Greetings from 35,000 feet above sea level… no, I’m not climbing any mountain (highest Mt. in the world is only 29,000), but I am in a Southwest plane somewhere over the Midwest returning home. I was in Indy for one night visiting with a few leaders on the subject of compassionate ministries… seeing and experiencing the work of the Lord at the Shepherd Church and Community Center. I praise the Lord for what He is doing through the many ministers there!
Here’s a funny one… while in the airport, I decided to get a small cup of coffee. I got in line (I discovered long ago that there is danger in looking at the prices of things while standing in line at ANY airport), and as I approached the barista, the gentleman in front of me had ordered a bottle of water. As he handed the water to the cashier, he heard, “That will be $5.63.” The guy said, “I just have this water.” Again the cashier said, “5.63.” The gentleman again said, “No, I just have this one bottle of water.” For the third time, the cashier said, “Yes, I know… that’s 5.63.” He paid for his water as he walked away shaking his head. I’m not sure just why that cracked me up… that poor man must not travel that often, or he has never purchased anything in an airport.
ENCOURAGEMENT: “O Lord, in the morning will you hear my voice; in the morning I will offer my prayer unto Thee, and will keep watch.” (Psalm 5:3) Jesus did a lot of praying in the early morning hours. We find Him rising up early, even while the disciples were sleeping, and heading out to pray. Seems like the psalmist also enjoyed the early morning prayer time. It happens to be my favorite time to pray as well. Though… the scriptures show that ANY time is the right time to pray.
Yet, what intrigues me the most about this verse is found in the last phrase, “keep watch”. When I am done with my prayer time, I am not to stop what I am doing. Even after I’m through praying… I’m still active in my spiritual journey forward. Sometimes I wonder if we get up from our kneeling position and think to ourselves, “Okay, I’ve done it… I’ve prayed, and given it into the Lord’s hands… I’m through!” But the psalmist says that we are to “keep watch”. Paul says that we are to “keep alert”. Always watching. Only a few weeks ago I was traveling on the Marañon River visiting a few native churches. It had rained quite a bit up in the mountains the day before, so the river was rising. Whenever the river rises, the water current will pick up logs and debris alongside the river. Natives will clear away land near the river’s edge, leaving the debris to be picked up as the river rises. These logs can be very treacherous for a motorist traveling on the river. If the driver is not keeping watch, one of those logs can hit the prop, or damage the lower unit. With rising conditions in the river, whirlpools and other rapids areas called pongos, can be incredibly dangerous. Many lives have been lost in the river.
No wonder the Apostle Paul called for every believer to put on the full armor of God… even when we are finished with our prayer time. Satan would like to devour you. Are you keeping watch today?
DISTRICT MINISTRIES: There is always something exciting taking place somewhere on the district. And quite often it is hard for me to keep up with the great and many ministries happening all around. Yet, the Lord is at work and we are still basking in the joy of life after death. With Easter 2016 in the rearview mirror… we live in the light of His glorious presence today because He lives. Thank you for the way you serve… minister… and continue to lead on the Los Angeles District!
· Glendale: Pastor Hrag and Fabia Karagoezian, along with their team of leaders, are doing an outstanding job leading in this great church. This past Sunday Leslie and I had the privilege of worshipping and preaching in two services: Most recently they have begun an English speaking service where there was a great group of younger families gathered for worship and celebration. As I preached in the second service my words had to be translated, but what a joy to see the impact people like Rev. Habib and Ruth Alajaji have had over the years. Praise the Lord for the faithfulness of our Armenians who have endured great hardship through war-torn conditions, genocide, and persecution through the years.
· La Puente Spanish: I can hardly wait for this Sunday as I make my way over to La Puente Spanish Nazarene this Sunday, April 10 to install Pastor Wallger Gonzalez along with his wife, Gloria and their family. Pastor Wallger was ordained last year at the Ordination Service in Pasadena, and has been serving with Pastor Samuel Martinez at Hillside in Rowland Heights… but most recently has been assisting me with the pulpit supply at La Puente Spanish. Estoy agradecido a Dios por lo que él está haciendo en La Puente. Gracias Pastor Wallger por aceptar la invitación de pastorear esa iglesia. Mil bendiciones!
· Pasadena First: It has been a long journey… nearly 10 months… but the Lord has led us (the PazNaz board, search committee, and the entire church body) to Pastor Tara Beth Leach. She, along with her husband, Jeff, and two children will begin their ministry as Lead Pastor to the Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene on Sunday, May 29. I’m certain that many of you have already begun to read the welcoming comments on Facebook. But, would you join me in giving Pastor Tara Beth a great and warm L.A. District welcome as she comes to us from the Chicago area?
PASTORS’ DAY: Pastors and leaders… I do hope that you will plan to be with us this next week in Newhall for our annual Pastors’ Day. You will be glad you are there. I will be glad you are there. If you have been to one of these in the past… you will know that there will be some great food along with coffee, tea, and juice to welcome your arrival. The kitchen committee always does a superb job in ministering to us. Breakfast goodies will be ready between 8:00-9:00AM. We will start right at 9:00 with worship and praise led by members of NewNaz. In the morning session we will hear a panel of three pastors speak on subjects we deal with on a daily basis: There will be plenty of time for questions and answers.
· Pastor Lamar Davis will speak on Conflict Resolution
· Pastor Marcos Canales will speak on Reaching the Millennials
· Pastor Albert Hung will speak on ministering to a Multi-Cultural Church
We will break for lunch at noon… and once again, you will be treated with a great feast. These ladies always go above and beyond! And… they always have dessert! In the afternoon we will resume to discuss matters pertaining to Pastor’s Reports, District Assembly, and other related items that you need to be aware of. You will be on the road back home by 2:30PM.
FAMILY PHOTO: Pastors… I need your help! With District Assembly just around the corner… I am discovering that many people across the district do not know who you are. You may know a few pastors around you… but you may not know everyone. For District Assembly this year we are doing something different. Would you please submit a photo of your family… one that is a close-up shot, so we can see who you are… and we plan to include it in the District Assembly handbook. You can email me the photo, or hand deliver it to me at Pastors’ Day. Would please also list the names of your children if you include them in the picture. We would like these photos by the end of April. Of course… the sooner the better. If you don’t do it now… you may forget. You WILL forget.
· DISTRICT ASSEMBLY: June 15 @ 7:00PM; June 16 @ 8:30AM; Ordination Service on Thursday night, June 16 @ 7:00PM; Friday 8:30AM – 4:00PM adjournment
I am so grateful for your prayer and financial support to the Los Angeles District. As you know… we have now entered the new church year, yet if you are still needing to get that final Unified District payment in, please do so as soon as you can. It is a real blessing belonging to such a great and awesome team! As we roll into the new fiscal year, I am looking forward to seeing the various ways the Holy Spirit will guide us together. These are truly great days to be in ministry. He’s the God of the city!
I love you all…