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

Monday, July 23, 2007

Did Your Church Make It!?

Hello All,

The Church Report just released it's annual list of
the 50 Most Influential Churches in America. Calvary Laguna is not on this list. It turns out that we were number 51! We just missed it! Oh well, maybe next year! The article says that Pastors were polled throughout the country to see who they would nominate. There are some great churches on the list, marked by excellent theology and biblical practice. And then there are other churches that I would hesitate to recommend.

One thing that has come to mind quite a bit lately though, is that the church is not said, biblically, to be the influence per se. It's the believers! And while the church is (sometimes) a large collection of believers, the corporation, the entity known as the church, is not the influencer. It's the believers who are the city on the hill that cannot be hidden. It's the believers who are equipped by their Pastor, the primary influencer, to go out to works of ministry, service, unto the Lord. So it behooves us to consider our influences and consider the fruit that comes from that influence. Are we more inclined to act biblically with regard to society, employment and evangelism because of his influence? If he is influenced by the Lord, then we will be in a good spot. If he is influenced by church growth marketing, soft-pop psychology, and centered on topical sermonettes on happiness, then we are in for some trouble!

Who is it that influences you? There are several names on this list that I feel that I can say are good influences on me. Greg Laurie, Bob Coy are a few examples. It's fine to be influenced by these men and surely some of the others as well. The danger is to substitute these men for Christ. And even more nefarious, is to substitute a person who does not fit the criteria of a man who would fit the bill biblically.

"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;"
2 Timothy 4:1-3

The influence must come from a person who takes the Gospel, the word of God, seriously!
It seems that there is no way, in this media driven society, to keep ourselves from looking to men and promoting them in our minds, above the average man, and thus create for ourselves an idolatrous situation. And even in the best of cases, with men such as Greg and Bob (first name basis, ya know!?) we must remember that the primary test comes from what the word says and how diligent our influencer is in exegeting the word of God.

I'm thankful to have been around men that take this charge and believe it to their very being and live it out with soul. And while they may not have made the list, they made an impact on a guy who wants to be an influence in his world for the name and sake of Jesus Christ, his Savior. If your influencer does not make you want to do the same, find another influencer! Start with Jesus, pray and ask the Spirit to direct you to a man who will speak His heart to you, so that you will be biblically influenced and be the city on the hill whose light cannot be hidden that you are intended to be.

And how will that light be seen and identified?

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, July 20, 2007

News From The Lagoon-a!

Hello All,

Wednesday and Thursday were incredibly busy for us at Calvary Laguna this week. Lela and I took much of the afternoon Wednesday and went looking for a house to rent. (Editor's Note: We have decided to wait on the housing market at this time, due to the continuing downward trend of property values. Our hope is to rent for as short a time as possible and then look for a place to buy.) We ended up looking in a place called "Ladera Ranch." It's a large, master planned community in Orange County. We drove to the condo that we were interested in and along the way, we passed a nice little park, within walking distance of the condo. Lela's eyes got watery and I knew we were probably onto something.

The condo itself was fine, but it's the area that is quite stunning. Great walking trails, that little park and a large pool area for kids, really cemented the deal for Lela. As for me, I just love that she loves it! I can eat and sleep anywhere! The only problem with that condo was that the floors were carpeted, a problem for our spill happy children! Otherwise, this was a great place for us, so we filled out our application.

We put in a rental application, only to find out that someone had just beaten us to it! At present, we are hoping to check out another condo in Ladera that our realtor found for us, this one with wood floors! Please join Lela in prayer that this will be the one!

We got back to church Wednesday night for our service. I got the chance to speak, but beside that, I got a chance to witness something really cool. Before I taught, I thought it would be good to pray together, since it was such an intimate group of people. I had everyone turn around and get into groups of 5 and we started to pray. I joined the group that my wife sat in and we prayed. A couple in our group were brand new baby Christians, just two weeks old in the faith! It was refreshing to hear their story. They had given their lives to the Lord in our church and much of the motivation for that was due to their wanting to spend eternity together! It was a sweet sentiment. But then to hear the man pray, was truly a blessing. His words were filled with thanksgiving to the Lord for saving Him and with promises to serve and love the Lord for all His days. He was so genuine and the emotions were all there as well. It was really cool.

Then came Steak & Study Thursday! This is an all day affair for me, from shopping at Costco to cleaning up after the event, but it is SO WORTH IT everytime! This particular Steak and Study featured the teaching of Pastor Don McClure, who is one of my personal favorite speakers. Don came with an excellent message and we saw several men respond to the Lord's prompting. We had about 170 men come for over 16 different churches. It was a great event!

One of the highlights for me are the many conversations that take place along the way. After we had set up the staging area, one of our guys, who has been through the thick and thin over the years, offered some cool words about our church. He said that our church was different now because we hold to a pattern that calls the congregation to respond to God's Word. He said that it wasn't that way before and that it has served to enliven our fellowship.

As I think back over the last few months, I find that that assessment is true. Pastor Chris has been faithfully delivering the Word and calling people to Christ. I have done the same when Chris was gone, and during the Men's Study. Seeing the couple from Wednesday Night and hearing Rick's encouragement gave me great hope for what we will see in the future. Maybe we will be known as the Church that will always call God's people to more than acquiesence to a point. Maybe we will be known as the church that calls God's people to obedient, repetitive, active faith in Christ. I hope so! If we will be faithful with what we have now, God will give us more to be faithful with.

The end goal of course, is not to be the largest church in Orange County or to be on the list of influential churches (look for that post next!) but simply that Christ will be glorified and magnified in our midst. I pray that we will see Him move in a way that makes us forget about any other movement in recent memory! That would be worth it all!

Pray that we will find the right place soon. We are hopeful that we will be able to move soon, but we ask for your prayers in the process.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Can We Find A Way To Make It Cooler!?

Hello All,

Well, here's a new idea for weather control. I always wondered if we could use some nukes and get a longer winter!

AND...on that note...please pray for me as I deliver the message tonight at Calvary Laguna. It's entitled "The Gospel Romance" out of Genesis 24. If anyone wants to take a lovely, romantic (if you need to convince a significant other), drive and a night of cool refreshing air, Calvary Laguna is the place on Wednesday Nights and tonight, in an exclusive engagement, I will get to deliver the message. That means that Pastor Chris is not here and we could not find anyone else to speak!

Oh, and one more "pseudo-invitation:" If you are a man, happen to love driving, love cool refreshing air, love to study and eat giant pieces of meat, then the Steak & Study is just for you! Tomorrow night, here at Calvary Laguna, we are hosting this awesome Men's event and all that fit the bill are invited. Our speaker will be Pastor Don McClure, so you know it's gonna be funny, challenging and worth the time!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, July 16, 2007

There Is A First Time For Everything!

Hello All,

I might have labeled this post: An Inconvenient Biologic! I don't think that that makes much sense, but that closely describes what occurred over the weekend.

It began Friday with a very hoarse voice. Not necessarily a problem most weekends, except that this weekend, I would have a wedding Saturday and the speaking on Sunday! Most unfortunate timing for my VOICE to give out!

The wedding happened Saturday at the Mitten Building in Redlands. The couple that I was marrying, Jeff and Jessica (now Dillon!), had survived my rigorous pre-marital screening and now I was going to stand to endorse them as a couple that I believe has a chance to make it! Unfortunately, people had to listen to the voice of the GODFATHER going through the ceremony! Just imagine if you will:

"Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife Bodanza! (Hand sweeping the cheek) will you love her, honor her, keep her as long as you both shall live?"

"I do."

"Good answer!" (Soft slap on the cheek of the groom and a pinch for pride!)

For the many weddings I have done, I have never had to do them sounding like Vito Corleone!

But, I do always feel that strange sensation that I am a peculiar minority! NOT BECAUSE I'M MEXICAN!!! (Actually, that makes me the majority in California you know!) No, I am a peculiar minority because of my beliefs in the sanctity of marriage and the biblical basis for it's success. When I go to these weddings, I become acutely aware that 90% of the people that I am addressing (NOT including the bride and groom, who I will only consent to marry based on their understanding and acquiescence to biblical guidlines) do not believe a word I am saying! And, they hope that I get done quickly, so that they can party! It's a grievous position to be in most of the time.

That being said, I am happy for Jeff and Jessica, who have demonstrated to me, that they have considered all the Biblical counsel that God offers and both, being committed to Him and each other, have a very bright future ahead of them. I wish them the very best and thank them for giving me the honor of presenting them.

After the wedding, I had a few short hours to rehab my voice. Having 3 children under the age of 6 makes that difficult!

Sunday Morning. Things were not much better in the voice department, so I decided to try some voice routines that I learned while in choir. I spent 45 minutes "warming up my voice" and actually got a small percentage of it back! I probably looked real funny on the freeway, but hey, it's 6:30 in the morning! Who doesn't look a little funny!?

With Pastor Chris Norman on vacation, I received the opportunity to present the teaching for our Sunday Service today. It's always an honor to be asked to speak and this is my second time before the congregation of Calvary Laguna. I have been excited about presenting this particular message for some time now, seeing that I developed it while in my car during my commute! Much of what I presented came from a desire to see our body become passionate about the Gospel and passionately articulate in it's delivery. That is how "The Nature Of The Gospel" came about. You can view the notes
here. I might post the audio...but then again...

So, I was coming out onto the stage when I felt a rush of liquid in my nose. At first, I thought it was just a little runny nose, but when I put my finger up to the entrance of my nostril, (how does one write this!) I realized that it was blood! I quickly turned back into the green room and shoved a piece of kleenex up my nose and walked back out! This has never happened before! I looked like Rocky Balboa after a good fight with Clubber Lang! I delivered the whole message with that piece of kleenex up my nose, wondering if it would get soaked and bleed through! Thankfully, it did not and despite the circumstances, the message came out pretty good, if one can measure any kind of success by the response of the congregation afterward. Even with that, I hope that my NOSE behaves itself from now on!

Have a great week everyone!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, July 13, 2007

Media Does Theology Again, Pt. 3 Of 3

Hello All,

I know: This is the last post on the subject of Hell! I wanted to wait to examine ABC's feature on the subject on Friday's 20/20 episode anchored by Bill Weir. No surprise here, but they again refused to look at claims that were made with any kind of scholarship. I was particularly interested in hearing that the preacher who refuted the concept of Hell was able to do so because of examining the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts. Of course, nobody cared to even present what such "evidence" might have been, and no other scholar was asked to participate in discussing the particular Greek and Hebrew passages.

In the end, I know that I cannot ever trust the media to cover these topics with any kind of intellectual honesty. I don't really know why it irks me to see such programming, except that there are many who are deceived into thinking that there is a truly intellectual debate on whether or not hell exists!

There is no debate!

First, if one appeals to the languages of the Bible, one will be surprised to find a ridiculous amount of support for the concept of a real, eternal, place of torment for those that prefer autonomy in this life! Tartarus, Gehenna, Sheol, etc. are all words in the original languages that bespeak a literal place. Jesus talked about a man in Luke 16 in a fixed position of torment! I would view Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh, as a fairly STRONG WITNESS!! Sorry, no help for the "No Hell" contingency there!

Much of the rest of the program had to do with sympathetic arguments regarding people who had gone through "hellish" experiences. One might look at what they had gone through, such as a woman who was raped and tortured or the man who witnessed the Holocaust, and consider their experience a "living hell." Truly, they experienced the evils that no man or woman should ever endure on this earth. My heart was saddened at their treatment, but this is not biblical Hell! Hell is a place of punishment that one will experience after death, after refusing Christ as Savior in this life. If anything, Hell is a comfort, in that I know that the men and women who defraud, debase, abuse and mistreat believers, will be dealt with by God. My prayer is that they would repent and receive forgiveness for their rebellion against God, before it's too late!

The final insult though, is this concept that is especially post-modern in it's basis. We presume to be able to judge God and find Him acceptable, only if He conforms with our belief about Him. In this age, God is on trial and we, our culture presumes to be his judge and jury. This preacher exhibited a very post-modern stance. The preacher said, in essence, that he could not believe in a God that was loving, if He allowed a place of eternal torment for those who did not believe in Christ. What's wrong with this statement? First, God is not ONLY LOVE! He is perfect love, yes and amen! But God is also perfectly just, always doing what is right, with perfect motive! God is a God of perfect love and perfect wrath! Second, I must conform my belief in God with that which He has chosen to reveal. As a Christian, and this is really important, so I will write it in bold, I CANNOT PICK AND CHOOSE WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT GOD, EXCLUDING WHAT DISPLEASES ME!

This is the ultimate test of our belief about God. Do I accept what has been revealed, even if I don't fully understand or agree methodologically? I don't fully understand grace. I don't particularly like the concept of Hell. I don't fully understand election. These are very clearly expressed teachings in the Bible. I believe in God, trust in His Son Jesus Christ, and receive the power of the Holy Spirit, despite my lack of understanding.

God has revealed that He is a God who loves and draws all men to Himself. His Spirit will not always strive with men and there will come a time when men's choices will lead to life or damnation. At that point, God is a God of Judgment, who will dole out reward for the choices made about Christ in this life! There is a real Heaven and there is a real Hell and real people will fill these places for a really long time!

I pray that you and all of yours will be found with Christ, robed in His righteousness and destined for Heaven.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Media Does Theology Again, Pt. 2

Hello All,

Here is a guy that represents the biblical teaching on Hell quite extensively! Check out this audio file. If for any reason you cannot get this, and you want to get it, please feel free to email me.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Media Does Theology Again!

Hello All,

It always interests me when people don't believe in something that Jesus Christ Himself believed in and taught in greater proportion than His teachings on heaven. I'll leave the video up and then, before the ABC special comes on, I hope to review some thoughts on this subject.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez
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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Gifts & Giftings

Hello All,

I was musing the other day over the years of ministry that I have participated in. Presently, I have been in active full time ministry for 13 years. During that time, I have crossed paths with many wonderful people that I have had wonderful experiences with as people and fellow workers. Each one of them added something unique into my life, and each one of them displayed unique giftings and talents that make them memorable.

For example, I remember a guy who, when he saw you coming, would stop everything that he was doing, look you in the eye, ask how you were doing and subsequently wait for you to answer! Then there was the super funny intern that always managed to crack the entire office up with laughter. Then there was the super-creative college team of leaders, who always seemed to come up with great suggestions for events and really got behind the vision that was cast for them to follow.

These people are the gifts that were given for that period of time, and for that specific group of people who were the recipients of their giftings and talents. After each person left, a void was left that was generally filled with another, completely gifted, but altogether different person in style and personality.

The temptation is to compare gifts. This does an injustice to the person who left, the person who has come to replace him and the Lord, who has sent and commissioned both servants for separate places in ministry.

I have always struggled here and I believe that most people in the church would agree. It's human to be disappointed and wish for God to allow things to stay the same. But God is dynamic, working in all of our lives to build us to a place where we are focused and built up in Him. Along the way, He uses servants and gifts with giftings, to flavor His work and enhance that believer's life with their unique experiences and talents.

I hope that we will all see the gifts around us, thank God for them, and value their contribution to the body of Christ that we find ourselves sharing in. More than that, take advantage to love and value your time with those people, as it seems, in the body of Christ, that there is only forward movement, and you will never get the privilege of sharing life with those people again in the same way as you do now.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Stressed On The 4th Of July?

Hello All,

Here's a possible solution for your stress levels. Once again, Spain, known to itself as the leader in virtually every arena, leads the way on how to effectively deal with stress. Check out the story here.

Otherwise, for all our friends, have a wonderful 4th of July! We hope that you will all enjoy wherever you end up going. For our family, we will be at the University of Redlands, which always has, at least for the Inland Empire, the best fireworks show!

Happy 4th of July!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, July 02, 2007

A Time For New Experiences

Hello All,

I just got back from taking Renae and Caleb to their first movie. We went and saw "Transformers" and...JUST KIDDING! We of course went to see Pixar's new movie, "Ratatouille." (Take a look to the right side of the blog. You'll note there is a place for you to vote for your favorite Pixar movie! I just love polls and have already cast my vote...without voting. I don't want to be unpopular you know!) I was looking forward to this for some time and the experience was more exciting for me than for them. At first, the wonder of the Krikorian theater was enough to inspire some wide eyes. Then it was the concession stand and the medium popcorn, which by yesterday's standards might have been an extra large! Then it was the first look at the "big screen!" Unfortunately, reality hit with all of the commercials and previews which likely sapped the excitement of the experience a bit for the kids.

By the way, one of the commercials was for a new church in Redlands which touted itself as "a Church for everyone." I'll add that to the list of "things that make me go 'hmmm...."

The movie finally got going and the kids got more than a few laughs at the prospect of a rat taking charge of the kitchen like their favorite Food Network stars. By the middle of the movie, both were notably tired and ready to get back into the car, which was a steamy place to be, seeing the thermometer read 106!

This experience was a blast, but it has come second to our other first for the summer. Renae has taken some really good steps toward becoming a swimmer! I know, the irony of it all!! Anyway, we have been going to the YMCA pool when we have the chance and Renae has gone from very frightened to very bold, asserting herself even in the "deep end," all 4 feet of it! Her smile and simultaneous discovery has really been joyous for me as a parent. Both Lela and I are all smiles as we hang in the pool with her and watch her emerge from the water with a smile and strong sense of accomplishment all over her face.

I don't want to be guilty of over spiritualizing here, but how much more our Father! When we discover more of Him, follow Him to uncertain depths, join Him in His enterprises, how much that must overjoy Him!

And certainly, if the Heavenly Father is seen in shadow by an earthly Father and Mother, how great is His delight in His children!

Some of you might be saying, "Frank, how overjoyed He would be if you would brave the depths and learn to swim yourself! C'mon, take off those Nemo floaties and jump in brother!" My answer to this is that God never calls us to tempt Him! I'll keep my floaties, thank you very much! Beside, 4 feet is just enough for me to enjoy, now don't you go spiritualizing that point on me!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Wildwood Calvary

Hello All,

Thanks for praying for me this morning when I went to speak at Wildwood Calvary. I feel the results really bespeak your support to think of me. Things went really well, especially during the first service for me. Second service was a little slow and it took a page or 2 for me catch up to my notes, but I finally got there. The encouraging thing was that both services, there was great response to the message. In the first service, FIRST SERVICE MIND YOU, 2 people committed their life to Christ for the first time! Over 25 people total committed themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel in their sphere of influence. I will continue to pray for them, that God would take their commitment and strengthen it with experience. My notes from this mornings message would normally be on my Bible site, but since I am sharing this message again at Calvary Laguna in a few weeks, I don't want them seen quite yet. But they will be available soon on the Bible site.

I thank my brother and great ministry friend and partner, Pastor Chris Fraley, for inviting me and all of you from Wildwood for welcoming me and my family as though we were Wildwoodians!

In addition, it was cool to be there on the last day that Pastor Josh Marlette was serving the body there. He and his wife Charlene, are moving way out of their comfort zone to begin a church in Kentucky! I have always admired Josh's stability and leadership, as I am sure the congregation of Wildwood Calvary can attest. They have a blog sight as well that I am happy to introduce here to our friends who love to watch and participate through prayer with people that are going after the Lord by faith. The Lord be with you Josh and Charlene as you serve Him. Their site is here. I commend them to you.

Again, thanks for praying. Have a great week in Him.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez