Monday, April 8, 2013

God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines

7 months ago our congregation received the news that our Pastor was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Throughout the following months he never complained about this trial God had given to him. His family attested to the fact that he was nothing but joyful and thankful. We saw him slowly losing his physical strength but he was not losing his passion for Christ. God continued to give him the strength to preach from his wheelchair at the front of the congregation each Sunday. Eventually that ability left him, but he was not done exalting Christ and showing the congregation God's glory, even if he could not do it from the pulpit.
He faithfully showed up to church each Sunday to hear Christ preached and to worship louder then anyone else in the congregation. Eventually he did not have the strength to go out anymore and he lost his ability to walk, talk and see, but he did not lose his ability to exalt Christ.
A week ago, on Resurrection Sunday, we got the news that our pastor had passed from life into death. What painful joy it was to hear that he was no longer here on earth with us, but to know that he was worshipping at the feet of our Heavenly father. He was finally doing the thing that he had spent his entire life longing to do.
At the memorial service so many memories of him were recounted. His passion and zeal for Christ, his desire to constantly exalt Christ in everything he did and his faithfullness to the church and the congregation. 32 years ago he had the desire to start a church in Vallejo and since then, by God's grace, he has built a Christ exalting church of over 1,000 attendees and is the president of the Church's adjoining seminary "Cornerstone." He would constantly pray for the Lord to make the next years of his life more Christ exalting then his previous years. He traveled around the world preaching at church's, sent men out all of the world to plant church's and strived to show the importance of supporting those who went out to preach the gospel among many nations. So many people were blessed by his faithfulness and I am thankful to have sat under him as my pastor for the last 7 years.

I remember that day in 8th grade so clearly. I sat in the congregation during evening service listening to Steven speak of Christ's faithfulness and love towards his people. He spoke of hell and the blessings of Heaven and I sat in awe of the things I was hearing. I was saved but I was living a shallow life. I was eating baby food and not growing to the meat of the Word. I went home that night after the sermon and cried out to God, asking Him to give me the fire and passion that Steve had spoken of in his sermon. As the next few years followed I saw myself growing in my walk and striving to be a women after God's own heart. Before attending CBC I had not experienced a solid church full of such strong Biblical doctrine, elders and believers. Under Steve's preaching and sheparding I could see myself in a body of believers that was moving, breathing and living for Christ.
I can recall so many Sundays where I sat in the congregation listening to Steve preach and I felt like he was looking right at me, saying the very things I needed to hear. When I was struggling he would just happen to say something in his sermon that made me think "woah, who told him about my struggle," but I know it was just Steve being used as a vessle for God's glory.
Steve Fernandez blessed so many people with his Christ exalting life and I will forever hold a place of thankfulness and loving rememberence in my heart for the way he impacted my life.
God used that crooked stick to draw a straight line. God sent Steve, that former drug dealing, authority hating, angry man, to complete a Christ exalting mission and once it was done He took him home. I will miss him dearly, but I know we will see him again in Heaven as we worship before the Most High King.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Or as Steve would say, "To live is Christ and to die is more Christ."

"A brain tumor and exalting Christ"

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