Highland Park Baptist Church
Header

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

Certainty Amidst the Chaos

April 26th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Dave K - (Comments Off on Certainty Amidst the Chaos)

Forever, O Lord, your word

is firmly fixed in the heavens.

Your faithfulness endures to all generations;

You have established the earth, and it stands fast.

By Your appointment they stand this day,

for all things are Your servants.

Psalm 119: 89-92

From a human standpoint, the world around us seems to be increasingly in chaos.  Things that once seemed rock-solid stable have crumbled. Society seems to be coming apart at the seams.

In the midst of this apparent turmoil, we can turn to scripture and we are reminded that God’s Word is “firmly fixed” and that He is faithful “to all generations”. What an encouragement! The earth “stands fast” because it has been established by God and we as individuals are where we are by his “appointment”.

We, along with everything and everyone around us, are His servants. We’re here for His purposes, which have not changed.  Each & every day He is drawing people to Himself so that one day….people from every nation, tribe, and tongue will honor & glorify Him in worship.

The apparent chaos around us is not a surprise to God and, in fact, it too serves His purposes.  He is in control. He knows what’s best. He is faithful. So, let’s trust Him and live according to His firmly fixed Word!

Dave Kuntzman

Missions, Business

Human Trafficking and HPBC

April 23rd, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Missions - (Comments Off on Human Trafficking and HPBC)

The following is a synopsis of a recent article about an arrest made of a two human traffickers:

“A man and a woman are facing charges of torture and human trafficking after allegedly forcing a woman to work as a stripper.  The charges resulted from an investigation by the police along with assistance from government forces.  Authorities said the man and woman enslaved a young woman and forced her to work as a stripper since December. They allegedly collected all her earnings and used threats and violence to control her.  The investigation began when the male trafficker, age 30, allegedly assaulted the 18-year-old woman at a hotel.  Police were dispatched there referencing a report of assault and battery in one of the rooms.  Upon arrival at the hotel, authorities found the two suspects and the victim in the room. The victim needed to be taken to the hospital for injuries.  Authorities believe she had been assaulted by the male and further investigation revealed that the female trafficker tried hiding the assault by turning up the volume of the TV in the room to cover up the noise of the assault.”

When you read this story, it sounds typical of something you would expect in southern Asia or Cambodia.  The surprising fact is that the “authorities” mentioned in this article are the FBI and Southfield Police Department and the hotel is located at the corner of 12 Mile and Northwestern Hwy.  (Read the full article here @ http://www.candgnews.com/news/authorities-arrest-two-human-trafficking-suspects-southfield

This past semester, as part of a course that I am taking at Moody Theological Seminary, I had the opportunity to work with a group that investigated human trafficking on a local scale and discussed how HPBC could respond.  There are some key results of our research.  The first is that, as we saw above, humans are being trafficked right around us.  I had the opportunity to interview the Public Information Officer for the City of Southfield regarding human trafficking.  He said that this type of incident is the first incident of its kind in several years and that it happens on a fairly infrequent basis.  Through the semester, however, we discovered that within the broader scope of metro Detroit, this is not so uncommon of an issue.  When the Auto Show came to town in January, there were several news stories highlighting the spike in human trafficking that accompanies events like the Auto Show.

Another key point that we discovered is that there are very limited resources for victims of human trafficking.  We discovered a very limited number of non-governmental organizations that work with victims.  There are a very limited number of shelter beds.

In addition, legislatively, the state of Michigan received a score of 47 out of 100, equivalent of an F letter grade (as evaluated by Shared Hope International’s Protected Innocence Legislative Framework).  The summary of the report is:

Michigan criminalizes sex trafficking of minors under age 18 without regard to force, fraud or coercion, but it does not reach buyers, and the purchase of commercial sex acts with a minor is not penalized under any law. Convicted sex trafficking offenders are not required to register as sex offenders.

This really opened our eyes to how our legal system is not adequately prepared to respond to this issue on a domestic level.  I highly encourage you to read the full report card found here http://sharedhope.org/PICframe2/reportcards/PIC_RC_2012_MI.pdf

As we began to go deeper into our research, we were asking, “What can we do?  What can the church do?”  The first key step is awareness.  As we as a church staff pray and seek the Lord about our response, here are a few things that you can do right now:

  • Learn to recognize the signs of someone who is trafficked.  The Department of Homeland Security has an online training program that takes 30-45 minutes to complete and I highly recommend it.  It can be found here http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/training/dhs_awareness_training_fy12/launchPage.htm
  • Program the following number into your phone: National Human Trafficking Hotline – 1 (888) 3737-888.  If you see or hear anything suspicious, call this number and they will pass the information along to the proper authorities.
  • Pray for victims and traffickers, that they may be free, see justice, and grow in a relationship with Jesus.  Pray also with us for how we as HPBC can respond.
  • Ask your local, state, and federal governmental representatives what they are doing to address this issue.

If you would like to know how to get involved more, contact Brad McCarthy here http://www.highlandparkbaptist.com/about-us/staff/brad-mccarthy.

 

Tragedy Amplifies Our Platform (Part 2)

April 16th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Tragedy Amplifies Our Platform (Part 2))

The beginning of my day today started like any other. I generally rush around for the first half hour until I make it to my car and begin to actually process real thoughts. As should have been expected, I immediately began to process yesterday’s events at the Boston marathon. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but I couldn’t help but watch the live footage of the explosions yesterday. Something like that doesn’t just go away after a nights sleep.

I was reminded of this quote from Brian Atkins blog from last week. “Tragedy
amplifies our platform. It adds a megaphone to our message.”

The hashtag spread like wildfire on twitter and instagram yesterday to #prayforboston. Christians and non-christians alike were in unison. The call was to turn to God for comfort and peace and to ask Him for help. I haven’t checked but I am guessing that earlier in the day yesterday there weren’t anywhere near the amount of conversations about God and prayer as there were after the explosions.

The reality is that people are reminded of their humanity. People remember that if they want they can live a life in fear.

The fear of anything but God is the antithesis of our message. This gives us the platform, the stage and the microphone. This gives us an opportunity to shout the Gospel. We get to enter in the conversation with the joy of saying that there is a God that is love and that He offers hope and forgiveness for free.

Making sure we are preaching forgiveness for all might be our best shot in times like this to stand out from the noise of what most people are saying. Many will put their hope in the FBI trying to catch the people behind the explosions. This is not our hope. We have real hope because of forgiveness. And forgiveness is offered equally to the people who committed the crime as it is to us.

Today is a day to enter the conversation. Whether it be at work, at school, or wherever. The freedom, salvation, hope, and forgiveness of God needs to be talked about. You are the perfect person to do it because you have been given all of these things.

-Brantley Vosler

Student Ministries Worship

God Always Is

April 12th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on God Always Is)

Most people tend to define themselves based on their past or their future. If you spend an hour with little kids they will tell you all the things they want to be when they grow up. When you spend time with high school students they will tell you where they want to go to college and what they want to study. When you spend 10 minutes in a room with middle-aged men they constantly relive the glory moments of their athletic careers. When you spend time in a nursing home you hear stories of first loves, news-headline events, and wedding days. We as people almost always define who we are based on what we have accomplished, done in the past, or what our future goals are. We rarely think about who we are in the present.

This thinking seems to roll over into our spiritual lives as well. Revelation 1:8 says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,” who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” When thinking about God a lot of times we think about Him as the Alpha. It’s easy to think about Him as the Creator of all things, who at some point in time created everything in the past.

It’s also easy to think about Jesus as a character or person of the past. He was born to Mary, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and ascended into heaven. All of that happened 2,000 years ago which makes it easy for us to associate Jesus strictly with the past.

On the other hand, it is also easy for us to think about God as the Omega. We tend to think of Him as the God that we will one day meet in a perfect heaven. Or we think of Him as becoming more real as we pass from this earth to our eternal life.

It’s also easy to think of Jesus as a future character or person. He is the one who will come again on some day that no one knows in the future. His return is what all believers look forward to.

Focusing on these aspects of God is a very good thing and very necessary. However, it seems as though it is easy to forget that God “is.” It’s easy to remember that God was, and it is easy to remember that God is to come, but in our everyday life it is so important to remember that God “is” right now and with us.

Being a follower of Jesus is not only believing he lived and that he will come again. It is also about following Him every day of our lives. Our focus needs to be on Him in the present as we walk through every situation. It is so crucial to remember that in the times where it seems as though things are falling apart, God “is.” He is with us and present. It is vital to remember that when everything seems to be going well or easy that He still “is”.

There is nothing more encouraging than knowing that we are able to have a relationship with a God who is with us wherever we go (Joshua 1:9). That means that in every single situation He is there with us.

So as people who find it very easy to think about the past or the future, it is so important for us to remember that God is also always present. He is present in every situation: good or bad. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that we serve an all-powerful God who promises to never leave our side. It is incredible that we serve a God who always is, and will always be with us no matter what we are going through.

Jeremy Einem

High School Director

Unwanted Platform

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

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
same.

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

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.