On Sunday, March 15, 2015, the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago celebrated Friends’ Day.
We had our largest attendance this year. Every seat, including two overflows were filled to capacity. I believe God gave us a glimpse of how Easter 2015 will be. Therefore, we’re adding a Saturday service for our members so we can free up space for our guests attending Easter Sunday.
People Reaching People
At Mars Hill, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People #PRP. That means we’re encouraged to stretch ourselves and do different things to reach people. We have to be open to new ideas, take some risks as we prepare for the overflow that God is sending us.
As pastor, I am asking our members to attend our Saturday Easter service (April 4th) at 5PM. It will be very similar to our Sunday services and CHILDCARE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO ALL. It’s casual so come as you are.
If you attend Saturday’s service and will attend Easter Sunday, we ask three things of you:
- Wear your Mars Hill T-shirt,
- Sit in the section for Mars Hill members, and if necessary,
- Be ready to give up your seat and go to the overflow or our cafe.
It’s all about reaching people this year so we have to be willing to make sacrifices.
If you are bringing guests on Easter Sunday and you need to sit with them, don’t wear a t-shirt because it is more important that our guests feel comfortable.
Easter Weekend Schedule:
Saturday, April 4, 2015
5PM – Live Worship Experience – Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago
5PM – **NEW Online Worship Experience** (Yep, it’s almost here)
Sunday, April 5, 2015
8AM – Live Worship Experience
8AM – **NEW Online Worship Experience**
10:30AM – Live Worship Experience
10:30AM – **NEW Online Worship Experience**
Remember, It’s all about People Reaching People #PRP.
Have you ever wondered what’s the real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually?
We blame it on the enemy, our busy lives, our careers, children, even the church we attend. The real reason you’re not as far as you’d like to be spiritually isn’t because of the enemy, busyness, or the complexity of sermons; it’s because we’re distracted. Despite knowing that distractions hamper productivity, most people don’t realize how it affects their spiritual growth.
In the few minutes it takes to read this blog post, chances are you’ll pause to check your phone, answer a text, switch to your desktop to read an email, or glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen. And pastors wonder why it is people are not growing spiritually. They’re distracted!
I will never forget a couple who attended Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago for five years. They almost never missed a week. They would walk in, hear the message and the music, and walk back out.
Week after week, in and out. They never met anybody. They never established any friendships. They never got involved in ministry. They never joined. They never built a network of support.
After about five years, they went through one of those horrendous, gut wrenching, devastating crises, that shattered their world. The kind that knocks you against the wall and leaves you gasping for breath just trying to hold on.
The real tragedy was, there was nobody there to help them. They had never taken the time to get to know anyone. They had never built any relationships. They had never been there for anybody else in a crisis, and nobody was there for their crisis. That’s sad. Because it’s completely unnecessary.
They could have taken the time before the storm to establish a few key relationships that would have been there to strengthen them when they were going through tough times. So, what do you do when you’re going through one of those horrendous, gut wrenching, devastating crises that shatters your world? Drop your pride and accept help from others.
As a father, one of the most important things I have learned is that life is not fair.
Life does not always deliver equal portions to everyone. When my sons were younger, I remember trying to split a Baby Ruth candy bar in equal parts. Joshua, my youngest, began protesting because, in his opinion, his older brother had more peanuts. The first thing that came out of his mouth: “NOT FAIR! He has more peanuts than I do.”
That is exactly how life is. It is not divided into equal portions and that is when we scream: “Life is not fair!” Sometimes our portion of life does not seem right. Consequently, we are disappointed, angry, and if we are not careful, we become bitter. Bitterness is often a by-product of finding yourself stressed to your breaking point. All of us can recall moments of unfairness. We find ourselves saying “this should not be happening to me.”
The fact is, you are going to experience pain in life through circumstances, from other people, sometimes intentionally, and sometimes unintentionally. You cannot keep yourself from painful moments. Although you cannot control your circumstances, you can control your response, your reaction, and how you choose to react to a particular circumstance or person that has hurt you. How do you respond when life is not fair?
What does it mean when you find yourself saying or thinking—”I cannot take this anymore?”
All of us have been there, yet these words do not mean the same thing to everyone. People reach their breaking point in different ways and if you dig deep enough, you will discover how stress plays an important role in getting us to our breaking point. Stress is a part of life. If you do not have any stress in your life, I would like to suggest that you are probably dead.
A few months ago, I flew to Orange County, CA. On my return flight, I experienced turbulence somewhere over the Colorado Rockies. Sensing my nervousness, my seat mate looked at me and said, “Do not be worried, if it is your time, it is your time.” Really? You mean to tell me that is the best thing you can say?
He gave me absolutely no comfort! I have never received comfort from people who say, “If it is your time, it is your time.” It does not matter if you are in a car, or on a bus or plane, if it is your time, it is your time. What if it is the pilot’s time? It may not be my time but it is the pilot’s time. The truth is, at some point, we all worry.
Be honest. Has there ever been a time when you could not hear God’s voice?
Have you ever experienced a period of spiritual dryness? A place some call the desert. Let me be honest with you…the desert IS NOT a fun place. It is dry, lonely, and HOT!
If you ever had a desert experience and are now past it, stop what you are doing and praise God. If, however, you are approaching or are in a desert season, then maybe today’s post can help you get through it.
Everyone goes through a desert or spiritually dry seasons. Be honest, you can recall times when you did not feel “spiritually connected.” You attend church weekly, go to a Bible study or your small group, perhaps you even study your Bible, but God feels a lot more like a distant relative than somebody you are connected to.
Today you become a man. Becoming a man is more than reaching a milestone. It’s a process that began on that day eighteen years ago when you took your first breath and will continue until that time in the future when you take your last.
Being a man is not about accomplishments, athletic ability, academic ability or pursing popularity, power, possession, or prestige. Being a man is more about character, compassion and courage.
A man has character when he is a person of integrity who can be depended on. A man has compassion when he not only cares for others, but demonstrates it by putting their best interests ahead of his own.
A man has courage when he does what is right even what it’s difficult. I believe you are a long way along this journey to becoming a man. You have learned so much already. You show so much promise. As you journey into manhood, I’d like to share my experiences and help you go further faster.
- Be proud of who you are. You are a Stowers and we determine our values, why they’re important, and live them out. Don’t be afraid to be an individual. Own it!
- Listen more than you speak. You will learn more by paying attention to what others have to say, and people appreciate being heard.
- Add value to people’s lives. Look for ways to inspire and empower others. Look for simple ways to help others.
- Stand on your word. Doing what you say you will do is a rare thing in our world today. It is one of the easiest ways to stand apart.
- Be confident but stay hungry and humble. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to, so don’t doubt your abilities. On the other hand don’t think too highly of yourself. Never get too high or too low.
- Keep grinding. The process of working toward a goal is often as rewarding as the achievement itself.
- Intelligence and wisdom are not the same. Intelligence is the ability to learn. Wisdom is using knowledge and experience to make good choices. You can be both.
- Never stop learning and growing. There’s a whole world to be explored beyond the classroom long after graduation.
- Own “IT.” Whatever life throws at you, embrace. Change, obstacles, accomplishments, difficulties, adventures, success, failure are all opportunities to grow. Enjoy the moment.
- Love God and people! Be a man who is known by his affections and his actions. Value your family and forge friendships that last.
These eighteen years you have been alive also happen to coincide with the best eighteen years of my life. That’s no coincidence. Your coming into this world has profoundly changed mine. No words can adequately describe my love, my pride and my hope for you. I am blessed to call you my son. And today I am also pleased to call you a man. Happy 18th Birthday Son! I love you man!
Your father & life coach
Google is amazing. Some love it. Some hate it.
I confess: Google is my trump card when I need to know something really fast. Recently, I searched “top skills you need to be successful” and I was blown away. I quickly discovered:
- Everyone has their own definition of success
- Everyone has their own list on what it takes to be successful
- Most results centered on power, prestige, possessions, and popularity
- Now I understand why we are confused
How would you define success? A lot of my Google search results considers power, possessions, prosperity, and prestige to be the highest of goals. It is true…God blesses some people with positions of power or wealth.
I love the game Monopoly. Not the online game…the real board game – the old school version.
The game Monopoly was originally created to highlight the pitfalls of greed, consumerism and the world banking system. Winning the game means having a monopoly – all the pieces, all of the properties, and all of the money. The only way to do that? Bankrupt all of the other players. As good as it feels to bankrupt everyone, when the game is over, everything goes back in the box.
Life is like a game of Monopoly. You strategize, take risks, and wheel and deal to improve your position. But when the game is over, all the pieces go back in the box. When the game of life is over, your body is placed in the grave. Only eternal investments will follow you into eternity.
To get the most out of life, you must arrange your priorities around what matters most. A life that focuses on temporary prizes will result in disappointment when the game is over. Consider today’s post as an invitation to join me on a journey to study the life of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21).
Be a friend and bring a friend to Mars Hill Baptist Church (8AM or 10:30AM) on Sunday, February 22, 2014.