I, Pastor Reinaldo, moved to Lubbock, Texas, in June, 1980, same year that Mac Davis released his Country & Western hit song, “Texas in My Rear View Mirror” (“I thought happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror…”; you can listen to it at...

 

Unlike Mac Davis, “Texas in my front windshield” was a new and exciting experience for me.  Although I first believed in Christ in 1974 in Ruston, Louisiana, my first few years as a Christian were mostly filled with emotional pain and disillusionment.  Surely, Lubbock would be a new beginning for me.  And it was!  I fell in love and married Hope there, I earned my doctorate there, I advanced in my career there, and I grew in my faith there.  Yes, I loved Lubbock, something which even Mac Davis agreed with towards the end of his song.

 

But what I did not do in the seven years I lived in Lubbock was enjoy the water.  For all my trials and tribulations in Louisiana, I would say that the water there tasted like wine in comparison with Lubbock’s water, which tasted like turpentine.  The water there, drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer (largest underground lake in the U.S.) was replete with all sorts of minerals.  Perhaps associating it with turpentine is a bit much, but imagine making tea from sheetrock and you have a clear picture of its abominable taste.

 

But the worst of it wasn’t the taste.  Older houses there tended to have very low water pressure due to pipes becoming clogged with mineral deposits.  The pipes at an older residence hall at Texas Tech, Hulen Hall, had to be removed and reinstalled.   They were cut up into 1” sections and given to faculty and staff as souvenir paper weights (a 1½” pipe had an effective opening less than ½” due to years of mineral deposits). 

 

So, what does any of this have to do with (Revelation 3.14-22), the letter to Laodicea, seventh of the seven letters to churches in Asia Minor in (Revelation 2-3)?  It appears that the water in Laodicea was as bad—probably worse—than that in Lubbock.  But that was not the Laodicean church’s main concern.  Rather, it was that the tepid, disgusting water they drank was a metaphor for the pitiable (Christ’s own word) state of that church.  Christ frequently used elements of the society and culture He was speaking to as metaphors and allegories to address spiritual truths.  And of the seven churches of Revelation, Laodicea was the only for which Christ had nothing to commend them for; it appears that they valued comfort, convenience and consumerism before Christ.  Their pitiable state was as bad as the water they consumed.  Sad.

 

Please join us this Sunday to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3.22), and to AnchorPoint Church in particular.  I pray that we would carefully hear what Christ has to say to us.  And you can pray for me that I would teach God’s word accurately and that I would reflect Christ’s heart in my message.

 

Did you know that the name "Smyrna" means "myrrh"? Smyrna was a major Greek port city of Asia Minor, second only to Ephesus in grandeur and strategic significance. It was also a major processing place for myrrh (hence the name "Smyrna"). This coming Sunday we will look at Christ’s letter to the church in Smyrna, the second of seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor.

 

But in this blog I want to address myrrh, the aromatic spice so beloved by so many for so long. Myrrh is mentioned 19 times in Scripture, seven of those times in Song of Solomon (1.13, 3.6, 4.6, 4.14, 5.1, 5.5 & 5.13). You should look them up—but be prepared to blush!

 

In Matthew 2.11 where we read that the magi (or "wise men") were "…going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him…they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." The gift of gold is fit for a king; Jesus is the "King of Kings." The gift of frankincense is fit for worshipping God; Jesus is God. And the gift of myrrh is for embalming the dead; Jesus died—and rose again!

 

In John 19.39 where we read that "Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight." Assuming he used the liquid form of myrrh, and assuming that the 75 lbs. mentioned was half myrrh and half aloes, the 37.5 lbs. of myrrh would cost about $3,000 today (liquid myrrh is about $20.00/4 oz. at amazon.com—you do the math. Truly, Nicodemus was "born again" (John 3.1-15), for he trusted Him as his Savior and showed his love for Him by spending that kind of money on His burial.

 

And in Mark 15.23 where we read that "…they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it." Apparently, myrrh has analgesic qualities, especially when mixed with wine and ingested. But as Mark tells us, he refused it. We read in Mark 14.36 that the night before His crucifixion at the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to the Father, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." But the will of the Father was prophesied by Isaiah some seven centuries prior, for we read in Isaiah 53.5 that, "…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." As I understand all this, Jesus could not accept any relief from His suffering, for He needed to atone for the full burden of our sin.

 

I’ll have "myrrh" to say about Jesus’ letter to the Church in Smyrna on Sunday.

the late great planet

Sometime in 1974 I picked up a book by Hal Lindsay titled, The Late Great Planet Earth (I’m not sure if the cover you see there on the left is the same one as that of the one I read, but it looks about right). Regardless, it would set my life on a new course.

Later that same year someone handed me a New American Standard Bible. Like Lindsay’s book, I decided to satisfy my hunger for truth by reading it. I believe I began with Romans, and although I did not understand much of what I read, by the time I got to Romans 10 I read something which transformed my life,

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10.9-10)

I discovered that God loves me—has always loved me—and that He showed me His love by dying and rising from the dead to forgive my sins. And I also learned that all I had to do in response to His love for me was to believe, which is to say, confess Him as my Lord and trust Him as my Savior. And if you asked me back then if I loved Jesus I would have probably said, “h--- yeah!

But over the years, like the saints in the church in Ephesus towards the end of the first century AD (as described in Revelation 2.1-7), I grew a huge head and big hands, but my heart grew small. I learned may good things, did many good things, but failed to cultivate a love for God, the thing He desired first and foremost. Sad.

So, how do we do good and keep the faith, not as an end in itself but as the outcome of being in love with God? I don’t have all the answers to this, but by the grace of God I have learned and implemented a few things over the years which I have found to be transformational in this respect.

So, come to AnchorPoint this Sunday and let’s learn together how to have big heads, big hands—and a great big heart!

I love VBS! I love seeing the kids doing fun stuff and learning good stuff in the process. This past Monday I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Rhonda Mitchell over at the “Imagination Station” explain to the kids how the body works and how we are “wonderfully complex” (a reference to Psalm 139.14). And then she had them stuff a cloth “G.U.T.S.Y. Bear” (God’s Unique, Talented, Special You!) with fiber stuffing, a paper heart, and a string for guts. The kids then drew faces on their bears and glued googly eyes on them. One creative young man, Logan Gamache, decided to make a frog instead of a bear by gluing the eyes where the ears where. At his age I was prone to doing the same sorts of things. Yes, this young fellow will go far!

Speaking of googly eyes, here’s what happens when a creative young Bulgarian man, Vanyu Krastev, has too much time on his hands and too many googly eyes in his pockets: 

 

 But I digress…

This past Sunday after Chris and Kay Lynn announced VBS, I stated that when I was a kid all we had was catechism. But that’s fun, too, isn’t it? Let’s see…here’s the first Q&A of the Heidelberg Catechism (written in 1563 and still in use today in some Presbyterian and Reformed churches):

  1. How do you come to know your misery? A. The law of God tells me. (Romans 3.20 & 7.7-25)

What?” you say, “it’s more fun for kids to learn about how they are wonderfully complexby way of stuffing a cloth bear as opposed to memorizing how youcome to know your misery’?” That’s fun, too, isn’t it?

OK, OK…we’ll leave well enough alone—for now.

And thank you so much, Chris, Kay Lynn, and everyone else who helped teach kids, feed kids, corral kids, get kids wet, and otherwise help out with VBS.

 

April 2, 2017

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!

 

 

 

March 26, 2017

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 replicating 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.

 

 

First, thank you, Ted, for making this blogging thing possible--and for doing it so quickly!

Second, this is my first blog ever.  And as a good academician I must begin with a definition of a "blog."  I borrowed this from Wikipedia:

"A blog (a portmanteau of the term web log) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries ("posts")"

In turn, the word "blogging" is the verb form of the noun "blog."  Therefore the act of writing a blog, as I am doing here, constitutes "blogging." There!

I have wanted to write a blog for some time now but never got around to it.  It is my intent to write in here now & then about things which interest me, and the things which interest me most include theology, family, history, food, music, and politics--in that order.  Oh, and humor, of course, but that will be an integral part of all the other parts.

I have chosen to call myself "CalvinCuban" because, well, it sounds cool.  I got the idea for the name from the blog of a Cuban Orthodox priest by the name of Father Ernesto Obregón.  He refers to himself as "OrthoCuban" and also as "Father Orthoduck" (his blog is @ http://www.orthocuban.com/).  The "duck" thing is, well, you have to be Cuban to undertand these things.  Fr. Obregón came to the U.S. around the same time I did in 1961 and, as with me, came as part of the Operación Pedro Pan (Operation Peter Pan) program, a massive airlift of about 14K Cuban children from late 1960 through mid 1962.  The program was initiated and  sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami.  Therefore, I will follow the lead of my Cuban Christian brother and adopt "CalvinCuban" as my handle since I like reformed theology and I am Cuban.  How can anyone argue with such impeccable logic?

I also considered calling this a "clog" instead of a "blog" for three reasons.  First, "clog," which begins with a "c," better matches the "C's" in "CalvinCuban."  Second, my bathtub drain frequently clogs (yes, that does factor into the equation).  And third, one of my favorite musical genres, along with worship music, classical music, and Cuban music, is bluegrass music.  Clogging, you see, is a form of bluegrass dancing.  And if you're not familiar with clogging, here's an illustration:

 

 

God bless.  See you around.

CalvinCuban