If you had asked me towards the end of my freshman year—and now…
Hey Mercy Hill,
With baptism happening this Thursday and Sunday at all campuses and service times, we thought it would be a great time to highlight a baptism story. This story is from Luke Greisler, a student at HPU and a student in our MH College ministry.
“I was baptized at Mercy Hill during the first service I attended early last fall. Prior to being baptized, the thought of taking the next step in my faith had crossed my mind frequently. However, I had never taken action in order to do so. The first few weeks at school had been rough, and I still hadn’t found a faith community to get involved with. I received an invite to attend Mercy Hill alongside a few friends, and I accepted the invitation just as quickly as it had been extended.
I did not find out that baptisms were being held until I arrived. It amazes me how the Holy Spirit works sometimes. When I needed it most, God reached out to me and presented me with this opportunity. I knew from the time that I first walked in that Mercy Hill is where I would be able to grow during my time in college. The atmosphere was incredible, and the message was sincerely rooted in scripture. I decided to get baptized that same night. Ever since I made that decision, I have been able to view the world with a much higher level of clarity. All by the grace of God, I have been saved.”
Perhaps there is someone reading this who is going through the same thing that Luke went through—a persistent thought in your mind that Jesus is calling you to be obedient to him in baptism. If that’s the case, sign-up to talk to someone about being baptized this weekend by clicking here. Signing-up does not mean you are committing to be baptized but that you are committed to talk with someone about it.
And let what Luke said settle in your heart. Baptism is not a source of salvation but a step of obedience. It is by the grace of God that we are saved. And so, if you have experienced this salvation through coming to faith in Jesus Christ and his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus calls you to be baptized. There will be water this weekend, what’s stopping you?
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)
Perfect parenting. Is it even possible? It feels like my mindset at times is not perfection but survival. I remember this feeling like it like it was yesterday. I get a call at the office from my wife who is obviously upset about the actions of a certain two-year-old boy who we usually claim to be ours. I put on my “Mr. Fix It” hat and begin to get the details of the issue so I could provide the proper solution (because that’s what dads do, right?). I discover that my son, in his anger, decided to rip the curtains in our living room. His mom then talked with him about the importance of being responsible for our actions and informed him that he would be paying for the curtains with the money from his piggy bank. That apparently revealed the idol of money in that child’s heart because he lost it! He was screaming his head off when I received the call. My sweet wife was very clear that this young man was testing the limits, so I asked her to give me the phone so that I could speak with him. I hear her tell him to talk with daddy, and then abruptly… CLICK! I immediately called back, got the play-by-play from my wife who told me that my son took the phone, ended the call, and threw the phone across the room.
In this moment I was reminded that dads don’t have all the answers. In fact, it felt like being dad gave me a responsibility that I in no way knew how to handle. So, in light of being a fundamentally flawed parent, relying on the grace of God to do anything good in mine or my kids’ lives, I want to offer 3 steps to perfect parenting. I hope they’ll be an encouragement to you:
I always thought growing up that when I was a dad I would do it right. I’d correct all my parents’ mistakes, and my kids would think I was Superman (thankfully they are still at the age that they actually do!). What I’ve realized is that this parenting thing is probably the thing that God is using most to show me my own failures and my need for Him. Paul Tripp writes, “Like everything else God calls people to, God doesn’t call people to be parents because they are able.”(1) I am realizing more and more that perfect parenting doesn’t exist, because no one’s perfect. Instead I’m substituting perfection for progress. I want to see progress in my parenting over the years of investing in my kids. The only way this will happen is to see progress in my relationship with God over the same time. God does not demand my perfection in parenting, but he desires to see progress in my intimacy with him throughout my life. So step 1 is this: Pursue progress, not perfection. The pursuit of perfection can be crushing, but through God’s grace we are not defined by our ability to parent but by his perfection in our place. With our perfection settled on the cross, we can seek progress in our growth as children of God and parents of kids.
Parenting is Not About You
The second step is to realize parenting is not about you. We all have selfish tendencies that make everything about us, yet in marriage and parenting we truly see that life is not about us. Parenting pushes us to give our lives to the service of those who depend on us, and in that, we are able to be Jesus to them. Providing for, teaching, and being patient with our kids are all qualities of how our Heavenly Father is to us. As parents, we have to fight the tendency to make parenting about us. Our kids are not trophies to be displayed, nor are they people to disregard. We make them trophies when we allow our pride to fuel how we push them in school, sports, and appearance. We disregard them when we fail to give them the attention they deserve because we are too tired from work and other activities. God calls us to not let the culture we live in dictate the way we manage our home, but to let his word guide us. Check out how God speaks to the people of Israel about parenting:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorpost of your house and on your city gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, CSB)
A good question to ask ourselves is, “What parts of our parenting are really about us?” When we identify those areas, we can repent and make changes to let our parenting better reflect our Lord.
You’re Not Alone (Unless You Choose to be)
If you look back at the scripture you just read and check out the verses before it, you’ll notice that God is speaking to all Israel, yet he uses words that are in the singular. He talks about the commands he is giving, “you, your son, and your grandson.” It’s a bit confusing that God would speak to all these people and use singular words, and it’s even more confusing in the Western culture in which we live. God views Israel, and now the Church, as one people. In 1 Peter 2:9 you see that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood. God had brought us into one family, and he views us as one body in Christ.
This means that as followers of Jesus, we are never alone in our parenting. First, we have the Holy Spirit, who is moving in us and through us (we will leave just how big of a deal that is for another blog!), but we also have the community of believers in the church. This means that if we are parenting alone, it’s not because we have to but because we choose to. I would encourage you with this: God has something better in mind. God has created this unique community that we would collectively reflect His glory to the world, and this includes our parenting. It may be difficult to commit to join a Community Group. It may be difficult for you to be at church every single weekend. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, joining a Community Group and being vulnerable about your parenting struggles may be one of the hardest and best things you’ll ever do. In community you have support, insight, prayer, and love. Every parent needs that.
I am so excited about Parent Commissioning coming up February 23rd-24th, as we see parents declaring these truths over their lives. Through Parent Commissioning, Community Groups provide brunch and pray over their new parents. The parents are saying, “We are going to raise our kids to fall in love with Jesus,” and the groups are saying, “We are here to help you the whole way.” As a church, we offer parents resources to help them in the journey, many of which you can find on our Family Resource Center page at our website (click here). If you are interested in joining a Community Group click here, and if you’re wanting to join us for our next Parent Commissioning, check out all the info and sign up here!
-Brant Gordon (MH Kids Director)
- Tripp, Paul. Parenting, 2016, p. 35.
“Martha, do you trust me?” God asked me this question. Of course I trusted him, but I was curious to know what he was asking. I had planned on joining Greek life at Samford University, but I knew God was asking me not to rush. I was upset, confused, and conflicted. The next day I spent absolute solitude with the Lord. Why did he not want me doing something that would be such a great way to meet friends?
As I was talking to one of my sweet friends, God spoke through her to tell me something. He was showing me that I could only see one season while he could see all seasons of my life. I didn’t know why, but I trusted that he always knows best, even when it doesn’t feel the best in that moment. This was my first semester of college last year.
A Call to Apply
Fast forward to winter break. My family had just moved back to North Carolina from Ohio. My older sister and her fiancé kept talking to me about a summer project they both had done while in college, City Project. While I am not one to follow in others’ footsteps, the Spirit intervened as I found myself applying a few weeks later. I knew no one in North Carolina (let alone anyone doing City Project), but as I continued to fill out the application, the fear turned into excitement. If God wants you to be a part of something, money, distance, or any other reason will not matter.
My plan was to do City Project and take what I learned back to Samford. The last day of City Project I was challenged to transfer to UNCG and be a part of what was happening for the kingdom here. I was terrified and did not fully understand, but I remembered back when the Lord asked me not to rush. I was reminded that his way is always better. So, I boldly said yes, not knowing what I was doing or what to expect.
A Call to Boldness
When I called my dad, he laughed. He was confused because I am the biggest Samford fan there is. I explained that I really felt the Lord needed me here instead of Samford. Throughout this day of processing, the biggest thing that rang true was the need to give up my dream school for the sake of the gospel. My dream school is important, but the gospel is more important.
I was obedient to the Lord’s call, took a semester off from school, and now attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is not where I thought I would be, but God has given me a desire to see the people here know him. He has given me a desire to love-on and do life with people that are not just in Alabama. City Project has given me the confidence to go out each day and ensure someone knows the good news of the gospel.
You don’t have to transfer to be obedient. You have to have your ears and eyes open to what the Spirit is doing. You have to say yes, even when you don’t know what that entails. You have to be expectant of what he could do in and through you. For some of you reading this, I hope and pray that means doing City Project this summer. Any and every college student looking to be used and stretched for the kingdom needs to take this next step. Do not wait. You don’t know if the Lord is ever going to tug on your heart again to do City Project.
Fast forward to now. The Lord has asked me to rush at UNCG. Not only is it going to be a great way to meet more girls, but it is going to be a great way to remind each and every precious girl that they have a Creator who loves them more than anyone ever could.
We do not always know what God is doing, but Romans 8:28 tells us that he is always working for the good of those who love him. Paul is reminding us that whether something good or bad is happening, God is shaping us to look more like his Son.
–Martha Swanson (MH College Leader)
Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This past weekend, pastor Andrew started the new sermon series Of Two Minds. This series is a study in the book of James; it is a very down-to-earth book with instruction on how to live our lives as Christians. The book of James tells us what to do because of who God has made us to be. In week one, we are focusing on verses 5-8 and will see that the main idea is single-minded devotion is evidenced by begging God for wisdom. The God who created the world and everything in it stands ready to give us wisdom for how to live when we ask for it.
James opens his letter by telling his audience to “count it all joy” when there are trials and hardship in their lives. But why? Because trials put us in a position to ask God for wisdom. Verse 5 makes this clear. But what is wisdom? Wisdom is life by God’s design. It’s knowing how to act God’s way in every situation that you are confronted with, even trials. But trials in our life bring us to the point where we are looking for wisdom. The world continually offers its hollow wisdom to us, but verse 5 says that God stands ready to dispense wisdom generously to those who ask in faith. The one who Created it all wants to give us his insight into how to navigate life.
The condition (in verses 6-8) to asking for wisdom is that the person should ask without doubting. But we all struggle at times with doubt, right? So, will God ever grant our request? It’s not doubting that’s bad. Doubting that pushes you to search for answers apart from God is unwise. When we allow our doubts to push us to search for answers apart from God, we are like waves tossed by winds of doubt. But if in our doubt we go to God, that demonstrates our faith. Asking God to give us wisdom shows that we believe he can and will. And we can trust that God will give us this wisdom because he already gave us his true wisdom in Christ (1 Cor. 1:34). God gave us wisdom in truth: Jesus Christ. Why wouldn’t he give us wisdom in practice? Because of the wisdom of Christ, and your being found in him when you believe, God sees you as wise.
Pastor Andrew gave us two ways that we can gain wisdom for life. The first is to demonstrate single-mindedness by asking God what to do. We don’t wait for God to give us miraculous signs of wisdom (although he could); rather, the wisdom of God comes from the word of God. In asking God to give you wisdom, ask him to understand his word. As you read each page, ask God for the wisdom to do his will. What it boils down to is will we trust God’s wisdom or our own? If we trust God’s wisdom, we’ll pray and be in his word.
The second way we gain wisdom is to demonstrate single-mindedness by asking God for the ability to do what we know. We don’t just ask for the ability to know things but for the ability to do what we know. Some of us have a lot of knowledge of God’s word, but we don’t have the wisdom or desire to put it into practice. That’s what double-mindedness is. James wants us to stop being double-minded.
James Reading Guide – We have broken the book of James down so we can read it over the course of the whole series together. This companion reading guide can be downloaded in full (with and introduction to the book) at the link provided. Or you can have the verses and commentary sent to your email every day by texting MHPLAN to 41411.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)