Archive | January, 2017

Beyond the Map – Now that’s living!

23 Jan

Here’s a little insight into what makes me ‘tick’… and why this blog is named “Beyond the Map”.

Years ago, I watched an IMAX documentary of Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition up the Missouri River, to the Pacific Ocean and back.  I was struck to my core with what seemed a very innocuous quote from Lewis and Clark’s journal.  It reverberated so loudly inside me, that I’ve never forgotten it. 

In the early part of their expedition, they had followed the crude maps of the frontier fur traders.  But about half way up the Missouri, their continuing exploration took them beyond the maps.  On that day Lewis’ journal reads:

“We were now about to penetrate a country… in which the foot of civilized man had never trodden… the good or evil it had in store for us was yet to determine… I could esteem this moment of my departure among the most happy of my life.” – (Lewis & Clark expedition – 1805)

Strangely, upon hearing that quote, I could hardly compose myself.  I recognized that his sentiment rang synonymous with the basic drive at the core of my being.  And it is:

I must go where I’ve never been… discover what I’ve never seen.  I’m a pioneer!

The only way I can stay truly alive is to push beyond the familiar.  In fact, for several years I’ve publicly declared that each time I’m ‘in the saddle’ with God (whether privately or in public) I purpose to do something I’ve never done before.  I’ve resolved to explore what I haven’t seen and experienced before.  Furthermore, if there is a sense that others are dependant upon my discoveries in this new territory, then my motivation is fueled in a most fulfilling and empowering way.  Of course, this is the basic drive of a pioneer… a frontiersman.  (I write further about pioneers, here.)

Somewhere in my 40s I began to identify some of this unique definition of ‘me’.  It would have been great to know it sooner, but by-and-large our society doesn’t educate us on how to find ourselves.  I think that’s largely because most people are consumed with the age-old quest of trying to stay alive and survive.  As a result, our real identity doesn’t get highlighted and thus we don’t thrive.  And maybe because of being fraught with insecurities we just try to awkwardly blend in with the cookie-cutter crowd mentality… not ‘rocking the boat’.  So, I think it’s safe to say that most people never discover who they are… and how to be effective, passionate and ‘comfortable in their own skin’.  What a travesty!  Here are a couple sad commentaries about average mankind:

“Man.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.  Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – The 14th Dalai Lama

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”  ― J.K. Rowling

Twenty-eight months after setting out and risking life and limb, Lewis and Clark arrived back at St. Louis, ending an 8,000-mile odyssey.  They were acclaimed as national heroes…the first U.S. citizens to cross the continent.  Lewis had described at least 178 plants and 122 animals new to science.  Clark had drawn new and accurate maps that would guide the next generation of pioneers.  This is what pioneers do!  Their God-given core motivation was activated and engaged to the full extent… even to the ragged edge.  Even when knowing the life-endangering rigors of the journey before them, they had passionately said “Yes!” to the mission, because their personal DNA was addressed and called upon.

This ‘awakened living’ is part of the outworking of Jesus’ words, “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  When men and women discover who they were meant to be, they excel… and they do it gladly and passionately.  They discover what it means to truly live.


Of course there’s a potential fear factor.  But fear disappears when two things occur.  1) First we must know that God is good!  And He only has good plans for us.  2) Second, we must know that we have definitively heard His will.  It is impossible to have true Biblical faith if we haven’t HEARD (Rms 10:17).  Without hearing, fear rules.

Another pioneering explorer Columbus, sailed the ocean blue in 1492 when it was commonly thought that the earth was flat.  This whimsical depiction of the flat world sorely challenged the average boatman in his day.  But obviously, Columbus’ deep pioneer motivations drove him past his fears… and on to make historical discoveries that have changed mankind forever.  SO CAN WE!

Here are questions I ask myself: What fears attempt to keep me imprisoned in my ‘safe’ world?  What discoveries wait beyond the map?  Whose hearts need my discoveries?  What great things have happened each time I’ve decided to really live?

So now you know; in order for me to stay alive… and thrive, I’m committed and impassioned to go, “Beyond the Map”.



Where do I feed my heart?

16 Jan

“Guard over your heart with all diligence for from it flow all the issues of life.” – Prov 4:23

If Prov 4:23 is vital, then how do I take care of my heart… how do I feed it?  How do I keep it full?

Feeding my heart requires more than just ingesting knowledge.  Simply acquiring Bible knowledge bybrain-being-filled-with-stuff-learning reading the Bible, isn’t sufficient to nourish my heart.  My brain is an amazing cognitive processor of knowledge and the place where the data is stored.  Knowledge is food for my brain.  But while knowledge may help me make rational and sound decisions, it’s still just an ‘earth-type’ commodity that my mind insatiably never gets enough of.

So what is heart food?

“Man can’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4)  

We’ve talked about how our hearts need to hear our Father’s voice.  When we hear Father’s voice, His voice gives us spirit food… real food that satisfies our basic essence.  It’s an ethereal infusion so deep that it may not even register in our brain… but our heart knows quite well that something substantive and eternal just happened.  We’re washed, freed, envisioned, secured, empowered, emboldened when we hear His voice.  There is no mistaking the occasion, something significant changes when we hear His voice.

Now the way in which we hear will be somewhat different for every person.

For most people, our hearts get tender when we encounter our Maker/Father.  When we recognize the sound of His voice… or the gentleness of His touch… something begins to melt inside of us.  That ‘melting’ is our heart/spirit-man saying, “Abba/Daddy”.  There is a sensing of, “all is well with my soul”.  There is an, “ahhhh, life is better now”.  And many times there are accompanying tears.  They’re not mandatory or even necessary, but His voice/touch is so totally fulfilling and life-giving, that our spirit-man ‘leaps’ into life and has to spill over somewhere… more often than not, it’s through our eyes.  I write more about the importance and significance of tears,

So how do I feed my heart and keep it full?  This is one of my ways: I have created a 50-60 song special playlist.  They’re only the songs that ‘make me cry’.  And I don’t mind saying, I have some of my best times with my playlist.  I burn these handpicked songs on CDs and play them over and over in my car.  I almost never listen to radio… even Christian radio… my heart’s well-being is too important!  These songs speak my heart language and draw me into unhindered encounter.  This gives me much time to practice His presence and refuel my heart.

So, I offer you a few songs from my current list, in hopes that your spirit-man will leap into life… and maybe ‘spill over’.  Grab a Kleenex and just be careful if you drive while listening to these heart songs.

Mark’s Latest Heart Therapy Songs

1.  I Love You – Misty Edwards (IHOP-KC)

2.  Not on My Time – David Brymer

3.  Father – Alberto & Kimberly Rivera

4.  Heaven’s Blessing – Alberto & Kimberly Rivera

5.  My Garden – Alberto & Kimberly Rivera

6. Spirit Move – WorshipMob


Testimony: Vial of oil refills

14 Jan

Vials of oil from Bible

(From a pastor friend, Earl Ackley.)

Before leaving for a ministry trip to South Africa, I felt the Lord prompt me to take a vial of oil given to me by Mark Hendrickson.  He had heard that Pastor Cesar Nieto had a Bible that constantly leaked oil.  Mark and other leaders visited with Cesar, examined the Bible and confirmed that the manifestation was genuine.  The bible continually leaked oil without damaging the pages. 

While in South Africa, Greg Odell, a leader in the church had a birthday and we all prayed and prophesied over him.  I felt like the Lord said, “Pour the oil on Greg’s feet.”  I anointed his feet with half of the oil in the vial.  Afterward I handed the half full vial to Greg and said this was for his wife.  He handed it back to me and said he wanted me to anoint her.  When we came to the church for ministry, Greg’s wife asked if I had the oil with me to anoint her feet as well.  When I pulled it out of my pocket we were all amazed that the vial was full to the top!  So, after anointing her feet with most of the oil in the vial, I set it on the floor.  As soon as I did, Greg picked it up and exclaimed, “Look, it has just filled to half full again!”  I gave some of the oil to the pastor, some to Greg and anointed 10 more people with the rest of the oil.


Oil from the Bible


Every page glistened with oil

Sounds a lot like the Old Testament story of a similar miracle (I Kings 17:16).  Thank you, Lord!


Stayin’ Alive… a plan

6 Jan

My long-time good friend Martha Stevens, passed away just a few weeks ago.  And although she was in her 80s, she had a voracious love for Jesus, was of sound mind and vibrant heart through her last breath.  She never got stale or sour!  Yay, God!  She loved everyone who came into her room with abandon.  She was still contagious and died with much dignity… a model of what is possible for God’s saints.


Look at that 60 year old guy on the rip-stick!  He’s stayin’ alive!

A few of us may be planning on never dying.  (I write about that here.)  But for most people, this post will be relevant as you consider your golden years.  I propose a plan to ‘stay alive’ in soul… and in your effectiveness.  You too, can have an alive dancing heart up to your last breath.

Okay, let’s lock in the necessity of keeping our relationship with God current and vibrant.  But a huge part of our relationship with God requires our exportation of the Life which we’ve received from Him.  Think, “Freely you receive, freely give.”  Of course, the down-side of not doing this can be said in two words; ‘Dead Sea’.

So we must give our Kingdom Life away.  Let’s assume that we’re trying the best we can now.  And let’s assume that when we ‘give’, we’re receiving some degree of reward and satisfaction.  For sure, you’ve acquired some pretty profound Kingdom insights, rhemas and realities in your life by now.  Worthy ones.  Worthy of exporting.

But now let’s think into the future.  Whatever you’re doing for Kingdom sake, will you still be able to do it at 60… 70… 80… 90… and beyond?  Let’s assume that somewhere around 100 years old, you’ll probably slow down, at least a little.  What Kingdom activity will you practice then, to keep your heart alive?  What format, activity or medium will you employ to convey the Kingdom riches of your heart?  The likelihood is that your physical capacities will diminish in your golden years and your value will probably be measured more in care, love, time, sharing, counsel, wisdom, etc.

So when you slow down a little, how will you maintain a meaningful flow of Heaven to you and through you, into your world?  If your physical activity or mobility is diminished, will you just sit around and pine away at how nobody recognizes your value… or wants your message… or pays any attention to you?  Right now, just say with me, “No way!”

You probably know someone who is sour… and who sours their world.  By the grace of God, we’re not going to do that!  But it will be imperative that we learn to live in-sync with the seasons of our life.

I recommend exploring the social media options of web site, email, blog, twitter, Skype, cell phone, instagram, etc….  This is something that can be done with any physical condition… as long as you have a sound mind and vibrant heart.  There are, without a doubt, people in this world who need you.  On several social media platforms, begin to explore exporting your unique message.  Begin building a ‘market’ that will value your message or ‘commodity’.  Your job now, is to find those who need you and build the relationship with them so that your value will need never be inaccessible or discarded just because of your age or physical condition.stayinalive

The BeeGees sang about ‘Stayin’ Alive‘… and inspired us with at least a few redemptive lines:

“Got the wings of heaven on my shoes
I’m a dancin’ man and I just can’t lose
You know it’s all right, it’s okay
I’ll live to see another day…
Stayin’ alive… stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive”

So if you cultivate an alive heart… and a skill and medium to convey it… like my friend Martha, there is no reason to ever have a boring day or feel useless… it’s possible to Stay Alive even through your last breath!