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Pastor Joe and MaryHelen Martinez

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Friday, August 29 2014
Answering The Call
Friday, August 29, 2014
       A favorite psalm of many believers, one of mine too, is Psalm 91. I would encourage you to read it often, take it as God’s personal promise to you, even memorize it if you can. When we are in need of some hope, encouragement, and comfort, this is one psalm we should read and read again. I refer to it often and likewise use it when I visit the sick or those going through a hard trial. As I was reading it again yesterday morning, one particular verse seemed to stand apart from the rest and drew my attention. Referring to all who love and trust Him, God said: “When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them.” (Psalm 91:15 NLT) Perhaps that verse jumped out of the page because I had just called and texted some people I know and none of them responded.
       I’m aware that I’ve written on this topic before and I pray I won’t bore you again with it, but I feel this issue has more importance than the one people attribute to it. I also understand we can’t be as faithful and punctual as God, but if He answers immediately when we call Him, we can at least acknowledge our calls and respond as soon as we can. I suppose many of you know some folks who don’t do a very good job of answering their calls, texts, or emails. You are aware, while they may not be, that those who are trying to reach them can get upset, angry, frustrated, or even discouraged because their calls go unanswered. And, no, I am not referring to calls made by telemarketers or unknown sources; I am talking about those from friends and family. The way we respond is just one more way of conveying to others what type of people we are.
       One of our church members of the past, who I also had on my mind when I wrote Wednesday’s blog, left this testimony behind when she went to live in Heaven: I would take her regularly to her medical appointments and there was never a time when I drove up to her house when she was not waiting by the door. That was just one more thing that endeared me to her, and was a refreshing change from many of the experiences I had had before with others. I plan to remind and thank her for it when I see her again. With her too, perhaps I miss her even more today because her family members also disappeared when she left us. What will you be known for after you leave this earth?
Memory verse for the week: (John 21:16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 28 2014
Wasted Opportunities
Thursday, August 28, 2014     
       In Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in the 25th Chapter of Matthew’s gospel, two of the three servants did very well with the talents they received from their master. The only thing the third one did with his, however, was bury it in the ground. His master referred to him as a wicked and lazy servant and proceeded to take his one talent and give it to the one who had doubled his five talents to ten. If that weren’t enough, his master threw him out, which I will kindly compare to someone today being fired from his job. Actually, his fate was much worse than that. It is pretty obvious that this third servant didn’t think very highly of the opportunity he had been given, nor the fact that he had been chosen by his master to a higher position.
       It is not too much different in Christian ministry. There are many whom the Lord has called to a position of service who don’t see it as an honor and privilege, and as a result are not giving God their best. They are somewhat like Esau, who did not see the value of his birthright and sold it to his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew. His story is found in the 25th Chapter of Genesis. Then, there were the people in the time of the prophet Malachi who complained because they thought God was not giving them His best, when the truth was that it was they who were not giving Him their best. Instead of offering Him the choicest animals for sacrifice, they were bringing the lame and crippled ones. The Lord told them: “You place defiled food on my altar. "But you ask, 'How have we defiled you?' "By saying that the LORD's table is contemptible.” One does not have to be too spiritually perceptive to identify those who value their ministry or calling from those who don’t. Those who value the position the Lord has given  them are no-nonsense, no-excuse individuals who get to work and do their job faithfully and don’t slack off. They are like those faithful employees in the workplace who are never late and never call in because they don’t want someone else doing “their job” nor put the rest of the work team in a bind.
       If the Lord has entrusted you with a ministry or a position of responsibility, I pray you will see it and treat it as the honor, joy, and privilege that it is, for if you don’t, just like in the parable, it will be given to those who are already active in their own calling. Many people think it is the pastor that assigns positions or ministries. No, it isn't the pastor, it is the Lord! It is the Lord also who, in His time, removes those whose heart is not in it. Please pray for those who are starting to slack in their obligations. And if the Lord leads you to bring it to their attention, by all means do so, but don’t forget to pray that God will give you the right words.
Memory verse for the week: (John 21:16) Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 27 2014
Painful Absences
Wednesday, August 27, 2014          
       In my long years in the ministry I have conducted many funeral services, a good number of which have been especially painful for me because they involved some very dear members of our church family. I rejoice in the knowledge that all of them are in Heaven today and am grateful for the treasured great memories they left behind, but miss them profoundly nonetheless. When I think back at the contributions they made to our church, and I’m not necessarily referring to money, I remember the particular character traits I mostly miss about them. Since I’m not a name dropper, I’ll just list some of the outstanding attributes they possessed collectively, and what mostly comes to mind when I think of them individually. Here are just a few: Loyalty, tenacity, protective, dependability, faithfulness, punctuality, humility, initiative, generosity, joyfulness, playfulness, gentleness, kindness, and thoughtfulness. I bet some of you who are reading this blog today will easily recognize that I am talking about your mom, dad, or some other loved one. Perhaps you’ll also understand just how much our church has lost and why we miss them like we do.
       To add to the pain these absences have caused me and other members of our church family is the fact that many of the children and family members of our departed brethren, stopped coming to church when their loved ones left us. I realize there are many other churches in town and am aware that they don’t owe us anything, but it would have been very comforting to me to still have them with us here in church. It would have made me believe that a little bit of Sister or Brother so and so is still here with us. I don’t generally tell them, but when I see or talk to certain people in church, I often visualize their departed mom, dad, or spouse. And though I mostly succeed in hiding it, I often shed a tear of joy or two because of it.
       I believe that one issue of great concern to the Apostle Paul was the fear that his church family would stop following the Lord after his departure. I believe it because of these words he wrote to the Philippians: “Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God's saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” (Ph. 2:12 NLT) I wonder how many of our departed brethren worried about their children and families once they realized they would no longer be here with them. Many people seem to believe there are no tears in Heaven. Perhaps my theology may be defective, but I believe the opposite. I just hope that mostly they are tears of joy and happiness and not another kind.
Memory verse for the week: (John 21:16) Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
PS: I purposely used the word  “departed” and not “deceased” because our God is the not the God of the dead, but of the living
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 26 2014
A Cold Shower
Tuesday, August 26, 2014     
       Unless you just came back from another planet, you know that just about everybody and their pets has bought in to, and even participated in, the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, or whatever it. is called I suppose that a good number of you have volunteered for that freezing cold shower as well, while a few others, like myself. see it as just another case of overblown silliness. Try all you want, but if anyone challenges me, I’ll take the coward’s way out and make a monetary donation. You would have the same luck trying to get me to ride any of today’s roller coasters. The Rock and Roll Roller Coaster at Orlando made a believer out of me a few years back and brought my roller coasting career to an end. As a good friend told me a long time ago, “I’d rather be a live chicken than a dead turkey.” Old timers don’t take dips, flips, hard turns and high speeds very well anyway. Pardon the expression, but I’m sorry if I just poured cold water on you.
       That being said, please don’t think that I am against this campaign. I realize there will be many other old fuddy duddys who will holler “I’m agin it!” but if this is what it took to raise awareness to this great cause (ALS) and it succeeds in raising the money to better research this disease, then I’m all for it. It is really heartbreaking to think that since Lou Gehrig was struck with this affliction seventy five years ago and had the disease named after him after his passing, that still no cure for it has been found. Perhaps, now it will be, due in part to the raised awareness caused by this new silly fad.
       There are many, many ways and means employed in the propagation of the gospel as well. There are some methods that are pretty far out to many, and quite frankly draw much criticism. I could name you a few that I heartily dislike, but here once again, I need to admit that if they are drawing people to God, its best just to button my lip and keep my nose out of it. In fact, too many preachers and churches spend so much time and energy criticizing other pastors, churches, and ministries, that they lose focus on their own obligations. They waste their spiritual ammo firing at other believers and when its time to fire at the devil, they have very little left. We need to keep in mind Christ’s words in response to Peter’s question about John’s part in the Disciples’ duties. Jesus told him: “If I will that he tarry till I come , what is that to thee? follow thou me.” This advice is for us too. We need to focus and attend to our own obligations and not worry about the way other pastors or Christians handle theirs. If we are busy doing what the Lord called us to do, we won’t have time to worry about anyone else anyway.
Memory verse for the week: (John 21:16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 25 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014     
       I recently heard a great sermon by a visiting pastor which made me see my calling in Christ in a new light. First of all, he confirmed a belief I shared with you in a recent blog. I wrote that oftentimes there are preachers, teachers, musicians, or singers right under our noses who are just as good, if not better, than those who are known nationally and worldwide. Honestly speaking, I don’t recall ever hearing a better explanation of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) than the one he gave on that day. He made the analogy that all of us were like the man in the story that was badly beaten and left for dead by the side of the road. Sin, the devil, and the world had nearly destroyed many of us. That’s when Jesus (The Good Samaritan) came upon the scene to heal our wounds, clean us up, and restore us.
       Here’s the part of the parable that not only thrilled my heart and comforted my soul, it reminded me of the solemn obligation all ministers and followers of Christ have: The Good Samaritan loaded his wounded friend upon his donkey and took him to a nearby inn. Luke 10:35 says: “The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.” When I heard this verse on that day, I got a lump in my throat and almost broke down weeping because I saw myself as the Innkeeper. It was as if Jesus Himself was telling me, “Joe, look around and see all the souls I have brought you to attend to. They had been severely wounded before I came to save and heal them. Now that they are restored, I want you to do your best to take care of them until I return, for when I do, I will greatly reimburse you.”
       Here is where you also come in, my dear blog reader. Many of you, if you didn’t know it already, have been reminded today that the Lord has brought into your life, one or two or more people to care for and attend to. It may be your spouse, one child or several, your mom or dad, or both, or even a friend whom the Lord has placed under your care. I hope you will see it more like a joy and a privilege than an obligation, and that you keep in mind as you care for them that it is just as if you are attending to Jesus Himself. I hope you will realize that Jesus put you in this situation because he saw you as one who can be trusted. Will you see yourself as the Innkeeper in the Good Samaritan parable, and eagerly anticipate the day when the Lord will come back to see how you did? Is it your heart’s desire to hear Him say when He returns, “Well done, my good and faithful servant?” I know it is for me, and I pray it is for you also.
Memory verse for the week: (John 21:16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 22 2014
A New Word Learned
August 22, 2014
       I learned a new word recently while dealing with my auto insurance company. A few months back, a car rear-ended ours and we had to rent a car while ours was in the shop. Since the driver of that vehicle was at fault, his insurance company paid for the repairs to our car. However, being reimbursed for the money I spent for the car rental was not so easy, so I contacted my insurance company and sent them a copy of my charges. They quickly acknowledged receipt of my claim for reimbursement and emailed me that they had turned the information over to their subrogation department. I thought of emailing them back ask them what subrogation meant but decided instead to look the word up in the dictionary. The meaning was what I suspected. Subrogation is: the assumption by a third party (as a second creditor or an insurance company) of another's legal right to collect a debt or damages. That meant that my insurance company was going to try to collect from the other driver’s insurance company the money that I lost because of the rental. Up to now, we have not received our reimbursement although our insurance company says it is forthcoming. I am confident that we will recover what we lost and when we do, I will be very grateful that there is such a thing as subrogation.
       When it comes to having someone recover what we have lost in life, however, there is no one better than the Lord Himself. Simon Peter, upon seeing a rich young ruler reject the invitation to follow Him, heard Jesus declare that it is extremely difficult for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. Upon hearing those words Peter was quick to tell Jesus that he and his fellow disciples had left everything to follow Him. Jesus replied in part: “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age, and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30) Jesus, while acknowledging His disciples’ losses, promised them that they would receive so much more in return in this life, and especially in the next. On another occasion, Jesus told His disciples not to be afraid, that the very hairs of their head are numbered. (See Luke 12:7)
       As we get older, whether our it is our vim, vitality, strength, usefulness, loved ones, and yes, even the hairs on our head, we slowly lose many precious things in this life. Nevertheless, the Lord knows where they are and will return them to us one day, especially our departed loved ones. Keep Jesus’ words in mind: Don’t be afraid. Our losses here in this life are only temporary. I get excited at the thought; I trust you do too.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 21 2014
A Not Too Tall Order
Thursday, August 21, 2014
       Will Rogers, the well known and beloved cowboy, performer, humorist, and movie actor of the past, was credited as being the author of this equally famous quote: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” How many of us can honestly make that statement today? Many people, when reminded of that celebrated quotation will sarcastically say, “Maybe so, but he never met so and so.” Of course, their “so and so” could be someone in their family or some notable figure who is hated nationally or around the world. When Jesus was asked which was the greatest of the Commandments, He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Clearly, the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. Not only that, Jesus added in Matthew 22:40 “that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”, implying that whoever fulfills these two commandments, its as if he fulfilled all of them. That’s how important and crucial it is to love God and everyone else.
       It is understandable that most people will say that loving everybody is virtually impossible, but it isn’t. In fact, I bet some of you who are reading this blog today may be hard pressed to think of someone you don’t like. Some of you remember the day when Jesus and his love entered into your heart and how your way of thinking changed dramatically. You soon found out that people who you just could not stand in the past, now you saw in a totally different light. It went even further; all of a sudden you wanted to do something nice for those you had hated before. That’s just how the love of God works in our hearts.
       I also know that things can happen which may cause us to be out of touch with God and that, all of a sudden, we notice that there may be one or more persons that really rub us the wrong way. In time, we notice that we not treating them as nicely as we treat others. Then we try to appease our conscience, telling ourselves that what we are doing is merited. It isn’t. If, and when that happens, it is imperative that we bring it to God immediately before it turns into something uglier. It is very disheartening and shameful to hear Christians say they can’t stand so and so. Sadly, all of us have done it at one time or another. Thankfully, God always forgives and enables us to rebound. Do you love God and everyone else today? I’m sure you do, but if you don’t, I pray you’ll make a comeback today. You may even want to do something nice for a certain somebody.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
PS: Don’t forget this Friday night’s movie at the church, “God’s Not Dead.” Admission is free and concessions will be available before, during, and after the movie.   
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 20 2014
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Yesterday, I mentioned this random question some folks have asked me in the past: “Can a Christian go night clubbing and still make it to Heaven?” I hope you will understand that a child of God will never enter Heaven or miss out on it by what he or she does. Our salvation does not depend on what we do or don’t do; it depends on what Christ did. What He did was pay the price for our sins, and all who believe it and also believe in Him, gain eternal life. People don’t enter Heaven because they deserve it or have earned it; it is all due to God’s grace. I suspect that some pastors who have a clear understanding of the gospel message wish, from time to time, that they could tell their members, “If you do this or that, you’re going to miss out on Heaven.” They would do so, of course, with the hope of getting the straying ones back on the right track. But if they did that, they would be misrepresenting the gospel.
       Many years ago, I was asked to conduct bible studies in a men’s home to brand new Christians who were recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. It did not take too long for them to kindly ask me not to come back. They realized that I was emphasizing the gospel of grace and felt it was too risky for these men to hear it. The director of the home told me that the last thing these men needed to hear was that they could still indulge in some of their past sins, and still make it to Heaven. I totally understood his position but felt I was not given the opportunity to finish the studies and present the full picture. Its true that a child of God cannot lose his or her salvation. Still, it does not give him or her a free ride, nor a license to sin.
       David wrote: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Ps. 66:18) This is how the great bible commentator, Matthew Henry, interpreted this verse: [“If I have favourable thoughts of it, if I love it, indulge it, and allow myself in it, if I treat it as a friend and bid it welcome, make provision for it and am loth to part with it, if I roll it under my tongue as a sweet morsel, though it be but a heart sin that is thus countenanced and made much of, if I delight in it after the inward man, God will not hear my prayer, will not accept it, nor be pleased with it, nor can I expect an answer of peace to it.’’] I John 3:8 in the New Living Translation says: “But when people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the devil.” That’s pretty blunt, but it reinforces the truth that genuine believers, although they fall into it from time to time, do not practice sin. God will always love and never abandon us, but if we choose to continue doing our own thing and live as we please, we will pay a big price for it. Lets stay out of trouble and stay close to the Lord.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
PS: Don’t forget this Friday night’s movie at the church, “God’s Not Dead.” Admission is free and concessions will be available before, during, and after the movie. I hope to see you then.   
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 08:17 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 19 2014
Loaded Questions
Tuesday, August 19, 2014        
       As I was preparing my subject matter for an upcoming Bible study, I was reminded of a situation all Christians, and especially ministers, face from time to time. In this Chapter is the story of a certain teacher of the law who approached Jesus with a question: Luke 10:25 says,  On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  It is quite clear that, in this case, the question was a good one but the motive was not. This lawyer came to Christ with a loaded question. He was not really seeking eternal life; he thought he already had that due to his knowledge of the scriptures and his good works. No, in his case, he was intent on trapping Jesus into saying something that would seem to go against what the Law of God teaches. If it happened to Jesus, it will happen to us. Because we profess to be the children of God, people will come to us seeking our opinion, mostly regarding the present day issues of life. But just as in this case, the questions that are asked will not always come from a person with the right motives. Often, the one asking the question either wants to trap us or else wants to justify their position.
       Just to give you an example, here is a question, or something similar, I’ve been asked several times: “Can a Christian go night clubbing and still make it to Heaven?” Did the person asking the question really want to know the answer or are they hoping you will say it won’t keep them out of Heaven because that is what he or she is doing? Here’s another: A man has a big argument with his wife when, according to him, she pushes him to the limit. Not being able to control his rage, he punches her and breaks her nose. For some time after that, his conscience really bothers him, so he seeks the opinion of some Christian. He shares his version of the affair and asks something like: “Do you see how I had no other recourse? He is not as interested in hearing the opinion as in hoping the other will say: “I think I would have reacted the same way”, when the truth is that something like that can never be justified. 
       If you are a Christian who is dealing with issues that trouble your soul and mind, you need to bring them to the Lord, but do it honestly and with a sincere heart. James 1:5 NLT says: “If you need wisdom -- if you want to know what God wants you to do -- ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking.” The bottom line is this: If you are a genuine child of God, His Holy Spirit lives within you. Among many other things, He leads, guides, teaches, and corrects. It is He who will let you know when you are walking in the right path and when you are not. This is quite different and much more reliable than being led by your conscience. Unlike your conscience, the Lord will never steer you wrong.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
PS: This coming Friday night, the movie in church will be “God’s Not Dead.” Though admission is free, concessions will be sold before, during, and after the movie. I hope to see you then.   
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 18 2014
Try Something New
Monday, August 18, 2014
       Have you ever come across those who after hearing your stand on any issue of life, will say something like, “Well, I’ve always believed…………” Just because we have believed this or that all our lives, it does not necessarily mean we are right. Proverbs 14:12 says: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Permit me to illustrate: A man and his wife were exiting the freeway and a car on the access road was traveling at a high rate of speed practically alongside of them. The lady told her husband to watch out as they moved along the ramp. He let her know that he had the “right of way” since the other fellow had a yield sign. When they were closer to each other she told him again to watch out for the other car. Her husband insisted that he was right and the other driver was wrong for not slowing down. Need I tell you that, in the end, he was “dead right”? 
       Don’t you think it is amazing how many folks continue doing things the same way year after year, even though their methods or plans never work? Whether it involves their business, finances, marriage, exercise plans, weight management, or raising their children, they will doggedly stick to their guns even though they’ve never seen any positive results. Please don’t get caught up in the “I did it my way” hype. It was only a song with an appealing idea. In the end, the only ones who will have success in this life and someday enter Heaven are those who do things God’s way. The Bible gives us great advice in the 3rd Chapter of Proverbs. We are told not to lean on our own understanding but to trust God with all our heart, to acknowledge and let Him direct our paths, and to not be wise in our own eyes. We can’t say we love the Lord and still do things our own way. Jesus said: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ?” (Luke 6:46)
       If your methods or life plans aren’t working for you, may I suggest you try someone else’s, preferably God’s? How do you do that? Good question! You can start by bringing your burdens or problems to Him in prayer and by consulting with Him before you make any decision. In fact, everyone of us needs to do that on a daily basis. Apart from that, drawing closer to Him in anyway we can will help a lot. Whether it is through prayer, bible reading, or more faithful church attendance and involvement, God has an answer for any and every situation in life. If you start doing things His way instead of doing your own every time, I’m certain you will soon have much more success than before.
Memory verse for the week: (Isaiah 55:6) “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 01:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 15 2014
Underrated Treasures
Friday, August 15, 2014
       About 25 years ago, a rock collecting enthusiast by the name of Rob Cutshaw found a heavy, odd looking blue rock that according to him was “big and purdy.” He tried selling it for 500 dollars several times but nobody was willing to pay that much. He kept it for another twenty years before finally deciding to have it professionally appraised. Today, the big purdy rock is called the “Star of David Sapphire” and has a value of about three million dollars. Obviously, he did not know that he had a very valuable treasure in his possession. It is that way with people too. There are many who have a valuable treasure under their noses and don’t know it. I know for a fact that some of you who are reading this blog today have had such a treasure in your life, many of which are in Heaven today. I know that to be true because I knew some of them personally. I still remember vividly, a TV commercial years ago that featured three little boys walking into a boxing gym. One of them cried out “Wow, look who’s over there; it’s the champ.” (Sugar Ray Leonard) Then one of the other boys said “Nah, that’s just my dad.” And that is exactly how it is in life. Oftentimes we see some people in our lives merely as ‘mom’, “dad”, “grandma”, “grandpa”, “aunt”or “uncle so and so”, etc., while others outside our family see their true greatness.
       I love violin music and to my untrained ear, just about everyone who plays it is brilliant. However, when a professional violinist hears others play the violin, they know in an instant who can play and who cannot. When it comes to hearing other ministers teach and preach, however, I can tell you in a few minutes who is good and who is not, and you know what I’ve learned? Some local pastors I have heard, even those with small congregations, are better teachers and preachers than many of the well known televangelists. It is that way too with singers and musicians, you have seen and heard some in a local venue, or even in your church, who are better than many who are known worldwide. They are genuine treasures and yet, few people know about them. 
       Some of you have a bona fide treasure or two in your own lives today, perhaps even living with you. I pray you will see their true worth now and not when they are no longer with you. Nevertheless, whether they are still around or are now residing in Heaven, I hope you will love and appreciate them and thank God for the benefit you have received by being or having been around them. An old, old favorite song of mine used to say that this is truly a world of “overrated pleasures and underrated treasures.” Not so with me. I am blessed by having many, many treasures in my own life; some of them are reading this blog today.
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:14, NLT)  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 10:43 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 13 2014
Soft Or Hard?
Wednesday, August 13, 2014   
       From time to time some folks have criticized me, and perhaps rightfully so, because to them, I come across as being too soft and too nice. The truth is, I haven’t always been like this. When I started out in the ministry there were no gray areas in my way of thinking; it was all black and white. Believe me, I stepped on a lot of toes in my time and I sadly suspect that I pushed some away from the gospel instead of drawing them in. I even remember picking up a fellow employee by the collar because he was making fun of my testimony for Jesus. My thirty five years in the Postal Service taught me many things. One of the things I learned was that the “its my way or the highway” type supervisors that I had throughout my long career, weren’t necessarily the ones that got the most out of their employees. When they were around, all the workers were like busy beavers. Once they were gone, most of them would either slack off or goof off altogether. I found that to be partially true in the church ministry as well. I learned that the church did much better when I focused more on encouraging our members than on driving them or pushing them like ranchers do their cattle. I learned that the Lord’s flock is comprised of sheep which thrive when they are led and diligently attended to, not pushed. 
       I recently heard a Hall of Fame baseball player talk about the day his coach called him into his office to tell him privately that he felt that, of all the players on the team, he was the one who would really make a name for himself one day. He said it was a big turning point in his life and was probably the reason that he totally devoted himself to become the player that he did. Many years later, and after he was already in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he found out that the manager had called all his players in one by one and told them the same thing. I got the impression that he was still bitter about it. I wish I had paid better attention when I heard the interview because now I don’t know who that player is and I can’t look into this story a little deeper. I can understand his getting upset about it at the onset, but I hope he now is grateful to his old coach for it, for look where those uplifting words got him.
       When we are led by God’s Spirit it isn’t hard to find ways to encourage the people we love or those under our care. That doesn’t mean we can’t correct them when necessary, but even when we do we’ve got to do it God’s way. Name calling and scolding will seldom produce good results. That is one reason Paul wrote: “Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” Galatians 6:1 (New Living Translation) Besides, if we let the Lord lead us, we’ll know when we have to be sof tand when we have to be hard.
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:14, NLT)  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:17 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 12 2014
A Private Matter
Tuesday, August 12, 2014   
       Yesterday, I wrote about an obligation all pastors have. Today, I am writing about one they don’t or, in my opinion, shouldn’t have. Permit me to elaborate. Since it happens to me, I assume that most every pastor, especially those who are in small or mid-size churches, is from time to time asked by some member if and how much another particular member is giving or tithing to the church. I assume that most pastors have access to that information or else that it can be made available to them upon request. Nevertheless, I would guess that most of them prefer not to pursue the matter. I am in that majority and I’ll tell you why.
       Although I believe pastors should be in touch with their members and their families, I do not believe they should know everything about their personal lives, especially in private matters, like the issue of giving or tithing. When ascending to the pulpit, God’s ministers must be focused on the message God laid on their heart for the entire congregation. If they had previously been informed that so and so never gives any offering, they may be tempted to preach their message to that particular member. Not only that, it could cause them to bring the word while angry and upset which would nullify the good effect it would have had otherwise.
       As far as the issue of giving and tithing goes, I believe in it wholeheartedly and have practiced it since the day Christ came into my life. Tithing today is different than on the day it was instituted. Then it was by law; today it is by grace, and Christians do it because of their love, dedication, and gratitude to God, not because they have to. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says: “Every man according as he purposed in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly , or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.” If we whine or complain when we give, then we shouldn’t.
       As I end today with this little joke I heard years ago, remember that good deeds alone will never get anyone into Heaven. It is not gospel, it is a joke: A man stood at the Pearly gates wanting to enter Heaven. The angel at the gate could not locate his record and wanting to know more about his “good deeds”, asked him if he had ever given offerings in church. The man replied that he once gave a dollar back in ‘89. The angel preferred to go back and ask someone higher to make the decision. He told him, “There’s a man here who wants to get into Heaven. I couldn’t find his “good deed” records but he did say he once dropped a dollar in the offering plate. What shall I do with him?” The higher up replied, “Give him back his dollar and tell him to go to Hell.”
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:14, NLT)  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 07:46 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 11 2014
Backing Our Words
Monday, August 11, 2014
       Greetings to all. I trust this will be a very good week for all of you. Today, I want to expand on the thought I wrote for a future church bulletin. I wrote about a young man I corresponded with while he was in prison. It was there that he confessed Christ as his Savior and was paroled after serving a three year sentence. After he got out, he did well for over two years and then recently was arrested again for a DWI. Now he will be confined to a new six month term. According to his dad, he now wants to write a book about his life experiences while he serves out this term. I told his dad that I hope he does, but also that he is able to heed and practice any advice he may impart in his book. I reminded him of a serious obligation all those who preach, teach, or share God’s word with others have, that is, that people expect them to be the first to practice what they preach. I know by experience that folks will, from time to time, come up to ministers and begin their conversation with them with words like, “Did we not hear you say from the pulpit………….?” Simply put, they will hold us to our words.
       As I was going through my scheduled bible reading for this past Saturday, I came across a verse in the book of Ezra that reminded me of that obligation I just mentioned. Ezra was a leader and a scribe who lived over 400 years before Christ and the man who was in charge of rebuilding the Lord’s temple in his time. Though his people were under Persian rule at the time, Ezra found favor and was supported by the king in this project. One day, however, when he and those in his company had to travel to Jerusalem, Ezra proclaimed a fast with the prayer that God would protect them on the dangerous journey. Note what Ezra 8:22 says: (NLT Version)   I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.”Can you see that Ezra was basically saying, “How could I ask the king to protect us when we had already told him that God takes care of his own?” Would the king not think “If your God is so powerful why would you need me to protect you?”
       All of God’s children face this challenge: We need to back up what we tell others about Jesus and our faith. We need to put into practice what we preach and teach, and I’m not talking about being perfect or sinless. Of course, there’s always the easy way out, that is, if we never share Christ and our faith with anyone, we don’t have to worry about any obligations. But then again, we’re better than that aren’t we?
Memory verse for the week: (Romans 10:14, NLT)  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 08 2014
Not To Worry
Friday, August 8, 2014
       I don’t know about you but with me when I dive into a shaved ice goodie, it doesn’t take very long before I get chest or brain freeze. The problem with me is that I get brain freeze often, even when I’m not indulging in a cold treat. Such was the case yesterday. I just could not come up with a topic for today’s blog that I felt comfortable with. Brain freeze! When I was in the radio ministry, I used to marvel at other radio ministers I knew who could just step up to a microphone and start gabbing away. In my case, I had to write my script, much like I do now in this blog, and not employ it until I felt confident that was what I really wanted to say. Since my brain still functions the same way, I felt uneasy last night that I was not comfortable with any topic for today. I confess that, because of it, I worried about it all night. Then when I got up this morning and read again Jesus’ sermon on the mount, it hit me. It reminded me of the corny line about the fellow who said, “I didn’t know what a baseball was, and then it hit me.” Sorry, corny guys can’t resist corny jokes. Anyhow, Jesus’ words reminded me that I was worrying more than I should have on something He would help me with, whether I worried or not.
       You know, you can tell a lot about people by how much worrying they do or what things they most worry about. In Matthew, Chapter 6, Jesus taught that, as God’s children, we should not worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear, and pointed to the birds of the air. I don’t recall ever seeing a skinny sparrow, do you? Do you think they ever worry where their next meal will come from? And if you say its because they have a bird brain, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if we also had a bird brain. In a favorite bible verse of mine, Christ said: “But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Mt. 6:33) He simply meant, “You focus on living right, and I’ll take care of your daily needs.” As I mention often, one thing I really delight in is that I can always tell those who approach me with a prayer petition or concern that everything is going to be alright. It is more than just a pep talk, it is the truth, and I didn’t say it, the Lord did. Did He not promise He will never leave us or forsake us? You bet!
       So today, if you have been worrying about anything, don’t forget Who watches over us and helps us every day. Trust Him and rest upon His promises. Remember, everything is going to be alright. I’m not customarily a name dropper, but someone near and dear to me said recently, “We may not have everything we want, but in Christ we have everything we need.” Now lets move on to more important things. Have a great weekend!
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
PS: Don’t forget the movie, “Heaven Is For Real” tonight at 7 PM at the church. Its free and it’s a great movie. Hope to see you then.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 02:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, August 07 2014
Bad Company
Thursday, August 7, 2014
       That their children will hang around with the wrong kind of friends is one of the biggest fears and concerns most parents face. Oftentimes they will resort to every tactic or strategy they can think of to achieve that goal. In the end, the methods which have proven to be the most successful in this matter are those that include God in it. That being said, what about adults? Don’t they face even bigger dangers when they involve themselves with the wrong crowd? When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character”, (1 Cor. 15:33) he was not referring to children. Specifically, he was advising them to stay away from the false teachers that had crept in among them. If you’re familiar with the biblical account of Samson, you know what choosing to mingle with ungodly people did to him.
       Early in my Christian life, there was a very popular and well known evangelist by the name of Bob Harrington who was mostly known as the “Chaplain of Bourbon Street.” His ministry focused primarily on saving the lost that lived and worked in that famous New Orleans’ district which featured him ministering inside those less than saintly establishments. According to his own testimony, fame, fortune, and frolic got him “off the track.” I think it is pretty apparent that he got in too deep with the wrong crowd and in the end they influenced him more than he did them. By God’s grace and mercy he was restored some years back and returned to the Lord but his ministry lost most of it’s effectiveness.
       If you are one who displays your faith in your daily walk, your family, friends, and associates are very well aware of it. Of course, you cannot totally avoid contact with all people but in your dealings with them you have to be more conscious of the places you go to when you’re with them and the type of conversations they hold. You should be especially wary of those who tell you often that you’re taking this Christianity stuff too seriously or those who may influence you to slowly lose your grip on your personal convictions. One little slip-up here or there can produce serious consequences.
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 09:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, August 06 2014
A Clearer Picture
Wednesday, August 6, 2014    
       I have touched before on the matter of taking bible verses out of their context. The meaning of the verse is often changed dramatically when you do that. On some occasions, the result may even be funny. For example, lets isolate Acts 10:1 in the King James Version. It reads: “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band.” Have you ever heard of folks who open a bible page at random and with eyes closed will point their finger to see what verse they fall upon? When they read the verse they believe it is God’s message to them for that day. Well, what if they landed on the verse on top? Would they think that Cornelius was a centurion by day and played for a band at night and that God was telling them to get a part time job at night by joining a band?   
       Many years ago when there no such things as cell phones, computers, or SUV’s, I saw a full spread side-view picture in a magazine of a brand new station wagon in the GM lineup. My first impression was “wow!” Since our children were young and we needed a family car at the time, I remember calling my wife to tell her I thought I had found the car for us. We were able to buy it and on the evening we drove it out of the dealership, it was pouring down rain. For a moment, I thought that may have been an omen but I just shook it off as a coincidence. Do I have to tell you that after we had it for a while, I hated how the car looked from all other angles except the side view? Today, when considering a new car, we can see it in every angle imaginable and get all the information on it before we even set foot on the dealership lot. The reading of the Bible is like that. To understand it better we have to read it carefully and get as much information as we can to get a more complete and concise picture. Another thing to keep in mind is that the One who best enlightens the readers of God’s Word, is God Himself by His Spirit. Therefore, when reading the scriptures and especially when the meaning is unclear, if you let the words sink in and lift up a prayer to God to give you understanding, He will. That is one reason James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
PS: Don’t forget the movie, “Heaven Is For Real” this coming Friday at 7 PM at the church. Its free and it’s a great movie. Hope to see you then.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:03 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 05 2014
Being In The Right Place
Tuesday, August 5, 2014     
       There is a well known account in the 5th Chapter of Mark about the day when Jesus freed a wild, demon possessed man from his misery. When Christ commanded the demons residing in him to leave him, they begged Him to let them enter into a nearby herd of swine and as soon as they did, the pigs all stampeded off a cliff and drowned in the sea. This is a story that depicts Jesus’ great power. Yet, there are some parts of the story that often leave the readers with questions. Here is the first: If this poor man was so demonically controlled, why could the demons not keep him from running to Jesus to eventually be set free? That answer is really quite simple. God’s Spirit is stronger than any demon. In fact, 1 John 4:4 tells us that the One (God’s Spirit) who lives in the believers is greater than any evil spirit that is in the world.
       This is the second question that is often asked regarding this story: Why did the people of that region ask Jesus to depart from their country after this miraculous event? Most Bible commentators agree that their decision stemmed from fear. They were either afraid that if Jesus lived among them they would have to change their way of living or else that His presence could hurt their pocketbook like it did the owners of the swine herd. Those who have come to Christ now know that when He changed our lives it was for a far better one and that He has always helped and never hurt us financially or in any other way.
       The third question is the one most asked in this biblical account. When the ex-demonized man was back in his right mind, he begged to go with Jesus when he saw Him prepare to leave the area in compliance with the wishes of the populace. Many bible readers can’t understand why the Lord denied his request with these words, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you”, (Mark 5:19) but not all Christians can be missionaries, evangelists or pastors. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that God places them where they belong. In this man’s case there were people in that area that needed someone like him to share his story with them. After all, if Jesus was not given the chance to give them the Word, He would leave somebody behind who would. The truth is that all who have been touched by the power of God should be telling others about it. Do you tell others what the Lord has done for you? If you haven’t yet, now would be a good time to start.
Memory verse for the week: (1 John 5:13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 03:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, August 04 2014
Salvation Stumpers
Monday, August 4, 2014     
        I normally don’t watch too much television during the middle of the day but as I was flipping through a few channels this past Saturday, I saw a few minutes of a particular program which I must admit enlightened me a bit. It was one about the gospel music Elvis Presley recorded years ago. Now, I always knew that Elvis had a church background, but I saw some clips where he’s singing some old time hymns and it appeared to me that he was putting all his heart and soul into it. Later in the program, they showed a clip where tears were streaming down his face while he was listening to a quartet singing “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.” When I saw that side of Elvis, I can’t say I was “all shook up”, but I was slightly. Later in the program, I heard an ex-member of a gospel quartet recall an incident that occurred in one of Elvis’ concerts. A fan ran up to him waving a banner and shouting, “Elvis, you’re the king!” He said Elvis quieted the crowd and said, “No, Jesus Christ is the King.”
       We don’t often admit it, but many of us already have a preconceived idea of who’s saved and who isn’t. Oftentimes Christians assume that anybody that doesn’t go to church,  read the Bible, or ever mentions God can’t possibly be one of His. Even Simon Peter had that problem. One day the Lord showed him a vision where he saw all kinds of animals which beforehand the Jews had considered unclean. In the vision, the Lord told him, “Get up Peter. Kill and eat.” Peter said he would not eat anything “unclean” and the Lord told him “Don’t call anything I have cleaned, unclean.” That account is found in the 10th Chapter of the Book of Acts. Up to that day, Peter had thought that only the Jews were clean, not the gentiles. God showed him otherwise. The way we talk and act, the places we go and the things we do on a regular basis, and even our circle of friends are always pretty good indications of what type of people we are. Still, there will always be some who will throw us for a loop like Elvis just did to me, and I‘m happy he did. In fact, I look forward to meeting him in Heaven one day.
        Religion or a church affiliation cannot guarantee Heaven to anyone. No church, religion, pastor, or priest can ever save anyone; only Christ can do that. God knows those who are His, that is why Paul wrote: “Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”(2 Timothy 2:19) Some will say, “Yes, God knows if I’m saved , but I don’t.” Well, you can know. All it takes is to believe that Christ will absolutely save you if you ask Him to. In fact, If you’ve read John’s 1st letter to the church you will see that is exactly the reason he wrote it. He wanted believers to know for sure they were saved and ended his letter with these words, which will be our Memory verse for the week:
(1 John 5:13These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 04:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, August 01 2014
A Sure Sign
Friday, August 1,  2014
   When I was in the radio ministry years ago, we would have listeners call in for prayer after hearing the programs, and once in a while to ask for advice. One local call I won’t soon forget came from a lady that wanted some advice concerning her pastor. Apparently he had just taken over for the church’s long standing pastor who moved to another state and had been serving as his assistant for a couple of years. This lady was wrestling with the decision to stay or to move to another church, the reason being that her new pastor wasn’t as well equipped as her old pastor. To be honest, I didn’t know quite what to tell her and immediately lifted up a silent prayer to God to help me. I was already prepared to tell her to just pray about it and make her own decision, when the Lord led me to ask her two simple questions about her new pastor. I asked, “In your opinion, does he really love his members and do they love him as well?” She quickly responded, “Oh yes, there is no doubt about that.” I felt led of the Lord so I advised her to stay there, pray for her pastor, and help him in any way she could.
       Years have passed and now I am more convinced than ever that the answer I gave that day came from the Lord. Let me tell you why: So many people today struggle with the same decision as our lady caller of long ago. They may not be totally convinced that they are in the right church or, for whatever the reason, may be looking for a new one. Here is where things get more complicated because for the most part, church seekers already have an idea of what they are looking for in a church or pastor. They may prefer the pastor to be in a particular age group or may be looking for one or more personality or character traits in him. They may also have in mind the size of the church, it’s music, or services or programs they offer. All of these things may be important, but there is one sure sign that determines if the church you are in is the right one or not. It comes down to something as simple as love and peace.
       The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, that if he could speak like an angel, or knew all the mysteries of God and had all the faith in the world, but had no love, it would be like he had nothing at all. Any pastor or church, therefore, that has no love, really has nothing to offer. Jesus told His Disciples, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) This verse confirms the truth that Christians are not just known by the love they have but by the love they give. Then comes peace. Besides love, if you also feel peace in the church you are in, you are in the right place because God is love and Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The bottom line is this: If you feel loved, welcomed, and at peace in the church you’re in, look no further.
Memory verse for the week: (Ephesians 4:31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.
Posted by: Joe Martinez AT 11:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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