Nothing Changes That - March 13, 2020. It was early Friday morning and I was spending some time with the Lord and thinking about some of my friends that I’ve been in conversation with over the past few days. These were heavy conversations about the coronavirus and other things going on in their lives and in the world. Fear and panic seems to have lifted its head in so many peoples lives.
I went into my studio and quick wrote these words down and grabbed my guitar and the melody came as fast as the words did. The whole song came in about 20 minutes. There’s no bragging there. This song was God-inspired and I simply wrote down what He said. I believe the song is timely and I hope it brings peace to those that listen. ~Mark
My Stand - March 20, 2020. I came into the studio late this evening contemplating the goodness and the grace of God. I was overwhelmed at the peace that I have even at this crazy time of coronavirus fear and panic. I spoke with a friend/producer in Nashville this afternoon who mentioned the panic that was going on in that city with people clearing out the shelves at grocery stores and that he personally has very little right now. How would I react in that situation? It’s not here (yet), the panic, that is. How can we tap into the peace of God at all times. Do we feed our fear or do we feed our faith? I want to take my stand for Christ now! I want to let it be known!. How do I do that? We will see. Ps 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth... ~Mark
Don't Take the Bait - Everyday life is full of opportunities to “take the bait” and miss out on God’s best for us and our relationships. Here’s a song inspired by conversation with a friend about communication gone very wrong and what the Message version of Proverbs 18:21 says, “Words kill, words give life; their either poison or fruit – you choose.” We trust this song will help all of us think before we speak.
I Believe - My 87 year old dad had Parkinson's Disease and lived with us for five and a half years. One morning he was non-responsive for a prolonged period of time. I was particularly overwhelmed with a burden for his soul. We had never been able to discuss faith civilly. After a couple of hours, as I was holding his hand and crying, I tried again to help him understand what Jesus had done in my life and why he too needed a personal relationship with Jesus. In a faint whisper, Dad said, “I believe”. This took me by surprise and when I didn’t say anything, he whispered again, “Did you hear me?” I said “yes” and then he woke up, totally alert. We didn’t talk about it again. I wasn’t completely at peace but I was also wasn’t burdened. It was perplexing.
Months later, while Mark and I were sitting at Dad's bedside a few days before his death, this song came to Mark. What a beautiful realization that with two believers taking care of him, truly everywhere Dad turned in our house, Jesus was there. It felt like a confirmation of a confession of faith on Dad's part and was very comforting and reassuring. ~Cindy
This Much I Know - This song came during a very stressful time as Mark and Cindy were praying together one morning. The words flooded in as it occurred to Mark that a lot of times we start into this begging and pleading thing and picture God as egging us on, telling us to "pray harder", "not enough yet" instead of seeing it as a spiritual battle.
Unshaken - Mark and Cindy took care of her father who had Parkinson’s Disease for five and a half years in their home. The physical and emotional aspects of caregiving had stretched Cindy to her limits. On top of that was hosting family Christmas and three family birthdays. She was feeling very depressed. She was especially frustrated not having time and energy for some things she really wanted to do with music.
It was Thursday, date night. Mark asked what she would like to do and she said sardonically, “write a song”. The day had been unusually frustrating. Cindy struggled to bring her best to date night. When Mark and Cindy returned home, Mark was moving forward with the idea of writing a song together. Cindy was “not feeling it” but figured she better make an effort since it was her idea. Mark began the session asking Cindy what she was feeling. She responded: “overwhelmed, discouraged, my body hurts, trying not to worry about”…etc. (You get the bleak picture). Then Mark asked what the Lord had speaking to her about to which Cindy replied, “Well He is speaking to me a lot. I still haven’t got it to go from my head to my heart though.” Mark said, “like what?” “Well," Cindy said...
...Write down ‘Declarations’ based on God’s word – write them and say them till I believe them! (Master Mind sermon series from Life Church)
...Feelings are just feelings. They are not truth. No matter how much pressure all the negative feelings place on me I can withstand the storm by standing on the truth of God. I hang onto these words for dear life. These words hold me up in bad times. ...Yes, your promises rejuvenate me (Ps 119 :49 MSG)
...Trust steadily, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly (1 Thes 5:18 MSG)
...Don’t tolerate the loud, repetitive negative thoughts that result in strong emotions that make me so discouraged. Take every though captive! Kick them out and refill that space with truth by the power of the Holy Spirit.
...I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. (Gal 2:20 NASB) IE dead people don’t have buttons to push.
Mark started strumming on the guitar and words started coming. The song was written in literally a few minutes. Mark and Cindy were in total awe of what just happened. They continue to sing this date-night song frequently and share it with friends going through intense situations.
May Your Coffee Taste Much Sweeter - For 30+ years now, my son and I have gone on an annual fishing trip in northern Minnesota (since he was 6 years old). It’s an amazing time in a primitive cabin and some of the most beautiful, peaceful scenery that I know of.
Each morning we eat at the TPatton café in Orr. The town only has about 175 people and, when we walk in, we see many of the same faces. The owners of the TPatton café are wonderful, relaxed folk with an amazing attitude. Whether you are a regular or just visiting annually, somehow, they make us all feel like family. The restaurant is in an old train depot and breakfast is served on the first level. There’s a staircase that has about 15 to 18 steps and all the food is prepared upstairs. It’s quite the work out for the servers!
The first thing I noticed many years ago and every year since is one of the simplest things…the coffee. Now they don’t serve a special kind of coffee and it’s nothing that you would think of in a coffee shop. There’re no flavors added to it and it’s not a latte or any type of mocha. It’s just a cup of coffee. Now mind you, I am a coffee connoisseur/snob. I absolutely adore going into coffee shops. If I weren’t careful, I could spend a ridiculous amount of money on coffee. But the first time I tasted this coffee was something that will be with me forever. And it’s something that I look forward to every year. Even in January as I’m starting to think of this trip, I think of that coffee. I’m pretty sure the primary reason is that we are away from the stress of the city life.
I hope the simple prayer in this song will stay with you as you sing it and as you go through your day…May your coffee taste much sweeter than it did yesterday. If you’re not a coffee drinker, may your tea or your juice or your water or whatever you drink, taste much sweeter today than yesterday. God does indeed know all of our struggles. He knows how hard this life is. Reach out to His already extended hand for help in the middle of your stress or even, and maybe even especially, in your peaceful times.
We hope that no matter what you are going through, that you will tap into the source of life, eternal life, Jesus Christ. ~Mark