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Happy New Year! I hope that you and your family had a wonderful holiday season as we reflect on the goodness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His blessing this past year. I look forward to the great things that God has in store for each of you and the churches of the BCM/D in 2023 and beyond.

Each New Year, people around the world makes what is known as “New Year’s Resolutions.” But did you know that, according to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year's resolutions is said to be about 80 percent? Most people lose their resolve by mid-February. When asked what a New Year’s Resolution was, one person responded, “It’s a to-do list for the first week of January.”

While the reasons vary, one of the top responses given when people were asked why their resolution failed was, “they were not ready to change.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we demonstrate the greatest change, the greatest transformation that the world will ever see. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit does spiritual heart surgery on you, and you are changed from the inside out. There is simply no greater change than that.

While it is good for us to reflect back on the past year and refocus our goals and priorities for the upcoming year, there is no greater priority than keeping Christ at the center of our lives. God’s Word encourages us to regularly reflect on our lives and focus on Jesus. Colossians 3:1-4 says:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)

I believe what has happened in the world today, what has happened in individuals’ lives, families lives and the culture in general is that we have taken our eyes off Jesus. Jesus is no longer the center of most people’s lives. In many instances, He is put last. Everything else takes priority over Jesus and His Church. If we desire to “seek the things that are above,” we must put a priority on the spiritual disciplines, the spiritual habits of the faith.

In order to put Christ at the center of your lives, you must make Christ the center of all that you say and do. This means practicing those spiritual habits and putting them as a priority in your lives. You cannot let the world dictate to you what to do. You cannot let the world and all of its allure and attractions be victorious. Parents, grandparents and family members need to wake up to the fact that the world is winning. We need to wake up to the fact that too many people love the things of the world too much.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are good in the world. But Christ says put them second. He says put ME first. Why? Because Jesus is the best, and as mathematicians and theologians will tell us: BEST is Greater than Good! In Matthew 6:33 Jesus reminds us to, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So what then are some ways that we can put Christ at the center of our lives here in 2023 and beyond?

In his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” Donald S. Whitney’s points out 12 Habits that the Christ Follower should be committed to. These habits are centered on the theme from 1 Timothy 4:7, which states, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” They include habits such as: Scripture reading, prayer, worship, Scripture meditation, evangelism, serving, stewardship of time and money, Scripture application, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling and learning.

If we commit ourselves to these and other spiritual Habits throughout the year, we will be well on our way in keeping Christ at the center of our lives. I encourage you to take some time to do a spiritual checkup on your life. Use these disciplines and habits as a gage to determine whether you are spiritually healthy or spiritually sick. Ask yourself questions such as: Does the way I pray, handle my finances, respond to pressure, stand for truth, and express my worship, reveal that Christ is at the center of your life?

Do your thoughts of God glorify God or grieve him? Do your prayers to God bless him or insult him? Does your giving show you trust God enough to give him your offerings and believe he will meet all of your needs? If you find yourself on the unhealthy side of this spiritual check-up, ask yourself what changes are necessary to take your walk with the Lord to the next level this year. A Christ-Centered person means that you acknowledge Jesus as the ultimate authority in your life - and you voluntarily yield the control of your life to Him.

Maryland and Delaware Baptists, keeping Christ at the center of our lives is something that we should all resolve to do. When we make Jesus the centerpiece of our life, we are able to see clearly what’s truly important. That we serve a GREAT and Mighty God! My prayer is that this particular resolution will never fizzle out. The world needs to witness what true change looks like, and that can only happen when they see Jesus working in and through your lives. So let’s resolve to Keep Christ at the Center of our lives in 2023 and beyond! Amen!

Please know that I love you all and I am praying for you. If there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Updated: Jan 14

On the evening of July 22, 2006, I received a telephone call from my sister-in-law Kelly saying that two soldiers were knocking on their front door. My brother Gary, who at the time was serving as a police officer, was away at a training session. Their oldest son Chris had been serving on his third tour of duty in Iraq during the “Global War on Terror.” Chris, who was with the Army’s 82nd Airborne, was a believer in Christ and loved serving our country. And now, there were soldiers at his parent’s door. As Kelly invited them inside, I told her that I would be over as quickly as possible.

USA Staff Sergeant Christopher W. Swanson. was killed while serving his third tour of duty in Iraq during the Global War on Terror.

As I arrived at the house, Kelly met me with tears in her eyes. Soon after, my brother Gary arrived home, and the soldiers shared the news that no parent would ever want to receive. Chris had been killed in action earlier that day in Ramadi, Iraq. For Gary and Kelly, that knock on the door would turn out to be a visit that changed their lives forever. Their son died a hero’s death, and now, the War on Terror and Memorial Day would take on a more personal meaning.

Growing up, I always knew why we celebrated Memorial Day. It’s a holiday established by Congress to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. On the last Monday of May, this day is set aside to honor the men and women who died in serving the United States military. But for me and many others, it was more about the start of summer, picnics, baseball, beaches, and a day off work and school. However, the older I got, and especially in the aftermath of my nephew’s death, I realized that Memorial Day was much more than that. It was really about service and sacrifice.

As Christians, we have the ultimate example of service and sacrifice in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Throughout scripture, we find Jesus constantly serving others. He fed thousands and healed the sick, the lame, the deaf, and the blind. He washed the feet of others; He raised the dead, and He spent time with those that no one else cared about. Jesus lived a life of servanthood. In Matthew 25:40, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” As Christ-followers, we are called to put others first and look for opportunities to serve like Jesus served. (Philippians 2:3-4)

In Jesus, we also find the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. While the soldiers we honor on Memorial Day have sacrificed for our earthly freedom, Jesus sacrificed for our eternal freedom. His sacrifice allowed us to gain a spiritual victory over sin, death, and hell. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” On that first Good Friday, over two thousand years ago, Jesus willingly went to a cross outside of Jerusalem and laid down his life for us. Our sins, past, present, and future, were nailed to that cross with Jesus.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” I am so thankful that Jesus considers us His friends, and because of his death and resurrection, we have a promise from Romans 10:9 that says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” When it comes to the end of life, there are really only two things that matter. They are:

1. Whether you accepted Jesus Christ’s free gift of grace and salvation

2. Whether you rejected it.

The choice you make has huge eternal consequences and is literally a heaven vs. hell decision.

This Memorial Day, you will most likely find my brother and sister-in-law visiting section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery and participating in remembrance ceremonies with other Gold Star families. As a nation, we hold the deepest gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have given their lives over the ages, defending our freedoms and families. For those that are in Christ, I am thankful for the promise given in Revelation 21:4 — “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

As Christians, we know that our first allegiance is to God and that our ultimate citizenship is not of this world. We are thankful above all things for the service and sacrifice of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. I am not sure why the Lord afforded me the opportunity to live in this great nation, but He did, and I am thankful. I am thankful for the men and women who have served faithfully throughout the years, and especially for those who have given up their lives to protect our freedoms.

So, this Memorial Day, remember to say thanks and to pray for our nation and our leaders. This is an imperfect nation because we are an imperfect people. But the good news is that we serve a perfect God who wants a personal relationship with you and me. The reality is that one day, there will be a knock on our family’s door, a phone call, or a visit from a doctor saying that we have passed away. The question is, where will you be spending eternity? My prayer is that you will be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and he will say to you, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

Please know that I love you all, and I am praying for you. If you have any questions about salvation and/or if there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me at:

“All gave some; some gave All.”

* All scripture quoted in English Standard Version (ESV)

Glenn Swanson is the pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, and he serves as the president of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.

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Thursday April 14, 2022

One of my fondest memories as a young boy was belonging to a local chapter of the Royal Ambassadors (RA’s) at my home church in Upper Marlboro. The RA’s is a mission-oriented discipleship program for boys in elementary school sponsored by Women on Mission (WMU). It has many similarities to the Boy Scouts (camping, badges, projects, and more), however, it is Christ-centered with a focus on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). (There are a variety of other WMU missions programs available for all children and older students.)

The purpose of the RA’s is outlined in their pledge, which I still have memorized to this day and have taught on several occasions. There are five core principles in the pledge.

As a Royal Ambassador, I will do my best:

  • To become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ.

  • To have a Christ-like concern for all people.

  • To learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world.

  • To work with others in sharing Christ.

  • To keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body.

My parents, teachers, and RA leaders helped instill these principles in me, which in turn, helped to shape and mold my Christian life to where it is today. As followers of Jesus, we would all do well in living out these principles. In doing so, we give our BEST when:

  • First, “We become well-informed, responsible followers of Christ.” Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Store up God’s Word in your life by reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it so that when someone asks you a question, you will be ready to give an answer that reflects Christ. 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

  • Second, “We have a Christ-like concern for all people.” Every day we encounter people who are different from us. They may look different and act differently. They may come from different races, ethnic groups, backgrounds, and religions. We can point them to Christ by demonstrating that we genuinely love and care for them – no matter who they are or where they have come from. In Mark 12:31, Jesus reminds us that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” One practical way to do this is with random acts of kindness and serving others as Christ served us.

  • Third, “We learn how the message of Christ is carried around the world.” In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His followers that they will be His “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” In Acts 13, the first international mission trip took place as Paul and Barnabas were sent out to Gentile territories. It is important for us to learn from the success and failures of those who went before us and to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us on mission.

  • Fourth, “We work with others in sharing Christ.” There is something special about coming together with other like-minded believers and churches in proclaiming the good news of Jesus. This is why being an active member of your local associations and state and national conventions is important. There is indeed strength in numbers and we are “better together.” Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpens iron,” and Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”

  • Fifth, “We keep ourselves clean and healthy in mind and body.” We need to honor the Lord Jesus Christ through our words and actions. In Romans 12:1-2, we are reminded that Christ-followers should “Present [their] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [their] spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

It is an honor and a high calling to be an ambassador. Whenever I get an opportunity, I enjoy driving down “Embassy Row” in Washington, D.C., looking at the embassies and residences of the various ambassadors from around the world. I am reminded that these ambassadors are in the U.S., each representing their nation and its leadership. These people are usually the best of the best and they want to represent their nations with excellence.

The RA motto, found in 2 Corinthians 5:20, says, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” As His ambassadors, there is no higher calling for the Christ-follower than to represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with excellence. My prayer is that you will be the ambassadors for Christ in your homes, workplaces, schools, and communities. In all that we say and do, may we glorify HIS name.

Please know that I love you all and I am praying for you. If there are any specific prayer requests that you have and/or anything that I can assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me at

All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

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