March 11, 2016

 

Good Day on a Rainy Monday!  Last week we were climbing high into the upper 80s… and I loved it.  Over the weekend we were able to get a few drops and it even continued into Monday.  As I was driving to the District Office this morning, before the second cell of stormy clouds rolled in, I was glancing up into the hills of the Angeles Forest and saw that we got some snow!  In fact, I just looked over my shoulder to check out the hills surrounding Mt. Wilson… and there is snow up there.  That is awesome!

I’m trying to get these Few Thoughts of mine out before I make my way tomorrow evening to LAX.  I’m headed to Peru for a few days to set things in order for the Work & Witness Trip in October.  I’ll be meeting with three District Superintendents there, and many other leaders, as we make plans for two Pastors Conferences in the Amazon jungle.  You will be hearing more of the details on the trip upon my return home on March 18.  I have been reading a few postings on Facebook where people have been saying that El Niño has been bringing in great storms with large amounts of flooding and road closures.  Should make for an interesting trip.  I appreciate your prayers. 

ENCOURAGEMENTWhen he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up!  On your feet.  He’s calling you.”  (Mark 10:47-49)  This is one of my all-time favorite Bible stories… The Story of Blind Bartimaeus Receiving his Sight.  Palm Sunday is just around the corner.  Jesus and His disciples are passing through Jericho.  The last place His disciples are desiring to go is Jerusalem.  The last time they had been close to Jerusalem… Jesus was nearly killed.  All of them feared the worst.  Towards the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He was attracting large crowds.  Some He fed.  Others He healed.  Many were spoken to.  All were affected.  Jesus is the life changer. 

As a boy I recall many journeys to the city of Chiclayo.  We’d come from the Amazon jungle… and as a boy, I was always drawn to the city’s commodities.  TV… stores… lights… cars… I liked rising in the early morning hours to leave for the bakery to pick up fresh bread and “gooks” (that’s what we kids called cream filled pastries).  I recall handpicking the creamiest… most gook filled stuff and running back home to share with the family.   

On the way to the bakery there was always this same man… crippled from birth.  He sat on this small plywood cart with four go-cart (roller-skate) wheels, where he’d push his way about through the crowds to sit at the same corner… day after day… week after week… to beg.  It was my custom to stop by and drop the change that I had received back from the baker into his small dirty aluminum cup he held out.  I always felt compassion for him.  Of course, this man was one of many who begged on various street corners throughout the cities.  Looking back on life, I wished I would have spent a few more moments with him.  I didn’t even know his name. 

Everyone knew this man in Jericho… His name was Bartimaeus.  Blind!  But determined.  I love that about him.  No one was going to tell him to “Shut up!”  He was determined… persistent… driven.  Perhaps, some of the villagers that day were weary of Bart.  They had supported him for a long time.  They had given him their change.  They had helped him get to and from home every day.  And now Jesus was passing through town again.  He was a man who could make special things happen.  Some who were there that day had probably been fed by one of Jesus’ feeding by multiplication.  Many had received spiritual nourishment.  This was their time as Jesus was passing through. 

But Blind Bart was tuned in to His surroundings… no one had to say a thing to him.  He knew that Jesus was there.  He had heard of all that Jesus had done… COULD STILL DO… so he cries out.  The crowd does their best to quiet him… but… nothing doin’.  He cries out the more.  Louder!  More determined.  And Jesus tells us that Blind Bart had faith.  “Go.”  Said Jesus, “Your faith has healed you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. 

The question Jesus asked Bartimaeus when He called him over is the same question Jesus still asks us each and every day, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  With Palm Sunday just around the corner… and the cross of Good Friday nearing… what is it that you want Jesus to do for you?  For your family?  For your church?  How determined are you to go to Him?  Do you feel alone?  Isolated?…  Don’t quit! 

Blind Bartimaeus received his sight… but more importantly… he received new life… as salvation came to him that day.  How much grace do you want today?  Go… come to Jesus.  He’s ready to pour out His grace and peace to you. 

WALNUT BLESSINGLast week Leslie and I had the beautiful privilege of participating in a very special service with the wonderful people at Walnut Blessing.  Along with us, were several other members from across the district.  Let me, first of all, congratulate this great church on the hard work and planning that went in to make this Day of Celebration possible.  THANK YOU!
Lead Pastor “Retirement”Our very own, Rev. Kim Lundell, concluded her final Sunday on February 28 as Lead Pastor to the Walnut Blessing Korean Church of the Nazarene.  There were tears shed, times of laughter, and many congratulatory comments from people in the city, across the district, and within the church… all to Pastor Kim Lundell.  Check out the pictures that were taken on this her special day.  If you know Pastor Kim, then you know that “retirement” will NOT mean sitting back doing nothing.  I am most convinced that she will remain active and engaged in meaningful ministry.  We love you Pastor Kim!  And of course… We love Pastor Peter!
Installation of new Lead PastorFortunately, I had the opportunity to work alongside the church board and leadership team there in Walnut before Pastor Kim resigned.  Therefore, we were able to have a “Two for One” Celebration Event all on the same day.  And what a joy it was for me, and all others, to be present in the passing of the torch from mother to daughter:  Pastor Kim Lundell handed the baton to Rev. Grace Kim… and the celebration began.  May the Lord bless this wonderful family who have been such a source of encouragement to the Los Angeles District!  We love you all…

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ALAHAMBRAThis past Sunday I was given the opportunity to preach in both the English service (Faith Promise for Missions Sunday) and the Spanish service (with a different theme).  And what a joy it was for me to be there in the mix.  The Faith Promise Goal for the English congregation was $3,200… and yet more than $4,200 pledges were made with many checks already coming in.  PTL!  But then, I was led into the Spanish speaking service were the music and worship was inspiring, and the Spirit of the Lord was present.  We enjoyed a tremendous 2 hour worship experience where we gathered around the Lord’s Table and I had the privilege of preaching on the “River of God”.  But, for me… one of the highlights was when Pastor Eleazar Torres came down front, knelt down by the altar and called the boys and girls of the church to come forward so that he might bless them in prayer!  WOW!!!  We love you Pastor Eleazar and Laura Torres.  You are a blessing to the L.A. District. 

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NBC & NTS OFFERINGSHas your church recently sent in an offering to our two educational institutions (Nazarene Bible College and Nazarene Theological Seminary)?  These two institutions DO NOT receive assistance from any region in the country like our other Nazarene universities do.  Would you see to it that your church either receives a special offering, or that you would send a check expressing your support for the preparation of future ministers in the Church of the Nazarene?  Did you know that both NBC and NTS partner with us (Los Angeles District) as we equip… train… and prepare many ministers who are in the midst of their ministerial studies?  Can you help?

DISTRICT PASTORS’ DAYOn Tuesday, April 12 we will gather together in Newhall for our Pastors’ Day.  Thanks to the Kitchen crew at NewNaz we will have breakfast goodies ready at 8:30 for fellowship until 9:00AM.  The program will start at 9:00 with worship and a devotional.  We are having a panel of four pastors presenting special topics that we deal with every day in our churches.  Come ready to share together.  Lunch will be served at noon.  And in the afternoon we will meet for district administrative matters I would like to share with you.  We will be done by 2:30… and you will be on your way home!

I am finishing up a few things here in the office today (Tuesday) and am preparing to make my way to LAX for an 8 day trip to Peru.  I appreciate your prayers as I have lots of traveling to do in the places I will be.  I love you and look forward to sharing with you more in the days to come. 

Journeying Along…
Greg Garman