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Before You Take a Sip, Consider This

Posted September 24, 2012 by Steve Hafler

I’ve never seen a beer commercial featuring battered children, broken lives, fractured families, or teenage amputees. It’s all about beautiful people, fashion, party time, and success! Somehow that 12 ounce can of beer is presented as the secret to popularity and fulfillment. That dark bottle is marketed as ‘liquid awsomeness.’ The commercials haven’t changed much since I was a boy, and I’m assuming from the staggering statistics of alcoholism and alcohol influenced crime that it still sells. I was no stranger to Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, wine coolers, ice cold Corona, warm cases of Schaefer, and an impressive assortment of other alcoholic beverages. I know the thrill of sitting around a table with friends playing drinking games. I know the adrenalin of breaking into the liqueur cabinets of my friend’s parents for a free bottle... Read More

Simple Isn't Always Easy

Posted August 27, 2012 by Steve Hafler

How do you define ministry? Here is what many people do, they begin by describing the beautiful campus and structures their church has, or the buffet of programs and activities their church offers. They draw attention to their children’s programs that run with Pixar precision and Disney creativity, or they highlight the top 40 Christian musical groups that perform at their church. Ministry to them seems to be wholesome “entertainment” the entire family can enjoy. The reality of the church giving to God, serving Him, and making disciples who will make disciples is as foreign to them as the Antemanambondro people of Madagascar. The church has become a service provider for those attending. The attraction is understandable – there’s something for everyone every night of the week! One person recently told me, “I am so excited that my ch... Read More

Satan’s Hunting Blind Satan has his finger on the trigger of his .375 H&H magnum and waits patiently as he settles the crosshairs directly over our heart. A hunting blind is a cover device often used by African hunters when targeting big cats. This is especially effective with leopard. A “blind” is a small camouflaged encampment designed to reduce the chance of detection. A carefully designed blind is nearly undetectable to the target species. The blind can be built near a watering hole or in open savannah where the hunter waits “locked and loaded” ready to ambush his unsuspecting trophy. Satan is a master hunter who has us “blinded.” He has set up camp right in our backyard and continues to take lethal shots at us while he remains undetected. Not a single news headline identities him! How? He’s got us believing he&... Read More


Another massacre on the Front Range. This week our Dark Adversary has revealed his true murderous character and intentions once again. A rogue gunman wearing full tactical gear mercilessly and systematically unloaded his arsenal into infants, children, and adults. 12 dead; 58 wounded. Theatre 9 at the Century 16 multiplex cinema in Aurora became a killing field. People react. We must react. Sorrow. Fear. Anger. Doubt. Cynicism. We even risk becoming jaded with life. Fatalistic. Even worse, we turn away from the only one who can help. A New York Times article entitled An All-America City Turns Inward in a Search for Answers That May Never Come captures the hopelessness of many. No satisfactory answers will come for a country whose god is often not much bigger than themselves – a nation content to openly reject God’s loving rule over them (Romans 1). James ... Read More

Edifying Conversation

Posted July 17, 2012 by Shaun Walker

Backyard Barbecue What happens when a group of Christian men get together in a backyard to celebrate an upcoming marriage for one of the young men in the church? Good grub, competitive games of bean-bag-toss, and rich edifying conversation occurred at the last HBC Tool Time Party. Good grub is expected because how can you go wrong with wings and bratwurst! Competitive games is a given. What man doesn’t have at least some competitive spirit? Edifying conversation? Even saying those words might invoke a black-tie formal event in your mind where large family Bibles are opened and boring lectures begin. In reality, edifying conversation that genuinely builds looks much different. In fact, it wasn’t a boring lecture the author of Hebrews meant when he instructed his readers to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:... Read More


The Black Mamba ranks as one of the five most dangerous snakes in the world and is Africa’s longest venomous snake. It tops the charts not because its the most toxic or because its the largest. The Black Mamba ranks with the “big guys” because he has earned the nightmarish reputation of combing its speed and venom with an assertive attack – often going out of its way to put a bite on something. I was driving from Kitwe to Lusaka, Zambia to pick up a coworker from the airport where we would then travel another seven hours to pick up a veteran missionary and his daughter in Livingstone. I was traveling south at about 120km (go do your math) through a very rural and bush area a few hours north of Lusaka. It was early morning and the air was crisp. The sun was peaking up causing the shadows to fall long. There was a peculiar soft orange glow on ev... Read More

Angry Birds or Angry God?

Posted May 15, 2012 by Steve Hafler

Angry Birds is a greater dilemma for this generation than an angry God. God is approached with the childish expectations of instant gratification and entertainment. Front row seats are coveted to Brian Regan, MercyMe, and LeBron James, but back row seats (where I can sip coffee and check sports headlines) work just fine when gathered together for God. We live in a PCWorld where technophiles worship Apple, devices become iGods, and Tweeted lines of sermons are sufficient. Step back for a moment and consider an aged apostle’s instruction to a young man in the ministry. A young pastor who dealt with many of the same distractions we face. The discerning Paul writes a letter to Timothy and warns him of a challenge looming on the horizon. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching” (2 Timothy 4:3). I am not exactly sure what form f... Read More

Are you a good listener?

Posted April 04, 2012 by Shaun Walker

How much do you listen? Have you ever considered the amount of time spent by the average Christian at Highlands Baptist Church listening to biblical instruction? Let’s do a little math together. The average sermon is about forty minutes. Yes, some are shorter and some are longer, but forty minutes is about right for an average. Highlands holds sermonic instructional time Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings. In addition to these sermonic times Highlands also has Adult Bible Fellowship Sunday morning which is a teacher led instruction and discussion time. Finally, there is an instructional time on Wednesday evening for adults (who are not serving in another ministry capacity). For sake of clarity, let’s just classify each instructional time at the forty minute length. This means we have four instructional times of forty minutes offered each week. That is 16... Read More


Only twice have I evangelized people where I hit the ground before the Coca Cola Company. The dark syrupy sweet carbonated drink is everywhere in the world infiltrating more places than the Gospel. It seems no land or people is too challenging to develop a strategy to market their product to. With the exceptions of a civil war in the northern frontier of southern Sudan and a forgotten people north of Diego Suarez in Madagascar, Coke has “been there and done that” before me every time. It wouldn’t be such a tragedy if we were talking about competing beverages, but we aren’t. We are talking about God’s Son and His glory. We are comparing soda with the only Person who can pardon sin and eternally quench thirsty sinners. Jesus is the Good News that is to be proclaimed to all people. But we haven’t taken this incredible message forward ... Read More

Morality is Not the Gospel

Posted March 19, 2012 by Steve Hafler

Moralism continues to be one of the most attractive and effective counterfeit "gospels" in Satan's showroom. The reason is simple - it's something we can "do." We can actually get in and drive the Lamborghini of church culture. We can cruise main street in our brand new 2012 chromed out externalism. The Ferrari of our big "D" denominationalism rides smooth (they even offer platinum membership and give drivers who qualify the team jacket). We can rev the engine of self-righteousness. The plush leather interior of our new Lexus of "traditionalism" is very comfortable and the envy of our friends who are driving second-rate moral clunkers desperately trying not to fall off the "slippery slope" (at least that's how some perceive the race track of life). It seems religionists would rather flaunt external garments so that the... Read More

We can not make a false dichotomy between our faith and our finances. We can not divorce our money from our mission. We can not separate our wealth from our walk with God. In a day when “money matters” almost more than anything else, it is sure to be an accurate gauge of the heart. I want to begin by quoting a familiar proverb, but one that is often used out of context (not purposely, but from ignorance). “Where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). This is the part that gets quoted. The surrounding verses in Proverbs 29:15-18 reveal that parents either instruct their children or get shamed by them. The present reality of this can be confirmed by a mid-morning trip to Walmart! The shame of a child out of control is compared to the chaos of people (marriages, families, churches, countries, etc.) who have no revelation from God ... Read More

Finding God’s Will A Biblical Idea? Finding God’s will. If I had a penny for every time I have heard this phrase in my lifetime I would no doubt be rich. When faced with a decision or hardship we are told that we need to “find God’s will.” It sounds like great advice and it even seems to be biblical. However, this kind of advice could drive even the most devout Christian into a decision making panic attack! How do I find God’s will? What do I do if God hasn’t revealed the answer? How is God going to show me the right choice? These are the questions that every believer will face if they are trying to “find God’s will.” Defining the will of God is not easy to do. The Bible uses the term only a few times and in a few different ways. The will of God in Scripture can refer to God’s decrees (Dan. 4:35), His ... Read More

Last night I paused to thank the Lord for a great group of godly "traditional" members who lead by example in their commitment to church attendance, giving, biblical values, carefulness, and humble submission to their leaders for God's glory. As I thought about the people of Highlands, I found myself greatly encouraged by our faithful elderly folks - some of which had every right to stay home and go to bed early last night. Instead, they gathered together with God's people and they have already decided they will do the same thing this Sunday morning. For a younger generation who often waits to decide how they "feel" Sunday morning, our older generation is setting an example of determination, commitment, and faithfulness. It wasn't so much their attendance that impressed me last night, but their steadfastness to something bigger than themselves and ... Read More

Sports for God’s Glory

Posted January 16, 2012 by Steve Hafler

There are a few things we can learn from a football game (even when our team loses). Note: written during the second half of the Broncos/Patriots 2012 playoff game. 1. There are no playoffs for eternity. It’s not about who plays the game of religion the best (everyone loses at that game – ask the Pharisees and Sadducees). It’s a relationship with Christ as Savior. You can know for sure if you are on the winning team or not. Jesus has given us the victory (you know what losing feels like, the upset, the disappointment, the frustration) – there are none of these things in Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2. God is more jealous about events that occur in His church than about events that happen in the world’s stadiums. The New Testament clearly makes the lo... Read More

The decorations are down, most of the gifts are now “used,” and this is the first real work week after the holidays. As we look over the past month we need to ask, “What Was Christmas All About Anyway?" For Christians living in America and so far removed from the origins (some pagan and some religious), what are we really talking about? In order to clear up any confusion we probably need to divide present-day Christmas observance into two categories – secular and religious. Both of these categories were probably seen in most homes this year, and that includes Christians homes. For example, in our home (1) we had a beautiful nativity scene that was hand carved out of African wood and sitting in plain view as a reminder of the events surrounding Christ’s birth, and (2) we had a beautifully decorated Christmas tree that our children lik... Read More

Music & Cutting the Word Straight

Posted January 09, 2012 by Steve Hafler

Dear Highlands, Music is one of God’s amazing creations. Music, like all other language, communicates content, context, and culture. Church music is no exception. The texts of Psalm 33:1-5; Ephesians 5:19; and Colossians 3:19 make clear that praise to God is not only acceptable but divinely mandated in the life of God’s children. As your pastor I realize there are vast differences that exist among believers at Highlands Baptist Church. I want to encourage those who have allowed their musical tastes and choices to be too broadly shaped by the fallen parts of culture to be willing to adjust their choices and discipline their tastes by biblical principles. I also want to encourage those in our congregation who may have had their musical tastes too narrowly shaped by either their background or hyper-traditionalism to be willing to adjust their tastes by the bi... Read More

I am struck with the importance of Paul's prayer for the Thessalonian believers in 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11 and how that relates to our mutual service at Highlands. Since Paul's situation is not a direct layover we need to understand that "all Scripture is... profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). Paul prays that he might be able to strengthen these believers - people he evangelized and was torn away from by Satanic hinderance (Acts 17:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:8). 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11 [A]s we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? [11] Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,. Paul is a sincere Christian deeply involved in the lives of real people and their needs. Notice three det... Read More

Are We Done Playing Games Yet?

Posted November 07, 2011 by Steve Hafler

My eleven year old son just walked past me with a cardboard shield, wooden "sword" and a cereal box sheath held together by string. All hand made and esteemed highly by his two younger brothers (the enemy of course). I love raising boys. It is a daily reminder of the risk and adventure God has placed in a man’s heart. Our injury list from having three boys is impressive - three broken wrists, enough sutures to mend an elephant, a steel splinter in the eye, a two inch thorn embedded deep into the foot, broken teeth from catapulted rocks and bicycle wrecks, countless cuts and scrapes, a toe caught in the spokes resulting in natural nail removal, and many other bumps and bruises. We have been to the “theatre” (operating room) in Africa more than I care to remember which is an adventure all by itself but one never highlighted in tourist books. ... Read More

Near the end of his extraordinary life, William Carey was becoming a household name in England. Biographies were being turned out to an eager public. Even mementos of Carey’s life were prized as almost sacred objects. One day a friend of Carey’s was going on and on about the fame of the “Father of Modern Missions.” Carey interrupted him sharply saying, “When I am gone, speak no more of Mr. Carey. Speak of Mr. Carey’s Saviour.” Carey wasn’t the last missionary to become a celebrity, and his rejection of such misplaced attention, his “He must increase; I must decrease” attitude is refreshing. But the whole story underscores a dangerous tendency in ministry. When missions becomes man-centered, a deviation has occurred from its Christ-centered and Gospel-focused purpose. This deviation often stems from an outdate... Read More