Monday, August 30, 2010

While I Am Out

No one was more surprised by this forced "sabbatical" due to my health than I have been. Simply put, I don't like it. It seemed we were just beginning to see some things click. As I have said publicly, I have no doubt this time away has been God-ordained and designed. That being said, I have given some thought to what I am praying for during this time ... for me and for the people called "ClearView" I have come to love so much. Pray with me along these lines as well as whatever God may bring to your mind to pray during these weeks.

For ClearView:
1. Fresh wind of God's Spirit. It is easy to get in a rut and expect "more of the same" week by week. When it comes to God's work in our lives, that is dangerous. While God's character is consistent, He so often moves in different ways in our lives. Always consistent with His written Word, but always fresh. I am excited to see what God will do in fresh ways in the lives of the ClearView family during these days.

2. Be reminded of a lack of dependence on any human leader(s). I have said I would be honored if people would forget my name and remember God's work in their lives. My desperate prayer is that people see God at work in their lives and not Mark. The mission and ministry of ClearView must never depend on one person or even a small group of people for that matter. I fully expect the ministry of ClearView to thrive during this time I am away. It was thriving before I arrived 3+ years ago and it must continue to do so now. ClearView has strong leadership at all levels that will continue to lead.

For me:
1. A reminder it is not all dependent on me. It is easy to get a Pastor's complex that more depends on me than it really does. This is a time I am forced to step back and allow God to do what alone can do. At times, I tend to get in the way. This is a great time for me to learn again, "He must increase and I must decrease." I desperately want to learn what that looks like.

2. A time to reflect. I have already had a couple of experiences over the past few weeks that have caused me to reflect in ways I haven't reflected before. At the risk of being a bit melodramatic, a cardiac arrest (see post below) does get your attention. I have preached about the brevity and fragile nature of life before, but I can assure you it has never been more real to me than it is now. I have never had to take a break for this length of time. And I have never taken a break of any length when God has had my attention to the degree He does on this one.

My desire is to grow exponentially spiritually during this time. So my prayer is God will do a work in the heart of this pastor and the people I am called to shepherd so we may see greater miracles in the future than we have seen in the past ... all for His glory!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Change of Date

Well, it seems my surgeon will be out of town on Sept. 2. That will make it impossible to do the surgery :-). We have had a last minute change of plans. THE NEW SURGERY DATE IS SEPTEMBER 8.

That gives all of us more time to pray, right? [I am trying to see the positive in this] It has always been my opinion when something like this happens, God is moving it for a great reason we will probably never know.

As of this moment, all plans at ClearView will remain the same. Ed Stetzer will begin preaching this coming Sunday (August 29) and I will return to the pulpit October 31. We will do so under doctor's supervision and counsel.

Thank you for everyone's patience with this shift in plans.


I was not able to make it to the prayer service last night. My church family (ClearView Baptist Church) had a special time of prayer for me as I approach surgery. I was saddened I could not make it, but I am SO grateful for the time they spent lifting me up in prayer. I have heard from several what a special time it was. My family and I are truly blessed to serve with this group of believers.

We also put the word out we would like a few blood donors to contribute before I head into surgery just in case there is a transfusion needed. About 20 volunteers with my blood type stepped up immediately. As one who gets squimish when giving blood, I am humbled by that response!

My family and I have all said several times over the past few days we are blessed to be a part of this church family. We love you all!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eventful arteriogram

The end result of yesterday's arteriogram was exactly what we wanted. We have clear arteries with no sign of cardiac disease / blockages as we go into surgery next week. My cardiologist said my heart is strong and my blood vessels are all clear.

However, we did have an incident during the test. It seems there was a place the dye they inject blocked some blood flow to the heart. I have an unusual layout for my arteries. I am not sure I even understand all the "why's" of what happened. But if your blood flow is cut from your heart you move into cardiac arrest. That is exactly what happened yesterday to me. I was in cardiac arrest for something around a minute. The cardiologist and nurses did all they were to do to revive me as soon as possible. So, I am able to sit here today and write this blog :-). I will be releasing my new book "Ninety Seconds in Heaven" soon. LOL

I want to be clear. I could not be more thankful for the doctor and nurses who knew what to do and acted on their training! But we know the One who deserves our highest praise is the Maker of Heaven and Earth ... God Himself!!! Every heartbeat is in His hands. Let's just say we had a praise time at our house last night.

For those of you praying between 7:30 and 8:00 yesterday morning you were spot on with your timing :). I will never forget the feeling coming back to consciousness. Many thoughts run through your mind, but the one I continue to sense above all of them is, "God has something more for me to do". So I will warn you, I will bringing some serious intensity and focus coming back at the end of all this.

John Duval is sharing this news with the church gathered to pray for me tonight as I type this blog. I want all of you to have accurate information.

Thank you for praying and thank you for continuing to pray.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today's Surgery - Update

This is John Duval on behalf of Mark. This morning Mark had a successful heart catheterization. His arteries are fine and the doctor gathered information which will be helpful as Mark prepares for his open heart surgery on Sept. 2nd. He is in recovery and expected to go home later today. Mark and Leigh Ann are very grateful for your prayers today.

The ClearView Deacon’s will lead out in a prayer time for Mark on Wednesday August 25, 2010 at 6:00 PM in the worship center. We will use this time to pray for Mark and his family as he prepares to go through his open heart surgery and the recovery process.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Surgery date and recovery period information

Well, we now have a surgery date. The surgery is set for September 2. There are a few hoops to jump through between now and then. The biggest one will be a heart cath August 24. This is routine for any open heart surgeries.

Now for the hardest news of all for me. I will out of the pulpit for 2 months. I will miss preaching / teaching the people of ClearView.

However, I am excited to announce my friend Ed Stetzer will be preaching all but 2 of the Sundays I am gone. Ed is one of the most sought after preachers in the country. Ed is President of LifeWay Research, conference speaker, consultant, and preacher. He will do an extraordinary job of teaching God's Word every week. I am honored he is willing to help during this time.

On Wednesday evenings, we will have 2 solid teachers leading us. Dr. Micah Carter and Jedidiah Coppenger will be leading our Bible study times in the main room. Both men are good friends and exceptional teachers.

I have said all along this journey is for my growth without a doubt. But I also know it is for the flock I shepherd. I want to encourage you to make an extra effort to attend. God will deliver strong messages through these men during this time. He has something He wants to say through voices other than mine.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I MUST start this with a huge "Thank You" for all the prayers and support. I told the surgeon today we (he and I) had 3000 - 4000 people around the country praying for us.

I hesitate going into much detail. I guess those that are interested in those kinds of things can take this bit of information and piece it together. We are definitely headed into surgery. I have two pre-surgery tests / procedures I must complete before surgery. We hope to complete these this week or early next week. We will be setting these dates tomorrow. Upon completion of these 2 items, we will be going into surgery asap. We plan to have the surgery no later than 3 weeks from now.

The surgery will be to replace the aortic valve and the ascending aorta. It turns out this is going to be a bit more complicated than I first anticipated. The surgeon was clear this is a "complex" surgery we will be doing. Leigh Ann and I liked the surgeon. We have confidence he is qualified and competent to do what is needed. But, as all of you who read this blog know, our confidence lies in the Great Physician. This is all in His hands! When He knit me together in my mother's womb, He was fully aware this would be an issue for me to deal with some day. This is all a part of transforming me into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

When we have an exact date for the surgery we will let you know. It will be much sooner than later. For those of you who are part of the ClearView family, I will see you this Wednesday night or Sunday morning.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


There is not really much to update here. I do have a surgeon's name. My surgeon (at least for now) will be Dr. Greelish. We will meet with him Monday. I have a long list of questions to ask. After that meeting I hope to have dates and timelines, etc. for surgery and recovery.

I do want to say again just how much my family and I appreciate all of your prayers, cards, emails, facebook messages, and tweets. We are blessed to serve such a church family and to have so many friends around the country lifting us up before the throne. We are still at great peace about all of this.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Update and Next Steps

I want to first of all thank all of you for praying for me and my family. You cannot know the encouragement you have been to all of us.

The results from the tests this week are back and I just spoke with the cardiologist. The MRI / MRA confirmed what we thought we saw in an earlier echocardiogram. I have a bicuspid aortic valve which has a minor leak. However, this is not the primary concern. The primary concern is an aortic anuerysm on the ascending aorta. That's more medical information than most of you want to know :-).

I apparently have a collagen problem in this part of my heart / aorta that is the cause of both the bicuspid valve as well as a weakened aortic wall. Due to some high blood pressure the wall of the aorta has been under some pressure for a period of time, thus compromising the aorta itself. Blah, blah, blah ...

This "fix" is surgical. I won't bore you with the details. I will be meeting with a cardiac surgeon some time after next week. I had planned on a few days with my parents in S. Georgia and the doctor has given me the go-ahead to make that trip.

Again, thanks for all your prayers. We still have another pre-surgery test or two. I do not have any dates or timelines. I will let you know as I have those.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Test Update

I don't really have much to update, but I know many of you have been praying for me today so I thought I would add a thought or two.

First, let me say, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people indicating they are praying for me, Leigh Ann, and Tiffany and Brittany. We are a blessed family to have so many who love us.

The test this morning went fine. I guess I know for sure I am not claustrophobic :-). The results have been sent to my cardiologist, so now we wait for his call to give us next steps. I take it from no call today that there was not anything imminent. So, I took today's no call as positive.

I will update you when we have more information.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Health Report

I shared with my church family yesterday I was going through some health challenges related to my heart. I will do my best to keep you updated through this blog.

I contracted pneumonia while at the Southern Baptist Convention (insert joke here :-)) in Orlando in June. While in the emergency room, they apparently tested me for things completely unrelated to my illness. That has turned out to be providential. As a result of some things they saw in the tests, I followed up with a cardiologist after returning to Franklin.

Last week the cardiologist in Franklin did an echocardiogram which indicated a problem. As it turns out, I have had a congenital heart problem that has impacted my heart in a negative way as I have grown older (that sounds so ... old). Anyway, I will be going in for more tests this coming Wednesday (August 4) morning. If those tests confirm what the cardiologist believes is true, the next step will be to visit with a cardiac surgeon.

I will post the official diagnosis on this blog when I know. This could be as early as late on August 5 or as late as August 11.

How can you pray?
1. I would love to walk out of the test Wednesday with the doctors confounded that they cannot find the problem and thus the first test was in error.
2. Assuming we find what is believed to be the problem, pray for wisdom for the doctors. I can add here, I am so grateful I live in 2010 and not 1910. The medical advances are amazing.
3. Pray for healing however God chooses to do so. Doctors and medical advances are great, but we trust God as our Great Physician.
4. Pray for my family (wife and two daughters). It is always harder on the family members than it is the patient. They are all strong in their walk with the Lord for which I am grateful. Pray for peace of mind.

To my church family, thank you for all your emails, fb messages, etc. confirming what I knew to be true ... you are praying for me.

Finally, I would share with you the verse the Lord gave me through my friend James MacDonald for this time.

Isaiah 26:3 says, "You keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You, for it trusts in You."