Fr. Jose Poch

Monday, December 9, 2013

Do It

        I just finished reading a blog post another priest friend of mine sent me that truly blessed me and changed the way I read the Bible. It is truly a transformational way of reading the Bible. Imagine that, after over forty years of reading my Bible, I am still learning to read it.  The blog my friend sent me goes in other directions and is more complicated than I am actually blogging, but what I am blogging has so blessed me that I want to share it with you, my friends.

         Many Bible Reading methods that are taught out there or that you may find on the Internet, involve reading the entire Bible in one, two, even three years, in fact some Bibles have been created so that you can read the entire Bible in one year. Even the Lectionary at the back of our Prayer Books, whether for the Daily Offices or the Sunday Eucharist intend on us reading at least most of the Bible in a year’s time. A monumental job that requires a great deal of focus and commitment, not to say the least, time, more time than most of us can dedicate to it. It is very easy under these methods to get discouraged as you get farther and farther behind, some guilt can set in, the temptation to quit is ever present; Or worse, at times, a great deal of pride puffs you up that you are actually doing it, and then you boast, “I have read the entire Bible cover to cover;” but can you remember what you read?  How has it transformed you? One of the greatest problems I see with these methods is that you read but not necessarily retain all that you should of the Word of God.


 “I have read the entire Bible cover to cover;” but can you remember what you read?  How has it transformed you?

          How about trying this new method. Instead of reading for speed or to accomplish a goal, read for application. Do not move to the next passage, or chapter, or section of the Bible book you are reading until you Do It–until you apply the teaching, the commandment, the instruction of God to your life. Yes, it will take you longer to read the entire Bible, but isn’t it better to DO the Bible rather than just read the Bible. Isn’t that what James had in mind when he wrote in James 1:22-25 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Would reading the Bible in this way not be much more transformational, which is the intent of the Word of God in the first place?


"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fitting God in Our Schedule

I have been reading lately, as part of my daily morning meditation, the Book of the Prophet Haggai; and I would like to ask you to consider his words and their application for you and me today. But first let me give you a bit of an introduction.
Around 538 BC, Cyrus, King of the new Medo-Persian Empire, allowed the Jewish people to return to their home land in Judah which had been completely devastated by the Babylonians years earlier in at least three separate campaigns. To get an idea of the state of things in Judah, all we have to do is read Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations. The rebuilding of Judah would take two fronts, the physical rebuilding of the structures (houses, buildings, and the Temple) and the spiritual rebuilding of a people who had lived in exile for 70 years.
Sixteen years had passed from the time the people came into Judah, but the Temple for the worship of God was still just at the foundations level while the people busied themselves building and improving their own homes with elaborate paneling; and yet their efforts lacked the fruitfulness they sought. The blessing of God had been lifted from them. Into the midst of this reality, God raised a prophet by the name of Haggai who would shake them to the core and point out to them the folly of their efforts. Read these words carefully:
                                    “You have sown much, and bring in little;
                                     You eat, but do not have enough;
                                     You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
                                     You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
                                     And he who earns wages,
                                     Earns wages to put into a bag with holes."

Human effort without the blessing of God will always amount to very little because our efforts are very limited even in the best of circumstances and the best of giftedness or talents. While the smallest of the blessings of an Almighty God would be always enough to take us to places we cannot reach by ourselves. God certainly uses our efforts, giftedness, and talents, but He always adds what we can never achieve on our own. The blessing of Almighty God involves His favor, His Anointing, and His hand in supporting our dreams and aspirations. The question for the Jews of Haggai’s time as well as for us today is an issue of priority because the blessing of God is always somehow tied to the priority we give Him in our lives. It seems to me that God will never bless what will never bring Him glory.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hell on Earth

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Subway Store I normally frequent near my home. I have made friends with those behind the counter who prepare the sandwiches. They know me by name, and I know their name as well. Without me asking, they even know what sandwich I order and the ingredients I always request in the sandwich. They could prepare it blindfolded I think. They know that I am an Anglican priest, and this has given me an opportunity to speak to them about the Lord, although very briefly because it is a busy place. Occasionally, I have more of their time and get to talk to them more about their lives, their families, their hopes, their faith, etc.
On this one occasion, a couple of weeks ago, I engaged one of them in a faith conversation. She, a middle age lady, shared with me that her life was not going too well. She seemed to be struggling with her emotions even as we spoke. What I got from our conversation is that she is a single mother of two teenagers and did not mention a husband, which told me she was alone in that respect. I asked her if she attended church. She told me that she was Roman Catholic and that Roman Catholics don’t attend church, and she laughed. I know that is not true, but I understood what she was trying to tell me. I also laughed and told her that she should go to church and seek the Lord. She proceeded to share with me that her weekends were spent in partying and drinking beer. We laughed again; And before she went away to help another customer, I said to her, “One day you are going to be sorry that you did not seek the Lord.” 
She laughed and said, “I know.”
As I left the restaurant and got in my car, a thought came into my mind. The Gospel is not just about being saved from eternal punishment or being saved from our just reward before a holy God. This should be enough to scare all of us when we consider the severity of a life lived for eternity separated from our loving God and Father or punished for eternity in that place we have come to know as Hell.
Jesus Christ came into this world not just to give us eternal life after this one is over, but also to give us “abundant life” in the here and now, something that seemed somehow missing in my friend at Subway.
This life we live today is a precious gift of God. One intended to be lived to the fullest; to be most enjoyed; to be fulfilling–a life filled with joy, hope, and peace. A life lived not in chaos, fear, sorrow, depression, or regrets. 
The Word of God, with its laws and directions for our lives, is not intended to show us that God is in charge or otherwise, but rather it is a guide from the Creator and Sustainer of this life on how to live our lives to the fullest and in a way that blesses us and brings glory to Him. In other words the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a parachute against ultimate failure and death but rather a manual to live life today in the way it was intended to be lived–as a true gift, accepted and used. Life on earth today can be a type of heaven or a type of hell.
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a parachute against ultimate failure and death but rather a manual to live life today in the way it was intended to be lived."           
When we present the Gospel to another person we need to realize that the fear of hell at the end of life does not convince very many people (though it should) but rather we should consider that the perspectives of living this current life in order, joy, peace, and fulfillment could be exactly what a person needs to hear to know the difference that Jesus can make in a life. You and I know that Jesus Christ has transformed our lives from chaos into order, from fear into joy, from depression into gladness, from loneliness into a personal relationship with God, and from fear of the end of life to a wonderful expectation that life on earth, as enjoyable as it can be, is but a shadow of what life in the presence of God will be.

"Jesus Christ has transformed our lives from chaos to order, from fear to joy, from depression to gladness, from loneliness to a personal relationship with God, and from fear of the end of life to a wonderful expectation that life on earth, as enjoyable as it can be, is but a shadow of what life in the presence of God will be."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Facebook Atheists

           Last night, I read an amazing article by Bobby Gruenewald, pastor at, in the latest issue of Outreach Magazine, November-December 2013. It made me think very hard and touched my heart enough that I want to share some of the ideas in it with the hope that it will awaken many of you Christian online social media users (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

            Last month in another magazine, I read of a church that asked its members before the beginning of the service to “Turn ON their Smart Phones” instead of asking them to “Turn it OFF”.  They asked them to use social media to share with the outside world what the Lord was saying and doing during the service. Amazing! That is thinking outside the box alright. Well, I was so impressed with the idea that I adjusted it a bit, and now at the conclusion of the service, I ask all those present to “Turn ON their phones” and send out a message to all their friends about what the Lord may have said to them during the service. Let the world know. A kind of “Thus saith the Lord” (that sounds kind of prophetic, doesn’t it?). A new form of evangelism and of church public relations. I am not sure how many of them are actually doing it, but I will keep at it. I think it is a good way of having others (perhaps even non-church users) hear portions of the Sunday message, and it might also encourage them to hear the entire message on our website.

            However, back to Pastor Grunewald’s article. He writes: “Sometimes people treat online interaction like a disposable commodity . . . And yet, the things we say and do online are actually more visible to more people – and more permanent – than our in-person conversations and actions. What we share online is magnified, and it’s out there indefinitely.” Think about these two words “permanent” and “indefinitely.” Once you write something or take a picture of something and send it out through Facebook or Twitter, you will never be able to retrieve it again. It becomes the possession of the outer world. We have heard of numerous instances where employers, schools, and even the courts would be able to know and see your thoughts and actions of days past. You are actually building a lifelong record of who you are and what you think. I have heard of individuals fired from their jobs because of some indelicate pictures they took many years earlier. Think about your Facebook postings and your Twitter comments of the past. Are there any of them you wish you could retrieve or change now. You may have forgotten most of them, but they are out there, and one day they could all become visible.

            The other and perhaps an even more important point the article makes is this: Is the online me a follower of Christ?” What is the testimony of your Lord that you are giving to those who view your Facebook page or receive your Tweets? Review your last ten Facebook postings. Is God being glorified? Are you sharing the Lord with those whom you know and care about? Would they come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior following your example in the pictures you posts and the words you write? Would they even know that you are a Christian? I see, in Facebook, very passionate people, even people that would say they are Christians, sometimes using the grossest of words, complaining angrily about some restaurant or store or some sports figure or team or posting very seductive pictures. Is this how you want to be known by your friends and by others? Believe me I am not trying to be puritanical, the Lord knows that I am not and I know all my faults and failures, but the gift of all these social media tools we have at our disposal today can be used productively and to the glory of God. It is an amazing opportunity to share love, forgiveness, constructive criticism, grace, faith, and charity towards others, and in such a way that we bring attention to our Lord, and how he can transform a person.

            Think about it.

            Let’s blog!

            Fr. Jose+

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Seeing the Future (Part II)

          In my last blog, I shared with you the concept of you having a personal vision of a godly future, a future that is based on God’s calling for your life. What would your Heavenly Father want to see as a fruit of you having lived this life? What difference will you make in this life for the Kingdom of God? Why not take some time one day this week and prayerfully come before God and ask Him what would it look like if you followed His will for your life? And set that as the course for your life that it be a truly abundant life for God’s glory. It may be an amazing exercise that might change your life.

            But the same process applies to churches and organizations. In this blog I would like, for the benefit of the people of St. David’s, but also for all those that might be interested, to share what I believe is the vision that the Lord our God has placed in my heart. This is the vision under which I have been operating during most of my ministry. The vision of St. David’s is this:

            “St. David’s is a Christian Church, with no less than 500 active members, who are fully   equipped in God’s Word, empowered for ministry by the Holy Spirit and sent to carry out  the ministry for which we have been called.”

            First of all this is a very measurable vision, measured by the number 500 but also by the adjectives used to describe it, active, fully equipped, empowered, and sent. By making it measurable we should be able to tell at any given time how we are doing in fulfilling it. Clearly this is a bit of an audacious vision for us, it was always intended to be so, yet reachable, and it will remain so, and in the future, because we are nowhere near 500 active members.

            We are, however, a very active congregation in many ways, locally and beyond, and always looking for new places and opportunities to serve and expand the Kingdom of God. I will not boast here about the many ministries that our people are involved in. St. David’s and its leadership has as a main directive from the Lord the making of Disciples and the Word of God is preached, taught and lived faithfully day after day until every one of our members is fully equipped in God’s Word. The empowerment for ministry by the Holy Spirit is an essential part of who we are and we seek to introduce all of our members to the real presence of the Holy Spirit with all His gifts and fruit. And lastly we are a sending congregation, sending all of our members into the world, wherever they are planted, to love and serve the Lord, whether in the mission field or in the service of the needy in the community, as well as to evangelize and seek those who are away from the love of God, introducing them to a new and abundant life in and through Jesus Christ.

            We have a great deal more to accomplish, this vision is so audacious that I don’t believe that we will ever fully accomplish it and that is the point in a way. A vision needs to be not easily reached but always challenging and dynamic, thrusting us forward beyond our current abilities and realities. This would make it God’s vision for a world in great need.

            I would truly like to hear from our members in response to this blog and the setting down of this vision statement for the present and future of our church, but the invitation is to all who read this blog, share with us your thoughts.

            Let’s blog!

            Fr. Jose+


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Can Anglican/Liturgical Churches Grow?

T he immediate answer is “of course!” “Why not?” All churches are intended to grow. From all that I read in the New Testament about the Great Commission and the Early Church through the Book of Acts, a church that is fulfilling what the Lord asked them to do should grow and should grow exponentially. I have always been interested in what Luke reports in Acts: 

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. . . . So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-43; 46-47, NKJV). 

Perhaps the Church is growing globally and that is great, but statistics tend to indicate a different reality locally. I have been reading the latest issue of Outreach Magazine; the title on the cover is “America’s Fastest-Growing Churches.” They identify the hundred fastest growing churches in the United States per state. In first place is Texas with nineteen churches, in second place is California and North California with seven, followed by Virginia with six, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee with five each. Forty churches in the list are Nondenominational, twenty-five are Southern Baptist, sixteen are Independent Christian and nine are Assemblies of God. One of the articles in the Issue makes the statement that 50% of churchgoers attend one of the largest 10% of American congregations. That means that the other 50% is spread out among the other thousands of churches throughout the country. Last set of statistics I heard about churches in America is that most churches in America have an average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of less than 100 each week. 

The 2011 Parochial Report for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) indicates 708 member congregations with a projected ASA of 62,470, which equals approximately an ASA of eighty-eight per congregation. In a study I conducted of our own diocese, the Diocese of Western Anglicans (DWA), in 2011, the statistics indicated a total of eighteen established congregations (nine church plants) and an approximate ASA of 112 per week. Of course, both for ACNA as well as for DWA, some congregations’ ASA are above the average and some are below the average. The same can be said for the national averages, however, the statistics speak for themselves. 

My original question, and one I hope will get us all thinking and hopefully will cause a great number of responses to this blog (that is my intention), is: Can Anglican/Liturgical Churches Grow?

First of all liturgical churches and especially those in the Anglican tradition which are the product of the 16th Century Reformation in England and the new more modern Reformation within Anglicanism (ACNA) are Evangelical in their approach to Scriptures, in their preaching and teaching from the Children’s Sunday School to all adult programs and especially in the preaching of the Word during Sunday services. The Word of God is alive and effective in Anglican/liturgical churches as much as in any non-liturgical church and anyone seeking to know God better can find Him and be found by Him in our church. 

Secondly, Anglican/liturgical churches offer through the beauty of the liturgy an opportunity for a deep encounter with God. When liturgy is done well, it is a living thing that invites and draws you into the mysteries of holiness, piety and reverence before God. Something that is lacking most of the time in non-liturgical churches which seems simpler and more mechanical in their worship style. Perhaps this is attractive to some in a new fast paced, multitasking, rapid and instant-results culture and that is fine if that is what you are after in the worship of God. But biblical worship is none of this, it is intended to be intentional, purposeful, worshipful, reverent, careful and highly spiritual. The liturgy offers these things. Perhaps we clergy should take more time explaining and demonstrating the purpose and beauty of the Anglican liturgy. 

I believe we have much to offer the world and YES! Anglican/liturgical churches can grow but we must look honestly at the issue posed before us in this blog. What do you think?

Let’s Blog!

Fr. Jose+

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Church "Spies"

A member of our church recently gave me a newspaper article from the Religious section of The Star, Saturday, September 7, 2013. The title of the article was "Church 'Spies' Uncover Unwelcoming, Unfriendly Congregations." The article is about a visit from a trained ‘spy’ to a church in Pennsylvania. This 'spy' works for a consulting company in Louisville (Society for Church Consulting), his job is to visit congregations unannounced and then evaluate them in their ability to welcome and attract visitors.
This "spy" commented that the welcome center in the foyer of the given church was empty, that is no one was there to welcome visitors and guide them around. When he asked if he could attend an ongoing small group or Bible study, he was guided to their “friendly” group of 60 persons.
He reports: “Not a single person spoke to me or asked me what I was doing there.” The article continues: “Actually, consultants who do church ‘spy’ work know that outsiders rarely receive warm, friendly welcomes when they visit most American congregations.”

The "spy" also commented on church websites that are boring, broken, or full of out-of-date information and church facilities that include few if any signs to help visitors find their way around. Some churches don’t have clearly marked guest parking and many are poorly equipped to promise parents that their children will be safe and secure. He also comments on “boring, abstract, Bible-deficient sermons and music ministries that show a lack of effort or worse attempt to recreate an ‘American Idol” show.” Ultimately, the ‘spy’ comments, all who visit a church are looking for something or may even be in a serious crisis and are looking for help.

I wonder what a "spy" might say if he visited St. David’s one Sunday. I actually would welcome such a visit. Scary, yes, but how else would we know the truth of how visitors see us and how else will we see areas in which we all need to improve. If we are a place where we “Live Jesus” as our Mission Statement says, then I would want to know if a visitor truly experiences Jesus in our midst. Does he see Jesus in us? Does he experience the love and the grace of God among us? Does he see Jesus’ smile on our faces, feel Jesus’ touch in our passing of the Peace? Does he feel welcome in Christ’s house, the church? I would welcome such a visit!

Our church should always be ready for such a visit, because, in fact, we are visited each Sunday by individuals that even though they may not work for a consulting company as the "spy" in question does, they are nevertheless there to check if they would feel welcome among us, if they should bring their families to St. David’s, if they could trust us to love them, to teach them, to guide them and to help them find a place of peace in a chaotic world of dog-eat-dog. Each Sunday visitors comes to our church looking for and expecting to find true Christians who believe what they say they believe and friends with whom they could feel safe and who would welcome them into their lives, as they would want to welcome them into theirs. Every visitor is sent to us by Almighty God who draws all unto Him and unto His Son. Each visitor is a potential child of God entrusted to us.

            Let’s Blog!

            Fr. Jose+

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


            This past weekend I had the pleasure of serving as Head Spiritual Director of a retreat-type program we call Cursillo or in its longer form Cursillos in Christianity. The name of the program comes from the Spanish word for  “small” or “brief.” It is a brief course in Christian living. It is a three-full-days retreat program that seeks to empower and encourage believers who attend the weekend retreat to serve in their churches and their communities at large as committed followers of Jesus Christ. The program in divided in such a way that men attend alone the first weekend and the women attend alone on the subsequent weekend. Later, there are many opportunities for the entire community of Cursillistas to come together for encouragement and service.

            One of my responsibilities was to close the weekend with a charge, in this case a charge to the men who just made their Cursillo and the men who served them in the team–the cooks and the speakers.

            The passage I used to close the weekend was Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon/money" [NKJV]. I focused on “What does a man who serves two masters look like?”

Because some of the men asked me if I had a copy of the message, which I did not, I decided to make it my blog for this week. Here are some of the points I made to them:

What does a man who serves two masters look like?

1- He is unsure of who he is, he does not know what he stands for and therefore stands for nothing that lasts, his values are in contradiction, as are his priorities and worst of all he is unsure of whose he is. His personality shows it.

2- He acts sporadically, one day he is hot and the next he is cold. Jesus said in the Book of Revelations that a person should either be hot or cold. The one who is lukewarm, He will vomit out of His mouth.

3- He is untrustworthy, because you never know how he will act and you can never depend on him.

4- He will ultimately betray one master or the other. His heart is compromised, as is his integrity.

5- He is useless to the Kingdom because his testimony cannot survive; he is in fact a hypocrite.

What does a man who serves One Master, Jesus Christ, look like?

1- He makes no compromise with evil, nor makes excuses for bad behavior. For him following Jesus is an issue of surrender and not of convenience. He has but one Lord and Master, whom he serves and follows.

2- He firmly attaches himself to Christ through daily prayer, study of His Word and service.

3- He lives in the world because that is where Jesus wants him to serve Him, because that is where those who need Jesus are and he is called to bloom where he is planted.  But he is not of the world, he belongs to Jesus Christ and God’s Kingdom is his kingdom.

4- Such a man is true and trustworthy. His heart is firmly planted in the will of God.

            I pray you are as blessed by reading this message as I believe the men were by hearing it.

            Let’s Blog!

            Fr. Jose+