Words My Mark

I know… the saying is, “Mark My Words”, but this is my way of helping you see what I saw… learn what I observed, and hopefully get your marks all in the right places…  working for you… not working against you.

Marks?

IMG_0017See…  getting through life unscathed is quite a daunting task.  Now, unscathed may mean something different to you than it does to me… I mean, we all have varying perspectives on things like; quality of life, acceptable treatment, goals to obtain, and even just how willing each of us may be to accomplish something in this life.  We may even strive to obtain a certain level of comfort, leave a legacy, make our mark on society, even just the simple guidelines you apply to your life and I apply to mine.

As we journey through the days, the weeks, the years of our lives, events occur that just leave you marked… leave you hurting, scarred, even over-protective and afraid.  These marks on our lives do not seem to care whether they impact us physically, emotionally, or spiritually…

  • Things happen
  • We react
  • Marks remain… scars… pain… anguish.

Now notice this… these marks influence our decisions… impact our very plans…  direct our core being, even without us being cognizant of them doing it.  It is what make us, us… what gives us our character… what shapes our every decisions, it seems.

Me?  Due to experiences in my childhood, I was marked with an uncanny distaste, dislike, and cautious nervousness of abandonment.  Notice… I said ‘was’!

  • No… never EVER was I left on someone’s doorstep, therefore now I don’t know who is my family.
  • No… never EVER had I been rejected out of anger, disappointment, or even just simple selfishness on the part of my family.

Yet, as I crept into my 60s, I came to terms with just how marked I was by childhood events… childhood scenarios… childhood ‘life’. You know… things, events, occurrences that left a quiet “I never want this to happen” feeling in my core being… as I got into my early adulthood, I quietly worked and planned my life so-as to increase the probability of succeeding at avoiding ever experiencing that, again… ever!  Though my childhood was rather good, healthy, and frankly ‘fun’, I still had marks… scars… fears.  During the last 40+ years, I have subconsciously been protecting that part of my heart… my spirit… my life.

Yet, October of 2017 I came home from work to a Dear John letter, a mostly emptied home, shattered and dismayed betrayal… and then, legally filed divorce papers eight days later (not eight business days, either).  I am sure we will never really EVER know what others are thinking and why they do what they do that is SO contrary to our own perceptions, our own beliefs and agreements to a ‘life lived civilly’.   Once Jesus returns and we get our new bodies, we will no longer be “looking through a glass darkly“, as the Bible says and we’ll have a much clearer understanding.

This is NOT a story about pitiful and jilted Bill… rather, this event (mark on my life) and so many other events in my life have helped me realize that regardless of how pure your heart may be (OK… in my case… a desire to be pure-hearted), how honorable your intentions, or how passionately you strive to ‘do unto others as you would have them to unto you‘, there are events in your life that are going to leave marks… going to leave you with a knee-jerk reaction when any future event comes along that you perceive to be close to this one. There are circumstances you have experienced (or will) that just scarred you, jolted you, even possibly halted you dead in the tracks of your faith… of trust in the Lord… and certainly derailed your walk with the Lord, if not stopped it altogether…  one of those “I give up” feelings.

This is more of a story to help you recognize that along your journey of God’s will in your life, you are going to stumble, trip, fall, and crash-n-burn at times.  Too often, we get all caught up trying leave a legacy, or make our mark on this world… to leave it better than we found it, as it were.  Noble approach, sure…  flawed approach, definitely!

This story is much more about God’s mark on our life… God’s calling on our life… and much, much more critical… his very mark in your heart and forehead that He’ll use to ‘separate the sheep from the goats‘, as it were… to separate the believer from the unbeliever… to distinguish ‘the called’ from the wanna-be children of God.

See…  the Bible tells us that God is actually going to place a mark in our lives to be sure He doesn’t destroy us while destroying the world.

WHAT?

Yes… God IS going to destroy this world… get use to it.  Get ready for it.  Get on-board, or you’re in the Lake of Fire, as it were… literally. More on those details later.

But, back to the marks we get as we go through this life.  Too many times, we slog through life trying to make a living, have enough money for ‘treats’ (gifts for others, vacation, even retirement), and don’t really pay attention to the passive manner in which the ‘mark of this world’… the ways of this world… the taint of this world  permeates our life.  See… while working our way through life, we are quietly learning the ways of the world… we are practicing how to ignore His calling on our hearts… we are becoming more and more callous (less sensitive) to God’s nudging on our hearts… to His directions for us… to His very will for us.

Over time, our minds and hearts get scarred over, become less keen to His calling… to His leading… to His attempts to direct us, correct us, encourage us.

And, we end up bitter, angry with God, even completely rejecting Him… and all over something we did… ignore Him!  Too often, we can easily blame on the Dear John letter events of our lives… the loss of loved ones… the loss of hopes, dreams, and promises from others.

Marks of Life

The marks that your life collects can be physical, they can be emotional, and they can be spiritual… worse, the three of those can have marks that are intertwined, making it so much tougher to ‘get over it’ or ‘let go and let God’, or even just ‘forgive and forget’, as it were.  Regardless of where they are, they motivate us to be who we are how we are when we are… they make up our very character… they are our traits… they sometimes haunt us… and we sometimes flaunt them.

I have physical marks in my life.  I’ve broken several bones, had many deep cuts and gouges, twisted and torn ligaments, and even a simple knee surgery scar.  My emotional marks are tougher to document… tougher to recognize, but one of my most prominent marks is that whole ‘fear of abandonment’ thing.  No… not just of someone leaving me…  see, abandonment can include rejection AND non-acceptance (they can both be traumatic on a person).  Spiritual marks on your life are even tougher… if you can soul-search with an open mind… not afraid of what you find…  not ‘deflecting’ things as “I can get over it” or “that was someone else’s doings” or even just “God doesn’t care about me”.  No… honestly… willingly… openly facing the things He shows you… look at them… contemplate them with God…  learn to let God lead you in life ‘through’ them.

God has NEVER failed anyone… EVER!

Sure… many people feel that way… think that way… believe that way.  That does NOT mean it is true… it is their perception…  He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”, and He didn’t have His fingers crossed behind His back… instead, He put His back on a Cross to prove it!

Over the years, the Lord has shown me that regardless of a ‘flawed’ and marred life, I am still blessed having Him in my life and He is still ready, willing and able to bless me…  still able to hold my head high and recognize that He has been watching over me.  Me, however? I am embarrassed and ashamed of some significant pieces of my life… and maybe you are too.  But God is looking at your whole life, not the fragments as individual reasons to reject you.

See…  regardless of how crumbled your life, the Lord knows just how to ensure His glory is recognized.  In the ‘right now’ moment of your pain, misery, and likely embarrassment, He has His will mapped out, planned out and ready for you.

Character Marks

I have the mark of a writer… I have the mark of a mechanic… I have the mark of patience… I even have a mark of a photographer, a comic, and a philosopher/counselor.  OK… these are marks I want or think I have, but the whole idea of having a ‘mark of’ something, or being characterized as having a mark of something just kept swirling around in my heart such that the Lord has shown me His mark on my life, and that has spurned me to… well…  uh…. share!

How I do what I do when I do it and why I do it is just what I do… it is my mark… my character… my way… oddly enough the actual core being of me, really. Sure, I have traits that follow the norm in my current society and world (when in Rome do as the Romans, as it were), but I am uniquely me in many ways and at the same time… rather normal and consistent with many others in this world.  Nonetheless, these character traits, these personality identifiers, these marks in my life are actually my go-to reactions for events and occasions that I encounter throughout my day and my life.

These marks in our lives develop over time… we take on skills, traits, and habits from the career activity we encounter, from the hobbies in which we participate, and maybe even just knowledge-transfer from education and training, and apprenticeships we experience.

Through my life, I have heard people refer to others as;

  • He has the mark of an artist
  • She has the mark of a manager
  • He set out to make his mark as a writer
  • They work to attain success or fame; achieve their ambition

Or even just, “She has a quest to make her mark on this world“, and that very concept is where the Lord got my attention.

Since the beginning of time, humanity has been making it’s mark on this world.  Even back in the days when Jesus was on this earth, carpenters or woodworkers have been building.  Sure, that is a necessary trade and way too many of the carpenters/woodworkers are in it for the work, as a benefit for income… even just as a way to get ahead.  There are those though, who internalized their trade… who own their work as an art-form, or even better… they have such pride in their work that they actually build their pieces in such a unique and craft-like way, that even years later there work is recognized as theirs… as an object on which they exercised their mark.  Many times, there is nothing directly intentional (like branding an edge of the piece), but there is something about their skills, their methodology, and even technique they used to do their work that is recognizable… just…  they ‘leave their mark’ on things they do… the way they do it.

Spiritual Marks

We live a life that deviates from godly traits… we seem to rush toward selfish things and tend to look out for ourselves first, then others.  Sure, we nurture our family members, but even the simplest of animals do that, too.  The spiritual traits are much harder to come by, or at least obtain.  Yes, we are all spiritual beings, but being connected with the Lord and having His heart, mind, and His leading is much, much different.  It is not in our nature to be like God… to yearn for Him… to wait, watch, and listen. The apostle Paul once told us that we can ‘change our minds’ and learn to be godly, learn to be holier, and certainly walk a closer walk with the Lord. He stated;

Now…  transforming our minds is not a matter of getting more rest… not a matter of the right vitamins, or some goofy organic diet…  not even a matter of attending church and being around spiritual people… or even having a ‘Zen’ moment or sequestering yourself and getting lost in meditation.  There is real work that must be done… real challenges to face… real sacrifices and struggles with our minds and bodies.

Marks Matter

Now, depending on your profession, or your purpose in life, certain marks are good and certain marks are horribly bad.  A cowboy or rodeo professional without any marks or broken bones is rare… very rare… in certain circles, some would say they are not a real cowboy without marks to show for it!  Those ‘marks’ are actually ‘talking points’ for their stories to pass down to the younger generation.  A beauty model can not have any visible marks, scars or flaws in their body… it is career ending!  In another example, if you searched for a carpenter and were considering hiring them to renovate your kitchen, bathroom, or even just build an addition onto your home… but, they were missing two fingers on one had, and their thumb and another finger on the other… well, that would give you pause.  Sure, they must/may be a carpenter (the lose of appendages), but they may not be all that careful, cautious or pay attention to detail… possibly a legal liability, too.

Spiritual marks are much tougher… imagine seeking advice from a Christian counselor who has an arrest record for some heinous act against children…  maybe a pastor who is so shy they won’t greet the congregation after the sermon…  possibly even just someone in your family who seems haunted by ghosts, scary images, or even just hallucinations of an evil presence.  These marks on our lives steer us… they direct us… unwittingly, they influence how we do what we do.  Hear this, though… it is these spiritual marks…  these inner traits in our lives that are used by God!

Christian Traits or Secular Traits

As quickly as we can categorize the marks people have or leave through their various trades (photography, surgery, performers, etc), we should really give attention to the Godly traits (or marks) differentiated from the Secular traits (or marks). I mean, as it turns out, the Bible actually lets us know that God will be able to distinguish people based on the “mark in their foreheads”. Revelation 7:2-3 tells us;

God leaves His mark on our lives in so many ways.  It is what gives us the guidance we need… His leading us… His mark of hope for us.

Get His Mark

Just how do we ensure we get/have His mark on our lives… that we retain it… that we are saved… are secure… are His children?

It all begins by asking Jesus in your heart, soul, and life.  Once you surrender and confess Him as Savior and Lord, the rest is between you and Him.  See, the Bible tells us;

How you apply His grace in your life is mostly up to you.  Sure, we fellowship with other believers to ensure we aren’t “going rogue”, but this is a relationship between you two!  The Bible ‘does’ tell us, “…And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesian 4:30).  So, don’t frustrate (grieve) the Holy Spirit, and you are good-to-go!

Still… the ‘how’ part is so tough, I know.  But, ‭Philippians‬ ‭2:5 tells us; “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”, which helps… but you STILL need to get to know the Christ Jesus… get some time with Him…  reserve your heart for His calling, His leading on your life.

Why It Matters

Here is why it all matters… why we should even care what our marks are… what marks we have…  the things in our minds that influence our every action… ‘avoid the fire’?   It is much more than that, but in those latter days, ‘the fire and brimstone’ is going to be used to obliterate sin, indifference, wayward lives… even just simple old selfish independence (yes, even atheists will endure this).  Without God’s mark in our hearts and lives, we are done… we are, as the say goes, “toast”. Anyone who does NOT follow God, will follow evil… worship it… live and die for it… whether intended, or not.

Revelation 13:8-9 claims;

  • And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
  • If any man have an ear, let him hear.

The Mark of Evil

Oh that we actually had tattoos… actually have emblems… actual, visual markings that would distinguish ‘the good guy’ from ‘the bad guy’, or evil from good.  But, trust is the key element…  you must trust Jesus for this.

SO many well meaning preachers, teachers, pastors, expositors… have discussed an actual, physical mark… a tattoo… an emblem of some sort on our bodies for ‘the mark of the beast‘, as it were.  Make NO mistake… this ‘mark’ is NOT going to be ON your body… it is going to be IN your body! Go back up and re-read the passage from Revelation 7:2-3.  No… not an implant… not a chip under your skin… see… the Bible tells us over-n-again, “…if any man hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says”, which is to say, those that are saved… those that are His children ‘know His voice, and follow His leading’.

Therein, this ‘mark of the beast’ will be IN the foreheads and IN the their ‘right hand’…  not ON!  HEAR THAT, if nothing else… IN, not ON!

We seem to be so caught up with the vanity part of our lives… what we see… what we can touch… what we can understand (knowledge).  Faith in Jesus Christ is trust…  but be warned… evil is the same way. You do NOT have to be actively engaged in ‘devil worship’, or be active in an occult, or even just practicing a pagan ritual or rite-of-passage.  The marks of our lives have been teaching us to not trust Jesus, and subtly they have been training us to trust evil, sin, and separation from God.

Sure, ‘no harm, no foul’, you may say. ‘To each his own’, you may believe.  Maybe you are even quietly thinking that ‘right at the end’ of your life, you are going turn and believe…. uh… I hope the best for you in that plan.   See…  it’ll be too late… and the consequence is utter torture forever and ever! You may think you die, but you don’t…  yes… even sinners live on forever and ever…  just, in utter anguish, torment, pain and certainly the ugliest form of regret!

That ongoing torture will be tough…  especially since you are/were aware you could avoid it all…  not let the marks of this world impact your choices… not allow the ‘ways of the world’ to influence your core being… lead you to this destruction.

The Mark of God

Yes…  God has His own ‘mark’, too… He’ll not just wipe the people off the face of the earth without some means by which He can distinguish the Saved from the Sinner…  sure, those people with the Mark of the Beast should be enough, but He’s not about to be deceived again… to leave you hanging out hoping you have the correct mark…. the correct connection with Him.

This passage in Revelation 22, verses 1 through 5 gives us a sequence of events and just how God is going to separate the good from the evil. It states,

And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

God stops ALL movement on the earth, the sky, and the sea… commanding the four ‘evil angels’ to wait… until He had sealed His servants!  See??  Even the evil must obey God!  You may want to go back and read that two or three times to grasp just what is occurring…  how God is NOT going to fail…  how trustworthy, honest, and righteous His plan actually is.

Now What?

It is almost as though the fateful garden where our demise began is wholly destroyed and burned down.  God’s original plan and intention for us was to live in that wonderful garden… with the Tree of Life there in the midst… innocent… free…  enjoying His presence in our lives.   Now that all this turmoil and destruction has occurred, He sets up another glorious place for us.

Please notice two things from that passage;

  1. Verse 5 states there will be NO night there!  Unlike the torment of those who had the Mark of the Beast (they are tormented day and night), God’s presence gives light and we’ll never need artificial lighting!
  2. That fateful Tree of Life is there in the midst, and it will yield fruit that heals nations!

What’s Your Mark

You can KNOW where you stand with God.  You can rest assured that your faith is not in vain.  In the book of 2 Peter, Chapter 1, verse 3 through 9 recap all the benefits God will extend to us… all the blessings… all the protection…  but, there is still one thing we must do… and that is ‘put it to use’…  put on His coat of grace as it were, and live our lives… go forth, and be diligent to remain in contact with God, but also contact with those around us.

Be SURE of your choice in God… be convinced… convicted…  determined… and most certainly, consistent!