Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In a New York State of Mind

   The picture above I took while riding the Staten Island Ferry.

This past Sunday I was able to take a spare of the moment trip to the city I love. New York! In my mind there isn't a better city. The real reason why I jumped at the chance to go to NYC is that my best friend (20+ years) mentioned that he was going to be in the city for a business trip. After some thought I wanted to go hang out with my bro and check out the city that I love.

I have been struggling lately with just trusting God and walking in the path that He has presented me. I have found myself asking these type of questions. "God what You doing in my life? Wondering am I making a difference? Am I on the right track? God am I following You?" Once again should Himself faithful and gave me exactly what I needed. He gave me and great day in the City with my best bro. 

The day was filled with conversation about who is the better basketball player Labron James v. Michael Jordan (naturally Michael Jordan) to the state of Christian Hip Hop and Christian music in general. We talked about loving people and not being a bitter Christian. We discussed how the greats in the faith have placed a safety plan in their life so that they don't fall into sin (i.e. Billy Graham, Tim Tebow, Judson Cornwall.) 

We discussed our parents & the shinning examples of godliness that they are to us. We discussed our wives and children and how incredibly blessed we both are. We talked about how far God has brought us and where we might end up next. The conversation was rich and full of God. I needed it desperately.The day was filled with remembering our childhood, looking forward to what the next step is and what God was doing currently... 

I remember looking at the Freedom tower and thinking to myself... I feel like that! I feel incomplete I feel like there is so much more work to do on me and I began to wonder if God moved on from finishing the work that He started in me. Then God said, "I AM... The Author and The Finisher..." Justin, you aren't a completed work because I am not finished with you..." I know that I don't look like the Freedom tower and there is MUCH more work to finish the work that He started. But I realized something even greater He is faithful to complete the good work that He started in me. Most amazing is that He doesn't frustrated with me, my lack of faith, my questioning, or lack of obedience. He is patient and forgiving, filled with grace and mercy.Those questions that I had... Wondering am I making a difference? Am I on the right track? God am I following You?  Disappeared...  Too many questions and not enough of just believing and walking with the Author and Finisher.... 

I don't have many answers but this I know... God is still there and He is still leading me. Where? I don't know but it doesn't much matter. The Father reminded me that He is aware of my every need and He hasn't brought me this far to let me down now. So thank you Jesus for the reminder of Your love and how You will never leave me nor forsake me. 

As an added bonus I got to take a bunch of pictures of New York City. Below are few of these shots.... 

Ps... Thanks to my mom for the finical support. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"When the Bombs Break Right Outside My Door..."

Once again, I find myself in place where I realize that I must rely/count on God. I consider myself a person who has a pretty strong faith in God. I am defiantly an optimist in that I believe that God ALWAYS has my best interest in mind. There are times that this belief/certainty is strained however. It is never because of anything that God does or doesn't do. He is always the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

Last night I was teaching at youth group and I spoke very briefly about the lie that Eve & Adam (who was standing next to Eve throughout her conversation with the enemy) believed spoken by Satan.
Genesis 3: “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
In other words the devil was saying "God doesn't really care about you, he doesn't really care about your situation, God doesn't want what's best for you... God is withholding HIS best from you..." Adam and Eve bought hook line and sinker... Unfortunately, I do the same thing today...

I am currently looking for work in youth ministry field (either secular or with a church) and I have been to a number interview and sent my resume to even more places. I know that God has a place in mind for me and I know that He will never withhold HIS best for me. Even though I "know" this there are times that I fall for that same lie that my forefather and mother fell for in the perfect garden that God created all those years ago. 

I was having a hard time today and began to question God and if He was still there? I felt like Martha and Mary (Lazarus' sisters)... John 11:21 
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 
Essentially, Martha (Mary says the same thing a few verses later) were saying to Jesus... This (Lazarus' death) is your fault! Don't you care about us? Where were you? Why didn't you come to his rescue?!!?!?

Well, little did they know that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life and HE WAS ABOUT TO PUT ON SHOW....  

On my way home from work today I was listening John Mark McMillan's new album titled "Borderland" (if you haven't heard it I highly recommend it) and I was listening to a song called "Counting On" here are the lyrics to song... I am seriously in love with the lyrics and message of the song. Well done Mr. McMillan
COUNTING ON by John Mark McMillan 

When the night stops pushing up the day
When the miles drop me on the open planes
When I’ve lost grace with the lady of the dawn

You’re what I’m counting on
You’re what I’m counting on

Where the hounds run
Track me in my sleep
When I can’t trust the company I keep
When I’ve push passed the point of pressing on
You’re what I’m counting on
You’re what I’m counting on

I’m throwing stones
Up at your window
I’m casting shadows
Upon your door

Where the bombs break
Right outside my door
And I can’t shake the onset of my wars
When the stakes are raised
We hold the hand we’ve drawn
You’re what I’m counting on

I’m throwing stones
Up at your window
I’m casting shadows
Upon your door

Here in Maryland (much like most of country) we have had a rough and long winter. However, last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the DC Cherry Blossom Festival. Guess what happened this year? The flowers came out, green leaves sprouted on the trees, and SPRING finally sprung...  I believe this was God's way of saying... I AM more faithful than Spring, I AM more faithful than the sunrise. I AM more reliable the dawn... I am learning to live by faith and I am waiting for THE SHOW!!!! "Do your work Lord! Be honored in all my comings and goings. Show YOURSELF strong in my life... I will WAIT on you. Amen."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Glorious Ruins

"When the mountains fall
And the tempest roars You are with me
When creation folds 
Still my soul will soar on Your mercy" 

"When the world caves in
Still my hope will cling to Your promise
Where my courage ends 
Let my heart find strength in Your presence"

"I'll walk through the fire With my head lifted high 
And my spirit revived in Your story 
And I'll look to the cross 
As my failure is lost In the light of Your glorious grace..."

"Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God forever You reign
And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings
I will love You forever
And forever I'll sing"

"Let the Ruins COME TO LIFE!!!"
(lyrics by Hillsong Live: "Glorious Ruins") 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Life's lesson through music.

"Eighteen years old bags packed and a pass for the rail, One last look at the past as it drowns in the hail. One in a million, still I keep feeling you keep me from a fall, A world to lose coming back with you tall, Through it all..."

Yesterday, I was listening to a song by Mat Kearney "In the Middle" and I quickly realized that much of the music I choose to listen to is because I feel like the writer is writing about me or someone who I am close with. Like the part of the song I just quoted reminded me of my nephew Jonah. He is Eighteen and is pursuing his life's dream of being a professional baseball player. I can't imagine packing up my belongs and moving to Florida with no family/friends to chase down this dream/goal. Yet that's what he did... See he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles this past June. I got the pleasure of hanging out with him this past weekend and Monday night. I tried to observe and watch him as much as possible without being the way. I wanted to see how he reacted to people and their questions. I wanted to watch how he lived life... 

Then suddenly as I was thinking to myself: "man I am not sure that I could do what Jonah is doing at his age and all alone." God quickly interrupted me and reminded me of the bridge to this song...  

"And I'm gonna be alright, I'm gonna be alright With you by my side And I said I'm gonna be alright, I'm gonna be alright With you through this fight Through it all."

God reminded me that we are NEVER alone... He reminded me of His promises... "I will never leave you nor forsake you and when Jesus said even to end of the age... I will be with you." I just need to trust that God has it under control... I have been stuck on a sentence lately "God's plans for my life are BIGGER, BETTER, AND MORE AMAZING THAN OUR DREAMS..."   Every time that I start think maybe God isn't really interested in my life or maybe He is too busy dealing with really important issues; God reminds me again He NEVER forgets us... Another promise in the Bible Isaiah 49:16 

"16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me."

So think about this the next time you begin to question if God is really paying attention to you... Your name is written (or tattooed) on the Hand of the Maker of Universe... I can't think anything more amazing...

  Below are some pictures that I squeezed off...

Sal telling a great story... Good to see The Kid laugh

This is Jonah doing a radio show in Buffalo... He answered some tough questions

Jonah and I in the Suite Monday Night

Great view from the suite.... 

In case you are wondering these are some of the songs that I have been listening to lately

1. Darius Rucker: "Take Me Home"
2. Mumford and Sons: "Lover of the Light" & "Not with Haste" 
3. The Head and The Heart: "Down in the Valley" & "Lost In My Mind"
4. Jesus Culture: "Be My Love" "I Belong to You" & "He is Faithful"
5. The Michael Gungor: "Beautiful Things"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

War of 1812

O' Say can you see... The Blue Angels!!!! This weekend in Baltimore there was a sailabration to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. For those who don't know this is where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. 
Here in Maryland, we were privileged to have the Blue Angels and tall ships and battleships from many different countries. Hundreds if not thousands flocked to Inner Harbor of Baltimore. The best part of this weekend for me were the Blue Angels.

On Thursday they starting their practice fights and apparently my house was right in the line for their practice... On Thursday I was able to get some get shots from my upstairs closet.

Then on Saturday, my family and I were able to see the entire show. These planes were as great as advertised. After, the show I understood why the Blue Angels were always my dad's favorite. They were great and I can't wait to see them again....  Here are the shots from Saturday.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

God's Promises and Reminders!!! (Genesis 9)

Lately, weather in Maryland has been very strange. Stormy, sunny, and then stormy... Cold, Warm, Cold, Hot, Cool... The more I think of it I would say the weather has been a lot like Buffalo. Anyway, tonight it was raining and sunny at the same time. I remembered that is the perfect combo for a rainbow. So I ran outside to see and sure enough there it was in the eastern sky...

My wife was tucking the girls in for bedtime... Naturally I ran into their room and told them to come downstairs and look at the promise of God. I took a few moments to remind that a rainbow is a promise from God.

Then I was reading the portion of scripture that talks about rainbows. It is found in Genesis 9:8-17
'Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. 
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.'
There it is rainbows are God's promise and His reminder... I love that God sees a rainbow and He remembers us. How awesome is that? God remembers us and His promises. It isn't like God suddenly sees a rainbow and says "Oh yeah there is those people down there... I almost forgot!" I think of it more like this when I see a rainbow I think... God is telling me again "See I haven't forgotten you or My promises" Here is a little a reminder for you! I will never forget you nor will I ever forsake you!

God is so good to us... If you take the time to look around you, I promise you God will show you that He hasn't forgotten you... No matter how dark the clouds look... If you look around enough you will see God's promise and reminder somewhere... God bless! Here are some of the other shots that I got of the rainbow.