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.

A Multitude of Sins

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We are all guilty of treating the Christian life like an elaborate accounting problem. Credit this, debit that, in our attempt to stay in balance with God and each other. It doesn’t help that we all have undergone vastly different accounting training. What I though was ten points in my good deed column, you put down only two because you perceived that I had selfish motives. I know that I hurt your feelings last week but given how you’ve treated me recently, I think it’s a balanced account but you have me down twenty points because last week you weren’t. . .
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Filed under Relationships

Who is Sanctifying Who?

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The Lord works out our sanctification in many different ways. One of the most unexpected ways is through the discipline and training of our children. When I was a new parent, my assumption was that my children were there for me to sanctify them. I was to train them through my words, actions, and example of how to lead a godly life and follow after Christ. This is true, but it is not the whole picture. Children are there as much for our sanctification as we are for theirs. As we train, discipline, and rebuke our children, God is also. . .
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God’s Sovereignty and the Difficult Things

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There is a long bookshelf in our living room that holds more than twenty years’ worth of photo albums. My wife is a fantastic photographer and with her camera she has chronicled the birth and growth of our children, their birthdays, softball and basketball games, family vacations and other special occasions. We will frequently pull a random book off the shelf, sit together and enjoy these great moments all over again. If the house ever catches fire, those albums will be what I grab on my way out the door. Yet, as grateful as I am for the love and. . .
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Filed under Sovereignty

Planting and Resting and Trusting

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A farmer plants his seeds at the appropriate time in the spring and then waits. That’s it. There’s little else to do. He can’t hurry up the process of sprouting and growing. He can water. A bit but not too much. He can’t even weed for awhile because that could disturb the delicate seed-to-sprout process. He simply trusts that God will transform that seed into a plant and the plant into a food-bearing vehicle. Because the world in which we live in is much more complicated than that of planting seeds, we often forget the lesson that God was instilling. . .
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Filed under Faith

Random Book Thoughts

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  I love to read books about reading books. The passion an author has toward their books rekindles my own passion and the joy they get from a new acquisition or re-reading of an old favorite offers a warm handshake across the page as I connect with another soul who I think “gets” me. There are many way of organizing your books but by color is not one of them. Yes, it looks cool on Pinterest but please resist the temptation. How will you ever remember that Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full has a gray spine? I arrange my. . .
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Filed under Uncategorized

Service

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In a small, dusty town in western Oklahoma, it grew cold as the days shortened. One November a young single mother struggling to make ends meet had a thought that the more she considered it, the more it warmed her. She worked as many hours as she could at a local convenience store, barely making it. After work, she would take care of her small child and assist an elderly relative who lived in the same town, occasionally running errands and buying groceries. But she still felt a need to help others growing stronger in her heart. A nearby nursing. . .
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Filed under Sanctification

It Takes Community

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Everyone has emotional baggage, bad habits, a deficit of wisdom and knowledge, learned behaviors that need to be unlearned, and personal issues that need addressing. We have been marred by sin, our sins, and by the sins of others but the good news is that our good and gracious God is into healing and loves all of His people. In thinking about all of this out loud with some friends, I shared with them my observation about the supposed juxtaposition between that of Biblical imperatives “(Do this, not that Put this on, put that off Don’t think that way—focus on. . .
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Filed under Community

True Freedom

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On this day that we celebrate our country’s independence from England, it’s good to reflect upon what freedom really is. There are lots of different definitions and lots of ways in which we can fall off the other side of the horse in our tireless pursuit of this thing. We tend to desire freedom from and freedom toward. We desire freedom from oppression, tyranny, taxes. We Americans have fought to free others even from these things so strongly is our natural bent away from a strong hand ruling over us. Half of Americans think that taxes are oppressive and half. . .
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Filed under Sanctification

Idols Among Us

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  I have a friend who has become obsessed with her health. And she’s not very sick. A little discomfort here and there. It is to the point that her husband is extremely frustrated with the amount of time she spends on research and the amount of money she spends on “experts” and the cornucopia of supplements. It has become her religion and by that I mean, the search for a cure is like a pilgrimage across a dusty land and this true believer will not be dissuaded by time or money or family obligations. I track with that situation. . .
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Filed under Sanctification

Koinonia

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Two weeks ago fourteen-year-old Karthik Nemmani won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This caught my attention as I breezed through the news and reminded me of an incident that occurred during my own childhood. When I was growing up and attending public school, our junior high classes gathered one day to have a spelling contest where everyone had to participate. As I recall we were given little to no preparation for this exercise in which each one of us had to take a turn standing up front before everyone, be given our mystery word, and then attempt an accurate spelling.. . .
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Filed under Community

The Many Faces of Mission

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The Church looks upward when she worships God, inward when she seeks to build up the Christian community, and outward when she seeks to draw others into the Church. When we talk about this outward mission of the Church, we tend to talk the most about evangelism and international missions, which are certainly essential and important parts of the Church’s commission to disciple the nations. But these aren’t the only ways that the Church interacts with those outside. When we limit our understanding of mission to evangelism and missions, we run the risk of leaving certain good works undone and. . .
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Filed under Church

Flaming Out

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The average American is having two children. The average Christian American might be having two and a half. Those in our circles probably have five or six or seven. And the world we live in just isn’t cooperating with our lofty goals both to have many children and to disciple and educate them at home. Lindsay Owens recently pondered, “I don’t think we were meant to do this alone.” By that she meant without family nearby, family surrounding us, lots of help, emotional and physical support and godly examples. Our families are getting burned out because we’re doing it alone.. . .
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Filed under Family

Debt

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Debt is an oppressive weight. It hangs in the air like Amazonian humidity which makes it hard to breath, hard to live and move and enjoy our being in God. Sometimes debt happens. Often times we are its creators. Regardless of how it appeared, it grows and lives and visits us as we try and sleep. It can become the monster in the attic, under the stairs, hidden yes, but we are always aware and our children know that we are afraid . . . of something. Debt binds us to work we that don’t like and to a frugality. . .
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Filed under Uncategorized

Giving Up Control in Marriage

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Marriage, most often, starts with love. Love of self and what that other person brings to the table. Another way of stating this is well known in counseling circles, relationships are about expectations. When I do marriage counseling, I will ask the doe-eyed couple, “Describe for me what you think the day after your honeymoon will look like.”  No one has a ready answer. After a confused pause the guy will say, “Well, I will be going to work.”  If the new wife isn’t going off to a job I will ask, “And what will you be doing?”  They are. . .
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Filed under Marriage

It Was Our Turn

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Sunday, April 8; I’m gearing up to watch the Masters golf tournament which is my favorite sporting event of the year. This is only relevant to know so that I’ll look great after you read the next sentence. Lindsay has been feeling poorly having just fought off a nasty uterine infection following the birth of our son Ceallaigh Patrick. She thinks the infection has returned. Her fever spikes to 103.5, the pains have returned We head to the emergency room with the little boy as well. The doctors are concerned. Her white blood cells are off the chart. An infection. . .
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Filed under Church

Twenty Five Reasons Why I Love My Wife

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On June 5th I will have been married to my wife, Angela, for twenty-five years. In anticipation of that milestone I thought I’d share with you all why she is more to me than just my main squeeze. She is so genuine. She is who she is. There is no hint of pretense about her. When she is afraid or angry or happy it is apparent to everyone. She’s generous. All that she has is yours if you need it—even her stash of chocolate. In our first few years of marriage I thought of her at times as a ball-and-chain.. . .
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Filed under Marriage

Sin and Reality

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Our sin is both an escape from reality and the establishment of a new reality all-together. First, we sin because we do not like the world that God has constructed for us, either in general or in the moment. Any sin, from mental covetousness to physical murder is our way of reshaping the world in our image. We lie because the world of our lie is preferable to us to the world of truth. We lash out in anger because someone else is not acting in conformance to our desired reality. You can take this across every sin, those against. . .
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Children Remind Us of God’s Love

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God is skilled at giving us windows of insight into Himself in unexpected places. Our relationship with our children is one of those unexpected places. Now, in many ways it should be normal to see parallels because we look to God as children to a Father. However, it is unique because the parallels work in more directions than one. Children are token factories. By that, I mean that they are constantly giving us tokens of love and memories. Be it a hug, a smile, a picture, a leaf, or even the way that children are quick to tell us that. . .
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Filed under Parenting

My Favorite Book of the Bible

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Admitting which book of the Bible is your favorite is like admitting you have a favorite child. You are supposed to love them all equally, but deep down inside you know that there is one that aggravates you less than the others. If I were asked to name that book of the Bible most difficult for me to love, that would be easy. It’s Job. A friend of mine who once described Job as “nauseating.” It is practically unteachable, and perfectly unpreachable. However, the child you are least likely to favor is the one who undoubtedly needs more of your. . .
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Filed under New Testament

Gratitude

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Because it is my wont to fret and be dissatisfied with my lot—a lot—I have to, HAVE TO, regularly stop and create long lists of all that I’m thankful to God for. And when I walk the dog and it’s quiet, I’ll let my mind wander and express my gratitude for all of the incredible gifts He has given me and my soul will be recalibrated and I’ll see the world correctly once again. I’m grateful for Lindsay my wife who struggles with chronic illness and yet loves on her children fiercely, teaches them through her kind spirit to love. . .
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Filed under Thankfulness
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