Gratitude

By: Keung Luke March 12, 2017

Thank you, Pastor Godfrey, for offering me the honor of sharing in context of our church’s 40th anniversary celebration and thank you all for staying to listen.

Forty years is a long time. Over these years a vision has become a church – our church, children have become parents, young adults have become grandparents, and many of those who gave birth to us and nurtured us , both physically and spiritually, have gone on to be with the Lord.
Indeed, 40 years is a long time.

On this anniversary, as I think of the past and look to the future, the word GRATITUDE comes frequently to mind. I would like to use this word as the topic of my sharing with the following points :

  1. To whom do we owe our gratitude?
  2. How to stimulate our gratitude?
  3. What are some of the ways to show our gratitude?
  4. A dream and a hymn

My outline follows the letters of the word G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E

1. G stands for God, the first and foremost one to whom we owe our gratitude as in Ps 9:1a: “ I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;”. Of course, we should be grateful to our parents, our family members, our pastors, our friends and fellow co-workers in and out of church. But God is the first and foremost one to whom we should be grateful.

2. R stands for Remember. Remembrance of what God has done in our midst is a good way to stimulate our gratitude as in the Song of Moses - Deut 32:7a: “Remember the days of old;”.

I want to share with you two stories - One about our church, and a second one about two individuals.
God led me to our mother church FCBCLA on 8/30/1964 - my first Sunday in Southern California. I was deeply impressed by Dr. Timothy Lin’s powerful preaching – the message was on God’s calling of Samuel - and the rapt attention of the packed congregation. Right then and there I knew that was the church for me. Thirteen years later in 1977 God opened the door for a small group of us to join Dr. Murphy Lum to plant a mission in Orange County. Through the vision of Dr. Lin and succeeding pastors, five more missions/ churches had been planted.

Praise God that our church now belongs to a family of 9 churches and missions between Sacramento to the north and Calexico to the south. These are:

  1. Crenshaw
  2. Sacramento
  3. Fountain Valley
  4. Walnut – its own daughter church and first granddaughter mission of FCBCLA - CrossLife
  5. Community Church in Sierra Madre plans to be independent in the fall of 2017.
  6. Calexico
  7. San Gabriel (plans to be independent in 2017)
  8. Restoration in San Marino, an Asian-American church plant (started in 2014)

For 17 years our mother church supplied what was lacking in our finance and personnel until our independence on 2/20/1994. May we remember what God had done through our mother church and let that memory stimulate us to be a grateful and reproducing church.

3. A stands for action. What are some of the ways to show our gratitude?

Let me use the remaining six letters to suggest 5 pathways to show our gratitude.

4. T stands for Trust – Trust as in Prov 3:5-6 . This is pathway #1

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Trust and acknowledge equal gratitude. Remember the lone grateful leper.

5. I stands for Invest – This is pathway #2

Invest in the lives of people as in 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “…we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own soul,”.

Consider the story about Nora and Ruth, what I call a story of possibilities.

In a borrowed upper room at the Trinity Baptist Church our mission started with prayer meetings. Among those present were Nora and her granddaughter Ruth, always at the front row. Often Nora asked Ruth to recite Psalm 23 for me. With a bashful smile, she declined . In her own words, this is Ruth’s story.

 

March 3, 2017

I left FCBC Westminster when I was a freshman in high school. A family friend Pastor were starting a new church in Westminster so my whole family started to attend that church. The name of the church was Kindness Alliance Church and the pastor was Abraham Lu. It was a very small church, probably about 40 members when we first started. I was baptized there at that church when I was 16. After I got married and had my first child I change church and attended First Chinese Presbyterian Church of Westminster. Because at Pastor Lu's church there was no children's program. I attended the Presbyterian Church for about 4 1/2 years. In 2004, Tim Lum called me and tell me he was getting married and asked if we can meet up for lunch after church one Sunday. So on Sunday I took my children and attended FCBC Fountain Valley and went to church there. And so Tim Lum and I and couple other friends had lunch after church. The following Sunday as I was going to the Presbyterian Church my son request to go back to my friends church from last week. I asked him why does he want to go to my friends church instead of our church, He said my friends church was more fun. So I turn the car around and went back to FCBC fountain Valley. Then the following Sunday as I was heading to the Presbyterian Church again my son asked to go to my friends church. At this time he asked if we can just go to my friends church from now on and not go to the Presbyterian Church. And since then I've been coming back to FCBC Fountain Valley. At that time my oldest son was five, my second son was three, and my youngest son was only eight months old. My five-year-old son, Carter, was the one that insisted that I go to "my friends" church and I've been back ever since 2004. After I came back to FCBC FV, I asked if my dad would like to join me they have a Chinese congregation as well as Sunday school for the elders. My dad came back and join church and I slowly convince all my brothers and sister to come back as well. I have been serving in the children's Ministry for about eight years now and working with AWANA for two years. God has blessed my family so so much and two years ago my two older sons also got baptized at FCBC FV. My three boys now attend AOK and have been volunteering and serving in church. Thank God for his provision and his grace. I will continue to pray for my husband to come to know the Jesus as his personal savior. And maybe one day our whole family can come to worship the Lord together.

 

God bless,
Ruth


6. T stands for Together

7. U stands for Unity as in Ps 133:1 This is pathway #3

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

8. D stands for Deny as in deny oneself. This is pathway #4

This concept is difficult to grasp and apply. Allow me to call upon Pastor Tony for help with what he said 10 years ago on 2/18/2007 in his Pledge of Commitment when he was ordained as a minister of the of the gospel. He pledged:

"I would never forsake my calling as a minister of the gospel and as the pastor of your church."

"I would forsake anything that contradicts God’s truth, and whenever there is a conflict between my benefit and my responsibility, I would forsake my benefit and fulfill my responsibility”

He further pledged: “I pray that the Lord will help both of us to love Him with all our hearts, our minds, and our strength, and would give whatever we have to the Lord and His church, even our lives, if it is necessary.”

His pledge echoes the West Point motto: Duty, Honor, Country. In his case, it is Responsibility, Church, God.

So self-denial is not negative, but positive, it means choosing a higher calling.

9. E stands for Example This is pathway #5

Let us aspire to be a role model of Ps 103:2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:”.

Let me conclude with a personal story – A dream and a hymn

About a month ago, while lying in bed early in the morning, I had a dream. In my dream I was singing a hymn. I didn’t get very far because the words touched me so deeply that I was moved to tears and woke up. What is amazing is that we have not sung that hymn for a long time and it is not even in our current hymnal – Hymns of Life. Later I found it in our previous hymnal – Hymnody hymn # 118 and learned that what I sang in my dream are the first nine words of its refrain: “Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe …”

At the beginning I said God is the first and foremost one to whom we owe our gratitude. In between I shared that remembrance of the days of old is a powerful way to stimulate our gratitude and five pathways to express our gratitude. Finally, I conclude with the reason why: it is because All to Him we owe. Thank you again for listening.

By: Keung Luke March 12, 2017