Category Archives: Worship

Taste and See

October 18, 2015

As I have been thinking about I John 1:1 (I’ll talk more about that in my sermon today), I was reminded of Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” In both places the writers invite us to know for ourselves, to experience in our own lives the reality and existence of Jesus and of God. It is an invitation that I want to extend to you too.

John tells us in his letter that he and the other apostles proclaim what they have experienced personally. In other words, they know what they are talking about. That is the reason he is writing this letter we call 1 John. He is telling us what he experienced so that we can experience its reality too.

The writer of Psalm 34 extends a similar challenge to us, taste and see for ourselves. He knows that the Lord is good and he wants us to know it too. In both cases the message begins with a personal experience. It starts with ME before it can be spread to others. What has been YOUR personal experience with God? In John’s words, have you reached out to touch Jesus?

For some of us, we need to think back to times when we have indeed tasted God’s goodness to us. He answered prayer. He brought us through hardship and trouble. He guided our steps with almost miraculous timing and intricacy. He gave us wonderful gifts that we did not deserve and did not appreciate until we looked back later in life. How long has it been since you have looked back on your life and noticed God’s hand in it? If it has been too long, take time this week, maybe in private, to savor again the taste of God’s goodness, to feel again His touch.

For some of us, we have no experience upon which to look. We have not tasted of God’s goodness, we have not touched His presence.   If that is true of you, then I would issue this challenge… ask God to touch your life, ask Him to show you His goodness.

But I need to give you a warning too. When you ask, ask with humility and with sincerity. Ask, not because you deserve such a taste. Ask not because you dare Him to touch you. He is the creator of the universe. You cannot order Him around like some kind of spiritual servant. He knows your heart. He sees your motives. If you will humble yourself, if you will sincerely desire Him to work in your life, then open your heart and ask for His work. Ask that you, like the writer of Psalm 34, might taste for yourself His goodness.

After you ask, open your spiritual eyes and be ready. I do not know what the Lord will do, but I suspect He will surprise you. In fact, you may never be the same.

New Horizons Ministry

April 19, 2015

Since it was first occupied in 1973, New Horizons Manor has been almost next door to our church building. Designed to accommodate residents with disabilities, New Horizons Manor is managed and maintained by the Fargo Housing & Redevelopment Authority.

Through the years our church has had various levels of connection with New Horizons and its residents. We have often had attenders who lived there, our long time Ladies prayer group met there for a period of time, we have had personal ministry with some residents and in more recent years, we have lead Sunday worship services there. For a period of several years, Pastor Pablo preached there every Sunday afternoon. Currently we have a monthly worship service lead by Pastor Dude and supported by Wanda, Margaret, Harriett, and Milton (who plays the guitar for group singing).

We are not the only church who has had ministry at New Horizons. Through the years other churches have come to New Horizons with service, Bible study, ministry and worship. However, at present, as far as we know, our church is the only one offering regular worship opportunities. Even weekday Bible studies have dissolved.

Last Sunday as we arrived for afternoon worship, for the very first time, no residents came. So, those from our church who were there discussed options to consider for further ministry at New Horizons. One thing seemed apparent; few people living at New Horizons feel the need to gather monthly for a Sunday afternoon worship time. So, we should probably consider a different kind of ministry. Another observation is that Phyllis, the lady at New Horizons who is in charge of serving food at social events, very much needs and appreciates our help with serving. We could do better at helping Phyllis.

One other opportunity that came up in our conversation was the party held each month to celebrate resident’s birthdays. This might be one area where we could help Phyllis and also get to know and serve the other residents of New Horizons.

In the end, our touch with New Horizons depends on folks in our church who have Jesus’ kind of love for the people who live there. We really do not need to develop a program for New Horizons, we simply need people who love the residents there and who want to find a way to share that love. We do not need everyone in our church to do this, but we do need some in our church who feel called by God to put love into action for the residents of New Horizons. Might you be one of those people? If so, let me know and we will discover together how the Lord can use us there.

Your Pastor,

Dude Garrett

Were You There?

April 5, 2015

A popular Easter song is the old Negro spiritual, “Were You There?” Have you ever wondered about its meaning?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

In answer to that question, one could say, “It all happened a long time ago, how could I have been there?” But, there is good – biblical – logic in saying, “Yes, I was there.”

First we were all there, because the reason for Jesus’ death was our sin. Not just the sins of the “world” (some unknown quantity of unknown people), but MY SINS. MY SINS put Jesus on the cross. MY SINS caused His suffering. MY SINS required a payment – a propitiation – before God. The death of Jesus was all about MY SIN. Yes, I was there.

Secondly, we should say we were there because we have eye witness accounts of the events. In the Bible we can read exactly what happened and know what took place. In fact, because we have them recorded in God’s Word, we know more about Jesus’ death and resurrection than those living in Jerusalem during those days. Out of the tens of thousands of people in Jerusalem during that Passover, only a small number actually saw what happened with their own eyes. Only a few took part. Most people were totally oblivious to Jesus’ death even though it occurred just a few miles away. Today, we have a better and more complete picture of those events than even the disciples with Jesus (after all, they were hiding away in fear). Yes, we were there, God’s Word takes us there and gives us a front row seat to all that happened.

Were you there? The biblical answer is “YES.” You were there, but you can choose not to believe it. You can turn your back on what Jesus did and pretend it is all fiction. But, if you do that, you will miss out on life’s greatest gift and the reason for His suffering will be lost in your unbelief.

These last four Sundays I have challenged us to take a “front row seat” to the Easter events. We would feel the disciples intimidation and danger. We would watch the religious leaders try to hold on to their power and their nation (even though they eventually lost it all). We would see Pilot discover that the Father is actually the One in control and because of that Jesus lays down His life. Yes, we were there. Easter is not just about the past, it is about us today! Let it change our lives just like it changed the lives of those first witnesses.

Is Jesus Really King?

March 29, 2015

Through the years I have preached many Palm Sunday sermons. One that I remember quite well was my first Palm Sunday message. I titled it, “Is Jesus Really King?” (I remember it because it was the first message I preached at First Baptist Church in Devils Lake, ND.) Since that time, I have taken that theme many times because I think it captures much of the emotion of Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion. In fact, I think Jesus’ disciples were asking that very question as they watched the Palm Sunday events unfold.

The short answer to my homiletic question is, YES, Jesus really is King! The crowd used those words, “King of Israel,” “Son of David.” They shouted and waved their hands in joy and praise. They also put their cloaks, branches and Palm leaves on the ground for Jesus to walk on.

Jesus also accepted their praise and encouraged it. He rode a colt through the crowd for all to see (much like a famous person would ride in a limacine today).   When some criticized His acceptance of this praise, Jesus declared that if the crowd was quiet, “the rocks would cry out” (Luke 19:40). Many times in Jesus’ ministry and miracles, He told people to be quiet about what they saw. This time, He encouraged and promoted the praise.

YES, Jesus really is King! There is no clearer message in what happened on Palm Sunday.

BUT, the rest of the story seems to call Jesus’ royalty into question. He is betrayed, arrested, falsely accused and then condemned to execution, all with His complete knowledge and acceptance. Just days after His “coronation,” He hangs on a cross, executed because He accepted the recognition as King. Yes, Jesus really is King, BUT He is King of a different Kingdom (just as He told Pilate in John 18:36).

It is still very easy to misunderstand Jesus’ Kingship. Just like the Jews, our problem begins when we assume we know what kind of King Jesus should be. We make up our minds that Jesus should fill a certain role and then we ignore the things He does that do not fit the role we imagine for Him. The Jews did it in the 1st century and we still do it today. Jesus was NOT always nice. Jesus turned people away. Jesus confronted the most religious people He met. Jesus did not coddle His disciples but put them into difficult situations.

This week, the week leading up to Easter, will you lay down your image of Jesus and ask Him to reveal Himself to you in fresh ways? Will you read His story from the gospels and let yourself see things that you have ignored before? Will you give Him authority in your life to shape and mold you into something that is HIS image, not yours? Ask yourself this week, is Jesus really King?

Asking For Money

February 15, 2015

A few years ago there was a frequent and popular criticism of the church, namely, that the church was always asking for money. In response to that criticism, some churches scaled back the offering. They decided not to pass the offering plate during worship services, but instead, to put an offering box of some kind in the church building and encourage only members and regular attenders to give. I can understand that response to criticism.

Here at TBC, we did it differently. We decided long ago (about 15 years ago) that we will ground our offering in the teaching from the Bible. Each Sunday, before the offering, we would read a passage in the Bible that teaches the importance of giving. In fact, we would emphasize that giving is a very important part of worship. We did this, not to get more money, but because it was the biblical thing to do.

Our informal theme verse for this is II Corinthians 9:6-8. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

Cheerful, faithful, generous, sacrificial giving is very good for us and very honoring to God. It is one of the ways we put our faith into action and discover that God really does give us what we need to abound in every good work (the good works He wants us to do). Giving is NOT a way to get something from our Heavenly Father, but it is a way to say, “we LOVE You.” It is a way to say, “we TRUST You.” It is a way to say, “We want Your Kingdom to come, Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

It is my observation from I Corinthians that this attitude about giving has been a part of the church since its very beginning. We give, not so that others will see and praise us, but so that we can put our love for God into action. We give because the Father first loved us. We give because we love one another. We give because we are challenged to “lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.” We give because the Father gave us His Son to be our Savior.

As we think about giving today, can you see how giving has grown in your life? No, do not compare with others. Do not think about the amount of your giving. Instead look into your heart. Do you see cheerful, generous giving there? Can you look back on your life and notice how God has taught you about giving? What is the next step for you in this important part of your spiritual life? What needs is God calling you to meet? Where can you be more generous?

Your pastor,

Dude Garrett

First Things First

January 25, 2015

We have all heard the expression, “first things first.” I think it is a good guide about many matters in life. Like many good modern proverbs, it is short, sweet and its turn of the phrase makes it easy to remember. Had Paul lived in our time and culture, he probably would have said this in I Cor 15:3. It might have come out something like this, “Friends, as I close my letter, let me remind you to keep first things first in your faith.”

Our Christian faith speaks to many important issues in life. This might be a surprise to some because Christianity is about 2,000 years old. [In fact its roots in Judaism go back at least another 2,000 years.] Christianity has had a major role in shaping our lives today. Many of the things we take for granted in modern life are rooted in Christianity. Scientific discoveries, public and higher education, modern democracy, the abolishment of slavery, fair labor practices, and many other social and political principles are born out of a Christian world view and the values upon which that is founded.

I am proud to be a Christian and to know that the faith I value so highly is honorable and praiseworthy. BUT, if we are not careful, our Christian faith will become a reason and a guide for doing good and we can forget to put first things first.

What is the first thing about Christian faith? Paul tells us, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared (to many alive).” (I Cor 15:3-4) Our Christian faith is about many good things, but FIRST of all, it is about Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for our sins. His death atoned for our sins, paying our debt before God so that we could be forgiven and brought back into a right relationship with God. AND, that Jesus did not stay dead, He rose from the dead, alive again and promising that one day we too will share in His resurrection.

We must never let many good things overshadow that most important thing, Jesus’ death and resurrection. Without this foundation, Christianity is just another religion or philosophy. It is this foundation that gives each of us personal hope. It is this foundation that declares death is NOT the end. It is this foundation that promises whatever we do for our Lord Jesus, will never be forgotten. It is this foundation that has given believers the strength to stand against tyranny, persecution, and evil knowing that in the end, the Lord Jesus will reign.

These are wise words, “put first things first.” But like many wise words, they are easy to say, but difficult to do. I need to ask, what are my most important things? Is my faith about doing good things, or about what Jesus has done for me?

Your pastor,

Dude Garrett

Scripture Shows God’s Heart

January 11, 2015

“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16a)

Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith was one of America’s most famous sports columnists. Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1905, he eventually wrote for the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times. He was the first sportswriter to win the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and 1976 he received the J. G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame (baseball’s greatest honor for print journalists). The Associated Press awarded him the first “Red Smith Award” for outstanding contributions to sports journalism.

Smith was once asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. To this he is said to have replied, “Why, no. You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” In this bold visual, Smith captured one of the essential elements of great writing. The great writer opens up his life and pours himself out through his words.

That is true of the greatest book of all time, the Bible. In the Bible, God the Father pours Himself out for all to read. He tells about the creation of a wonderful world and its people, made in His image, who tragically turn away from Him. He shows Himself in history, actions, laws, instructions, and miracles so people can understand His nature and character. In the Bible, God reveals His love, emotions, commitments, and plans for those He created. He goes to great lengths to bring a rebellious people back under His perfect care by sending His son, Jesus to die for our rescue.

Next time you pick up the Bible, stop and consider that this book is God’s heart, opened to us, so that we can know and find Him. He reveals Himself, inviting us to trust Him and put our lives into His hands. The Bible is no ordinary book, but the story of the Creator who loves and works with His creation even today.

To complete the reference I began with, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)

Will you let the Bible reveal to you God’s heart and then will you let God’s heart draw you to Him and the best kind of life to live?

Your pastor,

Dude Garrett

Mariom and Eduardo’s Wedding

July 28, 2013

Planning and executing a wedding is hard work.  I know, I’ve helped plan more than 40 of them in the 30+ years I have been a pastor.  That is really not a lot for 30 years of ministry as a pastor, but it does qualify me to speak to the challenge and hard work of planning a wedding.

I think it is very important that a wedding reflect the wishes and heart of the bride and groom.  So, when a couple asks me to help them with their wedding, I give them a lot of room to express their personality and their individuality.  After all, it is not my wedding, it is theirs.

In the last few years I have had the special privilege of working with several international student couples who wished to get married here in Fargo.  Even though they wanted an “American” kind of wedding, I still wanted them to put their own personal touches on the service.  In every case, it has been a pleasure to help them through the planning.

That has been especially true of Mariom and Eduardo’s wedding.  At first they seemed to be content with my planning, but as we went along, more and more their wishes came to the surface.

First they did not have a “wedding party” as most couples.  They would stand by themselves and Mariom would walk down the isle alone.  Then, they decided on songs for walking in and walking out (processional and recessional) that I did not expect.  One was even from the Disney “Tarzan” movie.  But they fit – very well, even the words were most appropriate (though we did not sing the words).

Then, the scriptures they selected for reading in their ceremony were not what I expected.  Mariom selected Colossians 3:23-24 and Eduardo selected Matthew 7:24-27.  Read them over and see what you think.  The more I thought about them, the more I liked those verses.

Then they picked other songs to sing – congregational songs.  One was from our hymnal, but I had never noticed it before.  The words were perfect. And finally, they wanted to play a video song by Chris Tomlin.  It was a song we have sung with the worship team, but I had never thought of it for a wedding, “How Great Is Our God.”  They wanted to do an international version with 5 different languages – more than 6 minutes long (that’s a long song).  At first I was skeptical that it would work, but the more I played the song and thought about it, the more I liked it.  After all, their wedding was an international affair.  They were thousands of miles from home, they had friends from other cultures in attendance and singing to the Lord praise at the end of the ceremony, in 5 different languages was the PERFECT ending.  The more I thought about it, the more I was caught up in praise.

I hope you were here to enjoy the wedding.  If not, you missed a wonderful blessing.  It was a celebration of the gift of marriage, but it was also a time of worship.  And, best of all, the more I thought about it, the deeper the worship soaked in. THANKS, Mariom and Eduardo!

Your Pastor,

Dude Garrett

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