Category Archives: Special Topics

Fighting for Joy through Devotional Time

Isaiah 55:1-3a
“Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.”

This year as a church, we’ve been focusing on joy. So I am a little embarrassed to admit that also this year, I’ve struggled to feel joyful. Instead, the circumstances in my life in the last few months have brought out more shame, insecurity, and sin that needs to be weeded out. And anxiety and depression feel like deep waters always on the brink of bursting through a weary, old dam. Continue reading Fighting for Joy through Devotional Time

What are moms good for?

by Dietrich Gruen

This Mother’s Day I invite you to reflect on whatever legacy your mom has passed along to you, while I do the same.  The vignettes I share will spark similar thoughts of your own mom, I hope.

Mary Gruen first celebrated Mothers’ Day as a new mom in 1950, the year she gave birth to me. That, of course, was her first legacy to me—life, but she also passed along the legacy of faith.  I came to faith in college February 27, 1971, when I experienced a “second birth” at the height of the Jesus Movement, amidst the Vietnam War protest era.  When calling home to say, “I found Christ,” my mom had a testimony of her own to share with me, then added, “I have been praying for you, for this God-moment, six years now.”  So it is my mom who preceded me and interceded for me in matters of faith.

How about you, were you raised by a mom who prayed for you every day, or are you praying that way now?

Mary Gruen also gifted me and led me into a life of serving others, sharing the love of God.  She was a throwback to that era of stay-at-home moms who were fulltime volunteers—in the school (president of the PTA), in scouts (den mother), in her church (treasurer, newsletter editor, quilter), in the neighborhood (community organizer), and in retirement (hospice volunteer). I got to see love-in-action, and grew up secure in that love and learned to find and give love to others in this world.

We all grow up learning what our parent models for us. How about you, what did you learn from the way your mom lived?  And if you are a mom, what are your kids learning from who you are?

The mothers we learn from need not be our own.  When asked, “What makes you keep on going and giving as much as you do?” Mom would always harken back to a life-changing meeting with Mother Teresa in Calcutta.  Mother Teresa, upon greeting her guests, took Mary’s hand in both of hers, saying, “I don’t want your money.  When you return home, I want you to look about you.  When you look, I want you to see.  And what you see, I want you to do something about.”

Mary Gruen did just that, adopting the poor as her life’s calling, serving in places and doing ministry eerily similar to me…. With the Lower Cape Cod Outreach—a nonprofit much like Middleton Outreach Ministry, where I served as its Executive Director (1997-2008)….  In a walk-in medical clinic and drove the elderly on appointments—much like I am doing now as a medical driver with Richwood Transport!  Mom was also a hospice volunteer, holding the hand of 25 residents as they died.  I would do the same, beginning with holding her hand at her death; six years later I entered hospice ministry myself, as a chaplain with Generations Home Care & Hospice.

Moms do not create either monsters or angels, but provide the conditions—the physical and spiritual and emotional DNA—for what God will do.  Moms of all types—midwives and grandmothers, career and stay-at-home moms, praying moms and task-master moms, nannies and nurses, school moms and den mothers—all those women God will use to shape us.  Those who bring us into the world, those who raise us in the home, in the faith, in school, on the athletic fields, who work us and pray for us—God gave us the moms (and dads!) we needed to shape us into the person we’ll become.

And we are still becoming.  God is not finished with any of us.

Mission of the Month: Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

By Dietrich Gruen, with Lee Wanak

Persecution does not take a day off. Refugees seeking asylum from their murderous persecutors are always on the run. When not running for their life, they are crossing fortified borders and dangerous waters in search of a safe place. Here in the USA, the Church designates one day, First Sunday in November, as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP for the PC); that day Elder Mark Finley led us in prayer. Next month we extend our concern for persecuted believers as we allocate our year-end gifts in the Generosity Campaign, some of which will support one particular group of persecuted believers on the run—the Rohingya refugees.

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The plight of Rohingya people fleeing persecution in Myanmar is captured in several images from TIME magazine. See the photo essay here.

Continue reading Mission of the Month: Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

Self Defense and the Church

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor {Leviticus 19:18} and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48  

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” lend to “sinners,” expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Luke 6:33-37  

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; {37 Isaiah 53:12} and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”  The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied.

Luke 22:35-38

Last Sunday, 26 people were killed at a Baptist church in Texas by an active shooter. This shooter was eventually stopped by a citizen church-goer who killed him with a shotgun. Many difficult questions arise in the aftermath of tragic events such as this. What are we to make of this tragedy? And how are we to live in a world like this one? How should we, as Christians, respond to violence? And in what way should we anticipate violence? It is one thing not to take revenge, but are we supposed to defend ourselves? Or are there certain times where we might defend ourselves, while not at other times? Continue reading Self Defense and the Church

Mission of the Month: Disaster Relief, Ordinary Heroes and the King of Floods

by Dietrich Gruen

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After the race-whipped riots at Charlottesville (August 12) exposed deep divisions and ugly disrespect in this country, we all welcomed with relief and euphoria the day the moon eclipsed sun—and for that day, all other news (August 21).  We now turn the eyes of our hearts and hands of hope to the disaster relief efforts underway in the Houston area.  We cheer the everyday heroes surfacing during Hurricane Harvey, as it whips Houston with a one-two punch of rain and flood “not seen in 500 years.”  Continue reading Mission of the Month: Disaster Relief, Ordinary Heroes and the King of Floods

Podcast Companion: The Good News about Honor and Shame

Did you know High Point Church has a podcast?? Our Engage and Equip podcast is updated a few times a month with new episodes designed to engage and equip substantive disciples for the local church. We’ve covered things like art and worship, Christians’ responses to the 2016 election, hospitality, religious liberty, High Point Church’s thematic goals and vision, and testimonies from multiple staff members.

You can listen to the podcast on our website, through iTunes, or with your favorite podcast app. Just search for “Engage and Equip” to get started in iTunes or apps.

We recently aired an episode called, “The Good News about Honor and Shame” in which we compare our culture’s narrative about shame with how it is addressed in Scripture, looking at the gospel through a lens that may be new to some of us. Nic and Jill Reasa, our Communications Coordinator, discussed insecurity in the episode before this one, titled, “Overcoming Insecurity.” Check it out!

FOR FURTHER STUDY

We referenced a few different resources in the podcast, and there were many more we wished we could reference, so we collected a few for you here. We hope you enjoy diving into the good news of our freedom from shame in Christ and, like we have, come to appreciate the gospel in a fresh way.

Continue reading Podcast Companion: The Good News about Honor and Shame