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7 Days Without Prayer Makes One Week (Weak)

It is so easy to get caught in the cycle of our daily routine that we forget to pray.

It is so easy to get accustomed to the mundane that we take an attitude of "I got this."
It is so easy to worry first, share those worries with someone second, and tell God about it last.
Life, in general, can weigh us down. The expectations, the relationships, the requirements, the money, the bills, the future-- you name it.
While the Bible informs us in great detail about prayer, one verse to remember are these words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to unto you." 
I wanted to share this song to simply remind you, and myself, to remember the importance and power of prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. 
Whether you need peace, joy, strength, direction, or anything else life requires, Jesus invites us to seek Him. 
As a musician, this of course brings to mind a song, "7 Dayze Without Prayer"…
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Birdland

Last night, the very last night of our NYC vacation, my parents and I attended a jazz show at the legendary Birdland.

GRAMMY nominated jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson was in the house.

Before I go any further, I must give kudos to Allyson and her band consisting of Miro Sprague (piano & Rhodes), Jeff Johnson (upright & electric bass), and Jerome Jennings (drums). They were great!

Allyson's clear voice and the band's musical prowess made for a top-quality performance. There is no room to doubt: everyone on the stage last night were professionals.

Being at Birdland is an experience, if anything, because of its rich history in providing a venue in entertainment-rich Manhattan for jazz artists and musicians.

This is the same Birdland that George Shearing wrote "Lullabye of Birdland" about and artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, Lionel Hampton, Sarah Vaughan, Quincy Jones, Chaka Khan, Amy Winehouse, Mel Torme, Erroll Garner, and Nikki Yanofsky later sang …

Writing from NYC

New York City is a place of dreams, energy, commerce, and culture.

There is so much about NYC that is contagious.

Art, finance, fashion, real estate, all live here. The envelope is pushed daily.

Everything from Wall St., to Broadway, from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State Building, are some of the standing examples of how innovation and dreams can defy the odds.

My parents and I are here for one more day of vacation. It is our 2nd consecutive year vacationing here because we love it so.

It is as though we are three voyagers out to see and experience as much as we can within a week's time frame. The discoveries are endless.

As I write looking outward from my hotel room, I see Broadway, the Hudson River, and the Gershwin Theatre. Life abounds.

There are two messages that ring clear from my view:

Never lose your imagination to dream nor the work ethic to make those realities.No one person made any of these innovations realities, you need others to help. More observations from NY…

The 2017 Rotary International Convention

The 2017 Rotary International (RI) Convention in Atlanta adjourned yesterday.

It was quite amazing to see and be around fellow Rotarians from around the world who share similar ideals about doing good to improve our world. All of the cultural, ethnic, and linguistic differences bonding together around the same cause and mission is beautiful.

Fellowship, friendship, and celebration abounded right here in Atlanta. Peace, service, and goodwill were common themes in most of my conversations. That, too, is beautiful. Our world is not as hate-filled as the news magnifies it to be. In fact, I wish more cameras would have captured the harmony and unity emanating at the Convention.

International issues, such as eradicating polio and ending sex trafficking, were central matters discussed. Progress of how Rotary is combating these issues around were shared.

I will not go into the millions of dollars invested and lives changed due to Rotary International's efforts around the world.

Atlanta Ma…

Luke 2: Where the Unqualified Come First

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  Glory to God is the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" - Luke 2:13-14
Here is what we often neglect about this scene...
This celebrated and glorious song is rendered to an audience of social outcasts: Shepherds.
During the time of Jesus' birth, shepherds were banned from testifying in court and looked down upon by the religious and political leaders and the power structure of the Roman state. They were marginalized, disadvantaged, and nomadic.
Perhaps that is exactly why they are the first at-large group to hear the Good News of the Lamb of God's birth.
First, one angel shares the good news with the shepherds (v. 9). But, seemingly the word was so good that the heavens could not contain the joy of the message and bursts into a multi-angel chorus.
Let's grasp this truth: shepherds heard the good news of Christ's birth first. The word of Jesus'…

Luke 1: The Introduction of Radical Reversal

"And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord." - Luke 1:46
Upon hearing that John leaps in her cousin Elizabeth's womb, Mary bursts into song.

The song she sings in Luke 1:46-55 is prophetic, theological, and filled with wisdom beyond her years. Her lyrics are about the child she is about to give birth to.

"He has put down the mighty... and exalted the lowly" (v. 52).
"He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty." (v. 53).
These two Scriptures, and the song itself, speaks to the radical reversal that Jesus will usher in. In this approaching reversed world, the unqualified will be qualified; the unloved and unlovable will be loved; the forsaken and neglected will be remembered; the sick will be cured; the unforgivable will be forgiven; the hurt will be healed.

In the new reversed world, there will be a solution for every offense, shortcoming, and handicap by God's grace through the salvation that Jesus the Christ will …

Luke: The Gospel of Amazement

"And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'" - Luke 22:19
Earlier this week I completed Michael Card's commentary on the book of Luke, Luke: The Gospel of Amazement. 
Not only is this the very first biblical commentary I have ever completely read and "worked" through, but it has set the bar high for any other commentaries I pick up.
A big reason why I enjoyed this study of Luke is due to how passages of Scripture are broken up into digestible parts. This is not your average commentary. 
Most commentaries are broken out on a Scripture-by-Scripture basis, whereas Card's commentary is passage-based. This structure allows readers to look at passages as part of a larger story. 
Several themes stand out: Jesus was just a human as you and IJesus was drawn, like a magnet, to those in need, especially the poor, overlooked, and marginalizedJesus served with hea…