devos from the hill


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The God Idea: Part 1 – Dreams, Visions, Convictions

How Dreams, Visions, and Convictions Come and Grow 
By Fred Carpenter

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, president, Fred Carpenter is taking the time to recount the important lessons God has taught us; lessons that have guided us in ministry and led us into a deeper understanding of His ways.

“That’s a good idea!” Have you ever heard or said that?  Most likely you have. But, consider this, while every “idea” that comes from God is “good”, not every idea that is good according to people, is a “God idea.” When it began 40 years ago, the ministry of Mars Hill was not just a “good idea.” It was something more. In today’s devotional we discussed this, and began our conversation about dreams, visions, and convictions by reading the following scriptures from The Bible:

Genesis 37:5-8  Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

 Habakkuk 2:1-3  I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the LORD answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.”

Hebrews 11:1  Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Read the full chapter of Hebrews for examples of faith.)

“Convictions of Things Not Seen” That Have Shaped the Ministry Path of Mars Hill

Beginnings. The year 1974 was significant for me in 2 ways, I became a follower of Jesus Christ and I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Film. Even though I was young in my faith, I had come to Christ after much searching, and I was quickly coming into the strong conviction that I would not be pursuing a film-making career in Hollywood. In fact, I had lunch with some friends from school and as we exchanged plans for our futures I told them, “I’m going to make films to introduce people to Christ, but I don’t think they’re going to look like anything else out there.” Even as I spoke these words I thought to myself, “Where did that idea come from?” Continue reading


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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.

 


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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.


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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


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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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Finding Deep Truth in Small Verses

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

“Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

I believe the Word of God is inspired by God Himself. This conviction sets the stage for me as I read a passage of scripture. Years ago, as I was reading Proverb 16:3, I asked God what He wanted me to see in this short verse. What He showed me has made this little verse one of my “life verses.”

The first thing that impressed me was God’s choice of the phrases “your work” and “’your plans”. I suppose at first glance this verse could look like a formula for self-determination; a means to an end to get what we want in life. But as the Spirit, my Teacher, directed the eyes of my heart to see these words through the lens of other scripture, I understood that “your” work and plans are not the work and plans we choose of our own initiative, rather, they are the ones He has chosen for us . . . from before the foundations of the world! I was reminded of John 8:28 where we read that Jesus did nothing of His own initiative, and of Jeremiah 29:11 which reads, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD . . .”, and of Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” . . . and so on and so on. I love the way the Word of God resonates with itself! It is true that “Deep calls to deep . . .” – Psalm 42:7. Continue reading


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Are You Ready for Another Day of Labor?

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

Emile_Claus-the_Harvest

Does the title to this devotional cause a happy feeling to rise up within you? Probably not. Many of our feelings about work are no doubt shaped by the curse that came after the fall (Gen.2:17-19.) But God, who redeems fallen things, is able to change our perspective on work.

On June 24, 1894 Congress passed a law making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, Labor Day. Yesterday was that day. How did it work out for you? On the morning after, were you ready for another day of labor, or would you rather have another day off?

Paul closes the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians with a strong statement that speaks directly to our attitude about labor. “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (v.58). Reading this verse, two questions jump out, “What is the work of the Lord?”, and “Why should we have this attitude about it?” Continue reading


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The Greater Work

Mars Hill Staff Devotional
The Key of The Greater Work
by Oswald Chambers

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:12-13 (NASB)

Have you ever had the thought, “I am of no use where I am?” This devotional takes us to task on the truth of where our real responsibility and power comes from.

Prayer does not equip us for greater works – prayer is the greater work.

For more, read this from Oswald Chambers: http://utmost.org/the-key-of-the-greater-work/