devos from the hill

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The Most Annoying Word in the English Language

A devotional from Fred Carpenter…

It is the most annoying word in the English language,
but one of the most powerful in the Bible!

Every year, Marist College in New York conducts an opinion poll to determine what word or phrase Americans consider to be the most annoying*. For the past six years, “whatever” has topped the list.

Of course, inflection and context affect the meaning of “whatever”. But when this word is used as a holophrase (a single word sentence), the result is never edifying. It may be spoken in an argument to admit that you are wrong without admitting it, thus ending the argument. It may be said to convey and an attitude of indifference, apathy or disrespect. It is one sure way to kill a conversation, or perhaps escalate the tension in the room.

Use of the word, “whatever” can also be an indication of frustration. A person using this word may not see the value of being understood or understanding the other person. Or perhaps the path to achieve this goal just seems too difficult, if not impossible, or even painful. Communication is hard work!

In a culture where apathy, disrespect and the inability to communicate effectively and authentically is pervasive, it is easy to understand why the word “whatever” has become so commonplace. But what about a different context, one in which purpose, respect and meaningful communication are held as high values? Is there a higher purpose for this word? Continue reading


Guiding Principles of Mars Hill

For over 35 years, Mars Hill films and videos have been used around the world to introduce thousands of people to faith in Christ. Since its inception,CMars Hill has gone through various seasons of ministry, producing different genres of media (short dramatic film, video curriculum, documentary, etc.) for diverse audiences and purposes. Each season has had, and in many cases is still having, a unique and significant impact.

The common thread that ties all of this ministry together is a set of guiding principles that influence what we do and how we do it. Perhaps you will find something of value in these principles to guide you in life and ministry.

The manner in which we pursue the purpose of Mars Hill
is influenced by valuing the following beliefs.

  1. The belief that at any point in time, God has a specific mission for this ministry and that He has a specific plan by which He would have us fulfill that mission
  2. The belief that through personal and corporate prayer, prayerful evaluation of relevant information and prayerful discussion, we can (as God allows) come to a conviction concerning His mission for Mars Hill and His plan to fulfill that mission
  3. The belief that this conviction, which the Bible calls faith (Heb.11:1), should be the basis of every decision and action, for “whatever is not from faith is sin ” (Rom.14:23)
  4. The belief that God will confirm the mission and plan through corporate unity as well as spiritual conviction
  5. The belief that the mission and plan will always be consistent with the Word of God, the Mars Hill Statement of Faith, the Mars Hill Mission Statement and the legal documents that govern the structure and operation of Mars Hill
  6. The belief that God will always provide what we need in order to do what He is calling us to do
  7. The belief that there are times when God calls us to do things that contradict natural wisdom. However, in such times there is still value to natural wisdom in that it gives us the ability to understand the gaps we are trusting God to fill. God makes Himself known when He does what only He can do.
  8. The belief that quality is important, because what we do makes a statement about the One we serve
  9. The belief that the ultimate measure of success is faithfulness to what God has called us to do

For more than 35 years, the stated purpose of Mars Hill has been
“To use media to draw people to Jesus Christ.”

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God Always Provides …

God Always Provides for His Plan and Purpose
by Fred Carpenter

1) Consider the following Scriptures:

Matthew 21:1-6
1 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 “If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.'” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them…

Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

2) What do you see in these verses? (can you think of other things?)

  • v1 – He didn’t send all the disciples, just two. God’s work doesn’t depend on large numbers. These disciples weren’t going to search for the donkey and the colt. They were going to retrieve the donkey and the colt. When Jesus sent His disciples out to do ministry, He sent them in two’s.
  • v2-3 – The instructions were clear. God is in the details. The more specific the prophecy in Zechariah, the more glory to God when we read of its fulfillment in detail in Matthew (and Mark and Luke).
  • v2-3 – The provision had been prearranged. God had somehow prepared the heart of the person who owned the donkey and the colt. For every story there is a back story, and every character is vital to the greater narrative.
  • v5 – This was done so prophecy might be fulfilled. 9:9 was written about 500 before the event in Matthew 21.
  • v5 – Jesus didn’t just need a ride into town. He specifically needed a donkey and colt (and according to the parallel passages in Mark 11 and Luke 19, a colt that had never been ridden). A Jewish king might have come on a mule (1 Kings 1:38). A warring conqueror might have come on a war horse. A donkey and a colt symbolized humility, not war and aggression. Consider also that our passage identifies this donkey as a beast of burden. Jesus was about to take on the burden of the sin of the world.
  • v6 – The two disciples followed His instructions exactly, without questions.
  • This whole story defies natural wisdom and probability. It does not depend on human ingenuity and capacity. It reveals and magnifies the hand of God.

3) From what you have read, what can you apply to your life? (here is a partial list)

  • As we’ve seen with the owner of the donkey and the colt, every person is vital to the story – even if the role is “behind-the-scenes”. You are important to God’s story!
  • A lot of time passed between the prophecy in Zechariah and its fulfillment. Sometimes the story takes time to unfold. Be patient.
  • God will provide exactly what we need in order to fulfill His plan and purpose. Walk in His plan, and He will provide all you need to fulfill His purpose for your life.


The Model Prayer – Pt 6/6

The Teaching of Jesus on Prayer – Part 6 of 6
Expanded and Adapted From The HOPE Study Guide


If you wanted to learn how to pray, who would you choose for a teacher? In Matthew 6:9-13, you can find a model prayer given to you by Jesus Himself. It was not given simply to recite, but to teach you how to pray. It has been called “the true pattern for all prayer.” Each verse in this prayer identifies an important aspect of prayer. This is part 6 of 6 in our study of the model prayer. Our focus here is verse 13b.

“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
– Matthew 6:13b 

Verse 13b does not appear in all early manuscripts of the Bible. However, for the purpose of this devotional, let’s consider this verse a powerful proclamation, which praises God. And praise is certainly the appropriate response for one who has been blessed by intimate fellowship with God.

In Exodus 33, we read about a dialogue between Moses and God that took place after the nation of Israel had been incredibly dishonoring to God. Moses had a lot to speak with God about. At the conclusion of their conversation, Moses told God that he did not want to go forward unless the presence of God went with him. After concluding your time of prayer with God, you would not want to go on without a sense of His presence either, would you?

The Bible teaches that God inhabits (KJV), or is enthroned upon (NASB, ESV), the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). In other words, when you praise God, you are inviting Him to manifest His presence in your life. And when that happens, the powers of darkness will flee because they cannot stand the presence of God. Perhaps you should stop here and let those last two sentences sink in. Think about it, the power of praising God. Is it a regular experience in your life?

Hebrews 13:15 tells us that praise should be a constant theme in our walk with God: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Praise brings glory to God . . . and it so good for us!

If you want to make praising God a more constant part of your life and you’re finding it difficult to get there, then ask Him to help. Pray David’s prayer in Psalm 51:15 on a regular basis: “O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.”

The word that punctuates our verse today, “amen”, literally means “so be it.” In the words of one writer, “To add ‘amen’ to our prayer is like the judge striking his desk with the gavel, proclaiming, ‘It is done.’ ”