devos from the hill


1 Comment

Remembering What God has Taught Us Through 40 years of Ministry

Mars Hill was founded in 1977 by Fred Carpenter and Larry Kreider. Together they shared a vision for the potential of ministry through media. In this year, marking the 40th anniversary of Mars Hill Productions, we are taking the time to recount the lessons God has taught us; lessons that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.

As I was reflecting on 40 years of ministry, I was drawn to the life of Moses as he led the Hebrew people out of Egypt, through the Judean wilderness, and toward the land God had promised to give them.

As the Hebrew people were nearing the fulfillment of God’s promise to inherit a land of their own, these are the words that Moses spoke to them:

“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” – Deuteronomy 8:1-2

This moment of entering the Promised Land was part of a bigger plan that God Himself had set into motion years before with a covenant promise to Abraham and his descendants. As this promise was about to be fulfilled, Moses exhorted the people to remember all the hardships they had faced and all the ways that God had faithfully led and provided for those that trusted in Him.

While I do not directly compare the Mars Hill journey to this chapter in the lives of God’s chosen people, there are some universal truths that the Word of God reveals to us. As Christians, the message for us all is that the lessons learned in this life are preparing us for what God has for us in eternity.

Just like the Hebrew followers, all the circumstances and challenges that Mars Hill has faced in the in the last 40 years have drawn us, both corporately and individually, into deeper relationships with the Lord. They have also, sharpened the focus of the ministry.

Another observation from the life of Moses is found in Psalm 103:7, “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. Notice that the people saw the acts of God. They saw the sea part, they saw Him provide manna from heaven, but Moses spoke with God. He got to discuss things with Him and hear some of the reasons behind His actions.

John Morris of the Institute of Creation Research says, “We have a distinct privilege, as to know something of the “acts” of God. Scripture records many instances where He performed even miraculous deeds on behalf of His children. There is perhaps a greater privilege–that of reflecting on His “ways,” as well. “Ways,” in this context, may be understood as God’s actions and behaviors which reflect His underlying character, resulting in His “acts.”

Adrian Rogers said, “There is something more important than knowing the will of God–it is knowing the WAYS of God. There are 2 ways to know Him: Know His works (see what He does) and Know His WAYS (have insight into God’s character).To know the difference will mean the difference between peace and panic.”

“His way” is not referring to the Law (doing things His way), but to His very character. God’s ways are clearly different than ours, as stated in Isaiah 55:8 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD, and also in Romans 11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

But, we who are in Christ have the same privilege as Moses did, to draw near to God and learn His ways.  I Peter 4:1-2 tells us, “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” Through Christ, we have been shown more of God’s character and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to apply His ways to our lives as Philippians 2:5 tells us,  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”

Revelation is progressive and it is important to take the time to remember what God has taught us. Remembering keeps us sharp and ready to learn new lessons. It is also an encouragement to review what the Lord has done in us and for us – laying a foundation of hope and assurance that He will continue to build on.

Heb 5:13  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.

Heb 5:14  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

 

Consider This:

 Rick Warren suggests keeping a journal of insights and life lessons that God has taught you about Himself, ourselves, life, relationships, and everything else. Reviewing this journal can keep us from having to relearn lessons… Hebrews 2:1 – Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

 


Leave a comment

A Tale of Three Kings – Chapter 1

A devotional from Gene Edwards book, A Tale of Three Kings

Chapter One

Our lesson today begins with the young boy, David. He is the youngest of 8 boys and at the bottom of the pecking order, he is relegated to the most menial duties of taking care of the family’s flock of sheep.

As the story in the book unfolds, we see that young David spends a lot of time on his own with his charges. He fills some of his time playing his harp and singing. He has much time to ponder the world and think about the God of his ancestors.

Additionally, he takes up the art of slinging stones with increasing accuracy. This proves to be a most excellent skill when he sees, one day, a bear about to attack one of the sheep. He is able to take down the bear with the precision acquired from so much practice! In another incident, David also killed a lion who threatened his flock.

Is it any wonder that when faced with the challenge to come up against the giant Philistine, Goliath, David feels physically, mentally and spiritually prepared?

All of that time spent alone, tending sheep, left to his own thoughts and devices, David could have become bitter and angry or filled with self-pity and fear. He could have rebelled against his lot in life and run off on his own. He might have developed a victim mentality and given himself over to slothfulness. Instead, he embraced his circumstances and found ways to develop useful skills that would give him aid at many times throughout his life. Even his musical ability was used to soothe Saul’s troubled spirit seen in I Samuel 16.

By working in and through David’s circumstances, God could be seen preparing him for some very great accomplishments, ultimately ruling a nation. Likewise, God is preparing in us, what he has prepared for us! It may not be by the means we think it is and it may not be for the reason we think it is; the important truth is to keep our hearts tuned to praising God and our minds fixed on learning what He has for us to do in each and every moment. When our time comes for action we will be ready.


Leave a comment

Do You Worship the Work?

Today our staff discussed the following thoughts as we prayerfully considered the question, “Do you worship the work?”

From AW Tozer, “Gems from Tozer” – “We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshiper, and after that he can learn to be a worker…The work done by a worshiper will have eternity in it.”

Luke 10:38-42 38)Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39)She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40)But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41)But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42)but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

From Oswald Chamber’s, My Utmost for His Highest – Do You Worship the Work? – Beware of any work for God that causes or allows you to avoid concentrating on Him. A great number of Christian workers worship their work. The only concern of Christian workers should be their concentration on God. This will mean that all the other boundaries of life, whether they are mental, moral, or spiritual limits, are completely free with the freedom God gives His child; that is, a worshiping child, not a wayward one. A worker who lacks this serious controlling emphasis of concentration on God is apt to become overly burdened by his work. He is a slave to his own limits, having no freedom of his body, mind, or spirit. Consequently, he becomes burned out and defeated. There is no freedom and no delight in life at all. His nerves, mind, and heart are so overwhelmed that God’s blessing cannot rest on him.

But the opposite case is equally true – once our concentration is on God, all the limits of our life are free and under the control and mastery of God alone. There is no longer any responsibility on you for the work. The only responsibility you have is to stay in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with Him. The freedom that comes after sanctification is the freedom of a child, and the things that used to hold your life down are gone. But be careful to remember that you have been freed for only one thing– to be absolutely devoted to your co-Worker.

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Two takeaways from today:
1) If you are frustrated or burnt out with your work, it could be that your are focused on the wrong thing….the work!

2) God gives us work to do, but it is so easy to get caught up in getting the job done that we lose sight of the fact that the One who gives us the work is the One who will give us what we need to accomplish the work. The job is always an opportunity to engage with God and worship God, allowing Him to work through us to accomplish His will.


3 Comments

The Passionate Longing of the Father’s Heart

Today the Mars Hill staff discussed a soon-to-be-published article on the state of the American Church with regard to the Great Commission. The following excerpt should give you a taste for the article, the mission of the Church, and why we are so passionate to oversee the ministry of The HOPE to reach every tongue, tribe, and nation.

The passionate longing of a father’s heart is for his children. A few years ago, there was a movie called “Taken.” A young girl went to Europe and was abducted by a sex trafficking ring. When her father in the U.S. learned of it, he immediately dropped everything and made a total commitment to do whatever was necessary to rescue her. His passion to free his daughter was intense. He would not be stopped by anything.

Somewhere in the world at this moment, there is a soul, chosen by our Father to be His son or daughter, and yet held captive by powerful evil forces. In fact, there are many souls. Our Father desires to bring His children, our brothers and sisters, home. He has equipped us, blessed us and empowered us for this purpose. He is calling us to commit to the mission.

Whether God heals America or not, I want to do all I can to help fulfill the desire of my Father’s heart to free His children. At Mars Hill, that is why we do what we do, and we invite you to join us!


2 Comments

NO RESERVES – NO RETREATS – NO REGRETS

William Whiting BordenIn Cairo, Egypt, at the end of a garbage-lined alley, in a poorly kept grave yard, there is a grave stone with this inscription . . .

  Apart from faith in Christ there is no explanation for such a life.
“Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
 – St. Mark XVI 15

This is the grave of William Whiting Borden (1887-1913).

An heir to the Borden Milk Co., William was born into affluence in Chicago, Illinois on November 1, 1887. In 1894, William’s mother became a Christ follower and she began taking him to Chicago Avenue Church (now Moody Church). William soon responded to the gospel preaching of Dr. R. A. Torrey, turned to Christ and was baptized.

When William graduated from high school in 1906, his parents offered whatever he wanted as a graduation present. He chose a trip around the world. For three months, he traveled by boat, train and on foot. He came home convinced that he wanted to be a missionary. His father saw this as a youthful aspiration, and assuming he would grow out of it, sent William off to Yale to earn a business degree.

Athletic, handsome and one of the most popular students at Yale, William started a morning prayer group that soon spread across the campus. By the end of the first year, 150 freshmen were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time William was a senior, 1,000 of Yale’s 1,300 students were meeting in such groups. Continue reading


1 Comment

I Am Set Free

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 Carol Fairbanks. 
Carol is our Graphics Intern and a student at Texas A&M.

I’ve always been a rather artistically inclined person, so I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone that one of my favorite ways to connect with the Lord is through music. There is one song, in particular, that has taken a special hold in my heart ever since I heard it, called I Am Set Free by All Sons and Daughters. It is a song that I can turn to if I just need a simple moment of worship or if I need something much more profound. The words to the chorus say:

I am set free
I am set free
It is for freedom that I am set free

While this chorus is admittedly simplistic, it reminds us of something extremely important: Christ set us free. And that freedom is worth praising God for!

This song references, specifically, Galatians 5:1, which is what we’ll focus on for the rest of this devotional. Galatians 5:1 says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

I think that this verse, this thought of freedom in Christ, resonates with me so much in this season of my life because when I look back at where I was the gravity of Christ’s ability to set us free is astounding.

Not too long ago, I was certainly not enjoying the freedom that Christ has given me. I think it would be accurate to say that I was far too apathetic to care that God had better plans for me—or that He had plans for me at all. Specifically, I’d gotten tired of waiting for God to provide for me a relationship that honored Him. I felt like I’d waited long enough and that if He wasn’t going to answer my prayers and desires, then I would just try to do it myself. Continue reading


1 Comment

“You follow Me.”

A devotional from Fred Carpenter, inspired by John 21…

“What is that to you? You follow Me.”

Can you imagine, walking on the beach with Jesus after His resurrection. That was the scene of an intimate encounter between Jesus and Peter (Find the full account of this story in John 21). Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter 3 times denied he even knew Jesus. Yes, Jesus already knew what was in Peter’s heart. He was giving Peter the opportunity to walk out the healing he desperately needed after his failure. Jesus then went on to explain to Peter that he would eventually die a martyr’s death. John, who would live out his natural life on the island of Patmos, was following behind. Looking at John, Peter asked, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22).

“What is that to you? You follow Me!” For those of us who tend to compare ourselves to others, or who think we know what we need to have, to be or to do in order to be fulfilled, these words can be extremely hard . . . or incredibly comforting.

One morning, years ago, I was having a quiet time with God. Well actually, I was “belly-aching” to God. The English version of The HOPE (a dramatic video presentation of Creation to Christ) had been out for quite some time, and we had completed a handful of translations. All of our work was now related to creating and disseminating even more translations. Most of our production staff who helped create The HOPE had moved on to other things. Production people enjoy exciting new challenges, and cranking out translations of The HOPE was certainly not as creatively challenging as producing it the first time around. As I compared myself to others on my team who had moved on to new challenges, I felt like I was, in a sense, left holding the bag.

Everywhere I went, well-meaning people asked me, “So, are you working on a new project?” “No, we’re still working on The HOPE.” I would reply. Then I would feel the need to explain that each language version of The HOPE was like a new project, or that writing a 65-lesson study guide was a huge challenge in and of itself. I suppose I was trying to somehow say we were still a creative and productive ministry, even though we weren’t working on “a new project.” I understood that my significance is not in what I do, but rather in who (and Whose) I am. But still, I felt like my significance was under attack. Continue reading