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“Every warm winter is the answered prayer of a homeless man.”

December 13th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Missions - (Comments Off on “Every warm winter is the answered prayer of a homeless man.”)

This quote is something that God laid on my heart several years ago, during the winter of 2008-2009.  It was a brutally cold winter and my first year at university.  On January 29, a story was published in The Detroit News of a man found frozen in ice in the bottom of an elevator shaft in Detroit.  As was later discovered, the man’s name was Johnnie Redding, a long-time resident of the streets of Detroit.  It took me a long time to wrestle with the implications of this article, but no other news story has had a more lasting impact.

As I sat in my dorm room in Southfield, just off M-10, a twenty minute drive from where this man died, the words of Jesus came clearly to my memory:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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 25:34-40

What an incredible opportunity we have to serve Jesus!  All of the resources we have been given are opportunities to bless.  As I started looking at how I was spending my time and money, I realized I was spending it primarily on myself.  After that point, I started getting more involved in ministries in downtown Detroit.  Suddenly, I was friends with the Johnnie Reddings that were still on the streets.  I got to know Keith, Terry, Brother Fred, Mr. Wilson, Bruce, Gill, Will, David, and many others.  Each of these men had a story to tell.  The day I met Keith he had come to commit suicide in the park where we hosted our BBQ, but his life was changed because he saw the love of Jesus in a tangible way.  Although he lived on the streets, Brother Fred knew that he was a full time missionary to the men and women God put in his path and every time I see him now he reminds me, “When I see you guys down here, I just see Jesus”.  Bruce was struggling to keep afloat, but he experienced the love of Jesus when we helped him furnish his apartment and shared Christmas Eve dinner with him.  Men and women like these are all around us, not just downtown.  Many around us are hungry for more out of life.  They are thirsting for a purpose and satisfaction, imprisoned by sin.  Let us love our neighbor as if they were Jesus.  As we pray this winter, let us pray and ask God to move on behalf of these people.  When the weather outside is frightful, let us pray that all would find their delight in Jesus and that we as a church would love them like He would.

Brad McCarthy

Missions Associate

Bring it on!

December 5th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Dave K - (2 Comments)

Our family is one of those families that begins decorating for Christmas right after
Thanksgiving. This was not my custom prior to marrying Julie but that’s the way
things are done now!

Even though I wasn’t used to it, it is indeed a natural flow to move from
Thanksgiving right into Christmas. Thanksgiving puts us in a mindset to reflect upon
all that we have in Christ. As we reflect on those spiritual blessings, we cannot help
but look to Jesus and be reminded of the fact that He “made Himself nothing, taking
the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human
form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on
a cross” (Phil 2: 7,8).

As we look at Jesus – who He is, and what He’s done – we are driven to worship.
Jesus is worthy of our worship and His birth is certainly worth celebrating
so…..bring it on!

If our worship of Jesus, however, is only in word, it is meaningless. Our words need
to be matched by our actions. We need to obey. So, let’s be thankful, let’s celebrate
and then let’s be a people who are marked by our obedience to Him. Let’s live out
our faith in such a way that we reflect Jesus to a watching world around us!

Dave Kuntzman
Missions & Business

Loving Forward

November 15th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Pat - (Comments Off on Loving Forward)

Heavenly Father,

Please use these words to edify. I pray that we, myself included, would be encouraged and motivated by Your Spirit to respond in a manner that glorifies You and points to Your Son.

In Christ’s matchless name,

Amen.

A few months back my wife and I purchased a couple of solar powered mason jar lanterns. The romance of having some cool looking lamps that shaved even a few small dollars off our utility bill was just too grand to ignore. When they arrived in the mail we immediately put them to use.

Of course for anything solar powered to work the way it’s meant to, it must be exposed to the sun…regularly. Oddly enough it became increasingly hard to keep them regularly charged. After a while I just wasn’t exposing them to the sun. The fact is I simply had a lack of intention. I would either forget or I would tell myself I would get to it later.

I feel sometimes we tend to do the same thing when it comes to loving people.

If we truly believe that through Jesus we are to be lights in this world, we need to acknowledge that we’re strategically placed beacons in a land of darkness. However I think we tend to limit this role to that of a stationary beacon, like a lighthouse, waiting for the lost or hurting to come into proximity. The risk here is a lack of awareness that can lead to a forgotten purpose. Without intention we begin to forget how to even recognize the need. We become dim and dull. But imagine if we unhinged ourselves from our “stations” and moved forward. What if we ditched the notion of being lighthouses and started thinking of ourselves as a search party? Christ’s love would overflow in a way that can only change lives.

Scripture defines love for us in 1 Corinthians 13 and gives us ways in which to love in Colossians 3:12-17. It even tells us why we should love in 1 John 4:7-21. As if that weren’t enough we’re told in Galatians 5:22 that one of the fruits of the Spirit is love. Needless to say we are more than equipped to love the people around us. So let’s just do it. Let’s share the gospel (the MOST loving thing we can do), and disciple younger believers. Let’s share the resources we’ve been given and serve the hurting and broken hearted. Let’s be rich in mercy and full of grace. Let’s be on the lookout for ways to point people to Jesus.

I know that we’re all at different stages, but regardless of who is currently loving more or less, lets all push forward; allowing the Spirit to compel us into action.

1 John 3:18 “…let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth”

1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us”

1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love”

 

Pat Nagle

Graphic Arts Director

 

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

 

A Cheap and False Gospel

November 6th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Student Ministries - (Comments Off on A Cheap and False Gospel)

1 Corinthians 1:18

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:27-28

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Scripture is so often backwards and almost nonsensical at first glance. It’s so awesome though because these types of truths are so often the most freeing ones. And if fully understood, they can be the most life changing and action inspiring.

The truth in verse 18 that the cross is the power of God is the best example of this I can think of. The world does not even have categories for beginning to explain this. A cross? A piece of blood soaked wood that is a torture device designed to put to death the worlds worst people? Thats hardly the glamorous symbol that the world would expect to represent God’s love. At best the world would call this ironic. But that is not even the beginning.

The next part is ten times as crazy. Jesus, fully God and fully man, died on it after being betrayed and tortured alongside two criminals after living a perfect and sinless life.

As much as the purpose of this blog is to remind us of the Gospel message I want to focus on those of us that have heard this message all of our lives.

After a while, if we aren’t consistently coming back and remembering the absurdity and beauty of the cross it becomes cheaper and cheaper over time. The cross becomes a forgotten symbol of yet another world religion that is obsessed with morals, a happy and comfortable life, and making it to heaven. And if a cheap cross that costs next to nothing is the center of our life than Satan has us right where he wants us.

He is telling us a lie that if believed, takes away the very power of God in our life.

Don’t believe that lie! The cross in all its horror is meant to humble us to the point where we say back to God after hearing His great message of love to us, “Here, take my life, have everything you want and use me for your glory.” Let this be our prayer everyday!

I’ll end with a genius quote from David Platt (who partly inspired much of this blog) that I believe sums up this backwards message of the Gospel that we should be proclaiming to the ends of the earth.

“Tell them that following Christ costs them everything they have got. And then tell them that He is worth it.”

Brantley Vosler

Student Ministries Worship Director

The Next Chapter

October 30th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Dave K - (1 Comments)

In 1957, HPBC bought a piece of property on Lahser Rd for $100,000 with the vision to establish a strong evangelical presence in the northwest Detroit metro area. In 1960, the first service of the Southfield Chapel was held at Birney Middle School in and in 1963 the first building on our current location was dedicated.  Through the years, additional property was purchased, more buildings were erected and Southfield Christian School was formed.  The buildings are simply a means, however, to allow for ministry. They help us to as we seek to fulfill our vision of being “…..growing disciples of Jesus Christ committed to worshipping God and transforming our world.”

As we have now been at this location for almost 50 years, our Elders have affirmed that we intend to stay and continue to reach out locally and across the globe – right here from Southfield, MI. With that in mind, we have begun to explore capital improvements to our buildings that we believe will help us.

We recently held informational meetings to review this upcoming potential project and we have also created a document that describes the details. You can find that document as well as a video from the informational meetings at our website or by clicking on the picture below.

Below is a conceptual drawing of what the traditional service might look like in the future:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we move forward in this process, we’d love to hear from you.  We will soon be making surveys available to the entire church family and we’d encourage you to complete one in the coming weeks.  We are excited about this possible “next chapter” in the life of HPBC and we are praying that we will only bring glory to Christ in all that we do!

 

Dave Kuntzman

Missions and Business Administration

 

Please… Get Out Of My Face

October 29th, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Dave - (1 Comments)

Anyone else getting a bit weary of the public accusations and character assassinations going on these days?  It is not just among politicians, even though they could certainly be more helpful in setting an example for a more productive attitude in dealing with conflict. Healthy disagreement and communicating differences of opinion so quickly become heated, and opposing viewpoints often lead to division between even the nicest of people.

It’s even worse when you have strong Biblical values, definitive convictions on moral issues, and proclaim the Gospel as the truth.  We might as well prepare for a struggle.  Although not the exact struggles the early Believers faced as the Gospel message multiplied and was changing the world, but it does seem easier to relate to the ridicule, accusations, alienation, and genuine anticipation of heaven that many of those early Believers experienced.

The driving passion of Paul in his anti-Christian culture can be ours as well.  It was simply this – live to please Jesus, no matter what.  Because, in the long run of life, nothing else really matters.  If the singular goal of our life is to please the Lord, then we’ll take ourselves less seriously, and align our lives to Him more intentionally.  We will do our best to persuade men of their need for a Savior.  We will be compelled to obey because of his unconditional, sacrificial love for us.  We will live with a clear conscience before God.  We will see others for who they really are – loved by God, and this will affect our attitudes and actions toward them.  We will never quite get over the reality that because of Christ we are the righteousness of God.

I have been reading, studying, teaching II Corinthians lately with the men of Tuesday morning.  Paul’s reality was one of being abused and maligned and slandered all the time for his faith in Jesus.  He confidently defended himself and his ministry and never wavered from the truth of the gospel.  Nothing mattered more to him than pleasing Jesus with his life.  His suffering became for him a kind of affirmation that he was on the right track of his calling in life.  He welcomed the opportunity to identify in some way with the suffering of Jesus.

Others will disagree with us –and even get in our face.  Some will consider us ill informed.  They will say we are out of touch, and may even try to pick a verbal fight with us.   The more we speak up, the more they are likely to be opposed.   Stand firm, even when things get heated.  Be gracious, even when not reciprocated.  Please Jesus no matter what – it really is all that matters.  Just ask Paul.

You will find the fullness of his perspective in II Corinthians chapter 5.

 

David Borror

Ministry Administration

Suffering for Righteousness Sake

October 23rd, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Missions - (Comments Off on Suffering for Righteousness Sake)

The book of I Peter is directed at first century believers scattered throughout modern day Turkey. These people are among the first generation of believers who never saw Jesus and yet still believe. They are also facing widespread persecution. It is in light of this persecution that Peter writes this letter. He gives specific directions to the believers as to how they are to interact with each other in 3:8-12 (the passage of study for which I am preparing):

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-12 ESV)

The Psalm in this passage is an excerpt from Psalm 34. The context of this Psalm is also important to note, as it was during a time of great danger in David’s life, having just escaped from King Abimelech.

However, it is not the persecution on which I would like to focus, but our call in persecution. Peter here addresses the state of our heart and our mind. This is important because persecution and pain affect both our thinking and our feelings. As someone who has experienced significant amounts of physical pain, I can understand this. The natural response in pain is “There’s something wrong.” While this is true at times, when that pain is a result of persecution, the opposite is true. While the goal of those who persecute is to silence and destroy the church it in fact does the opposite. It proves true the words of Jesus (Matt 10:22, John 15:18-25). I believe that it is in light of this reversal of logic that our minds are to be unified and humble. We must be unified in mind with Jesus and with each other. When we set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2), we are not concerned with earthly logic. This unifies us together AS we are unified to Christ. As we humble ourselves, having a correct view of ourselves as lower than God, we will not be persecuted for our sake but because we are like Jesus.

The pain also affects our hearts; our emotions and feelings. Every follower of Jesus that faces pain is someones son or daughter. Many are fathers and mothers. Brothers and sisters. Leaders. Teachers. The people we love. Our hearts are to be sympathetic, tender, loving as brothers to these people. This comes as a result of setting our minds on the things above. When I understand the reason behind someone’s pain, it keeps me from minimizing it. This
minimization, this brushing aside, is one of the most hurtful things to do to a brother in pain.

When I reached this part of my study and preparation, part of me wanted to stop because I know that these words (unified, humble, sympathetic, loving, tender) are not the words that best describe my attitude towards my persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Do you sense that hesitation to stop reading? That if we keep going, we will find pain? This is in fact what we will find. If we stop here, however, we hold ourselves back from obedience to God. As a church, we have been created in a community. To clarify, when I say “as a church”, I mean
as the body of Jesus across the whole earth. Not just the “American churches” or the “protestant churches” or the “underground churches” or the “good churches” but every single person on this planet that is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is the community in which we have been created.

The reality of this church is pain. Let me share with you some recent headlines I received in the news:

Syria’s Christians Drawn Into Conflict
Christian Boy Tortured and Killed in Pakistan
Jailed Iranian Pastor Facing Death, Denied Medical Care
Muslim Rioters Attack Five Churches, Kill Two in Kenya
Ugandan Pastor Speaks Up After Acid Attack By Muslim Radicals

And the list goes on. These are not “Syrian churches” or “Iranian churches” or “African churches”. This is THE church. We live in a time where we can no longer claim ignorance to what is happening to the church around the world. These are our brothers and sisters. The elders and pastors of our church. Fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As I read these stories, I feel for these people. I can feel growing inside of me that brotherly love and that sense of unification with them. Yet even in this, there is a resistance. “They’re so far away, I could never do anything to  help them. They’ll never know that I didn’t do anything.  Really, though, what can I do?  I’ve never met them and probably never will, so why does it matter?”  The answer to “What can I do?” begins simply with 1 Peter 3.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (I Peter 3:8, ESV)

As we pursue these things with our local community, we must pursue them with the church as a whole. What does this look like in practicality? Although that is largely up to how the Holy Spirit directs your heart as you step forward in obedience, I think it begins with prayer. The power of God working through the prayers of his people reaches across oceans, into the thickest cell walls, and breaks the hardest hearts.

You are now faced with a choice. Do we carry on, pretending we never knew? Or do we step forward, not knowing what we may face? I believe the persecution of our church is that which we can no longer ignore.

Brad McCarthy

Missions Associate

_____________________________________

For more information, here are some ways you can keep informed about the church around the world as well as make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters.

International Christian Concern – www.persecution.org

Christian Freedom International (based in northern Michigan) – www.christianfreedom.org

Release International – www.releaseinternational.org

Favoritism Dishonors God…. Seriously

October 22nd, 2012 | Posted by bvosler in Derrick - (1 Comments)

I wonder why it is we choose to show favoritism to some? In my study time this
past week I stumbled upon the realization (something that I kind of knew) that favoritism
really upsets God. I was reading James 2:1-13 and was blasted with a new understanding
that this is a really BIG deal. Don’t believe me? Go take a read…
After studying this passage something else came to me. Treating people
differently based on our preferences dishonors God and it is also selfish. Ask yourself
these questions:
– Why do we look down on people who have less than we do?
– Why do we focus on the flaws of those around us?
– Why do we gossip about people who are having troubles?
– Why do we highlight negative things about each other?
– Why do we sometimes cut, and bite, and tear at each other?

The overwhelming answer…….. to exalt ourselves. An easy way to look tall is to
squash everyone around you. Think about the conversations you had this week. Did you
spend more time exalting God or exalting yourself? God is not exalted by words that
despise, words that oppress, words that exalt you. God is exalted as we honor all of our
brothers and sisters equally for who they are in Christ.

So this IS a really big deal when we show preference to people. When we choose to not
talk to Believers in the Body of Christ. We must understand that without God’s gift of
salvation, we are every bit as offensive in God’s eyes as anyone else. As the person(s)
who sits across the aisle from you that you chose not to speak too, or as the people who
sit in front of you but dress differently than you, worship differently than you, and look
differently than you.

James calls us, in light of God’s mercy shown to us, to show NO partiality and honor
them. I don’t know about you but I am amazed at how Christ continues to make new
those who belong to Him. In light of Calvary and the very Words of Scripture let’s be
completely united in Spirit and purpose as we magnify the name of Jesus together and
show honor for one another.

Derrick Jackson
Music & Worship

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