Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where's your fruit?

I’ve never been much of a fruit guy. I would eat an occasional apple, some cantaloupe, pineapple, or a banana. I have never been guilty though of turning down a chip or two, but we can discuss the intricacies of junk food at a later date.

In Matthew 21, we find Jesus on the road with His disciples headed for Jerusalem. On so many occasions, I feel we Christians fail to keep in the forefront of our minds that while Jesus walked the earth He was both divine and human. He needed sleep…He (I’m sure) got splinters while working as a carpenter’s son…

(…and just to chase a squirrel here, I’ve always wondered if a bee had the guts to sting Him? If so, I want to meet that bee.)

(Baltimore Police Station...from 'The Wire')
Fell's Point - Baltimore, MD
In Vs. 19, we find Jesus walking toward Jerusalem and He was hungry. He comes upon a fig tree that had leaves on it, but no figs to eat. After seeing this Jesus said, “May you never bear fruit again!” It then immediately withered up.

In absorbing this passage, I’ve been forced to evaluate my own life. How many times has my life been so covered in leaves that others were just convinced that I was fulfilling my God given purpose? The problem was that the closer others got to me, the more they began to realize that there was no fruit.
I can parallel my life to this fig tree in so many ways. Had I known Jesus was going to be passing through my life on certain occasions desiring to use me for a specific purpose, I would have made sure that things were in order.

I watch in sadness today while many are covered in leaves but there is no visible fruit to be seen. It is all about the position I can obtain, or the payment I can receive for my services…it’s the look. What do others see?
Forget what I am hiding. Forget that I cannot afford to let others get to ‘close’ to me. I’ve simply got to keep God and everyone else at a distance … I’ve got leaves to protect.

(Inner Harbor)
Baltimore City, MD
You ever wonder why you don’t get anywhere? You ever wonder why your relationships, your spirituality, and your life never advance? Ever wonder why contentment evades you and judgment fills the void? Jesus just might have stopped ‘watering’ your soul.

Christ hungers for you to become all that He desires for you to be. He makes it a point to pass through our days…and He is always looking for the fruit.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Luke 10:38-42
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 
40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I have read about this particular occurrence many times before, but the four words found in Verse 40 really did a number on me this morning. Martha did a wonderful thing by opening her home to Jesus and His disciples.
As any of us would do, she wanted everything to be perfect. I can imagine that she was reaching way back into her cabinets to pull out the best dinnerware she had. Items that otherwise would be left lying around were being thrown into any available space to give the appearance that her home was immaculate. 
And the food…’If only I had known in advance that Jesus was coming, I would have made sure that I had the choice selections from the market.’

(Fell's Point)
Baltimore, MD
 The nervous energy had to be pumping through Martha’s veins.

But her sister Mary just sat down at the feet of Jesus to listen to what He had to say. How could she? The most important houseguest you could ever have is sitting in your living room…and you just sit down to listen?

This is where Verse 40 comes into our story and relates to us even today. 
Jesus had shown up in her home and Martha got distracted from what was most important. Jesus did not need what she could do for Him…She needed what He could do for her.

(Inner Harbor)
Baltimore, MD
How many:
- Distracted ‘could-be’ mentors are out there today?
You could be used mightily to speak words of guidance into others lives, but…
- Distracted husbands / wives?
Your spouse longs to be heard, loved, and communicated with, but…
- Distracted Pastors?
You are so caught up in the ‘preparation’ of what you think needs to be done that you miss what is most important.
- Distracted mom’s / dad’s?
T.I.M.E. It is all our children want, but…
- Distracted friends?
Our circle clamors for genuine honor and respect from us, but…

Jesus does not need ‘us’ quite as bad as sometimes we think He does. His plan, will, and purpose will be accomplished with or without our actions. As He told Martha, “…few things are needed – or indeed only one.”

Look around and evaluate where you are today. You just might be distracted from what is most important and not even know it. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Move. Forward...

I drive my middle son crazy. He is a little worrier who believes anything I tell him. That is not a good combination when it comes to hanging around with me. J The other day I was driving backwards out of our long driveway and Grady asked, “Why are we going backwards?” In all sincerity I said, “It’s a new thing daddy is trying. We are going to go all the way to the restaurant 
going backwards.” (I know, I’m terrible) 
As only a mommy can do, my wife stepped in to settle him back down by letting him know that daddy was just kidding. 

In everyday life though, I wonder how many people live their days looking in the rearview mirror instead of through the windshield? So many do not like what they see in front of them so they choose to look back to the good ole days. Many others do not want to face the oncoming struggles that it will take to move beyond what they have been chained to, so they look back upon a past that continues to affect their present. And still, others do not have the wherewithal to watch where they are going so they just drive around in circles.

(Forest Hill, MD)

Taking the time to remember where we came from will affect our present, but keeping our eyes focused on the road ahead is of utmost importance.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Far too many wrecks are occurring along the road of life for this very reason. Then we put the blame squarely upon the shoulders of God when it was truly our own decision to not keep our eyes focused in the right direction.

A stern warning was given when God said, ‘Remember Lot’s wife.’ (Luke 17)
Don’t get caught looking back to things that were meant and intended to be destroyed.

(City Pier - Broadway St.)
Baltimore, MD
It’s worth the struggle. It’s worth every obstacle. Run this race with patience and keep your eyes focused on what lies ahead.

Move. Forward.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Bucket...

Ever feel like a bucket?

A nice big storage device used to hold everyone’s stuff that needs to be carried around. We are tied to the end of our rope, constantly being let up and down by the pulley of life (Corny line …. I know).

You ever wonder why life is full of its up’s and down’s? 
How many times have we hoped, dreamed, and wished for the simple act of consistency? Why can’t I live about mid-way between the mountaintop and the valley? That way, I’ll never be too high or too low.

Fells Point (Baltimore, MD)
If you plan on making a difference in this world though, you are never going to stay in one spot long enough to get comfortable. And if you are really doing life, some of it is spent on top and…well (no pun intended), you know where the other times lead.

This is where I begin to really feel like a bucket dangling from its rope…when I’m being let up and down into a well. This is where it is imperative that we gain an understanding that our lives must have moments where we are lowered in order to be refilled again.
The reasons are many:
* Anyone can become dry in this world we live in.
* Life can become so overwhelming that we settle into comfort mode, just existing instead of really living.
* We can get so caught up in giving to others, that we eventually begin running on reserve because we don’t take the time to fill our tank back up to the point of overflowing.

Even Jesus had to step back from ministry and rest. Even He had to humble Himself. He went through moments of utter agony in order to be an overflowing ‘well’ of hope to this world.

S. Broadway St.
(Baltimore, MD)
So you see, being the bucket is not such a bad thing. We just have to be willing to endure the trip down in order to be filled to serve our God-designed purpose to our world.  
Our ‘bucket existence’ should be faced with joy.
Isaiah 12:2-4  (NLT)
2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Don’t worry if you feel like you’re in a downward spiral…you are just a bucket that needs refilling, not only for your own sake, but for the sake of those you influence. Put God in charge of your rope, and face wherever you are with joy.