The Joy of Heaven

indexI closed yesterday’s message from Mark 12:18-27 (God of the Living) with this beautiful quote from R.C. Sproul…

“We do not understand the depth of joy and delight that God has prepared for His people in heaven. If you use your imagination and try to think of the greatest possible experience that you will have in heaven, then multiply the joy you will feel in that moment by a million times, you still will not have begun to appreciate what God is preparing for His people in heaven.”

Listen to the message: God of the Living from the Jesus the Servant King series.

Nepal Earthquake Relief…

nepal-map-earthquakeOn April 25th, 2015, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal just northwest Kathmandu, the capital city. The earthquake’s damage was devastating. Families have found themselves homeless, children have become orphans, and more than a thousand people have lost their lives. There are many reputable agencies helping in relief efforts. Here are a few that I would deem “trustworthy”…

  • Equipping the Saints for Ministry. ES4M is a ministry working to equip Nepalese pastors and church leaders. They are getting funds directly to SARA Ministries (church and children’s home).
  • Gospel for Asia. Gospel for Asia has 450 churches and 20 Bridge of Hope centers in the region.
  • Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan’s Purse is rushing disaster response experts and supplies to Nepal in the aftermath of the catastrophic 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the county on Saturday, killing thousands and destroying numerous houses and buildings.

One Allegiance Above All Others

index“Whose image do you bear?” I asked this as we wrapped up our worship in the Word (Mark 12:13-17) yesterday. It was a question of allegiance. Every one of us has been stamped with an image by the ultimate authority in heaven and earth. God himself has placed his image on us (Gen. 1:27) and when we believe, seals us with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13). Caesar owned the denarius, but he did not own the people of his time. Likewise, the state does not own us. God owns us; he has the supreme right to claim our lives as his own. So, then, as Jesus taught, we are to give back to God the things that are God’s, including our lives, our liberty, our possessions, and our affections…indeed our whole lives, strength, soul, and mind.

Listen to One Allegiance Above All Others (from Mark 12:13-17).

Serving @ CareFest

pbanner_carefest15On Saturday, May 2 from 9am to Noon, we have the opportunity to show our love for our communities through the avenue of CareFest. This year, for the first time, we will be doing CareFest at two different locations!

We’ll be doing basic landscaping, clean up, and other simple projects that Turner Elementary (in West Chicago) and Winfield Central School (in Winfield) have asked us to do. Because we are dividing the team, so to speak, we really need to get a sense of who will be able to help at each site.

Please be looking at your schedule, praying about your involvement (even if you can just give an hour, that would be great) – then either…

  • Sign up at the information table on Sunday morning, or
  • Respond to the Facebook event invites: (Turner) / (Winfield), or
  • Send an email to info@mercyhillblog.org letting us know which site you will be at

Thanks for considering joining us for this simple, tangible expression of love for the children, parents, and staff of these schools!

Spiritual Leaders…For Christ or Against Him?

shepherd-sheep1So much of the drama in the Gospel of Mark is the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. In my studies, I ran across some great thoughts from J.C. Ryle on the relationship we ought to have with those who are claiming to be spiritual leaders:

”Christians must beware of depending too much on ordained men. They must not look up to ministers as Popes, or regard them as infallible. The Word of God must always be the test of the actions and teaching of those who lead in positions of spiritual authority.”

In other words: Spiritual leaders ought to be followed so far as they follow Scripture, and no further. Quoting Ryle again…

”There is only one Priest and Bishops of souls, who makes no mistakes. That one is the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him alone is no weakness, no failure, no shadow of infirmity. Let us learn to lean more entirely on Him. Let us ‘call no man father on earth,’ (Matt. 23:9.) So doing, we shall never be disappointed.”

The most important thing to ask about anyone in spiritual leadership is this: “Are they for Christ, or against him? What does he teach? How does he live? Is he doing good?” Quoting Ryle one last time:…

”We must remember that a physician is useless, however high his degree and diploma, if he cannot cure diseases, and a soldier useless, however well dressed and drilled, if he will not face the enemy in the day of battle. The best doctor is the man who can cure, and the best soldier the man who can fight.”

Longing to Have a Tender Heart

indexWe were worshiping in Mark 12:1-12 yesterday; the parable of the wicked tenants. One thing that struck me was the amazing hardness of heart of the leaders whom Jesus was graciously offering one more warning, one more chance to turn from unbelief to faith. I saw myself and my own struggle against sin and unbelief. Here’s a quote from the sermon:

Our bent, as fallen, sinful human beings, is towards hardness of heart – desiring to throw off the sovereignty of God and be our own gods – to tend our own vineyards! We need to own that. As we own that, we will cry out to God for his grace to cause our hearts to be tender.

Listen to the audio of Rejected, Now Exalted! (Mark 12;1-12) from the series Jesus the Servant King.

“You and Me Forever” Initiative

front_coverBeginning the week of April 19, we will temporarily step out of our regular Community Groups for 8 consecutive weeks to journey through this very interesting book. Our vision is to see existing marriages strengthened, potential marriages better prepared for, and for all involved to understand where marriage fits into God’s eternal perspective.

From the book promotional…Marriage is great, but it’s not forever. It’s until death do us part. Then come eternal rewards or regrets depending on how we spent our lives. While we cannot allow lesser things to destroy our marriages, we also cannot allow marriage to distract us from greater things.

In his latest book, You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity, Francis Chan and his wife Lisa address the question that many couples wonder at the altar: “How do I have a great marriage?” Setting aside typical topics on marriage, Francis and Lisa dive into Scripture to understand what it means to have a relationship that satisfies the deepest parts of our souls.

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity will radically shift the way we see one of the most important relationships in our life. Whether you are single, dating or already married, You and Me Forever will help you discover the adventure that you were made for ­­and learn how to thrive in it.

“You and Me Forever” Groups. We encourage everyone to consider joining a group:

  • Sundays @ 6pm
  • Tuesdays @ 7:30pm

You can contact us at info@mercyhillblog.org and let us know what night you’ll be attending. The benefit of two groups, both on the same pace, is that if you happen to miss your regular group, you can “make up” by joining one of the other groups. We encourage you to serve one another by “swapping” childcare with couples meeting on different nights.

Costs? For the class, you will need to purchase a copy of the book (available in print and on Kindle at Amazon.com). There is a great “Do Something” section at the end of each chapter that really helps you get maximum impact in your life and marriage and/or relationship.

100% of the net profits from each book sold goes straight to a vision God has given the Chans to raise $5 million to feed the hungry, free women from prostitution and spread the gospel to unreached places. You can find more information on this vision at http://www.youandmeforever.org/.

What’s at the Center?

This is a special time of year! The cross and the empty tomb are central to the Gospel; central to the Christian faith. So, Mercy Hill, we are a people who love the Gospel!

The Gospel is God’s good news to broken sinners that Jesus Christ came to live, die and rise again for the forgiveness of sin, to bring redeemed sinners under God’s gracious reign for the renewal of all things.

Our lives are centered in this news. We believe the grace offered in the Gospel, imparted by the Spirit, is the most powerful change agent in the universe.

indexOur worship this past weekend reflects the centrality of the Gospel in our lives, and especially our love for Jesus! You can click the links to listen to audio…

The Entrance of the Servant King

indexThis past Sunday, we journeyed with Jesus and his disciples into Jerusalem. It was Palm Sunday, the celebration of The Entrance of the Servant King. This comment from the ESV Study Bible is a nice summation of the scene in Mark 11:1-11…

The Triumphal Entry takes place at the beginning of Passover week, which recalls the Jewish people’s liberation from Egyptian slavery; the pilgrims now anticipate the messianic liberation from Rome’s oppression. The claims of the disciples are ultimately true, but it will not be Rome that is defeated now but Satan, sin, and death. All enemies of righteousness will one day see the authority of Messiah.

Listen to the audio of The Entrance of the Servant King.

Faking Ignorance to Avoid Reality

indexWhen someone is confronted with truth that challenges them to change what they believe or how they act, they often fake ignorance to avoid the reality facing them. Or they claim, “I can’t” when what they really mean is “I won’t”. That was the response of the religious leaders in Mark 11:27-33.

When Jesus gave them just two options “a” or “b” to answer his question, they chose “c”…the cowardly, “We don’t know.” Why? What do we learn from Jesus about how to deal with insincere questions and unwillingness to really change? What do we do with that in others? What do we do with that in our own hearts?

Listen to Faking Ignorance to Avoid Reality, from the series Jesus the Servant King from the Gospel of Mark.