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Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry June 2004

Tuesday, 01 June 2004 14:42

Pastor's Corner

June, 2004


My son and I visited my mother’s grave the other day. It had been about five years since she left us, but we still miss her a lot. Since both of my parents are buried in the same burial site, it always brings back many of the past memories every time I visited them. In the midst of our missing my parents, I told my son that his grandmother is in a better place now, and I comforted him that we will see her again in heaven; we’ll just need to keep believing in Jesus. Later that day when my wife came home from work, she said, “How’s mama?” I said, “She is resting comfortably. I’m sure she is in a place much nicer than ours.”


We don’t want to talk much about dying. Asians, in particular, want to avoid the topic at all cause. But the fact is it is as natural to die as it is to be born. It seems that we are born to die. All of us will face death one day. Some who has terminal illness may anticipate the impending date, while others will be hit by a sudden accident. Woody Allen, a comedian, once said, “I’m not afraid of death. I just don’t want to be around when it comes.” Death is not pleasant because it brings sorrow of separation. But more importantly, it creates an uneasy feeling because it is too much of a mystery behind that closed door. People are afraid to find out. Other than the Bible, not much light is shed behind that closed door. No one who entered could return to tell us what’s on the other side. Interestingly, God placed a conscience in our heart to let us know that what we do this side of the door determines where we end up on the other side.


Though it haunted human’s souls for ages, Christ has changed death. Although it is an enemy, but in Christ, it is also a friend. Why is it a friend? It is because those who believe in Christ is guaranteed what is to come on the other side of the closed door of death. So much so that the Bible doesn’t call it death anymore. It is sleep. When we die, we fall asleep in Jesus, laying aside this house of clay for a little while, until this corruptible body is exchanged with the incorruptible. How blessed it is for believers to rest comfortably without any fear of uncertainty in eternity. I can’t wait to have another body that will not deteriorate and grow old. I have been having hives that won’t go away for the past month. I can’t wait to have a body that won’t require me to soothe the itch!


Before I sign off, I want to quote from the Bible: “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (Heb. 9:27) According to the Bible, death is inevitable, and so is judgment. You will either face the Judgment Seat of God, where God will reward you for your faithful service to Him, or before the Great White Throne, where rightful condemnation will be handed out to those who rejected God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ who died for them. Yes, if you don’t believe in Jesus, death is scary. But if you do, rest easy, for it is a door that opens to a magnificent eternity.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry June 2003

Saturday, 31 May 2003 16:00

Pastor's Corner

June, 2003


With the SARS attack still lurking around our world, there is almost not a single day passes that we don’t read or hear some kind of news on this deadly virus. This virus is believed to be more dangerous than the Spanish influenza epidemic that took over 20 million lives worldwide in 1918, because the death rate then was 2.5 percent in comparison to almost 15 percent for SARS today. Then again, there are nearly three thousand African children who die every day of malaria, which has known vaccine. This is not to say we shouldn’t put great efforts to stop SARS from spreading or to develop vaccine to combat the virus, but what about those innocent children in Africa? Are their lives less valuable? Are their parents not hurt “as much” when they see their helpless children die? I know this is one difficult issue. It made me wonder where God is in all these.


I wasn’t in a very good mood yesterday, so I wanted to be alone. I like to withdraw to solitude and silence whenever I need to wrestle with difficulties. I parked my car in a parking lot, maybe just to pity myself. I looked up in the sky and saw some rather thick clouds being moved by the breeze I felt. I tried to estimate the height of the clouds, which wasn’t too high, at least from my angle. In comparison, they were a little higher than the top of the mountain. I estimated that they were maybe three to four thousand feet high. Of course, I could be totally wrong. It could be as high as ten thousand feet, because from ground level, it is difficult to estimate distance, especially when there is no depth at the background.


As I looked at the clouds, I also noticed the clear blue sky beyond the grayish-white clouds. A question suddenly popped up in my mind: “How deep is the sky?” I’m sure I thought of that question before. It is a ten-million-dollar question that no one has an answer to. But at that moment, it was as if God was speaking to me directly. “Do you know how high and deep is the sky?” “Do you know the mystery behind the clouds?” All of a sudden, I was awestruck! I was speechless. The issue that frustrates me hasn’t gone away. The SARS problem hasn’t completely been controlled, though there are signs that it will be, and the global social injustice may never disappear from the face of the world, yet as Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” So I prayed, “Lord, I will continue to trust in you, but I don’t want Job’s experience!”


Before I sign off, I would like to invite you to look beyond your “clouds” to the mystery of the sky. Your clouds are close and seem thick, yet the grace of God is deeper yet, if you believe in Him and allow Him to visit your heart.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner

June, 2002


Last month I was sharing with you the criminal case of Mr. Junta who killed the father of one of the boys on his youth hockey team. His uncontrolled emotions led to an explosion of anger that resulted in a disaster. Therefore, don’t take your emotional condition lightly. Anger needs to be defused in a healthy manner; depression needs to be taken care of by finding the root problem. God is the ultimate answer to having peace within, but one may also need help from other sources.


This month, I would like to continue sharing with you another important application that sprang from this case. On the day of sentencing, I remember the boy of the deceased said, “I ask you (the sentencing judge) to punish him to a maximum sentence because he took my father away.” How sad it was for both families! Now, I’m not criticizing the boy for making that request. Not at all! I’m sure it was hurtful for him to never see his father again. I sympathize with the boy. But the fact remained unchanged: From something that was supposed to bring fun and development of discipline in youth sports, two families with young boys suddenly found their fathers taken away, one forever and the other for a few years. Life would never be the same for both families. Imagine how Mr. Junta’s son felt when his “friends” call him “son of a murderer.” No one would know how his emotions would be affected. He might turn into a person full of hatred, either hating his father or the people with unkind words. Either way, this experience would change him forever. I pray that he will receive good Christian counseling. While the rest of the world continues its course, there would be no more interested reporters knocking on their doors or checking up on how the boys are doing. These two families are left alone facing insurmountable challenges.


For unknown reason, I was very attached to this case. Maybe I have heard so many people say, “I know what I’m doing. If it is wrong, I’ll bear my own consequences.” So often, our actions create a ripple effect that affect more people than we could ever imagined. This case clearly tells us that it is not as simple as we think to “just” bear our own consequences, because the ripple effects shock the people around us. True, we can’t unscramble scrambled eggs; things in the past must be let go. But knowing how deep and wide the consequences of our actions can impact, it is all the more important reason to slow down and to make better choices. It would better be safe than sorry.


Before I sign off, I’d like to share with you from the Bible. It says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” God will not interfere with your decision. Instead of sowing to reap destructive consequences, why don’t you response to His love by sowing to reap eternal life by surrendering to Jesus.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry June 2001

Thursday, 31 May 2001 16:00

Pastor's Corner

June, 2001


As sophisticated as we are in the 21st Century, many at the same time are quite naïve to think that if they follow a step-by-step formula, life would be simple, relationships would be smooth, and family would be happy. It would be a fair assessment to say it would work to perfection if we were all “programmed” with the same “computer chip” implanted in our mind, but reality disallows this fantasy. We are all different. This makes us unique.


With everyone’s uniqueness, it makes raising children that much more challenging, for there is no one “single, most effective” way to rear children. One way works for a child, but not necessarily another. We must learn the general principles and apply them according to the bend of each child. In spite of the differences, all has similar basic needs. Without going into details in psychology, we probably agree that apart from the basic needs of food and shelter, everyone needs to be loved and to feel a sense of belonging. When these basic needs are not met, a person could die physically and/or emotionally.


God established family in order to bring out the goodness of His love and provision. The responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the father. But needless to say, time has changed. We are living in a culture that witnesses the deterioration of core value in a healthy family. More than fifty percent of husband and wife fail to fulfill their marriage vow (Sad to say that Christian circle is not any lower). Children are no longer seen as Gifts from God. With this backdrop, we see people scrambling to find love and belonging apart from the family of origin. But we don’t need to continue with this undesirable trend. It is better late than never to return and use the manual from God—the Bible—to bring back healthy family life. One thing about our God is that He is dependable because He doesn’t change. His grace is always available to those who seek Him. The Bible says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (II Cor. 9:8)


Before I sign off, I would like to wish all the fathers a Happy Father’s Day. At the same time, encourage you to take the lead of going back on track to God by using His Manual, if you haven’t done so. Yes, parenting is a challenging job—but not a hopeless one. God’s grace is sufficient if we believe in Him. A final word for children: cooperate with your parents. They are trying their best to raise you to be godly and successful. Tell your father that you appreciate his hard work.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


July 2008


The word “Freedom” probably is one of the most misunderstood and abused terms in our culture. Living in this free country, all of us are used to “Freedom reigns!” People would rather die than to lose their freedom. When we enjoy freedom that we so cherish, we must ask piercing questions such as “What are we freed from?” or “What does it mean to be freed?” or “Who set me free?”


As we celebrate Independence Day this month, I think it serves us well to remember how much trouble the forefathers of this country had to go through to gain “Independent”. Long ago, there were persecutions of Christians by the corrupted Church in Europe. In order to be freed on that unwarranted oppression, Christians began to find a new “home” so that they could freely worship God. They found America. Soon after, more people from Europe migrated to this land because it was indeed a land of opportunities. As time passed, thirteen colonies in the east coast were formed. During the 1760s and 1770s, relations between the Thirteen Colonies and Britain became increasingly strained, primarily because of the resentment of the British Parliament's ability to tax American colonists without their consent. Disagreement turned to violence and in 1775 the American Revolutionary War began. The following year, the colonists declared the independence of the United States, breaking the sovereign rule of Britain. July Fourth was chosen as a special day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and on July 4, 1776, the declaration was signed and the United States became independent.


About one hundred years later, American Civil War broke out between the North and the South. The major contention was the abolishment of slavery system. Let by President Lincoln, the North won and the slaves were set free, gaining freedom that they had never have before.


I appreciate what these great Americans had to go through in order to gain freedom. Personally, I believe Freedom is a privilege, and therefore should not be taken for granted. It is a product of sacrifices by many. Some of them had to forfeit their lives so that others may enjoy the fruit of their fight. Unfortunately, many people don’t think of Freedom that way. They think that freedom is a license to do whatever they want, regardless of consequences, but in fact, true freedom is the ability to do what is right. For example, we have freedom to drive on the road, but we don’t have the freedom to do whatever we feel like on the road. There are laws to obey. Therefore, it takes obedience in order to enjoy true freedom. To be truly free, we must have the power and ability to be obedient. There is a saying that worth remembering: You are free to make your choice, but you are not free not to accept the consequences of your choice.


Before I sign off, I would like to remind all the Christians who read this newsletter that we are set freed by the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up His life for that end. It is not a license to sin, but rather, an order to obey to do good works. Don’t be enslaved to sin again for the chain of slavery to sin has been broken by the cross of Calvary. Enjoy your Freedom!


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2007

Saturday, 30 June 2007 16:00

Pastor's Corner by Pastor Larry Tong


July 2007


Before I sign off, I would like to invite you to know God as your Heavenly Father. To show His love for you, He made a decision to sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay for the penalty of Sin so that by believing in Jesus, you may have Eternal Life. Will you make a decision to accept God as your Father?


“Stressed Out!” You’ve been there, haven’t you? You know what it was like to have a million of things to do with deadlines fast approaching. You planned to do one thing at a time, yet nothing went right. You felt you are going one step forward but two steps backward. Most of us know what that was like.


Every so often you’ll hear a person talk about trying to “eliminate” stress from his life. Is that possible? I don’t really think so. Stress is a part of life. It can, in fact, be a good part of life, though you may not feel that way while you’re under pressure. Physiological speaking, the right amount of stress can make our mind sharp and help us to respond to change of situation more quickly. Without going into detail how the brain works, just say that it has to do with adrenaline that floods the bloodstream, increasing our alertness and performance. When the stressful situation passed, we have a chance to rest and everything return to normalcy. Normal stress cycle is nothing unhealthy about it.

The problem occurs when there are too many stressful situations in our lives. That’s the time when our bodies are not given a chance to get through the resting cycle. Our bodies are like “rubber-bands.” When stretched, it will return to its original elastic form (of course, unless it’s too old), and ready to be stretched again. But when the body is over-stretched for a long period of time, it will not be able to return to its original form. Therefore, we need to learn how to manage stress.


The Bible tells us that we have three components—spirit, soul and body—all intertwined, and each affecting the others. Simply put, the Spirit is used to interact with God; the Soul is our emotion and is also used to interact with others; and our body is the physical component. To manage stress well, we need to have adequate rests. The best way to “rest” the spirit is to be at God’s presence. True, we probably can’t spend a lot of time during a given day to meditate the Twenty-third Psalm, but encountering God every day will enhance a healthy spiritual life which is the foundation of the totality of mental health. In order to “rest” our soul, we probably need to change our philosophy of life. One way that may help us is to be more positive, more up-beat. Look for the good things rather than the negative things. The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” When we don’t have good mental health, it will affect our relationship with God and with others, and will also cause physical health to deteriorate. Finally, have adequate rest, exercise, and a good diet. Practice self-control, especially with our diet. What we put in our mouth may not always benefit our health.


Before I sign off, I wish all of you good health. Jesus said, “I have come that they (you) may have life, and have it to the full.” To have a full life includes a healthy spirit, soul and body. I have three questions for you to consider: How is your relationship with God? How is your relationship with others? Do you have anything you enjoy doing to do to de-stress?

Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner Pastor Larry July 2006

Thursday, 01 June 2006 13:10

Pastor's Corner by Larry Tong


July, 2006


We are at the half way point of 2006, and it seems that time has once again zoomed by this year. It always seems that there is not enough time to do the things I want to do. I imagine it has to do with my age! Then again, I’m only as old as I think I am. This statement is only partially true. There comes a time when it doesn’t matter what you think; your body is going to disagree with your mind. With that thought in mind, I went to have a physical check-up before my wife and I went on vacation, just to be certain that I could indulge myself with gourmet food in Hong Kong and China. I was glad that the doctor gave me a clean bill of health.


That said, I believe it is necessary to have emotional and spiritual checkups from time to time. In this day in age, we are faced with pressures from every possible direction: school, work, economy, and family. Scientists revealed that stress causes cells within our bodies to break down easier, which leads to pre-mature aging and dying. Our daily pressures can be a direct cause of insomnia, ulcer, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart problems, cancer, and many other illnesses.


Pressures in life may also cause a person to lose his sanity. We often question the decisions we make during a stressful situation. We know we wouldn’t have made certain decisions if we were calm and collected. Pressures may also easily cause conflicts between spouses, which lead to focusing on the negatives. When that happens, it is easy for husbands and wives to shut down lines of communication.


Life pressures, like high blood pressure, are silent killers. They damage our relationships with others, and change our outlook on life from optimistic to pessimistic. So, how can we combat this silent killer? First, I think we should learn to relax. We must remember we don’t have to carry the whole world on our shoulders—we just have to do our part. I know it is easier said than done because doing our best may not be enough in this competitive world. However, adding more pressure isn’t going to increase our performance. Second, I think we should learn to develop a sense of humor. I think we sometimes act too seriously. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to what we do, but it is okay to even laugh at own (not others’) mistakes. Third, I think we should re-learn to live simply. Our lives are too complicated, and often times they don’t need to be. We may want to learn to let go of some of the non-essentials.


Before I sign off, I would like to share with you what Jesus said: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” There is no true value if we gain all the non-essentials and forfeit the one essential of life. This verse reminds us of two levels of the essential of life: Eternal Life beyond death and a peaceful and joyful life on here and now on earth.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner

July, 2004


Are you tired of work? I would like to share with you something I’ve read to lighten you up (in part): Yes, I’m tired. For several years, I’ve been blaming it on middle age, iron poor blood, lack of vitamins, air pollution, water pollution . . . and a dozen other maladies that make your wonder if life is really worth living. But now I find out . . . I’m tired because I’m overworked. The population of this country is over 200 million. Eighty-four million are retired. That leaves 116 million to do the work. There are 75 million in school, which leaves 41 million to do the work. Of this total, there are 22 million employed by the government. That leaves 19 million to do the work. Take away the total of 14,800,000 people who work for the state and city governments and that leaves 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 in hospitals, so that leaves 12,000 to do the work. Now there are 11,988 people in prisons. That leaves just 2 people to do the work. You and me. And you’re standing there reading this. No wonder I’m tired.


On a more serious note, we need to learn how to relax and enjoy what we do. Otherwise, negativism about your job will be too dreadful to overcome. I had a rare opportunity to speak before a senior/junior class in a public high school about “Being successful.” During the Q/A time, someone asked, “How you do motivate yourself?” My answer was, “Our natural inclination is to do as little as possible. Therefore, diligence is a learned experience. I believe everybody has a ‘hot-button.’ If we can find our hot-button, then we can be self-motivated.” For Christians, we too have our unique “hot-button,” but there is a common “hot-button.” The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Col. 3:23) The context is that Paul encouraged the slaves, the kind of job no one desires, to work with all their hearts, and to do the despicable work as if they were working for God. Do you know what it implies? It means that in God’s sight, there is no despicable work. Maybe the outlook of work would change if you change your attitude, and who knows, you may even find some degree of fulfillment after you change your attitude.


We are not living in a dream world. The reality is that your best just isn’t good enough at times. Your demanding manager may not be satisfied with your performance, but at least you feel good about yourself. This world is cold!


Before I sign off, I have good news for you: God doesn’t grade you on a curve. For what you can’t do—saving yourself from the penalty of Sin—He has done it for you. All you have to do is to believe Him. And for those who have accepted Christ as your Personal Savior, remember that God doesn’t measure your success by how you perform.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner

July, 2003


I read a story about the deep friendship of two soldiers in the trenches during WWI. Two buddies were fighting side by side in the mud and misery. Month after month, Jim and Bill lived out their lives in the cold and muddy trenches.


From time to time one side or the other would rise out of the trenches to attack, flinging their bodies against the opposing line and slinking back to lick their wounds, burying the dead, and waiting to do it all over again. In the process, friendships were forged in the misery. Jim and Bill became particularly close. Day after day, night after night, terror after terror, they talked of life, of families, of hopes, of what they would do when, and if, they returned home.


During one of the attacks, Jim fell, severely wounded. He couldn’t get back to safety. His friend, Bill made it back to the relative safety of his own trench. Meanwhile Jim laid suffering in the open battlefield, between the trenches, alone.


The fighting continued. The danger was at its peak. Between the trenches was no place to be. Still, Bill wished to reach his friend, to comfort him, to offer what encouragement only friends can offer. The officer in charge refused to let Bill leave the trench. It was simply too dangerous. As his commander turned his back, Bill went over the top. Ignoring his own safety from flying bullets and possibly military discipline, Bill made it to Jim.


Sometime later he managed to get Jim back to the safety of the trenches. Too late, his friend was gone. The somewhat self-righteous officer, seeing Jim’s motionless body, cynically asked Bill if it had been “worth the risk.” Bill’s response was without hesitation. “Yes, sir, it was,” he said, “My friend’s last words made it more than worth it. He looked up at me and said, ‘I knew you’d come’.”


“I knew you’d come.” He was assured that his friend wouldn’t leave him out in the “cold” suffering by himself. This brought me to think about what the Bible says about dying for a friend. We know a person may die for a good friend. But very rarely will anyone die for a good man whom he doesn’t know. It is illogical to expect someone to die for his enemy. But it is this kind of unfathomable love that Christ has for us. He died on behalf of us so that we may gain independent from the bondage of Satan and the penalty of sin. How unimaginable the love of God has for us!


Before I sign off, I wish you would accept God’s love as a free gift for you. And if you have accepted His free gift, remember Jesus said, “I no longer call you servants . . . I have called you friends.” He also said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” If you are in need, you know he’d come.


Pastor Larry

Pastor's Corner

July, 2002


Recently I read a story about a young university student. He was walking with a professor who likes to teach his students more than textbook knowledge. He taught them about life. As they walked along, they saw a pair of old shoes on the road side, which supposedly belonged to a poor man who was working in a field close by. This man was about to finish his day’s work.


The student turned to the professor, saying, “Let’s play a trick; we’ll hide his shoes, then get behind those bushes, and watch his reaction when he cannot find his shoes.” “My young friend,” said the professor, “we should never amuse ourselves at the expense of the poor. You are rich, why don’t you do this: Put some money in each shoe, then hide ourselves, and watch how his discovery affects him.”


The student did what the professor had suggested. They got behind the bushes close by and waited. Soon enough, the poor man came to get his shoes. While slipping his foot into one of his shoes, he realized something hard was inside. He stooped down, planning to remove the “dirt.” He was astonished to find that there was a twenty dollar bill folded up into his shoes. He looked at it in disbelief. He turned around but couldn’t see anyone. He put the money in his pocket, and proceeded to put on the other shoe; but he was double surprised to find another twenty dollar bill folded in the shoe. His feelings overcame him. He fell on his knees, looked up to heaven and prayed aloud a fervent thanksgiving. He thanked God for His timely provision; that He moved someone to give him the money. He could now use the money to buy medicine for his sick wife. The student stood there deeply affected, and his eyes filled with tears. He couldn’t imagine his “pocket money” could mean so much to a poor person. “Now,” said the professor, “isn’t it much better than if you had played your intended trick?” The student replied, “You have taught me a lesson which I will never forget. It is better to give than to receive!”


In July, we celebrate “Independent Day.” We are often reminded of the words of President Kennedy, “Ask not what the country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” If every citizen of the United States takes heed to his suggestion and contribute to the country, this country would have an entirely different outlook. Let’s not forfeit our duty to pray for the country for a spiritual revival.


Before I sign off, I would like to remind you that citizenship on earth is temporary. There is an eternal citizenship in Heaven which is by far more valuable. If you want to attain this eternal citizenship and not sure how, I encourage you to come to church and learn about the Way. If you’re citizens of the Heavenly kingdom, I encourage you to seek God’s Kingdom first, and the rest of your needs will be given to you. Let’s not forfeit our duty to be a good Heavenly citizen; think of what you can give.


Pastor Larry

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