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, October 21, 2015


Hello, my name is Mark and I've been a recovering hypocrite for most of my life.......................

I have listened to several conversations this year in which someone referred to the church and Christians as just a bunch of hypocrites.  Honestly this used to bother me greatly.  There have been times when I have felt much frustration, even anger, as I've listened to such things.

Those times of are over and have been for months now.  I just haven't written about it until tonight.  There was a night this year when in the quietness of the night I was alone with God and my thoughts.  I was thinking sadly about someone who had almost scornfully accused Christians of hypocrisy.  And I was so very saddened.  So much so that I could feel the hurt deep in my soul, because this came from someone who I care for and love very much  But suddenly in the quiet of that moment I heard a thought come to me (which I believe was sent by God) that said, "She is right, she is absolutely right."  That caused me to really ponder things and even look back on my own life.  Suddenly I felt like I had no defense.  And if you are one reading this right now, who would also be saying such a thing, I have no argument for you.  You are right. And that makes me sad.

I'm not going to sit here and name all of the sins of the world that are also in the church.  Each of us, if we are courageous enough, can do that on our own.  Little sins to Big Sins.  Sins hidden in the dark corners of our homes that nobody knows about.  Except God. Francis Chan is a nationally recognized pastor, teacher and author who I enjoy very much.  Recently I came across an audio message from him where he had to address his congregation on a sexual immorality issue within his church.  Yes, we can be hypocrites and it makes me sad to know that some of you reading this are owed an apology.

But also in the moment of that night I received an incredible download.  I was reminded of a tender teaching of Jesus when He said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  In other words, blessed is the one who truly recognizes spiritual bankruptcy.  Who realizes that without Jesus we can't get better.  We can't escape our sinful ways.  Without Jesus, we are left to wallow in the muck and mire of this world; but for those of us who recognize this and really want to change and follow Jesus, He says that we are blessed!  And I believe He says that with arms stretched wide and with so much love in His eyes that it burns us to the core.  And that brings me to my knees.  Tonight I listened to a song in which one of the lines is a hearts cry,  "Jesus.............Jesus, all I want is to be like You."  That, my friend has become a cry that comes from the deepest part of my soul.  I don't want to be seen as a hypocrite in even the smallest of ways.

Notice that I started using words such as, "for those who truly want to follow Jesus," instead of using the word "Christians."  There can be a huge difference between the one who really desires to be a disciple of Jesus and one who without thinking says that they are a Christian.  I believe that in the age we are now living in that God is even separating the two.

The second part of that download is this.  If there is sin in our life, whether we would view it as "little" sin or "Big sin," we need to take a knife, do surgery and cut it out.  Maybe instead of a knife we need to take up a sword.............the sword of the spirit (Ephesians 6:17)...............get that sin out and destroy it.  God doesn't like it when his people refuse to get rid of sin that allows people the excuse to mock and laugh at the idea of Christianity.  We also need to be very careful of everything from our speech and how we live to how we react in ugly situations that we are faced with.  No, I'm not saying that we have to be perfect.  We are flesh and as long as we live in these corruptible bodies we will all have moments of failure.  But we do need to have a longing and desire to keep getting better.  And when we do that the rest of the world will recognize Jesus for who He truly is.  The compelling mighty, full of love Savior who died and rose for the sins of the world.  They will also witness the life of the one who truly desires to follow Jesus, and when that is witnessed, instead of being viewed as an undesirable hypocrite we will be viewed as a compelling full of life and love man or woman of God.  And that my friend is what will change the world.

God loves you and so do I,
Mark S.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


"In that day I will restore the fallen house of David.  I will repair it's damaged walls.  From the ruins I will rebuild it and restore it's former glory." (AMOS 9:11)

Thanks for coming by.  I pray that this day finds you well.  You ARE important to me.

I realize that when the scriptures were first written that there were no chapter or verse divisions, but I still think it's pretty sweet when you find a chapter and verses that seems to have significance for either an individual or a group.  While yesterday should have been a day of solemn remembrance for all Americans, I made sure I re-read a passage that I've grown quite fond of.  While 911 was a day of devastation and disaster there is a different 9:11 that should bring great hope. 

God is a God who does everything He can to bring hope and promise and there is a lot of that in Amos 9:11.  That passage brings about a completely different picture than the one that is embedded on our minds from the tragic day off  911.   I actually find the book of Amos very interesting for the days in which we live.  Many nations, not just the United States, seem to chillingly parallel the nations that Amos prophesied about in his day.  

I think it's also important to note that Amos was not a trained professional.  He wasn't the son of a prophet or any other recognized leader.  Amos was a simple herder of sheep.  Amos was however willing to keep his ears away from outside influence in order to hear and focus on the message of God.  You see Amos refused to compromise the message of God with political correctness or any view or law of the land that contradicted God.  If your heart is like that of Amos's, be excited.  God will elevate you in due time.  This also might be a good time for many pastors and priests to stop and think about some of the poison that is being allowed to influence the church.  (Okay, I will refuse to now get on a personal rant.)

Watch the news. It doesn't matter which network, but when something of urgency happens you will usually see scrolling across the bottom of the screen, "BREAKING NEWS......" There was a morning a while back when I was given a quick vision of these words (BREAKING NEWS)  with God telling me not to delay in getting this message up on the blog.  Many will read this on a different day that I wrote it, but it doesn't matter. The next thing you need to read is this: He is ready to repair what has crumbled, ready to repair things that are ruined and breached in your life. He is longing to do this for you. Now let Him! Today it begins.

God can and wants to do this for entire nations, too!

The prophets aren't the easiest books to read and understand, but when you are least expecting, something of instant value and worth jumps out. BREAKING NEWS: AMOS 9:11........."In that day I will restore the fallen house of David. . I will repair its damaged walls. From the ruins I will rebuild it and restore its former glory." Yes this does begin a beautiful messianic passage in the Bible, but it also breathes out the character of God and the desires of His heart for us.

For many you need to cry out to God like you never did before. Today's message is for you.  If you need to repent or renew your faith in Jesus do it!  For many, today will be marked as a day when you noticed the healing began! A day when the ruins begin to be rebuilt.

I believe that God wants this word to be heard even in the city and beyond, to this and many other nations. In the day of trouble He repairs. He rebuilds. He restores. Get out of the mess so He can get to work.

But for today lock this into your heart. This is personal. Today is when the healing begins.  God is moving and when His people get in line with His moving then things will begin to change with great acceleration.

"The time will come," says the Lord, "when the grain and grapes will grow faster than they can be harvested.  Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel will drip with sweet wine!  I will bring my exiled people of Israel back from distant lands, and they will rebuild their ruined cities and live in them again......................" (Amos 9: 13-14)  May the Holy Spirit bring understanding to God's word.

Faithfully yours,
Mark S.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


While Matthew was getting ready for school this morning, I pulled up the home page of one of the television stations in Cleveland. I almost started wishing that I hadn't done that. Headline after headline was filled with tragedy, brutality and hideous things. My mind was affected immediately and discouragement came all over me. I just stared at nothing for awhile. My thoughts were something like........

God what is going on? For months I've been telling people to watch out for a mighty move of You. When people will start moving back to you and we will see things begin to make a turn. God what about the dreams You've given me about the extended period of grace that is upon us? My vision about the Holy Spirit moving in and out of homes here and cleaning people up when they don't even realize it's You? I feel kind of numb.

........................BUT THEN.....
........SOMETHING STIRRED......AND....

God moved my eyes off of what is seen. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN. All those things that God has been showing me have started to take place. Others have had the same visions or similar experiences and we are confirming it for each other. Among all the bad things going on there is a lot of good and great God things.

And then, my mind drifted back to something that caught my attention last night which is what I really want to talk to you about today. I've started to read 1 Corinthians very slowly. Taking time to ponder each verse and to try to understand what Paul is really saying. It wasn't a particular verse that caught my attention, but it was more of the subtitle in my Bible right before chapter 4. This is the subtitle that is penned in the "Spirit Filled Life Bible." (Which is my favorite, by the way.)

STEWARDS of the MYSTERIES of GOD and then chapter four begins.

I began to think about what it means to be a "steward," especially of the things of God. I won't try to paraphrase. I will instead quote directly from the Kingdom Dynamic section right out of my Bible.
"..........the "steward," one who manages the affairs of another. A steward is not the owner, but the OPERATOR and only EXERCISES the power, resources, or responsibilities given him with the interests and mind-set of the owner at heart and in focus." (Do me a favor and read that again.)

Now think about how God has us here......on this take care of all that is His. Now don't miss this, because this is the nugget that I want to pass on to you today that has the potential to change your neighborhood, community and city.

Remember the part about the steward operating and exercising the power, resources, or responsibilities? We are God's stewards and this steward, to the best of my ability, is going to enforce and release the spiritual power of the supernatural, invisible, and very real things of God that can't normally be seen. We have the ability to do this because Christ is living inside of us. I have been working hard to develop this mindset. Starting today though, more than ever I've decided to consider myself one of God's steward's of Madison, Ohio. The keeper of the gate, so to speak. Yes, I pray for this county, this state, this nation and people in other countries, but Madison is where I live. You have the most direct impact on where you live. So it is here for me. I do not stand alone in this. God is raising up many "stewards" of Madison. We are determined to see this town won for God and will contend with any darkness that tries to come in. In football the term "prevent defense" is used. Many of us are already trying to practice what I will call the "prevent defense" in Madison. Remember, when you prevent something you've stopped it before it could happen.

Sometimes satan has the ball, or at least thinks he has the ball. He is like a roaring lion constantly looking around to see who he can destroy and devour. He is looking to pick apart and wear down not the defense of the Cleveland Browns, but rather families, schools, governments and entire populations. The time has come to stop his attacks before they can happen. This morning when I looked at the news headlines I saw the demonic at work hidden behind the veil of what we call the news. The schemings of the devil. Murder, lives taken by drunken driving and hideous acts by people that make made me feel sick.

You know what?

No more
Not in my town
Not on this stewards watch
I will stand and pray for protection against tragedy BEFORE it can happen.

The devil is nothing more that a pawn and I pray for God to expose his every move and intention to use the spirit of drunkenness, drug use, murder, hate, sex crimes and other immoral actions. Bring these things into light, God, before the unthinkable can happen. Raise up stewards in every community to begin to take action in the natural and in the supernatural. Because there is spiritual warfare that is always taking place I do believe that there are also specific times when satan works to destroy by using the natural forces of nature. I can think of two such instances lately where I am very certain that the devil wanted to use severe weather to bring death and devastation to northeast Ohio, but it was "unexplainably" stopped. In fact one of Cleveland's meteorologists wrote about one of those instances.

Click here on: NEAR MISS

Let me remind you of an interesting episode from the Bible. 2 Chronicles 20 starts out by reading, "It happened after this that the people of Moab and the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat." This surely was bad news and Judah could have been completely destroyed. Jehoshaphat and the people could have accepted what was about to happen to them and just hope for the best, plead for mercy at the hands of their enemies, or even turn and run. Instead, they put their "prevent defense" (humor me if you will) into effect. They got ready for this attack by calling on God, reminding Him (and in doing so reminding themselves) of the mighty ways of the Lord and how He had delivered them before. Jehoshaphat called for a fast. Instead of growing weaker, doing all the right things made them stronger. In both faith and in the understanding of what their God was capable of doing. Verse 13: "Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord." They ALL stood before the Lord! Their greatest defense, uniting together and drawing strength from the Lord was about to turn into a great offense. This seemed to excite the Lord to see this response, because things begin to get very exciting with God proclaiming to them: "Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's." And so it was!!!

After this morning, I will be the first to admit to you that the news is sometimes very bad, media reports are not the best, evil gets a lot of recognition. As for me and my house, though, we will trust in the Lord. Our defense is about to become our greatest offense.

What about you? Your town, your city. Are you ready to hear the call, abandoning all risk? Can I call you "Steward of the City?" Are you ready? Are you saying:

Not in my town
Not on my watch?

What say you?

The Steward of Madison (at least one of them),
Mark S.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

JESUS, I AM STRONG ENOUGH TO DIE FOR YOU.........(well maybe........I think)

There is something that the Lord has been asking me from time to time that makes me ponder and wonder why He keeps asking.  It seems like this question will come up when I am least expecting it, so it really gets my attention.  And that is probably exactly what God wants.  The same question has been asked enough that sometimes it causes me to become unsettled.

"SO, ARE YOU WILLING TO GO TO PRISON INSTEAD OF COMPROMISING MY WORD?"  And then after a pause of a second or two I hear.  "AND ARE YOU SURE?"

The funny thing about the "and are you sure" part is that the Holy Spirit will ask me that before I can, and without me answering the first question.  It's happened enough to where I find myself silently saying back to God, "Okay, so why do You keep asking me this?"  Does He know something that I don't, or maybe that I wouldn't want to know?

Now as much as I want to be able to stand in front of God, my family and church family and boldly proclaim with an outstretched arm and clenched fist shouting, "YES GOD, I WOULD GO TO PRISON FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!," I am reminded of the words of Simon Peter,"Lord, I am willing to go with you, both to prison and to death."  And then I ponder.

There was a time when I would stand before people and tell them that I knew I could die for Christ without even thinking about what I was really saying.  I have heard other American Christians sometimes flippantly say similar things.  We can make these statements almost with arrogance, making ourselves sound good, and that is beginning to scare me.  I am no longer so quick to stand and boldly make such a claim.  If I do address that topic now I will usually use words or a phrase along with it such as that I "would hope" that I could; or I will soften the statement by saying that "I am pretty sure" that I could.  We really need to think about what we are saying.  Maybe you are surprised at my thoughts today, but as my pastor would say, "Hey, I'm just keeping it real here."

"I TELL YOU, PETER, THE ROOSTER SHALL NOT CROW THIS DAY BEFORE YOU WILL DENY THREE TIMES THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW ME."  Jesus response to Peter haunts me as I hear the Lord questioning me.

I heard a similar topic of discussion on a radio station earlier this week.  While I am working I like to have music playing in the background that will help me to keep my mind right and on the Lord.  I'm blessed to have a job where I am able to do that and lately I've been listening a lot to WAY-FM out of West Palm Beach, Florida.  I also enjoy listening to that station because our oldest daughter and her family live just outside of West Palm.  So, we of course have been there several times.  As I listen to the announcers talk about the area I can picture places in my mind  and it makes me think about what our daughter, grandsons and son-in-law, might be doing.  It makes me feel like I am a part of their day to day lives and somehow that makes me feel good.  Does that sound silly?

One morning earlier this week I heard them talking about people who are being martyred in other countries for being a follower of Jesus, which of course led them to raise the question as to if we are willing to die for our faith in Jesus rather than deny Him.  As they opened up the question to the listeners, among all the ones that called in with a response, there was one lady in particular who gave an answer that stood out the most to me..  It was an answer that I am going to adopt in my own walk with Christ.  It impacted me that much.  I think it was also the most honest response out of any.

Faced with the decision to deny Jesus and live, or stand by her faith and die, this soft spoken woman simply said that in that moment she would have to PRAY and ASK the Holy Spirit to give her the strength to not deny Jesus.  She added that she would need to do this because she was reminded of Jesus saying,"Whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven."

Do you get it?  This woman was baring her soul, honesty and pretty and admitting that she would need help.  That this was something that she could not do on her own.  And like to admit it or not, neither can you or I.  Our flesh, like Peter's flesh, will not allow it.  I can't do it on my own.  The only way is with the power, strength and help of the Holy Spirit.  Oh, but how this helps me to better understand the teaching of the beatitude, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  In other words blessed is the one who recognizes that they are spiritually bankrupt and in spiritual brokenness except for God's grace.  Blessed is the one who casts aside all self dependence and cries out to God for strength.

I am not trying to burst any bubbles today.  But maybe I am for this one post, trying to help us to be a little more sober minded and cause us to think on these things.  Grasp the truth of that beatitude and it will help you to overcome so many adversities, trials and problems in day to day life.  Stop trying to do things using your own strength or wisdom!  This is a great spiritual principle for everything we do in life, let alone help us in dealing with the more serious topics of discussion that I imposed upon you today.

.............................................Wow, I'm not used to being quite this serious on this blog.  I'm not even sure how to close or wrap this up today.  I guess I will close by just saying that we need to be on guard.  satan is on the prowl in the world, looking for those that he can destroy.  We need to firm up our relationship with Christ.  We need to flee from any false sense of security in ourselves, calling instead upon the grace, mercy and love of God.   And maybe I'll just close things out this way:   Finally my brothers and sisters..............

"Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." (Ephesians 6:10-18, nlt)

I love you guys,

Mark S

Saturday, March 28, 2015


Hello my friend.  I hope today finds you well.  However, if you are going through a trial, or are struggling in some way, know that you've just been prayed for.  As I sat down in front of the computer I asked the Lord to bless and meet the needs of each person that would read this blog.  That is YOU!!!!  God's love for you is incredible.  Please never downplay who you are in God's eyes.
I feel really, really good about what you are about to read. (Probably because I didn't write it!)  It comes from a kindred spirited friend who lives in the upper northwest corner of the United States.  I always enjoy reading Kim's thoughts, but last night when I came across her latest journal entry I felt it was exceptionally good.  The spiritual truth and life lesson that comes from it is both honest, real and one that we can easily relate to.  I asked Kim for permission to re-post her entry and was happy that permission was granted.  In a few moments you are going to be glad, too.  I also kind of like the idea of having a "guest blogger."  I hope this will be the start of something new from time to time.  

God's blessings and read on! :)

Kim's Journal Entry

Yesterday's weather was so nice that when I took the dogs out, I left the doors open. I went back inside for a brief moment to get my book, so I could sit under my favorite tree's shade and read for just a bit.

Suddenly Bayki ran inside all wound up and excited as if he'd seen a ghost. Bo~Cephas was not beside him and that made me nervous. So I ran to the door and lo and behold, there was Bo~Cephas, trying to squeeeeeeze his way through the iron porch railings. What in the world? I started to laugh as he is such a big Oaf, and trying to fit his big head through the rails is like trying to put a grape through the eye of a needle. But he seemed both determined and desperate. I had wondered if maybe that bad ol' coyote showed its face again and scared him? So I tried to physically show him the way to go, by walking the path for him to see, myself. And that's when I saw it.

There at the bottom of the landings stair, was the culprit of his fear. A menacing snake. And it wasn't budging. So I went over to Bo~Cephas and I lifted him over the railings barrier that stood in his way to refuge. I held him in my arms and laid his feet back down on safe ground at the door where he didn't have to fear that mean old snakes bite. And when I set him high enough above that snake, his perspective seemed to change. Suddenly he was no longer afraid, but FIERCE! He barked at the bully who just moments before struck him with fear and desperation, as if to say, "You can't touch me now! My Mommas here! So FLEE!"

I went to grab a stick to prod it away but when I came back, the snake was gone. Not gonna lie, not sure which was more unsettling, seeing him or not seeing him and wondering where he went?

When I came back in the house, God gave me a picture in my mind. I sat and mulled it over with Him. In the scriptures, the enemy of our souls peace is often seen as "A serpent. A snake. A viper." His venom threatens to sting us causing us to feel as though we are fighting for our lives. He mocks us and torments us with fear, and like Bo~Cephas, leaves us desperate for a safe refuge that barriers seem to stand in the way of.

Life's circumstances often feel like that scene. All we want is to climb up the steps that lead to the comfort and safety of 'home', yet something stands in the way. And it taunts us. It mocks us with jeers. It depletes us of peace. And it inflicts us with fear. And we act out in desperation. But just as I was listening for Bo~Cephas's cries, God is listening to ours, on the other side of that torment. And when we call out to Him, He HEARS! HE comes to US. HE lifts us and holds us close to Him in His arms. HE carries us to safe refuge and sets our feet high above the "serpents" (circumstances) where we no longer need to fear, but simply trust. And then HE strengthens us to confront our accuser, that we can command him to "Flee!"

I don't know what your circumstance is today. I don't know what is taunting you or accusing you or mocking you. I don't know what is robbing you of your peace. But God does. He knows your fear. He sees your desperation. And He longs to deliver you, if only you trust Him for this day. His love for you will reach over every barrier, and will lift you unto Himself and He will carry you. Cry out to Him. He wants to set you free! To put your feet on higher ground that you too, be strengthened to look your accuser in the eye and with bold confidence command him to "Go!"

While your circumstance may not change over night, your perspective will! When you know your Heavenly Father is by your side, what once tormented you now looks small. And it's bite? Not so venomous after all. Even if it lingers a bit longer, your fear will not. And the tormentor takes its cue to leave once it sees the fear has.

BE strengthened!


"Jesus replied, 'I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven. I have given YOU authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to OVERCOME all the power of the enemy; Nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven!" ~Luke 10:18-20

"For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation." ~Psalm 91:11-16

Thursday, February 12, 2015


A couple Friday night's ago our son Matthew developed a tooth ache.  It wasn't just one of those tooth aches that are annoying, but one of the throbbing variety.  I believe that most who read this can relate at least once to that kind of mouth pain.  I sure can.  Your not able to think straight and noises that usually go unnoticed suddenly seem amplified, and extremely irritating.  You get kind of short tempered and if you can sleep, your sleep doesn't last and you end up waking up to that throbbing pain.  I've found it interesting in my life that when this type of tooth ache occurs it always seems to be on the weekend when you can't call a dentist anyway.

That's exactly what happened to Matt and no matter the age of your kids you hate to see them in so much discomfort.  Even though Kay and I prayed for Matt, and there were times where it seemed as though peace would come and the ache would calm down, after a short period of time the pain would return.  The same thing happened at church.  He was prayed over, the pain subsided, but Sunday afternoon it returned and Matt went to bed.  We had even listened to some well meaning suggestions of home remedies; tried some, but nothing seemed to help.

Now for a little side-trip.  If you don't want to read this rabbit trail just skip past the italicized paragraphs and pick up from there.

For more than several years now I have come to the belief that it is never God's will for us to be sick, or in that kind of pain.  Sickness and death did not occur until after the fall of man.  We live in a fallen world so sometimes different attacks come to us, but by no means (in my opinion and personal study of the scriptures) does that mean that it is the will of God.  Jesus, the disciples and then apostles took authority over these things.  As I attempt to be more and more like them, I make every effort to do the same thing.  I have had some amazing things happen at times as I've prayed over people, especially children.  I had a pastor ask me several years ago, "When you pray for someone sick, why don't you pray 'if it be Your will,' heal them?"  My answer was that Jesus prayed that prayer one time and one time only and it was when He was facing the cross.  I don't see any other place where Jesus or the disciples prayed that way when they were praying for the sick.

Also, for more than a few years now, I have come to believe that God still desires to move and speak with us directly and often.  Many will say that since we have the written Word,  that God chooses to speak to us in that way, but not in the ways that He spoke with man under the old covenant (before Christ).  I can't find anything in scripture that teaches that, though.  Yes, God speaks to us through the Word, but He will speak to us directly as well.  We are under a better covenant than Moses had, so I believe we can hear God speak to us both ways.

I am compassionate and yes I do realize that people die of sickness everyday.  That still doesn't mean it is God's will.  There was a man not long ago that lost a child unexpectedly to death and even in his pain he said that he knew that God accepted his child into heaven, but God didn't "take"or "cause" his child's death.

Why did I feel the sudden need to seemingly go down that rabbit trail?  I think so that you can better understand where I am coming from, especially if you are a newer reader to my blog, but also to explain why I shouldn't have been surprised at what happened in our home that Sunday afternoon.

I think it was a hockey game that I was watching, but I suddenly just had the desire to shut off the television and spend some time with the Bible.  I found myself reading from Zechariah and drawing some really good stuff from it.  I was really into chapters 3 and 4.  It happened around the time that I had read Zechariah 4:6, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of hosts."  I attempted to read on, but it was within seconds after reading that verse that I felt something move in our house.  I don't know how else to explain it, but I literally felt a movement.  It was like something in the house shifted and I thought to myself, "the spirit of the Lord." The only tangible way I can think to describe it was that it was like when we are having a beautiful, sunny day.  Yet it's a day when rain is predicted.  Suddenly that moment comes when you can almost feel a change or shift in the atmosphere, and you begin to see the leaves on the trees blowing in a different direction and you know that change is coming.  It was kind of like that, but more intense and a whole lot more amazing.  I just knew that something within the spiritual realm in our house had moved.  I love experiencing a bit of heaven here on earth.

Within minutes, Matthew came walking down the hall, looked and me and smiled and said, "My mouth feels great."  He began to eat and drink and even though I asked him hesitantly if there was any pain he said no.  That afternoon we truly experienced a personalized "home remedy" that you won't find in the medical books.

I really don't think it mattered if it was a tooth ache, the flu, or something much more serious, I believe that on that day this was how God chose to bring a spirit of healing into our home.  It was something I'll never forget.

A good while back I once asked a friend if when he was praying for someone sick if he always prayed for healing.  He told me something that I never forgot.   He told me that he often prayed that God would help the individual get to the point to where they could "receive" their healing.  I thought that was wisdom.  I think the same applies to us when we are having a difficult time, or experiencing a trial of some sort.  Maybe we just aren't in that right or good place, either with ourselves or in relationship to God, to where we are ready for that delivering moment.  I do believe with all my heart that it is God's desire for us to get there so that He can miraculously heal, deliver, or work in some other amazing way.  The more I study the scriptures for myself, the more convinced I am.

So take heart today!  I guess I just want to encourage you that if you are struggling with something, whether it be physical, emotional, or mental that God does want you whole.  Sometimes if the deliverance or healing doesn't seem to come right away, a well meaning friend might say that it wasn't or isn't God's will.  Maybe you are the one thinking that.    Don't go with that!  Just keep knocking and tapping at the Lord's heart.  Let Him show you where to tap.  You may think the answer will come a certain way, but don't be surprised if God takes you to it in a much different way.
God has a bunch of home remedies and His always work.

I would also like to recommend a book to you that is full of really good home remedies that do work.  Make sure you pick up a copy and read through it.  It's called the Bible.  It's also great for the soul!!

Love, blessings and all for Jesus,
Mark S.

Sunday, January 18, 2015



Before I go into the meaning behind those words, I need to tell you of something which I heard from the Lord this week.  Early in the week I was out on and errand for work.  The sun was shining (which can be pretty rare this time of year in this area) and I think that is what made me think of baseball and spring training.  Baseball, especially when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates, is one of my not so secret loves.  I was thinking about how every year around July people in the sports media will start to talk about which teams are the contenders for the playoffs and which are simply pretenders.  Pretenders being teams that for awhile look pretty good, are hanging around first place and have caused their city some excitement, but most likely will begin to fade at some point before the end of the season.  They could be a pretender for many reasons, but usually a team in that category just doesn't have the talent or team depth for the distance of an entire season's grind.


In those moments of thinking about baseball, the Lord found that a good time to get my attention.  He spoke to my heart and showed me that He has contenders and pretenders, too.  Whether it's sports or spiritual, (especially when it comes to the things of God) it's never good to be known as or labeled as a pretender. On the other hand to be known as a contender is a pretty sweet thing.  A contender would fall along the lines of 1 Corinthians 9:24.  Here is that verse according to the New Living Translation.  "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!"  This is a person who takes following Jesus seriously, is concerned about the lost, encourages others to grow in Christ and is always looking for ways to advance the kingdom of God.

The pretender?  Honestly, I don't even want to take the time.  The pretender puts on the mask and looks the part of a Christian, but the mask comes off way too easily and often.  A pretender is usually also very immature, especially in their walk with Christ.  The writer of Hebrews kind of puts in this way.  "You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.  You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food."  God is a patient God, but I believe that He spoke to me this week that He is growing very weary of the pretenders.  In fact, this is a very dangerous time to be a pretender.

Fast forward to church this morning. I am not going to candy coat what I believe the Lord wants me to say.  As always, you can pray about what I write and discern for yourself if you believe this is from the Lord or not.  During worship I began to think about an individual who I have encouraged as much as I can. Yet spiritual growth seems to be very minimal to non-existent.  For some reason I began to think of others who have crossed my path looking for council or encouragement, but just won't do anything to help themselves spiritually.   This morning as I thought about these situations I clearly heard the Holy Spirit say to me, "Let em go, just let em go."  To what extreme do those words go?  I'm not sure.  I have a theory, but I'll let you develop your own thoughts.  I would not want to hear that God said that towards me, though.  I am very sure of that.

Now before I sound too self righteousness, let me just say that God has reminded me about times when I was a pretender.  I am still not perfect, but over the last several years I have tried, with passion, to grow into the man that God wants me to be.  I still am not there, but as that 1 Corinthians verse encourages us, I am running to win.

There is another thing that I believe I am supposed to say today.  Otherwise I will be in disobedience and I can't let that happen, even if it means that I lose a few readers or make someone mad.  And that is this:

  There are too many Christians going to too many places and doing too many things for fun and entertainment that they have no business doing.  There are people who talk one way around Christians and another way at work.  I'm sure Jesus would go into certain establishments and be around certain crowds, but only for the sake of witnessing and attempting to bring people out of darkness and into the light of the Father.  Jesus would not continually go into those certain places to just hang out, have fun and be one of the boys.  

Two scriptures from 1 John.  Again this is the New Living Translation.  "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did." (1 John 2:6)

Maybe before we go certain places, or say certain things we need to ask the question.................will I be living and doing just as Jesus did?

"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from this world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever."  (1 John 2:15-17)

Are you a contender or a pretender?  As my friend and co-worker Paul reminded me this week, you only need to read the book of Judges and the history of Israel to see how God blessed the "contenders" and what happened to the "pretenders."  You might say that with Christ we live under grace.  You are right, but I will also say that God is still a God of holiness.  It's time to find the scriptural balance of the two.

"....and this world is fading away."  This is a great time to be found a contender.  At the same time this is a very dangerous time to be a pretender.  A separation between the two has already began.  So..................which one are you?

Moving up to higher ground,
Mark S.