Confession of a Spiritual Gangsta-Guest Post by Mario Aragon

Here is something I’ve learned about being a Christian; it’s not easy.

In fact, God promises it will be hard. The more you try to have a relationship with God, the more the enemy will attack you.

One of the greatest tools the enemy will use is isolation and lies. He will make you feel alone in your struggle and your problems. He will tell you that you are the only one with this problem and no one will care. However, this cannot be farther from the truth. Don’t let your isolation consume you. REACH out, trust in our Heavenly Father.
We at Mosaic are here for you. We are a family and we are going through this crazy life together. Don’t let the lies of the enemy take root in your life because you are loved. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Most of all, you are not alone. We all struggle with something.

Let me be vulnerable for a moment: I struggle with anxiety. In fact, as I write this I have read, erased, and retyped it many times. My mind is telling me that no one will care about what I have to say. Every time I step into church or teach kids in kids church I often wonder why God chose me for this.  I’m definitely not qualified for it. I struggle with this but I’m glad I have my Mosaic family there for me. I have a wonderful wife, family, friends, and above all I have a great and mighty God that constantly reminds me that I am worthy and I am not alone.

If you need a friend or someone to talk to know I’m here for you. Most importantly you have God. He is always with you even when you feel the loneliest. Remember you are not alone in your struggles, problems with depression, or whatever. Stay strong and always keep on fighting!

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Faith-Guest Post by Eric Gibson

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Hi, my name is Eric Gibson and I have been at Mosaic for about two years now.

I came from Los Angles, Ca., and once I got to Colorado the first thing we looked for was a church. My former sister in law told us about a church she was listening to online. She told us the pastor (which was pastor Angel and his wife Diane) was coming over to talk and have dinner, and she invited us to join them. It was great! He told us about his church and asked us to check it out.

We lived in Loveland at the time and the church was about a 20-minute drive from our home. It was in the winter, snowing at the time, and I was thinking that’s a long way to go to church! You know, for me to drive and deal with snow in my wheelchair. But, I did go and it was great. The best thing for me was the greeters at the door. The smiles on their faces were so helpful, the hugs, and handshakes were awesome. I felt the word of God was deep to me and I made my mind after the first visit that this is where God wanted me at.

I got involved in the Discovery class to find out more about Mosaic and to find out how I could be a part of the Dream Team. After a while Ray and Caiti, the youth pastors, asked me to be a part of the youth group and of course I said yes because my past is all about the youth.

As a former gang member from L. A. I have been working with the youth for about 25 years. In 1993 I was shot five times in a drive by shooting, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down and using a wheelchair for the rest of my life. So, I felt this was the best fit for me. Working with Ray and Caiti is great and of course the youth also are great. I have been able to share my testimony with them is several ways.

I truly love this group and watching them grow in the word of God has been amazing. Just a few weeks ago I had my good friend Anne Kleehammer donate books to all of our youth. The book is called, Ten Secrets of Overcomers, and it’s about ten great people and how they have overcome some traumatic events that happened in their lives. And yes, I am one of the overcomers who is able to share my true story of triumph. I believe the youth is our future and youth at church is the best way to help them understand the good and bad things of this world. My job, along with Ray and Caiti, is to give them the best understanding that we can from different perspectives, and that is what we do. We have a great time with them every Thursday night at Mosaic at 7:00 pm.

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One of the greatest things for me, is when Ray and Caiti went on vacation and asked me to take over the class a few times and trusted me with the group. We had a blast and it gave me time to get to know the youth in a better way. Thank you guys for trusting me with Gods youth!

To me this is what church is about- to help them understand the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

The people at Mosaic are the Church, it’s not the building and that’s why I love my church and I will continue work with the youth here. Thank you to Ray and Caiti, Pastor Angel and Diane, and the Dream team for welcoming me into Mosaic.

It Started With a Dream-Guest Post by Jen Orona

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I vaguely remember the conversation. My oldest daughter, 8 at the time, was telling her dad about a dream she had. The rapture had happened, and her WHOLE family was there. She had an uneasiness in her voice, she was torn. It wasn’t just her immediate family; Mom, Dad, and sisters. Her Grandma and Grandpa went to Heaven with her. The way she spoke stuck out to me most. There was questioning in her voice. “Dad, how could that happen? Grandma and Grandpa aren’t saved.” My husband hesitated for a moment to collect his thoughts, his response… something along the lines of the dream being God’s placement upon her heart and we need to continue praying for them because God can do miracles.

We had been praying, our whole marriage, my whole life, desperately wanting my Mom to find Jesus. I had become so jaded with unanswered prayers that I honestly had somewhat lost hope. Nothing I could do would be enough to bring her salvation.  When I began working at 14 to earn my own steady income, I lost hope. When I handed over paychecks because the rent was short, I lost hope. When I agonized through cold showers because, once again the heat was turned off, I lost hope. In those times when I hoped she would become who I wanted her to be, and she didn’t I told myself it was because I wasn’t enough. She must not love me enough to stop her addiction.

It started when I was around 13. My Mom began going to Bingo with my Grandma, harmless, right? Then she went more and more until eventually, if I wanted to see her, I had to go, too. I never would have believed someone if they told me they were addicted to Bingo, but I now know firsthand that if a person has a hole that needs to be filled, they will find SOMETHING to fill it. I got used to the cycle, so did the rest of us.

Bingo turned into Blackhawk. Our relationship deteriorated. I spent as much time away from home as I could. I felt guilty for being away from my little brother, but I wanted so much to be free from it all that I left as soon as I could. I needed to be a part of something important, and I also needed to be far. At 17 I left to the Marine Corps.

My own journey towards salvation was somewhat simple. I was raised Catholic, but my relationship with God truly began as a Junior in high school when I read the “Left Behind” series and navigated my thoughts and questions about God on my own. I went on to foster my new beliefs in a new part of the world and tried to let go.

Things with my Mom got worse while I was away, her problems piled higher and her hole got bigger. I have never begrudged my Mom for being overwhelmed with the pressures of her life. She was dealt a tough hand and struggled with her own feelings of emotional neglect from her parents. At 16 she gave birth to me and raised me as a single mom until she met my Stepdad. He was young too when they met, so together we all were trying to grow up. Now, as a mom myself, I sympathize with her struggles. She did what she thought was her best and gave what she was capable of giving.

My commitment to the Corps was close to over and I had no intentions of living again in Colorado. However, my new husband was determined to be near the Rocky Mountains so, pregnant and newly married, I returned. For seven years, there were consistent ups and downs. My parents adored my children and I saw my Mom share affection with them I didn’t know she was capable of expressing. I heard her say “I love you” freely to them and each time my heart ailed because I wanted it to be directed towards me. My husband and I tried hard to establish boundaries with money, but, just like the addict, the enabler has difficulty saying “No.”

Around the time my daughter had the rapture dream, we were coming off one of the most painful incidents we had been through. I felt so betrayed and damaged that I went through depression. My Mom and I were barely on speaking terms, almost all communication centered around the girls. I had written off all hope but continued to pray out of routine, expecting my prayers to continue to be unanswered. When my daughter shared her dream, I was as befuddled as her, my parents weren’t saved, why did she dream they made it to Heaven?

The circumstances surrounding her finding God moment I reserve for her to share. What I will share is that when my husband contacted me on May 13, 2016 and told me my Mom called him earlier in the day and said she was ready to accept Jesus, my heart stood still. Really? Is it possible? With a tinge of hesitance, I called her and heard her out. For the first time, I said “I love you,” she said it back, and I knew she meant it. The dream my daughter had wasn’t a fluke, it was God’s foreshadowing. When she heard that Grandma was saved, she became so full of emotion she excused herself to another room to cry and praise God, her dream came true. After her grandma’s baptism, she insisted on cake and a party.

My Mom has been coming to Mosaic faithfully since that day. I’ve seen her mature in her relationship with God. Her hole is finally filled and I can now put into perspective that she didn’t withhold love from me, she simply didn’t have love to give. The agape, selfless love that only Jesus shares has persisted and found its place within her heart.

If you’ve taken the time to read through all this- thanks for your patience, I can get kinda wordy. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story, others might be in a similar situation and I hope that my happy ending gives you hope, especially if you’re feeling hopeless. God hears your prayers and can do miracles!

Titan’s Ball – Guest Post by Christy Dodd

Casting the whole of your care (all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.  I Peter 5:7 AMP

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My dog Titan loves his black ball.  He carries it around in his mouth everywhere.  He wants you to throw the ball and he brings it to you but when you try to take it from him, he won’t let you have it – yet he comes repeatedly to you with the ball.  Sometimes he half gives it to you, but when you get a hold of it, he tears it out of your hand and growls. We do this everyday – every time I sit in the chair.  When others come over he takes the ball to them and drops it nicely in their laps wanting you to throw it.  They will once or twice,but he keeps bringing it back.  He isn’t their dog so they keep dropping the ball on the ground and I say “Titan bring your ball”.  He will but once again it’s a struggle; he wants it thrown but not by me, so he pulls it away and then takes it to the guest.  When he finally decides I can throw it because nobody else will, he drops it in my lap and sits patiently.  I always throw it and am happy to toss it most of the time but I won’t fight him for the ball.

He gives it to me but quickly takes it away so he can walk around with it in his mouth.  He may even drop it down the stairs for himself so he can play and chase it.  When he can’t find the ball he comes to me and wants to sit on my lap for scratches and love but if he has the ball he occupies his own time with it.  It’s funny how I am so much like my dog Titan – when he carries his ball around in his mouth all the time.

Titan is sometimes a perfect picture of how I am with God.  I have problems or worries and I may tell him about them.  He’d love to handle them for me yet I won’t give them completely to him.  I wrestle him for them.  BUT, I’ll tell my friends and family all about my problems hoping they will do something to fix them but they can’t.  They can offer me advice but if I’d take it to God and let him have it—He would handle it.

How often are we like that with God?  We have our worries or habits that we hold onto.  They take up our time. They are our security blankets and we keep them close to us or bring them to God but won’t let Him take it.  We hold onto it firmly like the death grip my dog has on his ball.  When we decide to give them up or we can’t “find’ them, we come to God for love.  Unlike me, God never tires of us coming to him to sit on his lap, lay at  his feet and spend time with him.  I challenge you today to think about what habit or worry is occupying God’s time in your life and to bring it to him without the death grip.

During my time in God’s waiting room I’ve been learning this lesson.  Taking my worries to God.  With human eyes I should have tons of worries and be in a panic at home hiding under my blanket and crying but I keep casting my cares on him.  It doesn’t come easy, it is a conscious decision that I have to make daily to cast my cares on him.  I love though what this verse reminds me of.  He cares and watches over me.  Today I want to challenge you to drop the ball of your cares and worries in God’s lap and see how He will handle it.

Prayer:  God you tell me that I can bring all my cares, fears, worries, and concerns to you no matter how big or small they seem to me because you care for me affectionately and you watch over me.  I don’t have to worry unless I chose to so today I chose to NOT worry but to let you deal with it all. 

Thank you to Christy Dodd for giving us permission to repost her blog! Click Here to visit Christy’s blog: Lessons From God’s Waiting Room and read more.

Saying Goodbye to a Dream – Guest Post Pastor Geoff Surratt

I had a dream for many years. It doesn’t matter what the dream was, its mine not yours. I always thought this dream would happen, it was just a matter of time. Several times it felt like I was at the edge of the dream being fulfilled only to see it fall away like dust. Soon I was 40, then 45, then 50 and the dream never materialized. The hardest part was this wasn’t something I just passively hoped for, I did everything I knew to do to work toward the dream. And it wasn’t a pipe dream, many trusted friends and mentors confirmed that they believed the dream was in my wheelhouse, something I was wired up to do. I finally realized, however, the time for this particular dream was over. I don’t know why it never happened, but it was time to move on.
 “Sorry for the tears, never thought it would happen.”
And then on Sunday afternoon I caught the final few holes of the Shell Houston Open (SHO). The SHO is a relatively minor tournament, Its basically a tune-up for The Masters, the Super Bowl of golf tournaments, which is played the week after the SHO. When I tuned in Jim Herman, an unknown journeyman, trailed seasoned pro Henrick Stenson by one stroke with three holes to play. Herman had no chance against a player like Stenson. But then he did the unthinkable, he chipped in from the rough on the 16th hole, a birdie that put him ahead by one stroke. Keeping his nerves in check he parred the final two holes to win his first PGA Tour tournament at the age of 38. No one wins their first tournament at 38, the top golfers seldom win at 38. When an interviewer asked him afterwards how it felt to win and qualify to play in The Masters next week he teared up. “Sorry for the tears,” he said, “[I] never thought it would happen.”
 “Give me my mountain.”
Herman reminded of Caleb who dreamed of a home with a mountain view. He walked faithfully by Joshua’s side for more than 40 years, but his dream never came to fruition. Finally, at the age of 80, Caleb went to Joshua and said, “I’m as fit as I was when we spied out the land all those years ago. I’ve done what I’ve been asked, I’ve fought by your side, now give me my mountain.” Well past the age when men make new starts Caleb marched to his mountain and saw the fulfillment of his dream.
So if 38 isn’t too old to win your first golf tournament and 80 isn’t too old to build your dream home, maybe 54 is too young to abandon a dream? Maybe I gave up too soon.
 What dream have you given up on?
What about you? What dream have you given up on? What did you think God would do in your life by now? Maybe its too soon to give up. Maybe God is still at work and isn’t concerned about your timetable. Maybe you should continue preparing for the dream instead of hanging it up and moving on. It may be delusional to think that it could still happen, but Jim Herman never thought he’d be teeing off Thursday at Augusta National either.
Thank you to Pastor Geoff Surratt for giving us permission to repost his blog! Geoff is a pastor to pastors and he encourages and coaches ministers across the country.  Click here to visit his blog and read more.

In Memory of Angel Flores

A few months ago I attended a family reunion with my dad’s family in San Antonio. People came from all over Texas. My family is full of Tejano Conjunto musicians and it wasn’t long before the accordions and instruments came out. It was a great time.

One of my uncles wasn’t there because he passed away three years ago. He was a great accordion player and was called a “Tejano Conjunto Music Legend” by the Corpus Christi Caller Times. His name was Angel Flores and I was named after him. At the reunion someone started handing out bracelets in his memory. It was a super cool tribute to his life and memory but when I put mine on, I had this WEIRD feeling. You ever seen a headstone or obituary with your name on it? That’s how it felt.

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While looking at my bracelet it occurred to me: one day people will do something “in memory of Angel Flores” for me too. There will be a church service somewhere and a few people will gather together and say some nice things about me. Then they’ll go to some church fellowship hall and eat fried chicken from the supermarket and someone will bring some of that boxed potato salad that no one eats but people bring it every time. I doubt people will make bracelets for me. 🙂 Then life will go on…it always does.

One day people are going to do something “In memory of” you too. Just remember, none of us are getting out of here alive. So instead of hesitating, instead of putting things off, instead of waiting until next time…..just do what you have in your heart. Just. Freaking. Do it.

Turn off the TV and get off the couch.

Take the vacation.

Eat the cake.

Use the good dishes.

Make a mud pie with the kids in the back yard.

Build something.

Make something.

Buy the motorcycle.

Fly a kite.

Walk to the park.

Sign up for a race.

Do something that scares you. (like sign up for a race) J

We’re only doing this once then it’s the supermarket fried chicken and the potato salad so have a few adventures before then.

Thanks for reading, talk to you soon.

Angel Flores is the pastor of Mosaic Church.  You can read his blog at: www.angelflores.net

Someone will help you

This week I was reminded of a book I read years ago called: “Self-Made in America” (by John McCormack – if you haven’t read that book, read it). This book taught me the power of asking people to mentor you.  Since then, over the years I’ve asked various people to mentor me and to help me grow.  When they agree, then in each instance, I take it upon myself to make the meetings happen.  I will call or email them (or their secretaries) to get me on their calendar and then I will drive (sometimes hours) or fly to meet them (all on my dime) so that I can spend an hour with them because they have some bit of knowledge that I want.  It might be an idea they’ve developed, a skill they possess that I’m trying to refine or they have achieved a step I’m trying to take.  Whatever the case, I want something from them, so I pursue them and I make it happen.

If God has burned a desire in your heart, He has also provided you the access you need to the people that can advise you on how to make it happen. But if you sit back and wait to be given “a shot” it won’t happen. Most often you have to make the first move. That usually begins with SERVING. You’ll never be given a platform to preach on, a song to sing or a class to teach if you’re not willing to mop some floors, run a vacuum or hold a door open for somebody.  When it’s time for you to do what God wants you to do, NO ONE will be able to hold you back, but until that time, stop trying to promote yourself, just be faithful and let God build the firm foundation in you now, so He can add on the weight of responsibility later.

Be faithful, serve and God will do His thing when it’s time.  That’s some free mentoring right there.  😉

Thanks for reading, talk to you soon.

Angel Flores

Lead Pastor – Mosaic Church

Just…Try – Guest Post Caiti Mondragon

“Every accomplishment comes from the decision to try.”

Last May, Ray graduated from UNC. As I was sitting there watching my kids’ reaction to him walking up on stage and getting his college degree, I vowed to myself that I would go back and finish as well. But, there was a catch. I would only go back if I didn’t have to retake the public speaking class that I received a “D” in during my first go round at UNC. How did I get a “D” you might ask? Easy. I wouldn’t show up on the days of my presentations.  Well, I showed up for my first two, I believe…and that’s it. Not sure how many of you know this about me, but public speaking terrifies me. My two biggest fears are snakes and public speaking. That’s it. Terrifies me.

Anyway, I decided to meet with a counselor, and found out that I didn’t have to retake it! Music to my ears! Also, the icing on the cake was that I could probably finish my degree in 18 months to two years. Even better. I enrolled, and I am now in my second semester back at UNC.

I know for a fact that God has a sense of humor because as I was sitting in my first class (last semester), the professor began going over the syllabus and as I’m skimming at the same time I see in bold letters, Oral Presentation. Wait…I said I wouldn’t do this if I had to get in front of people and speak. Yet, here it says oral presentation? I stressed the entire semester over this presentation. But, when those 6 minutes and 40 seconds were over, I felt so proud of myself. I did it!

On to my current semester!! Feeling like a million bucks, the first week of classes I found out that I have a presentation in Every. Single. Class. Immediately, the balloon of confidence I was riding in popped. No way I can do this. I thought for sure somewhere in the syllabus I would find the word SNAKES too! Might as well!

Switching gears for a second, this year, Elijah decided to wrestle. He has grown so much as a person and as a wrestler. It’s been pretty amazing to watch his progress. My Elijah is so much like me, sometimes it hurts. He gets down on himself very easily, so when the arm of his opponent is raised, you can see his “balloon of confidence” slowly start to let out air every time.

Saturday was a rough day for Elijah. He did pretty good his first match, but his second match, it was a totally different boy on the mat. He was backing away from his opponent and every time he would get on his back, he would cry out to me or his big sister, Emaleigh. He was trying to do anything to get the ref, or his coaches to stop the match…but it kept going. It was really heartbreaking to watch as Elijah has never done this before.

He came off the mat, completely scared, defeated and deflated. He immediately called Ray. Now, I’m not sure exactly what Ray told him, but from what Ray told me later, it went something like this: He told him that his coaches or the refs would never put him in harms way. He told him that he has got to believe in himself because if he goes on the mat already defeated, he will lose. He needs to go out there, confident in himself, and he can win! He told him he has the tools that he has learned in practice to be a great wrestler…he just needs to believe in himself. And, most importantly, he told him that he is always with him. Although he can’t be there physically because of work, he is there in his heart…always.

The next match, Elijah went out and pinned his opponent in 57 seconds.

Just as Elijah needed a pep-talk from his Daddy, sometimes we all need that same word of encouragement from our heavenly Father. As I watched Elijah sitting on the bench after that awful match, I couldn’t help but think of how I started this semester feeling already defeated and how much I could use a pep talk myself.  No, I don’t want to do presentations, but I know that God is teaching me something. It would be easy to just quit, or find other classes. But, I’m not learning anything if I am constantly sitting in my chair of comfort. I knew gong back to college wasn’t going to be easy…but I will finish on top, just like Elijah did.

Yesterday at church, I got the same piece of encouragement that I needed. Our pastor preached on having a vision. In a nutshell, there are 4 steps of vision:

1.The Spirit’s Prompting

2. Uncertainty

3. Resistance

4. Divine Clarity

Can I just encourage you (probably because I need to remind myself) that when you get to the uncertainty and the resistance of your vision (because you will get there), don’t let that stop you from completing the vision that God has put in your heart! Push through, persevere because seeing your vision come to pass in God’s timing will be totally worth all of the sweat, tears (and presentations)!

Thank you to Caiti Mondragon for giving us permission to repost her blog! Click Here to visit Caiti’s blog: MrsMomdragon and read more.