Greg’s Few Thoughts – Thursday, September 3, 2015

Good Morning!

Going to LAX can either be an uneventful experience or it can be a complete nightmare.  Most of the time, it seems, I’ve been able to go in and out without a whole lot of difficulty.  But not today.  I’ve just returned to the office from dropping my folks off as they head back down to Peru.  The traffic was horrible as we approached LAX… and only grew worse as we entered the horseshoe roundabout.  My word!  It was terrible.  I won’t go into the whole story, but our experience with the traffic jam was not so pleasant.  But… we made it and all is well.

Most of you know that I was away last weekend visiting our family in St. Croix, Virgin Islands where we had the memorial service for my brother.  The service was brief and I was able to share some thoughts from the Word before we prayed and had the burial at sea.  This is the first time I’ve ever taken part in this kind of burial.  Evidently, in the Caribbean, burials at sea are quite common.  There were two boats that went out, one carrying the casket, a few family members and close friends, while the other boat carried about 35 passengers.  After going out 3 miles off land, the captains shut of the engines, and in the sea tossed waves, we rocked back and forth, as I spoke using a small portable sound system that could be heard from both boats.  We then released the body and returned to shore for further stories and memories to be shared.  Thank you, again, for all your prayers.  Here is a photo of the captain and his ship that took us out to sea for the burial.  It was of this boat my brother did all of dives.

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ENCOURAGEMENTAnd He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.  (Luke 4:16)  Have you given much thought as to how people will remember you?  What things do you do that people will remember?  Where do you go?  What do you do?  How do you act?  Dr. Luke records two things that Jesus ALWAYS did.  In Luke 22:39 he reminds us of another custom Jesus had.  Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.  So… when I look at these two chapters, Dr. Luke conveys two customs of Jesus:

  • Going to church
  • Praying

I am certain Jesus had many other customs… but these are the only two customs of Jesus that are mentioned in this Gospel.  If we were to ask Luke, who received a lot of his information from the Apostle Paul and Mary (mother of Jesus) he would say… Jesus always went to church and was always in prayer.  And, as we read the other Gospel accounts… that’s precisely what we see.  Upon entering a village… Jesus went to church.  When He was out and about… He rose early in the morning to spend time in prayer. 

And you know what I find interesting… observe how much this influenced Paul in his missionary journeys.  Every time, Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas entered a new town… the first place they went… was the synagogue.  And how many times do we find Paul in prayer!  

Do you have plans for Sunday?  Where are you going?  What will you be doing?  What is your custom on Sunday mornings?  How much time do you spend in prayer?  I spend a lot of time running.  I like to work on my pool or in my back yard on my day of.  I enjoy traveling the jungle trails in the Amazon or hiking up in King’s Canyon.  But I hope that the things I may be remembered for are the things in life that really matter.  Jesus touched lives… and so did Paul.  Perhaps, a lot of it begins on our knees and bringing our worship back to the church along with our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Will you be in church this Sunday?  Will you be a generous giver this weekend. 

IMPORTANT DATESThese dates are important to remember… especially if you are a minster hoping to get a District License, have your license renewed, or apply for ordination.  The DEADLINE FOR ALL PAPERWORK IS NOVEMBER 30.  Please get these applications and other documents in to the district office by November 30. 

A second date is January 14, 2016:  Ordination candidate interviews… and perhaps first time license ministers. 

Let me give a shout out to some of the members of the Ministerial Credentials Board who came to plan out lots of material.  Thank you Pastor Peter Lundell, for your leadership.  We have a great team!

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CHURCHES IN TRANSITION I covet your prayers for several churches on the L.A. District who are, right now, in the stages of a pastoral transition.  Some are in the beginning… others are in the middle… and some are close to the end of their process.  But let me say this… we have some outstanding leaders in each of our churches that are going through this process.  Thanks to the boards… search committees… secretaries… and especially the staff members of all these churches who are leading and paving the way for future leadership.  Thank you.  Here is a brief list of churches in transition:  Camarillo (Rev. James O’Connell will begin his first Sunday on September 13); Hillside Community Church in Rowland Heights; La Puente Spanish; Los Angeles First Church English; Newhall; Pasadena First.   

PASTOR AND SPOUSE RETREATWe have more than 75 signed up for the retreat coming up soon.  We are going to be in Pismo Beach September 21-23 with special speaker Dr. David Busic.  I am so grateful for Pastors Josh Johnson (chair), James Kinzler, Doug Pittam, Wes Thompson, along with their wives, for the leadership they have provided in getting things set up for the retreat.  Thank you committee members!

I love you and I look forward to seeing you in the days that lie ahead. I will be away for nearly two weeks attending conferences and meetings already set up by the General Church.  Some of these meetings are because I am the “new kid on the block”.  I will be back soon…

Greg Garman