Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking for 'Free' Money...

Yesterday my wife and I took our oldest kiddo and introduced him to the fun of New York City during the holidays. The City is always full of people but the holiday season is a time like no other. Recently, parts of the city received the blessing of over two feet of snow that made walking an adventure…to say the least.

(SnowMan in Central Park)
New York, NY
Before getting on the Path train in New Jersey, Max said, “Dad, 
I found three lucky pennies.” For the rest of the day, whether walking in the subway tunnels, Central Park, or down 5th Avenue, Max had his head down in observation of the ground beneath him…looking for money.

At the end of the day, he had accumulated $0.71.

Then he said something that got me to thinking.  
He said, “All I had to do was just look around and I got free money. Dad, you’re never going to find any money because all you want to do is go forward.” 
After that statement, he had both my wife and I looking for ‘free money.’

(Max and his 'Free Money')
It never ceases to amaze me how that ‘out of the mouth of babes’ focus and clarity can come to us. 

I mentioned to my wife how that 2011 has me filled with excitement. I don’t know what the future holds, but there is an expectancy for incredible things that are to come with the dawn of this new year. Max gave me a word yesterday that will be my personal theme for 2011. . .Observance. 

I do not want to get so caught up in my own ‘forward’ movements that I don’t focus and observe:
* Am I as close to Christ as I need to be?
* The needs of others around me.
* The blessings I already possess.
* The needs of my own family.

To be an authentic Christ follower, isn’t this what it’s all about? Everywhere His feet trod, there was always an opportunity to benefit someone else.

He may be winding you around to places that make you wonder, but…‘look around.’ You might be missing some blessings lying right beneath your feet. 

(Max in Central Park)
New York, NY
Sorry I have to cut this short. The year of observance starts tomorrow for me…I’ve got to go look for some ‘free’ money. J

Happy 2011 to you and yours!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Human-Shaped Void

Are you one of those people who, after a busy day of whatever it is you have to do, just like to go home and lock yourself within the confines of your home and hide from the outside world?
Maybe your job description requires you to deal with people all day long, and the last thing you want to do when you get home is stop and talk with a neighbor.

My heart has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of selflessness I’ve heard and read about this Christmas season.
* Children that were not going to have a Christmas have been given the opportunity to experience just that…
* Families who have fell on hard times have been assisted by friends, communities, and churches…

It is one of the things that make Christmas so special. It has a way of pulling the servitude out of us all.

But what about when all the good tidings of comfort and joy are complete and the routine begins again? Do the relationship principles that guide us during Christmas stir a passion to build ‘community’ every day of the year?

John Ortberg said, “…while there is a God-shaped void…according to the writer of Genesis, God creates inside this man a kind of 
human-shaped void’ that God Himself will not fill.“

Scripture says in Genesis that we were created in “…His own image.” Christ is a relational being that created His highest creation to desire not only a relationship with Him…but also to seek after relationship with our fellow man.

In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

(Sleeping Ducks - National Mall)
Washington, D.C.
It is imperative to realize the importance of cultivating relationships instead of isolating ourselves to the point where we don’t fulfill His calling on our life. Our relationship with Him may be right where it needs to be…but what about our relationship with others?

Does it only happen around the Holiday season…or are we cultivating the soil of our daily lives by creating encounters to show people that we are His disciples?

Do Life with is the ‘Human-Shaped Void’ that He Himself will not fill.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Adding On

I used to dig the old western series ‘Gunsmoke.’ Marshall Dillon, 
Miss Kitty, Doc, and Fester would always have some dilemma going on in Dodge City, KS, that would consistently pull me in.

It messed me up to find out that the Dodge City that was depicted on this show was not really in Dodge City.
There was no LongBranch Saloon – No Jail – No Store – No office for Doc upstairs…for it was only a façade. It was just a wooden structure that only made it look real when you watched it. These characters who were so believable were not really sitting in the LongBranch because they were really sitting on a made up set somewhere.

(Jerusalem Mill area)
Bel Air, MD
In this life today, we have so many Christians walking around  mimicking the Gunsmoke set. They only have a front that has no substance behind it. Their lives are only a façade. For this very reason, many cannot afford to be transparent because others would be able to see right through them.

In every facet of our personal lives, we must be about developing something behind that façade. It is the growth of character and the information of who we are endeavoring to become. 
But developing this substance is easier said than done.  

Peter understood this, for in II Peter 1:5-11, he admonished all believers to hasten - jump - don’t delay in adding to your Faith:
Goodness – Knowledge – Self-Control – 
Perseverance – Godliness – Brotherly Kindness – Love.

(Inner Harbor)
Baltimore City, MD
Having a coasting mentality to get to fulfillment in Christ is not going to get the job done. It is like going to buy a new car and you are so infatuated with it that it is no big deal that it doesn’t come with cruise. 
Power windows?? Who needs those. 
Then the new wears off and it begins to become more and more frustrating that these ‘add-ons’ did not come with your new car.

(Unfinished home)
Bel Air, MD

In this walk with Christ, there is no way to experience salvation and then simply coast our way into eternity by never adding on to what He has already done for us.

For after the new wears off:
- Of our marriages: The lovey dovey feeling is gone.
- Of our jobs: The increase in pay doesn’t balance having to put up with that situation.
- Of our church: We are no longer the first time guests where everyone is hanging all over us.
- Of our walk with Christ: when we find out that God doesn’t always answer and handle our needs the way we think He should.

Peter summed it up well in II Peter 1:8-10: 
8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,

Grow and add some substance behind what everyone else sees – if you do, you will never fall.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

If only HE had the chance...

Throughout my life, there have been moments where this statement would pass through my mind when I saw an opportunity….
”If only I had the chance”. 

If only I had the chance. If someone would just provide us with the opportunity, we would prove our worthiness of the faith others had put in us.

I have thought a lot lately about how God must feel this way toward us. Can you imagine your Creator watching you step out into a situation that is based solely upon the faith and trust that you have in Him…only to see you stop short of that final step because of doubt? In other words, we never give Him the ‘chance’ to prove His faithfulness and promises to us.

(Red Berries)
Forest Hill, MD
He said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
He said, ‘I will supply all your needs according to my riches in glory.’
He said, ‘With me, nothing is impossible.’
He said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’

And yet, we don’t give Him the chance to prove any of this because we limit ourselves to our own personal safe zone. It is no wonder that it is difficult to find ‘time’ to pray. So many hurting individuals and those who are less fortunate cannot find the help they so desperately seek because too many Christians are living within the confines of their personal safety zones. We prove our lack of faith in Christ because the faith we have is bottled up in the belief in our own flesh.

Washington, D.C.
John Henry Jowett (English minister) once said, “It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows through the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a man's ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a life with the fewest contacts and relations. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass.”

If you’ve been ‘given to’ by God…don’t bury that treasure of faith and trust in Him. Get out of your own space and let the world see you walking by faith and not by sight. Give Him a chance to prove that HE IS and that HE CAN.

If only He had the chance…

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Friday, December 10, 2010


I love days when I feel free of sin, negativity, and habits. 
On those days, my purpose in Christ is clear and I can’t do enough to fulfill my mission.  But with more experience and understanding of how life works, I am noticing a disturbing trend in my personal life. I can gain what I feel is ‘freedom’ from a thought, a habit, or some negative feeling…and then out of nowhere, I continue to be blindsided by the same things over and over again. 

Pastor Wade - WOL Community
Forest Hill, MD
Have you ever wondered why many of our negative habits and recurring obstacles show back up time and time again? It is as if a consistent ‘thorn” has yet to be removed from our side, and we have only covered it with medication for a short period of time. And living in this flesh, we can rest assured that these “thorns” will rise back to the top when we least expect it.

Do we ever truly remove them?

I had a scripture that came to my mind from II Corinthians 3:17: “…and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).” In reality, most of these ‘thorns’ chain us to sinful thoughts, habits, and obstacles.
If, while living in this flesh, the battle to suppress this stuff will always be there…then where does freedom from it lie?

(Max @ Rock's State Park)
Jarrettsville, MD
Anytime I have had these ‘thorns’ rise back up to the top, I can always trace it back to a lack of time with God. I have allowed myself to become complacent and not remain focused on keeping His presence alive in my everyday life. For “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).” 

And, according to scripture, 
His presence is found in the praises of His people. We praise Him not only in corporate settings with church attendance, but we praise Him by: 
* Having daily conversation with Him
* Digesting His Word
* Living a life of sacrifice…by taking up our cross and following Him.

Want to consistently suppress those aggravating thorns that blindside you?  Keep a fresh touch of the Spirit of the Lord surrounding you. Because where He is – there IS freedom.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Study & Listen

While enjoying last nights’ Sunday night game-of-the-week between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, analyst Chris Collinsworth made a statement that immediately caught my attention. He was describing the way that the 15-year-veteran linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens goes about his craft. 
First of all, when anyone discusses how Ray Lewis goes about doing anything, it is always interesting to me. It appears that whatever he does is with passion and a purpose that not many people have.

Chris Collinsworth said, “Ray Lewis watches game film like a coach does. But he listens like a rookie.” In other words, it is like having a coach on the field who is still willing to be taught.

(Bel Air Terps)
Bel Air, MD
If you have watched very much football, you know that Ray Lewis is not afraid to talk. He expresses a lot of emotions to get a point across to his teammates as well as the fans in attendance. But I also see in him a desire to learn more and get better.

II Timothy 2:15 does say, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God…”But this same Bible also says in Matthew 13:9: “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

So many have become stunted in their growth and knowledge all because of this common disease called, “I-know-ALL-I-need-to-Know-ism.”

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve got everything under control and figured out. Hear is a news flash: NO, YOU DON’T. While experience is a great teacher, and the older we get the more we learn - you can never learn it all.

(Abandoned Metal Decorating Co.)
Baltimore City, MD
There are NEW methods and NEW opportunities awaiting this generation. We must prepare and be ready to be approved by God in order to receive His blessing…But we must also listen to God and to past, present, and future generations.

Stop being selfish with your knowledge. When you do that, all you are doing is stockpiling all that information in your brain where nothing else can get in. Let it out and make room for what you are going to learn from all that is around you.

Include a listening ear with your preparation and study…no telling how Great you might become!!

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Friday, December 3, 2010


In Matthew 4:19, Jesus says, “…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He was directing this statement toward two fishermen by the names of Simon called Peter, and Andrew, his brother.
This statement has echoed down through the annals of time to every individual who has ever given their lives to the cause of Christ. His mission, His purpose, and His passion must be the driving force behind all we are and do.

The fine line that we must be so careful of is that we do not become so consumed with His cause, that we forget His desire. His cause is to reach others who do not know Him – but His ultimate desire is relationship with us.

(Reminder from 'Sam')
While His mission is vital to why we follow Him, we cannot forget the importance of first following Him. Could it be that we have become so consumed with fishing for men (mission), while in reality, God is fishing for communion with us (relationship)?

We must never forget that it is HE who will make us fishers of men – not our own abilities and talents. Scripture did not say that Peter and Andrew…straightway left their nets and immediately became fishers of men. It said in vs. 19, ‘they straightway left their nets, and followed HIM.’  He is the one who makes us into what we are supposed to be. Our commandment is to simply…Follow.

- Not the latest trend.
- Not the ‘coolest’ churches.
- Not the ‘guy or gal’ who has it going on.
- Not what someone else says or does.


Christ. Period.

(Conowingo Dam Area)
(Street, MD)
May we never become so consumed with our mission that we forget about His desire for relationship with His children. Just follow.

Matthew 6:33
Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. (NLT)

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Two Words

I have grown to appreciate more than every before Luke 1:37. This verse of scripture starts with two words that are finally beginning to sink into the fibers of my being. They are two words that, if completely grasped, can revolutionize the way we exist and ignite our passions, dreams, and our futures.

With God...

This verse of scripture goes on to say that nothing shall be impossible. 
In other words, when God is with me, then there is nothing / nada / zero that is not possible for me to accomplish and have. 

(WWII Memorial)
(Washington, D.C.)
Scripture goes on and on…
Matthew 28:20: “…I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
Deuteronomy 31:8: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Psalm 23:4: Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

To your situation, can you say it?
With your back against the wall, can you say it?
To your marriage that seems to be falling apart, can you say it?
To the job that you can’t seem to find, can you say it?

(Country Road)
(Forest Hill, MD)
Is it to good to be true? Can these two words really be the answer to my dilemma?

(Deer Creek U.M.C.)
(Forest Hill, MD)
Why not give them a try?
This 'thing' standing in front of me is just too insurmountable...

I realize our marriage appears to be crumbling before us...

I don’t see how we are going to make it financially…

“With God…” all things are possible. Believe.

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