Monthly Archives: December 2015

It’s Christmas Time! December 10, 2015

Christmas Greetings!  Christmas Eve is only two weeks away… and as I look outside, for SoCal, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  The sun is shining, there’s no snow on the ground, or anywhere, as far as I can see.  The temps are to rise in the upper 70s and they say it “might” rain on Sunday.  I trust that you are experiencing a great advent season.  We are half way through this great season… and I really hope that you are able to slow down enough to enjoy the greatest gift ever given.

I mentioned last week in my Few Thoughts that I was up in Lone Pine with Pastor Jeff and Indra Bassett.  On a short run Pastor Jeff and I did in the foothills below Mt. Whitney… he informed me of a race that takes place every May.  I knew of the race, for I had often thought of running it… but never did.  In the past the city of Lone Pine has hosted three races on this day:  10 mile, marathon and 50K (31 miles).  Pastor Jeff informed me that this year, much to his pleading, the city is adding one more race to the venue… 50 miles… and he is the race director for the 50 mile race.  The date is Saturday, May 14, 2016.  Plenty of time for us all to train and prepare.  Pastor Jeff is already signed up for the 50 miler.  I told him that my Saturday is free and I’m good for either the marathon, 50K or 50 miler.  So… pastors… leaders… laymen… any takers on this day?  It’s a perfect day to enjoy some rays in the desert.  The day before Mother’s Day.  Think about it… train… and you will be able to sign up in the new year for your choice of one of the four races.  I will be there!

ENCOURAGEMENTSo they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  (Luke 2:17)  I love this verse.  It tells us so much about the great birth story.  First of all… “they” are the shepherds.  Secondly… as soon as the angels departed from them… they took off in a hurry to see that which was just spoken.  Third… I like the word “found”.  The shepherds were given a message from the angels.  All they knew was that a baby was born in Bethlehem, He was wrapped in some rags called swaddling cloth, and was in a manger.  That’s all they knew.  And I know… Bethlehem wasn’t a large city in its day.  There weren’t thousands of homes or businesses… and the angels could have said, “Now you shepherds, go down the road, turn right at the first fork in the road, and when you see the bakery on the left, keep going straight past it, and turn left at the second corner… there you will find just what we’ve described…”

I happen to believe those shepherds took off in a hurry, roaming through the town of Bethlehem… searching, stable after stable… house after house… they checked every hotel… business… looking for a manger… a manger without animal feed, but one holding a baby.  Isn’t that just the way it is in our journey through life.  God calls us… He often leads us… He directs us… but so many times, when we want the specifics, He still makes us figure it out on our own.  That’s why prayer is so good.  That’s why the scripture reading is so powerful.  That’s why church services are so invaluable.  As we journey through life… we begin to know just where God is leading us.  We search… pray… attend services and study groups… we NEVER stop searching…

 And for this reason, Leslie and I have always been drawn to Nativity Scenes… or Manger Scenes.  Nearly, every time I go to Peru, I pick up a new set.  We love to display our manger scenes in our home.  Take a look at these two photos of our Nativity Scenes.  The first one was purchased a few years back when we were visiting the Holy Land and we were in Bethlehem.  This is made out of olive wood… and is one of our favorites.  The second picture is our coffee table with a hodgepodge of manger scenes from all over… we love manger scenes. 

      IMG_7973 (002)IMG_7974 (002)These scenes help me focus on the greatest gift given to us.  Do you have a manger scene?  If you don’t… and you would like one… please let me know.  I have one for you, and I will make sure you receive it.  Come visit me in the office… and I will give one so you to, can enjoy the blessing of advent. 

Come to think of it… traditions are great… I love family traditions… and Leslie started a family tradition years ago.  Once our girls were born and they understood the joy of opening presents… in November of every year, she would prepare advent gifts for our girls to open.  24 days in advent… two girls… meant that Leslie would wrap 24 gifts and line them on the staircase, and every day, beginning on December 1st they would have something small to open.  Makes for some fun days in advent. 


DISTRICT CHURCHES My December travels are still happening.  And I am enjoying the many visits to our churches. 

  • Los Angeles First English:  This past Sunday, December 6, I had the privilege of installing Pastor Josh Tiguila as pastor to this wonderful congregation.  In the installation, he was given several items to remind him of his calling.  You will see the Shepherd’s staff he was given to lead and guide this wonderful church flock.  We praise the Lord for the work going on at LA First.  We love you Pastor Josh and Bella!

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  • NewNaz:  On Sunday evening I was able to attend my home church and see the Christmas program in its evening presentation.  Once again, the choir, band, and team did an outstanding job presenting the message of Christmas.  Thanks NewNaz!


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  • District Christmas Dinner:  One of our largest attendances in many years for this annual event.  And again, I say thanks to the NewNaz church members and leaders who assisted in this great dinner.  I believe we had around 250 in attendance and a great program was provided by so many people.  Thank you Pastor Alan and Geebel Arevalo, for your ministry that evening.  It’s always a fun evening for the district family to get together. 

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Pastor Rick and Vonnie Savage celebrated the 47th wedding anniversary  and Cheryl Rivera from Covina church celebrated her birthday at the Christmas Dinner. 

As a small gift to the lead congregational pastors I am wanting to give a devotional book I hope we can go through together in 2016.  If you were not at the Christmas dinner and unable to pick it up or have someone pick it up for you please contact the district office and we can send it to you. 

  • New Hope at the Hills:  I wish that I had photos to share with you of what is going on in this great church.  Pastor Rodrigo Quema, along with his board and leadership team are doing an outstanding job in ministry!  God is using them in their new location as they rent a spot in Van Nuys.  I had the opportunity to come alongside and provide guidance in the Church/Pastoral Review.  We experienced a wonderful night in discussion, prayer, and casting vision… and on Sunday, December 6, while I was installing Pastor Josh, the local church board in New Hope at the Hills was reading a letter that I had sent to them and to Pastor Rodrigo Quema, affirming him of his leadership as pastor… and then they prayed over their pastor.  I thank God for pastors like Rev. Rodrigo Quema who are faithful and true.   

THANK YOU:  On behalf of the district staff, my wife and family… let me give a huge THANK YOU to our wonderful district for your loving support and incredible encouragement.  We were honored to receive a generous love gift at the dinner.  A little “thank you” seems so inadequate.  I can honestly say that I sense your prayers.  I feel your support.  And I love the teamwork we have here on the district.  I am so blessed to be part of this great team. 

If you haven’t already submitted you district license/ordination applications and supporting paperwork, this is the week for it. If you have any questions, or if you need to verify everything has been received, please contact the district office. 626-446-7300 or

Many of you are in the midst of Sunday School or Small Group parties… Christmas Programs… musicals… dramas… cantatas… Children’s Programs… and I pray that each event and ministry will be anointed by our Lord.  As we prepare to join in this great celebration, I am still reminded of the pain and suffering some of our churches near us and around us are experiencing today.  I have just learned that some of our churches have been effected by the loss of lives in San Bernardino only a week ago.  Would you join me in prayer for God’s protecting hand for everyone as we prepare for the New Year?  

I am so glad for the many ways the Lord opens doors for us in ministry.  We have 3 Sundays left in December before we embark on the New Year… Let’s give these three Sundays our very best effort.  After all… God deserves our very best!  I love you and look forward to hearing more reports of His work among you.   

Greg Garman

First Advent Week

Happy First Week in Advent!

Doesn’t that sound good?  I just love this time of the year.  If you were to come and take a look at our home you would find that we love Christmastime.  It has been our family tradition to NOT wait very long following Thanksgiving.  Our goal, since we were first married, was to have the home looking like Christmas before the weekend, following Thanksgiving, was through.  So… that means, climbing up in the attic to pull everything down.  The lights… tree… garland… nativity scenes (and believe me, we have a ton of them) and millions of decorations.  But, today… our home looks fantastic!  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

Christmas Day is only three weeks away… and how’s your shopping coming along?  I’ve completed a few things, but still have some more to do.  I find it interesting listening to all the reports on the news as to what toy or item is the trendy thing to buy right now.  I can’t even keep up with the electronics world.  HD TVs are now a thing in the past as the 4Gs are a big hit today.  And isn’t it fascinating that when cell phones first came out… they were these giant size mobile phones; then, it seemed there was a war to see what company could make the most compact cell phone… so, everything went smaller and tiny… only to have the giant size screens coming out for our cell phone usage.  Some are so big, one could never fit it in the back pocket.  For as many times as I misplace my phone… I may need one of those big screens to carry around.

ENCOURAGEMENTSo the two went until they came to Bethlehem.  And it came to pass, when they came to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved, and the women said, “Is this not Naomi?”  And she said to them, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me ‘Mara’, for the Almighty has dealt bitterly with me.  I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back again empty.”  (Ruth 1:19-21)  What an incredible Book!  Naomi, along with her husband and two sons, left Bethlehem for a “better” life.  The boys married Moabite women, and after a period of time, Naomi’s husband died, and so did the boys.  She is left with nothing except the clothes on her back and two daughter in law.  The one daughter in law stays in Moab, but Ruth clings to her side, as they both make their way back to Bethlehem.   

I believe that in her journey back to Bethlehem, Naomi was able to do a lot of thinking.  She spent a great deal of time talking with Ruth… but even more so, lots of moments where she just shuffled her feet forward… not quite sure what to do.  She was broken… grief stricken… hurting… dirt poor… and completely empty.  And when they arrived in Bethlehem (House of Bread) she was bitter.  There was not much to be joyful for.   

But, this is the part that grabs my attention.  It’s Naomi who decides to return “home”.  Home… because she had heard that there was bread back there.  Perhaps there would be enough for her and her daughter in law.  For she had nothing.  She returned empty.  But she knew just where to go.  Bet Lehem… Perhaps this bakery would feed her hungering body… Maybe this House of Bread would receive her hurting heart.   

And thus… we see the beginning to the greatest birth story known to man.  Jesus, the Bread of Life, born in the House of Bread… ready to give nourishment to any needy and hungry soul.   

As we enter this advent season, may we all begin our journey, like the shepherds… like the magi… like all others who came to see the Bread of Life born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger.  Because, just like Naomi, in chapter 4 of Ruth, just before the Book closes… she no longer says, “I’m bitter” or “I’m empty”… rather, she says, “I have a kinsman redeemer!”   

Are you making your way to the Bread of Life this Christmas season?  You can come empty and He will fill you up! 

DISTRICT MATTERS:  I’m still journeying my way across the district and there is so much going on.  I am having a difficult time expressing my love and appreciation for everything that I see… wherever I go.  I am grateful for each pastor and family… for all the Worship Teams… musicians… leadership boards… and all laymen.  Everyone one of you is a blessing to me and the district team: 

  • PAZNAZ:  I was privileged to preach in this great church just a couple weeks back.  What a special day we encountered together… It all began at 8:00AM and then continued through the early afternoon with a dinner I was able to enjoy along with the Hispanic Church, La Fuente, where Pastor Marcos and Andrea Canales are leading a wonderful ministry.  God is alive and moving at PazNaz… and we covet your prayers as we work together to find God’s choice to pastor this fine church. 

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  • NEWNAZ:  On Tuesday, just a couple days before Thanksgiving I was able to join NewNaz, where I served for 22 years, for their annual and traditional Pie Night.  What a tremendous way to kick off Thanksgiving… I think I had three pieces of pie that night!

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  • SANTA MONICA:  This last Sunday I had the opportunity to join both services at Santa Monica for worship… and what a way to begin advent.  Pastor Scott and Katie Savage, along with their team of leaders are doing a wonderful ministry among our English speaking group.  I love Santa Monica… of course, who wouldn’t… what a beautiful place to be.  And then stayed around to preach in the Spanish church with Pastor Edgar and Rosario Monterroza where the church was celebrating, along with Rev. Hugo Melvin Aldana (sponsoring pastor) their 1-year anniversary.  What a special day I experienced with this wonderful church!

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  • LONE PINE:  I thought that I knew just where Lone Pine was located… but, I messed up.  You see, the Spanish service in Santa Monica begins at 12:30… and by the time the special speaker was through preaching… and then, he was invited to eat… I will NOT skip out on a meal… I glanced at my watch and said, “I’ve got to get going… I need to be in Lone Pine by 6:00.”  Now remember, this was the Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving weekend.  You guessed it right!  I got to Lone Pine 30 minutes late.  But, I am so grateful for the ministry of Pastor Jeff and Indra Bassett.  They are doing so well in this community and church… even though Pastor Jeff tried to kill me on a Monday morning run up in the foothills below Mt. Whitney.  The trail we ran on was icy, with snow all over the ground… the altitude was tough… the temps were hanging around 20 degrees (who lives in conditions like that?)… and this old man can’t run like he would like to. 


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 CHRISTMAS DINNER:  I’m looking forward to seeing many of you this coming Monday night at Newhall for our Annual District Christmas Dinner.  We plan to have a great time in fellowship and fun. 

Not that long ago Leslie and I enjoyed ushering in Thanksgiving along with our team from Casa Robles.  We both experienced a great time at PLNU for our 30 year reunion… and I am most grateful for the local church boards I have been associating with most recently.  The Los Angeles District is a tremendous blessings to me.  May Jesus bless you as you take time to make your way to Bethlehem to feed on the Living Bread this season.  I love you all and I look forward to seeing you soon…

Celebrating in Advent,
Greg Garman