After He had sent the disciples of John the Baptist back to him to report what they had heard and seen Him do (Matthew 11:1-6), the Lord Jesus Christ turned to the multitudes present and asked a question that would launch His only recorded eulogy in the New Testament. He asked them once, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” Then, he asked twice for a total of three times, “But what did you go out to see,” (Matthew 11:7-9, NKJV)? The first two times the Lord asks the question, He purposely provides an inaccurate description of what John was all about. However, the third time He provides the accurate divine answer--the only one that ever finally matters!
So, now, in providing this opening of His eulogy for John the Baptist as a template in answer to my prayer for how to salute and bid farewell to my retiring Portland, OR friend and mentor, Dr. James Martin, Pastor of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church for over thirty-two years, I now ask the church he served, the many who visited, heard him on the radio or saw him on television during his tenure: what did you go out to see? Certainly one will say this and another that, but I will tell you three important things I saw from a biblical worldview and intermingled with my personal experience with him for the last twenty-two years to the glory of God. I saw a Pastor/Teacher, Administrator and Visionary!
Dr. Martin is a God gifted and called Pastor/Teacher and Administrator (1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-30; Ephesians 4:11-16). I sought him out within the first six months of arriving in Portland to serve as a pastor in 1997 after hearing him on the radio. I had been sent from Fort Worth, Texas with the sound counsel to seek out seasoned pastors with whom I could continue my personal growth and development as well as be benefitted as a pastor in being mentored by such experienced men. Like so many others in all of the Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan area, I was blessed to my soul to hear Doc (my nickname for him) teach God’s Word with His power, clarity, directness and some humor.
As I have often reminded him over the years, God sent him here at the right time and for the right reason as a faithful teacher of His Word since this highly unchurched part of our nation was (and is) so needy spiritually. The proof is how Mt. Olivet grew from about 300 when Doc arrived in 1987 to the nearly 2,000 attending by the time I came to town. Doc made room in his very busy schedule to meet with and welcome me over lunch after I called his office to request an appointment. That first lunch led to us meeting monthly when he was in town over the next twenty years. It turns out, he had been seeking opportunities to help other willing pastors and I knew God was at work.
Besides being a caring shepherd with an emphasis on teaching God’s flock, Doc’s gift of administration was abundantly evident too. I watched him adapt and expand the church’s organizational units to accommodate its growing services, ministries and activities especially when it became “one church in two locations.” During this busy time of expansion, Doc also kept a place in his schedule for me and a couple of other pastors on occasion that met with us--most deeply missed now is the positive interactions he and I shared with Pastor Terry Treadwell who departed to the Lord. Doc also led Mt. Olivet to help our church with building repairs, finances, worship and pulpit supply.
Finally, as a God enabled Visionary, Doc led Mt. Olivet from their original typical church building to purchase an old store and wrestling arena in North Portland to transform into a functional worship, educational and fellowship campus; a suburban storefront into a combination worship center with education, office and recreation space as a second campus. While doing those things, he led the church to plant other churches and send out missionaries to fulfill his commitment to the Lord’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). To this end as well, with his leading the church supported this Ministry in conducting the Strong Man Of God Rally in Oregon and Washington men’s prisons and was the first church in 2011 to host a signing for my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics.1
Though our relationship started professionally, Doc and I became friends in the process. We held each other accountable in our personal walk, family life, ministries and doctrine with only a few disagreements. His enduring legacy with me is having helped me to be a better husband and father which I acknowledge in my book. My wife, Mary, and I also enjoyed the fellowship we had with Doc and his wife, Lynetta, out to lunch or dinner in their home (we had some great Thanksgivings at the Martin’s). What did you go out to see? To the glory of God, I with heavy heart, love and gratitude salute and bid farewell to a gifted Pastor/Teacher, Administrator, Visionary, brother, mentor and dear friend in Christ; wishing him all of the best going into his retirement from Mt. Olivet.
1 Get a print copy or digital download of the book at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can
also get a print copy of the book in the Strong Man Store.
One of the tragic reasons divorce is prevalent in our times is because marriage as God designed it has been so devalued and underappreciated.1 Divinely instituted marriage is unique to the realm of mankind and is far from anything like seriously dating, or “going steady or together” as unmarried relationships were termed in my youth. Its sexual intimacy because of righteousness is also more satisfying than whatever pleasure is derived from the mere physical, self-gratifying acts of the sexual revolution’s resultant “hook up culture.” Though marriage is for mortal human experience by God’s design,2 it fully pictures what is exclusively eternally divine in the concept of oneness.
To be clear from the outset, after each human soul God loves, evil has vigorously targeted for ruin everything God brought into being to bless his mortal creatures to include marriage. For staggering in the announcement of man’s creation is how by a Creator God in voice expressing plurality: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;’” (Genesis 1:26a, NKJV). Born again Bible students see in this verse the presence and unity of the One, triune God from eternity--Father, Son and Holy Spirit affirmed by Moses (Deuteronomy 6:4) and later, the Son and Word made flesh (Matthew 28:19; John 1:1-3, 14, 14:7-11)--acting together to create man.
The triune God is the original unity of One and until man was created, the only such unity! The unity of God is an absolute marvel for all ages as each of the three Persons with different roles and responsibilities that make it up equally share the unique divine nature and character while operating together in voluntary, Selfless harmony (John 5:16-23, 10:30-39, 14:15-31). Created in the image and likeness of God, man was designed to enjoy the intimacy of oneness relationship with God and the eventual female version of himself (Genesis 1:27, 2:18-20). When God created and brought her to the man, he immediately understood the fact she had come out of him (Genesis 2:21-23).
There can be no greater display of mortal human unity than God actually reaching into the physical body of Adam to take a part and from it, lovingly fashion his companion--two from one! Now, marriage is God putting the man and the woman back together in a oneness union of correspondence that incorporates their two spirits, souls and bodies purposely made to unite for physical intimacy (Genesis 2:24-25). Like God, the two persons with different roles and responsibilities would operate in nature and character as one.3 And not only was their physical intimacy to be mutually pleasurable, but from it God designed that children would result from the cooperative joining of their bodies.
Enticing man to sin was intended by Satan to first ruin his oneness relationship with God, then his wife (and subsequent children) in the respective spiritual and physical death God had announced would be the outcome of disobedience. Thus, along with man, marriage and family has been under assault from Eden (Genesis 3:1-13)! What the fallen angelic enemy of God and man did not count on was the depths of His love such that He would seek to save His fallen creature and restore our ruined oneness relationship; taking it to its ultimate, eternal end as the Son of God, Jesus Christ later prayed to have become a reality (Genesis 3:14-15; Matthew 18:10-14; John 3:10-17, 17:11, 20-26)!
Marriage as a living picture of divine oneness is so sacred the Lord Jesus figuratively refers to Himself in parables as a “bridegroom” (Matthew 9:14-15, NKJV). If the Lord is a Bridegroom (Male), then who is His bride (female) but all of those that have trusted in Him for salvation; those eagerly and wisely waiting on His return to be married in a celestial wedding ceremony (Matthew 25:1-13; John 3:26-30; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7-14, 21:9).4 The apostle Paul portrays the Lord as the saving Bridegroom who pays the bride price for His betrothed He expects to remain pure and faithful to Him in oneness until their wedding (1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Ephesians 5:25-33); a cleansing purity He accomplished at great Personal cost (Psalm 22:1-21a; Mark 15:15-35; John 19:28-30)!
Not only did Christ sacrifice Himself to save willing fallen mankind and bring us back into oneness relationship with God, but also a man with his wife in the mortal experience of oneness in marriage as divinely designed. As God makes clear through the prophet Malachi, oneness in mortal marriage was the divine intent from the beginning not just for the experience itself, but also for "godly offspring!" Too, oneness is the reason God is not pleased with a man mistreating his spouse and hates the painful violence of divorce (Malachi 2:13-16, NKJV). Salvation wrought by Christ provides the means through Holy Spirit renewed minds and hearts for two otherwise selfish persons to come and stay together as one in marriage with much forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35; Ephesians 4:31-32)!
1 See the March 24, 2019 post, Restoring Marriage As God Designed, under the category, The Cause.
2 In three of the four New Testament Gospels the Lord Jesus Christ plainly teaches that marriage is a mortal human experience for this present age only (Matthew 22:23-
33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40). Understanding this, Christian married couples should count every moment together as a precious gift from God and enjoy this
solely mortal experience to the fullest! Read the June 26, 2016 post, Right Thinking About The Afterlife, under the category, Instruction.
3 The Lord leads me to write more fully about His putting male and female with their different roles and responsibilities back together in marriage as one in my book, The
Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, available at all major internet booksellers, by order at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore or in the Strong Man Store.
4 For those Christian men especially that still wrestle with how a mortal daughter of God could also be literally destined to be an immortal, eternal son, consider how we
mortal and eternal sons of God are also figuratively called the “bride” of Christ to be married in a wedding to live thereafter as His eternal “wife.” The intent of God in
both the former and latter instances is the real familial closeness and glory of spiritual oneness that transcends mortal body types! See the June 19, 2016 repost, Eter-
nal Sons Of God, under the category, Instruction.
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