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."

Thursday, March 31, 2011


This two minute video really summarizes my prayer for each person that follows this blog. Two minutes that say more than many Sunday morning sermons.

Be different!
Be a fanatic!

You are blessed and you are loved,
Mark S.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011




We were already having another sweet time of worship at church on Sunday when the praise team broke into the song that I have embedded above. This particular version by the Jesus Culture is the one we were doing on Sunday. Two things happened to me almost at the same time. I had been sensing God’s Spirit already moving around the room, but then I began to sense Him inside of me, to the point that I didn’t know if my very being could handle any more of the glory if was feeling. The thought has since occurred to me that we should be sensing God’s glory like that a whole lot more than what we do. I mean think about it. We have become dwelling places where the Holy Spirit chooses to abide. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside of us. How can we walk around (and I include myself) so matter of fact all the time when we have this kind of power inside of us? There have been several times this year, usually in a time of worship, where I have seriously said to the Lord, “God, I don’t think my body can contain any more of Your glory without exploding." It’s pretty intense, but yet I want to keep seeing how much I can handle. Friend, I believe that if we remember on a daily basis what kind of power we are walking around with not only will we continue to be changed, but people around us will be affected, too.

The apostle Peter had to be aware of this great power as he walked around everyday. Is it any wonder why people were wanting so badly for even Peter’s shadow to fall on them? Peter understood the kind of power that was living inside of him, but yet Peter understood how to allow that power to leak out onto others. What a glorious mystery of the living God. The Holy Spirit wants to live inside of us, but yet He wants us to let Him out. Figure that one out!!!! Only God can do such a thing. So here we have people being healed just by being in the presence of Peter. Amazing! Acts 15-16 “….so they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” The power that came from Peter was not of Peter, it was the power of the almighty God living inside of Peter!

Simple question. When we encounter people in the store and on the street, why are we not expecting them to have an encounter with the living God? I refuse to NOT expect the miraculous to happen when I come in contact with people. Not because of me, but because of God in me.

Suddenly, I am finding myself with some pretty bold thoughts that want to trickle through these finger tips tapping this keyboard and I am now desperately asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and temperance. My heart is pounding at the thoughts in my head and I'm asking God what to do.....should I with hold or not?

....but yet here goes....anything that is not of God may it fall off...........

.............Is it any wonder why so many churches in America and in the United Kingdom are dying, and yet churches in third world countries are thriving and growing with people who are desperate for this Jesus that they are hearing about? This Jesus that saves, heals and who went about doing good and healing all who are oppressed of the devil!! Meanwhile so many of our churches are more into playing church politics and "we don't do that" self righteous attitudes rather than wanting or allowing people to see the glory and power of a miraculous, living and kingdom building God. So many of us continuing to live defeated lives everyday and then we wonder why people aren't excited about the possibility of becoming a Christian. May God forgive us and may we begin again.

Now........let me try to get back to Sunday. As that worship song transitioned into "Let it Rain," the second thing that happened was a vision of a drain. It was a drain on a filthy street. I had a sense that it was a street that still had on it all the dried salt and sludge after a long winter. The road was being washed by a steady, but gentle shower and I saw the filth being washed down that drain. God was showing me that while our church family was lost in worship, that He was washing the filth of the week off of us. Some of that filth was a result of some playing around in places where a child of God should not play. Some of the filth was sickness, disease and things that were causing bodies to experience pain or weakness. God was washing us. Showering us. Cleaning us up so that we were ready to face the days of the week ahead. He was sheltering us and restoring us so that we could better face the things of a troubled world.

If you haven't already, listen to that song.

God was doing that for us, just as He is doing that for you right now. You have fallen into the hands of the living God. It is fearful and yet glorious at the same time. It is life changing.

Now go change your world!

"......then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, and for a shelter from storm and rain." Isaiah 4:5-6

A friend who is your brother,
Mark S.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I read the following verses several weeks ago. I tried to write about them, but often found myself lacking the right words and would often delete my thoughts. Over the last month there have been some local events along with global events that have happened which have caused these verses to burn in my heart. Today I am able to better write about them. Today, you and I walk a little bit deeper into the things of God. It would do you well to read the following verses a second time before reading on. Blessings as you do.

"They (the apostles) said to you, 'In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.' These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."(Jude: 18-23)

Do you feel the spirit of those beginning verses? Do they not take on greater meaning with every historic event in these times? Dear friend, it is only by being completely sold out to God that we will be able to always stand firm. Anything less and it will only become more and more difficult. I am watching people who are in love with Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul and mind standing firm; willing to abandon all for God, not concerned about self, or being politically correct, and yet the fires of life don't seem able to burn them. I didn't say it's always easy. I didn't say that there wouldn't be periods of testing. I didn't say that hearts would not ache or even be broken occasionally, but they do and WILL stand....and stand firmly. When the winds blow, they will not waver. They will instead say, "God let me be like flint when forces not of Your kingdom press in." And God will reward that. He already is. Life has become a great adventure. They are ready to seize the day! Here is where I have chosen to cast my lot.

Now what about those who have never matured? Who just don't seem to grow up? Who struggle with carnality, or who may be living in downright sin? The answer is right there in the scripture. "BE MERCIFUL TO THOSE WHO DOUBT." If someone is not living up to your expectations, love them anyway. This is the only way we will win them over. The rest is God's job. I've washed my hands of changing people. My job is to show and teach people how to live and then to love them without condition. 2 Timothy 4:2...."Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with GREAT PATIENCE AND CAREFUL INSTRUCTION." (You should actually read those first several verses of chapter 4. Talk about a passage for our time.) Then we are to pick them up when one falls down, just as I would want to be picked up by a brother. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galations 6:1-2) In other words don't go around talking about people. Instead keep gently lifting them up.

But what about the person who is downright evil or doing the darkest works of satan as hinted at in verse 23? We still must fight against our flesh to find the heart of God. We must look to Him for wisdom and use great discernment in an attempt to "save others by snatching them from the fire." We must be careful, though, because this task is not for everyone to directly be involved with. It will take a strong spiritual heart to know how to reach those who are deep into evil without also being contaminated. It is in my heart to one day soon write about the most sadistic satanic playgrounds so that we can better expose and then dispose of them. For any reader of this blog that has been involved with or exposed to the darkest things of satan, I do, by the blood of Christ, wage war on those things until you are set free. I am waiting, though, for the Holy Spirit to let me know when the time is right for me to write of these things. Jesus, however, never stops loving and will always rejoice when a repentant heart yields. Even on the cross He still cried, "Father, forgive them........" as He was drawing His last breaths; after the nails had already been pounded and smashed in. The murderers! Remember Saul? Jesus responded to Saul, the murderer, with grace, mercy and love. Can we do the same? Take time before answering. I have to believe that Jesus snatched Saul from the fires of hell. As Saul repented he soon became our great Apostle Paul. That wasn't to say that Paul didn't at times suffer consequences because of his former ways. When God's ways are violated there are usually consequences to pay, but again, that is not our responsibility. That is in God's court and sometimes very often in the courts of the land. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that God does not desire for anyone to perish, but "for everyone to come to repentance."

Jude 18-23. There is something about those five verses that will become even more significant as the days continue on. As they bring truth and light to our eyes, darkness will have to shrink back.

Together, let us seize the day!
Mark S.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


In my last post I mentioned that I have been trudging my way through the book of Judges. One of the heroes in Judges is this guy by the name of Gideon. I will admit that when I read the story of Gideon nothing really new popped out at me from any other time in the past when I've read it. A few days later, however, my wife did something that kind of caused my spirit to be stirred up by the story. Kay told me that on the way to work that morning she had popped in a c.d. by Bluetree which contains a version of "God of This City," which was made popular by Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin. There is a mobile home park that has seen it's better days, to say the least, which Kay goes past every morning. This is a place that a lot of people try to avoid, but that morning as Kay approached it "God of This City" started. She said that when that happened all she could do was begin to pray the message of that song over the trailer court and for the people living there. I could tell by the way she told me about this that she had really been impressed upon by the Holy Spirit to do this. As soon as she told me about this experience I then heard in my spirit, "There is a Gideon in that place." It was then that I began to really think about the story of Gideon. There has not been a day that has gone by since I don't think about it. I have also began to pray over that mobile home area everyday. Yesterday, I drove through it praying over each home that I passed and calling for a stirring of God to come out of the people living there. I actually was even calling for "Gideon" to come forth. I also sense that God is telling me that in these chaotic times around the world that there are many unknown, almost faceless Gideons that are about to be called.

In the sixth chapter of Judges we find this Gideon guy kind of in hiding. In fact when I read the story I think he was kind of a coward. He even said of himself that, "Indeed, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house." Gideon had pretty poor self esteem. Because of the severe oppression by the Midianites, Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine-press instead of out in the open like was usually done. Gideon must have felt more secure hidden in an enclosed wine-press, or else he thought if he was seen that a Midianite would come and take the wheat. Regardless he was in hiding. So here we have, as Kenny Rogers might say, the "coward of the county" hiding away when suddenly the Angel of the Lord shows up and says, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" MIGHTY MAN OF VALOR.....are you kidding me? I guess I have read where God does look at the potential that each person has, even over what that person may feel about his or her self; let alone what others might say about them. Someone could make a pretty sweet movie out of this story if they wanted to what with all of the special effects that are available, because the Angel of God does some pretty incredible things to convince Gideon that he is indeed the man to lead Israel out from under the severe oppression of the Midianites. If you haven't, you should read it. It's a pretty sweet story. So when I heard, "There is a Gideon in that place," I began to get a sense of excitement. If God calls a Gideon out of there, watch out! Radical changes will begin whether they be spiritual, physical, or maybe a great combination of both.

My challenge for you today will come immediately after these next thoughts. I don't believe there is one person alive who would deny that we are living in a very chaotic world. Way more chaotic than it was even 2 or 3 years ago. People are discouraged, depressed, confused and looking for answers. Many are beginning to search for the truth about where God is at in all this. They need someone to give them hope and give them something to hold onto. I just ran into someone who for possibly the first time in his life is searching out God and believe me, in this case, that is a pretty radical thing. In a way people, like in Gideon's day, are calling out wondering where God is, or even if there is a God. Often in the Old Testament we see a God of wrath who will cause the ground to open up and swallow people because of their sin. That was before Jesus came in human form. That was when God looked directly at sin and could bear to look at it no more. Don't get me wrong, God is still that way as far as detesting sin, but thank God the Son took for us the punishment for the sins of our lives. If He hadn't I would have been swallowed up a long time ago. That is why I don't believe that for one minute God's judgment is behind these disasters that have been happening. I believe that God is being patient with love and grace wanting His creation to return to Him; to find comfort, peace and rest in His arms. To come to Him for answers.

So, just like in Gideons day, people need to be delivered. Maybe in a little different way, but still deliverance is needed. Events of the day have escalated, so don't be surprised if there will be many, some even living in fear, sin, or just uncertainty who will suddenly be visited by the Spirit of God with the call, "Rise up, mighty one!" (Or something like that.) If that call would come to you, are you ready for the challenge? I believe for some reading, God is already calling. Are you ready to be one of the ones who will help change the course? I see a Gideon in you! I like the idea that God could use you and to be history makers. Unlike in the old testament, each one of us has the ability to have the Holy Spirit living in us. God knows that you and I each have Gideon-like potential and I know that He is wanting us to use it.

So should I happen to bump into you somewhere, sometime and you hear me say, "Oh, excuse me, I thought you were Gideon. Are you?" will understand why.

From one mighty warrior to another,
Mark S.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


(I'm adding these thoughts on Friday morning, March 11........Since I wrote this two days ago, catastrophic events have happened around the world. Even here in the United States, people on the west coast are terrified at the tsunami warnings. Suddenly I am reading comments from people who are calling out to God on public comment sections. One lady has even listed a section of chapters from the book of Psalms. It's time. God is waiting. Please prayerfully consider the last paragraph of this writing. Only you and God know where your heart is today.
As always, much love.)

I have been slowly......and I do mean SLOWLY....making my way through the book of Judges. I find Judges to be a very depressing book to get though mainly because of the constant pattern of God rescuing Israel over and over, only for them to keep turning right around and forsaking Him for their evil ways. To put it in a way that we can relate to, God must have felt stabbed in the back by His chosen people over and over. I think of how we feel if we help a friend many times over because of love and kindness, only for them to fall back into the same pattern. After awhile you get tired of it and give up, but God had this huge soft spot for Israel that always bailed them out.

There was even an account where the the scripture says that, "The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel." (Judges 10:7) I'm sure that you've seen animations or movies of dragons that breath fire. Well, in this case the Hebrew word for anger is "aph" which gives the picture of one so hot with anger that it is observable in breathing through the nose. In that chapter God then basically tells the people that He is tired of their ways and that they should instead pray to the gods that they are serving to see if they will help them. The people cry out more and begin to get rid of their foreign gods. Then, "HIS SOUL COULD NO LONGER ENDURE THE MISERY OF ISRAEL." Honestly that brings tears to my eyes. We have an incredible depth of love there that almost seems illogical. This was way before Jesus and the cross. Here we have Father God looking directly at sin, which He can't stand and the buffer of the shed blood of Christ was not there to shield His wrath. Yet He STILL would rather give in to Israel out of His love than to see them suffer longer. Me? I would have said way before this, "You made your bed, just keep sleeping in it."

Oh what great love. Oh how He loves His people

But here is what breaks my heart. Here is why I am working so hard to turn things back around to God. Are we any different than Israel? Seriously think about it. People have so many things in their lives that really do come before God. Houses, cars, tv, sports, reality shows, movies, clothing, physical get the idea. There is nothing wrong with any of those things unless they come before God. In that case they become our personal gods. I know people who almost can't live if they miss one episode of their favorite reality show, but they can go a night or two without even thinking about reading a chapter from God's love letters, or spending serious time in prayer. Same with sports. That used to be me, but it is me no more. I haven't mentioned, but will now, the more destroying gods of alcohol, pornography, or drugs. Did you know that studies show that many people who say they are Christian spend more time looking at pornography than they do looking into God's word? Yet God is still jealous for our attention.

Think back to 9/11. Remember how the churches were flooded for awhile right after that happened. People everywhere in this nation saw the need to get right with and turn back to God. How long did it take for that to fade? This morning I was reading an article online from the Weather Channel about how dangerous and severe things could be for people in the Northeast this weekend as melting snow and more heavy rains appear imminent. Some very serious warnings have been issued. There is a place where people could comment on the article and as of this writing, not one person had mentioned, prayer, turning, or crying out to God for protection, or anything that even resembled a thought towards the Almighty. In fact there were a few comments that I found very disturbing. And we consider ourselves a Christian nation in the U.S.?

It's time. It's time to lay some things down. It's time to run after righteousness and godliness. It's in fact past time. There is a verse in Ephesians that basically says to use our time wisely, because the days are evil enough.

Now I must leave with positive thoughts. There is an uprising going on. There are men and women of God who are running after Him like has not been seen in a long, long time. It will be these people who will make differences. In fact their prayers are already making a difference. It is because of these people that God will show His glories and mercies in a way that many of us have never seen before. God's grace and forgiveness is being made in an overwhelming way to all. Some won't even be looking for God and His Spirit will suddenly just fall on them. For those who want to see the glories and miracles of God they are already happening. For those who desire to see into God's invisible realm it is very possible and is a reality for some already. I say very humbly that I have seen some things that not long ago I never would have believed possible. I can understand why Jesus told people not to go and tell of the miracle that they had witnessed. Many would have followed Him for the miracle, not because of who He was. There have been some things recently that I couldn't wait to write about, but I've heard the Holy Spirit tell me no. I believe the time will come soon, but it is not yet. Along with the craziness going on in the world, the "craziness" of God will increase. For those who love God we have no reason to fear and every reason to be excited.

Listen, if you are are reading this blog for the very first time....if you are concerned about all the crazy stuff going on in this world.......if you don't know what to think and are looking for answers.......if you have never considered giving your life to Christ..........this is your day. You are being called for such a time as this. No matter what you've done or how you've lived, God has a major soft spot for you. Come to Jesus and discover a brand new life. Like He did for Israel, let God come to your rescue. For the believer, if you have been more about this world than pursuing God, let God rescue you from your carnality. He would rather win over your affections than to chastise you with judgment.

"And His (God's) soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel." In the words of Pastor Steve Witt of Bethel Cleveland............"Mercy triumphs over judgment!"

Thanking God for for you always,
Mark S.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011



I just came off of a fabulous extended weekend on Carolina Beach in North Carolina. Not only with Kay, my wife and son Matt, but also my parents (who are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary!!!!), and one of my sisters. We were able to get a third floor condominium which was right on the beach and with a spectacular view of the ocean. Just before going to bed each of the three nights, I opened the patio door to the deck about 3 or 4 inches so that I could fall asleep to the sound of the ocean waves. I slept as peacefully as I think I ever have. Watching the sunrise over the ocean on our first morning was also something that I will never forget. I'm sure there are people who can look at the ocean and never connect it with God, but how they can is way beyond me. Just to think of the power of the ocean and the force of it's waves and all the life is sustains, puts me in awe of God. He even blessed each one of us with the chance to see dolphins swimming directly in front of the condo. Even now while remembering it my heart cries, "How marvelous are You, O God." If there is all that power and beauty in the ocean and creation, how much more the power of the Creator? Time and time again my heart was reminded of the awesome power of God. It helps me to understand when the Bible speaks of the "fear of the Lord," which I often feel is something that has been too easily forgotten.

I am all about being a friend of God's. I'm all for it. I love that in John 15 Jesus says, "but I have called you friends." That is a very good thing and I would hope for it no other way, but there is something that bothers me about how casual many have become towards the holiness, righteousness and fear of God. "The man upstairs" is not a good representation of who He is. We tend to forget that God wants respect and that there is still a need for a fear of the Lord. Just the way that even many Christians dabble in ungodly things tells you that we have lost a sense of the fear of the Lord. Grace is taken for granted and that is not right. Paul the great apostle even taught this. Attitudes of, "It's okay if I (fill in the blank) just this one more time, because I will be forgiven......" This is true, but if you dabble long enough you also allow the devil a foothold and then the ground you are walking on becomes very dangerous. The days are evil enough. No need to be adding anything to it.

I've had people say to me that they don't understand what it means when the Bible talks about the fear of the Lord. I've been asked that, because of Christ, do we still need to fear the Lord? The answer is yes, not because God is just waiting for you to mess up so He can get you, but rather it is showing respect for His nature and He deserves that. It shows respect for His power and authority. It will also help you to be more like Christ and even open up the door to the fullness of the Kingdom and the fullness of God's blessings. If you don't believe me read 1 Peter 1:13-19. We are even told among other things in that passage to be holy as He is holy.

Even if an 8 year old has a wonderful father who is a man of God, he still needs to have a healthy fear of his dad. Not because his dad is looking to beat him for a mistake, but in knowing that if he continually disobeys his dad that there will be consequences to pay, sometimes very painful ones! (In my day it was okay if kids did get a good swat on the backside. It maintained a certain fear of wrongdoings, which often helped maintain this thing called respect. Now even a healthy..... I didn't say cruel or out of anger...... swat isn't acceptable in society without fear of a call from the authorities. Do you think there is a difference in the respect level between now and say 40 years ago?) Having a fear of the Lord is kind of like that. Live according to His Word and the teachings of Jesus and you have very little to worry about. God will even help you through times of trouble and trials in life. Live outside of Jesus' teachings and God's will and there could be some very painful lessons of life and consequences that need to be learned. God isn't waiting with a big stick to beat us, but ungodly living, especially if you are a Christian, will eventually catch up with you. I'm talking about being defiant and pushing the wrong buttons. I'm not talking about mistakes that we make without thinking, or a sin that we quickly are sorry for. We have God's unconditional love, grace and the cross of Christ that covers that.

I also think that sometimes simply getting on our face and bowing before God will go a long way in keeping a healthy relationship with Him. It reminds us of who He is and who we are not. One of my favorite verses from the Old Testament is from Leviticus (yes Leviticus, you heard me correctly!!!) chapter 9 and the latter half of verse 24. Upon seeing the glory of God in the form of a consuming fire, all the people upon seeing it "shouted and fell on their faces." I wonder why so many have lost that reverence. Sometimes I just feel the need to bow before the Lord, or even lay prostrate before Him. I do that simply out of love, respect and the fear of the Lord, but many times when I submit like that I end up experiencing a sense of His presence and power in a way that sometimes I don't feel I could contain much more without exploding. It is during those times that I can see the glories of His kingdom even more.


Just some food for thought. You don't have to agree. I'm going back to day dreaming about the weekend anyway!!!! :)

Thanking God for you always,
Mark S.

........"even the oceans and their waves bow at Your feet....."(once you click past the silly looking flower, this is a nice video and a fabulous song!)