Welcome to Life Baptist Church. Today is a special day as we celebrate the inaugural of this church under its new name, soon-to-be called the Hill Community Church. Don’t worry. We are still proud to be Baptists.
A little over 5 years ago, by God’s grace, we gathered in a small church called Crossroads Christian Fellowship located on Villa St. Then, we moved to a gym at the Coral Center on New York Drive. And this past March, God led us here. To this beautiful facility, but more than a building, God led us to a people who are Spirit-filled and also who have a heart for the lost. So I want to begin by introducing Pastor Lucious Smith. Could you stand? Pastor Lucious is pastor of Friendship Baptist Church and that is such a fitting name for the church because you will not meet a friendlier group of people.
I think when I visited their service for the first time, several of the grandmothers kissed me on the cheek. And Pastor Lucious is an affectionate guy as well. Sheep are like the shepherd. When Pastor Lucious hugs you, he gets real close, like I’m talking cheek on cheek contact. I’m Asian. I’m stiff. We bow and so there is a 5 ft gap between me and other people at all times. But I’m learning to loosen up. I am very thankful that he is here with us today – he has been a great source of encouragement to me.
I’d also like to introduce someone who is very familiar to many of us here–Pastor Don Overstreet. Could you stand? Pastor Don is a church planting strategist with the California Southern Baptist Convention and many of us met him for the first time 5 years ago when this church began and I’ve gotten to know him personally over the past 2 years. I thank him for the interest he took in me when I was the new kid on the block. We’d meet up for lunch and he’d encourage me and give me advice and pray for me. And sometimes we talked over the phone and right before hanging up, Pastor Don, without fail, always ends his calls with saying, I love you. And I hear that and honestly, at first, I didn’t know what to say. I was speechless. Eventually, I managed to respond, uh, I love you, too. Who says that? Not even my own parents say that. Thank you for being here. I love you. Oh, it still feels weird to say, but I do love him.
Lastly, I’d like to introduce Pastor Daniel and Sue smn. Could you stand? They are my shepherds. He is my pastor. Without them, there would be no LBC Pasadena. I’ll save my thank you to them for later in the program.
15 He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Dear Heavenly Father,
You created all things. Everything was created by your hands. Everything was created for you that we may bow down and worship. Jesus, in you, all things hold together. Without your sustaining grace and your mercy and your presence and your love, everything would fall apart. This world would fall apart. We would fall apart. The breath that we have in our lungs is because you are holding us together with your gentle hands.
We praise you for being the Head of the church, the Chief Shepherd. Jesus, we exalt your name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Be exalted, Lord Jesus, through this inaugural service.
In His Precious Name we pray, Amen
I met Pastor Daniel for the first time around 2002 while I was a missionary in Tokyo and Pastor Daniel was leading a retreat for us. Pastor Daniel and I had chances to talk during this time in Japan and I really felt a connection with him. I knew right away that he could be my pastor someday.
And sure enough, a year later, at the end of 2003, in a little cafe nearby Kichijoji station, I asked Pastor Daniel if our family could join him at his church in LA once we wrapped up our mission work, and he welcomed us with open arms. The missions experience was a mixed bag for us. We witnessed some amazing miracles, but we also had our share of some not-so-great experiences.
Like a worn down Elijah in 1 Kings 19 who needed divine encouragement from angels, 2004-2007 were years of healing under Pastor Daniel and Sue smn’s humble shepherding. Mainly, they listened to us and pointed us to Jesus. WLA was our Mt Horeb experience where we heard the whispers of God. And God got us back on our feet.
And He sent us here. Pastor Daniel and Sue smn, thank you for planting this church 5 years ago. You drove out here for 3 years and fed us from the Word every Sunday. Thank you to WLA for sharing your pastor with us during those first 3 years. We needed them here and we thank you for the sacrifice you made to make it possible.
I want to thank all the members of WLA for supporting our family financially while I was a seminary student. Thank you for your support and encouragement during my ordination a little less than 2 years ago. Most of all, thank you for your prayers. We never felt alone and we were always strengthened by your partnership in the gospel.
Thank you Pastor Daniel and Sue smn and all the brothers and sisters from WLA for walking alongside of us every step of the way to this point. A special thanksgiving to Pastor James and Grace smn for their care for us. Jackie and I have many fond memories of our times together.
I thank God for all the founding members who have been with us from the beginning supporting this church, some of whom have faithfully driven out all the way from Irvine to help us.
On this day of our inaugural, I feel like I did when I was a college freshman who was dropped off by my parents at my dorm at Clark Kerr. It was a mixture of excitement and fear.
The only difference now is the fact that I met Christ. In preparation for this day, I have been meditating on Romans 8:28.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Even as my emotions and my own love for God may fluctuate, I have faith in God that He works all things for good. And this promise rests not only on my love for him, which can be quite flimsy at times, but this promise rests on the solid foundation of His calling and His eternal purposes. Praise God that He is a God not only who calls, but who keeps. If He called you unto salvation, He is also going to keep you to the end until you and I reach glory.