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, November 28, 2011


Like him or not Al Davis was a man who greatly shaped the face of football. The longtime owner of the Oakland Raiders will always be known for the phrase, "Just win, Baby" and for the better part of 4 decades the Raiders usually did just that. It's only been over the last several years that this proud franchise has fallen on harder times. Recently though and since the death of Mr. Davis, it's been one of his other quotes that has captivated me and grabbed my attention. Almost everyday I have thought about it and Saturday morning a week ago as I woke up it came immediately to my mind. Usually it's a praise or worship song that goes first through my mind in the mornings, but this time it was Al Davis and his quote. I was also somehow strangely aware that God had something to do with this, plus there was a feeling of encouragement and inspiration. God, Al Davis and inspiration. Now there's a combination that probably has never been written or even thought! I know this all sounds very strange considering the reputation of the Oakland Raiders. Maybe I better get to the point of all this.

Davis always wanted his team to be the aggressor. While a lot of football coaches have preached that when you have the ball, you take what the defense will give you; Al Davis would have nothing to do with that. His philosophy was much different. His approach was, "We don't take whatever the defense will give us, we'll take whatever we want." (I'm giving you the mild version of the quote.)

That quote passionately connects with me. Strangely, it takes me to something that Jesus said. Could it be that there is a time to be forceful and "take whatever we want?"

"AND FROM THE DAYS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST UNTIL NOW, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN SUFFERS VIOLENCE AND THE VIOLENT TAKE IT BY FORCE." (Matthew 11:12) That's from the New King James version, which is my favorite, but this is one of those instances where I believe the NIV says it best. "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."

If Al Davis would have been a pastor he would have been preaching from that verse continually.

Here's the thing. When you acknowledged Christ as your Savior you were given certain rights, especially the right to be known as a child of God. Along with that comes a certain authority from the throne of God. For too long however, this seems to have been forgotten. Too many Christians have settled for what this world will give us; so to speak. When I was born in the United States of America I became a citizen of this country. Because of that I automatically obtained the same rights that every other U.S. citizen has. As a follower of Jesus, I have also obtained citizenship in heaven which trumps everything in this world. The great Apostle Paul speaks of this in his book to the Philippians. Paul doesn't say that we will ONE DAY become citizens of heaven. No, Paul said our citizenship "is in heaven." When I became a child of God, my citizenship in heaven was instantly validated, so therefore I am a representative of it today.

I represent heaven NOW, while I am living on earth. I also then have been given access to the things that heaven stands for. I am determined that I will bring as much of that to earth as I am capable of. In a unique way, Al Davis has reminded me not to sit back and take what this world will give me. Pastor Al, (just humor me, ok?) would not have been pleased with the church as a whole, either. It sat back way too long watching the world go by hypnotized into a deep sleep. Look around and you see the results of that.

For those that I know who have reversed this trend, I see them taking heaven into places like the grocery stores, malls and ballparks. Not in a belligerent, offensive way, but in a Jesus like way. Looking for ways to touch, encourage and share the love of Christ. They look for ways to pray for the sick and oppressed and to help the poor. In doing this they are activating faith to a whole different level and in doing so the dominion of darkness and devils shrinks back. Faith is a very violent force in the spiritual realm and it brings the realization that prayers are touching the heart of God in such a way that lives are often instantly changed.

The shifting that has begun. Heaven is once again advancing forcefully and "forceful men (and women) lay hold of it." The dominion of darkness has stolen much. We are now taking those things back.

I really hope that Al Davis was at peace with the Lord when he passed from this life. I'd like to one day tell him what a good job he did at teaching a kingdom principle!

Bringing it for God,
Mark S.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I was talking to Mom on my cell phone of all things when she said to me something like, "Can you imagine if people talked to God as much as they talk on their cell phones?" At first that can seem like a simple, basic question, but in that question I believe that it brings a thought to ponder and not to just blow off. Plus, as I mentioned last time, sometimes we need to get back to some basics. Mom and I talked a little bit further about how it seems that some never put their cell phone down and yet when it comes to spending time with the Lord, that time is often rushed. We all know people who, (of course you and I could never be found guilty of this) never take the thing away from their ear or out of their hands. Cell phones and life just go hand in hand.

One of my favorite life verses is Jeremiah 33:3. "Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." That's from the New King James, but you might like it even better in the New Living Translation, "Ask Me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come." If we are honest, it's usually fun when somebody wants to tell us a secret. I've learned to guard myself a little bit better over the years as I've learned that a "secret" is often actually code for "gossip," but still there is a sense of excitement that comes with knowing something that nobody else does. Yet here is God; the God of the universe; the Creator of all things delighting in telling His secret and unsearchable things. All we have to do is call Him up, so to speak.

If many of us called up the Lord the way we make and receive calls on our cell phones, we would be aware of Him at all times. When we would be driving to work we wouldn't just see trees, we would be aware that we are looking at God's creativity. When we would go to bed at night, as we drift off will be an awareness that while we rest God is right there watching us sleep as a parent watches their sleeping child with a love that has no bounds. In that awareness we begin to have what I think the Apostle Paul was referring to when he talked about how we having the mid of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Don't you think that if God wants to reveal secrets to us that He also wants us to have a mind like that of Jesus?

I love the song by Kari Jobe "The More I Seek You." I will include the video after I conclude with my thoughts, but some of those lyrics include:

"The more I seek You, the more I find You.
The more I find You, the more I love You.
I want to sit at Your feet,
Drink from the cup in Your hands..............."

Want to know a secret which really isn't a secret? The more time you spend calling upon the Lord, desiring to be in His presence, spending time in prayer and reading the Bible, the more He will show you how to walk in the daily blessings that He has planned for you. The easier it will be to know how to avoid traps and pitfalls and to weather the storms of life. Storms that come against me that used to mess me up and devastate me no longer do. God is there to show the way out.

Here is a key point which will help understand the difference between religion and relationship. Spending continual time with the Lord, will not make Him love us more. That is bad, bad thinking. God could never love you anymore than He always has whether you read and study His Word or not; whether you pray a lot or not. God already looks at you as a jewel. In God's eyes you have already "succeeded to royalty." (Ezekiel 16:13) However, when you spend continual time with God you will know how to walk in.... and find.... the everyday blessings and favor that God has ALWAYS planned for you. You begin to see the things that God has always wanted you to see. A religious mind thinks that you earn special rights. A mind built on relationship understands that that it has always been there in the first place. You can't earn a gift. Gifts are given from the heart and God has a very huge gift giving heart.

As I close I leave you with this. I've talked about spending time with God more than we do our cell phones, but does God ever call us?
"Fear not, I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and the rivers, they shall not overflow you." (Isaiah 43:1-2) There are several other scriptures about God's calls, but I will leave the searching up to you.

Not only does God call you, but He calls you by name!

With much love,
Mark S.
(P.S. to my mom..............thanks for the great thoughts that day. You're the best!!

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