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PASTORS SHAUN & AMY GUSTAFSON

 
 
 

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With Biblical teaching from Pastors Shaun & Amy Gustafson 
 
 

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October 22 @ 9am

 

 

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October 5 @ 6:30 PM

 
 
 

 

 

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FROM THE BLOG

Insight and wisdom from High Point Leadership
 
 

There’s No “I” in Team

We completely understand that thinking and speaking kindness, gratitude, and respect consistently isn’t always easy, but it does make your relationships easier! It definitely takes practice listening to the right things to get our minds renewed from trash which has previously gone in. In the Bible, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi, and he encouraged them that if they really wanted peace, they had to choose to have pure and praiseworthy thoughts. He told his listeners:

 

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

 

Paul understood that good thoughts have the power to successfully catapult our relationships, but bad thoughts, like pirates, highjack what could have been a fun and prosperous journey. Most of us think well of our spouse when he or she is kind and doing what we like them to do. The question is, can we put this into practice when our spouse hasn’t met our needs?
 
Notice Paul didn’t say, “Finally brethren, whatever things are dishonorable, whatever things are unjust, whatever things are unloving, whatever things are a bad report, if there is any dissatisfaction and anything worth condemning—meditate on these things.”
 
Paul knew most people by human nature enjoy a pity party every once in a while, so he purposefully told people to mentally hang out on encouraging and uplifting thoughts. He knew this would have to be a super intentional effort for us to be able to consistently win in life and our relationships!
 
Paul was basically saying this: think good, pure, and praiseworthy. Pretend peaceful thoughts have glue on them and our job is to stick those thoughts to our brain each day. We may even need to write these good things on our bathroom mirror, fridge, or desk at work to remind us. Pretend bad and critical thoughts are nasty stuff stuck to toilet paper, and our job is to flush those thoughts down the tube as quickly as they show up each day. When we glue those praiseworthy, grateful thoughts in our head, peace will eventually take hold in our hearts and homes!
 
Whatever we expect from others, good or bad, we usually get. You have probably heard the statement, “That person really knows how to bring out the best in others!” Legendary basketball coach John Wooden was a classic example of this.
 
Coach Wooden was known for making his players better, both on and off the court. He daily made the vision clear. He had his team focus on mastering excellence in the fundamentals, and additionally, he trained his players to show each other respect and appreciation. In other words, they weren’t allowed to act like a one-man show.
 
As the old adage says, “There’s no I in TEAM.” Coach Wooden trained unity like no other coach at the time. He watched closely to be sure in practice and games players always gave a nod or hand-slap in appreciation of each other’s every assist that helped them succeed. It was a simple, team-minded principle that works on the basketball court as well as in marriage and parenting.
 
How would your life be different if you smiled and thanked everyone in your home each time they helped you in the slightest little way? We dare you to take this simple challenge and let us know how it transforms your home! If smiles and appreciation haven’t been your mode of operation up to now you may encounter some questioning or sarcasm, but stick with it! As I heard Joyce Meyer say, “God will change your circumstances, but He’ll change you first.”
 
When I was in Bible college, there was a young man in his early twenties who was asked by the professor to share his testimony with the class. His birth mother had been a drug addict who brought him, only a few days old, into a business and left him with the people at the desk, saying she could not take care of the baby. A loving Christian family who had been praying for a baby boy quickly adopted him.
 
His new mother brought him to the doctor and was told he had so much cocaine in his body that he would certainly be a drug addict himself by a young age. The mom was also told he would never be intelligent, he would have various abnormalities, and he would be little and frail with a weak immune system throughout life. The parents refused to believe the doctor’s report.
 
His mom prayed over him daily, believing for him to become strong, intelligent, and a mighty vessel for God. She prayed that the blood of Jesus shed on the cross would cleanse his system and cancel every adverse effect of the drugs he had in the womb. As he grew, they saw all of the prayers answered. He became a strong, healthy, tall, and very intelligent young man with a wonderful gift for speaking.
 
His testimony then became even more amazing. When he was a young teen, his dad walked away from God and divorced his mother for another woman. My classmate said he felt deeply hurt, yet each day at their meals together he would hear his mom pray for his dad with a heart of love and compassion, believing God would somehow draw his father back to Jesus. His mother’s example of unconditional love and forgiveness amazed him and eventually opened his heart to have compassion for his father.
 
One day, after a few years had passed, he received a visit from his dad, who apologized to his son for what he had done. He had asked God to forgive him and had come to ask his son for forgiveness as well. My classmate forgave his dad, and they were reconciled in their relationship. The next week his dad died of a heart attack.
 
Certainly, it was not God’s will for the father to die prematurely. John 10:10 tells us it’s the devil who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Thankfully, his dad got things right before he died. This young man’s mother drew out the best in her son through her example of unconditional love and also helped draw her former husband back to God through her prayers.
 
Whatever is in our heart in abundance will come out. This young man’s mother chose to have a heart of forgiveness even after her husband abandoned her and their child. She meditated on God’s faithfulness to take care of her and her son rather than dwelling on her negative experience. She always had love and forgiveness coming out of her mouth and her son only heard her speak kindness toward his father. What an amazing example! It’s uncommon to see this kind of response these days. Their story is a great reminder that when we meditate on the things which are a good report, rather than bad news, the unconditional love of God will be able to flow out of us and impact others. This woman took acting like a team to a maturity level that few people ever attain.
 
We pray this encourages you & strengthens your relationships, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy 

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Wild Pitchers, Peaceful Catchers

And if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. – Philippians 4:8
 
Have you ever been asked to sit in front of a very full room of the opposite sex and answer all of the questions they have about your gender? I have. Our men’s group leader at church approached me one day and inquired if all the men could pre-write the questions they’ve always wanted to understand about women and give them to me, to be answered in person at their next men’s breakfast. Without hesitation, I said yes! I figured hopefully I could help them understand the female gender a little better and, if nothing else, it would be entertaining!
 
A week before the big day, I received a six-page compilation of questions from all of the guys who would be in attendance. Thank God for my friend Connie who agreed to take on the questions with me so I didn’t have to face the firing squad all by myself!
 
There was every kind of question you could imagine: “What are most women looking for in a man?” “My wife looked great when we got married, but now she makes little to no effort on her physical appearance. I feel like she did a bait and switch. How do I politely address this with her, yet still communicate love?” “How can I better help my wife when she is emotional or tired from her menstrual cycle?” “Why are some women so emotional and others aren’t?”
 
One of my favorite questions of all was a very simple one. “What can I do in our relationship to communicate more effectively and prevent arguments?” Although we had prepared some answers ahead, when I got to this question, what shot out of my mouth surprised me. I encouraged the men when communicating to always think of their marriage or relationship as they would if they were on a sports team.
 
I inquired of the group, “Have you ever watched a college or Major League Baseball game and seen a pitcher throw a wild pitch the catcher had to run after? Have you ever then seen the catcher run for the ball, look back at the pitcher and say, ‘If you’re going to make me run for the ball, then I’m going to get you back and make you run for it too!’ as he proceeds to throw a wild ball for the pitcher to chase?” Of course not! No one would make it to the college or Pro level if they had a mindset like that because it isn’t being team-minded, yet many couples act this way in marriage all of the time and think it’s normal.
 
It’s common to hear about a wife or husband who has a bad day at work, then comes home and says something sharply to their spouse. What happens next? The other one thinks, “Who do they think they are talking to me like that?” They proceed to snap back and an argument ensues which could have easily been prevented with a little team mindedness and basic communication.
 

Think of your relationship, whether it’s your spouse or kids, like you’re a team riding on a jet ski or snowmobile together. Depending on the water maneuver or snow terrain you are on, you sometimes have to lean a certain direction to make sure the jet ski or snowmobile doesn’t tip over.

It’s the same in relationships. If we see our spouse or loved one is having a bad day or going through a challenge in life, the best thing we can do if they lean the wrong direction is to overcompensate in the right direction. Showing compassion and empathy to stabilize the team helps prevent a rollover.
 
Unfortunately, many people instinctively do just the opposite and veer towards protecting themselves rather than protecting the team relationship. If I’m thinking like a team, I will always want to give my spouse or kids my best, even if they aren’t at their best in the moment.
 
I remember my first example of Shaun taking this team approach with me in our first couple years of marriage. I’ll embarrass myself and tell you the story. I was on the phone in our kitchen and Shaun started to vacuum in our living room. I thought he knew I was on the phone, which of course he obviously didn’t, or he wouldn’t have started vacuuming. I looked around the living room corner with a face of exasperation at my husband who was in the middle of a loving act of kindness. Covering the phone, I strongly said, “I’m on the phone!” As we would say in our house today, I was clearly flubberstrated (a much-loved word in the Gustafson house coined by our middle child when she was three).
 
Within a few minutes of getting off the phone, I started feeling bad about my tone of voice and facial expression. I went into our living room to apologize to Shaun. “What are you thinking about?” I asked. “I’m thinking about all the reasons I love being married to you,” he responded.
 
Wow! I threw him an out-of-nowhere wild ball, and in response, he threw a kind, mature, straight pitch back at me instead of what I so deserved at the moment. I quickly apologized for speaking in a dishonoring manner and asked, “Why would you be thinking about good things when I was just disrespectful to you?” With a smile he said, “God’s plan for our life is too important for me to let myself get offended, so I decided to focus on what I love about you instead. I know your heart and you’re normally very kind with your words.”
 
I once heard someone say we tend to judge others by their actions; however, we judge ourselves by our intentions. Shaun’s team-minded example changed my life forever because he did the opposite of what most people would want to do. In this moment, he chose to be loving and respectful even when I wasn’t.
 
Are we always this good at our relationship skills 100% of the time? No, but we both really work hard at remembering we are a team in marriage and as parents. It’s not always easy, but it makes our relationship much more enjoyable when we act team-minded and respond with a soft answer instead of anger.
 
Another great way to prevent arguments is to simply communicate. When you walk through the door, gently tell your spouse, “It’s been a rough day at work. A client chewed me out. I’m needing some recovery time, so if I don’t seem as friendly as normal, it’s not you. I love you.” Just these few little words eliminate misunderstandings and help prevent your spouse from jumping to conclusions or wondering if they did something wrong.
 
I pray this encourages you today and helps strengthen your relationships, 
Amy

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Affirming our Family

One of our personal favorites of Jesus’ leadership qualities was that He affirmed those under His authority. He said to His disciples in the upper room, those who were closest to Him,

 

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you (John 15:15-16).
 

What a statement! He affirmed them by calling them friends and emphasizing that He chose them. He then spoke blessing over them, telling them that He chose them for a valuable purpose and calling. He believed with all of His heart that they would succeed in this calling. He then gave them a promise saying that whatever they asked God for in His name, they would receive it! The exciting thing for us as believers is, He was also speaking this over you and me! Jesus believed in His disciples, and He believes in us just as much today because we are also His disciples called to do His will in the earth.

 

We have this same ability to operate like Jesus did, within our own home. We can make a difference to those closest to us by believing in them, no matter what. Showing confidence in someone does amazing things. Shaun often says that when we believe enough in someone’s success, they will eventually become a success. We can change the whole environment in our home just by showing approval and confidence in our family members!

It is rewarding to see someone who was doing average or below average in life with no real goals for their future suddenly experience someone who believes in them. It typically changes everything! Most people like to live up to their leaders’ or loved ones’ expectations when they are spoken to with love and belief. Children and adults standards are raised when they know someone has positive expectancy over them. Hearing things like:

 

You can do it! I know you can!

I believe in you! You are going to do great!

Way to go! You did a great job!

I am so pleased with you!

Thank you for doing your best!

 

I remember once in fifth grade when I had gotten an F on a social studies test. I normally earned A’s and B’s so it was probably a big surprise for my mom and dad when I came home with this news. I had misunderstood what chapter I was to study, so I was not prepared for the test I took. I still remember my mom, who is one of the most encouraging people I know, saying to me, “All that matters to me, honey, is that you did your best. I will always be pleased with you as long as you try. Don’t feel bad about it. You are smart and you’ll bring your grade back up next time.” I went from having a feeling of condemnation to having joy because I knew I was accepted and loved. I was reminded that she believed in me and in my future. She helped me get things back in perspective. My life wasn’t over because of an F on a test!
 

            Friend, just as my mom believed in me and let me know it, God believes in you too! He has let us know it all through His Word. Jesus voiced His confidence and approval to His disciples, but He was also saying this to you and me. You are special to Him! He equipped you with everything you need to be a success in life, not only in your profession, but also as a spouse and parent. 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us,

 

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

 

This verse is specifically referring to those who cheerfully give money to God’s work here on the earth. It implies that when money is given to God’s kingdom, God’s grace will see to it that all of our needs will be met and that we have even more to give. This also can apply to anything we give cheerfully to benefit His kingdom and further His Gospel here on earth. When we give our spouse and children praise, affirmation, and encouragement, we are showing them a demonstration of how loving our Father in heaven is. When those we live with experience God’s goodness manifested through us, it will draw their hearts into a greater desire to know Him and His love more deeply. When we cheerfully give praise to others, we make ourselves able to experience more of the good God has planned for us. Another way of saying this is, the more love and approval we give to others, the more joy we will experience ourselves!
 

God’s grace manifested in us can and will give us the ability and knowledge to be an encourager to our family and to others we lead. Being an encourager is not a personality type, but rather it is a choice. Even if you have not been one to verbalize encouragement and approval to those around you, know that God can help you do this! Although it had not been Shaun’s “personality” to be an encourager of others when he was young, as an adult he saw the value in this behavior and determined to learn this good quality. With God’s help he trained himself to do this and is now an excellent encourager to others. If you would like to grow in this area, you can even pray this right now:

           

Father, I ask You to help me see the best in my family and those I lead. Please help me to voice approval of them and belief in them on a daily basis. I pray that they will experience my love and Your love through me each day in a tangible way. In Jesus name, amen. 
 
In love, Pastor Amy Gustafson

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4545 N Frontage Rd Rochester, MN 55901