Ponderings for June 28 2018

Did you see the truly splendid video of Paul McCartney and James Corden that’s gone viral? It’s a wonderfully warm Carpool Karaoke skit. Jillianne Waardenburg sent it to me, and I loved it—not just because I’m a Beatles fan but because the great, universal human qualities the video exudes make it an instant classic. 
You CAN go home! And, deep in our hearts, we all long to. McCartney takes us with him back to Liverpool, England. We love to see the familiar places not only because they remind us of Beatles songs but because they remind us of our special places growing up. The barber shop, the well-known streets, the fire department, our favorite rooms in our old house…they’re all there in the video and in our personal memories as well. 
There is something about music, isn’t there? The camaraderie and fellowship that music generates is tangibly real. A whole group of fans join Paul in singing and laughing (and tearing up) over familiar Beatles songs. We do it at Trinity, too! Our seniors gather for lunch once a month and enjoy a warm time of singing their favorite hymns together. 
At one point, James Cordon wipes away a few tears as a particular song (“Let It Be”) reminds him of his deceased grandfather. We learn that McCartney’s mom inspired that famous song. Who among us doesn’t think of loved ones past and present when “their” song comes on? 
This is a video full of life and laughter and commonality and mutual memories: a welcome watch, not just for a Beatles fan like me, but maybe for all of us who are living in an uncivil day of polarization that we’d much rather forget. 
Thanks, Paul and James! Your kindness and humor and grace are a wonderful breath of fresh air. We needed that!
Pastor Paul
 (If you haven’t seen the video, you should—it is well worth the watch. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjvzCTqkBDQ)


Ponderings for June 27 2018

Hi, Trinity family—I’m finishing some random ponderings as Sue and I begin to wrap up our time in Milan and look toward our journey home on Friday.

I left Ohio desiring to create something that would present the Good News of Christ in a clear and attractive fashion to others. While here in Italy, I have designed a six-week course called Destiny. It is meant to explain in various formats—through teaching, discussion, and videos—the simplicity and beauty of God’s love and desire for us. I’ve chosen the title “Destiny” because we are all made to know our Creator as we find our ultimate meaning and joy (our human destiny) by trusting in Christ and following him. You’ll be hearing more about this course soon. In the meantime, I would like you to begin praying about a friend or acquaintance that you can invite to Destiny this fall. It will be a wonderful and worthy time for them. I designed it for the mildly religious and the cynic alike. Maybe it’s even for you. 
As different as churches are around the world (culturally, linguistically, and traditionally), they are also the same. Just like Trinity, the churches that Sue and I work with in Italy are trying to figure out how to effectively reach unbelieving people; they are trying to raise up and equip the next generation of leaders; they are trying to understand how to respond to and live well in this morally upside-down age; they are trying to make their families a high priority in church planning and programming; and they are trying to effectively reach and relate to men.
I just read an interesting statistic: If churches reach women, there is a 30% chance their families will follow them to church. If churches reach men, there is a 70% chance their families will follow them to church. Hmmm…
Here in Italy, I’ve noticed that while cultural Christianity may carry with it an underlying Christian ethic, it is still void of life-change and deep, authentic spirituality. Many American evangelicals are vying for an empty prize, I’m afraid.
Though Sue and I have been in communication with John and Erika Tello, we have unfortunately not had the opportunity to get together with them. They are in Bologna, a few hours south of us. Their ministries of rescue and art are going strong. They are grateful for Trinity Church’s support, especially by means of the men’s golf outing next month! 
Sue and I look forward to seeing you and the entire Trinity community on Sunday. We’ll give a brief report on our ministries over here. Alex Wilson will fill us in on the work being done in Oaxaca, Mexico, as well.
On Sunday we will celebrate the Lord’s Table together as we hear and study Isaiah’s words: “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…”
We are eager to fellowship with you this weekend. It will be great to see you.
On Sunday—God willing!
Pastor Paul


Ponderings for June 12 2018

Happy Tuesday, Trinity Nation! The church is as it should be on this Tuesday, scattered all over Lake County and beyond, existing wherever Christ-followers find themselves…at home, at work, or in the neighborhood. And sometimes further away—like in Oaxaca, Mexico, where Alex and Laurel Wilson, two of our staff members, are leading a team of teens as they lovingly serve the children of Foundation for His Ministry. If you haven’t seen any of the photos yet, you ought to get on to Trinity’s Instagram or Facebook profiles and see the love of Christ in action.
Here’s how:
 To visit Trinity Church on Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/trinitymentor/, or to follow Trinity on Instagram, go to https://www.instagram.com/trinitymentor/ (it’s best if you download the Instagram app on your phone so you can easily see our posts and even share photos of your own with us!).
Sometimes the church is scattered even further out. Sue and I just arrived in Milan, Italy, where we will be ministering among the people of several churches here. As we were landing this morning, I couldn’t help but notice that in every little village, the church sits right in the middle, with all of the residences and shops around it. What a cool, deliberate design of way back when. In our ministry and in a spiritual sense, that’s Trinity’s place, too. We are right in the middle of everything as individuals and in our ministry activities. That’s why we’re doing the 5K race (and 1-mile fun run!) in September and the “Touch a Truck, Fill a Bus” event in a few weeks—and why we invite friends to our men’s golf outing in July. Trinity, the body of Christ, exists right in the middle of our community.
Have you started reading Isaiah yet? The reading plan will keep you on track all summer and keep us all together as well. Isn’t it interesting how the book begins with the People of God (Judah) and all creation on trial?! Yikes! “They have abandoned the Lord…turned their backs on him” (Isaiah 1:4). The Lord takes it seriously when he is ignored and openly contradicted. Yet he always has a prescription of hope and correction: “Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from my sight. Stop doing evil. Learn to do what is good” (1:16). Sounds like necessary advice for everyone from our kids to our world leaders and all of us in between.
Keep reading. This Sunday, as we celebrate Father’s Day, we will also be examining Isaiah 6, where our holy God (“Holy, holy, holy”) calls on Isaiah to proclaim his message to a people who are rather hard of hearing. Tough task, indeed. Sunday will be a pertinent challenge to all of us.
Okay, that’s all for now. Just as Christ is the ultimate hero of Isaiah’s prophetic book, so also the Lord Jesus is our hero and the center of our lives—even as we seek to be the body of Christ in the center of our community.
See you around the corner.
Pastor Paul


Ponderings for June 1 2018

We were talking about Saving Private Ryan, the World War II movie directed by Steven Spielberg that wrestles with the tension of saving the one while endangering the many. The final frames propel the viewer forward to the scene of an elderly Ryan (the private who was found and saved at the expense of other soldiers). He is standing among the rows of white crosses in the American Cemetery in Normandy, France, saluting and weeping for his fallen comrades.

Ryan turns to his wife at that moment and asks for her reassurance. “Tell me I’ve led a good life. Tell me I’m a good man,” he asks with tears streaming down his cheeks. If others sacrificed their lives for his, he needs to know that he has earned their sacrifice.

“You are,” Ryan’s wife assures him. And the film fades into patriotic music and somber tones that affirm his goodness and a sense of right.

Now what if that film and that man’s questioning was meant to represent the nation as a whole? What if the reassurance of worthiness and goodness was needed by all of America? To a nation that gave and sacrificed together to fight against the unambiguously diabolical evil of the Nazis, that reassurance must be equally unequivocal and affirmative. “You are” a good man indeed.

But what has become of our nation as it has aged since World War II? Can America still be reassured of her goodness, that she is leading “a good life”?  I am not nearly as confident that those affirming words—“You are”—can be forthcoming in these days. 

Where is the good as it relates to moral standards of sexuality and decency? We are among the top nations for sex trafficking and exploitation of minors. 

Where is the good when racism and racial tensions are at the boiling point? 

Gun violence in schools has become so increasingly and abhorrently common, it may as well be in the student handbook next to where the cafeteria can be found.

Does a good nation separate mothers from their babies and children as they are legally seeking asylum? And then give the glib official explanation that “the kids will be fine and can be put into foster care or whatever”?

Where is the goodness in a people who do not protect the unborn and instead celebrate the allowance of abortions as if they were appendectomies? Mother Teresa’s words should haunt us from her grave: “To me, the nations with legalized abortion are the poorest nations. The greatest destroyer of peace today is the crime against the unborn child.”

“Tell me I’m a good man…”

Sorry for this dirge of bad news. My head is pounding. At Trinity, we are winding down a message series entitled “Stand Firm,” wherein we are regularly reminded that we live in an increasingly dark society. Our calling is certainly to name the darkness for what is and to shine a light of life and goodness wherever we find ourselves. To stand firm must mean that we do not personally compromise, and we become an instrument in Christ’s hand in order to make a difference.

As a church and as individual Christ followers, we need the courage and the concern and the love for the victims in our broken society. We must be willing to act and to invest our lives and resources for the “least of these.” Though our nation as a whole may not deserve the reassurance that it is leading “a good life,” we can still “so let our light shine among people that they see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.” That may be our society’s only chance to be saved.

We have to rise above and be different and do good. Our Christ demands it of us. And our credibility before a watching nation—because is at stake and in question—begs it from us.

Stand Firm!
Pastor Paul


Ponderings for May 8 2018

Hello, Trinity community! Don’t you love this sunny weather? It reminds me of summer.
It reminds me of all the happy and good things that go along with summer—personally (with friends and family) and at Trinity.
It reminds me of the ministry trips to Oaxaca, Mexico, that Alex and Laurel Wilson will be leading as teens and adults serve the children in the name of Christ at Foundation For His Ministry.
It reminds me of Trinity’s day at the beach and the beach baptism that we will celebrate on July 15.
It reminds of the message series we will interact with. In the first half of the summer, we will be exploring some of the great passages in the Book of Isaiah in what we will call “A Sampler’s Platter of Isaiah.” The entire church will be given a reading schedule as we work through this great prophet’s book together. During the last half of the summer, we will have a “You Asked for It” series, where some pressing topics and passages will be addressed. Start getting your questions ready!
One of the passages I will cover soon is Isaiah 40: “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…” Are you good at waiting? I’m not! Drives me crazy. I know it’s something I have to work on. 
At Heinen’s—wait… At the doctor’s office—wait! (That’s why I try to take a book everywhere I go.) Even in traffic—wait… But no texting!
For the prodigal to come home or for the conflict to be resolved or for that one to say, “I’m sorry”—we wait!!
Now the promise of God from Isaiah is that we will get renewed strength as we wait on him…
And the example of God is that he is a champion when it comes to waiting.
From our passage this Sunday (1 Peter 3) we understand that God truly knows how to wait patiently. He waited so long for a world at odds with him to repent and turn to him. From the time it took Noah to build the ark, God waited and waited. And yet a rebellious world refused to say, “I’m sorry.” And if I am to follow the Lord’s example, I too have to wait and wait—with patience (Fruit of the Spirit) for that one to say, “I’m sorry” or come home or make peace. 

Lord, give us your patience and teach us to wait…and wait on you…that we may renew our strength for whatever the challenge may be.
**Shameless Plug Alert** Wednesday night I will be leading a three-week-long class on conflict resolution called “The Good Fight.” Together with David Durkee, we will be leading a time wherein we will look at the causes of conflict and the styles of resolution. A lot of helpful tools will be given. Please note: The class will begin at 7:00pm this Wednesday and go to 8:30pm. We will meet in the Fellowship Hall. There is no need to pre-register.
Pastor Paul