Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Where in the world is Mark?

Some of you who read my blog here might be wondering where I've been. It's been a while since my last post. And you might be wondering what's up?

Well, for the past couple of weeks (3 days after my last post actually), my family and I went on a road trip to New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. It was a blast! I had 5 speaking engagements with 4 churches in those states. I also got to meet up with some friends Beth and I haven't seen in years.

Aside from that, I've been working with a web developer to launch my own website. If you've been in my personal email directory, you probably got a notice from me announcing the launch of the new site.

My plan is to switch over to the new blog over there. I've also been toying with the idea of starting new blogs to cover different and more specific topics. I'm still trying to figure out how and if I want to transfer all the content here onto the new blog. Any suggestions?

The new site at or will have an opt-in form so I can send you some free resources. Chekc it out and let me know what you think ok?

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Roaring Lambs

Here are a few more excerpts from chapter two of Roaring Lambs. The title is Salt: Make Use of It...

...the salt Jesus had in mind is stinging, biting, cleansing, and preserving and is anything but dull, anything but tame. To the kind of salt Christ spoke about is to be on the cutting edge, in the fray, at the forefront of battle.

The way to be salt is to replace evil with good, not just to sound off against the evil.

We do not have to be the best to be effective, but we have to be at our best.

Being a roaring lamb is not about special days, special emphases, special people, and special professions. Rather, it is about everyday people doing everyday jobs with a very special goal---that of effectively representing Christ in all areas of society. Our churches should exist for this.

I love how this challenges us to do ordinary things with an extraordinary purpose. That last sentence that our churches should exist for this is so right on. As a leader and equipper in the Church, my main goal ought to be to glorify God by equipping God's people to shine (or in this case, to be salty) in real life.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

If Not Excellence, What?

Here's another word from Tom Peters which I think is absolutely essential to our discussion on being roaring lambs, being miracles. If not excellence, what?

Excellence Always from Tom Peters on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Roaring Lambs

This morning, I picked up my copy of Bob Briner's book Roaring Lambs. Once again, it ambushed me with both passion and truth. Below is an excerpt from chapter 1. It's lengthy but well worth the read.

...despite all the fancy buildings, sophisticated programs, and highly visible presence, it is my contention that the church is almost a nonentity when it comes to shaping culture. In the arts, entertainment, media, education, and other culture-shaping venues of our country, the church has abdicated its role as salt and light.

Culturally, we are lambs. Meek, lowly, easily dismissed cuddly creatures that are fun to watch but never a threat to the status quo.

It's time for those lambs to roar.

...My point is really quite simple. Look around you. Can you honestly say that Christian influence is felt in Hollywood? That a Christian presence is evident in the major art galleries and museums of our land? That when you turn on the television you are aware of an underlying foundation of Judeo-Christian values in that medium? That as you pick up the morning newspaper you see objective (not favorable, just objective) treatment of religion in your community? That when you browse through the best sellers at the airport bookstores you will find even one novel written by an active, church-going, born again Christian?

Do you honestly believe that our big churches and highly visible Christian leaders have brought about a movement that is taken seriously in this country?

We feel we are making a difference because we are so important to ourselves. We have created a phenomenal subculture with our own media, entertainment, educational system, and political hierarchy so that we have the sense that we're doing a lot. But what we've really done is create a ghetto that is easily dismissed by the rest of society.

...I'm afraid many in the world view us as a flock of lambs grazing in the safe pastures surrounding our churches that have been designed to blend right in with the neighborhood landscape. We're good neighbors. We look like everyone else. And except for Sunday morning, we follow the same patterns of behavior as those who have little or no interest in religion. Our lives are divided into sections labeled religious and secular, and neither category seems to affect the other. Consequently, our religious views are not taken very seriously.

I have a number of friends in network television, the business community, newspaper journalism, and the arts, and I've learned two things about them. First, they have little to do with Christianity, but second, they are consumed by their pursuit of success. What this has told me is that if I want to reach them with the Gospel, the worst thing I could do is invite them to church or "witness" to them during a break in the board meeting. On the other hand, if I want to point them toward the Savior, I need to make sure my professional behavior is stellar. I need to make the best presentations, close the most successful deals, deliver the greatest product I possibly can. To them, my work is a reflection of who I am.

...We need to reclaim the territory, not in a triumphalistic sense but out of a strong conviction that this is where we belong. Our churches are growing. Our colleges are full. Subscriptions and sales are up at our magazine- and book- publishing companies. And our broadcast media continue to bring our own music and teaching into our homes. In short, our subculture is healthy. It doesn't need more attention. It's the world that needs help.

It's time for the lambs to roar.

What I'm calling for is a radically different way of thinking about our world. Instead of running from it, we need to rush into it. And instead of just hanging around the fringes of our culture, we need to be right smack dab in the middle of it.

Can we hear the voice of the Spirit here? This is what I've been talking about. Dream big! Act now! Stand out! Be the miracle!

Watch out for my new initiative DreamBigRevolution! A community and a movement that seeks to nurture, inspire, and equip shining stars for the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dream Big: Henry David Thoreau

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Act Now: You are One of a Kind

'"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."'

from The Life and Work of Martha Graham

Dream Big: Frogs

Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants....

The race began...

Honestly, no one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:

'Oh, WAY too difficult!!'

'They will NEVER make it to the top.'


'Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!'

The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one....except for those, who in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher....

The crowd continued to yell. 'It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!' More tiny frogs got tired and gave up....

But ONE continued higher and higher and higher....This one wouldn't give up! At the end every one else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog who, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top!

THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?

A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal?

It turned out...the winner was DEAF!!!!

The wisdom of this story is: Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic because they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you -- the ones you have in your heart!

Always think of the power words have. Because every thing you hear and read will affect your actions!

Therefore: Be DEAF when people tell YOU that you cannot fulfill your dreams!

"I can do ALL things through [Christ] who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More comments please!

Thanks to all of you who've commented on the FOJC Youth Congress post below. I'd love to hear from more people and how the experience has impacted them. I'll be publishing the comments on the new website I'm working on. Should be done before the end of the month. I'll announce it here.

For all of you who want to be a miracle...Watch out for the new!

Mark is home.

Got back to Ottawa on Monday night. I'm glad to be home with Beth and the kids.

My engagement at Beacon UMC went well. It was the first time we offered my teaching DVD, "Hearts on Fire: Apostolic Roots of the Methodist Church" for sale. I was encouraged to see the response. I didn't really push fact, I almost forgot to mention it to Alan, the pastor of Beacon UMC.

Now we get back to the grind of designing my new website and registering the new ministry.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beacon UMC

I'll be speaking at Beacon United Methodist Church in south Seattle on Sunday. My talk is entitled, "SHINE" from Philippians 2:15.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

FOJC Youth Congress 2008 - Raven Resort, Bataan, Philippines

I’ve been in the Philippines for the past 8 days. The Friends of Jesus Christ Ministries International brought me in to speak at their 25th Anniversary Youth Congress at the Raven Resort in Bataan.

I spoke 7 times and covered the topics found in the Encounter materials that I wrote for NUCOMM. I tried out some new materials that came out of my reading on neuroanatomy. It worked out well enough to keep in the new version. Clearly, the most powerful session was the one on “Experiencing Forgiveness.” Several of the young delegates shared about how they were set free from the hatred they had in their hearts. Yes...HATRED. Much of this hatred was directed towards their parents!!!

My closing words were very simple and was an echo of a message I gave a few years ago and continues to linger in my heart: Dream Big! Act Now! Stand Out! Apparently, that talk was just as memorable.

It amazes me at the wealth of potential found in those young people. They just need someone like a “father” to give them permission to be a mavericks for the Master. :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dr. Randy Pausch

Here's an abbreviated version of a talk billed as "The Last Lecture" by Dr. Randy Pausch, a tenured professor at Carnegie Mellon University, on Oprah. He's a father of 3 and is battling with pancreatic cancer. I was so inspired and encouraged by his talk. I hope you are too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A leader's greatest obligation...

I absolutely love this quote from former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina:

A leader's greatest obligation is to make possible an environment where people can aspire to change the world.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Who's winning the war?

A battle wages upon the earth. Not a battle for oil. Nor political power. It's not a battle for rights. Nor a battle for the environment. A battle wages upon the earth for souls. And Islam is winning. According to The Vatican Newspaper, Islam is now the world's biggest religion. Apparently, Muslims make up 19.2% of the world's population while Roman Catholics come in second at 17.4%.

Considering that not all Roman Catholics possess a saving faith in Jesus Christ, this should disturb us. No. we shouldn't be angry at Muslims. We can't expect them to behave any differently than what their religion tells them to do. But we should take a good look at ourselves, the Church.

What is it that makes Islam attractive to a growing number of people on the planet? Here are some thoughts:

1. A conservative belief system with definite behavioral expectations.
2. A compelling hope of paradise for its followers.
3. A cadre of people willing to die for their convictions and doing so in numbers.
4. A clear explanation for what's wrong with the world and who's to blame.

Now, what makes being a Christian so unattractive to a growing number of people on the planet?

1. An unclear and unconvincing message.
Quite frankly, I believe that the Church has lost touch with its message. While Paul wrote in Romans 1 that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, western churches and those they've influenced do not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We've made the Gospel a message of self-centered success and self-improvement. We preach a message of prosperity without sacrifice, life without death, comfort without the need for conviction, abundance without service.

Attempts at calling the church back to the Gospel has shifted the message from self-improvement to social improvement. Missional communities have risen up as a "subversive" movement away from the institutional church. But I am concerned that these well-intentioned "revolutionaries" may have also missed the target. I'm glad that a growing portion of the western church is recovering the social and justice dimensions of the Gospel. But I have yet to see any of them express the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The fact that Christians can't even agree on what the Gospel message is is a strong factor to why people reject Christianity.

2. A lack of integrity between what Christians believe and how they behave.

This condition has been a plague among Christians since the inception of the Christian movement. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about not even associating with someone who calls himself a brother and yet lives contrary to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). Sometimes, the strongest case against the Gospel is Christians themselves! Why would anyone want to join a group like that?

3. An inability to differentiate between Christianity and consumerism.

Possibly the greatest threat to genuine Christianity is consumerism. As Alan Hirsch wrote, "You cannot consume your way into discipleship." But our twisting of the Gospel (see point #1) has caused us to actually encourage consumerism rather than discipleship. The non-Western people of the world see Christianity and consumerism as one. Something, they would rather not be a part of.

The Church should have used the Gospel to redeem consumerism so that the resources that are produced may be used to serve the poor and fight for justice. Instead, consumerism has changed the Church to become selfish, self-centered, and self-serving. Definitely not something people are attracted to.

So what needs to happen to turn the tide of the war we are losing?

1. We must repent and return to the original Gospel message. The essence of the Gospel is that it has the power to save Jews and Gentiles. How does it do that? The message revolves around the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus Christ. The Gospel saves us from the penalty of sin so that our relationship to God can be restored. But the Gospel also saves us from the power of sin so that we have the means by which to deal with our sinful and selfish nature and to become a new creation in Christ. In a word, the Gospel is the means by which we are transformed individually and corporately. Biblical principles will not change us. Without the Gospel, Biblical principles only enslave us once again to the law.

2. We must repent and return to living a life of integrity in line with the truth of the Gospel. For this to happen, we will need to return to the preaching and teaching of God's Word. Please do not misread "God's Word" as simply the Bible. To do so would lead us down the path of Biblical moralism and a return to legalism. We already have that today.

The preaching of God's Word means preaching and teaching the Bible through the lens of the Gospel. Every line in both Testaments must point us to Jesus. The Bible is not about you or me. The Bible isn't a book filled with principles to teach us how to live a life of abundance. It is a book about Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation, it is about Jesus. Every principle we "exegete" from the Bible should lead us to Jesus.

3. We must repent and return to demonstrating the power of the Gospel through signs and wonders. Perhaps the fulfillment of the Great Commission will come when we fulfill the Little Commission in Luke 10. The Gospel is transrational. It begins in the realm of facts, history, narrative but launches well beyond into the supernatural. Sings and wonders point to the validity and supremacy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church has been given supernatural power through the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus to serve the Gospel by meeting the needs of people (healing, financial miracles, deliverance etc.).

4. We must raise up a generation of disciples who will lose their life for the sake of the Gospel. John Wesley once said, "Give me a hundred men who love God and hate sin, and we will turn the world upside down for Christ." Who will be that generation? If not us, who? If not now, when?

We are fighting what appears to be a losing battle. But there is still time to turn the tide, Our entire strategy and tactics must change. Repenting and returning to the Gospel will do that.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lessons from Repentance

Just came back from Toronto where I taught an Encounter Weekend over the Easter holidays. Made some revisions in the teaching that seemed to go really well. One participant told another that it seemed that I was talking directly to him and about him. Always nice to hear that.

The first night, I spoke about repentance, showed a portion of "The Passion of the Christ." It was very moving. Then we had a time of personal repentance. The Lord spoke to me about 3 areas in my life:

1. Build God's dream.
2. Be who I was made to be.
3. The Gospel is my cause.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Directions

It's been forever since I posted on here. But just a quick note to say that I'm working on a new direction for my personal ministry. I'm trying to discover my "sweet spot" and build a ministry on that. I'm pretty convinced that I don't have it in me to running another church. So, I'm contemplating focusing on training and leadership development.