January 29, 2023 | Shirley Y.
After many years, we finally had our Family Camp last year in November, and I was so happy and excited to have the opportunity to get together as a church family and have fun. As we were planning this event, I was asked if I could be in charge of crafts on Saturday during free time, and I agreed. Since I have been making the cards for our Dash of Love Program, I thought this would be something I could have others create as well. During our craft time at family camp, we all had a wonderful time of crafting and fellowship, but in the back of my mind, I was a bit sad. Many of our senior members did not attend our family camp, and I was hoping to share this time with them. I just thought, maybe next year.
Then in a message, Pastor Michael mentioned the importance of having fellowship with one another. I felt that this was God speaking to me about having a fellowship time with our seniors and retirees to show how much they are loved. As a result, I decided to have a Craft Day with these special individuals. With Sue being gracious enough to open up her home to host this event, we had our Craft Day early in December. I invited a few of our seniors and retirees, and we were able to have a gathering of five crafters, Sue, Ann, Yumi, Val, and Janet. My plan was to have everyone make two Christmas cards and two chocolate crafts that could be given as gifts. They were also provided the opportunity to make birthday, thank you or sympathy cards. I enjoyed watching everyone’s creativity emerge and the pride they had after their projects were completed.
The time of fellowship that we spent together was filled with laughter and sharing various stories of the past. We have known each other for a number of decades, and we ended up talking about old times. It is amazing how God brought us all together, regardless of the age differences, and we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. Age did not make a difference. I felt God’s love through everyone that attended, and everyone seemed to truly enjoy themselves.
We plan to have about three or four Craft Days this year. I pray that this will not only be a time of laughter, but it will be a time to lift each other up during times of struggling. Then we can use this opportunity to pray for each other and show the love of Christ through our actions.
”Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 2:1-5
January 22, 2023 | Emma T.
This year, Winter Vision 2023 was cancelled the day before we were supposed to leave for camp. Due the huge storm hitting California, streets were blocked by trees and a power outage hit the camp grounds we were supposed to be attending. I had taken on a new role this year as NorCal Dean of Women, recruiting cabin leaders, training them on cabin leading, and helping run camp. I was extremely excited for camp to not only be in person for the first time in ~3 years, but also to serve in a new capacity and see what the Lord had in store for me. It was really disappointing to have camp cancelled because I was so excited and had expectations that it would happen in person this year. I felt frustrated that all the work was for nothing.
On Wednesday, before I found out camp was cancelled, I was preparing some encouragement for the cabin leaders. I ended up spending time reading Hebrews 6:10 “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.” Initially, I thought about how this can encourage cabin leaders if they felt discouraged if they didn’t see spiritual growth in the time they spent with their kids or their cabins were not going as expected in general. However, looking back, God was already preparing my heart with spiritual truths to reconcile the disappoint that came with camp being cancelled. He reminded me that God sees the efforts we put into furthering His kingdom, whether or not others see it or it leads to anything on this earth. He wants us to continue to love Him and love and help His people no matter what the reward on earth is, because He will surely not forget our work when we are rewarded with being reunited with God in heaven.
January 8, 2023 | Rick C.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Jesus and then ushering in 2023. As I get older, I’m starting to feel a bit ambivalent towards the start of a new year, mainly because it only reminds me of my mortality. Lol. So this got me thinking about a few things as I prepared to start the new year.
I took some time this past Christmas Eve to thank God for various things that happened in my life. In May of last year, I found out that I had polyps in my stomach. I was grateful for the church praying for me, and thankfully the biopsy came back benign.
This past August, I had major surgery for the first time in my life when I had a compound fracture and broke both bones in my forearm. Thankfully, there was an excellent orthopedic surgeon at the Mammoth hospital who inserted two plates and 11 screws to patch me right back up. I was thankful it happened at Mammoth (a ski resort with patients who break their bones, even though I did it while fishing), and so grateful for Kathy who took care of me as I waited in the ER for my surgery that day.
In November, I was finally able to go back to Japan for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Being in Japan was so life-giving and renewed my passion as to why I work at JEMS. The most memorable and enjoyable moments spent in Japan were just being able to see the missionaries and friends that I hadn’t seen in a while.
As I reflected back on these things on Christmas Eve, I came away with these few thoughts that will influence how I will live in 2023. I will turn 60 in August (YIKES!), so it reminds me of the brevity of life. I’ve also come to realize that I have a lot of junk in my life, well actually in my house. I decided I really need to think about how I spend my money since once I die, one, I can’t take it with me, and two, someone has to get rid of it.
These two realities made me realize that time is a precious commodity, especially when you know it’s winding down. But given that reality, spending time with people by using my finances will drive my spending habits into 2023. It only reinforced what I knew was important to Jesus, which was “love God,” since our time here on earth is short and when we die, we will spend eternity with Him. But also, “love others/ neighbors,” since enjoying and impacting others with the love of Christ has the potential to make an eternal impact.
As we start 2023, what are your priorities? Why do you have them? Will those priorities impact eternity? May we live our lives with eternity in mind.
January 1, 2023 | Stanny O.
Then he (the criminal) said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” -
This is one of my all-time favorite Bible passages. In my heart of hearts, I’m a procrastinator. I have to work very hard to fight against this tendency. But what I love about this passage is this: even at the very last second as Jesus was DYING, in agonizing pain from all his wounds and injuries, sleep deprived, hungry, thirsty and carrying the sins of all humankind on his shoulders, He had such compassion on that criminal that He forgave him even in His dying breathes and told him he would join Him in heaven!
What does this tell us about God? It tells me that God is compassionate, merciful and forgiving, since He is the very One who sent Jesus that we might all be given eternal life with Him. This also tells me that if we repent, even at the last second before we take our last breath, God is willing to invite us into His heavenly home! This man knew he was a sinner, yet I know he’s in heaven! That fact is so amazing to me.
Talk about the 11th hour, the just in the nick of time, the fourth and goal and the buzzer beater? These two simple verses tell me God is willing to take me back, no matter what, even if it’s at the last second! But that criminal had one thing we may not get; he had a few hours before he knew he was going to die. We may not get that luxury.
Take this time to pray and repent to God. It doesn’t mater if you’ve turned away from God for years or even 10 minutes. Ask for forgiveness and return back to Him.
December 25, 2022 | David L.
I want to thank everyone for congratulating me on finishing my MDiv at Fuller Seminary. To be honest, until Pastor Michael shared it during Coffee Hour, it actually hadn't hit me yet. I guess it helped that I didn't have any finals this last quarter, and I'm still involved in different student life things. I have been reflecting a lot on what I've learned these past three years, and I have to confess I'm still processing and synthesizing! So let me put some of these things down in a numbered list I call...
Twenty Theological Tidbits I Learned in Seminary
1. God is a big God. Don't believe me? Look at how big and diverse his church is.
2. We believe in one Good News that saves, but the reasons the Good News is good might be different from person to person.
3. What are the chances that out of billions of believers through time and space, my theological views happen to be 100% correct?
4. With regards to sin, it is easy to see that we can be lost in our immorality, but far more dangerous and insidious is being lost in our own morality.
5. When the history of the church is told in the Resurrection, what are the chances that it'll be about institutions, theological debates, and earthly kingdoms?
6. The Gospel is simultaneously the strongest and weakest thing in the world. Just as easily as people, organizations, and regimes co-opt the Gospel for their own ends, the Gospel also grants power and life to the weak, oppressed, and despised.
7. "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
8. Leadership begins with listening.
9. Society doesn't magically get better when everyone becomes a Christian.
10. The most dangerous thing about theology is when we talk so many facts about God that we talk around him, forgetting that he is real, living, and active. The very first theological question in the Bible started off: "Did God really say...?"
11. The second most dangerous thing about theology is that, done rightly, it shows us who we really are. The second theological question in the Bible is God asking Adam and Eve: "Where are you?"
12. Do you love God? If you do, do you like God?
13. We are all called to imitate the humility of Christ, who emptied himself by taking the form of a slave (Philippians 2). How would this message have sounded to the "overseers and deacons" Paul addressed in Philippians 1:1? Now think about how this message would have sounded to a slave in the early church.
14. Many times, I flee my grief like someone trying to chase the setting sun by running west. But the better way is to run east into the darkest night, until the rising sun shines on my face.
15. Ministry requires imagination and creativity rather than defensiveness and reactivity, and the way we defuse the latter is through practices of rest.
16. What it takes to survive and what it takes to thrive are two very different skill sets. Confuse the two at your peril.
17. The work of the Spirit is to make the unimaginable imaginable, and vice versa.
18. Salvation is as much a communal reality as an individual experience, for we are saved as the people of God.
19. "A theologian is one who truly prays, and one who truly prays is a theologian." St. Evagrius
20. The reason I went into seminary was to love my brothers and sisters in Christ better. It turns out that the reason I made it through seminary was the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
December 18, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama
God’s plans never fail. Isn't it amazing that no matter how impossible, “no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:37. Sent by God, the angel Gabriel, appeared before Mary and foretold, though a virgin, she would bear a son, God's promised King to Israel. He would be named Jesus. Scientifically impossible as this may seem, Jesus was born as God promised.
When Adam and Eve sinned, humanity became eternally separated from God. Romans 3:23 tells us that "for the wages of sin is death." God is perfect and holy. Because we are not, it is impossible for us to redeem ourselves through our own merits. God's plan was to send Jesus, who would live a perfect life. His death on the cross would be to redeem the humanity of our sins. And in His plan, God did the impossible, raising Jesus from the grave. It is our acceptance and faith in Jesus that all our sins are forgiven, declared Holy in God's eyes, and adopted into His family.
Christmas reminds us that God does the impossible. What God says happens. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16. The greatest miracle is that God loves every one of us. He sent his Son Jesus to be born on Christmas Day.
December 11, 2022 | Satoshi N.
“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” - Rev. Billy Graham
“You need to save for a rainy day”. We have all heard this phrase. The phrase recognizes the importance to save financially in case there is a sudden need of funds due to an emergency. There are many different advice in how to best save money for those “emergency” type of situations. The thing is, no one knows if it will ever be used. The hope is that, if a sudden financial need arises, there have been enough deposits put
in the “rainy day” fund to see you through those times.
The same analogy can be used spiritually. There may be a long period in which everything in life is just chugging along. In those moments, hopefully our faith is also growing day by day. Even in the “ordinary” days, we are to continue to build up our foundation of prayer and knowing God through Scripture. Though it may seem like our faith is not being truly tested, we are putting in the time to grow. We are making those
deposits in our spiritual bank and growing in Christ.
But, we can expect that there will come a time when our lives will go through some critical moments. Those critical moments will more than likely test our faith. Some will falter and lose faith, maybe even blaming God for the storm in their lives. Those who have been faithfully making deposits in their spiritual bank, will turn to God and trust in Him. They will put their trust in Him because there is confidence and assurance that God will be right by their side, comforting, strengthening, and loving them all the way through that critical time. When that storm passes, those who persevere and see that the deposits they made daily only strengthened their resolve with Christ.
Are we putting in the time and effort to making our deposits in our spiritual bank so we can trust in God in our times of need?
December 4, 2022 | Donna M.
The first advent candle was lit this past Sunday. It was the candle of Hope. It represents the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. He was to be the Light to a dark world. God, our Father, gave to us His son, baby Jesus who was born in Bethlehem. He came and dwelt among us. He became our light and hope in a world full of sin and darkness.
I began to wonder while writing this article, how can we share our hope that the Lord has given us? Sometimes when I talk with someone who needs encouragement, I would often offer a prayer to the Lord on their behalf. I can do this on the phone or in person. It seems to lift and encourage them.
Our church delivers bento meals and desserts to our seniors and caregivers once a month through our Dash of Love. It’s an exciting time because we have several drivers that go out to deliver the meals and visit with them. I like to go and deliver the meals because it gives me a chance to visit and talk with others and see how they’re doing. It’s fun, too, because it gives me an opportunity to travel out to people’s houses, talk, or even pray with them if needed. Sometimes these are people who don’t often get to come out to our church so it’s also a good time to catch up with them.
Sometimes, people need a good laugh. It can really brighten up their day and even leave a smile on their face! It can be a funny story or even a corny joke. My jokes can be terribly corny. My dad’s jokes were terribly corny and I was the only family member laughing at them. I guess it’s hereditary, haha. Nowadays we call them “dad jokes”. Laughter can be good medicine!
You can be a beacon of light for our Lord to even someone going through a hard time. Even writing a card or a letter or even a text to someone and let them know you’re thinking of them.
This can be a good time, especially during this holiday season to give hope. It doesn’t have to be confined to the holidays. Reach out and touch someone’s life, especially if you feel the Lord’s nudging you to do it.
June 26, 2022 | Sarah N.
Imagine this situation: Child A is playing nicely & quietly with her Legos. Along comes Child B, who decides to grab all the pieces and demonstrate a “better” way of playing with Legos. What happens next? An argument, of course, which could have been avoided.
So maybe you don’t have children and this exact scenario has never happened to you. But… maybe you were completing a project at work, and a co-worker not so subtly tells you that their way would be more efficient to get the job done. Or you’re cooking dinner and your spouse/ parent/roommate looks over your shoulder and tells you to chop the tomatoes smaller and add more salt. What do all these examples have in common? They are about CONTROL and taking it away from someone else.
I admit, I love to be in control of a situation. I was the one in school who would take over a group project because I wanted things done MY way (which of course was the best way, but that’s not the point). I like to have a schedule so that I know what is coming up and I can manage my time and energy in the most efficient way possible. Unfortunately, this also means that I don’t like to relinquish control to anyone, even God, at times.
In Luke, we have been studying “Jesus on the move.” We have been encouraged to look for where Jesus is moving today and then join with Him. This means that Jesus would be the one in control, not me. I would merely be a vessel to be used for Him. I cannot be so focused on my way of doing life that I miss God-given opportunities. At work, I may be called to listen to a patient’s family, without only focusing on symptoms and diseases. Many in my community have financial difficulties or broken relationships. Is God calling me to pray for these areas, instead of just tending to physical healing? I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never asked Him. At home, God might be calling me to continuously forgive, but that interferes with my desire to have my children follow my instructions, so instead I get angry with my kids. I’m missing chances to move with Jesus.
Simon Peter, James & John “left everything and followed Jesus” (Luke 5:11). If they had chosen to be in control, they might have remained fishermen and never left the comfort of their routine life. Instead, they chose to step out in faith to the unknown and Jesus led them to see amazing miracles. What would happen if we released our need for control? Where would God lead us and how could He use us? Remember, God is already sovereign. We might as well stop deceiving ourselves into thinking we are in control, and let Him be God.
June 19, 2022
Last Friday was Natalie’s culmination from Elementary school. It’s so hard to believe that we
now have a Middle Schooler in the house! As I looked at her photos through her elementary school years, it made me see how far she has come and how much she has grown, not just
physically, but also in her knowledge and abilities.
As Natalie moves on to Middle School, Brielle will enter TK (Transitional Kindergarten) this August. I am hoping that Brielle is ready for TK. I am particularly anxious because I have been homeschooling her over the past 2.5 years during the pandemic. Since the pandemic has been going on for a while now, we went through the preschool curriculum twice. The first time, I couldn’t tell if she was learning much. Most of the lessons seemed to go over her head. However, the second time around, she was retaining the lessons and she was able to do more of the activities. The “fruits” of my labor were not immediately noticeable, but as time went on and we repeated the lessons, things started to click.
In a similar way, I’ve found that it often takes multiple times for us to truly grasp the lessons God is trying to teach us. Maybe it’s a lesson about being patient or maybe it’s about being joyful in all circumstances. One of the lessons God has repeatedly taught me is to have faith that He can do miracles, which I was able to witness firsthand when He healed my mother completely after her brain aneurysm. In spite of this, my prayers often do not reflect my faith in His ability
to perform miracles in my current circumstances. God repeatedly gives me a lesson where my faith in His ability to perform miracles is tested. I am finally starting to pray for those miracles, but I know I still have more to learn and grow in this area.
Is there a lesson that God wants you to learn? Whatever the lesson is, I hope that we have a desire to learn and grow, a sense of curiosity and humility to receive instruction from the Lord.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” He is having us go through these lessons for a reason. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” I hope that we will not give up learning and one day we can see God’s fruit in us to do the good work which He prepared in advance for us to do!
June 12, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama
What’s your goal in life? Is it to be happy, to leave a legacy of love or honor, or to make the most of every opportunity? As a disciple of Jesus, is your goal in life to be like Jesus?
As you already know a disciple’s goal is to be just like his/her teacher. When Jesus says come and follow me, the idea is that he would teach you to do everything that he is doing so that you can do them as well. Have you ever thought that you can do the same things as Jesus does? This is a crazy and profound truth. Jesus says in John 14:12-14, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” We are to teach others about what’s the best way to live like Jesus. We are to have a dynamic and intimate relationship with the Father daily and bring God’s healing touch to others. As Jesus' disciples, we are set up to bring the Kingdom of God to our home, workplace, school, and to wherever we are.
How do we do this? As the text shares, we are to humbly rely on God by asking him. We admit that we can’t do this on our own. But by faith, we ask God to lead us and use us to bring God’s love through us. I realize when I am in a difficult situation, I easily focus on what I can do and I forget to pray to ask God what he can do. So maybe let’s start asking what God can do in the circumstances we find ourselves in or those others are in. Jesus is inviting us to join him to go out and bring the good news of the Gospel everywhere we go. So will you “Go and be His Disciples?”
June 5, 2022 | Makayla L.
Man, they’re really letting anyone write these things now, huh. Hello newsletter readers. For those who don’t know me, my name is Mikayla. Some things about me are that I grew up attending LA Holiness, I love swimming, and, no big deal, but I just graduated high school. So I guess it’s fitting that I’d share about high school.
Over the course of my senior year, I was faced with a multitude of choices to make: join a completely new sport or stick to the one I’ve played for the majority of my life, study into the night or catch up on sleep I’m deprived of, stay in California for college or venture out of state. I’ve always been an indecisive person. Never ask me to choose where to go out because it could take hours. I was somewhat grateful that we were locked inside during the pandemic because I got a break from making choices like going out or staying in. But when we went back to an in-person school year again last August, you’d think everything would feel more normal and familiar after the weird online year. In some ways, it was. I got to have classes with people I hadn’t seen in over a year. I got to eat the government-mandated lunches again. But coming back as a senior was like a push into the deep end of the pool. Suddenly, November was making its way around the corner, and I would have to finish applying to colleges. May approached ever so quickly, and I would not only choose a college, but I had to balance taking my AP tests and class finals with enjoying the last month of school.
Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with anxiety. I downplay my emotions and label them as insignificant. I tend to overthink and let things build up and overwhelm me more. This past year made me realize that it may not be the best way to handle situations. I specifically remember a morning practice where I was swimming my laps, thinking about the workload I had waiting for me when the practice was over. I was given a long endurance set of 500 meters, so naturally, as I do before every swim that I think could send me into cardiac arrest, I pray. I pray not only for strength but for clarity. As I move through the water, I have a conversation with God, just telling him about what I’m going through. After that practice, I drag myself to my first period, where I find the verse Philippians 4: 6-7 on a poster in the hallway.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Yes, it's the verse I used for last Sunday's Call to Worship. It’s become a verse I can return to for re-centering my faith. I’m always going to have stressful moments in my life. I’m learning how to drive, I’m about to go to a four-year, and hopefully, I’ll work a 9 to 5 job in the future. But I know that God is there to root for me.
May 29, 2022 | Brian L.
Last Thursday, my oldest daughter, Mikayla, graduated from Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights. I was fortunate to be able to take both Thursday and Friday off of work and enjoy a 4-day weekend. On my return back to work this past Monday, I sat at my desk and prepared to get ready for the workday. I reached into my backpack to take out my cell phone, and realized that it was nowhere to be found; I left it at home.
My initial thoughts were focused on how unavailable I’d be to anyone wanting to contact me and on how boring my day would be not having a cell phone to entertain me and preoccupy my time as my first two scheduled patients did not show up to their physical therapy appointment. I had a brilliant idea to read the Bible to pass the time, but I forgot that I used the Bible application...on my cell phone (grrrr). Then, I remembered this past Sunday when Pastor Michael referred to David L. Lee’s sermon point from Psalm 1 that the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord and meditates on God’s law day and night is blessed. He applied a simple exercise to recite our favorite scripture verse 10 times simultaneously together. I’ll admit that the thought of reciting John 11:35 ten times did enter my mind, but I overcame my devious impulse, recalled my favorite verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and recited,
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
There was a reason for repeating this verse 10 times. How providential memorizing these words turned out to be; its application would come in handy the very next day!
After meditating on these words, my thoughts turned to rejoicing and praising God for His goodness, for His unconditional love and grace. My attention then focused on what and who to pray for. I prayed that God would use me to be an effective treating clinician and to listen well to the needs of my patients. Throughout the day, God reminded me of various things to pray for. Towards the end of the workday, I thanked God for placing me in a career that I enjoy, for restoring my health as I battled with a minor, non-COVID illness last week, for Mikayla’s academic achievements, and for the time Mikayla and I spent together last Friday, teaching her how to drive (mostly for keeping us safe and alive).
If a simple act of forgetting to bring a cellphone to work can stimulate meditation on God’s word and spark an awareness of what God wants to reveal to me throughout the day, maybe we can consider keeping the cell phone or social media out of arm's reach and learn to develop these spiritual disciplines as a way to practice doing God’s will for us in Christ Jesus.
May 22, 2022 | Lillian S.
Some time ago, I received a book from its author, entitled Heroes of the Holy Life. It’s a collection of biographies of heroes of the Christian faith. These are historical men and women who endured great hardship to live and die for Christ and the gospel. I recently pulled it off my bookshelf and took it with me to read while I was in a waiting room. From the start, I was captivated.
“Oh, how I wish to spend all my time and talents for Him who spilt His blood for me.” Francis Asbury (1745-1816) wrote these words in his journal over two hundred years ago as he crisscrossed on horseback throughout New England, the Carolinas, Kentucky, and the Allegheny Mountains to preach at every opportunity he had in homes, churches, and jails.
At sixteen years of age, he “experienced a marvelous display of the grace of God, what some might call sanctification,” and began his ministry of preaching and visiting the poor and the sick. He was a circuit rider, covering thousands of miles while facing danger from the elements including the winter freeze, insects, wild animals, and even Indians. He battled rheumatism, illnesses, and persecution. But he pressed on “in the pursuit of souls.” While on his horse, he prayed, read, and studied the Word daily before he preached. Asbury ordained more than three thousand new ministers and gave more than seventeen thousand sermons and held camp meetings where thousands came to Christ. Under Asbury, the Methodist movement exploded in America with the revival of people’s souls.
God did his mighty work through Asbury. His life is a testament to the life of Christ in him and to the power of the Holy Spirit. Asbury journals, “How I long to be more holy — to live more with God, and for God!”
It brought tears to my eyes. The passion and the longing that each of these heroes, these giants of the faith had for Christ left me awestruck. So what message is there for us? The author of this book, Wesley Duewel, summed it up best when he signed my copy of the book with this simple inscription, “Let us keep fully devoted to Jesus.”
May 15, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama
Are you proactive or passive with your faith in God?
I was talking with a former youth group member from my old church. She is just graduating from college, and I was asking her about how her faith grew during college. She shared that her dad, who is the senior pastor of my former church, told her that she needs to be more active in her faith. Her dad noticed that when life got difficult, she became passive. Her dad said that if she wanted to become a mature Christian adult, she needs to be more proactive, especially in her faith in God.
During her junior year of college, she decided to study abroad in England for one semester. She was proactively trying to put into practice what her dad told her since she had been going to college in the same city where she grew up. On her first weekend in England she visited a church where she then realized that no one knew her as the pastor’s daughter. She felt lost and weird that she didn’t have this label or any expectation of her. She talked with her dad about it and he challenged her to stop being so passive and expecting things to happen. He told her to be proactive, serve at the church, be useful and see what God would do to address her lostness. So, she began to serve. She got plugged into the church and grew in her walk with God. She tried new things. God met her and she felt alive again, living out her faith in new ways.
I believe this is a good lesson for all of us. Maybe because of this pandemic, we might have made excuses to be passive in life and in our walk with God. But maybe this is the time to become proactive, live out the fullness of God’s holy life and see what it means to become alive again.
May 8, 2022 | Yadira L.
Life is what we make it. Yes, we trust that God will watch over us, but most of the time we seek him when we need help after we have already made a mess.
“The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:7-8). If this promise isn’t a complete affirmation of his love and care, then what is? Oftentimes I find myself worrying and wondering if things will work out and every time, God delivers. Sometimes in the most surprisingly shocking ways, but he always has my back. In the past few months I have experienced major changes in my life. Some of these changes I never thought would be possible because I felt incapable and not strong enough to do it. Little did I know that God was working and still is to keep me strong.
A few months ago I decided to free myself of many things that were not making me happy. It all started with “I need time to myself” and now it has evolved into an independent me!
God has been with me through this journey. In a marriage sometimes we forget to care for ourselves. There is the everyday routine, the children, the house chores, the cooking, the bills and to top it all off, work! It's no easy task. We were brave enough to walk into the wonderful institution of marriage with Elias 16 years ago only to find out it takes a lot of work, patience and love. We were facing some differences so we decided to take a break for our own well being.
While we were dealing with decisions, I received a call from our landlord that the house was going to be for sale in the next couple of months, so we had to move out. I prayed to God to guide us and help me go in the direction that would make me a better and happier person. I saw the landlord's call as the first step in my journey, because now I really had to get a job and find a place to move with my girls sooner than I thought. God started to open doors. I got a job on my first interview! I could not believe it but as time passed and I look back I know now that it was God working. I was also blessed by a good friend who rented me her house. God touched her beautiful heart because of all the hard work and time she had to put into something that was not in her plans. So I saw God's hand in so many ways in less than 3 months.
Not much time has passed but I already feel like I’ve grown so much emotionally and spiritually. We are trying to work things out with Elias, mostly for the love we have for our beautiful family. We decided to let God work in our lives. During this time I found that God has always been with me through my brothers, my sisters, friends and family. I have really felt the power of prayer. I can now attest that God heals. It's a process, because we have to surrender all things to him. And that is the part that I have trouble with. My flesh wants to be in control but in the end I know that only when God is in control I can succeed.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” This verse spoke to me in many ways. We get carried away in our everyday routine and forget to follow God’s will for our lives. I know that his plans for me are perfect and I trust that he's going to do his will in my life as long as I let him.
May 1, 2022 | Jean S.
Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your understanding. Proverbs 3:5
God is so good. I want to share one of my stories about how trusting in the Lord brings you with so much love and gratitude. Back in the day (pre-covid), our church would go to Baja, Mexico in a small town called Vicente Guerrero to build a home for a family. I was so excited to go on my first mission trip with LA Holiness. I was excited to take Daniel. I made sure all our paperwork was in order. Long story short, I didn’t make it. I was willing to risk it. I heard getting in was easier than getting out of the Tijuana border. I’ll catch an Uber if I had to but our leader Brian, being the responsible person, advised me not to do it. I was devastated to have abandoned the team but they did it with an 11 team crew and built a lovely home for our buddy Kevin and his parents. I was determined to go the following year. There was nothing that was going to get in the way, absolutely nothing. My passport was good and I was ready. Then I found out LA Holiness goes every other year. I was at a loss for words but I had to trust in the Lord. I was told other churches go yearly and maybe I can ask them.
I asked a friend that I knew from my high school days. I hadn’t seen her since our JAO Basketball days, she was awesome. I knew she attended Crossway Church in the San Fernando Valley and we were Facebook friends. So, I messaged her to inquire. She wasn’t going but one thing led to another and Stan Date called me from Crossway Church. They have a huge team and to add someone from another church was asking a lot but I was accepted! I would be participating on this Mission Trip without knowing a soul. But, I truly had to trust in the Lord. I was praying that morning while driving to Crossway and asking why am I going when I don't have my LA Holiness peeps with me and I don’t even know anyone from the Crossway Church that’s going. I don’t even know how to build a house. Would they accept me? I prayed and put my trust in God that everything would be okay.
Trust in the Lord........I was in Stan Date’s carpool of 6 people and they are my family. There were so many connections in that van and they made me feel so welcome. We built the home next to Kevin and his family so I was able to meet them and bring gifts from our church family.
Trust in the Lord....built a home with our bare hands (and still standing the following years).
Trust in the Lord.....built friendships on our love for the Lord.
Trust in the Lord......always.
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.