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.