In January I started reading the book of Mark for my personal devotions. During the last couple of years, I have enjoyed spending extended amounts of time in particular books of the Bible to gain understanding and to be more intentional about applying what I’ve been learning. I also supplement my reading plan with a Bible study that walks me through passages and poses questions to think through and write about.
The Gospel of Mark Highlights Relationships
One of the concepts in the Bible study highlights how Mark walks readers through the life and ministry of Jesus. Mark serves as our guide to see the relationships and the discipleship that took place in and around Jesus’ life.
The Holy Spirit inspired Mark to keep a record of the interactions and showed how Jesus was investing in the lives of the disciples. And then Mark showed how the disciples were investing in the lives around them.
In fact, as you think through and research the connection that Mark himself had with Jesus, it was through the lens of the relationship Peter had with Jesus. Jesus poured into Peter, Peter poured into Mark, and in the Gospel, Mark is pouring into every reader.
My Bible study asked, “Who has invested in you that has allowed you to invest in others?”
Life Transformation Happens in Relationship
That got me thinking all the way back to the beginning of my own journey. Obviously, it starts with my parents. Even though they did not attend church when I was growing up, they made sure I was in church every time the doors were open on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday evenings.
When my parents sent me to vacation Bible school, it was Ray and Sue who clearly articulated the gospel in such a way that I was compelled to give my life to Jesus right there and then. As I continued to attend church and read God’s word, Rhonda Kamyk invited me to serve in the children’s ministry as I was transitioning to the student ministry. Her influence and encouragement to serve others with the good news began to cultivate my heart for a future calling to vocational ministry.
During my teen years, Pastor Ron Greene spent a lot of time with me. He challenged me to not just read the Bible, but also to have the Bible read me, to hide it in my heart, and to make it a light to my path.
While I attended college, Alan Branson and Chris Morgan were instrumental in the next stage of my life and journey. Alan was an optometrist who engaged college students with generosity and showed them how to give their life away. Chris mentored me in the ministry, helping me to take seriously the reading, studying, and teaching the Word of God. I spent many a road trip with these two guys doing life and ministry together.
When I arrived in a new state and a new season of life, God placed men like Jack Elliot and Rusty Kennedy in my life. Jack was a pastor in a rural community in Indiana who had been in the same community for over three decades. He helped me learn practical areas of ministry that weren’t necessarily taught in a seminary classroom. I started performing weddings, funerals, and preaching on a regular basis.
Rusty was influential in getting me to see and understand the value of structure, intentionality, and developing people to empower them for ministry. Rusty challenged me on how to give ministry away to people who I was intentionally investing in.
Then I met and married Kelly. Kelly has the ability to keep me grounded in reality, to create memories over the material, and to say the hard things when it is necessary. She has encouraged me to not settle for contentment and to be the best and offer the best.
Then, we were blessed to have our two sons. God has used them to remind me of his fatherly love and acceptance and remind me that I am also a son that needs to depend on my Father. As I try to lead my boys, God reveals himself to me through them.
Relationships Fill and Overflow from One Person to Another
There have been other people who have had seasons of investing in me, my family, and our ministry. Probably too many to attempt to name in the first place. But my point is this: There have been significant people in our lives who have walked with us, shepherded us, and loved us to the place we are now. So much has been invested in us. And it’s not meant to lie dormant within us, but to serve as a reservoir from which we invest in the lives around us.
As God continues to lead you to people who need to be encouraged in his Word and empowered to be who God has called them to be, together we will become more like the New Testament church. We will be creating disciples who are creating disciples who are creating disciples.
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