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.

Horizontal Reconciliation is on the Heals of Vertical Reconciliation

The title of this post is one of my favorite quotes from this stirring, passionate plea from Pastor Bryan Loritts to the church to let the gospel create a truly new community. It is also a fitting application and follow up to our sermon from last Sunday, Why Do “Black Lives Matter”? I encourage you to take the time to watch Pastor Loritts’s video – you will be challenged and inspired!

Why Do “Black Lives Matter”?

blmThe following quote from a blog by Anthony Bradley captured my attention and served as the launching point for my sermon this past Sunday:

“Black lives matter.” “All lives matter.” These slogans may forever summarize the deep tensions in American life in 2014. Catalyzed by the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and two NY Police officers who were murdered while sitting in a police car, Americans are in the midst of a crisis of human dignity. Are we still able to articulate why anyone’s life matters? We can loudly protest that “Black lives matter” but it will mean nothing in the long run if we cannot explain why black lives matter.

We dove into Psalm 8 to see the beauty of the concept of “imago Dei” – that all people are created uniquely in the image of God, and explored how that is THE only legitimate foundation for a commitment to the value and dignity of any and all human life.

Listen to the message, Why Do “Black Lives Matter”?

Reflections at One Year: Testimonies of God’s Faithfulness

UntitledOne of my favorite parts of our 1st anniversary celebration last Sunday was the time we had of people sharing their stories of God’s faithfulness in their lives this past year. The stories ranged from the simple to the profound; from the personal to the corporate blessings of God. We can be encouraged that our God who was faithful in 2014 will be faithful in 2015 – to his glory and praise, and for our joy in Jesus!

Click to listen to the testimonies of God’s faithfulness that were shared.

Reflections at One Year…”Our God is Faithful”

UntitledYesterday was a sweet day of remembrance as well as a day to look forward. The banner over the whole 1st anniversary celebration was “our God is a faithful God!” We shared that in song, prayer, testimony, Word, and deed. I closed my reflection with these words of challenge…

In the midst of it all, let’s not loose sight of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith! Mercy Hill, by his sustaining grace, may it never be said that we have abandoned our first love. Strengthened by God’s everlasting love, upheld by his persevering grace, let’s be faithful to the call of Hebrews 12:1-2…”Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And together, we ended the service making this commitment…

Jesus, we desire you to be the Lord of this, your church. Indeed Lord Jesus, rule and reign in our hearts, in our families, in our church, in our communities, and in this world – now and forevermore, Amen!

Listen to the reflection: Our Faithful God!

Sin & Salt (Mark 9:42-50)

indexIt was great having our own Beau Gentry bring the Word last Sunday! He did a good job of unpacking a challenging section of Mark’s gospel, the words of Jesus in 9:42-50. Beau is quite quotable…so, as a teaser, I’ll share my favorite quote from his message:

“Our lives should be that overly salted breakfast burrito.”

To see where in the world that quote came from, you can link to the message: Sin & Salt, from the series in Mark, Jesus the Servant King.

Embracing Differences (Mark 9:38-41)

indexJesus throws out a very challenging principle for Christians in Mark 9:40, “For the one who is not against us is for us.” We spent time unpacking that and the verses around it (38-41) to try and discern how Jesus would have us respond and interact with people/groups that are different than we are. Here was the final thought from Sunday’s sermon, Embracing Differences

Not every Christian group out there is doing ministry the way we would, or even the way we think is best. But the passage challenges us that these differences must not prevent us from rejoicing – if the works of the devil are destroyed and souls are saved. Is our neighbor pushing back the darkness of evil? Is he really trying to labor for the glory of Jesus? Let us rejoice and be glad in that!

Click to listen to the full message: Embracing Differences, which is part of our ongoing series of messages from the Gospel of Mark, titled Jesus the Servant King.