What’s in a Name?

The Real Reason Why We Chose Mars Hill As Our Name

When someone asks, “what’s the name of the church you pastor” and I respond, “Mars Hill,” three things happen:

  1. A blank stare
  2. They ask: “Are you affiliated with the church that disbanded in Seattle, WA?” (NO! We were Mars Hill before they were)
  3. They ask: “Are you affiliated with Rob Bell and the church in Grand Rapids, MI?” (see #2)

History makes one’s life richer by giving meaning to the origin.  It broadens one’s outlook and enables one to grasp an understanding of one’s being by shedding light on its past.  Since it is Black History Month, I would like to share the history behind why we chose Mars Hill as our name.

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Athens, Greece | Photographs of Mars’ Hill, Acropolis

The Origin of our Name

The Areopagus or Areios Pagos is the “Hill of Ares” or Mars Hill.  It is located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens.

In classical times, the Areopagus functioned as the chief homicide court of Athens.  It is known as the location where Ares was supposed to have been tried by the Gods for the murder of Poseidon’s son, Alirrothios.  Also, the hill was said to be the site for the trial of Orestes, for killing Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, his stepmother and her lover.

In pre-classical times (before the 5th century BC), the Areopagus was the council of elders, in the city, and were much like the Roman Senate.  Similar to the Senate, its membership derived from those who held high public office, in this case that would be the Archon.  In 462 BC, Ephialtes put forth reforms, which deprived the Areopagus of mostly all its functions, except the murder tribunal.

At the foot of the Areopagus was a temple dedicated to the Erinyes, where murderers would find shelter, in an effort not to face the consequences of their actions.  Near the Areopagus, the Basilica of Dionysius Areopagites was constructed.  The basilica was a rectangular building used as a town hall and law courts.  It was used in the Christian period and served as the blueprint for early churches.

It’s More Than Just Another Month – What Black History Means To Me

Black History Month means different things to different people.

As a Nation we have a month of recognition and silence for the mighty men and women of color who paved the way for all of us. We recognize them for their hard work, tears, and for those who died fighting for equality for people of color. I am proud to be a man of color born in America.

As we take time to celebrate this notable occasion, I would like to share what Black History Month means to me.  For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection, rejoicing, and recommitting to reach the next generation.

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5 Books You Should Read During African-American History Month

Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Research has found that the proportion of young people who are daily readers drops has dropped dramatically in recent years. According to some studies, since 1984, the percentage of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers dropped from 70% to 53%. Even worse, the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers fell from 64% to a startling 40%. It’s jarring news.  Therefore, I’m sharing my list of reading recommendations.  Here are a few titles that had an impact on my life and that every African-American should read.

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The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.

The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools.  This conditioning, he claims, causes African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to “do for themselves,” regardless of what they were taught: History shows that it does not matter who is in power… those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end.

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The Most Important Lesson I Learned From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1954, The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL called Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. to serve as their pastor. He was just 25 years old.

A year after he arrived in Montgomery, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus, and King led the Montgomery bus boycott to end segregation. His decision to lead the boycott would thrust him into the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Leadership isn’t about having a title. Often, the strongest leaders in an organization, and in life, are those who don’t have official titles. Who gave King permission to make a difference? No one! Why:

You don’t need permission to make a difference. 

King’s most powerful asset was his ability to focus on the task at hand. Focus and determination beat brains and intellect every time. You don’t necessarily have to be smarter or better educated to succeed.

Your power lies in your ability to focus on doing what is important. If you focus on the right things, and work at them often, you will achieve exceptional results.

Again, you don’t need permission to make a difference.

Here’s The Real Reason Why I Am Online?

Honestly, I do not understand why most pastors and church leaders do not leverage technology for the Glory of God. Pastors, church leaders, and faithful church attendees who see social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and LinkedIn as evil are missing a great opportunity to reach people far from God.

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Are you sitting?

Here’s something that’ll blow your mind…

Christianity was, in a very real sense, the first technologically driven religion.

Intrigued? Angry? Frustrated?  Read on…

I Am Because of Him | Happy Birthday Frat!

On Christmas Day, I took my family to see Selma.  It was an entertaining movie, but being a Martin Luther King, Jr. fanatic, I did not recognize many of the speeches presented in the movie.  Why?  In 2009, the King Estate licensed his speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Bros. (along with the rights to his life).

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Because King’s speeches are licensed to another project, Selma’s filmmakers had to find a way to re-create the meaning of MLK’s words without plagiarizing.  That means they had to rewrite MLK’s words.  The film skirts close to MLK’s words without using them.

One of the most memorable scenes occurs when Martin Luther King, Jr., while preaching to the congregation, explains why equal voting rights are crucial.  He rallies them to stand up for their rights and sparks a movement that would change the world.

It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless. As long as I am unable to use my constitutional right to vote, I do not have command of my own life. I cannot determine my own destiny. For it is determined for me by people who would rather see me suffer than succeed. Those that have gone before us say, ‘no more! No more!’ That means protest. That means march. That means disturb the peace. That means jail. That means risk. And that is hard. We will not wait any longer. Give us the vote. We’re not asking. We’re demanding. Give us the vote!  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Birthday frat!  You stood tall among giants and I am because of you!

Where Do We Go From Here?

While vacationing in the Caribbean in January – February 1967, Dr. ML King, Jr. wrote the 1st draft of his last book “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” King looks back at the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.  In his book, Dr. King discusses what African-Americans should do with their new, dearly fought for freedoms found in-laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He concludes that all Americans black and white must unite to fight poverty and create a new equality of opportunity.

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A Picture IS Worth a Thousand Words

Over two thousand years ago, in the Middle East, an event occurred that permanently changed the world. Because of that event, history was split. Every time you write a date, you’re using the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the focal point.

What’s so important about Easter? It’s important because it proved that Jesus was who he claimed to be. He was God in the flesh, and He came to earth to save us.  Four events occurred in a dramatic succession on that Easter weekend: the betrayal of Jesus, then the suffering of Jesus, next came the crucifixion of Jesus, and finally the resurrection of Jesus.

It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words so Let’s look at each of those events and their implications.

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But some of you do not believe me.”  (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)  Then he said,  “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” (John 6:64 NLT).

While we cannot be absolutely certain why Judas betrayed Jesus, some things are certain. First, although Judas was chosen to be one of the Twelve, all scriptural evidence points to the fact that he never believed Jesus to be God. He even may not have been convinced that Jesus was the Messiah (as Judas understood it). Unlike the other disciples that called Jesus “Lord,” Judas never used this title for Jesus and instead called him “Rabbi,” which acknowledged Jesus as nothing more than a teacher.  You can read more HERE.

Suffered

But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.  Isaiah 52:14

Jesus suffered most severely throughout the trials, torture, and crucifixion (Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19). As horrible as His physical suffering was, it was nothing compared to the spiritual suffering He went through.

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Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. Jesus replied,  “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”  (John 18:22-23 NLT)

Beginning before 6:00am, Jesus was subjected to harsh interrogation, beaten, spit on, mocked, brutally whipped, and finally convicted and made to carry His cross to His own crucifixion. He was nailed by His hands (or wrists) and feet to the cross and left hanging for hours before He died.  You can read more about it HERE.

Alive

Scripture presents conclusive evidence that Jesus Christ was in fact resurrected from the dead. Christ’s resurrection is recorded inMatthew 28:1-20;Mark 16:1-20;Luke 24:1-53; andJohn 20:1–21:25. The resurrected Christ also appeared in the Book of Acts (Acts 1:1-11).  The resurrection is not an event, it’s a person and His name is Jesus.

What a glorious truth the resurrection of Christ is! “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Did you enjoy the story?

Why Did We Choose 'Mars Hill' As Our Name?

When I tell people the name of our church, People often look at me with a blank stare. That stare says: “Why in the world would you choose Mars Hill for the name of your church?” Scripture says:

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1 (NIV)

Out of all the Names Available, Why did we Choose “Mars Hill?”

Before we begin to understand where Mars Hill is going, we must first know where we originated. The Areopagus or Areios Pagos is the “Hill of Ares” or Mars Hill. It is located northwest of the Acropolis in Athens. The Areopagus (Mars Hill in Latin), like most city-state institutions, continued to function in Roman times, and it was there, the Apostle Paul delivered his famous speech about the identity of “the Unknown God.”

Investigating Christmas – What Christmas Is Really About?

Monday’s post challenged readers to ponder, “When Was Jesus Born?”  Wednesday’s and Thursday’s posts explained why God chose Mary and Joseph as part of His divine plan.  If you missed it, you can catch up on your reading HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Many responded how they enjoyed reading and learning the truth surrounding Jesus’ birth.  Many agreed that it really doesn’t matter “WHEN” Jesus was born…we all agree that it’s important “THAT” He was born.

The reality of Christmas is not about Santa Claus, Elves, Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer, or shopping.  The reality of Christmas is Jesus Christ and that He came to model what an abundant life consists of.

Here’s the reality of Christmas:

YOU MATTER TO GOD!