Greetings on a beautiful Summer Day towards the end of Winter!
And yet again… another gorgeous day between storms of rain and snow in the mountains. This past weekend I made my way up the coast for meetings and simply had to stop along the way… not once or even twice… but several times just to absorb the beauty of it all. Reservoirs and lakes are filling up… hills are green and lush… and the air is so clean. I just love it!
ENCOURAGEMENT: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything , to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…” (Ephesians 6:10-14) This is one of the more familiar passages in the Bible. Many of us have memorized these words… studied them in Sunday School… heard and even preached sermon after sermon… for we know that our enemy is none other than Satan, who will do anything he can to get us on “wobbly legs”.
And here, Paul reminds us to put on the full armor of God… and not just to put one part of it on… but to put on the FULL armor of God… and not just to put it on once… but to put on the full armor of God daily. Each and every day, when we wake up, we ought to dress ourselves with His full armor. In this way I will be able to STAND FIRM against all of Satan’s strong attacks against me. This is the only way.
The picture I have of one standing firm is the great image King David paints in Psalm 1:3 when he describes the tree firmly planted. Storms rise… rivers crash up against it… winds blow… lightning strikes… but the one that is firmly planted… STANDS! One of my favorite trees to observe are the oaks. They grow large. They grow slow. They grow wide. They grow strong. In these past few weeks, we’ve seen and heard of trees crashing down on streets, homes, cars, and even people. And most of these trees are eucalyptus and different kinds of pines… but not the oak tree. Their root structure goes deep. They are tough….strong… and connected. I’m not a botanist nor an arborist… but check out this tree I photographed this weekend along Highway 101. She’s not moving! How tough are you? How strong are you? Are your spiritual roots growing deep? Are you planted by the stream of Living Water? Are you dressing yourself daily with the full equipment God has for you so you will win in this battle of life?
DISTRICT MATTERS: Life is also to be enjoyed… and I am one of the first ones to try and have some fun. Yeah… there are meetings to attend… and services to be part of… and even in the midst of it all, we can celebrate.
- Birthdays: There’s a birthday every day. Someone you know is having a birthday today. Go on Facebook and you will see. And I can’t keep up with them all. So sorry if I have forgotten to send a birthday greeting. But this past week we had a brief meeting at the District Center and our own Brother Bill Alajaji was celebrating his birthday on that day. I didn’t know until then… so I scrambled to find some cookies and treats… a candle… and we sang the birthday song as he blew out the candle. He is more than one year old!
- Baby Shower: I typically have not attended Baby Showers… but… on our floor at the District Center we were celebrating the arrival of a baby boy. He’s not quite here just yet… well sort of, he is… we just haven’t seen him… but we ate and enjoyed a moment of celebration for God’s gift of life as we prayed for this child and the family that will be receiving him in.
- Spanish Pastors’ and Family Day: This past weekend on Saturday many of our Spanish speaking churches gathered together in Santa Paula for a morning of encouragement and fellowship. I’m so grateful for Pastor Ismael & Suzanna Joaquin and their team of leaders for hosting this day. What a special time we enjoyed worshipping, sharing, growing and in fellowship! And thank you Pastor Vicente Cadenas for organizing it.
- El Morro: I was honored to preach in the wonderful church at El Morro this past Sunday… this is where Leslie and I started when we first came on the district way back in 1985. Pastor Ron Fay invited us to be Youth Pastors and we spent nearly 4 incredible years in this church. Pastor Ron Schmidt has resigned to journey on towards other ministries, so I was privileged to be there this weekend. I decided to continue my way on north following the Spanish Pastors’ Day in Santa Paula… so when I arrived in Los Osos, I saw that there was just enough time to go for a run… a run to one of my favorite spots in the area: Spooner’s Cove at Montaña de Oro. So I parked my car in Los Osos, and forgot that the park was further away than I had remembered. Another thing I had forgotten… the hilly road to get there… and then back. But, I took my phone with me to snap some pictures… What a gorgeous run! And then three great services the following morning. God is so good!
PASTORS’ DAY: Just a quick reminder to all pastors across the district… we will gather together at the New Life Church in Northridge this Tuesday, March 14, from 9:00-3:00. I look forward to this time with all of you. You will get a chance to hear from many people of how God is moving across the district.
IGNITE Conference: The next and final conference will be held in Ridgecrest on Saturday, March 25. If you missed one of the other two, you may want to do your best to try and be part of the last conference.
As I wrap up these Few Thoughts for the week… allow me a moment to thank all of our churches and ministries throughout the district. You are all so loved and prayed for. As we continue through this season of Lent that leads us to the cross of Jesus, and ultimately to the empty tomb… let’s not forget our message of hope. These are the greatest of days and opportunities for the church to shine the light.
In just a few weeks we’ll be closing the books on another fiscal year… gearing up for Annual Church Meetings and elections of new church officers and delegates… and I want to THANK YOU for your part in this great teamwork of Building Bridges across the district and beyond. You are faithful in your support. Thank you! If you need to get caught up in your support… it’s not too late… you can still make it.
In closing… may I share one final thing? DID YOU KNOW… the Church of the Nazarene has just entered three new countries… and this now makes us have a presence in 162 world areas: PTL! Our three newest are: Curacao, Singapore, & Mongolia. Because you give… Because you pray… Because you send… The Gospel is being proclaimed and lives are being transformed. “The sun never sets in the morning.”
I love you and look forward to the next time I bump into you…
Los Angeles District Superintendent
Church of the Nazarene