To Live is Christ, and to Die is Gain

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  (Phil. 1:21, ESV)


Many of you have been praying for my dear friend, Steve Fernandez (Pastor of Community Bible Church in Vallejo, and President of The Cornerstone Seminary).  He was diagnosed last September with an inoperable brain tumor.  In the perfect wisdom and providence of God, it appears that Steve will soon be experiencing the gain of dying in Christ.  The Lord alone knows the timing, but Steve’s condition is indeed worsening.


Please continue to pray for the Lord to give strength and comfort to Steve, his wife Karen, their children, and all the folks connected with the church and seminary.  Pray that Christ would continue to be exalted in Steve’s life, and in his death.  And pray that each of us would passionately and increasingly live with this singular resolve – that to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


Here’s a brief video of Steve speaking to his congregation last October about A Brain Tumor and Exalting Christ.


And here’s a wonderful song based on Phil. 1:21, To Live is Christ.


Because He lives,


True Spiritual Maturity

For Americans who are easily intoxicated with “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, the command to imitate Jesus Christ in His faithful submission to, and suffering in the will of God runs contrary to our lust for comfort and self-preservation.  But in the eternal hope of the Gospel, this is exactly what God’s people are called to – 1 Pet. 2:21.  Certainly, a key mark of growing spiritual maturity is learning to patiently endure suffering in the confidence of Gods’ care, provision, and promises (1 Pet. 5:6-11.)  Regarding the need for growing maturity, R.H. Lenski makes these observations, even as evidenced in the life of Peter:


“Not at the end of every Christian’s course stands the martyr’s cross; but no Christian can finish his course without being led from Peter’s youth to Peter’s age and being exercised in cross-bearing…According to the judgment of men will power is man’s glory, but Christians are manly and strong and grow into a perfect man and unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13) when they rest resignedly in the will of the Lord, whose hand performs miracles with a broken staff and a bruised vine-branch.”  (Commentary on the NT: The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, 1943, p. 1431)


Beloved, “…this is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.” (1 Pet. 5:12)


Growing with you,


Lord’s Day as weekly family time

How rich are the blessings of “family time”! With three of our four children now away at college, Laurie and I cherish all the more those special times when the six of us are all together again. Though all of us are active in numerous things, with many other friends and extended family members encompassing our lives, there is something unique, wonderful, special, and refreshing when the six of us prioritize and plan time together as a family.

On a much grander, eternal scale, such are the privileges and blessings for the people of God in a local church when we gather for His family time (Eph. 2:19; 3:14)on the Lord’s Day! Many of us can testify to this, even through special times the Lord has given us together on recent Sundays at RCG. While so many different circumstances and relationships encompass our lives throughout the week, God intends something unique, wonderful, special, and refreshing to occur among us when we gather corporately as a local church. Our shared unity and identity in Jesus Christ is most fully displayed when we gather. Additionally, God ministers His grace to us, caring for our souls, as together we hear His Word, sing His Word, pray His Word, see His Word (through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and minister His Word one to another.

Beloved, let me encourage you to think of the Lord’s Day as weekly “family time” for God’s people in a local church. As such, it is time deeply worth prioritizing and planning for! Generally, those who most fully and regularly participate in our Lord’s Day gatherings, both morning and evening, are those who most fully taste of the blessings and fruit God intends – being strengthened and equipped all the more to live to His glory throughout the week.

In the providences of God, not everyone is always able to participate in every gathering each Lord’s Day. Illnesses, work schedules, out-of-town trips, etc. are often unavoidable. But to the extent that we have discretion with our schedules, let’s keep humbly honoring the Lord, and loving one another, by cherishing the family times He calls us to. Truly, the Lord’s Day is the best day of the week!

Until He returns,