Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Few Words On Humility

Hello All,

Lela and I have been spending some time reading Oswald Sanders' classic book, "Spiritual Leadership." This is my 3rd time through this book and each time, it just hits me in a deeper place. The first time I read it was after I had been leading for a long period of time. I realized that my first years in leadership would have been PROFOUNDLY better, had I been made to read this book. I highly recommend this book to every aspiring leader, not so much because it's spiritual, though it certainly is, but simply because the misery should not only be mine! Case in point: Tonight, we were reading chapter 8, entitled "8 Essential Qualities Of Leadership." It should be entitled "8 Daggers Intended To Rip Your Spiritual Heart Out Of Your Body, Revealing What A Wretched, Hopeless Bottom Feeder You Are!" (While this title obviously lacks in brevity, it is much more accurate!) One of the essential qualities covered in the chapter is the quality of humility.

Humility is one of those characteristics that we all tend to laugh about having. I myself have a few stock jokes about the topic. But when one is pressed, it's a characteristic that is perhaps the most elusive to practice and among the most difficult to gauge. I feel like I am in pretty good company (THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE!), especially when I heard a major Christian leader confess his own struggle with this characteristic.

So, back to Spiritual Leadership and the quote that gave me a spiritual beatdown tonight. Oswald quotes William Law from his book "Serious Call."

"Let every day be a day of humility; condescend to all the weaknesses and infirmities of your fellow-creature, cover their frailties, love their excellencies, encourage their virtues, relieve their wants, rejoice in their prosperities, be compassionate over their distress, receive their friendship, overlook the unkindness, forgive their malice, be a servant of servants, and condescend to do the lowliest offices of the lowest of mankind."
pg.63, Spiritual Leadership

Anyone else want to quit!? It's not that Jesus is constantly setting the bar higher. It's that we consistently grow in the knowledge that we are ever lower! Our perception of the closeness to our goals that we believe we are achieving, is merely an illusion. Thank God for His grace, a spiritual blessing that I need more of with every passing day.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Friday, February 20, 2009

Morality vs. Conversion

Hello All,

Over the last several weeks, the kids and I have been doing our Bible time from an actual "words only" Bible. We read through the picture Bible about 6 times, which makes for some very tattered pages and whole sections that are now missing. I figured that if I bought ANOTHER picture Bible that it would just end up the same way, so I moved us to the real scriptures. We focused first on the Sermon on the Mount, then moved to the Fruit of the Spirit. Lately, we have been studying the 10 Commandments.

Before the kids and I actually look at the "Commandment Du Jour," I ask them a series of questions. For example, "Who wrote the 10 Commandments?" The answer of course is God. "Who were the 10 Commandments written for?" The people of Israel were the original recipients, but by virtue of our covenant relationship with God through Christ, the commandments are a part of our relationship to God, and our compliance with them demonstrates our fidelity and love to God. Where not bound in practice, we are bound in principle. When the New Testament repeats a command, which is the case with 9 of the 10, then it's explicitly directed to believers in Christ. The Sabbath command is not repeated and is therefore implictly obeyed by making sure to set apart time to reflect and honor the Lord in our hearts. The answers are a little shorter when it's the kids, but since they don't read this blog, I thought I would tailor it to your eyes!

Now, the other night, we covered the commandment found in Exodus 20:16, which reads, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." Lying, a problem in the wilderness community, was prohibited by the Lord for His people. It's important to remember that this was God's prohibition meant to be understood in relation to God by His people.

When I asked the kids to illustrate this, immediately Renae was quick to point out a class mate of hers who apparently has a problem with each of the commandments. This little person does not claim to know the Lord. Additionally, their family, to my knowledge, does not attend any church, and unless my discerno'meter is way off, there is little connection to the Lord at all.

When I recognized this, I mentioned to Renae that these commandments were not meant for Non-Hebrews/Non-Christians. These were binding only to those in covenant with God. This confused her momentarily, as it does most Christians. First, to comprehend that God's law is specific to God's people is strange to consider for a 7 year old. Second, to comprehend that someone has to choose to receive Christ and then, as an expression of loving devotion, follow the commandments, is baffling. The third issue in her heart is of course, the unnatural lack of universal acceptance of God's love.

These thoughts hang us up as well and Christians raise the banner of imposing Christian covenant law upon non-Christian people. This is one of the main reasons why I don't campaign for things like the public posting of the 10 Commandments. Why should a non-Christian seek to follow these statements? Why should any person outside of a relationship with Christ, seek to do anything that might please Him?

In fact, Paul said it best when referring to the "end" of our salvation. He wrote that if the dead do not rise (a sign of our eventual glorification, which is the end of our salvation) then we are men the most to be pitied! Why? Because we have lived a life based on something that wasn't true. We denied ourselves every earthly pleasure for the sake of the call of Christ. We have taken risks in the name of Jesus, some greater than others, for the sake of calling men to the same faith that we hold. Paul finishes and says that the dead are raised, and Christ, being the firstfruits, guarantees our glorification as well. Our reward is Christ and His riches are given to us in eternity.

The world has their reward here. This is the best that it gets for them. A one night stand on a Friday night after an evening of drinking and lying about themselves is a "great time." Gaining riches at other's expense with little thought to who is harmed, much less who benefits, is the mode of operation that the World subscribes to. Don't get me wrong, as I am not a Christian who believes that every non-believer is a full blown party animal, with little regard for others than themselves. There are very moral, thoughtful and intelligent people who have presently rejected Christ. But that morality and upstanding nature is not enough to please God on Judgment Day. For Christians to attempt to force morality or the law that we uphold upon a non-Christian is to present morality as a viable alternative to conversion.

Jesus does not want to change somebody's behavior. He want to change their hearts! Jesus died for their hearts! He wants to take that dead tissue of a heart and regenerate it to life in Him.

I pray that we as a Christian community, would serve the watching world with a genuine prayer that seeks their transformation and nothing less.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Frank, Meet "Wii"

Hello All,

Today was the celebration of my nephew Adam's 4th birthday. Aunt Corrie's house was filled with family and a new Wii system. For those of you unfamiliar with the Wii, it's a computer game with interactive hand modules that let you play with full motion. It was my first time, but I slowly got a "handle" on how to play. Early in the day, I discovered that there was a boxing game on the docket. I thought that I might just take on my wife first, seeing that it is Valentine's day. I am grateful to say that I defeated Lela, which took three rounds. I was hopeful that my victory would not spoil romance later, but I could not have taken a dive! That would have gone against my code! Then I took out my niece Hannah, shown here in this picture. Incidently, I beat her earlier in a game of Wii Tennis. It was not Hannah's day for Wii! After dispatching Hannah, I took on the birthday boy himself.

Adam put me through the paces, but I was able to defeat him as well. Being that I am roughly 9 times older than he is, I am not ashamed to say that I was getting tired. Those Wii modules require some muscles and I admit that they were screaming at me to quit at this point. That's when Brennan, one of the family's youngest friends, clocking in under 10 years old and weighing just over 70Ilbs, came up to challenge the yet-to-be defeated champion. I knew that I was in for a bit of a challenge.

Brennan was hungry for the win. Concurrently, you could tell that I had become satisfied with myself and honestly, took the young lad a tad too lightly. What would ensue
would simply be the battle for supremacy among the gathered family. Brennan was being cheered on, while I was being booed at every opportunity. I did not take this personally, as it's been said that nobody roots for Goliath! Brennan and I went toe-to-toe for the full 3 rounds, neither of us having a clear advantage. Sweat poured down my face at the end of the third round, while Brennan only looked around to make sure that nobody had messed with his candy from the pinata! He was playing it cool and did not want to show his nervousness as the decision was being rendered by the computer. I toweled off while the points were being tallied. I was not ready for the decision, as it went against me and for the young whippersnapper! It seems that in the case of this last fight, youth beat out experience. Frankly, I could not have been happier for the lad and more relieved that nobody wanted to get another fight with me, the now has-been Wii Boxing champion!

Tonight, as I ice my aching appendages and my slightly bruised ego, I thank the Lord for Adam and the fun of getting our family together for great memories like this!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So I'll Speak From The Rooftop...

Hello All,

Last week, routine maintenance was scheduled for the air units at Kingsfield Church. (What if I just wrote that and nothing else? A little unsatisfying!? Don't worry: I won't!) It began a little strangely, as the company came out without an invitation or so much as an announcement. I had to turn them away, as the ladies were meeting in one of the rooms that would be adversely affected by their rooftop activities. I did however schedule their free preventative maintenance for the following week, which was now last week.

This time, when they came out, I had the opportunity to talk with one of the guys, who happened to be the lead man. A routine, non-descript talk, turned into a revealing discussion regarding this young man's life. A tour of duty in the armed forces, a messy divorce and custody issue had caused him to run into a church to seek God and pray to Him. At that church, he was told that he would have to make a donation if he was to stay any longer! From that point on, he refused to step back into church. I stood there stunned, not at this man's statements, but at the hurt that had surrounded his life. A phone call interrupted and we both went back to work. Unfortunately for them, they would have to return the next day.

That day went by with just a word or two exchanged between us. At the end of the day, I needed to spend some time away from the office. I just needed a little air and decided to check up on the men on the roof. I went up and took in the great view and felt the fresh air sweep over me. I walked over to the men and casually asked how things were going.

At this point, the other man began asking me questions about our church. I just started answering the questions, which led the initial guy to asking me more personal pointed questions, about life, heaven and eternity.

I was so amazed that God had flung open this great door...up on the roof!!! So, I went for it, as calmly as possible, and shared the gospel with this young man. Though he did not receive the Lord, he did clearly hear the gospel, before opting out of the conversation.

I wondered why "it did not happen." But I was soon understanding that it was more for me than it was for him. Sure, he will have that seed watered and it may come to fruition. But for the one who shares the Word, there comes a sense of excitement and fulfillment that lifts your spirits from any emotional place. Something about the excitement of the potential of that moment stirs your heart to believe again, as if it were the first time that you heard the news of the gospel yourself. It is always exhilarating.

Maybe you'll have an opportunity this week. Make the most of it! Not for their sake or even the Lord's, though those are noble causes. Do it because it's the greatest experience Christians can ever receive. Who knows: God may even bring a sinner into the fold...how much better would that be!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Allow Me To Introduce, Karis Harmony!

Hello All,
My brother Richard and his wife Lenna, gave birth to their first born Friday around 1:20PM. Thankfully, she takes after her mother and is quite beautiful!! We took the kids to the hospital and were able to visit "Auntie Lenna" in her room for about 20 minutes. Poor girl was totally tired, but definitely excited. Rich...well, he looked quite shocked, but excited as well.

The experience was of course, incredible for the kids. They love little babies. Their cousins, Adam and Isaiah are always doted on when we go over to "Auntie Corrie's" house. (Ever notice that it's always the woman's house!? Hmmmm.....) At first, we were not sure if they were going to let us in. The sign above the maternity ward read that no kids under 13 would be admitted, unless they were siblings. I admit that I considered lying, which I am glad that I did not perform, especially in front of Carlos Casco, who accompanied us to the Hospital. Thankfully, my wife just went to the desk and with her sweet demeanor, was able to persuade the nurse that we could all enter if even just for a short time. (Weird, but I did not think that the Force worked on nurses!) I am really glad that the nurse let us in, as the I believe that the kids would have completely melted down if they had been restricted.

As you can see, their awe of the moment was clearly seen. They wanted to touch and hold and play, but wiser minds prevailed, and they just looked from a distance. However, both Lela and I got the chance to hold Karis, which for me brought back a ton of memories. The feel of her skin, the type of diaper, the look on her face, all flashed me back to when Renae was born. That day was surreal, a feeling that I know Rich now relates to!I know that I did not show any pictures of my sister-in-law...I will wait for her to approve them! Needless to say, she looked lovely as a mother whose heart, though tired, was blessed and fulfilled in the purpose that lay before her.

To Rich and Lenna: Congratulations! To Karis: Welcome to the world! We can't wait to get to know you!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Pastor Carlos Casco, Live In Irvine!

Hello All,

Pastor Carlos Casco is in town and is staying with us for a few days. This morning, he taught at the Morning Fill and I managed to record it. You can download it right here! It's a great message/time of sharing, as Pastor Carlos and his wife Yolanda embark upon a new season of ministry. If any of you that represent a ministry would like to meet with Pastor Carlos, please feel free to contact me, as there are a few days that we would like to fill on the calendar. For now, enjoy the message!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Distress, Comfort and Resolution

Hello All,

Sometimes it just feels better to not say or write anything! If I were honest, there are many times that I am unable to write about the truly exciting developments that are occurring around the orbit that is our life. I have been sworn to secrecy in some cases, and am waiting as patiently as possible for other pieces of news. At this time in my life, the life of my family, there is so much up in the air for people that we care about. I want to just write it right here. I just want to spew the details, but I can't and that is super frustrating. It seems that God keeps saying "wait and watch" which to me, takes the greatest discipline.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that there is more of this in our lives than there is resolve. Is anything ever totally finished and settled? Can anything be done and completed?

Believe it or not, as I consider this feeling deep in my soul, I am comforted. It doesn't feel good as I watch so many "We'll See What The Lord Does" issues circulating, but the part that does feel good is that I still anticipate that He will move and He will do something! I still believe.

There are people who might lose their homes soon. Some battle with major health concerns. Some seek to embark upon new direction for their ministries. Some are still waiting for their family situation to even out. Some wonder what will happen next! With all my heart, I long for them all to experience the peace that comes with landing in a place of resolve, where more questions are answered than posed. It feels rare, but it does happen.

In my own life, I feel that right now, I am the one that gets to be somewhat stable. For a long time, it was the opposite. People were wondering what was going to happen with the Sanchez family. "Spain, no Spain!?" Lela and I wondered the loudest of course! But we were surrounded by great people who stood beside us. Wonderful people heard the ups and the downs, they prayed, listened and showed genuine Christian concern. I am so thankful for them. I pray that I'll be as faithful to them as they were and are to me.

I wish I had more to offer. I know that they thought the same thing when the roles were reversed. I wish I had their mortgage payment in my wallet. I wish I had the power to diagnose and bring the cure. I wish that I could discern and tell them the end of the story specifically, without defaulting to the usual, "God is going to work it out!" This is probably the most frustrating aspect of ministry. I feel utterly helpless somedays. When I stop to actually think about what I don't know and what I can't offer, it almost drives me insane!

The beauty is that I don't need to know all the answers. I was never meant to. This comforts me as well. I am helpless and so it drives me to the Lord, begging and pleading for His intervention. "It's all so big to me Lord, but it's not a problem for you!" I pray that so often, alone and with people in my lfe.

I'll admit that it wasn't helpful emotionally at the time of our distress, but we knew intellectually that these were the words we needed to hear again and again. We might have cried and wondered, but thanks to those friends, we were drawn back to a place of surrender and quiet before the Lord, knowing that if He slayed us, we would yet trust Him.

I love Jesus. I love God. Ultimately, I love His Spirit's work in even working this out in my heart tonight. He wants to lead our friends there too. I know that it's painful and hard. God knows better. I wish that I could relieve you of your pain. I can't. The Lord God can! He will bring purpose from your pain, no matter the depth and difficulty. It will take longer than you think. It will be deeper than you imagine. You will be stretched thin. But because He has never failed me, I know that He will not fail you!

The end of the story is worth enduring the tough chapters!

Friend, stand strong. We love you dearly!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez