On Pews…


My church did it.  My church finally decommissioned it’s pews this past Sunday and moved them on to an Alliance church in Ensenada, Mexico.  One second they were there and the next second they were on a UHaul hauled off with a pat on the back and a smile from some of my Mexican brothers.  Then i was left in an empty sanctuary.  The marks were left on the carpet, the deacon pews were still around, and a stack of new chairs sat in the hallway ready for work.I didn’t think it would affect me much but as I looked into the sanctuary I understood why some of my older people were having such a hard time with the idea.  I understood why it took years of preparation to lead up to this moment.  It had everything to do with the memories.  I hear what people always say in this day and age:  Doesn’t it matter which helps reach the lost more?  Sure it does.  Doesn’t it matter which makes the sanctuary more flexible?  Sure it does.  Doesn’t it matter which are safer?  Sure it does.  But it’s still hard because of the shadows that linger.  I hear what the older say:  A church should have pews.  They are more distinguished.  They hold the hymnals, bibles, and envelopes.  Sure, sure, and sure.  But I know what it’s about now.  I get it.  It’s about the memories.

That’s where old Clyde used to sit and shake his cane at me.  That’s where Arlene used to sit and warmly smile as I nervously clung to my notes and read my manuscript praying that it was what God wanted me to say that week.  That’s where old Marv used to sit and zing me from the crowd.  That’s where Edna sat and listened because she couldn’t see me.  Over there is where Gary and Vickie used to sit back in the wonder years of their marriage.  Heck that’s where I sat when i heard Dr. Porter preach the first time.  That’s the pew that I saw my oldest peek over as a baby.  That one over there is the one she used to sleep in.  They were my friends the night before my wedding as I kneeled in the darkness praying to God for a happy marriage.  They were witnesses to the vows I made to my wife.  Though they were rickety and occasionally would fall apart, they served for longer than I have been alive.  It’s the memories.That’s why I let me originals vote and though they chose to go with the new chairs that God had blessed us with for the remarkable price of …. free.  It was still hard to see them go.  So thank you God for the future but thank you God also for the past and those rickety old pews that served our church well.  May they continue to serve and help carry many of the lost in Mexico to your kingdom one day.

Posted on July 23, 2013 .

Thank You Miss Edna


When I first came to First Southern Baptist Church of Anaheim there were only a few people here and one of them was Miss Edna Pruitt.  Though things have changed, the mark that she made on our church can’t be denied.  She was a wonderfully hard worker.  Even though she couldn’t see could hardly hear, with assistance from others in the church, she served as our treasurer.  Her memory was amazing and she often reminded me of things I had to do for the church as they came up each year.  In modern day language, she was facebook notifications and the google calendar of her time.  She truly was amazing.Although she couldn’t see, she was the biggest Laker fan.  She would sit there and listen to the games and ask me about new players.  She loved Kobe despite all of his flaws and she had faith in this new kid Bynum.  The best thing about her was her unshakable faith.  It was a faith that we could all learn from.  She supported each new pastor that came along until she couldn’t make it to church anymore because of her health.  She did it because she loved Jesus and she served until the very end.  This past Tuesday, Miss Edna went to be with our Lord and I am thankful that this portion of her eternal life is finished.  I can’t wait to see her in heaven one day in her new body and new role in the Kingdom of God.

Thank you Miss Edna.  I will miss you until that day.

Posted on July 23, 2013 .

Thank You Pastor Tim!

He never lost that smile with me that reassured me and encouraged me whenever I saw him.

I am a young pastor but there was a time when i was even younger. It was a time when all I knew was that I needed to serve at FSBC Anaheim and to do what God led me to do. I worked hard, prayed harder, and God’s grace helped me through.  At that time, I didn’t have many friends in the ministry.  My congregation was still unsure about me but who could blame them?  I was unsure of myself at times. Therefore I looked for some friends who might be able to understand me and after a time of prayer a newletter came from the Orange County Southern Baptist Association (pre-email editions) and through that pamphlet I got invited to a pastor’s luncheon.

I don’t remember what church it was at but I know I haven’t been there since that day. When I walked in there were three tables.  One was full of older Caucasian men who were at least a foot taller than me. Another was empty. The third had a Filipino man sitting there and so I sat there.  I was intimidated because I didn’t know anybody but that Filipino man just gave me a peaceful smile of assurance and 10 minutes later our table filled up with Hispanic, African American, and Filipino pastors. It was soon after that that the man who gave me that assuring smile introduced me to a huge man named Doyle Braden who is one of the greatest men I have ever met. After that I felt the warmth of all the pastors there. It was great!

Who was that wonderful man that made a young, green pastor feel welcome amongst his peers? It was Pastor Tim De Fiesta. I don’t have many memories with him but the ones that I have were pretty great and life changing for me. Towards the end of his life, he fought cancer for with courage and faith. He never lost that smile with me that reassured me and encouraged me whenever I saw him.  He kept working and fighting for God until the very end. Thank you God for such a wonderful man and thank you for the opportunity to know him.  Thanks Tim, you’re the best.  Rest now.  We will see each other soon.

Posted on July 23, 2013 .