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God’s Rest

April 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Someone handed me a quote (source unknown) that said:

“We do not enter into God’s Rest because we are continually striving to sanctify the wilderness experience.”

In other words, we are often living in rebellion to God’s Word and yet wanting Him to bless and prosper us in our disobedience.

The children of Israel failed to enter into the Promise Land even though God had said He would give it to them! Only Caleb and Joshua said that they could conquer the land and the other 10 spies convinced the people of God that the land could not be conquered.

Let me assure you of this: God has already given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to conquer the lies of this world and of Satan that say that you cannot be effective doing biblical counseling! He says you can share His Word and the Holy Spirit will do the rest!

So be bold in your faith and preach the Gospel to those who desperately need to hear it and be saved so that they may enter into God’s Rest for them!

-Mark (glad this is the message of biblical counseling!)

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“I am in recovery”

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Some of you may not get the joke but some of you will – I can imagine someone saying to me: “Mark is finally admitting he is in recovery after neck surgery!”

One of the heartbeats of our ministry is that Christ “transforms” us from “addict/idolater” to “new creation in Christ.” It’s NOT merely a recovery but a transformation.

Now that I’m physically recovering from neck surgery, I am in “recovery” which is a very good word, especially for physical problems. It’s better to be in recovery after surgery than in the morgue!

“Recovery” is a good word. It means to reclaim one’s old self which is what I want to do after this physical injury and surgery. BUT that’s NOT what I want to do when I am spiritually enslaved to an “addiction”! I don’t want to recover, I want Christ to transform me! Spiritual problems require a “transformation” not just “recovery” according to the Word.

Christ wants MORE for me than recovery – He wants a transformation that only His power can bring. He wants me to be new and not my old self reclaimed.

I know it may not sound like much of a difference at first but this key principle is the thrust of the biblical counseling movement for all “addictions” (which are really forms of idolatry but that’s a blog for another day).

2 Cor. 3:18, Rom. 12:2 and Eph. 4:22-24 reminds me that by the power of the Holy Spirit, I will be transformed into the likeness and image of Christ Himself.

The ESV of 2 Cor. 3:18 states: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” That “same image” is that of Christ and He is at work in us by His Spirit. Praise His Name!

– The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Co 3:18). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

-Mark (hard to believe that I am looking more like Christ every day)

Are you “oversaved”?

April 28, 2010 1 comment

Thought this was funny on Godtube. Needed a good laugh. About 3 minutes long.

http://www.godtube.com/featured/video/michael-jr-oversaved/comedy

-Mark (it’s good to laugh at ourselves – sometimes I am “oversaved”)

Better than Therapists!

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Recently, someone remarked to me: “These two ought to be therapists!” The person was referring to two volunteer ladies who serve as team biblical counselors in our ministry (Truth in Love).

I responded: “These two ladies are BETTER than therapists!”

They are because they are servants of the Most High God and His Daughters! Daughters of the King of Kings who loves them very much!

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not hating on therapists because if they are Christians, then they are ok with me! If they are not Christians, then I hope they have a good day today and I really hope they hear the Word of God so that they might be saved (Rom. 10:17).

-Mark (confident that all saints are better counselors than secular therapists because of Christ within them!)

P.S. Somehow, people get all caught up in titles and labels and the like! Some people do not like to be counseled by a volunteer who is a Christian and would prefer a secular therapist who is not a believer in Christ! Ugh!

Health Update AFTER Surgery (Mark’s herniated disc)

April 26, 2010 Leave a comment

What an eventful several days! We saw the Lord’s Hands in EVERY AREA of our lives through this very difficult surgery. God is love -no doubt about that in a fallen, sin-cursed world!

Surgery was a SUCCESS. My neck, shoulders, and arm feel great. I’m as good as new in those areas. How great is the LOVE of the Father that we should be called children of God!

Only thing now is to get physically better because the surgery was MUCH HARDER than the surgeon anticipated. It took almost twice as long as most of these surgeries because this was NOT a new injury but was embedded for a long time per the surgeon. SO…don’t wait to go to the doctor is one lesson I’ve learned.

I’m going to lay low for the next 2 weeks and rest and recuperate. I am still not out of the woods yet and really appreciate your prayers for me to continue as there are still several concerns. Please pray especially for my wife as she is really getting worn down by taking care of me. I can do very little on my own with limited neck mobility so it’s like taking care of a big baby (in more ways than one!). She is taking great care of me and loves me so much! As you can imagine, I am a load to take care of…very high maintenance and now that I’m hurting, I’m not the nicest person to be around (tad bit grumpy!).

Also, we’ve incurred some medical bills that were not anticipated because of the physical therapy BEFORE surgery, co-pays to specialists and hospitals, medicines, MRI co-pay, etc. Now that we have a lower income, these hits are a little harder for us but God provides. He always does.

I’m very glad I had surgery though the recovery is the most painful part! I’m in MUCH pain in my inner throat with all of the muscles that had to be moved around and re-adjusted to get to my neck. They make the incision in front and at the bottom of the throat. Then, they move your throat around inside. VERY painful indeed especially since they had to keep working on me for longer than expected. I feel it yet I know God is good. He loves me very much and I’m so grateful to be pain-free in my arms, back, chest, and neck (other than surgery)!

I knew that after surgery I would either open my eyes on earth where I am loved by you, my TIL family in the Spirit, and my blood family OR I would open my eyes in heaven where I am loved by my Heavenly Father. I’m glad He allowed me to continue to minister to hurting souls a little longer and to care for my family!

I evangelized everyone I could in the hospital and kept my eyes on Jesus as much as I could (hard to do when in pain and I did not succeed fully). I wanted people to know that God is good no matter what happens. I would either wake up in a good place (B’ham) or a great place (heaven).

-Mark (feeling better and very thankful to Christ and Dr. Faulkner and my wife and my family and my TIL family and all the brothers and sisters in Christ who prayed for me! this too shall pass)

P.S. Sadly, there is no way that I’ll be able to attend my own ordination service this Tuesday night at Vestavia Alliance Church. If you were planning to go, I thank you and apologize to you that I will be unable to be there.

Deserving Death

April 25, 2010 Leave a comment
Job 1:21 And he said,”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

What do we enter this world with? Nothing.

We are born helpless, totally dependent upon the Lord and others for EVERYTHING as helpless babes.  In fact, we are naked and can’t make others NOT look at our nakedness. We are exposed.

At the end of our lives when we die, we need someone else to clothe us. We do not go into the grave dressed unless someone clothes us (or leaves our clothes on!). In other words, we enter the world with nothing and leave it with nothing. Everything in between is given to us by God’s grace and everything we lose in between is taken from us by God’s grace. God the Father knows what is best  so we must trust Him.

Also, we do not deserve anything in this life. We think we do and we think we are entitled to things in this life, but we are not. God gives. By His nature, He is an abundant giver. Everything we have He has given us – even eternal life since Jesus died for us without our help and input (everyone abandoned Jesus, remember?).

So Job’s attitude in this statement is profound. We deserve nothing so “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

We all – everyone of us – deserve death according to Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That may sound harsh at first but that’s what the Bible teaches in this verse and in other places. We do NOT deserve eternal life – it’s a free gift from God.

Job got it. Job understood who he was and Who God is. Job knew he deserved death and that eternal salvation, every possession, every blessing, and every good thing in this life and in the life to come were a BONUS for him.

Do you get it? Do you realize that He has given you everything you have? Do you thank Him daily?

-Mark (longing to think more like Job every day, just not wanting all of Job’s suffering!)

(All verses excerpted from The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

Can you “scare someone away from God”?

April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

I read a blog recently that someone said somthing like this: “We don’t want to scare anyone away from God with too much truth.”

What?

How can you “scare” someone away from God who is ALREADY away from God in the first place?

All people are born lost and bound for hell. Everyone according to Romans 3:2-26 is lost and God owes NO ONE eternal life:  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

In other words, God is gracious to give mercy to those who have faith in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. Not everyone will be saved. Everyone is lost without His grace that is greater than all of our sins!

What’s wrong in our thinking is that we think God owes us eternal life but He does not owe anyone eternal life? In fact, no one deserves it. So all are lost and bound for hell except by God’s grace!

That ought to make us motivated to share the Gospel with others knowing that it is the good news of salvation for every type of sin. If that truth is told and someone rejects it as truth, it is on them – not on us who have “scared them away.” They are responsible for rejecting God’s truth.

I didn’t think up the Gospel. It’s God’s idea. It’s His truth. I urge you to share it with reckless abandon and without fear of scaring people away! What a lie from Satan! God is bigger than you and I and Satan and this world’s lies. No one can be scared away from Him WHEN He is drawing them to Himself (read Ephesians 1-3 by Paul and John 6:60-71 to see what Jesus said about those the Father draws to Himself).

Fact is we are all lost and when God draws us to Him, we cannot be scared away because it is His power not ours that saves! Think about that the next time you share the Gospel and/or biblically counsel. Be bold in Christ to share His truth!

And with confidence, we can share the Gospel because if God is drawing someone to Himself, there is no stopping it from happening!

-Mark (thankful I’m not powerful enough to turn people away from Christ IF He is drawing them to Himself)