What I Learned
Between September 2014 and April 2017 I preached 77 sermons on the Gospel of Mark. Thinking about writing that sentence was exhausting! However, this is a monumental accomplishment for me: the first book I preached through as a lead pastor.
Back in 2014, my assessment was that the church at 950 North Greenfield was dying and at the very best had two years before closing its doors for good. It had simply lost it's way regarding what a church exists to be and do.
So, to jump start a revitalization (which started in May 2015, meaning we're a toddler church at just over 2 years old), I chose to preach through Mark. This, I prayed, would be a weekly washing and refocusing of us all with what matters most: who Jesus is and what He did. We will never be the church God wants us to be if the center is anything other than Jesus!
Well, there is no doubt that our church has been revitalized and I attribute that to this: God's Word putting Jesus' greatness and goodness on display every Sunday for two and a half years. For me, I've walked away more convinced than ever that He is God--this truth is in every paragraph of Mark--and more amazed at Him than I have been before.
To marvel at the way He overpowered natural disasters, disease, demons and even death, to be challenged by the compassion He showed the outcast, to feel the passion of His hatred for false religion, to find grace in the training He gave His knuckle headed followers, to be blown away at His intricate predictions of the future in chapter 13--each week I stood more and more in awe of the One I've given my life and entrusted my eternity to.
However, two events really captured my soul and still impact me to this day: Gethsemane and the darkness right before Jesus died (you can listen to or watch these messages here and here respectively).
I still get choked up thinking about everything those passages exploded onto my heart as I studied them. As I try to write about them now, it's hard for me to put into words. Simply put, Jesus' selfless decision to be our substitute and the depth of the agony He endured to do so made Him far more glorious, far more wonderful, far more satisfying and far more worthy of living my life for than ever.
This is my biggest takeaway from 77 sermons in Mark, and I know this because it's been months since I preached both messages and God is still using them today to revitalize my own soul.
If you were part of the Mark series and something stood out to you, let us all know in the comments so we can share in the joy of what God did through His Word in you.
Where We're Going Next
Starting in August, we will begin making our way through the powerful book of Galatians.
For about a year now, my thought has been, once we, as a church, have a clearer picture of Jesus from Mark, our revitalization should continue with a firmer grasp on the message about Him, the Gospel, and it's implications for each of our lives. This is the very heart of why Galatians is in the Bible and why we'll be going though it.
As an aside, I love that preaching through Galatians coincides with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation on October 31st. Galatians and Romans were the main books God used in Martin Luther to fan into flame the light of the Gospel after centuries of darkness during the Middle Ages and the Medieval Church period.
So, start reading Galatians as soon as you can to prepare your heart for God to fan into flame the light of the Gospel in your own soul. May He richly bless Redeemer Bible Church at we all experience the freedom of the Gospel and help others do the same from this short but very influential book.