Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Most individuals take this week to focus upon everything that they have to be thankful for. We make our list and count our blessings for family, friends, and what we have. While we think about what we have to be thankful for – have we ever flipped the question over and thought, ‘what do we really have to be unthankful for?’

(Grass near Conowingo Rd)
(Forest Hill, MD)
We would never admit it, but our mindset proves at times that we are not truly thankful. I have caught myself on many occasions questioning the motives of God. When the bad days come and we no longer can control things around us, we fail to realize many times the ‘gifts’ these moments are. It is in these instances that God prunes us and truly builds our faith. But are we thankful for them? Do we have a heart of thanksgiving toward the master when He guides our path toward our personal cross?

There is a story of ten lepers found in Luke 17 that Jesus healed. He told them to go and show themselves to the priest so that they could enter back into society.
On the way to do what God commanded, one of them had an epiphany. He began to remember the disease that had filled his body. He was flooded with the memory of this long period of separation from family and friends. And he stopped.

(Downtown Baltimore City)
While the rest of the crowd continued on…he stopped right in the middle of the road and said I must go back. I must go back and give thanks to the one who made this possible. I don’t have time to be ‘unthankful’.

After the festivities of the holidays are complete and life hits again, don’t get caught up in the questions, the worries, and uncertainties…
In reality, ‘what do we really have to be unthankful for?’

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

I am NOT a judge

We have all heard the statement, “All the Jesus some people ever see, is you.” Many never walk inside the doors of a church or attend any type of discipleship function, so the only witness they have is the ‘everyday’ lives of those who claim to be Christians.

(Federal Hill area)
(Baltimore City, MD)
In recent conversations, I have witnessed a disturbing trend in the remarks from many who do not claim to be Christ followers. Instead of seeing a compassionate, caring Christ…all they are seeing is the judgment seat of Christ. 
It has become so easy in much of Christendom to appoint ourselves judge and jury over the lives of others, simply for the reason that they are not living up to our standard of righteousness.

* Ministers judge other ministers…when they should be about the Father’s business.
* Christians judge other Christians…when they should be unselfishly giving out love to all who will receive it.
* Sinners judge the church…because we haven’t given them a reason not to.

(Bel Air, MD)
Scripture speaks plainly: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. 
(Luke 6:37-38 NLT)

Some day soon, every creature will stand before our creator to be judged. There is no getting around that moment that will come to each of us. Christ is the ONLY one worthy enough to be the righteous judge when that day comes. Yet, at this moment in time His grace abides for all…

So why do more and more individuals not come running to the feet of this great God?
I’m coming to grips with the fact that they must not be seeing the kind of God they should see in me.

(Park Bench)
(Bel Air, MD)

We need to get out of the chair that is reserved one day for the righteous judge and take back up our cross of humility and follow Him. When that moment truly happens in our lives, then we too will see the world again through loving – caring – compassionate eyes.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fartlek Training

In running, there is a training method called fartlek. 
(No, it’s not what you’re thinking… J)

Fartlek training is a method used to enhance a runner’s speed and endurance. During your run, you would rotate between slow jogging paces to that of faster segments. Doing this back and forth during recent workouts, I have noticed it truly is accomplishing what it says it will. I’ve noticed my endurance levels increasing somewhat…
(and soreness)!

(Runners in Inner Harbor)
(Baltimore City, MD)
I began to wonder recently what would my spiritual life become if I made it a point to daily go through some spiritual fartlek training. Most of the time in these physical workouts, you have five minutes of a slow jogging pace…then kick in for one minute at a faster pace until you can carry that faster pace for longer periods. So many of us started out with Christ at a set pace, and have never become passionate enough to increase our endurance and strength for this journey. 

* Just getting by in our relationship with Him has become good enough.
* Having a normal marriage is okay.
* We have accepted that the problems of the world are never going to change.
* We have settled for the belief - ‘this is the way things are always going to be in my life.’

Why not shake up the routine and begin today with some spiritual fartlek?

Take five minutes today…and passionately pray for your marriage.
Take a minute or two…and pick up the phone to let someone know you care.
Take a couple hours out of your week…and dedicate it to making someone else’s life better.
Take an evening out of your busy schedule…and do life with your family.

Change the pace. Mess up the routine. You will find that your walk with God becomes stronger and you are able to endure more when the hills get hard to climb.

(Wild Berries)
(Forest Hill, MD)

Let’s get up from the couch.
Off the computer.
Away from the television.
Take a break from business.

Shock the world around you by……changing the pace. 

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Monday, November 15, 2010


There is nothing quite like beginning your day with rush hour traffic. While dealing with hundreds of cars all headed in the same direction, there will be what is called ‘bottlenecks.’ This is the area where other highways are merging together causing traffic to come to an incredibly slow crawl.

(Conowingo Dam)
(Street, MD)
What drives me crazy, and is quite comical at the same time, are those who change lanes thinking they will get where they are going…faster. I watch them go from one lane to the next, cutting in and out, frustrating the drivers all around them. And when all is said and done and the traffic begins to flow again, they (along with us) have reached where we were all headed to no faster than the ones who simply stayed in the lane they were in.

(Baltimore City, MD)
I’ve watched so many individuals live their lives this way. They are constantly looking over their shoulder, back and forth, wondering if the ‘traffic’ is moving at a quicker pace in the next lane. Then they decide to quickly jump over and try the other lane…that soon begins to slow down also. All they’ve done is develop an attitude of ‘don’t-care’ as to who they cut off or jump in front of, and act as if they wish everyone would just get out of their way so they could get ‘there’.

(Inner Harbor)
(Baltimore City, MD)
We must remember that God has us all in the ‘lane’ we are in, going the speed we are going…for a reason. If we are not careful, the frustration resulting from  an attitude of impatience will consume us, causing us to wonder what life is like in the other lane.

All you are going to do is frustrate others around you…not to mention, the effects that come with not keeping your eyes focused where they should be. Be encouraged…stay in your lane. You will get there when Christ decides to open up the bottleneck. 

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Playing Mind Games

Timothy Fuller once said, “Life is just a series of trying to make up your mind.”  

On so many occasions, it is difficult just to make a decision and then disregard the consequences that come along with it. We often blame our mind games on anyone other than who really is the guilty party. The only one playing mind games with us is…us.

(Bel Air Split)
(Bel Air, MD)
Surmising things that aren’t really there can give birth to ideas that lead us to places we need not have gone. Bitterness, regret, and indecisiveness can plague us if we allow these games to have a playground in our heads.

The problem I so often have is whenever I try NOT to think about something, it gets trapped in my mind. Dan Wegner, a Harvard psychologist said, “The mind appears to search, unconsciously and automatically, for whatever thought, action, or emotion the person is trying to control. … This ironic monitoring process can actually create the mental contents for which it is searching.” 

(Loch Raven Road)
(Baltimore, MD)
If we battle with any negative idea or occurrence in our personal lives, the battle to control these things in our minds become immeasurably more difficult when we say we are not going to think about them. This is where I have come to grips with the importance of not comparing ourselves to anyone else. Scripture simply says that if you do this, then “you are not wise.”

(Aliceanna Street)
(Inner Harbor - Baltimore, MD)

If we begin comparing ourselves to others, then in our minds we think:
* We will never be good enough.
* We can never have a marriage like them.
* My creativity will never measure up.
* I will never be able to overcome this habit.

Or on the flip side:
* I’m so much more capable than them.
* No one else can do it like me.
* I’m better than...

Arrogance begins to set in.

Stop surmising that you have it all together because…you don’t.
Stop believing that others are better than you because…they’re not.

The enemy is not greater than your God. And God has not given you a spirit of fear…but of power, love, and a sound mind. The mind games going on in our heads is not the enemy’s fault…we are doing it to ourselves. God help us to have a clear mind, a pure heart, and an unbridled passion so that His purpose can be complete in us.  

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Utility Players

With the recent conclusion of this years’ World Series, I am amazed once again at the value found in ‘utility players.’ Utility players hardly ever seem to receive the accolades they so deserve. The individuals on a team who fill these roles are never the star players…they don’t get the headlines that others do…but without them a team would never win a championship.

If you need a 3rd baseman…they can do it.
Need a shortstop…count them in.
What about someone to play in the outfield for an injured teammate…they have it covered.

(Federal Hill)
(Baltimore City, MD)
Why is it that leadership overlooks utility players while trying to build a team? Utility players are a must if a team is going to be successful. They are people who are able to fill just about any role needed - whether in a church, a business, or organization…and yet, they are often invisible because many people are star-struck.

Management tends to always go after the ‘stars’ to fill their lineup. Star lineups can draw a crowd, but there are very few instances where they have been a good enough ‘team’ to win it all by themselves. Many owners and coaches will gather the best of the best to put on ‘their’ team, while capable and willing utility players move on to another place where they can be of use. Sometimes you never know what or who you’ve got until it is no longer there. Believe me, I’ve learned this one the hard way.

(Red Door @ Federal Hill)
(Baltimore City, MD)
To every leader, look within for those who might be invisible to you. That one utility player might just be the missing link to the success God desires to send your way. You never know...they might just become your MVP?

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Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

The word diligently struck a chord in me recently while listening to a sermon that used this verse. I began to peruse through the Bible later to find scriptures with this word used in it. I came across one that literally felt like it came off the page at me.

(Bel Air Split)
(Bel Air, MD)
 Proverbs 12:27 - "Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find."

Why this one? The reason this verse was highlighted in my mind was because of the moments in my life that have proven me to be lazy. How ironic it was this morning for me to read this from Seth Godin’s blog entitled “Laziness”…where he described laziness in today’s world as something much different than ‘physical’ labor. In today’s world, we are becoming more and more fearful of taking that leap of faith due to the emotional labor you will have to expend.

(Deer Creek Methodist Church)
(Forest Hill, MD)
Dreams are so much fun (in most cases).

We sometimes dream of…
* a better job
* living in a different place
* having a better marriage
* having a closer relationship with Christ
* taking a leap of faith

…but before we ever consider actually taking one step toward doing something about it, we bury those dreams - fearful of the emotional toll we know it will have on us. Really doing something to fulfill our dreams might cost us control…security…a few friends…and for those reasons, we become lazy.

True dreamers do something about what they have ‘caught.’ True dreamers act with diligence upon what they see through spiritual eyes.

(Inner Harbor)
(Baltimore City, MD)
Evaluate who you are today. Have you become emotionally lazy with your dreams, fearing what it will cost you?  Remember, God cursed the servant who went out and buried his talent. The other two were given double in return because they weren’t lazy with what God gave them. 

What are you doing with your dream today?

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Change. Change. Change. I have heard this word for the past few months in commercials, read about it in newspapers, and viewed it on the internet. Every politician from Constables to the United States Senate called for change. “We cannot stand four more years of what has been happening. Can you believe in these past four years that so-and-so has raised your taxes? Did you also know that so-and-so has been taking these funds and doing this?” So much negative is thrown around in the world of politics to simply get votes to bring about…
a change that never happens.

(St. Ignatius Cemetary)
(Forest Hill, MD)
In four more years, these same politicians will be back, mud-slinging and talking about another ‘change’ that needs to happen in our nation.

We gripe, we vote (thank God for our forefathers who gave us this right…and we should vote!), we give our opinions…but in so many ways, we are just like them. I have been so guilty of talking a good game, but when the necessary change needs to take place in my life, I often cave in. These words: ‘integrity, morality, and convictions’ have a tendency to be displaced in our life in the heat of the battle. We set out to do so much good and bring about change in our world, but when the tough decisions to ‘put up or shut up’ come, we cave in and play the ‘it’s-not-worth-it’ card.

(Loch Raven Dam - Restricted area)
(Baltimore, MD)
Change is needed. Integrity…morality…honor…convictions…all these need to be at the forefront of our lives. They need to be given more time in our lives than just lip service because anyone can talk about them, but doing them...?

What are we doing to prove it?
…in our relationships
…within our families
…on the job
…in our churches
…in our personal lives?

Scripture said, “For God so loved the world that He gave.” 
The decision to trudge forward in the face of adversity when He could have easily said, “It’s not worth it”, has brought about a change in peoples lives’ that is still reshaping things today. 

(Country Road)
(Forest Hill, MD)
If you really want the right kind of change, then stop talking about it…and do something. 

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Easy Exit

This journey toward our life’s mission is a winding road. There is no doubting that there will be twists and turns that take us places we never dreamed we would go. Dr. Suess was so right in ‘Oh! The Places You’ll Go!’ when he said, “You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

We human beings are funny at times because we often blame others for the plight we find ourselves in. And yet it is our thoughts and our decisions that brought us to where we are. 

(Max wading in the stream)
(Rocks State Park - Jarrettsville, MD)
Walking this pathway of faith is not always the easiest one, yet I have come to find that ‘easy-way-out’ exits have been provided all along the journey. We often place them there to provide an escape route…just in case. 
…just in case things don’t work out.
…just in case this decision was crazy.
…just in case I get too scared.

Stepping out into the path God chooses for us to take will test every fleshly fiber of our being, creating doubt and worry, when in reality there should be none. It is in those testing moments when times are hard that we lose sight of the fact that God’s ways are not our ways, and neither His thoughts our thoughts.

*Satan tried to present Christ with an easy way out.
*His men tried to convince David to take the life of Saul and make his life easier.
*Job’s wife told him to curse God and die … would have made things easier maybe?
*Moses … just hang with Pharaoh. It’s too much work to lead the children of Israel out of bondage.

What I am beginning to see is we should not be so worried about the toughness of this journey with Christ…what we should concern ourselves with is listening to our flesh and taking the easy way out.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.’ (Dr. Suess)

(Gate Entrance to Baltimore Cemetery)
(Baltimore, MD)
It might just be the most difficult time of your life right now…but stay the course. How will we ever know that God can if we never give Him the chance? Let the unexplainable occur in you…and that cannot happen by taking the easy way out. 

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