Highland Park Baptist Church

Why Does God Care?

February 14th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Why Does God Care?)

I love why questions. I remember as a kid playing the “why” game with my friends. If you are unfamiliar with this “game” I will offer as simple of an explanation as I can. All you do is ask an initial “why” question and no matter the response of the other person you say “why?” again and again and again until you get tired of playing. In 4th grade it seems to be never ending happiness. It was also the best possible way to annoy your friends and especially your parents.

And this is what is great about “why” questions… They have the capability to focus our attention on the real problems and root issues if you go down the rabbit trail long enough. Someone might ask the question, “Why would God send His Son to die?” And without too many more questions in the “why” game, you might end up at what is really holding them up from believing the answer to the initial question.

And I believe that this question, “Why does God care?” is often one of those root questions. Your answer to this question can make or break your perspective on what the Bible has to say.

Think about it this way for a second if this is an easy answer for you. This is the perspective and world view that many hold. It is a perspective that leads to unending lie’s.

“You are one of 7 billion people currently living on planet earth. You could die tomorrow and the world would function almost exactly the same. We live on a planet in the midst of trillions of miles of space in our galaxy and our galaxy is one of millions of billions of other galaxies. We get about 70 years of life if we are lucky and we really have no idea how much time is on either side of our life. Maybe its billions of years, maybe its thousands. Either way, it seems this life is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the majesty of the universe. Then when we die, we have no idea what happens. There is no scientific evidence that can prove what happens after death and so it must mean that thats it. We simply cease to exist. In addition, the time we get to spend on earth is filled with more pain, hate and fear, than faith, hope and love. If there is a god who created everything, than it seems that he would be quite disinterested in something so small as a human life on planet earth. Why would a god that big and complex care? We have a hard time getting our closest friends and family members to care about us let alone the God that put all the properties of physics together.”

All of my life, I was handed the answer to this question. So much so, that I never even had to really ask it. But the more I listened to friends and neighbors that were not Christians, it became clear that I needed an answer that was more compelling than just saying, “The Bible says so.”

I know that there are many creative and truthful ways of getting across the answer and I know that it largely depends on the individual. I want to focus on two parts of scripture and truth that I believe must be included together to answer this question holistically. Read these 2 pieces of scripture together.

Isaiah 40:26

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.

1 John 4:15-16

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

These two truths coexisting is the answer. God IS the Creator of the galaxies. He did put all properties of physics into place. Even the ones we don’t know about or can’t explain. Not only that, He sustains them. Things are held together by His power Isaiah says. So in part, I agree with much of the perspective of our hypothetical questioner. Creation proclaims the power of God.

But He is also love! And in order to love He has to be relational. God cannot be up in heaven all alone and be loving at the same time. His love is in combination with His power and His might and His creativity. This mean’s that God’s love is big enough. It is enough for when we feel alone. It is enough when we feel like God is far away and distant. It is big enough for when our family members and friends don’t seem to care for us. It is enough for the forgiveness of every sin ever committed.

I Corinthians 13:1-3

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

There is no convincing anyone of anything without love in it and behind it. Otherwise we are just noise. And we can all agree that there is too much noise going on in the world today. Let our lips be filled with love from our creator God.

-Brantley Vosler

Student Ministries Worship Director

Smartphones As Tools For Bible Study

February 6th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Missions - (Comments Off on Smartphones As Tools For Bible Study)

Smartphone and tablet technology is prolific. Many of us have these devices in our home, if not right in
our pocket, but don’t realize the computational power that is available and how this tool can be used to
deepen our study of the Bible, grow in our relationship with God, and share the gospel with others. This
is a practical guide to various apps and resources. Every app featured in this post is free to download.

Bible Apps

Although each of these apps gives you access to the same Word of God, each one allows you to read,
study, and explore in a different way. Click or tap the picture of each icon to learn more.

“Bible Study with Accordance” (iOS/Mac/PC) – This is my daily reading, studying, all-in-one Bible app. It comes preloaded with the ESV Bible with links to Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. In the app, hold your finger down on a word to search for the definition from the original language. Each Greek or Hebrew word is assigned a “Key Number” by which you can search for all instances of that word in the text. This allows you to, as John Piper says, “dig for gold rather than rake for leaves” (Desiring God, pg. 13) in your study of the scriptures.

“Bible” by LifeChurch.tv (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Windows) – This is the app I use when I need multiple
translations. There are hundreds of translations in hundreds of languages. When I am talking about
scripture with an international student, instead of struggling to find vocabulary we have in common to
make an impromptu translation, I pull out my phone and look up the passage in their language. Another
great feature is built-in reading plans to take you through anything from reading the whole Bible in a
year, to reading passages about Jesus’ birth the twenty-five days before Christmas.

“GLO Bible” (iOS /Mac/PC) – This is the app I use when I am exploring and visualizing the Bible. I am
a very visual learner. Imagine reading through the description of how the land of Canaan was divided
between the twelve tribes of Israel. It describes that the tribe of Simeon was given “Beersheba, Sheba,
Molada, Hazar-shual, Balah…” (Joshua 19:2-3) and the list goes on. I, however, have no idea where
any of these cities are located. GLO helps visualize that by linking from Joshua 19 to a satellite image
of Israel with a colored overlay showing these divisions. GLO includes maps, videos, images, historical
references, and panoramic virtual tools to help bring the stories of the Bible to life.

Ministry Specific Apps

In addition to apps that aid in studying, reading, and exploring the Bible, there are several apps created
specifically for Christian ministry.

“Got Questions?” (iOS/Online) – Produced by Got Questions Ministries, this app exists to answer
questions. If you have questions, they will tell you what they believe the Bible says about them. The
questions cover topics such as God, Humanity, Angels and Demons, Family/Parenting, Life Decisions,
Bible Versions, and more. It also has the option for you to ask your own questions. Each answer is in
the form of an article that includes several Bible references.

“JP Unreached” (iOS/Android) – All of us can agree that there are people in the world who have never
heard the good news of Jesus Christ. What we might not know is who they are, where they live, what are they like, and what percentage follow Jesus. JP Unreached, produced by the Joshua Project, was created as an awareness and prayer guide focused on these people. Each day, a different people group is featured. As I am writing this post, the Dzakhchin people of Mongolia are featured, listing a summary of the people, prayer requests, and a verse to pray over them. Perhaps you could also set a reminder for 10:40am, where this app would remind you to pray for the featured people group, many of whom are within the 10/40 window.

Secular Apps in Ministry

In addition to apps that are created specifically for ministry, by thinking creatively, there are many ways
to use “secular” apps for the building of the kingdom.

“Videos” (Universal) – There are many videos that are produced for outreach purposes, most famously,
The Jesus Film. As effective as that film has been, getting a friend or coworker to sit down and watch a
feature length movie can be a big commitment. That is why the Global Short Film Network exists. They
have created a library of short films with big themes and meanings. Each film is paired with a set of
discussion questions to start a spiritual conversation.

“Evernote” (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Mac/PC/Online) – When it comes to taking notes, this app is the
best I’ve found. Being also a kinesthetic learner (learning through actions), taking notes during anything
helps me remember what I learned. There is an option to set up multiple folders for sermons, personal
Bible studies, and prayer request lists. It also syncs between your devices so the notes you take on your
phone Sunday at church will be available on any other devices.

“Reminders” (Universal) – As part of my role as a disciple and a disciple maker of men, I am responsible
for accountability. Every day, I have a reminder set on my phone to ask specific questions to specific
men. This helps me fulfill the commitments that I have made to those men. It could be used to remind
you to pray for a specific person at a certain time or to encourage a coworker or classmate.

“Kindle” (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Online/Kindle Devices) – While many of us have heard of (and even
own) a Kindle device, there is an incredible volume of free, theological literature available through
Amazon. Look for works such as Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, or
Works of Martin Luther with Introductions and Notes (Volume I and II). If you do not own a Kindle
device, you can also read the books on any computer and most smartphones. Check out this site
www.gospelebooks.net for a daily listing of free kindle books.

These are just some of the apps that I use on a regular basis, but hopefully this gets the creative process
started as you think about your context and how to use this tool to reach your community.

In conclusion, I have two things to say. First: All of these apps will never replace the feeling and focus of
holding and reading a real, physical book. Second: Smartphones are black holes, sucking you into their
gravitational pull so you can never again see the light of day or experience freedom from their grip. But
since there is a good chance that you are reading this from your phone, take a few minutes and check
out these apps.

Brad McCarthy

Missions Associate

Riding on Eagle’s Wings

February 4th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (1 Comments)

I’m sure you’ve been there too – looking at an exciting future, but one that is filled
with so much to do that you wonder how you will ever manage! That’s an exciting
place to be. It is at those times that we see God’s boundless good plans before
us and yet we also see our very real limitations. We find ourselves walking, then
running, then feel our strength being completely drained out of our legs as they
begin to splay like spaghetti that has been treading the boiling water only to finally
give way in folds and wrinkles at the bottom of the pot.

But then come the Eagle’s wings! We feel His strength below us, pounding with a
vigor and energy that exhilarates as it lifts us to heights we couldn’t have imagined.
Just as we think we may be falling, we find we are rising higher and faster than ever
before. His strength, His energy powerfully works within us and in us.

… they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like
eagles …
(Isaiah 40:31)
For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
(Colossians 1:29)

That is a ride worth taking! It only comes as we serve Him beyond ourselves,
beyond our strength, beyond our ability. Are you ready?

Brent Slater
Senior Pastor