Saturday, January 28, 2017


So you clicked the link and now you're here. 

As I prepare for this Sunday's gathering this thought came to my heart to share. It's not the first time I had these thoughts but every time I went to say it, the timing seemed off. This is directed to my Christian brothers and sisters. 

Let me preface by saying that I realize there are professing Christians who do not accept the divine authority of scripture and have form their own mixtures of thoughts... to them this may fall on deaf ears. Now that that is stated, let me move on to matter at hand. Social media has provide for each one of our "friends" a front row seat to each other's sermons. Yes that's right when you post certain things you are often declaring what you believe to be true (at least in your own minds). Our words carry weight, especially seeing the emotional brokenness of our world where people are searching for something to ease the pain. We seen this in full force before and after the election. My big issue isn't about political rants. As a matter of fact it's something that probably seems insignificant to most. This may actually be more painful for more people than founding out someone vote for the other person. Ok, ok I set it up enough.... It's professing Christians posting RIP or SIP etc... or declaring that someone is looking down on them from heaven. Could that person be in heaven? Sure they could! But it seems if we loved, liked or appreciated them we take out our RIP stamp and with a few clicks on our phone declare them saved. Let me state why this is so dangerous... this action appears and assumes that everyone that dies is a true Christian. If anyone would challenge you on the reason why you would say that someone is resting in peace what would you say? What are we basing our RIPs on? Their goodness, holiness, profession, church attendance, or knowledge of the Bible??? (This is when our view of the Word of God is very important). Words are very powerful even if untrue and I'm afraid we are consoling ourselves and others with our hopeful assumptions. What would you say if asked why you believe when YOU die you'll go to heaven and how can you know for sure, what would you say? 
Listen you can know for sure that you are a genuine believer. You will not find it in a prayer you said when you were 5 years old, your baptism certificate or church membership card. It won't be found in your feelings compartment ( feelings aren't trust worthy anyway). Don't be self deceived declaring RIP doesn't make it so. Let the world use RIP and SIP for there own purposes. If we are to use it let it be based on evidence backed by scripture and even then let us focus less on the person's eternal place and more on our own relationship with God. Listen for many there will be no rest. Scary? Yes, but what's scarier is you and I knowing the truth about the gospel and not sharing it. Scarier is trying to make someone feel temporarily better only to suffer forever in the end. I know this is a tough message for some but I'm willing to be misunderstood because unlike all the temporary things like kings and kingdoms (governments and politicians) that will pass away this reality has eternal consequences. It's a tough message because it challenges our self made comforts and calls us to search for truth. Unless we have peace with God on this side of we will not Rest In Peace on the other side of here. When people in the book of Luke 13 came to Jesus and told him about two groups of people who died wanting him to answer the question of which group were worse sinners, Jesus' response was "unless you repent, you too will all perish". 
For just a moment, imagine Jesus had a Facebook and when someone died he made a post... when you die what would his post say about you? That's what you should be focused on for yourself and others... Would Jesus RIP you? 

When I die don't RIP me unless you have personally seen biblical evidence in my life. But more important than that how about you remind your family and friends about the things you know for certain, that Mark (not Pastor Mark) had to stand before a holy and righteous God and one day they will too. SHARE THE GOSPEL MESSAGE! That's right I yelled. When someone dies people who love them have broken hearts, many search for answers about this life trying to make since of the painfulness of death and it's permanence. How about we refrain from comforting them with empty words and false promises. The scripture says to "comfort one another with these words" on the reality of them "believing" and those that died sleeping in Jesus. How did they sleep in Jesus? By believing in Jesus when they were alive. Believing in Jesus has a lot more realities than a mere acknowledgement of Jesus. Look if just simply saying something made it so than answering yes to the question "Are you a Christian?", would suffice.  But it doesn't. 

Many professing Christians continue to live a life of sin and still hold boldly to the claim of a gospel that changes us. God knows we will struggle and fall on the journey but many have deceived themselves. They us the excuse of everyone makes mistakes (which is true) as a cover up.  You can put all the make up on a dead body you want to make it look alive, but guess what they're still dead. Don't be deceived faith without works is dead. 

To the person who reads this and says what is written here makes no difference to them, then count it as garbage. But to the one who reads this and is stirred in their hearts then respond with repentance to God which is made possible because of what Jesus has done. 

This Sunday at Higher Hope I will be speaking about what it means to believe in Jesus and what the evidence of someone who believes looks like and lives like. Then you can be assured that you belong to Jesus. #James 2:14-26 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


As I prepared for this past Sunday’s sermon I became arrested by the Spirit of God and I experienced what I can only call an “undone” moment. I sat in the same chair for hours not able to do anything else but witness the work of God happening in me. At times the grief and conviction was so great that tears refuse to fall. I wondered if the Lord would allow me to live to see the rise of the sun again. I wasn't sure what was happening.  After the midnight hour as I continue to wait, reading the scriptures over and over again the same scriptures that cut my heart savagely open, I could see as in a daydream me preaching on the stage at the middle school (just typing this brings a trembling in my soul) a could see me waving my hands in the air and preaching and as I came to the final verse and closed my bible I collapsed and died... It was just Thursday at a pastor’s luncheon the devotional word was that it was better to be in a house of mourning then the celebrating house in the book of Ecclesiastes. Now my thoughts were even more random and racing. “You got one chance”  is the thought that seemed to echo in my mind. So in the morning I knew I would only preach this message once and not at both gatherings. So I was obedient and didn't preach the 1st gathering. Then I preached. After the gathering as I walked to the door to leave, I remembered the vision of my lifeless body laying in the shadow of the music stand on which my bible remained and then I smiled... Oh yes Mark died today oh Mark died! And the Word remains!!! Hallelujah! 

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord Romans 6:11

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Moments Matter

Last Sunday at the h2gathering, a 24 year old woman came into the doors of the middle school auditorium with her father. It wasn't her first time there, but she didn't know a lot of people and tended to be a little shy. She had been going through a rough time lately with her health, but was determined to return to the h2gatherings after a friend encouarged her. This Sunday she sang, listened to the word as it was preached, and as quietly as she came, she left. But as she and her dad got to the door, she paused and asked him, “Should we wait to say hi to Pastor Mark?" Then they both walked out the doors and went home. Looking back, I couldn't help thinking about the people sitting near her or the people she would have walked by as she left. Did they notice her? Did they stop to talk to her? Did they ask her what her name was? How many opportunities do we miss because we are more preoccupied with being seen than seeing, being blessed than blessing, and being loved than loving? Well, next Sunday, you won’t see her there, and you won’t get a second chance with her... because on Tuesday morning, without warning, she died while having a seizure at home. Her father had made her breakfast, as he always did, and when he went into her room to serve her, he found her unresponsive. It breaks my heart seeing this dad grieve such a great loss. Now the good news is that she heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and responded.  So this Sunday, and each and every day... make it count. Stop and take notice, listen to, pray for, and offer hope to others because they matter, and you never know what life will bring. Let Hope Rise!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Something is Missing!

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! — 1 Corinthians 9:16

All these "churches" and "christians" in central PA and yet the gospel is all but completely silent. All that can be heard is the mere sound of shuffling sheep. Haven’t we received power to proclaim the gospel to the entire world? How can we be truly saved and not have the zeal of the gospel in us. How can we call ourselves the Church yet not declare the gospel? or realize our responsibility to it? It's not about if people are getting saved that’s not our job, our job is to be faithful to the preaching of the gospel. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor 1:18 Noah preached for 120 years and only his family was saved. Peter in the book of Acts wasn't trying to please the conservative or smart crowd, he raised up his voice and declared it. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: Acts 2:14 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Power of God unto salvation. Below are the words of Charles Spurgeon as you read them may they burn a whole in your soul like they have mine. The rebuke that he brings is so relevant today. 

I wish I had the ear of every preacher in the world right now, not that I deserve to preach to preachers, but I know this is so — it doesn’t matter if a little child says it, or an ignorant person says it, or who says it — Paul said it first, the Holy Spirit inspired him to say it, ‘Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.’ I’m in trouble, real trouble. I cannot think of any crime — I can’t think of a crime more terrible than to be entrusted with the immortal souls of eternity-bound boys and girls, young people, men and women, like every preacher is in-trusted every Sunday, and then stand up here and waste this precious time talking about myself, about my problems or my so-called denomination or my church, or talk about my ideas of what is right and what is wrong. I cannot think of a more terrible crime than to be entrusted with the souls of men and women who are sitting before us, some of whom may be in hell before next Sunday, and take that time singing a bunch of ditties, carrying on with foolishness, and making a mockery of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of a more awful crime against society than to deceive people who are given to us to instruct in the things of the Lord. I’ve got to preach the gospel — woe is unto me if I don’t. God have mercy, and he won’t, if I don’t! Woe unto the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, woe unto the Christ-crucifiers of Jerusalem, but double woe upon the preachers and shepherds and pastors who for advantage, filthy lucre and praise of men deceive men’s souls — God help them, but he won’t. Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel, and there’s not another one, it’s the gospel of Christ. If an angel from heaven preach unto you any other gospel, Paul said, ‘let him be accursed.’ Now if you want to play games, you play them, but you play them somewhere else — I’m going to preach the gospel here. If you want to play church, you play it, but you play it somewhere else. I’m preaching as a dying man to dying men; I’m preaching as one who may never preach again, and under God I’m going to tell you the truth. I say this in closing, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel; but I have something to tell you: woe is unto you if I preach it and you do not believe it. You may not understand it; and it may not fit in with your tradition; and it may not fit into your denominational pattern, and I’m sure if it’s the gospel it won’t because Christ didn’t fit the denominational pattern when he came down here either — he didn’t fit into their religious theology; he didn’t fit into their tradition; and he didn’t fit into their mold; and they crucified him! My message may not fit what Mama taught you, but Mama wasn’t sent of God to preach the gospel — I am. If I didn’t believe that, I’d quit. Do you see what I’m saying? I’m saying, ‘woe is unto you, woe is unto the Tri-state area, and woe is everybody under the sound of my voice, if I preach the gospel and you do not believe it. I’m willing to take my medicine, if I don’t preach the gospel; but you get ready to take yours, if I do and you do not receive it — is that fair? I preach the gospel, Paul says! I don’t have anything to glory of — I’m just a sinner saved by grace. Necessity is laid upon me — I’ve got to preach the gospel, for woe is unto me if I don’t preach it. Now will you say this — I believe the gospel, but if I believe the gospel, I don’t have anything to glory of — will you say that? God gave me the knowledge; God gave me the repentance; God gave me the faith. For necessity is laid upon me — I’ve got to believe the gospel, because there’s no truth anywhere else; there’s no beauty anywhere else; there’s no hope anywhere else; no refuge anywhere else — necessity is laid upon me — can you say that? And can you go on and finish — woe is unto me if I don’t believe the gospel. That’s all I’ve got to say. Now it’s between you and God — I leave it with you.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Last Respects

Yesterday morning I had an opportunity to help at a funeral service. I parked cars and passed out bulletins. As I watched the family and friends arrive from near and far something struck me. Even though the person died, people still came out of respect to say good-bye. They did more then send cards and flowers.  My Mom and Dad always said when going to a viewing that they were going to pay their “last respects”.  This really moved my heart and I began to consider the actions and attitudes of the churches in this valley (including the one I belong too).  Give me a moment to connect the dots. Because of the absence of Gospel preaching the local church has depended on church transfers as their main source of church growth.  Its called the “attractional model”.  Don’t deny it… How many people were saved already before coming to your church? A pie chart would be very interesting.  Matter of fact some churches birthed in this area is a direct result of disgruntle Christians who can “do it” better and “know it” better.  I thought the church was to be birthed as a result of people coming to Christ?  Anyway… So many have indulged in the “my church is better, smarter, fancier, and even more right then yours” syndrome. As a result instead of being a church on a mission we have become this “Spiritual Walmart” of sorts. So like bees we witness Christians moving from flower to flower looking for the sweet stuff of spiritual life.  I confess I was a part of this repulsive behavior and at first didn’t even realize it. When you leave a church in an improper manner (including not telling your leaving) it creates disunity (Romans 16:17), disorder (1 Corinthians 14:40), and major disappointment. And we as receiving churches also then become responsible for the disorder created in a neighboring fellowship.  And we never seem to care until it affects us. Sometimes I didn’t even know who we were responsible for because of all the shiftiness (Hebrews 13:17). That’s not maintaining the unity, in fact that’s divisive and out of order and is just one more thing pitting local churches and their leaders against each other. The results is a drawing away of our energy from our mission with God. So I want to say sorry for my lack of integrity in this area and I apologized to all the local churches and pastors that have been hurt by our actions and lack of actions. I am working diligently with my leaders so that in the future we will not be a part of this deadly epidemic plaguing our area churches. I will send folks back to make sure everything is in order, blessings are given when possible, and that true love is expressed. I would encourage others to join me in this pursuit of peace and unity.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why It Matters

I often have many people ask me questions about h2 doing work in other countries, besides the work of equipping church leaders. Many ask questions such as “what about here?” So as I prepare to return to East Africa I thought it would be a great time to answer this “WHY?” question. No I am not mad, I’m actually very glad to be able to share my heart. Okay, lets begin. Lets start with the reality of responsibility. Jesus is God and God is God of all of the universe, not just America. You and I are first Christians and second Americans. If you can’t grasp the reality that we are first citizens of heaven, then much of this will not make sense to you.  When I look at poverty and the needs of others as a follower of Jesus, I look at the world, not just America. With the advances of technology and travel, our global responsibilities are intensely heightened. With such great wealth in their hands, the American Christian is obligated to help with the least of these. Can we help everyone? No. However, this should never stop us from helping one. Does this mean we should overlook the needs right in front of our faces? NO WAY! We must first determine the need. When arriving at the scene of an accident, the emergency workers first assess the victims to see who is in the worst condition. It would be silly to first stop at the closest victim who merely needs a Band-Aid, when the others are bleeding out. What are real needs? Food, water, and shelter are basic necessities of life. H2 has never let one person die of thirst, starvation or be without shelter. We have emptied our own refrigerators and placed sleeping bags on our living room floors. And to top that off, in the process we had an opportunity to preach to them the wonderful good news of the gospel.  How do we grade poverty? What about worldwide? Do you know that last year in America over 8 billion dollars was spent on cosmetics alone and 53 billion for pets? Also, the money spent on artificial green Easter grass could fix many health crises around the world. I've seen with my own eyes, handmade wooden coffins stacked up at the marketplaces to bury little children who died from drinking contaminated water. Not sure that I see that same desperation here. My kids drink bottled water because they don't like the taste of the water from the faucet. As a Christian, I believe the Scripture teaches us that we have a world-wide responsibility including the communities around us. The great question asked of Jesus was “who is my neighbor?” Many of the resources that God has granted the American church have sadly been spent on herself, perhaps unknowingly. How will we determine when it is time to help somewhere else? Will we base it on Christmas presents or children dying from lack of clean water et cetera?  I’m not calling people to get rid of their stuff, but to care and not write-off what I believe is part of their God-given responsibility. Of course “we need to take care of our own people,” but we need to be sensitive about where this starts and ends. Remember that we are not the government, we are the church and the rules are much different. A study showed that almost 50% of food stamp recipients in America were overweight. We ask how many people in America starve to death each year? The statistics for this is almost nonexistent. Many people in America eat from trash cans from which they find full of wasted food. In other countries, the trash cans are empty. There are hungry people in America, but few are dying from hunger. I remember distributing groceries in Pennsylvania and giving a woman in her forties a big box of food. After looking through the box, she began removing items and asked to trade them because she “didn't eat that brand.”

Sin has and will for a time, continue to create a fertile environment for disease, corruption, and every kind of evil to thrive. My eyes have seen the least of these, which are those at the bottom of the pile. As I travel through many places, I have seen many starving people dying on the side of a dusty road. I realize that my prayers for these people will reach the heavens and settle back in my own hands. Christ laid aside everything and came to us---a lost and desperate people starving beside a dusty road. Jesus came and walked down that same dusty road and gave His life... Jesus took care of our deepest needs. FOOD- “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger”. WATER- “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” SHELTER- “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

If you or someone you know, live in the USA and are struggling with hunger ,and don't live in the Northumberland/Snyder County Area  where h2church is; go to for help. You don't need to be hungry. 

In Love or Like???

Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

Do you know that the church is the “Body of Christ”? Jesus is the Head of the Church and the Body all at once... We cannot separate them even though many try... Some deceive themselves by trying to treat one better than the other and justifying their ill behavior of the other for a host of reasons. But can we rightfully treat one with distain or carelessness and be true to the other? The answer is NO!

What if each of you were so in love with Jesus and His body (aka: The church) that there would never be a plea from the local church for money or workers. Thats right... no more begging, offering announcements and/or clever campaigns. Instead, you as members of the body of Christ give liberally and find the giving a joy, and seek to know if you can give more, if needed. And even if serving means doing something you don’t like to do, you simply roll up your sleeves and get at it. No murmuring or negativity clouding the heart, but pure joy just to serve the body of Christ ... or as scripture says, “as unto the Lord”. Maybe I’m wrong, but when you’re in love with someone you are always asking, “what do you need?, “do you have enough?”, “can I do anymore?”. I know most of us remember this tone from early on in our relationships. We were quite attentive. However, I know for most, this tone has changed to a lukewarm or cold heart. Don’t accept this temperature drop as okay or normal... Its bad news.

When you're in love you long to be together. When you’re in love you don't see once a week as enough or something you could do with or without. Heaven is forever being in the presence of Christ. If you have no desire to be with the body of Christ. hmmm... I wonder how that works. Yes, I know we can make lists of excuses and reasons to dislike “church people”. Caution: Jesus won’t let you chop His head off and throw away His body... and He knows not everyone in the local church belongs to Him and He knows others are weak, annoying and even difficult. But He has left us with in instructions of how to live and deal with one another. 

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

When you’re in love, unless it’s some “forbidden love” (something shameful), you want everyone in your life to meet that special person. When you bring someone to where the body of Christ has assembled they get a special gift of meeting the supernatural presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. “Where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus”...

When you’re in love you don't hold back. Everything you do seems to others as being over the top. Singing about and to Jesus and hearing the holy scriptures as they point to the very person of Christ should set our hearts on fire. We shouldn't need primed or pushed... And when the singing or preaching stops the thought of Him should linger in our hearts and minds. All because we love Him.

Are you really in Love or are you just in Like? I was in Like for a long time. I was only willing to do so much and only go so far. I was more worried about my comfort and happiness. Commitment was whatever I felt it should be. Obedience was optional. Then I experienced the Grace of God and it all began to change.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

When you are in love you want to make the other person happy. How this is done is by doing whatever you know pleases that person. This is even when you don’t like to do what they want or perhaps don’t understand why they like or dislike... But when you are in love it means that your smile may only be there because you see the smile it puts on the face of the one you love. You receive enough joy from pleasing them that your lack of personal satisfaction doesn’t matter.  When Jesus calls us to love Him, He reminds us that we love Him by keeping His word. This is a real point of turning for many (I could say so much about this above all the other thoughts). When I am disobedient to God’s word, my heart is driven to exam the relationship that I profess to have with Jesus. Self- judgment using the word of God is the only way for a true believer to maintain a healthy love relationship with Jesus. 

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23

Consider your relationship with Jesus... If there is any trouble in this relationship I assure you it’s not on His side of the relationship. Is there real evidence that you are truly in love with Him? Not just in mere outward expressions... Not just in busyness...  If the answer is no, then the same place the Spirit of God summoned the church of Ephesus to, I urge you to be. “Repentance Blvd”… Easy to find, but hard to get to because we must humble ourselves and confess our sin

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Revelation 2:5