Month: May 2014

Dedication & Blessing of Children and Parents: Father’s Day (June 15)

 

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SUNDAY, JUNE 15

On Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15th, we’ll be holding our first-ever “Dedication & Blessing of Children and Parents” at Mercy Hill Church. If you’ve recently welcomed a baby into your family, or have a child you would like to dedicate (regardless of age), we’d love to give you the opportunity to do so. Please let us know ASAP if you’d like to do so (info@mercyhillblog.com or call/text 206-554-1729).

Why “Dedication & Blessing of Children and Parents”?

  • The practice of child dedication is based on scriptural precedent, rooted in the Old Testament, in which Jesus was presented to the Lord in the temple as an infant (Luke 2:22-35).
  • The practice of child dedication is also based on, and acknowledges, God’s blessing towards and care for children (Isaiah 54:13; Matthew 18:1-5, 10; 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17; Acts 2:39; 1 John 2:12-13).
  • The practice of child dedication is fundamentally an act of the parents. It is a commitment you, the parents, make in your heart before Jesus and agree to live out in your home together. The dedication we perform during the church gathering is simply a public acknowledgment of that commitment.
  • In dedicating your child, you acknowledge that your children are a gift given to you by God (Genesis 33:5; Psalm 127:3-5). As such they are a blessing, privilege, and tremendous source of joy (Proverbs 23:24-25) — even though they require much labor. Ultimately, we recognize that they have been created by our Father in heaven (Psalm 139:13) and, as such, belong to him, though entrusted to you to be raised in Christ (Exodus 13:2, 12).
  • In dedicating your child, you commit to live as parents who, by the grace of God, have a genuine walk with Jesus. In this way, you are committing to live a life worthy of emulation so as to not serve as a stumbling block to your child’s ongoing faith and trust in Jesus. (Matt. 18:5-6)
  • At the same time, your church (elders, deacons, members and community) commits to supporting, encouraging and praying for you, by the grace of God, as you seek to fulfill your God-given task of parenting and raising your child up in the knowledge of the Lord.

Child Dedication is Not:

Baptism: In order to avoid any confusion, it is important to note that dedicating your child is neither a “dry” baptism nor a substitute for baptism. As a church, we recognize believer’s baptism (i.e. baptism following the placing of your faith in Jesus) as the biblical model of baptism.

Magic: This likely goes without saying, but it too needs to be said. The practice of dedicating your child is not magic, nor a formula by which to manipulate God, nor does it place any kind of extra-special blessing or protection upon your child, nor does it secure or ensure their immediate or eventual salvation.

(Adapted and used by permission from Downtown Cornerstone Church, Seattle, WA www.downtowncornerstone.org/2014/04/30/mothers-day-child-dedications.)

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Who Needs Jesus? (Mark 12:13-17)

indexThe religious leaders in Jesus’ day struggled to make sense of what he was doing. It didn’t fit their preconceived categories of what was right and holy and needed. We see this in their question to Jesus’ disciples in Mark 2:16, “And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” 

Their question opens the door for Jesus to teach a fundamental principle for his new kingdom: And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners’” (Mark 2:17). Catch the irony and sarcasm, the “tongue in cheek” with which Jesus makes this statement. Here is what he’s saying, ”Those who think that they are well, even when they are sick, will not know that they need a doctor. But those who are sick, and are fully aware that they are sick, they will gladly receive the healing of the doctor.”

Here’s what the “tax collectors and sinners” as well as Mark’s original readers, and so too we, should hear Jesus saying: “I have come for everyone who is humble enough to recognize the need in their life for forgiveness of sin, and humble enough to cry out for the Physician for healing of their sin-sick soul. I’ve come for you. The kingdom of God is not limited to a certain kind of person, from a certain place, etc. It belongs to the poor in spirit.”

Click to listen to Who Needs Jesus? (Mark 12:13-17) from May 25. Also, other messages in the Jesus the Servant King series from the Gospel of Mark.

Discussion Questions for Community Groups & Families (10/25)

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 Mark 2:13-17, Who Needs Jesus?. 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

  • If you grew up in a church, what man-made rules were in place that made you different than the people around you? Was this good or bad?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…
  • What is the key question asked by the Pharisees in the passage?
  • What does Jesus’ response, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” teach us about Jesus?

Application Questions

  • When you hear, “Don’t be too righteous for Jesus”, how does it make you feel? Where might you be guilty of this?
  • Who is there in your life that might be in Mark’s category, “tax collectors and sinners”? How are you doing at engaging with them?

Prayer

  • Ask God that he would give you the heart of Jesus to love, befriend, pursue, and be Jesus for the non-Christians in your life.

Thanking God for Paralysis?

ryle jcGod’s sovereign use of suffering was one of the “minor” themes from the Mark 2:1-12, “healing of the paralytic” passage that I just did not have time to cover in the sermon last Sunday (Who Can Forgive Sins?).

I found this extended quote from J.C. Ryle to be thought provoking…

Who can doubt that to the end of his days this man would thank God for his palsy? Without it he might probably have lived and died in ignorance, and never seen Christ at all…The palsy was indeed a blessing. Who can tell but it was the beginning of eternal life to his soul?…They have learned wisdom by affliction. Bereavements have proved mercies. Losses have proved real gains. Sicknesses have led them to the great Physician of souls, sent them to the Bible, shut out the world, shown them their own foolishness, taught them to pray. Thousands can say like David, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn thy statutes” (Ps. 119:71)…Every sickness and sorrow is a gracious message from God, and is meant to call us nearer to him. Let us pray that we may learn the lesson that each affliction is appointed to convey.

J.C. Ryle (1857; 2012). Expository Thoughts on Mark, Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust.

Who Can Forgive Sins? (Mark 2:1-12)

indexI closed this Sunday’s message, Who Can Forgive Sins?, with a joyful encouragement for us to rejoice in the “completeness” of our forgiveness in Jesus Christ, by letting these amazing words flood into our hearts and minds…

  • Isaiah 43:25…”I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
  • Isaiah 38:17b…”in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”
  • Micah 7:19…”He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
  • Psalm 103:10-12…”He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

Click here to listen to the entire message, Who Can Forgive Sins? from the series, Jesus the Servant King.

Community Group & Family Discussion Questions for May 18, 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. Earlier today, from the Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King, we looked at Mark 2:1-12, Who Can Forgive Sins?. 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

  • Can you forgive an unrepentant person?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…
  • What is the key question in the passage?
  • Why did Jesus say to the man first, “Son, your sins are forgiven” when he had obviously come to have his paralysis healed? What’s the bigger lesson he is teaching?
  • How is God’s forgiveness complete? (Verses to support?)

Application Questions

  • What happens when we miss the bigger lesson of Jesus and get caught up in our own agendas and preconceived thoughts of what God can do?
  • Where are you refusing to forgive yourself? Why is this anti-gospel?

Prayer

  • Pray for the power to believe, understand, seek, receive, and give forgiveness.
  • Pray that God’s forgiveness would flow freely through our church!

Sovereign Compassion in Action (Mark 1:21-45)

indexMercy Hill worship pastor, Ryan Guerra, captured one of the themes of the sermon today with this thought…

Jesus became unclean in order for us to be cleansed from sin. Such a great image of this when Jesus TOUCHED the leper in order to heal him and in touching him Jesus became unclean himself, yet the leper was IMMEDIATELY healed. A great image and an inspiring example of sacrifice for the Christian.

Click here if you missed it, or want to hear the entire message: Sovereign Compassion in Action (Mark 1:21-45) from the series on the Gospel of Mark, Jesus the Servant King. (Please excuse the recording. Sometimes in a church plant, not everything works the way you have planned!)

Community Group & Family Discussion Questions for May 11, 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. Earlier today, from the Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King, we looked at Mark 1:21-45, Sovereign Compassion in Action. 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 impact would it have if Jesus walked into your Community Group and began to preach/teach?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…What stands out to you from the sermon?
  • Define “sovereign compassion”.
  • What are the three areas that this passage reveals to us Jesus exercising sovereign compassion?

Application Questions

  • How have you experienced the sovereign compassion of Jesus in your life? How have you responded to his sovereign compassion? What’s been good, what’s been bad?

Prayer

  • Pray for Jesus’ sovereign compassion to be seen in our midst and responded to in right, God-centered, Jesus-worshiping ways!

The Kingdom of God is Here (MK. 1:14-20)

indexJesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand…” (Mark 1:14-15)

God’s kingdom has broken in to our lives in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This demands a response from us; just as it did in the lives of those who were first on the scene to hear him.

This is how I would summarize the response Jesus calls for in Mark 1:14-20: Hear… Repent… Believe… Follow. We do this once when we come to faith in Jesus, but it is also the ongoing lifestyle of a Christian. We keep hearing the truth. We keep turning away from what is keeping us from Jesus. We keep turning to him in faith; believing that he is our only hope and joy  We keep following him in obedience to his call.

Click to listen to the full message, The Kingdom of God is at Hand from the series, Jesus the Servant King.

Community Group & Family Discussion Questions for May 4, 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. Yesterday, from the Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King, we looked at Mark 1:14-20, The Kingdom of God is Here. 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 stands out to you from the sermon?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…
  • Jesus comes preaching that the kingdom of God has come. What does he mean by that? What is the nature of God’s kingdom?
  • What are the responses that Jesus calls for in light of the kingdom having come?

Application Questions

  • Pastor Craig talked about the lifestyle of “hear; repent; believbe; follow.” Briefly discuss each with a focus on where it is in your own life that you need to do one or more of these.
  • How have you seen Jesus make you a “fisher of men”?

Prayer

  • Pray for God’s grace as you seek to live a lifestyle of “hear; repent; believe; follow.”
  • Remember to pray for Mercy Hill at this exciting season of our life together.