Straight to the Heart

 
 
 

Cultivating a Culture of Peace

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

(James 3:17-18, ESV)

 

The gospel is a gospel of peace. Since the time of Adam’s sin, the gospel declares that we have been born into this world as God’s enemy: hostile in mind and engaged in evil deeds) against God (Colossians 1:21; Romans 8:7). The most holy God had every right to declare the differences between Him and us as irreconcilable. Yet, in His wisdom and love, God chose to reconcile to Himself all who believe in Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5), by pouring out his judgment against his only Son instead of us.

 

Through Christ, we who have been reconciled to God have also been given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). As ministers of reconciliation, we proclaim this gospel of reconciliation to the world so that all peoples may be reconciled to God through the death of Christ. But our ministry of reconciliation does not end there, for we must continue living in the light of the reconciling work of Christ. Consequently, we must live our lives reconciled to one another.

 

Even though we have been reconciled to God through Christ, far too many professing Christians still live in conflict with others. Such conflict is manifested in marriages, homes, workplaces, even church relationships. Unfortunately, many of us address conflict according to the wisdom of the world, rather than the wisdom of heaven. That’s why Christians have as many divorces as non-Christians; why we stop talking to fellow Christians; why we leave churches over conflict, and why many churches inevitably split, all due to irreconciliable differences.  

 

What kind of Christian testimony do we offer this world if we are reconciled to God through Christ but fail to be reconciled to one another? One of the most powerful witnesses we can provide our community is the witness of reconciled relationships that flow from being reconciled to God. If we are to live in such an atmosphere, then we must cultivate a culture of peace. According to Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker, a culture of peace is a culture where “people are eager and able to resolve conflict and reconcile relationships in a way that clearly reflects the love and power of Jesus Christ” (291). If we are to cultivate such a culture of peace, then we must have a biblical strategy for resolving conflict. Sande offers the following counsel (the four “G’s”):

 

Glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Our entire lives must be motivated by a desire to glorify God.  
 

Get the log out of your eye (Matthew 7:5)

We must first look at our own hearts in order to discern our contributions to conflicts. 
 

Gently restore (Galatians 6:1)

The Bible gives us clear instruction in approaching those with whom we have conflict. 
 

Go and be reconciled (Matthew 5:24)

Once we have addressed conflict, we must be willing to restore relationships.

 

Let us cultivate a culture of peace here at High Pointe. May we be about God’s glory, and address conflict biblically by first looking at our own hearts, then approaching one another with the goal of having reconciled relationships that give evidence of the reality that we are a people reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

 

Love,
 


Life Classes Begin This Sunday at 9:00 AM

 
Discipleship is helping one another follow Jesus by speaking the gospel to one another in love. The very gospel word that is ministered by the church’s pastors from the pulpit each Sunday is to reverberate throughout the congregation as each member speaks it to one another, applying it to one another in love as appropriate (Ephesians 4:11-16). At High Pointe, one of the ways we seek to help one another follow Jesus is by equipping the church to apply the gospel to various areas of life in our Life Classes. Our next semester begins this Sunday at 9:00 am. Here are your choices:
 

THE GOSPEL PROJECT (K-5th)

In the Beginning

If your children have not yet been involved in The Gospel Project during Life Class time, or have picked up anywhere along the way, they will not want to miss out!  We are starting again at the very beginning of this Christ-centered, chronological journey through Scripture. Kids will discover how the gospel unfolds from Genesis through Revelation. Register for the class here.
 

KNOWING GOD (6TH-12TH)

This semester the students of High Pointe will take time to dive in and work through J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God through the context of a personal relationship. Echoing the book, this class is designed to show students who God is and how we can relate to him. Register for the class here.
 

REFORMATION THEOLOGY

For the last 500 years, Protestant churches have gladly embraced critical doctrines from the Reformation. However, many remain mostly unaware of what the Reformers taught or why it matters. This class will take an in-depth look at Reformation theology. What did the Reformers actually believe and teach? What were the essential doctrines confessed during the Reformation? And why is that significant for us today? Topics will include the authority of Scripture, the grace of God in salvation, justification by faith alone, the glory of God, and the priority of preaching in corporate worship. Register for the class here.
 

SPORTS AND COMPETITION

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ‘Whatever you do’ includes the way we interact in and with sports and competition. Taking what we know from Scripture about God and his image bearers, how do we apply it to our lives as we relate to sports? Whether you watch sports, play sports, or parent a student involved in sports, this class will address every level of involvement one could have with sports and competition. Join us as we learn to navigate through a “sports-obsessed” world from a biblical perspective. Register for the class here.
 

¿QUIÉN ES DIOS?

Describir a Dios es una tarea eterna. De hecho, conocer a Dios es una tarea imposible… a menos que Él se revele a sí mismo. En la Biblia encontramos que Dios nos ha mostrado quién es Él y cómo es su carácter. En esta clase estudiaremos los atributos de Dios descritos en su Palabra. Registro aquí.
 

THE BOOK OF HEBREWS

God intends to bring us face to face with the person and work of Jesus Christ in all of Scripture. In Hebrews, God wants to remind us of the reality that Jesus is better than anything else we might be tempted to abandon him for. Have you felt the temptation to return to old ways of thinking, old practices, or old sinful ways, especially during times of great difficulty? Join us as we are encouraged from Hebrews to demonstrate that Jesus truly is better than anything else as we persevere in faith. Register for the class here.
 

As you can see, this is an hour of equipping for the entire family. Let me encourage you to make every effort to join us for a brand new semester of Life Classes this Sunday at 9:00 am.

Love,
 


Let the Little Children Come Unto Me

 

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

(Matthew 19:13-15, ESV).
 

In Jesus’ day, children had no social standing. They contributed nothing to society; they were utterly dependent on adults – for everything! It’s no surprise, then, that when parents brought their babies and young children to Jesus, his disciples rebuked the people. But if you’re a parent, and you understand that there is something different about Jesus, something divine, you too would want Jesus to bless your son or daughter. That’s all these parents were trying to do in Matthew 19:13-15. After all, imagine living in a time of primitive medicine, a time when infant mortality was high.

For his part, Jesus rebuked his disciples. He welcomed the little children and warned the disciples not to hinder their coming. Why? Because these little ones picture how all must enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to save those who understand that they cannot save themselves; Jesus came to save those who understand they are utterly dependent on God – for everything, just like little babies and young children. Children, Jesus says, remind us that we must humble ourselves, ridding ourselves of any social status and coming to him in utter dependence: to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.

Today, children still teach us about dependence on others for life. A baby cries because she cannot feed himself. Without someone caring for her, she will eventually starve to death. A baby cries because he needs a diaper change. A baby cries because she needs to be comforted and assured she is safe. Jesus welcomed the children because children picture how we are to be dependent upon our heavenly Father for care and salvation through Christ. So, let the children come, and let us display the Father’s love and care for them. This is first and foremost the role and responsibility of parents. But we also know that as a church, we have a corporate responsibility to encourage one another in parenting and to care together for the children of High Pointe.

As we approach the start of another school year, we’ve begun announcing some of the needs we have in our children’s ministry. These needs are real, and they provide opportunities for all of High Pointe to care for one another and encourage the younger parents among us. Would you consider helping us care for our children at High Pointe by taking advantage of some of the opportunities we have? We have various needs, but one of our ongoing needs is always to care for the children in the nursery during Sunday morning and evening services. As our congregation continues to add young families with children and as our young families continue to have children, the need in the nursery continues to grow. That’s a wonderful need to have!

We also have a need to provide child care workers during our weekly Bible studies and other meetings throughout the week. These are paid positions, so those who are willing will be compensated for their time. Of course, all of these positions, volunteer and paid, are limited to the members of High Pointe. We have chosen to care for our children ourselves, rather than hiring outside workers. Your willingness will go a long way to helping us continue to provide child care for our own children. If you would consider helping, please contact Erin Wyman (erin@highpointeaustin.org). Let us welcome the children and encourage their parents.

 
Love,
 



Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. In addition, Juan serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He has authored numerous books, including 1 Peter for You and Seven Dangers Facing your Church (forthcoming March 2018). Juan and his wife, Jeanine, have five daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.
 
    

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