devos from the hill


Leave a comment

Money in the Mouth of a Fish, and an AC Unit on the Roof

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.

“However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” – (the words of Jesus to Peter when he was challenged by the tax authorities as to whether or not his Master paid taxes) – Matt. 17:27

Several years ago, as we were approaching another hot Houston summer, Doug Whitehead, our VP of Administration informed me that one of the two Mars Hill air conditioner units on our roof had gone out. The AC unit was not our landlord’s responsibility, it was ours. We talked about our options: hold off and endure the heat until we were in a better financial position, or bite the bullet and purchase a replacement unit.

Whatever our decision, we determined that the first thing to do was to get up on the roof and assess the situation; the type of unit, its location, etc. Upon doing our diligence, we discovered something very unusual. Much to our amazement, next to our dead unit, there was another unit in perfect condition (a third unit) just sitting there. Before we moved into our space, it was occupied by a restaurant which needed three AC units to handle a capacity crowd. When we moved in, that third unit was never connected, and it was now available to us!

We marveled at God’s provision! The first thought that came to my mind was the fish story from Matt. 17. God had that fish swallow the coin to pay the tax before Peter even knew it was needed. From that AC experience, I learned a lesson that has set a pattern for me to this very day. Continue reading


Leave a comment

He’ll Take Care of the Rest

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.

God Always Provides Exactly What We Need… to Do Exactly What He is Calling Us to Do

31“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:31-33

The normative pattern at Mars Hill is that every full-time person serves as a media missionary.  In that role, these staff members build teams of people who share in their missionary calling, through prayer and giving. It is a walk of faith. That is how I have been living for 40 years. And I can say honestly that God has never failed to provide exactly what I needed in order to do what He was calling me to do.

Many times, there has been a very direct relationship between my need, and what was clearly His provision. I remember well, a time in the early days of Mars Hill, when my wife and I did not know how we were going to make ends meet, and God would lead people to do things, like anonymously leave a bag of food and diapers on our porch or provide a scholarship for our kids to do something, not in our budget. There were many times like that, and today they are treasured memories that taught me priceless lessons about God’s faithfulness.

In light of Matthew 6:33, and my personal experience of trusting in His provision for 40 years, there are three things I’d like to share.

1) He knows exactly what we need and it is His role as our Father to provide it.

In 1986, two things in my world were on a collision course. It looked like I was in for the perfect storm. First, my staff was growing. Second, this growth was happening as Houston was heading into what was arguably the worst economic environment it had seen since the Great Depression. At that time, we had not yet determined that all full-time staff would build ministry teams. I was feeling the weight of it.

One night, in a Bible study I led, we were sharing prayer requests. I shared that when I started Mars Hill, I was single, and I could have been content living out of my car if need be. The only person I had to trust God for was me. Then I got married. And then my staff grew, and they began to marry. Then I started a family, and my staff started families. In the beginning, I only had to trust God for one person, “now I feel as though I’m trusting Him for 40 people.” I suppose I was asking the group to help me deal with the weight of it all. That’s when one of the wives in the group said, “Well Fred, you know, Jesus trusted the Father for the whole world.” I don’t think she knew how profoundly her words would impact me to this very day.

It’s true. Our Father knows exactly what we need, to do what He is calling us to do, and it is His role as our Father to provide it. If Jesus trusted the Father for the whole world, certainly I could trust Him for 40 people. Which leads me to my second point.

2) Our role is simply to be faithful to what He is calling us to do.

Jesus came, not to do His will, but the will of His Father.  Jesus is our model.  Our part is to be faithful to what God is calling us to do. And as the old Keith Green song says, “He’ll take care of the rest.” The problem comes when we start doing things He is not calling us to do, or we are not doing the things that He is calling us to do.

I believe that “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (v.33) plays out differently in the life of every believer. Certainly, we are all called to “. . . love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deu. 6:5).  But as we live that out, we discover our unique, personal calling . . . our mission in life.

In his 2nd letter to Timothy (chapter 2, verse 4), Paul compares a faithful disciple of Christ to a soldier. A soldier is not to get entangled with the things that a regular citizen is concerned with. The soldier keeps his focus on the mission, and the army takes care of the soldier’s basic needs. The same principle applies to a faithful disciple. Stay true to the mission He has given you, and He will provide what you need to follow through.

And I would humbly submit, it is one thing for me to state this principle. It is another to state after having experienced it over and over for 40 years in the trenches of a faith-based ministry.

3) We have unlimited resource in Him.

I have a friend who is very involved and successful in both business and ministry.  He once shared with me that the difference between the two is this. In business, you have a limited amount of capital, and your challenge is to figure out how to use it as effectively as possible.

In ministry, your challenge is to figure out what God is calling you to do and how to do it as effectively as possible, knowing that His resource (including capital) is unlimited.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of scaling back your mission in order to operate within your own limited resource. But God is never resource constrained. His resource is infinite! “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”; boldly pursue your mission, and “He’ll take care of the rest!”


Leave a comment

Specific Answer to Specific Prayer Glorifies God

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions! In this devotional series, president, Fred Carpenter is reflecting on the important lessons of God that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.

Lessons in Praying Specific Prayer
By Fred Carpenter

The year was 1985. My work in media ministry was growing as was my young family. My wife, Nancy, and I had 2 small children and a third one was on the way.

One day I got a phone call from my distressed wife. She reported that she had been driving on the freeway with our two young children in the backseat, in their car seats, when suddenly our boisterous son, Wes, tried to open the back door of the car…from his car seat! Needless to say, Nancy was unnerved.

At that time, I was leading a men’s Bible Study. We always closed the study time with prayer, and on this day I shared what had happened with Nancy and Wes, and I requested prayer for their safety. Nothing more was said about the matter at that time.

God, of course, was continuing to move in my heart and mind to pray for my family as they traveled about town in our old Honda. It had been a great car, but it seemed that my family was about to outgrow it. I started asking God, “Do we really need another car or do I just want a new car? Show me, Father. I want to pray according to your will.” Continue reading


1 Comment

His Grace is Sufficient

In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul writes that he was given a “thorn in the flesh” by God to prevent him from becoming arrogant. He asked the Lord three times to remove it and the Lord would not. The following verse was the Lord’s answer to Paul:

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  – 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Grace! It cannot be touched or held in your hand. It is not an object to be observed or measured. A common definition is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. But this statement from the Lord to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” what does this mean? When we are hurting or tormented or placed in some undesirable circumstance for which there is no way out, how do we lay hold of this grace?

In my life, there have been four areas where I have encountered this grace.

Through the Body

By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.  – John 13:35  Through fellowship groups, Bible study groups, and accountability partners, I have received encouragement, I have been specifically upheld in prayer, and I have had tangible needs met. God’s sufficient grace has been bestowed on me through others within the body of Christ.

His Truth – the Quickening of His Word in which is Hidden in our Heart 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28  By filling my mind with His Word, I have a solid foundation for my life so that even if the framework breaks down, I am securely anchored. Continue reading


3 Comments

Man’s Thoughts – God’s Thoughts

The following is a list of thoughts and attitudes, common to us all. But, each and every discouraging statement is countered by a glorious truth from God and His Word. If you are struggling or downhearted, read His words; let His declarations wash over you and renew your perspective.

 

“It’s impossible”
All things are possible with Me.
“The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

“I’m too tired”
 I will give you rest.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

“I feel unloved”
I love you.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“I can’t go on”
My grace is sufficient.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, So that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” –2Corinthians 12:9

“I can’t figure this out”
 I will direct your steps.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5,6
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21

“I can’t do it”
You can do all things.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

“I’m not able”
I am able.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” – 2Corinthians 9:8

“It’s not worth it”
It will be worth it.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” – Galatians 6:9

“I can’t forgive myself”
I forgive you.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” –1John 1:9
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

“I can’t resist this temptation”
I have provided a way.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” – 1Corinthians 10:13
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

“I don’t have enough to make it”
 I will supply all your needs.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

“I’m afraid”
 You do not have to be afraid. I am here and I’ve got this.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. – 2Timothy 1:7
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“I am anxious and stressed”
You can cast all your cares on Me.
“. . . humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1Peter 5:7

“I don’t have enough faith”
I have given you all the faith you need.
“God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” – Romans 12:3

“I’m not smart enough”
 I give you wisdom and the mind of Christ.
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” – James – 1:5
“Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 2:16

“I feel alone”
I am with you.
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
“I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU” – Hebrews 13:5

“I feel inadequate”
You are complete.
“. . . in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” – Colossians 2:10


Leave a comment

God’s Provision

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Doug Whitehead.
Doug serves Mars Hill as the VP of Administration.

Do I REALLY trust God for my provision?

I should consider this question in every facet of my life.  Do I trust God for His provision of my sanctification, protection, healing…everything?  Today, I’m narrowing this question down to one area, my financial support or material provision.

Belonging to a ministry that lives in a community of missionary-faith-based supported staff (say that three times fast) brings me face to face with this question and continually causes me to consider and sometimes walk in the reality of God’s absolute provision for my support.  If I am wavering in my faith about God providing my salary support and all that it entails, then God brings me assurance of the reality of His provision right when I need it.  For example, when I work with new staff people to help them in the process of discovering who God is bringing to them to support their work at Mars Hill, when I recount (REMEMBER) the stories of God’s provision to them, it re-charges me and continues to build my faith in Him as my provider.

Whether it’s God’s reminder through His word that “He owns the cattle on a 1000 hills” (Psalm 50:10) or “my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus,”  (Phil. 4:19) or “therefore, don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matt. 6:31) and “your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matt. 6:32)…….the scripture is very specific that God will provide what we need.

Continuing to REMEMBER what God has done and how concerned I was before He did it, helps me with my faith and trust that He will continue to provide.  (Beverly keeps a long list of the things that God has provided for her for this very purpose!)  When I reflect back on how the Lord provided, it is humbling.  For example, when I first joined the ministry of Mars Hill my second child hadn’t even been born but I remember saying to the Lord “ there won’t be enough left over to prepare for my children’s college expenses so I’m going to have to trust you to come through.  I let that concern go for many years, but it started creeping back into my mind as our boys moved closer to the college years.

When the guys were something like 17 and 15 years old we were at the beach with our best friends.  I was expressing my concern to my friends that we didn’t have any money for college expenses and if either of our sons was injured, all the preparation in their respective sports wouldn’t do much good.  There were so many unknowns about the athletic scholarship path.  I recognized there wasn’t any security on that path.  Somehow, before the trip was over, the Lord reassured me that I should continue to trust Him.

Now, one son has a college degree from the University of Texas and the other has a college degree from Rice University and we didn’t have to borrow a penny.  Some of the Lord’s provision for these years came in the most unexpected way.  The Lord keeps answering that prayer for His provision for college expenses as it appears that both my youngest son and his wife can get a free Masters and MBA degree at the college they are currently working for. Continue reading


1 Comment

Consider What Great Things He Has Done For You!

God has blessed Mars Hill with an incredible team of men and women who love Jesus – the risen, reigning, and returning King. Together, we passionately pursue Him as we work to see the Great Commission fulfilled. Together, we study the Scriptures. We embrace and celebrate the mystery of faith and the magnificence of our AWESOME God. And we long for our Savior’s return, when we will know fully as we are fully known.

The Holy Spirit has breathed unique wisdom, discernment and gifts for service into each member of our staff. That said, we are delighted to commence a new series of devotionals, in which each member of our staff will be sharing insights from their inimitable journey with our Father.

We hope that God’s redemptive work in our lives will resonate with what He’s doing in yours.


Today’s Devotional is from team member, Brenda Bowman.
Brenda serves Mars Hill with Partner Relations and Special Projects.

Brenda CU_2b brighter_QL0A5057

About 20 years ago, in the middle of a sermon, the Lord impressed me with a verse that made me think, “That is what I want my life to be about….that is my motto.” That verse is 1 Samuel 12:24 (NASB):

“Only fear the Lord 
and serve Him in truth with all your heart;
for consider what great things He has done for you.”

The verse begins with the fear of the Lord. I desire to respect, trust, depend on, take seriously, and honor the Lord. These are just some of the things that define fearing the Lord for me.

Serving Him in truth with my heart is the most ambiguous part of this verse to me. I am still discovering what this means and what it should look like in my life. Some of it is manifest in my physical life, such as serving Him in my work and serving Him in the body of Christ. But I think there are even deeper levels that I am unearthing; levels that have to do with being and living IN truth. There is a constant war within me to be truthful….with myself, with Him, with others. I want to fudge in hopes that I will come off in a better light. I will even try to fool myself!

The easiest part of this verse, and the part that helps get me back on track is the last part…considering – remembering what great things He has done for me!

That really is a key for me in working on the first two parts of the verse. Remembering His great sacrifice for me on the cross is the most obvious and most monumentally humbling thing I can bring to mind. But there are also the many prayers He has answered, with “yeses and nos.” I can also list many times that He has been merciful so that I did not receive as severe a consequence as I deserved or gracious so that I got some blessing that I definitely didn’t warrant. Continue reading