Highland Park Baptist Church
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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

I Am Not Alone

July 17th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Gordon - (1 Comments)

Loneliness can be an excruciatingly painful time for a person. Twice in my life I have felt
extremely lonely. Once, when Tammy was in isolation in the hospital and I was driving home
late at night, I was on 8 Mile crossing right in front of a McDonald’s restaurant (it’s weird
what you remember at moments like this!). It suddenly dawned on me that not only was she
extremely sick and alone in her room at that moment, but I was also alone and could do nothing
to help her. It was then that I began to talk audibly to the Lord, to express to Him my emptiness
and my helplessness both in regard to Tam and to myself. As I prayed and quoted scripture
(can’t remember which ones), I experienced a peace and calmness as the Lord assured me of His
presence and care for both of us.

The other time I felt very lonely was on my first trip to Khabarovsk, Russia. I was jammed on a
bus loaded with people . . . and I could not understand a word they were saying! It seemed very
odd, for here were other human beings just like me, many of them laughing, communicating, and
having a grand old time, and I was totally isolated from them because of the language barrier.
Once again I began to pray, realizing that while I felt isolated, I was not alone for the Lord
Himself was with me.

When loneliness has crept in and made its ugly presence, one passage that has been a source of
comfort for me is John 16:32. The Lord Jesus was talking with His men shortly before He went
to the cross. They were commenting on how they had finally figured things out and they now
realized that He had come from God (16:29-30). At that point the Lord questioned the strength
of their proposed faith with a rebuke (16:31), and then He foretold what would be the proof of
their failure of faith: their scattering from Him at the moment of crisis (16:32).

But the gracious Lord wanted the disciples to learn the lesson from Him of what it would mean
to never be alone: although they would scatter from Him, He would always have the presence
of His faithful Father. From a human perspective, at the cross it would appear that the Lord
experienced the height of loneliness. His men would all forsake Him, and those around Him
would all be cursing Him. He would look absolutely lonely. But the Lord saw things from a
heavenly perspective: He rested in the eternal presence of His Father. He knew that the Father
had been with Him up to this point in His ministry (see John 8:16, 29), and He was confident
that the Father would be with Him throughout the experience of the cross. For the disciples the
guarantee of the Father’s presence would be demonstrated by the resurrection. The cross pointed
only to abandonment by God rather than Jesus being God or being from God (Luke 23:23-28).
But the resurrection solidified the Lord’s claim that “the Father is with me.”

The lesson is quite clear for all disciples of the Lord. The constant changing experiences of life
may make us feel (and look to others) as if God has abandoned us, that He is powerless to keep
His promises, that He does not really care about us. But disciples are not above their Master, and
they must walk His path as His people. This is simply the Messianic Experience (M.E.). The
Father was faithful to not abandon the Master in what appeared to all as the moment of crisis,
and the Father will be faithful to not abandon the servants. Loneliness can create agonizing
periods of life . . . but resting in the faithfulness of the Father and the Son will bring peace in the
midst of pain.

-Gordo

Just Maybe…

May 21st, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Gordon - (2 Comments)

In the Bible idolatry meant more than a means of worship. It was designed to attribute glory
to the gods in order to manipulate them so that a culture might maintain personal peace and
prosperity (i.e., maintaining a good standard of living and peace in the land). And all of this
came about at any expense, including the sacrifice of children. Ezekiel 23 is an allegory about
Israel (portrayed as two sisters) caught up in political adultery (and as the context makes clear,
the adultery was for material gain). The pursuit of this “adultery” perverted the mind of the
nation to the point of willingness to sacrifice their own children as an offering to God (23:36-39).
As a result, God pronounced judgment upon the land and its people (23:46-49). The economy of
the people came at the expense of the morality of the people . . . and God adjusted His dealings
with the nation on that basis. The end result was the collapse of the culture and exile to Babylon.

Just maybe our ruptured economy . . . just maybe our fractured chaotic culture . . . just maybe
our loss of world prominence . . . just maybe our inability to produce jobs for people . . . just
maybe all of this (and more!) might be flashing red lights from the Lord that we as a nation have
lost our moral bearings. (Remember, economy and morality do go together.) The generation
of the 60’s demanded sexual freedom; the generation of the 70’s demanded abortion rights;
and the present generation has given us the exaltation of homosexuality. We have worshipped
at the altar of personal peace, personal rights, and personal prosperity. Could it be more than
accidental that our nation might be struggling for its very survival?

But this is not the time for us to seek how to save the country. That is for politicians. We as
believers in Jesus as the Messiah must use the bleak outlook to point people to the glory of the
gospel. The gospel (good news) penetrates through the veneer of our pragmatic and feeling-
good society. It exposes our moral bankruptcy and it points us to a fulfilled and fruitful life in
the Lord Jesus. God never commissioned us to change the culture. But He did send us forth
to produce the fruit of godly character by the power of the Holy Spirit and to seek the fruit of
converts to be disciples of the Savior. The gospel is not intended to somehow manipulate God
into saving our country and our way of life. The gospel is designed to bring Him glory as people
come to their wits end and realize they have nowhere to turn.

Thus, let us be men and women who find our life-sustaining food in a Christ-saturated
mindset that pursues eternal life rather than the unsatisfying practices of our culture that end in
fruitlessness and self-destruction. And let us continue to proclaim the Lord Jesus as the One who
forgives sins and restores sinners to a relationship with God who gives meaning and satisfaction
in life.

-Gordon Ainsworth

Road Blocks

April 11th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Gordon - (Comments Off on Road Blocks)

Ever run into a road-block in life? By road-block I don’t mean a 6-foot piece of cement in the middle of the road, but something more along the line of losing a job you love, or not finding any job open in your field. Or maybe it’s getting sick and losing days of work without having sick-days left for the year . . . or losing a dear friend or relative . . . or just not being able to make ends meet because prices keep sky-rocketing. And over time the “road-block” drags you down to where discouragement sets in . . . and you lose all perspective in life. There just does not seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel . . . and if there is a beam of light, it is on the front end of a locomotive headed straight for you! Discouragement comes in all shapes and sizes, and it can be relentless in its pursuit to haul us down mentally and spiritually.

Believe it or not, even the Lord Jesus experienced discouragement. Nestled away like a robin’s nest in a majestic maple tree is a passage that speaks of the Lord from a prophetic perspective. Isaiah 49:1-13 is one of five short “Servant” sections that could only be fulfilled by the Savior (see also 42:1-13; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12; 61:1-3). In 49:1-3 the “Servant” speaks of His task that God has given Him, how he was called by God to His task, equipped by God for His task, and kept by the power of God in His task. But as He sought to fulfill his task there did not seem to be anyone responding to His message (v. 4ab). He complained that His efforts were fruitless, and any survey of the Gospels will reveal how often the Lord was frustrated at the lack of understanding by people, especially his own men (see for instance Mark 4:40-41; 6:49-52; 8:17- 21; Luke 9:37-41; Matt. 23:37-39).

But the beauty of the Isaiah passage leaves us no doubt that the Lord, in the midst of moments of discouragement, always kept his eyes on His Father. The rest of verse 4 lets us see that He handled discouragement by resting in His Father’s evaluation of how well He was faithful to His task after it was finished. He knew that being faithful in spite of no apparent achievement would bring final vindication in the end. He kept looking ahead to what God had for Him. The writer of Hebrews also captures the same faithfulness of the Savior in 12:1-2, as he exhorts us to keep going in faith, even as Jesus did: “. . . fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross . . . .” Notice, the Lord could go through the struggle of the cross (final rejection by all people . . . even his Father!) because “of the joy set before Him”—and that joy was us as He procured our salvation!

When you run into one of life’s “road-blocks” and you see no way out, keep looking to the Lord Jesus and keep being faithful to the task the Lord has set before you. Don’t lose confidence in God’s calling you to be His own and in His keeping you to the end. He is sovereign over road- blocks and He will reward you for your faithfulness.

-Gordon Ainsworth