All posts by Fernando Gamboa

About Fernando Gamboa

About me… hmmmm… let’s just go with “Music”. It’s everywhere, all we have to do is be quiet long enough to hear it. It’s in the outdoor wind, chirping birds, and in my wife’s laughter… everywhere! Music has captured my heart for the last twenty-one years and for the last four years I’ve been fortunate enough to share the moving power of music with the congregation at Church Unlimited’s Westside Campus as a member of the praise and worship team and as worship director. I’m married to my best friend Ariana and we have three boys. When we are not serving our brothers and sisters in the Lord’s house you can find us at home jamming and laughing the day away. My boys are a trip so needless to say it’s never a dull moment. My goal is to teach others what I’ve learned about “Worship”. Worship is not a slow song on a Sunday morning, it’s how we live from Sunday to Sunday and being obedient to God’s leading. Listening for God’s voice is like trying to find music in the hustle and bustle of day to day life. We must simply stay quiet long enough to hear His words.

The Wizard’s Folly

Recently my wife and I were discussing the importance of transparency in every and all forms of relationships and how being honest and open can greatly fortify the effectiveness of your influence as a leader, parent, or spouse. The next day I heard a fun cover of the song “If I only had a brain…” yes, the song from “The Wizard of Oz”, and something hit my heart like a ton of bricks. Some of the most loved and openly received characters in that film are those who owned their flaws and shortcoming and even “boasted of their weaknesses” in song and dance. The villain may have been the Wicked Witch but honestly, the true disappointment was found in the man behind the curtain… portraying himself to be something he wasn’t all while withholding the very blessings the main characters were seeking. There is also a redemption story here, the wizard (but not really a wizard), owned his mistakes and by doing the right thing as well as helping Dorothy and Toto out of Oz. He redeemed himself. Transparency made anything the Scarecrow, Tinman, or Lion had to say very comfortably believable and relatable. Long story short: in a world of way too many people fighting to be the wizard by any means of deception necessary, be the Scarecrow. Own your flaws, embrace who you are, all the while making moves to better yourselves and to achieve your dreams.

Photo Credit: Miss A.

Salvation: A redefining.

Let’s start with a little trivia of sorts…

How many of you have ever heard of the word freedom? It’s safe to assume that we have an understanding of what that word means. Just so were all on the same page here is the official definition.

Freedom (noun)

  1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:

  2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

We sometimes tend to take our freedoms for granted. For example, we could be at a church function and I can exclaim, “JESUS CHRIST!” without fear of persecution and without fearing for my life. And because of where we live we have that freedom, in other places around the world, those words would have cost our life.

Now, how about the word purify, do you have an understanding of what it means to purify? Let me provide the definition.

Purify (verb)

  1. to make pure; free from anything that debases, pollutes, adulterates, or contaminates:

There have been times when we have been out camping or something goes wrong within our city water supply that we have to boil water to purify it. To purify basically means to get all the bad junk out.

The word relief means:

Relief (noun)

  1. alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress,oppression, etc.

So in short, when we feel better than what we did we are experiencing relief.

Now the word refresh.

Refresh (verb)

  1. to provide new vigor and energy by rest, food, etc.

Here’s a perfect example. If you were hungry and tired after a long walk, after you sit a while and have eaten you will feel refreshed.

Here’s a powerful word.

Revive (verb)

  1. to activate, set in motion, or take up again; or the most exciting definition:

  2. To restore to life

And my favorite…

Redeem (verb)

  1. to buy or pay off; clear by payment:

  2. to buy back, as after a tax sale or a mortgage foreclosure.

What if I told you there was a word with such depth and wonder, a word with much power, a word so endless and epic that all of these other words we just spoke of with their various definitions and meanings, not only fit inside of it but were actually redefined and amplified by it. There is such a word. That word is Salvation.

Salvation (noun)

  1. the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.

But this isn’t exactly the definition I’m talking about. It’s close, but this definition doesn’t even come close to the full extent of the salvation I’m talking about.

The salvation I’m talking about doesn’t just provide freedom but A freedom that is not just confined to just this world but a freedom that is eternal.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The salvation I’m talking about doesn’t just purify in the sense of making something clean or unpolluted, this kind of salvation purifies to the point of making people righteous.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This salvation doesn’t just bring you a temporary relief from temporary situations, this type of salvation brings divine relief.

“And God will provide rest (relief) for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels,”

‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬‬‬

A salvation that provides truly refreshing life change.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

‭‭Acts‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A salvation that revives and brings forth a new life in Jesus.

“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A salvation that takes redemption to a whole new level.

“In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now let me make one thing clear, the one who brought this world changing, earth quaking, redefining salvation is just as unique. There have been other men who have been called, “saviors” and by definition that might be true. But this Savior I’m talking about… MY SAVIOR, MY SAVIOR did something that no one has ever done before. You see not only did MY SAVIOR die a criminal’s death when he was in fact, the only being to ever step foot on this planet and live a spotless life, not only was he executed for all of our sins. But, this Savior, MY SAVIOR, after laying in a tomb for 3 days, MY SAVIOR ROSE defeating death once and for all!

This one of a kind Savior brought forth a one of a kind Salvation.

How can you not want this Salvation I’m talking about?

He wants to be YOUR SAVIOR TOO!

If you haven’t cried out to Jesus and asked Him to be Lord of your life, stop what you are doing right now and make an opportunity to do just that. You see,  just because you may have been in church for years, or maybe you’ve grown up in church, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve accepted Christ. The word of God clearly states:

“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9-10‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

Are you ready? Are you ready for freedom, to be purified? Are you ready for relief, for a refreshing breath of new life to revive and redeem you?

Let’s pray.

Father, I’m a sinner. I’m a sinner in need of a Savior. I believe that you love me so much, that you sent your only Son, in all of His perfection, to walk amongst His own creation, to be persecuted, humiliated, to be beaten, to be killed, for our sins. I believe that Your Son, not only died but rose from the dead, proving He was 100% man and 100% God. Jesus, come into my life, transform me from the inside out, be my Lord, be my Savior. Thank you, Jesus for saving me. In the name of OUR SAVIOR Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen!

Dream BIG.

Do you have a dream? I know you do. Do you have a dream that is so clear that you’re more than certain that God himself has placed it in your heart? Again I’ll say, you certainly do. Now, what are we willing to endure to reach and achieve this dream? What we tend to do as humans (especially men), is get discouraged and sometimes even angry with God when the dream doesn’t come in the package we thought it would. In our finite minds, we get a picture of how we are going to achieve OUR dreams. It’s in this place that the problems begin. OUR mind (with all its limits) attempts to map out a plan to achieve what we think OUR dream is. In reality, this dream was hatched by our limitless Creator. In all reality, it’s HIS dream for us.

In Genesis 37 we are introduced to Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons. Now Joseph had a dream, a big dream that was indeed given to him by God. Although the end result was exactly what God showed Joseph it would be, the series of actions and circumstances that led him there by most standards was anything but ideal. We read that Joseph was betrayed by his brothers (Genesis 37:23), sold into slavery (Genesis 37:28), had is moral standards tested time and time again (Genesis 39:7,10,12). He was framed for attempted rape (Genesis 39:17-18), he was falsely imprisoned (Genesis 39:20), as well as was forgotten (Genesis 40:23) during the journey to achieve the dream God gave him. As spectacular as these injustices may seem, the truly striking part is that not even one single time did Joseph ever raise his fists to God in anger nor did he ever blame God. What he did is so counterintuitive it may be hard for some of us to wrap our heads around it. He honored God in all he did and embraced His standards despite what he may have been going through. He WORSHIPPED God! That’s true worship. Being obedient to God when no one is looking all the while upholding His moral standards. It’s a beautiful thing really. Just look how God honored Joseph’s faithfulness in return by giving him favor in all he did. Joseph even found himself as second in command and ruler over all Egypt with pharaoh being the only person maintaining a higher rank. Through these circumstances, God positioned Joseph to not only achieve the dream He gave him but he was also in a place where he was able to save his entire family from the incredible famine that had gripped the whole land.

There is always a deeper agenda in the dreams we are given. Our minds are just too feeble to see it all. We can only experience this depth of a dream when we are obedient to the small glimpse we are given initially. We must “Walk by faith, not by sight” right? Let’s look at this portion of scripture in 1 Samuel:

“…Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

-1 Samuel 2:30 NIV

God honors honor. Complete trust in Him, it’s what we call faith. Honor acts as a catalyst to gain His divine strength that will be necessary to achieve the dreams that are so beyond our own limited capabilities. So let’s live honorable lives to achieve and accomplish the mission God has given us in the form of dreams. Let’s take those faith steps and put our trust completely in Him. Let’s stay true to who he designed us be. Let us worship Him in all that we do so that through our obedience, His will be done. Let us not get discouraged or angry. Let’s stay in hot pursuit of His dreams and thank Him for any and all circumstances we may face.

“If He brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it… Remember BIG dreams are HIS dreams.”

Dream BIG.

Worship is not a slow song….

The word, “worship” is probably the most misunderstood word among believers and nonbelievers alike. To some it means to bow before an item, person, or deity; to others it means to lift your hands during a slow song at church, and yet to others, worship is the actual slow song itself. All these answers are in some degree wrong but are also right!

In the dictionary, worship is defined as:

Noun: “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.”

Verb: show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites.

So is bowing before an altar, or to the Lord considered worship? Sure it is, but how about lifting your hand during a song? Why not? How about playing the slow song itself? Sure, that can be worship. All of these actions can be called worship. But it only truly becomes worship when the actions (bowing, lifting of hands, etc.) are a reflection and a result of what is happening in the hearts of people. Believe me, people can lift their hands up high and sing along to a song while having impure thoughts. For example, the man or woman who practicing premarital sex can bow before the altar too. The unsettling fact is that the actions can be faked.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
‭‭                                                                           Matthew‬ ‭15:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As worship director in the church I’m privileged to serve, I am in constant prayer to protect the integrity of His stage.  The fact that we get to stand on that stage and usher in His presence to His people is an honor. Relying completely on prayer to decide who sings or plays on the stage and even what songs are sung is a process of completely removing me, my thoughts, my wants, and my intentions from the equation. Recently, the experience of praise and worship has hit an all time high. With the Holy Spirit making the calls, how can we expect anything less? The people He chooses have the right heart-set to be emptied of themselves and filled with The Spirit. Again, the key to true worship is the posture of heart behind the actions.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
‭‭                                                                        Jeremiah‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬‬‬

Now don’t fool yourself into thinking that worship is only related to things that happen within the four walls of a church building. In fact, more true worship can and should occur during the week, from Sunday to Sunday. If your heart is in constant pursuit of fulfilling His will, you can be in constant worship of the Lord. Your outward expression will reflect the love that you have in your heart. It will overflow to you family, friends, and coworkers. Even those family members, friends, and coworkers that may not be so pleasant in the world’s eyes. Your demeanor can have the potential to bring people to salvation. The world might see your joy or how you handle a tough situation, and be inspired. They will want to know what you have that makes you different, to which you get the privilege to answer, “I have Jesus!”

I used to think that, “Worship” is a slow song we sing on Sunday morning.  Worship isn’t a slow song at all, it’s the heart behind that slow song, the heart behind the person bowing or lifting their hands. Most importantly it’s Jesus and all the love, peace, and comfort that comes only with Him.

That Second Wind…

We’ve all been there, that point where we reach absolute exhaustion then all of the sudden it happens; we catch our “second wind”. This is something that has happened time and time again in many of our lives as we do everyday routine things. It’s probably one of the most refreshing surprises we experience as adults. Being given this strength from out of nowhere to complete whatever task is at hand, is a pretty cool feeling. The majority of us can relate to this second wind in regards to doing something physical, although it happens in all aspects of our life, even our spiritual walk. In fact, those of us who accepted Jesus in adulthood can think of that time as receiving our second wind.

I remember I was going to church and playing on the praise team yet I was still living for myself and all of my own desires. My wife would confront me about this dual lifestyle often and it was during one of these confrontations that the Holy Spirit spoke to me through her. “You cannot serve two gods Fernando!” Now she had told me this before, but by this time my body was so exhausted from a lifetime of my self-destructive ways that it couldn’t fight back and I felt my spirit agree with the words that left her mouth. I froze as the words left her lip. I knew, I knew it was time to either be all in or all out. I was all too aware of what the world had to offer me, but I had had enough. The only thing I could clearly think about in that moment was how badly I not only needed, but wanted Jesus in my life. That was the moment the white flag of surrender flew. That was the moment I caught my “second wind”. Immediately I was re-energized, fresh, and ready to take on this crazy world. As I came to this one story in the scriptures it hit me. This wasn’t just about me catching my breath so to speak, but it was me receiving HIS breath. Ezekiel 37:4-5 reads:

“Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

This was exactly what had happened. I was dead, dried up, nothing more than bones. Bones in a valley of bones! He, my father, my sovereign King, breathed new life into me. It was not only an example of His grace and mercy but an example of how we can speak new life into our own children.

This world eats up strong men and women on a daily basis now try to imagine what our kids have to endure. I have three stepsons ages 13, 14, and 19, and some of the things I’ve heard from them have left me shocked and appalled. I think back to when I was their age and, to be honest, I would’ve buckled under all these stresses and temptations. This world leaves them just as exhausted and in just as bad shape as us, if not worse as I was. Check out this powerful illustration; back to Ezekiel 37:13-14

“Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.'”

Not only does God give us new life but He helps us reclaim what was intended to be ours (“Your own land”). Our words can do the same for our kids. Lift them up from the valley of bones, breath (speak) new life into them, and see them to their calling (Their Own Land). Our kids are exhausted, tired, some are broken, tattered, some are torn. Let’s not be another voice among a sea of faces adding to the chorus of negativity. Let’s be a breath of fresh air for our kids. I challenge you to be that “Second Wind”.