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Israel- The Day Before

 

We are ready!

Tonight, we will call all the kids and will speak with most of the grandkids too.

And we are ready to head out tomorrow AM for Israel.

We leave Columbus, OH, head to O’Hare in Chicago, to Istanbul, Turkey, and then to Tel Aviv, Israel.

We hope to blog daily about this trip … and to share a few pictures. I will post the blog on my personal site and on the OCF site for those who are interested.

If you know us and you know people who know us, pass this link along to them so that they too, can know what’s going on and so they can pray for us too.

Tuesday is a day of travel, so you probably won’t see too much from us then though.

Keep the entire trip and team of 31 in prayers.

Pastor Jim & Cheri


Fight the Good Fight

In the book of 1 Timothy, accolades come to young Timothy through a title such as “man of God” and through strong command to “Fight the good fight of the faith.” These words could also be pointed to many who are in leadership today.

Many of the truths that are directed to Timothy are also true to all of us. We, the church, are the frontline of defense against the false gospel as promoted by the world.

And yes, it is a strenuous task BUT, as usual, the Holy Spirit equips us to be more than enough.

In Paul’s use of the term, “man of God”, for Timothy and other church leaders, he was drawing two lines. One, he was showing that the body of Christ was set apart from the world as having a special task—as a protector of the truth of the Gospel. And second, he was defining a mark between the man of God and the man of the world—the false teacher.

And Paul was letting us know that we are all to “fight – and keep fighting — the good fight of the faith and daily keeping the good testimony.”

The importance of our role was well portrayed as Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV).

Timothy was in an all-out battle to protect the truth of the Gospel.

You see, there were then – as there are now — individuals who believed they had some kind of inside scoop going on with God. We, as theologians, call such writings or sayings of theirs, gnostic gospels – simply meaning that they professed to possess a “secret knowledge” (or so THEY thought.)

And yes, fiction writers such as Dan Brown (in his book, The DaVinci Code) DID get that part correct; the early versions of the orthodox (or “right teaching) church excised, did away with – even burned or buried — these many false books as false teachings. The early church was continuing Paul’s charge to Timothy and to others to preserve and protect the pure Gospel; it was NOT a movement to hide secrets from the average church person; it was a directive to protect the Word of God from false teachings.

My friend, very little has changed today; we are still defending against false teachers, erroneous teachings, dilutions of the Gospel, cults, and intentional slanders. To protect ourselves and to be good guardians and stewards of the church, we must be faithful students of the Word of God and we must produce strong and correct doctrine.

The story goes that the command came, “On your mark, get set,” and then, the pistol cracked and the race was on. A fine athlete sprang to the lead, and when the race was over, he had broken the state record for the one-mile. Only a few other runners even finished the race. Many dropped out when they saw they could not win.

As the field crew was bringing out the hurdles for the next race, one of the judges yelled, “Get those hurdles out of the way. This race is not over. Look!” And around the turn came a runner, panting, and staggering. The crowd stood in silent disbelief as he made his way over the last hundred yards, and literally, fell across the finish line, grinding his face into the cinder track.

One of the judges ran to the boy, turned him over on his back, took his handkerchief, and wiped the blood from his face. “Son, why didn’t you drop out? What are you doing in the mile race anyway?”

Between gasps, the boy explained that his school had a good miler who had gotten sick just the day before. The coach had promised to have a man in every event, and so he had asked the boy to run the mile.

“Well son, why didn’t you just drop out when you saw that you had lost?”

The boy answered, “Judge, the school didn’t send me here to quit. They didn’t send me here to win. They only sent me here to run this mile — and I ran it!”

We are sent here by Jesus to run the race, to fight the fight, AND to win. So, let us run with endurance.

John Wesley once said: “Give me a hundred men who love nothing but God and hate nothing but sin, and I will shake the whole world for Christ.”

It doesn’t take many… but it does take someone who decides to be faithful.

In December 1944, the German army launched an unexpected attack. In what was to become known as the Battle of the Bulge, the Nazis drove deep behind Allied lines. Writing in WWII about the reaction of the American troops to this attack, James Jones said,

No one of these little road junction stands could have had a profound effect on the German drive. But hundreds of them, impromptu little battles at nameless bridges and unknown crossroads, had an effect of slowing enormously the German impetus … These little die-hard ‘one man stands,’ alone in the snow and fog without communications, would prove enormously effective out of all proportion to their size.

Faithfulness, playing your “little part” in the greater scheme of things, makes all the difference.

To you, the church, I thank you for your faithfulness.

Faithfulness to volunteer

Faithfulness to give

Faithfulness in your presence on Sunday services as well as other services.

Faithfulness to use your gifts and talents.

Thank you for your faithfulness – for it is in your faithfulness – combined with His faithfulness– that we are successful as a church

Your faithfulness – and His – those make all the difference.

This is God’s way of protecting the truth and spreading it around the world.

We, His church, are stewards of the doctrines of the faith and God expects us to be — and equips us to be — faithful in sharing His Good News.

And now, Paul brings his first letter to Timothy to an end. Throughout the book, he has sought to thoroughly encourage the young pastor Timothy. He has reminded him of his calling. He has reminded Timothy of his qualifications and equipping. He has charged him— in military terms – to be a guardian of the Good News. He has charged him to stand against false teachers by teaching and preaching pure and true doctrine. And in doing all these things, he has precisely reminded Timothy of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In fact, his apparently intended closing words in 1 Timothy 6 14b-16 (NIV) were

…until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time– God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

And now, let us practice the things Paul has given Timothy – and us – to do. Be faithful.

 

On another note.

Our daughter and son-in-law just got back in from Paris, France. They had such a wonderful time there. And among the gifts they brought back for their children, they had a red beret for our granddaughter, Abigail. She adores it. She had to don a matching red dress (from last Christmas) so that she would look Parisian. She is beautiful – and she had to share her picture with everyone. I love it. But then again, I love it that my children are travelers – even world travelers.  I am glad we have instilled such behavior in our children – Get out. Explore the world. Witness God’s creation. And be an influence for Jesus wherever your foot, or your hand, or your voice, or your words may land.

Let’s go exploring.


‘Staying’ With The Lord

Psalm 55: 22- ”Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. “

There was an incident that occurred at a Martial Arts tournament several years ago.  An instructor assigned one of his lower belt students the task of filming what promised to be one of the best matches of the evening.  This young student was given permission to move anywhere around the ring with his video camera in hand as long as he did not enter the area of competition.

As the match began, it soon became everything everyone anticipated that it would be.  It was solid action from beginning to end.  In fact, within the first few seconds of the match, the two competitors were solid mass in motion, headed directly towards our young cameraman.  BOOM!  They mowed him over as they fell out of the ring area.  The competitors got back up, regained their composure, and their places; and so did the cameraman.

Again and again, the furious blur of feet and hands would bully its way out of the ring, and BANG … find its way back to the young cameraman.  Many were surely thinking, “When is that cameraman going to get a clue and move out of there?”  Well, he was trying his best to follow the orders of his instructor, “Film that fight!”  Eventually, he did decide that it might be best to move much farther away and use the zoom feature of his camera.

We can all recall incidents in our own lives where we decided to stand our ground for a principle. Sometimes this insistence on success just prolonged an inevitable failure. Today’s scripture lesson gives us some advice for tapping into God’s staying power. 1 Peter 5:5-11 offers further advice in situations where the strength of the Lord is a must — specifically verses 5b-7: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. “

Just like the young martial artist with the video camera who was following orders, we stand ready in our Christian walk to follow the order of our Life Manager, Jesus Christ. And like the young videographer, our orders seem almost impossible: Matthew 28:19-20 tells us, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our present assignment as Christian soldiers may, to the uninitiated, seem just as daunting as the one assigned to the young cameraman. God wants us to tell as many people as possible about the Gospel or “Good-News” concerning His grace and salvation through Jesus Christ. He wants us to preach the Gospel — not just by our words but also by our actions. He has called us to be holy and righteous — not through our own strength, but by His power and wisdom. Herein lies the critical difference between that young martial artist/cameraman and us. God is telling us to follow these marching orders and to stand firm — trusting in His grace and strength. You see, He is standing right there with us! He promises that even though our problems may seem too large for us, and temptation too strong, He will lift us up and restore us, because after all, it is Him working through us!

Psalm 55:22 was written by King David after he was betrayed by someone he considered to be a close friend. His feelings of pain, rejection, and abandonment were soothed by the knowledge of God’s always-present Spirit, which He promises will never leave us or reject us. 1 Peter 5:5-11 was written by the Apostle Peter, who had denied the Lord three times before His crucifixion. However, he later became a mighty Leader of the early Church through the strength and wisdom provided by the Holy Spirit. He stood firm through seemingly impossible difficulties — even until death.

Friends, we too must stand firm. Our orders are quite explicit: we are to move forward, always standing our ground, and never giving an inch of territory to the enemy. Retreat is out of the question. We are well-equipped to follow this order, and we have been given the best training manual ever written, God’s Holy Word, the Bible. But wait! There is still more; you see help is only a cry away! You are not in this alone. God has also equipped an army of believers to stand by you in prayer and service.

Lord, protect me from self-serving pride and fear. Lead me away from the many temptations of life that are intended to take me off the course you have set! Grant me your strength and wisdom to resist the attacks from within and outside of my heart, and keep my eyes always on the cross.

In Jesus Name AMEN!

On Another Note:

This past week, Cheri and I had the privilege of watching three of our grandchildren, Crystal and David’s kids, while their parents were in Paris, France. It is such a delight in being with your off-spring and seeing/knowing they are truly growing in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Thank you, Lord, for this precious gift.

 


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Between the Words … Pastor Jim’s Perspectives on the Weekend Behind and the Week Yet to Come (October 21, 2019)

It all rises and falls on leadership

I am really enjoying teaching our series on 1 and 2 Timothy; there is so much valuable material in those two books. But, I have to admit that 1 Timothy 3 was a real challenge to me. The message went forth in the midst of Pastor Appreciation Month AND, this particular chapter dealt with qualifications of the bishop; it just seemed that it could appear as self-serving. I pray that it didn’t.

But too, I realized that the ideal for a bishop (elder, pastor, overseer) was being established for the purpose of being exemplary for the entire church to see and model after. These are the qualifications Paul presented to Timothy:

So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

A church leader must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap (1 Timothy 3: 2-7 NLT).

And while these are certainly the ideal, they are by no means presenting that this office is to be one of perfection.

And, too, these are to be modeled before the entire church – so that the church can see and follow in that model. Wow! Lofty expectations BUT, the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk in those actions if we will co-operate with Him.

Therefore, I am greatly encouraged with the role that God has placed before us – before His leadership – before His church. He has called us. He has positioned us. He has equipped us and empowered us. What a great place to be.

Dr. Jim Garrett


God’s Forgiveness in Jubilee

I think most of us have at some time or another known someone with a deadly disease such as cancer. As we all know, cancer kills. In fact, perhaps some of you have even lost mates, parents, or other family members because of cancer. You know its ill effects; in fact, you have even seen the devastation that treating cancer has on people: these often look as if they have been shaved and are in very poor health, in general. This “killer disease” causes great times of pain both to the bearer of the sickness and the family members associated with them. It is painful to see a loved one fade away before your very eyes. Just as cancer is deadly, so there is an even deadlier disease that many of you in this room possess and are completely unaware of; you’re even ignorant to the effects that it has on you. This illness has many different facets and I will name but a few of them today: unforgiveness, bitterness, ill-will, hatred, wrath, undealt with anger, etc.

There has been no cure found yet for cancer, but there is a cure for the above-mentioned diseases. As I present this cure this morning, I hope each of us is able to see the need for the cure (or the prevention) of this dreaded disease that is in our life. (And by the way, the cure’s name is Jesus).

Life Principle: The forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.

Let’s talk about anger for a few minutes. What are some facts about bitterness, anger, hatred, etc.? Conflict. Distrust. Jealousy. Hurt … And many other titles

Before we go further, let’s answer a couple questions about anger.  Is it a sin to be angry? Paul used words to express the example of Christ in Ephesians 4:26 NIV-  “’In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Not only is anger not necessarily sin, but God even shows us the proper way to deal with such – in a timely, daily manner.

But Anger can be Contagious

Certainly, there are MANY reasons why we deal with anger immediately. One of those reasons is because anger can be highly contagious. Never let it be said of us that we helped spread such a deadly disease!

Billy Martin, former coach of the New York Yankees told about a hunting trip he had in Texas with baseball legend, Mickey Mantle. Mickey had a friend who would let them hunt on his ranch. When they reached the ranch, Mickey told Billy to wait in the car while he checked in with his friend.

Mantle’s friend quickly gave them permission to hunt, but he asked Mickey a favor. He had an old mule out in the barn who was going blind, and he didn’t have the heart to put him out of his misery. So, he asked Mickey to shoot the mule for him.

Mickey decided to play a trick on his hunting partner. When he came back to the car, he pretended to be angry. He scowled and slammed the door. Billy asked him what was wrong, and Mickey said his friend wouldn’t let them hunt. “I’m so mad at that guy,” Mantle said, “I’m going out to his barn and shoot one of his mules!”Mantle drove like a maniac to the barn. Martin protested, “We can’t do that!” But Mickey was adamant. “Just watch me,” he shouted. When they got to the barn, Mantle jumped out of the car with his rifle, ran inside, and shot the mule.

As he was leaving, though, he heard two more shots, and he ran back to the car. He saw that Martin had taken out his rifle, too. “What are you doing, Martin?” he yelled. Martin yelled back, face red with anger, “We’ll show that son of a gun! I just shot two of his cows!”

My friend, anger can be dangerously contagious.

Again, let it never be said of us that we helped spread such a deadly disease!

And while this story tells a tale of anger improperly treated, I say that we must admit, on the other hand of this story, that the forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.

Does my anger, as it is focused toward someone else, really affect them? Yes, it can — in several different ways:

To name a couple, It can affect how others look at the individual with whom I am angry.

My friends, rather than sway other individuals’ opinions to line up with our anger, let us seek to see others through Jesus’ eyes.

It starts with a prayer of trust asking Jesus to guide our thoughts and actions. “Lord Jesus, help me to see so-and-so through your eyes.”

It also can cause opposing sides to develop– creating a gap in friendships. For instance, in a church-type setting, anger can develop tension, create opposing groups within, and cause extremely “toxic soil” for growth in the Lord.

Does my wrath affect me? Most definitely. Anger and unforgiveness seem to take a three-step path: 1) Anger, 2) Bitterness, and 3) Death.

Does my wrath affect my walk with God? In order to answer that question, look at Jesus’ reply to Peter in  Matthew 18:22-35. In the final wordsof that passage, Jesus said, “This (wrathful response) is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

In other words, the Bible is clearly telling us that if we expect the forgiveness of the Father, we must forgive the one who owes us or offends us. Note that God will not require something of us that He will not equip us to perform. Forgiveness, my friend, is not an option; it is instead an essential in the Christian Life

How does all of this tie in with Jubilee? Among other things, the Biblical Year of Jubilee was a time of national forgiveness. There was a national awareness of the need for forgiveness throughout the land of Israel. This awareness affected land, possessions, and debts that were owed. And while there is some theological debate regarding how far this extended and how it was applied concerning land and debts — there is no debate concerning the application of personal forgiveness. It was what some would refer to as a mandated, legalistic—forgiveness – not an option.

But to go a step further my friends, in a very real way, Jesus IS our Jubilee

  • He is our Restoration
  • He is our wholeness
  • And He is our Forgiveness
  • Jesus IS our Jubilee.

Forgiveness is a great Biblical word translated from the Greek word, aph-i-e-mi, and literally meaning s “to send forth, in various applications (as follow):– To cry, to forgive, to forsake, to lay aside, to leave, to let (alone, be, go, have), to omit, to put (send) away, to remit, to suffer, to yield up.” It is actually a term that a Bookkeeper would have used, In BookKeepers’ terms, the word “forgive” means that this offense is no longer held against someone’s account.

This presents a very different idea than our concept of “forgive and forget.” When I no longer hold it to someone’s account, I can – at any time – at my desire or by accident — look back and see the wrong done, the offense incurred, or the debt owed – BUT, I also immediately see and understand that the deed/ debt/offense has been cancelled – or forgiven — and thus, it is no longer owed or held against He account of that individual.

My friend, on other words, it doesn’t matter if I forget it or not – or whether it seemingly pops up at some unfortunate time—if it is forgiven, it is no longer held to the account of – whether I remember it or not – or whether I forget it or not.

In other words, when Christ forgives us, it does not mean that He has erased our sin from His memory; it means that He no longer holds the sin to our account. But, I must mention, by extension, forgiveness doesn’t excuse the offending behavior, it simply no longer holds it to the account.

And in very practical terms, for us, forgiveness prevents someone else’s behavior from destroying our hearts.

And forgiveness also fulfills God’s desire for us to forgive others, even as He has forgiven us.

Luke 11:3-5 (NIV)- Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

Isn’t it interesting that the medicine God has prescribed for the cure and prevention of this dreaded disease that we mentioned earlier: wrath, anger, and bitterness — is forgiveness — forgiveness through Jesus.

How do I forgive?

First of all, realize that there is nothing within you that is able to perform forgiveness; it is only Jesus in and through you that can forgive.

Life Lesson: It is only by the empowerment of Jesus that you can forgive.

Draw near to God, pray and ask God to give you the grace to forgive. The Hebrew poetry found in Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us specifically how we draw nigh unto Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart

(Wholeheartedly put your trust (and corresponding actions) in Him.)

and lean not on your own understanding;

(Find no strength or support in leaning upon your own understanding; instead, lean upon His understanding.)

in all your ways submit to him,

(In everything you see, hear, feel, sense, seek, say, do or even think, submit to Him.)

and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV).

This is how we draw near to Him – and of course, to complete that particular verse—in drawing near to Him, He will draw near to us.

After God has empowered you in forgiveness, make to yourself a mental commitment to no longer hold to someone else’s account for wrongs done. Daniel 1:8 (NIV) tells is, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

Although some would tell us that we do not have a part to play in this action of forgiveness – or any other Christian act – that it is only Christ’s actions that have already been performed – we must understand and respond that we have the role of cooperation to play in these tasks. Cooperation with the Word of God and the Will of Christ is an essential element of forgiveness.

Go and seek to make everything right between you and the one you’re forgiving. Note that this is a fruit of God’s grace within you – by His empowerment – to go. In a very real sense, your going is merely a fruit of His dwelling presence in you. Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV) iterates, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

Remember, the forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.

When thoughts of bitterness or anger enter in against someone whom you’ve forgiven, Pray, and be sure to remember your mental commitment. Remember your “Book Keeper’s Book— it is clearly marked, forgiven! You may even have to verbally (out-loud) remind yourself that you’ve forgiven them.

And, how do I get forgiveness?

Confession, from the Greek, homo-le-ge-o-mai and meaning,”to say the same thing as” is a definite part of the receiving forgiveness process. I John 1:9 (NIV) reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

If I am saying the same thing as, what am I saying the same thing about? I am saying the same thing that God already knows. Certainly, our confession is to the Lord – but we may also confess things to a trusted Christian friend or Christian leader.

Ask and Repent (See Psalm 51:7-13). And note that the word translated as repent, is the Hebrew word, shuv, literally meaning “to return.”

The thought might occur, “to return to what?” To return to the state or condition in which God originally created us to be and function.  To revert back to tabula rasa – a blank slate. This is a beautiful picture of 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

And finally (and this is often the hardest part), Receive and walk in His forgiveness

The great philosopher, Lucy, of the cartoon Peanuts fame, once expressed to Charlie Brown at the end of the baseball game an explaination of why she had lost sight of the baseball and why she had failed to make the catch. “Sorry I missed that easy fly ball, manager. I thought I had it, but suddenly I remembered all the others I’ve missed, and the past got in my eyes.”

Don’t let the past, your sins, your failures, and your mistakes— get in your eyes this morning. Instead, get His forgiveness.

  • Dr. David Seamunds, in his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, says, “The two primary causes of emotional stress are the failure to receive forgiveness and the failure to forgive.”
  • Lewis B. Smede, renowned Christian author, ethicist, and theologian in the Reformed tradition, once said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
  • Still, Max Lucado, stated it in an even different way, “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.”

Life Principle: The forgiveness of Jesus is a key element to the Presence of God in our lives.

Sow, here is a nice “take away.”

  1. Confess
  2. Ask and Repent
  3. Receive
  4. Forgive others.

On another note:  This weekend, at our church, we had the privilege of hosting singer,  Steve Green. There was such a calming and peaceful Spirit of the Lord among us. I think what I took home from that experience is that God is always there to bring His peace, even when many have labored so intensely to make an event happen; He is even there to bring rest over you when you have labored long and hard. Many who were there that evening had labored had for ays (and weeks, and months)

These are things that we all know BUT, sometimes, you have to be reminded by seeing them in action.

Pastor Jim


Are You Using Your Gifts?

One of the mysteries of God is found in the concept that He chooses us, He qualifies us, and He equips us with wonderful gifts. This week, I want to explore the idea of God giving His people gifts.

Have you ever seen someone that you thought was just immensely talented? Have you ever wished that you were as gifted as someone else? It’s interesting that the Bible speaks very clearly about the giftings God has provided for us. Matthew 25:14-30 speaks about some of those giftings. I am aware in this passage that Matthew is using the word “talent” to refer to a measure of money. The word “talent” is actually a transliteration, meaning that it is almost an identical “letter-for-letter” rendering of the original Greek. It fascinates me that this word for a measure of money links so closely with our word for natural gifting. Hmmm!

Here is a condensed paraphrase of the story

It’s like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and left some money with them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents immediately put his money to work and gained five more talents. So did the one with the two talents; he gained two more. But the man who had only the one talent went off, and buried his master’s money in the ground.

After a long time their master returned to settle accounts with them.

The man who received five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents. See! I have gained two more.’

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

I think that all of us are found in this story; we each have various degrees of gifting. That’s a Biblical point, because 1st Corinthians tells us that God “divides to every man severally as he will.” We also can see that God is not ashamed or embarrassed with the gifts which He gives because He “never changes his mind about the people he calls and the things he gives them” (Romans 11:29, NCV).

In fact, we are each granted a special purpose in this life. God says that His purpose for you is already formed in His will. “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5 NKJV). You might be amazed to know that His purpose in you is probably much more than you can imagine. Remember that God told Queen Esther (through Uncle Mordechai): “and who knows whether you have been appointed to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 KJV). You see, just like as mentioned in Esther, our gifts are given to us to accomplish a special purpose for God in this life. And He expects us to use those gifts to accomplish His purpose.

As those gifts are faithfully used, other gifts will be multiplied unto us. Notice that to the man with five talents, his gift was doubled. Also notice that to the man with two talents, his gift was also doubled.

The story is told of a gardener of a castle in Scotland who had a son. This son dreamed of becoming a medical doctor. One day, the son of a visiting dignitary was swimming in the castle’s pool. Hit suddenly with severe cramping, the dignitary’s boy began to struggle to stay afloat. The gardener’s son dove into the water and rescued the boy from drowning. The boy’s father was so overjoyed that he insisted on repaying the gardener’s son in some way. The gardener told him of his son’s dream of going to medical school, which the dignitary volunteered to finance — but that’s not the end of the story. The boy who nearly drowned was Winston Churchill. While he was Prime Minister of England, he became deathly ill. Only a recently-discovered drug could save his life. This miraculous new medicine was called penicillin, and the man who discovered it was Dr. Alexander Fleming, the gardener’s son. Churchill responded to the drug and soon recovered completely.

As wonderful as that story is, we also need to understand that in cases where those gifts are not used, they will grow stagnant. In our passage, notice that to the man with one talent who didn’t invest it, it stagnated and even was taken away from him.

What I want you to receive is this: God has gifted each of you. You may have spent several years of your life developing those gifts, talents, knowledges, etc. and acquiring wisdom. Understand that those giftings and callings, and even many of your desires, were placed there by God Himself with a purpose. Have you ever considered that you were created and purposed “for such a time as this”—just like Queen Esther?

Finally, Thomas Edison was in a race with many other inventors to discover an efficient filament for the light bulb. He tried more than 1,000 different substances-everything from horse hair to bamboo strips. When asked by a reporter if he were discouraged by so many failed attempts, he responded, “No. Each failure represents one less filament I must try and brings me closer to my goal.” Edison kept on and received the patent for the electric light bulb, an invention that revolutionized the world.

Final Thought: Think great thoughts, attempt great goals, accomplish great things- and give the glory to God.

 

On another note:

I just had my first cataract surgery last week. Overall, it was a breeze BUT, there is a recovery time – not from pain but more, from relearning to focus. It makes reading very difficult for the moment. Also, I didn’t recover well from the anesthesia; I felt like I was in a deep well for the remainder of the week. I was a bit paranoid and depressed. I really have no idea WHY individuals enjoy doing drugs; I enjoy my semblance of sanity too much.

Until next time –

Dr. James Garrett


Friends, we ALL have a job to do.

 1 Timothy 1:14-17 (NIV) tells us, “Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.”

 Have you ever thought about it? When you love a people so much, and you know that you must be away from them – at least for a long while, you want to be sure to leave them in good hands with good instructions. Mentor/Apostle Paul is writing to his young protégé, Timothy, with instructions on taking care of the Ephesian church, which Paul deeply loves and wants to protect. And Paul instructs young Timothy regarding love and unity – but he also warns him of dangers and divisions. This is the setting for the entire book of 1 Timothy. And by the way, anyone desiring to serve the Lord in any capacity would do well to study Paul’s pastoral epistles carefully and to read them regularly.)

Wherever God presents spiritual opportunities to you, know that the enemy will present obstacles in the middle of your path. Young, easily-discouraged Timothy was facing MANY obstacles.

Life Point: We all have a job to do — and by God’s grace and our commitment, He will work in and through us to complete it.

As part of Timothy’s task, Paul called upon Timothy to teach sound doctrine (vv. 1-11). Paul commanded sound doctrine. No other kind would do; in fact, any other kind would only bring confusion. So, Paul spoke against false doctrine.

My friend, today we NEED sound doctrine. There is every kind of teaching under the sun out there and if we are not careful, if we don’t put up our defenses, we will be caught and tripped up. Let each of us be sure we are getting the Word right.

It used to be said that when an aspiring agent for the U.S. Treasury was learning how to detect counterfeit money, they are taught to tell the fake from the real. Do they look at counterfeit bills? Do they learn about color-shifting inks, watermarks, ultraviolet glows, and fiber quality? Probably not! Their training consists of one thing and one thing only: endless hours of touching, viewing, and sniffing real money. It is said that if a person knows what the genuine article looks, feels, and smells like, then they’ll never accept a counterfeit. While this story is probably not true, it certainly makes a great illustration for our purpose.

We must be so open to the truth of God’s Word —so hungry to dig in to and to know God’s Word— that when a false doctrine comes our way, we know it immediately.

Our best prevention, then, against false teaching is good, Godly teaching. And Paul gave Timothy (and the church and us) a charge to teach sound doctrine!

A “charge” literally means “strict orders from a superior officer.” This charge had the effect of saying, “Timothy, you are not only the pastor of the church in a difficult city, you are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now both obey these orders – and pass them along to the soldiers in your church.”

And there is a continued need within the church for basic Christian doctrine. But some are afraid of the word “doctrine” and tend to see it as divisive and unnecessary. However, doctrine, foundational teaching of the Bible to the church, is to the church much like the foundation is to a house; you cannot build anything solidly without it. Lack of good and strong doctrine also gives opportunity for compromise and sin. In other words, sin, not doctrine, is what eventually builds up barriers between the believer and God. We need to express good doctrine in our preaching, in our teaching, and in our living.

Life Thought: Regarding your teaching, If God calls you to teach, that’s terrific. But teaching shouldn’t be a driving desire in any man or woman because with greater responsibility comes greater potential for condemnation should a teacher swerve from the simplicity of the Word.

Additionally, Paul told Timothy – and us – that he was to Proclaim the Gospel (vv. 12-17). We must grasp that our testimony is a part of the Gospel. The Gospel is the euangelion, meaning, the Good News. It is the fact that God and mankind were separated from one another because of sin, that God so much desired for that separation to be removed and for the relationship to be restored, that He sent His Son, Jesus to live among us, to die for us, and to resurrect among us that we could walk in that restored relationship with Him forevermore — and that we could tell others about that Good News as well.

Paul spoke very openly about Mercy and Grace. And further, Paul used the prefix, Huper, meaning “An exceeding abundant amount” in his conversation. So, when Paul referred to grace and to mercy in this context, he was referring to an exceedingly abundant and powerful mercy and grace.

And the closer Paul drew to the Lord, the more he understood the extent of his sin and his need for a Savior.

Life Illustration: The first time I saw the Chicago Skyline from the air, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. But when I got off the plane, into a car, drove on to Michigan Avenue, past Garrett Popcorn and looked up, up, up at the buildings surrounding me, I was amazed because the closer I got to the buildings, the larger they looked.

And so, the closer Paul drew to the Lord, the more intimate he became with the Lord.

And finally, Paul told Timothy – and us—the he/we were to defend the faith (vv.18-20).

He said to Timothy, “Hold on to the faith. If you are God’s servant (and you are), called by the Spirit (and you are), obeying His will (and you are and must continue), then you can “stay with it.”

Church, Hold on to the faith! Defend the faith! Finish the work that is before you! And as you do these things, do not get further discouraged, do not reject the Gospel and do not become shipwrecked in the faith – as some have done before you. Instead, enjoy the relationships and community of the church because the fellowship of the local church — in obedience to the will of God —      gives believers, including the leaders, spiritual protection.

So, what should we do?

1) Hold on to the Faith

2) Learn, teach, and live sound doctrine.

3) Preach the Gospel

And 4) Defend the Faith

And on a different note.

It has been a relatively quiet week for our family—which is really nice. Sometimes we get so engaged in the hecticness of life that we forget to LIVE. And, for my week, I conducted a funeral/memorial service of a lady who reminded me that life should be an adventure and should be lived to the fullest.

So, my short simple message this week is: Live life as an adventure and to the fullest – in Him.

Pastor Jim

 


You know, we’ve heard many of the old Bible stories since childhood. We’ve heard them so many times, in fact, that they may seem to be just that: simple childhood STORIES – But God recorded all of those for real and specific purposes:

1) They’re real, historical recordings.

2) God is still using them to tell us His Old, Old story.

For a moment, I want to think about the story of the old, wizened prophet, Daniel as he, in Babylonian and then Persian captivity, was accused and sent to be executed – in a den of lions. And while observing this, let us see the deliverance of the Lord for Daniel – and in doing so, let’s see what God has for us as well.

In studying the true-life story of Daniel and the Lion’s den, we can see the enemy’s forces at work in the lives of the people of God

AND

we can see the deliverance of an individual dedicated to Godliness and integrity: old, wizened, Daniel, as he keeps himself true to his God.

AND

We can also see that God has that same purpose for each of us:  as we keep our trust in Him, He still delivers us today.

 Of course, this story is presented to us in Daniel 6. and, rather than tell it, I encourage you to read it again – in a trusted, easy-to-read translation – and then think about these things:

Life-Principle #1: God sees the enemies in your life and He gives you His deliverance when you put and keep your trust in Him.

Life-Principle #2: You can serve God as a young person OR as an old person (or anywhere in between); age has no boundaries for the servant of God.

Life-Principle #3: If you, like Daniel, desire to have an excellent spirit within you, God will open amazing doors before you. How do you get an excellent spirit? You spend daily time in relationship with the Lord and with His community, His people, His church.

Life-Principle #4: Wow! Think about this: It is a great thing when people such as Daniel possess such great character—such impeccable character — that they can’t be accused of doing anything wrong– except in matters relating to their faith. Let that be a challenge to each of us today.

Life-Principle #5: Faith is not believing through lack of evidence or in spite of evidence; faith is believing and obeying, even through and in spite of consequences.

Life-Principle #6: God’s servants are, in a very real way, immortal, until God’s work in them has been completed. In other words, if God is not finished with you yet, you need not fear death.

Life-Principle#7: If your faith cannot be tested, your faith cannot be trusted.

And with all these thoughts in mind, I really would like for you to take these words with you throughout this week:

  1. Determine to serve the Lord with an unwavering faith
  2. Know that He has a purpose and will for you.
  3. Know that He has you and your care in the center of His hands
  4. Know that ALL things work together for His good (Romans 8:28).

 

On a Different Note:

This past week reminded me of the need for setting and following priorities.

Thursday was a Jr. High football game in Perkins/Sandusky. Cheri and I didn’t get to go to see our grandson, Isaac, play. His team won by four touchdowns; he scored three of them. I really would have like to have seen that.

Friday, we had dinner with Dave and Jacquie at their house. They are getting ready for their seasonal move back down south in a few weeks. We were honored to have been invited and we are so glad we went over and spent close to six hours with them. Good, trustworthy, and Godly friends are difficult to come by. I’m glad we went.

Saturday, another grandson, Christian, played Jr. Varsity football over in Apple Creek. Cheri and I knew it was going to be a busy day BUT, we were determined to go and see him play. Although he did not get a whole lot of playing time on the field, we both beamed with pride as we sat in the stands with our son and daughter and one of our granddaughters, Piper. We treasure such family times.

Then we rushed back from Apple Creek to Mansfield so that I could pick up my guitar and drive to Ashland to play with my son, Jamie, as he and I ministered in a time of street ministry to the addicts in particular. It is always a wonderful thing to minister with any of my family, and Jamie is particularly anointed in playing piano and leading in worship; I got to be a part of that.

And Sunday, Cheri and I ministered God’s Word in two services. Those are always special times to me – times when we can stretch out a little in our giftings – and times when we can watch what God is doing through us. I don’t take for granted the anointing we have; so we treasure them and seek to be good stewards of those giftings.

And then, I just get to take care of Cheri. She is my gift from God and I get to pamper her a little and take care of her. She is really doing great and looking to be perfectly fit and healthy; she wanted so badly to go to church Sunday night – to be a part of the dinner-on-the-grounds and to sing with our church at the hymn-sing – but she was tired and struggling with some of the after-effects of her radiation treatments – so I asked her to stay at home. Sometimes, it’s just nice to take care of your mate.

My friends, we must be good stewards of the time, of the gifts, and of the giftings that God has granted to us. As we prove to be faithful and as we prove to be good stewards, His grace seems to increase.

 


“Doing” versus “Being”

I have recently been reading a book by Brian Rosner entitled, “Known by God: A Biblical Theology of Personal Identity”. In this book, he presents the Biblical thought of the “son being in the image of the Father”. While I had a concept of this, the imagery was deepened for me. Yes, that seems to be only natural that a son should be reared in the image of his father and should pick up and produce many of the traits of that father. But, all of the sudden, as I am reading this, I now see the image of the son (us) being reared in the image (and praxis) of our loving Heavenly Father and following in His traits. All of the sudden, “Be ye holy for I am holy …” (1 Peter 1:16 NASB) comes to a new light. Because we are HIS, we should be taking on the image of Him. While this could present an immediate challenge of trying to ACT in His image, Rosner’s side-bar on p.158 brought a new light with the son saying to the father, “you taught me to BE myself” (emphasis mine). In other words, this IMAGE of God in us is not something that becomes worked up and produced; instead, it BECOMES because it is being grown in us by walking in His footsteps.

The part of this that seemed counterintuitive to me was the concept that many of us would strive to achieve the goal of being in His image. Admittedly, part of this issue is that I am, along with our church elders, simultaneously reading “Gospel Wakefulness” by Jared C. Wilson. In it, he speaks of “doing” versus “being”. I think the issue with me is that Rosner continually iterates that the process of being fathered through adoption WILL PRODUCE likeness, simply through the parapeteo of life. This is great imagery, and IF such semantics have been drilled into one’s mind through study and training, the idea of STRIVING FOR what will eventually be ours anyway seems ultra-counterintuitive.

First, I understand the reasoning many translations make certain phrasings and words gender non-specific. Such understanding certainly applies to huios. However, since ho huios IS masculine in situ, and since I am naturally male, the need was undesired for me. It seems more applicable to me personally that the Heavenly Father Who has adopted me desires and equips me to “follow in His footsteps.” Again, I do not desire to take away from the gender non-specific translation, I simply seek self-application that I can fully relate to. SO, I am compelled to spend more time with Him so that I might learn to walk in His footsteps—so that I might BECOME more like the Heavenly Father.

On a personal note

This weekend at OCF, we celebrated a life well lived through Judy Roth. Judy was in her eighties, had been married for 61 years to Bob and had served Jesus pretty much all her life. To be very honest, I wish that Cheri and I had been able to know Judy sooner. In our knowledge of her, she had been manifesting signs of dementia and was clearly not always of sound mind. But to our understanding, she had always been vibrant and adventurous. In fact, just a few years ago, she had jumped from an airplane in a parachute – just because she could. I can’t exactly produce the word her son used to describe her, but it paralleled the thought of defying the norm or expected.

And so, I walked away from that service challenged. I don’t want to live the norm. I want my wife to think I am God’s gift to her.

I want my children and grandchildren to think their dad/papa is fun.

And I want to hear God say of me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Tell Me the Old, Old Story – of David and Goliath

We’ve heard the old Bible stories since childhood. We’ve heard them so much, in fact, that many of them may seem to be just that: simple childhood STORIES – But God recorded these stories for a very real purpose.

1) They’re real, historical recordings.

2) God is still using them to tell us the truth.

One of those stories is that of David and Goliath.

There is MUCH for us to learn here in this factual story.

Perhaps the biggest is this: God sees the giants in your life and He gives the victory when you put your trust in Him.

You see, when you determine to allow God to move in your life—and when you get out of His way and cooperate with Him to pull down strongholds in your life, my friend, it will produce a victorious end – But it will also make the news.

When great things are happening, people are going to talk about it — and talk about you– and some will even come and try to talk you out of it.

But we must remain steadfast.

We must not be swayed to the left or the right BUT, we must stay on course and produce what God has put within us.

Our attitude, then, must be like that of young David; it must be,

“Satan, you cannot have my family!

You cannot have this ministry!

You cannot have this church!

Devil, you cannot have our finances!

You cannot kill our family with sickness and disease!

You cannot, cannot, cannot! … for I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

At that time in his life, David didn’t need to know Goliath’s Strength, because David already knew God’s strength.

In his book, Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado says:

  • Focus on Giants — You Stumble
  • Focus on God –Your Giants Tumble

Think of it this way:

In the case of David and Goliath, the enemy had already defeated the children of God through words and intimidation

Until a man after God’s own heart, full of faith in God stepped up

Called upon the Name and reputation of the Lord

And defeated that enemy.

So, stop listening to the enemy with his slanderous accusations and deceiving suggestions.

Instead, stand up, pursue God, and become the man or woman after God’s own heart.

And witness the victory of the Lord.

 

On a different note:

This is a heavy week.

Cheri finishes her 20 units of radiation for her Breast Cancer. This is exciting and she has shown all of us how to trust and believe God in times of need. Praise God for her example.

And I made appointments for cataract surgeries. Wow! I didn’t see that a-comin’. But I’m told that, between my age and my diabetes, it is pretty much inevitable. I know this is routine surgery – and I’m not afraid– BUT, I just don’t want to have to go through all the healing process and time. AND, I don’t know what to anticipate on the other side of the surgery. BUT, it’s all in His hands and I walk with confidence in that.

Pastor Jim