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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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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