Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Author: Kevin (page 1 of 197)

Confessions of an Expectant Father

On March 17, 2012 Mare Cris gave me a title I wasn’t sure I’d ever have: husband. Over five years have quickly gone by since then. We’ve seen the amazing faithfulness of God through both blessings and trials.

We decided that this year was the right time to start our family. We felt like things had settled down here in our new ministry assignment and we saw no reason to wait any longer. Neither of us is getting any younger (especially me).

We weren’t really sure what to expect. We’ve known other couples that conceived before intentionally trying to start a family. We’ve also met couples that struggled with infertility (some of whom were never able to have biological children).

Weeks turned into months. We weren’t really worried, but we were beginning to wonder if we were in for a long wait. I wrote this Scripture down in my prayer journal:

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

-Psalm 128:3

God graciously fulfilled this promise back in July. Mare Cris was experiencing the first telltale signs of pregnancy and used some home tests that I bought months before. The two lines were unmistakable evidence of great news: we were officially expecting a baby! My cousin (who is an OB/GYN) was the first to hear about it (she confirmed the reliability of home tests). The next day (after positive test #2) I called my dad to inform him that he would be a grandfather again. The following Sunday my wife was leading worship at our church and shared the good news with them.

The daily grind of first trimester queasiness, dizziness, and fatigue have taken a toll on Mare Cris. I’m still trying to believe this is actually happening–it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of being a father. But words can hardly express how grateful and excited both of us are.

Yesterday we were able to see our little one for the first time. Hearing the tiny heartbeat nearly brought tears to our eyes. I’m sure we would have both been sobbing if we could have gazed at the live image long enough. But it was over within a few minutes–just long enough for our technician to gather the needed information. A doctor came not long after the test to give us the age of the child (a little over 8 weeks) and tell us everything looked normal. I’m sure this is all familiar scenery for the medical staff, but Mare Cris and I were awestruck.

Soon I will have a new title: father.   The baby will be born in late March.

Thank you, Lord!

Somewhere Between Jerusalem and Corinth

My church and I have been journeying through the Book of Acts during our Wednesday night Bible study. We’ve studied verse-by-verse, discussing the birth of Christianity in ancient Jerusalem.

Two passages in particular have been on my mind: Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-35. Luke describes a body of believers that were intensely devoted to the Scriptures and to each other. They were selflessly focused on the mission of spreading the Gospel to their community. God blessed them with both numerical growth and supernatural manifestations of His power. I constantly remind my congregation (and myself) that the events recorded are much more than a historical account–the same Spirit who started the church in Jerusalem is at work in our midst. In other words, Luke (the author of Acts) doesn’t just show us what the church was–he shows us what it can be, here and now. It’s awe-inspiring, challenging, and quite frankly, convicting.

But another side to the story unfolds as I read through other books of the New Testament.   The gospel spreads rapidly through the Roman Empire and beyond, but not every church we encounter is as healthy or vibrant as the infant congregation in Jerusalem. I can think of no clearer example than the church in Corinth. Paul’s letter indicates many of these believers struggled to leave behind their pagan attitudes. The problems were many: factions, worldliness, immaturity, arrogance, and expressions of sexual immorality that even pagans would find objectionable (quite remarkable when one considers the Romans’ nonchalant attitude about sexual promiscuity).

The stark contrast between the Jerusalem and Corinthian churches intrigues me. I’m grateful that God chose to give us historical snapshots of both ancient congregations through His word. I’m especially grateful now that I’m a pastor.

Allow me to explain this a little further. I consider myself to be an ordinary pastor of an ordinary congregation serving an extraordinary God. Luke’s writing shows me what God can do with and through an ordinary group of believers like us. Paul’s letters teach me to be patient as we, and imperfect congregation (with a very imperfect pastor), journey together by the grace of God.

So here we are, somewhere between Jerusalem and Corinth. I dare to dream of greater things, because God may just use us to radically impact this community for His glory. But I dare not lose patience with the everyday struggles, quirks and failures of people who are just as deeply flawed as I am.

El Paso: Six Months In

I try to take the time every once in a while to write about the places I’ve called home. I shared my impressions of Angeles City back in 2011–this was a big move after spending the previous nine years in Manila. I’ve also shared what it was like to move back to the USA and experience all the reverse culture shock that comes with being back here.

I suppose I’ve been a bit of a slacker in terms of this blog–it’s just not quite as high a priority as it once was. But I do look over these old posts from time to time, and doing so always puts a smile on my face. These little digital memoirs are vivid reminders of God’s faithfulness and abundant blessings.

It’s been a little over six months since we moved to our current location. I’m reflecting on this adventure while Mare Cris cooks some longganisa and eggs for our (late) breakfast on this sunny morning. Here are a few of my thoughts (in no particular order) about the city known as El Paso.

The Franklin Mountains

The road heading to the church office.

I have the privilege of seeing God’s majestic handiwork every time I drive to the church office. The Franklin Mountains are magnificent, colossal monuments to the glory of God. These majestic ridges from His fingerprint speak volumes to all who are willing to spend just a few moments in contemplation (Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:20).

Where the Wind Blows

Each place I’ve lived has it’s own type of natural disasters. Earthquakes and typhoons were a regular part of life in the Philippines. Alabama has had more than it’s fair share of tornadoes. El Paso is generally free of these, but it does have it’s own brand of destructive (or at least disruptive) weather: straight-line winds. They can howl angrily for hours (sometimes for days) and displace anything that isn’t securely anchored to solid ground. There’s probably a sermon illustration in there somewhere.

Military

El Paso is home to Fort Bliss, a US Army post. My dad was actually stationed here back in the 60’s when he was in the Army. The military presence is pervasive–we regularly see men and women in uniform at restaurants, stores, etc. Many who have chosen to live here permanently have done so after lengthy military careers.

This military presence is reflected in the congregation I lead–most of our church members are active or retired soldiers (and their spouses/widows). It’s an honor to serve men and women who have sacrificed so much for the sake of this great nation.

Border Town

El Paso is located right on the border of Juarez, Mexico. It still feels strange to look over into another country while driving through certain parts of the city. Mare Cris and I haven’t visited Juarez yet, but maybe we will one of these days. It would be a shame to live a few miles away from  Mexico and never go visit.

Scenic Drive, overlooking El Paso, the border, and Juarez.

The demographics of El Paso have been radically influenced by its proximity to Mexico. The city is now about 80% Latino/Hispanic.

Espanol

Spanish is ubiquitous here, and a significant percentage of the population is bilingual as far as I can tell. I have occasionally encountered situations in which I’m unable to communicate with someone due to the language barrier (this is rare, but it does happen). Sometimes it reminds me of my first few months in Manila–feeling like the odd man out because I don’t speak one of most-used languages. The longer I’m here the more I want to learn Spanish. I just ordered some flash cards (this is how I began learning Tagalog), so we’ll see if I can make some headway.

To be continued . . .

Sermons Online

I just wanted to let everyone know that you can listen to my sermons online if you are interested.  Here is the link:

http://www.sermoncloud.com/apolloheights/

 

 

Just click the earphone icon (as seen above) to listen or the arrow icon to download the message onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

 

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