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


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


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


Ponderings for July 19 2018

“I thank my God upon my every remembrance of you…”  Words from the Apostle Paul to one of the many churches to which he loved and ministered. It reminds me that, even in the summer days when many of the Trinity community are out of town, we can still remember each other and thank the Lord for our fellowship together–the fellowship and baptism at the beach was great! And we can pray for one another.

The staff meets weekly to pray for the people and needs of our church community. A lot of cancer, a lot of pain…and still a lot of hope and encouragement as we hold each other up and ask our Father for his will and for good things to be done. And as we pray, we speak of how encouraged we are by the faith and perseverance and even joy that we see in many whom we diligently lift up each week. You make us think of James’ words: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”

It is still July and yet we are imagining and making plans for the fall. Be on the lookout for new ways to connect in fellowship groups this fall—from home groups to women’s discipleship groups to men’s fellowship. The goal is spiritual growth as we seek to know and do life together around Christ and his Word. You will hear a lot about Destiny, a discussion oriented “class” for those who are unsure of their faith or have questions about Christ and life. We are praying that the Holy Spirit powerfully uses Destiny and Trinity to assist many in their spiritual journey. Your Leadership Council approved the proposed 2019 budget this week. I am so grateful to them for their faithfulness and hard work in handling all the details.

Sunday will be a wonderful time of worship as we celebrate our Lord in song and appreciate his plan to restore all things one day! You will also hear of a few community outreach opportunities that will allow us to love others as Christ would.

Whether you here or there in the days ahead, I am grateful for you and the Trinity community. And I thank my God upon my every remembrance of you.”

See you around the bend.
Pastor Paul


Ponderings for July 12 2018

The Cleveland Indians have been blessed with some of the best shortstops baseball has ever known (stay with me on this). Today Francisco Lindor is arguably the best shortstop in the American League. Many of us remember the magic hands of Omar Vizquel on those great Tribe rosters of the 90s. And did you know that back in the 1940s, the Indians had the best shortstop in the game? His name was Lou Boudreau. He said that playing shortstop well was all about anticipating. Here are his words: “Playing shortstop is 75-to-80 percent anticipation, knowing the hitter and the pitch being thrown.”
That’s pretty true in life, too. Do you enjoy anticipating things? No, not the waiting…You know I am not a big fan of waiting either. But anticipating. Anticipating how beautiful Sue will look in her new outfit as we go out for our anniversary. Or anticipating how a friend will respond when I recommend a hard and biblical solution to his dilemma. Or even anticipating how much fun our family will have on vacation in the summer.
Are you good at anticipating? 
The next two Sunday mornings we will look at passages in Isaiah (chapters 60 and 66) that are rich with anticipation. The people in Isaiah’s day, living amid the dreary consequences of forsaking their God, are told to anticipate the One who will come and usher in the “favorable year of the Lord.”  It will be a future where hope comes to the hopeless, liberty to the enslaved, and healing to the broken. Jesus began the fulfillment of those promises in his first coming. And we anticipate the future day when Christ will finish what was started and all things will be made new. In the meantime, we allow the anticipation of “that day” to motivate us to live well in light of Christ’s return—in light of eternity.
A few items: Not to be trite, but I am eagerly anticipating this coming Sunday. We will have a great time of worship in the morning. And then, at 5:00pm at Mentor Headlands Beach Park, we will be enjoying the church cookout (bring a dessert) and celebrating the baptism of our peers. If you are new to Trinity, please come and join the fun. It will be a great chance to meet new friends in a relaxed setting.
And I am very much anticipating the intriguing and timely themes (and biblical passages) that you will be submitting for “As You Wish,” our message series in August. You can submit a request by filling out a card (found in the Worship Center seatbacks) or by messaging Trinity’s Facebook page. 
That’s all for now. I’ll see you around the bend (and at the beach) on Sunday.
 Pastor Paul