Archive for August, 2019

Wow! I was looking at my photos in Dropbox yesterday and I hit upon all my pictures from the three trips I have made to Israel. How exciting it was as I viewed our 2007 archaeological study tour with Ashland Theological Seminary, our 2010 pilgrimage with CLC, and my 2011 Missions journey with four friends from Chicago as we toured the land while ministering in missions work among Russian Jews in Haifa.

While those times and pictures are very precious to me, I am also reminded that we are returning to the Land in November and we get to share it with many who have never been there before.

I am passionate about the Land of Israel and about sharing it with others.

And I am challenged by that BECAUSE, I wonder how passionate I am about sharing Jesus with others. Certainly, as a Pastor, sharing Jesus is part of the assumed role and I fill that well BUT, am I, James Vernon Garrett the man, passionate about sharing Jesus?

If we can be consumed by a place, by a sports team, by a family, by anything else, then what hinders us or what sidetracks us from being consumed by Jesus?

This is NOT intended to “beat any of us up”, nor is it intended to produce a false humility among any of us – instead, it is to provoke a thought that perhaps we can move deeper in love with Him – with the Author and Finisher of our faith – with the Object of our true worship.

Be challenged this day. Accept the challenge – and dig a little deeper.

On another note:

What a Sunday we just completed. OCF had all the students, teachers, administrators, and staff from all of our represented schools: kindergarten, elementary, jr. high, high school, college, grad school, and technical/vocational school with public school, home school, and private school representation – and we individually prayed, accompanied with the laying on of hands, for each one. It was a special time and I know that we are going to bear good fruit from this effort. God is going to be in the midst of our schools in a special way this year.

Also, we had a time of unity building among our pastors, elders, and deacons that was incredibly priceless. The following morning, I received an email from one of those in attendance that ended with this statement: “More and more I think the Holy Spirit is taking hold of our church …”

To God be the glory!!!

Pastor Jim

The sermon from this weekend’s pulpit was about pride. The preacher made an interesting comment to the effect that, “Pride is the enemy of Joy.”

I must confess to you: I had to think about that for a little bit. Of course, we can all probably come up with MANY enemies of Joy BUT, as I though deeper, I began to realize that the focus of the message was not on joy – or lack thereof—rather the focus was on pride.

Pride is defined as a sense of self-majesty (as directly opposed to a sense of “ruin”). In other words, it is a thinking more highly than one should or even higher than is true. And yes, pride and arrogance are proper translations BUT, we must realize that Biblical pride, especially in the Old Testament, is diametrically opposed to “ruin” In other words, when we begin to read about pride going before the fall and pride leading to destruction, we should readily see that, because those two ends are exact opposites, the former quickly digresses to the latter; it is a natural degradation of thing – it is also the Law and the plan of God. So, it begins to make sense when we read Job 33:17 (NLT):He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride”. Doing wrong IS destruction – and when God is keeping us from pride, He is correspondingly keeping us from ruin and destruction.

So yes, Pride IS the enemy of joy – but it is also the enemy of contentment, peace, goodness, completeness, success, and much, much more. If we want these things, the joy, the contentment, the completeness, the success, and all these other things, we must walk absent of pride – but in humility before Him. I love to read this passage that refers to the result of a king, a leader of a nation, as he turned from his pride, as he faced the purpose of God, and as God protected him and ALL his people: “Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So, the LORD’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime (2 Chr. 32:26 NLT).

May we walk NOT in pride – but in true humility.


On another note, I was thrilled this weekend by two separate events with our local church, OCF.

One, I was able to conduct my first OCF Baby Dedication. As we dedicated John-John, I was reminded of the responsibilities that are due for our children — and I am speaking to every parent, grandparent, great-grandparent and beyond. And I am also talking to the church. We ARE family. We ARE community. And we need to work together, pray together, and live together to teach our children about Jesus Christ well.

Two, I was able to baptize ten believers in the pond of one of our church members. Some were children, some were teens– there was even an adult. To hear the testimonies, to hear the shouts of respect and joy from the families, and to see the faces on several of these as they came out of the water– it was a fabulous experience and, as the pastor, I had the honor of being a part of it.

Lord, let me remember these experiences like they are new — every time I get to do this. Make it fresh. Make it like a first time all over again.

Pastor Jim

Leviticus 25 declares the concept of the Biblical Year of Jubilee as:

–- that time when freedom reigns because lands and possessions are reverted back to their previous owner

— that time occurring every 50 years when captives are set free

— that time when land was allowed to lie fallow (or basically, untended), that it might actually become more fruitful

What an appropriate portrait as this week, our church, OCF, celebrates 50 years of ministry.

It is also appropriate that we venture into Acts 29, as we are liberated to continue the exaltation of Christ among our families, our peers, and the whole earth.

As we look at what God did for the people and the land of Israel at the time of Jubilee, it should cause great excitement to come upon each of us. Pretty much everything God did for Israel then, He has available for us today (except for the issue of the possession of land which applied only to that people in that place). I get excited when I realize that God still chooses to restore that which has been taken, to set the captives free, and to release the oppressed. And in a very large and real way, God has handed this over as the mission of the church. Now, it us up to us to recognize that we are that Church, the living presence of God in the earth declaring that restoration and freedom.

God is calling us to rise up and be the Church.

So what are our “take-aways” from this weekend’s message?

  • Make restitution for things stolen, taken, or lost.
  • Deal fairly with every person –even for past events.
  • Forgive offensestaken against us.
  • Invite God to bring Jubilee to you and to your family.
  • Be a funnel of Jubilee to your community… to your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, the lost, the addicted, the destitute…bringing restoration and freedom, expanding His Kingdom


On a much more personal note:

I had the privilege of ministering together with my son this past weekend at the Jubilee Festival at our church, OCF. That is always a joy for me – to see someone I taught music to – to play and to sing – and then to see that he has far exceeded my gifts—what a thrill. Jamie, I am proud of you, son. And I am glad you are sensing your role in His Church.

And my middle child, Amber, started her new job as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. She is genuinely a servant of God and I love seeing her do what she loves —ministering to those premature babies and their parents. What a thrill. And I am glad you are sensing your role in His Church.

And finally, my oldest, Crystal, is in the country of South Africa this month – a place that she considers her second home. This is the land where she interned as a missionary. Although she is currently there on a hiring venture, her missionary heart for these people groups still rings true. Again, What a thrill. And I am glad you are sensing your role in His Church.

And as far as the world around us spins, this week has been a relatively quiet world – especially in light of the events of the week prior. I think we all needed a little bit of time to think and contemplate our place in our often-violent habitation. I am so thankful that it is not me who is in control – but God who is in control – and while I do not understand what all is taking place, I continue to trust God in and through it all. And in the midst of that, I am glad that He still chooses us, His people, the Church, to carry on as His Ambassadors to bring His liberty to this earth and to enlarge His Kingdom.

It has been a wild and wooly weekend in our lives.

First, I caught news of another shooting in El Paso, Texas. I felt like I was kicked in the gut again. I felt for the wounded victims as well as the families of the deceased; I was (and am) hurt and emotionally wounded myself. Life is so precious and then, to see it snuffed out among so many is simply smothering.

And almost immediately, before my mind could settle, in that same evening, we received another report of another shooting – this time a little closer to home, just a couple hundred miles away in Dayton, OH. Oh, the senselessness — more lives ushered into eternity, bodies and emotions wounded, families shattered.

I know some people will say some really strange things at times like these such as, “Don’t send your prayers; they’re not helping.” How foolish. On the one hand, I comprehend the pain – but on the other hand, prayer is really all we have and all we can do. We don’t have solutions. Politicians will not have solutions. In fact, NO ONE HAS ANY SOLUTIONS.

The only solution is Jesus.

The only means we have of tapping into that solution is prayer.

My friends, send up prayers to God with all the strength and spirituality that you have.

Desperate times require desperate measures.

On another note,

The message this past weekend looked at Paul’s parting words to the Church in Ephesus as recorded in Acts 20. It was an impassioned time of leaving, a solemn statement of warning, and a determined word of pressing on and finishing the race well.

The “take-aways” from that message are pretty simple and straightforward.

They are to:

• Be that ambassador (empowered and equipped representative) that Christ has called you to be

• Be His disciple—a student of the Word and of prayer who is also making other disciples

• Be a watchman/watchwoman over your household and yourself. It is important that we protect those over whom God has given us a season of stewardship.

• Be determined to finish the race well and to complete the task the Lord Jesus gave you.

It is my prayer this week that God would so make you aware of His presence, His keeping, His empowerment, and His equipping – so that we would sense an overflowing of Him in us to reach those around us.

Radically Serving Him,

Pastor Jim