Why a New Church?

Since the beginning of the church age, God has been advancing his kingdom through the expansion of the local church. From the time of Paul to the 21st century, our call has been to go, preach the gospel, and build God’s church. In fact, some have argued that, “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” (C. Peter Wagner). Therefore, it is our belief that planting new churches is not an option, but an imperative and an urgent task that the church is called to engage in.

Thus, we desire to plant a new church in West Chicago, Illinois that exists to bring glory to God and affect gospel change by gathering God’s people and growing them to be like Jesus. Our earnest hope is that this new church, founded in a spirit of grace, will be a God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-led, prayer-saturated, gospel-advancing, truth-driven, theologically-sound, disciple-making, love-showing, hope-giving, justice-pursuing, holistically-minded, needs-meeting, mercy-overflowing, and compassion-filled church.

He Brings Restoration and Healing (Good Friday Message)

1Easter 2014.indd Peter 2:24…He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Good Friday draws us to remember that our God is a God of patience, full of mercy and grace. In the private counsels of God in eternity past, he had determined a solution – Jesus, the Son of God would bring restoration and healing for alienated and broken humanity through the Cross on Mercy’s Hill. This is the heart of Good Friday; this is the heart of the Gospel.

Prepare your heart for Easter by listening to the Good Friday message, He Brings Restoration and Healing, part of the What’s So Great About Jesus? sermon series.

Join us at Mercy Hill Church for Easter Worship Celebration tomorrow at 10am at Turner Elementary School in West Chicago.

Join Us as We Celebrate the Risen Savior!

Easter 2014.inddPreview from our celebration tomorrow…

“Here’s the truth: Muhammad died and stayed dead. So did Confucius. Buddha, as enlightened as he may have been, died and stayed dead. None of these other leaders covered the sins of the people who put their trust in them. All of them are dead. But not Jesus! He is alive! It is he alone who has paid the price for our sins and was raised so that we can be restored with God.”

If you are not worshiping in a church that celebrates the clear Gospel of the Risen Christ, we invite you to join us for our Easter Celebration – tomorrow morning, 10am @ Turner Elementary.

Join Us for Our Good Friday Service…

Easter 2014.inddIf you are new to Mercy Hill Church or Christianity or thinking of attending our Good Friday service – this is for you.

To quote a friend of mine, “Setting aside time to reflect on Good Friday will make your Easter celebration all the richer.”

Holy Week began last Sunday with Palm Sunday, and continues Friday as we reflect on and rejoice in the greatness of Jesus’ restoration and healing. So join us on Friday, not just Sunday. I invite you to join us at Turner Elementary tomorrow night at 6:30pm, and then again on at Turner on Sunday morning at 10am.

I encourage to read and pray through our text for this Friday… 1 Peter 2:24…He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”Let the richness of this amazing truth sink deep into your heart.

Let’s join together to pray for Jesus to save, restore, and heal hearts as he awakens them to the amazing reality of his grace and redemption this weekend.

That the risen Jesus would be worshiped as he is treasured above all else,

Pastor Craig

Jesus Offers Real Hope

Easter 2014.indd1 Peter 1:3-5…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The promise of ultimate future hope that is secure, glorious, unable to slowly fade away, gives us the ability to face this current life with courage and even joy! Our hope is a real, solid, living, never dying hope, because of our living Savior!

Link to audio for the sermon Jesus Offers Real Hope from the Easter 2014 series, What’s So Great About Jesus?

9 Things You Should Know About Holy Week

From Joe Carter:

Holy Week is the week before Easter, a period which includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Here’s what you should know about the days that commemorate the Passion of Christ:
  1. Holy Week observances likely began in Jerusalem in the earliest days of the church, though the term first appears in the writings of fourth century bishops, Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and Epiphanius, bishop of Constantia. Holy week does not include Easter Sunday.
  2. The first recording of a Holy Week observance was made by Egeria, a Gallic woman who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land about 381-384. In an account of her travels she wrote for a group of women back in Spain, Egeria describes the Palm Sunday she observed in Jerusalem, “. . all the children who are [gathered at the top of the Mount of Olives], including those who are not yet able to walk because they are too young and therefore are carried on their parents’ shoulders, all of them bear branches, some carrying palms, others, olive branches. And the bishop is led in the same manner as the Lord once was led.”
  3. Because of the difficulty in some parts of the world of procuring palms for Palm Sunday, leaves from yew, willow, olive, or other native trees are frequently used. The Sunday was often designated by the names of these trees, as Yew Sunday, or by the general term Branch Sunday.
  4. An archaic and infrequently used name for the Wednesday before Easter is “Spy Wednesday”, named for Judas’ becoming a spy for the Sanhedrin.
  5. Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday. The term “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word mandatum (commandment). The term refers to the commandment given by Jesus at the Last Supper: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
  6. The historical origins of the “Good” in Good Friday remain unclear, though some entomologists believe the term “good” is an archaic form of “holy.”
  7. In Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, Holy Saturday commemorates the “harrowing of hell,” the time between his Crucifixion and his Resurrection when Christ is believed to have descended into hell. Some Protestants, however, don’t believe that Scripture warrants believing the claim, found in the Apostle’s creed, that “[Christ] descended into hell.” As John Piper says, “there is no textual basis for believing that Christ descended into hell.”
  8. In Medieval Europe, Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent. Eggs laid during that time were often boiled to preserve them and were given as Easter gifts to children and servants. Some traditions claim the Easter egg is symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus, with the shell of the egg representing the sealed Tomb and cracking the shell representing the Resurrection. Christians in the Middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
  9. The Christian scholar Bede (673-735 AD, aka, the Venerable Bede) claimed in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre, a pagan goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Later scholars, however, claim that the term derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “oster”, meaning “to rise” or for their term for the Spring equinox, “Eostre.”

Community Group & Family Discussion Questions for April 13, 2014

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. Today, from the Easter series, What’s So Great About Jesus?, Pastor Craig showed Jesus as great because He Offers Real Hope (taken from 1 Peter 1:3-5.) Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare for Community Group; or 2) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • What kinds of things do people place their hope in? Why?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…Why does Peter call our hope a living hope?
  • We looked at 5 questions that pointed to truths about the hope that we have from God. Answer each: Who is the author of that hope? What motivates him? What is the rock under living hope? What is the fruit of living hope? What is the guarantee of our living hope?
  • Contrast living hope with false hope based on your answers.
  • Discuss the connection between what we hope in and what we worship.

Application Questions

  • What is it that you are most likely to hope in other than God? What from today’s text/sermon was most helpful in keeping your hope in the right place?

Prayer

  • Split the men & women: talk openly about your struggles to hope in God. Pray specifically for one another that God’s grace will come to lead you into real hope and real worship.

He Understands Our Deepest Needs

Easter 2014.inddThis past Sunday began a 4-message Easter series, What’s So Great About Jesus? that is an attempt to bring biblical clarity to the crowded field of peoples’ opinions on the question. The idea is to let the biblical writers answer the question.

The first message, from the writer of Hebrews 4:14-16, proposed that Jesus is great because he understands our deepest needs. He understands that our sin has caused us to be separated from God and so he becomes our Great High Priest – our Advocate before the Father; our Mediator; our Sacrificial Lamb, once for all paying the price for our forgiveness and reconciliation.  He understands our weaknesses and the intensity with which temptations and trials hit us. Through his blood he makes access to God’s throne of grace open and free. He pleads with us and for us at that throne and calls us to boldly come and pray for mercy and grace.

Link to the audio for He Understands All Our Needs.

Community Group & Family Discussion Questions for April 6, 2014

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. Today, from the Easter series, What’s So Great About Jesus?, Pastor Craig showed Jesus as great because “He Understands Our Deepest Needs” (taken from Hebrews 4:14-16.) Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare for Community Group; or 2) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • Why is it that we can have confidence that some people will be there for us, but not others? What’s at the root of that confidence?

Reflection Questions

  • Read Hebrews 4:14-16 together…What are the two commands in these verses?
  • What does it mean to “hold fast our confession”?
  • What does it mean to “…draw near to the throne of grace”?
  • What is it about who Jesus is or what has he done, that stands behind these commands?

Application Questions

  • What keeps you from holding fast to your faith in Jesus? (What trials, temptations, etc.?)
  • What keeps you from “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace”? (What keeps you from prayer?)

Prayer

  • Split the men & women: talk openly about how you can help each other overcome the things you mentioned in the previous two questions. Pray specifically for one another that God’s grace will come to “help in time of need.”

Developing a Culture of Peace

When you look at the life and ministry of Jesus, one thing you see is that he assumes conflict. He says in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” What need is there for peacemakers if there is no conflict! Conflict is implied. The questions is: How will we deal with it?

At Mercy Hill, we take peacemaking seriously, so we have put a stake down and said, “By God’s grace, our relationships will be different. How we handle conflict will be different. We want to prepare for those times when conflict comes (and it will) by developing into our DNA a ‘culture of peace’ that reflects God’s peace and the power of the gospel of Christ in our lives. We want to say to one another that gossip, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, and broken relationships are not appropriate for the people whom God has reconciled to himself through the sacrifice of his only Son.”

Home2007-logo-lgThe sermon last Sunday unpacked this theme. Click the link to listen to Developing a Culture of Peace. A resource Pastor Craig referenced that has influenced his own understanding of biblical peacemaking is The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict. The Peacemaker’s Ministry website is packed with helpful resources as well. http://www.peacemaker.net.