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August 30, 2021
by Steve Sanchez
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The Agony & the Ecstasy: My First 6 Years as Pastor of Community Church of the Hills

Sunday, August 30, marked the official 6-year anniversary of my being the pastor at Community Church of the Hills. When I first started, we had 81 people. Out of that original congregation, 12 still attend.

The first year was my honeymoon. It seemed everyone loved me. The second and third year, not so much. I learned that in a small church, in a small town, if you offend one person, the whole family and all their friends leave.I offended many during my first years’ learning curve.

Coming directly from a 1,500-member church in the beach cities of L.A. to a small country church in the middle of rural Texas didn’t translate well. I was not very gracious and was way too demanding. I over-emphasized evangelism and talked about Hell ad nauseum.

The first person to leave said it was because I didn’t teach out of the King James Bible. She had gone there 17 years. In that entire time, no one ever taught out of the King James Bible.

Another said that he wasn’t being fed. (Pastors, ever hear that one before?)

Still another complained that she “just wasn’t feeling it.”

Yet another left because someone put a hat on his wife’s chair.

One guy split because he didn’t like being told what to do and another bailed because I shook his hand the wrong way.

Oh! Did I mention that God prevented a church split in 2018? Or that a guy wrote a 4 page letter to the Elders trying to get me fired?

The bottom line? They didn’t love me as much as I thought.

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August 7, 2021
by Steve Sanchez
2 Comments

Sin, Opened Eyes & a Fatboy Burger

I had an experience yesterday that was similar to Christmas Evans as written about in his diary. He was a Welsh preacher of the late 18th and early 19th centuries:

One Sunday afternoon I was traveling by horseback to an appointment. Suddenly as I went along a very lonely road, I was convicted of having a cold heart.

I dismounted, tethered my horse to a tree, and found a secluded spot. Then, walking back and forth in agony, I reviewed my life.

I waited before God in brokenness and sorrow for three hours. Finally a sweet sense of His forgiving love broke over me, and I received a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.

As the sun was setting, I walked back to the road, found my horse, and rode on to my appointment.

The following day I preached with so much new power, to a vast gathering of people on a hillside, that revival broke out and ultimately spread through all of Wales.

God showed me some blind spots that I wasn’t aware of on Friday. It was difficult, painful and grueling to be made aware of these, but enriched my soul as I confessed my sin and trusted Christ once again.

Instead of going out on a hillside to preach, I went to my office to prepare my Sunday sermon—and was filled with joy as the words flowed out of me.

But before doing that, I needed a big bacon cheese burger from Fatboy Burgers in Johnson City. I kept hearing that they had the best burgers in town, perhaps the world. Seriously, EVERYONE was telling me this.

I jumped in my car in anticipation of drowning my sorrow and confessed sin in a big multi-calorie feast—with curly fries even!

With mouth watering and heart smarting, I pulled into their parking lot at 2:10, dreaming of big burger blessedness.

But it was not too be.

All my hopes and dreams came crashing down as I saw the sign announcing they had closed at 2. Yet hope springs eternal. I’d be back later in the day when they reopened at 4:30.

That’s how I deal with sorrow of heart.

August 5, 2021
by Steve Sanchez
2 Comments

Got Vaxxed 2 Months Ago! Ain’t Dead Yet.

I GOT MY 2ND MODERNA SHOT two months ago and my face hasn’t melted, I haven’t died in my sleep and the start of the zombie apocalypse has been postponed.

I didn’t get vaxxed because I was scared, believed Biden, Fauci or the rest of the mainstream news media.

It wasn’t because I believed it was the greatest health threat of our time.

It wasn’t even because my daughters pressured me to do so. I had a much more important reason for getting “the mark of the beast.”

I always looked askance at the whole contrived media distortion of the virus itself and felt the odds of me dying from it were akin to getting hit by lightning while being eaten by a shark.

I always thought masks were stupid, didn’t work, and felt the whole controversy was a big lie to get the Bad Orange Man out of office.

So why did I get the vaccine since it ain’t really a vaccine anyway? After all, my face might melt, my gonads could explode, and my progeny will end up playing dueling banjoes somewhere in the northwest Georgia wilderness.

Facebook “friends” warned that I would suffer blood clots, heart attack or depletion of my platelets. I’d most likely contract some strange immunological disorder, or have a stroke and die.

Or worse.

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July 15, 2021
by Steve Sanchez
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My 6:17PM Prayer List

Every day my alarm goes off at 6:17PM to remind me to pray for a list of people who need the Lord.

Why 6:17?

Because that verse is where Elisha prayed to the Lord that he would open his servant’s eyes when they were overwhelmed by God’s enemies.

His servant was panicked because the Syrians had surrounded them with an army of horses and chariots.
But Elisha, trusting in the Lord, said this: “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

Then he prayed the 6:17 prayer. What happened next?

“Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

How often do we fret and panic and worry because of a loved one who is blinded by Satan?

On my list, I have hardened atheists, backslidden friends, those living sinful lifestyles, obstinate sons and wives, and my own loved ones…and many more. Pray for them. Pray that God opens their eyes. Pray that God removes the scales so that they may see his glory.

We must pray. We must trust. We must persevere on their behalf until the Lord answers.

June 10, 2021
by Steve Sanchez
5 Comments

Father Knows Best

“DID YOU HAVE A HAND IN THE PLANNING OF YOUR DAUGHTER’S ENGAGEMENT?”

After DD’s boyfriend Zach proposed to DD on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, a few people asked if I was involved.

Well, just a little bit:

Back in January I met with Zach for lunch to ask him his intentions concerning DD. I stressed that I had raised her as a Christian with Biblical morality, and that I expected him to continue that course. He agreed…then asked for my permission to marry her.

I’ve watched Zach’s life over the past year and was impressed that he is a man of integrity, a leader, and that he would be a great husband for my firstborn.

I granted him permission wholeheartedly with one condition: that he would not wait too long because temptation sometimes gets the best of even the most committed couples.

Flash forward to May.

I met up with Zach before DD’s graduation to change my clothes in his apartment before heading over to the Baylor football stadium. He pulled me aside to show me a beautiful diamond ring. I asked when he thought he would propose. He had a number of options but decided that our upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon would be best.

At the South Rim, Zac and I went to the restroom after taking photos and before we all went hiking. Pulling out the ring, he said he was ready. We walked until we found the perfect place.

We saw a beautiful secluded spot. DD and Zach walked to the edge of the Canyon while my other daughter Laurel and I followed behind like chaperones from the 1800’s. Then I offered a subtly loud hint: “BOY, THIS SURE IS A BEAUTIFUL SECLUDED SPOT!!!

A few seconds later, he dropped to his knee. The rest is history.

The only bummer part of that day was when my other daughter Laurel said, “Don’t expect that from me for another 20 years, dad.”

(Posted with Zach’s permission.)