One of the things I’m learning to do is to do everything, (and in a church plant, I pretty much have to do everything), to the glory of God…including the mopping of Hope Chapel Hill Country’s church floor.
THIS IS THE STORY OF THE JOEL AND VICTORIA OSTEEN BIBLE and why I offered a $100 to buy it.
I think I overreacted.
I told him to give it to me right then and there so I could throw it away because the Osteens do not teach in accordance with the truth. I actually used stronger language and included the word “heretical”. (See a 60 second example below.)
He was reluctant to give it to me because he paid a hundred greenbacks for it in response to one of their money-grubbing pleas. So, I offered to buy it from him for the same amount and give him a solid Study Bible to replace it.
He hemmed and hawed.
“Tell you what. Think about it until Sunday, then you can decide what to do,” I requested.
Sunday came and he gave it to me, no charge. I gave him the Study Bible and a reading assignment: Read one chapter a day in the New Testament. When he finished, I would buy him a brand new leather bound edition.
I’m going to place the “Osteen” in my Bible collection next to the Robert Schuller “Possibilty Thinkers Bible” and the Book of Mormon.
1 Timothy 4:1-2: The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
My friend’s wife panicked when she read this on Facebook. She told her husband who was also shocked. He wondered why I hadn’t shown up for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and now knew the reason: I died.
Needless to say, reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Still, a very influential pastor did die: Pastor Steve Mays of Calvary Chapel South Bay. I used to listen to his broadcast, “Light of the Word” on the radio, and many of my friends went to his church, which was just about twenty minutes from where I used to live in L.A.
It was a sudden death. Pastor Steve went in for back surgery, a blood clot formed, then he went to meet Jesus.
Bitter for those who loved him, sweet for him because he gets to rest in the everlasting arms forever. This is the hope that all have, no matter their background, no matter their skeletons, no matter their sins.
Before he became one of the original founding pastors of the Calvary Chapel Movement in the 70s, Pastor Steve had a multitude of skeletons and sins in his closet. Read this short article about his life from a blog called “God Running.” I cried and thanked God for his mercy. Perhaps, you will, too. Here’s an excerpt:
“Steve’s life was often heavy with suffering. He battled drug addiction as a teenager which led to a series of strange and destructive events while he was still living at home with his father and mother. One time when Steve’s parents came home, as they opened their front door, water gushed out. Steve turned their house into a swimming pool by stuffing towels under the exterior doors and filling the place up with water. They found him in the living room smoking a pencil. He was completely oblivious. Instead of acknowledging the damage he’d done, he talked to them about the show he was watching on TV–but the TV was turned off.
“Another time Steve’s parents arrived home to find him fixing a meal for a friend who lived inside the clock hanging on the kitchen wall.
“Another time he terrorized his parents by angrily pacing around the house while swinging a machete.
“The bewildering thing about Steve’s behavior was that he was a normal kid until junior high school. His parents didn’t know it but during that time in junior high he was….Click here to read the rest of the article.
I have a new Pentecostal friend who has proven to me that he walks with the Lord.
I met Amalio a few weeks ago when I was searching for a contractor to help put in new flooring in our church building due to a flood from a neighboring business. Also, I needed some minor remodeling done.
The first contractor I met gave me a quote of $12,000.00, a bit more than I could afford. The second man surveyed the space, wrote down some figures but never got back to me. The third also had a quote that was too high.
I did not know what to do so I called a former congregant who was a handyman and he suggested Amalio. When I met him he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: He would provide me with two days’ free labor if I purchased the materials at Home Depot.
“But why would you do this, Amalio, you don’t even know me!”
He looked at the walls of Hope Chapel Hill Country, smiled, and said, “It’s for God’s Kingdom!”
“Let me pay you, though; what is your daily rate?”
“No, I can’t,” Amalio insisted, “I believe God wants me to do this for free.”
And he did. Top notch high quality work! I bought Amalio and his co-worker lunch each day and he could not stop talking about Jesus. His eyes would light up; he was enthusiastic; he had joy, joy, joy, joy, down in his heart—that bubbled up to his face.
Yes. Amalio was a Christian anomaly.
I instantly felt a bond with this brother and we spent so much time encouraging each other that week, I had to work extra hours on Saturday to get my sermon done for Sunday.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)
He said he would pray for our little congregation, then asked, “Do you ever get dreams and visions?”
“Not really,” I replied. “I hardly even remember my dreams. I believe God speaks primarily through his Word and I just try and obey what I read. I’m not opposed to dreams or visions, it’s just that God doesn’t work that way with me.”
He told me I should pray for a dream. I shrugged silently to myself.
That night I dreamt: I was at Hope Chapel Hill Country’s building, but it looked very different, you know how dreams can be. There were about forty or fifty people having a good time, some had guitars and were playing them; moms had happy babies, it was a mixed age group and everyone was joy-filled. My daughter DD was in our sound booth trying to get everyone to settle down so we could start worship. I was in front trying to get everyone’s attention so I could preach.
Then I awoke.
I was encouraged. I was hopeful. I so wanted this dream to be true.
But was this dream from God?
Only time will tell.
In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
You’ve heard about the Challenge. People from all walks of life, from George Bush to Dolly Parton, from Donald Trump to Bill Gates in (a slow-mo reverse intro). Heck, even Tom Cruise and John Travolta broke away from their Scientology commitments to take it up! Sadly, President Obama couldn’t find the time between golf games, fund-raising parties and fighting terrorists to do it. (But wait! It appears that he did do it! Click here.
Though it’s for a good cause, I do have an issue with the ALS Foundation’s use of embryonic stem cells for its research, so I decided to do a very different type of Challenge. If you are a believer, perhaps you will challenge yourself!
I found this video to be very inspirational, encouraging and downright useful when challenging those who say we were never a Christian nation.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted this hilarious video.
I took a calculated risk at Hope Chapel Hill Country today by preaching on evangelism. It was a fun sermon, with videos, on how to share our faith by simply asking one question…then running away. It’s also a nice reminder on why using Gospel tracts are so important. Perhaps you will want to teach this at your church. Use anything you want. Videos are included as well. Enjoy.
Sharing Your Faith w/One Question
Mark 16:15: Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.
Bill Bright: 2% of Christians share their faith.
Think about it: How many of you have had a born again Christian share with you about Jesus over two times in the past five years?
Paul wrote this in Philemon 6 (NIV ’84): “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
The Living Bible: And I pray that as you share your faith with others it will grip their lives too, as they see the wealth of good things in you that come from Christ Jesus. (Explain)
I have found, after being an evangelism pastor for over 10 years at my other church, that people have many reasons for not sharing their faith.
Take a look at this video and see if you can relate to any of these?
While I’m sure that one of these eight reasons might be yours, I think we could narrow them down to just two: fear and not knowing what to say.
But what if I showed you a way this morning where you could share your faith by asking only one question and one question only? Do you think you might be able to do it?
As you know I’ve challenged you to invite people to church, but what if, at the same time, you asked this one question that would motivate people to actually come?
I’m not joking. All you have to do is ask one simple question…then run away.
But after you have asked this question, people would then understand God’s standard for getting to Heaven, the consequences if they fall short of His standard, and the solution through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection on their behalf. They may even thank you after you ask this question, too! (more…)
Yes. That’s right. I’ve been a Christian for nearly 24 years and a pastor for over 16, yet 9 years ago I became sober.
Furthermore, six years ago I was an active member of A.A.
How could this be? Have I been the biggest hypocrite in the world? (more…)
TEN MONTHS AGO TODAY I arrived in Texas to plant Hope Chapel Hill Country.
I never thought I would move to Central Texas after living my entire life by the beaches of Southern California. And I never, never, ever, ever wanted to plant a church. Ever!
Has it been easy? Not at all. Am I learning to trust God like I never have before? Yep.
“Cannot you trust God for temporal things? “Ah! I wish I could.” If you cannot trust God for temporal things, how dare you trust him for spiritual things? Can you trust him for your soul’s redemption, and not rely upon him for a few lesser mercies? Is not God enough for your need, or is his all-sufficiency too narrow for your wants? Do you want another eye beside that of him who sees every secret thing? Is his heart faint? Is his arm weary? If so, seek another God.”
If you haven’t yet read why I made this move, then click here: http://wp.me/p1GZWy-3Af
AN ATHEIST WROTE AN ARTICLE ABOUT ME entitled, “Steve Sanchez Thinks He Has the Right to Harass People About Jesus.”
His name is Bruce Gerencser and his blog bio says this: “For twenty-five years Bruce pastored Evangelical churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. In 2003 Bruce left the ministry and is now a secular humanist.”
I loooove when atheists criticize me then post my entire blog article on their websites, because, well, I usually write about our great Savior. This used to happen frequently when I lived in California, not so much now. He took issue with my witnessing to a witch in Walmart several months ago. Here’s an excerpt:
“Steve Sanchez is a fundamentalist Christian who thinks he has the right to witness, evangelize, proselytize, and preach to anyone, anywhere, at any time.
“You see, the Steve Sanchez’s of the world think that they are demonstrating love when they badger and harass people who have no interest in what they are selling. They are a special class of people who are not bound by the same social conventions as the rest of us. Treating others with decency and respect doesn’t apply to Steve Sanchez. He is willing to be an a——- for Jesus because his right to evangelize and preach supersedes any person’s right to personal space, even at work.”
For the most part, I agree with Bruce, except, I try to be exceedingly gracious and friendly when sharing my faith, and I shared with the Walmart witch during the time I was making a transaction with her.
If Walmart does not have a policy in place to deal with people like Steve Sanchez then they need to implement one immediately. If they fail to do so, they run the risk of being sued by harassed workers like Courtney. Walmart has a legal obligation to provide their workers with a workplace free from egregious religious harassment.
If you would like to send Walmart and email about this, please go here. If you send Walmart an email, please mention this blog post. Also, you will need to choose a Walmart store. Search for stores in Dripping Springs, Texas and choose the first store. (it is in Austin)
Regardless of what Bruce wrote and his misinterpretation of events, the bottom line is this: Through his anti-evangelism/anti-Christian article, Christ is preached! (He posted a very evangelical cartoon by Adam Ford that accompanied my article.)
So, thank you atheists, once again!
Read Bruce’s blog account by clicking here.
Thankfully, this did not happen at the Seniors Center I have been attending. At the 47:45 mark, Mr. Shackelford tells the story of what happened at a Seniors Center that forbade prayer, worship and Bible study. It’s only five minutes long and a great encouragement that the law still protects religious freedom.
I was doing some paperwork while talking to a CPA. He asked if I had a scanner so I could send him some documents. “Of course,” I replied, “I just don’t have it set up yet.”
“Shame on you,” he joked.
I reminded him that I used to have a secretary, a book-keeper, a web guy, and people to clean up afterward when I was at my big church. Now, I’m it.
An All-In-One Pastor.
Not complaining. Just the new reality. I’m starting to realize that my “To-Do” list will never end and I’ll probably always be behind.
Oh, yeah…and I get to study, preach and meet with people, too!
Including construction guys.
Someday, I may even find the time to read.
I’ve been going to the Hill Country Senior Activities Center since arriving last year in Texas with the intention of getting to know the community by making acquaintances with the elders of Dripping Springs, as I serve them and pray for them. (Click here for part 1 of this story.)
Four new visitors came to Hope Chapel Hill Country last Sunday as a result of my efforts. One of them was at the Center today and I offered to pray for her, but she stopped me. “We better go outside,” she warned.
“Why?” I asked.
“I’ve been reading your blog.”
“How did you know about my blog?”
“It was on the back of the bulletin you gave us last Sunday; seems like you cause trouble everywhere you go,” she said with a smile. “Jesus caused trouble, too.”
Before I prayed for her, another woman stopped me to tell me how God healed her of a cancerous tumor after I prayed for her several weeks ago. “They were going to cut me open, but when the doctor checked me, he said everything was gone. I want to give God all the glory after you prayed for me.”
And how has it been going with the manager who seems to have been against me from the get-go? Well, a few weeks back she called me up front, handed me the microphone and asked me to pray before the meal.
I think I will continue to visit the Seniors Center.
(Image: Buck Hayden, part of the original family that settled and built up Dripping Springs in the late 1800s.)
With my church plant work here in the Austin area, Dripping Springs to be exact, I have not been posting at this blog regularly. Rest assured, I do try to share my faith everyday, mostly it’s with my church invitation/Gospel tract flyer. And since I live in a small town now, I have not preached in the open air…until the X Games were hosted in Austin.
I had not shared my faith in this way since standing “on the box” with Ray Comfort in Newport Beach way back in September, 2013. So how did it go?
Like falling off a horse. Or a preaching stool.
I took my first bike ride of the spring and noticed a bunch of construction workers busily repairing our little levee. I offered them each a raise in the form of a one trillion dollar bill gospel tract, then preached a 90 second Gospel message to this rough-hewn bunch.
“I’m working too; I’m a pastor.”
“It figures,” replied the foreman with disgust.
I then concluded my sermonette to the construction crew’s now-turned away backs: “I’m saying this to you because I love you. Consider what I’ve said. You’ve been warned. I’m Pastor Steve Sanchez and you’re all invited to Hope Chapel Hill Country in Dripping Springs.”
And with that, I pedaled away.
Think any will visit?
Courtney, the Walmart customer service lady, (looking down), kept answering “Summerland” when I asked if she’d go to Heaven or Hell when she died.
The only two choices I’m giving you are Heaven or Hell.”
“Summerland. I’m a Wiccan,” she declared.
Since she wouldn’t answer I had to go to Plan B: I preached a one minute Gospel to her so she’d understand there is no Summerland, only Hell, because of her idolatry.
What did she do? Thanked me over and over again to get me to go away. “Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.”
Yet I didn’t go away until she heard fully the full Gospel, thank you very much.
A co-worker walked behind her and gave me a Thumb’s Up.
Another co-worker, a Muslim, in full head covering, began her shift. I resisted giving her the Good News because too many people were lining up at the counter.
I know my limits.
The next day I received this comment on Facebook from an atheist: “I don’t understand why you bible thumpers just cant leave us the f*@k alone, funny how we, who choose alternative ideas, don’t push our thoughts/ideas on to you bible thumpers but you think its ok to bombard us with your thoughts and ideas.”
Here was my response: “I would have to be the most hateful person in the world to NOT share the Gospel with Courtney, or you for that matter. If I didn’t share, I would be overlooking the fact of your horrible future reality. So no. As a Bible Thumper, I love you too much not to speak.”
I had the great privilege of being on Ray Comfort’s YouTube show, “The Comfort Zone” today and want to hear what you think.
IT WAS FATHER’S DAY at Hope Chapel Hill Country this morning as two visitors, a father and daughter, made professions of faith at the end of my message. Without looking at each other, after I made the invitation to turn to Jesus in repentance and trust, they raised their hands. I told them: “Remember this day as Father’s Day on Mother’s Day, the day you came to your Heavenly Father.”
It’s called discipleship.
The biggest frustration and the greatest consolation is that Jesus is in control.
What do I mean by that?
I can do nothing else to make people come to Hope Chapel Hill Country. I pray for this church; I prepare the messages diligently; and I go out into the street and invite them in, but it’s only Christ who brings them in.
The hardest thing to do in planting a church is to wait when the future is uncertain.
Please read my article explaining why the numbers are so important, and please let me know if you disagree. Click here.