Ponderings for December 11 2019

I have always been intrigued by the Apostle Paul’s words highly commending the believers in Macedonia for the outward display of their faith and their genuine generosity. He is almost proud, boasting about his association with them:
“We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia: During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:1–3).
Powerful words. A powerful example.
I recently read something from Tim Keller (a writer and pastor that I admire) which resonated with my experiences: “In 2,000 years, we’ve never learned how to do mission in a place that was post-Christian rather than pre-Christian.”
When I am in somewhat “pre-Christian” places (like parts of Africa or India), I see the power of the Gospel in abundance and the movement of the Spirit at almost breakneck speed. As a guest there, it’s almost impossible to keep up. The stories of Christ changing lives and the massive numbers of brand-new churches cropping up everywhere is so exhilarating. 
While here in the West, both in America and in Europe (the “post-Christian” world), there is almost a “been there, done that” mentality toward Christ and his Church and the Gospel. So much of ministry and leading the church and even being an effective Christ-follower is trying to figure out how to overcome this spiritual “malaise” and effectively tell the Story, reflect the love of the Savior, and portray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Which is why I regularly remind us at Trinity of The Starry Night painting by Vincent van Gogh (at the top of this Pondering). Our urgent calling is to make sure our light is never off in the darkness of our community and society.
Which is why we are thinking through and reflecting on 1 Corinthians 13 throughout Advent. My prayer and charge for Trinity is that we are a body of believers who regularly live out the characteristics and actions of love depicted in the “Love” chapter.
Which is why I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s pride that he expressed toward the Macedonian Christians. A similar pride wells up in me as I see the Trinity family pour out their love in such tangible and generous portions. This past weekend we gave away 150 Christmas trees to those in our area. The generosity and hard work of the team who gave the trees away made me so proud. And so many gave tree lights, bulbs, and other holiday items for our friends to have! Thank you!
And so much pride wells up in me as I see us give so generously to buy a school bus to transport Indian children out of the cesspool of trafficking and temple prostitution. “$40K for 40 Kids” was nothing short of an ambitious, faith-stretching project. After the second week of this initiative, we have already secured 35 “seats on the bus”! Wow! We are rushing headlong toward the finish line of buying that bus! Thank you. The young lives that will be changed through our love and through receiving a Christ-centered education are a wonderful gift!
So, pride? Yes—in my friends and “flock” who express their love and faith so abundantly and generously. Figuring out how minister in our “post-Christian” day? Indeed! And working very hard and creatively so that our light shines before others that they see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. Proud indeed! And grateful!
See you on the other side,
Pastor Paul