Here’s the latest from Pastor Paul

Ponderings for February 5 2019

           Happy Tuesday, Trinity community! Let me clear several things off my desk…actually, five things. Grab your coffee and your calendar, and
           here we go.
 
  1.  What are your plans for February 21—of 2020, that is? We are going to Israel! I hope you can come. I am convinced the Lord will do amazing things in people’s hearts and minds there. To see where David fought Goliath and where Jesus prayed and the valley where the Final Battle will take place: a historical and intellectual treat! And a huge spiritual one as well. So, what are you doing this Sunday, February 10, at 4:30pm? You ought to come to an informational meeting here at Trinity if you are even remotely interested!
  2.  February 25—of this year—is the targeted date for the groundbreaking of the Gathering Space! (Yay!) I am excited not only for the beautiful and aesthetic upgrade it will be to our facility but also for the extra space and therefore time we will have on future Sundays to kibbitz and fellowship. But, most of all, I am excited for the opportunity this space will give us to welcome “those still to come.” Would you keep praying that we would be a welcoming place to those in Lake County, wherever they are on the spiritual journey? The Gathering Space will be a tangible expression of our love for those still not here.
  3. Boundaries. Just planting a seed: Right after Easter we are going to call our church to examine and discuss the need to set boundaries. An insightful book by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend will be the “curriculum” for all of our groups (existing and new ones) as well as the pulpit. Get ready to talk about when to say yes and how to say no in your relationships. Boundaries—coming post-Easter.
  4. Lent is coming. Forty days to prepare our souls to reflect on the Passion and Resurrection of Christ and what that calls us to in our everyday lives. Stay tuned in; it all gets started on Wednesday, March 6.
  5. This Sunday, we continue to think our way through the book of Romans and its profound and compelling message to us. The editors of the Geneva Study Bible describe Romans this way:
Paul’s fullest, grandest, most comprehensive statement of the gospel. Its compressed declarations of vast truths are like coiled springs—once loosed, they leap through mind and heart to fill one’s horizon and shape one’s life. John Chrysostom, the fifth century’s greatest preacher, had Romans read aloud to him once a week. Augustine, Luther, and Wesley, three supremely significant contributors to the Christian heritage, all came to assured faith through the impact of Romans. All the Reformers saw Romans as the God-given key to understanding all Scripture, since here Paul brings together all the Bible’s greatest themes…. From the vantage point given by Romans, the whole landscape of the Bible is open to view, and the relation of the parts to the whole becomes plain. The study of Romans is vitally necessary for the spiritual health and insight of the Christian.
 
Let’s persevere in these timeless and spiritual words.
That’s all for now.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for January 24 2019

Hey, Trinity. Just checking in from the airport prior to a 36-hour trip to Chicago. Going from cold to colder.
 
Speaking of cold, Sue and I immediately noticed how warm and friendly everyone working at Cleveland Hopkins Airport is. Extra courtesy and friendly engagement everywhere. We chatted with the nicest TSA agent and thanked her for her service. In asking her how she’s doing in the midst of the partial government shutdown, she said, “Alright,” and that she loves her job. But Friday she will miss her second paycheck. She hopes the electric company will be understanding.
 
It seems amidst all the uncertainty and financial insecurity around this place, all the workers have stepped it up and chosen to exude joy and positivity in their attitudes and dispositions. In spite of the discord and lack of cooperation and angry rhetoric from our leaders, these folks have chosen to rise above all that with kindness and an extra dose of being nice. There’s a lesson there for me and, I bet, you.
 
All Trinity members need to make it a must to stick around at the end of second service next Sunday, February 3. At this members’ meeting, we will vote to approve a minor change regarding deacons/deaconesses. These faithful servants who want to serve longer than three years presently can’t. We want to amend that.
 
Also, we need membership approval to move cash from our reserve line (still keeping within the four-month annual budget amount) to go toward our “For Those Still to Come” capital campaign. This will help pay for the second phase of our parking lot and overages in the final bids/cost for the Gathering Space. Thanks for coming to the members’ meeting. And thanks for faithfully giving to the capital campaign. We are actually ahead of where we projected to be in the giving toward the campaign!
 
Okay, they’re calling to board our flight. Gotta run. See you Sunday, God willing.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for January 16 2019

Hello, Trinity family!
 
Is your week going well?
 
Are you ready for snow? “They” say it’s coming! On Saturday…into Sunday? “They’ve” been wrong before. For all intents and purposes, our plan is to “be open” and have services on Sunday. In case it gets really bad—stay tuned. We may be creating an emergency option to experience a worship service (music and message) virtually. We’ll keep you posted. And let’s keep our eyes on the skies.
 
I just sat in on an ordination exam. This guy knew Romans pretty well. 🙂 As he spoke of the kindness and grace of God, I was reminded of the hope for all of us, even our prodigals. Though a life may walk away from the Lord (in big or small ways), it is never out of the sight of God’s restoring and aggressive grace. If that is you—turn around! If that is a loved one, don’t lose hope—keep praying for their repentance.
 
So much is happening around here these days: The building is packed on Tuesdays with JTerm; the rosters are filling up with people seeking to show how #WeLOVELakeCounty through WinterServe; a Valentine’s Banquet and a youth retreat are on the horizon…who says winter is a slow time for Trinity?
 
I want you to be aware that we are having a brief members’ meeting after the 11:00am service on February 3. We have a couple of very exciting and necessary things to vote on. The first has to do with a slight constitutional change that will allow our deacons and deaconesses to serve longer than three one-year terms. We have some very faithful servants who desire to serve longer but are prevented because of the constitution. Secondly, we want to take money from our bloated reserve account (by policy, we are supposed to have four months of our annual budget in reserve and we have much more) and move it to the capital campaign fund to enable us to pay in cash for the upcoming second phase of the parking lot repair as well as some overages on the construction from the original bids.
 
Thanks for making this meeting a priority. An official announcement and more details will come on Sunday.
 
See you on Sunday as we affirm from Romans 1 that we are not ashamed of the gospel! (Weather notwithstanding.) 🙂
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for January 3, 2019

Welcome, 2019! May you be bringing us a season of light and even some cultural sanity. We need that in a big way!
 
In reading ahead for future messages, I was in the book of Ruth (great little story on covenant and love that we’ll examine in the fall). Anyway, it took place “in the time of the judges,” when “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?
 
And so, as I look at our political and social landscape strewn with confusion and hostility, I believe that, as Christ-followers, we cannot adopt a self-absorbed and insulated expression of our faith. If the church is to be a light in this world (look at our “The Starry Night” painting in the entryway again and at the top of these Ponderings), we have to creatively engage our society, seeking its good—practicing the peace of Christ and living out the truth of his Word. It is here that we will demonstrate that faith in Christ provides the reference point and ultimate meaning to life.
 
Politically, as our country and its leaders grow ever more polarized and hostile, we cannot blindly join the fray. I believe Christ calls us to wisdom through non-partisan prayer and unparalleled integrity. The intentionality of our words and lives must mimic the timelessness of Christ’s example, not just some trendy political opinion or position.
 
Socially, all restraint has been abandoned. The gift of sex and intimacy has been forsaken and redefined. Covenantal love and marital vows have been replaced with porn and sex. We are creating new identities and are playing God with our sexual choices. Here, too, we must pray and read and be smart as we speak into this social confusion.
 
I leave you with the words of a Paul much wiser and more mature than I: Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain (Philippians 2:14–16).
 
I’ll see you on the other side.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for December 3 2018

Greetings, Trinity community. Yesterday was a splendid day together, launching ourselves into Advent and the Christmas season. And next Sunday will be a morning filled with life and joy as Tabitha Hiltner returns with your children to lead us in our fifth annual “Play in a Day.” Another wonderful piece in the preparations for our celebrating the visit of our Savior to our world and our hearts.
 
So, I got to thinking. (Random transition ahead.) Numbers and the Church have always had an awkward relationship. You know, the ministry that is always worried about its numbers and “bottom line” can appear pretty shallow. Sue and I attended a meeting out west several years ago with a number of national Evangelical leaders. The topic of conversation so often was “how many…?” In frustration, Sue and I found ourselves spending the bulk of our time hanging out with the authors and scholars instead of pastors and church leaders. Oh, well…
 
And yet, unapologetically, the Scriptures do not necessarily shy away from numbers. There is even a book of the Bible called Numbers (through which an accountant friend of mine came to faith—no joke!). The Book of Acts makes a point of regularly telling us specific numbers as evidence of the Lord’s working and the effectiveness of this new movement called the Church.
 
Numbers can be important markers (looking back to see what was accomplished and looking forward as goals for which to strive and pray). So, in the spirit of Christmas and to put a few tangible goals before us, here are a couple of numbers for us to work toward and to pray for—that God may use us to generously share the hope of Christ this Advent season.
 
On Saturday we will be giving away Christmas trees again! No strings attached—a symbol of God’s grace to us. Spread the word; let others know about the trees. And let’s pray that the 300 trees all find a good home.
 
Throughout this Advent we are “Making Unseen Heroes.” In big and small ways, we are giving gifts to the most marginalized of the Dalits (untouchables) of India—children and women. Thank you for your part in helping bring dignity and Christ to these dear ones. Let’s pray for 250 stars to be placed on the big tree in the worship center, as they represent gifts of $100 or more.
 
And may the Lord increase his grace and the fruit of his Spirit in our lives as we emulate our Savior—our Hero—this Christmas season.
 
See you on the other side.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for November 21 2018

Getting stuff off my plate so I can enjoy a relaxing Thanksgiving without too much vying for my attention. And then comes December! So here goes…with just a wee bit of my tongue stuck to my cheek.
 
1. It’s cold outside! I mean too cold, this soon! Ian Neale just joined our staff from Virginia. I keep telling him this is unusually cold for us. Right?!? Come on, agree with me! I am not sure Ian believes me.
 
2. I will be the youngest person at our Thanksgiving table! Hey, I heard that joke! No, really, it will be quite a collection of vast life experience. Over 270 years of experience between Sue’s parents and my mom! I think I’ll just keep quiet and listen.
 
3. I am preparing a message for Sunday that makes me both excited and nervous. I am entitling it, “Your Inside Voice.” It is about those inner impressions whereby God guides us and even urges us to act or stop acting. It is exciting to experience the Lord’s “prompting” in specific ways. (I don’t like using the phrase “the Lord told me” or saying that “he speaks to us”—too creepy or at least misunderstood.) It makes me nervous when people use those phrases to shirk responsibility or as a trump card to try and get their way. “The Lord told me I’m supposed to work here,” I was once told. “I’ll call you when he tells me,” was my reply.
 
4. One of my former staff members suffers from Alzheimer’s. He was a brilliant man. Now, of course, he is a confused man and (dare I say) something of a burden on his wife who loves and serves him so faithfully. I can only think of the total brokenness of the Fall and the beautiful hope of resurrection when I think of my friend and other dear ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.
 
5. Okay, so I have been taking a bit of grief for proclaiming my rejection of turkey on Thanksgiving. I do believe, however, that the Cornish hens Sue is preparing actually identify as turkeys. And the pasta can certainly count as stuffing—very carb-worthy, yet tastier.
 
6. Come to think of it, I think calling this season “autumn” is much more refined than calling it “fall.” Although “fall” may be a better description of the dreary weather conditions that await us. The creation is “groaning” indeed.
 
7. So, the Lord told me to tell you that I am supposed to see you on Sunday…
 
And happy Thanksgiving too!
Pastor Paul

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