Thursday, 01 August 2013 06:58
by Pastor Larry Tong

Time sure goes by very quickly. As I am growing older, it seems to be a glaring and irreversible reality. A quick glance at the calendar shows that we have already entered the second half of 2013. When I look back, I wonder where my “time” went. What have I accomplished in the past seven months? I can’t concretely remember. Maybe this is another sign of my old age! But then again, I remember that I was busy throughout the year. How about you? Can you remember what you have accomplished during the last seven months? If you were like me, you must be busy too. The fact of the matter is that we had done a lot. We kept ourselves busy, yet couldn’t remember what we did. That, my friends, I believe, is the danger of mismanaging our time.

For those of us who have children, it serves us well to remind that in spite of our busyness, the developing years of our children do not wait for us to spend time with them. While we dispense our energies and time attending to our businesses, our children grow with or without our involvement. The younger they are, the more attention they need from you. If you are absent during their childhood ages, it would be difficult to be involved in their teenager years. There comes a time when many teenagers want to keep a “safe distance” from their parents. Therefore, while they still want to attach to you, these are the golden years to teach, guide and encourage them. Most important of all, they need your love and care. This relationship needs to start at an early stage. Otherwise, it would be a painful lesson to learn later on when the children are grown.

There is one constant fact that never changes throughout the history of humankind regardless of time and space. This fact is the need to have healthy relationships. As in the case of fine wine taking time to ferment, healthy relationships also require time to cultivate. There is something in life that cannot be rushed. You can’t pull the root to help plants grow. Therefore, slow down. Enjoy your family. Your children will be gone before you know it. Slowing down doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means not rushing through life without enjoying the process.

Before I sign off, I would like to remind you to cultivate your relationship with your Father-God in Heaven. Satan has been moving us along in such a fast-paced lifestyle that we have forgotten how to slow down and be quiet. The Bible says, “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:20). The context of this verse is that God’s love, compassions, and faithfulness are new every morning. Therefore, I will wait for Him, and enjoy His presence. Slow down, seek His face. Slow down, enjoy your family.


Growth and Success

Friday, 17 May 2013 13:09
by Pastor Larry Tong


I believe everyone wants to be successful. Very seldom will you meet a person who wants to fail. But many factors in life deter one’s success. It may be fear, not the fear to succeed, but the fear to fail. It may be contentment, the feeling of securely settled down. What is the greatest obstacle you will face once you have begun achieving your goals and tasting success? It may be the inability to let go of what you have so that you can reach for something new. In other words, the chief obstacle for success is one’s own achievement, as Rick Warren says, “The greatest detriment to tomorrow’s success is today’s success.”

So often, when we tasted “some” success, we became content. We tend to stay at where it makes us feel good. But then again, growth or success is limitless. In order to grow, we often have to answer a critical question: What am I willing to give up in order to reach a new level of growth? Jesus used an everyday principle to illustrate this concept. He said, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (Jn. 12:24).” In the context, Jesus was referring to his death, yet the concept is still relevant, even for us. If we want to produce, we have to give up something!

When it comes to giving up, it involves risk. By nature, we don’t like taking risk. We want to stay in our comfort zone; stay in the same environment where we are most familiar with; keep doing the same thing, lest we make mistakes. Max DePree reminds us, though, “By avoiding risk, we really risk what is most important in life—reaching toward growth, our potential and a true contribution to a common goal.” I realize the higher we reach the harder it is to give up. I remember my parents said, “You can either taste sweet first, bitter later or taste bitter first and sweet later.” This is similar to the English idiom— “Pay now and play later, or play now and pay later.” It seemed that they said it a lot to me, because by nature, I love to play now, and never think about later! I was immature then (not to say that I am mature now). But I have grown to learn that there is always trade-offs. I like the term, “Give and take.” It reminds me that if I don’t give away something, I can’t take anything. If my hands are full of “old” toys or things, I can’t take “newer” things. What kind of “old” things are you holding on that prohibit you from taking “newer and better” things? It is worth our while to think about that, isn’t it?

The church theme for this year is “Growing Deeper.” It is our desire that all of you take “Growing in the Lord” seriously. We don’t want to stay on an immaturity level. You don’t want to continue drinking milk as your main diet. It is time to chew on savory solid food. Unless you let go of the pacifier, you won’t taste the distinct favor of fish, beef, chicken, pork or other meat.

Before I sign off, I wish to come back to the verse I quoted from the Bible earlier. Jesus died to yield many seeds. I am grateful that He chose to die, so that I may live. He gave, and I gained. Thank you, Lord! I pray that you, too, are as blessed as I am.

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day. I wish all the mothers will enjoy a day of rest on Mother’s Day. Go to church, and enjoy God-centered worship, and take it easy for the rest of the day! Now, that’s a good plan, isn’t it? This Bible verses came to my mind: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! . . . As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13).”

Spring Reflections

Sunday, 07 April 2013 15:22
by Pastor Larry Tong


When I look out to the backyard from my kitchen window, I see flowers blooming on the apple-pear tree. On the opposite side, I also see the lushly green MissionPeak. Though the weather is still a little cold at night, the sun is much warmer in the afternoon. It means spring has finally arrived: Winter is gone, and summer is approaching. After a few spring showers, we should be able to enjoy longer period of sunlight. In spring, the axis of the Earth gradually tilts relative to the Sun. The length of daylight increases due to the tilting effect. The temperate begins to increase causing new plant growth to "spring forth," giving the season its name. Isn’t it amazing? Who controls the earth to tilt in such a way relative to the sun? Many people called it, Mother Nature. Who sets the Nature on its course? Is it simply by chance? Can a baby be born by chance? Can a baby grow by chance? I’ll let you figure these “deep” questions on your own.

Let’s return to the season I love. Personally, I love springtime. It gives me a sense of moving forward from the cold and gloomy sunless winter towards the bright and sunny summer. I don’t like winter. Cold weather makes me not want to go outdoors. I feel more lethargic. With the lack of outdoor activities and the cold weather, our immune system goes down and causes people to get sick more easily. I like summer, except for the scorching heat which we have to endure from time to time (even in the mild-weathered Bay Area). I like spring better than autumn, because psychologically, spring is moving from bad (cold) to good (warm). Whereas as autumn goes from good to bad. Do you look towards a better future? I believe everyone hopes for a better future. Don’t you? But who’s there to ensure a better future? Is your world going to tilt the right way? This is where the Gospel of Jesus Christ comes in. He paved a way to ensure a better future in Heaven. All it takes is to simply believe the free offer from God, and step on the path. There is no need to make this too complicated. Just as God put in motion to tilt the earth relative to the sun and therefore bringing the four seasons in its time, He set in motion the way for people to enjoy the “bright” future in Heaven.   

Spring refers to a season of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth. Spring seems to give people hope. The seemingly dead Apple-pear tree, without any leave, begins to bud. Then flowers and leaves begin to grow, and finally, in a few months, fruits will appear. Spring is the season to ponder life for some, and to enjoy life for others. I love spring. It seems the birds are singing louder. Streams are fuller from the melting snow from the mountain.

Before I sign off, I invite you to think about your future. Are you for certain heading to the right direction? Do you have a brighter future when this world comes to an end? Enjoy the nice weather, and in the meantime, think about God’s offer to a brighter future. 


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