Food For Thought

Words of encouragement from members of our church community

August 28, 2022 | Lillian S.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). 

Do you have a favorite hymn that has a special place in your heart? Was it written by Fanny Crosby by any chance? I recently came across one of her hymns and did a little study. 

Crosby was a beloved hymn writer who penned lyrics of over 8000 hymns during her lifetime, mostly in the 19th century. She teamed up with musicians to compose much loved hymns we sing today, like To God Be the Glory, Praise Him! Praise Him!, Blessed Assurance, and All the Way My Savior Leads Me. 

One day a seminary student asked me if I would help her create a home recording of several hymns for distribution to patients in the hospital. This was, of course, before the smartphone era, Spotify, and YouTube. One of the hymns she chose for the project was Near the Cross, another Fanny Crosby hymn that is now unforgettable. 

What about this Crosby hymn did she feel would minister to this group of listeners? In its day, the cross was a tool for horrific torture and severe punishment and a symbol of judgement. Those who stood by as Jesus was crucified were mostly Roman soldiers and onlookers who approved of this frightful verdict. In contrast, Crosby testifies to the miracle and the mystery of the cross that is life giving. Even though she lost her sight as an infant, her lyrics are full of imagery describing salvation through the cross.

Verse 1:

Jesus, keep me near the cross

There a precious fountain

Free to all, a healing stream

Flows from Calvary’s mountain

As we read on through verses 2 to 4, Crosby depicts more images of God’s divine grace from the cross, of Jesus providing the way to walk with him daily because of the cross, and of the hope of heaven because of the cross. “Love and mercy found me; bright and Morning Star sheds its beams around me; help me walk day to day with its shadow over me; near the cross I’ll watch and wait; hoping, trusting ever; till I reach the golden strand; just beyond the river.” The hymn is more meaningful as I sing it now. As followers of Christ, to be near the cross is our station, where hate meets love, where brokenness meets healing, where condemnation meets grace, where darkness meets light, and where death meets eternal life. Though blind, by trusting in the Lord, Crosby had the hope of seeing the Lord one day. She concludes in the chorus:

In the cross, in the cross

Be my glory ever

Till my raptured soul shall find

Rest beyond the river

August 21, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama

Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:1-2

This verse challenges me because Job just went through major suffering. His business was destroyed when bandits stole everything he owned; all his children died in a natural disaster; he was stricken with disease and sickness, and even his close friends rejected and labeled him a fraud. As Job “died” in all this suffering, God met Job. God showed that He was still in control even though Job experienced hell personally. God was resurrecting new faith in Job that resulted in a belief that “no purpose of God can be thwarted.” 

Let me ask you, do you believe that nothing can thwart the purpose of God? If I am honest with myself, I struggle to fully believe this. For me, I think my expectations of what God would do in my life haven't always happened. As Job lamented and processed honestly with God his struggles, God met him and revealed his glory to Job. God doesn’t want to give us a better version of our dreams, God wants to fulfill his resurrected dream in us.

I wonder if we have the wrong idea of what the good life looks like. To God, death, whether big or small, isn’t the end of the story, but a new beginning for God to work and resurrect something new in us. If God’s purpose is to bring life to the things that are dead, then maybe we can embrace our mini-death and ask God to fulfill his purpose of new life in that death. 

I am realizing that God is not a genie to fulfill my every wish and desire, but God wants to give us true life by fulfilling his loving and amazing purpose in our lives. Will you seek to know what God's purpose is and invite Him to fulfill his purpose in your life today, especially when we face the sufferings of our lives?

August 14, 2022 | Yoh N.

In July, Pastor Michael asked us to reflect upon God’s faithfulness over the past year. I was

thinking about this, and I reflected on the fact that it has now been a year since my mom had heart surgery. In March 2021, my mom had a heart attack. The heart attack itself was minor, but after she went through several tests, we found that her heart valves were seriously damaged. The cardiologist recommended her to undergo a heart valve replacement surgery as soon as possible.

At the end of April, after discussions with the cardiologist and the cardiac surgeon (as well as family meeting with my dad, Satoshi, Sarah & me), my mom consented to having the open-heart surgery. We all thought she would have the surgery in May.

However, the pre-operation steps did not go smoothly. I had to contact the Cardiac Surgery

Coordinator, who was an extremely difficult person to get a hold of. I would leave her voice mail messages in the morning, and she would never call me back. I had to keep calling throughout the day until she finally picked up. There were also tests that needed to get done and navigating the Kaiser phone system to get to the right department to get the tests scheduled was a nightmare. The days kept passing, and I was very frustrated – at Kaiser, at the situation, and at God.

During this period, the church prayer group and caregivers’ group prayed for my family and gave me continuous encouragement. I was reminded over and over that my family is not going through this on our own. We were covered in prayer, and God is with us, too – even when I questioned God. 

Finally, my mom’s surgery was scheduled for June 9, 2021. When I took my mom to the hospital for her surgery, I found out that their Covid protocols had eased. I was able to accompany her inside and stay with her until right before they wheeled her into surgery. If the surgery was even one week earlier, I would have had to leave her at the front door. My mom would have had to deal with the paperwork and pre-op questions without me as her translator. I realized that God was faithful and had been watching over us during all the delays and the frustrations. God made sure that my mom’s surgery was scheduled in His perfect timing.

The surgery was a success. The surgeon had to replace two valves and repair a third. It was actually a miracle that my mom did not end up in a hospital earlier – further evidence of God’s faithfulness to my mom over the years. Also, post-surgery, my mom was in the hospital for three weeks. She was able to have a limited number of visitors throughout her stay. After she was released, the Covid numbers started rising with the Omicron strain, and the hospital visitation protocols became strict again. My family and I were again amazed and humbled by God’s faithfulness and care for the timing of my mom’s hospital stay.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” This experience definitely showed me that God is Sovereign and faithful. Even when things seem to be going wrong, we need to hang on to God and trust Him completely.

July 31, 2022 | Satoshi N.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

My oldest daughter, Emi, has been taking swimming lessons for some time. As she continued to go, it was noticeable that she was progressing. However, her confidence did not match her capability. As parents, we tried to encourage and prod her a little, hoping to boost her confidence more. However, she remained hesitant and continued to rely on us to help her in

the pool. Throughout it all, she has continued to take lessons and learn different swimming strokes and continue to improve her overall swimming abilities. 

Recently, we went swimming at a friend’s house. That day was the first day Emi confidently swam by herself. She didn’t ask us once to help or watch her to make sure she was ok. She even jumped in the pool with her friends and swam to the shallow side. As a parent, it was a proud moment to see her trust her swimming abilities and find that confidence in herself to do so. 

In this same way, it’s a reminder of us as believers and God encouraging us. We may be diligent and read God’s word, sing praises, but maybe not recognize that our faith is growing. This may lead us to be hesitant to do something that God may be encouraging us to do. Maybe He is encouraging us to share about our faith with family and friends. Or maybe it’s to pray out loud or even to take on a role at church or campus ministry. The thing is, God is prodding us along, encouraging us in our faith walk. God knows our capabilities and where our spiritual journeys have been taking us. Imagine how proud God is when we take the plunge to do what we may have been hesitant to do. Through it all, those moments of taking the plunge will show us that we have been growing in our journeys with God. I pray that it is in those moments that we recognize how much God is with us, proud that His child is growing confidence in their spiritual abilities.

July 24, 2022 | David L.

Tonight (7/19), as I write this Food for Thought, I remember that it is the feast day of my favorite saint, Macrina the Younger. She was a remarkable woman who lived 1700 years ago in Central

Turkey, whose life and death influenced many generations of men and women to pursue Christ.

Let me tell you her story! 

Macrina was the oldest of nine siblings in a wealthy, devout family. From a young age, she learned about her family trade of wool-working, as well as how to read the Scriptures, both rarities in a time when women weren't always given many opportunities to learn and lead. As the eldest child, she spent much time looking after her siblings, and she must have done something right: Three of her brothers not only became bishops, but some of the most famous theologians of the early church. These brothers cited her as their greatest influence in their theological development. She was not only a conversation partner they could hone their ideas with, but also a sister who could speak truth and call them out when they got too prideful! 

Although she was betrothed at an early age, her future husband died before they were married, and so Macrina never married. Instead, she took on the life of a virgin widow, founding a community of unmarried women and widows that transcended class and status. In fact, she freed all of her household slaves, reached out to the poor and homeless in her area, and used her wealth to create storehouses of food where the poor could be fed during times of famine. If this lifestyle was degrading to her upper class existence, she didn't care, because the love of Christ had changed her life. When she grew sick and passed away at the age of 52, she passed away with a prayer on her lips: "O Lord, You have freed us from the fear of death; You have made the end of life here the beginning of a true life for us." 

Truth be told, Macrina reminds me much of my late sister, who loved Christ from her youth, loved people with reckless abandon, and was to her brother a source of both grace and truth, encouragement and humility. She was, and still is, the greatest influence on my theology. Who is a sister who has influenced your walk with Christ?

July 17, 2022 | Pr. Michael Furuyama

Should I wake up at 6:30 a.m. and go for a run with the guide? I haven't been running for so long but it'll be nice to see God's creation. Maybe I will if I can wake up," is what I thought as I went back to sleep.

 At 6:22 a.m., I got to use the bathroom. In the bathroom, “God, do you want me to wake up and go running?”

“Yes,” God says.

“Why did I even ask?” I say as I slowly change my clothes, brush my teeth, and head out the door. 

Oh, it's already 6:35 a.m.. I wonder if they left already? Well, I'm already awake. I might as well just go

So, I ran over to the meeting spot which is in front of the bookstore. There is no one there. I'm pretty sure they left. Well, I'm already awake. I might as well stretch and make the most of this beautiful morning. As I sit down on the bench to stretch, another man around my age runs up to the bookstore and asks me, “Is this where they do the guided running tour?” I tell him, “I think we both missed it. It's already 6:39 a.m. But maybe we both can go for a run together. I know of a trail that we could probably run.” He tells me, “I haven't run for a long time.” I said, “Me too. We will take it slow.” 

To summarize the rest of the run, this man's name is Joe. He has faithfully served at a special camp with his wife for over 15 years. We talked briefly last year at Mount Hermon. He remembered that I was a pastor and asked how things were going. I was sharing that it's been an exciting and challenging journey as the new senior pastor at LA Holiness Church. Then God reminded me that Joe is also a pastor. Joe shares how he also became the new senior pastor of his church in Washington. He also has 3 children, who were in a similar age group to my kids. So he started asking more questions and sharing some of his challenges that I could relate to as well. We shared some war stories both in ministry and in family life. We started as acquaintances, but by the end of our “run,” which was more like a hike, I ended up with a brother. 

This was a divine appointment. I couldn't have met this person unless I obeyed God's voice. As we learned from the "Jesus on the Move" sermon series, you are only one obedience away from experiencing the glory of God. What is Jesus telling you to do? I would love to hear your stories of obedience.

July 10, 2022 | Essie Z.

Why Lord I ask? Should I wonder why? Why do things happen as they do? Can I understand how to walk even in the toughest times? In all my 42 years studying the Word of God and growing in His likeness then why would I ask myself these questions?

I have gone and experienced many seasons of my life before Jesus and after Jesus. I turn to God, and he helps direct my views and paths set before me. In Psalms 139:13 I am reminded of who I am and that I was created by him in my mother’s womb. Because of Jesus being my first love, he has walked with me daily and I know everything will be alright. I have been equipping myself with God’s word and songs and filling my heart with his word to fight the battles before me. I had to really rely on him these past months. In good times with praise and with challenges, hard times with prayers and I know God is with me. In the toughest times I seek comfort from his word, Psalm 121:1-2, "my eyes look towards the mountains and see that my help comes from the Lord." God is with me. My soul was enlarged, and I grew more than I have ever grown closer to God because of this season that I just walked through. Learning to be silent and be with God.

No one sees the future and things we will be faced with. Because of tragedy and death being a part of life, I can get through it with God carrying me when I can’t make it. I know and realize it was God who called Brian home on that day I got the call from the hospital. So, I am left behind to continue to walk with God and do His will. In Jeremiah 29:11 my hope is in the Lord with my future laid out for me.

I trust in the Lord in good times as well as the difficult times. He is my rock in times of trouble. I cannot see what the future holds. However, I know that I have opened my heart, soul, and body to be used by him in all the days ahead. I cannot be sad forever because I am reminded of all the blessings in my life and am thankful for God. Certainly, losing Brian is sad but this sadness shall pass. His legacy will live on in all of us. He was a good and faithful servant and had a huge heart to serve. Praise be to God I was married to such a wonderful husband. Thank you all for walking side by side and let us all be encouraging for one another in the days ahead as you have encouraged me.

July 3, 2022 | Holly Y.

I'm sure all of you have heard about the Supreme Court ruling last Friday, where they overturned

Roe v. Wade - the landmark case that protected a woman's right to choose to have an abortion.

That ruling - and the aftermath - have been occupying a large portion of my brain for the past few days. While I have very strong opinions about the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life debate, I'm not going to share those here. However, I do feel compelled to share about Christianity in our current political climate.

I've noticed for a while now that modern day Christianity is very much tied to certain political views. I've seen rhetoric that says, "You aren't a real Christian if you are pro-[insert example here]." I've seen Christians on the right claim Christians on the left aren't "true Christians" and vice versa.

These debates remind me of biblical times, when the Pharisees used to gate-keep God. They had so many rules Jewish people had to follow in order to follow God - rules that didn't even matter. For the Pharisees, it was more important that the rules were followed, than for the people to have a genuine relationship with God.

John 3:16 says this, "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."

This is arguably the most famous verse in the Bible, but ironically, I feel like we forget about it. We forget that the truth is so simple and clear. It's not about what political party you vote for. It's not about whether or not you're pro-life or pro-choice. It's not even about how many times you read your Bible a week. John 3:16 tells us that being a Christian is about believing that Jesus is your Savior. That's it.

I don't know how we've gotten here - to a place where believing in Jesus is no longer enough to call yourself a Christian. But I encourage you to relish in the truth, in the comfort of knowing that it really is that simple - even though society tells us it isn't.

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.