Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Two Phone Calls Later...

Hello All,

This last week of the year, Kingsfield's staff is given the week off from their usual duties. It's a great week to recharge and ready oneself for the next calendar year. As a result, we have been enjoying some leisurely activity. But the world around us does not stop. Consider our return home from Sea World tonight. The phone rang out twice and I knew that both phone calls had to be answered.

The first call was from a young lady who got in touch with me through my Facebook account earlier this week, wanting to tell me some exciting news. I had a decent idea as to what she might want to talk with me about, but I always love to hear people tell me. Of course, she is getting married in 2010 and wisely was asking for pre-marital counseling. Being a champion of the importance of pre-marital counseling, I readily, humbly, but excitedly consented to meet with them.

I am truly honored to get this kind of call. This person is asking me to invest in their life, and in the second most important relationship in their life! That position is truly priceless to me and I cannot wait to begin the process with them, though they may seriously regret their decision. I tell my couples that I could care less about their wedding day. As a result, if I get the sense from the Lord that He is not doing a work of uniting their hearts, I will strongly recommend that they both reconsider getting married. "But we have a date, have put out money for..." I DO NOT CARE! All that matters to me is that they have a God honoring marriage that withstands the test of time and changing circumstances. I will do my best to biblically challenge their positions and beliefs about marriage, all in hopes of preparing them for the very real issues in front of them.

That being said, I have only needed to tell one couple that they should not wed. They got married anyway and were divorced just several months later. I'm not saying it's because I told them so. I'm saying it because it was clear from the very beginning that their marriage was based on a need to not be single any longer, in desperation, turning to the only available outlet. Not a good idea.

What the Lord brings together, will stay together, albeit through a lot of hard work and steady commitment. There is no easy marriage, unless it is a dishonest one! If God is not building, then they that labor to stay married, often do so in vain. My hope and prayer is that this couple will have the wisdom to analyze and criticize their own desires through the filter of biblically centered pre-marital counseling. For my part, I will come along side of them, and pray that the Lord fills me with His Word for application to their hearts.

No sooner had the first call finished, when the second one rang out. This one was quite different in nature. It came from a man, who has just received some disturbing news relating to his health. He had gone to the Doctor the other day, and the news left him stunned and burdened.

This was unexpected news. In fact, when last I talked with this man, there was tremendous optimism and eager anticipation for the best. Tonight, that was absent in his voice and demeanor. Being a friend of this brother, I found myself saddened, but knew that the time for such feelings would come later. Right now, we need to join together in prayer, and call on the faith in Christ that propels us both.

Again, I am so blessed to be on the receiving end of a call like this. Here is a man, crying out for help, asking for the Lord to impart wisdom, but more than that, needing someone who will listen. I am humbled that he called me, and grateful to be a conduit through which Christ might bring comfort and strength in this pressing time. I told him that an afternoon coffee was in order and that we would do this tomorrow.

The irony of these two calls could not speak more loudly to me. Here was a young woman, brimming with excitement, looking forward to this new year in anticipation of a new life. On the other hand, here is an older gentleman, staring down the barrel of treatments that may prolong his life, but at that point, only by a little. The young lady is riding the crest of joy; the man is riding the wave of disappointment. All of this in a matter of minutes of time in my evening! I went from great joy to great concern.

Such is the emotional palette that ministry calls us to endure. There are tremendous highs and difficult lows. Paul talked about these things, I believe, when he wrote "who is sufficient for these things?" Later, when compiling his list of burdens, he adds after writing about physical afflictions, the mental afflictions that ministry affords.

"besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches." II Corinthians 11:28

I don't write this to call attention to my emotional state or to pat myself on the back for the mental hardships that might come my way. I will be the first to say, and say loudly, that I have nothing to complain about! Usually, the things that I deal with when it comes to people, makes me grateful that I have the minor problems that I do in comparison to the major struggles that they face. I am not a martyr and my intention in writing this is not to take that position.

Rather, I am saying that this is par for the course. This is what ministry is all about. When Pastors get phone calls, most all know that the phone calls that they prepare for, that they want to receive, will tax them and force them to trust in God as much as the person they are trying to convince to trust in God! And I mean that in bad AND in good situations! For the young lady, she needs to trust that God is leading her into this relationship for the fulfillment of His purpose that cannot be attained apart from her marriage to this particular individual at this time in her life. For this man, he needs to trust that the Lord is good, in spite of what he presently believes to be bad news.

All the while, a Pastor like myself loves these moments. Not because they are easy or hard, per se. No, I love them because all other pretense is stripped away. This ministry that I will perform by the grace of the Lord, will not be glamorous, creative, or even noticed by any others not intimately involved. It will be done unto the Lord, in complete service to these individuals. All the fancy preaching and anecdotes will be done away with. What will be left will be authentic care and ministry that comes from Holy Spirit comforting and exhorting through His vessel.

To me, the rewarding part of the ministry, is the result of consistently done battle in the lives of individuals. If this young lady makes it to the altar, and I happen to preside over her wedding, I will stand so thankful to the Lord that I stand there unashamed to publically present a couple that I believe to be godly representatives of what biblical marriage is about. If this man is healed and made whole again, I will stand at the end of that process knowing that I prayed and partnered with the Lord in that work of healing. If this man is not healed, then I will stand by as he is ushered into the presence of his Savior, my work will have been to continue to focus his eyes in that direction. If these things are accomplished, then I will have done my duty unto the Lord and to these, His people.

The greatest feeling of fulfillment is to see these people that I get to engage with, win their respective battles and walk courageously, faithfully into whatever destiny the Lord has ordained for them.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, December 26, 2008

Frank's Triumphant Christmas Story

Hello All,

My love affair with the Greek language began in the third office of the New Building at The Packinghouse, with my personal Professor, Pastor Dick Sanner. He told me that he would teach me enough Greek to be able to use the tools that were available to students and Pastors today. He introduced me to my first interlinear and then, my first lexicon. It was a whole new world for me.

Then, as he noted my enthusiasm, he told me of the mythical beast that would fulfill his promise to me and prove my sincerity and investment in what he had taught me. He told me of a set of books called the "Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament." I sat in rapt attention, eyes wide with unbridled passion to claim this, that hour if necessary! He explained that it was the most serious work of it's time, carefully explaining each significant biblical wo
rd, and then providing various ways in which this word was employed by secular Greeks. I drooled and may have let out a grunt...sort of like the Urukai of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy...I often picture myself as the one that Aragorn kills at the end of "Fellowship..."I digress...

Pastor Sanner continued giving precious details about this elusive collection. I asked where I might buy this and he told me of a bookshop in Pasadena called "The Archives." The name alone elicited shrieks of sheer joy, as if this were the Holy Grail of bookshops! He explained that many of the books that Fuller Seminary used as textbooks were available for purchase there. I have never since been so excited at the possibilities!

My first visit to the Archives bookshop coincided with my wife's first visit to the Jewelry district in Los Angeles several Christmases ago. She hyperventilated at the worthless diamond stones, unceremoniously draped upon gold necklaces and bracelets. I could not believe that you could put that many diamonds in that many buildings in Los Angeles. What a waste of space!

Ah, but that tiny little kingdom of books in Pasadena! The Archives was just that: A musty book shop filled with the great words of the greatest writers. No fluff. No "101 Ways To Be Happy With Your Christianity." It was the good stuff. It was my turn to hyperventilate.

I was overwhelmed. I could have spent weeks, months in that wonderful place. Of course, Lela being underwhelmed, allowed approximately 15 minutes of time! But it was enough to ask the bookkeeper if he had the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. He snickered, as if to say, "Do you know where you are?" Of course they had it! He directed me to the reference section and I walked the hallowed aisle to the TDNT. There it was in all it's glory!

Ten volumes, thousands of pages, the key to greater understanding and knowledge was mine! I pulled the first volume from the shelf to assess the price, assuming that my piddly fortune would be enough. I was aghast to discover that I was looking at over a thousand dollars! "Pastor Sanner never told me it would be that much? Why?" Bitter with disappointment, I settled for the Abridged one volume version, but ever imagining that I would one day find this at a discounted price, somehow...

Every Christian Book Distributor catalog that I received, representing the best bargains in Christian books, had the great volumes of great price...at a great price! "Great" as in less than $1200, but still at $700! I'm A PASTOR PEOPLE!!! A few times over the last several years, I have seen it for $525, then $350. Last December, I was floored to see it drop to $250. Still I waited, biding my time, hoping and praying against all odds.

I checked Craigslist, Ebay, Half.com, and all other possible outlet
s. Nothing. Then it happened. I got the last "Preferred Customer Catalog" just about a month ago. I could hardly believe my eyes: $224! I about wet my pants, metaphorically you understand!!! This was within reach! I would save birthday money, Christmas money, wedding money, coffee money, etc. It would be mine!

Today was the day to make it happen. I cross checked all o
ther outlets just in case. Still, the best value was in my catalog. I was ready to take the proverbial plunge. Credit card in hand I reached for the phone. "I should check CBD's website, just once more...just in case..." I saw what I am about to show you right now:
Can you see those numbers!?!?! $129!?!?!?!?!? There had to be a mistake. A misprint? Perhaps a cruel joke or even worse, a disclaimer that said "$129 with the purchase of $1500 worth of books!" But no. The wonderful woman from CBD, with that Northeastern accent, took my order and promised that they would be here by Wednesday of next week!!!

I hope that you all had a great Christmas, but mine, with hope fulfilled, albeit a nerd's hope, made mine just wonderful!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas - In Three Passages

All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel--`God is with us.'
(Isaiah 7:14)

Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All of this happened to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet: "Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God is with us). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
(Matthew 1:18-25)

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the village inn. That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior--yes, the Messiah, the Lord--has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!
(Luke 2:7-11)

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, given to men, as the only portal of salvation. He is THE Savior from the most pernicious enemy: Our sins. He did not come to make things better politically, or to change our status financially, but save us from our sins, spiritually. His death, the death of God in the flesh, and our belief, trust, in that work, secures that salvation as our own.

For those who have trusted, trust again.

For those who have not, I pray that you might trust Him for the first time.

And for all who have trusted, be like God and give Jesus away to someone else, for He is the one gift that must be received, but should never be kept!

Merry Christmas!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

It's A Video Fest!! Merry Christmas!

Hello All,

Several notable items have come to my attention over the last week or so, and a few of them have Youtube videos attached to them. Of course, the first among them is the video directly below this blog post, containing our latest video of our kids, which we believe to be the funniest video we have produced. If you haven't seen it, we invite you to enjoy at your leisure. Lazy and you need a link? Here it is!

But there are other videos. For example, a great video that our church administrator Carrie Allen participated in with her friends from Biola made me laugh incessantly. Carrie makes me laugh quite often in the office and at her blog. With post titles like this, it's hard not to! So the video: It's called "All Things Are Better In Koine." "Koine" being the common Greek that is used in biblical texts and spoken in popular language during New Testament times. Here's the video:

Then I caught this just this evening. Most of you who know me, know that I LOVE words. I credit my 11th grade history teacher, Steve Hickok with this love affair. I took "Communication" with him and he introduced me to a world of words that I just needed to master. I believe it's enriched my life, though at times, it has been a curse to others. To them, I say: Get a dictionary! Ah, but a dictionary is what this next video is about. The New Webster's Dictionary has chosen it's "Word Of The Year." I did not know that there was a "Word Of The Year" so I will follow this from now on. In explaining the word of the year pick, there is also some interesting social commentary that you might be interested in if you happen to be in the younger generation of readers. Here is that video:

And finally, on a most serious note, I found these videos last week. It is Pastor John MacArthur, being interviewed by Kirk Cameron on TBN. The subject? The Gospel. Take a look for yourself:

I know that MacArthur is responding to the type of theology that is espoused and celebrated on TBN. While I do not endorse THAT, I also would say that there might be a balance to what Pastor MacArthur said. The gospel does NOT promise riches or a "happier life" but it DOES produce a qualitatively better existence than living without Christ and the good news of His victory. I DO believe that we have something to celebrate, smile and enjoy.

THAT being said, I LOVE John MacArthur's take on the Corinthians passage. I have definitely used that illustration many times and am very grateful for that excellent bit of biblical work.

(Now, as I am increasingly sensitive to the discernment ministry hounds that have become as prevalent in Christian circles as the paparazzi have in the world. It makes me feel like writing a disclaimer, probably one that would look like this:

"Frank and Lela's use of the following quote/media does not represent endorsement of this person's ministry. We are unaware of their "ology" (enter "pneumat, eschat, bibliol, or bi") or any comment or teaching they have presented, which may or may not agree with our theology. Additionally, we are sorry if their actions have hurt or offended you in any way. We are unaware of that and do not intend to promote them or their ministry in a consistent manner on this blog. Our endorsement is solely related to that which has been quoted or presented on this blog, believing that the content of that quote or media alone is consistent with our feelings on that particular subject alone. Thank you.")

I join wholeheartedly with Pastor MacArthur and his passion for the purity of the message of the Gospel and it's indictment against that which is passed off as preaching the "Gospel" today. I'm thankful for men like him, for that stance specifically, that stand in stark contrast to so many "peddlers" that have gained so much attention for their addiction to "itching ears" theology.

Now, some non-"Tube" related things, but still of interest. As many of you know, President Elect Obama has invited Pastor Rick Warren to do the Inaugaural Invocation. Many in the homosexual community have taken offense at this. I read this and thought that it was interesting.

And FINALLY: Hopefully, this article KILLS all those drummer jokes that I have heard for years. I'm so happy for this vindication!

Merry Christmas all and GO LAKERS!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, December 19, 2008

Because Nobody Believes Us!

Hello All,

Most people see our children in one light and most of those times, it is in church or some other public place. They come across as angelic, perfect little beings, who are shy when spoken to and quiet when answering a question. Here's how they really are!

The responses to this video will vary in the widest of ways. For example, some with children will be encouraged that a Pastor's kids act this way. At the same time, others with children will be DIScouraged that a Pastor's kids act this way. For singles or newly marrieds, this will be employed as birth control! If there is a psychologist in the house, I am sure that they will want to contact us for a "session" or two!

However, our responses will likely fall into these particular feelings, at least once: 1) These kids are ridiculously cute and 2) they are pretty hilarious. Lizzy admitted today to "fake crying" at least once, which was great to get on camera!

Hopefully, you will enjoy watching it as much as I did making it.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Monday, December 08, 2008

You Can Always Change The Game...

Hello All,

This past weekend had Lela and I in Lake Arrowhead enjoying our staff Christmas party/retreat. As usual, it was a great time to get together for spiritual and non-spiritual activity, both types being in abundance. I'll get to that in a moment.

When I got to the cabin, the one question that was on my mind was how my drum student had done the night before. I admit that I was really nervous to hear what had gone down, mostly for how she had come into that previous night. It was a ball of confusion, as she had been preparing for a certain list of songs, only to find out on that day that the worship leader who was to play those songs was not going to be leading at all! During our lesson earlier that day, I told her that we would use the extra time to prepare, and not to feel bummed.

I felt sort of foolish, as I had worried so much and now there was nothing to worry about...until the worship leader that did show up, extended the invite for my student to play! However, this was different, because now there was no build-up, no expectation, so things would come out in a natural and good way. I was relieved, but still a little worried that she would not have the best first experience.

That brings me back to the mountain home and the first person to greet Lela and I. Jonathan, the high school Pastor greeted me and before he could finish saying "hello..." I said, "Well, how did she do?"

Not even a moment went by for thought and Jono lit up and reported that she had done amazing! I was so proud and thankful. He spoke volumes of the intricacies of her "performance" and I was beaming, at least in my spirit! I figured, what a wonderful way to begin this retreat.

And it continued just like that. The beautiful sonorous sounds of a good time: Laughter, loud talking and good food! That night, we did our gift exchange, which produced some wonderful white elephant gifts, some of which you will see shortly...not in this post, but soon!

Of course, the evening took a dramatic turn when the ladies beat the men in Guesstures. And thus the title and theme of this post. Change. You see, the women, noting their futile attempts to defeat us in Catch Phrase, have subtly, perhaps not so subtly, simply changed the game on the men. The move from Catch Phrase to Guesstures is on the surface subtle, but just under the surface, truly insidious.

I imagine their minds focusing power together, and agreeing silently, imperceptibly, to "forget" the game last time that we played. Then of course, when this next retreat came up, the men would only remember the last time that we played. Wanting to avenge themselves, they would almost insist on playing Guesstures, a game that men cannot be that good at.

Why you ask? Guesstures requires multi-tasking skills that women are simply better at. You have to read a word, act it out without saying anything and then push a button. That's three different functions! If you play the old Guesstures, you also have to delicately remove the falling cards, something men with large hands would have a difficult time doing.

So in almost ironic fashion, we pushed the ladies to the deciding 5th game. We were tied at 2. In a dramatic show of brilliance, Danny Larsh put us into position for a win, with us just shy by 1 point. We told him to "bank" it, even though he had about 10 seconds left. The girls would need 5 to win and nobody had gotten 5 all night. In fact, for most of the night, there were some very difficult words to act out. We were poised to win.

Unfortunately for us, Brenda Paternostro, that paradigm of sweetness, came up and incredibly got 5 points! It's shocking that she got 5 points, but when you hear the words she got, you will see that the men were robbed! Us guys had to act out things like "Blue Cheese," "Great Dane" and "Dyspeptic Aphorism." Brenda's words were not only simple, but they had been acted out by previous participants! It went like this:

(Brenda pointing to her right arm) Girls respond: "ARM!" Bank...

(Brenda lifts her pinky finger) Girls respond: "FINGER!" Bank...

The men in stunned silence can hardly believe the monosyllabic choices that the game is currently spewing...

(Brenda throws a long pole) Girls respond: "JAVELIN!" (Frank just about faints as he acted that one out personally 2 rounds ago!)

And so it went! The ladies had what they came for: A win, by one measely point! I'm sure that the ladies will take it, as a win is a win...however, if there was a staff retreat commission to investigate the fairness of the proceedings at any given retreat, the ladies may find themselves in prison for ROBBERY!!! ACT THAT ONE OUT TATUM!!!!

But, the greatest change for this post was the addition of Pastor Rod Collins to the mix. Rod graciously came up the next morning and spoke into the lives of our staff members. He spoke about leadership and really blessed us with his wisdom and breadth of experience. Rod encouraged us to do all things excellently, be wise in balancing our lives, and to be loyal team mates to one another. Rod's talks were candid, personal and filled with great wisdom for each of us. His presence was very welcome, his content much needed!

On a personal note, Pastor Rod and I have been friends for almost 20 years. I have always admired Pastor Rod and have always appreciated his zeal and passion for the Lord. Now, as Pastor of Sanctuary church in Beaumont, there is new depth of wisdom that refreshingly poured over us at the retreat. Rod, should you read this: Thank you so much for being willing to share your time and wisdom with us!

As usual, the Kingsfield staff enjoyed the time together. The fun together was one thing. The bonding and the instruction taken together was invaluable.

But next time, it's catch phrase or nothing!!!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy Birthday Zizzabiss!

Hello All,

That's right: Our littlest Sanchez, version 3.0, the precious surprise has turned the page on year three! Now at 4 years old, she is only one year away from being able to drink coke and have gum, though she has already experienced both on numerous occasions. Yes, she is quite sneaky...takes after her mother!

Elizabeth is the most energetic and naturally funny of the three. She's also likely the toughest! I have seen her take on her older sister and her older brother and win...easily!

We love our little girl and we look forward to all that she has in front of her. I know that the Lord is going to use her in special ways.

Happy Birthday Zizz. We love you!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Here Kitty Kitty!

The Music And The Story Are Just Amazing...Thanks to the Kneppers for this classic find!

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Unique Feeling

Hello All,

Before I get to the occasion of my post, I wanted to acknowledge that Frank The Whale Whisperer has won an overwhelming victory in the Facebook profile race. There was never really a serious challenge. It was Obama-esque in it's domination...don't read too much into that!

Yesterday, I had the unique experience of preparing my current drum student for her first live drumming experience. It was different on several fronts. First, she is the only student that I have had, that I am aware of, that has not concurrently been "working" in some capacity. All of her experience thus far has been clinical/theoretical in nature.

Second, she is the only female drum student to make it to her first live drum experience under my tutelage. I might be a bit sexist in that remark, and I do know that there are phenomenol female drummers out in the world. I personally admire Hillary Jones, Cindy Blackmon and Terri Lynne Carrington and the skills that they bring to the set.

Finally, the third unique feature about this current student is that she is not working out with me as the worship leader/band director. With previous students, they have played in a band that I was leading. Having developed a rapport, as well as a vocabulary, it's easier to communicate and lead to a successful first venture. For all of these reasons, this student is unique, but in a very common place, in terms of a first time musical experience.

There I was with her after church, her parents sitting in the sanctuary with us, and I was trying to download all the information about the songs that she will be playing in a succinct fashion. She was easily able to technically replicate all that I showed her, as she has a natural ear and a very good work ethic.

But again, we were in "the lab." We were sitting in the sanctuary, on my drums, simulating a musical experience, and only myself and her parents sitting nearby. At that moment, I began to realize that this experience would be more than a musical one. And it would take more than musical acumen to "survive!" She would have to face several things that she had never previously given thought to. What would happen when she made her first mistake, an inevitable occurrence sometime? What will she do when she feels all of those faces on her for the first time? What happens when she strikes the drum and no matter how lightly she plays, it might be too loud for someone? The sum of all fears were caving in on me as I grasped the true totality of the situation.

It made me flash back to when I was a 13 year old, sitting in the old sanctuary at the Packinghouse in Redlands. Usually, I would get to the church at around 6AM, accompanying my Mom, who opened the church and ran the daycare for the school. Shortly after arriving, I would go into the sanctuary and pound away on any given drum set. Before long, I was able to play anything, at least in my mind!

But then, the night came when Paul Brill was late for Youth group. I don't remember my age, probably 15, and my Dad, who was the worship leader at the time, told me that I was going to play for Paul. My first song was "I've Waited," which was a difficult (for me at that time) 16th note hand over hand pattern. I sweated it out, fairly certain that I was going to faint, when the first song came to an end. Then it was time for "Pharoah, Pharoah," one of my personal favorites at the time. We had just gotten into the tune when Paul shows up. Now, I was really nervous, as Paul was one of my earliest drum heroes. He sat there smiling, approving of what I was doing and then came up to relieve me. I think that he said something encouraging and then I got off the stage. (I mention that I think it was encouraging, because I would have definitely recalled discouragement! But that was never Paul's way.)

As terrifying as this was, it was also electrifying! I had successfully gone through my first public drum experience and it had gone surprisingly good. (By the way, this was not my first public MUSIC experience, as I played trumpet in elementary school. That experience did not go very well at all! That's a story for another time.)

As I went on from that moment, that Tuesday night, experience led to experience and confidence was added to technique and before I knew it, I was playing with some wonderfully skilled musicians. As I reflect upon Sunday morning (I had played just an hour before my student's lesson), I realize that I did not have one bit of tension or nerves. I am perhaps the most comfortable with a pair of sticks in my hand, but that was not always the way it was.

There were nights before Sunday morning services that I would wake up in fear of missing the alarm clock several times. Other times, I would dream that I was setting up my drums DURING worship, one drum at a time. Then there was the fear of not being good enough or having to do something completely foreign for the first time. These things haunt young players.

Then there is the actual embarrassment of missing an ending or hitting a cymbal during a sensitive moment of prayer. Dropping sticks? Hitting yourself? Poking an eye? All except for the last one (I've worn glasses since the 4th grade...otherwise I would have been 3 for 3!) I've experienced and learned to laugh about it.

All of this is also coupled with the musical excitement of emotionally leading an entire congregation into a place of worship. There is nothing like playing a fill to bring the band back into that amazing chorus and the rush of seeing an entire audience stand to their feet, raising their hands to God. It's almost on cue, but the drummer often signals that moment. There is no better feeling than a great groove and the camaraderie that comes, when everyone smiles and is enjoying a language that is not even understood on a conscious level among the majority of the congregation.

All these things, my drum student will begin to enjoy someday, but first, she must face the fears, the anxieties, the tension and the insecurities that are par for the course when you're a musician. She must learn to navigate through sub par drumsets, equipment malfunctions, discouraging moments of failure and fellow musician's egos. She must experience disillusionment, both at her playing and at the ideology that is prevalent among young Christian musicians that the Christian world is all fair and good. She'll learn to protect herself.

At the same time, she will have to be rescued from herself. She will have to continually check her ego at the door. She will have to prioritize her faith over her instrument, the people that she plays for, over the musical goals she would wish to accomplish. She will have to conduct herself in a manner befitting one in spiritual authority, an unfair disposition, but one that cannot be avoided in the church. She will have to watch her words, her behavior and her personal preferences and liberties, knowing that a good reputation is the hardest thing to establish and the easiest thing to lose. In all of these, the best have failed to take into account to their detriment, the author being no exception.

But mixed with all of these issues, will be the great adventure of learning to apply all that she has learned technically in such a way as to genuinely move from being a technician to a musician, which is to move from being aware to being an artist. Time, plus technique, plus experience, plus mind numbing hard work will bring this young lady to where she wants to be. Someday, she will look back and fondly remember the times of trepidation, and know that they were necessary stepping stones on the climb to artistic success.

In many ways, I see the same thing being true for people in ministry. They know "the book," they have taken in the "theory." Then, real life ministry hits, and the most successful men/women that I know learned how to navigate and adapt to what was authentic, true ministry. These are not the ones who offer the pithy cliche or the pad answer. They know that those words are technically true, but are lacking in any true power for the moment. The true minister takes what he/she learns, applies it sensitively and in a timely manner, and moves from being a technician, to being a minister, again the distinction between technique and artistry!

I wish my student the very best. May she be the godly young exception to every rule that might threaten otherwise. May all of her experience, good and bad, add strength to her convictions and wisdom in her way. While I am uncertain as to what this first real lesson will hold, I know that she will do well.

I hope and pray the same for those aspiring to ministry.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

A Word From Spurgeon

Hello All,

I read this on a neighboring blog a few days ago and thought that you might benefit from it as well. However, before you read, I do not believe that you should read an endorsement of "discernmnent" type ministries, either by Spurgeon or by myself. I am not in favor of Christians looking around at other people's ministries, and "warning" (gossiping) about their practices. Pastor Ed Rea once said to his congregation, that "criticism without personal involvement is judgment." Most of the time, discernment ministries live and thrive on what they have heard, not what they have experienced personally, and therein, I find the offense. However, as Christians, we ARE exhorted to "contend for the faith" by Jude and to "hold fast the form of sound words" by Paul in the New Testament. Let us contend and point our swords in the direction of our enemy, not our family!

Now, Mr. Spurgeon has the floor...

The Downgrade Controversy
by C.H. Spurgeon

"The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. A plain man told us the other day that two ministers had derided him because he thought we should pray for rain. A gracious woman bemoaned in my presence that a precious promise in Isaiah which had comforted her had been declared by her minister to be uninspired. It is a common thing to hear working-men excuse their wickedness by the statement that there is no hell, "the parson says so." But we need not prolong our mention of painful facts. Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her track. Attendance at places of worship is declining, and reverence for holy things is vanishing; and we solemnly believe this to be largely attributable to the scepticism which has flashed from the pulpit and spread among the people. Possibly the men who uttered the doubt never intended it to go so far; but none the less they have done the ill, and cannot undo it. Their own observation ought to teach them better. Have these advanced thinkers filled their own chapels? Have they, after all, prospered through discarding the old methods? Possibly, in a few cases genius and tact have carried these gentry over the destructive results of their ministry; but in many cases their pretty new theology has scattered their congregations. In meeting-houses holding a thousand, or twelve hundred, or fifteen hundred, places once packed to the ceiling with ardent hearers, how small are the numbers now! We would mention instances, but we forbear. The places which the gospel filled the new nonsense has emptied, and will keep empty.

This fact will have little influence with "the cultured"; for, as a rule, they have cultivated a fine development of conceit. "Yes," said one, whose pews held only here and there a worshipper, "it will always be found that in proportion as the preacher's mind enlarges, his congregation diminishes." These destroyers of our churches appear to be as content with their work as monkeys with their mischief. That which their fathers would have lamented they rejoice in: the alienation of the poor and simple-minded from their ministry they accept as a compliment, and the grief of the spiritually-minded they regard as an evidence of their power. Truly, unless the Lord had kept his own we should long before this have seen our Zion ploughed as a field.

The other day we were asked to mention the name of some person who might be a suitable pastor for a vacant church, and the deacon who wrote said, "Let him be a converted man, and let him be one who believes what he preaches; for there are those around us who give us the idea that they have neither part nor lot in the matter." This remark is more commonly made than we like to remember, and there is, alas! too much need for it. A student from a certain college preached to a congregation we sometimes visit such a sermon that the deacon said to him in the vestry, "Sir, do you believe in the Holy Ghost?" The youth replied, "I suppose I do." To which the deacon answered, "I suppose you do not, or you would not have insulted us with such false doctrine." A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of his glory, and man of his hope.

It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide by the faith once delivered to the saints should fraternize with those who have turned aside to another gospel. Christian love has its claims, and divisions are to be shunned as grievous evils; but how far are we justified in being in confederacy with those who are departing from the truth? It is a difficult question to answer so as to keep the balance of the duties. For the present it behooves believers to be cautious, lest they lend their support and countenance to the betrayers of the Lord. It is one thing to overleap all boundaries of denominational restriction for the truth's sake: this we hope all godly men will do more and more. It is quite another policy which would urge us to subordinate the maintenance of truth to denominational prosperity and unity. Numbers of easy-minded people wink at error so long as it is committed by a clever man and a good-natured brother, who has so many fine points about him. Let each believer judge for himself; but, for our part, we have put on a few fresh bolts to our door, and we have given orders to keep the chain up; for, under color of begging the friendship of the servant, there are those about who aim at robbing THE MASTER.

We fear it is hopeless ever to form a society which can keep out men base enough to profess one thing and believe another; but it might be possible to make an informal alliance among all who hold the Christianity of their fathers. Little as they might be able to do, they could at least protest, and as far as possible free themselves of that complicity which will be involved in a conspiracy of silence. If for a while the evangelicals are doomed to go down, let them die fighting, and in the full assurance that their gospel will have a resurrection when the inventions of "modern thought" shall be burned up with fire unquenchable."

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez