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."

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.)