I had been wrestling with the idea of blogging some of my life experiences with the intent of encouraging others who may be going through similar situations. Although the main audience being those who have been attending church for a long time and are caught in the cycle of just "doing church", I believe these stories will reach all audiences with God's help.

I'd rather fail miserably at something I feel God asked me to do than just sit back and wonder what could've, would've or should've happened.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

OBEDIENCE > sacrifice!

What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22

For the last few months this verse (well part of this verse) has been ringing in my head: “OBEDIENCE is better than sacrifice”. It sounds so pretty and righteous to say….but what exactly does it mean? That, my friend, is the million dollar question! You see this same phrase can mean different things to different people – God loves to do that! He can use the same message to speak to people in different ways.

For some:
OBEDIENCE = attending church for the first time & having a relationship with God
Sacrifice = thinking that being a good person is enough to please “God”

OBEDIENCE = getting involved in your church; use your gifts to serve in the house
Sacrifice = attending church is enough

Yet others:
OBEDIENCE = giving your tithes regularly to God
Sacrifice = giving to the people that ring the bell during Christmas is enough

I'm not sure what OBEDIENCE vs sacrifice looks like for you. You will have to figure that out on  your own. I can tell you that God is always looking to stretch our FAITH in one way or another.
For me it’s simple, yet difficult all in one…. this “blog” thing is very easy for me to do. I can sit here and write stories till my fingers turn blue…stories and writing (well not including grammar) come effortlessly to me. The difficult part is sending out the Twitter and Facebook reminders to my friends. You see it is out of character for me to ask people for things. It’s something my parents taught me when I was young and it has been instilled in my heart – perhaps to the extreme - or maybe this is just how God wired me. So when I felt from God to write these blogs, I was excited. When I felt from God to send it out several times a day – not so much!

Every week when I am about to send the blog out, I get this devil / angel fight on either shoulder. The conversation goes a little like this:

Devil: “who do you think you are to send out these blogs? You are not important!”
Angel: “you are a  son of the Most High, coheir with Christ!”
Devil: “people are gonna laugh at you…hahaha!”
Angel: “God is smiling down on you when you send it”
Devil: “this is dumb…a waste of time! You already do enough for God! Relax!”
Angel: OBEDIENCE is better than sacrifice”

So when you see my Twitter / FB reminders, remember this:

OBEDIENCE > sacrifice!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cabrera Legacy Part III: The Family That Prays Together

Now… where did I leave off? Oh yea… that awesome song! After singing this awesome song (you’re gonna need to read Cabrera Legacy Part I and Part II to follow), we hold hands and my dad asks if anyone has any special prayer requests. We would pray for everybody and their momma – people from church, family, neighbors, you name it… we prayed for them. I remembered how we would always pray for the family members that were not in the house that night… even the ones who had gotten married and moved out! Prayer has always been the foundation of our family’s DNA (we’ll talk about that in another blog). Then last, but not least, the good ol’ Cabrera hug. Now there are all kinds of hugs: bro hugs, BFF hugs, friendly hugs, there are even some that should be illegal! But this one is the icing on the cake of this devotional time. We hug and then give each other 2 simultaneous taps on the upper back followed immediately by 2 simultaneous taps...um... well on the butt. Now that’s showin’ sum luv! 

So, why all this talk about a family devotional time? I strongly believe that while we were in those devotional times laughing, goofing around, learning about the bible, and praying for each other, God was implementing a Legacy that would live in our hearts for years to come! Out of this one family devotional came 5 family devotionals with their own twists from my brothers and sisters and their families. Our prayer is that our kids will also have their own family devotional memories with their own twists – and so on and so on! I have even heard people from church that happened to be at my parent’s house around the 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM time and were “persuaded” to stay for the devotional time who now have their own family devotional time. My parents with their sweet, loving, generous and humble hearts began a Legacy that will live on for years to come! 

As I was thinking about these family devotional times we had with our parents I was challenged to have intentional family devotional times where my wife and kids can have fun, laugh, learn about God’s Word and have memories that will inspire our children to do the same with their families. There’s this saying, “the family that prays together, stays together” and I believe it….. not because it sounds pretty…. but because I lived it! My wife and I decided to put up a reminder in our room not too long ago to help us stay focused on this. I would’ve tattooed it on my arm but I don’t like needles. Besides, the words would probably not make sense when I got older and wrinkled.  

So I challenge you today…what Legacy are you leaving behind for your children? It’s never too late to start.

Acts 4:32-33
"The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cabrera Legacy Part II: The Annoying Song

So there we were....same circle, same night, same family devotional (read previous blog to catch-up)....my dad had just finished reciting his memory verse when, out of the blue, my mom busts out with her favorite song of all time (at least that's what it seemed like). She LOVED singing this song during our devotional time! It never got old for her. She would close her eyes and begin leading this song before anyone could choose another song. As soon as she began singing, I thought to myself, "not that annoying song again!" (Just being REAL). Eventually, we all began singing along - as if we had a choice. Before you knew it, we were all having a grand ol' time! Laughing, singing and trying to see how many different harmonies we could make out of that circus-like music song. And just when you thought it was over, she would begin again from the top. If any of you have ever been over the Cabrera's house during our devotional time, you know what song I'm talking about! Ready to sing along? Here we go:

// En el hogar, en el hogar, tú necesitas a Jesús. //
// Veras que feliz se vive, veras que feliz se vive con Jesús en el hogar. //

Ok for those that don't understand Español, use Google Translate! Ha! JK! Here is the translation:

In the home, in the home, you need Jesus.
You will see how happy you will live with Jesus in the home.

I must say it sounds much better in Spanish - some songs were just not made to be translated. Any ways, until about 2 weeks ago, this was just an "annoying" song to me. Then it hit me one night while I was preparing for this blog!! I understood why my mom was so happy singing this song - and to be REAL with you, I felt convicted while tears ran down my face as I reminisced this moment. You see she understood that these weren't just words of a song that we were singing....she was declaring these words over our lives without us even realizing it! Eyes closed...clapping to the circus-like beat...singing loud and proud...with a smile on her face...her family around her in a circle singing alone - what more could a mother ask for? It was as if she was in another world with her God as she sang her favorite song. Yet deep in her heart, I'm convinced, she knew that this song would ring in our hearts for a very long time! She was right!

I called my mom this week to ask about this "annoying" song. This is how it went down:

(En Español of course)
Me: Mami, do you remember that song that you would always sing during our devotional time?
Mom: En el hogar! (all excited without letting me finish the sentence)
Me: Yep. That's the one! Why do you like that song so much?
Mom: Oh my son (poetically) because it's important to have Jesus as the center of our home! Without Jesus, we are nothing....our home is nothing! (then she began to sing the last part of the song)

También nosotros por la fe, nos acercamos Cristo a ti.  Aunque tu rostro no se ve, sabemos que tu estas aquí.

By faith, we also draw closer to you, Christ. And although we can't see your face, we know that you are here.

BTW: This song is not so "annoying" to me anymore! :)

Psalm 126:2
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues were will with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cabrera Legacy Part I: The Bible Verse

Let me set the scene:

My mom, dad, brothers and sisters are all sitting in a circle in our living room. We just finished reading Romans 8 and now it's time to recite our Bible verse. My oldest brother has just finished saying his 10-sentence memory verse from one of Paul's letters (SHOW-OFF) and now all eyes are on me! My hands are sweaty, heart beating a million miles-per-second and my face is red. With a big gulp and thinking "here goes nothing", I let it out:

(En Español of course) "Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! Proverbs 6:6" Before I could even finish, everyone questioned in unison, "AGAIN?!?!" I responded with "that's all I got" and we all begin to laugh. You see this was my favorite Bible verse when I was a kid mainly because during our family devotional time, we had to recite a Bible verse and John 3:16 was not an option. So I went to the book of Proverbs (not for wisdom but for easy verses). I found this "ant" verse... read it... memorized and made it my own!

Now we all know that nothing just happens by coincidence, right? So what was God trying to tell me about an "ant" that was so important? After all, to me ants were merely victims of The Giant Man (me) who loved to squish little villagers (them) - or an occasional science experiment that involved a magnifying glass and the sun. Well this little ant is worth taking a look at (according to this Proverb). They are admired for their hard work-ethics and wise planning. Could it be that God was trying to prepare my work-ethics for what would become a difficult road ahead for me? You see every job I have ever had I have had to work hard to be successful - I didn't get anything handed down to me based on "who I know". I believe this verse was rooted in my heart and would rise-up during these difficult times in different jobs that I had. Coincident? I think NOT!

"So faith come by hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ". Romans 10:17 (NLT)

I had a chance to interview my daughter and asked her what her favorite Bible verse was since she memorized a bunch of them. Here answer - Deuteronomy 31:6 "So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (SHOW-OFF)!

What was your favorite Bible verse growing up?

I'd love to hear from you!