We Are New Mexico

I love New Mexico. I am a proud New Mexican. My family, both sides, have been in New Mexico for centuries. New Mexico is my home and New Mexicans are my family. I have read the stories, I have seen the rankings, I realize that New Mexico is seen as a poor state, a state that is dangerous and a state that is often an afterthought by most Americans. I see the news that talks almost everyday about another murder, violent crime or other bad news. However I also see a New Mexico that was witnessed these past few days, a New Mexico that sometimes if not seen but that I think speaks to the heart of NM more than any bad news there is.

Last week there were 2 events that shook the state, in particular the city of Albuquerque. The first was a 4-year-old little girl, Lilly Garcia, who lost her life in a tragic, senseless instance of road rage. Another was the next day when a beloved officer, Daniel Webster, for the Albuquerque Police Department was shot and left in critical condition. It could be easy to leave the story there of 2 awful events that left families and a community shaken and hurting. It could be easy to talk about how dark a place New Mexico is, how crime ridden it is. I am sure that those events will lead New Mexico to making another “bad list” or ranking. However, that is not where the story is, nor is it what New Mexico would allow to be defined by.

Instead what came from the ashes of these events was a community that gathered that said, “this would not define us”. A GoFundMe account was started for Lilly’s family with the hopes of raising $10,000 to help with funeral costs. As of writing this post the fund has raised over $79,500! Along with that money there were local businesses that stepped up to take care of all expenses for Lilly’s funeral.  For Officer Webster who is still in the hospital , not out of the woods yet (Update: Officer Webster passed away on Oct. 29), there was an offer by Papa John’s to donate all profits from yesterday’s business to Officer Webster to help cover costs. What happened? New Mexicans had lots of pizza yesterday, that is what happened. I waited 4 hours for 2 pizzas that would normally take 30 minutes to be ready. It was not because Papa John’s was not ready, they had a full staff on hand at the store I went to in Rio Rancho. That was not the only Papa John’s to be filled with orders and people, as I scanned Twitter Is saw pictures of crowds, crowds that seemed more fitting to be waiting for a new iPhone than a pepperoni pizza. By the end of the day $6,000 was raised for Officer Webster.  This, how New Mexicans, respond to tragedy is what I see is at the heart of New Mexico.

I have been blessed to serve as a manager, video coordinator and now chaplain for the University of New Mexico Men’s Basketball team for the past 16 years. I can tell you there is nothing like a loud, crazy game in The Pit. However, I can also tell you that being a Lobo goes deeper than a basketball team. I love the Lobos, as many others do, because I love New Mexico. Being a Lobo is about being a New Mexican, about being proud of what New Mexico is. When the Lobos win, New Mexico wins, a state people often forget about, a state I love, is seen in a positive light, in a way I see my state. That is what drives 10,000 Lobo fans to Las Vegas in March to cheer on the Lobos in the Mountain West Tournament. It is not just the chance to see the Lobos cut the nets once again, it is about representing and being proud of the state we love.

I planted a church in New Mexico not because it was simply where I lived, or it was strategic to plant in NM, but because it is the place I truly love. I want to see, what I believe to be, the greatest news in human history, the gospel of Jesus Christ, take root in the people I love, the people here in New Mexico.

We are a family in New Mexico. We love one another and the state we call home. New Mexico is when locals are excited to talk about the beauty of the Balloon Fiesta or the deliciousness that is green chile (and only green chile from New Mexico, sorry Colorado but no). New Mexico is when we as a community celebrate our heritage, our history and the potential of our future.

New Mexico is when a community does not let pain, crime, trials, or tragedy define us.  Rather New Mexico is when a community rises up, unites and loves one another as a family. That is the New Mexico I know and love and why I am proud to say, we are New Mexico.

“Speak” By Nish Weiseth Review

“Story draws us together, hands and voices and memories. It bridges the distances we’ve created, because we thought the distance would keep us safe. It doesn’t. It only keeps us lonely.”

Story is something that is universally uniting and in many ways it is something we as a sound bite generation have forgotten. We are more interested in Facebook posts, blog comments and judging someone based on 140 characters or less. What this has led to is more online fighting and less actual conversations and discussions. Maybe part of the reason for all of this is because in losing the importance of story in each of our lives we have ended up dehumanizing each other. In “Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World”, Nish Weiseth places story once again at the heart not just of humanity but how people and cultures change.

Nish, who is a blogger, speaker and author, shares her own journey, her own story. In it she also shares the stories of those people whom she has met and known. Through her storytelling ability Nish shows how the power of story can deconstruct our assumptions about others.  Nish offers humor along with heart in giving the reader a glimpse into what the heart of story is about, finding the humanity, the image of God, in one another

Nish’s book was a joy to read. In pastoral ministry it can be easy to get caught up in systematics, definitions and theology that is removed from daily experience. Nish reminded me, as I read, that there is a beautiful grace God gives us when share our own story. In a world that seems so cruel, often on social media, the uniting factor of story, of where we came from, what shaped us, what our dreams and hopes are is powerful. Sharing our story is not easy though, it is something that makes us vulnerable, it is something at opens up who we are to others. In a world where hiding behind an online persona, where we only post what we want, truly sharing your story means allowing others to peek behind the mask.

Nish speaks of story of all of us. She does not say that story only matters for those who reached fame, political success or anything of the like. Rather what Nish urges the reader to do, is to see their ordinary lives as an amazing story when living faithfully in the normal things for God. I encourage you, especially those who spend time in the social media world, to read this book, to be reminded of the importance of your story and the story of those you know.

You can buy “Speak” on Amazon here.



Girl At The End of the World- Review

“I’m so thankful God allows us the freedom to leave places that scare us and find safe places where we can rest. God is big enough to meet us anywhere.” -Elizabeth Esther


I was raised Roman Catholic, it was the faith of my family, but it was not something that was central to my life. Once I was out of High School I stopped going to church or considering myself affiliated to any type of faith system. In 2002 I had an encounter with Jesus that I believe transformed my life, and I started to attend a reformed protestant church. In all of this though, the idea of “cults” and fundamentalism seemed like the things you watch on documentaries, you know, “people that drink the kool aid” type groups.


Those ideas started to change when I started to follow Elizabeth Esther on Twitter. Her voice into the dangers of cults that may not look from the outside like the cults you see on “20/20” really started to get me to think about my definition and the dangers of fundamentalism in my life and thought. (She was also the reason Lauren and I started to watch American Idol, so thanks for that EE!)


Elizabeth is a great storyteller, she is able to grip you and pull you into her world and experiences. In her book “Girl At The End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future” she gives her autobiography of growing up in “The Assembly”. In her story we are brought into a legalistic group that controls and manipulates its’ members while using good Christian language. Elizabeth’s story is one of growing up in fear and confusion.


Elizabeth takes the reader on a journey of what it was like to grow up, to become a woman in this type of group. She tells of the control her grandparents held over this Assembly even down to who they date, how they date and what they grow up to do, all in the name of “God’s Glory”. And that may be what was most unsettling for me. What do we do for “God’s Glory” that has blinded us from the actual people in front of us? It can be tempting to read Elizabeth’s story and dismiss it as just a “fundy group” that was interesting but has no bearing on our life. However what I started to wonder was in our Christian culture of “modesty”, “courting” and even submission to authority can we at times fall into the same sin and danger that characterized The Assembly she was part of?


Modesty for example is something Lauren and I have discussed in raising 2 girls, one being a 9-year-old with her own fashion sense already. How do we encourage our daughters to see their bodies, as something to not be ashamed of but also something not flaunt for attention. We honestly do not have the answer to this, but Elizabeth’s book really challenged us to think deeply and to not just assume modesty language is the answer for our daughters and sons for that matter.


I think in the end, the beauty of Elizabeth’s story is the power of God’s grace and love to give her strength to break free from such a place. The grace of God, as well, to speak through her to help others in similar circumstances. And also conviction from God to challenge us in how we can use our faith, at times, as tools of power and control, not of love and grace.


I would strongly recommend this book on multiple levels. Just as a story it is well written and captivating, it was hard for me to put it down. On another level though it is convicting as well as inspiring in how we are live as Christians this side of Heaven and the dangers of legalism and authority.


This book left me with more questions, like “now what?” or “where do we go from here?”. I wish Elizabeth would’ve given a helpful guide to avoiding fundamentalism in our own lives, but maybe her book was to simply be about her story that also gives a mirror into our own.

“The more I choose to believe God loves me, the more loving I believe God is. I am no longer a victim being acted upon. I am now actively participating in loving God, loving myself, and loving others.” –Elizabeth Esther


You can purchase her book here on Amazon.

You can also follow Elizabeth’s blog here.

Story Matters

I have been thinking a lot about the power of story. The power of getting caught up in a bigger story than ourselves, but also listening to our own personal stories and journeys and how transforming that is.

Below are some really great quotes from Shauna Niequist, they are found in her introduction to “Speak: How Your Story Can Change The World” by Nish Weiseth.

And this is why story matters. Because when you listen to a story, you have to give up your stereotypes and your labels. Because stories crawl out of the boxes every chance they get. Because stories zig when we think they’ll zag. Stories surprise us around every corner. Stories reach out and grab our labels and shred them to confetti.

A wise friend of mine is teaching me to ask this question every time I disagree with someone, and especially when I disagree in a visceral way: “How did that person come to feel this way?” Essentially, he’s teaching me to ask, “What part of this person’s story do I need to know to understand what he or she is telling me right now?”

Story draws us together, hands and voices and memories. It bridges the distances we’ve created, because we thought the distance would keep us safe. It doesn’t. It only keeps us lonely.


You can get “Speak” on Amazon here.

Time to ReEngage

On May 3rd I posted about my need to disengage from social networks for the month (you can read that post here). For the past month I have not been on Facebook or Twitter and it has been very revealing. Tomorrow I plan to reengage with social networking but in a very different way than before. Below are a few of the things I have learned during my time away.

Time Waster


I have read the blogs, seen the studies about how social networks can suck you in and take up most of your time and attention. It was not until I stepped away however did I actually realize the truth to that. I was able to spend more time, more focused time on sermon prep, reading and engaging people. This was time I was losing because of my own willingness to be distracted by social networks.  I actually got stuff done, felt more engaged with what I was doing when I stepped away. The problem was not social networks, it was the amount of time I devoted to them, even a few minutes here and there every hour adds up.


What this means: I plan to set aside times to be one social networks, but those will be set times and not during the hours that I have dedicated to study and sermon prep. This is something I need and my church needs of me.


 Controversy to Controversy


Social networks are a great place to get caught up in the waves of controversy of the day. Just when one controversy ends another wave comes by. This is dangerous, unprofitable for me as a pastor to engage in or get caught up in. I like to talk sports and New Mexico on Twitter and share quotes or family moments, which is where I plan to leave it. For me it seems unfruitful to engage in debates and serious discussion on a platform that is so limited in tone, detail and intimacy. Some can do it, I can’t.


 Social Networks are Good but Not Great


Social Networks are good to engage in, and I believe an important medium today. However they are not great for actual socializing and truly getting to know people. I want to spend more time engaging people I know, people I share common passions with and people I can help, and social networks limits how much of that you can do. I think it is possible to do all of that but it is not the best platform for that.



All this to say, I am excited to reengage social networks, but in a different way than before. I have learned a lot from this fast and plan to do this on a regular basis. I encourage you to do the same .


Time to Disengage



We are by far the most connected and social engaged generation in history. Social networking has allowed us to live open before others in ways unlike any other time in history. I dove into social networking headfirst, I have shared thoughts, pictures, quotes I have read and other trivial bits of information readily and steadily.  In many ways this has been a good thing, but in many ways I have found that it has also become a bad thing. I have found that my sin, my idolatry, with wanting to always be “in the loop” or even wanting to see who liked this or that in which I posted has become idolatry and a serious distraction from my care for my soul, my family and my church. This has happened in a few ways that I think the Bible actually speaks out against:


“Look at me!!”  “Look at my kids!!!”


But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:3–4 (ESV)



I wonder if a way we can see this today is “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing because your left hand will tweet, Instagram, Facebook about it”. I know this is true for me. I have become so consumed at times with wanting to share something about my kids, my studying or my life in general. Not only share but because I am prideful and I want people to validate me through “likes” and retweets my emotions can be affected by the amount of “likes” and interaction I get with each post. I am always looking for something to share that I am in danger of not fully enjoying my kids or the sunset but thinking of what filter, how many #’s to attach or what funny status I will add to what is going on.


Jesus calls us to live a life on mission but that is also marked with time before God, where we share with Him more than we share with the world. I have seen the opposite in my life. Instead of meditating on God’s beauty in His creation and silently contemplating, I am quickly going to Instagram instead.



Face-to-Face Is Crucial to Community


24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV)


I am by nature more of an introvert. So the fact that I can interact with people without actually having to be physically with them is awesome. Awesome and seriously lacking in the real, in person interaction we actually need. God designed us to want community, to know and be known. This cannot truly happen online. In fact the danger is that I can present such a side of myself that is a far cry from reality that I’m not truly known. True community happens over a meal and a good conversation, not over a status or retweets. It happens over time as people watch my life and I watch others and as we speak into each other’s stories.


This is especially crucial with the well-being of my family. As I lead my family I must seek out the hearts of my wife and my kids, I simply cannot do that while updating a status or “liking” someone else’s status, picture, or tweet.


Not Sin But Not Best


23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)


Social Networking is a distraction. It is a distraction from times of prayer, times of good conversation with my family, and talking to actual people. It is a distraction from reading for the growth of my soul and good of the church. It is a distraction from the important things in my life right now.


I am blessed to be pastor of a young church in Rio Rancho, and behind my walk with the Lord,  leading my wife and kids, my priority and focus must be on the good of the church. I must devote more time to studying to preach, studying to guide as well as meeting and encouraging others through prayer and fellowship. I also must spend time on mission to see lives change and honestly lives don’t change by me sharing a picture of my lunch, but it happens through my full engagement with others offline.


What now?

I am going to take a break for the rest of May from regular engagement in social networks. I want to spend more time engaged with people in real life, engaged in God’s word and engaged in the building up of Redemption Church. After that I am not sure but know it will look different than it has.


I want to share less and live more, truly live for God’s glory and I know that means stepping away from Social Networks. I want to learn about people’s lives by actually talking and being with them not just through pics and small updates.


I hope to write more on this blog and on Redemption’s blog, I hope to provide the people of Redemption with more of my attention, and I hope to be the husband and dad that God has called me to be, regular Social Networking doesn’t fit into this.


I do not in any way, by sharing this, mean to tell others that they should share my convictions about how they do Social Networking, but rather I do hope it challenges you to look at your heart, look at your time online and pray for guidance in this.


For the rest of May the only updates you will see from me on Facebook or Twitter will be in regards to posts I write here or at redemptionchurch.cc, I will interact with comments made about these posts too.

To learn more about what is happening at Redemption Church you should also go like the Redemption Church Facebook page here.


I will not be checking my FB, twitter or Instagram, in fact I am deleting them from my phone.


Does this freak me out? Is it going to be hard? Yes, even typing this has been hard. I have a fear of missing out on something, or not being part of some interaction. It is because I feel so nervous and stressed about disengaging from social networks that I know it is needed.


If you do want to DM me on Twitter or send me a private message on Facebook I will respond, but for a quicker response you can reach me through email at carlos (at) redemptionchurch (dot) cc


Otherwise, see ya, hopefully in person, around!


One more thing, I hesitated to press publish on this post today, I saved it and then looked at Facebook, it was there I saw the video below. After watching it I decided, nerves and all, to hit publish.