Help through the holidays

1 12 2017
We are helping families of those who are incarcerated, that we City Harbor Church serve weekly, with the Christmas holiday. (It’s a private effort by our volunteers who serve them year round.) If you would like to help please feel free to make a donation at http://cityharborchurch.com/give/
We are also giving shoes to the homeless and need Mens shoes sized 9 – 12.
There are many places providing ways to serve those in need over the holidays.
  • My favorites:
  • Manna House (serving the homeless daily) 25th & Greenmount (410) 889-3001
  • Ms Millie and A Mother’s Cry (serving the mothers of murder victims) (443) 303-6289
  • Somebody Cares (serving the homeless and those in other needs) Somebody Cares Baltimore Christmas contact Erin at erin@servethecity.org
  • Please consider the Whitelock Farm in your charitable efforts this month!
     Their work is an amazing part of service, good stewardship, and helping bring quality produce to others right here in Baltimore City.

Here’s a note from our brother Justin:

Dear Friends and Family, I am writing to ask to consider making a tax-deductible donation on Giving Tuesday, which is an annual day of generosity in which people are encouraged to give after spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Your contribution will help me to pursue my personal fundraising goal of $2000 and to support the community programming of the farm.

Your donation will support the following community programs:

  • Educational partnerships with Dorothy I. Height Elementary School and Midtown Academy.
  • A youth internship program
  • Community workshops on topics such as basic gardening, composting, and food preservation
  • Community potlucks and community events

We need your help to continue to cultivate our community programming in 2018.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation at the following link (even just $5, a little bit goes a long way!) to our campaign.

Thank you for your courageous generosity!




A Baltimore murder in NYC

23 03 2017

This week there is news of a murder committed by a neighbor of ours, who went to NYC and carried out a vicious act of senseless violence. We did not know him. Honestly, I don’t recall ever seeing him. It seems that he has made statements of “hate for black people” as the motive for his crime.

I have yet to meet a little child with hate in their heart for people with a different skin color. God did not create us that way. Anger is dangerous. Evil is real.

It is my belief that we are of one human race. God created ethnic traits as a beautiful expression of his creativity that are to be celebrated. We can create culture out of our identity, each of us created in the image of God.

Yes it’s true, God notices murder. He notices each one. He saw the first murder and he said that the “blood cried out to him from the ground”. Our Father God made it clear from the beginning that this should not be.

We see in Psalm 34:18 that God is close to the brokenhearted. We believe that God is alive, aware, able, and active. We believe that God can bring a miracle of grace and peace even in the face senseless violence.
As a white man, I have confessed, repented of, and sought forgiveness of my own sins and many times done the same for the sins of other white men.
Let each of us do the same. Let us then pray the prayer of Jesus toward others, “Father forgive them.”
It is time for us to pray for each person affected by each murder.
Sadly in Baltimore this is something that we pray about every week.
Please join me in prayer:
May each person who commits a murder repent of their sins turn to Jesus and find forgiveness and New Life.
May each family member, neighbor, friend impacted by murder receive the miracle peace that’s available through Jesus may we draw closer to each other.
May we get to know each other better.
May we love God with all our heart and we love our neighbor in the same way that he first loved us.
May we see an end to murder, here, now.




walk and talk this weekend

24 02 2017

Baltimore friends, has there ever been a better weekend for us to walk our streets, meet our neighbors, talk and listen to each other? It’s beautiful outside and someone needs to see your smile! After last night, we now have 50 murders (last year at this time there were just 34). Time for us to pray more than before. Let’s ask God for mercy and a stop to the violence. Let’s ask Father God what He would have us do, here and now with specifics. Today I enjoyed time with non-profit, business, and church leaders…hearing from them how they are responding. We are not alone. Good things are happening this week!





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.

Jury

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.





Why is Baltimore burning? What can I do?

1 05 2015

Why is Baltimore burning? What can I do? Love Gives.

I love Baltimore. I love its people, neighborhoods, and streets. This tragic week I’ve spent a good deal of time crying and laughing with its beautiful citizens. We have cleaned up, prayed up, and hugged it out. Planning meetings continue because there is much to do for the long term good of Baltimore City. There’s a beautiful spirit of unity in the city right now. We will be here when the National Guard and the media leave, still serving. Because love gives.

“It should not be.” The violence of this week and the many underlying causes of such rage cannot be simply described here. Most Baltimore natives are shocked and yet not surprised. This week was not just about police brutality or negligence. It’s not that simple.

Why would a firefighter friend of mine have a gun in his face to prevent him from putting out a fire?

The truth is that we do not have educational and therefore vocational equality in our country. Generations of Baltimore citizens have come to believe that other people do not care about their struggle.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Remember that question? What should I do? How should I live? Jesus said that the most important truth of Scripture was, “Love God with all you’ve got and love your neighbor in the way you take care of yourself.” I believe that if we all lived this message Baltimore would not have burned.

“Jesus is the answer for the world today.” As a kid I sang that song and it’s been fresh in my memory this week. There’s a reason Jesus chose to read Isaiah 61 when he revealed himself as our Creator. The Good News of Jesus includes setting the wrongs right.

Throughout human history peace talks have included sitting down to eat, to talk, to listen. Just before Peter wrote, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you,” he wrote, “all of you serve each other in humility.”

This week I’ve been reminded of the days, before moving here, of seeing blocks of vacant homes in urban poverty. Knowing that God wanted me here and yet staring at the challenges of such decay. A question began to burn in me, “What can God do?”

Each of us can “love God with all we’ve got and love our neighbor the same way we take care of ourselves.” Please overcome the obstacles and ask your neighbor questions, listen, and show your love.  Please connect with Jesus, grow in faith, and share his love. Because love gives.





How you, our out of town friends, can help.

29 04 2015

How you, our out of town friends, can help.

Pray for –

Peace, end to violence and many coming to faith in Jesus. There’s one true source of hope.

Wisdom, for all involved as we serve the city neighborhoods for long term solutions.

Clarity for parents/teachers having conversations with kids and teens.

Coordination and strategic connections between all community leaders to get help for those who need it most.

Jobs, our city is in need of economic growth and entry level careers for our city residents.

First Responders, our police, firefighters, and paramedics live in harm’s way and they also need support.

Give –  http://bit.ly/TrdRxj 

Here are activities that we are regularly involved in. If you would like to make a donation it will help us meet these needs directly. Over the years, we have worked hard to develop relationships with quality non-profits, community organizations, and other churches that we have partnered with (using our hands and funds) to directly meet needs.

Feed and clothe the homeless. When possible provide them with transition services into independent living.

Provide job training. We have partners who do amazing work in this area. We also provide resume and interview services.

Serve the families of murder victims. Saturday May 9th we are helping provide a dinner and affordable Mother’s Day gift to 175 moms of murder victims. We still need help with the gifts.

Garbage clean ups in several neighborhoods. From spring through the fall every year we organize these and they have been one of the most successful things we’ve done.

 

http://bit.ly/TrdRxj





Hope after a Hit

11 09 2014

How a punch from Ray Rice became like any other Baltimore violent crime and why we have hope:

If you’re reading this, you have seen the shocking video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator. Most likely you have also seen the recently released video of what happened inside that elevator.

It’s a horror show of domestic abuse. They’re engaged in an argument, he appears to accelerate the dispute, and then he hits her with a punch that lifts her up off her feet.

What if I told you there was hope?

There is hope and healing for the victims of abusive relationships. Healing can be found in Jesus.

If you are in an abusive relationship, stop reading this and talk to someone now. You can call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233 or visit www.TheHotline.org or you can call Emergency Services at 911. You can call myself or one of our team members at the church, 410.929.1619.

Rice_Ray

Violent crime is a reality if you live in a farming community or a city. The TV Show COPS began with many stops in the neighborhood I grew up in Portland, OR. Having lived in Baltimore City the past four years, I am often now unaware of a police helicopter circling over our neighborhood.

Violent crime is no little thing. It’s no joking matter. It is something that I’ve been thinking about and giving time to find answers for.

I believe that one reason Ray’s punch and Baltimore’s crime carry such emotional violence is that it is so unexpected. Ray Rice has done more than what was expected of him to serve the community. He’s suffered violence to his own family in his childhood neighborhood. He had served the community and done a lot to help pass anti-bullying legislation and raise awareness about bullying. We might have expected this violent event from another football player, but not Ray Rice.

In Baltimore City, violent crime has been personally shocking to many who moved here. They expected it to be a safe place to live and raise a family. This is not the time and place for the data, but I’ve been doing research going back to the 1800’s and over and over I read that this was the case. Thousands of families have moved to Baltimore with the expectation of it being a safe harbor city to settle in. Today this has changed. Thanks to Baltimore’s current reality, The Wire, Homicide, and Drugs Inc our beautiful city’s reputation is rough at best.

In the accounts of victims of violent crime, you often hear the trauma of emotional pain over just how shocking the event was. They didn’t see it coming.

Now we see violence from “Lil’ Ray” and it hurts. It’s shocking because of the video. Because we can see exactly what happened.

Baltimore City is a football town. It has been a blue collar, proud, football town. From the Colts of the 50’s, to the CFL and minor league teams, to the Ravens…it has been a championship football town.

Now it’s bruised.

Would it have been different if Ray had confessed in complete detail, right after the event, and asked for forgiveness then?

I don’t know.

Honestly, I have no idea what was going on inside Ray Rice that night. I think we can all agree that we would not want our worst mistake to be broadcast on video for the world to see. But to throw a punch? What?!?

ray-rice-press-wifeThere must be more going on inside Ray. “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish… Whom have I in heaven but you?” Psalms 73:21-26

Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Pastor said this, “We must accept finite disappointment but we must never lose infinite hope.” Pastor King knew and preached that God is the source of that hope.

I believe that hope can be found in Jesus.

Abusive relationships are one of the worst forms of evil in our world. Sadly I have seen many first hand. In many cases, the victims of abuse choose to stay in those relationships.

There is hope and healing for the victims of abusive relationships. Healing can be found in Jesus. Each of us is created in the, “image of” the Creator (see Genesis 1:26). Regardless of our educational, economic, ethnic, cultural, or sexually unique traits we are all created with a God-likeness. No one should live in fear or pain. Our world would be a better place if we all pay attention to possible abusive relationships and have the courage to offer a helping hand.

Ray failed. Integrity is seen when who you are in private matches who you are and what you say in public.

You may have given up on Ray. I get it. But I’m glad that God hasn’t given up on me.

There is hope for Ray and there is hope for any perpetrator of violent crime.

There is hope in Jesus. “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9

The truth is that when we take personal responsibility by confessing our mistakes to God, turning away from them, and receiving the grace of Jesus – we are forgiven.

This brings us to one of the most difficult questions, “With evil in our world, how can a loving God exist?”

In much the same way that: cold is the absence of heat, dark is the absence of light…evil is the absence of God’s love.

When we struggle to understand how God’s love can be involved in a situation like this, I believe that we are ready to grow stronger in two of the most important ultimate truths of our history: God’s Grace & Our Responsibility.

God’s grace goes beyond our expectation. It forgives what we believe to be un-forgivable. The truth is that God’s healing and forgiveness are complete. They go beyond human comprehension. At times they are instantly complete and in other occasions the process takes a while.

Yet each of us has a personal responsibility.

Martin Luther wrote, “We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that remains alone.”

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.Ephesians 2:8-10 Paul writes a letter to friends explaining our personal responsibility to thank God with our actions.

James wrote, “Faith without works is dead.”

 Let’s not get this mixed up. Let’s not be religious people.

A religious person says about God, “I obey; therefore I’m accepted.”

A person following Jesus says, “I’m accepted; therefore I obey.”

A religious person says, “I obey God in order to get things from God.”

A person following Jesus says, “I obey God to get God – to delight and resemble him.”      (Thank you Tim Keller for the quotes.)

Each of us bears the responsibility to confess our mistakes, receive the forgiveness of Jesus, and respond to His love by following Him, see Matthew 9:9-13. This may include us taking action to right our wrongs.

Yes, a punch from Ray Rice became like any other Baltimore violent crime.

Yes, there is hope.

Yes, there’s hope for “Lil’ Ray” and we would welcome him in our home and in our church.

…and we welcome both the victims and people who make mistakes (including the perpetrators of violent crime) into our home and church as well.

There’s hope in Jesus! Hope that includes a life without violence, a life of peace and laughter, a life of becoming who God designed you to be, a life of doing good that God planned long ago!

 

 

 

One more note about Baltimore crime:

Please let me be clear, there is nothing in this world like the tragedy of a parent burying their child. Worse yet, the horror faced by roughly 300 families each year in Baltimore City of burying a loved one lost to murder. We serve those families with Baltimore’s Mother’s Cry. I’ve met the mothers. Raising two children in Baltimore City, I simply cannot imagine anything worse than suffering a stray bullet like the parents of three year old McKenzie in a neighborhood near us recently. Domestic abuse can lead to murder. It must stop. My purpose here is not to comment on the issue of murder. No one should live in fear and pain. God’s design for us is much better! Grace and peace to you today.