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."

Friday, November 26, 2010


During his sermon at this years community Thanksgiving service the pastor, who is also a friend, referenced the passage in John 21 where Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" You may have heard a dozen different teachings or sermons on this passage of scripture, but tonight as I was thinking about Thanksgiving, what I am thankful for and what God means to me, I thought about Jesus' question to Peter much differently. I suddenly allowed myself to imagine Jesus asking, "Mark, son of Wayne, do you love me?" What would I be able to say that would convince Jesus that I really do love Him. I started to evaluate how much time I really allow my thoughts to include Jesus; how often I read His Word; and how often I spend time in prayer. Add to that how well do I follow the teachings of Jesus and actually do them. As His disciple the scripture tells me that I'm supposed to act just like Him. I guess for me it all comes down to how much I allow Jesus to be in my life each day and how well I interact with Him.

I recently was listening to a man talk about how his dad and what defined his life. Among other things he talked about how his dad was dedicated to his faith and God because he always taught that we owed God one hour a week. The more this man spoke the more I began to realize that he was referring to attending church every week and going to confession. That is how the son knew that his dad "loved God." This greatly began to disturb me. I'm not being critical of this man. After all maybe that is what he was taught by his dad, or much worse by a pastor or priest. There have been a lot of church leaders throughout the years who have given people that impression. It's not hard to think about an entire generation, or maybe two, where a high percentage of men and women believe that they satisfy God because they attend church every week and that will keep Him happy. My friend, this cycle needs to be broken and I'm determined to do my part in helping to break it.

Imagine this exchange................
"Mark, son of Wayne, do you love me?
"Yes, Lord, You know I love you. I give you one hour every week."

Or, imagine this exchange between my earthly father...............
"Mark, I'm your dad, do you love me?
"Yes Dad, you know I love you. I call you every Father's Day and on your birthday."

Now I can imagine Jesus turning to the other disciples still eating breakfast that day and asking, "Where did we find this one?"

The Bible continually points to relationship. God wants to have a relationship with his creation. What decent father or mother wouldn't want relationship with their children? God is no different. If God took the time to "fearfully and wonderfully" make us, to use the words of King David, don't you think He wants us to come around more often and visit? If you have children and want to be a good parent, try giving them 1 hour a week out of the 168 available and tell me how that is working out for you. Try that with your spouse and let me know how long your marriage stays healthy, or if you aren't married how about giving one hour to a best friend or maybe another family member. I've talked to a lot of people over the years who are going through something difficult. I feel for them, but at the same time I often heard, "Well, I don't read my Bible like I should," or "my prayer life could be a lot better." Usually what that really means is, "I don't read my Bible and I really don't pray." This isn't rocket science this is simple common sense. When you have a solid relationship with God, He will help you through the stuff of life. Even in the most painful times a solid relationship with God will see you through.

I'm not going to tell you a formula for knowing that you've spent enough time with God. That is between you and Him. You will know, or God will let you know, when you are being a good steward of your time, talents and finances. All of that belongs to God anyway, so it's even silly to think we are giving Him a portion of our time or possessions. It's all God's anyway so He could just take it all back anytime He wants, but God isn't like that. He is patient, loving, caring and He wants to work with you on this.

My personal desire is to be aware of, think of, or acknowledge God every single hour of my day. Please don't think I am boasting, but I've reached a point in my life where I come pretty close to accomplishing that. I don't care if someone thinks I'm fanatic, when it comes to the Lord I want to go for it with everything I have. That doesn't mean that my life is all sunshine and roses, (borrowing there from Rocky Balboa) but I can tell you that in the difficult moments I know that FATHER has my back. There are things and situations that have occurred over the past year which ten years ago would have stressed or freaked me out and would have driven me to great anger or insane thoughts. Because of my relationship with the Lord now, however, I tend to realize much more easily that "this to shall pass."

It all comes down to a Man, who died on a cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins and have full access to the Father. That paved the way for relationship. Why don't you scroll down the blog, go to the "Think Tank;" feed the fish and ponder your relationship with the Father? Does it need to improve? Maybe some strengthening is due? Or.....maybe it's already in great shape. That would be fantastic.

Now, many blessing and thanks for coming by today. Until next time remember to stay RIGHT ON THE MARK!

Much love,
Mark S.

Friday, November 12, 2010


And life goes on! As it does, I often wonder about you. I wonder how long it's been since you last checked in and I wonder what has happened in your life between visits. I often ask God to give me insight into what is going on in your life and how I should be praying. I really enjoy it when I turn on the computer and see that someone is currently reading the blog. I will often say, "Ok, God, what does this person need. Guide me into prayer. It doesn't happen always, but sometimes I get an immediate sense on how my prayer should be targeted. Sometimes God causes me to really linger in prayer for someone. I've had this happen for people in the states and for readers in other countries.

I am not looking for some theological debate today. I'm just expressing some feelings and thoughts on something that has totally captured my thoughts lately. I haven't been able to stop thinking about the invisible, spiritual realm and the dimensions that God operates in. Some of the questions I've been pondering almost everyday for the last week or so are:

God, where exactly is the spiritual realm? Is it right in front of me? Am I actually moving in, out and around the things of the supernatural? Is a ministering spirit or angel sometimes right beside me to where if I move my hand I am touching it? Does it feel my hand even though I can't feel or see anything different? When we see a vision is it only a vision or are we really seeing something as it happens in the spiritual realm?

And then I keep searching the scriptures.

Are you familiar with the story where the Syrians were making war against Israel? Elisha kept telling the leaders of Israel the Syrian secrets. Prophets can do that. Ben Hadad sent a big army with horses and chariots to surround the city where Elisha and his servant were. When the servant got up early in the morning and saw this, he was horrified and asked Elisha what in the world they were going to do. Remember Elisha's response? "DO NOT FEAR, FOR THOSE WHO ARE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THOSE WHO ARE WITH THEM." Elisha was already looking into the invisible realm. The Bible goes on to tell us that "then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." These guys were actually looking into one of God's dimensions.

I recently had a pretty sweet experience while praying with my wife. About 2 months ago, Kay came home from work to tell me that the mother of her boss had passed away. We decided that we should pray for Sally and the family right away. As I prayed, "Lord, release Your ministering spirits"...........and before I could even finish what I was about to pray, which would have been something like...... "and bring comfort to Sally and her family"...... what I saw is still hard for me to describe without getting choked up with emotion. As the words.........."Lord, release Your".......were coming out of my mouth, I immediately saw the left side of what looked like a warrior. He had his back to me so I couldn't see his face, but what I saw was his left arm shoot straight out and his finger immediately pointed. The movement was instant. The speed was so incredible that I had no chance of making them out, but I knew that several ministering beings were on their way to be with the family. It was like this warrior was just waiting for my spoken words so that he could then order the command. It was intense, overwhelming and amazing all at once. Where exactly was this warrior being? Yes, he was in the invisible realm, but exactly where? How close was I to him when he issued the command?

When I invited Christ to come into my life I began to have a part in the kingdom of Heaven. If you've allowed Christ to live in you, so do you. The Bible tells me that those of us who belong to the Lord have been raised up from our old self of sin and have been made to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 has changed my perspective of where God is when I pray. I no longer think of Him being "way up there," while I'm way down here. My perspective is now like when I talk to someone who is close to me. It has even changed my expectations when I pray. If I have accessed the Kingdom, them I must be moving in and out of the supernatural realm constantly. I just don't always realize or even think of it. Angels must be able to slip in and out of our natural world and back all the time. The Bible is full of examples, both old and new testament.

Sunday in church, worship was incredible. Absolutely incredible. When hearts are poured out passionately to God, He responds. I started looking around the worship center expecting to see signs of angels moving back and forth. I was certain that we were in their company. I kept looking, but I just couldn't see them. I couldn't and didn't want to let go of the sense that we were worshiping in the natural and yet had also stepped into the supernatural realm at the same time. I hadn't discussed this with my wife at all, but almost as soon as we got home she told me that she had a vision during worship. I listened intently as she described how she saw what looked like a pyramid without the top connected to it. She did see the top, and as we worshiped it was being lowered toward the base. A glorious top that was crystal like in appearance, but yet the crystal was fluorescent green. For the people of that church that would be a pretty significant vision considering the many prophetic words that have been spoken about their church, what God is doing there and wanting to do there. This lasted for only a couple of seconds at most and Kay opened and closed her eyes to make sure she wasn't just seeing the outline of something that she had been staring at. She wasn't. Between the senses that I experienced and what Kay told me about her vision I am convinced that the passionate worship of the worship team and those of us in the congregation had opened up a portal into the invisible, supernatural realm. And what about my wife's vision? Was it just a vision, or was she actually watching something as it was happening in one of God's dimensions?

I remind of you something that happened to the Apostle Paul. Something that Paul must have pondered in his heart his entire life. Here is Paul's account in his own words.

"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows--how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter."

Now I don't feel so bad. If the Apostle Paul wasn't entirely sure about how he had this experience then I'm certainly not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to fully understand these things. I'll just enjoy exploring the scriptures, pondering and asking God for clearer understanding. There are some things that I don't believe God wants or expects us to understand completely. If we could then that would remove our need for faith. One thing I do know though is that God is more than willing to allow us to experience, or at least to have a glimpse of the supernatural. In my humble opinion I believe that God delights in allowing us to have a peek into things that are not of our natural world. In fact in the coming days I am certain that this will become more and more common.

There will be many reading this who will think I've gone over the edge. That these things could have happened in Bible times, but they don't happen today. I'm 48. For most of my life I felt the same way. I felt that I understood that in this life there were limitations as to how much God wanted us to experience. I can't remember what exactly it was that challenged that thinking, but challenged I became. I started to read the scriptures FOR ME. I stopped trying to make the scriptures fit into some of the traditional things that I had been taught by man. Today I experience much more of what I would call the miraculous than I did even just 5 years ago.

I have a friend who has a saying which I really enjoy. He will say, "Eat the meat and spit out the bones." I encourage you to do just that with any of my writings!

Seize The Day,
Mark S.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil. (Proverbs 31:10-12,NKJ)

I woke up pretty early this morning well before the alarm went off which would tell my wife that it was time to get up for work. As I looked over at her it would be an injustice to try to explain the thoughts that went through my mind and how something that felt like more than love go through me. As I looked at her sleeping, the Holy Spirit softly whispered to me:

"She deserves your honor and your praise."

This is something that I recognized a long time ago, but hearing those words this morning greatly increased what I already knew. I have to tell you that in spite of dumb things that I have done over the years, especially the earlier years of our marriage, my wife has intended "good and not evil" for me. Kay is an incredible woman.

Because of my wife's faithfulness and belief in me and for her desire to follow God completely, we are about to step into some incredible new things that God has prepared for us. Things that even our own dreams and imaginations could not have scripted. I want very little about this blog post to be about me, so I will just say that because of me we have experienced major changes in our lives this year. Please understand that most of these changes were preceded by much prayer, occasional times of fasting, reading the Bible and words of confirmation spoken through different people. Still our daily lives were radically changed. If I were writing a book it would take at least a few chapters to journal our journey. Until recently, I had not been gainfully employed since March 19th. I started making trips back and forth to North Carolina and we all went in late July to see if God was putting something together there for us. We believe that one day we will be called to that state, specifically Wilmington and for ministry purposes. We have felt that way for several years. While the possibility that this was the year for that to happen seemed very strong, it didn't. While this went on into the summer, I spent many days in prayer, reading and preparation for something that was yet to come, but as days turned into early fall, what that something looked liked was remaining very much a puzzle. On top of that I was not working and at times would put pressure on myself that I wasn't being the provider. As financial pressure mounted, however, my blue eyed wife never thought about bailing. Instead she seemed to become stronger. Kay just kept believing in me. More importantly she believed God wanted to do something amazing in our lives.

Backing up just a little bit, there was a day last December when I was asked to a meeting. While it didn't happen that day, we were very certain that I was going to hear in that meeting that I no longer had a paid position due to the increased financial strains have filtered into many churches. You have no idea how much confidence and reassurance that it gave me to have my wife say to me that morning, "You know I was just thinking. I think that this is just part of a new great adventure that God has for us." Do you have any idea what that meant for me as a man? It certainly did seem that God was putting together a new plan for our family.

The great adventure did begin in late March of this year. While for the most part my faith is extremely strong, there were some days mixed in here and there where I would question myself and wonder if I was really hearing from God. It was on those days when my wife would be at her best. She made it very clear that she was in this journey with me, no matter what. She would remind me how God had done amazing things in our lives already simply because of obedience and trust. She had a way of being subtle in order to challenge me that I had no business to even think about doubting what God was doing. I even remember a couple of days to where I said that I just needed to go out and find the first job I could find. Want to know what my wife would say to that? "Do you really believe that is what God wants you to do right now?" Just the way she said it made it very clear to me how much she believed in that idea. She was letting me know that getting ahead of God and His plans was the biggest mistake I could make. Here was my wife working everyday while I was sitting at home reading, studying and praying. There were a couple of days where I felt pretty insecure in what I was doing while trying to hold onto the words, "I know the plans I have for you.............." I can honestly tell you that even when things were at their most difficult point my wife never even came close to complaining. Not once! I did.............she didn't. My "help mate" from God. My wife, my best friend. I could not have stayed the course like I did without her unending love and support.

God sustained us in some amazing ways. There were several times where He would supernaturally provide at just the right time as only God can. Going through this only increased our faith. I have spoken of some of my weakest moments, but those days were very few. For every difficult day, there were 30 or more good days. A pretty decent ratio. When I had those bad days, though, now you know how I made it through. My wife was a pillar of strength in keeping me on course.

And now? Maybe in the coming weeks and months I will be able to tell you of how blown away we are at what God is doing. It really has been an incredible journey which I know has really only started. For now though, I just had to dedicate some well deserved time here to my wife. I wouldn't be half the person I am without her incredible love and devotion.

I want to encourage other married couples, too. Don't you dare ever underestimate the importance of your spouse, or your importance to your spouse. A spouse can be the deciding factor between success or failure for their partner and for their family.

To the man I say:

Remember, we are to love our wives as Jesus loves the church. He gave His life for it. Will you resolve in your heart, along with me, that even if it meant dying that we would do that for our wives? Let us build up our wives so that they desire to remain pure and holy before the Father. If you have a godly wife, understand the value of the gift that God has given you. Thank God daily for your wife and your marriage. Constantly point out her strengths and only pray for that quality which might be weak in her. Be thankful! The next thing you should do is hold your wife by her shoulders and look straight in her eyes and tell her how very appreciated and loved she is. It will make her fall in love with you all over again.


Now..........if your marriage is troubled. If your wife is not the godly woman that you would hope for her to be, that is still not an excuse to not love her. She is still the woman that you took vows with before God. Look for the good treasure in her, even if you have to look hard. God sees it. God looks for the treasure in all His creation. You need to do that, too. Pray for her. Thank God for the treasure in your wife. Ask him to bless it. Ask him to help her produce more of it. Commit your wife to God that He would help her to want to rid herself of any ungodly ways. That He would change her and in doing so maybe there would be things about you that would change, also. Then watch what God does in your marriage. You also should take your wife by the shoulders and let her know that you will do everything within your power to get your marriage back on solid ground. Look at her like you did when you first fell in love with her. You might be surprised how even a look like that could change a heart.

To the woman I say:

Honor your husband, especially if he is a godly man. Choose to recognize his strengths and remind him of them. In doing so you will cause him to grow in confidence. You will help him to continue to become the leader, man and husband that God intended for Him to be. Instead of talking about, or pointing out his weaknesses, pray over them. Give them to God and watch what He will begin to do with them. Those weaknesses were not intended for you to harbor or bear. They are for God to handle.

Read Proverbs 31:10-27

Now..........if your marriage is troubled. If your husband is not the godly man that you would hope for him to be, that is still not an excuse to not love him. He is still the man that you took vows with before God. Look for the good treasure in him, even if you have to look hard. God sees it. God looks for the treasure in all His creation. You need to do that, too. Pray for him. Thank God for the treasure in your husband. Ask him to bless it. Ask him to help him produce more of it. Commit your husband to God that He would help him to want to be rid of any ungodly ways. That He would change him and in doing so maybe there would be things about you that would change, also. Then watch what God does in your marriage!

"Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NKJ)

When you allow Christ to become the unbreakable strand, it can't be severed!

To my wife Kay, I just want to say with words that will now be read in literally dozens of countries around the world.......


Living for the King,
Mark S.