#PrayFirst | Day 6

Pray For Your Family and Friends

Welcome to Day 6 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

#PrayFirst FAMILY

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign you can:

  1. Click HERE to read the overview
  2. You can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE
  3. You can read our Day Two Family Devotional HERE
  4. You can read our Day Three Finance Devotional HERE
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE
  6. You can read our Day Five Fulfillment Devotional HERE

#PRP – People Reaching People

At the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People (#PRP). Jesus commissioned the church to continue His ministry of reconciliation to the lost; and He both modeled and taught a strategic formula that would facilitate that great endeavor. Scripture has a word for this – Evangelism (Outreach).

Evangelism (Outreach)

Evangelism is the act of telling the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. It’s derived from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “gospel” or “good news.”

The verbal forms of euangelizo, meaning “to bring” or “to announce good news” occur some 55 times (Acts 8:4,25,35; 11:20) and are normally translated with the appropriate form of the word “preach.” Evangelism has to do with the proclamation of the message of good news.*

From the beginning, God has consistently focused on a specific group, as his initial target for evangelism. That is, He primarily perpetuates His Kingdom through those close relational connections that we all have, those eight to fifteen people He strategically placed around each one of us.

Throughout the New Testament, whenever God’s Spirit changed a life, a world changer was born. Whether it was a demon possessed man, a swindler named Zacchaeus, a royal official with a dying son, a tax collector named Matthew, a Centurion named Cornelius, a businesswoman named Lydia or a recently unemployed Philippian jailor, they all were sent back home to their close relational connections. Again, Scripture has a word for this – Oikos.

Mars Hill’s Outreach Strategy

Oikos, the Greek word for “extended family,” encompasses our relational worlds—anywhere from eight to fifteen people, on the average, whom God has supernaturally and strategically placed in our circles of influence. And, if those relationships frame our primary evangelistic targets, then that reality must frame the strategy for our church.

Pray for Your Circle of Influence – Family and Friends

Make a commitment to pray daily for your circle of influence – your family and friends. Write their names down and pray:

LORD, I pray that they (CALL THEIR INDIVIDUAL NAMES) would sense God’s presence in their lives and that You would draw each one to You. Lord, I offer myself to You every day as an instrument in this process. In Jesus’ name. Amen

*G. William Schweer, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), s.v. “EVANGELISM,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

#PrayFirst | Day 4

Pray for Our Facilities

Welcome to Day 4 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can:

  1. Click HERE to read the overview
  2. You can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE
  3. You can read our Day Two Family Devotional HERE
  4. You can read our Day Three Finance Devotional HERE

#PrayFirst Facilities

For several years, we have been examining options and discerning together what role our facilities play in our mission and ministry together.  A few years ago we hired Nevin Hedlund and Associates to help us imagine what a new facility could look like and to help us assess how much it might cost.  We have not made a decision to build, but this information is very helpful as we discern that possibility. 

Vision For Our Facilities

We dream extending the reach our church through multiple campuses throughout the Chicagoland area – with beautiful, yet efficient facilities including an intimate worship center, a counseling, and prayer center, classrooms for Bible study and training; all of this designed to minister to the total person – spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially. It will be set in a peaceful, inspiring garden setting with bright flowers, beautiful trees, and water with pools, and fountains.

Prayer Guide to Aid you in your Time with God

“This is the one I esteem:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”  Isaiah 66:2b

*Please Pray

. . . for an emptiness of our own wills, a holy indifference to our own opinions, so that we are able to hear God’s voice as to whether  to continue to meet in our current facility or to pursue a new one.  For a desire for nothing else but God’s will:  “nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.” * Pray as Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will,” (Matthew 26:39).

. . . that we each would “delight ourselves in the Lord” above all else (Ps. 37:4).  Likewise, ask God to make His ways, our ways . . . and His thoughts, our thoughts (Isaiah 55: 8, 9).   Also, pray that the Lord would be our very lives (Dt. 30:20), and that in Him, we would live and move, and have our beings (Acts 17:28).

. . . for wisdom, God’s wisdom, not what this world would tell us is right or best, but God’s wisdom which is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere,” (James 3: 17).  Furthermore, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Ps. 111:10a), so petition God for us to have a holy fear of the Lord, recognizing who we are and our need for Him and for the knowledge of His will.

. . . to know His voice (John 10:3), to be still and listen to His voice (Dt. 30:20, Is. 55:2), and for His voice to be the loudest voice to which each of us would listen.

. . . for “our love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that we discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God,” (Philippians 1:9-11).

. . . for God “to fill us with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. . .” (Colossians 1: 9).

. . .that we would be one just as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 17:21). Ask that we would be “brought to complete unity to let the world know that [the Father] sent [Jesus] and loves us as His own Son,” (Jn. 21:23).

Source: *Morris and Olsen in Barton’s Pursuing God’s Will Together, p. 187.

#PrayFirst | Day 3

Pray for Your Finances

Welcome to Day 3 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can click HERE. Also, you can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE and Day Two Family Devotional HERE.

#PrayFirst Finances

Get Rich or Go Broke Trying

Rich a subjective term. It’s an ever-moving target. It’s like trying to nail jello to the wall. Defining“rich” is as personal as taste preferences of food or fashion. Many times, even when you are considered by others to be rich, you don’t think of yourself that way.

Why? It’s all about perspective. The problem is you don’t “feel” rich. For the sake of this devotional, I won’t define rich…I’m leaving that task to you. I will, however, share a tip that’ll help you “feel” rich regardless of your income.

Fire The Jones’

We all know “that” family… the happy, perfect family who seems to have it all. Everyone has a “Jones” family on their block, and while some shrug their shoulders and don’t care that the “Jones” just brought home a new Mercedes, others feel as if they need to not only keep up but to outdo this neighbor or even friend.

Occasionally, we make questionable decisions to impress the others. The earlier we recognize our self-worth isn’t tied to our possessions, the sooner we’ll reach financial freedom. There’s no shame in driving a second-hand car with a few miles. You don’t need the pressure of working extra hours just to cover credit card payments.

Pray for Your Finances

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)

Lord, I surrender my financial affairs and concerns about money to your Divine care and love. I ask that you remove my worries, anxieties, and fears about money, and replace them with faith. I know and trust that my debts will be paid, and money will flow into my life. I have only to look to nature to see proof of the abundance you provide. I release all negative thoughts about money and know that prosperity is my true state. I commit to being grateful for all that I now have in my life. I learn to manage my finances wisely, seeking help where needed. In Jesus’ name. Amen

#PrayFirst | Day 2

Pray For Families

Welcome to Day 2 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign, you can click HERE.  Also, you can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE.

#PrayFirst Family

God is the Foundation of Your Family

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1 (ESV)

Solomon the Psalmist said that it is vain to attempt things without the Lord.  The point is that trying to lead your family independently of God is futile. However, a person who trusts in the Lord and include Him in their family’s plan will find rest. Without the Lord, all work is in vain.

The family is not an institution designed by man. It was created by God for the benefit of man, and man has been given stewardship over it. Christian family is one that lines up with biblical principles and one in which each member understands and fulfills his or her God-given role. The basic biblical family unit is comprised of one man, one woman—his spouse—and their offspring or adopted children.

When a husband, wife, and children all fulfill their God-appointed roles, then peace and harmony reign in the home (Psalm 127:2). But, if we try to have a Christian family without Christ as Head or without adhering to the biblical principles the Lord has lovingly provided for us, the home will suffer.

  1. The members of a family can teach each other about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
  2. Do not let sin affect your family life (Psalm 101:2)
  3. Do not bring trouble to a family (Proverbs 11:29)
  4. Husbands and wives should love each other (Ephesians 5:21-33)
  5. Children should obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1)
  6. Church leaders must have a good family life (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
  7. Families should take care of each other (1 Timothy 5:3-5)

Pray for Your Family

Heavenly Father, Please shine your light upon my family. Give us strength to overcome all of the difficulties that we are dealing with now and protect us against any and all problems we may encounter in the future. O Lord, please bring us together as we are meant to be. May the love that binds us only grow stronger as we fulfill the destiny you have laid out for us. Grant my family forgiveness for any sins we have committed. May we also forgive one another Lord, as it is sometimes difficult to do.  In your name I pray, Amen

How To Deal With People Who Don’t Like You

Rejection is powerful.

When I counsel people, sometimes I hear them say, “I don’t care if people like me, as long as they respect me.” When they say that, it’s an “emotional wall they use to block the hurt of rejection,” according to psychologist Marcia Reynolds.

God created us to be social, and if we’re honest, all of us care if people like us. “The feeling of love, affection, and belonging is necessary before we can reach the highest levels of consciousness and wisdom,” according to psychologist Abraham Maslow.  Maslow is saying we all need people to survive. So, how do keep from withdrawing when dealing with someone who doesn’t like you?

Closeup on business woman showing thumbs down

Fortunately, you’re not the only one who’s had to deal with this problem. After Nathan had anointed David as the future King of Israel, Saul became his bitter enemy. Like David, all of us, at one time or another deal with people we don’t like and who don’t like us. Perhaps you have people who want to do you harm and see you fail. This is where David found himself in 1 Samuel Chapter 24.

How To Heal a Wound That Won’t Heal

The Key to Healing Emotional Wounds

Do you have a wound that won’t heal?

“A wound that has been present for more than six weeks is considered a chronic wound and may need special treatment,” according to Dr. Prasad Kilaru, a plastic surgeon and director of the Washington Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine.

Have you ever had a cut that required stitches? Have you ever had a surgery of any kind? Deep cuts and surgical procedures leave wounds that often require stitches. Eventually the stitches are removed and the pain goes away. What do you do about wounds you can’t see? How do you begin to stitch emotional wounds embedded deep within the recesses of one’s heart?

beauty girl cry

Hidden wounds are memories that hurt

Hidden Wounds are Memories That Hurt

Hidden wounds are the recollections from your past that when you think about them, they still cause pain in your life. Some define them as memories of abandonment. Some have memories of abuse. Some even have memories of ridicule, criticism or hatred.

Hidden wounds come from prejudices in society. They come from family members (they are the ones that hurt the most). Sometimes they come from parents, our children, our siblings, and aunts and uncles. You can get wounded in the work place. They’re everywhere.

I’ve been a pastor for a long time and I’ve talked to people and I’ve learned two truths about life.

  1. Everyone has a hidden wound. You may be masking it but everybody has a hidden wound. An emotional scar from someone in the past who hurt you in a serious way.
  2. Hidden Wounds (emotional scars) take longer to heal than physical wounds.

Are you ready for some good news? The good news is this: Jesus wants to heal your hidden wounds.

5 Reasons We’re Launching Our Online Campus – Marshillonline.tv

Every generation experiences change.

In a relatively short amount of time, the Internet has moved from an occasional tool to one of the principal ways we communicate, entertain ourselves, and do work. Staying up-to-date on emails, social media and other means of online communication is a bigger time requirement than people may realize.

New research has found that the average user spends 23 hours a week emailing, texting, and using social media and other forms of online communication. Since people are already online, we decided to launch an online campus and guess what – it’s biblical.

Android Tablet

Here We GROW Again – Easter 2015 People Reaching People #PRP

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.

Easter Flyer 2015

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:

  1. Wear your Mars Hill T-shirt,
  2. Sit in the section for Mars Hill members, and if necessary,
  3. 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.

The Real Reason Why You’re Not Growing Spiritually (and no it’s not the Devil)

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.

Barbie distracted while driving

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!

The One Thing You Must Do When a Crisis Comes

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.