Ponderings for March 22 2019

My friend Steve asked me the other day, “How far are you going to take us on these new Lenten practices?”
 
“Up to the point of you thinking it’s meritorious,” I replied with a grin. Many of our ilk stumble a bit over Lent and its accessories (Ash Wednesday, giving things up, etc.), feeling it is too closely aligned with Rome or other denominational trappings. I say, “Nay, nay.” The observance of forty days of humbleness and repentance leading up to Good Friday and Easter are part of the fabric of our Christian heritage and are only troublesome when some heavenly “brownie points” and strict compulsions become a part of it.
 
I am glad for the inquiry. And I am very grateful for the many reports of Trinity folk experiencing the joy and diligence of their newfound Lenten disciplines. It won’t be long till we remember the cries of “Crucify him!” and “It is finished.” And they give way to our triumphant declarations: “He is risen indeed!”
 
Lent on!
 
This Sunday, in our study of Romans, we hear the words, “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” That has gotten me thinking about the precarious state of our minds these days, where we bounce from tweet to tweet, post to post, and blog to blog. There is so much information overload that we have become quite adept at superficial reading…which leads to shallow thinking…which leads to stale, empty, shallow minds, hardly renewed at all. Pastor Ty tells me that no one reads books anymore. Ouch! That makes me think that we have become like jet skis, simply skimming over the lake of tweets and Facebook posts, “liking” only what we agree with and thus validating what we already think and believe. There’s nothing “transforming” or “renewing” about that.
 
Can I challenge you to read, along with your Bible, several good books this year? Books that you will have to read slowly and ingest deeply. Books that tell good stories and extol high virtues. Books that won’t so much tell you what to think but further empower you to think. In order to have renewed minds, they must be in good working shape.
 
After Easter we will be reading the book Boundaries as a church community. Get it next week. Join a group next month.
 
In other news: The skeletal walls of the Gathering Space are up! Yay! For those still to come!
 
See you on the other side.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for March 13 2019

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12, NIV)
 
Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (NLT)
 
Does anyone remember the Count on Sesame Street? He was a lovable vampire Muppet who taught the children to count everything (from the number of chocolate chips on a cookie to the number of days before Christmas). A memorable lesson in learning how to count and the anticipation of counting.
 
The psalmist in the verse above asks the Eternal God, on our behalf, to instruct us in the school of “numbering our days.” He is reminding us of the brevity of our lives and the limitations of human existence in light of the ticking clock and of God’s eternal being.
 
To count my days is to remember that they are limited and that they will slip away like loose change if I don’t invest my time wisely.
 
It was six years ago that my sister passed away! How can that be? It seems like only the day before yesterday when we said goodbye. Time moves on at warp speed. It is easy to get stuck in time, especially if it’s a time of grieving (just ask my mom).
 
And yet, I can either passively succumb to the monotonous progression of the days and remain unchanged (only older), or I can make the days “count” and seek to grow in each of them.
 
That is what the 40 days of Lent can be. Each day that we count toward Good Friday and Easter and each day that we practice a chosen discipline can be an opportunity to grow in our identification of Christ’s humility or in our resolve to live obedient and servant-focused lives. We can deliberately see each day as one wherein God is moving us closer to the image of his Son.
 
The noise and the cold of the construction site is always there. We are looking forward to the new and spacious Gathering Space. We are counting the days until its completion. And, as a church community, may we grow in the wisdom and understanding that we are ready to be the kind of warm fellowship that welcomes with exuberance those who will walk into the new space—those still to come.
 
I’ll see you in four days, if not sooner.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for March 4 2019

Ponderings from Pastor Paul March 4, 2019
 
Hello, Trinity family, on this chilly March morning. The temperatures may be dropping outside, but here at Trinity we are ramping up preparations for our Lenten Journey service this Wednesday evening. My prayer is that we will see a worship center packed full of families and individuals who are ready to begin this Lent season with a time of reflection and preparation.
 
After the service on Wednesday, we will be making available two items for you: a Lenten devotional that will walk you through 40 days of meditation on the peace of God and a resources guide that includes ideas of how you might embrace the Lenten season by not only “taking off” a hindrance on your spiritual journey but also “putting on” a new way of serving Christ in your family and community. The resources guide will also have books and articles that speak to the importance of this season and can be great guides for you on your Lenten journey. I know you’ll want to grab one of these sheets on your way out on Wednesday evening—but until then, here’s three of my favorite books from the resources guide to get you started (each title is linked on Amazon if you want to order straightaway):
 
 
 
 
Looking forward to beginning this season of reverence and remembrance together as a family this Wednesday evening at 6:30pm. See you around the corner.
 
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for March 1 2019

Ponderings from Pastor Paul
March 1, 2019
 
As I write these thoughts, a bulldozer is demolishing the former front and portico of Trinity’s building. Wow!
 
A great and odd and nostalgic phenomenon.
 
Yes! Patience is coming to fruition. Finally. 🙂 Generosity’s payday! No turning back. A Gathering Space that is welcoming, full of light, and aesthetically appealing. Yes!
 
Oh, my! I watched the claw of the machine smash down and flatten the former roof with one swipe! The bulldozer mercilessly drove over the rubble, grinding it into dust. I want that job! Looks like great therapy.
 
For me, that space holds a mere three-plus years of memories. Remembering the first time I walked in those doors—and that dimly lit entry—thinking, “This needs to change.” Recalling the many warm dear ones that I have met right there since. And, for a lot of you who are reading this, reminiscing about the many, many years and people that the former entryway represents. Gratefulness abounds.
 
And now, I am thinking of the lives that will come through the new entrance. I am confident of a welcoming spirit that will embrace those still to come. And I am even more confident in our Lord, who will lavish his grace and extend his love to everyone who enters in—and gathers in—the new space.
 
“Behold, I make all things new.”
 
Catch you on the other side. (And don’t forget that on Sunday, you need to enter on the other side.)
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for February 21 2019

Talking with a friend about spiritual life and transformation and all of the difficulties and frustrations we see and face led us to wonder if change really is possible. That’s a hard one. I know a lot of pastors and parents and discipleship leaders who truly wonder about that.
 
We understand why this is a real issue as we watch so many Christ-followers lead defeated lives and so many leaders disqualify themselves from ministry. What exactly does sanctification really mean, anyway?
 
On more than one occasion, I have been asked if Christians really are any different than the rest of the world. We say Christ makes us better, but where is the evidence? Where is this difference we keep talking about? Is it only in the rhetoric? Is change really possible—or are we overselling our faith?
 
I understand this sense of disharmony. And yet, I don’t we believe we oversell. In fact, I think we undersell. As I read Romans and prepare for the next few messages, I am reminded that through Christ and by his grace, God initiates in us a thorough process of spiritual change that is meant to be partnered with an understanding of our new identity in Christ—and with our choices to act and “be” who we are in Christ, choices that involve the power of God’s Spirit to retrain our allegiances and minds to conform to the will and image of Christ. We are capable of change. We can be free of old habits and loyalties through the power of Christ’s cross and resurrection. Identifying with Christ and his new life provides the power we need to live transformed lives.
 
The Christian life does include frustration and brokenness along the way. But it should be more than just “miserable sinner Christianity” and sin management (in the words of Dallas Willard). Real change is possible in our lives today. I can’t wait to share with you the next several chapters of Romans in our Disqualified series. New life in Christ is not just some abstract concept; it is a potential and present reality for all of us!
 
Now for a capital campaign update: This Sunday, we will be praying as a community to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Gathering Space! Join us as we ask the Lord to use this space to enhance our fellowship and—even more so—that we may use it to welcome those still to come!
 
This means, of course, that the inconveniences of new construction are about to surface. The west entrance becomes the exclusive main entrance. Any other issues and potential annoyances of construction will simply serve as a reminder of what this space represents and the changes that God is doing in us and through us.
 
See you on Sunday,
Pastor Paul

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