Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Annual Christmas Letter

My name is Jim. It has been two years since my last annual letter.

Have we had any low points in the past two years?
Of course, we have. Everyone does. But God is good and He continues to bring us through those times.

Then what were the high points?
First, the kids. Hidden in this update, there are two humongous high points.
Since you printed the last annual letter and have been reading it at least once a week for the past two years, you will remember that Alison married Shane Calhoun on August 11, 2013, leaving us with just one unmarried offspring, David. On August 1, 2015, that all changed when David wed our wonderful and newest daughter-in-law, Jordan!

David and Jordan live in Phoenix AZ where David has been the Student Pastor at Foothills Baptist Church since 2007 and where Jordan works as a team leader of a bunch of nerdy software engineers in the healthcare industry.

Shane and Alison bought a house and are living in the high desert just outside of Phelan CA with our two granddogs, Cody and Tucker.
Shane is a counselor on faculty at CSUSB and Alison is a medical transcriptionist.

Now, for the second high point. Aaron and Denise have moved out of our place and have their own place here in Port Orchard WA. But that is not the big news. Aaron started a new job working for the government at the shipyard. But, that’s not it, either. On October 27, Selah Grace Marie Gantenbein was born!

Yes, I am now joyfully married to a grandmother!

Now, for the two of us.
Cathy is still working for The City of Tacoma. We are praying for the day of her retirement and looking for a way to make it happen. They have had her for over 29 years and that is just about enough. In addition to our family and her family, she continues to pour herself into the church.
I am still pastoring Kitsap Lake Baptist Church and will mark ten years with these wonderful children of God in March of 2016. I hope I am able to continue for a long time. I was also reunited with high school classmates when I made my first return visit for our 45th reunion in Klamath Falls OR. (Those people have really gotten old!)
Together we celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2014. The actual date, May 26, was spent on the Disney Wonder during a nine night Alaska cruise. Yes, I highly recommend it. Our family celebration occurred later in the Fall as we were with our dear friends, Danny and Cathy Herron, and all of the offspring from both families on the Disney Fantasy for a seven night Caribbean cruise. I recommend that, too.
First Date!
Cathy’s mother is now in a loving nursing home where she is receiving around-the-clock care. This has become necessary as her memory and physical condition have become weaker.
My parents continue to live on their own and even drove up here for a visit this past Summer. We went down to their place in Eugene to join other family members for Thanksgiving. The day also marked Dad’s and Mom’s 69th wedding anniversary!

Finally, what an incredible joy it is to have all of our family here this Christmas! They are joy to our lives.

I hope you will have, are having, or have had a wonderful Christmas and pray that your new year is filled with the blessing of serving our Lord God.

In His love,

Jim and Cathy

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Victory Through Humility, Prayer, and Repentance

The only way to stop this evil and protect Christians is to defeat it – militarily.”

The statement was about ISIS. The writer is a person representing a non-profit religious organization presenting itself as an advocate for Christian evangelism.

Contrast his claim with God’s statement in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

It appears God disagrees with this “advocate”. God’s "only way" focuses on humility, prayer, and repentance of His people. To do otherwise is to take/wear His name in vain.

I have unsubscribed from this advocate’s mailing list. It has the appearance of godliness but has denied its power.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

P.S. If you want to know the name of the person and the group, email me and I will give it to you. I may even save the email and forward it to you (but maybe not).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


One of the benefits of living in this area is the ability to pay dues at one YMCA but being able to use any of them in Kitsap and Pierce Counties. There are currently a total of twelve facilities including camps, family Ys, etc. By and large, most folks have their favorite and that is the one they use. We have enjoyed using the "Y" but are now rethinking our membership.

Recently, "to demonstrate our commitment to our transgender community", the YMCAs of Kitsap and Pierce Counties created a policy allowing people to use whatever locker room (shower, changing, etc.) they identified with in their minds. They want us to be assured that they are taking steps to keep any sex offenders from abusing this.

Really? Consider the following: 1. The policy was created in April and only made public very recently; 2. There is no way to keep all sex offenders from abusing it, only known convicted sex offenders; 3. When a church member inquired about it just yesterday, the person at the front desk said she did not know anything about it.

A person observing this might come to the conclusion that the acronym, YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association), has secretly added the letter "P" to the middle of it and changed the formal name to the Young Men's Politically Correct Association. The "M" has apparently become just a nod to the old days when the physical body and chromosomes identified a person's gender rather than the person's current feelings.

Folks were encouraged by the "Y" to send their responses, etc. so I sent the following to the person I believe is the President and CEO of the YMCAs for the two counties:

Dear Bob Ecklund,

Please, know that you are being prayed for during these sensitive times of establishing, refining, enforcing, etc. new policies that are affected by sexual identification/orientation at the YMCA. Navigating the various laws and varying moral standards from different groups at times seems to be a "no win" situation since you can not possibly please everyone.

As a local Pastor, I understand the desire to have those who come be a reflection of the community. In the past year or two, we have seen something I did not anticipate: Lesbian, gays, and unmarried couples with children have been coming to our church. Some come into the worship service and some tend to hover outside the auditorium. In some cases, life circumstances have brought them to the church rather than a thirst for God's truth. Whatever brings them, we recognize our responsibility to love them and teach them God's truth without compromise.

It is my prayer that you will lead the YMCA to continue to be a place open to all people but without being governed or manipulated by any standards other than those God has given us in His word, the Bible.

In His love,
Jim Gantenbein

Jim Gantenbein, Pastor
Kitsap Lake Baptist Church
5802 Wilmont St
Bremerton WA 98312
(360) 373-7728

Saturday, September 19, 2015


(This is a true story that happened many years ago on a particular Sunday morning.)

The youth sat in a circle during "Large Group" time. On the table were milk and brownies. They learned the brownies were made from scratch, heard the list of ingredients, and something to the effect: "There is one more ingredient but there isn't much of it so it doesn't matter. So, who wants a brownie?" A couple of youth began to get up and move toward the table until one girl asked, "What's the other ingredient?" Upon repeating that there wasn't much of it so it didn't matter, she repeated the question. Those youth who had started to come and get a brownie sat down as others began to ask the question. After reading the original list of ingredients again, the unknown ingredient was revealed: "Dog poop." At first they didn't believe it but the worker whose dog contributed the ingredient confirmed the fact.

Thankfully, no one threw up. Astonishingly, one youth said, "I don't care. I'll eat them anyway!" He was even adamant. However, those brownies were disposed of without him eating any.

The point was clear (except to the one): Purity is lost with any amount of contamination. Some of those youth (and workers) still recall that illustration. It made some things very clear and it was not uncommon to hear a response of "dog poop brownies" whenever they heard something that just didn't sit right. It was quickly abbreviated to "D.P.B." as a way to communicate the meaning to each other without seeming vulgar to those who were unfamiliar with the whole story.

All of that to say this: Since videos of Planned Parenthood executives, doctors, etc. callously, even jokingly, talking about the business of murdering babies and selling their parts to eager customers, there has been a rising wave of people defending the industry because of all the other "good things" they do.

I've seen a number of posts defending Planned Parenthood from Facebook friends, including a relative or two, and even posts by one or two former youth. But I don't believe I've seen any by those who understood the truth of the D.P.B. I hope it will continue to impact them throughout their entire life.

And now, the rest of the story:
After we got rid of the contaminated brownies, I shared that they were made after I had made two uncontaminated batches. In fact, the contaminating ingredient wasn't even allowed in the house until the pure batches were mixed, baked, divided, placed on trays, sealed, and secured away from the D.P.B. 
Still, none of the youth would eat one (again, except the one). 
I asked, "Would it help if I ate one?" 
I took one, took a bite, slowly chewed it (as they watched to see if I would throw up)…
and swallowed it.
They were satisfied and the brownies were gone in a heartbeat!

Decisions are so much easier when you have your heart set on purity. Sadly, there are so many people willing to eat the D.P.B. this world offers.

Monday, September 14, 2015

An Observation About the Pageant

I did not view the Miss America Pageant but I have read different articles and posts about it. If the reports are true, I am disheartened by the lack of logic, common sense, and morality. To illustrate why, here is a hypothetical case with hypothetical numbers (just to make a point).
Let's say a family has an annual household income of $100,000 with a take home of $80,000. Their annual cost of living, including all expenses, leaves them with just $1,000. They want to take a certain type of vacation each year that costs $10,000.
Now, let's say you give them $9,000 but with the strict stipulation that they are to use it on cost of living expenses and are not allowed to use any of the $9,000 on vacation. Oh my, how frustrating. How can they possibly observe the stipulation but still take the specific vacation?
Low and behold!… After they use the $9,000 to pay on their annual cost of living, it turns out they have and extra $10,000 (the $1,000 originally left over plus the $9,000 they didn't need to use on cost of living due to your generosity).
How does that taste? Does the logic sit well with you?
If it does, then you could have been a contestant in the Miss America Pageant because that was the kind of "math" used for justifying the government continuing to give massive amounts of money to Planned Parenthood.
By the way, if I have offended you, I'm not against taking help from gullible people. Send me $10,000 each year so Cathy and I won't spend all of our income on necessary expenses. We really need to take a cruise or two each year.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Self-Labeled Christian

I just read an article (linked on a Facebook post) titled, "Four Reasons–From A Christian Perspective–Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong".

It should have been titled, "Four Reasons–From Someone Who Labels Himself A Christian–Why Kim Davis Is 100% Wrong."

Each one of his four reasons was from a human/worldly perspective and, therefore, were weak. The closest it came to referencing God's word was: "The Bible actually says nothing whatsoever about same-sex marriage." Does any faithful follower of Jesus Christ actually buy that? By that "logic", so many horrible things must be perfectly fine because the Bible "says nothing whatsoever about" them from the author's perspective. He then goes on to do what has become more and more popular among Christians: Talk trash about Christians in general (and usually the church), especially if they differ from him. I should have known better since the subheading of his blog is "Jesus, Politics & Bathroom Humor." That is not a misquote, either. So a Christian finds that bathroom humor is a proper thing to put out there for the world as a part of following after Christ. After all, nowhere in the Bible does it use the phrase "bathroom humor" so it must be okay. And we all know what a political activist Jesus was.

So, down to the matter at hand: The self-labeled Christian. To be clear, this is referring to our habit (or need?) to verbally or in writing give ourselves the label. There are probably some scholars who can tell us when this began. Although I am not able to pin a date on it, we can be reasonable certain it did not occur until "Christian" was no longer a term of derision and it even enjoyed a degree of acceptance outside the ecclesia. But when the label was created, it was done so by others who observed the lives of Christ followers in Antioch and decided they were all acting (or at least trying to act) like Jesus. Looking at Acts 11:26, they were simply called "disciples" (learner/pupil) until it was too obvious whose pupil they were.

Have parts of God's church ignored its Cornerstone so much and for so long that we have created a new and commonly accepted definition and identify of "Christian"? In truth, I have known less than a handful of people who, because of their actions, were labeled "Christians" by those outside the church. It is always my goal to live so that people see Christ in me and call me by that identity. It is also a goal to not take His name in vain as in the article I just read. I would rather be like Peter and John in Acts 4:13 – "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus."

If you were arrested for being a Christian,
Would there be enough evidence to help convict you?
If they took you in front of a panel of judges,
Could they find a staunch witness to help convict you.
Or would they find somebody who's seen you in the shadows,
But they couldn't repeat all the naked truth they know?
Would the prosecution have the evidence to hang you,
Or would the Master suffer by your show?

If they put you in prison for being a Christian,
Would they have enough evidence to help confine you?
If they gave you a chance to obtain your freedom,
Would you stand your faith or would you deny him?
Would you cop a plea just to save your earthly body,
And let Satan win the soul Jesus bought to save?
Would the prince of darkness win you for his gallows,
Would the Judgement Day see God send you away?
Gary S. Paxton, Evidence, 1977 (hear it here)

Friday, June 26, 2015

We Continue On

This week in review…so far: The Supreme Court upholds Obamacare and declares same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states, whether those states like it, want it, or not; without declaring it, many "people of faith" react as if the world will soon come to an end; and I was finally able to schedule a medical appointment to get an infusion in my back.

Starting at the back and going forward—
As a result of getting older, my L4 vertebra shifts around. Also, a nice big cyst has grown in/on my L3 vertebra. There is a chance the infusion will allow the back to heal over the next few weeks. If not, another infusion will be tried, also attempting to drain the cyst (not a high probability of success). If both infusions do not produce the desired results, surgery will be scheduled to remove the cyst and "bolt" the lower vertebrae (L3, L4, L5?) together and after a period of recovery, I'll be in great shape.

Now, regarding the SCOTUS rulings and despair by the family of God—
  • We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) who communicate His message ("be reconciled to God") to the world.
  • Reconciliation to God can only occur through Jesus (John 14:6) who died on the cross that our sins might be forgiven (Romans 6:10).
  • Jesus commissioned us make disciples (followers/students) of Himself wherever people are (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • Though many "Christians" don't get it, our lives are already forfeited for the cause of Christ (Romans 6:3; Galatians 2:20).
  • Dead things feel no pain (It only hurts roadkill the first time it's squished).
  • God doesn't change (Hebrews 13:8) so His Truth remains unchanged.
  • The judgements/decisions/actions of man do not alter our God-given mission/purpose.
  • We should continue in obedience to God (or, for some, get started).

Monday, May 11, 2015

Living To Die (and Vice Versa)

This is going to be short and sweet. There are two questions I must consistently ask myself: Am I living for Jesus? Am I willing to die for Jesus?

In truth, it is one question. I am unwilling to die for Jesus if I am unwilling to live for Him and I will never live for Jesus if I will not die for Him.

God came to live as a man so that He might die for me. Jesus' death on the cross for my sins was the capstone of His life.

Literally, I live in order to die and I must die in order to live.

"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him." —2 Timothy 2:11