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."

Monday, May 30, 2011



I love to experience the Holy Spirit's moving. I love the emotions that come when in the presence of God. There is nothing like sensing that you are getting a glimpse of the Throne Room while in intense worship; when Heaven seems to open up so you can have a shadowy peek. I believe though that we can become so infatuated with experience/emotion that it becomes the most important thing in our walk with Jesus. Again, don't get me wrong, I crave and long for more of it, but it concerns me when people put so much emphasis on this, but seldom spend time studying and reading the Word. I think this is an error in judgment.

When Jesus was facing confrontation with the devil, He quoted the Word. He didn't mess around doing anything else. He immediately spoke the Word which is our sword according to Ephesians 6:17. In fact if you read that passage you will see that out of every piece of the armor that we are to put on, the sword of the spirit , which is the Word of God, is the ONLY offensive piece. We are told that the Word of God is "living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow and is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) Shouldn't there be incredible emphasis put on reading and living according to the Bible? We can have all the emotion we want, but without a strong understanding of the Word, our lives won't change much if any at all.

I love the freedom to be expressive in worship. It's hard for me to go into a church service where expressive worship isn't practiced. It's hard for me to not at least stretch out my hands to the Lord. The only reason I sometimes resist doing this is because where it isn't practiced people tend to start looking at and watching the one doing it instead of staying focused on God. I don't think we should ever allow focus to be brought to ourselves in a worship setting. As much as I struggle with not being able to worship in that way, I struggle even more with people who constantly weep at the alter, dance in the spirit, speak in tongues, or laugh in the spirit (all things that I love) and yet live their daily life in defeat and sometimes like anything but a child of God. That should not be and often it shows a lack of drinking from the Word and sometimes a lack of prayer life. I'm not judging. I've counselled with enough people, though, to see a pattern.

To me, other than accepting Christ, the most important thing in the life of a Christian should be a knowledge of God's Word. We are too easily defeated without it. I've always loved the Word and before I took any class on the prophetic, or how to speak prophetic words into peoples lives I started to understand and see those types of things by personal study of the Word. That's one example. (It helps to understand, also that the gifts of the Spirit and miracles didn't go out with the Apostles. I know a lot of people who don't believe that certain gifts are still available today, so naturally they never operate in them and yet can quote scripture better than most.) Again, don't get me wrong. I think additional training is good and will only help us learn how to better minister to people, but never underestimate what an understanding of the Word will teach you.

Recently I heard a sermon from my parents pastor in Pennsylvania which has helped me to explain the importance of reading the Bible. What Pastor Brian basically said (with apologies to Brian because I know that he explained it much better than I will) was that reading the Bible more won't cause God to love you more. It doesn't mean that He will even bless you more. What it will do for you, however is keep you alerted to God's daily plans for you. You will be able to see them. You will better have the ability to understand where God is wanting to take you. You will find it easier to step into the favor that God desires for each one of us. God's provisions and blessings are always there. We are the ones who often miss them and the Word helps us to NOT miss them. This is why the Pharisees that encountered Jesus were so blinded. He was the LIVING WORD and they refused to listen to Him. Because of that they never were able to understand or experience and appreciate the miraculous things of God, nor were they able to please God. That and the fact that when they did study the law and scriptures they usually distorted what they read for personal gain, taking scriptures out of context, so they could puff themselves up while walking around basking in self righteousness.

Surely that doesn't happen today...............................

One day last week I came home very tired and filthy after a long day of work. I was irritable and grouchy. Oh, my poor wife! The first thing I did though, after taking a shower, was to read a couple of chapters in the Bible, specifically from the book of Acts. Before I knew it, my thoughts were taken off of myself and back onto the things of God. I remember feeling a surge of excitement for life and to be alive during a time where God wants to reawaken the church.


Read the Bible. It's good medicine for the soul!

Be good and be God's,
Mark S.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I've been working a lot this week, which is a good thing. I've also been wanting to write to you again, but it seems that every evening I'm just too tired to really put a lot of thought into what I want to say. Then again, maybe that is a good thing. Maybe there would be to much of "me" in the thoughts and not enough of God's thoughts. Even though I've been out working, I've also tried to keep my ears open to hear God talking. That's what I like to write about most. What God is saying and what God is doing.

If there is anything that I've heard clearly from the Lord the last few days it would be summed up in this. The world is changed forever. It is not going back to the way it was. And I believe that God is wanting that to be very clear. We may have flashes of a week, maybe even a few here or there where it will seem like things have returned to "normal," but in the back of our minds many of us will always know that the life we knew is different and that we must always be on our toes for what may come next. Paul the great apostle instructed us to be ready in all seasons and at all times. (2 Timothy 4:2) It's a weird thing to quote yourself, but that is what I am going to do. I'm going to share part of a post that I wrote back on July 3rd of last summer in a post titled, "AND AN ATHEIST SHALL LEAD THEM?" I'll bet that title just made you blink! Here is part of what I wrote that day:

"About 3 months ago(around April 2010) the Lord said to me, "Everything as you know it is about to change." I can't even grasp what that all means. God said that to me; for the journey that my family is now on, but at the same time I believe that God would say that to all of us. We are in a new time, a new day and a new generation of believers are rising up."

When I read those words my mind pretty much stops. Quite simply it has no choice, because I am amazed at how truly prophetic those words were for me and for the world around me. Even as I write this I am sensing the Holy Spirit tell me that I am on the threshold of an even more dramatic move of God in my life. All I can say is, "let it be as You wish Lord. I am Yours. I am Your servant."

I have been reading a lot lately of words that were spoken by prophetic type people about what is ahead for us. May I say to you also that many of these things were spoken and recorded either last year or the year before. The earthquakes, the tornadoes and the devastation that we have experienced did not come as a surprise. When they happened I was very saddened and felt much grief, but not surprised. There had even been a prophetic word spoken about a "Black Swan" event (click on that for a Wikipedia explanation of what a black swan event is) about 10 days or so before the Japan earthquake. At the time it was said that a second one was yet to come. There have been words spoken about nations in uprise and confusion. Sound familiar?

I don't tell you this to scare you. There is no reason to fear and there is no faith in fear. I tell you this that you might call out to the Lord with all your heart. Be alert. Renew your strength in Him. He will not fail those who love Him. Dear friend, I also believe that what God wants to say to you tonight, or whenever you read this, is.......and I say this with a spirit of weeping and with many tears, as my love for you is deep..........

............."Precious one, I love you. But the world has tried to forget Me for way too long. As the earth is groaning, so I am groaning for many, and especially My bride the church to return to what should have been it's First Love. I have tried in so many ways to get Your attention. Not just you, but oh so many. And many have not heard nor turned. Many have even turned a deaf ear. There is so much evil. So I am calling and I am saying, 'A new day has come and a new chance for my bride to return.' There are days of difficulty yet to come, but I want my bride to shine, to glisten, and to show the world of my glory. I want my bride to become a refuge and a shelter for those who are already desperate for answers. There are many that are hurting who need to find and call on Me for the very first time. Will you be there for them? I love you and I mean you no harm. I so desire your love. I am a Trusted Friend. You will find shelter in me. I AM your Trusted Friend. Feel me as I wrap you in my arms tonight. Yes this very night..... as you close your eyes, let me hold you. My peace will be in your dreams. You have my heart. Do I have yours?"

Very honestly and with fear of the Lord.........I believe with all my heart that God wanted to use me to say those words to you right now, no matter what time it is when you are reading this.

Will you also now read Psalm 14?

Faithfully yours,
Mark S.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I am going to try to be very sensitive as I write today. I know that what I am writing can be very controversial and stir up a lot of emotion. This will be my interpretation of scripture on this particular subject, but I am always sensitive to the views of others. This is one of those topics that I think is good if it gets us to dig into the scripture and have good discussion, but one that should never divide us. I also want you to know that as I write about what we might view as premature death that I have had people that I love who have died at a young age, some tragically. I am not even sure why I want to talk about this particular thing right now. To be honest, in a way I don't. However, for two reasons I shall. One is that for two days now the Lord has put this on my mind to write about and secondly because I hope this helps someone, many actually, with their view of God. To understand that He is a loving Father and One who does not enjoy seeing His children go through pain. (Be careful on how you interpret what I just said.)

I've read and heard a lot of sarcastic comments lately about God when it comes to recent catastrophic events, tragedy and death. I saw someone make a comment a couple of days ago of, "yea, thanks God for sending so much death," in reference to the recent deaths from the tornadoes and flooding. I also had a friend tell me not long ago that she had always viewed God as mean because of how He took loved ones away in death, especially at an earlier age. When I realized that I had a friend who had that view of God it broke my heart. So let's take a look. Where is God when it comes to a death due to sickness, accidents, shootings and really just tragedy in general? Are those things of God, and are they of His design? What caused death in the first place and was God connected to it? I would rather look to the Bible for this answer than anywhere or to anyone else.

So where did death come from and who was involved? You don't have to go very far in the Bible to get the answer. God had created a perfect environment for man to enjoy. He had given him the most fabulous place to live and the most beautiful garden that could be planted. There are are also two trees that come into play in this story. The tree of life which is the tree associated with experiencing the life and God, including immortality and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God basically told Adam that everything was good and everything was his to enjoy, except for one thing. "...but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." It was not God's heart from the beginning for man to experience death. Yet we know what happened. You can read the story in Genesis 3, but for the sake of space and time I will just say that when the transaction that allowed death to enter into the world was made..........GOD WAS NOT THERE. HE WAS NOT PART OF THAT TRANSACTION. I see satan in the form of a serpent and I see a couple of human beings. I do not see God.

Suddenly, everything has changed. Not only is there now a fallen people, but everything about the environment where people live also is changed. Most will agree that this is when death became of a part of life, but very seldom do we make note of how ALL of creation, including the earth and atmosphere underwent a violent flip. Not only was man messed up, but now there were laws of nature that were messed up, too. Creation seems to take on a personality when the Bible tells us that it became subjected to frustration and futility. I'll pick up in Romans 8:20 with the New Living Translation which reads, "But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."

Please show me if I am overlooking something, but I cannot find anywhere in the new testament that leads me to believe that God desires for someone to die prematurely or tragically. Instead I see Jesus raising people from the dead. I do see some things happening in the old testament and BEFORE Jesus lived as a man, like where God caused the ground to open up and swallow people alive, or where He destroyed the earth with a flood. But those times were BEFORE Christ and always as a result of man's wickedness. When I've gone to a funeral of a loved one who died as a result of a "premature" death I've never said that God chose to take him or her. I just can't believe that. Where is the scripture to back up that kind of thinking? Show me examples from the Bible? Instead we live in what is sometimes a very cruel, but fallen world where horrible things can happen. However that doesn't mean it's God causing them to happen. Remember the transaction.

I don't see God causing these things, but instead I see God wanting to rescue us, even rescue us from the sting of death by way of the cross. I also know that God, because He is rich in mercy and grace will do His best to take a bad situation that has happened and try to make something good to come out of it. That's why we often hear about people coming to Jesus in the middle of tragedy.

You know what is weird about this for me? I woke up yesterday with this topic in my head. I didn't understand it. I didn't even mention it to my wife. But within a couple of hours as we were heading home to Pennsylvania for Mother's Day, my sister called to tell me that one of my cousin's lost his best friend due to an ATV accident. This man had a 10 year old daughter and I think he had a younger child also. I sure hope that nobody tells these children that God chose to take their dad, as I often hear well meaning people say.   So often we feel we need to be able to explain why, or even come up with reasons to explain God.

I want to say to this man's family, my cousin and all who have lost loved ones in tragic situations. God did not cause the loss of your loved one. It is the result of an imbalanced world and a groaning creation. God is extending His hand of love to you right now. Try with everything you have to hold onto Psalm 94:18.... "If I say, 'My foot slips,' Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul." I believe that God's heart broke over His perfect creation becoming imperfect. I believe that the heart of the Father hurts when we hurt, just like a good dad feels grief when he watches his children struggle or are in pain. That's why the Psalmist wrote in his time of trouble, "Put my tears into Your bottle, are they not in Your book?" (Psalm 56:8) David understood that God cares and wants people to run towards Him, not run from Him because He is a mean God who takes loved ones a way. People will often say, wanting to be well meaning, that maybe God wanted or needed someone in His presence more than we needed them. Why? Psalm 90:4 says, "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night." So in God's eyes we will all be with Him in a blink anyway.

God operates in so many more realms than we could ever imagine. Just because God has the ability to see the number of our days and was able to allow the prophets and the writers of the scripture to foretell of earthquakes and famines; just because God has the ability to know of even coming disasters as the earth continues to shake, doesn't mean that he wanted them in the first place. Remember who was present during that ridiculous transaction that took place in the garden. God might have been watching, but He sure wasn't wanting for it to happen.

Today is not the day, but for those of you who visit here regularly you must know I so want to talk about how God wants us to realize the authority that He gives us in regards to some of the bad stuff in this life. To be bold and courageous, just like he commanded Joshua to be. The same Joshua who commanded the sun to stand still. I strongly hinted at that authority in "Not on my Watch."

For now, keep trusting Abba. He is a trusted friend!

Much love,
Mark S.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I'm just kind of writing from my heart today. No real topic or agenda. Just my heartbeat, the pulse behind this blog. Sometimes I go back and read some of the things that I've written and like anything else in life there are times when I think, "I didn't do a very good job with that." A few times I have thought, "That was a dud," but yet there are many other times when I think, "God, you helped me nail that one. That one was right on the mark." (Pun intended with a smile.) Please know this about me though. I don't write just to write. I don't write just to get blog hits. Of course it's nice to see how God is using this blog and of course it's nice to see it being read in so many places, even dark places around the world, but if that ever becomes my focus.......I better close it down right then and there.

Close to a year and a half ago I had someone send me some words of encouragement. It was way before this blog started and way before we really knew each other. Since then we have become friends, and I am most glad for that. I was on the verge of making some very tough decisions that I knew could have a major impact on us as a family in various ways, but especially financially. At the same time I knew that I had to run after God no matter the cost. Willing even to lose home, car and the stability of my life. If you think those are only nice sounding words to impress you, please reconsider your thoughts. I've experienced the cost, but now I am also reaping the rewards of obedience.

In February 2010 I had gone by myself to North Carolina. Even though I stayed with friends, I needed to spend as much time alone with God as I could. While there, on the morning of February 28th, this is what was sent to me:

"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"

Even though I did not know her real well at the time, I knew in my heart that Dawn was someone I could trust. You just know when you share a kindred spirit with someone and when their deepest desire is to find more of God and to please Him. Those words helped me to know I was on the right path, no matter what anybody else would think about me. I know that I haven't fully stepped into the destiny of those words. I do know I am very close. I also firmly believe that God gave me the idea for this blog as a tool, as kind of a prelude to that destiny. You see, I love God. I love His Word and I love everything about Him. I even love it when He tenderly corrects and convicts me when I say or do something wrong. It will only make me a better person and a more complete disciple of Jesus. And then I share my heart with you, because I love people and I love you. It doesn't matter if we have ever met or not. My dreams, my visions, my experience. I do this because I believe that God has entrusted me to help others to dream bigger, to live more passionately and to abandon all for God. That is when we will truly make a difference. That is when we will experience God and His mysteries in ways that we only dreamed of before.

I believe what I write; what I share. But I also believe that you should treat everything I write with prayer and discernment. I strive to have the mind of Christ, but I am also very aware that I function as a man, still covered with flesh. But I do firmly believe the things that I say and that they are Holy Spirit inspired, so it is with that conviction that I want to say to you:

IT IS TIME TO PUSH............HARDER; WITH MORE INTENSITY PURSUING GOD. Play time is over. Being a worldly Christian is no longer an option. God has grown weary of too many people living like that. The world is out of time. I want to be aware of God's presence and direction every hour of every day. I encourage you to desire that also. The reward for those who will do this is simply amazing. In doing this we will get to know the heart of God so well that we will just act on things in the same manner that the great apostles did. When Peter and John were asked by the lame man for alms, Peter didn't have to stop and pray and ask God what to do. He had captured the heart of God. He shared the heart of Jesus. He REACTED immediately. He KNEW what to do. He began with, "Look at us." If you don't know the rest of the story you can read it yourself in Acts chapter 3. The world is in need right now of people who will act and react without thinking. Doing only what the Father would do. Being just like Jesus.

Move in this direction......become like this and I promise you......
The greatest chapters of your life story will have only begun to unfold, no matter how
young or how old you are.

If you are already there.....keep going more determined than ever...
There is much more yet to come, because the time has come.

See you soon then,
Mark S.