Matthew 10:7-8

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give."

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I spent a good amount of time over the last couple of weeks thinking about my recent birthday. Not out of vanity, or wanting to be recognized, but completely for reflection. Fifty truly is a milestone in one's life. I honestly feel that it's something to be proud of. Turning fifty hasn't bothered me either. Hey, I'm looking forward to saving 20 percent at Denny's between 4 and 8pm (or whenever those hours are!) The only thing that I want to concentrate on at this point in my life is where I am in my walk with the Lord. Do I love the way that Jesus loved when He walked here? Jesus was a compelling person to most of the people He came in contact with. Am I? Do people sense peace and are they encouraged when they encounter me? When the Father thinks of me, do I touch His heart?

Even though I first told Jesus that I wanted Him to take control over my life when I was in high school, much of my Christian walk has had it's share of peaks and valleys. There were times when I would be red hot for Christ only to gradually allow a lukewarm sense to set in. I am not proud of that. About ten years ago, though, something changed. Our family discovered a Vineyard church in Cleveland. There was something different about that church. You could sense a desire to passionately pursue Jesus and I wanted my life to be filled with that passion. I'll never forget Pastor Rick standing up to preach, looking over the congregation and saying something like, "I want you to know that I am madly in love with Jesus Christ." That always impacted me. Along with that "mad" love for Jesus, I saw the power of Christ in that man's life. It was something that I wanted. Quickly I became very serious about my walk with the Lord and the journey has been amazing. Yes I've had some downs, but not like before. It took awhile, but little by little I learned to give everything about me over to God. God has dealt with areas of sin that were rooted pretty deeply in me and while I am not perfect, there is a deep and sincere desire for holiness everyday. I want to walk just as Jesus walked. I've learned to walk in the power of God and want to do so for the rest of my days.

Here is the amazing thing that I want to leave with you and encourage you with. I've admitted to you that it has only been over the last ten years or so that I've allowed this fire, this passion to burn within me. Ten years out of fifty. But it feels like much, much longer. In fact, the memories of the lukewarm days seem to keep fading into the shadows where they belong. I know that I will always be aware that they were there, but any time my mind goes there I find the Holy Spirit whisking them away. I understand the truth behind Joel 2:25 completely. "I WILL RESTORE TO YOU THE YEARS THAT THE SWARMING LOCUST HAS EATEN." God has done that for me. The ten years that I've spoken of have been so rich and warm. The explosion of love, grace and growth has almost been overwhelming at times. Those ten years seem like so many more. I seldom ever think about, nor do I want to remember, the days of a watered down spiritual life.

The only thing that is important to me now is to continue this walk with God and even though I am a man, I have no issues of telling you of my deep love for Christ. I love Jesus and desire His intimate love. I want to be like the disciple who rested his head on Jesus. I want to touch His heart.

Now what about you? If your walk with Christ is deep and rich, good for you! Let's keep it that way. Discouraged people around you need you to have that more than ever. If, however, you find yourself in that lukewarm place that I spoke of, I encourage you to turn your gaze to God like you never have before. If you are disheartened by mistakes and sins, today dawns new. Let God drive out the locust and what it has eaten. He will now restore, repair and strengthen. He is about to show you a greater love, and teach you how to walk in His favor and power. Your life will become life changing for others who need Jesus.

Let God restore the years. The past will fade. Step into a new and great adventure.

Much love,
Mark S.
(Now how do I get rid of all this gray?)

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