Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Day Our World Changed

November 13, 1989. 11:30 AM

I had just finished my lunch in the teacher's workroom and was walking back to my classroom. I was teaching at San Jacinto Elementary in San Angelo, Texas at the time. Up until then, it had been a typical November day.

As I walked past the school office, the door swung open and a fellow teacher stepped out with a look of concern on her face. She spoke directly to me and said, “Your wife’s on the phone, and it sounds serious.”

I ran into the office, took the phone, and heard my wife say, “I don’t know what happened, but your brother is on life support in a hospital in Austin.” 

Twelve hours later, my father and I were sharing a room in a hotel on I-35 in Austin. My sister-in-law, Sandy, and her six-year-old daughter, Araceli, were in a room across the hall.

I hardly slept that night. I would doze off and suddenly wake up to my father crying and calling out my brother’s name. 

My brother was dead.

Osiel had collapsed that morning while his high school band was performing at the UIL State Marching Contest in Austin, the victim of a brain aneurysm. He was kept alive on a ventilator until we finally made the decision to let him go at 8:30 that night. He passed away at 8:59.

The memories of that day are burned in my memory. I’ll never forget them. The following days were a painful blur. His picture was on the front page of the San Angelo Standard-Times on the day of his funeral, along with a story of his outstanding career and his tragic, premature death. One of my sisters had a birthday two days after he died. It was hardly a celebration.

Somewhere at home, I have a videotape of his band’s last performance. In the corner of the screen, his collapse is visible. Immediately, a paramedic went to him and began CPR. Within minutes, several people surrounded him, blocking any further viewing. I’ve seen that video twice since his death.

It’s been 25 years since he passed away. His daughter, Araceli, is now married and has two beautiful children. Osiel II was born four months after his dad's death. He's 24 years old and the spitting image of his dad. Sandy's still very close to our family.

Our family's world changed that day. Life without my brother became the new normal. The pain's mostly gone, but his memory will always remain strong.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who will you invite to church this Sunday?

It’s time to reach out and invite your neighbors to church! People need to know that there is hope and a community of people like our church who will welcome them and love them. That's why Solid Rock Church is joining the National Back to Church Sunday movement this Sunday, September 21st.
According to Lifeway Resources, 82% of unchurched people would attend church if someone invited them! Yet fewer than 2% of Christians ever invite an unchurched person to come to church! Even if you've never tried inviting someone to church, we are going to make it easy this fall with with this special service.
It’s not as hard as it may seem. Did you know that most people who have dropped out of church haven’t lost their faith in God—they simply fell out of the habit of going to church? Some moved, had a change in life circumstances, or had a falling out with their former church and simply drifted away. Most often, life just became too busy. This means many of them could be open to returning to church.
I encourage you to step out in faith and invite someone to rediscover church. Inviting a friend is a simple gesture that could change someone’s life.

We gave out postcard invitations this past Sunday for you to give out. You can also use Facebook posts and personal invitations to reach out to your friends and family members. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to invite them to church with you.

Watch this video for a little extra motivation to invite your friends.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Prayer for my Children

John grew up and became strong in spirit. -John 1:80

John the Baptist was an interesting man: a bit eccentric as evidenced by his appearance and his diet, and not afraid to tell the truth.

Jesus referred to him as a truly great man. That he was. But one of the things that first gets my attention was that as a child, he became strong in spirit.

Strong in spirit refers to being resolute and principled. It describes a person whose character is being molded and refined by learning to trust in God during life's difficulties. It speaks of someone who's not easily swayed by popular culture or opinion but who lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

My children aren't children anymore but I still want them to become strong in spirit because I know they frequently face difficult and painful situations. In their trials, I want them to remember that being strong is spirit is only possible when our lives are deeply rooted in Christ and when we learn to live in the power of the Spirit.

May all our children grow to become strong in spirit.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Please our Heavenly Father

This past weekend, my family and I had an opportunity to travel to San Antonio for a quick two-day get-away. We ate together, watched a Broadway musical, and laughed a lot! We had other extended family members and a very good friend with us, so the fun and excitement was maximized.

Friday night, we all ate at Pappasitos to celebrate Bethany's birthday. The food was great, and the conversation was almost continually amusing. As I sat and watched our four children and their cousins talk and laugh, I felt such a strong measure of peace and joy to know that they all love each other and enjoy each other. There have been times in our family (as in every family, I'm sure) when our children have been at odds with each other and have not enjoyed each other's company. That always breaks my heart more than they know. It doesn't happen very often, but even once is too often.
These are not my children. Just some people laughing.

As I observed them laughing and enjoying the evening together, I thought of how God must feel when his children love each other and get along well together. I imagine that our times of laughter together please Him, because like any father, he loves it when his children get along well.

By the same token, how God's heart must be broken when his children are divided and estranged from each other. He must hate to see them argue and pull away from each other.

Jesus taught us that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. May we work hard to love each other and to enjoy each other. I believe this honors God and pleases Him to no end.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Night Reflections

  • This morning, we began a new series at Solid Rock Church titled "Lord, Bless my Family!" I believe that's a prayer that comes from deep within the hearts of many people. Many families are hurting and need an Divine intervention. That's what I'm praying will happen during this series. 
  • We've been without a living room TV for a few months now. We watched the TV in  Ryan's bedroom for awhile, but now that one's also gone (to Trinity). I miss watching college football and other sports but it hasn't been the end of the world.
  • So It's been four weeks since we dropped Ryan off at Trinity University. It sure has been a long four weeks! I'm still getting used to not having him around here. I don't really like it but it's getting better.
  • I'm looking forward to a great week of ministry, teaching (school), sermon prep, organizing, planning,  and cleaning. I pray you all have a great week, too!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Breaking out of our comfort zone

What a great day we had at Solid Rock today!

Today was the first day in a new location for us. We are now meeting at Cornerstone Christian School for our Sunday morning service. (We will continue to meet at our Koberlin location on Wednesdays.) This move will allow us more room for growth as we look ahead to the opportunity to reach more of our friends and family to Christ. We don't know how long we'll be at Cornerstone but we're committed to following the Lord wherever He leads us.

It wasn't easy deciding to make this move because it means we will all have to work harder to set up and tear down each Sunday, along with all the other challenges that come with being a portable church. It definitely would have been more convenient to maintain the status quo. We could have just stayed in our small building where everything is already set up and where we have more comfortable chairs and...well, you get the picture. But our desire is truly to position ourselves to reach more people for Christ.

So we're moving forward, breaking camp and advancing. It's going to be an exciting journey!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Loving Our Prodigals

I’ve been thinking about this past Sunday’s sermon at Solid Rock Church. My brother, Benjy, spoke on the story of the Prodigal Son. He reminded us that it is really the story of the Loving Father.

It never ceases to amaze me how loving the Father really was to his son, and how different (read unloving) we are when the prodigals in our lives come home. The Father had every reason to be angry with his son for wasting his money in wild living, but he met him only with love and restoration.

Why are we so afraid to show unconditional love to our prodigals? Why do we find it so hard to forgive them? Why can’t we restore our relationship with them without first having them pay the price for their wrongs?

When did God ever treat us the way we treat our prodigals? Never!

Yes, it’s true that God will not be mocked, but that’s for Him to settle. Our part is to be loving and forgiving. That doesn’t mean we minimize the sin, but it does mean that we offer our love, forgiveness, and restoration.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Your Personal Growth

I love new beginnings. I love the beginning of a new month, the start of a new year school, the beginning of a new sports season--all these beginnings come with a clean slate and new hope for success. That's why I believe this time of the year is a great time to do some recalibrating and some serious planning.

For most of us, setting new goals for 2012 will probably involve addressing finances and health/exercise. Those are definitely two important categories that should not be left to chance. It's a good idea to determine to get our financial house in order and to actually institute some action steps toward that end. Same thing with our health. We must begin a plan for healthy eating and regular exercise.

But an area that is often overlooked when people set their goals at the beginning of a new year is the area of personal development. To me, personal growth is about learning and developing skills for success in life. Regardless of our age, we must all determine to keep growing personally.

One of the best ways to position ourselves for consistent and effective personal growth is by developing strong daily habits which allow us to be successful the next day and the days after that. Your personal growth and your over-all success in life will be determined by the things your do daily.

So develop helpful daily habits, such as taking time to talk to God and to hear from Him through Bible reading. Develop the habit of getting things done without putting them off for the next day. Develop the habit of reading daily to learn from the wisdom of others.

Your daily habits will determine your personal growth. Your daily habits will determine your future success.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peace on earth?

Christmas is a beautiful time of year, isn't it? Why is it, then, that many people face a tremendous amount of stress that keeps them from truly enjoying this season?

Christmas should be a time of learning to rest in the Lord. It should be a season of embracing all that Jesus came to give us: our salvation, abundant life and eternal life, and the promise of eternity with Jesus. But when we spend the Christmas season worried about shopping, parties, an over-emphasis on food, and the whole man-made ambience of Christmas, we begin to gravitate toward stress and anxiety.

Let me just encourage you to stay focused on Jesus this Christmas season. One of the most obvious ways to do this is to be in church every week worshiping Jesus. Plan to be in church on Christmas Eve as part of your family's Christmas celebration. That should be a no-brainer! Christmas is about Jesus, not just about family!

But don't wait until Christmas Eve to go to church. Be regular in attendance. Quiet your spirit in God's presence.

And take advantage of a Christmas Bible Reading plan offered by several Bible publishers to stay focused on Jesus through your Bible reading.

Let's all keep our eyes on the Jesus during this Christmas season!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Night Reflections

My wife and I just returned from one of the most restful and relaxing trips we've ever taken. We spent a weekend in Orlando FL (combination business and pleasure) and then a five day cruise to the Bahamas. Priceless!

It was great being back at Solid Rock after missing last Sunday's service. I truly love worshiping with our church family.

I've been teaching a series since July titled Grounded and Growing. It's been a fascinating look at 1 Thessalonians. Next Sunday will be the last week of this series.

Next Sunday is National Back to Church Sunday. Do you know a church dropout? Bring them with you to church this coming Sunday.

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This fleeting summer!

It's hard to believe we're about to start the last week of July. Where has summer gone?

I always seem to convince myself that I'll use summer to catch up on projects at home as well as at the church, but it doesn't always work out that way. Still, it's been a rewarding summer on both fronts.

We're about to take our youth to youth camp where they will spend a week of concentrated focus on seeking God. Truly life-changing! Then the following week, we'll have our annual MEGA Sports Camp. That's always a fun-filled week of sports instruction and solid Bible teaching.

After the MEGA Sports Camp, it'll be time to give our attention to back-to-school preparation!

In the midst of this roller coaster we call life, it's good to slow down and reflect on these words:

Show me, LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is. (Psalm 39:4)

and these:

Teach us to number our days,

that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

Take time to pray daily. And go to church each Sunday. It'll help you keep the right perspective.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming up at Solid Rock!

I'm really looking forward to the next three weeks!

We're scheduled to have guest speakers at Solid Rock for the next three Sundays. First, Dr. Doyle Jones will speak at the 10:30 service next Sunday, January 30th. The week after that, Benny Ferguson will be here from Springfield, MO to speak at the 6:00 service. Then on February 13th, Sam and Rose Molina will be at the 6:00 service to speak to our couples.

It's gonna be a great stretch!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Don't Stand Still

Many people like to take advantage of a new start to make resolutions and set goals at the beginning of the year. Personally, I think that's smart. We become what we're committed to.

I think we should use this time of year to evaluate our spiritual life and decide that we're going to to grow spiritually. That is probably the biggest resolution we can make.

But as we all know, it's not easy to persevere through all the obstacles that daily living brings. That's why I really appreciate the book of Hebrews, which has a recurring theme of "don't give up, continue to move forward".

Hebrews warns us not drift, slip, or shrink back in our spiritual walk. That's a serious warning because if we're not moving forward, we're falling back.

In other, words, there's no standing still with God.

Make a determination that 2011 will be a year of spiritual growth for you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Follow me

When I first started using Twitter, my wife said that Twitter sounded like a cult because I was trying to get people to follow me. Well, I'm still looking for followers, but in a very different platform.

My family and friends know that I love using YouVersion. For those of those of you who may not know, YouVersion is an online Bible with many outstanding features. One of my favorite ones is the ability to interact with other YouVersion users around the Scriptures.

Any YouVersion user can contribute a comment, a devotional thought, or a link to a song or video pertaining to a verse or passage of Scripture. The neat thing is that you can follow other users and be notified when they make a contribution. This allows for social and spiritual interaction around the Word of God. I find this very exciting!

So if you find yourself spending a lot of time on Facebook or Twitter, why not redirect some of that time to a more useful interaction around the Bible. Create a free account today and get started.

Look me up on YouVersion and follow me, and I'll follow you. You'll find me here.

Let's meet around God's Word.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Back from Nicaragua

I finally got back home last night after having to spend a few extra days in San Antonio after arriving from Nicaragua. I haven't had much time to rest, but I'm still very excited about my trip.

While in Nicaragua, we spent much of our time in Esquipulas, where Missionary Nathan Alfaro is planting a church. In fact, he's actually planting two churches, Casa de Mi Gloria in Managua, and Casa de Mi Gloria-Esquipulas.

The church plant in Esquipulas is being planted by way of a six-week (or perhaps longer) crusade. Services are being held every night of the week, except for Monday. The missionary-evangelist for this crusade is Dr. Doyle Jones. He is preaching every service of the crusade!

I had a great time in Nicaragua. We've partnered with Missionaries Nathan and Christine Alfaro for many years, now, but after visiting Nicaragua, I understand why they love that country so much. I've learned to love them, too, after spending a week there.

I especially enjoyed going out into the streets of Esquipulas and inviting people to the crusade, and praying with them for their needs. It didn't take long for me to learn to love those precious people.

Let's continue to pray for Nathan and Christine Alfaro, and for the "Casa de Mi Gloria" churches. And who knows, maybe we can take another trip there next year.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Night Reflections

What a great day we had today at Solid Rock Church! Good things always happen when we come together to worship God.

It was great having my wife in church today. She's been gone most of the summer (since late May) tending to her mom. She's been missed at home and at church.

Spoke about Prayer Prompts in tonight's service. We're prompted often to pray by the Holy Spirit but we've learned to fight off the prompts. I hope tonight's teaching helps us to recognize and respond to these prayer prompts.

Taking a quick trip to Maypearl TX tomorrow to take our youth to youth camp. We're praying for God to do great things. You can follow the youth camp here.

I'm going to Nicaragua this Wednesday with a group from Bethel AG. We'll be doing some street ministry in conjunction with a crusade led by Doyle Jones and Missionary Nathan Alfaro. Keep us in your prayers.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


There are several excellent online Bibles available but my favorite, without a doubt, is YouVersion.

YouVersion is an online Bible, but it's really much, much more. It allows individuals to contribute their thoughts on the Scriptures. It allows for community interaction around the Scriptures. It provides several reading plans which can be read and tracked on the web and on a mobile device simultaneously. It provides a way for churches or Bible study groups to follow the message outlines and Scripture readings live on their mobile devices. It truly is an amazing resource!

My smartphone of choice is the Palm Pre. YouVersion has an excellent app for the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi that allows access to the same features on the smartphone that are available on the YouVersion website.

Of course, YouVersion has excellent apps for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android phones, but it's the Palm YouVersion app that I want to feature.

Here's why:

Currently, Palm is running a contest to see which app is downloaded the most by the end of June. YouVersion is trying to win $10,000 or maybe even $100,000. They would like to win the money so they can put it right back into development of all their mobile platforms.

If you have a Palm Pre or Palm Pixi, you can help by downloading the YouVersion app from the App Catalog. Not only will you be enriched spiritually by this app, but you will also help the Bible to reach more and more people all over the world.

There's not much time left in this contest, so if you have a Pre or Pixi, download it today. It's totally free!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

iVALUE: Baptism in the Holy Spirit

There is wealth of excellent teaching in this video concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Take the time to watch this hour-long video, even if you have to watch it in segments. You'll be glad you did!