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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2006

Saturday, 01 April 2006 13:13

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


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

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2004

Thursday, 01 April 2004 14:44

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

Pastor's Corner

April, 2003


In the middle of last month, our architect, Jack Christensen, submitted an application with the required architectural drawings to the City of San Jose for approval of the Conditional Use Permit. This officially started the process to secure a building permit to build our sanctuary. If Lord’s willing, we will see fruition of the efforts in putting together a building scheme that we believe is suitable and within reach for our church. Last month, I shared with you that God doesn’t object us purchasing a nice home in a good area or fixing up our own homes, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t ignore God’s house and give Him the “left-over” (Haggai 1). Like purchasing a home, building a church also depends on the ability. We don’t want to “dream” of a building that we can’t afford, nor do we want to misrepresent God with mediocrity. The Church Building Committee spent hours of studying and meetings to plan out what we believe will be a nice functional building that we can afford.


Now, while we are waiting for the Lord’s timing and the City’s approval, I believe it is important for you to always remember the purpose of building a sanctuary. We didn’t start this project because we had a dream one night; nor did we want to compete with other churches. We do this based on needs. We wanted to have space to grow so that we can reach more people to Christ. About two years ago, during a Deacons’ Retreat, I shared with the leaders of the church the need to have a new sanctuary when the church grows to about two-hundred in attendance in order to effectively minister to the people. For us to be proactive, we needed to put a plan together when we approached 180 people. We have reached this mile-stone since 2002. Our current facility doesn’t have enough space and rooms for fellowship groups and Sunday School classes. Space is directly related to church growth. I see this as an indication of God directing our project. In surfing, a surfer needs to catch the wave for a ride. It is the same with church growth. If we let the waves go by, the church will cease to grow.


In the beginning, we plan to build the sanctuary in two phases due to the inadequate number of parking spaces. Since then, we realize parking spaces will always create a problem for us, and therefore we had to re-think the process. We have now designed an underground parking. In so doing, we satisfied the city’s requirement, solved our parking issue, and eliminated the two-phase construction, which would cut down on future construction cost and inconveniences. We calculated that the benefit to build an underground parking outweighs its costs. This has brought you up to speed with the building project.


Before I sign off, I would like to suggest how you can support the project at this time. You can pray for a smooth approval from the City of San Jose on the site plan. You can start saving money to financially support the project. We will roll out a fund raising plan as soon as we’ve received the Conditional Use Permit.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner

April, 2002


During the long drive from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, I had a lot of time to listen to the tape recording I brought along on various subjects by Dr. R. Evans, an expert on Moral Philosophy and Ethics, and also to reflect on other matters. Being able to use my “Frontal Lobe” of the brain helped me be alert.


As I was listening to some of the tapes, I realized we are all affected by the culture we are in. Not only are we affected by the fashion and style of living, but more importantly, our thought process and decision-making are affected by the philosophy of the time. We are in what is normally labeled as the “Postmodern Era.” For some, this may not be a familiar term, but its philosophy has permeated our minds. Without going into too much detail, Postmodernism may be characterized as open-ended attitudes, in which there is no absolute; everything is relative. Since there is no absolute, my opinion is just as valid as yours; my view maybe different from yours, but it holds the same weight. There is little wonder as to why people are having a difficult time in accepting authority. When Christians bring this worldview to Bible studies, it backfires. How often have we seen in Bible study groups that the participants seek sharing their experiences instead of seeking the Truth! The end result is devastating—a shallow understanding of the Scripture based on “experience” instead of doctrinal truth. We must be on our guard to fend off this worldview from permeating into the church. We need to seek the doctrinal truth, and be submissive under its authority. In any passage of the Scripture, there is only one interpretation, yet it has unlimited applications.


Another by-product of Postmodernism is that since there is no absolute, there is no Truth. Stemming from this worldview, we often hear people say, “That maybe the Truth to you, but it is not the Truth to me.” This statement itself posts a fundamental problem, because the Truth is the Truth, regardless of one’s subjective opinion. Truth doesn’t become truth based on a popularity vote. Postmodernism itself creates an unanswerable question in its philosophy: If there is no absolute, what makes this statement absolutely correct? You see, there must be Absolute Truth, and we must submit under its authority. The Bible tells us that Jesus claimed to be the Truth. He made such a claim based on His resurrection.


Before I sign off, on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ, I would like to invite you to come to know the Truth, because the Truth (Christ Himself) will set you free!


Pastor Larry


Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry April 2001

Saturday, 31 March 2001 16:00

Pastor's Corner

April, 2001


All we hear about in the news these few days is the "rolling black out" in California. It caused many inconveniences and frustration for everyone who had experienced this first hand. It was more than news to us; it was reality. "Out of power" means no signal lights to control traffic flow; no production in factories, which means lost of revenue; and many other ill effects. One report I heard said that "one black out" equates to millions of dollars in lost revenue. How the State of California allow the "energy crisis" to come to this state of emergency is beyond the comprehension of common residents. There are so much politics wrapped around this issue. Involved parties are pointing fingers at each other instead of getting together to find a solution to the problem. "It is the regulations, State and Federal, that created a monster like this." Someone claimed, "Even with changes in the regulations, it’s going to take years to fix this problem."

As I sat down and try to understand this "problem" we are facing as a Californian, I came to realize that the major factor in all of this was the shortsightedness of the State. There is a "supply and demand" principle in almost everything. The State failed to calculate this principle when they regulated the energy policy. They failed to foresee the tremendous growth of industries and population from the prosperous economy in the past years until it was too late to act upon. Failing to look at the future and to develop a plan toward that goal seems to be a common "problem" human being faces. Many people dispense all their energy, focusing on the immediate present and fail to look at where life’s heading in the future. "Where is my life heading?" is a question we must ask ourselves from time to time, lest it is too late to do anything about it when we find out it’s not heading the direction we’ve hoped for. "What am I doing to ensure to that end?" is another question we should also be asking ourselves.

We’ve been talking about "power" in this article. In order to achieve to the end of what we hope will require power. God is willing to provide the unceasing power for disposure to those who plan according to His will. With this power, we will not have any "rolling black out" because it is built upon the "Resurrected Power" of the Lord Jesus Christ. He rose from the dead and claimed victory over the ruthless enemy of man—Satan, and the ultimate enemy of sin—death. This is the power God promised to those who trust in Him. Isn’t it great not be inconvenienced by the "rolling black out"?

Before I sign off, I would like to invite you to come to faith in Jesus Christ who alone claimed to be God from heaven, and His Resurrection is the proof of His claim without a doubt. Have a happy Easter!

Pastor Larry

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