Leave the baggage behind

31 12 2015

Are you carrying something that God hasn’t asked you to?

Please take time to be quiet and consider if you have bad memories that you need to let go of, hurt that needs healing, anger that needs forgiveness, or sin that you need to repent of.

It’s healthy to let go.

Let’s look at God’s perspective on this.

You can hear me talk through this on December 27th post at:


“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9


(May not be the first thing that comes to mind, but must be the first to go.)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” 1 John 1:9

“You are a slave to whatever controls you.” 2 Peter 2:19

“Remove the chains that bind people.” Isaiah 58:6

“Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17


“So Christ has truly set us free.” Galatians 5:1

“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:13-16


“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” Hebrews 12:15

“Be healed!” Mark 1:40-42

It’s time to let God resolve the past. Apply the Gospel. Let Go. Let God. Move Forward.

“Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:1-2

FIRST – January 4th-24th

23 12 2015

Your focus determines your direction. Your focus affects your quality of life. Whatever your heart is focused on your life will be focused on and this will determine much of what becomes of your life!

Jesus says“Seek first the kingdom of God”. My heart focus is to be on the things of God first. They are of greater value, they are more important than anything else in my life.

How you start each day has a direct impact on how you will respond to what comes of the day. How you start 2016 may have a significant impact on how you live throughout the year.

How do I “seek the Kingdom of God above all else,”?

When Jesus said, “seek first,” He was also describing that a person following Him would do three things: give, pray, and fast (not for show but as a personal “Thank You” to God). We find this talk in Matthew 5-7 and in chapter 6 Jesus is saying, “when you give, when you pray, when you fast,”

The results are a life where we can reasonably choose to not worry, knowing that God will provide for us and reward us. See Matthew 6.

It’s a conviction that starting a new year by seeking God brings us to right focus. As a church, we begin the New Year by setting aside a time of “sacred assembly” to dedicate ourselves to God afresh. As individuals, we set aside time for prayer & fasting to allow the Holy Spirit to deal with us personally (about our lives/homes/work) – to make sure that anything that should not be in our lives is cut out & anything that should be in our lives is put in.

The practice of fasting means – going without to focus on God. Setting aside time to focus on God is a perfect way to check your focus! “This practice removes distractions, cleanses your soul, deepens humility, intensifies prayer, feeds your faith, and it produces self-control.” – Pastor Frank Damazio

For best results, this includes changing your normal schedule and going without some of your normal activities so that you have more quality time for God. This may mean that you spend less time on the internet or watching TV in favor of investing more energy into your spiritual life.

At the beginning of every year as a church we are going without meats & sweets (at least) for 21 days to be focused on God through prayer & fasting. We are choosing to go without normal food and entertainment so that we can start the year more focused on God than anything else. Consult your Dr before changing your diet.

Please consider writing down your answers to these questions:

  • What do I want to be focused on?
  • Why am I choosing to “go without”?
  • What food, activities, music, TV, or social media will I be doing without?
  • What will I be praying about?
  • What days and times will I be in prayer and Bible reading?

Here’s an opening prayer:

God, you are more important to me than anything else. This Jan. 4-24 I’m going without _. I am doing this because _. I will be more focused on you than anything else. I choose to live for you. Please speak to me God. Thank you!

Here’s a few more verses to consider:

“When you give, pray, fast…focus, seek FIRST, and don’t worry.” Matthew 6

“Love with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind ie: with all your passion, prayer, intelligence,” FIRST Commandment Matthew 22:37

“You keep Your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before You in wholehearted devotion.” 2 Chronicles.6:14

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

“Turn to me now. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate.” Joel 2:12-13

Here’s a few books to consider:

  • Fasting – Jentezen Franklin (also “The Fasting Edge” same author)
  • 101 Reasons to Fast – Dr Bob Rogers
  • Toxic Relief – Don Colbert MD
  • Purple Book (Bible studies that every believer should go through with a friend) and Wiki Church Steve Murrell
  • Crazy Love – Francis Chan
  • The Jesus I Never Knew – Philip Yancey
  • No Perfect People Allowed – John Burke

January Prayer Focus – Lent?

In the spring we will enter the ancient Christian calendar season of Lent, the 40 days leading to Easter. It’s good to learn from our history. Three major themes of this practice are self-control, prayer, and reflection. It certainly brings great joy in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus! It also honors the 40 days that Jesus spent in prayer & fasting, Matthew 4. For more resources on Lent, click herehttp://bit.ly/YBOuXf

For the past couple of years we’ve chosen to not observe Lent directly. We follow the principles by starting the year with a prayer and fasting focus on Jesus (January 4-24). Then during the weeks leading up to Easter we set aside time to consider, reflect, and celebrate the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ.

Practical To Do:

  1. Prepare spiritually. (You’re hearing from God and know that you’re doing it because you’re led.)
  2. Determine what kind of fast and how long. (Certain meals or food, number of days, full fast?)
  3. Write down why you are doing it and your fasting plan.
  4. Devote extra time to prayer & the Bible.
  5. Limit time spent with TV, internet, and social media.
  6. Be physically prepared: headaches, lightheaded, bad breath, more sleep, plenty of water.

Spiritual Keys to Fasting:

  1. Fasting is an invitation. Not a requirement. (Breaking out of the routine of life, “You love me regardless, I am voluntarily giving this up, I am coming after you God.”)
  2. Fasting is a grace. Not gritting your teeth. There is a connection between the Holy Spirit and fasting. God gives you grace.
  3. Fasting is humbling yourself before God. “Lord I need you.”
  4. Fasting is an act of worship.
  5. Fasting is giving up something perfectly good, acceptable, so that you can have more of God.
  6. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is a physical act.
  7. Fasting is a time of Spirit-led self-examination. You will see God begin to do a deep internal work in your life.
  8. Fasting increases our sense of humility and dependence on God.
  9. Fasting allows us to set aside time for prayer.
  10. Fasting expresses our earnestness and urgency to God in prayer.

Prayer topics during Porter trial

15 12 2015

Here’s a few thoughts on how we can pray and act during this week of waiting for a verdict, in the trial of Officer William Porter (the first of six on trial for the criminal death of Freddie Gray).

  • There’s never been a better time for us to talk to God, ask Him for change, and listen to Him.
  • There’s never been a better time for us to listen to the people around us and be peacemakers.
  • It’s time for us to, “work for the peace of the city, pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine our welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

One of the great mysteries of our God is that He is a God of both justice and mercy. Each are essential to His character: who He is. It’s time for us to pray for justice and mercy.

When Jesus taught us to pray, in Luke 11, we hear Him say, “Father, may Your kingdom come, may Your will be done.” We are to always ask God that what He wants to be done would be done. May the efforts of our enemy and any person, who is not in alignment with our God, be stopped.

How do we pray His kingdom come? “The kingdom of God…is righteousness, peace, and joy,” is the explanation given to those following Jesus in Rome. Let us pray for peace and joy. Let us pray for each person to have good healthy (in right standing) relationships with others and with our God (which is righteousness). Let us pray with specifics. Let us pray for miracles, that which is beyond our ability.

Family of Freddie Gray

May God bring them comfort in their loss. May they find strength in Jesus and encouragement from others. May their expenses be paid. May God bring forgiveness.

Officer William Porter and family

May God bring repentance for any wrong and salvation through faith in Jesus. May God cover he and his family with peace and protection. May God bring forgiveness.

Baltimore City residents

May God bring:

  • Healing where there has been pain, injury, and cause for fear
  • Justice where there has been injustice, police brutality, false imprisonment, educational/economic inequality
  • Peace where there has been cause for much frustration and anger
  • Mercy where we deserve punishment for our wrong
  • Salvation of our souls through faith in Jesus and the grace He offers us
  • Hope where there has been cause for hopelessness, discouragement, disillusionment
  • Joy where there is none because through Jesus we can know Heaven

Peace through this process

May God put a stop to those with criminal intent to do violence. May God send away and bring to repentance those who are now here from outside Baltimore, who are not working according to His will. May God’s plan for peace be extended through good people working in new opportunities.

Baltimore City Police

May God bring to repentance those who have done wrong. May God give them wisdom to truly protect and serve us. May God help them to be peacemakers. May God comfort them and protect them and their families. May God help Commissioner Davis with wisdom and swift reform.


May God grant wisdom to those serving on the jury. May God help them communicate with each other well. May God comfort them and protect them and their families. May God bless them for their service.