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."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


"..................for it is light that makes everything visible.  This is why it is said:  Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."  (Ephesians 5:15)

On Tuesday, November 13th, our third grandchild was born.  Audrey Ruth came to us over a month early and throughout that day she was all we could think about.  If only she wasn't over 1400 miles away!  I remember  I couldn't wait to get out of work that day just so I could be with Kay and together we could watch for pictures and wait for phone calls.

As things were winding down later that night, I had one of the more meaningful and emotional experiences that I've had in a long time.  I had turned my thoughts to the Lord and was just enjoying listening to worship music and watching worship videos.  I began to watch a video by Jake Hamilton, (which you can see in a moment) when some of the words pierced through my heart and mind.  "He's calling wake up child, it's your turn to shine, you were born for such a time as this."    What went through me at that time was that Jesus has sounded the wake up call.  That it's time to rise up without fear and intimidation and to stand for Christ at any cost.  I posted those words along with the video on Facebook.  I was thinking about the obvious battle between darkness and light that is happening in the physical and spiritual realms.  Suddenly though I noticed that a friend had commented on my status and said, "By the way, congratulations," and I realized that people seeing this most likely thought I was referring to the birth of Audrey.  To be honest, I wasn't.  In that moment my thoughts were completely on the Lord, but certainly I understood a new blessing from the Lord.  It was very clear when I heard the Holy Spirit say, "It is by no coincidence that you posted these words on the day that Audrey was born."  Now that really got my attention and it caused a shaking of my insides.  That caused two things to happen.  The first was that I knew that through that song I had actually spoken a prophetic blessing over Audrey.  I realized even more that God had placed His hands on that baby even before she began to grow in her mother's womb.

The second thing that happened was that it caused me to begin to focus on every lyric in that song and they began to penetrate into my soul.  Not only was God making that song a very personal one for us, but I realized in that moment that God has anointed this song in such a way that He will use it to wake up many sleeping Christians.... for such a time as this.  For this critical time in history, soldiers of the cross are needed.  I remember driving to work the next morning with "The Anthem" going off in my head.  "I can hear the footsteps of my King.............."  I thought about hearing the footsteps of Jesus approaching behind me.  Knowing that He was coming near.  I thought about how that would change every moment of every day.  Think about that.  Hearing the footsteps of Jesus approaching.  Can you hear them?  I think about how John laid his head on Jesus' breast as they celebrated the Passover.  He heard the heartbeat of Jesus and that had to mess with him for the rest of his life.  Hearing the footsteps of Jesus approaching will do the same thing to us.

You are reading this at this very moment for a reason.  God is calling you.  God is calling us.  Game time is over.  It's crunch time between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of darkness.  There is no place for fear.  The world needs to hear us preach of another King! One who is foreign to many even though He should be foremost on their minds.  There is no way for things to turn except through repentance and returning to God

I challenge you now to watch every single word to this song.  Read the scripture verses.  I'm not kidding around.  You are not here at this moment by accident.  It's time to hear the call.  It's time to take some risks.  It's time to change the world.  I believe this song, or anthem as it's called is scriptural and very accurate in describing the potential that God sees in every one of us.

"Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  (Ephesians 5:15-16)

I don't care if you are 20 or 80.  You are God's child and it's your turn to shine!  There was once a boy who was a simple shepherd boy.  He got a hold of God and the destiny of his nation was changed forever.

For the King,
Mark S.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Yesterday, Wednesday, November 7th the spirit of the Lord suddenly feel on me and I could hear the Lord speaking to me very clearly.  While there were some personal things that I will not share, I  heard the Lord tell me to send out a message of encouragement.  Earlier in the morning I was aware of several friends who were really kind of down regarding the election and the future of the nation.  I strongly heard the Lord telling me to be an encourager.     While I believe a lot of this is for them and others that were feeling the same way, there is some awesome stuff for others who are really going through hard times.  I was also reminded of a song which I will share by using a video of at the end of this writing.  I tried to write things down as quickly as I could, but it was difficult because the words were coming so fast.

My friend, I want you to know that I truly am very sober minded as I write this.  There is a fear in me, (I'm  just being honest) even though as you will see the Lord told me not to fear.  Maybe it's more of a deep concern for I take seriously that God will hold me accountable for every word that I say that is not of Him, or from Him.  I did not write these words 24 hours ago, because in my mind I kept telling myself that maybe this was all my imagination.  I have read many times as to how angry the Lord would become towards false prophets.  I never want to be in a place like that.  I am not used to speaking in this way and have never considered myself to have a strong, prophetic gifting in where I could speak on the Lord's behalf.

With that in mind I will speak on now, because I once again am experiencing a strong presence from the Lord.  It seems as if He has reminded me of a conversation that I was having a few years ago with a very dear friend when he stopped me and said, "Mark, stop saying 'I THINK' the Lord said to me.  You know when you hear the Lord, so stop saying 'I think."

So with that in mind, here is what I heard.  May this message be an encouragement to you.

"...........................and you will remind them, my son, of familiar things of which they have heard many times, but need a fresh reminder today.  You will remind them of that which my Son Jesus spoke when He said that in this world you will have tribulation, but remind them to fear not and to be encouraged for "I have overcome the world," for these words are faithful and true.  You shall remind them that where my spirit is there will always be liberty and freedom, even in dark times and places.  Even in captivity and bondage, My servants Daniel and Paul knew this well.   You shall remind them that hope will never fade away.  Remind them of the vision which I gave you  in which I said that 'I am reversing the effect of their sins.' (You can click on that sentence to read of the vision)  This is for those who honor me with their lives, not for those with flapping tongues.    The heavens and the mountains are still mine.  I have loaned them to this earth for a time, but they will belong to the new earth for all eternity.  Do not be afraid to tell of these things even though some will laugh at you and say, 'he has lost his mind that he says he hears from the Lord.'  Do not fear of this for the days have returned when many of my people have forgotten how to hear Me.  They are walking where it is grey like in the dusk of the evening.  Soon it will be dark as night and they will stumble and fall.  Let them laugh for I remind you this day of the psalm which says, "Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing?'   As it also says in that Psalm, I will be the One who laughs.  I will hold them accountable for their scoffing and I will hold many accountable for their wicked lawlessness which has mislead many.  So do not fear, but instead remind my people who honor me with their lives of the time in which Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit, leaping for joy as He said, 'I thank You, Father that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, but have revealed them to babes.'  For revelations will be on the increase and the time has come for those who have desired a heavenly language to ask and it will be given to them.  For those who have desired a spirit of prophecy to find this gift suddenly given to them.  These things which My servant Paul faithfully spoke of.  I give such things liberally to those I can trust.  These things which I am telling you now will be a voice of good news to many.  This voice will be heard in the nation and is in fact already being heard in the nations.  Indeed there is one in Russia who is hearing this voice to who I say now, ' You will change the lives of many for My glory'..........."

After that...........I heard no more.

As you have read this may the Lord's anointing fall on you this day.  I close now with many tears.
Your faithful friend,
Mark S.
(as always if the instrumental music is playing, you can stop or pause it as you click on the video.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012


The following is a vision which the Lord gave to me on October 26, 2012 in Ashtabula, Ohio  during an event called "The Wave," which is an incredible night of worship.  It went from being very personal to one that will affect even our nation.   It is one like I have never experienced before.  As this unfolded I could feel the holiness of God.  Somehow I knew that God was allowing me to experience a very small portion of His holiness.  Even with that, my entire being was shaken even to the depths of my soul.  I want to put a picture in your mind right now.  Picture a tornado.  Think of the times when someone has captured a coming tornado on their phone or video camera and you watch it on YouTube,  the Weather Channel, or news.  Now picture the biggest one you have ever seen.  Lock this picture into your mind.

As I was worshiping before the Lord I suddenly saw a great and mighty wind storm coming towards me.  It was massive and dark.  There was great power behind it.  As it got closer I noticed something very different and strange.  The winds were spinning backwards.  It kept moving closer the way a massive tornado always does, but yet the winds were spinning in reverse.  This greatly perplexed me and I asked the Lord, "What is the meaning of this?"  The Lord answered me and said, "Because I am reversing the effects of your sins."  The Lord then showed me that even though my sins were forgiven that over the course of my life the consequences of my sins had at times caused hurt to other people, sometimes very innocent people.  Some of them had been scarred and did not know how to deal with that and still had not forgiven me, nor did they know how.  Some of them don't understand the nature of God, but now in His time of mercy He is beginning to reverse the effect of my sins.  Healing will replace scars.  That is the one thing that stood out during the entirety of the vision.  I heard those exact words over and over and over, spoken to me by the Spirit of God.

As I stood before this mighty wind suddenly it began to move and I watched it move quickly over distances and towards different groups of people.  They were like remnants and wherever the wind went and wherever it stopped, God made it clear that He was beginning to reverse the effects of the sins of those people.  The Lord showed me that these remnants, these groups of peoples were ones who had chosen to pursue Him with their very lives.  People who were now determined to release the things of the Lord to those around where they lived.  People who would use spiritual force to cripple demonic powers running throughout their corner of the nation.   I was reminded of Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force."   The rule and nature of God; the Kingdom of Heaven.

As I watched this wind moving I was allowed to see what was within the outer winds.  I saw a portal; an opening that reached into the heavens and came down to the earth.  The center, this opening was being protected by the thick walls of the outer winds.  Within this portal I saw agents of heaven (those are the words which which were revealed to me..................agents of heaven) coming down and going up.  There were many and they moved continuously and were passing each other almost as if there were ladders taking them back and forth, and the agents of God were planting in the earth the righteousness of God.  I do not know and could not see what that looked like, but I knew that it was the righteousness of God.  It was planted so that in a specific season as people passed unknowingly by where the righteousness of God had been planted, they would find strength and be fed.  Many will suddenly experience God and it will be revealed to them exactly who Jesus was and is.  They will shake and be changed by the righteousness of God.  Many will fall down and be terrified because of the holiness of God.

 Suddenly, I noticed that after coming upon these pockets or remnants of people that this great storm of wind would sporadically change direction.  It followed no consistent pattern and would quickly change from one direction to the other.  I could not predict where it would go next.

I was totally caught up in and captivated by what I was seeing.  I was aware of my surroundings, my son next to and the worship music, but was unable to think, nor did I want to think of anything other than the Lord and what He was showing me.  As the vision ended I realized that I had not absorbed the entire revelation.   I believe that there are still parts which I don't understand,  but in the moments that followed God did begin to reveal more to me.   I knew that I was not to keep this vision only for myself and that I was to somehow share it and I was able to do that in the moments that followed.  As I stood waiting to attempt to even try to come close to describing what I had seen, the Lord reveled some very specific things.  When I woke up this morning there was even more understanding.

While this vision, at the beginning was very personal, this vision became one for all  to hear and was meant to used as a prophetic word for the nation.  I was so caught up in the tunnel of wind and the agents of heaven that I didn't realize, but now know that when the wind began to make drastic changes in direction that it was moving from state to state and was penetrating the nation.  As I stood waiting to share, I once again  heard the Lord speak.  "I AM GOING TO BEGIN TO REVERSE THE EFFECTS OF THE SINS OF THIS NATION."  I became very aware of how multitudes of people have been scarred by the sins of this nation and many just don't know what to do with those scars.  There were two giants that were highlighted to me, although there have been many sins of the nation.  The two giants that were impressed upon me were ABORTION and PORNOGRAPHY.  These two sins alone have released hounds of hell to gut this country.  But, today I find peace and rejoice in knowing that the Lord is going to now begin to "reverse" and bring healing to people who have been scarred by these sins.  As I shared last night I was reminded of the verse in Joel 2: 25.  "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..........."  Abortion and pornography can certainly replace the words "swarming locust."

For my many friends who do not live in the United States, there is no reason for you to feel  excluded from this vision.  God intends to bring justice and healing to all the nations.  I knew that God was pushing me to tell right here of what I had seen.  God knows how people around the world keep reading and stumbling upon this blog.  That tells me that God intends to take this great storm or tunnel of wind to the nations, so wherever you are stand, watch and be ready.  Share the  good news of Gods mercy to those around you.  Be the messenger of the cross that He has called you to be!

As I prepare to close, if there is nothing else that you remember about what I wrote today, you need to remember these words:

                                           There will come a day when the Lord reminds you of those very words.  While God's grace is revealed day by day, there will come a specific time when we see this taking place in masses of people and very quickly.

Shalom my friend,
Mark S.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I first wrote the bulk of what you are about to read quite some time ago, so if it seems familiar you will know why.  I've adapted some of my thoughts so that I can address a recent family situation.  Please take the time to read this in it's entirety.  Even if you can't accept what I am going to express, give me some grace in being allowed to fully explain my feelings and beliefs.

Sometimes the things we believe within our faith will be put to the test.  We soon find out the strength of our convictions.  Depending on the result of a certain circumstance we may find that a conviction ended up not being a conviction at all, but more like wishful thinking.  As you read on you will begin to understand more as to what in the world I might be talking about.

I have an uncle who has been in a battle with cancer.  There have been ups and downs and for he, my aunt and cousin there probably seem to have been many more downs than ups.  Usually it's much easier to pray with confidence when it comes to praying for other people, but what happens when it is someone in your own family?  Usually, because the circumstance is more personal it's much easier to worry and doubt.  When it comes to my uncle, as well as others that are struggling with health issues in my family I have determined to stand by my convictions.  I will not waver  I will not doubt.

Let me keep moving on.

One of my favorite songs, especially when it was popular was "Jesus Saves,"by Jeremy Camp. As I was listening to this song on the radio one day I began to think about Jesus saving us. As I was listening to that song, I started thanking the Lord for his saving power.  I surely believe that the greatest miracle that we can experience is to be forgiven of our sins, receiving salvation and the promise of eternal life.   However (if you know me at all by now you had to know that a "but" or "however" would surely follow), I know that receiving salvation through Jesus should only be the beginning. Read these verses very carefully with me.  It will seem like one verse has nothing to do with the other, but if you give me some grace, I will show you that they do.  Ready?

Luke 19:10 .....for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Matthew 9:22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, "Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well."

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 14:8-10 And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple
from his mother's womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking.
Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with
a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped up and walked.

Any idea what those verses have in common? There is a little, but very powerful 4 LETTER WORD that is found in each example. The catch to this is that you would find that 4 letter word if you were reading those passages in Greek.  That 4 letter word, which is far from a bad one, is SOZO.   Sozo can be found several dozen times in the New Testament, but we instead usually see it in the form of the English word "saved." We also see it in the word "well" in the Matthew passage and in the phrase "to be healed" in the Acts 14 passage.

Why do I think this is important? Because Jesus intended to do so much more for us than to save us from our sins. I want to stress again that I believe that being finding salvation through the forgiveness of our sins is the greatest miracle of all.  However, in bringing the kingdom of heaven with Him, Jesus intended to set people completely free from things such as physical infirmities, personality disorders, the grip of the demonic, and generational curses (that's a bigger one than most realize), just to give a few examples. Now I know somebody will say that of course all those things will happen, but they may not happen until we get to heaven.  Indeed, for those who love Jesus and don't experience healing in this world it will be received in heaven, but let me get back to where I was going with this.   Often when someone is sick people will often pray, "if it be Thy will," for example.  (Jesus did pray, "........if it be Thy will," but it was in regards to facing death on the cross.  He nor the apostles never prayed that way in regards to deliverance and physical healing.)   Fault with that can't really be found because after all, church after church and pastor after pastor teach that principle. So many of our pastors learned that traditional view in theology schools and seminaries, or simply when they were growing up.  After all, if we pray for someone to get well and they don't, then it is easier for us to explain why.  We can say that it must not have been God's will.  People are taught this and accept it WITHOUT reading for themselves and that is so dangerous.  It is the thief that comes to kill, steal and destroy, not Jesus.  I believe that many have been robbed of God's best in THIS LIFE, because of teachings like this.  I would beg to ask the question: Are we saved from our sins right now or do we have to wait until we are in heaven and with the Lord? The answer is obvious. Jesus also wants us  to experience the other blessings of SOZO as this life.   There are just too many burdens that we simply accept and carry around with us until we step into eternity. Study SOZO for yourself and realize how many times it is used in the New Testament and begin to understand it's meaning. Maybe fresh winds of understanding and knowledge will flow through your spirit. Over the years I began to learn a different way to pray for people after starting to understand sozo. I found out that God desires to heal and bring release of heaviness and bring wholeness in this life and we need to pray accordingly.

Does everyone I pray for get healed? When I pray for someone to be set free from something like depression, or addiction do I see the result that I desire every time? Of course not. God forbid I try to get you to believe otherwise. However, just because I may not see the result right away, won't change how I pray. There is so often a missing link in those types of situations that maybe we can't see or understand in the moment. My friend, the missing link is not with God or His word, but it is with us and in the natural around us. Instead of changing our prayers we need to keep pushing into the Spirit to discover what we might be missing and pray that God would bring each person to a place to where they are able to receive their healing, deliverance or whatever the situation calls for. Even today as I was praying for a man I spoke to his body and commanded it to come in line with the way God created it to be.

SOZO (from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) "to save, deliver, or protect from; heal; preserve; do well; be made whole."

I am hesitant to push a bit more for concern of causing offense, but no offense is intended, so I will speak on. I have been around several church settings in my life and I can be completely honest in saying that the churches that teach and practice what we have been talking about can give testimony to many more healings and miraculous works more than the churches who do not. That may sound critical, but within me there is no critical spirit when I say that. It is simply what I have witnessed. Signs and wonders of the supernatural tend to occur much more in the one setting than the other. I encourage you to study this for yourself. To read the Bible for all its worth, for you and nobody else. Always ask yourself if you believe certain things because of what you've been taught by tradition, or because of what God has revealed to you through His word.

I think of close friends or family who's lives have been cut short due to accident or illness. I have seen the effects that cancer can bring, so my heart is very sympathetic if you have experienced something like that.   Circumstance will not change the way I pray and believe, though.   I understand the word sozo and will instead continue to take a stand against anything that stands in the way of God's people walking in complete freedom and healing. Torments of darkness, sickness, disease and poverty are all things that have been mocking the people of God for way too long. I borrow that thought from a similar thought I heard made by Bill Johnson, a pastor in Redding, California. Israel thought they had to put up with Goliath because he appeared to be so much bigger, stronger and defiant until David came along and changed what appeared to be their discouraging destiny.  Now we have reached an age where God is calling for many "Davids" to come forward and to take a stand against the things that are hurting and destroying His people in this life. As I pray and join with others who pray with boldness against circumstances that destroy, I am seeing with my own eyes how quickly something from the enemy will begin to fall in line under the authority that has been granted by Jesus. I am determined to find those missing links.

Jesus.....sozos.........Jesus SAVES!!!!!!!  I pray this over my uncle tonight.  I pray that he experiences the entire sozo package.   Even though he is far from me the Holy Spirit connects me to him through prayer.  It is as if I am right there beside him.

And as always, I pray for you tonight my brother and sister,

Mark S.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Presidential Election we Deserve; A Warning and a Hope

A few nights ago I had a lot of trouble sleeping.  When I would sleep, a troubling dream kept replaying over and over, exactly the same each time.  I would then wake up, wide awake and restless.  Finally, I decided to just get up and read.  As I kept thinking about that dream, I seemed to find myself drawn to something that I had not read in a long time.  Here is the part of that reading that stuck out to me the most:

"Do everything they say to you," the Lord replied, "for it is me they are rejecting, not you.  They don't want me to be their king any longer.  Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned  me and followed other gods.  And now they are giving you the same treatment.  Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them."

That is taken from the New Living Translation and is God instructing Samuel to listen to a group of complaining people.  You should read the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 8.  There are some pretty sobering things in there.  What captured my thoughts as I sat in silence thinking about this passage was how God had rescued this people from a land of bondage and was willing to give them everything they would ever need.  Even after years of complaining and disobedience they were still brought to the land "flowing with milk and honey."  But then, even though they were given everything they needed for a good life, instead of following their saving God the people started doing what "was right in their own eyes."  We see that being recorded over and over in the book of Judges.  That seems to be the pattern of what happens when people become too intelligent for their own good.  By going down this path, Israel was basically beginning to sign off on their own destruction.

I could only sit completely still as I thought about the parallel that God was showing me.  What other nation compares to the above?  Think about what the United States once had.  Indeed it once was like a land "flowing with milk and honey."  Read history books and you often will see the words "The American Dream."  Everybody wanted it and for a long time it seemed that almost everything this nation did turned into prosperity.  But then something happened.  We the people decided we could start doing our own thing.  We became smarter than God.  God's ways started to be rejected over and over just like with Israel.

Time and time again Israel was told that all they had to do was return to God's ways.  Father knew best.  They didn't listen and if you don't know what followed, read about it.  Read about the messes.  Read about the downward spiral.  Has it been any different with America?  When are we going to finally realize that taking God out of the schools, our communities and even the traditional family just hasn't worked?

I think about the coming presidential election in the United States.  I think about how many people I have heard say something like, "Really?  Is this the best we have to chose from?"  I am one of those people.  The children of Israel got what they deserved for rejecting God.  I have to wonder if  this nation is now getting  what it deserves for doing the same thing.  I'm not talking about just this coming presidential election, but the entire downward spiral that this country has experienced.


I don't believe my strongest gifting is in the prophetic, so I have always tried to be very careful about giving a prophetic word, but this is what I believe the Lord was showing me on that recent sleepless night.  We have reached a point to where we are getting exactly what is deserved and no matter who wins this coming election things will not get better.  In fact I believe that the Lord was showing me that before the next presidential term is up there will be severe catastrophic events.  As these events unfold, thousands will suddenly realize that their only hope is to repent, humble themselves and return to the one and only true living God.   Peace and salvation will be found through Jesus the Christ, the very One who many have been rejecting and cursing for their entire lives.  This will be recognized as the great awakening that many saints have already been faithfully praying for.  An awakening that will be so earth shaking that thousands will be added to a revitalized church much as like what happened after the day of Pentecost.   (Acts 2: 40-47)  Lukewarm Christians will have to decide that they must go one way or the other.  God will no longer allow fence sitting.  It will be easy to tell who is really for God and who is against Him. There will be a "valley of decision" so to speak.

Friend, I do not write this lightly.  I have put much thought into this before blogging about it.  As a man I realize that I can only "know in part and prophesy in part." (1 Corinthians 13:9)  As long as I am mortal, I can't always see perfectly, but this impression is strongly upon me.  I would always encourage you to pray into the things that I say.  Let God show what you need to remember and what you need to forget.

So within this reading today lies a real warning, but yet a real hope.  What can or should we do about it?  First we must pursue Jesus with  passion and become compelling to the confused and lost around us. Those who are already starting to give up.  We must love them and give them hope.  Jesus was a compelling person and this is what He did.  We should desire to be just like Him.  When we put our lives and faith in Jesus we are told that through Christ we will overcome any trouble that may occur.  In that promise we can find peace and strength.  We will be prepared come what may; a prepared people.

I have often wondered if bad things can be avoided.  Even in the Bible when Ezekiel and Jeremiah prophesied of coming destruction, was there a way to avoid it?  I have wondered if what the Lord was showing me the other night is set in stone or if there is something we can do to change it.  Only God knows, but there is one very interesting passage in scripture that I have highlighted in my Bible.  Jeremiah 18: 7-10:

"The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that  I thought to bring upon it.  And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it............."

It would be so awesome if we could avoid the bad stuff and go straight to the thousands being brought into the kingdom of God!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now for the ones reading this who have an office of political power, if you haven't been trusting in the Lord you are reading this for a reason.  God has ordained this as your time.  That strange feeling that is stirring inside of you isn't from anything you ate.  The Lord has already began to convict you.  If you want to be a history maker you must trust in God.  Turn to Him and allow His ways to become your ways.  Then you shall lead forward in truth.

To the ones reading this who will have the ability to tell President Obama and Mr. Romney about what you have just read, well you need to.  And to President Obama and Mr. Romney I wish to remind you of how much God loves you.  He wants to use you in greater ways than you could even dream.  Give yourself completely to Him.  Repent where needed.  He has dreams and desires for this nation that you do not know of.  He wants to reveal them to you.  God loves you and if you would turn completely to Him and allow His ways to become your ways, He will rejoice over you, even singing over you and shower you with great favor and blessing.   Don't take what you are reading lightly.  God is carefully watching.

And finally to all:  Choose you this day who you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


"A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24

Some time ago I was at a night of worship.  I remember the worship leader saying something like, "Tonight ask God to say something to you that you've never heard Him say before."  That struck something inside of me and I really began to seek God on that.  As I allowed myself to get lost in worship I suddenly heard two words very clearly: 


It was a very sweet moment for me as the Lord was telling me that He was my Trusted Friend no matter what.  This is something that we all already know, but to hear it directly from the Lord just cemented this more firmly in me than ever before.   As happens so often when the Lord reveals something to me, there have been times when He has nudged me to pass it on.   More than once I've been reminded by the Holy Spirit to tell someone, "Jesus wants me to remind you right now that He is your trusted friend."  I found out later, especially in one instance that the person I spoke that to has had serious trust issues all through her adult life.  That is such a God moment.

I have found ways to remind myself of those two words at home and at work.  I'll be doing something and all of the sudden I will be reminded of the words trusted friend.  God is so wise.  It's been months since I heard those words being spoken to me, but it is in the present when I call on them more than ever.  Twice before God has asked me to completely alter what I was doing in life.  Twice I have been obedient.  Twice the blessings of that obedience have been incredible.  Several months ago  I remember driving down Interstate 90 and nearing our Madison exit when I heard, "Get ready for what is next."  I told Kay that evening that God was up to something new, so we needed to keep our eyes open.  While jobs or our lifestyle hasn't had any major changes like the first two times, God is sending us on a path to where obedience is being tested in a more difficult and different way than even before.  While at times it is indeed difficult and very lonely for us both, we know that with obedience to God, great things are waiting down the road. That's a constant that I've discovered with God.  That and also that Jesus is a "TRUSTED FRIEND."

The reason that I was supposed to tell you about this today is for two reasons.  There is going to be a season of life coming to where God is going to ask you to be obedient in a way that He's never asked before.  Only you will know when that time comes.   I don't understand why you need to hear this now, but it's important that you do.  Maybe for you that time is right now.  Seasons change, people change, friendships and relationships change, but one thing will always remain unchanged......................

                                                 Jesus is a TRUSTED FRIEND!

The second thing that God wants you to take away from this today.........................

                                                Obedience to God brings GREAT REWARD!

For His glory,
Mark S.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RESCUED (A more personal side of me)

I work for a funeral home.  Sometimes when people ask me what I do or where I work I get a kick out of watching the expression on their faces when I tell them.  You can imagine the wide range of reactions that I get.  Needless to say, I'm around physical death at least 5 days a week.  While God has given me much grace and peace to be in the position that I am there are still times when the death of an individual pulls at my emotions.  God has given me a heart of compassion and one of great love for people, so there are times when on the inside I feel much grief for an individual and their family even though my outside appearance may not show it to those that I work with.  I had such an experience just last week and while I can never go into full detail, I will say that it was a pretty tragic situation and I could feel the pain of loved ones in my soul and I felt myself carrying that pain through out the morning.

I'm going to let you into my secret closet a little bit.  While I consider my faith to be strong and am a pretty optimistic man, I have days occasionally just like everybody else where discouragement will knock.  Don't ever look at someone, even the great teachers or preachers of the gospel and think that they never have "down" moments once in awhile.  The difference might be that these men and women have become so filled with the Lord each and everyday that they are able to deal with those feelings quicker than someone else might be able to.   Discouragement and despair don't come from God, so get rid of it as soon as you can.  Keep yourself in the word of God daily.  Having a strong prayer life helps, too and inviting God to be in your thoughts even as you go about your day are just a few ways to combat thoughts or feelings that are not from Father.

On this particular day however, I was having more difficulty than usual.  I remember thinking that I had seen way to many difficult death situations over the past few months.  Again, I won't go into specific detail at this time, but adding to that were some really energy sapping challenges that I've been trying to sort through.  I've been really pushing in as much as I can to seek God for clear cut answers to decisions I must soon make.  I even began to question how much support I was getting during this time, which was a very foolish thing to think on because I have a circle of friends who are always there to support me at any moment.  While I'm usually able to defuse those types of feelings, I could sense a spirit of despair and discouragement wanting to attach itself to me.............and I was feeling it in a serious way.

And then suddenly, GOD MOVED.

I had walked into a room and just as I did I heard the words from an old favorite hymn, "...........Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer, than all the angels heaven can boast........."  Instantly it was like a beam of light shot through my soul and the greatness and goodness of God flamed into my heart.  God rescued me.  God...........amazingly awesome God rescued me.  I knew that in that exact moment He knew exactly what I needed to hear.  That spirit of despair was suddenly dismissed by the peace of Jesus.

So why do I tell you this?  Why do I bare my soul tonight and let you into a corner that I seldom talk about?  It is to tell you that God is there and wants to rescue you, just like He did me.  If you are in a dark place, or feel the stress and pressures that the world can so easily offer, if you've lost a little or a lot of hope..............Jesus is right here and right now to shine brighter and purer than you could ever imagine.  I believe that for many at this very moment, this will become of time of great encouragement.  This was a day that I experienced a week ago and yet it was tonight (tonight for me) when I felt inspired by the Lord to shut everything else down and in this very moment reach out to you and let you into that secret corner of my life where sometimes struggle occurs.

When you have a pure heart for God, He rejoices over you.  (Zephaniah 3:17)  When I read that passage, I see God speaking life over you and wanting to rescue just when you need it most.  God is a God of hope and life.  Jesus speaks of giving an abundant life.  When you read things like this in the Bible don't just think that they sound nice and pretty and move on.   Take them literally and begin to expect God to change circumstances that might be troubling.  When I learned to do that in my life, many things began to change for the good.

The day that I just spoke of, I experienced Psalm 40: 3 really happen.  "....He has put a new song in my mouth--Praise to our God.........."  Now if you need Him to, let Him do it for you!  It's time for you to listen to that wonderful hymn that God rescued me with.  As you listen to this fresh, contemporary version watch the words, take them to heart and let God be amazingly awesome for you!   (Make sure you go to the right side of this page and stop the instrumental music if you haven't done so already.)

May God surprise you right now!
Mark S.

Monday, July 23, 2012


I sure do hope things are going well for you this summer.  With work and the things that make up life it seems that I have had much less time to blog this year.  Plus, I really do wait on the Lord to prompt me when the time is right.  It's hard for me to believe that I started "Right on the Mark" over two years ago.   I just want to take a moment to say, "thank you" for giving me the opportunity to speak into your life.   I also pray that over this two year period that you and I are better followers of Christ than we were in the summer of 2010.  It's important that we continue to grow in Jesus and not be afraid when God calls many of us to be leaders in the time in which we are living.  May we represent the Lord well.  God bless you!

I decided to start reading the book of Romans this week, but to be completely honest with you I can't seem to get out of chapter one.  That's not because I don't want to, but there was a verse that struck me in a most fascinating way and I can't stop thinking about it, nor do I want to.  It's hit me in a pretty heavy way and  I believe this is one of those "right times" to talk with you again.  This has to do with a power that lies within us that should never be dormant.

.........."concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead."  (Romans 1:3-4)  As I read this my mind immediately jumped to another verse in regards to power that is given.  In Romans that power is found in Christ.  In this other verse the power is found to be in us, but I believe God has been showing me that there is an important connection to the two that is often overlooked,  taken lightly and for granted.  This second verse is found in Ephesians.  "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,.............."

Notice that in both sets of verses that you see the words "power" and "according."  This is very interesting, so stay with me now.   I have felt compelled to really study these two verses this week and one of the things that I was drawn to especially was the word "power."  That same power (dynamis) that declared Jesus to be the Son of God is found to be working, or should be working, in us.  What an amazing thing!  I also find it intriguing that one of the ways this power is described when looking at it in the Hebrew is as a moral power and excellence of soul.   This power is testified to be in Jesus "according to the Spirit of Holiness."  Jesus, operated as a man when He walked the earth.  Even though He walked here in flesh, He walked in complete holiness doing only what He saw the Father do.  Because of that there was a power that was manifested in Him according to the "spirit of holiness."  As we conform ourselves more and more to the likeness of Jesus and as we walk more in holiness, doing only what Jesus did, that verse in Ephesians really becomes alive.  I become so excited when I think of how the same power that testified of Jesus and was given to Him is also available to me.  The world teaches us that if we can obtain power it makes us strong and we can begin to use that power to our advantage.  Jesus, however used that power, not for Himself, but for the benefit of others.  He transformed lives with it.  He loved with it and healed with it and showed people the kingdom of God with it.  Because of this, everyone understood there was something different about  Jesus.  Whether they loved Him or hated Him, people took notice of the man named Jesus and they all recognized that He was to some a Savior and to others a threat.  So how am I doing and how are you doing with this same power that resides in us?  Is it lying dormant?  Sadly, in many Christians I believe it is.  We need to change that.  For the sake of people that need a Savior, we need to change that.  And if others want to view us as a threat, so be it.  If they  feel threatened by the love and goodness of God, let them feel threatened.  In time it might do them some good.

Jesus didn't abuse His power even though He had a whole lot of it.  He was the perfect example of meekness.  Jesus instead was a compelling man to so many.  People were drawn to Christ to find love, forgiveness, healing, peace and answers to life's problems and those are only a few reasons.    I pray that I imitate Jesus to the fullest of my ability.  It's why when I am out even in the stores I try to look people in the eye with the love of Christ.  They need to know that I am part of the solution in these crazy times.  I do not say that in an arrogant way, but in a compassionate  and loving way.  People NEED TO KNOW that you and I are different, the way people knew that Jesus was different.  They need to know that through us, Christ will be their Healer, whether they need healing physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  I want to be so compelling and Christ-like that it can be expected that I can do the things that Jesus did.  After all, it was Jesus who said that we would.  It's in John 14 if you don't believe me.  God certainly can work without us if and when He chooses, but He desires to work "according to the power that works in us.........."

May I be so bold to say that people SHOULD  be able to see Christ in us.  I've wrestled with what I'm about to tell you, but I believe that God keeps telling me to testify of what happens when we become driven to be just like Jesus.  Now I realize that there are days when I fall gravely short, but with God as my witness, I try hard and I try with passion.  I tell you this ONLY to glory in Christ, but recently I have experienced  3 specific times when someone recognized the power of the Spirit working in me.  I will tell you about two of those times.  The other is more of a personal experience with the Lord that will remain in my heart, at least for now.   One day on an errand for work a lady suddenly blurted out asking me, "Are you a pastor or something?   Every time that you come in here there is a presence of peace that comes to me."  This from a woman who often seems to be stressed out and discouraged about life.  The working power of the Holy Spirit was working in me to release a piece of the Kingdom of God to an often troubled woman.   Recently, on another errand for work, I was in a hospital needing a doctor to sign something.  At first she didn't respond to me until she realized why I was there.  She suddenly looked at me and said, "Oh, I thought you were pastoral care."    In both instances I wish they would have just asked, "Are you a follower of Jesus," instead of saying the "pastor" word, but when things like this happen the door suddenly swings wide open for a time to minister to someone.  God will also begin to give you a boldness that will overcome the fear of praying for someone even in public so that you can show the love of Jesus in a non threatening way.

I'll never, ever forget the joy that flooded my soul walking out of a hospital after praying for a pregnant doctor and for the health of her baby right out in the middle of a hallway.  She even allowed me to put my hand on her shoulder as I prayed.   As I was walking out the door,  I very clearly heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "You have no idea of the life that you just released on that floor because of your obedience."  Again, God used the power  that was at work within me.  You see, I've come to EXPECT things like that to happen.  If I take the words of Jesus literally, things like that will happen.  I've also come to EXPECT physical healing to take place when God gives me a chance to pray for someone who needs it. Why else would God grant that opportunity?  In most of the cases I have later heard of a healing, or at least some kind of improvement even if it's minimal.  Not long ago my wife was having some problems with one of her eyes. It was really irritating and would hurt her badly.  It was like it had somehow been scratched.  As I knelt and was praying for her I heard, "Blow on her eye."  That surprised me greatly as it was the first time the Lord instructed me to actually do something physical to someone when praying for them.  Believe me, I sure was glad it was my wife that this happened with.  I've learned to be obedient if I want to see God move.  The only thing that I did differently was that  I asked her to close her eye, but then I breathed on it.  She told me it felt better instantly and never bothered her again.  Remember.................

                           ....."according to the power that works in us......"

Again, please, please, please just know that  I only tell you of these things to encourage you and to spur you on to even greater things in the Lord.  If you haven't yet discovered it, or if you have allowed it to become dormant, you have this power within from the Lord that can even make the difference between life and death for someone.  It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  You and I are a team and we need to be driven for God in bringing His kingdom to earth.   We need to help each other to better understand how to do that.

If you already know of this gift and operate in it, God bless you and keep on keeping on.  Even greater things are yet to come.  I know I am speaking destiny into someone's life right now.  I feel the Holy Spirit confirming that to me, telling me to call that destiny out and into your life.

Let's go do this thing!  Let's take God at His word.  Let us make sure that we are allowing this power within to be operational. Most of all let us be driven for Christ.

Until next time and with much love,
Mark S.

Friday, June 29, 2012



If you been of the faith for any period of time, no doubt you have heard that verse quoted or read from the book of Joshua.  Often you will hear it quoted by someone when they or someone close to them is going through a difficult time.  It is indeed a tremendous verse and I love it, too.

How about when someone is hoping for something to happen that they've wanted for a long time?  Ever hear the following verse?  "Delight yourself also in the ways of the Lord, "AND HE SHALL GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART."


These verses are indeed beautiful and worth holding onto; even memorizing.  They truly bring encouragement.  However, we would see those verses ringing even truer in our lives if we pay attention to the instruction that either comes before them, or is included alongside of them.  I wonder though, just how much we are willing to pay attention to any part that requires even a little discipline, or instruction.  Discipline and pursuing God often go right along with verses such as these.  We want the good stuff, such as getting our heart's desires, or having whatever we put our hands to prospering, but not many want to do the discipline part.  

It's example time!

I opened with that popular verse found in Joshua 1:9.  However, how many want to remember what the verse says right before it.  "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall MEDITATE  on it DAY and NIGHT."  Who really does that?  Meditates on God DAY and NIGHT.  God bless you if you are one, but  statistics would show that the percentage is extremely low.  Statistics show that those who even read their bible or pray everyday is even extremely low among Christians.  Is it fair for us to ask God to pull through for us all the time if we don't even come close to following the keys for that to happen?  Yet God in His grace and mercy often shows up anyway.

How about Psalm 1?  Who doesn't want to prosper in all that he, or she, does?  The key to having that happen, however is all through Psalm 1, but do we really follow it closely?  "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the  path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he MEDIATES DAY and NIGHT."  And before we can even think about the desires of our heart, we are instructed to find delight in God's ways.

These are just a few examples from the Old Testament without even touching the New.  Read Jesus words in John 14 and you will see this continued pattern.

Let's bring this down to practical living.  Over the last few years I've found that when my hearts desire is to follow God with my very being; when I think about the Lord all day long even while at work; when I lay down at night and ask the Lord to be a part of my dreams and sleep; let me be pretty straight forward.   When I do these things, not just because I want to follow the letter of the law, (as the saying goes) but because I truly am in love with Jesus, well there is very little, if ever any, stress in my life.  I see God's hand guiding me, leading me and helping me to make right decisions.  I can't begin to tell you how I see God's favor over me and my family.  How many times He blesses with little things and sometimes great big things.  When I run into problems (and you always will no matter what) I am always aware that my Father has my back and will carry me through, and He never fails.  It's just the way it is!  I hope that doesn't sound arrogant, because that is the last thing I ever want to sound like.  If God will do this for me, He will surely do it for you.

On the other hand when I slip a bit in my time with the Lord; when I might allow Him to slip down to second place; I don't see those things nearly as well as I would like.  That, my friend, is why I try my very best to not let up anymore.  Remember it's all about relationship with the Lord.  It's all about running as if to obtain a prize.

It really saddens me when I see people who constantly write on Facebook and others places on the internet that, "this day totally sucked," or "I never get a break," or "just once I would like something to go my way." (You can think of several examples.)  I'm not going to sit here and judge.  I'm warned not too,  but I just want everyone who even sometimes falls into those categories, to be honest with yourself as to the ratio of time that is given to God compared to other pleasures in this life.  Yes, I know that there will always be an occasional bad day, but as a whole that just shouldn't happen very often.

God WANTS to do great things for His children.  He desires to give good gifts.  Sometimes we are the ones who limit just how many blessings we see.  If I spend hours and hours watching baseball, but seldom crack open my Bible or pray, things are bound to be out of whack.  Pretty soon days would become lousy and so would my attitude.

Is it fair to God to want the best stuff, without giving Him our best, too?
You can't have one without the other!!!!!!!!!

May you meditate on the Lord this day,
Mark S.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


A couple of days ago as I was driving though Jefferson, Ohio, I heard a song which spoke of how some viewed Jesus as a fool dying for His dreams.  When I heard that line something caused my heart to ache and I immediately began to weep and I really do mean weep.  I was at an intersection and was very aware of a couple of people who glanced my direction and were probably wondering what kind of terrible news I had just received.  Later in the day, while I was telling Kay about what happened to me the same exact feeling came over me and I broke again.

It wasn't the fact that some people thought of Jesus as a fool which effected me like that.  Jesus was more than strong enough for that and I'm He understood that it just came with the territory.  There are people that think I'm a fool and to be completely honest, I could care less about it.  So it wasn't the "fool" part that got to me.  What did was the thoughts of Jesus dying for His dreams.  Even now I'm finding myself fighting a sudden lump in my throat as I think about it again.

When Jesus came to earth, He relinquished His rights to act here as God.  He became fully man.  A man with feelings, emotions and thoughts just like any other man.  We are also told in scripture that Jesus even faced every temptation known to man.  I started thinking how Jesus had to have dreams and hopes just like I do, even though He was the Son of God.  The thought of Jesus dying for His dreams just rips me apart, because His dreams had to be so unselfish compared to mine.  I guess I'm not talking about actual dreams we have when we are asleep.  I'm talking about the hopes and dreams that we have in life.  Dreams of "getting ahead" in life.  Dreams of a better life.  Maybe dreams of a little more money, or maybe even a lot of more money.  Kids have a lot of dreams about what they want to do when they grow up and as adults we still dream, even though the focus may change.  The most common dream I heard about growing up was the great "American Dream."  Funny how we don't hear a lot about that anymore.

I can imagine Jesus' dreams had Him hoping desperately that because of His life the world would be a better place.    Yes, Jesus died so that you and I could have eternal life, but in His agony He died for so much more.  Jesus had such a burning passion for the poor, the widowed, the orphaned, the weak, the sick, the prostitutes, the drunkard and the people who society had discarded.  I believe His dreams focused around them and not of Himself.  He lived not only to eventually lead them to finding eternal life, but He lived to make their lives better.  He reached out to them, He touched them, He loved them.  His compassion burned for them.  He lived to bring the kingdom of Heaven to earth so that lives could be better.  Jesus' heart broke for the desperate and hurting.  (Matthew 23:27; Luke 19:41-42)

Jesus said that if anyone loved Him they would follow His teaching.  (John 14:23)  I believe Jesus dreamed of a better world for people.  I wonder if when Jesus closed His eyes for the last time, if His hope and dream was that His efforts would continue,............. because we do love Him, right?  For when I've fallen short of keeping those dreams alive, I seek God's forgiveness.

Honestly, I believe that we've allowed a hole to penetrate our gospel.  For too long we have been focused on, "Are you going to heaven?  Do you know my Jesus?"  If the answer is "yes", or if we lead someone to say "yes," then it's almost like, "Hallelujah, let me punch your ticket to Glory."  So many seeker friendly ministries that never want to offend helped create that hole.  Yes, yes, yes.........that's important and I'm sorry if I sound cynical, but what about the rest of that life lived here on earth.  Are we investing in people so that they can experience a bit of the Kingdom here and now.  JESUS DID.  He cared about the here and now, not just the sweet by and by.  He knew how to balance it all out and it's time we all figured it out, too.

Even though I've really tried to change over the last several years, after I heard the line in that song the other day, I felt sick when I thought about my dreams compared to Jesus dreams.  Sick enough that it broke my heart when I thought about Jesus dying for His dreams.  Were they just broken dreams from a broken Man?    God forbid!  You and I hold the answer to that.

A couple of days ago, my dreams changed even more.  

In Christ,
Mark S.
(Stop the mixpod on the right if the music is playing, watch and listen.  You'll hear that line.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it."  (Matthew 11: 12, niv)

That verse excites me.  It tends to get my adrenaline flowing.  Especially during the last few years.  I have seen men and women developing a pursuit of God; to become more Christ-like in deeds, not just in word and the result has been watching more of heaven beginning to flow on the earth.  When people carry the fragrance of Jesus with them, people who have never had much desire for God are suddenly being drawn to Him.  That is good, good stuff.  Among the true followers of Jesus, momentum is gained.  With this momentum we need to


I am a huge hockey fan.  I've watched the game close enough and long enough that I can almost predict how some games will be played out  after only 5-10 minutes are played, especially if a team comes out with a high level of adrenaline.  I've watched a lot of games where a team will start the game with such adrenaline and emotion that they seemed determined to completely dominate and destroy the opposition, but then gradually something begins to suddenly happen.  If that flow of adrenaline is not tempered and even controlled, it eventually burns down.  When that happens the game often quickly turns.  I've watched teams play invincible hockey for a solid 10 minutes.  Problem is there is another 50 minutes to go and when that burn out hits, the ice level begins to tilt the other way.

There is an expanding number of people who are becoming more excited about the Lord.  A lot of energy is being renewed.  Spiritual battles between good and evil; light and darkness are being played out right before our eyes on both the local and national fronts.  It's as if we have suddenly been inserted right into the middle of a Frank Peretti book.  People are seeking miracles, signs and wonders like I've never experienced before in my lifetime.  For those who are really after the heart of Jesus it is very easy right now to experience that extra rush of energy and passion.  We are really wanting to make a strong push to make sure that others will see the powerful love of God and in itself that is a good thing. But also in the middle of all this I believe God is bringing a warning.   We need to make sure that before we move and act, even if something appears to be logical, or even of common sense, time needs to be allowed to hear plainly from the Lord.

"There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

In other words let us make sure that our thoughts, plans and actions are endorsed by the Lord.  Last Sunday morning as I was contemplating how a certain situation needed to be handled, I felt the Lord reminding me to wait on Him and to rest in Him.  We need to give the Lord time to make it plain to us if the paths that we think we should take, are the paths that He wants us to take.  We need to follow the example of Jesus and take the time to spend time alone with the Father, seeking His guidance and strength.  If we forget, or refuse to do this we will end up like in the hockey team scenario that I described above.  We can't forget to "selah," as the psalmist would often instruct.

Within the last 5 minutes and while writing this, I believe the Lord just revealed something else to me.  In these days there will be times for many of us when God's path doesn't make sense to us, but He will ask us to do it anyway.  When we have an idea, a thought which seems right, we hope for confirmation from Lord that we are hearing correctly.  If we get it then it becomes easy and maybe even fun to do.  Now what if God shows us a way that doesn't seem right, or doesn't make sense?  That's a bit more difficult.  If we want the full blessing of God in our lives then we better be obedient.  In this case it may even have a cost to it, but the reward will be great.  It is only in finding times of waiting and meditating on the Lord that we will have that strength and peace to be obedient and to have peace that we are indeed hearing correctly from the Lord.  I will never forget something that I heard Bill Johnson of Bethel Redding say:  "Show me somebody who will earnestly pray without a crisis and I'll show you someone who will solve the crisis when it comes."  We need to earnestly pray BEFORE critical situations arise and then we will be fully equipped to face them when they come.

 While talking to a friend this week on the phone about the frustration and hurt of dealing with a really tough situation, the Lord reminded me of a time where He cautioned Israel, but they would not listen.  Let me take you for a moment to Isaiah 30:15.

"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: "Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength."  (God was letting Israel know what they needed to do so that they would come out on top of a difficult situation.  Israel, however, had their own plans, which I'm sure at the time seemed like common sense ideas to them.  Let's find out what the Lord said next.)

"......But you would have none of it.  You said, 'No, we will get our help from Egypt.  They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.'  But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you!  One of them will chase a thousand of you.  Five of them will make all of you flee.  You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill, or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop."  (And then the Lord concludes with this bit of understanding, showing His patience and grace.)  "So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion.  For the Lord is a faithful God.  Blessed are those who WAIT for His help."

It's so easy to get excited about the times we are in.  On another extreme, people can get so excited about going after the miracles that they forget to spend time seeking the ONE that makes the miracle possible.   It's so easy to want to make things happen.  But even if our intentions are good, if we forget to wait and hear from the Lord; if we forget to spend time in the Word, meditating on the scriptures and the Lord, then we will find that many of our labors will be in vain.  I remember one time telling the Lord that I wanted to see and experience great  miracles and healings.  I wanted to see them so badly.  I  remember the answer that the Lord came back to me with.  "If you concern yourself with the things of My heart and the things that  matter most to Me; the rest will follow."  I took that message from the Lord to heart and have tried to do as the Lord instructed me.  As a result, I have seen more of my prayers answered quickly and in many cases the intervention from the Lord has been even  more than I expected.

I believe this is a timely message from the Lord that He wants many to hear.  Many who read this are relating right now to the struggle of not knowing what to do while in the middle of a difficult situation.  Go back and meditate on the scriptures above and let me encourage you with this well loved passage of scripture:

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to [those who have] no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD Shall renew [their] strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Be encouraged!

Waiting with you,
Mark S.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"....and when you FAST....."

"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them....................................."
"And when you pray you shall not be like the hypocrites....................................."
"Moreover, when you fast, you shall not be like the hypocrites, with  a sad countenance................."

The above are three different topics that Jesus addresses in Matthew 6.  Giving.  Praying.  Fasting.

Which of those three is seldom, if ever, talked about today among Christians or in most churches?  Then, I ask the question why?  You hear often about giving.  It's a given that we are supposed to have a prayer life.  But fasting?  Really?  Yet in that chapter Jesus addresses each issue as if it's a given that His followers would participate in all three.

To be honest with you I never fasted all that much.  Occasionally, maybe, but with great distance between and often I would  lose focus during my day or time of fasting.  That has all changed this year.  Too be honest, many of the thoughts I share with you now are out of a book that I've fallen in love with, but they are thoughts and convictions that I now embrace.

Let me explain as to how this came to be.

Immediately after the New Year, I felt compelled to visit a new church in Madison (where I live in Ohio).  I told my wife and friends that I was only going to check it out and see what it was all about.  I've never left.  There were three things that stood out to me when I visited HOPP (House of Prayer and Praise).  First, I experienced an incredible passion for Jesus coming off the pastor and the people there.  It was very real and the people were sincere in their worship.  There didn't seem to be an urgency to create a certain atmosphere or setting, but that was left up to the Holy Spirit.  There was kind of a pursuit of Christ that I could sense inside the building.  Now, it's hard to explain the second, but I felt like you do when you go back home after being away for a very long time.   I also heard the Lord whisper to me, "This is where I want to use you."  Like we often foolishly do when the Lord speaks, I remember thinking that what I "thought" I heard was only my imagination, because I was enjoying the service so much.  Was I ever mistaken on that.  But the third thing that stood out was when  Pastor Steve held up a book and announced that it was the churches book of the year and that everyone should read it.  It  was a book on FASTING.  How different.  We are in an era where there are church movements embracing what I've come to call a "feel good gospel," where sin is rarely addressed because Jesus loves us so much that He covers over any sin; because we are really royalty in God's eye.  Now I agree with that..................100% and I will often preach that myself.  There is another element though, that seldom gets addressed  and that is that while the previous sentence is true, sin is still sin.  Christ will cover it, but we need to stop the sin, and that part of the message often gets a gentle touch at most.  Because of that people either think they can stay in their sin. or have no knowledge as to how to get out of it.  As a result many miss out on God's best for their lives, or think they have security when they really don't.   So often it's all about what Jesus can do for you.  Seldom is it about what you can do for Jesus.

Anyway, I'm chasing the rabbit down the trail and need to stop.  I'm 50 years old and have been trying to become more and more like Christ, especially with more urgency over the last several years.  Over the last few months, however,  my relationship with God has grown much deeper and it's much more personal.  I told someone recently that I can actually feel God's presence everyday.  That is so hard to explain and it may even be harder for some to understand.  You know that feeling you get when you think someone is watching you?  That's exactly it.  I can feel the Lord and know that His presence is with me.  What has happened?  Why the difference?  FASTING!.  Now some religious spirit will say right about now that you should never tell people that you fast.  Not really true.  We talk about praying.  We talk about giving or tithing.  Why not fasting?  Jesus expected His followers to fast.  It was a part of life.  What Jesus said was that when you fast don't make it obvious.  Don't look sad and miserable.  There are only a few close people that know on which day of the week I fast and I guarantee that I will never let people that I am around everyday see a difference in my character on those days.  I recently told my wife that I actually sometimes get excited the night before I start.


Fasting has made me more aware of God's heart.  I want what God wants.  I know that I will experience more of God.  It's unbelievable how I see the Lord's hand in my day to day life.  I have some pretty amazing testimonies from people that I've prayed for since starting to fast on a regular basis.  The peace I have, even in more difficult moments that arise is indescribable.  On days I fast and even in the days that follow I feel stronger spiritually, not weaker.  I don't worry about wondering if I'm in God's will.  Instead, He seems to make things more clear.

Now why am I telling you this?  To boast?  No and God forbid.  If you've read this blog or known me for very long, you know why.  I desire to encourage you.  If you've been struggling, maybe wondering why God doesn't seem to be involved in your life, or maybe everything just seems to be in a confused state around you: may I encourage you to look more into this lost act of worship.  Fasting will help you stop living with one foot in the ways of the world.   It will change everything.  I am so confident that it will.  My only caution would be if you have a medical condition, then you need to seek the Lord on this, or find some other way to fast other than to give up food.

I could go on and on, but I will close by simply encouraging you to get a copy of the book, "FASTING" by Jentezen Franklin.  This book makes fasting make sense.  Every question you could have on the subject is answered in this book.  If you've thought that there is no need to fast in our era, this book will show differently.  You will understand how we've been missing blessings from God because we've misplaced this act of obedience and worship.  One of the things that  kept me drawn to this book is that it is built around scripture, which is very important to me, especially when I try to discern what is and what is not pure to God.

A lot of the faith heroes fasted.  Moses, Daniel, Ezra, Paul and the Apostles are just a few that come to mind. Great results followed them.  Mostly, I think of Jesus fasting.  If the Son of God felt as though fasting needed to be a part of His life, how much more should it be for me?

Jesus said: When you give ........(charitable deeds)
                   When you pray........
                      When you fast.........

Mark S.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


"I will cry for the desert
When He's bleeding from His heart and soul
Die for the desert
And remove my hands from what I hold

Deeper in my heart I will hear Him call
Deeper in my heart I will give it all
Deeper in my heart

I will cry for the desert"

I was in Christian radio when Twila Paris released the album "Cry for the Desert" somewhere around 1990. I was instantly drawn to the title song. I can't remember what inspired Twila to write the song, nor if there was a specific scripture that she took it from, but I can tell you how it spoke to me. Besides being able to feel the passion that went into the song, it caused me to think of how the Father must feel at times as He watches His children run after temporary pleasures. Seeking them for fulfillment while very seldom seeking Him. I would wonder if God would bleed from His heart at all the corruption, hate and crime in the world, too. His beautiful creation. Think of how a good earthly father or mother feels when they pour their heart and soul into their children, loving them with everything they have, only to see that child in constant trouble or making painful mistakes. Like it or not, it happens a lot in society. It's gut wrenching and heart breaking. It will rip into your deepest places.

I'm not trying to be a downer today, but I do think that we need to consider God's feelings more than we do. We don't like to have our feelings hurt. Do you think with God that's different? Is it possible to break God's heart? Is it? People in general are pretty self centered. Here in the states it's the American way. When people get hurt, they take it very personally, sometimes wanting to inflict pain right back. When bad things happen we want an explanation. "If God is such a loving God then why did (you can fill in the rest) happen?" Today isn't the day for me to get into some theological debate about that, but God doesn't like it when horrible things happen anymore than we do. In fact it probably bothers God even more.

What exactly am I trying to say? I'm not even sure to be honest other than this:

I think we should consider God's feelings a whole lot more than we do while we are alive on the earth. I'm 49 and I still want my dad to be proud of me. I want him to be able to say, "That's my boy!" To this day I still hate knowing of times in my life, especially when I was younger, when I ripped dad and mom's heart out. It's made me never to want to do that again. How much more should I feel that way about ABBA? (That's not the singing group either!!!!!!!!!!!)

I've been reading the book of Ezekiel which isn't the easiest book to read, but I keep finding golden nuggets to hold on to as I work my way through. I came across this verse that reminded me of that Twila Paris song. In regards to His beloved chosen people who constantly found ways to be unfaithful to Him, God says "I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from me............." When I read that word "crushed" it really made me ponder how we are capable of actually hurting God by our choices. Another verse, which would seem to tie in with that song by Twila Paris is Psalm 78:40: "How often they provoked Him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert."

(In case you have never heard it, I will embed the song and video at the end of today's writing. If the instrumental music is playing don't forget to pause the mix-pod on the right side of the blog.)

I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad or convicted. I am simply saying that we need to consider God's heart  before we make certain choices. Relationship with God shouldn't be one sided with us always wondering what more God can do for us, even though it is His heart's desire to constantly bless us. We should want to also do things for God and desire to please Him and to do it with purpose and passion. That's what makes for a great relationship. The best kind of relationship. That, my friend, will help us to do an even better job of bringing heaven to earth, because we will have captured the Father's heart.

Even before Jesus came to earth the Father allowed His heart strings to be exposed in many different ways, many of which we can find in the scriptures. One of my new favorites is also in the book of Ezekiel. If your one of those tough guys who squirms a lot when someone talks about intimacy and tenderness, well............tough. Just remember what it is like for a 3 year old to want to climb up into a parent's lap of safety. Put your guard down a bit. That's exactly what God wants to do in relation to His children. Hear the richness and intimacy of God's love.................


When I read that verse it reminds me of one of my favorite lines in that Twila Paris song: "Deeper in my heart I will hear Him call; Deeper in my heart I will give it all."

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I want you to know that as you read this blog that you are being prayed for!  Not only do I pray for you, but the scriptures teach that there is One much greater than I who also intercedes for you.  His name is Jesus and he sits at the right hand of God.  (Romans 8:34)  Pretty awesome when you think about it.  There is nothing more mighty than those Throne Room prayers.

I've been wanting to share a song/video with you that is very near to my heart.  Not only because it is a song that can help bring you to a place of worship and reverence  for the Lord, but it was also written by my son, Andrew.  Actually, Andrew, who is the lead singer on this song,  told me that he and God wrote it together.  Because I'm "dad" I suppose there was some instant bias towards the song, but I do sincerely believe that there is a special anointing over it.  I hope you will enjoy, "Love Like no Other," by The Lesser Ones.   Because this blog is viewed in so many other countries, I will also include the lyrics below the video, so they can be translated.  (Don't forget to pause the music playing  on the mix-pod to the right of the screen.)  Remember, God loves you and so do I.
Be blessed,
Mark S.

You are the captor of my heart
You are the center of my praise
You are the calmer of my storms
And I am Yours the rest of my days
And when I feel my strength deplete
You are my everything

You are creator of my life
You are my shepherd in the night
You are the fortress of my heart
And I will tell the world of your life
And when my soul begins to sing
You are my melody

Oh, oh, oh, You are the holy Father ... Your love is like no other ... I live to shout Your praise
Oh, oh, oh, Your name be lifted higher ... You are our hearts desire ... We long to seek your face

You took the wrath of God for all
When You were nailed upon the cross
You ransomed all our sins away
When all the world seemed to be lost
And when I feel I've reached defeat
You are my victory

Oh, oh, oh, You are the holy Father ... Your love is like no other ... I live to shout Your praise
Oh, oh, oh, Your name be lifted higher ... You are our hearts desire ... We long to seek your face

Your children will be strong
You're calling us to love
And to show Your grace
Into the world we'll go
We'll offer up our lives
And give You all our praise