Highlands Blog

Here you will find posts by the Highlands staff and friends of the ministry. This includes posts on Christian living from people we think will be helpful to you. We will also introduce you to new resources and special offers.

Don’t Be “That Guy” at Church

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Sure this is a blog post and not a “Dude Perfect” YouTube video, but in the spirit of that goofy group of friends who poke fun at “that guy” stereotypes everywhere from the basketball court to the movie theater, here’s a list of caricatures of characters that can be found wandering into churches and inflicting their clueless ideas and suggestions on unsuspecting saints. As you read this field guide to these rare (or not-so-rare) birds, you should start by laughing at the over-the-top descriptions, but then you should make sure that these stereotypes don’t describe you deep down. The Lineup. . .
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Filed under Church, Community

Staying Put: Sticking it Out When the Going Gets Tough

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The average American moves every five years. That’s a number that has stayed fairly stable for awhile. It includes everyone from the elderly who are not as prone to moving to the 18–24 year olds who are moving every year for college or first jobs or exploring. My experience in witnessing families around me is that this is fairly accurate. Whole families, all the pets and kids and stuff, out of here and on to there. New job, new church, new friends. Wipe your feet and move on down the road. The moves are financial, personal, going to something, going. . .
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What do I say to someone who is dying?

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Over the years, people have come to me about how best to approach someone with the gospel who is dying, be it a friend or neighbor or family member. This is usually a situation where the ailing person has kept their distance in the relationship and/or has been antagonistic when it comes to “talking about religion.” Sometimes it all comes down to the Christian being shy or feeling inadequate to present or argue about their faith in Christ which they desire to share. Time is now running out and so they ask me, “What can I do?” The Heidelberg Maneuver. . .
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How to Achieve Long-Term Change

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Will I Ever Be Able to Change? Long-term change is what the Christian life is all about (Ephesians 4:22–24). Someday we will experience the most glorious change from corruptible to incorruptible and we look forward to that glorious day when we will be like Christ. Until that time, the Bible makes it clear that we must strive: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing. . .
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Filed under Personal Growth, Women

Lessons in Love: It’s Hard

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I am writing this on the day before Valentine’s Day. As do many of you, the holiday makes us think of those we love, have loved, or wish we could love (I’m trying to cover as many of the bases as possible here). However, I was thinking along different lines the other day. I was thinking about how we learn about and express our love for others. Learning to Love There are some people for whom loving others comes very easy. We all know people like this. They have open and overflowing hearts that express love freely and joyfully to. . .
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Filed under Relationships

5 Ways to Judge if Good Activities Have Become Sinful

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Any amount of sin is too much. Any slander, drunkenness, covetousness, or lust is over the line for God’s people. But on a whole host of issues that aren’t sinful in themselves, it isn’t spelled out in Scripture how much is enough and how much turns an innocent pleasure into an occasion for repentance. The Bible doesn’t tell you how much money you should spend on yourself before giving the rest away, but it does warn against greed. The Bible doesn’t tell you how much time it’s acceptable to spend on Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter, but it does condemn sloth. . .
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Simplified Catechism for Toddlers

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When my first two children were two and three years old and just learning to speak, I unintentionally began asking them repeat things in stories, or from the Bible to help them stay engaged with the reading and to help remember what we were reading. I would ask them a question and have them repeat what I said in 3-4 beats/syllables. They seemed to like this and I noticed they were catching on, because they would say and mention these things in their evening prayers. To help them further, I decided to write down some of the things we had. . .
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Use Your Talents {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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Big Problems In the course of a day, how many times do you make contact with the suffering of another living being? Really, if you counted them, how many would there be? It is 6:00 a.m. your radio alarm clicks on and reports that another suicide bomber took out twenty-three more people somewhere in the Middle East (one). Good morning. After mining the nighttime crusties from your eyes and brushing your teeth, you take a scroll through your social feeds. Your college friend just got back from India, a medical mission to the slums, and she brought back scads of. . .
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For the Love of Food

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Human beings share a common love: food. I’m not referring to our common need of food, but of our common love for food. We relate certain foods to events, traditions, and people. When I think of Destin, Florida, I think of fish tacos. When I think of Crowder, Mississippi, I think of chicken and dressing. When I recall a trip to Zimbabwe, I think of grilled wart hog, a trip to Peru with cow heart and french fries, New York City with homemade mozzarella sticks, and Yemen with grilled lamb and flat bread. When I think of Tate County, (the. . .
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Filed under Community, Sacraments

The Merits of Saying Nothing

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A ten year old boy with a new pocketknife takes it out of his pocket many times throughout the day for no specific reason. He isn’t necessarily planning mischief, but after admiring it and waving it about for the fifteenth time, something ends up getting cut. You are that ten year old boy. Your tongue is that pocketknife. You don’t plan to say something hurtful or thoughtless or dumb, but as the words come tumbling out, some of them get away from you. The worst part is that in many cases there was no reason for you to open your. . .
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Is Your House a Hiding Place or a Home Base?

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What should the activity inside our homes look like when those homes are situated in communities where the foster system is over loaded with kids, many who have been abandoned and abused by their very own parents? What should drive our daily schedule when a few steps from our door our helpless pre-born neighbors are being taken to the slaughter in “safe and legal” clinics? What should we be doing with our down time when the powers-that-be decide it is beneficial to the community to steal our neighbor’s property in the name of economic development or threaten his business with. . .
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Filed under Education, Family

The Impossibility of Lonely Christmases

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Lonely Carols There is no better way to respond to Christ’s birth than with singing and over the centuries the Church has amassed a wealth of carols and hymns that is the envy of the world. This has led to all sorts of crooners and warblers without a religious bone in their body recording Christmas albums, interspersing sentimental seasonal fluff alongside forthright carols of Christian joy, topped off with an original or two to try to make their collection distinct. Sometimes this results in a beautiful voice singing beautiful truth, in a plundering-the-Egyptians, blind-squirrel-finding-a-nut sort of way. Other times, we’re. . .
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Filed under Relationships
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When Your Christmas Traditions Falter

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Difficult Christmases I don’t mean to come off like a Debbie Downer, but the Christmas season has been somewhat difficult for me for the last couple of years. Not in an overwhelming sense, it has been more like a wet fog and slush in contrast to fresh snow under a blue sky. I’ve struggled to discern the root of my difficulty because it has been even more of a struggle in recent years than it was right after my wife Kim passed away. I began to comprehend the problem after reading an article by a well-known national journalist and a. . .
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Filed under Personal Growth
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It’s NOT About YourSelfie {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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Selfie-ish DayDreams That fantasy you have in your head—it’s not real. You know what I’m talking about, the Instagram filtered version of your future where everything your life now lacks will finally be in your grasp. You’ll be an adult and free of your parents demands on you, or you’ll be done with classrooms and test taking and on to your dream job, or Ryan Reynolds will have finally realized what a doofus he was for not finding you and marrying you sooner. Yep, it sounds nice. The problem is, it’s the daydream equivalent of a selfie. The foreground consists. . .
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Filed under Faith, Women

Tell Your Kids the Christmas Story . . . Then Celebrate It!

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Telling the Christmas Story Christmas is an event so wonderful and important that time and history are kept according to Jesus’ arrival. This is a story that must be told annually. American Christians are in a unique position because we simultaneously have a cultural and religious holiday mixed together, and we end up with manger scenes that have either Santa Claus flying overhead or Santa bowing down at the manger in worship of Christ. Certainly if the historical Saint Nicholas had been present at the birth of Christ, he would bowed before Christ, but Santa Claus bowing seems rather strange. . .
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Filed under Parenting
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Personal Rituals & Doing What Matters

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First I take the cream out of the fridge and pour a half cup into the bowl on the stove top next to the pot where the steel-cut oats will cook. This is so that the bowl and the cream will be warm after the oats are done. Walnuts, raisins, nutmeg, and cinnamon are also added to the cream (or sometimes eggnog instead of cream). The coffee beans are then ground and the French Press is also strategically place on the stove near the kettle and the small pot of oatmeal so that it too might be pre-warmed. Soon the. . .
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How Not to Lose Your Faith When Illness Strikes

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Haven’t We Done This Before? Have you ever read a story about the people of Israel and thought, “Why are they losing faith again? Didn’t they learn their lesson the last time?” Hi, I’m Israel. Have we met? I thought I had learned the lesson of God’s grace being sufficient in my weakness during my early years of mothering, but the Lord has shown me that I need this lesson again. I have struggled with health issues off and on for many years. With so many pregnancies, it is inevitable to have fluctuating hormones and my body seems to have. . .
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No One Wins at Whack-a-Sin

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Lessons from Whack-a-Mole Those clever little electronic moles! Just when you prepare to whack the one in front, he disappears and the rascal in the back pops up. You prepare to smite him and now he’s gone too. Look, over there! That’s the mole you should focus on now! Wait, no, that one! Mostly you just pound empty holes. The moles try to survive by alternating and distracting you, blurring your vision and confusing your aim. As a carnival game, it’s great fun. But when a sinful world adopts the same strategy and convinces you to play along, no one. . .
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Know Who Your Boss Is {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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No matter how independent we imagine ourselves, we are not. Before we can toddle about on our own two feet, our hearts (if not our lips) impetuously bawl, “You’re not the boss of me!” to anyone with the audacity to order us about. Unfortunately, infantile outbursts against rightful authority are not outgrown as quickly as a two-year-old stretches the limits of her toddler clothes. When last season’s footie jammies are pulled out of storage it’s obvious they need to go, but we continue trying to outfit ourselves with positions of independence and autonomy refusing to acknowledge that no matter how. . .
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I Have Overcome the World

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Jesus has left the building . . . and that’s a good thing. I know that those two statements don’t seem to go together but that is basically what Jesus is saying to the disciples in what is commonly called the “Farewell Discourse” found in the Gospel of John, chapters 13–16. A Troubling Announcement In these chapters, Jesus isn’t healing anyone or speaking to the crowds or contending with the church leaders; He is spending the last hours of His earthly time with that rag-a-muffin band made up mostly of blue-collar men who have followed Him for three years and. . .
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