Thursday, December 27, 2007

Checkers With Renae

Hello All,

This is a little blast to the not to distant past. This was our first game of checkers, during our first week alone in Spain. As you can see, the competitive juices and "creative measures" are flowing, none of which were taught to her.

On a side note, I won this game!!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finally, NUMBER 1

Editors Note: If you made it this far, thanks for your indulgence! Here are my pillars of personal, ministry freedom!

#10 I Stopped Comparing Myself To Others

I Stopped Worrying About Who Is Absent

I Stopped Measuring Myself By Singular Activities

#7 I Stopped Waiting For Something To Happen To Me

#6 I Stopped Thinking That I Could Mine Every Truth From Every Scripture Every Time

#5 I Stopped Putting Presentation And Program Over People

#4 I Stopped Promoting Myself And My Virtues

#3 I Stopped Letting Others Dictate My Load

#2 I Stopped Listening To Exclusive Groups

And now, for number 1...

I Stopped Promising Things I Wasn't Sure I Could Deliver!

Hello All,

Ministry often moves at the speed of light, especially on Sundays! Ministering at the Packinghouse presented the tremendous challenge of mass humanity. Three services on Sunday morning with over 2,500 people coming through the doors, each a loving member deserving of pastoral attention and the warmth of friendship. On my end, I wanted to connect and meet with many more than I ever had the time to fulfill. It was overwhelming, and I was just one of the Youth Pastors! I can't begin to imagine Pastor Ed's responsibility.

As I began to be noticed by the congregation as the worship leader, the phenomenon increased exponentially. I found myself promising and committing myself to things left and right. I walked down one aisle and heard myself say, "I'll be praying about that" or "Let's do a lunch this week." I wanted to get connected and I wanted to honor my word, but I found that my word was often compromised by my own impetuous desire to be accessible.
This really bothered me after awhile. I started feeling like a real hypocrite! I remember seeing people who I promised to pray for, that thanked me for praying for them, while I had completely forgotten about their needs and neglected to pray for them at all! Other people would call me in the middle of the week and say, "Hey, are we still on for lunch today?" only to hear me squirm in uncomfortability, looking for the most appropriate way to apologize.

I decided that this was going to stop! My word was going to be my bond and I was going to do all that I could to say what I meant. I determined that I would speak slower and resolve requests immediately or as quickly after the service as possible. People asked if I would pray for them. Instead of saying, "I'll be praying for you," I started saying, "Let's pray right now!" Others asked about doing lunch, and I would either walk them up to the office with me or I would ask them to confirm with me by phone the next day when I was near my calendar.

What I found out was that I was completely freed to minister and I was completely freed from the guilt that came from saying the right thing, and not following up on it. But what surprised me more was that when I prayed for anyone right away, the impression was much stronger and I found that I was much more inclined to pray during the rest of the week. I found that I was asking people how things were going and they were the ones who had forgotten that they asked me to pray! My day planner started to get some use and I rarely missed an appointment.

More than anything, I stopped feeling guilty and started enjoying ministry more. Now, this being said, let me say that you will never "bat a thousand!" I never do, but if you make this a philosophy, you'll bat better each year, be more effective for the Lord and be more enthusiastic about the ministry that He has placed you as steward.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Joy Mingled With Sorrow

Hello All,

I heard a Pastor say recently that this life was the hardest thing that the believer will ever have to face, while it is simultaneously the best thing the non-believer will ever get to experience. This last week has been one emotional experience after another, going up and down in ways that truly surprise me. For example, Thursday I was on the phone with a dear brother whose wife has decided to leave their marriage. I have been talking with him for a few weeks now, and thankfully, the Lord has steadied his heart, but it's just heartbreaking and maddening for me to have to counsel yet another person in this condition, where one side of a marital union has decided to take the coward's way out! No complaints mind you, but it's so difficult for me to watch a marriage forsaken.

Friday afternoon continued the onslaught, as another dear sister called me and told me of a serious health problem that had just shown itself in her husband. These are people who I have known and loved since their kids were my Junior Highers years ago. We've done some life together, and my prayers are with them.

Then Friday night, we had our staff/board Christmas party, which was an absolute blast! God knew that I needed it! We have the coolest staff and board ever and the party was a great time. It was an added bonus that Lela and I were both affirmed by a few members of the board, who thanked the Lord for us, which was exceptionally touching to us. It ended with the customary games that have become staples for these events, Catch Phrase and Guesstures. And as usual, the men DOMINATED and walked away victorious. I walked away, feeling so blessed to be a part of this church and this leadership group.

That high didn't last that long. Not even 24 hours later, I got a call from Pastor Chris informing me that one of our board advisors and long-time pillars of the Church, Arie Van Ryn, had been killed in Mexico in an auto accident. Immediately, my heart sank and I could feel my face lose all sense of joy. I was speechless and saddened by the loss of this wonderful man, who was a Grandfather at Kingsfield to those of us on staff, and a Father to many of the men that make up the backbone of our church today. I knew that Sunday would be hard.

And it was harder than I anticipated. Usually, there is a buzz in the air and an excitement as people come in. Not today. There were hugs and tears and sadness. It progressively got harder as I looked at the faces of the men, most who Arie had directly helped or blessed in some tangible way. Then to watch Pastor Chris momentarily lose composure as he informed the entire body made it very heavy to bear. I stood in the back, with my arm around one brother and my hand extended to another, shedding my own tears.

For a man that I have only known for 9 months, he sure had an impact on me in that moment. For one, I can remember every encounter I had with him, every one being an encouragement. I remember the first day I met Arie. I was candidating for the Associate Pastor position and was meeting him and the rest of the board for lunch. He looked at me and said, "I am glad that you don't have blonde hair and blue eyes!" I thought from that moment that this was my kind of guy!

I wish I would have had the time to have known Arie better, but I am thankful for the time I had.

Then, I came home and my youngest daughter Elizabeth was all dressed up in her new princess dress, waiting for her birthday party to begin. Her eyes were completely unaware of any sadness that could have been happening around her. She looked wide-eyed and eagerly anticipated the festivities. Her life is just beginning as she rounds the 3rd year of her life. Her smile and infectious personality remind me that sorrow must be mingled with joy in this life. I would enjoy the rest of the day, being around my family, watching Lizzy open yet another present, thanking God for every second that I had.

As the days go by, I am sure that my mind and heart will return to the normal fast pace, but these last few days have made me slow down again, and thank God for a wonderful wife, a great church with a huge upside, and a fantastic, godly, family.

I hope that you can do the same this week.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, December 08, 2007

#2 I Stopped Listening To Exclusive Groups

Hello All,

Before I begin this little diddy, I feel compelled to set the table. Virtually all I have known in my Christian experience is Calvary Chapel styled churches. I began attending Calvary Chapel of Redlands back when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I went to, and graduated from, Calvary Chapel Of Redlands' Junior High and High School...barely, but graduated nonetheless. Then, I interned at Calvary Chapel of Redlands, right before I went to the Calvary Chapel Bible College. Later, I participated in a Calvary Chapel Church plant in Jerez De La Frontera. So, I say all this to say that I "get" C.C. and I owe and am thankful both to my Pastor Ed Rea, and to Pastor Chuck Smith, who I have greatly benefitted from.

But there was a time when I felt like that was all I could listen to. It had to be Calvary Chapel or endorsed by Calvary Chapel. It's all I felt safe with! I would overhear people talk about so-and-so Pastor from another denomination, and inevitably the "oh, well I heard him say this about this" comment that confirmed that this Pastor could not be trusted! Then, I would hear people talk about such and such Pastor, who was quite celebrated, but then the whisper that he was a "somethingist who believed in an alternate ending to the Bible!"

I am sure that nobody intended this to inspire fear or to intone that these men did not love Jesus Christ. I'm pretty sure that nobody wanted me to snub my nose against these other men because they believed differently than I did in the "Non-Essentials," but that's what began to happen. (By Non-Essentials I am referring to worship style, eschatological belief, teaching style, etc.)

But then something happened. I was listening to my 4 Millionth study on Acts chapter 2, from the 4 Millionth Calvary Chapel Pastor, who was speaking about the exact same thing as the last guy on the radio, even using the same exact illustrations, pointing out the same exact Greek word! I just needed something fresh and different. This opened a huge door for me. I thought, I am going to take a chance. I started listening to another Pastor Chuck...Chuck Swindoll! His messages were exceptionally well crafted and practical in nature. His insights were deep and challenging, something I craved. His love for the Word was obvious and I appreciated his experience. In fact, I want to say that it was Swindoll that turned me on to Charles Spurgeon, whose sermon encyclopedia is one of my most treasured collections.

Then, I took a listen to Pastor Alistair Begg. Every time I listened, I was challenged, not just as a Pastor, but in my vocabulary! His method is completely different, but it inspires me just the same and he loves Jesus too! I would recommend his work on expository preaching to anyone

Throw in R.C. Sproul, Pastor John Piper, Pastor Jack Hayford, Pastor David Jeremiah, Pastor John Macarthur and Pastor Tim Keller and you have some of my favorite teachers in the world! Add to these the wonderful Calvary Chapel teachers who I continue to benefit from: Pastor Jack Abeleen, Pastor Damian Kyle, Pastor James MacDonald, Pastor David Guzik Pastor John Duncan and Pastor Chuck Wooley. These men have all enriched my love for the Word of God but they also taught me something else: I will never agree with anyone all of the time!

But is that the point? Is there anyone infallible, beside the writers of scripture? Is there anyone whose authority exceeds Christ? No, a thousand times no! "Chew on the chicken and spit out the bones!" Each of these men have said something that I have not agreed with. SO WHAT! Do I stop listening and attempting to understand? I pray that would never be the case.

What am I endorsing here? Am I saying to throw aside all discernment and listen to everyone without prejudice? Aren't there some people that I should be aware of who are espousing dangerous belief systems, calling themselves Christian, yet propogating a non-Christian position? The answer is no first, because the answer is yes to the second question! There are things to be careful of, from even the best of men. The scripture tells us to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, and I am wary of any system of "theology" that would by it's own definition of "spirituality," exclude Christ Himself from being a Christian!

My point here is not to throw all caution to the wind, but it is to beware that fear which would easily label another brother and thus miss out on what God might have to say through them to you! Until someone crosses the line and says something directly against the scriptures, specifically the non-essentials such as the atonement, the Trinity, the salvation of man by grace, through faith alone or the deity of Christ, then that person might have something of value to say.

I hope that as you minister, you might find the freedom to enjoy the various flavors of God's people that have been gifted in wonderful ways for particular congregations, and whose experiences and studies are intended of the Lord, to enrich, not enrage us!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, November 08, 2007

#3 I Stopped Letting Others Dictate My Load

Hello All,

There is a principle that I find to be universally true, in every time and in every place. It comes from the lips of Christ Himself, recorded in the gospel of Luke.

Luke 10:2 : "After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, 'The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Notice a few things. The Lord is about to send these people out. He appointed them. He commissioned them. This was not their idea or their agenda. Second, He did not send them out without purpose. He sent them where He Himself was about to go. This was a preview and call to attention to the cities that were about to receive the Lord Himself into their cities and towns. Then notice the third thing. Jesus acknowledges that the harvest is great. It is abundant. There is enough for everybody to do, but even with everybody involved, the laborers are few in relation to the harvest. Jesus then instructs them wisely, to pray. Pray that the Lord would send out laborers into His harvest. It's instructive that Jesus does not instruct them to recruit people or pressure or coerce people into the work of His harvest. He tells them to pray to Him, asking that He might meet the need and provide for the lack that is always present.

The harvest is always great! There will always be more to do than there are people to do it! That truth is difficult to deal with and our prideful hearts can often believe that if we just keep pushing and working, we can do it all. And even the Lord will whisper in our ears, "I did not tell you this to overwhelm you or make you think that you are the answer to the situation. I AM THE ANSWER TO THE SITUATION! I asked you to pray to send laborers!"

In leadership this lesson is ever present, and the temptation is to believe that we can do it all. It's never been true and it never will be.

I remember when I learned this lesson. I was watching my Pastor, Ed Rea, field yet another request for some ministry opportunity. A well meaning believer came into the office and I happened to be sitting in the back cubicle listening to the exchange. (Privacy was not ever guaranteed in those days!) This man was telling Pastor Ed of an opportunity that he had been presented with, and he believed that Ed was the one who was supposed to take advantage of it. To be honest, I cannot remember the substance of what the opportunity was, but I remember the sense of urgency. His voice was so excited, and his desire was evident to all within earshot. Ed patiently listened and told the man that he thought that the Lord had indeed given an HIM! The man realized that Ed was not going to take the bait and asked why, Ed simply replied that the Lord had called him to something else and that he could not leave that responsibility.

Too be honest, at the time, I believed that Ed was missing an opportunity, but soon realized that he was absolutely right, a realization that I made quite frequently actually! If Ed had taken this opportunity, it would have taken his energies from his main responsibility, namely that of bringing God's Word to the body on Sunday morning and evening. That would have been a disaster!

I learned that not every opportunity was intended for me, even though many wanted to pawn some off on me. As a young Pastor, you think that you should take every opportunity that comes your way. This is truly not the case. It is vital to your ministry that you remain at your post, and guard diligently the ministries that you are sure God has given you.

In any minister's case, the first priority is our walk with the Lord. Have you communicated with Him? Have you opened your heart to what He would say to you? This is always first. Second, in my case, there is my wife. Am I a blessing to her? Am I being sensitive to her needs as a wife? Third, there are my children. They need Daddy to be attentive and "home" when he's home! Fourth, there is the ministry that I have been given. There are weekly responsibilities that I am responsible, via agreement with Pastor Chris Norman, that I have agreed to deal with. I do them as unto the Lord and to the best of my ability. Anything on top of this must come from the Lord Himself!

Does this mean that I pass on every opportunity? Not remotely! I pray over every invitation, submit my intentions to my boss and then my wife. If given the "all clear," I take whatever I can, meaning that nothing happens which violates the priorities laid out in the above paragraph. When someone comes to me with an opportunity, whoever he or she might be, that idea is filtered through the matrix and some make it into action.

What this does for me as a minister is free me to be His alone! I am not a Christian contractor, open to the highest bidder. I am owned by Him! Second, it frees others to be used of God, and to grow in their responsiblity toward the Lord. After all, there is a harvest that is plentiful right? Finally, my filter keeps me content with what God has called me to do. We are often bombarded with "cooler" opportunities which might even be more attractive to our flesh or serve to bring ourselves glory. This filter keeps that from happening.

I pray that you as a minister, might pray and ask the Lord to mark out the boundaries clearly for you, that you might serve Him freely and joyfully. There are tasks that only you can do, that He has given you stewardship. Don't leave your post...there is freedom in that you know!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

#4 I Stopped Promoting Myself & My Virtues

Hello All,

My good friend Kim Hutchcroft would often quote Psalm 37:23 to us young men around the Packinghouse in Redlands. The verse reads, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way." I used to and still do, love when Kim prays mentioning this verse. God has ordered my steps. He has laid out a path before me, one that I don't need to find. All I need to do is follow the Lord closely because He knows where He is going.

Sounds simple enough I suppose, yet I have often caught myself in "promotion mode." What do I mean by this? Promotion mode is when a person attempts to thrust themselves into a situation where they might be the answer to a need or a perceived want.

Let me explain with a story. It was Sunday night at the Packinghouse which was blessed with the opportunity to have guest artist John David Webster as the musical muse for the evening. JDW is an exceptional artist, whose first album blew all of our minds because of the awesome songwriting and craftsmanship that attended it, a rarity to be sure among Christian circles, where cliche and imitation rule the my opinion, of course!

The other great thing about John's album though was that he had members of one of my favorite fusion bands, Karizma, and namely, my favorite drummer in the world, Vinnie Colaiuta. So, naturally, each of the musicians at the Packinghouse were anxious to meet John David Webster, and to propose to him that we might learn his music and join him the next time that he came.

This idea began with a good friend of mine, but I made sure that I actually went after it, seeking to convince John that we could pull off the musical challenge. I mentioned it to him in passing before the service, then during the service, then just after the service. Each time, he politely said that it would be great to have a band, but stopped short of endorsing the plan.

I was frustrated and thought, I am going to really press him right before he leaves, seeing that I was usually one of the last ones out of the building back in those days. Kim, JDW and I sat by the old stage in the old building and I pressed hard. John David would not budge despite my best sales pitch! I left and got in my car, thoroughly unsatisfied.

Now, back in the day, I was blessed with a 5 minute commute across the wash, and into Highland. Right when I entered the wash, the Lord spoke to me in a clear voice about my self-promotion. He said, "Haven't I always given you gigs and put you with great musicians? Haven't I done this without your help?" In those 5 minutes, God flashed all the experiences, the recordings, and the great memories that I had had up to that night. I was humbled and grateful, but it was still a LONG 5 minutes!

From that point on, I purposed not to insert myself as the answer to anyone's problems. I was not going to promote myself or the virtues that I might possess. I want to take every open door that I am invited through, that the Lord opens for me, but there is a huge difference between that, and what I was trying to do, shoving a proverbial crowbar in the door that God had purposed to close, likely more for my benefit than my detriment.

In ministry, it's easy to believe that you are the answer to someone's dilemma. In ministry, it's still an attraction to be included in situations of our own making. But my pillar of freedom comes when I am trusting in His goodness to open the door and then, consequently, trusting in His goodness when a door is not opened. The embracing of what He opens and the embracing what He won't is the pillar of freedom that let's me enjoy serving Him in ministry the most.

I hope that this helps you as you serve Him.

Blessings...To Our Friends
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I See A Light...

Hello All,

Long time, no blog!! I know, I know! I have been phenomenally busy and apologize for so few blogs as of late. I have 4 more pillars to write about, the next of which is coming soon. For now, I wanted to make you aware of a great slide show that Pastor Carlos Casco has on his site, along with an update on his recent trip to Bolivia and the Pastor's training that he did there with my Father-In-Law, Dan Finfrock. Please check it out here.

We'll be right back!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, October 18, 2007

You Might Call This A "P.S."

Hello All,

This was sent to me by a fellow blog hunter, Ms. Carrie Allen, (Thank you Carrie!) and it's sort of an interesting aside to my last blog entry about programs and people. I'm not sure that it totally fits, but this is truly interesting. It is here if you want to read the whole thing, but this part really stuck out to me:

"Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for." Bill Hybels

I know nothing about Willow Creek or Mr. Hybels, as I have never attended their church service. This is not intended as a slur or insult. I just thought it was a good post-script to my last blog entry.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

#5 I Stopped Putting Presentation & Program Over People

Hello All,

I had this funny conversation with Jonathan Knepper, the Youth Pastor at Kingsfield Church, yesterday about a funny concept in the church. He and I were swapping stories about how we can miss the ministry for the sake of ministry! An example will clear things up. Once upon a time, a minister was on his way to a conference on world missions and evangelism, when he was stopped by a man seeking salvation. The minister refused to stop, realizing that he would be late for the first session "Identifying Open Doors To Ministry" if he stopped and helped this man!!

You might be thinking that you know where I'm going with this one and you might be right! But let me share how I got there. Jesus told the Pharisees, a religious group of people who proverbially missed the forest for the trees, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. This intrigued me, as I realized that something that God had mandated for man's enjoyment, had been twisted and turned into a burden that man was now a slave to bear. The connection soon followed as I looked at how I thought about people and the programs that I was involved in.

Did they want to come? If not, they were spiritually lazy! When they came to said event, were they enthusiastic and "into it?" If not, they were not spiritually in tune! The programs had been made for them, but now, in a sense, how I thought about them made them for the program!

Whether it was a youth group camp or outing or fellowship, I almost always honored my event, and judged whoever was there by their love and acceptance of the given event. Soon, I saw how this was sapping my love for the ministry and more importantly, the people that God had given me charge over.

The meeting is for the congregation. The outing is meant to benefit them. The fellowship is so that they might be blessed. I had made each of these measuring rods of my own success, something that every minister seems prone to deal with.

You see this all the time at Pastor's conferences. "So, how many people are coming to your services?" "How big is your building?" God bless these men, and nothing is wrong with the questions intrinsically, but I want to be asked "Are you enjoying the people that God has given you?" "Have you enjoyed asking them about their lives and concerns?"

I stopped thinking in those terms and looked for the events and the gatherings to be blessings to the kids or adults. The program, for lack of a better word, took a back seat to the needs of the congregation, who often needed more than the program. They required attention, the love of the Lord, and the gentle hand of correction, leading them back to the Lord. Most of this happened in spite or instead of my messages or clever events.

Don't misunderstand: events, programs, et all, are required parts of the ministry. You can't have a youth group without a youth group meeting. You can't have a healthy group unless they have an opportunity to fellowship and serve, which means events on the calendar that challenge and attract people to work together. Now, this all being said, I will say that ministry is not about the calendar or the program. It's about us as ministers being poured out and spent on hurting people who may not respond to the programs per se, but will respond to a loving gesture, and an interested heart.

This drastically altered the way I thought about ministry. I stopped waiting for people to come to my event. I went to them and took interest in their lives. I stopped asking Christian cliche questions, and truly desired to care about their welfare and how their lives were going!

I just wanted to be genuine! There I said it! I was sick of looking at people as statistics and measurements for my own "attestation of authenticity!" I wanted to love and minister the love of God to the people who came looking to be touched by Him!

And let me say, it's hard to do, perhaps more so than any of my other personal philosophies, because I work in a professional clergy environment, where we often mark our success in the numbers, which by the way is not necessarily wrong in and of itself! One might wonder, if you start with a large number of people and then, they slowly whittle away to nothingness, that maybe your gifting lay elsewhere! So numbers can be good indicators, but I don't want to live and die by them! I want to live and die and base my ministry on genuine concern and godly love for all that I come into regular contact with.

This makes the ministry a source of joy, especially since it is about the success stories of God through His people! And while He's at it, it's cool when there are lots of stories to reference!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, October 14, 2007

#6 I Stopped Thinking That I Could Mine Every Truth From Every Scripture, Every Time

Hello All,

I remember this moment in my life very profoundly. It was a Friday afternoon, later in the day. I was in my small office, getting myself prepared for Sunday morning, where I was responsible to teach the Junior High group during 3rd service. I was landing in Matthew 17, a chapter that I had taught a few times before, and was a testimony chapter for me at that time of my life. (That sounds like a future post! :)) I felt pretty confident that I would just repeat my previous message and take the weekend "off" with regard to my studies.

I took a moment and opened the Bible and immediately noticed something that I had not taken into account before. It made me pause and think about the implications. Then, I noticed a few more things. Before I knew it, I had an entirely different message before me! I have to say that this moment brought both a sense of wonder and exhaustion, as I not only did not take the weekend off, but I worked twice as hard to make up the time!

I remember coming out of my office that day with a deep understanding in my soul that I will never be finished studying God's Word. There is more there than I can ever hope to mine through.

Oh, but I tried! I would exhaust anyone who would listen to me whenever I taught because I was trying to write a commentary every week! Greek words and phrases, cross references, historical background, filled every message, and well it should, but not for the extreme notion that one can cover it all in one setting!

I had some wonderful Junior High Kids who loved to study God's Word, but even they had to mock me about how little I would cover in a Sunday morning session! The joke became that we would finish Matthew somewhere after the first millenium in eternity!

Then I noticed something else: I was sounding like what I spent all my time with! I began to sound like a commentary! I was passing on information, without any inspiration. I admired men who spoke with conviction and were passionate about their passage. And all of those men that I listened to shared in the same practice of selecting what details they might share. None of them caught every single detail and their messages were great!

So from there, I studied the same, but I started to really heavily edit my information intake. Soon, I felt that I could take bite size pieces and enjoy the flavor more.

I guess I share this because at one time, the Bible became so weighty for me to consume. Every time I opened it, I knew I was in for a long fight. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak. Gradually, over time, I had to ask myself what my point was as a minister of the gospel. Was it to be impressive to my hearers? Was the information I was passing on so vital? Was it challenging any of them to be better Christians or just informing them with Christian trivia?

For a while, as a Calvary boy, I felt that I was cheating them and God if my messages were not so long, and so deep. After a while, this becomes a cumbersome issue.

Thankfully, the Lord showed me that I could be faithful to His Word and His people at the same time and not have to mine every truth from the scripture that I possibly could! I began to take smaller sections and look for what God was communicating without my help. I stopped reading multiple commentaries and narrowed it down to one, maybe two at most. Then, I started to put my message through the test that truly began to refine what would eventually come out. The test was to see whether each thing that I said would be helpful to the listeners in their endeavor to live a life after the heart of God. Before I knew it, I was enjoying the process and finding that the kids and people were taking more away from the Word, and were hungry for more!

Plus, I always had some other knowledge to use in other sermons if the occassion arose. If someone had a question afterward about certain elements, at least I would have a semblance of an answer, even though I did not feel that I needed to present everything to the congregation.

In the end, to anyone who has the charge of teaching God's Word, I would tell you to study with great diligence, as though you were presenting before the Lord Himself! But remember that Jesus Himself taught more with less words, than we can ever hope to speak about with a million! The art of presenting a teaching will still require work, but there will be a lot more joy in the process when you free yourself from having to be a veritable encyclopedia each week!

And may I add that your people will thank you as well!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, October 06, 2007

#7 I Stopped Waiting For Something To Happen To Me!

Editors Note: I have been going through my personal pillars of freedom over the last month. You can read the previous three in detail over the last few posts, but for sake of continuity, here is what was covered:

#10 I Stopped Comparing Myself With Others

#9 I Stopped Worrying About Who Is Absent

#8 I Stopped Measuring Myself By Singular Activities

Now for number 7...

Hello All,

I have been surrounded by many men who I would consider successful in life. Some men have attempted to share with me their secrets and ways, but most have simply said that they were in the right place at the right time, with the right idea. Casual observation and the remarks of certain people caused me to think that one should just wait around, and God would begin to change and put you on a path in life that would bring you fulfillment and Him glory. For quite some time, this helped to shape my activity or inactivity.

More than that, I had heard about how God had moved in the past in great ways, and had come to believe that such things were miraculous interventions into time and space, without the aid of any man. Hearing about the days of the Tent and the various other great periods of revival, made me wish and wonder for God to do such things again.

It was not until a famous day in a meeting with a close observer of the Jesus Movement that I was informed quite otherwise. He shared with me that a great deal of money had gone into advertising and invitation. The result was the Jesus Movement. God had moved, but so had man! Man had begun to walk after something that was in God's heart to produce. Certain men took calculated, costly steps toward a goal, and God met their faith in the middle.

This was a spriritual crisis point for me. For what I felt was a long time, I had waited for others to promote me, or notice me and invite me into spiritual posts of responsibility. I figured that if God wanted me, He could supercede any human government and work out His purpose in my life.

Can God do this? Sure. Has He done this with other men? Definitely. Is that the way He works with all of us? To a degree, yes. Is it easier to move a moving vehicle or to move a parked vehicle? Definitively the former!

I needed to chase after something. It began easily enough, with me asking the Lord what it is that I might chase after! So I asked. The answer took some time, but it came in the form of Spain nonetheless. Then, I investigated. What is happening in Spain now? Who is already there and what works could I come alongside of? My investigation led me to a very dear family, the Cascos, that Lela and I eventually came alongside of for a season. Then, after asking the Lord, investigating His call, I purposed to go and be spent on the mission field for as long as He wanted me and my family to serve. He answered that we would only be serving for 9 months in country, and another year or so, in consecrated waiting!

The Lord wants to have victories in my life and in yours. We have a choice to walk in those victories, being confident in His ability to lead as we move toward whatever goal He puts in front of us. The success is not in how long one does any one thing. The success is not in what gets accomplished through you. The success is the heart of endurance IN YOU!

The same was true with Abraham. His greatest test of faith had little to do with what He actually did, but was rather tied to what he was willing to do! And when God initially called him, you will find that where He was going was less important than who he was going with! This is the lesson that radically altered my spiritual perception. God wants me to walk with him...this we all know, but He wants me to walk with Him SOMEWHERE!! He has a goal and we can waste time waiting for Him to move us, which He certainly can, or we can stand up and prepare ourselves to move into a purpose that is His from before the foundation of time, when He chose us to be His!

You might object at this point with the typical statement that sounds like this: But you need to wait on the Lord! I would be a liar and the worst Bible teacher ever, if I led anyone to think that waiting on the Lord was not a necessary part of following the Lord's lead. Many will point to such verses and perhaps the most popular of these verses will be Isaiah 40:31, which says, "But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength;" But most have either never read the rest or just plain ignored their significance. Isaiah 40:31b says, "They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint." They wait, linger for, hopefully anticipate, the Lord's presence, so that they will be empowered to fly, to run and to walk!!

We do wait. We do test the waters. We do seek godly counsel. But my point, from my experience, is that we can wait when God is calling us to march! The prayer of your heart and mine, should always be: God give me wisdom to know the difference and the courage to follow OR wait! Either takes wisdom and courage you know!

What I have found has surprised me in wonderful ways. I don't know where I'm going or where I will end up in ministry, but the ride has been such a joy. All the trials and troubles have been worth it because I feel that true spiritual progress is being made. True spiritual muscle is being developed and I feel that I am moving toward a destiny that only lay in the heart and intention of God the Father.

I pray that you might take the heart of what I have just communicated. There is no need to make your own road or get a vision for your life. God has a vision for your life. Ask Him what it is or more clearly, ask Him what step you need to take right now. Between now and then, you wait!! But when the answer comes, start moving! Either way, the answer is initiate and count the cost that your work will be just as necessary as His!

That means, if you are going to reach a person, know that every person will require your concentrated attention. If you are going to learn to play that instrument, know that that instrument will need a passionate set of hands (and feet for that matter!). If you are going to get through the difficult Bible passages, then you might consider your library and study habits! God will meet you...all we need to do is move toward Him!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, September 28, 2007

Look At The Latest "Great Idea"

Hello All,

I am currently writing number 7 of my personal pillars of freedom in ministry. That will be out in a couple of days. You may have been wondering about the health of our computer. So have we! It has made a bit of a recovery, in that it's not making the noise it was making just a few weeks ago. Of course, we are babying it quite a bit, keeping it on for short times. But it is currently surviving.

Much has happened in the last few weeks. Here is a bullet point synopsis:

• I have finished three weeks of my current series, "Autonomy, Authority and The Man Of God." You can check out the notes over at

• Lela has jumped into the worship community! She is leading the worship for the Morning Women's study and singing on Sunday mornings every other week. As most of you know, she is a fabulous singer (why I married her, of course!) and is growing now as a keyboard leading worship leader.

• I have been super busy getting the Home Fellowships organized and ready to roll. They got started this week and I am happy to say that they seem to have gone off without a hitch.

• Renae is having a great time in school. She has been coming home with "Spirit Stars" every day. AND, Renae is now 6 years old! She grew another year this last weekend! Her big gift was a bicycle, which she is learning to ride really well.

Well, that's it for now...oh, except for this. Most of you know just how passionate I am about pre-marital counseling. Check out the world's latest answer to the problem of divorce. Thankfully the Lord has a much better plan!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, September 21, 2007

#8 I Stopped Measuring Myself By Singular Activities

Hello All,

It began on a Saturday night during the early days of Saturday Night Life, a community service that used to be held at Calvary Chapel of Redlands. It was a great musical experience from the very beginning of the evening until the very end. The musicians were great players, assembled from all kinds of churches and had a real desire to play. It was an exciting place to play.

On this particular night, I just was not playing as well as I had become accustomed to. I was missing cues, dropping beats and playing ahead of the tempos. I felt the frustration of the leader and the rest of the band. It began to discourage me when I thought that I was letting the band down, most of whom looked forward to this evening together.

After the first set, I walked outside, wanting to quit the band and quit playing the drums! I thought that nobody would want to play with me again after I had blown it so badly.

Now, repeat this over and over again in every aspect of my life. Drumming was just one area. Later, the same scenario would happen when I delivered a sub-standard sermon. How about the nights when as a worship leader, the list did not turn out as cool as I had imagined! And then there were the days when counseling appointments went awry. Each of these instances caused me to question whether or not I should stay in ministry or in the calling and function that I was working in.

Then, I came to some epiphanies. First, God never requires perfection from His servants. He calls upon us to be skillful (Psalm 33:3), so I work hard on my various crafts. I practice before I play drums on Sundays, even if I have played the songs a thousand times. I spend hours working on sermons, poring over books and notes, restlessly re-writing until I feel that I have said something as clearly as possible. I will even practice responses to counseling scenarios, thinking through problems that I hear about, and thinking how I would respond to them. In all these ways, I work on my skill set. Additionally, God calls on us to be faithful (II Timothy 2:2). We are called to be reliable and "there" when we are called upon. But perfection is outside of the realm of possibility. (Yes, Jesus tells us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, but the context of that verse and the actual Greek word would necessitate an alternate interpretation. The idea there would be to be completed, full or mature, meaning that we become whole and one in heart and spirit just as God is whole and one in heart and spirit...but I digress!)

Second, I realized that I was looking forward to experiencing my gift and relishing that, over the the desire to please the Lord. My service, whether it be preaching, teaching, drumming or counseling, had taken a front seat in my heart. I don't think that I recognized it then, but I see it clearly now. I was never bummed in those days, if my heart was not right. But I would GRIEVE when I made mistakes behind the drums or gave less than perfect counsel. This reveals now a gravely misappropriated service unto the Lord.

More than anything, I was making church, ministry, performance to a certain extent, the marker for my worth. And it made me miserable!

So I stopped! I stopped measuring myself on one sermon or one session or one worship set. I realized that more often than not, my purpose was bigger than I thought and at the same time, not as big as I thought! What I mean is that I am never just a drummer on any given Sunday. I am a drummer who is a friend and counselor to the other musicians. I might also be an inspiration to someone else who is aspiring to play the drums and an encouragement to others that might want to be involved. My purpose is always bigger than my job!

My purpose is always to glorify the Lord and to lift His name above my own. That purpose might be served in an unplanned comment or moment of prayer and ministry. It might be accomplished more in my countenance when I play, than my count off for the band! His purpose through me might be accomplished before or after the service and have nothing to do with the fingerpainting that I just presented the Lord with!

The result of all this thought really surprised me: I enjoy everything so much more! I enjoy drumming, speaking, and counseling a million times more than I used to. I can go home after a "bad" day, still wanting to do better the next time, but not crippled mentally that I didn't! I take it all in the context that I have a life that is to be lived out before the Lord, and each day I have the opportunity to be consistently His. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, September 16, 2007

#9 I Stopped Worrying About Who Is Absent

Hello All,

No matter what any Pastor tells you, numbers are crucial to how we gauge our own success, especially when you are a younger Pastor. To some extent, that is not a bad focus. It reveals a level of responsibility. However, the obsession with numbers can be crippling to the effectiveness of any minister.

I remember the night when I came face to face with this lesson. I was the Junior High Pastor at Calvary Chapel of Redlands, fairly new on the job. I had a really large group of Junior Highers, upwards of 80+ kids on any given Tuesday night. This Tuesday followed a great preceding evening and I felt positive about the results that I was seeing. Then the bottom dropped out from underneath me when only 10 kids showed up on the next Tuesday. I did not realize that I had a huge 8th grade class who were graduating into the High School group that met on the same night!

It was a huge test for me and I found myself really bummed out. The next week, I had a very difficult time getting excited about my responsibilities on Tuesday night. I thought about all the kids that I was looking forward to getting to know and the plans that I had made around their attendance. Now, I had 10 kids. I felt like quitting.

Then, I realized that many of those same kids did not share the same enthusiasm that the previous group had. They rolled their eyes, refused to talk about spiritual things and were generally closed off to any attempt at fellowship. The situation truly made me want to quit. I even got so far as to draft a resignation letter, one of many I would write over the years.

Then I got a ray of hope. There were a few young people who were not only enthused about the Lord, but were genuinely looking to take a big step in their understanding of the Bible. There were 2 girls and 1 guy that I began noticing taking notes during the study and raising their hands during worship. They responded to me reaching out to them! Over time, they started to bring friends and neighbors, because they were excited about what was going on.

All of a sudden, I found myself concentrating on them. They wanted to be there, and they were there every week without fail. Before long, I stopped thinking about who was not there physically, nor who was not there mentally. I realized that God had given me a certain group every week that He wanted me to pour myself into. I would be responsible and loving towards those that were there, and not allow myself to worry about who was not there and why they were not.

What did I see happen? God, through these few enthusiastic teens, added to the number that I would be responsible to. That group grew steadily, at some points reaching upwards of 50 Junior High kids. I had passed the Lord's stewardship test, the principle being that we do our best with what God gives us and He adds more when that responsibility is answered.

Before I knew it, I became less consumed with numbers and more interested in people who I loved to see and spend life with. Today, I have embraced the same philosophy. When there is a low day at church, I find myself taking some extra time to enjoy conversations and get updated on situations that I have been asked to pray for or have some information about.

In the end, I pray that the Lord adds to our numbers. I want that just as much as any Pastor. But if not, then I will be thankful and attentive to every person that does come.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, September 13, 2007

#10 I Stopped Comparing Myself To Others

Editors Note: We are on computer death watch at our home! It seems that the S.M.A.R.T. status is telling us that our hard drive is failing. It may not be long now, so for the time being our blog entries will be infrequent at best. Those of you who are keeping up with my teaching blog, is back to being active over at I am covering the Life Of David with our Men's Group. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Hello All,

One of the greatest pitfalls that a young minister can fall into is that of comparison. There are always other ministers, with great ideas and innovations, that you have not thought of or even begun to comprehend. Additionally, it seems from the outside, that everything that they do turns to gold. Everything from numbers to events, and on and on.

This used to really depress me as a young minister. I saw other ministers getting attention, being asked to speak or given platforms to promote their latest thing. In the meantime, I felt that I was barely able to keep my head above water!
Comparing myself with others stretched out into every area of my life. Speaking, leading, worship leading, and drumming. I was constantly looking at other people's performances and seeking to measure myself against them. This made me miserable when I did not measure up, and proud when I felt that I did. Either way, it did nothing for my Christianity, for either response robbed God of the glory that He should receive from every life, and through every life.

God has uniquely gifted each one of us, and His creative work cannot be compared with another of His equally magnificent created works. I think a lot about Ephesians 2:10 which tells us that we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. It's been well documented that the Greek word for "workmanship" is "poema." We are God's creative expression! But notice also that we, the expression of God, are also set apart for specific good works that we are to do! I will accomplish, through God's grace, all that He has set up to do! And those works are valuable to Him, though I myself might wonder at their validity in the light of what I might consider to be "great works."

Eventually, I made a decision that I would refuse to look at another minister and compare my ministry with his. It also helped that I realized that I can't be like other guys, even if I wanted to! Some guys don't need as much sleep, are willing to go miles beyond my break point, and are generally tempered in a much different way than I am. God has not designed me that way. Other burdens are on my heart, other opportunities fill my day planner, and I must be satisfied with those.

More than anything, I would encourage you, our friends, to consider yourself the Lord's Special Expression. You are a work of His art that is seen and appreciated by perhaps, a select few. But consider this: God loves them enough to express Himself through you, in order that He might be glorified in you!

For that purpose, there is no comparison!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Pillars Of Personal Freedom

Hello All,

When one does a blog entry like this, there is a danger of sounding condescending, as if I have stumbled upon some great mystery that makes me superior to anyone else! This is not at all my intent. It's simply that while I have been in ministry, these 10 principles, my personal top ten, have enabled me to enjoy being in ministry.

Now, my lack of including the gospel message or specific Bible verses, does not indicate that I am moving toward some mystical mindset, that is anti-biblical or an attempt at being relevant for relevant sake. These are simple statements that helped me along the years that I have endeavored to be useful to the Lord in full time ministry.

As I present them, I do not infer any particular greatness by any particular order. In fact, many of these statements came out of the same events or seasons of time and were almost simultaneously arrived at!

And, one final disclaimer: There are more lessons to synthesize for the future. Like the Apostle Paul, I have not attained, but am pressing on toward the goal. Along the way, I am sure to learn more lessons that will increase my enjoyment factor to even greater levels.

I will list them here and then subsequent posts will explain each one.

Without further adieu...

#10 I Stopped Comparing Myself With Others

#9 I Stopped Worrying About Who Is Absent

#8 I Stopped Measuring Myself By Singular Activities

#7 I Stopped Waiting For Something To Happen To Me

#6 I Stopped Thinking That I Could Mine Every Truth From Every Scripture, Every Time

#5 I Stopped Putting Presentation & Program Over People

#4 I Stopped Promoting Myself & My Virtues

#3 I Stopped Letting Others Dictate My Load

#2 I Stopped Listening To Exclusive Groups

#1 I Stopped Promising Things I Wasn't Sure I Could Deliver.

In the next few weeks, I plan to explain each one of these, and hopefully, one or two will be helpful to someone, and free them to enjoy whatever stage of ministry that they are in.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Family News Update

Hello All,

Before I get into my 10 Philosophical pillars (I am struggling to figure out a name...), I wanted to quickly update you on what's happening with our family. We are just now experiencing the relief that comes with working in close proximity to the church on one hand, and the blessing of great weather on the other! We are roughly 15 minutes or so from the church and the weather has just turned autumnal, leaving the brutality of the 100 degree days behind.

Let me start with Lela. She is enjoying the amenities of Ladera Ranch with the children most days. There are pools, water parks, play parks and friends with kids close by. As far as ministry responsibilities go, Lela is about to join the Sunday morning worship team. She has been working with the team throughout the summer, during our Wednesday night service, but will now focus on the vocals for the Sunday mornings that she participates in. Additionally, Lela has taken on the responsibility of leading worship for the Women's Ministry. She has been practicing her piano and getting herself ready for this task.

Renae has begun school. This has been her first week back and she seems to be enjoying her teacher and fellow students. Lela and I decided to hold her back to give her a full year of normal Kindergarten (Kin-DER-garten) experience. As you might remember, Renae was in 3 different classes last year, one being in Jerez! She is right on academically, but we wanted her to have a good opportunity to bond with kids and learn to be a good friend. I am told that most people benefit from being held back, especially at such a young age. My parents held me back when I was in 12th grade! That made my Senior Year the best 5 years of my life!!!

Caleb is a happy 4 year old, doing what 4 year olds do! He is just learning to love The Incredibles, so I catch him playing superhero quite a bit. Aside from that, he has really taken to his nickname and song, written about his nickname that we wrote last summer. It's called the "Bwudda Bwudda" song. He smiles really big when he hears it. The kid has got joy mastered...when he's not tired that is!

Elizabeth somehow has been super-injected with caffeine or some other stimulant lately! She has taken on a whole new meaning of hyper! She is classic! When she gets around her Auntie Woods (My sister Leah...don't ask about the "woods" part!), somehow, it gets even more acute! She is cracking everyone up with her antics and running her mother all over the place trying to keep up!

As for me, I continue to enjoy my placement here at the Church. I am looking forward to beginning our Men's Study next week. I am teaching on the Life Of David in a series entitled "Autonomy, Authority and The Man of God." I have been dying to get this going, and in some regards, the summer has been too long, so I am really good to go for this next Tuesday morning! Otherwise, the rest of my responsibilities have been centered on getting the Home Fellowships in order as our church moves into that time of year when the Home Fellowships dominate the scene. I'll be co-leading one this year, which I am very excited about.

That's pretty much it for us. We are so thankful to be where we are in life, being in key positions in a growing church, with a Pastor and staff that is on the same page. We are truly blessed!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Gift Of Prayer

Hello All,

As I reported some time ago, our church did a week of prayer and fasting. It was a very revealing time for me, causing me to think through some things that I had come to believe about prayer. It sort of began with a commute that was prolonged by a significant SIG alert. I had been on the road for an hour, but it was about to become two. I had run through my shopping list of prayer items and was now out of things to bring before the Lord for that day. When I had nothing to say, I sort of wondered what my purpose was for being there any longer and that's how this began.

As a Christian, I have attended thousands and thousands of prayer meetings. Because I am a Pastor as well, I can add a few thousand more, having even come from one just last night at our church! What I am about to say is not an indictment upon any person or group of persons who have been at these events. However, there is a general set of truths that seem to universally cover each one I have attended.

Most times, there is an attitude that bespeaks an American view, that we are there to get business done. We've got a list, an agenda and we are going to roll through it! I have nothing against bringing requests or petitions, nor do I believe that we should not have something in our hearts corporately, that we want to see accomplished or partnered in. The problem for me has been that I have taken this attitude into my own prayer life!

Does this mean that I am against requests or petitions? Not in the slightest! I make them frequently and it would be an unbiblical statement to condemn that practice. What I am saying though is this: The purpose of prayer is an alignment of our hearts to the heart of God and the enjoyment of His presence with us and not so much about seeing an ageeable result!

What makes me say this? I was thinking about the teaching of the "Lord's Prayer," which in reality is the "Disciples' Prayer." Jesus told the disciples that when they pray, the first thing that they should say was "Our Father who art in heaven..." This would have been a radical departure from most of the Rabbinic and Levitical priest teaching of that day. The Old Testament is built on the radical separation between Man and God, called Holiness! Jesus is here telling His disciples, the first thing you recognize when you are praying is that you are praying to "Your Father."

I believe now more than ever, that our coming to prayer should be tied up in this reality of relationship. It should be a celebration of that reality! "God, the Creator, the Redeemer, the King, IS MY FATHER!!" When I come into His presence, I want to come first and honor who He is and recognize who I am in the process. I am His Son! In a very real way, I want my prayer times to have the same organic comfortability that I would have with my Father.

There are some who would argue at this point that we can never have such a feeling on Earth! That would be completely unbiblical in light of the teaching of the Word in Ephesians, that says that we now have ACCESS to the Father, and again in Hebrews, where we are beckoned to come BOLDLY into His presence!

What do I feel normally? What have I engendered in my prayer life? An attitude that lowers God from His Fatherly position, to a Secretary's position, by just going through my shopping list of prayer items! "Did you get that? Oh, and I want this changed immediately!"

Instead, I want my prayer life to reflect my relationship with my Father, where I sit and listen and let Him bring my heart into alignment with His Heart toward my circumstances and towards the things in life that I would like to see changed. Then, in a very real sense, I am bringing HIS requests out, versus the ones that I would give from my own heart, loaded with my own agenda and desires. And when I am praying God's requests, the answers will inevitably "YES AND AMEN!"

Do I have a verse for that? Take a look at John 15:7,8.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."

What I have been describing is what I feel the secret of abiding is! How will this come to pass? How will my prayer life look in a year? I am not quite sure. Before any good change can happen in one's life, one has to see a problem, get rid of the accumulation of poor habits that have contributed to the problem and THEN, move into growing some good habits. I am considering these options:

* Actively listening first, asking for a clear direction for my prayer.

* Renouncing any suggestion in my mind that I know what is best or presuming that I would know what is best!

* Letting God bring to mind any requests that would be on His heart for me.

Now, granted, I am not suggesting that I will no longer be praying the following types of prayers: "Lord Help Me!" or "Lord, don't let that Cop see me!" Remember, I am not speaking about prayer in the moments of crisis. There will be times when my prayers will be the most simple, direct shouts to the heavens! But that's not what I am talking about here! I am talking about intentional times of prayer, when I am fostering, enjoying and spending time exploring the heart of God.

In the end, what the practice of prayer will produce, will be less about results and more about the enjoyment of God, and the desire to be in His presence.

Does any of that make sense? I suppose that what I have presented is more theory than experience. Maybe in a year, I will have a report of something phenomenal. Then again, it might be much sooner!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, September 01, 2007

We Can All Sleep A Little Better Tonight!

Hello All,

I promise: The Next Post will be back to normal, but I feel it's my responsibility to let you know that you can take one fearful thing off your lists!! Check out the story here! Who knows: Maybe the Abominable Snowman will be next!

Here's a link to some drum work that I did in the early 80's. I did not know that the cameras were rolling at the time, so it's a bit embarrassing, but good work nonetheless!

Speaking of embarrassing and the 80's, many of you may have noticed the comment section a week or so ago, with a picture labeled "For Frank's Eyes Only." It seems that the temptation was too much for Jason Dean!! Cool thing is that you can listen to the song that goes with the picture at the same place!! AND, it's his lovely wife, Kris that sings the tune. Enjoy here.

Alright, I think that I got it out of my system now! See you soon!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Almost There!

Hello All,

We are almost back to normal here at the new Sanchez Diggs. I have been able to find stuff in the morning when I am getting ready, and I have found ways to keep my commute from being longer than it has to. When we have some time, we are enjoying some of the new amenities that we have here, including the pool, the spa and the nice trails that overlook the wash area next to Mission Viejo. It's felt a little bit bizarre at the same time, as Summer has taken an abrupt halt over at the church. Just two weeks ago, we were at the Barbecue, brimming with loads of people in and out of the building, to today, when it felt like a ghost town in the office! The summer is giving way to the rigorous scheduling of the fall, and in many ways, church is about to get a whole lot more busy.

So for now, it seems that we might just take the rest of August off from the discipline of blogging. I will come back with two posts right away that have been itching to get out of my system. The first will be a treatise on prayer. The second will be focused on the 10 greatest lessons that I have learned in ministry, which will be a 10 part series of posts.

And, if our computer can handle it, we'll put up some pictures next week of our new place, not just here in the house, but with our new church as well.

For the time being, check out some of the links on the side. Jason and Kris are back in the United States over at Missions Down Under. Pastor Carlos Casco has a great slideshow up on his page from his recent trip to Bolivia. Jim Burns always has something great for families on his site. Brad Bischoff has some samples of music that feature my drumming, especially Presence Of Mind, which I am particularly proud of. Or, you can hear whole tunes here under Brad Bischoff and PYF, Boycott Hell! After you get through that, then it's likely that we'll be back in full swing.

I hope that you all are doing well.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, August 24, 2007


Hello All,

Things are slowly taking shape here in our new place. Boxes still line the floors, the cable guy is still coming and the garage door is still ridiculously slow. Otherwise, we are pretty content.

Yesterday, I took the day off from moving and my vacation, to get back to some business at the church with our Men's Steak & Study. This was the final edition for the summer, so I wanted to be there to see it through. The day was typical for a Steak & Study Thursday. Costco, Smart and Final and Vons, all saw me zip through with the usual stuff.

The other item that made this event pretty cool, aside from it being the last one, was that I had some dear friends coming from the Inland Empire to share in the festivities. Patrick Egle and Jeff Schaefer came out to join me for the evening. Both of these guys were leaders in the College Ministry at the Packinghouse when I was the overseeing College Pastor a few years back. Seeing them pull into the Calvary Laguna parking lot felt funny at first, but then so natural when we began our usual witty banter.

It was great to introduce Patrick and Jeff to the Calvary Laguna guys. It was my past and my present right before me. "Patrick, Jeff, this is Marc and Robert and Dan..." Here was this intersection of Kingdom men, who never would have known each other otherwise, but were now sharing in a wonderful night of ministry together. It was really cool.

The actual Steak & Study was fantastic! The steaks are humongous, as usual, and the fellowship around the tables, usually with men from other Churches, is always sweet. Then, our main speaker, Pastor Steve Snook, took the platform and delivered a simple, yet powerful message. By the end of the message, all of the men sat in stunned silence at what God was doing in their lives. I walked up and was afraid to speak, not wanting to interrupt what the Spirit of God was doing, but sensing that I could partner with Him in bringing it home. It was a powerful night of ministry, with several hands of men raised in commitment to Christ.

Afterward, it was Patrick, Jeff, Marc and Mark and I standing together, speaking about the night we had just experienced. It was wonderful to have such wonderful friends from the past and the present right there and I thought, "This is how heaven is going to feel!" Everyone that I have ever shared ministry with, from the early years, right up to today, in the same place, marveling at the work of Christ in each of our lives.

For that moment, I stand proud, in a good way, about what I have participated in in the past, and what I am participating in now, ushering in the future of what relationships will be like at Calvary Laguna.

At the same time, it made me think that I have a time that is set by the Lord, known by Him alone, that I have to minister at Calvary Laguna. Just like the Packinghouse, and just like in Spain, the time will fly by and will someday, perhaps, be over. Seeing Patrick and Jeff reminded me afresh that even the best of ministry times come to an end. They represented a College Group that I loved greatly and wished that I did not have to leave. I hope that this time at Calvary Laguna will not end soon, but I want to make the most of it, in case it ends sooner than I want! It won't be worth it to me unless I give it my all, which I intend to do for as long as the Lord gives me.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ladera Nights, Take One!

Hello All,

Well, we are in the door! Stuff is in it’s general place and what the condo will look like over the next several months is beginning to take shape. Presently, the only thing that I care about is that my bed is set up and I am laying on it!! The rest will come in time.

None of this could be possible without the incredible, wonderful help from our friends. On Sunday, it was our family and friends who came to our aid in Highland. After our family, there was Jeff Schaefer and Mike Cowen. Both of these guys were a tremendous help and I thank them dearly for blessing us! Mike came through especially big when it came to organizing our junk! Mike, not one article was lost or damaged in any way! YOU ROCK!!!

And then came Monday. We got down to Ladera Ranch just before 4:30PM. This time, it was our Calvary Laguna Connection that came to our aid. Brian Lewotsky, Chris Reinhardt, Troy Myer Jr., Darren Porter, and Mike Weisman helped us unload our stuff. Brian came up HUGE on our kid’s bunk bed, which to Lela and I, was the scariest piece of furniture to assemble. Brian figured it out in seconds and had it up in minutes. Darren with great kindness and compassion brought us some great barbecue fare that hit the spot!

We got finished around 6:30 and all sat around for a while. It was a sweet time of fellowship, but I’ll write more about that next time. For now, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to those that were able to help us with this move. You guys blessed us so incredibly again! We hope to return the blessing in the future.

Today (Tuesday) Lela and I cleaned up the old place back in Highland! Let me just say that this time, I was pretty sure that the filth was permanent! It was roughly 2 MILLION DEGREES in the I.E. today! Add the humidity and it felt like 2 MILLION AND TEN! Horrific! Another big THANK YOU is in order to Ed and April Sanabia, who helped clean the inside of our old place. Thanks guys, especially for your awesome carpet cleaner! You guys are the best!

Alright, time to have my second dream in Ladera Ranch!

Blessings…To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, August 13, 2007

We're Moving This Weekend!!!

Hello All,

Just wanted to throw out a general call for help this weekend as we make our move to Orange County. We will become citizens of the O.C. next week! Here is how you can help:

If you live in the Empire, the INLAND Empire, we could use your help loading up the U-Haul van on SUNDAY, AUGUST 19th at 3:30 PM. You will need to contact me for directions and can either email me or leave a note in the comments section.

Now, if you are a Calvary Laguna-ite, then I could use your help on MONDAY, AUGUST 20th at 4:30 PM. We will unload the van into the new Sanchez Palatial Condo, barring traffic, before the sun goes down! Again, I will email you with directions as you contact me.

If you are reading this in Spain, well, you are excused from friend duty! We love you anyway!

Thanks everyone one way or another.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

An Update From Jerez De La Frontera

Hello All,

No, I am not in Jerez, but I did get the chance to talk with Carlos Casco today via telephone. The phone is such a cool invention! Anyway, Carlos filled me in on some of the news from Jerez and we talked for over an hour. It went by really fast as it always does. Carlos is just one of the funniest, most joyful men I have ever encountered. I would encourage you to read Carlos blog (You can access that on the right side of the front page.) and see what has been happening with Carlos' ministry ventures. There is a great slide show there regarding his recent trip to Bolivia, where there are 60 Bolivian Pastors enrolled in a Pastoral training course that Carlos is supervising. Next month, both Carlos and my Father-in-Law, Dan Finfrock, will travel down to Bolivia and run the Inductive Bible Study course that Dan has put together.

Things are also going good in North Africa. There are great reports coming from there. Due to circumstances that I am sure you understand, certain details cannot be shared over the internet. Suffice it say, things are going fantastic!

Meanwhile, in Spain, some troubling times have hit the church. I am again bound by the inability to share details, but we ask that you would pray for Carlos and Yolanda, as well as their daughter Yolee and her son Miqueas. Pray for their wisdom as they consider the future of the work there in Spain.

Otherwise, the church is continuing it's course. Pastor Carlos has begun to have Andre teach on Wednesday nights and Juan Carlos teach the Friday night devotions. Yolee and Andre are leading worship. Juan Carlos is a Bolivian who hooked Carlos up with the churches in Bolivia and has been a truly faithful man of the word since he started coming to the church.

In so many ways, God is using Carlos, even though the work in Spain contains little in the way of Spanish converts. I am constantly reminded and thoughtful regarding the state of the Spanish nation. Remember that this is the first generation that has had religious tolerance. This first generation then still has problems letting go of their traditions and knowing how to truly embrace Christ. The seeds are being planted now for the next generation to be able to hear the Word and embrace the truth of God.

In the meantime, God is sending over Latin American Christians, like Juan Carlos and Andre (of Brazilian Descent) who are absolutely on fire for Christ. What is happening is that the Christian churches there in Spain are being built by immigrants, whose impact in the nation is slowly being felt. We do pray that the Lord would use these faithful Christians mightily for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Of course, this is never to negate the faithfulness of men like Pastor Carlos, who are currently spreading the seed. We of course will also continue to pray for Ivan and Eunice, who are shortly going to return to their homeland for the same purpose. But that being said, there is a need for annointed preaching and proclaiming of the Word, and the annointed hearing as well! Until both work in concert, the fruit will come inconsistently.

Does that mean that we stop, or limit the work to only nationals or only missionaries? NO WAY! We keep sending, keep praying and keep equipping everyone who wants and has the means to go legally. Businessmen, musicians, artisans, anyone, who trade in hand, would willingly go and speak of Christ in the midst of their activities, would be welcome and exciting.

And it reminds me, a person who wishes to be there, has tried to be there, and cannot, that we cannot quit praying and partnering with these precious saints who take the gospel to nations and places that would not have a witness otherwise. In my mind, Carlos Casco is a modern day Paul the Apostle. How would we have partnered with Him as he wrote half of the New Testament? I pray that he might stir your heart to consider the answer to that question.

And it's not just Carlos. I mention him because he is in the nation that I have adopted. Perhaps your heart is elsewhere, in another nation. How can you get involved? Maybe, it's not another nation. How about another city!? Ever thought of Kentucky? Check out our friends Josh and Charlene Marlette, who recently re-located their family to Elizabethtown, Kentucky (Yeah, I asked why too! :) Just Kidding Guys!) and are doing the work of the Lord there.

I just write all this to say: GET INVOLVED!!! Be part of God's program wherever it is happening in any way that you can. Does God need you? NO! But are you missing out on the benefits and blessings that come with working with Him and investing into His programs? I pray that you won't miss out.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, August 11, 2007

3 Weeks Down, 3 To Go!

Hello All,

There are times when we say that we are busy. Then there are times when we are too busy to say that we are busy! These last three weeks have been just like that, especially these last two.

The first week was our VBS at Calvary Laguna. While I did not have direct, daily involvement, in a church our size, you cannot altogether avoid it's impact. We had about 70 kids come and participate in the week long event, ending with a Friday night barbecue. Our children's ministry, led by Stefanie Bammer, really outdid themselves and put on a great week for the kids.

Then came Family Camp. The plan was to rent an SUV, be on the road by 9AM and get to the Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia National Forest by 6PM. That plan quickly was thwarted by the fine employees of Enterprise Rent A Car. It went something like this:

8AM - Frank shows up and asks for his rental. He is asked for his major credit card. Frank looks bewildered and says, "I don't have one!"

8:15AM - A plan is set in place whereby Frank will be allowed to rent if Dan Finfrock will simply fax some information to the rental office. Sounds simple enough...

8:30AM - Fax arrives in Dan's office, only to realize that Dan's Fax has run out of ink! Getting the ink into the fax machine appears to be a bit of mystery for a while. When done, the fax successfully sends from Redlands.

8:45AM - It's reported to Frank that the fax has not come, even though it was sent 15 minutes prior. Hmm...Frank calls (I love writing in 3rd person!) and not only has Dan left the office, but has shredded the document containing all of his credit card information!!!! The loving Father-In-Law that he is, he heads back to the office to receive another fax.

8:50AM - Frank about to roll himself into fetal position, wondering, "Is the Spanish government running the Enterprise Rent A Car office?"

9:00AM - Dad re-faxes the document.

9:05AM - No document is found at Enterprise.

9:08AM - Nylinda Taylor, Dan's secretary re-sends the document again.

9:10AM - Still no document!

9:15AM - Fax machines are checked on both sides. Frank now begins to limit his vocabulary to words that come directly from King James scripture so as not to get into trouble!

9:20AM - Someone gives me an Enterprise Rent A Car card, I still don't know why, and it has a different fax number on it than the one that has been employed...

9:23AM - Enterprise Rent A Car employee of the month embarrassingly apologizes.

9:23:30AM - Frank considers the 57 different ways that he can end said employee's life!

9:25AM - Fax finally comes, drama ends with no body count and I am driving an SUV!

In the meantime, the kids are driving Lela insane! Somehow they think that running around screaming in a small house is socially acceptable! Long story short, we leave at 1PM, get there in the dark by 8:30PM!

Now, setting up a tent that has been borrowed is hard enough. Doing it in the dark is another proposition altogether! I THANK GOD for the merciful souls that came alongside us that night, men of valor and renown in my book, and set the tent up for us. These men from Calvary Laguna are indeed camping warriors and saints!

The rest of the camp experience was fine. It was sort of funny because we had borrowed everything and the entire week, a good amount of the compliments were toward our grill and equipment! It was a shame that I had to tell them it was all borrowed.

We enjoyed the time with our fellow Calvary Laguna-ites. Campfires, roasted marshmallows and some neat times of worship were the order for the week. Our kids enjoyed the dirt, finding a way to allow it upon every crevice of their bodies! But the kids were oblivious to it. Renae loved it so much that she cried that we had to leave! I don't know why. Our dirt at home is just as good! And to think that she wondered how I could be so joyous on such a "tragic" day!

Then came our third week, which was our Prayer And Fasting week. This was an additional, late add on to the calendar. It was a matter of urgency in the heart of Pastor Chris, so we went for it. As always, there is this resistance in the flesh, but by last night, it was seen that the effort expended was well worth the minor cost.

The results were surprising, even though they probably should not be. I chose a fast where my commute to and from would be solely dedicated to the Lord in prayer. Usually I will turn on my iPod, get the radio going, or get some phone calls happening. Instead, I prayed and found just how much I needed to come to the Lord to clean some things out.

It was refreshing and difficult, but I feel confident that the Lord did some wonderful work amongst us. One thing that did happen that really spoke of God's power to each of us was the healing of Pastor Chris' wife Tatum. She had awakened Tuesday morning violently ill. She drove herself to the hospital and they discovered a blockage in her intestine. During that day, we were all waiting around to find out what was going to happen to her. The word "surgery" was thrown out quite liberally and we were all expecting the worst. What we didn't expect was that that very night, after several X-rays were taken, God would answer our prayers and the doctors would confirm that they saw nothing on her X-ray. They could not find a single thing!

Come Wednesday morning, I came in expecting that I was going to have to take over responsibilities. Shortly after, I heard the report and my first reaction was doubt! Here I am, a Pastor, in the middle of a Prayer And Fasting Week and my first thought is, "Are they sure!? Have them check again!" It reminded me of that story in Acts where the church is gathered together to pray, likely for Peter. Rhoda goes to the door, sees Peter miraculously released, shuts the door and runs back to report to the prayer group. Then in great faith they tell her that it must be Peter's ANGEL!!! (Acts 12:15) I used to laugh at them, but now I understand their position!

It was God! He showed Himself strong on our behalf and healed Tatum. It was almost as if to say, "Hey Calvary Laguna: You will find me when you seek me with all your heart!" And we did! It was a great experience.

Now with just 3 weeks to go in Summer, we are gradually slowing down as a Church. This summer was the busiest summer I have ever had in the ministry, but it was fun. And as we come to September, and things get back to a routine, this September we will be found in Ladera Ranch. We will be moving on the weekend of the 17th of August. Toward that end, if there are any Inland Empire types who want to help us get the moving van loaded, your help will be most appreciated. On the 20th, we will ask our OC friends to unload us.

It's been a difficult 3 weeks, but it has also been rewarding to watch God move in our midst. He is so faithful and truly good to us all.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We're Still Alive!

Hello All,

Just wanted you to know that we're still here! So much is happening right now though, that sitting to blog what I have been thinking about is just out of the question. I will blog soon! For now, I thought you might want to know this pertinent information. According to this report, we only have 5 BILLION YEARS LEFT AS A GALAXY! What you do with this information is up to you. I am trying to get a hold of any ministry who might have "Galaxy Collision" survival kits! Some ministries still have Y2K kits, but I imagine that we will need more than extra water for this one!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, July 30, 2007

Camping & Writing!

Hello All,

Our church is going to Family Camp this week. Our destination: Sequoia National Park! It's going to be a very laid back week, but a good one for bonding and enjoying the body that the Lord has seen fit to join us to. Most of you who know me, know that I am not an outdoorsmen. I am an indoorsmen all the way! The best camps I have ever been too were named Hilton or Radisson, had air conditioning and an indoor pool! So, this will be an experience.

One really cool thing though was that I was given the opportunity to write the devotionals for our camp. I am finding that I truly love to write and had a great time writing these devotionals. We'll see if they will be a blessing or if I'll need to author a second edition! Here is the first one:

"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:” Revelation 2:1

Before Jesus addresses the issues of each particular church, He turns their attention to who He is. It’s really the right place to be mentally, where we stop what we are doing and mentally course correct. After all, He is to be our ultimate vision in terms of what we are to be as human beings, and in terms of what our reward is to be. He is both our desire and motivation. If we could keep our vision here, it’s likely that we would avoid the traps that each of the churches fell into.

Notice here that we are to focus on Him first, because He is more important that our Pastors and elders. Christ is the head of the Church. He directs traffic, guides the decisions made by His men and lends His Spirit to comfort and lead the daily activities of the church. He holds the leadership of our church in His hand.

Now, this hold is not a death grip! There is not a holy vice grip forcing the eldership to remain there! I have found that this loving Hand is wide open, allowing men the comfort to remain, while simultaneously employed as the Hand of loving correction. But Christ’s exhortation to the Church is that He is in control and we must acknowledge His sovereignty over His own Church.

The second area of focus comes on where Jesus places Himself. He chooses to walk in the midst of the seven lampstands or churches. He walks there, among them. He sets His Spirit among us and allows us to enter into loving fellowship with Him.

Ultimately, what Jesus offers the church of Ephesus and Calvary Laguna, is the comfort of His presence and the promise of a relationship with Him. We do well to establish this before we continue on. Can you answer honestly that knowing Christ, learning to please Him and enjoy His presence has been or is the result of your efforts today? If you cannot answer definitively, resolutely, “yes,” then you run the risk of falling prey to the various dangers that are seen in each of the experiences of the early churches of Revelation.

Let us then proceed with caution and constantly examine our activities in light of this concrete foundation.

As always, I ask for your prayers, that our church would be blessed as we hang together this week. Pray for our safety on the way, once there and on the return home.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, July 26, 2007

We Found A Place!

Hello All,

We have found a place in Orange County to rent! This last Monday, we came down to Ladera Ranch and looked at a condo that is being vacated by 3 single guys in mid-August. It's roughly 13 minutes from the church, which of course, will drastically cut my commute time, but will also open up a great deal of time to really begin to connect with the community and the fellowship of believers at Calvary Laguna!

We had put in an application to rent and just found out last night that we were accepted! All that's left is the transfer of fundage and the actual move in, which will be around the 18th of August. I'll give more details later, but wanted to thank you for your prayers as we have sought a place to live. Ladera Ranch is a wonderful place for families and I know that Lela and the kids especially, will enjoy the area.

As far as moving out here is concerned, we will be asking for any assistance that anyone can give to us near that date. There is relatively little to move, as we have known that we were in a transitory state and did not buy a lot of furniture. My goal is to ask people from the Packinghouse that we know, to assist in getting stuff into the large moving van. Then, I wanted to ask our friends at Calvary Laguna to help us unpack it. I'll give more details later, but if you are interested and can help us move, that would be a tremendous blessing.

For now, thanks for all of the prayers! The search is over for now. Our Realtor, Keith Mallos, has been a tremendous help and is continuing to search for the right place for us to buy eventually. Our plan currently, until the Lord makes it known differently, is to wait out the market for as long as possible, maybe as long as a year. With the current market situation, we are hopeful that we can find a really great deal in the next several months. So, please, join us in prayer that we can find a place to settle in for a long haul of service to the Lord.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez