There are moments when prayer, reflection and meditation will calm ones spirit, provide focus to ones journey, and create balance in ones life. As we move to the eve of the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington we are at such a moment. While significant gains have been made, the lingering vestiges of racial divide are still deep. The unequal distribution of wealth is wide. Access to education is still an impediment to many people. Unchecked violence is tearing at the very fabric of our society. Too many people are incarcerated for minor offenses. Too many homes suffer from the effects of broken relationships and deferred dreams. One can astutely say we have marched one step but have moonwalked and reversed the hard fought gains won.

What do we do and where do we go from here?

I believe we have to rediscover the power of prayer and the discipline of a faithful walk with God. We have to experience once again the depth of true relationships and the eternal value of love. We have to believe in the truth of open and honest communication. We have to reconnected the generations and share stories and values that have been endearing. We have to fully participate in the creation of sound public policy and electoral politics. We have to vote with the determination that there is something to vote for.

Finally we have to live so God can use us at any time and place!

Reflection from Rome - Sport and Games

Posted by Unknown Saturday, August 17, 2013 0 comments

In Baltimore we have large capacity stadiums for baseball and football. The Orioles' stadium holds 48, 876 people. The Raven's stadium holds 71,008 people. These stadiums are the sports entertainment center of our City.

People come to the stadiums to cheer, yell, scream, voice their support for or opposition to the contestants on the field. They will wear the team colors and some will even paint themselves in the colors of their favorite team. If you are not careful, after a period of libations, people may even become hostile or angry.

Sports and Games are interwoven into the fabric of our society. People cheer for winners, root for your favorite, and boo for the losers as a source of entertainment. People will fantasize and imagine they are the sporting hero, that they catch the winning touchdown, hit the tie breaking home run, or pitch the shut out. People use sports and games as an avenue of escape and entertainment.

In a prominent section of the City of Rome stands the Colosseum. Construction for this massive structure was begun in 70 AD. This is the date of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Colosseum, designed to hold 80,000 people, was the place for sports and games. You may remember this is where the gladiatorial contests were held. The base of the amphitheater could be flooded so that mock sea battles could be enacted, there were animal hunts, and public executions, and it was used to conduct dramas based on classical mythology.

The Roman Colosseum was the place were people came to cheer, yell, scream, voice their support for or opposition to the contestants on the field. They would get into such a frenzy that they would become hostile, angry and or sad. In contests between humans, the Emperor sat in his covered booth and by either holding his thumbs up or thumbs down decided if a losing contestant lived or died. This was done to add drama and excitement to the sporting event. People desired seeing the blood and death of the loser.

All in the name of sports and games!

Reflections from Rome - Worshipping God

Posted by Unknown Friday, August 16, 2013 0 comments

Living in America we have to a certain extent religious freedom. None of us can really say you have experienced persecution from the government because of your beliefs or form of worship. Police and/or military are not standing around watching if you are gathering to worship and being ready to arrest you if you do.

If you lived during a period of time when the very act of gathering to worship would have been considered a crime against the state would you worship the God you served? Would you worship God if it meant your life and/or your freedom? Would you worship God if the mere mention of your fidelity to Him meant you were less incline to bow to the state?

You all know the story of Daniel and the lions den. Would you worship God if it meant being thrown to the lions? You know the story of the three Hebrew boys. Would you worship God if it meant that you would have been thrown into a fiery  furnace?

You don't have to answer. I can answer for you if church attendance during bad weather is any indication. If bad weather stops you from coming to worship, wouldn't a bad government stop you as well.

If you will not boldly come out in the snow, would you boldly defy soldiers?

In Rome we studied the history of the Catacombs. The Catacombs is an underground cemetery. We visited Saint Callixtus, a site that is 37 acres with estimated over  a half million bodies buried there. It is four stories underground.

We walked two stories down and walked through crypts were famous and not so famous Christian believers were buried.

There was a period of time when the church was persecuted and Christians were not permitted to gather for worship. The very act of worship meant you would be arrested by the Roman state or killed as a martyr. The Roman Empire permitted the Catacombs to exist with a type of respect for the dead. While the Roman Empire believed in cremation, Christians believed in the burial of the body. Nevertheless, the Roman Empire permitted the burial of Christians in Catacombs, but didn't permit public gathering for worship.

How do you thing they resolved this dilemma? Did they cease worshipping God because it was literally a crime against the state? Did they defy the Empire at the very risk of their lives? Some did and they are listed as the martyrs of their era.

While two stories below the ground, I discovered what many of the Christians of that era did as their act of worship. They built their altar and sanctuary underground in the Catacombs. They worshipped in the tombs underground.

How inspiring it was to have prayer in the very place where Early Christians worshiped God!

It was an awesome and deeply moving experience to know even in the cemetery you could worship God in beauty and in truth.

Why do you permit there to be any reason for not worshipping God for all of His marvelous works? Get out of the bed, don't relax and become lazy, and avoid the tendency for making excusing for not going to worship.

You are free to worship God. So get up and worship Him!

Reflections from Rome - The Church Marches On

Posted by Unknown Thursday, August 15, 2013 0 comments

On my visit to St. Peter's Basilica, I stepped into a room where on the wall was a listing of deceased Popes from St. Peter to John Paul II. The attendant asked everyone to be quiet and to reflect upon the lives of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church.

In that moment I was reminded that "The Church Marches On."

It marches on in spite of human limitations. It marches on in spite of weaknesses and frailties. It marches on in spite of the ego drives of various leaders. It marches on in spite of tension and turmoil. It marches on in spite of controversy and conflict.

The Church of the living God marches on through time because we serve a God who is above time. The Church is His and not ours.

Reflections from Rome - Archives and Artifacts

Posted by Unknown Wednesday, August 14, 2013 0 comments

"Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years." It is one of the oldest cities in the world. As a result through its development the history of Western Civilization and religious history is told. By Vatican City being a country within a country, it has retained an extensive archives and artifacts collection over these many years. I must tip my hat to the Roman Catholic Church and its founding fathers and people religious. Their belief in historical criticism made them collectors of archives and artifacts from around the world. Their position as one of the most powerful empires provided them with the resources to collect and retain these precious items. The importance of Rome at a period of time when their Popes during the Middle Ages ruled the church and the country gave them great power and influence on earth. They attracted legendary figures such as Michelangelo, Bramante, Bermini and Raphael to live and work there. The buildings reflect the work of exceptional artisans and craftsmen. The ability to acquire precious materials such as gold, marble, ivory, silver, fine woods and linens added luster to the structures. Precious jewels were collected from around the world and bought to this special place - Rome.

What I learned from this experience is the historical importance of archives and artifacts to tell a story of a culture and a people.

Viewing precious containers of pieces of the manager in Bethlehem where Jesus was born, seeing pieces of the chains that held Paul when he was held captive in Rome, walking along the stone paved paths that made you feel the unevenness and tortured pace of one having to walk with the heavy burden of knowing you are walking to your end, see the pedestal were Paul was beheaded was a graphic item of this significant event, walking through the Coliseum were major contests and torture of gladiators and Christians were held, seeing the place where the chariot races were held and being reminded of "Ben Hur," and seeing the world famous Sistine Chapel impacted me and reminded me how important it is for us to collect our archives and artifacts and to preserve our story for future generations.

I view the preservation of these items and more as one of the significant contributions of Roman culture and religious history.

The challenge is for each faith community to see itself as a part of a continuum and preserve its history and tell its story to future generations.

What a powerful testimony that would be if through the eyes of each faith community this generation and future generations could tell the story of how God has been to them.

Reflections from Rome - "The Power of Faith"

Posted by Unknown Tuesday, August 13, 2013 0 comments

Last week I visited the many historic, biblical, and cultural sites of Rome, Italy. I spent four days of intensive study of biblical scripture and visited the sites described by the text. What was clear to me was the power of faith as a universal quest of the human spirit. When viewing the remains of one of the greatest empires on earth - The Roman Empire. It was amazing to realize a band of followers of Jesus Christ and believes were an element in the downfall of this powerful secular regime. The Roman Empire was without a doubt the rulers of the world. Its military might and conquest of the world was without peer during that era. Its wealth was beyond measure with its ability to extract tax from the people, kingdoms, and governments of the world, who could overcome this power. They constructed a range of gods to provide justification for their position and power. They believed god was on their side. In fact the Pontus Maximus was their god in human form on earth. They constructed secular temples for the worship of their gods.

But something happened that demonstrated the power of faith. Love became a quality stronger than hate. Service become more important than being served. Faith proved it was more powerful than intimidation. God was more powerful than Pontus Maximus. Eternity was more lasting than momentary power and fame.

The faith of people who believed in God outlasted the Roman Empire, one of the great empires of the world.

If one had a choice between faith and fame, I suggest you choose faith in God.

Four Days of Study in Rome

Posted by Unknown Thursday, August 8, 2013 0 comments

From Tuesday to Friday I have been a part of a Biblical Study group that has revisited scripture from the lens of Rome as an ancient city. So much of religious history involves Roman people, places and papers. The influence of Greek is prominent all over the city in the ancient writings on walls and statutes.

It's powerful to view sites that predate the birth of Christ and internalize the reality that Roman was once a great empire.

To visit The Vatican and remember the religious influence of Church Fathers, Popes, and the religious faithful is awe inspiring. Looking up at Michangelos Sistine Chapel speaks to an interpretation of the religious story through the eyes of this artistic genus is.  

The Power of Christianity

Posted by Unknown Tuesday, August 6, 2013 0 comments

Once a mighty empire, Rome was believed to be the center of the universe. It is a shadow of its former luster. Nevertheless, as a seedbed for Christianity it propelled this faith experience throughout the known world of that day into this modern day. St Peter's Square and The Vatican play important roles in church history. The Church Fathers wrestled with matters of faith and theology. Their search for God continues today. The blessing is God is available because He is looking for you right now! 

After 40 years this is what I've learned

Posted by Unknown Sunday, August 4, 2013 0 comments

A good wife is truly a blessing. She brings so much of God's special qualities to the family relationship. Never take a good mate for granted.

Family relationships are to be treasured because they are brief. A year ago my father was here with me, a year later he is gone. Each moment we spent together and each conversation we shared is very special. Can't cry about what I don't have because I'm so thankful for what he gave.

Your children are a blessing and they grow up and mature. It's amazing how I rely on my children for their advice and perspective. They are so brilliant that I enjoy bring with they and talking to them.

God created the family unit for a special reason. It is the building block of His Kingdom.

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my family's reunion. It was our 40th reunion and I remembered with my cousins how we organized our family over these many years.

They have become ingrained in our family as the opportunity to join with your relatives and feel the blessing of unconditional love. In our family we may joke, but we don't judge.

We believe our God is a God of second chances.  We believe that the family that " prays together stays together." Prayer, song, remembering our legacy, celebrating our children, and thanking God for our journey has been our keys to success.  

Next year we will come to Baltimore to begin our next 40 years as a family bonded together be love.

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