, but in reality, it was too close for comfort. When spotted, the asteroid, named 2002MN, was traveling at more than 23,000 mph. With a diameter of 50 to 120 yards, you can imagine the destructive power if it were to land in a populated area. Even if it were to land in an ocean, you can imagine the tidal wave it could have caused. Scientist Grant Stokes, the principal investigator said, “In the unlikely event the asteroid had struck Earth in a populated area, it would have caused considerable loss of life. The energy release would be of the magnitude of a large nuclear weapon.”


As I was reading the news, End Time came to my mind. The Bible forewarned us that God will cause drastic changes in the universe. The sins of the world and the unwillingness to repent will result in God taking action by pouring His wrath on earth. In Revelation chapter 8 and 9, the Apostle John described some of the cosmic changes. “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth” is the lament. It is not going to be good to experience stars (asteroids) crashing down on earth. Only Hollywood fabricates that at the very end, all is well. No, all is not well at that time!


I thank God that He continues to remind us that the End Time is an inescapable reality through the “near-miss” incidents, such as the 2002MN. God is holding up the universe and it will continue to run its course. But a time will come when God will cause drastic changes. At that time, don’t think that God has lost control; He is forever more in control.


Before I sign off, I would like to encourage all of you to prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming. The Bible tells us that believers will be meeting the Lord in the air, and we will return to judge the world with Him. It is much better to be on God’s side when He pours His wrath on the world. You can join the caravan if you only believe Jesus, the Son of God, is your Savior. Be ready, my friends.


Pastor Larry
Monday, 31 March 2008 16:00

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2008

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


April 2008


After a seemingly long and cold winter, spring season is finally here! For those of us who don’t particularly like gloomy and sunless weather, we breathe a sigh of relief. We may now see more sun, and the temperature should be a few degrees warmer. Spring time seems to give people a lift in the spirit because we see more of the rebirthing of lives. Flowers start to bloom, birds start to come out more often to sing, and lawns are getting greener. Other than those who have allergies and may have to go through a period of running noses and watering eyes, we welcome the new signs of life.


With all the new signs of life spurting up, springtime seems to give us new hope, new vitality and new beginnings. It seems all the mishaps in the past could be put aside, and buried with the cold winter of the past season. This is more than “positive thinking”, it is reality. We often dwell too much on the past, and allow our mistakes to hinder us from moving forward. It is unwise to live in the past, good or bad. The past is history. We certainly can learn from history, but we can’t live in history because it doesn’t help. The future is a mystery. We won’t know what is around the corner in this maze of life. It may be something extraordinary delightful, yet it may also be unexpected challenges or even disasters. No matter how much you would like to control it, you know you can’t. Therefore, you don’t worry about it. The Bible tells us not to worry about tomorrow because we have enough to do today. If we spend too much time worrying, which takes a lot of energy, we won’t have enough strength to live for today.


We can’t change the past; we can’t control tomorrow. The only thing we can do is to do our best for the present. The English word “present” has a double meaning: one being now, and the other being “a gift.” Have you thought of your present life in this way? The fact that you are breathing and have the signs of life is a “present—gift” of God. Since God is giving you the “gift of present”, how then should we live? Life is too precious to be living wastefully without any purpose. We need to find a better purpose to live that is above and beyond earning our daily bread and nightly lodging. For Christians, we know that we live for Christ. It means our purpose is to live within the construct of Jesus’ will. The highest goal is to bring glory to God through our daily living because He has given us a New Life. Therefore, live with positive attitudes and gratitude.


Before I sign off, I wish all of you can experience Jesus’ promise as recorded by the Apostle John: “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” A full life is a life that knows who Jesus is in our lives, and be assured through Jesus we have found the way to God the Father.


Pastor Larry

Saturday, 01 April 2006 13:13

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2006

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


April, 2006


News broke out this week about a forty-one-year old man in Afghanistan by the name of Abdul Rahman. I initially heard this story from the Osgood File on radio. He confessed to being a Christian at a judicial hearing in Kabul, Afghanistan last Thursday (March 16, 2006). While in his country many years ago, he worked for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees. After that, he moved to Germany where he lived for nine years, and during that time, he became a Christian. Three years ago, he returned to his own country and tried to gain custody of his two daughters who had been living with their grandparents. He has to fight for custody of his own children from his parents because his family disowned him for converting from Islam to Christianity. In the custody battle, when it came out that Rahman was a Christian and carried a Bible, he was immediately arrested and charged with the crime of defecting from Islam, which, is punishable by death under the law. The prosecutor said that he is a reasonable man and offered to drop the charges if Rahman would convert back to Islam. Instead of succumbing, Rahman refused. Abdul Wasi, the prosecutor said, “He (Rahman) would have been forgiven, but he said he was a Christian and would always remain one.”


As this case began to surface to the rest of the western world, diplomats from several countries began to apply “pressure” on the Afghan government. According to one news report, Rahman now seems unlikely to be tried or executed. Prosecutors in Kabul said he might be mentally “unfit” to face trial because of his fanatic attitude towards his newfound Faith. Let us continue to pray for our brother in Afghanistan, that he can be released from prison and gain custody of his children. I sincerely thank this unknown brother in Christ who lives halfway around the world to remind me to stand firm in my Faith. Maybe we should be as “crazy” as he is.


We who live in this free country have a difficult time comprehending what it means to pay a price to follow Jesus. We really don’t know the costs of being Christians in a hostile environment. To us, sacrifice for God only means giving up a little comfort or convenience. Even if it only means that, we still need to develop a willing attitude. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Well, where was Jesus going? He was on His way to Calvary. It was for this reason He came—to be the ultimate sacrifice for the Sin of the world. He invites us to follow His example of sacrifice.


Before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that Jesus came in order to die. He willingly chose this road to Calvary so that we may have eternal life. The world and everything in it will pass away one day. Giving some of it up will not hurt us for too long, for if we are in Christ, we will be with God in eternity.


Pastor Larry


Friday, 01 April 2005 13:47

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2005

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

April, 2005


This is an amazing story that seems only possible as a movie script: By now most of you should have heard about the twenty-six hours of terror that haunted Atlanta beginning shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday (3/11). A prisoner named Brian Nichols was about to be retried on charges including false imprisonment and rape in a case involving his former girlfriend. While his handcuffs were removed, he overpowered a lone female deputy sheriff in the holding cell. He took her gun from a lockbox where it was stored, changed into civilian clothes, and walked away. Instead of escaping, he headed towards the private chambers of Judge Barnes who was the presiding judge of his first trial. He shot and killed the judge, and along with the court reporter.


He then began a rampage of carjacking and killing two more innocent people. Somehow he eluded the police and seemed to have vanished into thin air despite a massive manhunt. To make a long story short, his life came to a sudden change when he met 26-year-old Ashley Smith about 2:30 am Saturday morning. He forced his way into her apartment at gunpoint when she returned from a store. He bound her hands and feet with masking tape, a curtain and electrical cord. During the next six hours, there was an amazing turn-of-an-events inside the apartment. Though afraid to be harmed or killed, she was able to talk to Nichols throughout that time. She talked to him about her family—her husband died in her arms four years ago after he was stabbed, and they have a five-year-old girl to whom she promised to visit the next morning. She talked to him about God and about the purpose of life. She was even able to read part of the book The Purpose Driven Life to him. She asked him whether he knew his purpose on earth. She asked him whether he believed in miracles. She said, “You know, your miracle could be that you need to be caught for this. You need to go to prison and you need to share the Word of God with them, with all the prisoners there.” She asked him to give himself up peacefully so that no more lives would be lost. He said that he would in a few days. She asked him to allow her to visit her daughter in the morning as planned. In those few hours, the response was from “no” to “maybe” to “okay.” According to Smith, he probably knew she was going to call the police because he allowed her to keep her cell-phone. To the surprise of those who didn’t know what had happened inside the apartment, the ordeal ended with a peaceful surrender of an alleged rapist and murderer.


I’m amazed with the calmness, strength and clear-mindedness of Ashley Smith throughout this ordeal. I can’t answer questions like “Why didn’t God intervene before Nichols went on a killing spree?” I do, however, think that even though God didn’t plan to have these killings happen, He intervened to make something positive out of a totally negative situation. Regardless of how pious Smith is, God helped her call to mind the purpose of everything that happens, good or bad. It is my prayer, then, for all of you to call to mind God’s purpose in your lives, in good times and in bad. If we allow God’s words to permeate our thinking, miracles happen. They don’t only appear on movie screens, they happen in our daily living.


Pastor Larry
Thursday, 01 April 2004 14:44

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2004

Written by Lorsen Koo

Pastor's Corner

April, 2004


There are so many “hot topics” I can write about these days. Topics like the Gay Marriage, the movie The Passion of Christ, the assassination of the Hamas leader in Gaza Strip, the tension in Middle East in general, the impending bankruptcy of the Medicare System, the word “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan, the bombing in Madrid, and among other developments around the world and within this country make us wonder where this world is heading. When I read the newspaper every morning, I find myself making the same comment: What a mess! In this blazing speed of our life, have you ever stopped or maybe just slowed down to think about where you are heading? The things we tried so hard to “hold on” to in this world are on the verge of being blown into pieces. It is not a matter of “if” it happens; it is a matter of “when” it happens. Is there anything worthwhile for you to hold on to when that happens? It all comes down to the most basic question: What is your purpose in Life?


Today, my son asked, “We’ve been to Saddleback Church for worship, haven’t we?” I said, “Yes.” He then said, “There is an article about the church and the book we are about to study in Sunday school in this week’s Time magazine.” Most of the time, when we read articles about ministers on any magazine, it is usually about money or sex scandals. Dirty laundry, so to speak. It is unusual to see a good story about a down-to-earth pastor, making it to the pages of Time Magazine ( March 29, 2004 ). The article quoted from the first line of the first chapter of The Purpose Driven Life: It’s not about you. The author explains, “Looking within yourself for answers doesn’t work. If it did, we’d know it by now. As with any complex invention, to figure out your purpose, your need to talk to the inventor and read the owner’s manual—in this case, God and the Bible.” Isn’t he right? Individuals are looking for answers and blueprints of life from the world, but they always ended up in a dead-end. Until you accept you were born by God’s purpose and for His purpose, you will end up in a dead-end, full of frustrations.


In this egocentric era, to accept the world that doesn’t circle around “I” is a paradigm shift. Even Christians are so much into asking God to supply our needs so that we can be “happy,” but this kind of self-seeking attitude will only cause more miseries. Until our lives are God-centered, and to live for His purpose, we are spinning our wheels without getting anywhere.


Watching the news on TV or reading the newspaper, you will have an idea where this world is heading. Reading God’s Word, you will know where you are heading: heaven or hell. Before I sign off, I sincerely pray that you have accepted Jesus Christ, who died to atone your sins and rose from the dead to secure your Eternal Life, as your Personal Savior. Happy Easter!


Pastor Larry
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