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I Love Riding My Bike

August 22nd, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (Comments Off on I Love Riding My Bike)

I love riding my bike.  There is nothing like flying up and down hills, leaning around bends, and watching the trees fly by while on a bike.  I love the feel of blood coursing through my body while I do something that is just pure fun!

But the other day I was caught off guard while riding one of my favorite routes.  Now let me preface this by saying that I ride a very good bike, but it isn’t a road bike; you know, one of those bikes just made for speed.  Well, that is my excuse anyway.  The route I was riding that day is often filled with high-speed bikers who regularly compete.  That is not me.  I was riding up a hill, pushing hard to get to the top, when two bikers coming towards me from the other direction, looked up and called out, “Way to go, girls.”  I was taken aback by their comment.  Yes, I had a helmet and all on, but could they really mistake me for a girl?  Then two women flew past me from behind, riding very sleek road bikes and moving very fast.  I was left feeling even worse!  I reminded myself that they were at least 25 years younger than me and their bikes were made for speed.  But still …

One thing I love more than riding though, is watching the Spirit work with all His energy through me, to accomplish things that I could not do.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:29 (ESV).  It constantly amazes me, that the Holy Spirit would choose to regenerate someone like me, and then to work through me to do God’s work.  I hope you relish that experience as well.  As we submit ourselves to Him, allowing Him to fully control our will and desires, we have the awesome privilege of seeing Him work in ways we could never have imagined.  As we desire what He desires, and live for His glory alone, we find His Spirit’s energy coursing through our lives.  We thrill with the joy of serving, and marvel and the work of God.  There is no thrill like struggling with all his energy that so powerfully works within us.  Living for Him alone is life’s greatest thrill.

Brent Slater

Senior Pastor

Rooted

July 13th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (Comments Off on Rooted)

She did it again!  My wife has a way of pulling me out of my routine and splashing my life with wonder and joy.  This past week, it happened along the pictured rocks of Lake Superior.  Inell arranged for us to kayak along these splendid colored cliffs.  She also managed to pick a perfect day, with temps in the upper seventies and a sky that was cloudless and blue.

Many images captured my attention as we skimmed along: crystal clear water, majestic cliffs, waves crashing, waterfalls pouring over the edge and plunging into the vastness of Superior.  But one picture stays with me.

It was a tree that had grown tall and green right along the edge of the cliff, over one hundred feet above the water.  If that tree could speak, I imagine it would have felt that it had chosen the best of all possible locations.  For years it had delighted in the sun filled skies, cool breezes, and the vast expanse of water before it.  There was only air on its north side, so it had full sun and no competition for space or light.  But what caught my attention was that it was hanging upside down on the cliff face, clinging to a bit of soil and rock with a single root or two.  We had just watched another tree tumble over the cliff and into the water a few hours earlier.  I wandered how long this one could hold on.

Sometimes we think we have it made.  Our fortunes, our lot, our hard work have landed us in the best of places.  Some of us feel envy, wondering why we are hidden back further in the forest, never noticed and never feeling we have the chance of seeing limitless space and opportunity before us.  Yet the Psalmist reminds us:

“See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!”  But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.  I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.” (Psalm 52:7-8, ESV)

I would rather grow in the house of God, with roots sunken deep into the solid foundation of His Word, than to experience the thrill of living on the edge on my own, only to fall into the destruction I have prepared for myself.  I thrill in His vastness.  He is enough.  Let me live in Him.

Brent Slater

Senior Pastor

Godliness With Contentment

June 6th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (Comments Off on Godliness With Contentment)

We all want to do something that really counts; something that produces benefit both for us and for others.  Even more than that, as disciples, we want to live in such a way as to bring honor to our Lord.  I’ve been thinking about that recently.  How do I know that my life is really producing something that counts?

We strive for excellence, but what if we are doing the wrong thing?  What if we are investing in the wrong place?  What if we are working hard at something that doesn’t really count?

Paul told Timothy that there is real gain in godliness, when it is coupled with contentment.  So often we think of godliness as rigid, ascetic, and stoic living.  But godliness refers to living by God’s standard; living God’s way.  To do this, we follow Jesus.  We go where He goes.  We speak as He speaks.  We love as He loves.  We act as He acts.  Jesus perfectly matched His Father’s standards.  So when we follow Him, we begin to walk in godliness.

But the necessary corollary to godliness is contentment.  We’ve all known people who strive for holiness, but are sour and dour.  Our God is not like that!  He is the one who created joy and laughter.  You see, contentment is found when we are confident of sufficiency.  So it is one thing for God to be content because He is self-sufficient.  But we are not.  So where does contentment come from?  It comes from knowing that when we are in Christ, our sufficiency is God.  It is not in bank accounts or in houses and lands.  Contentment never comes from having everything we want, or from having everything our society tells us we should have to gain others’ respect.  Contentment comes from Him.  He is all we need.  He is our reward.  When we follow Jesus, we walk in godliness.  When we live in Christ, we find contentment.  Godliness with contentment is great gain.

Brent Slater

Senior 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

The Creators Worth

April 5th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (Comments Off on The Creators Worth)

I’m sitting with my family, looking at the majesty of the Rocky Mountains.  Yet even in all of their majesty, they only reflect, to the best of their ability, the wonderful majesty of the One who created them.  How quickly our vision becomes limited by our surroundings.  We look too quickly at the created instead of the Creator.  Even more quickly, we look at what we have created, our homes, our businesses, our things.  The Creator gave us the ability to build and construct things, yet sadly these things soon begin to control us.  They hold our gaze.  They tug at our hearts.  They possess our time.

Turn our eyes, Oh Lord, to your face once again.  Give us hearts that are possessed by our Creator and Savior alone.  Teach us to give to you, for all we have is given to us by you.  Teach us to worship you with our hearts, minds, lives, voices, and wealth.  Let us live for your honor and yours alone.

These mountains declare your glory.  May I do so as well.  All that these mountains possess and hold, they give back to you in praise.  May I do so as well.

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

God’s Inexpressible Gift

December 23rd, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (2 Comments)

As I write these words, I’m sitting on Inell’s and my old couch from our days as missionaries in Uganda. Yes, I am in Kampala. It is a perfect 73 degrees, just like it is almost every day here. The flowers are in bloom and the sky is blue. Christmas music is heard everywhere you go in town as believers prepare to celebrate the coming of our Savior as a baby.

I’m reminded of the wonder of the prophet’s words, “For unto us a child is born.” Whether in the warm tropics of beautiful Uganda, or in the crisp cold of beautiful Michigan, Jesus came for us. To the farthest corners of the world, Jesus has come. His name is adored and His salvation is at work.

He came for you. I don’t know where you find yourself today. It may not be a location so much as a situation. You may be basking in the warmth of family celebrations and reunions, or you may be sitting quietly alone. He came for you. You may be awash in blessings you never expected, or you may be facing challenges you never imagined. He came for you.

One child. One Savior. One King. He is enough.

Let us look to Him this Christmas. Let’s worship Him wherever we find ourselves. Let’s trust Him completely and only. Remember, He came for you. God’s inexpressible gift. Jesus!

Brent Slater
Senior Pastor

A Disciple Growing Church

November 8th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (3 Comments)

We are committed to growing disciples at HPBC. Why? Well, Jesus ministry model was all about making disciples. I have often used Mark 3:14 as a pattern for ministry. “And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.”

There were two primary aspects to Jesus’ discipling. First, he called his followers
to be with him. They must leave their homes, occupations, and dreams in order
to be in his presence. Disciple making requires relationships and commitment.
Relationships demand time and personal vulnerability. While they were with him,
they observed Jesus model compassion, preaching and teaching, care for the needy,
and personal sacrifice.

Secondly, he sent them out to preach. A disciple learns and then practices.
Discipleship is learning through teaching and modeling, and then practicing while
the teacher observes, corrects and encourages.

How much time do we spend in His presence? Are we putting into practice what He
teaches us, or are we just absorbing for ourselves?

Then we must ask ourselves, “Are we making disciples of Jesus?” Jesus commanded
us to to go and make disciples. (Mt 28:18-20) Who are we teaching? Are we
teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us? If so, they will learn by
watching our example. Are we obeying Jesus ourselves? Are we growing? Are
we helping others to follow Jesus even as we follow Jesus? Can they watch us as a
model of what it means to obediently follow?

We are not a seeker church. We are a disciple making church. So are you a disciple?
Are you spending time with Jesus? Are you obeying everything He has commanded
us? Then, who are you discipling by building a transparent relationship that models
and teaches obedience to Christ in all things.

Growing disciples. It takes everything we are and have, given to Jesus, and poured
out for others.

-Brent Slater

 

The Best

October 8th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (2 Comments)

Since returning from Uganda, many people have asked me, “What was the best part of the trip?”  It was a wonderful trip and I could share so many blessings; like watching my boys reconnect with the place where they grew up.  Or, seeing our team work with a servant spirit alongside our Ugandan brethren.  Or, seeing the majesty of wild elephants and the creative genius of God in zebra.

But, by far the greatest thrill, was watching people put their faith in Jesus!  The first Sunday I was in Uganda, I preached at a service where hundreds of people gathered under tarpaulins and the shade of trees to celebrate the spread of the Gospel in Uganda over the past 50 years.  After reminding the crowd of the simple unchanging truth of the gospel, I challenged the believers present to recommit themselves to shine the light of Jesus in the days and years to come.  Then the Spirit of God began to move as only He can and 11 people came forward to put their faith in Christ for the very first time.  The first to walk forward was an elderly woman.  As I watched her make her way to the front, publically declaring that she was putting her faith in Jesus, my heart began to quiver.  Still today, God is calling people to Himself, even those we may consider wizened and calloused with age, whose hearts are softened and whose knees bend at the name of Jesus.

The next week we were able to care for 1897 patients in the capital city of Kampala, as Kampala Baptist Church morphed itself into a five day free clinic for the community.  During that week, 43 individuals trusted Christ.  But the moment above all others was when another elderly lady, probably in her eighties, stepped out of one of the counseling rooms and, with her arms reaching to the sky declared, “I have just been saved!”

And it isn’t just in Uganda that people are trusting in Jesus.  One of the first stories I heard upon my return to HPBC was of someone that one of our ministry team here had just led to Christ.  The Father is at work drawing people across the globe to the Son.  There is nothing in all of life as satisfying and fulfilling as introducing someone to Jesus.  I hope that you are sharing the story of Jesus with those you meet each day.  Let’s be bold.  People need to hear.  People want to hear.  And the Spirit is regenerating many as they put their faith in Jesus!  Don’t miss out!  It’s the best part of life.

-Brent

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

July 19th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Brent - (2 Comments)

There are days that seem to stretch well beyond 24 hours. Packed with work,
challenges, and unexpected turns, we sometimes reach late afternoon or early
evening and wonder how much more we can handle. I’ve had those kinds of days.

Then I remember 1Thess 5:18 which says, “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
Really? Can we do that and live authentically? Isn’t that sort of pretence? Acting as
if life is great when, in fact, we are almost at the breaking point?

Well, we need to finish the verse: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is
the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In Jesus, we have the assurance of God’s
unquestionable and inexplicable love. In Jesus, we have access to the throne room
of heaven. In Jesus, we have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3).

I can give thanks then, because everything that has happened today, even what
seems to be overwhelming, is an opportunity for me to access the endless resources
of grace and mercy in Jesus in order to face and overcome in Him. Days that “never
end”, become an opportunity for me to experience the surpassing provisions of my
Father, in Jesus. We can, even must, give thanks. For it is in those times when we
are stretched beyond our capacities and abilities that we see His provision most
clearly.

Give thanks today, no matter what kind of day it has been. Give thanks no matter
what the circumstances. In Jesus, there is constant reason for thanksgiving.

-Brent