Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Letter to our Friends - March 3, 2020

Michael C. Garrett
Pastor and Overseer

Greetings from West Central Florida:

We are continuing in matters related to reaching the ‘lost sheep’ and to the potential sheep of our Lord God’s.

Idolatry in the Church

Friends, I humbly come before you as a servant of Jesus Christ, empowered by God’s Spirit, to warn you this day of growing idolatry within Jesus Christ’s Church! Many may ostracize me – even many brethren – but Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ are sending a message to you via an often despised man, often a foolish man, a weak man – nothing more than a conduit of the good news for all of you.

The greatest sin by far is the sin of idolatry. “’ You shall have no other gods before Me’” – Exodus 20:3. Idolatry is when we violate the FIRST COMMANDMENT! It is when we put something or someone first in our life, BEFORE the living and true God. And, idolatry is the root cause of all other sins.

While Jesus Christ’s Church is focused on various sins related to human sexuality or even one who denies Jesus Christ – many in the Church may be deluded into believing that they’re OK when it comes to breaking the greatest commandment.

Here are three signs of idolatry within the Church based upon 39 years of observation:

The Idolatry of Celebrity Preachers:

Let me tell you a story. December 3rd, 2016 I had attended an “invited” Sabbath service down in Tampa, FL with a church organization (and many of you know of which organization I speak of). We were meeting in a breakfast area of a hotel – roughly the size of an ordinary Taco Bell. An elderly gentleman had arrived and immediately took his attaché case and placed it in his seat. Maybe 15 minutes went by before he came and sat at his table. I got up and went and shook his hand and introduced myself, sat back down, and gave him a short version of how I got to where I am. The first words out of his mouth were, “You’re sitting in the wrong place! That’s where the minister and his wife sit” – and I wouldn’t be able to sit over there, as he pointed his finger because a large family comes and sits there. Nor would I be able to sit over there, again pointing with his finger, because so-and-so, and he mentioned them by name, sits there. You can sit over there, as he points to a table across the room. It actually turned out that only six people showed up – including the minister and his wife. After the minister and his wife showed up, the three began to fawn over them incessantly. I have been witness to this type of response several times within these church organizations. I once, back in 1983, witnessed a member of a church sitting at the feet of a minister – admiring him as if he was a god – as he reveled in this adulation. Indeed, I am a proponent of having the utmost honor and respect for the leaders which God has ordained who labor among us (Hebrews 13:7, 17), but that, in my opinion, had stepped over the edge and into idolatry.

I again witnessed this sycophantic behavior over in Myrtle Beach, SC during the Feast of Tabernacles 2017. When this so-called leader of this church organization first walked into the room a great many fawned over him – as if fawning over a leader of a nation. They do indeed follow his every order – unquestioningly – not searching (for the most part) to see for themselves if his Right-wing blatherings align with God’s living Word. When Cornelius met the Apostle Peter and bowed before him, Peter rightly told him to get up, that he was only a man like himself (Acts 10). Now, there is certainly nothing wrong with emulating or following a true servant (and like Christ Jesus, we are servants (Mark 10:45)) of Christ’s, but there is something inherently wrong with idolizing a Christian leader. As an example: the 20th-century Protestant minister William Branham is often portrayed in photos with a “halo” above his head – as if he’s of divinity.

As I am writing in our “References for our Fundamental Doctrines” which should be out soon:
Instead of having this top-heavy hierarchy – like a military unit. You get all your information from the top – no one else. That top-down – like a military organization – is NOT the Way of Jesus Christ! He repeatedly said, ‘I have not come to be served, I came to serve.’ He repeatedly talked about being willing just to help people. And not thrash around in your titles and all the folderol that went with those titles. And here, Peter says, “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, …” – saying, it’s a cooperative enterprise. Everyone should be able to sit down at the table and – if their hearts and spirits are right – be able to offer information or suggest a change.
Friends, if the Church of Jesus Christ (and I emphasize this because Christ is the Head of the Church) would build according to the pattern set before us by Jesus Christ and on down to His apostles – in which the whole body exists to edify and to minister to one another in love, then we would not depend merely upon one leader for the body to function. For there is but “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” – Ephesians 4:6; NKJV throughout.

The Idol of Personal Prosperity:

Let me give you a scenario. There is this hierarchal leader of a church in whom you contact. Talking with him over the phone you get the impression that he is a most arrogant and conceited man, a boastful man, a not so “brotherly-love” sort of man. A man who insults you and calls you a BOOSTER. When, in reality, this egomaniac (this so-called leader who incessantly states, “I have a Ph.D. and a Th.D.!”) is nothing more than a whore for money. The Apostle Paul indeed says we are not to “peddle” the Word of the Eternal (2 Corinthians 2:17). Upon him hearing that you are not willing to drive across your state to “meet” with him – you never hear from him again; thank God.

Friends, many of the churches of God may not want to admit (or they may not even be aware) that they are indeed peddling, or whoring for money. This Ph.D. wielding arrogant man very magnanimously talks a good talk – he speaks of freely giving, refusing to take any pay. But once you bite, demands on your family’s livelihood are made in the name of God – and if you refuse to comply or question there will be dire consequences when the “great” tribulation comes with the demise of your spiritual and eternal destruction. He believes that he is doing the best “Philadelphian” work that has ever been accomplished – in Africa. He is so desperate to “convert” the same people who have jumped from one church to another after another. Whoever has the money gets the newest “converts.” Of course, this white bwana truly believes that he is the savior of Africa with his regurgitated version of the “truth.”

Sadly, there are so-called leaders whose main motive is to use their faith to leverage influence with God for personal gain. Indeed God delights in blessing all of His children – 3 John 2. Jesus told us to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness for our material needs to be added to us – Matthew 6:33. I believe that using our faith to put our own needs first is a form of idolatry.

The Idol of Objectifying God:

Throughout these 39 years, I have come to witness a great many so-called leaders of the churches of this world, as well as so many of the churches of God,  preach and promote an “I,” “me” and a “my” culture. In other words, in which the preaching deals with self-actualization. Many have often fed into the cultural idolatry of this world in order to attract people into the church – something which highly displeases God (See: Ezekiel 44:10, 12). Many use God when they need Him.

Shrove Tuesday!?

February 25th is known in some places as Mardi Gras (which is French for “Fat Tuesday”) and is called Shrove Tuesday in parts of the United Kingdom.

The Daily Beast wrote in 2017 -
The Pope’s Days as a Mardi Gras Bouncer
Pope Francis is spending this Fat Tuesday in solemn preparation for Ash Wednesday, but that wasn’t always the case. The man who would be pope used to get down.
Mardis Gras, Fat Tuesday, Martedi Grasso—whatever you call it, the eve of the Catholic Lenten season is a final hurrah before a 40-day period of prayer and fasting. Pope Francis now spends the day in solemn preparation for Ash Wednesday services, but it wasn’t always this way for the hip pontiff. …Pope Francis wasn’t always involved in holy work. Back when he was known as Jose Maria Bergoglio, he worked as a nightclub bouncer in Flores, Argentina, to earn money as a student.

“I was the world’s worst bouncer,” Francis told the congregation of San Cirillo Alessandrino in a Roman suburb shortly after his election in 2013. He cut a less-than-intimidating figure, according to several biographies written about him. The most intimate, Francesco: Life and Revolution, was written by Argentinian journalist Elisabetta Pique, who has known Bergoglio since he was elevated to cardinal in 2001, and who he called personally shortly after his election. Pique describes the man before he became pope as “el Flaco” or the thin one and later, “Carucha” or “baby face,” as his friends called him.

Francis also had a girlfriend before he joined the priesthood—this woman is widely reported to have been a skilled Tango and Milonga dancer.

Friends, there is NOTHING truly Christian about Mardi Gras. It does not come from God, the Bible, nor did it come from early Christians.

According to Wikipedia – an open structure which states, we “make no guarantee of validity”:
The Carnival celebration, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday (known as Shrove Tuesday). Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", reflecting the practice of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.
So, essentially, this is a pagan holiday that the Catholics adopted as a compromise to keep members. Participants eat a lot before they begin a fast now called Lent – another observance with pagan origins. Parades involving women often exposing themselves are not uncommon. And that is not just in New Orleans, Louisiana:
Rio celebrates as Carnival opens in Brazil
Carnival … five-day annual exaltation of music, booze and flesh … The rotund King Momo embodies Carnival, a raucous free-for-all where excesses are encouraged and the natural order of things is turned upside down: men dress as women … In addition to the elaborate two-day samba group parade and the high-dollar costumed balls where the rich spend a lot to wear very little in the most exclusive company, Rio’s free, open-to-all street Carnival is bigger than ever.
God teaches us against cross-dressing:
“’ A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God’” – Deuteronomy 22:5.
I, personally, have never been to a Mardi Gras, or a Carnival. These festivities are not biblical, despite their popularity. Millions come to the streets in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate. And it is incredibly popular in New Orleans and certain other cities.

Lent, which also is not biblical, is an excuse, essentially, for loud and wild parties all over the world. Mardi Gras tends to be associated with drunkenness, lust, and other practices that God vehemently condemns.

True Christians should not participate in any of this.

The improperly named Christianity Today wrote the following concerning Shrove Tuesday:
He Is Risen, So I AM Shriven
Can eating pancakes enrich Christian piety? As a part of the traditional celebration of Shrove Tuesday, I believe flapjacks can build our faith.
For those of us who love Jesus and Aunt Jemima, this is very good news.
Shrove Tuesday is essentially the British take on Mardi Gras or Carnival. But instead of flamboyant parties filled with riotous excess, the understated British gather calmly in their homes on the day before Lent to fill themselves with pancakes.
Why pancakes? In medieval Europe, Christians often gave up eating rich foods like meat, eggs, and milk for the 40-day period of penance, prayer, and preparation leading to Easter. The practice and duration of the ritual corresponded to Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert.
During Lent, perishable goods would spoil, so pancakes—traditionally just eggs and milk mixed with flour—were the ideal meal for consuming Lenten no-no foods. …
During the Reformation, many Protestants, especially my English Puritan ancestors, dismissed Lent and Shrove Tuesday as superstitious Catholic observances aimed at earning God’s favor through human works. …
But the palate proved mightier than the Puritans. Most Britons didn’t want to give up pancakes—even if, without an austere Lent, there wasn’t any real reason to use up all the eggs and milk. Eating pancakes was reason enough for a party. To this day, people all over Britain and in scattered Anglophone countries eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
But with the underlying religious motivation largely gone, the occasion is now more commonly known as Pancake Tuesday.
(Read More: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/february-web-only/he-is-risen-so-i-am-shriven.html retrieved 20 February 2020.
No, the eating of pancakes does not show that one is a Christian showing biblical piety. Pancakes are not a sign of faith. Shrove Tuesday, of course, is not in the living Word of God. Indeed, consistent with the ecumenical movement, ever greater Protestants are observing man-made practices that they once understood were improper.

Here’s another article from Catholic Online, in which they rationalize it all away:
According to historians, the celebration of Mardi Gras has its roots in the pagan Roman celebration of Lupercalia. This was a February holiday and it honored the Roman god of fertility. It involved feasting, drinking, and carnal behavior.
However, with the rise of the Church in ancient Rome, Christian teaching and morals took root, but there always remained a strong need to blend ancient Roman traditional practices with the growing Christian faith. The blending of tradition with new religious beliefs was a common practice in the ancient world and it helped people to transition away from paganism.
(Read More: https://www.catholic.org/lent/mardigras.php retrieved 20 February 2020).
The observing of non-biblical holidays as religious festivals is forbidden by God. He does not want to be worshiped in this way. Notice something Jesus Christ taught:
’But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit [or through the Spirit of God – aided by the very mind of Jesus Christ] and truth’” – John 4:23-24.
In truth, most who profess Christ will not worship in spirit and in truth as He commands.

Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Ash Wednesday– whatever name you wish to give it – do not honor the God of the Bible. True worshipers do not partake in such false worship.

Do you really believe what Jesus Christ taught!?

World News Items – let me check my teletype; I doubled up because I missed last week.

The European Union and the United Kingdom continue to have many differences in how they want Brexit (See: ‘Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end’ and ‘Brexit deal 'a different ball game' to Canada agreement, warns EU’). Indeed both entities will have grave issues because of Brexit, but ultimately the Europeans will turn against the United Kingdom (cf. Daniel 8:24-25).

The Munich Security Conference has ended. It ended up highlighting the fact of many differences between the United States of America and the European Union (See: ‘Europeans crank up defense spending amid doubts over US backing’ and ‘At Munich Security Conference, an Atlantic divide: U.S. boasting and European unease’). Now, while the U.S. press does not generally emphasize, the Europeans do indeed pay attention to this conference and many have concluded that close US/EU relations have basically passed the point of no return (See: ‘The world is bracing for what another four years of Trump could look like’). We can expect the US and the EU to maintain outward relations for some time, but eventually, that will change (cf. Daniel 8:24-25; 11:39; Lamentations 1:1-2).

Sadly, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that no country offers children what they need for their future (See: ‘Children facing uncertain future, experts warn’ and a 2019 report ‘Poorest countries facing both obesity and malnutrition’). Though they say that ‘No country offers a child both the chance of a healthy upbringing and an environment fit for their future,’ God offers that – within His living Word. Friends, we are not like others who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We look forward to the glorious Kingdom of God!

In France, there is a political change occurring related to Islam (See: ‘Reforming Islamic institutions to appease secularist France’ along with ‘France: Macron Vows Crackdown on Political Islam’). Indeed, as the prophet Daniel prophesied – and our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed – there is coming soon a massive ‘religious war’ between the final end-time European beast power (a Catholicentric European confederation of nations) and a final end-time “king of the South” (an Islamic confederation of nations) – (Daniel 11:40; Matthew 24:7).

Also in Europe, the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (See: Ephesians 6:12) are working at putting together a massive database on facial recognition (See: ‘EU poised to create massive transatlantic facial-recognition database, link with the US’ also ‘Facial recognition technology takes off at Hobby Airport’). As Minister Michael C. Garrett points out in his booklet “The Mark of the Beast” - “Millions are deceived! Many believe the Mark of the Beast is yet some future development, a national identity card, or an invisible tattoo, or a microchip implanted beneath the skin, or a plastic credit card. All of this is nonsense!” ... all these stories about microchips and ID chips and credit cards and whatnot are indeed nonsense. Friends, be sure to read our free online no-obligation booklet “The Mark of the Beast” to understand the truth of just what is the ‘mark of the beast’ spoken of in Revelation 13:16-18.

In the United States, the presidential primaries are often in the news. Interestingly, the German press mentioned “America’s miserable finances” and had stated that neither POTUS Donald Trump or the greater part of the Democratic candidates are willing to reduce the debt of the US – which is at a whopping $23,397,109,023,789 and rising! (See: ‘Democratic Presidential Candidates Say Front-Runner Sanders Can't Beat Trump’ along with ‘Democratic debate: Chaos reigns as shouting match breaks out in South Carolina’ and also ‘America's massive debt load a no-show on the campaign trail’). The Bible indeed teaches that at the appointed time of the end (Habakkuk 2:2-3), the highly indebted nations will be taken over and essentially be made ‘slaves’ (Habakkuk 2:6-8). As pointed out by the German press, the American leaders apparently are not that concerned with our egregious debt.

In Egypt, friend to the United States of America as well as Israel, Former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak died February 25th (See: ‘Former Egyptian Ruler Mubarak Dead at 91’ and ‘Hosni Mubarak, Three-Decade Egyptian Strongman Ousted In Arab Spring, Dead At 91’).

Suggested Sabbath Service

Here is this week’s suggested Sabbath service:

● 2-3 hymns. (a free printable “Old Time Gospel” hymn site is The Old Time Gospel).
● Opening prayer.
● Sermonette (if you choose). The one suggested is “Salvation OFFERED To All” by Leonard V. Johnson.
● Announcements (if any) and one hymn.
● Sermon. The one suggested is “Jesus Christ Is Everything” by Michael C. Garrett. (Many more sermons are available at http://www.owensborochurchofjesuschrist.com/).
● Final hymn.
● Closing prayer.

IN CASE YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED A ‘LETTER TO OUR FRIENDS’ FOR ANY WEEK, REMEMBER WE HAVE MANY SERMON MESSAGES ON THE Owensboro Church of Jesus Christ website. Also, friends, be to SUBSCRIBE to our BitChute channel.

Concluding Comments

“Faith without works is dead” recorded Saint James. But what exactly did he mean!?

Turn with me if you will to Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Yet, we need works. Saint James was inspired to write: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15) If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16) and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17) Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” – James 2:14-17. And, he repeats it yet again, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” – verse 20. And yet again, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” – verse 26.

In the Word of God, when you see things repeated over and over and over, you realize that God’s truly trying to get you to wake up and to understand that this thing that He’s saying is VERY IMPORTANT!

Now above I highlighted those three words – grace, faith, and works. The word grace comes from the Greek charis which means “the state of kindness and favor toward someone.” The word faith is from the Greek pistos which means “faithfulness, belief, trust, with the implication that actions based on that trust may follow.” And, the word works comes from the Greek ergon meaning “work, deed, activity, task, job.”

Now the majority of Protestants and Catholics alike base their belief wholly on the works of charity. And most Protestant churches teach that the fault with the Old Covenant was God’s Law and that as the Old Covenant was made with Israel the New Covenant is made with Gentiles. And that the New abolishes God’s Ten Commandments and is based wholly on promises. This, of course, is NOT true! Complete obedience to God’s eternal and universal Law is a condition we must meet to have salvation. Be sure to read Acts 15:13-39 and Acts 21:17-26 – the apostle James indeed endorses apostle Paul!

In your Bible’s turn with me over to Acts 5:32 – “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Also, Jesus Christ’s own words, “ …’ If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him’” – John 14:23. Also, ’ IF you love Me,’ – ‘if you are loyal to Me’ – ’ keep My commandments’” – John 14:15.


God’s grace and faith save us. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10.

Faith & works tie in together.

In deep gratitude and love, in Jesus' name,


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