Monthly Archives: December 2017

Few Thoughts 12-15-2017

Merry Christmas from a Beautiful and Warm Los Angeles County!

The smoke has cleared the LA area… though there are still smoke clouds in Ventura County… and especially in the Santa Barbara area all the way up to the Central Coast near Pismo.  These fires have been terrible and out of control.  Please remember to keep our sister churches in your prayers this weekend… and for the firefighters putting things out.

Leslie and I have had a few delays this month in getting our home decorated and ready for Christmas.  Typically, all things are done by the time we go to bed on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.  We didn’t make it this year with all that has happened in the family and preparing for my father in law’s memorial service.  We are so grateful to all of you who have lifted us up in your prayers and supported us in love, cards, and messages.  We belong to a wonderful district family.  So when I got home on Tuesday night Leslie had completed the final touch of Christmas décor for the Garman tradition.  And that is… the Advent Gifts for the girls.  Since they were young, very young, she has put together gift bags, with scriptural verses or great Christmas quotes, and a small gift for every day in December for both girls.  And here they are, adults, yet she continues the tradition.  Even with one living in Oregon… looks like she’ll have many bags to open on Saturday night when she and her husband arrive.  We love our kids!

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ENCOURAGEMENT “This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.”… When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby, who was lying in the manger.  (Luke 2:12-16)  So many pieces to the Christmas Story simply fascinate me.  My word!  I wish that Luke, or Matthew… or someone would have given us more material on the birth of Jesus.  But… ohhhh, it’s so much fun studying the greatest birth of all.  The birth of Jesus… our Lord and Savior!  

Having been to the town of Bethlehem, and being on the very spot that many people from Bible times would have roamed… I tried to picture everything as it might have been on the night Jesus was born.  Back in that day there was no Los Angeles… and 2,000 years later, we have a major city that extends itself for miles and miles and miles.  Bethlehem is not quite like that.  There’s the town… the city… but surrounding the city are hills… still lots of open land… space… and I could still picture those Bethlehem Shepherd keeping watch over their flocks by night. 

 But what I find interesting, is that the angels knew exactly where Jesus was born.  They knew, precisely, the very spot… the one and only manger… in all of Bethlehem holding a newborn Baby Boy.  They knew which cave.  They were fully aware on which corner the newborn could be found.  But all they say is, “This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.”  There are no specific directions.  They don’t mention any names… inns or motels nearby.  They say nothing about which part of Bethlehem to go towards.  The only thing the shepherds have to go by is:  They know he was born that day in Bethlehem, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.  THAT’S IT! 

 Remember, the place is buzzing with people.  Visitors from out of town have filled the hotels, inns, and hospitality houses.  There are people everywhere!  I think these shepherds hurried along from place to place… listening for a Baby’s cry (sorry… whoever was the author to Away in a Manger: John Thomas McFarland only wrote the 3rd verse; verses 1-2 are anonymous, because I don’t think Baby Jesus was silent that night)… and I happen to believe that these shepherds were running from place to place… cave to cave… house to house… barn to barn… in search for that manger filled, NOT with hay or water, but with a baby in cloths.  

 I find it interesting, quite often when we are on a spiritual journey… and we’re in need of direction, “what should I do next… should we go… should we take it… Lord, what do you want me to do???”  You ever have questions like these?  I sure have.  Sometimes I just wish the Lord would paint it across the skies for me to see.  Speak it so clearly in a dream.  Wouldn’t it be great to walk outside your front door, and find the answer to your greatest question painted on a sign staked to your lawn?  To know, without a shadow of doubt… it came from the Lord.  However, God doesn’t seem to work that way.  Oh… perhaps, sometimes He does.  But I have found that He desires that we pursue Him.  That means searching and searching… just like these Bethlehem shepherds.  And when we arrive, we celebrate… rejoice… and share with so many others of our incredible journey to the manger.  Are you searching for Jesus today?

 DISTRICT MATTERSMay the Lord bless our efforts as we share the light of Jesus’ birth through programs, events, and services!

 

  • Casa Robles:  I was able to join the Retired Missionaries on Thursday morning for their prayer meeting this week.  It had been a while since I was able to make it.  I sure enjoy and appreciate their prayers for the church and for our district!  They bless me all the time.  Merry Christmas Casa Robles!

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  • Santa Paula & Fillmore:  The fires in SoCal have been raging out of control… all over!  The worst one grew from Santa Paula, making its way near Fillmore and also Ventura before crawling up the coast to Carpinteria, Montecito and Santa Barbara.  Because the fires were so near the Vida Nueva Church in Santa Paula, they experienced a lot of smoke damage and were unable to meet this past week in their facility.  Thankfully, Fillmore’s doors were wide open, and Pastor Carol Taylor along with her leadership team welcomed Pastor Ismael Joaquin and their entire church to come fellowship and worship in their building.  I was privileged to be part of this great day.  Thank you churches for cooperating and working together!  What a joy to see the way Jesus blesses the efforts of His people! 

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  • Rose Parade:  Would you be interested in seeing the Rose Parade up close and live?  Pastor Ariel Babikian has informed me that the best way for you (preferably a church contact) to contact him on his cell phone at (626)755-4832 and he will make arrangements with your church group.  His group that he organizes averages 200-300 people, but with enough time, he says they could have as many as 1000.  WOW!  
  • Year-End Giving:  I am praying for you as you close out this calendar year and that the Lord’s people will be faithful to support the many ministries in the church with their tithes and offerings.  And Pastors… may I remind you to lead the way in giving to the Lord and His Church!  Let us set the example in being generous tithers and givers for Him!  It is with great joy we get to present the Lord with all He has blessed us with each Sunday we come together!

 

May you have a wonderful final week in advent as you prepare to usher in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just around the corner!  I love you and I pray that the Lord is blessing your every effort to spread the Good News of great joy for all people.  

 

Merry Christmas!

Greg A. Garman

Los Angeles District Superintendent

Church of the Nazarene

 

 

Few Thoughts 12-9-2017

Merry Advent!

Thank you for the many prayers offered up for the families, churches, and people who are caught in the middle of these messy fires.  Boy, it has been one very tough week!  I know that many of you are helping, providing food and shelter, and praying for so many who are affected by the scattered fires spreading throughout the Southland.  On Monday night, in the middle of our District Christmas Dinner, the Santa Paula Team had to leave Temple City to return to the church to pull files, computers, and other equipment from the church.  We thank the Lord that nothing was lost or damaged as the flames departed elsewhere.

Unfortunately, “elsewhere” meant Ventura… and Pastor Dan Hull has informed me that one of their member’s houses burned down while several others are still evacuated from their homes.  We have also learned that one of our Newhall member’s home burned down in Ventura only three days after they closed escrow.  Pastor Josh Johnson is assisting this family who is also in need.  I spoke again with Pastor Ismael Joaquin from Santa Paula and he says that there are still several families in the church who have yet to return to their homes.  And then to learn of all these others fires flaring up across the Southland.  Please continue in prayer for the many who are now without a home during the advent season.

PERSONAL NOTE:  On behalf of Leslie and our family, I want to share our appreciation to you for your many cards, concerns, and expressions of love towards us since the passing away of Dearl Caulk (Leslie’s father).  Dearl was a Faithful Churchman… a Committed Christian… Devoted Father and husband… and an Encouraging person.  He IS and will be missed.  The Memorial Service for Dearl will be on Saturday, December 9 at 10:00AM in the Porterville Church of the Nazarene. 

 ENCOURAGEMENT May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  (Galatians 6:14)  Do you ever focus on the Cross of Christmas?  Have you ever thought about the Cross of Christmas?  Did you know that there is such a thing as the Cross of Christmas? 

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The Apostle Paul recognized the value of the Cross of Jesus.  In fact, remember when he reminds us that each time we come to the Lord’s Table to be served, and we eat the bread and drink… he tells us what we are doing:  When we take communion we are “proclaiming the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  In other words, we all become preachers for the cross.  Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave…”  In His giving of life He knew that we would become a redeemed people.  That’s the Cross of Christmas!

 Don’t you just love the story of the old man Simeon entering the Temple on the very day Joseph and Mary came to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifice and offering?  When He spots Mary carrying Jesus, he hurries over to the parents, takes the baby boy in his arms and celebrates the very fact that he can NOW die because he came in contact with the Christ-Child.  And then he turns to Mary and gives her the prophecy… and she learns of the reason why Jesus had come.  That’s the Cross of Christmas!  

As we journey our way through this Advent season… let’s not forget the Cross of Christmas.  It has been our tradition for many years to place the three crosses in the middle of our Christmas Tree to remind us of the love God has for us… especially at Christmastime.  Thank God for the Cross of Christmas!

 DISTRICT MATTERS:  As we enter this second week in advent, I pray the Lord’s anointing on all of our churches as we share the Good News of Christmas!

  •  NYI… JNI…:  Last Saturday night many of the NYI members from across the L.A. District got together at L.A. First for an awesome evening of worship, fellowship, fun, and food!  District NYI President and Pastor Josh Johnson along with his team of leaders did an outstanding job in this great ministry where the sanctuary was jam packed with youth worshiping the Lord together.  Great job, young people!  We love you!!

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  • Glendora:  I was blessed to be with our wonderful people in Glendora where Pastor Mike Platter is doing an incredible job in ministry along with his team of leaders.  What a joy it was to bump into Pastor Jerry Ferguson while worshipping there!  May the Lord bless our Glendora Church as they minister this advent season!

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  • District Christmas Dinner:  On Monday night we had a host of pastors and leaders together for our annual Christmas Dinner in Temple City Immanuel where Pastor Jeff and Louise Lin provided such great leadership hosting the event.  Thank you TC Immanuel for doing an excellent job!  What a special night we all enjoyed together!!!  And thank you Pastor Ariel Babikian for emceeing the event… Pastor Karen Wood for your Devotional thought – may we not waddle like ducks through the advent season but learn to soar with wings of power!  Thank you Koreans for the special number and the Altadena Church for the worship… and so much more.  Leslie and I also thank you, the Los Angeles District, for your generosity and love expressed to us this Christmas season.  We love you!

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  • District Center:  You are aware that we have been doing a lot of work on the district center (building) preparing it for new tenants.  I am most grateful for the diligent work of Shay Pierson overseeing this project and caring for the building.  We are nearly full now, with tenants occupying and leasing floor space.  Last night we had a great get-together with the tenants and brokers to “show-case” the two remaining suites.  God is good and faithful to provide. 

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May the Lord bless you with His holy presence as you shine your light for Him this second week in advent!  I love you and I look forward to the next gathering we’ll have that will bring us together.  

Greg A. Garman

Los Angeles District Superintendent

Church of the Nazarene