Sunday, April 20, 2014

What does the resurrection mean to Mark?

 The resurrection means everything. This is the glue that holds our faith and belief in Christ as the Messiah together.

1st Corinthians 15:12-15 tells us that our faith, our preaching, our beliefs, our hopes are useless if Jesus was not raised from the dead. If so, then we are still in sin. We are utterly lost and hopeless.

But Jesus has risen!

Friday came, but now it is Sunday.  

Through Jesus death on a cross and his resurrection from the dead, I can be justified (just-as-if-I-never-sinned) to God through Jesus. I could have never done this on my own. My sin had separated me from God, but with Jesus rising from the dead I now have new life in Jesus and able to be in right relationship with the Father.  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  Also, my old self was crucified and now I am no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:6), but set free to live a life according to his calling.

Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that us peace was upon Jesus, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  

In dying Satan struck Jesus' heal, but Jesus came back to life and has crushed Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).  Jesus defeated the Devil. We no longer have to live in fear or worry about the Satan and his schemes, but are freed and have abundant life in Jesus Christ. 

Thank you Jesus for dying and resurrecting for you and me.

What does the resurrection mean to you?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

There was another cross?!?

On Thursday, Jesus had his last meal, was betrayed by one of his disciples, sought refuge in prayer with God in a garden, and then Jesus was bound and arrested.

On Friday morning, Jesus has accused by religious leaders for be a blasphemer and a public nuisance and taken before the governor for a trial. Then his countrymen let a known murder go free and choose death and crucifixion for Jesus. Jesus was then mocked, beaten, spat on, and bruised. Roman guards smashed a crown of thorns into his head and put purple clothing on him to mock him as being a king. They then forced to pick up his cross and walk to Golgotha on the outskirts of the city. From there he was pierced three times. He struggled to breath and grew thirsty. Jesus took up his cross and bore the world's sin on it. There two other crosses that day that the criminals on them. They were to Jesus' left and to this right.

Yet there was another cross.

Wait, there wasn't four cross? But I thought there were only three?!?

Today, that fourth cross is yours and mine. It's the cross where our old self was crucified. "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin!"(Romans 6:6)

Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23-26:

 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels."

Each of us have a cross to bear. Are we willing to pick up it, lose your selfish desires, let go of our life, and give it over to Jesus?

If we do believe in Jesus our lives will change dramatically. The old life will be gone and the new one is here. We will find forgiveness! We will find life! We will find purpose!

Hang up the old life you lived on the cross. Go start your new life now and live for Christ!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Needed a Savior

This is a fictional story that I wrote in thinking about what it truly would have been like to be a person who lived at the same time as Jesus and watched his life and death unfold.  

I had known of him for many years.  I even remember my father, a faithful Jewish leader, casting aside rumors from about 30 years ago.  At that time, there were stories about a baby who was born by a virgin and would come to save us, who would finally be the King that the Jewish people were looking for.  There was a woman named Anna, who saw him in the temple and said so.  She was a faithful woman and people trusted her.  But then, nothing happened.  This boy, he was raised by common parents, and the last I heard before a few years ago, was that he was training to be a carpenter.  A wood worker?  He wasn’t even training to become a religious teacher – like all of the boys who wanted to tell people about the Scriptures and God.  Surely, the rumors weren’t true.  I was just a little girl when I first heard those rumors, and I decided that they must not have been much of anything.  So as time went on, my father and mother arranged for me to marry a nice Jewish boy.  We were 16 when we got married.  I remember a few times in the next year, I would see that young Jewish man travel with his family to Jerusalem for Passover.  Even though he didn’t know me, I kind of wanted to keep track of him.  Just in case the rumors were true … but of course they couldn’t be.  A Jewish man from Galilee who was a carpenter – how could he save us? 

My husband and I, we have had many children.  Even now, my youngest is just a babe and I carry her everywhere with me.   She is probably my last child, and I treasure her.  She is my gift from God.  Recently, things have started to heat up in Jerusalem.  Apparently, Jesus is doing more than just being a carpenter now.  I’ve started to hear stories, and I don’t know what to believe.  There are rumors that he is healing people, that those who were blind can see, and those who were crippled can walk.  I know it seems impossible, but I even heard that he raised  a man from the dead.  How can that be? 

My husband doesn’t think any of the rumors are true, but when I see my father, he doesn’t say much.  He refuses to deny them, but I think he’s scared to talk about them at all.  I mean, is this even possible?  But as time goes on, I’m just confused.  He touches unclean people – people the Law says we can’t – and shares that we are to love our enemies.  I thought we were supposed to overthrow our enemies in Rome and now he’s telling us to love them?  I don’t get it.  But still, there’s something different.  He’s not rambling like a crazy person – I’ve heard him speak once.  He speaks with power, but with kindness.  And when I heard him speak, he spoke all about what God’s kingdom was like, like he has personally seen where God sits and knows all things.  He speaks in a way that just makes you want to trust him. 

Last week, he rode into Jerusalem and people adored him.  It was like an impromptu parade for him and the people were going crazy.  When I heard the cheering, I thought – well, maybe this is it.  Maybe the rumors are true and our king is going to take the place he deserves. 

At Passover tonight, my husband shared about how God saved us from Egypt by sacrificing the first born child of the Egyptians.  How we were saved by spreading the blood of a lamb on our doors.  God saved us, but would he save us again?  Were his promises really true?  I couldn’t help but think about these things as I rocked my sweet girl in the middle of the night.  When would we really be free?  When would the promised Messiah come?  And as I was thinking that, there was a commotion down the street.  I looked out and saw torches coming down from the Mount of Olives.  There was a crowd of angry men heading to the synagogue, and as I stepped out my front door for a better view, my eyes locked with his for just a moment.  Jesus. They were taking him away.  Handcuffed.  I tried to put my baby back to sleep, but she just fussed.  So we sat all night – listening to the sounds from down the street.  I heard voices making accusations, and lots of commotion in the courtyard outside the synagogue.  It became silent, and I thought they had settled the dispute until the entire mob passed my home – they were on the way to Pilate.  I don’t know what happened there, but as morning rose, there was a strange air in the city.   

Something was not right.  I walked outside to see the mob forming a path to Golgotha.  No.  It couldn’t be.  But it was.  They had decided to execute Jesus.  I knew my husband wouldn’t approve, but I had to go.  I swaddled our baby, and headed to the path.  I was there just in time to see him pass, and the bottom fell out of my stomach.  I guess that I truly believed he was the Messiah.  I wanted to believe he was one who would save us.  I wanted to believe that he was the one who really did miracles.  But how could  a Savior die?  How could our King be crucified?  He was sentenced to the death of criminals.  I continued to follow the crowd, and as I did, holding my baby tighter and tighter, I saw them put the nails in his hands.  I saw them twist the crown of thorns onto his head, and then I saw them lift the cross up.  Many people came and went through the next hours, but I saw a group of people right in front of the cross who refused to leave.  His followers.  Among them, Mary – that woman who was a sinner, but started following him, John, who stopped being a fisherman in order to be his disciple, and his mother, the one who had wrapped him up all those years ago.  They were firmly planted before the cross, crying and praying.  I couldn’t move.  I stayed, and I saw him take his last breath six hours later.  At that point, I knew somehow.  

 Jesus had died for me.  I hadn’t asked him to.  But he had died because I needed a Savior. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Can God really heal someone?

Here is a story about Mark as an intern to a youth ministry in Arizona while on a mission trip to Arkansas in the summer of 2008.

The wooden staircase beneath my feet was wet from a youth group full of students going down Alan's 80 foot man-made water slide into a pond. My fear of going down the slide had ceased due to my previous ride into the pond. (Water slide pictured below).

I desired to go a second time and the bugs in Arkansas are biting me as I approach the top of the slide. I placed my raft down and mist from the hose above my head is covering my body. Then, I placed both my hands firmly on the raft and double check to make sure the pond below me I clear of others. I pushed off and went down. I was going so fast, but a song entered my mind. I was mumbling a John Denver song, "I'm leaving on a jet plane...” At that moment a smart idea came to me as I am singing the song: I should do a flip off the ramp before I hit the water. Well, here goes nothing, I said to my self. I tuck as soon as I felt my body leave the slide and threw my raft to complete this dumb trick. Upon completing the trick I smacked the left side of my face against the water first. An intensive pain overcame my left ear and immediately my ear had been super clogged from the impact of the water going that fast. 

I told myself, I am done. No more rides down the slide for me on this Friday evening in woods of Little Rock, Arkansas. The pain was growing ever worse; maybe this is something more than just an ear infection? 

It was 2:30am the morning after the accident and I was unable to sleep due to pain. My ear had begun to leak. I told myself I will be fine in the morning. That night lasted forever. The leaking continued and I placed a Q-tip in my ear and retrieved an orangeish-red substance from my ear. Thinking this is great my ear is now bleeding and I am flying back to Phoenix, Arizona in a matter of hours. I started praying that God will do something with my ear, because I have had issues before with flying and ear problems. God answered my prayer as we landed in Phoenix without to many issues on Saturday Night. 

I headed out to church the next morning extra early to go to the prayer room at the church and I found myself praying for my ear to be fixed. I was unsure if God would really grand my request, since it seemed selfish for me to pray for that. Yet, I did, I asked God to fix my ear, but nothing happened that day.

On Monday, I headed out for High School Camp and we were passing "Dead-man's Wash" on I-17 towards Prescott, AZ my ear began to throb once again, I could literally feel my heart beating in my ear. I noticed the previous night that I had a lot of residue on my pillow case from my left ear. This throbbing intensified as the van was going to Sr. High Camp climbing up and down the mountains and with multiple altitude changes. I grabbed a Kleenex from my backpack and tore a piece of it and placed in my ear. We arrived at camp and  the camp had the theme of "Restoration Project" and the whole idea was to restore ourselves to Christ, build community, and restore others. 

Once we arrived, I had to go to the Urgent Care in Prescott Valley, about a 30 minute drive. My heart was sinking, because I had to leave the campers and head out with another adult to the hospital. I didn't know even know the full extent of what I was about to find out too. After a long wait, I finally got sent back to my room. The doctor came in and went to my good ear first, the right one which looked fine. Then the doctor goes towards my left ear. He accompanied his search of my ear with noises which sort of scared me. He pulls his tool out of my ear and told me, “You are not going to like what I found!” Oh great, what is this doctor going to tell me? The doctor says, “You have a HOLE in your ear drum, about the size of a pencil eraser, with an infection around the hole. You have about an 80% chance that you will have to have surgery on it in the next few days.” The doctor then had a number of doctors and nurses to come in to check out the hole in my ear. I sarcastically say to a doctor in the hallway, “HEY! Do you wanta look too?” I felt like a rat lab while all the medical professionals were looking at my ear. 

Camp had gone very well that week. The speaker at camp, Kristen, spoke on Jesus' miracle, what the early church did after Pentecost, and about miracles occurring even today. The thought of God restoring me was taking over my mind. We headed back to Phoenix that Friday.

On Sunday morning, Pastor Dave told a story about a friend who had been healed by God. The Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart and I went forward during the alter call. One of the elders of this church came up to me and asked if I wanted to be anointed with oil for God’s healing. I believed whole-heartedly that God was going to restore me. I was ready to see God move, and move in a new big way! 

On Monday, I had Middle School Camp and headed back up to Urgent Care on the way to camp. I had the same doctor as last week and remembered me. He inspected both my ears without making a sound. He asked me, “So… which ear was it that had the whole?” As he looked at the medical records from my last visit, I began to laugh and was almost in disbelief. I explained to him that it was left ear and how awesome it was that God healed me the previous day. It was a great opportunity to share with the Doctor the way in which God healed me since he began to question me about the whole situation and what happened since he saw me last. It was an incredible blessing to be touched by God and healed. I asked God for the healing and gave God all the glory, as we should!

A few great Scriptures on healing:
In Psalm 30:2, it says, "O' LORD my God, I called to you for help and you helped me."

In James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” 

In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

In Matthew 10:8, the disciples are told to, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely you have received, freely give."

Questions on Healing
"Does God still heal?"
I would have to say that, "Yes, God heals!" I have experienced his touch, his love, and his healing. God can and will heal the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of our lives! My experience is not alone, there are many others I know whom have been healed by God.

Does God always heal us when we ask and believe? 
No, God does not always heal us. But, he can and will, we must ask and believe. 
Sometimes we must go through sickness, pain, and even death without healing. We must give God the glory for when He heals and does not heal. We look forward to the day with no more pain or death (Revelations 21), by our relationship in Jesus in the coming age. 

If God does not heal you, that does not mean that he does not love you? 
No, not believing healed does not equate the amount of God's loves for you. God cares deeply about every part of your life. Paul encourages us to give God the glory and "always (give) thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 5:20)

Can God heal through medicine, science, doctors?
Yes, God can use doctors and counselors to help us in the healing process too with physical, emotional, and spiritual issues. God has gifted us today with modern medicine and science to enable healing to happen. God has given medical professionals knowledge and understanding into how to help people in the healing process. 


Sunday, March 30, 2014


Say whaaaaa?? If you read this post title and thought, "well, it's all Greek to me", you are absolutely right. The title of this post is the Greek word that perfectly describes what we have been talking about this week. The mystery of Christ. Fully God. Fully human. The word "homoousis" is Greek for "of the same substance or essence" and it describes the truth that Jesus and God are equal with each other and of the same form. They cannot be separated. 

One of the great things about being part of the 21st century church is that we stand on the shoulders of amazing giants who have given us a foundation for our faith. In the fourth century, people like  Athanasius worked hard to keep the truth of the gospel and the Bible from being distorted. There were teachers like a guy named Arius going around telling people that the Jesus was created by God and therefore, not equal with God.  But faithful teachers questioned Arius' beliefs (which were spreading quickly) and defended our faith through working hard to gather people around a statement that would affirm what the Bible really says - that God the Father and God the Son are equal and eternal.  It was affirmed by the church at the Council of Nicea and for that reason, we call it The Nicene Creed. Just like The Apostle's Creed, we believe these words. That statement begins like this:

We believe in one God,
The Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
True God from True God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father;
through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation


(It continues and talks about the Holy Spirit as equal too; you can find the whole text at 

Aren't you glad that you and I didn't have to figure that out?  The word "begotten" means "brought about" and not created. Jesus' life on earth was brought about out of God but he wasn't born or created. He has always existed. While it may not seem that important, think about this. If Jesus wasn't God, then God sent some random guy to the cross to die for us and not himself. If he didn't die for us, then our forgiveness isn't real. Only the sacrifice of our perfect God can save us. The belief called "homoousis" reminds us that these words are actually true:

For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him wil not perish but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

So in 325 AD, people fought hard to make sure that others would teach the most popular Bible verse written and not ignore it. Without Athanasius and his friends, John 3:16 wouldn't be recognized by you or me. And we wouldn't understand just what great of a sacrifice God made for each of us in giving himself. Tonight, as you go to bed, say a prayer of thanks for Athanasius, the Nicene Creed, and mostly, God coming as a human to making His love known to the world.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What you find in His presence!

Have you ever had one of those days, months, or seasons where it seems like everything is falling apart? Nothing is going as planned? You kinda just want to give up?

I remember the late winter of my first year of college at Miami University. I was doing well in my classes and working full-time. My parents called my older brother and me in for a family meeting. These rarely happened, but if they did, we knew it was something big. My parents began to tell us the news that my Dad lost his job, just three months after his 30th year at the company!

Now, he was jobless.

Wow, what a shocker!

Questions were going through my mind: how are we going to survive? Will I need to quit college?

My Dad went on an interview tour across the country. He was being thoroughly looked at multiple companies in different states. He accepted a position in Safford, Arizona. Where? That was my exact question too.

My parents told me to think about coming with them once the house sold. They gave me the option of going to college somewhere out there, continue going to Miami University, or find another college. My focus in the meantime would be to watch over the house, clean the house, and take care of my older brother. My question to my parents, is that not the job of my older brother?

This was a troublesome time in my life. I had lots of questions with few answers. My attention was honestly completely on myself, what my next steps in life would be, and where I was going to live. For the first time in many years, God enabled me to do a three things in my life:

  1. STOP.  My life had been going a hundred miles an hour to fix what went wrong. This process of stopping started about one week after I found out about my Dad had lost his job. The act of stopping was much needed. God showed me through his love and care that we would completely take care of me, my family, and all the different situations in my life. My goal in this situation was to not fix, solve, or do anything in my own power, but to come to him. 
  2. COME. Jesus called me to "come" to him (Matthew 11:28-30). I was able to quit looking for answers elsewhere. I was able to go to him directly and talk. He was there to listen and hear me out. All of my frustrations and pains could be heard, understood, and released. I came close to God, and God came close to me (James 4:8).
  3. REST. I knew that God had it all taken care of in advanced. I could actually rest, breathe, and have peace in the situation. Just as with Moses, the Lord tells us that he will personally go with us and give you rest - everything will be fine (Exodus 33:14). 

By God doing these three things in me, he showed me where he wanted me to go to school for the remainder of college, that my family would be taken care of, show me what I was to do with my life, and that in his presence is the only place I would find the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). These troubles and questions became an opportunity for joy to occur (James 1:2-4). This weird act which would not have been my choice, was one of the most impactful things that positively changed my life. I had true joy in life knowing that I was following his will for my life and living life to the fullest (John 10:10).