Mark J Martin

Mark J Martin

The Reason for Our Fruitlessness

image courtesy of Andy Heyward |

Have you ever been discouraged that it seemed like your life lacked the fruitfulness you imagined?  Have you ever worked hard to serve others, only to feel a frustration of pointlessness?

Could it be that at times we have it backwards?  Are we focused more on the work than on Christ who produces the work?

I’ve been reading through the book of John with our Bible study group on Monday nights.  It has been refreshing as we’ve seen this gospel’s awesome presentation of Jesus.

What is striking to me is the simple yet profound nature of the book.  

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Good ol’ Bluegrass

A friend of mine posted this video the other day, and I wanted to share it with you.  Enjoy this video of some talented brothers who play bluegrass music.  The boy on the banjo is 8, the fiddler is 12, and the guitar player is 13.


How to Confidently Accomplish the Repetitive Tasks, Part 2

In my previous post, I wrote about the value of a weekly checklist.  This post is about how to put that list together.

But first, let me acknowledge two principles I picked up from David Allen in Getting Things Done:

  1. The need to write it down. He emphasizes this principle.  Get it out of your head and onto paper (or in your device).
  2. The difference between tasks and projects.  A task is one action.  A project is anything with more than one action. (This distinction is important as you list steps.)

[Disclaimer: What I will describe below is not a full following of the GTD system, although I use GTD for many non-repetitive tasks.]

Let me also explain that I personally prefer paper.  I use the computer for many things, including my calendar. But for task lists, there’s something helpful to me about a piece of paper that actually takes up space on my desk and that can get checked/scratched off.  You may prefer to implement this in a program/app if that works better for you.

This could seem like an easy process, but several challenges stand in the way.

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How to Confidently Accomplish the Repetitive Tasks

image courtesy of Tatianatatiana |

Most people who work in a church setting wear several different “hats.”  Many of these hats require duties that are repeated weekly.  The more efficient we can be with these tasks, the more we can move forward to other priorities.

It may be preparing the order of service for Sunday’s music or looking through your Sunday school roster to see who you’ve missed.  It may be varied “to-do’s” over a range of several different ministry areas.  But sometimes, the thousands of necessary tasks can overwhelm us.

For instance, at my church, I oversee some office work, the music ministry, and the college and career ministry.  I love what I do!

There are parts of my responsibilities that change from week to week, but other parts that are a part of every week.

For the first years in my office duties, I tried to either accomplish my weekly tasks from memory or sporadically write them down for that day or the rest of the week.

The problem with that was:

  1. My memory is faulty
  2. This method provides no consistency.

It finally occurred to me that I could be more efficient.

What did I use to solve this problem?

Drumroll please………..

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Worship that Costs Something

Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. John 12:3

In Mary’s heart, Jesus was worth it.

Her heart of love and worship for the Savior flowed out in an expression of expensive giving and humble service.

She loved Him so much, she could not help but break open the expensive perfume so she could anoint His feet.

Do our lives reflect this kind of loving worship for the Savior? Do our songs flow from hearts that are overwhelmed by His worth?

Lord Jesus, deepen my love for You.

In preparation for Sunday worship (and more importantly, a life of worship), spend some time “at Jesus’ feet” and “hear His word,” as Mary had done (Luke 10:39).  Read His Word, and allow Him to transform your heart into one of intense love for Him.  See Him as He is and value Him for what He is worth.

What does costly worship look like in our lives?


Why He Waits

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.  John 11:14

Why didn’t he come sooner?

Martha asked it.

Mary asked it.

Those watching asked it.

Jesus didn’t go right away when He heard the news that Lazarus was sick.  He waited.  

By the time He started to go to Jerusalem, He knew that Lazarus was already dead.

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Simple Steps for Unclogging Your Workflow

glad my basement wasn’t this bad! (image courtesy of Zdenek |

Has your basement ever flooded?   It’s no fun.  The worst part is listening to the rain hit the roof, wondering if, this time, it’s going to come inside!

Whenever my basement has flooded, it has been because the water flowing from the surrounding areas gets stuck behind my house, puddles, then comes in through the cement wall.

The water needs an outlet.  I’ve had to knock some holes in the retaining wall, unclog downspouts, and dig some trenches for a temporary fix to let the water out.

If you’re anything like me, sometimes your work flow resembles my house.  Tasks and projects get lodged in your system, not flowing through your hands and getting accomplished.

As these projects and tasks build up, they present the potential of flooding your life with negative results.

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I Will Bless the Lord at All Times…

…because of the cross.

Image courtesy of Eprom |

Have you ever wondered what the disciples were thinking the day after Christ was crucified?

They had just “failed” by not following the Lord.  Peter had defected from his promise to follow Christ to the death. They had all “scattered.”

The One whom they had hoped would deliver them from Roman rule had just been executed as a blasphemer.  Their Leader was in the grave.

Ever had times like that?  It seems like the hopes and dreams that you thought were from God are in the trash.  You think, “This isn’t how it was supposed to turn out.” You wonder where God went.

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It was a Real Day

On a real day, Jesus was called a blasphemer, though He sinlessly honored God.

On a real day, men pulled out his beard by their fists.

On a real day, Jesus felt the piercing of the scourge.

On a real day, Jesus’ head was punctured by thorns.

On a real day, He fell under the weight of the cross.

On a real day, Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to a cross.

But most of all…

On a real day, Jesus took the penalty for your sins and mine, as the Father poured out His wrath toward sin on His only Son.


A Case for Truth-focused Ministry

image courtesy of Hans Slegers |

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. Ephesians 4:15

In my short time in church work, I’ve observed some of my tendencies.  It’s easy to focus my attention on secondary things instead of  the central focus that God wants me to have – serving others by teaching the truth of God.

I am learning that in serving others, the focus should be truth, (i.e., the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, Jesus Himself, all of which are truth).  Biblical truth should be the central drive of church ministry, while other aspects of ministry point toward truth and facilitate growth in truth.

I’ve found it’s easy to get off focus and fall into these modes:

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