We have a team in the Dominican Republic this year building bathrooms, constructing water filtration towers, cultivating vertical vegetable gardens, teaching Vacation Bible School, and leading students in small group ministries. They do all this while, most importantly, sharing the Good News of the gospel of Jesus. Pray for them, and check below throughout their trip for updates as the team invests in the Dominican Republic! Continue reading 2017 Dominican Republic Team Updates
By Dietrich Gruen
This blog post is based on the annual ministry report written by Lee Wanak, the leader of the Global Missions Team, with the goal to link you to specific missions activities and outcomes. It’s exciting to see God’s providence as we both look back and ahead to how he is using High Point Church to reach the world with the gospel.
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.
In the article, The Strange Way Being “Good” Hurts Your Willpower featured on the blog Nir & Far, Paulette Perhach offers a brain-hacking solution to the human problem that the apostle Paul describes in Romans:
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Here is the gist of Perhach’s argument (also listed in her article):
- Moralizing your choices as good or bad opens you up to the risk of moral licensing (moral leniency).
- Berating yourself for being bad when you make the wrong choices only increases your chances of messing up again.
- Labeling your behavior as getting you either closer or further away from your ultimate goals is a powerful way to get around moral licensing.
- Congratulating yourself on your progress induces the effect of moral licensing. Using your progress instead to remind yourself how committed you are to your goal will re-up your willpower to achieve it.
- Catching the inner voice berating your past behavior and turning it toward planning a different outcome for the next day will make you less likely to repeat that undesirable behavior and get what you really want in the long run.
Sounds convenient, right? However, this current cult of brain-hacking, which is the focus of myriad recently published books, is opposed to the old paths of wisdom. Parts of these old paths are mapped out in many human traditions, but they have their full expression in the Scriptures, where they flow out of salvation by grace through faith in the crucified and risen Christ.
By Dietrich Gruen
In glad response to God’s grace and the opportunities set before us, continue to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13 NIV). With hearts and minds transformed by the power of the gospel, let us seize opportunities to make a difference in God’s kingdom. You may be looking for ways and places close at hand to express you deep gladness in meeting the needs of others. As theologian Frederick Buechner puts it: “Your vocation [the place God calls you] is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” In the run up to Easter, April in Madison holds a plethora of such mission opportunity. With God-given passion and purpose, let’s find our place and be creative in the stewardship of the time, resources and relationships that God has given us.
Art and Entertainment
Movies: The Shack, Facing Darkness and The Case for Christ
The movie adaption of the surprise runaway 2007 best-seller The Shack, by first-time novelist Paul Young, has been playing in theaters all March, so perhaps you have seen it already. If not, go and bring someone questioning God’s goodness in the face of suffering and judgment, tragedy and evil. The movie will raise honest questions such as, “Where was God when…?” and “What kind of God allows…?”). Then, go to the Bible for God’s honest truth in response to the questions that arise. Bring your friends, questions and Kleenex, and have an honest-to-God dialogue after seeing this provocative, tear-jerker of a movie.
A second Christian movie is coming out April 7, also based on a true story—this one of a journalist who makes The Case for Christ. Based on the bestseller by Christian apologist Lee Strobel, this movie feels like a legal thriller as the lead character tries to prove the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, with life-altering results. As with The Shack, this movie is most profitable if accompanied with a group discussion, even a Bible study, to compare answers. To help you in this regard, check out outreach.com for products and church campaign kits to use with each movie.
A third film this Easter season, released just in time for viewing with your friends and family, is Facing Darkness. An encore presentation is showing on one night only, Monday April 10. Get more information and find showings near you here. This movie represents the true story of how God saved the lives of Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol from the deadly Ebola virus. At the end of the film, Franklin Graham shares the gospel.
TV series: Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery
This CNN special investigative report first aired last year, and the series is back on the air now. Archeologists investigate several artifacts crucial to, and scholars debate the claims supportive of, Jesus’ death and resurrection. This opportunity to explore faith may be more for your roommates or family who would rather not come to church, but would watch an interesting academic take on faith with you.
Faith and Culture
Home court advantage: Holy Week services at High Point Church
With the timing of Good Friday on April 14, Easter Sunday on April 16, and an earlier spring break (meaning most people are back in town), you have time and opportunity—now—to invite any new friends and neighbors to High Point Church. Remember your commitment to pray for two people in your life who need Jesus, but most importantly, that God is the one who changes hearts, transforms lives, and brings people to repentance and salvation. Good Friday service at High Point Church begins at 1pm and Easter Sunday services begin at 9am and 10:45am. Find more details on services and activities for kids at highpointchurch.org/Easter.
Away game: Lamb roast on April 8
You may have heard through the HPC Global Missions Team of a special event involving roasted lamb on April 8. Roasting a lamb is culturally common to Muslim-majority and other countries. This particular lamb roast is called Eid al-Easter, where they celebrate Abraham’s faith for being willing to sacrifice his son, while others get to state the case for Easter and Jesus as the Lamb of God. We cannot give you details in this public blog, but feel free to contact Dean at email@example.com for more details and to volunteer. Dean is an elder at High Point Church who works with Bridges International, a branch of Cru.
The Benevolence Fund
The Benevolence Fund exists first to benefit High Point Church members and attenders in the family of faith, but also serve the city. As it turns out, 95% of the recipients of the Benevolence Fund are from outside our church. Another purpose of this fund is to connect with people of different social, economic, faith or racial groups. We help people residing on the west side who need short-term financial aid to bridge a gap created by an unexpected event; for example, the loss of employment, illness, injury or accident. Also, with the winter moratorium on utility cut-offs lifting on April 15, this means some neighbors will face imminent cut-off of heat and light unless they get help with their MGE or Alliant Energy bill. “Like a good neighbor…” our Benevolent Fund program is there, with your support, to help. To give to the benevolence fund, use the yellow Benevolence envelope during the offering on a Sunday morning, or designate your giving online at highpointchurch.org/give.
As we spring into action to live out our faith this month, I hope to see you in church, at the movies, or at the park. Carpé Diem! That is, “seize the day,” for in God’s providence, he has set “a certain day called Today” (Hebrews 3:7, 13, 15; 4:7).
In the sermon on Sunday, we learned about stewardship. If you missed it, you can listen to the sermon Owning Nothing, Investing Everything here.
Stewardship is fundamental to our identity as Christians but is often under-addressed in teachings about becoming a substantive, thriving disciple of Jesus. Since we don’t discuss it very often, I encourage you to learn a bit more on your own. Here are two excellent resources to get you started:
Faithful in All God’s House: Stewardship and the Christian Life by Gerard Berghoef and Lester DeKoster (2013)
This is one of the most straightforward and comprehensive guides I’ve found for the issue of Christian stewardship. Coming in at 110 pages, it’s a slim and satisfying read that gives you a surprisingly broad and deep look at what it means to live as the bearers of a trust from God.
A 20 Day Study in Stewardship by Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Rev. Tim Keller)
This is a free PDF published by Redeemer Presbyterian Church, pastored by Rev. Tim Keller. It leads readers through twenty daily studies/meditations on the subject of biblical stewardship. Since stewardship isn’t only a concept to be understood, but a reality to embody, this kind of daily exploration–digesting small pieces over a period of time–can be particularly useful in making space for the Spirit to renew our minds. You can download the PDF on their website here. Scroll down to the section titled “Devotional,” and you’ll find a link.