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.

4 Characteristics of Having a Passion for God

CompassAny follower of Jesus, any gathered body of believers, must be characterized by a sincere, tangible love and passion for God himself. It’s what we call having a Passion for God. He must be the center of our passions; the reason for our being. Knowing him better, loving him more deeply, treasuring him above all else, in other words, glorifying him, is the hallmark of a faithful church. From Psalm 68:1-8, we can draw out these thoughts to give us a picture of what it means to have a Passion for God

  • A person with a passion for God has the “magnetic north” of their soul set on God.
  • A person with a passion for God has a sense of seeking that is dead serious, even desperate for God.
  • A person with a passion for God actively pursues God – reflecting and meditating on him as they  dive into his Word; crying out to him in prayer.
  • A person with a passion for God will see inward transformation that will find outward expression –  deep inward satisfaction that finds rest and contentment in God expressing itself outward in joyful praise and worship!

“…the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!” (Ps. 68:3)

Missionaries & Martyrs (Mark 6:7-29)

indexIn Mark 6:8-10, Jesus gave some interesting instructions to his disciples on what they were to take with them and where they were to stay as they journeyed out on their first missionary venture. It seems a bit detailed to us. But it was truly purposeful: He wanted them to see that the urgency of the mission required an approach that kept things simple, unencumbered. “He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts—but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.’”

There are some striking echoes in this to the Exodus. At that time, God’s people were being set free from slavery in Egypt. Now here were these men, being sent out on a mission to point God’s people to freedom from slavery to sin. Urgency drives simplicity!

Listen to more about the principles of the mission that we learn from Mark’s gospel: Missionaries & Martyrs (from the Jesus the Servant King series).

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion on Mark 6:7-29

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 6:7-29. We will see, for the first time, Jesus sending out his disciples to get a taste of Kingdom mission work.

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 “cost” have you ever paid for following Jesus/being a Christian?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • Our main focus was on verses 7-13: Jesus’ sending out of the twelve disciples. What are some of the principles for being on mission with Jesus that we see in verses 7-13?

Application Questions

  • How have you experienced that sense of clear call and clear mission as a Christian?
  • Which of the principles shared is most relevant for you at this stage of your journey? Which do you need to focus on?

Prayer

  • Pray that God will draw us as individuals and Mercy Hill as a church to faithful mission for the sake of the Gospel, the advance of the Kingdom, and the joy of his people!

Astonishing Unbelief (Mark 6:1-6)

indexIn Mark 6:6, we have this amazing statement that should cause us to stop in our tracks: “And he [Jesus] marveled because of their unbelief.” The context is the unbelief in him and the offense at him of the people in his home town of Nazareth. It is a sobering thing to have the very Son of God stand astonished at your unbelief!

Are we at risk of unbelief? I think for most of us the danger is not overt unbelief, but instead the subtle unbelief of forgetfulness; familiarity that breeds forgetfulness; that diminishes our awe.

I asked very pointedly as we wrapped things up in the morning’s message, “What is the cost of living in a ‘Christian bubble’ where we are so familiar with the things of God?” The danger is this…that we can become culturally Christian but not actually Christian – vaccinated against Christianity – getting just enough of it to inoculate us against it. IOW…Are we so familiar with church, Christianity and Jesus the Man that we completely miss or forget Jesus, the Son of God?

A worthwhile question to ponder. A good reason to be on guard against unbelief.  Listen to the message, Astonishing Unbelief and ask God to keep you amazed!

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion for Mark 6:1-6

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 6:1-6 – a curious story of Jesus’ last interaction with the people in his home town of Nazareth. The title of the message will be “Astonishing Unbelief.”

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

  • The axiom states: “familiarity breeds contempt.” Explain and discuss.

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • What two things cause amazement or astonishment in this passage?
  • Why are the people “astonished” at Jesus? Why doesn’t their astonishment lead to faith?
  • Why does Jesus “marvel” at their unbelief?

Application Questions

  • Where in your own life, do you find that you have grown too familiar with the things of God? Where has familiarity bred contempt and/or forgetfulness on your part?
  • How can you guard your heart against unbelief and ceasing to be amazed at the working of God in your life?

Prayer

  • Pray that God will fill your heart and mind with amazement that flows out in joyful faith!
  • Pray that, as a church, we will never cease to be in awe and wonder!

King Over Suffering (Mark 5:21-43)

indexWithin the broader lesson of Jesus being King Over Suffering, we saw that a key theme running through Mark 5:21-43 was how the one who was “clean” (Jesus) becomes “unclean” so that the unclean (all who have faith in him) can become clean! This is the essence of the gospel: He who knew no sin becomes sin for us so that we can become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21)! It’s a beautiful foreshadowing of what Jesus will do on the cross on mercy’s hill.

Click to listen and see this glorious truth woven into the text...King Over Suffering (from the Jesus the Servant King sermon series from the book of Mark).

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion from Mark 5:21-43

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. Earlier today, from the Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King, we looked at a story in 2 parts from Mark 5:21-43, that showed that Jesus is “King Over Suffering.” Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare for Community Group; and/or 2) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • What kind of fear is caused by suffering and trial in our lives?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • There were four “threads” that Pastor Craig spoke about – desperation; fear; faith; and uncleanliness. Trace those and talk about how we see them in the passage.
  • What do we learn about Jesus in the passage?

Application Questions

  • How does what you learn about Jesus affect how you personally deal with fear in your life?
  • How does this passage affect how you think about faith and how you exercise it?

Prayer

  • Pray for God’s gift of faith that would give freedom from fear – in your own life and in the life of people you know who are wrestling with fear.
  • Pray that Mercy Hill will encourage people to be people of great faith in our great God!

All-Community Summer G.A.P. & BBQ

summer GAP imageThis evening, Community Groups will be taking a break. Instead, we will all meet together for our July GAP (Gather and Pray) and BBQ.

A note from our hosts…Just a few details to remind you about. This Sunday, we (Dave & Kerry Sansone) are hosting the GAP event at our home beginning at 6:00 PM.  We are super excited that our son, Ethan, will be baptized that evening, along with anyone else who is moved to do so.
We will be providing the grilled hotdogs for dinner plus water to drink.  If you prefer to drink something else, please bring your beverage of choice – (Ahem, don’t forget this is a worship gathering….haha!)
We wanted to highlight a few things to remember:

  • Bring a dish to pass – side dish, salad, or dessert.
  • Bring any games or activities you may like to play (especially for the kids)
  • Bring bug spray….They’re voracious over here! (we will fog the area beforehand)
  • Bring your own chairs

Call with any questions: (K) 630.456.5597 or (D) 630.456.3126
Address: 0s060 Nepil Ave. Wheaton. We are the last house on the right at the very end of a dead-end street.

3 Reasons Why We Have A Passion for Truth

bible_read_me-220x300We have A PASSION FOR TRUTH that finds its bedrock in the Word of God. It is very important then, that, as God’s people, we spend time in his Word. Here are three reasons why we believe that being a people of the Book, and in the Book, is not an option, but an essential…

  1. Time in the Bible is Essential for Growth. 1 Peter 2:2-3…Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” God’s Word is nutrition for our souls. Live with it, partake of it, and you will grow spiritually.
  2. Time in the Bible is Essential for Spiritual Maturity. Colossians 1:28…“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”  God’s Word, as we live in it, will be used by the Spirit of God to lead us to maturity.
  3. Time in the Bible is Essential for Spiritual Effectiveness. 2 Timothy 3:16-17…All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” God’s Word, as it grows and matures us, prepares us to be effectively used by God; to be faithfully equipped for all that he has for us.

God desires to communicate with you through the Bible, through the leading of his Holy Spirit. How will you make the most of the amazing truth that we have his very Word? How and when will you hear it, read it, study it, meditate on it, memorize it? Start small and build the Book into your rhythms of daily life. As you do, you will grow into spiritual maturity; into being more like Jesus – and you will grow into effectiveness, equipped for all the good works God has called you to walk in.