All posts by Mark

Reflections on Watermark

By | NewSpring | One Comment

I was too wired to write for several days! What an experience! One hundred and sixty-four people went public with their faith in Jesus as thousands watched. If you were there, you don’t need me to write about it, you know what I’m talking about, it was transforming.

And you volunteers… you guys are incredible! To pull off an outdoor service that combined the attendance of three normal services, to assist everyone so that it all flowed seamlessly, and to feed that crowd too (cooking 3600 hot dogs and hamburgers!), and most of all to do it with you guy’s infectious joy… well, words fail me, except to say, you are my heroes!

Kudos go out to the world’s greatest church staff. You worked around the clock getting ready while carrying your normal loads. I’m so proud of all of you.

Let’s talk about weather for a moment. In my last post before watermark, I asked you the following…

Pray for good weather. We’ve had huge crowds the last few weeks, and going from three weekend services to one, we will have more people on our 40 acres at one time than ever before. Especially pray that the land will be dry enough for parking. If the land is too wet, it could get, shall we say, interesting.

You prayed! When I got up Sunday morning, the weather channel showed a huge band of rain heading right for us. Flood warnings were out for multiple counties right around us, and sure enough, as we all got in place at 10:30 the rain was rolling in. A few drops fell on us, but then the most awesome thing happened… it was as if God just held it back with his hand. Several times, I looked out across the expressway only to see it raining on the other side. One guy who was watching the radar said that the rain was like a horseshoe around us. We sailed right through the whole morning dry (except for those who were baptized.)

Normally, I wouldn’t think much of this kind of thing, but about ten different people told me independently that when we were closing the service, right over the soundstage, the clouds looked like two huge wings. I don’t get off on that kind of thing much, but this time it gave me chill bumps. No doubt about it, God did some incredible stuff.

Here’s the main deal… NewSpring Church is all about helping people who don’t know Jesus get to know Him. We’re not into religion, we’re not into politics, we’re not into drawing disgruntled church people from their church into ours. We’re about one thing…life change through the power of the living Son of God. We’re getting to watch it happen at an incredible pace. But here’s the best part… I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet! Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be mind-blowing!

Mark

Watermark

By | NewSpring | 2 Comments

I’m so fired up I can’t stand it!  This afternoon, I walked over to the site where Watermark is going to happen. Fantastic! The pool is already in the ground, filled up with water and ready to go. (Special thanks to Tim Weddington for building the pool for us, it’s perfect.)  The soundstage and landscaping are in place, and the tents are up. Over 160 people are ready to “go public” with their faith and celebrate believer’s baptism.

Just a few thoughts…

  • Pray for good weather. We’ve had huge crowds the last few weeks, and going from three weekend services to one, we will have more people on our 40 acres at one time than ever before. Especially pray that the land will be dry enough for parking.  If the land is too wet, it could get, shall we say, interesting.
  • Pray for those who are preparing to take the step of baptism. I’m sure Satan will throw all kinds of junk in their path to make things difficult and distract them from their goal.
  • Pray for the hundreds of people who will be invited this weekend.
  • Don’t forget to bring chairs for yourself and your family, and a few extras if you have them.  Special rewards in Heaven are yours if you bring extra chairs. (No proof on this last part)
  • 10:30… 10:30…10:30… 10:30… 10:30 (It would be a good idea to get there early. You know what parking is like with multiple worship services, imagine only one.) It’ll give you time to check things out, and get situated.
  • Get ready for a life-changing experience. I just talked with a friend who was baptized in a similar service as I was. In a traditional church, on Sunday night, in front of a few faithful people. Nothing wrong with that. But just imagine how it would be to have thousands of people, outside on a beautiful Kansas morning, cheering as you celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ by baptism. Those who will be baptized will never be the same. I don’t think I will be either.

Mark

Packin’ Slushee

By | Just Thoughts, Message Series, NewSpring | 4 Comments

There’s an interesting story posted on the Eagle website this morning. Seems a customer, a guy in his 50’s was in the drive-through at Spangle’s on North Rock, and for some reason, he was unhappy with the way his order was processed. Instead of sharing his complaint with the server at the window he did something that got him in the paper, and evidently caught the interest of the Wichita police. The title of the article reads Unhappy customer throws a fit—and a drink—

That’s right, the guy parked his red truck in the parking lot, walked into the restaurant, and threw his orange slush at the employees. Witnesses say he nearly hit another customer on his way out of the parking lot. It seems the police are looking for the hotheaded slushee hurler.

What’s happening out there? Why are people losing it like this? You would think a guy this old would know better. More importantly, how would you deal with a guy like this if he lived in your family?

That’s why I’m about to start Packin’ Heat.( I don’t mean carrying a gun, it’s the title of my new series.) I honestly believe it’s the series of the year to date. We’re going to look at what’s causing people to be so angry, how to survive in an angry world, also how to deal with anger issues in our own life. It all starts May 31/June 1. I can’t wait. The theme is Old West, and the first message is Last Train Out. It’s going to be huge.

In the meantime, if you see a guy in a red truck with a face to match, winding up with an orange slushee in his hand, don’t forget to duck. Just call 911.

Mark

NewSpring TV

By | NewSpring | 3 Comments

I got dragged kicking and screaming into TV. For years we’d been broadcasting on the radio, a weekly, and a daily broadcast, and I was not too sure I wanted to continue that.  (Isn’t it ironic, initially I was stubbornly reluctant to accept God’s call to preach because I wanted to have a career in broadcasting? Over the years, God showed me when I surrendered to His plan, He could give me more broadcasting than I could handle.) Anyway, I thought maybe it was time to pull the plug. And then our local CBS affiliate offered us airtime at a price that was too good to pass up.

 

My objections were numerous. First, I have a face for radio. Beyond that, I worried that the cameras would make me nervous. Maybe even change the worship dynamic. I’d seen too many churches start doing TV and before long the tail was wagging the dog. I worried about the stigma. But finally, I set it all aside figuring not that many people would watch.  I was wrong. Way wrong!

 

What God has done the last few years with NewSpring TV is nothing short of miraculous. I now stand corrected. Thousands and thousands of households in our region tune in to at least one of the weekly broadcasts.  The results have been what we hoped for and beyond.  Many have accepted Christ, lives have been turned around, and locally, the broadcast has served as a huge front door for NewSpring Church.  People who are homebound, imprisoned, living in outlying areas depend on NewSpring TV for spiritual infusion.

 

But in the last twelve hours, I’ve been amazed at something else that I probably don’t think about enough. Three different people stopped me in a restaurant, a theatre, and a school with that telltale question, “Aren’t you the pastor at NewSpring?” They then proceded to tell me what the broadcast meant to them, and the names of the churches they attended.  Three different denominations, Methodist, Lutheran, and Greek Orthodox. That got me thinking about how blessed we are at NewSpring. Think about this:

 

1.        The Christian community in our area doesn’t see NewSpring Church as a threat. The word is on the street that NewSpring isn’t after church people. We’re not into the member-swapping thing.

2.       Although all three people I met were content worshipping in their churches, they were buzzing about what God is doing at NewSpring Church. 

3.       I was reminded once again how important it is to keep the message right where the Bible is. When churches just communicate what God says, not veering off into politics, denominationalism, or peripherally irrelevant stuff, lives are changed and God-followers are edified.

 

I guess I was just surprised to see how much God is blessing the Christian community through NewSpring TV. I love that. I never feel in competition with other Bible-based ministries in our area. If a preacher communicates the truth, I’m a fan.  If NewSpring Church can be even the smallest asset to another faith family, then that’s just more awesome than I have words for.

 

Mark

Spiritual Warfare

By | Family, NewSpring | 2 Comments

Sorry I’ve been slow posting, but these last few days have been really challenging. Do you believe in spiritual warfare? I do. I know it’s real because it has a particular quality to it. I make that distinction because life always has its challenges, and I don’t want to get to the place where I think there’s a demon behind every tree. But when you’re under attack you know it. It’s not just normal run of the mill “having a bad hair day” kind of stuff.

Three weekends ago, I brought the second installment of the “How Life Works” series, and we wound up talking about Satan and how he subtracts from us. We stripped his disguise off, and showed him for what he was. It wasn’t a talk I enjoyed, but the response was deafening. God worked at NewSpring in a way that surprised the daylights out of me. I couldn’t believe the excitement that weekend as I heard from so many people who woke up to what was really going on, and determined that the thief was through carrying off their valuables.

I think I knew it was coming. I’ve learned that when the Enemy is exposed and precious lives are wrestled out of his clutches he doesn’t take it lying down.  Soon after that, stuff just began happening. Especially heath issues in my family. Hey, I’m quick to make the point that health issues aren’t always an attack of Satan, but these were just too obvious. It was like they pancaked on top of us.

Could I tell you something? I’m totally excited about what’s coming next. There have been many times of desperate prayer, which I’m sure, served to deepen my walk with God. (By the way, if I was the devil the thing that would make me mad as, well, you know where, is that when he sets out to damage God’s child, and that child runs to the Father, all Satan succeeds in doing is making that Christ-follower more dangerous to the powers of darkness.

I don’t profess to be spiritually strong. I don’t enjoy these battles. If it were up to me, I’d bypass every one. But experience has taught me this. If I don’t cave, if I don’t capitulate, If I don’t get mad at God and check out, even if I emerge from the struggle pretty well torn up, on the other side of the attack is SOME KIND OF HUGE PRIZE. And just as the attack has a kind of peculiar quality to it, the prize has God’s clear signature on it as well. If you’re feeling under attack today, remember, Jesus has already triumphed!

I believe!
Mark

Prayer

By | NewSpring | 3 Comments

I’m thinking about prayer tonight. Last night, right before I went to bed, I prayed for a NewSpringer who was facing a tough prognosis. The doctors had weighed in, and said it was cut and dried. To be honest, when I prayed, it seemed as though likelihood that what I was asking for was just about nil. I found myself praying more just out of obedience to God and love for the individual than in any spirit of confident faith. And yet, today, I got the awesome news that God had answered prayer and what looked impossible last night is now reality tonight.

Tonight, I’m praying for someone else. I got a call this morning that someone else who I love is dealing with a fairly serious medical situation. I’m praying for him tonight. I’m asking God to work again and bring healing.

Prayer is an awesome thing, isn’t it? That you and I can talk, and no matter where we are, God can hear what we are saying. It’s more than that. If we just aim a thought toward God, even in silence, God hears the desire of our hearts. For some reason tonight, this particular verse is on my mind. I need it. Maybe you do too.

1 John 5:14

14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Mark

Monday after Easter

By | NewSpring | One Comment

Just sitting down in my office after walking around the campus today reflecting back on Easter.

  • Diane Borg who works in the Next Step Ministries department was going through the decision cards from Easter. She told me that even though she hadn’t gotten through all the cards there were many people who accepted Jesus in the services this weekend, and what really excited her was that there were individuals from all age groups. It never ceases to amaze me how God can take one simple message and speak to so many different people with it. God is Awesome! Can I get a witness on that one?
  • You NewSpringers are incredible! With the rapid growth we’ve been experiencing this year, the team was getting really concerned that especially the 11:00 service wouldn’t be able to handle any more people, so we asked you guys to consider celebrating Easter in the newer, smaller Saturday night service. We thought maybe a few hundred of you might be willing. You guys blew our minds! I was in a counseling appointment leading up to the Saturday service so I had no idea of what was happening until I saw Lance waiting for me outside my office. There was a look of shock on his face as he said, “Man, Mark it looks like Christmas Eve out there.” Your willingness to make that adjustment, made it possible for many guests to attend in the Sunday Services. My heartfelt gratitude!
  • Did you catch Lance’s version of Don Francisco’s song “He’s Alive?” That blew all of us away. The song’s about as old as Lance is, but his updated version was one of the most powerfully meaningful experiences I’ve ever had in my 51 Easters.
  • Kidzworld was awesome as always. Special stuff had been planned on Saturday night to encourage Sunday attendees to move to Saturday, but again expectations were shattered. Childrens pastor, Dan Kubish said than on Saturday, there were about 400% more kids we projected! My thanks goes out to Dan, Debbie, and the team of hundreds of volunteers who make our kids’ ministry the one I wish I’d grown up in.
  • This gives me a chance to thank all of you who volunteered this weekend. You had as much to do with all the lives that were changed as I or Lance, or anyone else did.
  • I can’t say it enough. I SO love what God is doing at NewSpring right now. I’ve never seen anything like it. It has to be God! Nothing else could explain it.

Mark

A Haunting Question

By | Message Series, NewSpring | One Comment

Years ago, a minister was talking to a church about the life-transforming good news about Jesus. How that Jesus died in our place to pay for our sins, opening the way for us to have a personal family relationship with God. And how He arose out of his grave three days later assuring us that we would live forever in Heaven. All of this a totally FREE GIFT. 

Then he jolted them with a question. “Why should anyone hear this good news twice before everyone hears it once?”  Most of us have heard it a lot more than once. Many of us hundreds of times. But did you know that over half the world’s population has never heard about Jesus at all?  What if you or I were one of those three billion people?  Would you want somebody to care enough about you to do something about it? 

360 Weekend starts in a few hours. It’s all about what NewSpring is out to do to change the world. And what you can do individually.  In the Saturday night service, I’m going to be talking about what we’ve been up to for the last four decades. It’ll surprise you when you find out what you’re already getting accomplished. In both Sunday services, I’m going to blow all of our minds with radical ideas about missions that will take all of us where we’ve never been before. I can’t wait to get started. 

Mark

360 Weekend

By | NewSpring | One Comment

I know I’m getting a little bit out front on this one because we still have one more weekend in our Silence series, but I’ve just got to tell you what’s coming March 1st and 2nd. It’s 360 Weekend, NewSpring is going global!   Anyone who attends any of our services knows how passionate we are about reaching Wichita and the surrounding area with the love of Jesus, but that’s not enough for us. We’re convinced that God has huge stuff for NewSpring to do literally AROUND THE WORLD!

Actually, we’re already up and running and have been for years. NewSpring helps financially support well over a hundred missionaries in just about every corner of the globe.  But that fact pales in comparison with the bold initiatives we’re about to take on! More to say in the next few days.

Adventure Avenue Theater

By | NewSpring | 3 Comments

When NewSpring’s 252 Theater (the main KidzWorld space) opened up, I thought I’d seen the most engaging kids space in the country. By the way, I wasn’t alone. One of the leading Children’s ministry magazines listed the 25 “must see” facilities in the country, and NewSpring was on the list. Much of the reason for what we have is the genius, imagination, and round-the-clock work of Dale Poore and his team.

Even if you’ve never seen any of our kid’s space, you’ve seen his work in the Worship Center for countless series, most recently Holidaze and Success Street. What’s really amazing is his ability to create jaw-dropping sets on a shoestring. I’m reminded that inexpensive materials in the hands of a true artist can result in masterpieces.

Well, get ready to be dazzled. The Adventure Avenue Theater (kids space for preschoolers) opens this weekend. It’s the first phase of the KidzWorld expansion we started raising funds for last Fall. Children’s Pastor, Dan Kubish has been giving me daily tours, and as soon as I think I’ve seen the best, the next day’s installation wows me even more.

This weekend, it’ll be up and running. And no matter how old you are, you can get a peek. Adventure Avenue Theater will be open after each morning service for a brief walk-through. Trust me, it’ll make you wish you were four again!

Mark