When I lived in San Diego and started my fashion magazine, we needed a lot of help with the project. A few of my partner Ray’s friends from NJ came out to assist us for a couple of months and we met a talented young man named Carlos Ramos in our travels. Carlos, a musician and aspiring actor with a outgoing personality became our art director and important friend. Ray and I had been struggling to make ends meet and continue to afford an apartment, as all of our revenues went into STYLE Magazine. Eventually Carlos invited Ray and I to move into the spare room of his family’s home. I became close to his mother and brother also. Over the course of the next several months working together, Carlos taught me 3 chords on his guitar to write and play songs that I still use and also we’d go to the gym together, where he spurred me on to the best shape of my life. He was relentless and pushed me hard. He’d go “One More, One More”!! It killed me, but the results were impressive.  Interestingly, at one time Carlos’ agent had him change his name to Charles something because he felt like it was “less Mexican”. Most know Lou Diamond Phillips was selected to play Richie Valens in the hit movie “La Bamba”, but almost no one knows that Carlos was originally cast in that role before the director decided that they needed a more famous actor for the part.

Anyway, over the course of time, their family started to struggle financially. Before we met him, Carlos made a very dumb decision. He didn’t “like” his car, so he parked it unlocked with the key in the ignition at a location that would likely get it stolen. He filed an insurance claim for the “theft” a few days later. Unfortunately, Carlos couldn’t lie to his religious mother and told her the truth when there was an investigation. Carlos was forced to continue to pay his car payment and insurance to avoid prosecution, even though the car was gone. The Ramos family needed to rent our room out to supplement their finances. Ray moved in with some guys, but didn’t have room for me. Carlos’ mother let me live in their garage free of charge. It was a step up from being homeless, so I did that for a while. Carlos and I continued play music and go to the gym together until he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time and I moved into a large house with a woman I was seeing at the time. I’m very grateful for the Ramos family and their help. Years later, his brother was even in my wedding party. I’ll never forget how Carlos encouraged and spurred me on in most areas of my life and helped me when I needed it most.

Jamie from Australia lead our thoughts in communion and shared that he found God through others helping him. People, without agenda or expecting reciprocation, would help him in life and with his spirituality. Through many hours of studies, he came to realize he was not a Christian and needed to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins and turn to Jesus and the living God and serve him and others. Since then, he’s helped others and encouraged them to make the same decision. 

Tony started his sermon talking about fitness equipment. He asked how many of us had bought these devices and ended up using them to hang clothes on instead of their intended use. My family is one of those. We think if we spend a lot of money on these devices, like an expensive treadmill or elliptical or a $2,400 stationary bike, this will fix a deficiency in our life. Just believing in that equipment will not change your health, you need to diligently use it. Obviously DOING makes the difference. Having a workout partner helps a lot. It motivates us and spurs us on to push our limits. The scriptures teach us not only that we need to have a personal relationship with God, but to also have a spiritual relationships with one another. Matt 5:16 says let your light shine so others may see it and glorify God. Heb 10:19-25 says we need to draw near to God with faith, then let us consider… consider what? Bask in your decision and ponder heaven?  Enjoy God’s favor? NO…  The scriptures says we must spur one another on to love and good deeds. All fundamental teachings of our faith are tied to relationships. Believing “belief” is good, but believing with action is better. Believing “faith” is good, but faith with action is better. The scripture encourages us to continually meet together and stay strong in our spiritual life. The way we treat others is an indicator of how you treat God. Community opens the door for empathy and empathy kills self-centeredness. Who’s spurring us on to live our lives better? Who has permission to really rebuke you? Doing this will make you strong in your faith, like buying the expensive exercise equipment AND using it and transforming into what you desire.

Let’s be there for one another and help each other get closer to God even if seems annoying. Sometimes we need “One More, One More” in our lives from our friends. Let’s try and do that this week !