Month: December 2014

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.

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The Value of the Names of Jesus…

advent14As a fitting summary to our Advent reflection from Isaiah 9:2-7, particularly the names/titles for Jesus the Messiah given in verse 6, I wanted to share this quote from John Calvin that I ran across in my recent studies…

Whenever any distrust arises, and all means of escape are taken away from us, whenever, in short, it appears to us that everything is in a ruinous condition, let us recall to our remembrance that Christ is called Wonderful, because he has inconceivable methods of assisting us, and because his power is far beyond what we are able to conceive…

  • When we need counsel, let us remember that he is the Counsellor.
  • When we need strength, let us remember that he is Mighty and Strong.
  • When new terrors spring up suddenly every instant, and when many deaths threaten us from various quarters, let us rely on that eternity of which he is with good reason called the Father, and by the same comfort let us learn to soothe all temporal distresses.
  • When we are inwardly tossed by various tempests, and when Satan attempts to disturb our consciences, let us remember that Christ is The Prince of Peace, and that it is easy for him quickly to allay all our uneasy feelings.

Thus will these titles confirm us more and more in the faith of Christ, and fortify us against Satan and against hell itself.

(Links to the audio of the messages from the Advent series, Behold Your Savior!)

Finding True Peace

advent14“Peace on earth”. We hear it so often, especially this time of year in relation to Christmas. But we look around us and conflict abounds, thus peace seems elusive and perhaps even unattainable. This past Sunday we continued our Advent series, Behold Your Savior! by looking at Jesus as the Prince of Peace. I opened the message making this claim…

Peace is not the absence of conflict; but instead it is the presence of Christ – the very Prince (ruler) of Peace! His kingdom of peace coming, being established, and finally reaching its culmination.

Click to listen to the message Finding True Peace (from Isaiah 9:6-7).

Kingdom Partnership with New Century Church

PartŸnerŸship (English) / KaŸtuŸwang (Tagalog)

def.) the state of being a partner – having shared priorities, interests, and efforts

At Mercy Hill Church we believe that the mission of God is to make disciples. We want to see as many people as possible experience the sin-cleansing, shame-removing, life-changing, world-altering power of the Gospel. We exist to share this news and our lives with those who live and work in our communities and around the world. We desire to be a culturally engaged, church-planting church that seeks to see the Gospel spread locally and globally.

As a central feature to help us fulfill our desire to help make disciples globally, we want to develop partnerships with like-minded churches as God leads. The first of these is with New Century Church (NCC) in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.

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Craig & Kathy with the Pullian family

Why a partnership with New Century Church?

  • History. The Sturms have been ministering in various ways with NCC since 1998. This brings a natural, well-established relationship of trust and mutual support.
  • Shared Priorities. NCC and MHC both prioritize bringing the Gospel to those in their communities in culturally appropriate ways. We both have lessons to teach each other on how we can be faithful to this priority.
  • Shared Interests. NCC and MHC both have a strong interest to see new churches planted at the community level. NCC is in the final year of their goal to see seven mission sites started from the original church. MHC has and can continue to learn much about starting new churches from NCC.
  • Shared Efforts. We envision MHC joining with NCC in the effort to get the Gospel out to her communities. In addition, NCC has requested help in establishing and training her mission leaders.

What will this partnership look like initially?

We have a modest budget to seed this partnership for FY2014-15. Our goal is to walk slowly into the partnership, making sure we are doing what is helpful for both churches. Most importantly, we have started and will increasingly weave NCC into our prayer – personally and corporately. Of the specific options that the NCC leaders gave us, we will be considering supporting the following initiatives…

  • A Christmas gift to help bless the pastors and mission workers who receive no compensation for their faithful labor.
  • A special project to support the Child Development ministry at NCC’s Kay-Anlog Mission Church.
  • We may decide to send one or two of our leaders over to help train NCC leaders as they begin to develop their International Academy of Integral Ministry training center.

Please be praying for God’s will in this new Kingdom Partnership!

Rest Secure in the Mighty God! (Advent reflection from Isaiah 9:6-7)

advent14This past Sunday we continued to draw our hearts to Behold Your Savior! After last week’s reflection on Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor, we saw the beautiful connection of that with Jesus as the Mighty God. A key thought from the message:

Jesus not only knows what is best (as “Wonderful Counselor”), he can assure that it will happen because he is the all-mighty, all-powerful God of the universe! This is our Jesus. This is our Savior! This is a truth we can rest secure in and not be shaken!

Click to listen to the sermon: Rest Secure in the Mighty God! Other messages from the Behold Your Savior! Advent Series.

Jesus: The Wonderful Counselor

advent14Mercy Hill is in the midst of a special Advent series. Last Sunday, Bob Vishanoff preached from Isaiah 9:6-7, specifically focusing in on Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor. Here is a taste of what he shared:

“The more we trust and are confident in God’s faithfulness the less we need to know about what the future holds because we trust in The One who controls it.”

Listen to the sermon: Listen to the Wonderful Counselor