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Tyler Morning Telegraph - Galdámez brings church planting, education experience to Grace Español

Here are two articles written by Emily Guevara ( Twitter: @TMTEmily)  on our background and on  Grace Español .   Tyler Morning Telegraph...

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Splendored Wisdom of God Revealed Through The Church

I have been reading, meditating and thinking on the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote this book to the believers in Ephesus (Jews and Gentile). He planted the church in his third missionary journey and spent three years there. (Acts 19; 20:31) Paul's desire was to take the Gospel to the Gentiles all over the Roman Empire. What motivated Paul? Paul's motivation came from his calling but also from the love he had for Christ. As Paul planted churches he understood God's intent for His people, the Church. He says:

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" - Ephesians 3:10 (NIV)

To be honest, this verse is quite odd for me, especially the last part about rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Here is an explanation:

"The more the church lives in harmony with its high calling, the more also will the angels be able to see in it God’s marvelous wisdom. To make manifest in its life and character the "excellencies" of its Maker-Redeemer, so that the principalities and the authorities may, indeed, see this wisdom is, therefore, part of the church’s Lofty Goal." (HK NTC)
God's wisdom is shown to "principalities and authorities." These are angels, both the fallen and those who serve God.
The church exists to unite people, in this case Paul spoke about Jews and Gentile believers. Once they believed in Christ, they became one Body. This is the Church. This is Christ's Church. In Christ, there is no Jew or Gentile; no slave or free, we are one in Christ. (Galatians 3:28) According to St. Paul this fact shows the "manifold" or multifaceted wisdom of God. Regarding the word "multifaceted" it is said,
""Manifold" (polypoikilos) is a poetical adjective meaning "very varied." Euripides used it of multicolored cloth and Eubulus of flowers. Nowadays it is a technical term in geology, specifying unusually assorted crystals. The wisdom of God displayed in creation and embodied in Christ is a many- splendored thing, iridescent with constantly unfolding beauties."
Chris's Church then, is to be comprised of people from all ethnicities. To put it in another way, Christ's Church does not consider ethnicity to be part of it. Why? Because the Church is not a human institution created by men. The Church is God's creation. It is made of those who He has called out (the ekklesia) from darkness into the light. In God's kingdom, worship will take place by all of those from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9-10). This shows God's multifaceted or multicolored wisdom.
Here a clear explanation on this passage:
"Given God’s incredible work of reconciling two hostile groups into one organic body, the church is the perfect means to display God’s wisdom. Insofar as the church exists as a spiritually united multiethnic community, it accomplishes this task..." (ZSB Notes)

This brings about the question, is the church now a "spiritually united multiethnic community" that displays God's wisdom? I believe we are not. America is becoming more multiethnic as the years pass but it seems that the Church continues to be isolated whereas our calling involves sharing the Gospel with everyone regardless of ethnicity, language or culture. I often imagine what a powerful testimony it would be for the world (and principalities and authorities) to see the Church reflecting the diversity of our communities. Not only this, but the Church engaging our communities with the Gospel of Christ and spreading His love through our hands and feet.

I believe this is something achievable. We can do this if we as the Church of Christ obey him and are faithful disciples who share the Gospel with everyone.


 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

If You Could Have One Thing or Desire

If you could have one thing, what would it be? I know I said thing, but it doesn't have to be a thing, but anything. I was thinking about this as I was running and meditating on Scripture. Here are some things that people tend to make their pursuit in their lives. Some want to just be happy. They want to live a happy life. These people want to enjoy life. There are others who try to find meaning in life either philosophically or through a particular religion. Life is more than just trying to gain things in this world. They focus on attaining an internal or spiritual purpose. Some others are more practical and seek their way in life by pursuing a job, a career, money, adventure or anything else that brings
them pleasure or satisfaction.

As Christians what is it that we pursue or desire? Some Christians want to be more spiritual, more godly, or another quality. Others want to serve Christ faithfully. Many Christians just want to be "good" by doing what the Bible says or what is expected of them. They attend church faithfully and participate in activity. But what could be the ultimate focus of our life? This question came up  about three years ago for me. As I prayed, I asked God to allow me to follow Him, to have my family and to serve others. Today, I thought about it a bit more and narrowed what I desire the most, to a single focus for my life.

But before, I want to share the verse that shows what we often want and where the answer for all of them are found. It is John 14:6. A verse so well-known. The context is Jesus comforting his disciples as they have become worried, scared, afraid of losing Him. He is about to be put to death but they think He is just leaving. For them, Jesus was their Teacher, Master, Savior. But how could He leave them? Thomas is confused and tells Jesus that he doesn't know where He is going. And if they don't know where He is going, then how can they know the way there. Thomas is literal. Jesus's words are flying over his head. Jesus tells Thomas that He is the way, the truth and the life and no person can go to the Father but through Him. Jesus tells Thomas that He is the answer to what people look for. People look for the way in life and many do it by seeking things, a career, money, or even a religion. People look for the truth of life through religion, philosophy, investigation or other intellectual activity. Others focus on living life. Life to the fullest according to their understanding. None of these will bring full satisfaction. All of these fall short because none of them lead us to the Father. We were made by God to have a relationship with Him. He made us to have an intimate relationship with Him. Whether we admit it or not, we need Him. But we can only go to the Father through Jesus. Jesus is the way to the Father. Jesus is the Truth that leads to the Father. Jesus is the Life. His life is the Father's life.  There is nothing else that will lead us to the Father but Jesus.

When you believe in Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord of your life, He transforms your life. This life is the abundant life he promised. But many of us Christians even after this, live our lives pursuing activities or doing things to make us better. So what should we pursue as a single focus of our lives? I believe it is to know Jesus. The Apostle Paul had knowing Jesus as his aim in life:
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death" - Phillippians 3:7-8, 10

For Paul, his purpose in life was to know Christ. Everything else was nothing. His desire was to know Christ, to have fellowship with Him, especially in suffering and even in death. Paul knew that everything he went through, especially persecution and suffering was because of what believed about Christ. It was because he knew Christ. This was the basis of everything He did. He lived in Christ daily. Christ was His life. To know Christ was the supreme desire of his life. Paul's daily life was in Christ. Each day was an opportunity to know Him better, to live for Him and to share Him with others. This should be the case with us.

To know Jesus should be our only focus. Nothing should matter more than knowing Jesus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Harvest is Ready, Are you Ready to Work?

We are on our third week of living in Tyler, Texas and we have pretty much settled. Our lives have begun to create the new routines and to adjust to the environment. We are all happy to be here and enjoy the different perspective of this city. More importantly, we are excited to be part of our new church Grace Community Church in Tyler. We are very certain the Lord led us here to be part of reaching Hispanics with the Gospel of Christ. There is  huge harvest and we believe this is a door that the Lord has opened for us. This will in no way be easy, but our call as disciples of Christ is not a guarantee that everything will be easy. In fact, we should expect otherwise.


      When I was praying to the Lord to lead us to a place for ministry we prayed for a place that had their heart ready to reach the Hispanic population with the Gospel. God did just that.  The Hispanic population continues to grow in the United States. There are about 17% or about 54 million in the United States (Tyler: 22.8% Hispanics – 22,709; Smith County: 18%, 38,000; Texas: 38.4%; 9.7 million of population of 25 million). There is huge mission field ready to be harvested (and I don't imply all will respond positively to the Gospel of Christ). This is what Jesus said in John 4:35 "Do you not say, ‘It is still four months until the harvest comes?’ Look, I say to you, raise your eyes and look at the fields and see, they are white for harvest."

Jesus goes on to say that what he has called to harvest is not something they have worked for. The context is how the Samaritan woman who is despised by the Jews and considered half-breed, believes in Christ as Messiah. Through her testimony many believed in Jesus as well. These "undeserving" people where given grace by Jesus. This applies to what is happening in the United States with many of the ethnic groups that are growing demographically. What is the Church's role? The role of the church is to share the Gospel with them. Matthew Henry summarizes this passage:
Our Master has left us an example, that we may learn to do the will of God as he did; with diligence, as those that make a business of it; with delight and pleasure in it. Christ compares his work to harvest-work. The harvest is appointed and looked for before it comes; so was the gospel. Harvest-time is busy time; all must be then at work. Harvest-time is a short time, and harvest-work must be done then, or not at all; so the time of the gospel is a season, which if once past, cannot be recalled. God sometimes uses very weak and unlikely instruments for beginning and carrying on a good work. Our Saviour, by teaching one poor woman, spread knowledge to a whole town. Blessed are those who are not offended at Christ. Those taught of God, are truly desirous to learn more. It adds much to the praise of our love to Christ and his word, if it conquers prejudices. Their faith grew. In the matter of it: they believed him to be the Saviour, not only of the Jews but of the world. In the certainty of it: we know that this is indeed the Christ. And in the ground of it, for we have heard him ourselves.

I have highlighted above what I think we have here in America. This harvest is for a time. We must harvest it now or it won't be done; it will be lost.


Our desire is for all ethnic groups to come to Christ not just Hispanics or Spanish speakers. There are many other that are growing fast (e.g. Asian) There is very little being done to harvest. God is calling His church to act! We also have a field in the world with many places in the 10/40Window who have never heard of Christ. 

Our vision is to see many of these "people groups" reached with the Gospel all around Tyler, Smith County, cities around it and become a catalyst and a launching pad to send many missionaries to share the Gospel of Christ, all around,  and to the ends of the Earth.