Here’s the latest from Pastor Paul

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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Ponderings for August 15 2018

Observations from accompanying Mila to her first day of second grade:
 
I saw how cute all of the children were in their “first day” clothes and massive backpacks (Mila was the cutest of them all, of course!). But my attention quickly switched to the parents. What a diverse and relatable set of reactions I was watching.
 
The fourth- and fifth-grade parents were in the “experienced zone,” yawning a bit—in true been there, done that mode, but still glad to see other parents they’ve known for years and able to get right back into the routine. The second- and third-grade parents still had the enthusiasm of a new school year—taking a lot of pictures, encouraging their children that this would be the “best year ever,” and talking about their hopes for the coming year. Although I did notice a little bit of complaining: “We didn’t get the teacher we wanted,” “These new signs look really dumb,” and the like.
 
Now, the kindergarten parents are an entirely different group. Insecure Mom and Dad cling to each other as they watch their baby herded off into the abyss of Door #3. I saw some tears and many nervous faces and a lot standing off by themselves. This is a new and scary experience, and the veterans were not assisting them at all. They must have forgotten what it was like to be the kindergarten mom, the new parent.
 
Here’s my application to Trinity: As the fall is upon us and many new people may be visiting Trinity for the first time; as we continue to invite those we meet and give them our square Trinity “welcome” cards (don’t forget to adhere your sticker to the Lake County map in our foyer); as the Gathering Space is built and attracts many from the community—let’s be the most welcoming and friendly bunch ever! Let’s not forget what it’s like to be the new one. The insecurities and sense of not fitting in are real. Thank you for going out of your way to greet the new faces and let them know that their first Trinity experience will be good and warm and positive. 
 
I enlist all of us to be the hospitality team of Trinity Church. It will make a world of difference for those who took the initiative to visit us. 
 
See you Sunday,
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for August 2 2018

This and that as I finish prep for Sunday and look at a long to-do list to get ready for autumn and fall ministry:  
 
Vacation was good. How was yours? I hope you took one (or more). No excuses—even if you can’t get (far) away. Taking a break and unplugging is good for the soul, for the body, and for the family. By Himself “resting” and in giving us “sabbaths” (weekly and others), the Lord has given us the example and mandate to vacate. My motto has been, “Divert daily, wander weekly, meander monthly, and abandon annually.” Following the Lord’s example, these times of vacating are not just for resting but also reflecting (“He saw that is was good”) and reassessing one’s life direction and future. 
 
I am looking forward to seeing and worshiping with the Trinity community on Sunday. We are beginning our “As You Wish” series. (Thanks for the many idea submissions!) This week we will look at the believer’s security and perseverance in Christ. More than just a theological treatise, I want us to probe the personal and practical aspects that spur on such a question. What about that child who is no longer walking with Christ? What about that professing Christian who is living a life of sin? What about me? 
 
Also, in our worship of the Lord together, we will be celebrating the Communion table. This is always a special time of personal and community reflection!
 
So, how’s your Isaiah reading going? This week we will be launching into chapters 40–48 (the best!). Okay, if you lost your ball in the weeds—no guilt trip from me. But this would be a good place to pick it back up. Do it! Make it a part of your end-of-the-summer reading. 
 
That’s all for now. 
 
Back to School Bash on Saturday…
Hope Over Heroin at the end of August… (We need you and many others to help!)
Home groups, members’ meeting, women’s discipleship, Destiny coming soon…
 
Sorry, my to-do list spilled onto the Ponderings.
 See you on the other side.
 Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for July 25 2018

Okay, here’s a real #FirstWorldProblem: Sue and I are on a remote island off the coast of North Carolina for a week of vacation with our family. Poor cell phone reception, very limited WiFi, and no cars. You can only get ‘round by bicycle or golf cart. Talk about unplugging!
 
So, back to my problem: My fancy golf cart pretty much died. The battery wasn’t charging. There must be something wrong with the charger, the means through which the cart gets power and runs well. Drat. 
 
Long story short—after much finagling of the charger, we have determined that the heart of the problem lies in the cart itself. It was not able to take a charge and was left to run out of power.
 
Okay, now for the application. The Lord reminds us time and time again of the condition of our hearts when it comes to hearing and receiving his Word. Used by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures are truth and power for our lives when we read them and hear them taught. And yet so often, like my golf cart, I lose power and life when I should be being charged. There is nothing wrong with the charger (or the Scriptures), the problem is with me—my heart.
 
Jesus teaches a parable about soils and their receptivity to the planted seeds (the soils represent my heart; the seeds, God’s Word). Three soils find no benefit in the seeds. The charger doesn’t seem to work. Everything from worry to trials to shallowness to ego will keep the heart from receiving the necessary spiritual benefit from the Word. Those three soils remind me of what the psalmist says about Israel and their lack of power: “…a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God” (Psalm 78:8).
 
Like my faulty golf cart, we need to have receptive hearts when we encounter the power source (the Scriptures applied by the Holy Spirit). These words from James tell us how to have a receptive heart to the Lord and his Word:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listenslow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you (James 1:18–21).

Here are five marks of a receptive heart. Use them as your troubleshooting checklist:
1. An eager listener
2. A measured talker
3. A controlled anger
4. A deliberate avoiding of sin
5. A humble openness to the Word

Hopefully the power and life will be back in our lives soon! It starts with a receptive heart!  

Okay, that’s all for now. I have to get back to troubleshooting the golf cart.
 
See you on the other side.
Pastor Paul


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