Category Archives: Family Life

A Unique Friendship

October 4, 2015

Many of you know that a dear childhood friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Unless the Lord touches his life, Wes has only a few months to live. In fact, he is already spending most of his day in bed. Although I have experienced the death of many good friends and family, I was not prepared for the emotional impact that Wes’ cancer has had on me. I can hardly think about it without tears and sometimes I cannot speak because of the emotional grip on my vocal cords.

As I thought about it, I realized that Wes as been a very close friend of mine for all of my life. We first met in the Nursery Sunday School class in the church we both grew up attending. We were youth together in that church, including participating in many church activities and ministries. We went to high school together (although Wes was a year younger than me). We attended college together, carpooling the daily drive for most of those years. I worked on the family farm of Wes’ family and we even worked the same part time job together, cleaning the shop floor of an Oldsmobile dealer.

Wes and I were both married about the same time in life and both felt called to be pastors. We both attended seminary (although we went to different schools) and our kids are about the same ages.

About two years after I was called to pastor in Devils Lake, ND, Wes was called to pastor in North Dakota too (an Evangelical Free Church in Wilton). Then, when I came here to be the pastor, it was not long before Wes moved his family to a rural church near St. Cloud. Wes was the pastor there for 24 years before resigning about a year ago.

In all those years, Wes and I shared many phone calls, visits, letters, emails, sermons, and most of all the common challenges of pastoring similarly sized churches. It is no exaggeration to say that Wes and I have shared life for 60 years. We have shared life more closely than most brothers ever have a chance to share life. When I thought about it this past week, I realized how truly amazing that gift from God was for me.

I went to see Wes on Friday. Our 2½ hour visit flew by. We talked about the life we have shared. We talked about heaven and the amazing life that heaven promises to us. I read to him at his request and as he grew tired, I read to Wes from the Bible, II Corinthians 4 and 5. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands… so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” As I finished that last verse, Wes said AMEN. You see, that is the Good News, Jesus took our sin, so that we might receive His righteousness and the hope of an eternal home in Heaven. What a hope! Amen, thank you, Jesus!

Fathers Day Tips

June 21, 2015

I do not know Dr. Randall Flanery but I like his tips on being a dad. If Flanery is not a believer, he certainly has captured a lot of biblical wisdom. What do you think? (These tips were taken from

Being a dad is no easy task. It’s one that requires men to be made of steel and velvet so they can be both strong and nurturing. Psychologist Randall Flanery, who is an associate professor of community and family medicine at Saint Louis University and the father of 10 children, has devised a top 10 list on how to be a great dad.

Dr. Flanery says, tongue-in-cheek, that his tips worked great on seven of his kids. In other words, when it comes to parenting, no one is perfect and there are no guarantees.

Top 10 Tips on How to Be the Best Dad

  1. Run a benevolent dictatorship.
    “Some parents find it hard to assert their authority. They try to appeal to reason when sometimes what the situation calls for is ‘No,'” Flanery says.
  2. Be friendly, but not a friend.
    Parenting requires a higher standard of behavior than being a friend. Dads need to be concerned about what is good for their children, not just what they want.
  3. Admit when you’re wrong.
    It sends out the right signal that Dad is big enough to acknowledge his mistakes and move along.
  4. Remain firmly flexible.
    Your children are growing and changing all the time. While your family values should remain consistent, a 5-year old needs different limits than a 10-year old.
  5. Stick around, even when they don’t want you to.
    One of the jobs of adolescents is to pull away as they struggle to become more adult. One of the challenges of being a parent is to love them in spite of it.
  6. Ask questions.
    “But don’t expect to always get answers,” Flanery says. “Just asking the question is enough to start children thinking.”
  7. Don’t take it personally if they express unhappiness.
    Children are likely to complain if they don’t get their way. Shrug it off.
  8. Know that parenting is 24/7, and then some.
    “Being a parent is unrelenting. There’s no time off; you don’t get to check out.”
  9. Keep in mind that who you are is more important than what you buy them.
    “Who you are seeps into their pores and goes away with them long after they’ve forgotten whether or not you’ve taken them to McDonalds,” Flanery explains.
  10. Laugh.
    When they’re little, they’ll break your back. When they’re bigger, they sometimes break your heart. So learn to take the bitter with the better, and laugh.

Everyday Wisdom

June 14, 2015

When I was growing up, we had three sets of clothes. We had our “Sunday clothes” or as some might still refer to them, “our Sunday best.” We wore these only on Sunday to church and once in a while for special occasions.

Then we had our “school clothes.” These we wore to school and other times when we needed to look presentable. But once we were home, they came off and we wore our “everyday clothes.”

“Everyday clothes” were not special, but they were the clothes we liked best. We could play, work, ride bikes and do whatever we wanted in our “everyday clothes.” They were the clothes we wore most often.

In somewhat the same sense, the wisdom of the book of Proverbs is an “everyday wisdom.” It is not wisdom only for special occasions or unique situations. Rather, it is wisdom that works in everyday life.

Trust the LORD, He is involved in our daily lives and plans.

Hard work brings success, laziness invites poverty.

Words are important, be careful what you say.

Watch out for pride, be humble and quick to take advice.

Parenting is important, do it well.

Adultery and sexual sin will destroy your life if you let them entice you.

Be careful who you let influence your life.

How you live with your neighbors is important, treat them with respect.

One’s inner life (one’s heart) is of great importance, watch over it.

Friends and family are important to us.

Plan and save, don’t borrow and loan.

Riches are not as important as they might seem.

Be generous and kind to the poor and those less fortunate than you.

Notice how practical these everyday ideas are? That is why ignoring wisdom from God’s Word and making decisions about everyday life based on the world’s values is so dangerous. Once we make a choice, we belong to the consequences of those choices. There are no “do over’s” in everyday life.

That is not to say that the Lord does not forgive and redeem. He will always receive us if we turn to Him. We can bring our broken lives to Him and find a new start. BUT, the consequences of our decisions live on, even after forgiveness and grace.   How much better to LISTEN to God’s wisdom and make good choices in everyday life.   “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” (Proverbs 3:1-2)

Roofing Project

May 31, 2015

Some of you know that last weekend (Memorial weekend) Joel assembled a team together to put a new roof on their house. The Peck’s house is not very big and most of us who worked on their project thought the job would be quicker than it eventually turned out to be. But Tuesday night at about 9:30 Leap, Hiep and Joel drove the last nail and the job was done.

Here is the way Katie said it on a facebook post yesterday”I cannot begin to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the great guys who came out to help us re-shingle our roof last weekend. It turned out to be the longest long weekend project ever but it was made all the better by the support, kindness, dedication and love you all showed. I can’t wait to bring this baby into this family, knowing that she will have so many wonderful men in her life. And thank you to all the families who shared your dads and husbands over the holiday weekend. You guys NAILED it!”

The honor role of workers included: Leap, Dan (and Dane), Matt (and Jonah), Michael, Ron (Joel’s dad), Mitch (Joel’s coworker), David (Joel’s uncle), Hiep, Scott, and of course Joel.

One of the challenges during the project was the threat of rain. In fact, twice during the 4 days it did rain. But, Joel and Leap were wise enough to plan for the rain and there was no damage to the house even when the roof was only partly finished. Good job!

As I reflected on the roofing experience at the Peck’s house, here are some lessons I noticed.

Be careful about assumptions and expectations. I expected the job to be easier than it was. My expectations were unrealistic and made the work more difficult for me.

Do not give up. In the middle of a job, it is tempting to quit. Don’t quit.

Working together is the way to go. We need the help, encouragement, partnership and expertise of others. Don’t do it alone.

Helping is important, even if I do not do as much as someone else does. It is not just quantity of work, presence also matters.

Ice cream cake at the end is great. Don’t be afraid to build in a reward for a job well done.

I am seldom sorry when I help someone with a challenge. It really does feel good to help.

Good friends help each other and they really do do it because they love, not because they are obligated.

I agree with Katie…THANKS everyone who could help for a job well done.

Friendship or Fellowship

March 15, 2015

Lately, I have been thinking about the difference between friendship and fellowship. In many ways, I suspect we often think of them as the same. I am not so sure that is a good connection to make.

When I think of my friendships I think of the people I met and enjoyed their company at pivotal times in my life. As a young boy I had friends. Some of them are still my friends today. When I started graduate school in Denver, Karon and I developed friendships with a few other couples in similar stages of life and with similar responsibilities. In our first pastorate in Devils Lake, with new babies added to our family, once again Karon and I found friends in similar stages of life. It seems like friendship is a combination of personal connections, common life situations, and shared experiences. I am not sure that friendship can be created. It can be discovered, it can be cultivated and it certainly can be lost, but I do not think we can be commanded to make a friend of a certain person. In fact, the more I think about it, the more good friendships are like gifts from God. They are more rare than we might like and very precious when we have them.   Since we are on the subject, is there a friendship that you need to cultivate, appreciate, and encourage in your life right now?

How about fellowship?

When I think of fellowship my first thought is the meaning of the Greek word we usually translate as fellowship. That word might more accurately be translated as partnership. In fact, in Philippians 1:5 the NIV does use partnership as its English translation.

When we read the New Testament we see that fellowship is a reality of life in the church. Fellowship with the Spirit brings us into fellowship with each other (see Acts 2:42; Philippians 2; I John 1:3, 7). It is not optional nor situational. We who believe are partners because of our common bond in Jesus. Being connected to Jesus means I am connected to others who are connected to Jesus.

If I contrast partnership and friendship I notice right away that fellowship is much broader and less personal. We can have fellowship, without friendship. The demands of friendship are more personal, the demands of fellowship are more godly. Fellowship will not happen without godly love, forgiveness, grace and compassion. Yes, those are part of friendship too, but they tend to happen more naturally and with less discipline. Fellowship requires choice, commitment, selflessness, and respect. All of these we give because of JESUS, not because our partner deserves it. Fellowship is a choice we make, friendship is a gift we receive.

These are my thoughts…what do you think about friendship and fellowship?

Be Careful With Problems

February 22, 2015

During lunch with someone from our church this week, I was reminded of the dangers (and the benefits) of talking about problems. Our conversation was on the subject of church problems, but I think what I have to say would address personal problems, work problems and many other settings.

First it is important to note that running away from problems or ignoring them is not going to help. Doing that usually makes problems worse and more difficult to address. We do ourselves no favors when we hide from our problems, pretending that things are fine when in fact, they are not.

But on balance, we should remember that life ALWAYS has problems. The presence of problems is not a sign of my failure. Rather, it is evidence of man’s greatest problem, the problem of sin. Sometimes my problems come from my own sin, sometimes from the sins of others, and sometimes from the cloud of sin that hangs over this world. Usually, problems come from all of those places at once. We will never be free of problems.  

When properly understood, our problems will drive us to our Father. We simply cannot make our lives work without God. It is our pride that pushes us away from God and tempts us to try to fix things on our own. Anger, embarrassment, hurt, avoidance, defensiveness and revenge are sure tip offs that our pride is strongly at work. If we will combat that pride with humility, then our Heavenly Father can step in and bring changes with Him.

And one final observation, if all I can see are the problems, then I have my focus in the wrong place. God is at work in the life of EVERY believer. Yes, He certainly can use our problems for His glory, but even more than that, He is at work, blessing our lives and creating in us what we need so that we can do good things for Him and His kingdom (see Ephesians 2:10).   We must never miss seeing His work because we are too focused on our problems.

Paul told the Philippian Christians, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). If my focus is on problems, all too often I miss seeing the good work of God in and around me. I miss the joy that comes by simply knowing I am His child. I miss His presence in the small, private moments. I do not feel His love or His peace in the storm of my problems. And worst of all, I do not see how He wants to use me to bless and love people He brings into my life.

We need not be afraid of our problems. Our Heavenly Father loves us and will turn them into blessings if we let Him. In fact, He is doing that already. Please do not miss His fingerprints and focus too much on the problems. Instead, look for His work, His blessings, His peace, His presence, His power, and His love. It has been there all along!

Your pastor,

Dude Garrett

Wedding Today

February 8, 2015

A few weeks ago a young Chinese couple came to see me and asked if I would do their wedding. As NDSU students, they knew that I had married other Chinese couples and asked me to do their wedding, planned to be in just two weeks. Although I was complimented by their request I cringed a bit inside. Back in 1977, I made a personal rule that I would not marry anyone unless they did some kind of marriage preparation. There have been a few exceptions to that rule and as I talked to them, I felt that this was one of those times.

First of all, Dalu and Cuiyuan had no way of knowing about things like marriage preparation. They have friends at the F-M Chinese Christian church, but they do not regularly attend.

Secondly, Cuiyuan’s parents were going to be here (coming from China) on the weekend planned for their wedding. Those kinds of plans are not easy to change.

Third, they were willing to do marriage “preparation” with me after their wedding. Not the best plan since the motivation to work hard at marriage preparation is much less after the wedding, but I have done that before.

In the end as I talked to them, I decided to say yes to officiating their wedding.

Their original plan was to have their wedding at Dalu’s NDSU apartment. But, as they invited their friends to come, they discovered that the apartment would be too small. In the end, I offered them the use of our church building and they decided to use the fellowship hall. So today Dalu and Cuiyuan will set up our fellowship hall for their wedding at 2:00. They will probably be setting things up as our worship service ends this morning.

As we gather today and as you think about this wedding, please pray for Dalu and Cuiyuan and their family and friends as they come. Pray that they will find Jesus and one day put their lives in His hands. Pray that as I share some of the meaning of marriage from the Bible, that it will touch their hearts and have the ring of authority that can come only from biblical truth. Pray also that as we do marriage preparation, after their wedding, that it will equip them for a healthier marriage and give us an opportunity to talk more about the important spiritual side of life.

Throughout my ministry God has used me as I have helped couples with their wedding and their marriage. It is a special opportunity for ministry that few can have. It is my prayer that I will be sensitive to the Lord’s leading and the needs of Dalu and Cuiyuan as we share this special time in their lives.

Your pastor,

Dude Garrett

Good Business or Selfishness

February 1, 2015

Today is Super Bowl XLIX (that is 49 for us who are not familiar with Roman numerals). Some of us are old enough to remember the first Super Bowl (I remember it because I grew up in Kansas and the Kansas City Chiefs played in the first Super Bowl (I won’t talk about who they played or who won).   That was also back when the NFL and the AFL were leagues competing with each other, rather than conferences under one league as they are today. Things have changed a lot in the last 49 years.

You might remember that a few years ago, the NFL stopped churches and other groups from showing the televised Super Bowl to groups on its premises. It was a copyrighted telecast and the NFL wanted control and revenue (money) from its use. In more recent years, the NFL has become even more strict in licensing the use of the name “Super Bowl.” In fact, few businesses are permitted to use the name and those who use it illegally often face charges and fines.

Roger N. Behle Jr., an intellectual property lawyer, said the NFL’s monitoring is about maximizing revenue. “They do have a right to police it. They spent a lot of money to build the brand up, make it profitable and not have any Tom, Dick and Harry use the marks.” Behle has worked on licensing deals with the NFL and other major sports leagues.

According to another advertizing lawyer in New York, Jeff Greenbaum, the NFL’s strict enforcement of their trademarked name “is to create enough concern among marketers that they’re afraid to even get close to the line.”

It seems to me that the NFL has decided to use it huge resources (both popularity and money) to defend its right to make as much money as legally possible and to prevent others from piggybacking on their success. While I do not condemn them for trying to make money, I do call into question their efforts to prevent others from sharing in their success.

Does it diminish the NFL’s success if others share in it? It think not. In fact, I would suggest that if the NFL would be glad to share their success, it would benefit all involved. That is the principle of generosity. If I share my success, it becomes even more successful. If I hoard my success, one day it may be gone.

The Super Bowl is BIG business. And while I do not begrudge its success, I would call into question its apparent selfishness. As we watch and cheer the game, let us not be blind to the realities of life. Proverbs 18:1 says, “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment.” Be careful NFL, for a business dependent on its fan base, you may one day wish you were more generous.

Your pastor,

Dude Garrett

Death in Our Family

Death in our Family
June 16, 2013

As you probably know, this week the Garrett’s newest family member (Dan and Kelly’s unborn son) died.  His death was very sudden and unexpected.  We knew there were complications to Kelly’s pregnancy and we knew those complications could be life threatening to their unborn baby.  But they were under the best of medical care, going to the clinic at least two times a week so we did not expect such a sudden and drastic thing to happen.

It was Monday when Kelly went into her scheduled ckeckup and the ultrasound verified Kelly’s fears that there was no heartbeat.  Monday afternoon Kelly went to the hospital to have labor induced and at 2:00 the next afternoon, James William was still born at the hospital.  His parents, his grandparents and his sister and brother cradled his lifeless body, offering the love that was stored up and ready to be given at his anticipated birth in just about a month.  That love, so precious and so life giving was not canceled out by the grief and loss of his tragic death.  Love and sorrow mingled as we stared death in the face and declared, “Death, you do not win! By faith we believe the promises of God and while we take your blows to our hearts, we also hold onto the hope of the promise of life that swallows up death in victory.”

On Friday, our family gathered at Dan and Kelly’s church for a funeral for James William Garrett.  There were others there who loved and respected Dan and Kelly.  Those who gathered shared the parent’s grief, sang songs of faith, listened to the words of scripture and said “we love you” in both words and actions.  It was a time of healing and support.

Monday (tomorrow) James’ tiny body will be laid to rest beside his maternal grandfather in Holy Cross Cemetery just a few blocks from our church building (1502 32nd Ave. N. in Fargo).  Dan and Kelly have gracious agreed that if some from our church family would like to come to the short graveside service they are welcome (the service is planned for 11:00 tomorrow morning at the cemetery).   Peggy, James’ other grandmother is a part of a Bible study and that group of ladies is providing a lunch for the family at our church building after the graveside service, but they are not planning for a very large group, so if you would like to attend this service tomorrow morning and come to our church building afterword for lunch, please let me know so plans can be arranged accordingly.

Through this sad week I have often thought of Job’s words, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (1:21) He has been a partner with me in our grief.  I find His sovereign Hand to be comfort.  Maybe I know a little of what Job meant.

Your Pastor,

Dude Garrett

Want to talk to Pastor Dude?  Give him a call on his cell phone (701)261-0931.

Congrats Michael

Congratulations Michael!

June 2, 2013

Thirteen years ago I preached a message to my sons on their graduation from high school.  Today, I write a similar message to my youngest son on his graduation from that same high school.  Congratulations, Michael.  Allow me to say a few things that I hope will encourage and challenge you.

Through the years, I know that school has often been an unpleasant irritation to you.  But I am proud that you have made it through and along the way found some things that you could apply yourself to.  Your JROTC classes inspired you and lead you down the road to your enlistment in the Army.  It is an honorable choice and I believe that you will make an excellent soldier.  You have strong ideals and you are not afraid to stand up for what you believe to be right.  I see in you the roots of true courage.

I am also proud that you have applied yourself to learning some very practical skills.  And unlike your classmates who goofed off, you have discovered that those skills are honorable and worthy of excellence.  I am confident that what you have learned will serve you well in the future, no matter where the Lord will direct you.

But most of all, I am proud of the way you stood by your friends and those who needed your help.  I remember last summer when you and I were walking downtown and we saw a relatively minor motorcycle and car crash.  You literally jumped to help.  Before I even knew what was happening, you were there helping the rider up on his feet and assessing the damage.  I saw that again as you appropriately intervened in a friend’s dangerous depression and in standing up to a classroom bully.  You took initiative when most would simply stand by and watch.  Yes, I believe you have the makings of a great soldier.  I am indeed proud of you.

Finally, as I did 13 years ago for Dan and Andy, I want to give you the same challenge: the challenge to make faith your own.  As you grew up, church was an accepted and involuntary part of your life.  Mom and I did not push you into church participation, but in many situations, you had no choice.  Now, things are different.  In just a few weeks you will literally be on your own.  You will choose to trust God, or to ignore Him.  You will choose to listen for His voice or press on charting your own course.  You must make your faith your own, no one else can do that for you.

In this journey, the Bible story testifies to one all important truth.  If we will humble ourselves and come to God, He will never turn us away.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  (Rom. 10:13)  That is a promise throughout the Bible and it is one that all of us need to hear.  I hope you will never forget it.

I love you and I am very proud to be your Dad.  Congratulations on your high school graduation!

Want to talk to Pastor Dude?  Give him a call on his cell phone (701)261-0931.