2014 Christmas Newsletter

Charles H. Spurgeon once said, “Consciousness of self-importance is a hateful delusion, but one into which we fall as naturally as weeds grow on a dunghill.” Cautious that far too many in the gospel ministry are blissfully unaware of Mr. Spurgeon’s wise counsel, may I humbly beg your indulgence as I once more communicate with the hundreds in whom I am interested, but who may not be so much interested in me? Merry Christmas and may you have a very Happy New Year. Please indulge me while I rehearse some of this year’s blessings at the hand of the Lord.

My annual goals in my Christmas newsletter are as follows: First, I rehearse some events that marked our year as a family and as a congregation (I will also invite Pam and Sarah to add comments, though they usually read what I have written and decline my invitation to contribute). Next, I try to restrain myself from a lofty evaluation of my place in God’s scheme of things, remembering the directive of that famous theologian Sgt. Joe Friday, who said, “Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.” Being the pastor of a wonderful Baptist church is in itself a most satisfying and blessed place of service. Finally, I seek to set before you my barebones recollections of the varieties in our personal lives and our church’s ministry year. Not a Sunday goes by at our church but prayer is offered up for and the gospel is preached to the lost. Thanks be to God for the privilege of serving as pastor here for twenty-nine years.

Astonishing to me still, after forty years with the Savior, is the steepness of my learning curve, the profound depth and wisdom of God’s Word, and the goodness, greatness, and graciousness of the Triune God. I am so grateful for a congregation of understanding people, who recognize the many flaws and defects of their pastor and who step up to do what is needed for this ministry to advance. Thank you all at Calvary Road Baptist Church and our many friends around the world.

As is my custom, I have devoted one paragraph to each month, with a link whenever a photograph is provided. Thank you for coming to the web page as suggested on the Christmas card mailed to you. After you have read as much about my year as suits you, please reciprocate and inform me of your life’s events this past year. Click Here to email me. Thanks to my little Carlito for making this newsletter possible.


January – The highlight of the month was our annual missions conference, which is organized by the very capable Jack Murphy, here shown addressing the congregation about the missions conference during Saturday night evangelism [1]. We have found that committed servants of God who serve as missionaries are loved by genuine Christians who sincerely desire to participate in their ministries when given opportunity. Therefore, in addition to providing for missionaries and their wives to speak at our church, we endeavor to create opportunities to get to know these wonderful people used by our great and gracious God. Missions Conference participants Gary and Nancy Matheny are missionaries to Romania [2]. Peter and Jean Ard are missionaries to the Jewish people in Argentina [3]. Garry was a Navy deep diver before his conversion. After he came to Christ he attended Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College in San Dimas, CA where we were classmates. There he met and married Nancy. Peter was a Marine Corps captain, having already graduated from the United States Military Academy and married to Jean when he was converted. Resigning his commission, he earned his M. Div. from Tennessee Temple Seminary, Chattanooga, TN in preparation for their work among the Jewish people. Garry preached [4]. Peter preached [5]. Church women also met with Nancy and Jean for delightful times of fellowship [6]. The week wrapped up with former Marine Rich Richards, who our church supported when he served as a missionary in Mexico and who is presently pastoring in Arizona [7]. However, before the banquet to round out the Missions Conference some of us had to go to the shooting range for a bit of target practice [8]. Afterwards, they posed for a group photograph [9]. We are so thankful for our missionaries and praise God for their service to our soon coming King. Being a missionary Baptist church in the historical sense, we are committed to missions in the mold of the apostles, godly preachers preaching and ministering to the lost by means of church planting efforts among those they seek to bring to Christ. Though missionary endeavor seems to have changed owing to technology, we at Calvary Road Baptist Church are still committed to the “boots on the ground” approach of direct involvement in missions by the New Testament pattern of supporting those who go to fields to actually plant churches and train men in an intimate and interactive way.

February – Carolyn Connolly [10] (shown the last time she was at our church) was promoted to glory. Though not a member of our church, both she and her husband Ken Connolly [11] we greatly loved by our people, both of them exemplifying Matthew’s description of the Savior’s approach to ministry, Matthew 12.17-21. What an encouraging gathering of independent Baptist preachers attended her memorial service. I am blessed when men called to the gospel ministry take time from their busy schedules to honor those who have spent their lives in the gospel ministry, and I am personally chilled when such opportunities to show respect are neglected. Bravo, Carolyn and Ken.

March – The month began with my sweetie’s birthday on March 2 [12]. Time was also had with friends Marvin and Theresa O’Dell [13], Rob and Terri Watkins [14], and Terry Cantrell [15]. I thank God for wonderful times spent with Christians who bear the fruit of the Spirit. These and others mentioned in this newsletter are saints one can genuinely relax with and be refreshed by, as are the folks in our wonderful church. Anyone who knows me knows I am a museum rat, this time going with Pam to the Huntington in San Marino with the Dunns [16] [17].

April – Easter was in April this year, so I conducted a Passover Haggadah reenactment leading up to Easter [18] [19]. On Easter Sunday we took family pictures outside the church [20] [21] [22].

May – May 3rd was our annual Ladies Tea, a time to invite visitors to the formal women’s event for a devotional message from a wonderful Christian woman. Here is an example of only one of the many beautiful table settings [23]. This year’s speaker was exemplary Christian woman, pastor’s wife, and mom, Pat Simmons [24]. I am so glad when husbands refrain from stifling their wives and wisely encourage them to develop their writing and speaking skills without handing them a script to read. Godly Christian women can creatively minister to other women when given opportunity. The following day Pastor Ken Simmons preached the gospel [25]. It is our great delight to report that Pastor Ken Simmons has accepted the call to Harbor Baptist Church, in Charlotte, North Carolina; though we are sure that (God willing) they will both visit us again.

June – In the middle of June we had the special pleasure of hosting missionary to the Japanese people Bill Hathaway on Father’s Day as well as for our Christian school graduation. After he preached Sunday morning I presented him with Tom Nettles’ newest biography of C. H. Spurgeon [26]. Also pictured is Dr. Hathaway delivering the commencement address [27]. The month ended with the celebration of my 64th birthday and my departure to London to attend the School of Theology at the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

July – July was about as packed with excitement as a guy my age can stand. I arrived in London to attend the annual School of Theology held the first week of July. While there I was blessed by the messages brought by Dr Peter Masters, Pastor Ibrahim ag Mohamed the church’s new associate pastor, and Dr. Tom Nettles [28], author of the great new Spurgeon biography. Also there was Dr Samuel Rai who serves as a pastor and prolific church planter in Nepal [29], and Pastor Ing Tiong Wong and his wife who serve in Beijing [30]. It was wonderful to spend an afternoon at their home with Pastor Ibrahim ag Mohamed, Gosia, and their two daughters [31]. It took me two trips to London to finally meet up with the delightful David H. J. Gay whose Kindle books on Amazon.Com dealing with sanctification are a must read [32]. Then, thankfully, Bro. K and his daughter Kristi were able to get away from an engagement long enough to bring me something crucial to the next chapter of my July excitement, a trip to Israel [33]. Before I forget, at the conclusion of the School of Theology I was invited by Peter Masters into his office to take a picture over the shoulder of the official photographer just before he took his picture of the speakers, just under the portrait of John Gill [34]. Needless to say, I was happy for the opportunity.

I am so thankful to Terry Cantrell, Marvin O’Dell, Ed Mitchell, Gary Isenberger, Brian Spicer, and Lino Ureta for filling the pulpit in my absence. I flew from London to Israel to meet my daughter Sarah, Sophia Malloy, Stephen On Li, Pastor Mike Orlicky & his daughter Angelina, and Pastor Bob Nolan traveling with one of his good men Carl Wagenfuehr in Israel [35]. In rented cars we were able to visit about three times the number of important archaeological and Biblical sites as traditional bus tours, as well as great view points to gain an overview of Israel. The church blessed Pam and me nine years ago with an anniversary trip to Israel, so this visit was for Sarah and I am grateful to God we were able to go. Memories of a lifetime were made during our two week stay that ended with the thrust by Israeli Defense Forces into Gaza our last night in Jerusalem. Our final sightseeing episode was ascending to the Temple Mount where Herod’s Temple had stood and where the Dome of the Rock mosque now stands [36] [37]. We had no sooner arrived there than we began to hear the faint cries of Allahu Akbar and a rapidly assembling Muslim mob that resulted in an attack on an Israeli soldier moments after this picture was taken [38]. Needless to say we exited stage right with haste. While in our hotel preparing to drive to the airport to fly home we saw television coverage of the incursion into Gaza in response to ceaseless rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. It was time to leave! Memories of Bethlehem, of Mount Carmel and Capernaum [39] [40] [41], of Mount Arbel and the Sea of Galilee [42], of Masada and the Mount of Olives [43], of the Garden Tomb and the Western Wall [44] [45] [46] [47], of our walk through the tunnel next to the Temple Mount [48], and the enjoyable time at the church planted by Bro. K, will all be forever cherished. Here I am with one of the faithful men in the Bible Baptist Church in East Jerusalem who is there every time I visit [49]. God bless faithful church members like this man.

Safely back home, we hosted the Chris Goodman family, missionaries to Australia [50]. Our annual Vacation Bible School was conducted by a whole host of dedicated workers under the direction of Mike DiGiovanna [51]. This year’s theme was western. I will let you decide who looks like the good, the bad, and the ugly [52]. They did a great job each night of arresting the attention of the youngsters [53], who seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves [54]. This was the first experience with a gospel preaching ministry for a number of them [55]. This type of event is obviously pre-evangelism work, but a number of those first contacted via VBS now attend church and are under the gospel on a regular basis [56].

August – Need I tell you that I was exhausted by the end of July? Thank God for a good wife who takes good care of me. However, it was a glorious month followed by a blessed August. Due to illness, the Goodmans were with us a while and Chris Goodman preached for us again. Then we had both our annual men’s retreat and our annual women’s retreat. It is wonderfully refreshing to change the venue of an event from time to time, and this time we had both retreats in the Rigali’s cabin Wrightwood (obviously in warmer weather than is shown in this picture) [57]. I spoke at the Man and Boy Retreat, during which time some of us went out and made a great deal of gun smoke [58]. The speaker at our Women’s Retreat was Shannon Coe, wife of Pastor David Coe, from Beth Haven Baptist Church, Morgantown, WV, who have been our good friends for years. Their wonderful sons are now grown and faithful in their church, freeing Shannon to write and to travel with her husband and speak to women [59]. Those four sons are her social security, and physical security as well. Our folks love Dave Coe, and his precious wife as well [60]. It was also great to meet Brother Coe’s friend and now our friends Pastor Jorge Castro, his wife Virginia, and their daughter while in Wrightwood [61].

September – Bro. K missionary to the Middle East spoke for us, and he and I later had a wonderful meal and fellowship with Pastor Nathan Cook [62]. George Golden and I met with Samuel Rai in El Segundo to plan a leadership training seminar in April 2015. Please excuse my pathetic attempt at a selfie [63]. Our church had perhaps our best PayCheck Sunday offering ever. My godly Aunt Ruth was promoted to glory after a lifetime of service to Christ as a pastor’s wife, a great Christian mom, and a devoted school teacher [64]. She was my father’s last surviving sibling. Also attending her funeral were my cousins Mike Thomas (her son) and Dennis Waldrip and their wives Mary Ann and Anita [65]. As well, I was wonderfully surprised to see cousins Betty and Charlene for the first time in sixty-four years [66].

October – During the month of October our church hosted good friend Gary Long, who is best known as the founder of Particular Baptist Press, with his wife Suzy [67]. During this month my wife and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and are looking forward to next year when we will enjoy three simultaneous celebrations; our 40th wedding anniversary, the 40th anniversary of my call to the gospel ministry, and the 40th anniversary of the founding of our church. Here we are shown smooching after the evening service [68]. The month ended, as it usually does with our Christian Alternative to Halloween. Here is Mr. Ken Barbosa addressing the kids [69].

November – The month began with a Harvest Party for young adults and married couples and ended with Pies at Pastor’s after church the night before Thanksgiving, and then a relaxing time in Santa Barbara with longtime friends the Arnolds. Larry was a classmate at P.C.B.B.C back in the day [70]. Here is our annual Christmas portrait at the church [71].

December – This will be a full month, with our church choir’s cantata presented at several local convalescent hospitals before presenting it at the church on December 21st. Children in our church plan to go Christmas caroling Friday night, December 19th. My annual Pastor’s Christmas Story Time is scheduled for Christmas Eve.

A final item of interest for you. Perhaps you are aware that during World War Two a man named Oskar Schindler saved hundreds of Jewish people from death in concentration camps when he compiled a “list” of Jewish workers under the guise they were indispensable skilled workers needed in his factory. He then taught them the skills they needed to work in his factory. A movie was made titled “Schindler’s List.” Here is a picture of the real thing, Oskar Schindler’s real list [72]. This picture was taken today [73].

Thank you who have patiently waded through this entire newsletter. I know it is too long, but to restate what I wrote last year, God is good, the Savior is unsurpassed, and I could not help myself. I can’t wait for 2015 to see what God has in store for the church where I serve, as well as in our family, the 40th! Merry Christmas!