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Avoiding Tragedy

April 1st, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Dave - (Comments Off on Avoiding Tragedy)

It is entirely possible for me to go weeks without recognizing that I am not thoroughly enjoying the prosperity of God in my life.  I was reminded last week, through the study of God’s Word, that it is a terrible misfortune (evil) when I neglect the invitation to be satisfied (enjoy) with His amazingly good gifts in my life.  You may wantcheck it out for yourself in Ecclesiastes 6:1-6.

Apparently Solomon lived under the weight of his prosperity, and was so consumed by it that he couldn’t allow his soul to be so satisfied in God.  It’s too bad, when all along he could have actually enjoyed God’s provisions.  Certainly it was a misfortune for him, but a yet great reminder for me.  With his extremes of riches, he leaves behind a legacy of futility and emptiness.  Only as hefaithfully revered and honored God could the prosperity of his life provide him with a fullness of meaning.

So here is my reminder for today.  If I have some money, a few things to call my own, and a little respect from others and the opportunity to make a difference; then I am rich in the provisions of God.  If I have children (& grandchildren); then I am blessed more than I deserve.  If my heart is beating and my lungs are functioning, then I have been given yet another today to live for Him.

And here is a perspective I would like to embrace for a lifetime.  Wealthy people are not the ones with all the gifts in this life – money, possessions, honor, children, and long life – but the truly prosperous are those who, no matter what they have, they enjoy all of it because they live for His glory and find their complete satisfaction in Christ.

My goal is to be satisfied in my soul (enjoy) with the prosperity given to me by the Giver of every gift in life.  Otherwise, I might end up like Solomon.  Imagine the tragedy of being filthy rich butfilled with meaninglessness after simply chasing the wind.

David Borror

Ministry Administration

On The Move

March 28th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Dave K - (Comments Off on On The Move)

Julie and I have been in the process of moving into a new home. We’ve moved so
many times it is getting hard to count. Quite honestly, there is almost nothing I like
about moving. For me, the whole process is an endurance contest. The one thing I
do enjoy is when the last box is unpacked and the new location truly becomes our
home.

These past few days have reminded me that God is always on the move. He is busy
24/7 accomplishing His plans and His purposes. He is moving in people’s hearts
and by His Spirit continues to draw men, women & children to Himself.

While there is excitement in moving into a new house, it doesn’t even remotely
compare to the movement of God. His work in our lives has provided for us an
incomparable inheritance. Ephesians 1:11-12 says, “In Him we have obtained an
inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all
things according to the counsel of His will so that we who were the first to hope in
Christ might be to the praise of His glory.”

I am so grateful that God is active and moving in our lives and that He does work all
things “according to the counsel of His will”. I often make mistakes and my moves
can be a bit “out of control”. Our Heavenly Father, however, is in complete control,
always makes the right move, and always knows what’s best for us. He is worthy of
our praise. May He be glorified through us!

Dave Kuntzman
Missions, Business

Tough Questions – A (Mission) Field Report

March 22nd, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Missions - (Comments Off on Tough Questions – A (Mission) Field Report)

With so many ministries at the church, sometimes there is more happening than we realize.  One example of this is a small group of young adults that meets every Tuesday night at a condo here in Southfield.  One of many Life Groups that is a part of the Young Adults ministry at HPBC, this Life Group in particular is structured to invite and welcome people who are not followers of Jesus.  The topic?  “Tough Questions”.  Each week, the group spends several hours wrestling with some of the tough questions that tend to be avoided, questions like “Who wrote the Bible and how can we trust them?  Why do we only have certain books in the Bible?  Does science contradict or support the Bible and why does it matter?  What relevance do these Bible stories have to me?  Is the Bible true?”

There are generally 10-15 people in attendance: some students, some young professionals, some Americans, some Chinese.  For the past several weeks, a foundational understanding of the Bible has been growing.  This past week, the focus shifted.  Instead of explaining, asking questions, and discussing about the Bible, the Bible spoke for itself.  The study began with the question “Is the Bible based on fact or faith?”, each attendee answering in turn.  Then the Bible was opened to Genesis chapter 1 and the process of observation -> interpretation -> application was introduced.  It was new and uncomfortable at first, with many of the observations seeming too basic to be meaningful, but as the group began to understand the process, a new depth of meaning began to rise from the pages.  People who had never studied the Bible before and people who had studied it their whole lives were digging deep and finding treasures in the scriptures.  The story of creation suddenly became relevant as readers realized that there was more to “Night and Day” and “light and darkness” than just the physical.  As one young professional observed, God only called the light good, not the darkness, and this resulted in Him separating the light from the darkness.  He then concluded, “It seems like light and darkness cannot exist together.” Another student followed by saying that maybe God was separating them in order to prepare humans for a regularity of life.

These observations and interpretations led to significant life applications for all.  Join us as we thank God for what He is doing among the members of this group and as we continue to ask Him to reveal himself through the Word.  If you are a young adult that would like to be part of this group, contact Jimmy Smith (jsmith@highlandparkbaptist.com), Young Adults Pastor, or the group leaders, Bruce Culver Jr. (brucecjr@gmail.com) and Brad McCarthy (bmccarthy@highlandparkbaptist.com).

Brad McCarthy

Missions

Clear the Stage

March 18th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Clear the Stage)

Music is a gift. It will always be a mystery to me how and why it moves people to experience beauty and truth. It engages peoples hearts and minds in a way that is totally unique. It is because of this power that it has been abused. People have used it and worshipped it until it has lost its purpose and its power altogether.

I would know because I am a recovering music addict. There is a strong to very strong chance that I have a bigger iTunes library than you. I’m the guy that will make you listen to a ten minute song uncomfortably loud and have no idea that you checked out eight minutes ago because my eyes are closed and I am air drumming.

When I was young I was gifted with the ability to play music and the people around me affirmed that gift and before I knew it I was on stage’s every week. This was a good thing because I was using gift’s for Gods’ glory and fighting the battle in my heart that people would see Jesus and not me on that stage.

But somewhere along the line I stopped fighting as hard. I let the gift become my god.

So many of us have done this with so many things. It’s the new and better disguised idolatry. Instead of elevating golden statues we elevate things that are good but are not ultimate. It leads to a life that is loveless, joyless, and unsatisfying. 

Every gift from God is meant to be given back to Him in obedience and worship. This is where love, and joy and satisfaction is found.

What we really need is this verse to be true of us.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:23-24 ESV)

-Brantley Vosler

Student Ministries Worship Director

ps… Come see Jimmy Needham this Sunday @ HPBC !

Why Does God Care?

February 14th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Why Does God Care?)

I love why questions. I remember as a kid playing the “why” game with my friends. If you are unfamiliar with this “game” I will offer as simple of an explanation as I can. All you do is ask an initial “why” question and no matter the response of the other person you say “why?” again and again and again until you get tired of playing. In 4th grade it seems to be never ending happiness. It was also the best possible way to annoy your friends and especially your parents.

And this is what is great about “why” questions… They have the capability to focus our attention on the real problems and root issues if you go down the rabbit trail long enough. Someone might ask the question, “Why would God send His Son to die?” And without too many more questions in the “why” game, you might end up at what is really holding them up from believing the answer to the initial question.

And I believe that this question, “Why does God care?” is often one of those root questions. Your answer to this question can make or break your perspective on what the Bible has to say.

Think about it this way for a second if this is an easy answer for you. This is the perspective and world view that many hold. It is a perspective that leads to unending lie’s.

“You are one of 7 billion people currently living on planet earth. You could die tomorrow and the world would function almost exactly the same. We live on a planet in the midst of trillions of miles of space in our galaxy and our galaxy is one of millions of billions of other galaxies. We get about 70 years of life if we are lucky and we really have no idea how much time is on either side of our life. Maybe its billions of years, maybe its thousands. Either way, it seems this life is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the majesty of the universe. Then when we die, we have no idea what happens. There is no scientific evidence that can prove what happens after death and so it must mean that thats it. We simply cease to exist. In addition, the time we get to spend on earth is filled with more pain, hate and fear, than faith, hope and love. If there is a god who created everything, than it seems that he would be quite disinterested in something so small as a human life on planet earth. Why would a god that big and complex care? We have a hard time getting our closest friends and family members to care about us let alone the God that put all the properties of physics together.”

All of my life, I was handed the answer to this question. So much so, that I never even had to really ask it. But the more I listened to friends and neighbors that were not Christians, it became clear that I needed an answer that was more compelling than just saying, “The Bible says so.”

I know that there are many creative and truthful ways of getting across the answer and I know that it largely depends on the individual. I want to focus on two parts of scripture and truth that I believe must be included together to answer this question holistically. Read these 2 pieces of scripture together.

Isaiah 40:26

Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.

1 John 4:15-16

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

These two truths coexisting is the answer. God IS the Creator of the galaxies. He did put all properties of physics into place. Even the ones we don’t know about or can’t explain. Not only that, He sustains them. Things are held together by His power Isaiah says. So in part, I agree with much of the perspective of our hypothetical questioner. Creation proclaims the power of God.

But He is also love! And in order to love He has to be relational. God cannot be up in heaven all alone and be loving at the same time. His love is in combination with His power and His might and His creativity. This mean’s that God’s love is big enough. It is enough for when we feel alone. It is enough when we feel like God is far away and distant. It is big enough for when our family members and friends don’t seem to care for us. It is enough for the forgiveness of every sin ever committed.

I Corinthians 13:1-3

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

There is no convincing anyone of anything without love in it and behind it. Otherwise we are just noise. And we can all agree that there is too much noise going on in the world today. Let our lips be filled with love from our creator God.

-Brantley Vosler

Student Ministries Worship Director

Smartphones As Tools For Bible Study

February 6th, 2013 | Posted by bvosler in Missions - (Comments Off on Smartphones As Tools For Bible Study)

Smartphone and tablet technology is prolific. Many of us have these devices in our home, if not right in
our pocket, but don’t realize the computational power that is available and how this tool can be used to
deepen our study of the Bible, grow in our relationship with God, and share the gospel with others. This
is a practical guide to various apps and resources. Every app featured in this post is free to download.

Bible Apps

Although each of these apps gives you access to the same Word of God, each one allows you to read,
study, and explore in a different way. Click or tap the picture of each icon to learn more.

“Bible Study with Accordance” (iOS/Mac/PC) – This is my daily reading, studying, all-in-one Bible app. It comes preloaded with the ESV Bible with links to Greek and Hebrew dictionaries. In the app, hold your finger down on a word to search for the definition from the original language. Each Greek or Hebrew word is assigned a “Key Number” by which you can search for all instances of that word in the text. This allows you to, as John Piper says, “dig for gold rather than rake for leaves” (Desiring God, pg. 13) in your study of the scriptures.

“Bible” by LifeChurch.tv (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Windows) – This is the app I use when I need multiple
translations. There are hundreds of translations in hundreds of languages. When I am talking about
scripture with an international student, instead of struggling to find vocabulary we have in common to
make an impromptu translation, I pull out my phone and look up the passage in their language. Another
great feature is built-in reading plans to take you through anything from reading the whole Bible in a
year, to reading passages about Jesus’ birth the twenty-five days before Christmas.

“GLO Bible” (iOS /Mac/PC) – This is the app I use when I am exploring and visualizing the Bible. I am
a very visual learner. Imagine reading through the description of how the land of Canaan was divided
between the twelve tribes of Israel. It describes that the tribe of Simeon was given “Beersheba, Sheba,
Molada, Hazar-shual, Balah…” (Joshua 19:2-3) and the list goes on. I, however, have no idea where
any of these cities are located. GLO helps visualize that by linking from Joshua 19 to a satellite image
of Israel with a colored overlay showing these divisions. GLO includes maps, videos, images, historical
references, and panoramic virtual tools to help bring the stories of the Bible to life.

Ministry Specific Apps

In addition to apps that aid in studying, reading, and exploring the Bible, there are several apps created
specifically for Christian ministry.

“Got Questions?” (iOS/Online) – Produced by Got Questions Ministries, this app exists to answer
questions. If you have questions, they will tell you what they believe the Bible says about them. The
questions cover topics such as God, Humanity, Angels and Demons, Family/Parenting, Life Decisions,
Bible Versions, and more. It also has the option for you to ask your own questions. Each answer is in
the form of an article that includes several Bible references.

“JP Unreached” (iOS/Android) – All of us can agree that there are people in the world who have never
heard the good news of Jesus Christ. What we might not know is who they are, where they live, what are they like, and what percentage follow Jesus. JP Unreached, produced by the Joshua Project, was created as an awareness and prayer guide focused on these people. Each day, a different people group is featured. As I am writing this post, the Dzakhchin people of Mongolia are featured, listing a summary of the people, prayer requests, and a verse to pray over them. Perhaps you could also set a reminder for 10:40am, where this app would remind you to pray for the featured people group, many of whom are within the 10/40 window.

Secular Apps in Ministry

In addition to apps that are created specifically for ministry, by thinking creatively, there are many ways
to use “secular” apps for the building of the kingdom.

“Videos” (Universal) – There are many videos that are produced for outreach purposes, most famously,
The Jesus Film. As effective as that film has been, getting a friend or coworker to sit down and watch a
feature length movie can be a big commitment. That is why the Global Short Film Network exists. They
have created a library of short films with big themes and meanings. Each film is paired with a set of
discussion questions to start a spiritual conversation.

“Evernote” (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Mac/PC/Online) – When it comes to taking notes, this app is the
best I’ve found. Being also a kinesthetic learner (learning through actions), taking notes during anything
helps me remember what I learned. There is an option to set up multiple folders for sermons, personal
Bible studies, and prayer request lists. It also syncs between your devices so the notes you take on your
phone Sunday at church will be available on any other devices.

“Reminders” (Universal) – As part of my role as a disciple and a disciple maker of men, I am responsible
for accountability. Every day, I have a reminder set on my phone to ask specific questions to specific
men. This helps me fulfill the commitments that I have made to those men. It could be used to remind
you to pray for a specific person at a certain time or to encourage a coworker or classmate.

“Kindle” (iOS/Android/Blackberry/Online/Kindle Devices) – While many of us have heard of (and even
own) a Kindle device, there is an incredible volume of free, theological literature available through
Amazon. Look for works such as Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, or
Works of Martin Luther with Introductions and Notes (Volume I and II). If you do not own a Kindle
device, you can also read the books on any computer and most smartphones. Check out this site
www.gospelebooks.net for a daily listing of free kindle books.

These are just some of the apps that I use on a regular basis, but hopefully this gets the creative process
started as you think about your context and how to use this tool to reach your community.

In conclusion, I have two things to say. First: All of these apps will never replace the feeling and focus of
holding and reading a real, physical book. Second: Smartphones are black holes, sucking you into their
gravitational pull so you can never again see the light of day or experience freedom from their grip. But
since there is a good chance that you are reading this from your phone, take a few minutes and check
out these apps.

Brad McCarthy

Missions Associate

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

10,000 Feet Above Christmas

December 21st, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on 10,000 Feet Above Christmas)

If there is one thing about Christmas almost everyone can agree on, whether you are a Christian or non-Christian, it is that Christmas has lost its intended meaning. Most everyone knows that behind Santa, the elves and reindeer, the real meaning behind Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth. And yet most are content with celebrating it anyway and changing the meaning to however they see fit. For some, its about family and gifts, for others its about vacation and friends, and for most kids its about gifts, presents, gifts, toys, and some more gifts.

I ran into one of my neighbors, who I rarely see, and we had the usual acquaintance holiday conversation that went something like this.

Me: “Hi Doc Brown, How are ya?”

Doc B. : “Im great, how are you? It’s nice to see you again.”

Me: ” You too! Do you have any Christmas plans?”

Doc B. : “Oh you know, Christmas has just become a commercial holiday set up by hallmark. It’s just a time for everyone to make more money. I like to wait till January when everything is on sale to buy my stuff.”

And of course, after he said that I completely disagreed and put him in his place and told him that Christmas was about Jesus and he should know that and shame on him for turning it into something else and not celebrating on December 25th!!!!!

Actually, I didn’t do that.

I didn’t know what to say because even though I had just came from church I couldn’t help but agree when I took into consideration his perspective. And maybe we could have had a significant conversation about it if I couldn’t tell that he was scrambling to get in his apartment and avoid the conversation. But still, I couldn’t disagree at the time because I was almost paralyzed by his answer.

I’m sure that most of you put together that Doc Brown’s perspective was far too up close for him to see the greater picture. And for most of us, its our perspective that needs to change to understand Christmas. If we look at it up close, we will only see the small stuff. Gifts, Santa, Family, Vacations, and maybe a sprinkle of the real Christmas message.

But lets take a second and step back. Way back…. Some philosophers like to call it the 10,000 foot perspective. Go as far back as you can possibly go and then go a little further and look at the meaning of Christmas. And let it blow your mind!

God… Creator God. All-powerful, all-knowing, before everything and after everything, and in-everything God. Came to us! In the form of a baby!

Okay pause, hold your breath, close your eyes and think about that if you really believe it and try to believe it more.

(If you really just did that, let me know and I will give you a giant high-five.)

And for 2,000 or so years, the entire earth, whether they know it or not, celebrates His birth every year.

God. Who can do anything He wants… Who can write any story He wants to save humanity from their sin…  Chose to come in the form of a baby. It does not get more humble or beautiful than that!

And!!! His plans work out perfectly beyond His arrival on the scene! He lives a perfect life. Tells people all about the Father’s love in the best stories ever told, heals the sick, makes the blind see, walks on water, calms storms, willingly dies on a cross, defeats death, rises up from the grave, shows up to His friends and tells them to tell other people about this story. And then those people went out and told people about it.

And here is the difference in those people who saw Jesus after He had risen from the dead… They knew that it was NOT JUST A STORY! That it was real and that it changed people instantly when they believed it. They couldn’t stop telling people about it and they couldn’t stop singing! Even when they got put in jail for telling people about it it didn’t even matter because they knew that the story was REAL. So they just kept on singing and telling people about it!

We need to take steps to get closer to this kind of a perspective about Christmas. The Doc Browns of the world will continue to see the smaller picture if we do not. Plus, Christians everywhere will complain that a fairy tale about Santa has stolen their holiday. Maybe, Santa didn’t steal our holiday at all… Maybe we gave it to him because we chose to make Christ’s story equally as powerful as a fairy tale in our own lives.
But we know It’s NOT a fairy tale.

Its real. And it changes everything.

Brantley Vosler
Student Ministries Worship Director

Homesick

December 17th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on Homesick)

Growing up, my parents always tried to teach me to be a disciplined and organized person. I was told everyday to make my bed, make sure my room was clean, take out the trash, and finish all of my homework before I played with friends. Though I was not perfect in these areas everyday, I tried my best to do these things because I loved my parents.

Then I graduated from high school and moved out of my parents’ home into a college dorm room. With this newfound freedom some of those deeply ingrained disciplines began to slip away. Without the threat of punishment or my mother checking on me there were days that the bed would remain unmade.

And believe it or not, there were times where I actually missed my parents. And if I was missing my parents and having a hard time, I would not simply begin cleaning my room, and finishing my homework. It would not make any sense for me to take out the trash because I missed my mother! Would they be proud of me for these things? Absolutely! Are these things honoring to them? Definitely. But these actions alone would not bring me any closer to my parents. So what I did is what any homesick college student would do: head home for laundry and good cooking! However, the remedy in my homesickness was spending time with my parents.

I began thinking about how this related to my spiritual life. I realized that there were often times where I would recognize that my relationship with God was not where it needed to be. I found myself trying to strictly follow all of the commandments, or become as involved in church as much as possible. However, those things were not bringing me closer to Christ because I was not putting in the time to build a deep relationship with Him, and honor him through those actions. There is a reason that Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your strength and with all your mind.” In order to properly love God we must pursue a real relationship with Him, not solely do things that we think He would be proud of.

I think too often we get caught up in the expectations and “regulations” of religion. We forget that being a Christian is about having a real relationship with the all-powerful God, and loving Him. It is not simply trying to prove to Him through actions that we love Him. Those actions hold so much potential to know God deeper, but they can also be done lawlessly (Matthew 7:21-23). Being obedient to God and his commands were designed in a way for us to know him deeper, not simply follow the rules of a religion.

Through all of this I realized that loving my Savior means more than only doing things to prove myself to Him. It means actually building relationship with Him through spending time with Him, and that foundation gives meaning to all other actions. But the most important thing in all of it is responding to an unconditionally loving Father by truly loving Him in a personal way with all that we have.

Jeremy Einem

Co-Director of High School Ministries