Food For Thought

Words of encouragement from members of our church community

May 8, 2022 | Yadira L.

May 1, 2022 | Jean S.

April 24, 2022 | Donna M.

Once upon a time, as a little girl, I laughed and played in the sunshine. I always looked forward to seeing my Grandpa and Grandma (Rev. George & Hatsu) Yahiro. They were my mom’s parents. So, I grew up in a Christian home. My Grandpa

loved playing with me. I was his favorite grandchild (haha). I don’t recall listening to him give sermons because I was too young to understand. He passed away in 1962 and I was only 5 years old.

He was from Hawai’i and not from Japan. He was Nisei, but he was bilingual and spoke both English and Japanese.

Rev. George & Hatsu Yahiro were two of the “Holiness Five” who helped start the beginning of the Holiness Conference back in 1921. George served at many churches: LA Holiness, San Lorenzo Holiness, Modesto Holiness and San Diego Holiness.

From what I understand from my Auntie Susan (Yahiro) Asklipiadis, Rev. Yahiro loved talking to people. He was very easy to talk to. He would share Christ with them and lead many to Christ. In 1946, Rev. Yahiro was appointed to the San Diego Holiness Church. His ministry was characterized by intensive visitation to believers and unbelievers alike and even to people in the community unaffiliated with the church. He never missed an opportunity to reach out to others and give glory to God.

On a side note, my dad’s parents, Tasaburo and Fusae Mukai, were the first early converts to the San Diego Church.

While pastoring at the San Diego Church, Rev. Yahiro would also have services at the local beaches nearby. After World War II, he returned to Los Angeles and reopened LA Holiness Church and used it as a hostel for returnees who had no other place to stay. Rev. Yahiro passed away the morning of Dec. 20, 1962. It was also the day of his retirement banquet. But the day before his passing, even while feeling weak, he met with someone who was seeking the Lord.

How can I follow in these footsteps? How can you? I pray that you and I can take the smallest of opportunities to reach out and share the love of Christ to others through our words and our actions. Exalt His name as we draw them closer to discovering Him. Take note of the nudge or that still small voice from the Lord. Psst!

April 17, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama

“Are you ready for Easter?” What does it mean to be ready for Easter? Maybe for some, this means preparing for their annual visit to church or getting ready for a nice meal with the family. Or maybe it is remembering that God sent Jesus to die for our sins. As I ponder on this idea of “are you ready for Easter,” I am reminded of the story of Martha and Mary. Martha was busy preparing to have Jesus over for a meal. Ironically, Martha was so busy thinking about how to serve Jesus that she missed the most important thing that Jesus wanted. Jesus says the following to Martha in Luke 10:41-42:

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I don’t hear Jesus harshly rebuking Martha for her heart and intention. Instead, I hear a tender and yet truthful tone. Jesus is saying to Martha to simply stop and take a break and just be with him. Martha was so caught up with all the things that needed to be done, that she didn’t necessarily interact with the guest of honor. She just didn’t have time. Maybe all the preparation is a big distraction and the one thing we need to do to be ready for Easter is to simply stop and take a break and just be with Jesus. So, will you take time to stop this Easter and take a break and just be with Jesus?

April 10, 2022 | David L.

A few weeks ago, we went off to Kenneth Hahn Park to enjoy some Time Alone With God, organized by Jaime. It was my first time at that park, and I really enjoyed the greenspace, the din of children playing all around, and the chance to find solitude with Jesus. I wanted to share a couple reflections that came out of my time.

As I walked to a nearby park bench with tacos in hand, I noticed a hillside where a good deal of mustard plants were growing. Mustard plants are awkward looking weeds, with a long thin stalk topped with little yellow buds. It's possible for them to grow decently tall—the ones I saw were almost 6 feet high—but they have no capacity to bear weight. Since the mustards were in full bloom, I ended up meditating on Matthew 13:31-33:

He told another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in his field. It’s the smallest of all seeds. But when it’s grown, it’s the largest of all vegetable plants. It becomes a tree so that the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through all the dough.”

These two tiny parables point to an interesting contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary. In each of these parables, the first part of the parable is normal. The mustard seed is very small indeed, and it certainly does grow into a large vegetable plant. Using yeast to help dough rise is part of many bread recipes. But from these very ordinary scenes, something extraordinary happens. Mustard plants can grow tall, but they certainly can never become a tree; their flimsy stalks would never be able to support even the weight of a bird, much less their nests. And my baking skills pale in comparison to others in our church, but if I'm not mistaken, it would be difficult to knead 1 bushel of flour—which is 60 pounds!

Nevertheless, as I meditated, I realized that the course of my life has indeed been one where ordinary fellowship—chatting, sharing, listening, learning, sharing meals—has been utterly transformative to me. For me to be here at LA Holiness, learning and serving with you all, is really something I could not have imagined ten, five, or even two years ago. But it was a commitment to mundane, ordinary life with others that paved a way to join you all. And at that moment, I felt myself deeply cherished by God, who delights in using the smallest things to make a stir in the world.

April 3, 2022 | Sue W.

In 1963, Dick and I started attending LA Holiness Church. He had received his graduate degree from Northwestern University Dental School that year and had accepted a teaching position at USC Dental School. He met Eiko Yasutake who was working as a dental assistant in the USC clinic department and asked her about churches in the area. She was a member of LA Holiness at the time and invited us to visit her church. We have now attended LAH for over 55 years.

Because of the warm friendship and family-oriented atmosphere we experienced, we made a commitment to make this church our home church. It was because of the many dedicated members and Rev. Akira Kuroda’s influence that we came to know our Lord and Savior on a more intimate level through Adult Sunday School Class and Cell Group. We then transferred our membership to LAHC from our home church in Hawaii.

As I reflect back when we first joined the church, I remember we were one of the younger couples. Today, we may be one of the oldest couples in the English Department. We are both in our late eighties with reasonably good health. We thank God daily for giving us the health and support of family and friends and are filled with gratitude for His abundant blessings.

We enjoy our quiet time with our Lord and believe growing older means growing nearer to Him. None of us know at what age we will take our last breath, but we can ask God to help us trust that He will be with us. John 14:2-3 says, we can believe the promise that Jesus will prepare a place for us in His Father’s house.

March 27, 2022 | Michael & Chris M.

What do Japan and SoCal have in common? I can think of a couple of things. They both love their local baseball teams, they both love shopping at Daiso, and they both have Disneyland (although Tokyo Disneyland still doesn’t have a Star Wars Land!). Another thing Japan and SoCal have in common is that both regions are no strangers to earthquakes. Just last week, Japan commemorated the 11th anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake in Northern Japan. On the day we remembered this tragic event, a much smaller earthquake shook our city of Osaka.

Every time I experience an earthquake, I am reminded of the story in Acts 4. After suffering persecution for their proclamation of the Gospel, the early Christians gathered together to seek the Lord. As they prayed, they asked God for boldness to preach the Gospel and for power to be His witnesses. When their prayer time was finished, we read this in verse 31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Our prayers might not actually shake the physical world, but do they cause a shaking in the spiritual realm? Do our prayers stir up the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in the lives of those we pray for? Do our prayers awaken us to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the hurting world around us?

The next time we experience an earthquake (or even just hear about one on the news), let that be a call to prayer that reminds us to “shake" our world with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

March 20, 2022 | Hilary E.

I've been living with my family in Kansas and attending the church where my father pastors since November 2017. On occasion I have gone in search of a new "home church," but I typically end up back at my current church. However, due to certain circumstances, I am looking for a new church family. I don't like looking for a new church. Never have. But here I am looking for a church again. When I moved away from Los Angeles, I knew I would never find a church family like the one I had found within LAHC so I dread searching for a new church even more now. Even so, I still hope I will find a similar spirit in a church somewhere as the Holy Spirit connects all Christians.

Through the quarantine with Covid and this process of searching, I am learning these two valuable lessons: "corporate worship" (attending small groups, showing up on Sunday mornings, praying with others) is important to my spiritual health, and God has not forgotten me. When I am not fellowshipping with others, I often feel lonely. Yet somehow God will bring the right person into my life when I need it. Ironically, that usually happens on a Sunday morning when I go to church. I am thankful for Covid in one way: it allowed me to reconnect with my LAHC Family. If you are feeling lonely or like God has forgotten you, I encourage you to reach out to someone in our church body. You aren't alone wherever you are.

March 13, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama

“Who am I that I should go?”

This is a question that I often ask myself as I think about starting a new chapter in life or taking on a new responsibility. This even goes with sharing the gospel with others or serving in a greater ministry capacity. I see my inadequacies, flaws, and past failures, which tell me that I should not do it. Shame tells me that I am disqualified for this assignment, especially if it is a God assignment. Moses understands this dilemma. At the burning bush, Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Moses lost his faith in his ability to lead and fulfill God’s assignment. He was not qualified in his assessment.

It is very interesting how God responds to Moses’ question. And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12). God answers Moses’ disqualification with God’s qualification. God’s assignment is not about your ability or your qualification, it’s really about God’s ability to work in and through you. The truth is that you are not qualified, but the greater truth is that God is gracious, and He wants to work in and through you. The question is will you trust God and obey his leading? Is God asking you to step up in some capacity at church, home, work, or even in the community? Will you be open to God’s leading as we learn what our new normal will look like? I am praying that you will begin to enjoy this next chapter in life.

March 6, 2022 | Satoshi N.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

I recently finished reading a book called, “The Hiding Room” by Corrie Ten Boom. The book is about the life of the author, focused primarily during World War II. Corrie, her sister Betsie, and her father took in Jewish people fleeing the Nazi’s and hid them in a hidden room inside their home in Holland. Eventually the Nazi’s found out the family was hiding people and after some time, Corrie and Betsie were placed in a concentration camp in Germany. Corrie stated how she always believed her faith was so small while Betsie was always giving praise and thanks to God, even in the midst of such evil. Betsie had told Corrie that they need to be thankful for the fleas on them and in their barracks. (Yes, I said THANKFUL FOR FLEAS!!) Corrie was unable to be thankful for the fleas. Betsie said, “Give thanks in all circumstances. It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.” Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.” Corrie remarked that she was sure Betsie was wrong about the fleas.

However, Corrie eventually recognized the guards would always yell at the ladies from outside the barracks. The guards would never come inside the barracks. The reason they never came in? The fleas! The guards saw the fleas that the barracks were infested with and refused to come in. Because of this, Corrie and Betsie were able to lead Bible study with the Bible they smuggled into camp. Through their faith, they brought hope to women who needed it. I can only imagine all the seeds that were planted and possibly cultivated because of their ability to share the love and hope of Christ.

Are we truly thankful in all circumstances? Or only during “pleasant circumstances”? We do not need to look for something obvious to be thankful for. Maybe we can find tiny things to be thankful for, as tiny as a flea. Take the time to be thankful and ask God what you can be thankful for if it’s difficult to be thankful at this time. If we are truly open to God and Him working in us, He will show us what we can be thankful for.

February 27, 2022 | James T.

There’s a bowling alley by my house that’s famous for...? Can you guess? Most people would say bowling. In reality, it’s famous for its food. What an odd pairing, but since I live 5 minutes away I just had to try. Who knew that a bowling alley restaurant called “The Alley'' would serve such amazing food? Even my coworkers, who are locals, can’t ignore their tasty chicken plate lunch or their famous oxtail soup. It always made me wonder, how did such a combination of bowling and food coexist?

I began to think that even though some things are an unusual or unexpected pair, they can still work together. Even in my own relationships , I never expected to grow close to my wife in college. I knew of her, but had no idea we would connect so well and now be married. To make it deeper, I had no idea that I would leave LA Holiness at age 7 and come back to church in my college years. To go even further, I never expected to have such a relationship with God.

Sometimes we are paired with the most unusual circumstances or paired with unexpected turns of events. Life can be weird. Life can be difficult. However, as I reflect back in my life, I can trust in God because everything is paired in life for a reason.

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

February 20, 2022 | Kathy C.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a brown thumb. I can’t even count the number of plants that I’ve killed .... Beautiful orchid plants, houseplants, and even cactus. They say it’s really hard to kill a cactus, but believe me, it’s not that hard. I was always too busy or didn’t pay enough attention, and would either forget to water or would overwater, or probably both! When people had encouraged me in the past to take a plant home, I’ve turned them down saying that I felt bad for the plant because it would probably suffer a short and painful death.

That is, until my kids went off to college. Once my kids left for school, I suddenly had some extra time, and since Rick didn’t want a dog, I decided, despite my past plant failures, that I’d try my hand at cultivating some plants. I started with herbs and green onions, since I like to cook. And low-and-behold, I discovered that I actually could keep plants alive – even grow them to be fairly healthy! I was able to harvest some fresh basil, mint and green onions this year, and I have a smattering of other plants, succulents and even two plumeria cuttings that I’ve been cultivating – and it’s been fun! All it has taken is a consistent investment of time to water and care for them.

As I’ve reflected on this new hobby of mine, I’ve come to realize how much this relates to our spiritual lives as well. When we don’t consistently invest in our time with the Lord and cultivate our relationship with Him, it’s so easy to feel spiritually dry or even spiritually dead. We may even feel like it’s just us, that we’re just not as spiritual as others we see around us.

However, like my experience with gardening, perhaps what we need to do is commit (or recommit) to cultivating our relationship with the Lord consistently, and invest time on a regular basis “watering” our souls with the Word. “Blessed is the one....whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers” (Ps 1:1-3).

How well have you been cultivating and watering your soul? May our relationships with the Lord be healthy and thriving as we consistently spend time with Him in His word.

February 13, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama

Jesus died on the wretched cross so that you won’t go back to your life of sin. As I read Exodus, I am reminded that we are so much like the Israelites. We are conquered by the great Pharaoh of sin. Sin is “wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important” (1 John 2:16 - MSG). Jesus came to set us free from the tyranny of all these endless wants to satisfy my sinful desires. God declares in Exodus 6: 6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” God is the one who sets us free. I can’t set myself free. Thank God that He fights for us in our weakness. As we consider what it means to live a holy life, will you consider letting God fight for you in your time of weakness? Will you let go of trying to control the situation by letting God fight for you instead?

How do we do this? 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” We are to “boast” in our weakness, failures, our mess so that we can boast in Christ’s power that overcomes our sin. In other words, we boast so that sin does not get the final word. We boast that God is stronger than sin and that God and his mighty redemptive arm gets the final word in our life story. God wins! Will you look to Jesus and ask him to be your hero today? Will you ask him to move in a mighty way in the life of your family or friend’s life today? Let us thank God that He is the mighty one to save so that we don’t have to save ourselves anymore.