A Vision Together

Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it (Habakkuk 2:2)
 
Zig Ziglar once said that when a person has a strong vision and a problem arises, the problem will be like a pebble on the beach they simply kick out of the way. However, if a person has no vision and a problem arises, it will be like a tidal wave washing them into the sea. We have found through working with couples, that this saying is very true. Setbacks and problems are just a pebble on the beach for couples who clearly know their God-given vision together, but for a couple with no clear purpose or plan problems of ten seem to become tidal waves. This is most likely why strife in a marriage and lack of a Christ-centered vision often go hand in hand. Without a strong eternal purpose together, believers are often washed into the same tidal wave of marriage disappointment that the world struggles with. 
 
It has been recorded that within the first five years of marriage the number one struggle marriages deal with is financial hardship. Although lack of wisdom with finances and lack of self control in spending are frequent causes for financial hardship, we strongly believe one of the biggest roots to financial problems within marriage is that many couples do not know their God-given purpose for being together, which often results in a focus on things of the world rather than the things of God. 
 
In our early years of marriage, we had very little. There was not any extra money for dates, gifts, or extra purchases of any sort. We thank God that as we look back on it, we never had one argument over money. We believe a large reason for this was that our vision together was so strong. We refused to get discouraged by the financial situation we were in because we knew God had a plan for our lives together. We also knew Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” We trusted God that is we pursued Hid plan for our life and marriage, He would take care of us and we would experience the goodness the Bible talks about.
 
The Bible encourages us to have a vision and make it plain, so we can run with it. Sometimes couples we encounter have some vision as an individual for their career or maybe parenting, which is good, but more is needed. Unless a couple has a focused, eternal purpose in their relationship together, they often end up just striving after material things as the rest of the world does. However when a couple has a Christ-centered vision, they are no longer satisfied with the status quo of just going to church on Sundays, reading their Bible on occasion, then living like the rest of the world throughout the week, doing little to nothing of eternal value. 
 
God created us as humans with a desire to do something of lasting value and to be a gift to the lives of others. We were created in God’s image, and He does things of eternal value. Therefore we also have an inherent desire to create something meaningful with our lives. Sin has tried its best to corrupt this desire in people, but when a person gives their life to God, the desire for their God-given purpose is renewed in them. Our goal today is to stir up that desire in you if it has been lying dormant or untapped. God has a plan for you to do something to change the world with lasting, eternal impact, not just as an individual but also as a couple. 
 
In love,
Pastors Shaun & Amy

Read more

How to Love Effectively

As with our spouse, it is essential to maintain a loving relationship with our children at all times, including when time is spent apart. One of the biggest keys to maintaining a relationship is to know what makes the other person feel loved. It may be time together, gifts, affection, words of appreciation or something else. A basic key to remember with our spouse and children is that men thrive on respect and women thrive on love (see Ephesians 5:33). 
 
We have a close friend who is one of the best parents we have ever met. She has three beautiful daughters who are currently between ages 15 and 23. They all love the Lord and are some of the most loving, considerate, thoughtful, honest, selfless, and sincere young ladies we have ever met. In addition to all that, they are extremely intelligent, motivated, talented and beautiful. One of the most outstanding characteristics the three daughters have is their deep loyalty and respect for their mother. This respect is not just there by happenstance. It has been cultivated consistently over many years by a very wise and loving mother. Let us share a few of her secrets to great parenting with you. 
 
People often feel valued through traditions that make them feel important. This mom has many of those traditions. Many years ago, the mom purchased a red plate and started having a monthly dinner called “The Red Plate Dinner.” Each month, a different member of the family received the special honor and appreciation at the meal that evening. During or after the meal, they go around the table and everyone tells things they love, appreciate, and respect about that member of the family! Her girls love and look forward to this night every month. It serves a twofold purpose: in addition to building them up if it is their night, it also teaches the other family members to verbally place value on and esteem others. The honor and value we place on someone consistently with our words and actions will become an equal measure to the commitment they have in their hearts toward us. 
 
When her girls were young this mom also started a tradition of having a tea party together every Friday when they would get home from school. This is just a simple way that their mom consistently shows them she values her time with them. It gives the girls opportunity to talk, which most women and girls like to do. 
 
There are numerous ways that parents, including those who travel and sometimes work long hours, can show honor to their children. A once-a-month fishing or camping outing or making time to play catch with a ball once or twice a week may be just what makes kids feel loved by dad or mom. Whatever you choose, be sure it makes your child feel valued, and make sure you do it consistently. Children need consistent and tangible displays of honor and love. Throughout the week, keep the focus on what you plan to do together, and then make sure you always follow through with it. 
 
If you or your spouse travel often, make every effort you can to travel together and even bring your children whenever possible. Make sure those you love know how much you love them. It is essential to a good relationship to make sure each person in our family knows we honor and value them. Ask them what makes them feel honored and valued. Study them to see what they do to show others love and you will probably have found what makes them feel loved. 
 
God’s best is for us to have strong families and maintain closeness with them. When we consistently do and say things to show our family members that they are in our heart, they will feel honored and valued and be committed to us in their heart. 
 
In love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy 
 

Read more

YOU

Sunday mornings are early for Tyler and me. No surprise. We arrive well before practice time, not only to finish up some sound and stage preparations, but most importantly to pray over the worship. About a month ago, during pre-practice prayer, I couldn’t get past the word YOU (usually followed up by something like “… have all authority over this service” or “…are so deserving of everything we have to give”). But I was caught on the word. You, You, You, You… You… You.
 
I’m going to have to stop this train of thought for a second to clear off the upcoming track.
 
I’m guessing you have a couple favorite worship songs. All worship is great, of course! But when “Build My Life” or “Way Maker” start up, your heart beats faster and your hands start moving!
 
Different songs have different impacts on different people. This is why my husband, Tyler, can listen to “The More I Seek You” time and again still excited by it every time while he has a harder time sitting through my 8th replay of “Shout of the King.” This is not only due to diverse music style tastes but also to the importance we each attach to certain words in worship, often determined by our personal experiences with that word. If you’ve been believing for miraculous healing, for example, you might feel the words in “Healer” more strongly than the person sitting next to you. Instead, they are praying for comfort after loss and feel the strength of the song “You Restore My Soul.”
 
Wouldn’t it be great if there was one word that took us all straight into worship?
 
Let’s start the train again.
 

There is a word, if we can all understand it. It shows up in just about every contemporary worship song now as worship continues to shift from a third-person perspective of God (God exists but is too almighty for a direct relationship) to a second-person view (God has a personal 1-to-1 relationship with each of us). The word is YOU:

 
 

You have no rival, You have no equal” “This is unfailing love, that You would take my place” “I believe You’re my healer” You restore my soul” You’re a good good Father”

 
 

Perhaps we could all feel every moment of worship if we all really understood the word YOU.

 
 

She’ll be coming around the mountain in a second; one more stop…

 
 

Think about the phrase, “I love you” for a moment. In any sentence, the exact meaning of the word “love” is established by the recipient of that expression (who or what you love). For example, “I love you” means something different to me when I’m talking to my parents versus when I’m talking to my spouse.

 
 

In the case of my parents, “I love YOU” encompasses a twenty-three year history of sacrifices, training, boundaries, and all kinds of proof of their unconditional love. I know well what their love looks and feels like. With Tyler, although the history behind YOU is shorter, the intensity is heavier; there’s a passionate side as well as a conscious “I-chose-you/you-chose-me” side. When I say it to him, it means something different. Even my “I love YOU” to our babies-to-be is different I haven’t seen them or held them yet, but I love them purely by their existence and budding potential. The concept of love is the same across the board, but the variety of love is specific to the context (the YOU).

 
 

So YOU, determining the whole connotation of love, is really the most powerful word in the sentence.

 
 

All aboard!

 
 

So what does YOU mean in the context of worship? Well, that depends on what you know about who God is. It’s probably difficult for you to say, “I love you” to a stranger, not because you don’t understand what love is, but because you don’t understand who they are. In the same way, it’s difficult to express worship if you don’t understand at least a small part of who God is.

 
 

As a new Christian, you can at least recognize God in the context of salvation and forgiveness. To you, YOU (as in GOD) embodies “Savior” and “Redeemer.” When you sing lyrics like, “I will worship You for who You are,” you can easily call to mind those characteristics of God, even without singing those specific words. As you begin to read the Bible, YOU starts to embrace other aspects of God’s character – maybe you start to learn more about His creativity, His mercy, and His power. Even farther down the line, your personal experiences with God multiply healing, freedom, and mental restoration – and worship just keeps getting deeper and deeper as YOU becomes more saturated with meaning! At this point, the worship team doesn’t need to sing “Healer” for you to hear “Healer” in the lyrics or “No Longer Slaves” for you to hear “Father” and “Deliverer.” You hear it in the YOU.

 
This understanding requires effort on your part, of course. God is always ready to reveal Himself as you seek Him (Matthew 7:7-8). The more you read God’s Word, pray, and listen, the more YOU will open up and embrace all He is. Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Provider, Unconditional Love, Passion, Potential everything that you can understand about who God is – it’s all in YOU. You, You, You, You… You… You.
 
-Catherine Lexvold

Read more

Finding your Purpose

Happy New Year, High Point Family!

 
With the start of the new year, it is a good time to talk about finding your purpose. Why is it important to discover your purpose? I believe one of the main reasons is that if you don’t know your life’s purpose, you won’t know what you’re aiming at. “If you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time,” as the saying goes. Not having any target in life is the equivalent to a hunter going in the woods and shooting off a bunch of random gunshots through the trees and saying, “wow, I sure hope something good runs into that.”
 
 
We need to discover our purpose, and we also need to help our children work towards discovering theirs. Sometimes parents tell their kids, “Honey, you can be anything you want to be.” That statement isn’t really accurate—If it was, many boys and girls would grow up to be pro athletes. A more accurate statement would be, “Honey, you can do great things in life. God has a wonderful plan for you, and I know you can fulfill it with His help.” So how do we find our purpose and help our kids find theirs? A major key is in Joshua 1:8. It says, “Study this book of instruction (meaning the Bible) continually, meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” How do you do this? How do you meditate The Word of God until it starts directing you from the inside out, so that you prosper in the plan God has for your life? I found that God will illuminate certain scriptures to people based on what their calling is, and there will be different scriptures that God illuminates at different key points in your life. I believe there are certain scriptures we are to meditate on in different seasons of life.
 
 
When I first gave my life to Christ, I used to struggle a lot with fear. The first scripture that the Lord started illuminating to me was 2 Timothy 1:7 that says, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” I would read that scripture often and think about it whenever I went to bed, meditating on it at night. Overcoming fear was the first key for me being able to fulfill my destiny, so that’s where God started with me.
 
 
Then during my latter years of college, Jeremiah 29:11 stood out to me So I kept it before my eyes, thinking about it often and meditating, “I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” At that time in my life I met my husband Shaun, and I still wasn’t completely sure what God was calling me to in my future, but that scripture started directing me into the plans of God.
 
 
In the next season of our life, Shaun and I were in a training period and it wasn’t easy. We barely had enough money at times to get by. We prayed much and learned to believe God for our basic needs to be met, which wasn’t always easy. In that season, I sensed a strong pull towards Isaiah 55 and I read that scripture multiple times every day. I especially meditated on Isaiah 55:1-3 which says, “You who thirst come to the waters and you who have no money come buy and eat, yes, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and your soul shall delight itself in abundance.” I just kept meditating these scriptures, believing even though we were lacking monetary means, God would supernaturally provide for us as we let our souls delight in His goodness and abundance; that He would supernaturally get the provision to us, and He definitely did.
 
 
Then in the next season of our life, God was preparing us for our calling of marriage and family ministry as well as preparation for pastoring a church one day. During that time, Ephesians 3:20 was strong in our hearts to meditate. It says, “Now to him, who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all, much more than we could ask or think, according to His power at work in us, be glory forever through Christ Jesus.” Through meditating this together daily, Shaun and I experienced many miraculous breakthroughs, including knowing where and how to start the church that we now pastor. We had a miraculous breakthrough for finding a house when we were moving back to Minnesota, and the house that we found to rent, through the total grace of God, was two and a half times bigger and better than our prior house and half the price. It was an absolute miracle! We also had a miraculous connection to amazing babysitters, which we were praying to find for our kids and had a phenomenal breakthrough when we found a place to rent for starting our new church. We experienced miracle after miracle for everything we needed by putting God first and meditating the scripture God had put on our hearts. 
 
 
 
As scriptures strongly stand out to us, we focus on them and God uses these scriptures to direct us in the right direction in our life, and He will do the exact same thing for you! As we focus our attention on these scriptures—targeting them—at certain seasons in our life, the meditation of  these scriptures bring wisdom and revelation on the inside of us. This wisdom and revelation then produces the outward result of prospering us in our life and calling.
 
 
If you’ve never meditated scripture before, or if you haven’t been doing this regularly, I’d encourage you to start doing this daily. When you are patient and consistent with meditation, it does bring about major wonderful results. The key is to not just do this for a week or a month, but instead to stay focused; day after day, month after month—you will see consistent results. Also, ask the Lord to give you a verse to meditate over each one of your kids. Then print it or write it and place it up on their wall so that you remember to pray it over them each night before they go to bed, so they hear you saying it. There may be times when the Lord adds another verse for your kids based on their season in life. You can be creative with this and have someone who’s a great artist paint that scripture for their wall or print it with a nice graphic design behind it and frame it for their wall.
 
 
Remember, the key for you, as well as your kids, for prospering in the life God has called you to is to meditate the specific verses God puts in your heart, like a target you are pointing your arrows at. When you do, you will begin to move forward in your life’s purpose like never before.
 
 
May this year be your most prolific,
Pastors Shaun & Amy
 

Read more

Wrapping Compliments 101

Merry Christmas, High Point Church!

As you’re checking off your shopping lists this year, it’s important to remember that you have more to offer those around you than what your bank account shows. In fact, some of the best gifts I’ve ever received never had a price tag.
 

“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24 NLT

 
Currently my office shelves are full of notes, letters, and cards from youth students who seem to know the perfect time to give encouragements. Those are some of my most treasured gifts. Why? Because our youth students know how to give a good compliment!
 
Have you ever received a gift wrapped hastily in old newspaper? Or stuffed in a crinkled paper bag? Maybe the state of the wrapping didn’t make a difference to you! Until you received another gift, wrapped with obvious care, a large bow and silk ribbon, and quality wrapping paper. That’s the kind of gift that makes its way on Instagram and is remembered for a long time to come!
 
We can do the same thing with our compliments either wrap them nicely or stuff them in a crinkly Star Tribune sports section. This is what I’ve learned from our students
 
So, here are 3 tips that I hope will help you give some well-wrapped compliments this season!
 
  1. Be Genuine
 
The ultimate worth of a compliment can be determined by the amount of sincerity behind it. Little does its extravagance matter if it’s not given out of a sincere heart.
 
The “wrapping” for a genuine compliment happens beyond the words. How much thought went into your encouragement? Did you look beyond the obvious to find something really meaningful? Did you take a moment to look the person in the eye when you said it?
 
A quick “you’re amazing” or “I love that sweater” are nice to hear, but they don’t in themselves demonstrate a lot of genuine thought. Those kinds of passing encouragements can start to seem especially insincere when added up over time, like socks gifted every Christmas (C’mon, Aunt Karen, where’s the love?).
 
Here’s my experience if you could easily say it about a plate of food (i.e. “This burger is wonderful” or “That is some beautiful cheesecake”), it’s not a memorable compliment. We use those kinds of phrases all the time for just about anything. I know your friends and family are more important to you than your food!
 
Perhaps the easiest way to start the process for a genuine compliment is to find something you genuinely appreciate about the person. Are they peaceful around you when your life is hectic? Do they treat your kids with unconditional kindness? Do they demonstrate leadership skills that you’ve learned from? What do you sincerely love about them?
 
Let them know, sincerely, right out of your heart.
 

COMPARE

  • “You are such a great person.”
  • “You are such a great example of selflessness to me and the rest of this family.”
 
 
  1. Be Specific
 
I tried to hold out, but I can’t hide my love for what I do, so here comes the worship analogy! What I’ve noticed since joining the High Point worship team is that the songs that really seem to ‘pop’ in the congregation are the songs that dig beneath the surface to describe a specific aspect or outcome of God’s character.
 
Let’s take “What a Beautiful Name” for instance. What a great song! Brooke Ligertwood’s worship hit actually rated #1 in CCLI’s top 100 songs for the last two years, and for good reason. It’s theologically rich, catchy, touching, intimate, upward-focused… and it’s specific.
 
Every chorus of “What a Beautiful Name” repeats a simple line, “What a beautiful / wonderful / powerful name it is,” but each line is preceded by the reason for its truth a background that gives the simple line its deep impact:
 
“You were the Word at the beginning / One with God the Lord Most High / Your hidden glory in creation now revealed in You our Christ. . . . What a beautiful name it is.”
 
“You didn’t want heaven without us / so Jesus You brought heaven down / My sin was great but Your love was greater / What could separate us now? . . . What a wonderful name it is.”
 
“Death could not hold You / The veil tore before you. . . . The heavens are roaring the praise of Your glory. . . . Yours is the name above all names. . . . What a powerful name it is.”
 
If this song was originally released with only those three main lines, it’s not like it would have been inaccurate. No one could argue the truth of God’s beauty, wonder, and power, right? But those lines likely wouldn’t have been as impactful as they are without the specific references to why His name is beautiful, wonderful, and powerful.
 
The same goes for the compliments we give to each other. I could say you’re great, but what does that mean? Why are you great? What did you do that made me notice your greatness?
 
I’m not going to downplay the time this takes. It takes attention and thought, but even the simplest lines will be impactful if you can back them up with specific examples.
 

COMPARE

  • “You are amazing!”
  • “When I passed by Kids Club earlier I saw you teaching and noticed that all of the kids were captivated by the funny voices you used to tell the story. You are amazing with children!”
 
 
  1. Be Generous
 

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” – Proverbs 12:25 ESV

 
If you think of it, say it.
 
Often God puts thoughts in our heads that are exactly what someone else needs to hear. If you feel something kind to say sitting in your heart, don’t let it decay there! Let the person know. Something the youth students are especially good at is noticing when another student or leader is having a difficult day, and doing what they can with their words to turn that day around.
 
I’ll never forget one of the nights when I was really contemplating whether I was the right person for the job. I received a homemade art piece from one of the youth with a handwritten thank you on the back, specifically referring to some messages I had given that had helped them grow spiritually. That artwork has a proud place in my office and still encourages me to this day.
 
There’s never a bad time to encourage someone. Many of us need it, even if we don’t show the need. What Happens When a Compliment is Well Wrapped?
 
Before I learned these compliment wrapping techniques from the students, my encouragements to them would look something like, “You’re really a great student. I’m glad to have you on my team!” Certainly the compliments would lighten their faces for a moment, but they didn’t seem to stick. Self-esteem was still low, youth teams were falling apart, and I could see that a lot of students were still going home as discouraged as when they arrived.
 
After the encouragement notes and cards began coming in, I started to format my compliments more like the youth did. Instead of saying, “You’re a really great student” I would be more genuine about what I really appreciated: “You have been such an incredible help to me cleaning up after youth group is over.” Instead of saying, “I’m glad to have you on my team,” I would be more specific about their value on the team: “You have been one of my best greeters. Last week I watched you talk to one of the students who has been most shy as soon as they walked in the door, and even this week that student spoke up in small groups. You are so good at helping other students feel like they fit in!”
 
What happens when a compliment is well wrapped? Suddenly the youth greeting team grew. Suddenly students wanted to start using their creative talents on the media team. Suddenly students became more vocal about their desire to be worship leaders. I didn’t pay a penny. The youth leaders just started to take the time to give genuine, specific, and generous compliments!
 
I know this is a busy season for many of you. And the busyness tends to strip away our ability to deal sensitively with hyper kids, opinionated parents, or equally occupied spouses. Please remember that your gift giving doesn’t need to wait until Christmas! Start now. Wrap your compliments well and watch the difference it makes with your friends and family. “Compliment Christmas” can go on all year at your house, at your job, or in your school. It won’t cost you a thing, and it will enrich the lives of everyone around you!
 
-Catherine Lexvold, Worship & Youth Director 

Read more