Fr. Jose Poch

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Community Can Be Messy

I just read a brief excerpt from a new book being offered through Intervarsity Press titled Community is Messy. It reminded me of the life and leadership experience of Moses as he led the people of Israel through the wilderness of the Sinai to the Promised Land. It also reminded me of so many of my own experiences as a church Pastor for just about 30 years, serving in two church communities. 

The author of this very interesting and insightful book writes: 
“Community is messy because it always involves people, and people are messy. It’s about people hauling their brokenness and baggage into your house and dumping it in your living room. What do you do at that moment? The moment you realize that the people you’ve committed your life to are messy becomes the defining moment of your leadership.” 
As you can tell from this brief quote, the author has in mind and in fact focuses her attention primarily on the leadership of Small Groups or House Churches. Perhaps each of our House Church leaders should pick up a copy of this book, but it also speaks about churches in general and any place where we live and share with each other in community.
I have often been reminded of St. Paul’s true and now famous words to the Ephesians about spiritual warfare in his Letter to the Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Very true, ultimately these “principalities”, “powers”, ‘rulers of the darkness,” and “spiritual hosts of wickedness” are our true enemies who influence so much of the evil in our world and even in us. But I am also reminded too often that these “spiritual” enemies we are warned about come in the form of other human beings who verbalize insults or lies against us, who act un-brotherly, who stab us in the back and hurt us deeply with their betrayal, and who wound us deeply in mind, body, and soul. I often say that the spirit of Judas is very much alive, even in the church.
Why can’t we just come to each other and speak in brotherly and loving fashion as our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us, even if we don’t agree with one another? So much confusion and disagreement can be cleared up if we had the Christian spirit of reconciliation and of harmony. Our daily prayer should be “Lord, don’t let me be used by the Devil or his spiritual forces, the enemies of my soul, to hurt another person. Guard me from being the cause of spiritual warfare in another.”
Community can be messy but it does not have to be, not if we allow Jesus Christ to reign in us, to teach us and to transform us into His image. 
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Vote God into Office

Well, we have just voted President Barack Obama to a second four-year term in office as President of the United States. To those who voted for him, congratulations! To those who did not vote for him, my condolences! I recognize the bewildering disappointment that some feel when elections, whether for a president, senator, congressman or congresswoman or a Proposition goes in a different direction than we voted. I have to acknowledge that I still don’t fully understand how someone can win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College vote (not that this was the case in this recent elections). Some States though smaller in size seem to have more Electoral College votes, I don’t understand this either.

On the day after the Presidential elections, as I was beginning my day in prayer with the Upper Room, a devotional magazine I use to direct my Bible reading, I was led to the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 26. I was reminded that God is indeed the Hope of any nation and that men will come and will go whether kings or presidents (Democrats or Republicans or any other party), they are just mortal men, fallible and finite. Only God is immortal, infallible and infinite.

Isaiah writes a song that Judah is to sing about “that day” in which a new Zion/Jerusalem (God birthed not man built) will come and a new nation will spring forth, a “righteous nation”“Open the gates that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
In two places we are told what we are to do, in verse 4; Trust in the Lord forever, For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” The strength of the new city is God. The Lord of this new righteous city “is everlasting strength.” The strength of our city/nation is rooted in the strength of our God and our trust in Him alone. In verses 8 and 9, the song continues: “Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You; The desire of our soul is for Your name and for the remembrance of You. With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” These verses remind us that prayer for our nation, and all who govern our nations should be lifted up “in the night” and “early” in the morning. Our eyes should and must be set on our God who is our “everlasting strength.”
St. Paul makes the same recommendation to the Christians in Ephesus in 1 Timothy 2, “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Please notice the missional and evangelistic character of Paul’s exhortation, there is a reason and purpose behind the need to pray for leaders. We should heed attentively the call of Isaiah to “trust in the Lord forever” and the exhortation of Paul to keep our leaders covered in prayer.

I pray that whether you feel a winner or a loser in this election that you keep your eyes on the Lord and that we all learn to trust in Him and Him alone. 
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Do Christians Have Rights?

            I listened to a report on the case in Texas involving several cheerleaders who use Bible verses on banners. These banners are placed at the entrance to the field. As we have seen in many football games, the team runs right through the banner, tearing them to pieces. An Atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, was offended by this expression of the cheerleaders’ faith and a complaint was filed before the East Texas school district which promptly forbade the cheerleaders' practice.

            A judge, however, has granted an injunction requested by the Kountze High School allowing the cheerleaders to continue their practice. A trial is scheduled for June 24, 2013. This issue has drawn into the fray Texas governor, Gov. Rick Perry, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott who are in support of the cheerleaders’ rights to express their faith.

            Why is Christianity, constantly, under attack in this country?  Why is so much attention and anger roused when Christians express their faith openly? Anyone is allowed to march down our streets to show pride in their causes and rallies can be held in any public park in support of issues. Other religions are not as challenged. When traffic is stopped in New York near a mosque so that Muslims can pray in the direction of Mecca, they are not confronted, but raise a Cross in a public place or set a Nativity Scene, even with permission, and many are offended. They are threatened and immediately challenge our rights to such expressions. What in the world is going on?

            Christianity is not an offensive or an aggressive religion. If we have learned anything from Jesus, it is to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love and to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us. Is this the reason we are challenged? Are we persecuted because we are easy targets who allow these types of abuses without retaliation? Perhaps, after all, that is what happened to Jesus who quietly endured all that He endured. The early Christians lived day in and day out persecuted by many in the Roman Empire. They were easy targets. They were blamed for earthquakes, for a lost child and for any other catastrophe. It wasn’t until Emperor Constantine became a Christian and declared the rights of Christians to exist that the Church was able to rest from constant persecution.

            So, who speaks for the rights of Christians today? What can we do to protect our rights to express our faith and exercise our religious convictions openly? If our rights continue to erode in this country, we will eventually be muzzled even from the pulpit in our churches, even by our own government. One thing I say to you, don’t stop to speak or to live for Jesus out in the open, declare your faith even if challenged or persecuted but do it in peace, without offense or demeaning anyone else. Live as a true living example of Jesus Christ.

            What do you think?

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Thursday, October 18, 2012


“I noticed that many of the older girls, twelve and thirteen years old, had lost all life in their eyes. They appeared to be in a trance or under some kind of dark magician’s spell. They moved with a slow resignation; no amount of smiling, warmth or kindness on my part could draw them out. The systematic and prolonged sexual abuse of children and young people is perhaps the worst crime against humanity because, as I saw day after day, it strips them of their heart and soul. It murders the person but leaves their bodies alive.” (Walker, Daniel. God in a Brothel.)

The above quote captured my heart and saddened my soul. It made me stop, put down the book, and pray. I was spiritually sickened. God in a Brothel is the story of a Christian police officer who works for an organization in the United States that infiltrates groups and brothels all over the world–from the United States, to South America, Central America and South Asia–to rescue young victims of the sex trade. Without getting explicit he describes the stories. Some of them are so perverse and some of the men in the account are so vicious, that at times I feel I do not want to finish the book. I feel I have read enough, I am sickened enough, but my eyes are being opened to the abuses against innocent children and women around the world. He calls Las Vegas, with all of its lights and beautiful buildings nothing more than a brothel and he speaks of Atlanta, the home of the Civil Rights Movement, as a place of slave trade.

How inhumane can this world be? How abusive and heartless can human beings become that they take advantage of the poor, underprivileged, immigrant, lonely and needy to the point of exploiting their bodies for self-gratification and for money?

In this book Daniel Walker, tells of his victories–of rescues–and you want to cheer out loud when a child looks at him and says, “Thank you.” You also want to cry when a rescue does not go well and the child disappears because the police or other investigators tipped the criminals and culprits who run the brothels, in advance of the raid.

We, Christians and people of prayer, must be aware of what is going on all around us. My questions as I read the book is how can I help? How do I support these organizations that rescue these young victims?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This morning, during my time of prayer and meditation on God’s Word, I read John 14:5-12  (The Upper Room Devotionals). Jesus is in the Upper Room where He was partaking of His Last Supper–the Jewish Passover Meal–with the twelve disciples. As He spoke to them about going to the Father’s House, Thomas asks Him how to get there. Jesus responds with His very famous, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV).

Jesus’ subsequent words–If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him–stopped me for a moment and caused me to think. The Father is known and can be known through the Son. Whoever came to know the Son, came to know the Father.

Philip, another of the disciples, requests Jesus to show them the Father. And again, Jesus gives a similar answer: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Jesus points to two things as evidence of the Father being “in” Him and therefore visible through Him, the “words” that He speaks (v. 10) and the “works” that He does (v.11).

What about me? Can others know the Father by knowing me? Is He visible and evident through me? Is He known through my character, my words, my actions and my behavior? When they know me, truly know me, can they see the Father?

I had to stop to consider these words of my Lord and I have to tell you that my heart sank. I felt sorrow for the testimony I give with my words and with my actions. I know that I am not saved by my actions in any way, shape or form, rather I am saved by grace alone through faith but I also must take these words of Jesus to heart. How will they know my God by knowing me? How will anyone hear the Father’s voice and see the Father’s works unless they are visible in me?

Share with me your thoughts.

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