“The Power of Longevity?”

“The Power of Longevity?”

I have lived in Highlands for eight years now. Considering the culture here in the United States, eight years is a long time to stay in one place with one employer and in one house. As this year comes to a close, I have been thinking of the past eight years and what I have seen taken place here on the Highlands-Cashiers plateau. Of course, my observations lean a bit toward those in and around the church. It’s amazing what you see when you stay in one place.
Over the past eight years I have seen some wonderful young people adventure off our mountain to feed the poor, minister to street children, care for refugees, build buildings, and make Christ known to thousands of people without hope in over 50 nations. Sometimes this millennial generation gets a bad rap, but I have seen many of our own young people serve their country or graduate from college or produce worship music and also rank nationally in oration, debate or creative arts.
I have had the privilege of seeing a man earn a seat in the U.S. Congress. I have seen seemingly hopeless marriages restored, businesses rebound from despair, bodies healed, people called into ministry, drug and alcohol addictions broken and churches planted. I have seen people overcome deep depression, loneliness and longstanding emotional wounds. I have seen some incredible compassionate care provided for people during times of incredible crisis and tragedy. I have seen many women not abort their babies and not regret it and many women abort their babies and deeply regret it.
I have seen people angry with God only to wholeheartedly accept Him as Lord. I have seen others vehemently deny God only to accept Him as their Lord, and I have seen others very ambivalent to Christ passionately come alive in Him.
It seems as though seeing these things take place is the result of being in one place and enjoying a longstanding vantage point. I suppose that is true but there is a greater truth. The wonderful things that I, and many others, have had the privilege of witnessing and experiencing are not simply because of physical proximity. The Spirit of God is at work among the people in our mountains that choose to reach out to Him. Longevity is wonderful but more so is the grandeur, majesty and nobility of Christ at work in anyone’s life regardless of their sin, filth, perceived inadequacy, drunken stupor, or low self-esteem.
As we celebrate Christmas this season and look ahead to the New Year, ask yourself this question…Am I in need of the Christmas spirit and the wonderful yet temporary emotions it elicits? Or Am I in need of an eternal, non-temporary infusion of the Holy Spirit of God that transforms my thoughts, actions, wants and desires while moving me into greater purpose and mission? Just words? No, much more than words, I am seeing this everyday and hoping you are as well. Call on Christ this Christmas and find someone who knows what they are talking about when it means to receive His forgives, love and joy! Let them lead you to a new life in Him.

Learn more about Community Bible Church and Pastor Gary Hewins

Worshipful

There is a place where you can go- a great expansive, yet intimate “room”. Expectantly and cautiously climbing the stairs upward through an open door, one can enter an ongoing celebration. At the epicenter of all things is a throne. From that throne emanates flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. The color is so very brilliant and intense, but not as beautiful as He on the throne. The area around the throne cannot contain the visual splendor. The colors and brilliance are reflected as in a failed attempt to diminish their intensity. There before the throne is sea of glass, clear as crystal: a mirror. From that mirror, seemingly infinite rays and beams of splendor are cast into an already illuminated realm.

People gathered as one and clothed in resurrection power sing from a place deep within them. They sing in one language, in unified heavenly lyrics. A cacophony of quintessential worship ebbs and flows like waves before and over the throne. Unified reverberation, like ten thousand waterfalls, cascades over the King, pooling at His footstool.  Multiple duets and quartets of angelic beings sing out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” The room takes on a fragrance of adoration, and prayer like incense filters through heavenly vents. At times, a crescendo of sounds further magnifies the One sitting on the throne. Bowls of adoration are emptied like worshipful fountains. The worshippers are forever complete, completely satisfied, and completely centered.

No eye moves away from the throne. Beings with eyes on their front, rear, sides, and under their wings move about in joy but always fix their eyes on the Christ. The encounter transcends the constraints of time. All are in Christ.

This place is accessible, in part, every minute of every day. You, in Christ, with clean hands and a pure heart, can join this celebration. You are worshipful. Your eyes can and are fixed on Him, the Author and Perfecter of your faith. He is your Hiding place and you can sing songs of deliverance. He is your God and your soon coming King. You remain worshipful, no matter your lot in life. You know Him by Name and you know His Names. You have a sensitivity to the pleasure He finds in your worship and you know the pleasure of truly worshipping Him. You are a mobile worship service. You too can pour yourself out before Him. You speak an intimate language of love before Him. You adore Him. You celebrate Him. You enjoy His enjoyment of praise.

You are now worshipful and are becoming even more worshipful. You marinate in a worship that solicits His glory. In your life is His Presence. There is a weightiness to His considerate Presence. His Presence is accessible, tangible, and considerable to you as you remain worshipful.

Your words are worshipful. Your work is worshipful. Your relationships are worshipful. The chief beginning and end of your life is to worship the Alpha and the Omega. While others search for an escape, you take sanctuary in Christ. While others run from God, you run boldly to the throne of grace. You know that place where you can go and you know how to get there. Be still and know He is God, and loose upon Him the sincerity of heartfelt worship. Lift holy hands in praise. Seek Him. Pursue Him to love Him. Celebrate your invitation to worship, and worship well. You come by way of the blood. Your entrance is paid for, the cost was significant. Be ever so worshipful!

 

-Dr. Gary Hewins 

Learn more about Pastor Gary Hewins here

www.cbchighlands.com

Toxic Faith Stinks

Toxic Faith Stinks

Occasionally, “ministries” hurt people. Sometimes ministry leaders fail in their responsibility to provide authentic, Christ-like, loving, biblical leadership to people in need and harm comes to those who only want acceptance, purpose and grace in everyday life. Many are aware of controlling, stifling religious practices that leave people confused and spiritually arid. We all have heard of sexual abuse among supposedly godly spiritual leadership. The Bible is clear about false teachers and legalists who lord themselves over people with guilt, control and condemnation. These type of ministries, are few in number but destructive to many. I think such leaders are more harmful than those who persecute the church. A persecuted and hated church thrives and flourishes, a toxic church dies while killing people’s hopes and dreams.

Pastors, priests, chaplains and whoever else seek to represent Christ are sometimes misguided, wounded people themselves who have no business being in ministry. Legalistic, toxic ministry is deadly poisonous. People waylaid by legalism spend years trying to overcome the toxicity of such spiritual calamity. Dead religion is highly poisonous. People impacted by such uncaring and controlling ministries need time, love and the real Jesus to overcome such intense pain.

The authentic church, often gets perceived and subsequently indicted as abusive and dictatorial because of spiritual morons who hurt others in the name of God. I have counseled with many over the years who have run from the bogus church while barely, if at all, holding out for a hope that they still can connect with God. These precious walking wounded need to reestablish trust with others as they are nurtured into the joy of loving, serving and worshipping Christ (some, for the first time). In the meantime, life is often filled with anger, bitterness and the sting of denying the faith and living without the reality of daily fellowship with a loving heavenly Father.

Maybe you have been hurt by such bogus ministries run by wounded, moronic leaders. These wolves in sheep’s clothing will be dealt with but in the meantime, may I encourage you to not lose hope? There are many loving, biblical ministries in the world that the Lord Himself would love to have you enjoy. There is a way to live with a passionate pursuit of life where your gifts, your life, your mission bring you fulfillment and joy.

As a pastor, I know you are due an apology. In the absence of true repentance among those who crushed your faith-I offer my sincere apology in their silence. You are special. You are called. You are the “apple of the eye” of God. You are set apart and commissioned to enjoy a vibrant and functional church family and not a dysfunctional nightmare that seemingly never ends. I am so sorry you were hurt. I hate that you still hurt and with all those ministers who side with the grace and love of Christ-I am sure they hurt with you as well. Jesus put it this way… “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

A Real Cool Thing About Highlands

A Real Cool Thing About Highlands

We live in a very beautiful place. You know this. We can enjoy the thunderous sounds of rushing rivers, the exhilaration of gorgeous gorges, and the serenity of mountain vistas. Who doesn’t enjoy a cool mountain breeze or a serene snow shower? Maybe it has been a while since you were an urban dweller. Have you forgotten the stifling heat radiating off the concrete jungle you came from or the smog-laced skyline obscuring your view of construction cranes?   

We live in an area where people literally stand at risk on the side of the road, on sharp curves, with cameras in hand to gaze at a mountain vista. These earthy pilgrims are seemingly looking to capture something more than a photograph. Some feeling. Some connection. Some inspiration. For many, our flora, fauna and topography seem to foster a process of mystical personal reflection. 

Natural beauty is both wonderful and medicinal. Is this not why we hike or dangle our feet in a mountain stream? Whether you find yourself on our plateau on a permanent or semi-permanent basis or perhaps you picked up this paper while on a spontaneous visit, reflect upon the following:

The voice of God is like rushing waters. All creation worships Him. The heavens declare the glory of God. Rivers clap their hands before God all day every day. Rocks even cry out in worship when others will not. Mountains bow down before Him. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Col. 1:15-18).

While you walk, gaze and enjoy the beauty all around us here in Highlands, go ahead and reflect. Know this, you too are created and knitted together by the hand of God. You are no accident, and neither is your being here among these mountains. The reason you are here is not to worship creation but He who is the Creator. He is drawing you to Himself, to His heart. He uses many things to capture your attention. Look a little closer. Open your heart a little more. Invite the Master of our skyline to reveal His love for you, to you. As you enjoy all that is here…consider whispering a simple prayer…Christ Jesus, show me You too. 

Concrete awaits your return and such wonderful revelations take so much more effort with so much less time, that’s why you don’t want to leave. Enjoy today, remain in the moment, capture who you were intended to capture today. He is so much more than a photograph. 

What Does Einstein Have to Do with Christmas?

What Does Einstein Have to Do with Christmas?

Christmas is many things to many people and seemingly nothing to many others. Whatever your perspective, you have to admit that the holiday season is typically a time to connect more with others, look at one another face-to-face, enjoy a meal together and exchange gifts. Christmas, aside from any faith component, is a holiday where people tend to care for one another more and care about other matters less. 

The purpose of Christmas hasn’t changed but I think our world has changed drastically. Without realizing it, we have slowly and subtly morphed into a culture that is far less “Christmasy” or holiday-minded. We now connect more using technology and connect less on a personal, intimate basis. Albert Einstein said the following in April of 1946: 

“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction.  The world will have a generation of idiots. I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives—a disastrous by product of science and technology.  Nostra Culpa (we are to blame).”

What did this man see in the spring of 1946 that remotely compares to technology in 2019? There is a great prophetic truth in Albert’s assertion. We remain frenetic, hurried and we seem to think that technology will create for us more time to do other things, but it does not. It didn’t do so in 1946 and it won’t come close in 2019 and it may be even more tragic 30 years from now. 

We have to become far more intentional about the way we approach life and intimacy, otherwise communication will be so diluted and endangered that we will only be able to relate through text rather than embrace or laugh together. 

Here is a reminder, God loves you and He intentionally sent His Son to live in this world as your representative. This advent of Christ is actually a wonderful adventure. He doesn’t want to text you “lol” he wants to hear you laugh as he gives you cause to laugh. He isn’t so interested in sending you an emoji face, He has a greater interest in seeing you seek His face. He made the birds in such a way that they themselves “tweet”. He loves you, and more than that, he demonstrated that love on your behalf. As this world pulls on you to objectify others, keep empathy alive. As this world wallows in polarity and divisiveness, crave unity and collaboration. Enjoy your Christmas in December but keep it in your heart throughout the winter. Love others. Write a hand-written letter. Knock on someone’s door, share a cup of tea. Look into another’s eyes. Touch someone’s heart. Give something of you to them. It’s Christmas! Be personal for God is personal. Be generous as God is generous. Be gracious as he is gracious. It’s Christmas!  Connect. Share. Laugh. Enjoy. Feast.  And do it in person wherever possible!  Merry Christmas. 

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill
toward men!” (Luke 2:10-14)