Highland Park Baptist Church

Summer: A Time of Transitions

June 28th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brian - (Comments Off on Summer: A Time of Transitions)

The summer is a big transition time in student ministries.  We welcome our new sixth grade class, pass our new freshmen up to high school and say goodbye to our exiting seniors.  I’ve been around for quite a few summers now and one of the things I have learned is that transitions are typically difficult.

Transitions tend to be hard because they involve two things that make us uncomfortable; change and the unknown.

Change is usually hard and the unknown is often scary.  Most of us would rather just stay where we are, where it is comfortable and familiar, but transitions are a part of life.

In the past couple weeks I have talked to parents who are transitioning into becoming empty nesters, a more seasoned saint transitioning into assisted living, a family learning how to live after the loss of a loved one, a recent college graduate looking for employment, and a friend who is changing jobs.

Change is everywhere.

But so is God.

When you find yourself in the middle of a transition, trying to hold tight to what you know instead of jumping into the unknown let me encourage you.

When life is changing too fast, remember that He is unchanging.

When the unknown is scary, remember that it is not unknown to Author of Life…who knows you intimately and loves you deeply.

He goes before and beside us.  He helps in the times of transition, change, and the unknown.

Transitions will come and Jesus will walk us through each one. We would love to hear how God has been faithful to you through transitions, tell us a story of God’s faithfulness during transition in the comment section.  Let’s encourage each other.

-Brian Atkins

Director of Student Ministries

Unwanted Platform

April 10th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Brian - (Comments Off on Unwanted Platform)

Many of you have either seen or heard about the gruesome leg injury that happened
to Louisville basketball player during a game on Easter Sunday. He had a compound
fracture of his lower leg, right in front of the Louisville bench, on national TV.

I was at my parents about to start Easter dinner when my brother called me over to the
TV to see it, thankfully I missed it, what I did see was a bunch of Louisville players being
consoled, lying on the floor, and crying. I thought something much worse had happened.

After a couple minutes Kevin Ware called his teammates over and talked to them. Gave
them a speech. I don’t know exactly what it said, but it worked. Louisville was up 21-20
at the time of the injury. They went on to beat Duke 85-63.

Since the injury the Louisville players and coaches have dedicated the rest of the season
to Kevin, even changing their warm up shirts so that Kevin’s number 5 is on the back of
every players warm up shirt.

Kevin Ware is the eighth leading scorer on his team, he is seventh in minutes played,
sixth in assists per game, ninth in rebounds per game, you get the idea. Kevin Ware is a
very good basketball player, however the reason that he has been plastered all over ESPN
and many other national media outlets is not because of his unbelievable basketball skill
but because of this unbelievably bad thing that happened to him.

Kevin Ware has a platform that he would have never had if he had not come down on his
leg wrong on national television. People are praising him for his bravery and resiliency
just days after the injury. His first steps since surgery were on Facebook and Twitter
minutes after he took them.

Kevin Ware did not see this coming, he jumped like normal, just came down a little weird
and just like that he is a national story.

You probably won’t see it coming either. It’ll just be a routine doctors visit, or a normal
day when your phone rings with bad news on the other end. But the result will be the

All of a sudden everyone will be looking at you, seeing how you respond. Tragedy
amplifies our platform. It adds a megaphone to our message. You don’t have to ask for
it, you might not even want it. But people are always interested in how people respond
when tragedy hits, when the unexpected happens.

Some people at our church are going through this kind of thing right now. People are
watching them walk through very difficult circumstances and are being blown away.
They are being blown away because we don’t know how we will react in bad situations
until we are in one. I know I always hope I will have a great testimony if something bad
happens, but I am blown away by people who are walking through it right now and are
faithful to proclaim the message of Christ as they do.

Brian Atkins

Director of Student Ministries


May 24th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Brian - (Comments Off on Instagram)

Facebook is everywhere! You cannot turn on the news and not hear about how many
new users they have, how much their IPO is going to make or what the founder, Mark
Zuckerburg, is up to. Every day it seems like there is something new happening with

A recent event that really got my attention was their purchase of Instagram. Instagram
is a free photo sharing program that allows people to take pictures and post them to
different social media websites. Facebook bought Instagram for 1 billion dollars. Not a
million dollars…. a BILLION!

There are tons of programs that take pictures and tons of ways to post those pictures to
any number of different social media outlets. In fact most phones come with a camera
program built in when you purchase the phone. So what makes Instagram stand out
above the rest? How did they command a billion dollars?

The statistics about instagram are pretty impressive.

-Each day on Facebook 300 million photos are uploaded

-Instagram gains one new user every second

-One billion photos have been taken with the app

-There are roughly 58 photos uploaded each second

With such staggering figures the question begs us to repeat…what makes Instagram stand
out above the rest?

You get to use filters.

Instagram doesn’t just take pictures it also gives you the ability to apply a digital filter on
the photo. This unique feature has made it wildly popular. It takes your average photo
and turns it into an eye catching piece of art. It takes an average person, snapping the
photos, and transforms them into a creative genius.

A simple reason that Instagram has gained such popularity is that there is something in all
of us that wants to create, to make beautiful things. We were not put on this earth to just
go to work, watch TV, sleep and repeat. Genesis 1 paints for us this beautiful picture of
the ultimate creativity, as God designed and wove creation together for His glory. And
then we come to verse 27 which declares that He didn’t just create us but He created,
formed, fashioned us…in His own image. Our God is a creative God, therefore, we are
creative people.

What you are creating doesn’t have to be artistic in the traditional sense, but it should be
yours. God has created you uniquely and in His image. There is no one else like you.
Our creative God has made you exactly as you are for His purpose and His plan. Let
me encourage you this week to follow His lead….create something. Unleash that inner

-Brian Atkins

Winter Camp

January 25th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Brian | Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Winter Camp)

The Herd (middle school) and Crash (high school) ministries had an amazing time at our annual winter retreat January 14-16 and I wanted to share four things with you that jumped out to me from that weekend.

First, we were extremely blessed by our volunteers (not our normal staff, I’ll get to them in a minute). We have a group comprised of adults in the church, some parents some not, that go up all weekend to serve the students. They make all the food, serve all the food, wash all the dishes, clean up etc… Some are parents who would otherwise have a kid free weekend at home. Some are just people who love the youth ministries and want to help out. We are so blessed by them every year and are amazed that many of them do this every year for us. It is also a great picture of the different ages and generations of HPBC coming together and serving for a united purpose and it is powerful to see.

Second, we were able to take CBC of Brighton’s middle school group and Bell Creek’s youth groups with us on the retreat. Andrew Williams is the youth pastor at CBC and Dan Baughman is the youth pastor at Bell Creek. Both are men who have grown up at our church and in our youth group and have also worked at HPBC at different times. It is so encouraging to see not only what God is doing in our youth group but in other groups through men that we know and have had the opportunity to work with.

Third, our volunteer staff people are amazing. This group of staff are the people that work regularly with the Herd and Crash. They actually paid to go on the retreat and sleep with smelly middle schoolers and stay up until crazy hours talking with students. We could not do what we do without them and they do it all with a smile on their face and such energy and positivity that it is amazing. We were also able to take 3 SAM (Special Abilities Ministry) students with us for the first time which was a huge blessing.

Lastly, we have a unique relationship with the Romulus basketball team. Many of you know Josh Baker who is a member at our church. Up until this year he was a coach for the team. Through this connection, and an unbelievably gracious sponsor, we have been able to have the team come to some of our summer camps in the past. This was the first year we have had them up to winter camp and it was amazing. Through this same sponsor we were also able to take a number of basketball players from SCS who had never been to any of our retreats. Seeing those guys with tears in their eyes singing Great I Am will not be something that any of us will soon forget. A couple of the guys even accepted Christ!

There were many other highlights and powerful times of worshipping God and learning from His word, but those are the 4 that really jumped out to me.

Thanks to all of you who played a part, we couldn’t do it without you. And please keep the students, especially those who made important decisions, in your prayers as they are back into normal life and having to deal with all the things pulling them away from Jesus.

We are remembering what God has done for us and because of that we have faith that God will accomplish the hopes that He gave us that weekend.