14 Sep Get to Know the Apostle Paul
“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.”
– Paul (1 Corinthians 9:16)
As a Catholic young man who was not yet born again because of my own disinterest in spiritual things, at the age of seventeen I met the girl of my dreams, a pastor’s daughter named Grace. As our friendship developed, she gave me a nice leather-bound Bible with my name inscribed on the front as a gift. In college, I became a Christian through reading that Bible. The exact instance of my conversion is a bit blurry, but the moment I remember knowing that my soul had been changed happened as I sat on my bed in the college dormitory in the fall of 1989 and read Romans 1:6, “And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”
In reading that verse, it was like a switch in my soul was flipped from “off” to “on”. It dawned on me that my life was no longer my own, and that everything I had and did needed to be surrendered to Jesus Christ as I now belonged to Him. Soon, some fellow Christian students on campus at our state university invited me to their church and Bible study. Immediately, I was surrounded with godly kind people of all ages and life stages and had an incredibly wonderful college experience by having my faith challenged in almost every class and having Biblical wisdom to meet the challenge in my church. At my first men’s retreat, which included multiple local churches, I went out on a prayer walk along the river to speak to God as our pastors asked us to. In that moment, God spoke to me audibly telling me to 1) marry Grace 2) preach the Bible 3) train men and 4) and plant churches. My pastor confirmed this was the Word of the Lord to me, and these have been the focus of my life ever since. My relationship with God was started and has been sustained by the Scriptures. I started studying the Bible diligently and daily as a college freshman. Soon, I began teaching and preaching to fellow students. While in college, Grace and I were married by our pastor, and upon graduation began leading college ministry at a church back in our hometown in 1993. By the end of 1995 we began gathering the core for our first church plant which is when I began preaching and teaching through books of the Bible verse-by-verse.
Today, we have five children and planted The Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona as a family ministry (thetrinitychurch.com). We all love Jesus and people, and have built our marriage, family, life, and ministry on the foundation of the Bible. Along the way, I have preached or taught through dozens of books of the Bible, including 10 written by Paul. The notable exception is Romans. I started preaching that book of the Bible in 1998 and did not make it very far until I quit. The sermons were not great because I was not ready. Preaching Romans is like hiking Mount Everest, and I was a new hiker in flip flops completely unprepared to finish the journey I started. So, I turned around and headed back down the mountain. I have been waiting and preparing since I read Romans 1:6 in the fall of 1989 in my college dormitory to preach the entire book. To begin our journey together, we will start by getting to know the Apostle Paul
To find the free Romans study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.