Here’s the latest from Pastor Paul

Ponderings for November 9 2018

Greetings, Trinity friends and family. I hope this note finds you well and that your week has been a positive and productive one.
 
A friend just alerted me of an article by Judith Shulevitz entitled, “Alexa, Should We Trust You?” I believe he called it sobering. I think she is writing to warn us of both the privacy that we are increasingly losing and also of the dangers of the instantaneous consumers which we are becoming. It’s too easy to want something (the latest book by Tim Keller or the newly reproduced White Album from the Beatles) and have my wants immediately fulfilled simply by a command to Alexa.
 
I’m sorry; some of you might not be sure to what I am referring. Some time ago, I received an “Alexa” from Amazon. Alexa is a technological gadget that I can order around with my voice, telling “her” to play my favorite song by Andrea Bocelli or describe Mentor’s upcoming weather or update me on the score of the Cavs game (I bet they’re losing). Amazing technological advancements, right?! Not sure. Hence the article by Shulevitz.
 
Anyway, let me read the article and then get back to you soon in another Ponderings about it. I have a feeling there will be some good life and spiritual lessons and cautions for us. But until then, this is but another reminder of how “delicate” our lives and relationships are in these days.
 
Many of you have reported the encouragement you’ve received from our talk Sunday about the prodigals in our lives. Hope and patience are among the key words I keep hearing. And every day, at 1:00pm, the phone alarm goes off. I am cheating—I am now up to four wayward “kids” (and one prodigal spouse) for whom I am praying. I am eager to hear how God is answering our hundreds of prayers. (If you did not hear: On Sunday, I challenged us all to pray for one prodigal once a day at one o’clock until Christmas. Join us!)
 
This Sunday, as we continue our “Delicate” series, we will look at the very human emotion of shame: a real experience of so many that devalues our very sense of identity. Dr. Linda Dakwar will join me as we delve into this topic, describing shame’s manifestations and its eventual shrinking amid the presence of Christ’s love and that of his community.
 
Speaking of those who need love and the healing touch of our Lord and people—our Surviving the Holidays events (on November 15 for divorce victims and November 16 for those who have lost someone) can be a great opportunity to introduce God’s love and healing. If you know someone who could benefit, please invite them. Better yet, accompany them to Trinity on that evening.
 
A couple of Did you knows and then I’ll stop typing: Did you know that Ian and Brooke Neale will be here in the middle of November? As you may know, we have called Ian to be Trinity’s NextGen (Youth-Plus) Director. You will soon be hearing and seeing them a lot. At the right time, we will have an all-church welcome for the Neales. We’ll keep you posted.
 
Did you know that the apron of the exit in the parking is being finished? A nice, smooth departure is at hand! (We all want that!) Anyway, on Sunday we will use the entrance only to drive in and out. A video will be posted on Facebook with a few more details—look for it later today.
 
That’s all for now.
Alexa, say goodbye to my friends!
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for November 1 2018

Someone once said that the best movies begin as you walk out of the theater. I like that.
 
When Sue and I are talking about last night’s film the next morning, we know it was a pretty good one.
 
That’s probably true about a lot of things. The book you are reading. The sermon you just heard. That song…
 
And maybe that should be true about life and the things that come at us as well. Instead of just giving immediate, knee-jerk responses, I ought to allow the events of life to marinate in my soul and start me thinking more profoundly and spiritually.
 
A lot of minor key things have been fogging up my windshield lately. It will do me good to talk about them even as I walk out of the theater.
 
I just heard that an old friend has passed away. She and her husband and Sue and I have been colleagues and friends for many years. Cancer won the physical battle. But she certainly won the spiritual one. The legacy she leaves is of family and ministry, of love and mercy (always looking out for the underdog)—so many live were impacted by hers.
 
They have begun the funerals for the eleven shooting victims from the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Sara went to school right there. Did you know that was Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood? What irony! Hate and antisemitism are making a comeback. It makes you want to run away or curse the darkness. But it’s better to light a candle. That’s what Fred Rogers would do. That’s what Rabbi Jesus did.
 
If I talk with one more parent who is grieved or panicked by their adult child’s drift or (in some cases) sprint from the Lord and the values they were raised with…I’m running out of words to say; paradigms to shift; tears to shed; prayers to pray. This Sunday we will dip our toe in that frigid pond as we examine the issue of prodigals and their parents in our “Delicate” message series.
 
My heart was saddened when I heard that Eugene Peterson passed away. (He wrote The Message and many other impactful books that kept me thinking long after I “walked out of the theater.”) He was a pastor’s pastor. In his books, Peterson often reminds me that life and ministry is long and hard. And that many churches and Christians and pastors look for shortcuts and shallow schemes that sugarcoat the pains and try to attract the many. Not wise. Peterson wanted to make his church a place for spirituality. Programs and activities were necessary, but, in the end, he wanted those in his flock to grow deep spiritually, in reflection, in Christ. That is how we handle and even grow from life’s hardness and pain.
 
That’s what I want for us. For Trinity. A place where we face life as it comes and spiritually ruminate on it long after we’ve left the theater.
 
I’ll see you on the other side.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for October 25 2018

Greetings, Trinity family and friends! It’s been a little while since I’ve “pondered” with you. My pen was lacking ink. 🙂
Let’s see if I can still do this.
 
If you are out of shape physically, you may be flabby.
If you are out of shape mentally, you may be forgetful.
If you are out of shape spiritually, you may be shallow.
 
If you are out of shape relationally…you may be lonely.
 
Loneliness is an ominous word—a desolate, painful, personal pain which plays no favorites. It leaves us feeling isolated and neglected and excluded and, well…alone. Loneliness is indeed an age-old problem, but it’s one that is clearly on the rise in our society. With the aging of us all and the omnipresence of our virtual world and technology, we are getting lonelier and lonelier. I am afraid we are becoming less connected to each other. While we are busy texting and getting likes on Facebook and followers on Instagram, are we forgetting how to have real flesh-and-blood interaction?
 
Virtual connectivity cannot replace real connectivity.
 
God has a good plan for our loneliness: “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). Yes! How kind of the transcendent God of the universe to design us not only to need personal contact but to provide people and families and fellowships to meet the relational voids we so readily feel?!
 
And yet…how easy it is to let our busyness or our technology build a wall between us.
 
So, whether you are feeling lonely or not, why not put the phone down and step out and go see someone? Love initiates. Make a real connection with someone. The lonely bubble you are piercing may be yours or may belong to someone as lonely as you.
 
If you are struggling with your own loneliness or you know someone who is, consider attending or inviting someone to our Surviving the Holidays events on November 15 and 16. You can find out more on the events page on Trinity’s website.
 
This Sunday we continue the “Delicate” series with the message Solo: Treading Purposefully on a Lonely Road. To prepare, give 2 Timothy 4:9–18 a read. And the two articles below—one on the public health hazard of loneliness and the other on the propensity of Facebook to make us lonely—are quite informative and have helped me prepare for this universal theme of loneliness.
 
See you around the corner,
Pastor Paul
 

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Ponderings for September 20 2018

Three words: 1. Thank you (I guess that’s two right there) 2. Progress 3. Preparation Thank you, Trinity community, for your generous and faithful giving! At Tuesday’s Council meeting, the trustees reported on our year-end finances. As a church body, we gave over our budgeted amount for the year! That’s for our general offering. And that generous giving occurred simultaneously with our contributions to “For Those Still to Come” (our capital campaign) as well as the beautiful extra support many of us give to ministries and children of the Dalit Freedom Network. So, thank you! As a ministry team, we always promise to use by faith the resources we are allotted to bless people and further the work of Christ’s Kingdom. The Lord loves a cheerful (and generous) giver. A Lead Pastor does, too! I walk onto the Trinity campus and I hear and smell the sounds and aroma of progress. Big trucks rumbling along. The smell of hot asphalt (or is it “black top”?) fills the air. The regular beeping sound of a vehicle backing up like a click track in a musician’s ear. Men with their rolling machines smoothing out the black gold. Yes, this is merely the creating of a new parking lot. But this is also a symphony of progress. I love it! (Now, parking may be a little tight on Sunday. Please leave the closer spaces for our seniors and newer parents. Watch Trinity’s social media posts for possible instructions for some of us to park on adjacent streets or to carpool on Sunday.) My regular prayer for all of us as it pertains to Sundays is that we all come prepared. That means we spend some time preparing our hearts and praying that Christ would be exalted among us. Preparing also looks like asking God to “speak to us” through his Word and the various elements of the worship service. Give Matthew 10 a read before Sunday. We are continuing our discipleship series, “Teaching Us to Obey.” Take note of God’s call on our demeanor: “Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (v.16). And be encouraged by how valuable the Lord considers each of us: “You are worth much more than many sparrows” (v. 31). Thank you, Lord, for the progress that we see not only on our campus but especially in our lives as you are conforming us to the image of your Son. Help us prepare to worship you this weekend with the rest of the Trinity family. See you around the corner, Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for August 28 2018

Dear Father in heaven,
 
May your name forever be praised. May your Son be raised up and glorified. And may the Holy Spirit fill the people and ministries of Trinity Church. 
 
Lord, we pray for those who would attend Trinity this year—for those still to come. We pray for our ministries that share Christ’s love and simply attract others to your church. We pray for Blitz and for Destiny and for our Heart + Home race. We pray that care and support groups will minister your mercy in supernatural ways. We ask that you would use the people of Trinity to be salt and light in our dark world. 
 
And Father, we pray for the hundreds who call Trinity their home church and yet are not meaningfully connected. May they find not only a friendly place but an opportunity for spiritual growth and discipleship in our various ministries this fall. Lord, may we partner with you to grow servants and learners who seek to follow you and love others. 
 
Oh God, make us into an assembly of believers that is truly about your business in the world and in the church. 
 
In the name of Christ we pray,
Amen. 
 
Also…I wonder what’s on the news. 🙂

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Ponderings for August 20 2018

Trinity community, I want to ask us all to do something together the week of August 27. As our ministries and church calendar crank up for the fall, I want us to commit to praying and fasting to the Lord for our church. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing,” and I firmly believe that. We will all be praying for five days at our own time and pace Monday through Friday (August 27–31).
 
So here’s the low-down: 

WHAT ARE WE PRAYING FOR?
We are praying for the launch of our new ministry year: that Trinity would invite and welcome those still to come who will attend and become part of the Trinity family. We pray that we would fill our “welcome” map in the foyer, plan our ministries to reach out, and continue to show how #WeLOVELakeCounty. And we certainly want you and many others to connect through our new and existing small groups. Here are two requests:

  • Attend: that we would see many people come to Trinity this year and come to know Christ (all ages)
  • Connect: that we would see many more people get connected and build meaningful relationships here

AND FASTING?
Let’s describe fasting as pushing the pause button on something important for a period of time for a particular spiritual purpose. We can each decide what it is we will fast from (whether it is food or something else or both). You can choose to fast from pasta one day and your smart phone the next and social media or even ESPN after that—you decide. (Or it may be the same thing all week long.) But I want to emphasize fasting from things that take our focus away from the Lord.

Are you with me? Here we go into a busy and spiritually meaningful fall season. With one heart, praying and fasting together. Here we go indeed—with Christ’s help!
 
See you around the corner.

Pastor Paul

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