Belief Is Easy* (*Relatively)

September 16, 2018 • David Hammerslag

Believing in Jesus, acknowledging him as God's son, is a life changing event for us. But it is only the beginning of our journey. Learning to align ourselves with God's desires and not our own is our life-long challenge.

He Will Come and Save You

September 9, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Don’t confuse life with God. Life is unfair. God is not. As free creatures in a fallen world, the choices we and others make will have consequences, some of them disastrous. The reality is, bad things happen to good people because life is not fair. But this is also reality: God is generous when life is unfair. As Paul notes in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God is constantly redeeming the things we give up as lost and hopeless.

Jesus, the Taxidermist, & the Veterinarian

September 2, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

When it comes to the Law as given by God to Israel, we’re not sure what to do with it. Some believe it’s God’s way of making sure we don’t have any fun: rules, rules, rules! We wonder: does it have any viability or application now that Jesus is on the scene? Bottom line: the Law is God’s kindness made plain and graspable; it tells us here’s what will keep you safe and alive and free. But all religious rules are not equal. The Law is lovely, Jesus shows us, but human religious rules are the stench of death. Thus Paul warns: don’t let anyone put the chains of legalism on you and cancel your liberty in Christ. We must not allow ourselves to be taken down this road of slavery and deception. Most of us have encountered legalism–rules for real Christians to follow–and the pressure to perform, and felt killing weight of it. Jesus would tell us—none of it’s from me.

Luckier Than Before

August 26, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

When it comes to prayer, we don’t know how or – if we're honest – whether it works. Archbishop William Temple once remarked, “When I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don’t, they don’t.” This brings to mind the great golfer who, when someone accused him of being lucky, agreed, but commented that he’d noticed that the more he practiced the luckier he got. Similarly, the more we pray, the luckier we get. Lucky in the sense Eugene Peterson uses the word: “lucky with holy luck,” which is a way of describing blessing. Prayer makes us luckier than before—it invites and invokes the purposeful presence of God.

The Heart of Things

August 19, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Most who know the story in 1 Kings 3:3-14, if asked what Solomon requested from God, would answer, “Wisdom.” The Hebrew word for wisdom is ḥokmâ; it or a variation of it occurs more than 200X in OT. But that word does not appear in this passage. The 1 Kings text does not record that Solomon asked for wisdom. So when the NLT, for example, renders v. 10 “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom,” it’s more an interpretation than a translation, and not an especially helpful one at that. Because what the Hebrew says in verse 10 is “it pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.” The question, then, is: what is the “this” v. 10 refers to? What did Solomon really ask for? Answer: Solomon asked for a hearing heart. What a powerful, evocative picture this conjures for the reader! The heart in Hebrew culture is made for more than Hallmark moments, has whole of the person in view...

God Always Makes the First Move

August 12, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

The Jewish religious leaders habitually complain about Jesus—what he says, what he does—because they are looking for the kind of Messiah who will give them what they want. But Jesus explains in John 6:35ff that this isn’t how God’s program of salvation and kingdom life is organized. The whole thing operates on his desire and initiative, not ours. God always makes the first move. He makes this clear when he says in v. 44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me.” Father and Son are in complete unity in their wooing, loving, and inviting. Just as no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him, so also “No one can come to the Father except through Me.” [John 14:6b]

It's Not About You

Killing Consumerism in the Church • August 5, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

THE QUESTION: Should WMC shift to a single Sunday morning worship service for the remainder of 2018, with the expectation that numerical growth will require the addition of a second service starting in Jan. 2019? We are a family—so we’re going to talk about this as a family and discern God’s heart together. The key to understanding the Father’s heart in this is prayer. The entire WMC family is invited into time of prayerful discernment, asking, “God what do you want to happen here?” And this particular call to those who have a prayer language: use it! As much as possible we want to move out of revelation and not reason alone. So, the leaders of WMC are asking you to: o Pray about this, remembering that it is not about you and it’s not about me o Keep in mind Ephesians 4:15 “…All our direction and ministries will flow from Christ and lead us deeper into him, the anointed Head of his body, the church.”

There Is No Substitute for Experience

July 29, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

“What is God really like?” Philip worried about the answer to this question, which is why he implored Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus settles the matter once and for all when he answers: "I’m what God is like! If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father." While this is certainly true and potentially liberating for those who have an image of God in need of rehabilitation, knowledge of it is not enough; having a theology of God’s love is not sufficient. Those whom God misses most, sons and daughters not yet in a relationship with Father, their greatest need is not correct doctrine concerning what God is really like. What they need--what all of us need--is to experience God's love personally. Listen to this podcast and learn how this can happen in your life!

What Is God Really Like?

July 22, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

In Psalm 23 David paints a picture of what God is really like. Reading it puts a key question squarely at the forefront: what is your picture of God? Your answer is enormously consequential for, as Greg Boyd points out, “The love you have for God will never outrun the beauty of your picture of God.” If you’re not passionate about God it’s because you have a picture of God that’s not worth being passionate about. Psalm 23 is a portrait of David’s passion for God. Why such passion? Because his God is so beautiful. If you don’t have a beaut God your heart will remain at a distance and so will your experience of his love.

The Anonymous Nobodies

July 15, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

God loves calling anonymous nobodies. Consider some of the nobodies he chose: Moses (a stuttering fugitive stranded on backside of desert for 40 years), Gideon (a coward hiding in a winepress), Rahab (a double-dealing pagan prostitute), and Mary (an uneducated teenager). The anonymous nobodies of the world, people like you and me, these are the ones God goes after as he seeks out a people who will rise to the occasion of his heart for world. I wouldn’t do it that way. Neither would you. But God does. To our surprise (but rarely our satisfaction), we, the anonymous nobodies, are God’s plan A and B and C. God isn’t going to magically resolve everything while we sit back and coach him on how best to bring our deliverance. We’re going to get our hands dirty. And our hearts broken.

The Advantage of Unanswered Prayer

July 8, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

When we pray it is often with the conviction that we know what’s good for us. But, in fact, we don’t know what’s good for us. We don’t know what we think we do. Thus God says to Paul, who is frustrated by his unanswered prayer: "My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a) God’s looking to raise up a people—not a frail people—who rise to the occasion of his heart for the world. When will we stop whining and start living? When will we stop falling apart when we don’t get our way? Consider this. Last week we heard this word from the Lord: “I have a thousand ways to set you free” [Ps. 130:7] The prayer we’re praying that hasn't been answered? That’s only one of them. There are still 999 ways to go! Remember that our response matters because our words create worlds!

A Thousand Ways to Set You Free

July 1, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Our words create worlds. They shape and create the world we live in. Speak words of gratitude and this will color every landscape you see, no matter your circumstances. Speak dark, despairing words and you’ll find that’s the kind of world you inhabit. Words have always created worlds. Consider: how was our world made? With words. Ten times in the creation account of Genesis 1 we read this: “And God said…” Not coincidentally Genesis 2:1 opens with this declaration: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.” Genesis 1:28 reports that we are made in God’s image, so why should it surprise us that our words have creative power as well? The creative power of our words are derived from the One who is the living Word. He is the Word, and His words are the ultimate world-makers and reality-shapers.

Did God Really Say?

The Strategic Importance of Periods and Question Marks • June 24, 2018 • Mike Bradley

We are daughters and sons of God, created and saved on purpose for a purpose. Ephesians 2:8-10 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." We are saved and made by God to be his masterpiece, created to do good works, and to be poeple of influence who are impacting others with God’s love and God’s power. But so often we feel like anything but a masterpiece. And we wonder just what the heck we are doing with our lives. And that feeling and the questions that go with it are not an accident. They are the manifestation of a very real strategic initiative launched against us by somebody who hates us and hates the one who created and saved us.

Mystery, Revelation, and Being with Him

June 17, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Story-telling was one of Jesus’ preferred approaches to teaching. People would come to him with a question, and again and again Scripture captures his answer this way: “Then he told them a story…” And the people would lean in, not only with their ears but with their entire being. This is the way we find our way to the Father’s heart—we enter through his story and discover where his story meets ours A question we have when it comes to parables: “Why not just say what you mean, God? Clearly and plainly. Why make us guess at what you mean?” God knows, if we don’t, that story is more powerful than statements. Of course he uses statements, too, but he knows how we learn best—stories stay with us and take up residence in a way mere facts do not. There's this to consider as well: the mystery, hiddenness of parables drives us to Him for revelation and that’s what He’s after the whole time.

I Can Walk Through Any Devastation

June 10, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

In Psalm 138:7 the poet says7, “By your mighty power I can walk through any devastation.” Many English translations render this phrase as “walk in the midst of trouble.” The Hebrew word is tṣārāh and it means trouble, distress, anguish; a situation or time of extreme discomfort; dire straits. It’s great that God’s power can get us through but don’t you wish when it came to tṣārāh that there was an opt out button? Ah, but what if these shadowlands are place we will receive unexpected favor and revelation of the Father’s heart? That's how it was for Ezekiel, who, while he was trapped in captivity and poverty and national depression, sees the heavens open and has visions of God. If we’re willing, in that desolate place, God may give us the most powerful spiritual experience of our life—these troubled places may be God’s choicest place for revelation!

Principles for a Listening Life

June 3, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Our tendency when reading biblical stories is to supersize the spirituality of those in the featured roles. One result is that it creates a credibility gap between them and us—which means that what happens to them seems completely credible given their spiritual virtuosity but the idea that the same could happen to us seems comparably incredible. Thus we tend to self-disqualify from similar God encounters and spiritual experiences because, well, we’re no Samuel, right? But Samuel’s story connects with our story as well. His listening has much to teach us about our own.

The Most Important Things in Life

May 27, 2018 • Bob Blayter

Bob Blayter, for fifteen years the Associate Pastor here at Wonderful Mercy Church until his retirement in May 2015, is moving from Gilbert to Texas. He and Maria were with us at both services, their last time with us for the foreseeable future. We prayed over them and blessed them during the Holy Spirit Time. Then Bob brought a message from his heart encapsulating the four things he believes are the most important for every follower Jesus to attend to. It was a powerful and touching time together, and a beautiful message.

Why Settle for a Mouthful of Coffee Grounds?

May 20, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Experiencing an outpouring of Holy Spirit is a phenomenon you cannot fully appreciate by reading about it. Or having a good theology for it. You have to be in the room where it happens, when it happens. While we don’t look to replicate a second Pentecost experience any more than we would attempt to enact a second Calvary, we do look for (and must have) ongoing fillings with Holy Spirit. Paul commands us in Ephesians 5:18b, “Be filled with the Spirit. The command in Greek is a present imperative and does not describe a onetime "filling" but a regular pattern of life. o IOW: be filled and keep on being filled! Doing this life with God without experiencing regular infilling of HS is like going to a great restraint and reading the menu but never eating any of the food. Or, to alter the metaphor slightly…

It Is Time to Choose a Side

May 13, 2018 • David Hammerslag

It's time to choose a side. We can chose Jesus' side, which allows no divisions. Everyone is part of us. Or we can chose the world's side, a life of constantly deciding who is in and who is out, whom we should love and whom we can marginalize, and struggling to maintain our place on the right side of countless lines we have drawn.

We Are All In This Family Together

May 6, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

Across racial and cultural lines we share a co-humanity that binds us together equally before God and with each other. Consider: Acts chapters 8, 9, and 10 present us with three conversions o The Ethiopian treasury official in chapter 8 o Saul of Tarsus in chapter 9 o The Roman officer Cornelius in chapter 10 For those tracking carefully, that’s a black man, a Jew, and a gentile. All Christians are called to take a stand uncompromisingly against the evil of racism and for the equality and unity of all humankind. Encoded in the Great Commission is a direct command to cross racial lines—"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations." Christianity is not fully authentic unless it is multiracial. The most powerful answer to racism in our day—and we must have one—is a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. That’s what will change hearts and obliterate racial, societal, ethnic, and cultural barriers. Though not our only response, praying for this is our first, best response.

Baptism—Does This Mean War?

April 29, 2018 • Graeme Sellers

When it comes to water baptism, there are some questions that historically have divided the body of Christ: what does it mean, how should it be done, who can perform it, who can receive it? Humility demands this acknowledgement: we know less than we think. There is room for faithful followers of Jesus to come to different conclusions according to their conscience and understanding of Scripture. Spoiling for a fight? There’s the door. There is room in this church for more than one perspective – we won’t divide over this issue, even if we disagree about it.