Mark J Martin

Mark J Martin

How You Can Do Something Every Day for Missions


Junaid Khalid |

Several weeks ago, I came across an e-book called Epidemic on  It was an easy read that was inspiring.  It challenged college students to spread excitement for the cause of Christ by doing one thing every week in their school to cause excitement for missions.  It inspired me to do something like it at our church.

So, we put together a booklet to help our church family get excited about missions as we prepare for our annual missions conference September 14-18.


The booklet is called Take the Challenge: 32 Days of Small Steps to Help the Spread of the Gospel.

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Why I am Running a 5K this Saturday

image by Tim Elliott |

This Saturday, I am running what will be my first 5k, the Greeneville Astros 5k.  Several people have asked me why I am going to run the race.

I can think of at least four reasons I entered this 5k.

1. Motivation

The primary reason I entered the race was to motivate me to run regularly.

Last year, I ran with a friend during the first part of the year.  Then when summer hit, both of our schedules became way to busy to sustain running together.

This year, we decided to sign up for a 5k so we would stay motivated to run.  Even though we don’t run at the same time, we keep each other accountable to stay at it.

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In All Your Good Deeds, Don’t Forget the Good News

[quote]If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Colossians 3:1[/quote]

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e face the danger of thinking we can be “good Christians” without depending on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

When we do that, we forget one of the most basic truths about us – that we really are bad sinners.

When we forget that we are sinners, we are prone to allow our sinful hearts to go unchecked.

When we allow our hearts to go unchecked and focus only on external “goodness,” we become hypocritical in our actions, and the sins of our hearts slip past our watch and into our lives.

Only in the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus do we see the true message of the need of our hearts.

Jesus repeatedly focused the Pharisees, who excelled in external goodness, on their internal sins.

[quote] Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27[/quote]

They asked him what was the greatest commandment, and he focused his answer on the whole of man, not just the externals.

[quote]Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Matthew 22:37[/quote]

If we do not remember the cross every day, we will join the ranks of the Pharisees as religious people who think we can be right with God through our own goodness.

In the cross I see how vile my sin really is.  In the cross, I am reminded that even my heart is wicked, not just my actions, since my actions come from the heart (see Matthew 15:18).

No matter how many “good deeds” you or I do, we cannot change the fact that we are sinful at heart.  We need the cross.

We must daily depend on Christ’s work on the cross as the basis for my ability to live a new life.

[quote]Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4[/quote]

Today, in all your good deeds, don’t forget the Good News.

Why is it easy to try to be good without trusting in Jesus? Please comment below.


Five Keys to Helping your Choir Members Love What They Do

image by Carolyn L. Marshall |

I know.  I know.  Choirs are so last Millennium.  I should get with the times.

But, in spite of the trend away from choirs, I still love them.  In high school, choir is where I learned to love singing.  It taught me harmony. Choir encouraged in me a heart for praising God.

And now, as a choir director in a church, I get to teach other people about music through the vehicle of the choir.

But whether or not you use a choir in your ministry, any music practices can become a drudgery.  People can drag into rehearsal as an obligation they dread, not a privilege they anticipate.

As the leader, you should strive to make your rehearsals times that your volunteers look forward to.

So, how do you help your musicians love what they do?  

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Recognizing Your Soul’s Thirst

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. Psalm 42:1

My soul thirsts.  Your soul thirsts.  But often we misunderstand what it is thirsting for.

We feel the uneasiness in our souls and look to entertainment to ease the discomfort.

We experience the nag of conscience and try to mask it with the security of friendship.

We sense that our money is slipping through our fingers, so we work even harder to ensure that there is more in the bank.

But each of these is not what the soul is thirsting for.

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The Paradox of Christian Productivity

We think we have to do more.  God says, “Ask, and it shall be given.” (Matt. 7:7)

Our world tells us that the one who works harder than the next guy wins.  God says, “Call Unto me, and I will answer thee.”  (Jer. 33:3)

The powers of evil give us more opportunities to stay busy.  God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

We fill our schedules, write our next action lists, and draft our calendars. But there’s something more to ministry than activity.

The Christian ministry requires a power that cannot be given by more human effort.  It requires God to work.

The paradox: To do more as a Christian, you sometimes have to do less, so you can pray.

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Cutting Back your Unnecessary Incoming E-mails

image by Alexander Novikov |

Almost a month ago, my wife, the kids and I went to visit her family for a week.  Before leaving, I made preparations to be less connected to the internet. I have a tendency to be distracted from family by e-mail, etc., so I took Michael Hyatt’s advice and was intentional going into the week about e-mail.

As his post explains, I set up the account to send to the archives every message that didn’t have the word “urgent” in it so that only pressing matters came through.  I then set up a response e-mail that explained to put the word urgent in the e-mail if it needed to get through to me.

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On the Ease of Neglecting Priorities

The following quote impacted me as I read it last year.  I have been reminded of it recently.  It is easy to neglect the most important things.  I mentioned this lesson in a previous post.

“It occurred to me one day that my most important time allocations had something in common.  They never screamed out immediately when ignored.  I could neglect my spiritual disciplines, for example, and God did not seem to shout loudly about it.  I could make it just fine for a while.  And when I did not allocate time for the family, Gail and the children were generally understanding and forgiving…And when I set study aside as a priority, I could get away with it for a while.  These things could be ignored for a while without adverse consequences.  And that is why they were so often crowded out when I did not budget for them in advance.  Other less important issues had a way of wedging them aside week after week.  Tragically, if they are neglected too long, when family, rest, and spiritual disciplines are finally noticed it is often too late for adverse consequences to be avoided.” Gordon MacDonald. Ordering Your Private World. p. 98-99. emphasis mine.

Have you found it hardest to plan time for the most important things? How have you guarded time for your priorities?


A Prayer for Twenty-Somethings

image courtesy of Sergey Kravtsov |

I am a twenty-something.  Psychologists are wanting to make a “new stage” (life stage) for me.  Society is wanting to redefine what it means for me to be a person in my twenties.

Many people in my age bracket are not deciding on a life focus, life mate, or life purpose.  We are known for being floaters and nomads.

The problem with this “phenomenon” is that life comes to us just once.  Once this decade of life is passed, it can’t be reclaimed.

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