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This week is Sanctity of Life Sunday.

As a gospel-centered church, we believe “That the greatest good (God) offers the greatest action (love) to the greatest need (wrath-owed sinners) by sending the greatest treasure (Jesus) in the greatest invitation (to everyone) into the greatest life (everlasting).”—I love that definition of the Gospel by Jered Wilson. If that gospel is true, then all people are created in the image of God and have the right to life.

The true church has always fought for the innocent, from rescuing babies in the Roman Empire, to visiting political prisoners, helping develop the underground railroad in the USA, to hiding Jews in occupied lands, and working with the poor, refugees, and political prisoners around the world today.

James puts it this way, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV2011)

When Dr. King wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail he said, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” There’s one problem with applying that idea in this case.

The unborn can't speak for themselves.

Scripture says to, Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. And that brings us to the Church, praying for defense and playing on offense. Proverbs 31:8 (NIV2011)

One way this church speaks up is through the ministry of Care Net, on the North end of our property.

 

Praying for Defense

I say praying for defense because the defensive limiting of abortion is something delegated to governments around the world, not the church. We aren’t a government. We aren’t in the business of making laws, we are in the business of sharing Christ. Now, if God has led you into a political career, then you get to play on defense. But, for most of us, we need to pray for the power of God to impact the hearts of our elected officials, that they would want to work for the right to life granted by God and the founding documents of our country.

You may not think prayer is enough. You’re right, we haven’t talked about offense yet. BUT—what might happen if we prayed for our elected officials as much or more than we complain about them? God changed Saul the Christian antagonist into the great New Testament evangelist. King Manasseh of Judah, who brought back the cult of Moloch which consisted of sacrificing children by burning them alive, who also killed the true prophets of God and turned the Temple of God into a brothel, who tradition says he had his own grandfather, the prophet Isaiah sawn in half was a tough case.

I would have been praying for a heart attack.

But someone was praying for Manasseh.

And God changed his heart.

And Manasseh changed his actions (2 Chronicles 33).

Sometimes by the way we behave, it seems like we believe that the God who changed the hearts and actions of Saul and Manasseh has become impotent. We tend to put our political eggs in the one basked of “throw the bums out and put these good guys in.” Maybe it’s time we started praying that the transforming power of the Almighty God would change bums into good guys. We are a “gospel-centered” church after all. Let’s trust in God’s power rather than our own. The real battle is about introducing people into the transforming love of God and seeing Him save souls for eternity. What would happen if we had a revival in our own hearts? In Santa Fe? In DC? Let’s love our elected officials by praying for them.

There is a lot to pray about, but here is just one example. Our president is working to codify a woman’s “right” to abortion into law. Let’s pray for President Biden—not about him—for him. More battles are won on our knees than in the voting booth. Voting changes things for a year or two. Transformation changes eternity.

In the meantime, we have much to give praise for. Pro-life attitudes in this country are increasing. Science has done much to show that life in the womb is life since Roe vs Wade. The 2021 legislative session was called the most “damaging” to the pro-abortion cause in decades by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. 61 new pro-life bills on the state level became laws in 2021. 42 became law in 2020. The Supreme Court mostly upheld the Texas heartbeat bill. And now the Mississippi Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is before the court with a decision expected in June.

Let’s pray for defense. Let’s pray for God to move in hearts. Let’s pray for believers in positions of influence, and for the transforming power of God to invade our country.

 

Playing on Offense

Proverbs put it bluntly. Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. 12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? Proverbs 24:11 (NIV2011)

So, how do we rescue babies?

The best way I know is Care Net. The number of Pregnancy Centers like Care Net was a point made in the Supreme Court Dobbs case. During the 1972 Roe case, only three centers offered medical services. Today, over 2000 Pregnancy Centers offer medical services. Our Care Net offers pregnancy testing, STI testing, and ultrasounds. We also offer to help the family with goods, services, and training for three years after birth.

 

There are at least five ways you can play offense through Care Net.

  1. Refer: Besides the testing, Care Net has an Earn-While-You-Learn program, which gives clients Care Net dollars to spend on diapers, clothes, and other needs for going through each step in the program. The program includes training on everything from fatherhood to finances, diaper changes to discipline, and it is all Biblically based.
  2. Cook or Spend: We would love to have more people on our “Moms Meals” list. When a mother decides to keep her baby and gives birth, we want to shower her with food for a week at least. One benefit is you get to meet the moms and maybe hold a baby! It really is fun. The few times I’ve done it, I ordered a family meal from Chilis. I can’t cook much besides chocolate-chip cookies. I had a grand time with the food delivery, although I declined to hold the babies. I’m too afraid of dropping them. If you want to join, email us at
  3. Volunteer: Care Net is continually training men and women to love on clients, to help them through their struggles, and introduce them to Jesus. The training is super helpful.
  4. Pray: Yup, just like defense, but pray for those on the front lines of offense. Pray that God would speak through us when we meet with clients and deliver food.
  5. Give: Gulp, money. You can’t take it with you, but you can invest it. You just might meet a client in heaven saved by watching the ultrasound purchased through your gifts. You can give directly to Care Net.

It’s interesting to me that Sanctity of Life Sunday came up on the same Sunday that we are looking at the rejection of Jesus from Luke 4:16-30. No matter your sin, no matter what or who you have rejected, born or unborn, there is hope. As a gospel-centered church, we believe “That the greatest good (God) offers the greatest action (love) to the greatest need (wrath-owed sinners) by sending the greatest treasure (Jesus) in the greatest invitation (to everyone) into the greatest life (everlasting).”—Jered Wilson

I hope to see you Sunday!

Dan

 

3 Ways to Attend this Sunday

  1. In-person inside (please bring a mask) or outside–also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On YouTube Livestream

aloneThe Devil is an opportunist.

We are vulnerable.

Have you ever watched Alone on the History channel? They stick people out in the middle of nowhere with a few tools and a ton of video gear to see how long they can make it on their own. They can eat whatever they can find off the land, and fish and trap and bow hunt for meat. They have a tarp and some tools to make a shelter. They each bring a fire starter. The objective is to be the last one to “tap out.”

Over time they go weird. Food is scarce, boredom is abundant, and being alone becomes overwhelming.

And they tap out.

Jesus was attacked by the Devil when He was alone, during a 40-day-long fast in the wilderness. When Jesus looked the weakest, Satan attacked. You can read about it in Luke 4:1-13, a short passage that I would bet covered some of the longest days in His life.

We will look at the three temptations on Sunday, but just think about the overall context for now. Jesus was hungry and Satan tempted with food. Jesus IS the Son of God and Satan tempted Him to prove it. Jesus came to be King, and Satan offered it—without the cross. Finally, Jesus was tempted to force the Father’s hand, to be done with the wilderness experience. Just show God you’re done with it. Jump off the tower—God will rescue you if you really are the Son of God.

All temptations come down to one question, ‘Is God really good?” To Eve the fruit looked good, God—not so much. The Devil was tempting Jesus to take the shortcut to food, to the Kingdom, to ending the time in the wilderness because the Father’s way wasn’t best. Sin is thinking we know better.

You can imagine Satan saying, ‘If the Father really loved you, He wouldn’t have left you out here. Aren’t you done with it? It’s time to tap out. Here’s a rock. You can do it. Make some bread. 

And here we are, about to start our third year of everything Covid. We’re all done with it. We’re done with masks and vaccines, and billboards and ads telling us what we should do. We’re done with full hospitals and high prices and online teaching. We’re done with blogs mentioning Covid. Enough already.

We’re vulnerable.

Let’s take the example of Jesus into 2022. Don’t focus not on what you’re done with. Just saying it puts our focus back on “it.” That keeps “it” continually growing larger and ever more frustrating in our heads. Being done doesn’t stop anything. Jesus never focused on His problems; He was instead alive to the Word of God that He used to answer the Devil. Focus on what you should be alive to.

Be alive to the goodness, the faithfulness of God.

Let’s be alive to the good news that while still enemies, God reached down and through the death of His Son called us to life (Romans 5:10). Let’s be alive to the perfect life of God the Son, as well as His death and resurrection, given to us without cost. Let’s be alive to the friends and family and church God has given us to worship with, a picture of Heaven itself. Let’s be alive to those who need to know Him, that we can love into His Kingdom. Let’s be alive to the goodness of God.

I used to think of this exchange between the Devil and Jesus like an old west shoot-out. Satan takes a shot and Jesus has a better verse to shoot back. But I believe the answers given by Jesus helped Jesus as well as stopped Satan. Jesus shot back not just with Scripture, but scripture taken from Deuteronomy 6-8, about the faithfulness of God taking care of His people in their 40 years in the wilderness. They were helpless without Him, yet God always showed up. Jesus reminded both Satan and Him, that the Father is good, all the time. His way is always best.

It’s just my guess, but I believe that Jesus was probably meditating on Deuteronomy while in the wilderness. Israel had been there, and God saw them through. Now Jesus was there—the same God—the same goodness, would see Him through.

When we are hungry and tired and tempted and the wilderness and Covid seems unending, God is still good. His plan and timing are best. If He says it is best to stay in the Covid wilderness longer, He is to be trusted. How can we learn endurance if we never endure? And how can we resist if we don’t spend time with our good God, and hide His words in our heart?

If it hasn’t started yet, temptation is coming.

And we are vulnerable.

Now is the time to get into His word and get it into our hearts.

Temptations aren’t as tempting when you are alive to the goodness and faithfulness of God.

If you don’t know what to read, you can start with the gospel of Luke in the New Testament, as we will be going through the life of Christ from now till Easter. When you finish just keep on reading. All the Bibles in the Worship Building are free for you to bring home or give away.

If reading is difficult, or if you are maybe in the car a lot, try this Audio Bible-is app. You can simply listen to the Bible as you work out or drive or whatever.

If you want to study, sign up for RightNow Media. Once you sign up (for free, the church paid for it for you), you have access to 20,000 Bible Studies. Once in, if you click on AnchorPoint on the top right, you can scroll down to Sermon Series Devotions and pick one you like.

I love the way the prophet Jeremiah goes from being tempted to give up, to focusing on the goodness of God in Lamentations 3. 18 I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” 19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” (NIV2011)

By the way, if you think you aren’t vulnerable right now, you may be right. But consider this last statement in Luke about the temptation of Jesus. Lk 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (NIV2011) 

The Devil is an opportunist.

Be ready.

I hope to see you Sunday!

Dan

3 Ways to Attend this Sunday

  1. In person inside (please bring a mask) or outside–also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On YouTube Livestream

 

 

 

simply-jesusWith Thanksgiving and Christmas just over, I have been thinking a lot about food. 

I love it. 

The other night the family was over, and we had homemade tamales and enchiladas. After eating until I thought I couldn’t cram in one more bite someone said we had sopapilla cheesecake for dessert. 

Yes, it fit. 

 

With ice cream. 

Maybe you are thinking, “Dan needs a New Year’s resolution about food.” 

And I have one—not just for me—but for you too, if you are willing. 

January through Easter we (both adults in church and children in Children’s Church) will be focusing on the life of Jesus. 

Simply Jesus. 

When Jesus began what was roughly equivalent to our elementary school, the tradition was that a Rabbi would put honey on the tongue of the new students, helping them to memorize Psalm 34:8. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 

Today, this week, this year, 

let's resolve to taste and see and be blessed. 

MORE tasting, more seeing, more blessing. MORE of God’s food. And, yes, if you insist, maybe a bit less sopapilla cheesecake. 

I hope to see you Sunday,

Dan​

3 Ways to Attend this Sunday

  1. In person inside (please bring a mask) or outside–also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On YouTube Livestream

 

 

 

certificate-of-ordinationReinaldo A.Z. García, 1994–2021

OK, so, I was not born in 1994 and so far, I have not died in 2021 (“I’m not dead yet! I’m feeling better!”—from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”). But I digress. The dates shown in the title refer to my years as an active pastor of Rio West Community Church (1994–2016) and AnchorPoint Church (2016–2021). And so, after 28 years minus thirteen days as a “Pastor/Elder,” the last seven-and-a-half of which I served as an Executive Pastor, I will retire at the end of this year and, if the Elder Board agrees, be conferred the title of “Pastor Emeritus” (fancy title for a retired pastor).

As my farewell message—not that I will never teach on a Sunday again, I will—this coming Sunday, January 2, 2022, I will be giving a message titled, “Epistle of Paul to the Churches of the United States of America.” It’s a sort of “what-if” message which focuses on the gospel and on what I believe that Paul would say to us both about the “different gospels,” which have circulated around the Church for centuries, and the genuine “gospel of Jesus Christ,” which has not changed in 2,000 years. I hope you will join us, live, or livestream.

I don’t want to say too much—hardly anything at all, actually—about myself this Sunday as I want to focus on what the Father has done for us in Christ. Therefore, I will take this opportunity to tell you some things I’ve learned over the years.

father-mother-and-sisterI was born on August 2, 1950, to Reinaldo García y Manreza and Juana María Morales García y Verdía in Havana, Cuba. My father was a production foreman for Pepsi-Cola and my mother stayed home taking care of the house and my sister, María Teresita García and me (my sister was 10 years older than me).

Although we were far from being wealthy (we lived in an apartment building and our only possession was a ‘53 Chevy), my parents sent us to private schools as public schools in Cuba were substandard.

first-communionThe school I attended was “Los Maristas,” a Roman Catholic school run by Marist Brothers. While in the first grade at the age of six I received catechism classes in preparation of my first communion. It was an exciting time for me as I would be able to partake of the Lord’s Supper. You see, I’ve always believed in God, and there was never a time that I can recollect when I did not believe in God. And by “God” I mean the same God I believe in now, although I did not know Him then and would not know him until sometime late in 1974 at the age of 24.

It was around the time of my first communion in 1957 that the Cuban Revolution was in full swing. On December 31, 1958, the old regime headed by Fulgencio Batista came to an abrupt end, and on January 1, 1959, a new regime headed by Fidel Castro took control of the government.

At first, we were not too concerned with the change in government. The Cuban people wanted an end to dictatorship and corruption and the establishment of a true democracy. And to tell you the truth, a coup d’état was nothing new to us; Cuban political history, like that of many other Latin American countries, was one of violence and the overthrow of one regime, only to be replaced by another regime, which in time would be … You catch my drift.

By mid-1960, however, it became clear that the new regime was nothing like the previous ones. It was radically Marxist and intolerant of even the slightest dissent. Because my father disagreed with the nationalization of Pepsi-Cola, he was fired from his job, marked as an enemy of the state, and in December 1960, acquired a tourist visa and fled to the U.S. He had no choice but to leave us behind as he would surely have been arrested. In fact, I remember hearing a story that he was tried in absentia and sentenced to five or ten years.

my-passport-pictureMy mother, sister, and I were able to remain in our apartment building and were sustained by the kind contributions of family and friends. Having applied for and receiving our passports sometime in 1960, we would get up early each morning and head out to the U.S. Embassy to apply for a visa to the U.S. But a combination of long waits, unfriendly U.S. consulate officials (they were trying to avoid a flood of immigrants) and the fact that the U.S. broke diplomatic relations with Cuba on January 3, 1961, made it impossible for us to leave Cuba for the U.S. as my father had.

Plan B was to go to Spain, wait there for a while, and then head for the U.S. to be reunited with my father as soon as we could get a U.S. visa. Well, we were able to procure a visa to travel to Spain but were not able to get passage there. But thanks to Father Walsh of the Archdiocese of Miami and other good Americans—God bless them—children around my age were able to leave the island from late 1960 through early 1962 under a program which came to be called “Operación Pedro Pan” (“Operation Peter Pan”). For me that day came on April 5, 1961 (you can read about it on my Facebook post from April 5, 2021: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=459040662025497&set=a.105133637416203), including how my sister talked my mother into letting me leave—good thing or I might still be there. And by the grace of God my mother and sister were able to leave Cuba and join my father and me in Florida in July of that same year.

In 1963 my family moved from Miami, FL, to Shreveport, LA, as he found work there as the production foreman of the local Pepsi-Cola plant (same position he had in Cuba). We didn’t know what “Louisiana” was, much less, “Shreveport,” but there it was on a road map! I spent the next seventeen years, attending Roman Catholic parochial schools—Holy Rosary Elementary in the 8th grade and Jesuit High School for the 9th – 12th grades.

I don’t know what I did to upset my 8th grade teacher—I’m sure I must have done something—but after winning a science fair project at a local event she pulled me aside and told me—I paraphrase—that she now felt obliged to give me a grade of “A” in science although I did not deserve it, and the primary reason I did not deserve it is that I was a liar, a cheat, and in effect, not much of a good person. I believed her. And in a way that I did not understand then, but I do understand now, I determined that if that was who I was, then I was not to blame for being the person she said I was.

jesuit-hs-graduationHigh School at Jesuit was challenging in many ways. Although I was fluent in English by this time I struggled with some subjects, English grammar being among them. And for this reason, I was placed in a class labeled “1D,” meaning that it was at the bottom of the freshman academic barrel. But because I excelled in math and science, by my junior year I was promoted to “3B.”

Even so, I was neither the best nor the worst student. The one thing I did excel at was making others laugh with my onerous and silly antics where I would cause trouble at school and in the community. And for that reason, I decided that I should focus more on being a juvenile delinquent (a common term used back then), than on academics. My 8th-grade teacher was right.

After high school I attended Louisiana Tech University, beginning in 1968. And there after a bad start I had a few good semesters majoring in engineering but then joined a social fraternity, Sigma Pi, and completely tubbed out! By the end of 1973 I was a year from graduation, no job, and desperate for something to reform my life. I determined on my own that I would get a job and in due time finish school. And for most of 1974 that’s precisely what I did.

The year 1974 was like a personal renaissance for me. Having cleared my mind of drugs and alcohol and having ceased my carousing gave me a fresh perspective on things. I re-enrolled in school and this time achieved mostly “A’s.” It was also during this time that I developed a love for history after having been fortunate to have a good professor who inspired me to think beyond the present.

Also, during 1974 I began to think about Jesus and Christianity. As I stated previously, there was never a time when I did not believe in God. Some time that year I concluded that only true God was the Father of Jesus and Christ, who along with the Holy Spirit was also God. In other words, I began moving in the direction of what I now refer to as “orthodox Christianity” (please note the lowercase “o” in the word “orthodox,” i.e., believing what is right and true).

I concluded that the problem was not Christianity but how Christians had perverted and vandalized it over the past 2,000 years. I rejected all established denominations and instead sought a church where the members lived as best they could, modeling the way that the first century Christians lived their lives. And sometime late in 1974 I ran into a small group of Christians who spoke and behaved exactly as what I was looking for.

One of them asked me how long I had been a Christian, and I responded that I had been a Christian all my life. I could sense doubt in his facial expressions. I don’t know if it was my looks, or the black leather jacket and boots, or if it was the flat black motorcycle I rode to the meeting in, but I supposed I intimidated him some. So, rather than sharing the gospel with me he handed me a Bible (NASB) and told me that I should read it.

And so, I did. And somewhere along the way I came across this passage in Romans,

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that 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; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Romans 10.8-10 (NASB)

I remember thinking to myself, “That’s it? That’s what it means to be a Christian? All I must do is confess Jesus as Lord and with my whole heart believe that God raised Him from the dead? I can do that!” And so, I did. I vaguely remember this now, but it went something like this: “Jesus, You are Lord! And I very much believe that God raised You from the dead!” And I became a new person.

teacherI wish I could tell you that life was easy from that point on. By the fall of 1975 I completed a B.S. in Mathematics and then worked on a teaching certificate. I became a U.S. citizen in 1976 (I would post my Certificate of Naturalization for you here, but the dang thing forbids it) and began a ten-year high school teaching career—math, duh! —that year. A year later came a failed marriage, but God was good and sustained me throughout the entire ordeal.

In 1980 I completed an M.S. in Mathematics Education. That same year I moved to Lubbock, TX, after the church I attended in Ruston, LA, folded. Our elders advised us to move to cities where there were established Great Commission churches. And so that is precisely what I did. Finding work as a math teacher there was easy; I had several offers before I even packed my bags and moved there.

hope--reinaldo-weddingI spent the next seven years in Lubbock. I taught high school math and computer science and enrolled at Texas Tech where I completed a Doctor of Education degree in Instructional Technology in 1987. But the best thing to happen to me while I resided there is that I met and married Hope! It took me several months to convince her to marry me, but she finally came around. Hope was able to complete both a B.A. and an M.A. in Sociology at Texas Tech.

In 1987 there was a need for a pastor to lead the Great Commission Church in Albuquerque, NM. Don Schlichte, founding pastor of Rio West Community Church, accepted the call and asked a group of his closest friends to consider moving with him as part of a larger support group. Hope and I accepted his invitation and moved to Albuquerque later that year after I completed my doctoral degree.

me-in-1988By 1988 several of us in the Albuquerque Church had moved to Rio Rancho. We decided to start a new church plant in Rio Rancho, which we did and began holding services at Rio Rancho Elementary School in October 1988. From there we moved to the chapel in a funeral home, then an office building, then a recreation center, then back to the same office building.

In 1989 I was offered a position at the Valencia Branch Campus of The University of New Mexico (UNM-Valencia) as an Assistant Professor of Information Technology. That same year in August Gabriel was born, then Carmen in November 1991, and finally Gloria showed up in November 1996. I remained at UNM-Valencia, where in 1994 I became the Dean of Instruction, and then moved to UNM West here in Rio Rancho where I served as the Director of Educational Services until I retired from UNM in 2016.

reinaldoSometime in 1993 I was appointed as a pastor/elder of Rio West Community Church and was ordained on January 14, 1994. Now, you must understand that Great Commission Association of Churches did not require pastors to have seminary training (more on my thoughts on that in a moment). As I stated at the start of this blog, I served in that capacity until my retirement at the end of this year.

In 1995 the leadership of Rio West Community Church determined to seek God with regards to purchasing land and building our own facility. Through the selfless giving of our members and under Don’s leadership, that process came to fruition in December 2001. We built our current facility (minus the Annex, that was added in 2007, I believe).

In 2006 I took a one-year sabbatical to address some financial and spiritual problems I was facing. No, I did not file for bankruptcy, nor did I commit a sin of an immoral nature. Even so, I had allowed myself to become indebted to various creditors to a point where I was no longer able to pay my bills. I’m happy to say that by the grace of God I have been able to climb out of that pit. As is the case with our gracious God who loves sinners and makes them strong in their weaknesses.

john-calvin-9235788-1-402I learned many important things during my year-off sabbatical time which God has used to grant me wisdom and to be of greater use to others. Time does not permit that I go into everything I learned during that year, but the most important thing I learned is that God is sovereign over everything, that there is not one square inch in the universe which He does not claim as being His, and that He is in full control of our destiny and that of the entire universe. Not only that, but He does all things in love and out of love! In effect, I concluded that John Calvin, 16th century reformer, was right!

When Paul wrote, “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4.14), he meant exactly that, “it is all for your sake,” to include financial hardships, illnesses, relationships gone south, and so on. God is in control of ALL things at ALL times, and it is all “… so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” It’s all about God getting the glory for everything! And so, I came out of that ordeal better than I went into it, not perfect—who is? —but with a better perspective on who God is and what His will is for His children.

In the summer of 2010, we had a major church split due to some disagreements over eschatology (end times theology) and ended up losing about 25% of our membership. Although the controversy did not originate with me, the fact that I disagreed both with eschatology of those who left and with their reasons for leaving, I was counted among the heretics, antisemites, and arrogant academics (I’ll accept some responsibility for the third one only). What I learned from this is that we create our own “gospels” based on what we consider to be important rather than the essentials of the Christian faith. I tried my best to explain the true meaning of remaining united despite our “non-essential” differences, but few were persuaded.

In 2012 Don decided that he would no longer serve as the Senior Pastor but that the pastoral duties—both shepherding and supervising—would be shared among him, me, and our other pastor, Ben Johnson. Then in 2013 Don decided to retire from the pastorate altogether. It coincided with Rio West’s 25th anniversary, so it was a bittersweet time.

A year later some of the differences between Ben and me resulted in his decision to both step down as a pastor and to no longer attend Rio West. That left me as the sole pastor, a position I did not want nor, with the added responsibility of a full-time position at UNM, was I able to carry out. In January 2015 Rio West severed ties with Great Commission Churches and became an independent church.

Despite all this, the most difficult situation I encountered at this time was with our youth group. In spite of having been a high school teacher for ten years, I’ve never been gifted in working with teenagers, not on this capacity, anyway. I can teach them math and computer science, theology, even, but doing all the other fun and relational things necessary to this group is outside my area.

It was early in 2016 that I met up with Dan Cooley at a monthly meeting of some Rio Rancho pastors. Dan was looking for a new building for Cottonwood Church to meet in and asked me to consider the possibility of meeting at our facility on Sunday mornings prior to Rio West’s meeting. I did not like that. Rather, I wanted to farm out Rio West’s teenagers to Cottonwood Church.

The more I thought about it the more I concluded that since, 1) I did not want to be the lead pastor, 2) I did not want to deal with trying to make the youth group work on our own, 3) Dan was good at “1)” and “2)”, and 4) Dan wanted to meet in a new facility, perhaps the “theory of everything” could be solved by merging our churches together. And so, the rest is, as they say, “history.”

And that brings me to the end of this long—very long—blog, which I have written in a hurry. I’ve spent much of the past few days having to take care of my grandchildren as my daughter, who is visiting us for the holidays, came down with COVID (Hope developed a very mild case and I remained asymptomatic). In effect, I have had little opportunity to revise it before sending it on for publication.

But what does it matter? As I referenced previously,

14 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4.14

And then there is also this,

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12.9-10

And also, this,

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8.28-29

I could quote more passages, but it all comes down to the fact that we have a very good God who sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins, adopt us as His children, see to it that we make it safely through this life and onto the next, and grant us eternal life. Or as Pastor Dan is fond of saying,

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.

God has been good to us here at AnchorPoint Church, and I have every reason to believe that He will continue to be good to us as He sheds “grace upon grace” (John 1,16) upon us, not because we’re good but because He is good and wants to do good to us. Our part in this whole scheme of things is to repent, believe, trust, and obey.

One last, albeit unrelated, item. From December 5 through December 19 of 2021, the members of AnchorPoint Church voted by way of online and paper ballots, to reappoint our six current elders for 2022. This was in accordance with section 5.2 of our bylaws:

Term of Office. Elders shall serve a maximum of six consecutive years after which they shall be ineligible to serve for a period of one (1) year. Terms of service should be staggered to provide leadership continuity. Except for the lead pastor, all elders shall be appointed or reappointed annually by the membership.”

A total of 69 members voted, which, at 50.7% of the membership, met the threshold of 30% for a quorum. All six elders—Jonathan Aubuchon, Chris Clifford, Wes Daniels, Jeff Downs, Phillip Gamache, and Errol Tipton—received more than the necessary 75% “yes” votes for approval.

Grace to you!

Pastor Reinaldo

 

 

 

12-17-2(Picture is from before my parents left for France)

It’s Christmas! If you could buy God one gift, what would it be?

I’d get Him a watch.

I want to get God on my time. I want Him to see things like I see them. Am I the only one who has wanted to shout, “God, can’t you see what is happening here? Help out already!” God on our time would be handy, no?

To illustrate, here is what happened to my mother, in France, in the ‘50s.

After WWII my parents went to France as missionaries with my oldest brother and sister. The country was still rebuilding from the war, and things were… difficult. My mother remembered two things in the French language. One was she could always quote John 3:16. The other was “Don’t poop in our yard!” Difficult times. While there my folks had two more daughters born in the American Hospital in Paris, but my parents lived in the smaller towns of Dijon, St. Michele sur Orge, and Arc-sur-Tille.

After some years of living in France my dad developed a severe case of pneumonia. They had dad hanging almost upside-down to help with postural lung drainage. It got so bad that it looked like they were going to have to remove a lung, something the hospitals in France were ill-equipped to do. Their mission board sent plane tickets (they had gone over by ship) to fly the family back to the States so dad could have surgery. Dad was under care at the hospital in Paris, but my mom, brother, and three sisters were in Arc-sur-Tille. All four kids were under eight years old.

Thankfully, no one had thought about me yet.

My mom was stuck with having to pack up all their belongings and close the apartment. She got everything ready to go except for one thing she could not do.

They had no money to get to Paris. As in NO money.

But she packed up anyway, knowing they needed to be ready. It seemed impossible God would leave them without help. How my dad was supposed to get to the airport without help I don’t know. How mom was supposed to live in post-war France without dad I have no clue.

12-17-blogFirst, the good news. The day before mom was to leave for Paris, she checked the mail. Sure enough, God made sure the money was there. Her sister and brother-in-law, who had promised to support them while there, had, for some reason, not been doing it. Now they took three years of back financial support and sent it by one check. Had they been sending it all along, my parents probably would have spent it on immediate needs. Now it had been saved for them and it arrived at what seemed to be just the right time.

But it wasn’t the right time by my mother’s perspective.

The bad news is that when mom went to cash the check at their local bank, they told her they would have to put a hold on it. The check was from the United States after all. It would take weeks or months to clear, and they had no way of knowing if it was valid. She tried other banks with the same result. I still remember mom telling me how defeated she felt walking back to the packed-up apartment with four kids in tow.

I bet she wanted to give God a watch.

Had that check just come in a month earlier, how different she would have felt. And being human, I bet mom was praying, “God, can’t you see what is happening here? Help out already!”

On the way back to the apartment she thought of the American Consulate in Paris. Was this a God idea? Would they back the check? They had no reason to back it, but still, it seemed worth a try. It was closing time at the bank, so she went back as fast as she could. The bank called; the American Consulate was still open. They backed the check, somehow, they got dad through the airport and to the plane in a wheelchair, and my parents and siblings flew home together.

A little side note, my sister Judy, the youngest at the time slept in a hammock in the plane made for infants. It would sway as the plane flew and rock them to sleep. Brilliant! Well, until you hit turbulence anyway. There might be a reason we don’t have them anymore.

And side note number two, when the plane landed in the states and everyone got off, they were spraying around it. I have no idea why. What I do know is that my brother David loudly said, “THEY MUST HAVE KNOWN WE HAVE FLEAS.” Mom was mortified.

Maybe they did know?

Still, I love that mom trusted God enough to pack up with no clear way forward.

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.”

I’m convinced that peace comes from trusting in the love (God wants what is best for us), wisdom (God knows what is best for us), and power (God can bring about what is best for us) of our giving God.

Life is hard.

God is amazing.

This Sunday, the last Sunday of Advent, we look at The Wonder of Peace.

I hope you can join us.

Dan

 

3 Ways to Attend this Sunday

  1. In person inside (please bring a mask) or outside– also on 101.5 FM in the parking lot
  2. On Facebook Livestream
  3. On YouTube Livestream