Join Us as We Answer the Question: “Why Am I A Christian?”

In a previous generation, outspoken atheist mathematician-philosopher Bertrand Russell had an infamous book titled, “Why I Am NOT a Christian.” In our own day, in the places where we live, where we work, and where we go to school, the spirit of his arguments can be the voice most loudly heard.

As 21st century followers of Jesus Christ, gathered together in this local expression of his church called Mercy Hill, we desire to clearly, graciously, joyfully, turn that statement of Russell’s around and share the answer to the question” “Why am I a Christian?” Our hope is that the video below will encourage you. Encourage you to see that God is still at work changing lives of everyday folks like you and I. Encourage you to consider how he might be at work to change your life. All these stories are real-life evidence to the great truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17, that, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come!”

We invite you to join us for a special 3-week series titled, “Why Am I a Christian?”, beginning Sunday, September 14. We’ll talk about how, in the midst of our wanderings, our pain, and our struggles, God pursues us and redeems us with a tenacious love. We’ll explore how Christianity best explains both our strengths and our weaknesses and most clearly defines our purpose in this life; and how the deepest longings and desires of our hearts (for love, acceptance, security, hope, community) find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Why Am I A Christian from Robb Davidson on Vimeo.

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion for 9/21

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When our Community Groups get together, one of the things they do is to talk through the sermon from that weekend, with a goal of application and life transformation. Tomorrow, we will continue our brief series, Why Am I A Christian? Our primary passages will be Genesis 1:26-27 and Mark 7:21-23 as we talk about how Christianity Makes Sense of Life.

To help you prepare for the time of worship in the word, we’re beginning to send these questions out before the worship service. Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare your heart for worship; 2) prepare for Community Group; and/or 3) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • Have you ever been bothered by the “paradox” of human nature – how we are capable of such amazing goodness and such unfathomable evil?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the two main passages together…Genesis 1:26-27; Mark 7:21-23. General thoughts and/or observations?
  • What does it mean that humans are created in the image of God? What traits come with that?
  • What are the characteristics of humanity’s sinful nature?
  • How is God at work restoring his creation back to its original design?

Application Questions

  • How does this discussion help you understand the human paradox?
  • Where do you see God at work in your own life redeeming you even now?

Prayer

  • As you pray together: Praise God that he sent his Son to be our Redeemer!
  • Spend time rejoicing in that and praying for his ongoing redeeming work.

God’s Love Finds Me…

MercyHillWhyIamAChristian2All of us have been in this place in our lives at some point – seeking to be loved; feeling unlovable. We are wired with that longing. It’s God-given, so that we will be drawn to fulfill it in him.

So this first week of answering the question, “Why Am I A Christian?” I want to share this: “I am a Christian because God’s Love Finds Me.” God’s love finds me where I am (struggling, in pain, in my wandering, at my worst, or at my best). God’s love actively pursues me, tenaciously grabs hold of me, graciously, mercifully, not letting go – in a way that fulfills that fundamental longing.

Listen to the exploration of that great truth…God’s Love Finds Me.

Resources that Help Answer: “Why Am I a Christian?”

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Yesterday, we began a short series of messages titled, Why Am I A Christian?, with the desire to help people understand what it means to be a Christian and what it is that is compelling to us about being followers of Jesus. Many have come before to answer this same question! Here is a list of resources, mostly short, simple books, that we have found helpful for those who are trying to answer this very important question…

2 Ways to Live: The Choice We All Face is a very helpful, simple, visual, online explanation of what it means to follow Jesus. If you’ve never thought about this before or are needing to think through how you might explain this to a friend, check it out! There’s a kids’ version called Who Will Be Your King?

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion from Luke 19:10

UntitledWhen our Community Groups get together, one of the things they do is to talk through the sermon from that weekend, with a goal of application and life transformation. Tomorrow, we will be start a brief series, Why Am I A Christian? Our primary passage will be Luke 19:10 and we will be looking at the amazing, pursuing love of God.

To help you prepare for the time of worship in the word, we’re beginning to send these questions out before the worship service. Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare your heart for worship; 2) prepare for Community Group; and/or 3) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • How do you see the common human longing for love coming out in the culture around us?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • How do we see the pursuing love of God at work in the Old Testament?
  • What is the nature of the pursuing love of God in the parables of Luke 15?

Application Questions

  • Where have you found the universal longing to be loved come out in your own life?
  • How do we keep from seeking to have people and/or things fill the deep love longing that only God can fill?

Prayer

  • As you pray together: Spend time in praise for the amazing, pursuing love of God seen especially in the grace of Jesus Christ. Pray that your heart would be set on the love of Jesus and not be captured by the false loves of this world.

Inside Out, Not Outside In

indexAs we looked at Mark 7:14-23, we saw that Jesus wanted them to see that the root of the human sin problem was in the heart (internal, not external). And so what is needed is heart cleansing. Yet we cannot do this ourselves, only God can renew the human heart. Fortunately for us, God had made this promise exactly in Ezekiel 36:26, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit  I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Click to listen to the sermon, It’s All About the Heart.

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion on Mark 7:14-23

UntitledWhen our Community Groups get together, one of the things they do is to talk through the sermon from that weekend, with a goal of application and life transformation. Tomorrow, we will be continuing the Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King. Our passage will be Mark 7:14-23, and we will be focusing on what Jesus has to say about the importance of getting to the heart!

To help you prepare for the time of worship in the word, we’re beginning to send these questions out before the worship service. Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare your heart for worship; 2) prepare for Community Group; and/or 3) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • How does our culture encourage us to focus on the external to the detriment of the internal (appearances vs. character)? How does the church do that?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • Why was it so hard for the disciples to understand what Jesus was trying to say?
  • How would you summarize or reword verse 15?

Application Questions

  • What is the danger of focusing on external actions instead of the internal heart? Where do you struggle with this?
  • Why is the Gospel the answer to this externally focused religion?

Prayer

  • As you pray together: remember to pray that God will free you from the tyranny of the external and give you grace to be heart focused (Ps. 51:10). Pray that as a church, we will not be guilty of drawing people away from God by man-made external religiosity.

How Can Tradition Trump Truth?

indexLast Sunday’s message was from Mark 7:1-13. I titled it, When Tradition Trumps Truth. We talked about how the tradition that may end up trumping truth was never intended to do so. So how does it happen?

There is a general process by which tradition ends up trumping truth…

  • USEFUL. At times, we add traditions to the Scriptures, as helpful add-ons. They are intended to enhance or protect the truth. They seem useful.
  • IMPORTANT. After a while, as we practice our traditions and begin to really like and trust them, to find comfort in them, we begin to place them on a level with the Word of God – giving them equal authority. Now they seem more than just useful, they are important.
  • NECESSARY. Then what can easily happen, is that, in our humanness, we begin to honor our traditions actually above the Scripture. We start to forget or neglect the truth they were meant to help. By doing so, we lower Scripture from its rightful position; stealing its power. Now the traditions have become, not just important, but absolutely necessary.
  • IDOLATROUS. The end of that slippery slope of tradition trumping truth is that we can actually reject God’s word when it conflicts with our tradition. We’ve drifted so far from the simplicity of the biblical commands, that now the traditions have taken the place of truth – in biblical terms, they have become idols; something we worship in the place of God!

O may Jesus keep us from being “taken captive” by those less than biblical things that creep in, that are “according to human traditions” not “according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). May the church and her people keep a simple, pure faith!

Listen to When Tradition Trumps Truth or other messages from the Jesus, the Servant King series from the Gospel of Mark.

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion on Mark 7:1-13

UntitledWhen our Community Groups get together, one of the things they do is to talk through the sermon from that weekend, with a goal of application and life transformation. Tomorrow, we will be continuing the Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King. Our passage will be Mark 7:1-13.

To help you prepare for the time of worship in the word, we’re beginning to send these questions out before the worship service. Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare your heart for worship; 2) prepare for Community Group; and/or 3) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • What are some of the craziest religious traditions you’ve seen?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • How did Jesus use the Pharisee’s question against them? What was the point he was trying to make? What example did he use to make that point?

Application Questions

  • How have you struggled with trusting in traditions and/or external keeping of those traditions as a substitute for trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ alone?

Prayer

  • Pray that God will draw us as individuals and Mercy Hill to carefully guard the truth against the constant threat of letting our traditions/preferences cloud the simple truth of God’s Word.

Speaking of Fear…

Running%2520Scared_1__47920.1404693729.451.416Yesterday in the sermon, King Over Fear, I quoted a couple times from a very helpful resource by Ed Welch titled:  Running Scared Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest. Here is a brief description from the book jacket…

In his new release, Running Scared, Ed Welch investigates the roots of fear in the human soul and the ramifications of living in the grips of anxiety, worry, and dread. Welch encourages readers to discover for themselves that the Bible is full of beautiful words of comfort for fearful people (and that every single person is afraid of something). Within the framework of thirty topical meditations, Welch offers sound biblical theology and moment-by-moment, thoughtful encouragement for life-saving rescue in the midst of the heart and mind battlefield of rampant panic-stricken responses.

This comprehensive primer on the topic of fear, worry, and the rest of God will have readers retreating to scripture for invariable constancy, stalwart care, and robust comfort, instead of as Welch terms it, “hitting the default switch” by responding with characteristic human independence, control, and self-protectiveness.