Matthew 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"FOLLOW THE ORANGES," (THUS SAITH THE LORD!!!!!!????)

To Pastor Keith and Katie Gallo, I want to dedicate this blog entry to you..............we love you two and your beautiful children very much..........you are so blessed and God has only gotten started with your journey.   To VENUTRE CHURCH in Port Orange, Florida and to it's amazing church family................we are so excited for He what has already started and what still awaits you.  Buckle up!   Always be loyal to the Lord and ready to stand for Jesus at all times.  We have been hearing about what God is doing among you.  We can't wait to actually come to you so that we can witness what is happening for ourselves.

Greetings my friend.  It's been awhile since I've blogged and I hope this finds you well.  I don't know how to explain this, but I've actually felt driven to write this blog entry.  When I got up this morning I sensed that the Lord was pushing me to finish and get it posted  today.  For some reason I feel a sense of urgency to do so.  Somehow this is going to impact someone's life.  Don't ask me how I know that..........I just know.   Today, I'm going to share a dream with you that I had quite a few years ago, but it seemed to remain dormant until about 6 months ago.

This next paragraph is very important.  Don't just blow through it.  But always test what I say with scripture, prayer and discernment.

If you ever receive a word from the Lord, have a dream or vision that you know or believe that has been sent by Him make sure you write it down, pray over it and hold onto it.  Remember, it took hundreds of years before many prophecies that were recorded in the Old Testament to be fulfilled   Some still have not been fulfilled.  In Habakkuk we read that "the vision is for an appointed time." We are to wait for it,  for it will surely happen.  This dream was for an appointed time and yet I still don't fully understand it's entire meaning. This will be a great journey.  Even though this is my dream, I want it to encourage you.  I want you to understand that God will give us dreams, visions and speak to us in very personal ways if we so desire and allow Him do so.  (Joel 2:28-29).  I really desire to know God like Moses did.  God speaks to us through His word, but I see no where in scripture that leads me to believe that He does not desire to speak to us in other ways, too.   Intimate, personal ways. In my case, He often speaks to me as I am waking up.  And it usually gets confirmed, sometimes really fast.    Just remember though that you are NOT hearing from God if it doesn't line up with or contradicts scripture in any way.

The way that God brought this all about reminds me of something that could have came out of the book of Acts.  The Lord sends a dream to a man in a small northeast Ohio town only to bring that dream back to life 8 years later in a church just south of Daytona Beach, Florida.  And then on top of that, Kay (my wife) and I both immediately experienced the sweet presence of Jesus during the church service.  A prophetic revelation began to come to me that God's anointing was resting there, and Venture church was about to see an explosion of the Spirit and church growth.  After the service,  I remember encouraging Pastor Keith to always stay pure and to just stay out of the way and let God do His thing.  What I didn't know on that Sunday was that the church had previously set Sunday, January 29th as a shut down date.  But at a pastor's conference on January 19th, the Lord confirmed to Pastor Keith and his wife Katie that they were to stay the course.   Then a week after they had planned on closing, we showed up offering words of encouragement and further confirmation that God was about to do some really cool stuff.

 I'm trying keep this from becoming too long, but yet I need to somehow give you an idea as to how crazy this has been for me and my wife.  Crazy good, though.  I think the easiest thing to do is to share part of an email that I sent to Pastor Keith back in late February.  I've only edited a few sentences for better clarity.

Pastor Keith   I trust things are well with you guys. I so wish that the Lord would transport us, like He did with Phillip, so that we could be a part of what God is doing for you all in Port Orange! Ever since we were with you the first Sunday in February we think about you all almost everyday and I often include you, Katie and the church in my prayers. I also have been wanting to tell you of a dream that I had around 8 years ago that came back to me during worship when we were at the church. Please don't read anything into this (you'll see why) as we don't even know what to think about it. Kay and I do know that there is a new stirring in our hearts ever since we came home from Florida.

Here is a little info that you need to know which will help you understand the beginning of my dream.   Quite a few years ago we vacationed in Wilmington, North Carolina. One day as we were just randomly talking I offered to Kay that while I didn't want to scare her, I was feeling that God was putting that part of North Carolina on my heart for ministry reasons. Kay surprised me by telling me that she was feeling the same way, but just hadn't said anything to me yet. We assured each other that it wasn't just because that Wilmington was by the ocean with beautiful weather! We also had no family or friends there at that time, so there was no reason to just want to move there.  However, a couple of years later one of my best friends at church came to me and said that he had a job offer in N.C. and there was a good chance that they would be moving.  The city that they moved to was of course, WILMINGTON, N.C.     Fast forward now.   Because of our friends moving there, Kay and I began to spend a lot of time in Wilmington.  It seemed that every time I was there  I found myself involved in some kind of ministry,  including one incredible day at the river walk just randomly praying with people.   One man who was trying to hide a can of beer even went to his knees when I asked if I could pray for him.  We came very close to moving to Wilmington about 7 or 8 years ago, but I didn't have complete peace that the timing was right,  so we didn't. There are some days when I still question that decision.

Now you are ready to hear the dream. It was around 8 years ago when this came to me and during a time when we were ripe with excitement about God taking us to Wilmington. I know when I hear from the Lord and I knew that this dream was from Him, but it really puzzled me........and Kay.

In my dream an angel or some kind of heavenly being had come to get me. I was suddenly in the air and we began to go south. Even though we were pretty high up I could still somehow know and was able to tell which state we were above and passing through.   I was really excited in my dream and remember thinking that I was actually about to see where we would be living. We were passing through the states quickly and we were suddenly going through North Carolina. As we hit North Carolina I was expecting our pattern to change in order for us to travel southeast towards Wilmington, but we kept going. We quickly passed through South Carolina and I think we had just crossed into Georgia when I said to this heavenly being, "Wait, we've gone to far................!" I then started to wake up and as I opened my eyes I heard the words plain as could be, "Follow the oranges." I woke up and I was stunned.   I know when I hear from the Lord and I woke Kay immediately. We both just lay there and were like "What the heck was that all about?" I remember laughing and just being perplexed, but I was off that day so we started to go about doing some things.

A couple of hours later we were going somewhere and I stopped at a Sheetz gas station to get a couple of hot drinks. It was winter. As I opened the door to get out I stopped and stared. I got the chills when I looked over at Kay and told her that she would never believe what was in the snow right at the foot of my door. ORANGE PEELS and only by my door. Immediately I remembered "Follow the oranges."

So.......we never moved to North Carolina, but have always felt that we were or are going to end up there.   Also, because I know when I hear from the Lord I would sometimes think about "Follow the oranges" and wonder about that.  However, I honestly hadn't thought much about that dream for probably a couple of years and it didn't seem to fit into my understanding.( It makes me laugh to even say that, because I know better.)    To be honest over the years it had even started to fade.

Until.....................

So now here we are in sweet worship at Calvary Chapel (now Venture Church) on February 5th. I was enjoying worship so very much because I could sense the sweet presence of Jesus. It was somewhere during the second song when I heard it . Out of the blue and almost in a whisper................"Follow the oranges." Right after that the thought coming into my mind was, "You're even in Port Orange," which led me to look up and ask, "Are you kidding me right now?"

Keith, you can only imagine the conversation between my wife and me as I told her about this while we were driving north on I-95 to come home. I can only shake my head and laugh and wonder whenever I think of this. Neither of us has ever had a desire to live in Florida, nor do I feel that God has suddenly told us to. To be honest, I just don't know what to make of this, but again I know when I hear from the Lord and almost every time that I have I can pinpoint when what I heard came to pass with confirmation.  "Follow the oranges" is one that I still ponder.

One night last week as we were going to bed I just kept pacing back and forth. Kay asked me a couple of times what was going on and I couldn't even open my mouth to tell her. I finally was able to tell her that my spirit was jumping and I felt like my body was tingling. I started to laugh and told her that whatever God was doing He is starting to move quickly. And then I laughed some more! lol When I finally got into bed I thought, "I have got to tell Pastor Keith about this" and then I chuckled some more. That Holy Spirit...............oh my gosh. ha ha ha

So now that you know all this you can laugh and pray for us. I don't know what to think, but yet I am so excited and have had like a fresh wind of God blowing on me for a few weeks now. I also have started to pay more attention to Calvary Chapel churches and have bookmarked yours and looked up the one in Wilmington, N.C.

At the very least, you impacted my son in a great way.   One of my younger sisters passed away in June (2016) and it has been very hard on Matt as well as all of us.   He loved his aunt very much and then in October we had a nephew die of cancer. Coming to your church while he was at umpire school helped renew his spirit. He couldn't wait for us to go to church with him at Calvary Chapel. THANK YOU!!!!!

I believe that God's favor is upon you and the church in an amazing way. I can't wait to hear of new things, new ministries, lives won to the Lord and the explosion that I believe that God is bringing.

Now here we are in August and the transformations taking place at Venture Church take my breath away.  Knowing that God chose me to speak life into this church gives me the chills,  and I say that with only humility.  It has been a humbling experience.  I wish I could include every single detail about this story, but there is no way to even begin to add more.  Please do yourself a favor and if you live near, or vacation near Daytona Beach/Port Orange and it's a Sunday, take time to visit Venture Church and experience the presence of Jesus.  And who knows, if you are traveling from the northern states to Florida, you may just see me going in the same direction.  At that point just smile and wave. You'll know that I am just FOLLOWING THE ORANGES!!!!!

https://www.facebook.com/venturechurchlife/
www.venturechurchlife.com

Peace,
MarkS.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

THE VALLEY OF DECISIONS

In my last blog I told of how I heard two things from the Lord on a Sunday evening in November.  Actually there were three.  The first two I felt I needed to write about, but the third was a message specifically for me.  In order they were:  "I've told you the time is now"............"The Valley of Decisions"....................followed by, "I'm giving you a message to preach."

Last month I spoke of how the time is now.  I called it "The Waiting is Over."  Now let's go to "The Valley of Decisions."  I have given much thought on how to talk about this today.  How to be creative with my words in order to draw you in so that you will really hear what I am trying to say.  But I kept drawing a blank and wasn't sure why.  Usually when I blog it just kind of flows for me, but not today.  I was wondering why when I heard these whispered words, "Cut to the chase; this isn't about you."

So here goes

The passage that refers to the valley of decisions is in Joel chapter 3.  It speaks of a harvest, but not a "feel good" harvest.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his disciples to lift up their eyes for the time of the harvest was happening.  That's a "feel good" harvest.  It was time to reap the rewards from good seed that was sown.  That's exciting.  We don't like to think about the harvest spoken of in Joel.  It sounds judgment.  Probably because it is!  Here it is and I have taken it from the New Living Translation.  (Joel 3: 12-16)

“Let the nations be called to arms.
    Let them march to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I, the Lord, will sit
    to pronounce judgment on them all.
 Swing the sickle,
    for the harvest is ripe.[a]
Come, tread the grapes,
    for the winepress is full.
The storage vats are overflowing
    with the wickedness of these people.”
 Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision.
    There the day of the Lord will soon arrive.
 The sun and moon will grow dark,
    and the stars will no longer shine.
 The Lord’s voice will roar from Zion
    and thunder from Jerusalem,
    and the heavens and the earth will shake.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
    a strong fortress for the people of Israel.

So why do I believe that this is a word for today?  First off I don't believe that on that night that God was showing me that the time of His full judgment on the nations and people is immediately upon us.  God continues to be patient, not looking forward to this time.  God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked would turn and live.  (Ezekiel 33:11)  However, that time will come, and it is much closer than we think.

A couple of weeks ago on the beloved (sarcasm implied) Facebook, I wrote that I believed that another great awakening is upon us.   A friend of mine replied that he believed that if that is so, then a time of winnowing will come first.  I believe that is exactly where we are at when God spoke to me about "the valley of decisions."

 There is so much worldliness that has crept into the church and so much compromise in the Christian community.  One of my grown children would call it hypocrisy and sadly, she is right.  It has really watered down the power of the Gospel.  Remember in the Bible where it says that Jesus couldn't do a lot of great works?  The reason wasn't because He was having a bad day, it was because of the condition of the peoples hearts.  (Matthew 13:53-58)  That same principle has stripped away  the power of the church.   However, it is now time to change all that. It is time to decide when it comes to God and His kingdom, are we all in, or not?  I will be bold enough to say that the time for that decision cannot be delayed any longer.  There is a shift that is already taking place when it comes to how the presence of God is going to be experienced in the United States........ and around the world.  We are warned in the scriptures that being on the fence is a dangerous place.  We need to decide now if we are going to be hot or cold when it comes to following God.  For many, being lukewarm has been a fun place.  That fun place has ended.  If you want to stay lukewarm, you may as well just go ahead and take up residence in the shadows of the cold.  Even dabbling in what we might call borderline sin needs to be cut out now.  Some reading this are being immediately convicted.  Just  remember that there is a huge difference between being convicted and being condemned.   The Holy Spirit convicts us out of kindness and love to help us become more like Christ.  Jesus often said to "go and sin no more."  While that was a warning, it was also said by the Savior who completely loved the person He spoke it to.  He was trying to help that person become more kingdom minded.  (Maybe we could think about that the next time we are ready to call someone "judgmental" for speaking out about areas in our lives that contradict the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.)

For those who have decided to follow Christ without compromise and at any cost, while we also will experience trying and difficult times, this is going to be a glorious time even more.  A great adventure that will make the trials so worth going through.  The protecting hand of the Lord will be felt.  I am encouraging my wife to write down an incredible dream that she had last night that strongly points to the protecting and redemptive hand of Jesus.  Hopefully it will soon be shared here.

For you who have chosen to burn in your pursuit of Jesus, the end of that passage from Joel is a beautiful thing.  "But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel."

Almost seven years ago a woman who I had not even met at that time wrote to me about a vision that she had of me.  We have since became friends, but guess what it had to do with?  Nothing other than a valley of decisions!  I will admit that over the last few years I had forgotten about that vision, but on that Sunday evening in November when I heard the Lord say those words to me it came gushing back into my spirit.  This is what my friend wrote to me, word for word, on February 28, 2010.

"I saw you standing in a clearing with your arms raised to the sky, it was sunny and warm as you smiled upwards. The sun shone so brightly....then I saw you turn and wave them forward....lets go!!!! Lets Go!!! I heard you say....then I saw heads turning amongst a large crowd and the way they were traveling was stopped and they turned your direction. They still seemed dazed and confused but they turned.....they turned!! He needs us to reach the mutlitudes...that is what I heard said....reach the multitudes.
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! Joel 3:14"

Up until last month I had not blogged in over a year, so I was shocked when I saw that "Right on the Mark was closing in on 40,000 page views from people around the world.  It is my sincere hope and prayer that I am helping you and encouraging you in your walk with the Lord.  God is madly in love with you and longs for all of you.  Much in the way that a new husband has a passionate desire for his new bride.  I may not know you personally, but I can honestly say that I love you........because Jesus loves you.

Come with me!  Following Jesus will be a blast!
Mark S.