Years ago the Lord started to give me a series of one or two sentence nuggets of wisdom, revelation and sometimes just thought provoking stuff. Being a fan of Mike Murdock's Wisdom Keys, I called these personal nuggets of my own "Mark's Life Keys". To date I have recorded over 1000 of these little gems. One I want to talk about today is this...
Too many Christians want to be Police Officers when God has actually called us all to be Doctors.
First let me be clear in a few things. It is the nature of the Kingdom of God to advance and take over wherever it is identified, acknowledged, and surrendered to. We are indeed called to walk in Heavenly Authority and "take dominion" in the earth while we are here so I don't want anyone to misunderstand me in this arena. Im not saying we should be milktoast and door mats. What I am saying is the way we live our lives and interact with others needs to be an outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God and that means it's going to look a lot more like Jesus' approach in scripture and a lot less like a well armed militia in the natural.
Many years ago the Lord showed me that I had a call on my life to be a spiritual heart surgeon. The more I studied that and began to understand the dynamics of that, the more about the nature of my personal calling and ministry became clear. Heart surgeons for example don't just walk down the street and walk up to a stranger and say "Hey, Im a heart surgeon, lay down here so I can cut into you. On the contrary, heart surgeons are sought out by others and usually only by those who know and understand that they have a problem they cannot fix on their own without surgery. This brings me to another of my Life Keys...
Wisdom manifests in your life thru the contrasts of your perceptions about other people and things.
In other words, A Spirit of Wisdom will show you both stark and subtle differences in others. As I began to look back at all broken relationships in my life, I began to see the pattern that either I didn't properly discern them or they didn't properly discern me. That lack of discerning ultimately led to a break of the relationship. This principle is furthered in 1 Cor 11 when Paul tells the church at Corinth they have failed to discern the body, thus there are sick and dying among them... which brings me to another Life Key...
Immaturity will tend to make you force your ministry on others when they don't want to receive it.
I fell into this trap in my earlier years but these days I have learned to not force myself or my ministry on others. The people I minister to are very much blessed and radically changed for the Glory of God but it all starts with us properly discerning one another. I will not minister to anyone who doesn't give me explicit permission to do so. That should not be confused with "dripping" or "nudging" on people as the Spirit of the Lord directs you to. There is a difference between God using me to nudge you and God using me to minister to you. Nudges are just that, slight suggestions of minor course corrections that will absolutely help you if applied. Full out ministering to you will revolutionize things in a hurry and usually radically change the way you think and perceive. That is the difference there.
Back to the Police Officer analogy, imagine if you will that this world is likened to a giant traffic crash. Once divine order kept everyone moving smoothly but sin crept in and a giant multi car pile up has occurred. Many are dead, many are deeply wounded while others got away with scrapes and bruises but everyone here got hurt in some way. The Police Officer's job is to investigate, put the pieces together of the whys and hows and ultimately to assign blame to charge guilt to suspects. Now, contrast that to the EMTs in the ambulance arriving on the scene. They could care less who caused the pile up, their focus is on saving the near dead, stabilizing the critical and helping everyone they can. See the difference?
In a very real way God has called us to be a Hospital to hurting humanity. When we stop thinking that way and start to instead get consumed with blame assignment, we begin to miss the entire concept of The Kingdom of God.
I encourage you to stop looking at life thru the Police Officer's lens and trying to figure out who did what wrong and instead refocus on being a Doctor. Start to move in a direction of healing toward others and helping them. Odds are good that as you do, doors will begin to open for you that never have before.
Never Gone Before
In 2004 I was ministering to a small youth group every Wednesday night. They had been gathering together on off nights to do live worship and the youth worship leader had just announced he was leaving for college. No one else wanted to step into that roll so there was much talk about the worship nights coming to an end as a result.
I approached the church leadership offering to lead the worship in place of the youth leader who was leaving so the nights of worship didn’t have to end. They explained that sometimes only one or two people showed up attempting to justify it's ending. I replied by telling them that was completely fine with me as one or two hearts worshiping Jesus was well worth every effort on my behalf. Convicted, they agreed and released me to do it. The Lord spoke to me a promise at that point. He said since you have offered to lead the smallest of groups, even a single individual into my presence, I will anoint your worship efforts and you will reach worshippers all over the entire earth. That has not only come to pass with my personal worship music but also in Lori and I's ministry, The Healing Stream Media Network.
I stepped in as the Worship Leader for the small youth gathering and over the next several months, that little youth based worship night began to grow. Parents began to come, the ladies prayer group began to come, we finally had to move into the main sanctuary to handle the growth and we actually outgrew an existing city wide meeting that the main church worship team was holding monthly at that time.
The first night in the main sanctuary was a chilly and snow covered February night in 2004. That was the night I recorded my first “official” project called “Humble Beginning” with the help of some younger musicians. The months would turn into years and over those years I have released a total of 15 music and worship projects. My latest effort called “Never Been Before” is out now in pre-release form here on the site.
Writing and recording original worship stuff is something that has accompanied me on and off thru my entire life. I wrote my first little worship chorus at age 12 and since have had countless ideas that have turned into dozens of original songs that have served me well over the years. On this most recent project I revisit some of those songs like I Sing Holy, Never Go Back, Waves Of Glory, Prophets Unveiled, Enjoy The Presence... I even do a fresh arrangement of Psalm 61, a song my longtime friend Ron Ferlito wrote in the late 80s and just because I like to play it so much, I even included Shade in the Desert, the title track from my 2006 Instrumental release.
While all of that was a lot of fun and came off very well, the big reason in my opinion to buy this project is for the new 14 minute track called "Never Gone Before". I open with it on the project because it is born out of personal frustration and so many right now are walking thru stuff that has them in that same type of place. I sat down at the keyboard and God asked me what I wanted. Frustrated I said I wasn't sure. He asked me again and I got even more frustrated. he asked me a third time... Mark, What do you want? I made my way to e minor and sang my answer back to Him "I want to go where I have never gone before! ...and all I know is you alone, you are the door!.. Will you take me with you, where I have never gone before? .. and He did.. and my prayer is he will do the same for you as you listen.
Thank you in advance for adding this project to your worship collection. If while listening you slip into the beautiful presence of Jesus and find fresh acceptance and enjoyment there, then I have succeeded in my goal to create atmosphere for you and the Holy Spirit to explore one another and truly enjoy each other’s presence.
Lastly, please do not share these files with others. Instead direct them to purchase them thru me just as you have done. By doing this you will honor me as I honor our Lord.
All the best
Some Sound Advice
I was first in church at the age of 3 days... I was raised in Sunday School, youth groups and regular ..and some not to regular church services. Today I am 44 and would guestimate my total number of church services attended to be somewhere in the high thousands in the last four decades.
A good many of those have seen me helping in some form or fashion and I have ran sound or played in a worship team for I'd guestimate around half of those services. Several thousand at least. In addition, I have been professionally trained in sound re-enforcement and I have what very few have these days, an actual God given EAR to mix and hear things well.
There is an old expression in Sound as it relates to churches.. "heart of gold , ear of tin". This refers to the well meaning person who is humbly willing to serve and finds himself/herself behind a mixing board without a clue as to what to do or worst yet, a person who THINKS they know when they really don't.
Complicating the issue is a foundational misunderstanding from most of the Pastors, Apostles and leaders I have walked with over the years as they believe their calling gives them authority that outranks wisdom in a given area. Re-read that again..slowly.. it's important to follow me there to understand the rest of what I am about to say.
Apostolic Authority gives you the power to assign and appoint people into certain positions but it does not give you the authority to take advantage of those people by undermining their ability to make their own, wisdom based decisions. Said a different way, good, strong leaders don't micromanage..they instead only put people in place that they can trust to function at a level that would best represent themselves and ultimately the Kingdom of God.
Example: Does the leader have the authority to tell a nursery worker to not burp her own baby who needs to be burped? Of course they have the authority, it's their church after all... but they have a lack of basic wisdom that the mother has to make that decision about her own child. Thus, it's not really an issue of authority, it's an issue of yielding to the mother's wisdom. That takes great humility from the leader to "get out of the way" and let that young mother do what she is best suited to do and not micro-manage the mother or the baby for that matter.
This begs the question of what to do if the nursery worker doesn't have the basic wisdom in place to do the job correctly and to that I would say she should not be elevated into that position to begin with. If you are going to anoint and appoint a worker in a given area, you need to be ready to let them flow in their function and if you are not ready to do that, save everyone the headache and do not appoint them yet.
Another example: Actual worship leaders are rare these days. Most Church leaders don't really want a full blown wide open worship leader to bring a life altering experience in God's presence weekly, they instead want the most bang for the buck they can get within the time frame allotted. In some churches thats as little as 20 minutes. Most Pastors today are looking for Song Leaders, not worship leaders. (I did a youtube video about the difference a few years ago that you can watch here.)
So churches hire or bring on a Worship leader and then put them in what I call "the time box" of saying "be done in 20, 30, 40 minutes.. however long... and to a song leader thats super easy, you just backtime the songs and wha lah, you're there.. but to a true Worship Leader, you function outside of the confines of time so putting a time frame on it in the first place already disqualifies you for true worship. This leads to the Worship Leader getting repeatedly frustrated week after week and in most cases finding some excuse to step down or even leave the church entirely. The unsuspecting Pastor is often taken by surprise by these sudden departures but those who understand the Kingdom of God dynamic going on see it coming from a long way off.
Something Musicians and Sound people often share is that they traditionally bring emotions forward into what they do by the very nature of their giftings and callings. While most would never think of interrupting the nursing mother, they don't mind interrupting the worship, in fact many times the interruption is even planned in advanced and sometimes referred to as "the time of transition". Its designed to "change gears" or get people out of worship and into a place where they will sit and listen to someone speak, teach, preach, etc. If you are trying to do a church, this is a necessity but if you are trying to pursue the Kingdom of God, worshipping Jesus IS the goal and manifesting His presence is the endgame of all Kingdom ministry.
The same is true with Sound and tech people as there is perhaps no greater amount of turnover in an area of more critical importance than in the areas of sound, video and tech based people. My personal experience is vast with this area and I have talked to dozens of guys and gals who left their churches because the people in charge wanted them to be button pushers instead of sound technicians. Said a different way, much like our nursery worker in the story above, of course the leader has the authority to make changes and adjustments because after all, it is their church... but it is an overreach and a sign of insecurity when that leader tries to step in and tell a sound person what adjustments to make in the middle of the service. Worse yet is when people from the congregation try to order the sound person around and tell him/her what to do.
Most tech people that leave a church would not have left if they were treated with the respect their gifting afforded them.
As a leader, we would never think it was ok to hire a lawn service to mow the grass and then have a line of congregation members all standing in front of the mower trying to tell the person mowing to adjust the deck of the mower or to mow in a different direction or to mow at a different speed. Even if you yourself had a background in lawn care and understood it, it will still be improper to hire someone to do the work and then try to micro manage their job as they are doing it. What IS proper if you feel something needs to be addressed is to address it after the fact or before it starts to begin with.
When I go into a given church, the first thing I do is meet with whomever the top leader is. In that meeting I ask several direct questions to try and understand what they are after exactly, IN sound and technical matters, if they just want a warm body to stand there so they can tell me what to do, I'm not their guy. In worship leading, if they just want a song leader that they can give a list to each week, I'm not their guy. I find that sitting down and having these conversations is critical to put everyone on the same page.
At the church I am currently serving in, I am in charge of the sound. Ultimately changes and the things that happen are my responsibility and I answer directly to the main guy who planted the church to begin with. How do I know that? Because that man told me so directly before I accepted the appointment. Now, MANY people there feel that they know more or better than I do about various areas or things..and a few truly do possess knowledge and skills that I do not yet posses.. but there is a protocol and a mutual respect that everyone affords everyone else. I never have to say "I'm in charge" because if the time ever comes where I have to say that, clearly I am no longer in charge and something is wrong.
The first week I started, I had a guy come up to me and with a stern disappointed look of judgement on his face tell me "It's too loud, you need to turn it down". Remember I had just started there and wanted to make a good first impression. I asked around about the guy, turns out he was someone everyone knew and was looked to as a prophet in the church by many with a deep heart to love and minister to others... and since that incident, I've gotten to know him a bit and he's a fairly nice guy. BUT, his breaking of protocol and trying to tell me how to do my job was wrong of him and a less mature person would have walked out. As I said, I know dozens of sound and tech people that have indeed walked out for similar situations when they were disrespected like that.
This is a longer blog today so in summary, churches are valuable, needed and to be celebrated. I love them, I and my family are plugged into one and I support many churches thru my talents, offerings and giftings.
After saying that, there is a big difference between building a church and building the Kingdom of God because the Kingdom of God is unshakeable. Buildings can be torn down, the various leaders will come and go, but Jesus is the King of His own Kingdom and ultimately we are all His subjects. When you start to understand that at the foot of the cross we are equals, you will address people differently. The janitor who cleans the toilets will become just as important to you as the spirited worship leader you enjoy so much.
Often it is said that the day of the one man show is over. I disagree. I believe the day of the one man show is fixing to return to the earth, the difference is that this time the one man in charge of it all is going to be Jesus. It's one of the deepest keys to intercession and spiritual warfare.. once Jesus arrives, the battle is over.
Treat people with respect. Stop being so easily offended and learn to roll with things. God has a plan and there are many of us Kingdom folks in the earth right now just waiting on the release to do what he has called us to do. It probably won't build many new churches, but it will bring many into personal relationship with Jesus and bring Healing to the hearts, minds and bodies of the masses. Let your Kingdom come, Jesus...
Since 2009 Lori and I have shared with people a different option for buying the normal, everyday stuff that they buy at WalMart, Target and other places. Hundreds of everyday items that despite the economy or how well they are doing or not doing financially, they are buying anyway no matter what. After all, who is going to stop doing dishes, doing laundry, brushing your teeth or showering just because things get tight? On second thought, maybe we all know one or two who don't do those things... but ignore them for a moment and follow along . :)
The key piece of this new way to shop completely and entirely hinges upon the new person "getting it" or understanding that this is something designed to replace what they already spend on an ongoing basis. Thus, it is never a matter of what someone can afford. That's part of the reason most of those we share it with love it because while you do make a monthly commitment to buy products, it's money that once again, you have been spending since the day you moved out on your own and are going to keep spending until you no longer buy things for yourself or your family.
We (Lori and I) have learned over the years to use our little shopping club as a "reveal" for people in our lives. It reveals a certain level of intelligence when people are able to grasp the whole concept of replacing what they buy currently by simply switching stores. It reveals if a person is teachable or coachable from us. It reveals if they have an appreciation for higher quality products that in many cases can make a real, tangible difference for the better in their life... and most of all it reveals integrity all the way around.
Since many of those close in our lives (in fact the majority) all shop like we do now, as you may imagine we offer ongoing support for those folks as they want or need it. Recently the same question has come up several times in the last month about how you handle it when otherwise well meaning Christians look you in the eye and tell you they want to try your store, sign an agreement to commit to doing so, and then as soon as they leave your presence they cancel that agreement and tell you they can't afford it. Remember, affordability is never an issue because it's all based on what you are already spending, so the affordability stall is always deceptive... So, for those we help locally and around the USA for that matter.. and for anyone who works from home and works with the general public in one on one referral situations, and especially for you leaders who undoubtedly run into this or similar situations with your people... this blog is for you! :)
These three things stay with Lori and I very strongly. I believe the key lies in the following three "tests" or "evidences".
1) Did we move in integrity? Did we share all of the information about the company, the products, how to buy them, the commitments required, the many exclusive benefits for those willing to make the switch, etc? It's always vital to us that we move in honest integrity, especially when asking for someone else's business. Not that Proctor and Gamble and other manufacturers have ever been terribly truthful or transparent, but still, we are not them, we are ourselves and we keep things honest as if we were dealing with Jesus bride because in most cases, we are.
2) Did they believe what we said to them? After all, what someone buys and and where someone shops is really pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things and especially compared to important matters like the Kingdom of God, so if they won't even believe us about small things like household goods, clearly they won't believe us about deep matters about the Kingdom so if they won't even believe you to begin with, that reveals that there really is not a healthy relationship to speak of there as of yet because in healthy relationships, people believe each other about smaller, more trivial matters.
3) Did we both keep our word? On our side, we make a fair amount of promises when we do an overview with folks. Those promises include walking with them and helping them. Helping them understand everything, communicating with them, helping them order and if they choose, helping them share it with others. On their side, if they tell us they are interested and want to try to convert their home, we give folks the benefit of the doubt and believe them. (see above) For most this is not an issue as most do keep their word but for the few who say they want to convert and then simply cancel without so much as making an honest attempt to keep their word, Lori and I mark those folks privately... not as bad people because they are not. Jesus still loves them just as much as He loves us, they are still anointed and absolutely able to be used by God... but we mark them as not being trustworthy with anything deeper beyond that because again, if they are not honest about a small matter like where they shop, we would be foolish to trust them in Kingdom related matters.
Years ago a woman called me in tears whom we had helped and she said to me "Mark, please help me understand why my family won't believe me about how good these products are". (Her family wasn't even willing to listen to her about them). I gently explained that she was not as close with her family as she thought she was because emotionally healthy relationships including family relationships don't raise giant red flags of scepticism when a friend or family member simply refers a friend to a given product or experience. She went on to share some deep hurts that her family had experienced at the hands of others. I share that here to help you see that many times people have underlying issues that make it very hard for them to move in solid integrity.
While it can be frustrating, it can also be very liberating to get to know where people truly stand with you as a person. Does someone really believe what you say? Do they really trust you? Will they really keep their word to you? The healthy ones who value integrity absolutely will... and they will far outnumber the ones who don't so do not remain discouraged. Simply note where people are and set healthy boundaries accordingly.
All of the people that we work with locally in our personal ministries shop the same way we shop as do many of our monthly partners. It's certainly not any sort of requirement, but it's because there is a healthy respect and honest love between all of us. Since we trust each other in Kingdom of God matters, trusting in stuff like hand soap, shampoo and vitamins is a given. And remember, no one just blindly joined with us, each and every person tested the stuff out for themselves and made their own decision to change the way they shopped. We honor them not because they shop like we do, but because they have kept their word.
In short, not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to be honest with you. Not everyone is going to believe you and in fact, some will flat out reject you. Don't be surprised when these same people who dodge your calls or even lie right to your face about shopping will then go to church with you, hug you publicly and even pray over you for God to bless you. My advice is to let God handle it. Mark them in your own heart and mind and when they reveal their own lack of integrity like that, don't share anything deeper with them anymore...after all, they're not going to believe you anyway.
Remember, we are all called to love everyone, but trust only a very few as God reveals trustworthiness in others to you. The biggest single difference in people is who they trust. Their wealth, their education, often their very habits are all a direct result of who they trust. Not trusting you when you are moving in integrity and trying to help them truly is their own loss... so pray for them and thank God as you pray for "the Reveal".
As a final note, if you would like a free overview and the chance to understand better what we offer to folks we value around us, email me a phone number and a good time to call. You have my public promise to try and move with as much integrity as I am able to in helping you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.