This month: 173 - Making Disciple Makers
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John Mark Hicks

John Mark Hicks has taught in institutions affiliated with Churches of Christ for thirty-two years. He currently lives in Nashville, TN and is Professor of Theology at Lipscomb University. John Mark was born in Ft. Sumner, New Mexico. His father (Mark N. Hicks) and mother (Edith Lois Hicks) were Texans who moved in the 1950s to Virginia to plant a church (though they were back in New Mexico in 1957 for a few years where John Mark was born). John Mark grew up in Virginia, spending his teen years in the Washington, D.C. area. He received his A.A. in German and his B.A. in Bible from Freed-Hardeman University (1977), his M.A.R. in Theological Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary (1979), his M.A. in Humanities (Philosophy) from Western Kentucky University (1980) and his Ph.D. in Reformation and Post-Reformation Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary (1985). He has taught at Alabama Christian School of Religion (1982-1989), Magnolia Bible College (1989-1991), Harding University Graduate School of Religion (1991-2000 fulltime; 2000-present adjunct), and Lipscomb University (2000-present). He has also adjuncted at Northeastern Christian College, Christian Brothers University, Abilene Christian University, Rochester College, and Institute for Christian Theology and Minstry (St. Petersburg, Russia). He has published numerous articles, both popular and scholarly, contributed to fifteen books and authored (co-authored) an additional eleven. His third book (the first two, written as as a teenager, are best forgotten) was Yet Will I Trust Him: Understanding God in a Suffering World (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1999). This was followed by a small group study version published as Anchors for the Soul: Trusting God in the Storms of Life (College Press, 2001). He has also written a 600+ page commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles in the College Press NIV Commentary series (2001). His most recent publications are Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord’s Supper (Orange, CA: New Leaf Press, 2002), Down in the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as God’s Transforming Work (with Greg Taylor; Siloam Springs: Leafwood Publishers, 2004), and A Gathered People: Revisioning the Assembly as Transforming Encounter (with Bobby Valentine and Johnny Melton; Abilene: Leafwood Publishers, 2007). These three works are an attempt to “revision” the traditional Stone-Campbell ordinances (or sacraments) as divine means of grace by which humans encounter God’s transforming power; the ordinances (or sacraments) are theocentric rather than anthropocentric. In 2006, John Mark also published Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding (with Bobby Valentine; Abilene: Leafwood Publishers, 2006). In 2011, John Mark released a Kindle version of his Meeting God at the Shack: A Journey into Spiritual Recovery (also on Nook) based upon his theological and pastoral analysis of William Young’s The Shack. In addition to various ministry positions in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Alabama and Mississippi, he has served as a church planter from 1998-2000 (Cordova Community Church, a church of Christ in Cordova, TN), Adult Education Minister at the Ross Road Church of Christ in Memphis, TN (1991-1998 ) and Adult Education Minister for the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, TN (2001-2006). In addition, John Mark was the interim preaching minister for the Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, TN from January to November in 2007. He has lectured widely across 40 states and 20 countries (Japan, Korea, Uganda, Greece, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Croatia, Italy, Ukraine, Jamaica, England, Wales, Russia, Guatelmala and Honduras). John Mark married Sheila Christian Pettit on May 22, 1977. She died due to complications from back surgery in Ellijay, Georgia, on April 30, 1980. John Mark married Barbara Adcox in 1983 but they separated and divorced in 2001 with great heartache as all divorces entail. He has two living children–Ashley (31) and Rachel (25), three grandchildren–Neely (7), Norah (3) and Jonah (6 months)–and two deceased children–one was a miscarriage with Sheila and the other with Barbara named Joshua Mark Hicks who died on May 21, 2001 at the age of sixteen after a long struggle with the genetic condition called Sanfillippo Syndrome. On December 20, 2002, John Mark married Jennifer and now shares responsibility for a blended family that includes Jennifer’s three children: Lauren Bristol (25), Michael Bristol (23), and Lacey Bristol (18). Jennifer also lost a child, Leah, in 1994 by stillbirth. Jennifer serves on the board of Share in Nashville which is a national organization that gives care to families who have experienced the loss of an infant child. Jennifer is a nurse clinical instructor for Vanderbilt University and donates two mornings a month to serving the poor at Siloam a non-profit medical clinic. Oh, last but not the least important–I am a Chicago Cubs fan…diehard and waiting for the inbreaking of Cub Kingdom to dominate the baseball world…or at least win a World Series once every 100 years.



Some are voiceless, some form a narrative, and others offer a response.

Psalm 19 is a meditative response to words that make no sound and written words that shape life. The Psalmist offers a meditation on how God encounters Israel through creation and Torah and how believers respond to such gracious revelation.

Creation’s Words

In successive synonymous parallelisms,…

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While some have perhaps read The Shack as an actual account, the title page identifies the piece as a “novel.” This is a fictional story. But…it is nevertheless true. The movie, too, is fictional…but true.

Read The Shack, watch the movie, and walk with me into the world of spiritual recovery, a journey into my shack and your shack (Meeting God at the Shack, my new book). That is…

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“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Acts 2:42, NRSV.

“Our greatest trouble now is, it seems to me, a vast unconverted membership. A very large percent of the church members among us seem to have very poor conception of what a Christian ought to be. They are…

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I suggest five (yes, count them, five) modes of visible unity that give expression to the underlying unity of the Spirit among believers. These practices not only exhibit the unity of the Spirit but are also means by which the Spirit dynamically works among believers for unity. The Spirit acts through them to manifest the unity the Spirit has already achieved. At the same time these practices are also…

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Three prayer requests.

1. Pray for comfort and peace in Paris, but also in Beirut which was bombed the day before, families on the Russian airliner, and for Syria and Iraq where people suffer on a daily basis from the violence of ISIS.

I wonder why we painted our Facebook pages with French colors but not Lebanese or Russian. Perhaps I have some sense–we have a historic alliance with France….and because…

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Our journey from creation to new creation is a sacramental one.

God’s good creation is saturated with divine presence, and the creation mediates moments of divine-human encounter. We recognize God’s beauty when we watch the sun rise, we hear a divine voice in thunderstorms, and we sense God’s presence in a cool breeze on a hot day. God is present to…

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You, God, who made the heavens and the earth and have promised to remake them, hear my voice.

I plead for a hearing because you often seem so distant to me, and sometimes I fear that you do not listen. Awake, O God, and hear my prayer for I struggle once again with death. Death has again invaded my world.

God, I hate death. I trust that you hate it, too….

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When I finished reading Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel, I was neither angry nor enthused. I was sad.

The arguments, proof texts, and methods were familiar, even the attitude was somewhat familiar. I had heard it before, and I had even used very similar, if not the same, arguments myself some thirty years ago.

Over those thirty years I have slowly shifted from reading Scripture as a legal…

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We are dust.

We know the weaknesses of our broken lives.

We express our deepest hurts through painful sighs and tears.

This is the human condition in the creation that seems so empty, futile, and useless. Our present lives are an enigma, and they are often absurd. Sometimes there are no words, and often there are not enough tears. And it rarely makes any “sense.”

The creation groans. Embroiled in a process of…

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For many the Holy Spirit is an impersonal, imperceptible, and indiscernible force.  Cloaked in mystery, many find it difficult to “get a handle” on the Spirit. The Spirit has no “face” like Jesus nor any personal metaphors, such as parent or husband, like Israel’s God.

Our desire, of course, is not so much to control or manipulate the Spirit as much as it is to have a way of conceiving…

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