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Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2008

Wednesday, 30 April 2008 16:00

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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2007

Monday, 30 April 2007 16:00

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

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

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.

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2004

Saturday, 01 May 2004 14:43

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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2003

Wednesday, 30 April 2003 16:00

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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2002

Tuesday, 30 April 2002 16:00

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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry May 2001

Monday, 30 April 2001 16:00

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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry March 2010

Sunday, 28 February 2010 16:00
Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry


March 2010


February was a busy month. We had Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day on the same Sunday. We also had the once every four years Winter Olympics in Vancouver. As a sport fan that I am, I tried to watch some Olympic games from time to time in spite of my busy schedule. I watched a very small part of the closing ceremony last night, and realized that I didn’t really watch that many games this year.


To me, Olympics are more than competitions. Of course it is a game of strength, speed, precision, coordination, style in individual events, and co-operation in many team events. I often wondered why there are so many athletes who dedicated so much time in training to represent their countries in competition. After all, there are only three medals given in every event. Many of them realized, before they came, that they had no chance of getting a medal, but still they trained to compete. Why? I believe it is because they love the game, and to be able to represent their respective countries is indeed an honor already. Win or lose, it doesn’t matter. Therefore, my conclusion is that there is no loser in the Olympics. In my book, they are all winners.


I love the Olympic for another reason. There are always dramas! This game is like human dramas all packed within two weeks of competitions. Before the Opening Ceremony, a Georgian luger died from a crash during practice. Should the IOC cancel the game? The decision was to continue with the event with a slight modification of the course—shorten it to lessen the danger. I thought of Life from this incidence. There are so many misfortunate things happen in the game of Life. The things we have no control over, bring tears of joy to some, while others end with tears of sadness. Every such event in Life helps us to slow down to either enjoy the moment or to think about how to press forward. New strategy and priority may have to be reset. I think to those who can adjust under adverse conditions will succeed.


There was an emotional story this year in the Winter Olympics. The mother of Joannie Rochette, the Canadian women’s figure skater died from a heart attack just three days before her daughter’s quest for a medal. I’d only imagine how difficult it was for her to concentrate in the competition. She continued in spite of this tragedy. She didn’t skate her best, but her effort landed a bronze medal. She later said, “It was a lifetime project with my mom and we achieved that.” Life’s un-expectancy! She met the challenge, and she won! How often we have to face such unexpected events in life! May God give you courage to face the challenges in this “Game of Life”.


Before I sign off, I would like to say to those who are in distress. I don’t know who you are, but I assure you that God knows. May I suggest to you to imitate a psalmist who wrote: “I lift up my eyes to the hill—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry March 2008

Friday, 29 February 2008 16:00

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


March 2008


Easter comes a little early this year. Most of the time, Easter falls in the month of April, but this year, it falls on March 23. This early date doesn’t happen again until 2016. Just like Christmas, we celebrate Easter every year, yet as time passes, we often have forgotten the significance of this very important date. Christianity circles around the core issue of the Person of Jesus Christ. It is important for Christ’s followers (Christians) to know who Jesus was as a historical figure, and who He is at present. The Almighty God stepped foot on planet earth, which He created, two thousand years ago. He taught about the Heavenly Kingdom so that we may know how to live in this temporal world. He lived to die so that we may live. Finally, He was raised from the dead so that we too may have eternal life.


Easter is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection. After His resurrection, Jesus ministered to His followers for forty days before He returned home to His heavenly throne. There, He reclaimed His position which He temporarily gave up when He became flesh. At present, He continues to minister to His followers by being their advocate or bridge that connects them to God the Father. Jesus intercedes on our behalves! Jesus is at where He is today because He rose from the dead.


Easter is a significant day. It is significant for Jesus because it proves that He claims final victory over death and sin. The tomb that housed Jesus’ body couldn’t contain Him; the linen that wrapped Jesus’ body couldn’t confine Him. Three days after His death, He rose from the dead. What wonderful News it was to the disciples then and to us now. The bodily resurrection of Jesus was the greatest miracle of all. No wonder the Apostle Paul exclaimed, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The horror of death that is caused by Sin had been completely swallowed up by Jesus’ Resurrection.


Easter is significant to us as believers. It gives us hope. A hope for a better future where there are no more infestation and effect of Sin. We are sojourners in this world. One day we will have to leave everything that belongs to this world behind and step into eternity. When we have hope for a better future, it would help us to face today’s challenges, so we wouldn’t buckle under pressure. Easter gives us strength. Let’s face it, life isn’t easy. We are constantly being bombarded with the daily grind. But with the New Life that comes through in Jesus’ Resurrection, we have new strength to sustain. Easter gives us direction. Since we know where we are going, we now have a direction in life. Without a direction, we may be spinning our wheel without going anywhere. Easter reminds us that we are going “Home” to be with the God who created and loves us. He left us on earth for a mission—to live out a life that others may yearn what we have—hope, strength and direction in life.


Before I sign off, it is my prayer that all of you come to know the Resurrected Jesus as your Personal Savior. The Bible says, “Yet to all who received Him (Jesus), to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” What a blessing it is to become a child of God!


Pastor Larry

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