Sunday Worship on March 15 in Our New Location!

 Let’s continue to bathe this transition in prayer…
  • Be praying for a smooth transition. There are a lot of logistics involved.
  • Be praying that God will continue to open doors to serve with a Gospel purpose everywhere MHC is represented.
  • Be praying about how he is calling you to continue serving within MHC and your own communities.

We are so excited to see how God continues to lead MHC in his plans for us in our individual communities and as a church in our CONTINUED efforts in West Chicago and NEW opportunities in Winfield!

For a more complete description of the transition, see this previous post.

Gather and Pray – Tonight!

gapWe gather and pray together twice a month – 1st and 3rd Thursdays. Tonight, we’ll be at Beau & On-E Gentry’s house (7pm). If you are not able to join us, please take time at some point in the day to pray for Mercy Hill.

Here is the prayer focus guide that we’ll use. Feel free to use it for your own prayers…

GOD. That we would actively pursue knowing God more deeply – reflecting and meditating on him as we dive into his Word; crying out to him in prayer.

TRUTH. That we would be people of the Truth – loving what is true and having what is true change our thoughts, words, and actions.

GOD’S PEOPLE. That as MHC families/regular attenders we would have a smooth transition to our new worship location (March 15th). That Christians facing persecution around the world would be sustained by God’s love, mercy, and grace.

UNBELIEVING PEOPLE. That we would have a beautifully simple Gospel witness through the “Sweet Cases” initiative. That those whom we will have opportunity to impact through the Easter season would see Jesus clearly and be drawn by the Spirit to faith in the Risen Savior!


Philippine Project Reminders…

UnSEEN2015_w_verseWe are so glad that at just a year old, God has given us the opportunity to partner with New Century Church in Los Banos, Philippines. Our team of Robb Davidson, April Dippy, and Craig Sturm leave for the Philippines on Monday! As the time for their departure draws near, here are a couple of important reminders…

  • Please be praying for their final preparations: sermons and lessons are being prepared; a workshop is being finalized; packing is happening. Be praying for health and safe travels. April has put together an entry on the project blog that highlights key events during the project that you can be praying for – at the time they are happening! Check into that often!
  • The team is still receiving donations of phones, digital cameras, and laptops. Please get those to the team by Sunday at the worship service. There is a need as well for donations to help offset the costs involved in the project. Those can be given on any Sunday or mailed (29W538 James Avenue, West Chicago, IL 60185). Please make checks out to Mercy Hill Church with “Philippine Project 2015″ in the memo line. You can give that at any time, even after the team has left. Any funds left over will be used for future ministry partnership projects with New Century.

Making the Impossible Possible

indexSunday, we explored Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27. This quote from Tim Keller was so helpful in seeing the central theme in the text:

Anyone who counts on what they are doing to get eternal life will find that, in spite of everything that they’ve accomplished, there’s an emptiness, an insecurity, a doubt. Something is bound to be missing. How can anyone ever know if they are good enough? (from King’s Cross)

After exposing the hopelessness of the man’s scenario, and indeed the hopeless for all of us, Jesus soars in verse 27…”With God all things are possible.” The Gospel makes the impossible possible!

Listen to the sermon: Making the Impossible Possible.

SIN: The Ultimate Outrage of the Universe (John Piper)

What makes sin sin is not first that it hurts people, but that it blasphemes God. This is the ultimate evil and the ultimate outrage in the universe.

  • The glory of God is not honored.
  • The holiness of God is not reverenced.
  • The greatness of God is not admired.
  • The power of God is not praised.
  • The truth of God is not sought.
  • The wisdom of God is not esteemed.
  • The beauty of God is not treasured.
  • The goodness of God is not savored.
  • The faithfulness of God is not trusted.
  • The promises of God are not relied upon.
  • The commandments of God are not obeyed.
  • The justice of God is not respected.
  • The wrath of God is not feared.
  • The grace of God is not cherished.
  • The presence of God is not prized.
  • The person of God is not loved.

The infinite, all-glorious Creator of the universe, by whom and for whom all things exist (Rom. 11:36)–who holds every person’s life in being at every moment (Acts 17:25)–is disregarded, disbelieved, disobeyed, and dishonored by everybody in the world. That is the ultimate outrage of the universe.

(From: What is Sin? The Essence and Root of All Sinning, by John Piper)

Marriage According to Jesus

indexThis past Sunday found us back in the book of Mark – chapter 10, verses 1-12. It is clear that the greater emphasis of Jesus in this passage is to show us the dignity, beauty, and importance of marriage. He raises the discussion on to a different plane altogether. The Pharisees want to talk about divorce; Jesus demands talking about marriage. Their primary interest was to see how far they could go in the realm of divorce and remarriage and still remain within the letter of the law. Jesus’ primary interest was in restoring men and women to the lifestyle for which they had been made. It is so hard for us to see this because, like the Pharisees, we want so much to have a detailed answer on the explosive issues of divorce and remarriage that we just blow by the essential nature of the purposes for marriage. But if we don’t get this, we won’t rightly get divorce and remarriage. Jesus knows this, and so drives the discussion back to its fundamental origin – God’s purposes in marriage.

Listen to the message, Marriage According to Jesus. Part of the series, Jesus the Servant King.

Mercy Hill Sunday Services Moving to Winfield – March 15!

A central and defining characteristic of MHC has been the call to “live on mission” as individual followers of Christ.

  • It is encouraging to see many at MHC living with “gospel intentionality” and representing Jesus in their communities.
  • What we call “living on mission,” is not dependent on the geography of where we meet on Sunday mornings. It is dependent on where God individually places each of us.

We have always considered it important to model “living on mission” not just individually, but as a church.

  • By God’s grace, so far, we’ve engaged in on-going opportunities to represent and share Jesus with one of the communities we are in – West Chicago.
  • The desire is to continue to build into those opportunities in West Chicago and pursue similar opportunities as a church in other surrounding communities.
  • We’ve been pursuing the “surrounding communities” aspect since last fall as some of our Winfield residents have had an increasing love for and opportunity to serve that community (CareFest opportunities, local school engagement, Ronald McDonald House and more).
  • We desire to keep moving forward in faith. To take what God has taught us as we’ve engaged West Chicago and use that model to also begin new and intentional engagement where God has clearly opened doors in Winfield. This is an exciting step!

When we began meeting at Turner Elementary in Feb. 2014, we agreed it was the best immediate place for us to gather as a new church. We intended to re-evaluate our meeting location in the fall of 2014. In the process of that evaluation God confirmed that while Turner was a providential meeting place for us at the start of Mercy Hill Church, it was not a long-term option.

bldg2_frontThe doors on the other opportunities we pursued in West Chicago closed. In the midst of that though, a door seemed to be opening in Winfield. Specifically at the Charles R. Beggs Recreation Center (Winfield Park District) on County Farm in Winfield. Not only was the facility suited for the needs of our church, but the park district staff were (to our surprise) very eager to consider the option for a church to meet there for the first time ever! After two months of conversation with park district staff, as well as prayer and consideration as elders and ministry leaders, we are confident that God is leading us to begin meeting in this really exciting new location.

The park district has been incredibly accommodating, and for example, has agreed to give us a 50% reduction in rental rate in order to allow us to maintain our current expense for rental. It also provides some on-site storage and other benefits that will reduce the workload on our volunteer efforts.
The plan for the transition is to complete our current rental contract with Turner that takes us through the first two Sundays of March, which means Sunday, March 15th will be our first Sunday meeting at the Charles R. Beggs Recreation Center.
Let’s bathe this decision in prayer…
  • Be praying with us for a smooth transition. There are a lot of logistics involved.
  • Be praying that God will continue to open doors to serve with a Gospel purpose everywhere MHC is represented.
  • Be praying about how he is calling you to continue serving within MHC and your own communities.

We understand that change of any kind or significance brings with it questions and feedback. Please bring those to any of the elders or ministry team leaders if we can help!

We are so excited to see how God continues to lead MHC in his plans for us in our individual communities and as a church in our CONTINUED efforts in West Chicago and NEW opportunities in Winfield!

Resources from the “Loving Life Means Loving People” Series

This is mostly for Mercy Hill folks…the past two Sundays we’ve listed a number of resources related to the two messages and themes for those Sundays. In case you missed them, here they are…

From 1/18, Why Do “Black Lives Matter”?

From 1/25, Protecting the Vulnerable

  • Replanted Ministry at Church of the Rez in Wheaton is great ministry that comes alongside of families adopting or fostering; offering support groups, training events and other things. On their webpage you can sign up to volunteer to help with the ministry.
  • “ReMoved” is a powerful video portrayal of foster care from a child’s perspective.
  • The Children’s Shelter of Cebu is an orphanage in Cebu, Philippines that we (Craig and family) have partnered with for years. They provide great care for the kids – many of whom will be adopted. You can visit their website and sign up to sponsor a child. We love that it is more personal than other larger orphan care organizations.

Gospel Motivated Care for the Vulnerable

Because of the uniqueness of this time of year, we had a 2-week mini series called Loving Life by Loving People. On January 18, we asked the question, Why Do “Black Lives Matter”?” Yesterday, we focused in on those vulnerable children in our culture; who the Bible refers to as “the fatherless”. In modern American society, this is primarily those kids in the foster care system; globally this is the orphaned and abandoned. This quote from the Austin Stone Church website is a great summary of what we talked about…

By God’s overflow of mercy and grace, we have been adopted into His family. While once orphans, we have been rescued by love. This reality changes everything! God has set his love on us. And by the power of His Spirit, we are freed to set our love on orphans, caring for them as family and pointing them to our Savior, for the glory of His name.

Listen to the sermon, Protecting the Vulnerable (1/25) or Why Do “Black Lives Matter” (1/18)

We used this well-done video as an introduction…

A Vision for Making Disciples in 2015

1and1In our mission we say that part of the reason we exist is for the “…gathering God’s people and growing them to be like Jesus.” As we enter into year two of our existence we think it would be great to lay before us a challenge to grow in our faithfulness in making disciples. Thus, the vision for “One and One”.

What? It is a very simple challenge with two parts…

  • “Gathering God’s people”. Faithfully pursuing to be a disciple maker by investing in the life of one person who is not yet a follower of Jesus. Building a relationship of gospel intentionality with the hope of being able to both “show” the gospel, and to “speak” the gospel.
  • “Growing them to be like Jesus.” Faithfully pursuing to be a disciple maker by investing in the life of one person who is already a follower of Jesus. Building a relationship with the intent of helping them to know Jesus better, to treasure him and his Word more fully, and to live in greater joyful obedience to his commands.

Who? Pray that God will lead you to people who you have a natural relationship with…

  • It could be your spouse, an extended family member, one (or more) of your children, a close friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, a classmate…
  • It may be that it ends up being the same person!

Support? How will we support and encourage each other to be faithful disciple makers?

  • Prayer. The vision of “One and One” will be a regular part of our corporate prayer. Community Groups and GAP will prioritize praying for one another’s disciple making desires.
  • Stories. We anticipate hearing many amazing stories shared on Sunday, at Community Groups, and in personal conversations about how God is working, as we trust him for open doors, courage, wisdom, and spiritual fruit.
  • Equipping. We will offer simple times of training to help your competence and confidence in both aspects of disciple making.

Goals? There are many goals/desires we have in laying out this “One and One” challenge…

  • We long to see more people come to faith in Jesus – to see his kingdom of joy-filled worshipers expand!
  • We long to see people growing in that faith – to see his kingdom of worshipers deepen!

We long to see Mercy Hill growing in faithfulness to God’s call to be a place full of disciple-making disciples – to see his kingdom servants experience the joy of disciple-making and grow in their habits of disciple-making.

Link to a brief audio version of the vision from 1/18/2015.