Highland Park Baptist Church
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Love Does

May 30th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Love Does)

I was recently in a meeting with someone who I seriously respect. Beforehand, my brain was in a fog – I was so excited and expectant about the meeting that I walked right into the men’s restroom (luckily, no one was in there, so it wasn’t that embarrassing. Except now I just told all of you, so now it’s a little embarrassing). This guy lives his life on a very public platform – so there’s a pretty substantial part of himself that he divulges to the world. But on a personal level, we don’t know each other really at all. Up until this point, we had only interacted through a few phone calls and emails. But because of what I knew about him, I was sure that at least our conversation would be hilarious and interesting.

We ended up chatting for about 2 hours. I was right about the hilarious and interesting part – this guy has the most outrageous stories and tells them in an incredibly engaging way. What was so special, though, is that sprinkled throughout the funny stories and outrageous situations was deep and profound truth. I was sad that I couldn’t whip out my phone and take notes, but that would have probably been a little awkward… and rude.

At one point in the conversation he looked over at me and said, “You strike me as someone who loves extravagantly.” Remember, he doesn’t know me – so he can’t really know that, right? And my natural reaction was to reject that – because obviously I can always be better, I can always love more – and I want to always be growing in that (and also, it feels weird to be like, “yeah, I’m awesome at that!). But he didn’t just say it to say it; it wasn’t just an off the cuff comment. I know that because loving more – loving God and loving people – is something that God and me have been seriously working through. I pray about loving people better all the time.  This guy obviously didn’t know all this background I’m letting you in on. But, he allowed God to speak truth through him. And in that moment, I didn’t reject it. And by God’s grace, in that moment, I had the clarity to recognize that his words were actually God’s. He was God’s microphone, speaking truth into my life. It was like God was saying, “Keep going! I see you! Keep letting my love flow through you!” But more than that, it also communicated God’s deep love for me – that he cared enough about me to put this little thought into this stranger’s brain to encourage me.

I’m learning a lot through this. When I think about God speaking through people, my mind immediately connects to Old Testament prophets. That seems a little out of my league. But being connected to God and speaking truth isn’t antiquated, obviously! And there’s so much power in it, endless power really. There’s a lot of chatter that happens in relationships – and there’s a lot of distractions vying for our attention (but that’s for another blog post!). I pray we are people so connected & listening to God that it becomes second nature to allow his truth to flow in love from us. And that it actually flows! That we act – that we say what the Holy Spirit is prompting us to say. That we respond the way the Holy Spirit is prompting us to respond. It’s one thing to just think it; lets take the next step – say it!

I am deeply loved. YOU are deeply loved. How is God using the people in your life as his mouthpiece to communicate His love? And how does He want to use you as a microphone to communicate love and truth into someone else’s life? Don’t just think about it, act on it. Love does.

Katie Williams

High School Director

An Every Day Psalm

May 28th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Dave - (Comments Off on An Every Day Psalm)

I remember memorizing Psalm 23 as a young child – probably the first full chapter of the Bible I was able to recite word-for-word.  Sunday School teachers through those formative growing up years helped me to understand the importance of the Shepherd in my life.  It made even more sense to me when I understood that the author of this Psalm was a shepherd himself – first of real sheep and then of God’s people.  David understood the immense value of acknowledging the LORD as his shepherd.

Unfortunately, this has become a Psalm to be read only in times of loss, grief, or desperation.  Granted, the truths of Psalm 23 are an amazing source of comfort, provision, restoration, and a promise of the LORD’s presence and care.   It is important that we not miss that, or take that lightly.  After all, where would we be without His Shepherding care for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs?

We consistently praise and worship Him, for all that we need is found in our all-sufficient Shepherd, who is present with us through all our dark valleys of fear, unknowns and potential dangers.

But we don’t want to miss the everyday truth and reality of this Psalm when life is experienced in all its fullness – each time and every season our cup runs over.   Just imagine this picture; we sit as honored guests at His banquet feast, fully realizing that there are enemies that would rob us of the true contentment, peace, and joy of these occasions.  We are assured while dining at that table of the ever-present Shepherd, that His love will always be steadfast and loyal. Add to this, the great hope and anticipation of abiding with the Shepherd forever.

Every day, whether spent in the valley of fear or at the table of plenty, we have the opportunity to experience His presence.   Our Shepherd leads, restores, and provides the needed resources to comfort us.  Our Host affirms and celebrates our presence at His table of bounty and blessing – assuring us of His loyal love for every day of our lives.

Certainly, there is fear in the unknown, and the potential of danger.  And, there is satisfaction in affirmation, and the potential of self-sufficiency.  Both days, every day – the LORD is my Shepherd.

Dave Borror

Ministry Administration

Invited and Welcomed

May 14th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Invited and Welcomed)

 “Then the King will say to those on his right…. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

I know I could quote from memory all of the actions surrounding this portion of Matthew 25:35-36. I remember the parts about prison visits, and about clothing the naked, and providing food for the hungry, and visiting the sick. But I would bet that if I skipped one of these it would most definitely be, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

That one doesn’t really fit the bunch. All the other ones seem way more epic. They all seem like they are meeting basic human needs when people are in desperate situations. Welcoming a stranger seems kind of average. Yet, it is right there amongst the others.

There have been few times in my life when I can remember being a complete stranger somewhere and feeling welcomed. I have been invited to places plenty of times and that feels pretty good to be invited. But once I arrived I have rarely felt welcomed. I have rarely felt like I belonged with people that I was a stranger to.

I can, however, remember as clear as day the times that I have been welcomed amongst strangers. I will never forget the first time I went to a particular church gathering in Chicago. I sat down for dinner with 10 people who I didn’t know and had never met before. I can’t explain exactly how they did it but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I belonged. They asked me question after question about who I was and what was going on in my life. Then they listened. By the end of that dinner I was literally sharing my deepest burdens and asking for prayer.

What happened? I had no idea at the time. I had only known them for 1 hour! But I was welcomed. I knew I belonged.

It is my hope that this is something that HPBC is known for. Not for our own glory or our own credit but because this is a way to love like Jesus and give Him glory.

We may not have a ton of people walking through our doors that are going to prison, or need clothing or are hungry (although we must be seeking those people out). But it is a guarantee that we have people who are wondering if they belong.

Most people know that they are always invited to church. But do they know they are welcomed? Do they know that they are invited, not just to a service, but to our own family?

It is our call to show them that they are.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” -Matthew 25:40

-Brantley Vosler

Stumin Worship Director

Ten to Six

May 9th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Gordon - (Comments Off on Ten to Six)

Everybody loves the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:3-17).  We love it when children honor their father and mother, for when this happens there is stability and peace in the home and the community.  We love it when people don’t commit murder, for then we can live without fear in the home and the community.  We love it when people don’t commit adultery, for then there is love, joy, peace, and stability in the home and these traits spill out into the community.  We love it when people don’t steal, for then there is trust in the home and the community.  We love it when people tell the truth, for then there is trust in the home and the community.  We love it when people are content, for then they don’t want what others have, and this leads to stability in the home and the community.

Everybody loves the Ten Commandments . . . well, not everybody.  People want the outgrowth of the Ten Commandments: homes that are loving and peaceful, with the result that communities are stable and calm.  With the absence of strife, homes and communities like this give a wonderful sense of wholeness and well-being.  They are a great place to live!

But of course, we know that no place on earth exists quite like this . . .  but we all wish it did.  And there is reason for this: the Ten Commandments are not the Six Commandments!  They were not designed to function apart from the first four.  The first four commandments are all about the God who gave the last six, and all ten commandments were designed to go together.  For all the commandments are a revelation about the God who gave them: the Ten Commandments reveal the holiness and righteousness of God.  By eliminating the first four, the “Six Commandments” become simply moral suggestions, and human beings do not have the moral ability to keep the six because of sin.

Only when people are in alignment with the moral God of the universe are they able to keep His commands.  And to be in alignment with the moral God of the universe requires doing it His way: coming to Him by submitting to the gospel of Jesus Christ. For then God provides not only the commandments but also the ability to keep the commandments through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Moral living that brings peace and happiness demands moral accountability to the moral God of the universe. Then, and only then, will there be homes and communities filled with goodness and fullness of life.

The bottom line is this: our country does not need any more laws, but we do need believers committed to sharing the gospel of the Savior. The glorious gospel provides peace, stability, and love because God forgives sinners and He provides power to keep the Ten Commandments.

Gordon Ainsworth

Shepherding Pastor

Our God Reigns

May 3rd, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (Comments Off on Our God Reigns)

While the nations rage against the Lord, and against His anointed, our God still reigns.  The nations and their rulers strive to break any bonds, any cords that hold their moral and ethical lives in check, but God still reigns.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalm 2:1-4 ESV)

There is a persistent effort on the part of society to push away any perceived restrictions on freedom.  God’s standard for marriage is declared to be discriminatory.  The right to terminate the life of a living fetus, a child created by God, is funded by the public and is praised as ‘choice’.  But, our God reigns.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.  (Psalm 2:10 ESV)

The Son reigns.  The nations are His heritage, and the ends of the earth are His possession (Psalm 2:8).  The Father says of the Son, You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.  (Psalm 2:9 ESV)

What then is our response to be when we see the nations raging against our God?  We are to love them.  For God loves them.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  (John 3:16 ESV)

So we must love, as our Father loves.  We must tell them of Jesus.  Yes, He reigns.  But He also gave His life for sinners.  Each of us, who have put our faith in Him, have done so because we are sinners.  And He has forgiven us for our sins.  So our response to those who push hard against God must be love.  We must speak the truth in love.  We must introduce them to the Savior, so they come to know Him as Savior before they must bow before Him as Lord.

Our God reigns.  He will bring justice.  But we must love.  We too push against His standards many times in our lives.  Our hearts are seldom wholly given to Him.  We struggle to honor Him with our finances, with our time, with our desires.  We are no better than others, simply saved by His love.  Let us submit to His authority in every area of our own lives, removing the log in our eyes before we address the speck in others.

So let us love with His love.  Let us stand for His truth, not abrasively but with compassion.  And let us follow our Savior, regardless of how society seeks to redefine morality.  We are His people.  Let’s live worthy of Him and love others as He loves.  Our God reigns.

Brent Slater

Senior Pastor