First in 2015

25 11 2014

Where’s your focus? Are you focused on God? Are your thoughts fixed on your Creator and His love for you?

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.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 “seek first”

How you start each day has a direct impact on how you will respond to what comes of the day. How you start 2015 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.

“When you give,”

We believe that God gave us his best, in Jesus, and so as a “Thank You” to God we choose to live in courageous generosity. We choose to live on less of our own time, energy, and money so that we can give of ourselves to the needs of others and the purpose of God in our homes, neighborhoods, and beyond. Jesus challenged us to be sure that we are not doing this for a good reputation with others, but as a personal “Thank You” to God. See His specific instructions in Matthew 6.

“When you pray,”

We believe that Jesus knew we would need help in this life and so He taught us how to talk with and listen to our Father God. Jesus challenged us to be sure that we are not doing this for a good reputation with others, but as a personal “Thank You” to God. Find Jesus’ specific suggestions (a power tool really) in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.

“When you fast,”

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! Using the practice of “going without” is extremely helpful to that end.  “This practice removes distractions, concentrates your life on God, cleanses your soul, deepens humility, intensifies prayer, feeds your faith, and it produces self-control.” – Pastor Frank Damazio

Biblical Fast – Going without food in order to focus yourself on God. You are trading your meal time for prayer time. You do not fast to obtain merit from God or to atone for sin. In contrast you are going without food, for a spiritual purpose. To this time of fasting you are adding prayer, meditation, Bible reading/memorization, and a seeking God for your life. Then prayer and fasting works something into you that prayer by itself would not.

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, watching TV/movies, playing games, or doing other stuff 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 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.

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.

For each person this may be different. You may choose to go without certain activities, particular foods, or go without food entirely. Medical research actually shows that periodic fasting is good for your overall health and Hippocrates recommended medical benefits of fasting, including the fact that it slows the aging process. Recent research shows that giving your digestive system a break has many health benefits. Please consult your Dr before making any changes to your diet.

Personal spiritual disciplines…are just that “personal spiritual disciplines”. Please consider making a plan for how you choose to respond to Jesus, “When you pray, when you give, when you fast” (in Matthew 6). If this is a meaningful and personal commitment for you, it will mean something to God. If it doesn’t mean anything to you please don’t participate. How you choose to participate is personal, and yet you can benefit from the group “water level” of your friends and family doing it at the same time you are.

Please consider joining us by starting your 2015 with three weeks (January 5-25) of being more focused on God than anything else. Pray, between now and New Years, and ask God what He would have you do during those three weeks. Please take time to write out a personal purpose for this time of prayerful focus.

Please consider writing down your answers to these questions:

  • What do I want to be focused on?
  • Why am I choosing to “go without” over January 5-25?
  • What food, drink, activities, music, TV/movies, social media, or activities will I be doing without?
  • What will I be praying about?
  • What days and times will I be in prayer and Bible reading?
  • What is most important in my life?

Here’s an opening prayer:

God, you are more important to me than anything else in this world. Thank you for taking away the guilt of my sin through Jesus. This January 5-25 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 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 here

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 5-25). 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.

Give Thanks

19 11 2014

Want to feel less stressed, healthier, and more energetic?

Research shows that there are many benefits to exercising gratitude. Here’s a post with several links

In fact, this research shows that people who wrote down 5 things that they were thankful for, once a week for 10 weeks, experienced less stress and felt happier as a long term life change. Sound good?

When I Give Thanks my Faith Produces Joy

The practice of giving thanks reminds us of all that is good and produces a focus on God.

Here’s some great verses to read this week:

Psalm 100:1-5  “I will enter into your gates with thanksgiving, be thankful,”

Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and shield. Songs of Thanksgiving,”

Psalm 30:11-12 “mourning into dancing, give you thanks”

In Psalm 103:1-5 we find a contrast to before and after God’s love, a gratitude list:

  • Sinful                                     Forgiven
  • Sick                                        Healed
  • Doomed                                Redeemed
  • Ashamed                              Crowned
  • Dissatisfied                           Satisfied
  • Decaying                               Renewed

What are you thankful for?

I’ve noticed social media posts that many of my friends have made this year, listing what they are grateful for. It’s truly powerful.

In Philippians 4:4-9, Paul writes about the specific steps we can take to experience more peace:

You may be familiar with the phrase, “Be anxious for nothing, but in all things…with thanksgiving make your requests known to God……the peace of God which passes understanding will guard…” These are powerful words to live by. It works!

  • Be full of joy
  • Don’t worry about anything
  • Pray about everything
  • Fix your thoughts on what is good
  • Put into practice what Jesus and Paul taught
  • God of peace will be with you

Result: Joy, Peace, Faith state of being that
– guards our hearts and
– guides our lives in Jesus.

What to do?

  1. Take time to think about what you are thankful for, in every area of your life.
  2. Write lists of 5 things, once a week, for the rest of the year.
  3. Thank God with your words and actions.
  4. Tell someone else, your list or fill in these blanks: “my _ may be_, but I am _ because God _ me.”

Here’s a previous post I wrote about the “Thanksgiving Prayer”.

Bible Studies

13 11 2014

This month many of our friends are experiencing the loss of a loved one or other challenging life circumstances. Rebecca and I are standing with you in prayer. It’s wonderful to see the way that people are loving on each other, providing help.

Our God loves you and sees what you are going through. He is a “very present help in time of need.” God is real. He is a real strength. We are not meant to be alone. God provides us with relationships to be a strength and source of encouragement.

God always provides us with truth to be a strength when we suffer or face a challenge. Reading the Bible, focused on a topic, is a huge help at all times. It’s best to do this with a friend to talk and pray about it. I just wanted you to have these focused Bible studies available to you.

60 seconds

17 09 2014

If you asked me, “Why would you start a church in Baltimore? What does that mean? How will it look?” and I had 60 seconds to respond, here’s what I would say:


Forgiveness and healing are found in Jesus. People need Jesus.

We are helping people connect with Jesus, grow in faith, & share his love.

We connect by gathering on weekends for worship, to receive and respond to his love.

We grow by meeting in small groups for prayer, learning, and sharing life.

We share by living like Jesus and sharing his love, everyday and everywhere.

We see a church:

  • Loving Jesus in a way that people talk about.
  • Where people find salvation & healing in Jesus.
  • Helping people find careers & peaceful homes.
  • Where everyone can find a place that they fit.
  • Serving the city with love that works.


I Believe

12 09 2014

Here’s a few statements that I believe.

Just in case you would like to do a Bible study I’ve listed the relevant Scripture verses.


I believe

God created me in His image. Gen 1:26-28

God chose me before I was born. Ps 139:13-18

God is slow to anger and full of unfailing love, forgiving. Ex 34:6-7

Jesus died that the guilt of my sin would be removed and lives today that I might have life. 1 Jn 2:1-6

Jesus loves me sacrificially and without fail. Phil 2:5-8

Jesus prays for me. Jn 17:20-26

God the Holy Spirit guides me into truth. Jn 14:16-17

God the Holy Spirit renews my thoughts and attitudes. Eph 4:23

God the Holy Spirit strengthens me and helps me pray. Rom 8:26-28

We think about someone in the way we first met them. Who is Jesus to you?

6 10 2010

We think about someone in the way we first met them.

Have you ever bumped into someone that you haven’t seen for years? Hey! It’s you! How are you? Are you still working at…? I sold carpet to pay my way through college. That was years ago. Once in a while I will bump into an old client and they immediately associate me with flooring. Worse yet I bump into one of my childhood school teachers and have to apologize for being a pain in school. They always seem relieved to see that I “turned out alright”.

When you meet someone, again after years apart, it takes a while to adjust to who they have now become. If it’s a niece or nephew, and the last time you saw them was when they were a toddler, it’s great to see who they have grown up to be.

If you’re reunited with someone who was a mess as a teenager and they are now a responsible parent you have more to learn about them. You can’t freeze frame them…meaning you can’t assume that they still are the way they were at age 16.

How did you first come into contact with Jesus Christ?

Where did you meet Him? How does that define Jesus to you? Who do you say that He is?

Is He the stuff of stained glass and a crucifix to you? Is He a cartoon drawing from childhood Sunday School books? Is He someone you make fun of?

Maybe He’s more meaningful than that to you. Maybe you came to a point of believing that He forgave your sins. That’s amazing isn’t it!?!

Did you stop learning about Him? Is there more about Him to consider?

Jesus is the:

Prince of peace, Son of God, Breaker, Warrior, King, Priest, Intercessor, Deliverer, Redeemer, Friend, Mediator, Healer, Lifter of your head, God with us, etc.

Have we limited Jesus Christ by the context in which we first met Him?

Jesus the Builder – Do you see Jesus as a builder?

1. Mt 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church!”

Jesus says “I will build”. Jesus, son of the carpenter, would have been familiar with construction. He chooses this word picture carefully. He knew that this meant work. He knew that this meant an expensive long term project. He knew that this meant working toward a goal in the future. What does this say to you about Jesus?

Take a minute to think about your perception of Jesus. Does this fit for you?

He also says “my church”. This is a transition point to speaking in the “possessive”. Sounds like Jesus takes this personally.

2. Ps 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the House they labor in vain that build it.

We don’t build it. We don’t take credit when it goes well, and we can’t take the blame when it goes bad. We take responsibility for our part and defer to the Builder.

That’s not to say that we can’t mess it up. Certainly we can.
One of our goals has to be staying out of His way, and instead working according to His plan.

There’s a freedom in realizing this. It’s His project. He has the plan. We don’t have to show up to work, but we can be involved. We get to be a part of the project.

3. 1 Corinthians 3:7-11 Jesus is the foundation:

“So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

During ancient times, they would dig until they hit rock before they would lay the foundation. One author visited a house in Nazareth where they had dug down 30 feet to reach rock and them built walls, using arches, up from that point.

Who Jesus is, how He came to earth, how He lived, how He died, and how He lives again speaks to us about Him.

He is the starting point.

4. Jesus’ words as the foundation:

Matthew 7: 24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

So much of what Jesus said, during His time on earth, is useful as a foundation to build your life. It is life. It is relevant to what we experience everyday no matter what state we are in.

The same is true when we set out to work for Him. He has a plan. We have to remember that if it’s not built right it will fall apart.

5. What are we supposed to do? How are we, as believers, involved?

A. Great Commandment: Love God and Love People.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Jesus taught us about balancing everyday real life. He taught us about a daily relationship with Father God. He taught us about pursuing a relationship with God that grows. He taught us about balancing our work with serving other people. If you pay attention, when you read the books of Matthew/Mark/Luke/John, you will see Jesus managing responsibilities with taking time to help people. During the year I work to read those books over and over again to help me learn from how Jesus lived and what He said.

B. Great Commission:

Go, with people focus, connect with people, bring them to Christ, lead them to next steps in Christ, baptize them, teach them that which is from Christ and remember that He is with you always!

Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus gave us a mission. It’s for every believer. He knew it would be a challenge for us. That’s why He drew up the plans. That’s why He’s still the One who is building.
Jesus knows how to work. He is not asking us to do anything that He didn’t do Himself.

With us, it’s a work in progress.

We now have a responsibility to share our faith with others. When people respond, we grow in faith together and follow the steps that Jesus laid out for us.

C. Building with living stones.

1 Peter 2:4 “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus brings the materials into order (strength by structure). As a carpenter, Jesus would have learned about structures that were strong and those that fell apart. He would have known that carefully selecting your building materials matters. He knew that bringing those materials into order could provide the strength to help that structure stand for a long time. It’s the same today. You don’t build a structure to stay for the weekend. You build to have a place to call home for a lifetime. Jesus knew that if He could bring together chosen materials (you and me) and cause them to work together a spiritual home could be built.

So many people today do not know what it is like to live in a good home, a home with a family that loves each other. Millions long to know the peace from being a home like that. We can build a spiritual home where people can find peace in Jesus!

D. Follow the Jesus pattern.

He called them together.

Takes one step at a time: He does you watch, then you do He watches.

Mark 6:6-13 Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Rebecca and I have long felt called to build a soul winning church in a city on the water. We have dreamed of being in a city where we could interact with both the “under privileged” and the “over privileged” in a place where we could serve both the “under educated” and the “over educated”. We believe that we are called to and uniquely positioned to be able to help people come into faith in Christ, equip them, and then send them to serve their context – to become a “city within a city”.

What if?

What if we could serve God’s vision to build a church that served the city? What if the church had both spiritual depth and cultural relevance? What if it attracted people in because it trained believers to live a missional life out in the community? What if the church had passionate presence driven worship with the power of the Holy Spirit, connected with the mind of the guest by the power of the Scripture?

What can God do? What happens when we see Jesus as the Builder?

A city where they could settle

1 09 2010

This summer we move to Baltimore.  Our friends, the Talaiver’s, are already in Baltimore and the Wheelers will follow us there.  As a team, we are launching a new City Bible Church in Baltimore.

We look forward to meeting people and finding out where we can connect.  We want to serve the city.  Baltimore has a long history of people serving the community.  We hope to join that effort.

City Bible Church Baltimore will serve the city of Baltimore with a vision to connect people with Christ, help them grow in Christ, and inspire them to share Christ.

We want City Bible Church Baltimore to be  “a city where they could settle.”  Psalms 107:4,7.

People need clarity of vision and simplicity of mission to connect with something larger than their own lives. Jesus provides this purpose for life.

But to connect with Him, first you must ask: Who is Jesus Christ? What has He done for me? Why does this matter? How do I respond?

We are looking for the momentum of more prayer, team members, and money.  Please feel free to contact me with questions.

If you would like to donate: please visit

You can click on Donations, Online Giving, when you click on “Categories” you will see “Other” select it and then “Baltimore Church Plant” will be an available option.  Thanks in advance!

Stay tuned as we build our team, move across country, and launch a church!

Check out:

…search for the Facebook Group “City Bible Church Baltimore”

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