An Open Letter of Thanks to Pastor Steve Fernandez

Steve Fernandez is the senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Vallejo, CA and the president of The Cornerstone Seminary where I did much of my graduate work. Recently he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Please be in prayer for Steve, his family, and his ministry. At the conclusion to my letter is a recent address Steve gave to his church regarding his cancer. I think you will see what I'm talking about. Dear Steve,

I wanted to take a few minutes today and write you and thank you for pastoring me. From the moment I first met you I was impressed with a man that made Jesus Christ the main object of his life. Now, even as you entrust yourself to Christ through this cancer you are showing me how Christ is your only hope and glory.

Few have impacted me as much as you have with regard to the intensity and devotion you have to Christ. I believe the first time I sat under your teaching was at the inaugural Cornerstone Seminary orientation. You preached Christ and preached him boldly. Afterword you made an effort to get to know the new students at this fledgling seminary and began to get to know me. You are as consistent about Christ in the pulpit as you were talking with me. During your missions class it was evident that Christ is the goal of all missions. As you lead the seminary, Community Bible Church, a building project, and the many other things that you are involved with I am struck with the singular focus and note that you ring day-in and day-out. Christ.

As a young an impressionable man this has helped me see clearly through much of the evangelical malaise that plagues our churches today. We’re too caught up in trends, “movements”, methods and philosophies rather than the clear, guiding light of Christ. You cut through all that fog and taught me to focus my life and ministry on “Christ and him crucified.” In fact, as I reflect on your ministry it seems very obvious to me that this is the theme of your life. Thank you for bringing that singular focus to my life and to showing me glory beyond the man-made glory of today.

We are praying for you and your family today as you lean on Jesus for more grace. Thank you for always clearly pointing me to Christ!

With love, Jeremy


An Open Letter of Thanks to Pastor Chris Bauer

Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to “respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13). I want to take the next few days to publicly honor some men who have done this in my life so these are some open letters to the men that have done that for me.

Dear Pastor Chris,

I hope you are well today. I know that the last few weeks have been a whirl-wind for you pastorally and personally. I wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and your family. I also wanted to send you this letter as a means of encouragement and affirmation of your ministry in my life over the last decade. Thank you for being my pastor.

Almost ten years ago we met and you brought on staff a young man that had taken some hits from his last ministry and was a bit raw still from that experience. My soul was dry and in many ways battered. I had been told that I wouldn’t make it in ministry, that I was ineffective and would never lead anything very well. You didn’t see me that way and led the board at SRBC to hire me and move me to California. I count that as a singular blessing in my life to shape and help me forward in ministry.
Thank you for that!

Thank you for not being blown around by the wind of culture and trends in your pursuit of God. We often tease you about taking so long to preach through books of Scripture, but that displayed something to me. It showed me that there is nothing more important that heralding the Scripture week-in and week-out. In fact you told me early in my days at SRBC that you were most concerned that I be a good student of the Scripture and that I teach it well to the teens I was leading. That freed me from having to attempt all the crazy stunts of youth ministry to bring in a crowd. There is a strong aspect of health at Santa Rosa Bible Church because you have taken the long-view in preaching and teaching the Scriptures. I loved encouraging you each Sunday after prayer to “bring the Book” and the truth is, you always did that.

Thank you for knowing when to use the rod and when to use the staff with me. You kept your eyes on me and didn’t micromanage or get in my way. But there were times where you took me to lunch or coffee and pointed out some things that concerned you or that I needed to be aware of. I never felt beat up or defeated after those meetings. More often than not I felt like my dad was sitting down with me pouring wisdom into my thick-headed skull so I didn’t do something stupid.

Thank you for praying for me, listening to me, being patient with me when I acted (and thought) I knew it all, and for shepherding me. Thank you for being an advocate for me and for taking a few blows from angry people that I probably deserved. Of all the men that have been “my pastor” you held the mantle the longest, and I count that as a deep measure of God’s grace to me. My prayer for you today is that you will not grow weary in doing good but that you will continue to fix your eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1–3). Thank you for being my pastor and serving Jesus well.

With love, Jeremy