Viva la Musica.

God is so brilliant. I'll explain why...

Because He created music - arguably, the single most effective, passionate, emotion-evoking, communicative, spiritually-charged avenue for expression in my life, and in billions of others.

I'll tell you an embarrassing, yet true story that only my closest friends know of. Basically when I was about 4 years old I was a very loud, mischievous little Cuban boy. I am still at least 1 of those 3 things. I lived in New Jersey at the time and from as early as I can remember, I was in love with "la musica" as my Grandma called it. So one day while my entire family and I were sitting in church waiting for the offertory song to be sung, my impatient little 4 year old mind picked up on the fact that the sound guy was having trouble with the track. The poor lady singing was just standing there awkwardly waiting for her cue. So I thought something should be said. Within seconds, I stood to my feet on top of the pew (which probably actually elevated me to the height of very short man), turned to the sound man and I yelled in my native tongue..."Donde esta la musica!?" Where's the music, I said. My mom was absolutely horrified being that this was a predominantly spanish-speaking congregation. But I needed that music.

Yeah - I got spanked.

I say all this because I am sitting here in my loft, listening to the likes of Phil Wickham, Hillsong, Desperation Band, Matt Papa, and the list goes on. And I am nearly in tears by the spirit that these words and melodies carry. It's as if music serves as the singing telegram directly sent from the original artist - God himself.

Yesterday, in our 3rd service as a church (The Connection Point), I was leading the people in a song called "God of This City" which is dear to my heart. There was a moment in the middle of that song where it just hit me - this music is so powerful. Not because it was my voice singing it or any our musicians playing it, but because God created it. God orchestrated that moment before I ever was. That chorus has so much weight - "Greater things are still to be in this city." And I just think, "God, you aren't even done here. This isn't the best we'll get. There are more moments like this. Greater moments than this." And that thought alone stirs my heart to continue singing, creating, playing, writing, even humming and air-strumming.

Thanks alot, no seriously...thanks alot.

Today was great. I went into work (Chili's) ready to serve up some nostril-assaulting, onion-encrusted plates of food and realized I wasn't even on the schedule. So what does any young spontaneous server do in a time like this? I pretend like nothing else in life matters - like every other responsibility has also been mistakenly scheduled for another day.  And I begin to drive. I begin to drive to the soothing tones of Billy Joel.

My destination? Bradenton. 

I came to see my dad who recently had back surgery and is enduring a very grueling recovery process both mentally and physically. 

So lets talk about Papa Lopez for a second. I love that guy. And since moving out I realized just how much I love him. I love him "this much" (my arms are spread open as far as they can go). I also love my mom "that much."

As usual, we shared laughs, a hug or two, great conversation, hilarious updates on family nuances that only a Lopez can appreciate, political excitement and frustration, and of course...some bodily noises. 

Basically, my dad is the wisest guy on the street and my mom is the most loving, caring gal I know. And I am blessed. 

Just wanted to say thanks, God, for everything. That's it. G'night.

Brutal Bullets

So here is a quick recap of the last few weeks of my life. The Connection Point team has been overhauling to make our launch weekend a success and it was. It was absolutely amazing and our second service was honestly even smoother. Our pre-service set-up achieved record timing. I can't wait for the weeks to come as we perfect our systems.

So prior to all of that great success, here's a list of things that were so conveniently thrown in my path on the way to success.

  • I took my ride ('93 Chrylser Concorde...Ladies, stay back) in for a routine oil change - left with a $300 package of 2 new tires and alignment because apparently I drive my car like an idiot.
  • AT&T so kindly charged me $1800+ for (incorrect) media use, completely draining my entire bank account, automatically draining every cent of my savings because of an automated overdraft protection feature I have and immediately rendering all of my accounts frozen and deeply in the red.
  • Manatee County Traffic Dept. sends me a summons letter stating my license will be suspended in a few days unless I pay a ticket (which I already paid). Explain that?
  • The final payment (very crucial to my financial well-being) for a web project I've been working on for over a month was late by several weeks...throwing my finances into what I like to call the Ca-Ca shoot.
So I know all of your are on the edge of your seats wondering what the relief or solution is to each of these brutal bullet points?

The answer is simply grace.

There has been almost no solution to any of these issues, I'm actually still currently fighting most of them, calling AT&T every day to give me a refund credit, on the phone with the Bank, praying this doesn't ruin my credit, waiting for the Online Traffic School to mail me the necessary certificate of completion so that I can then mail it to the Manatee County Traffic Dept. to prove I've paid everything so I can keep my license.

And yet when I really think about how I don't deserve any of this, I am reminded that I AM SO deserving of all of this. I'm talking about my sin nature. I'm talking about the fact that even my best is still rags. And in spite of life's circumstances, God has still given me unmerited favor and blessing in so many areas of my life and I trust that He will get me through this. If Jesus could hang, nailed to a tree, for sins that He didn't commit and endure sufferings that He didn't deserve, how much more can I thank God for his grace when He pulls me out of situations where I DO deserve the worst.

Take time this week to thank God for the things that you don't'll realize that you'll be thanking him for quite some time.


So yesterday was a great day. I woke up and went to a great church in the area and really enjoyed their presentation of the gospel. I went to lunch with some of my close friends and then proceeded to spend the rest of the day with my good friend Rick. He and I are very much alike and share a common love for doing what I call "stupid guy crap" which translates into...whatever holds our attention for more than 15 minutes at a time. This included going over future plans to create an internet business and make millions, co-authoring a book about spiritual gray issues, throwing basketballs from full court, sitting in my apartment destroying leftovers from Chili's and Five Guys, grocery shopping (random, yet amusing) and playing tennis while these stinky French people cooked fish at the grill station next to us.
One thing I did notice during our time around my apartment complex was the strong sense of community not just between Rick and I, but more noticeably, amongst the people at the teenagers at the pool, the families having cook-outs, the little kids playing on the playground, and the others walking their dogs. It just felt good to watch.
It makes me think of the kind of community I want to see and produce at my church, The Connection Point. So I did some minor research and here's what I found:

The word community can be defined as
a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality and often have a common cultural viewpoint or setting. I also realized that the underlying root within the word community is unity. And unity can be described as a state of being one, or an absence of diversity. I then found that word unity is used 235 times in the New Testament alone. In its hebrew form, ei|ß (pronounced "hice") the direct translation is "one."
And although it's so simple and almost redundant to be explained, I just felt as though God was confirming the simplicity of unity to be through those people yesterday. To be one, to be a fluid, active, living, breathing one. Not that we have to dress the same, look the same, act the same, listen to the same music, or even believe 100% the same... but to just be one. To be one in the spirit, one in truth and one in love.


So I am an official resident of Tampa as of Tuesday night. I emphasize night time to mark the reality of this endeavor because quite frankly, if you can last a night in an apartment with no food, nothing to drink, sparse furnishing, no shower curtain, and a bed with no bed are part of the "official" club in the morning.
I have to give God so much praise for His faithfulness and covering in this would-be awkward time of transition. I am learning to rely on him and his grace in my time alone here and it is so rewarding.
I feel like Nehemiah as He was commissioned by God to rebuild the Jerusalem city walls. I don't believe that it was purely out of his anointing or intercession alone that the wall was rebuilt so quickly but more so out of his broken heart for the city that the wall and morale was restored.
Nehemiah had a soft spot for his people and his cause. That was his fuel. I am so inspired by Chapter 4 where it reads, "Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other." That is true dedication.
In Chapter 6 it says the wall was completed in a startling 52 days and "not a gap was left in it," sending their enemies to scatter. I think that that finishing statement is so crucial to the model of God's promises - without gaps, no room for error. I feel like God is calling me to be the Nehemiah in my city. To be broken for the people, broken for the cause, to be violent for holiness and unwaivering in integral leadership.
So needless to say...I have a wall to rebuild.

Welcome Back

I would personally like to take this brief moment to welcome myself back to the blog world...
Welcome back
Alright, moving on.
It's been quite some time since I've last blogged and my life has taken several twists and turns, mostly for the better. For one, I'm moving to Tampa in 2 days to serve at a new church plant in Citrus Park,
The Connection Point. I will be serving along side a team of amazing friends as the Creative Arts Director. This translates into the following: leading worship and heading up the Creative team with graphics/web/service production/whatever Pastor Steve wants. Basically, whatever it takes to connect real people to a real God in a real world as our team mantra would read.
So that's the basic update, and I couldn't be more excited and more aware of the significance of this transitional time in my life. God is putting more weight on me than ever before and the only explanation I can account for is that He really thinks I can carry it. And honestly, there are days where I'm
almost convinced that I can't do it...and then I'm reminded of the promise given to us in Philippians 4:13 that says I can do ALL things. And it's not by my strength but that of Christ. I love the promises of God because every where you see promise in the Bible, you also see God's unmerited favor. Think about it, God's promises are always a no-strings-attached package, and to take it even further they are always unconditional and usually undeserved.
In Romans 4:13-15, Paul writes of the
famous promise that God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—and the beauty of it was that it was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God's decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered into when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and by filling out all the right forms properly signed, sealed, delivered (I'm Yours) then that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an "ironclad contract" as the Word says.
That's not a holy promise; that's a business deal.
I am so thankful that God is not an Indian-giver, nor a profit hungry business man, but a promise keeper to the core.