Friday, July 31, 2009

A Brand New Chapter

We have exciting news to share about God's favor and faithfulness in our lives! We were not actively looking for this change in our lives but God knew the desires of our hearts!

Just a few weeks ago, we received a phone call that we in no way expected. We were informed of a couple of positions opening and really didn't know exactly what they entailed but they captivated our interest. We were asked if we would be interested in submitting our resumes, etc. We both sensed a definite desire to see if this was a door God was opening for us. This desire has sent the past few weeks of our life in a whirlwind ... a good thing!

Jim did a couple of phone interviews. And from all involved, we felt we should continue to explore the possibilities and see if this was a God-thing. We then scheduled a trip to the Chicago, IL area. Interestingly, the week we were to leave, we had a water problem in our kitchen which flowed into our dining room and living room. In fact, the day we were leaving for Chicago our insurance company sent over a clean up company and I (Cheri) came home to pack the car while half of the kitchen/dining room/living room floor was being pulled up and all the bottom kitchen cabinets being removed and kitchen stuff packed up. Mind you, my (Cheri's) mother was staying with us at this time (visiting from SC) and has dementia. All our plans for her and the weekend had to be changed! It was a crazy afternoon. We got it figured out, got packed in the car and off we went ... much later than planned

What a weekend! We met with people from the church all day on Friday ... ALL DAY! ... the directors of the youth/children's ministry, we had a tour of the facility, we had an interview/meeting with the leadership team (staff), we had a meeting with children's/youth leaders, and we had supper with the senior pastors. It was such an awesome and exhausting day ! We discovered more what they were looking for and felt like God had come down and created this position just for us. Everything we wanted, hoped for, and dreamed for was being laid out before us. I think we wanted to pinch ourselves to see if we woke up!

The position is multi-faceted and we will both be working at the church ... a dream come true! On Saturday, Jim spent the day with the senior pastor. If Jim and I had sat down together and listed what our hearts' desires are we would have had what was offered to us. By the evening on Saturday, we had accepted the position. The plan was then announced to the church that Sunday morning.

Although we leave behind people we hold dear and jobs we have grown in, we know that this is a God-thing ... a door He (and only He) opened ... a position He created for us ... and the position He has been preparing us for. About 9 years ago, as we left youth ministry kicking and screaming, God opened a door for Jim to pursue his Master's and then his Doctorate degrees at Ashland Theological Seminary. If it had been up to us, we would have stayed youth/children's pastor for our entire lives. But God spoke to Jim during his kicking and screaming and told him that if we would submit to what He was doing, we would not just reach 100's or 1000's of young people but He would use us to reach 10,000's and 100,000's. This was bigger than we could ever see happening but we trusted God and submitted to His work to prepare us.

Jim completed his studies and graduated with his doctorate in June 2007. We have been back in Sylvania, Ohio for 4 years doing our best to be faithful with where God placed us and waiting for what God had planned. We really believe this is it!

We accepted the position of Pastor's of Family Ministries at Christian Life Center (CLC) in Tinley Park, IL (suburb of Chicago). The cool thing about this is that it is not a youth or children's pastor position at a church. Right now CLC has 4 locations ... Tinley Park, IL; Shorewood, IL, South Bend, IN and the Philippines. (They are about to open a brand new campus also in the Chicago area.) The vision is to continue to add sites for a total of 12 locations. We will be overseeing the family ministries for all locations ... mentoring and training youth pastors and leaders and children's pastors and leaders and leading all aspects of family ministries. We can see God's word to us about reaching 10,000's and 100,000's of young people being fulfilled as we mentor and train others to reach young people and they, in turn, do the same ... as we pass the passion for young people that God has put in our hearts on to others who will pass it on! We will be working out of the Tinley Park location as that is the "mother" church, for lack of a better word ... and will travel to the other locations. Missions will also be involved in what we do as CLC is heavily involved in missions ... another one of our hearts desires! Additionally, Jim will be able to continue teaching in adjunct roles from time to time in several colleges, universities, and seminaries (of course, modestly!)

We will begin our relocation the middle of August. We are so excited about what God in doing in our lives and yet very humbled at the trust He is putting in us.

I (Cheri) will be leaving my position as Office/Billing Supervisor for Fallen Timbers Family Physicians. It has been a great 4 years and I have grown in many ways and know that this was part of my preparation for our next adventure. Jim will be leaving his position as Administrator of Fountain City Christian School (FCCS), where he has put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears and prayers; and as pastor of New Life Assembly of God in Napoleon. Both places will be held dear in our hearts. Jim will stay a part of Fountain City Christian School as a board member.

Keep us in your prayers. We need to sell our home (after the kitchen is completed ... a whole brand new kitchen and new flooring for the kitchen, dining room and living room) ... find a home and orientate ourselves to the Chicago area and our new church and responsibilities. We also will be leaving Crystal and her family here in Maumee. Crystal will stay on as a high school teacher and missions director for FCCS ... she is a phenomenal teacher! We will be leaving Jamie and his family in Bryan. Jamie is doing an awesome job with worship at New Life in Bryan and we are very proud of him. We have another dream in our heart about all that ... we'll just have to wait and see what God says about it! We know this transition will be hard in some respects but we also know that God is working all things together for the best of everyone involved. We will be blessed to be close to Amber and her family ... actually staying with them for the transition period ... and working along side them as they are a part of the same ministry.

Our emails will stay the same and our cell phones for now. If you are coming to the Chicago area or passing thru we would love to see you and have you visit our new church home ... get a bite to eat and fellowship! Please stay in touch ... and remember God is always faithful and He gives us the desires of our hearts we just have to stay faithful and obedient and patient!

Imagine! Dream! Believe!

I love what our new senior pastor, Pastor Jerry, says ... "It'll be fun!"

And we plan to enjoy the ride!


Jim & Cheri Garrett

Saturday, July 11, 2009

PC Study Bible Data

Living Large

Mark 14:1-11

It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 "But not during the Passover celebration," they agreed, "or the people may riot."

3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

4 Some of those at the table were indignant. "Why waste such expensive perfume?" they asked. 5 "It could have been sold for a year's wages and the money given to the poor!" So they scolded her harshly.

6 But Jesus replied, "Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be remembered and discussed."

10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests to arrange to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted when they heard why he had come, and they promised to give him money. So he began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

· We all have illusions

· One theologian has suggested that the key movement of the spiritual life is a movement from illusion to reality

· The four primary illusions that all of us deal with are: self, God, Work, and the world

· As we look at this text, we are dealing with the illusion of success.

· What is success spiritually?

o Whether we go to church?

o How often we go to church?

o How many Bible studies we attend?

o A theology we ascribe to?

What Jesus thought of success?

I. Three are three characters in this text.

A. Simon

1. Simon was probably a leper who had been healed.

2. Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his house.

· Having Jesus in his home would raise Simon’s status among his friends

3. The custom was for the host to give Jesus a kiss upon entering his home

4. Simon also did not wash Jesus’ feet, nor did he offer Jesus a towel and a bowl to wash his feet.

5. He also did not offer Jesus fragrant oil to place upon his feet.

6. Eastern culture tells us that Simon was showing insult to Jesus.

· He had invited Jesus to his table but was not willing to sit down with Him

B. The people watched our second character, Jesus, to see how He would respond to this obvious insult.

C. Our third character, a woman enters from the crowd.

1. Mark does not identify the woman who anointed Jesus, but we know from John 12:3 that she was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

2. Mary seems to have no knowledge of social ethics.

a. She sits in front of Jesus.

b. She starts to wash His feet, again a task that should have been performed by Simon.

3. She is moved emotionally, probably crying uncontrollably.

a. Her tears fall upon His feet.

b. She is probably embarrassed.

4. She seeks a towel but finds none.

5. Finding no towel, she does the unthinkable, she lets down her hair.

a. It was taboo for a woman to let her hair down in public.

b. The law said that a man could divorce his wife for letting down her hair in public.

c. She wasn’t thinking about the consequences.

6. She used a fragrant oil upon the head of Jesus.

a. The “alabaster jar” that contained the perfume was a “vessel with a rather long neck which was broken off when the contents were used”.

b. The “nard” (perfume) was made from the root of a plant found chiefly in India and was very expensive.

c. Mary took the bottle and broke the neck so that she could pour the ointment profusely over Jesus’ head.

II. Living large is about experiencing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ

A. Mary’s act of love shows her realization of forgiveness.

B. Unconditional love leads to radical generosity.

1. The perfume had a value of more than three hundred denarii.

2. A denarius was what a man received for a day’s work.

3. The NIV says this was “more than a year’s [worth of] wage[s].”

C. Mary was willing to give her most expensive thing to Jesus even though others would ridicule her for this.

D. Her action of anointing Jesus with a bottle of expensive perfume was a beautiful expression of her love and devotion to him.

III Living large is a response to God’s love toward you.

A. Brokenness leads to outrageous giving.

· Mary’s brokenness was shown in kissing His feet and the drying of his feet with her hair.

B. Luke 7:44-50

44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.

47 "I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."

49 The men at the table said among themselves, "Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?"

50 And Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

C. The statement of Jesus

1. Words and inflections make up about 30% of our conversation, the other 70% is from the body language.

2. Jesus was speaking to Simon but turned toward the woman.

3. Jesus was demonstrating an important principle of success.

a. The body actions of Jesus indicate Jesus was about hanging out with the outcasts and the ordinary, not the rich and famous.

b. It was about aligning yourself with those who are weak, hurt, and broken.

D. Illustration.

· In the 1st Century, many communities were decimated by pandemics.

· These were so bad that people would usually leave.

· But interestingly, the Christians would stay.

· People say that this is why many people became Christians, because of what they had seen portrayed in these.

· The Christians would stay and help the outcasts . . . even at physical costs to themselves


A. God is enough for us

1. He will be our shepherd.

2. God will take care of everyone of our needs

B. The reason we can be extravagantly generous in our giving is because God is been generous to us.

C. What is your alabaster jar?

D. Who are the people you need to touch today?