Get Connected  

      Newsletter      

          Giving          

What would it be like if Jesus showed up as King today? Are we ready?

The Good: I figure, since The Eternal King has absolute authority, that He would stop all the bad guys and bad things. So, if Jesus ruled the earth I could change all my interweb passwords to "password," leave my doors unlocked, go back to eating French fries and hot fudge Sundays for breakfast, and cancel both my health and life insurance. It kind of reminds me of the college days.

The Bad: When Jesus came the last time, people expected Him to go to the palace and kick out the Romans. We might expect Him to go to DC and kick out… everybody. Or go on a rampage against televangelists. Or remove all cats. But what Jesus did on His first coming, was to go to the Temple and clean it up by whipping some people in shape. Later, after Jesus died and the Holy Spirit came, God’s Temple moved inside His believers. So, if He came back, today, would He be more concerned about cleaning up DC or cleaning up me? Am I really ready for His return?

The Ugly: Early in Christ’s last week, the crowd thought they were ready for Jesus to be king. He came in town and the people gave Him a Triumphal Entry. But, it seems likely that some of the same people who had shouted "Hosanna, Lord save us!" early in the week were shouting "Crucify Him" a few days later. What made the difference?

Kingship.

The Eternal King has absolute authority. The only way to prepare for His return is absolute surrender. Am I ready?

One day, He will come back as king. Come Sunday. Get ready.

As I prepare for my message this Sunday, titled, "Jesus and Demonic Possession," it occurred to me how little personal experience I have with this subject. I myself have never been possessed by an evil spirit (acted like it at times), nor has anyone in my immediate or extended family (when my kids were two I wondered about them), nor for that matter have I’ve ever seen anyone act anything like the stories of demon-possessed people in Scripture. Not even when I lived in Cuba, where some folks practiced Santeria (an unholy mixture of African animism and "Christianity") did I experience anything like that. 

I have, however, studied the subject over the years, both out of morbid curiosity and academic interest (is there a difference?), even as far back as my high school days in the 60’s. You see, I was educated by Jesuits, an order of the Roman Catholic Church which to this day regularly practices exorcisms. I vividly remember listening to my public speaking teacher simultaneously scare and entertain us with stories of demon-possessed people and exorcism rites when he was a missionary in India. And of course, listening to him meant we had less school work to do. 

Speaking of Jesuits, Pope Francis, a Jesuit himself, advises priests to refer people to exorcists if they suspect demonic activity is at work in any of their parishioners. But he cautions that they should first be examined by medical professionals to ensure that they receive the medical attention they need should their ailment be of a psychiatric nature rather than a spiritual malady. In spite of some significant differences in the way Pope Francis and I see things, I must admit that there’s some wisdom to be found here.

I also find that some people are either overwhelmed with thoughts about demons, as though they were evil spiritual gnats incessantly swirling around their heads, 24/7. Alternatively, others completely ignore the otherworldly rascals as though they did not exist at all. Both are wrong, and by not knowing the truth both open themselves to Satan’s lies and influence. 

This reminds me of something I read a while back in the preface to C.S. Lewis’ satirical/apologetic novel, The Screwtape Letters,

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist and a magician with the same delight."

I wholeheartedly agree. And I find that the best antidote to Satan’s influences on me, which is to say, tempting me to sin and trying to get me to believe his lies, is prayer coupled with reading, studying, meditating, and believing God’s word. God’s word is the absolute truth, and knowing and believing His word is the highway to freedom (John 8.31-32). 

Speaking of God’s word and the truth… I am taking my message for this Sunday from the story of the Gerasene Demoniac in Mark 5.1-20. I like this story because it illustrates God’s grace and mercy poured out on a poor helpless victim, one who was delivered from the worst form of the devil’s influence—demonic possession. And once delivered, he traveled throughout ten cities in the region where he lived filled with joy and telling everyone he ran into about all the good that God did for him. Talk about a happy ending!

Pastor Reinaldo

Just over three years ago, February 2, 2014, to be exact, I started teaching a series at Rio West which I titled, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, According to Mark." The title for this series was taken from Mark 1.1 which reads, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  I picked the gospel of Mark because it’s concise, and I determined that it was important to teach through the life of Jesus.  He is, after all, "the founder and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12.2).  Made sense to me!

Well, I got as far as chapter 6, vv. 30-44 , on October 11, 2015—and then the merger thing got started, we got busy, and "Mark" became another name on our phone list—make that several names.  FWIW, that last message I taught on Mark is the story of Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand—with only five loaves and two fishes—a miracle of Biblical proportions (duh)!  Now, 21st century medical science has been able to replicate some medical miracles, albeit nowhere near as effective or efficient as how Jesus healed the sick.  But replicatimg food is something we can't do. Not yet, at any rate.  But there's good news!  In the 23rd century humanity - or humanoid-anity - will have invented the food replicator.  Don't believe me?  Then check this out: 

 See, I told you so!  Until then we'll just have to work overtime to afford an extra bag or two of groceries.

But I digress…Over the next three Sundays Pastor Dan and I will be teaching from Mark’s Gospel. The three messages are:

1.  Sunday, March 26: Jesus and the Unpardonable Sin – Mark 3.22-30,

2.  Sunday, April 2: Jesus and Demonic Possession – Mark 5.1-20, and

3.  Sunday, April 9: Jesus and His House – Mark 11.15-19.

I will be teaching the first two and Pastor Dan will teach the third one.  After that comes Easter! Pastor Dan and I will be co-teaching on Easter Sunday.

Well, I suppose I should say something about my message for this Sunday, "Jesus and the Unpardonable Sin," from Mark 3.22-30, before I sign off. Are you ready? Got a pencil and notepad ready (electronic or caveman-style)? OK, here it goes… 

If you’re concerned about having committed the "unpardonable sin" then you haven’t done it!

That’s it. That’s my message for this Sunday. Now that you’ve read it here you can relax and take this Sunday off and pig out on pancakes. But not donuts. Eating donuts is the unpardonable sin!

Seriously, I’ll have much more to say on this subject—and grace, and faith, and discipleship—this Sunday, which I pray will be a means of grace to you and edifying to your faith in Christ. 

PS:  Save the pancakes for another Sunday when Pastor Dan is teaching.  I jest, of course, as always.

Pastor Reinaldo

 

 

Membership and Max

We have a dog named Max. Not being a fussy eater, he has destroyed both my retainers and my favorite shirt. We once caught him in the laundry room, eating dryer lint. But, that isn’t as bad as what he finds in the back yard. It is wise, if you want to allow Max to exhale around you, to keep the back yard free of dog poop.

Yet, for some weird reason, we love the mutt.

He does have his positive attributes. When our kids were younger, they used his 100-lbs as a self-moving pillow. We have no need of a burglar alarm. And, when sledding, we clip the sled to Max on the bottom of the hill, and he loves to drag it to the top for us.

The church is a bit like Max. It can have bad breath, and yet it remains the one true hope of the world--bringing food, fresh water, education, and most importantly, the love of Jesus around the globe.

At AnchorPoint, we say Membership, but what we mean is Partnership. We would love for you to become part of our gospel-centered family impacting our community with the hope of Christ. Come Sunday to find out how.

Do I Have to Follow Leaders Who Are Jerks?

This week we are talking about our final Heart Attitude: I will follow my leaders within scriptural limits and make it a joy for them. That sounds easy enough, unless your leader – boss, parent, coach, pastor, Politian – is a jerk. What then?

I mean, if Kim Jong-un moves to New Mexico and becomes my representative, or an irate IRS worker with a vendetta comes after AnchorPoint, or my dad is abusive, or a president resurrects 55mph, would God still expect me to make their lives a joy? Life would be easier if Abe Lincoln was my representative, Billy Graham was correcting me, my dad behaved like Santa, and pastors were given cop cars with immunity.

Speaking of pastors – since I could be the jerk, it’s awkward for me to talk about following your church leaders, I asked Rick Mitchell to speak this week. He is a retired pastor in our congregation, so he is uniquely able to see things from both the followers and the leader’s perspective. I’m looking forward to what he has to say!

Next week, the 19 we have a big sunday planned.  We have a baptism to start the service, a chance to become a fouding member of Anchor Point, and a Q & A after the service to help explain our budget and where we are going from here.  Hope you can join us!

Trying not to be a jerk,

Dan