"He began to teach them…" Mark 8:31
Lent is a time when believers around the world begin to prepare their heart for Easter. For lots of folks, Lent is a season of deprivation, when many choose to deny themselves pleasurable things for the next forty days. Last year, chocolate was number two on the list of things folks gave up for Lent, just after Twitter and just ahead of swearing, Facebook, and fast food. To be totally open about it, I've never whole-heartedly understood Lent. I mean, I’ve read tons about it. I’m just not sure if I understand why someone wouldn’t eat any chocolate until Easter. Chocolate is good for you. Dark chocolate has antioxidants, it can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, and elevate mood. If you don’t eat a ton, and it’s a blessing, why not?
At the same time, as I read through the pages of Scriptures, there are seasons when God called His people to slow down, and even to stop. There are times when Jesus called His people to get away, to be still, to wait on Him, or to be with Him. In Mark 8 Jesus led His followers to a place apart, where they could be alone. A time to think, reflect, evaluate what they knew and had understood so far, and to hear things they hadn't yet heard nor understood. In verse 31, we're told that only six months before it happened, and after more than two years of them following Him, "Jesus for the first time, began to teach them" that He would go to Jerusalem and be mistreated and suffer and be killed and after three days, rise from the dead.
He had never told them this most vital piece of it all. This was the reason He had come. He had never shared it with them. But now they were ready…
…to begin to hear.
So He "began to teach them"
It would take a long time for them to understand all that it would mean that God the Holy Son had come to our world to give Himself to not only pay our way, but to buy our heart. our life, our devotion. And we have begun to learn. We have begun to learn what it means that He has made us His with His blood, His death, His life.
Maybe that's where Lent comes in.
Because of the way our Lord led His first followers, it makes sense that with us who are also learning to follow, He asks that we take time to slow down and to stop, to think and reflect. He has begun to teach me that He was rejected and suffered and was killed and has risen to make me His own. What have I learned so far? How well have I learned it? Does He have my heart? Blood and water flowed from His heart. Does love and devotion flow from mine? He gave His life for mine. Does He have it?. Am I giving it to Him?
During this season of Lent, we want to call our church family to slow down and think about all of this together. How could I love Him more? And how could we love Him by loving those in our town who need His love? Does He have all of my heart and love that He died and rose to gain?
During this time, we're not having our normal community groups during the 9:45 time. Instead, we'll all meet together to hear from folks who can help us learn things like:
How do I have time with Jesus? What do I do? What do others actually do to keep and grow in love with Him?
How do I know where God wants me to serve Him?
How can I be more involved in loving people for Him? Who are the ones He wants me to care about?
He asks me "to take up my cross and follow Him". He died and rose for this. What does it really mean? Have I?
What can I expect to encounter as I go more deeply into this battle?
What do the people in my church family need from me?
What is God calling us to at Triple C in our town and in the world?
We also will be sending through the email thoughts and questions that you could use for your own time with the Lord, from Mark 8 and the moment that Jesus "began to teach His disciples" that there was a cross waiting for Him…and for them.
Would you commit to walking this Lenten journey with us? If you normally come to the community group time, or if you normally don't, would you commit to spending these weeks at that hour on Sunday morning during this season with us as we seek God together?
Would you pray about this time for Triple C?
Would you commit yourself to praying for our church family during this season that we might find and follow more closely His will for us in our hearts, homes and town?
Will you walk with us together during these important weeks?
Blessings as you prepare your heart for a season of remembering Him Who died and rose to make your heart His own.