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Once again, Jeanine and I want to thank our High Pointe family for your faithfulness to our Lord in serving us during Jeanine’s recovery from back surgery.  Last Sunday was the first Sunday Jeanine was able to attend services with us, and it was a great joy to sit together again as a family.  On Thursday, I took Jeanine to the doctor, and she was cleared to begin physical therapy.  It’s been quite a long road, but you all have been a great testimony in your care of us through meals, cards, phone calls, visits, and well-wishes.  It is a joy to be part of such a loving fellowship.

This weekend, we look forward to celebrating Mother’s Day with Jeanine.  Though she is still weak and requires rest after being out for a bit, we are glad she is able to do some things with us outside the house.  During a time when so many families are celebrating with their mothers, it is important to remind ourselves that Mother’s Day is not a time of celebration for many of our brothers and sisters.  Speaking from personal experience, Russell Moore offers a reminder to “Remember the Infertile on Mother’s Day.”  We also want to remember single women who long to be mothers but in God’s providence are not married, and mothers who have lost a child or who are losing their children even as we celebrate ours.  It is right for us to rejoice with those who rejoice, but it is necessary for us to weep with those who weep.  This is what brotherly love looks like.

When we gather this Sunday morning, we will seek to be faithful in rejoicing and weeping together as a fellowship of believers.  We will continue our study of 1 Peter as we consider from chapter one, verse thirteen through chapter two, verse three.  We saw last week in chapter one, verse thirteen, that we are to set our hope fully on God’s future grace to be revealed in Christ by renewing our minds.  This Sunday morning we will continue to see how disciplined thinking (renewing our minds) leads to disciplined action (self-control, holiness) in the face of difficulties, hardships and suffering.  The main background Old Testament text for this Sunday morning is Leviticus as a whole.  In order to prepare your minds for action as we study together, be sure to read Leviticus 20:22-26.  Also, look over 1 Peter 1:13-2:3, as we consider what it means to be Hopeful, Happy Christians in a Hostile Land, part 2.  I am looking forward to seeing you and proclaiming God’s Word to you this Lord’s Day as always.

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series, please be sure to download the message from our 1 Peter series page online.

This Sunday night we will meet for our monthly prayer gathering.  Our focus will be on pleading with our heavenly Father to forgive us our sins.  Join us as we cry out together to our Father and confess our sins in His presence.  We will also continue to cry out to Him for our individual needs and our needs as a church.  May the Lord purify our hearts, then grant us the desires of our hearts.

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I want to thank you all for your faithfulness to us through Jeanine’s back surgery and recovery.  You have displayed your faithfulness toward us in your prayers, encouragement and service to us.  I thank our God for you!

Jeanine has been recovering steadily throughout the last week.  It has been one week since the surgery to remove disc matter that was pressing on her nerve between the L5 vertebrae and S1 region.  She has some good days and some not so good days.  However, she is a woman of great strength and faith in the Lord, and I know that in time He will give her the strength she needs to fully recover.

On a personal note, the Lord has been teaching me a great deal about dependence on Him through prayer – not just for Jeanine’s recovery, but acknowledgment and thankfulness for all that is “normal.”  What I mean is that while we are inclined to go to the Lord in prayer when something is wrong, I have been learning to go to the Lord in thanksgiving for all that is right and good and true.  Somehow, we just expect certain things to happen “normally”; however, I am growing in my understanding of thanksgiving for simply getting up and breathing.  Our sovereign Lord sustains us through the good and the bad.

My growth in prayer during “normal” times has allowed me to grow in prayer during the “abnormal” and difficult times.  I still have so much more to learn, but I rejoice in the Lord’s patience with me.  May we all continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

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Update: Jeanine Home Now

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Thank you so much for your prayers.  By God’s grace, Jeanine did not have a blood clot, so we were able to come home late yesterday morning.  Unfortunately the numbness remains.  We believe that the numbness will reside with time, and we are praying to that end.  It’s taking a little time for Jeanine to recover because her body does not respond well to anesthesia. Jeanine will be taking it easy for a month – basically lying down.

We thank God for our five girls who willingly pick up the slack around the house and for our High Pointe family who cares for us so well.  Again, thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to pray for the numbness to reside.

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Update on Jeanine’s Surgery

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Thank you so much for all your prayers for Jeanine!  The surgery went very well, and Jeanine has experienced immediate pain relief now that the pressure has been removed from the nerve.

Unfortunately, Jeanine still feels numbness in her left leg and now numbness has increased in her buttocks.  This morning the doctor said that those are potential signs of a blood clot.  Consequently, she will not be released from the hospital this morning as previously anticipated.  They will observe her throughout the day to see if the numbness goes away.  If not, she will have an MRI around 5:00 p.m. today.  If the MRI shows there is a blood clot, the doctor will have to go back in to remove it.

We are asking the Lord to be merciful to Jeanine and us.  Please join us in praying that there would be no clot and that the numbness would reside.  Jeanine is in good spirits.  On a scale of 1 to 10, her pain has gone from a 10 before surgery to about a 3, this morning.  We rejoice in the Lord’s goodness.

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Beloved High Pointe Family,

Thank you so much for your faithfulness to our Lord and to High Pointe and to our family. As you were made aware this past Sunday morning, I had to leave Sunday morning a little after 9 a.m. to take Jeanine to the emergency room. Once we were at the emergency room, an MRI revealed that she has a severely herniated disc between the L5 vertebrae and the S1 region. Some matter from the disc has leaked through a hole and is now pressing against her nerve, creating great pain and numbness down the back of her left leg.

On Tuesday I took Jeanine to a neuro-surgeon who showed us the MRI results. We believe the best option for immediate and long-term relief for Jeanine is surgery (Lumbar Disc Microsurgery). The doctor will go in and remove the excess disc matter that has leaked out, providing immediate relief of pressure on the nerve and, we hope, immediate relief of pain. If they can see the hole in the disc from which the matter has leaked they will stitch it; however, that is more difficult than it sounds. As a result, Jeanine will be laid up for about a month. We hope that during that time scar tissue will plug the hole in the disc and that no further problems ensue.

Jeanine will have surgery today (Wednesday). She will remain overnight in the hospital for observation, and Lord willing, we will be home by Thursday afternoon. I cannot thank you enough for your prayers. Please pray for a successful surgery with no complications, for immediate relief of pain and for a successful recovery. After many years of battling this issue, we pray that it will be resolved once and for all.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24


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How to Prepare for 2011

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As we come to the end of 2010, and as I have been traveling with my family on vacation, I have been thinking much about how to evaluate this past year and how to prepare myself for the next.  There are many ways to go about such evaluations and goal settings, but Justin Buzzard has listed some helpful questions he has used for just such a process.

I will be looking at these questions with my wife over the next couple of days.  I hope you find them helpful.

May the Lord grant us much grace to finish strong in 2010, and to run hard after Christ in 2011.

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My Lovely Bride at 20 Years of Marriage

On June 29, 1990, I married Jeanine Dell of Gainesville, Florida at 7:30 p.m.  The Lord has been most gracious to us in these last twenty years.  Jeanine is truly a daughter of Sarah – a woman who fears no man because she fears God and who encourages and helps me with a gentle and quiet spirit.  She is also raising our daughters to be like Sarah, and I thank God for that.

May the Lord continue to bless our marriage together that we may display the gospel to our five girls, our families, our High Pointe family and those who do not know Christ.  Marriage is a wonderful joy and gift.

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9/09/09 = 18

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On this day eighteen years ago, Jeanine delivered our first daughter, Alexandra Dell Sanchez, in Gainesville, Florida.  On that day I became a dad, and Jeanine and I began the journey of parenthood.  Alex professed faith in Christ when she was only nine years old.  Then, at ten years of age, Jeanine reminded me that we only had eight years left to make a strong influence on her life with the gospel.  It seems like that was only yesterday, but here we are celebrating a milestone that our culture considers adulthood.

I thank God for the gift of Alex.  She has been and continues to be a blessing – a perfect child-no, for she has two sinful parents.  But a blessing she is.  She can run our household in our absence; she cares for us and is compassionate to others.  Just last night Jeanine, Alex and I sat on our bed after she came home from her small group and just enjoyed sharing stories together and laughing out loud.

So, here are some words that I shared with her at her blessing dinner, and I want so share them once more publicly.

Things which I continually pray for Alexandra:
1. That her leadership skills would be Godward, not selfish.

2. That her righteousness would be guided by biblical wisdom and tempered by love and forgiveness.

3. That she would continually praise God with her voice and her life.

4. That she would grow in her capacity to love unconditionally and serve others in a manner that exemplifies Christ.

How I pray God would bless Alex:
1. May the Lord cause you to be a godly woman who loves Christ above all else – a daughter of Sarah: a woman who fears God, clothes herself with submission and fears no man.

2. May the Lord grant you health and strength to serve Him with all your heart!

3. May the Lord grant you a man of God for a husband who will love Christ above all else and thus, be able to love you as Christ loves the church.

4. May the Lord grant you children who will honor and obey their parents and glorify God.

5. May the Lord grant your husband the means by which you may stay at home and raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

6. May the Lord grant you and your husband with the grace to offer up your children to the service of the gospel even if it costs their very lives.

7. May the Lord grant you and your husband a great love for Christ’s church and may you be a great influence and blessing to the families in your midst.

What I ask of God at this time:
1. May the Lord grant me the grace to know how to aid you in your service of Christ during this new stage in your life.

2. May the Lord grant me the grace to know how to aid you in your desire for a godly husband.

3. May the Lord grant me the grace to know how to offer you up to the service of the gospel should you and your husband give yourselves in such a manner that it costs you your life.

2 Timothy 1:5 (ESV) I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

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Vacation – Unplugged!

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We have had a wonderful family vacation!  For the first time in a long time I kept my phone off and left it on the shelf.  It was a great blessing to Jeanine, and she noticed.  We also kept being online to a minimum, which meant I only posted minimally.

We spend time reading, playing cards, talking and watching some select family shows on The Learning Channel.  Most importantly, we played together!   We swam at the pool and body surfed in the ocean.  It was a joy to be together.  We are cleaning up and doing laundry at the beach today; then, we’ll head to Gainesville to spend a few days with Jeanine’s parents.

I thank God for family, for play, for rest and for High Pointe who allows us this time so we can come home refreshed.

Now, it’s time to work.  This Sunday morning we will look at the holiness of the church, so I will pick up Berkouwer again.  I am also re-reading The Puritan Experiment by Francis Bremer (this is my favorite introduction to New England Puritanism) and their attempts to purify the church in their particular context.  I look forward to seeing High Pointe this coming Lord’s Day!

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Grandchildren are the crown of the aged . . . (Proverbs 17:6).  The truth of this proverb came to life today as I am visiting my parents.  After ten days of remaining behind working, Gabrielle and I joined Jeanine and the girls in Florida for vacation.

I flew into Orlando yesterday, where Jeanine and the girls picked us up and we began the hour and a half drive to Avon Park to spend a few days with my parents.  My parents love their grandchildren, ALL their grandchildren – I have two other sisters and a brother who has a brand new baby.  So I understood that grandchildren are the crown of the aged; however, coming from a Latin family, our family extends beyond my parents home.  My grandmother lives with my parents, so all of us are spending a few days together – my five girls with their grandparents and their great grandmother.  What a joy!

My grandmother grew up in a house of eleven siblings (I think, I lost count), and I had the privilege of having known my great grandmother to a certain extent (we have good genes).  Several of my grandmother’s sisters and a brother live here in Avon Park, so this morning we set out to visit with them.  It was a great joy to see all their eyes sparkle as they saw my children.  We sat down, talked about family, introduced and re-introduced the girls several times, but I saw how children are a crown to “grand parents.”

This was especially true when we went into the nursing home to visit my grandmother’s brother.  It wasn’t just my great uncle whose eyes light up; it was all of the people in the nursing home – all of the “grand parents.”

What a joy it is to be with family.  We remember the good, the bad and the ugly.  Most of all, I recall God’s amazing grace in my life.  For me I lived out the rest of Proverbs 17:6 – And the glory of children is their fathers.

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