Mark was born and raised in Lubbock. He attended Texas Tech University and Dallas Theological Seminary. Mark committed his life to Jesus at an early age and since 1993 has served in full-time ministry in a variety of pastoral. He joined the staff at Austin Ridge in May of 2013 as the Southwest Campus Pastor. Mark is passionate about living on mission in community especially in SW Austin. He also loves spending time engaging in activities as if he were still 18 years old and rarely remembers his age until his aching muscles prove him wrong. Mark and his beautiful wife Jill have four children, Mary Claire, Madeline, William, and Maisie.
Posts by This Author
Sadly, almost every week I hear about another marriage on the rocks. But I have never heard someone say, “I woke up this morning and decided to destroy my marriage or my future marriage.” So, how do so many people find themselves in such a bad place? If we could rewind the tapes, we would see that we often make decisions that are just one small click off the right path, which sets a trajectory that, over time, leads us to be way off track.
- This passage today is like when someone whistles loudly to get everyone’s attention and then makes an important announcement. Take a few moments before reading and ask God to give you a heart receptive to his warning.
As I look back over the last ten years of my life, there are many things that I am thankful for. One is a group of friends that I have met with so many times I have lost count. We share if we are sad, mad, glad, afraid, or ashamed. We listen to God together and answer the question, “What are you hiding?” These men know me. God has used these guys to shape me to be a better husband, father, pastor, and friend. I have witnessed James 5:16 become a reality in the context of these relationships.
I must confess. A few years ago, on the way to a wedding with my family, I was stopped by police officers on two different occasions less than twenty minutes apart—both times for speeding. Believe it or not, both times I was issued only a warning. I was so proud. I, like many, viewed those warnings almost like a trophy—awarded for getting away with something. However, in the following passage, the writer gave a warning and exhorted his readers to take it seriously because of the eternal implications.
- What is your general attitude toward warnings? And how do you decide whether you are going to heed the warning or not?
As I’m writing this, it is the anniversary of the day one of my close friends took his life, while another friend’s son currently lies in a hospital bed with a serious head injury. There are many things in this world suggesting things are not the way they are supposed to be. Oppression of the unborn, innocent, young, weak, and marginalized is at the top of the list. The longing in the human soul for things to be different indicates that things may not have always been this way. These verses below soberly remind us that the world and everything in it has been damaged by evil.
- Where do you see cruel or unjust treatment of others in the world?
On the last night before his unjust crucifixion, Jesus gathered his disciples in an upper room where he shared with them all that was about to happen. During this most intimate conversation with his disciples, Jesus called them his friends. Jesus explained that up to that point he had called them his servants, but no longer. He now called each of them friend. Their identities had become clearer. They were still servants who were to follow and obey their master, but even more so, their identities were now as intimate friends who shared with him as full partners in his work.
- What makes someone a friend of Jesus? Do you define yourself as his friend?
We’ve enjoyed an oasis in our backyard with a deck, trees, koi pond, and bamboo along the property line. But a neighbor, frustrated with the invasive nature of the bamboo, wanted to cut it down. I told her I didn’t want to, because we like it. Recently, though, my family returned from vacation to find the bamboo was gone. Our neighbor had cut it down. She had come onto my property and chopped it to the ground. I was mad and disappointed. She did not have the right to do what she did.
- Describe a time you have been wronged or that your rights were violated. How did you respond?
In America today, about half of all marriages end in divorce. This reality is a telling indicator of how our culture views marriage. But to best understand marriage, we need to understand the viewpoint of the One who made marriage. Interestingly, best I can tell, there has never been a culture without marriage. Perhaps the reason that is the case is because God invented it in the very beginning. If he invented it, then we cannot get rid of it. In the passage below, Jesus taught about what God thinks about marriage.
- What would the world look like if we thought as highly about marriage as God thinks about marriage?
I grew up going to church. I had a really good experience, and I am very thankful for my upbringing. The reality is that I have heard the truth of who Jesus is and what he has done for me thousands of times. I honestly can’t even begin to count the number of times that I have read Scripture or heard someone preaching, teaching, or explaining the “good news”: Jesus came to this earth to show us how to live and to take our place by dying on the cross.
Do you ever treat the gospel, the “good news,” not like good news but just news that you’ve heard many, many times before? In today’s passage, we see the shepherds respond to the angel’s announcement that the Savior of the world has been born not as if it is just news, or even good news, but great news.
Years ago, I ran a marathon. In my training, I experienced “hitting a wall” a few times. It is that can’t-go-on feeling that happens on long runs. Studies show it occurs when your body is depleted of glycogen in the liver and muscles, causing a sudden feeling of fatigue. The two biggest physical reasons are overtraining and low blood sugar. In a similar way, today’s passage points to two things that can help us endure to the end when we are facing tribulations.
- When is a time in life when you thought you couldn’t go any further?
This summer on our way to vacation, we passed a section of interstate highway that was completely closed due to a large landslide. Construction workers and heavy equipment had been called in to clear a path so the rerouted traffic could return. In this passage, John the Baptist, like a road worker, was in the desert clearing a way for Jesus by calling people to him. Even today, God is calling people to clear a way for others to know Jesus.
- When is a time you helped clear the way for someone to come to know Jesus?