1.28.2018



“When we decide to be our own center, our own king, everything falls apart; physically, socially, spiritually, and psychologically. We have left the dance. But we all long to be brought back in. This longing is embedded in the legends of many cultures, and though the stories are all different they all have a similar theme: A true king will come back, slay the dragon, kiss us and wake us out of our sleep of death, rescue us from imprisonment in the tower, lead us back into the dance. A true king will come back to put everything right and renew the entire world. The good news of the kingdom of God is this: Jesus is that true King.” (Tim Keller from “Jesus The King” pg. 17-18).


Bible study starts this week! We are so excited to have 58 women signed up!
We know many of you just picked up your books today, so you may not have time to complete this week's study (in order to finish in 8 weeks, we're combining a few lessons -- this week, it's lesson 1 & 2). If you were at our SweetMercies meeting last Sunday, then the first two lessons will hopefully be somewhat familiar to you, as Kathryn spoke on Mark 1. 
Answer what you are able, but even if you can't do anything but read the passages we're going to study, please still come! You'll glean so much from the women's thoughts and comments.
We look forward to seeing you this week!

1.22.2018

Spring Bible Study Sign-Ups Continue!



The Spring Bible Study is right around the corner! This study will run for 8 weeks and cover chapters 1-8 of Mark. We have two sessions to choose from:
Monday evenings:
January 29-March 19, 7:30pm-9:00pm at Kathryn Noon’s home
Friday mornings:
February 2-March 23, 9:30am-11:00am at church (Childcare provided)
There is a $12 registration fee that gets you your study book and also helps to cover childcare for Friday morning. You can sign up right now from your phone or computer, and you'll be able to pick up your study book in the Redeemer bookstore on Sunday. 
Or, visit the bookstore on Sunday morning and sign up in person. 

We'd love for you to join us!

1.19.2018

The Gospel of the Gospels


Quick. What are the Gospels? Time is up. Did you answer: “The Gospels are the biographies of Jesus Christ?” When we read the Gospels as biographies only, we basically look at them like trees apart from the proverbial forest. There is a better way to read and hear them. The Gospels are biography, but they are theological interpretations of the life of Jesus Christ with
 the purpose of proclaiming the coming of the king of Israel and the inauguration of His kingdom over all the earth.

When read this way, we are enabled to read the gospel in the Gospels as the announcement of the fulfillment of the prophets’ promises. Among their promises were that a king would come to Israel, as the Lord promised to Abram (Gen. 17:6), to Judah (Gen. 49:10), to David (2 Sam. 7:12–13), and to the people of God through Solomon’s song (Ps. 72) and Zechariah’s prophecy (Zech. 9:9). When this king would come, He would usher in a kingdom of peace for all nations (Isa. 2:2–4, 9:1–7). We see this coming king and His kingdom in living color in the Gospel narratives.

The entrance of the king and His kingdom is expressed in the birth narrative of our Lord. In the genealogy of Jesus He is described as the “son of David” (Matt. 1:1). The fourteen generations from Abraham to David moved towards the great king and kingdom of Israel (1:2–6), while the fourteen generations from David to Babylon moved away from that glorious king’s kingdom (1:7–11). With the coming of Jesus the fourteen generations from Babylon to Christ are a restoration of the Davidic kingship and kingdom (1:12–16). The true identity of this baby boy is shown by the travels of the “wise men from the east” (2:1) who traveled to find “he who has been born king of the Jews” in order “to worship him” (2:2).

John heralded this king’s coming, preaching, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (3:2), while our Lord’s own preaching in the synagogue was characterized by an announcement of His kingdom (4:17). Throughout His ministry Jesus preached the “gospel of the kingdom” (4:23, 9:35; Luke 16:16), a phrase that means that the kingdom is the subject of the gospel. Our Lord preached His parables to communicate to His disciples “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:11 see also vv. 19, 24, 31, 33, 38, 41–45, 47, 52). Jesus used His identity as king to confound the Pharisees, asking them: “‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’ They said to Him, ‘The son of David’” (22:42). Jesus then pointed out that in Psalm 110, David, “in the Spirit, calls him [the Christ] Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord’” (Matt. 22:43–44a). Jesus’ conclusion was masterful, leaving the Pharisees speechless: “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” (22:45).

Even the passion narrative is all about the king and His kingdom, not the sad ending of a biography. When the high priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus, he said, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (26:63). Jesus answered, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (26:64). Yet this king would first suffer mocking: “Hail, King of the Jews,” having a scarlet robe placed on His back, a crown of thorns placed on His head, and a reed placed in His hand (27:28–29). Even above His head was placed a placard: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” (27:37). Yet as John’s gospel makes clear, through humiliation our Lord experienced exaltation: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

Of course, our Lord’s resurrection is the most powerful proof of His kingship and kingdom gospel: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). The reason for this, as James said at the Jerusalem Council, was that the resurrection was the raising up of the fallen tent of David (Acts 15:13–18; see Amos 9:11–12). The king has come and has established His kingdom as the prophets foretold.

What should this way of reading the Gospels do to us? First, it ought to cause us to read the Gospels with more urgency, for the king has come and His kingdom is at hand. Mark’s characteristic word, immediately, shows us the force of reading and coming to grips with its message (1:12, 18, 21, 23, 29, 42). Second, since the Gospels are not mere biographies, they are not to be read from afar, as if they were only stories of what happened “long ago, far, far away.” We are to participate in these narratives by faith: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30–31). Third, preachers need to preach the Gospels not as historic artifacts, as principles for victorious Christian living, nor as window dressing in Holy Week services, but as urgent accounts of the inauguration of an everlasting kingdom that our king has established in this world. Ministers must preach the gospel from the Gospels and not turn them into new laws.

(Daniel Hyde, The Gospel of the Gospels, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/gospel-gospels/)

What Exactly Is a Gospel, Anyway?



The word itself comes from a Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good news.” In the New Testament, it refers to the announcement that Jesus has brought the reign of God to our world through his life, death, and resurrection from the dead.

“'The time has come,'” Jesus said. 'The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!'” – Mark 1:14-15

"The good news… Regarding God’s Son, who descended from David in his physical lineage, and who was appointed by the Holy Spirit to be the Son of God in power through his resurrection from the dead: Jesus, the Messiah, our Lord." – Romans 1:2-4

Interestingly, both Jesus and Paul derived this important word from the prophetic poetry of Isaiah where the future arrival of God’s kingdom through the Messiah is called “good news” (see Isa 52:7-10). The Gospels are not merely historical chronicles but are also narrative announcements that make the significant claim that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and the true Lord of the world. The Gospel stories claim to both recount history and aim to persuade the reader to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and become his disciple.

The Gospels share four features that make them unique amongst other biblical stories or contemporary biographical narratives. First, they expertly weave in Old Testament stories into the story of Jesus. Second, the stories are designed to make claims about the identity of Jesus. Third, they all present the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the climax of the entire biblical narrative. Last, the chronology of events has been rearranged to better reveal unique aspects of Jesus’ character.

The Bible Project, “What is a Gospel?”

“Mark…also inaugurates a new literary genre in applying the term ‘gospel’ to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ….In Mark’s understanding, therefore, the gospel is more than a set of truths, or even a set of beliefs. It is a person, ‘the gospel fo Jesus Christ.’ 

W.R. Marxsen correctly notes that Jesus Christ can be substituted for ‘gospel,’ and, moreover, that ‘gospel,’ as employed by Mark, is a title or description for the entire narrative of Jesus from baptism through death and resurrection.”


James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Mark

1.18.2018

Did You Know? Interesting Facts about the Book of Mark




Here are some interesting facts about the book of Mark:

  • Among the four gospels, Mark’s was the most neglected by the early church. No commentary was written on it until the sixth century! The early church father, Augustine, considered Mark to be a mere abbreviation of Matthew and Luke. 

  • Today, a significant majority of scholars consider it to have been the first gospel written and a primary source for both Matthew and Luke. Mark contains 661 verses to Matthew’s 1068 and Luke’s 1149. Of those 661 verses, Matthew includes 606 of them (in some variation), while Luke includes 320. There are only 31 of Mark’s verses that do not occur in either Matthew or Luke. (NavPress)
  • Mark contains no genealogy, no birth narrative, and only 2 of Jesus’ long discussions.
  • There are more miracles recorded in Mark than in the other gospels, despite its being much shorter.

  • Mark is written in an energetic style, full of drama, mystery, action, and emotion.

    • Christ is all action in the gospel of Mark! Mark uses the historical present tense 150 times — Jesus comes, Jesus says, Jesus heals. 

    • The word “immediately” occurs some 41 times, conveying a sense of urgency and propelling the story forward.

    • In a similar fashion, Mark makes generous use of the conjunction “and, ” using it to start 12 of his 16 chapters.

    • Mark illustrates the humanness of Jesus more than any of the other gospels, touching on his sorrow (14:34), disappointment (8:12), displeasure (10:14), anger (11:15-17), amazement (6:6), and fatigue (4:38).


We are looking forward to studying this gospel with you this year! For more information, or to sign up for our Spring Bible Study, please follow this link.

1.17.2018

Spring 2018 Bible Study: The Gospel of Mark, Chapters 1-8

Sign up today for our Spring Bible Study! The link is here: 


This year we’ll be studying the gospel of Mark in both our Spring and Fall Bible studies. The Spring study will run for 8 weeks and cover the first 8 chapters of Mark. You have 2 sessions to chose from:
Monday evenings:
January 29-March 19, 7:30pm-9:00pm
at Kathryn Noon’s home

Friday mornings:
February 2-March 23, 9:30am-11:00am
at church (Childcare provided)



The $12 registration fee gets you your study book and also helps to cover childcare for Friday morning. 😊

1.10.2018

Facing the Storm




There is beauty to be found in the desperate and many-times-repeated unanswered prayers that have time and again ushered us to His feet. There is beauty to be found in a life poured out in faithfulness and obedience, no matter the circumstance. There is beauty to be found in the unlikely places, but in so many cases, we must be facing the storm to see it. Often, to behold this beauty, to be reminded of God’s promises in such a tangible way, we must turn toward, not away from, the darkness.

The reality of living in a fallen, broken world is that there is always a storm….The world is full of deep suffering that I know nothing of, troubles far beyond my own experience.

You also are likely facing a storm. The divorce you never wanted, the child who walks away from the path on which you tried to lead him, the family member who no longer wants relationship. You have a friend who fears a future of chemo appointments or mental hospitals or insurmountable debt, and the list goes on. It would be tempting to just close our eyes, wouldn’t it?

But there is beauty to behold in the midst of the pain. I believe it. I have seen it. We must steady ourselves against the storms, friend. The temptation may be to look away, but in doing so we might miss the glory, all the beautiful ways He is remaking us through the hard…

God is like that. He uses the hard things to reveal more clearly His great kindness toward us. He always knows what we need before we can even fathom it. Abraham climbs up Mount Moriah with no idea of what God could possibly be orchestrating, why God would ask him to sacrifice his only son, but God uses his faithfulness and obedience to grow his trust and prepare him for future trials. Maybe the hardest things make us the best kind of brave and the best kind of ready for all that God has next. They teach us to lean into Him time and time again because we see that it is true: When we are weak, He is strong.

[But] now I know that the things I never wanted were the very things I needed most. The things that I thought would break me were the things that drove me straight to Him. My anguish and sorrow sent me to the Healer, who would mend all those broken places and put me back together more beautifully than I had imagined. All those cracks and holes and ruptures would be the places in my life where His glory would shine through. Beauty, though not as I expected it, would be found amid the ashes. These would be the places that taught me His heart as He lovingly and tenderly bound them up, and they would make me brave, ready for the next thing. Ready for anything.


Katie Davis Majors, Daring to Hope

1.09.2018

This year we’ll be studying the gospel of Mark in both our Spring and Fall Bible studies. The Spring study will run for 8 weeks and cover the first 8 chapters of Mark. You have 2 sessions to chose from:

Monday evenings:
January 29-March 19, 7:30pm-9:00pm
at Kathryn Noon’s home

Friday mornings:
February 2-March 23, 9:30am-11:00am
at church (Childcare provided)



Sign-ups begin on Sunday, January 14th!

1.07.2018

SweetMercies 2018: Encounter!



SweetMercies is kicking off a new year in just a couple of weeks! Please make plans to join us at Redeemer Church on Sunday, January 21, at 7pm for an evening of teaching and fellowship. Kathryn Noon is bringing the Word and you are sure to leave encouraged and inspired as we begin our study of the gospel of Mark. Invite a friend!

1.03.2018

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year



Looking for a new Bible reading plan for 2018? Ligonier Ministries has compiled a helpful list of plans. https://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/. These aren’t all “through the Bible in a year” plans; there’s a little something for everyone!

Prefer apps? Check out Replicate Ministries, Inc. The offer a free plan called F260, available on their website (replicate.org) or through Google Play or the App Store. ReadScripture is another one (http://www.readscripture.org). Their app is also available through Google Play or the App Store.

Whatever you might choose to use, remember that the point of a plan is to provide you with direction and a design for achieving something. Ultimately, your goal is to spend time in the Word; your goal isn’t to check off boxes in a plan. The plan should be serving you, not ruling you.


There’s a treasure-trove of wisdom just waiting to be explored. His Word is living and active, from the shortest verse to the longest book, and it will leave you richer than you were before!

1.01.2018



NEW YEAR
O LORD,
Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed
in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains,
sanctifies, aids every hour,
that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but may rely on thy Spirit
to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote of faith,
and give me a desire
to show forth thy praise,
testify thy love,
advance thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
with thee, O Father, as my harbor,
thee, O Son, at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,
my lamp burning,
my ear open to thy calls,
my heart full of love,
my soul free.
Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach,
thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct,
thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.
May thy fear be my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.
—Arthur Bennett, editor. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust, 1999 (first published in 1975), p. 112. ISBN 0-85151-228-3.