Pondering for March 8 2018

Greetings, Trinity Nation! How’s your week going?

Mine? Glad you asked! These days I am crazy busy! Running here, speaking there, going over there… This morning, I had two breakfast meetings. I know, that makes me a Hobbit.

It’s just a brief season though…
Sue is crazy busy, too! She’s planning things for the women’s retreat next month, along with all her other stuff!
So, at least we’re both occupied at the same time. 🙂

I recently read this Japanese proverb when I was traveling somewhere:
  Stillness is what creates love,
  Movement is what creates life,
  To be still,
  Yet still moving—
  That is everything!
 Pretty good.

Okay, allow me to quickly think out loud about this weekend.

I am so looking forward to fellowshipping with the guys at our Men’s Breakfast again this Saturday morning at 8:00am. Hanging with men of all ages…the atmosphere has an air of anticipation that some significant things are going to happen among the guys here. I will also be doing a little teaching…sort of a bit of overflow from some personal time I’ve spent reflecting on the seasons of my life. See you Saturday, guys!

Now, I am not given to overstatement (I don’t think). But this Sunday morning kicks off three of the most important weeks in Trinity’s life. We will envision what God has for our future as we choose to go on a new spiritual journey together. We will be capturing a great momentum that will create new life and love beyond our present moment. See you Sunday morning, everyone.

I also have the privilege of being with our teens Sunday evening at The Mill. As I get to share, I will talk about the fact and implications of knowing that the Christian life is meant to be exciting and not a bore! See you Sunday night, teens!
 
Oh, and don’t forget: This Saturday night, we “spring ahead.” So get to bed early as you set your clocks ahead by an hour (I guess our smart phones and computers do that automatically).

See you around the corner—and this weekend.
Pastor Paul


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Ponderings for February 21 2018

Child, where are you walking that your God would rather you not?

As I sit in the Philadelphia airport I watch a young mother chasing after her little son time and again as he tries to get on the “people mover.” He barely has mastered the skill of walking and yet he thinks how fun it would be to run on this moving sidewalk. 

Oh, the folly of childishness. 

There he goes again. 

And there she goes again. After him. 

To him, his mother is randomly prohibiting his adventure and fun. What a killjoy! Why can’t she just leave him to his explorations?

What does she know that he doesn’t? What are her good intentions for him that he can’t see? How will this battle of the wills end?

Will someone get hurt? Or will someone be obeyed?

Child, where are you walking that your God would rather you not?


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Ponderings for February 15 2018

“Children, it is the last hour…” 

We read that phrase from John’s first letter at our men’s breakfast study this morning.

“The last hour”: It conjures up all kinds of ideas and images, doesn’t it? All were on center stage Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Wednesday was Valentine’s Day. A day where we take our spouses or significant others out to dinner or buy them a bouquet of roses or do something else thoughtful and nice. A day of love! In the Last Hour (between Christ’s first coming and his return) we are called to love like never before and even allow the Holy Spirit to manifest his character through us. (“The fruit of the Spirit is love…”)

Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. It was the first day of Lent (Easter is coming!). And everywhere we went, you could see the foreheads of worshipers marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. This custom that dates back to the seventh century is meant to be a symbol of repentance and mourning for one’s sin. It is to be a foreshadowing of Good Friday, where Christ died for our sins. The Last Hour began on that Friday of judgment (Christ condemned in my place) and will continue until the “summing up of all things” in Christ, when he reverses the curse forever.

Wednesday was a day of infamy. Seventeen students and adults were murdered in their high school in Parkland, Florida. Sadness and shock and anger grip us as Americans one more time. Like me, I am sure you stopped and prayed for the victims’ families, for their classmates and school, and for the police and authorities as they deal with this horrendous evil. The Last Hour will be filled with wickedness and death as godless humans turn death and power into their demanding and monstrous idol.

So how are we to live in the Last Hour? 

We are to remain firm in our hope (Hope with an “!” not a “?”—listen to February 4’s message.). “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). 

We are to be wise and not surprised by the evil we see. This somewhat obscure verse from 1 Chronicles gives us insight into how to live in these days, “…the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Let’s not be surprised by the senseless violence. But let’s not be callous either. As Christ followers, we need to be wise and know what to do, which must include being caring and prayerful and offering tangible help where we can. 

Speaking of last hour days, it says this in Daniel: “The people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:32). May our actions be Christlike and strong and loving in an hour such as this.

“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”

I’ll see you this weekend.
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for February 2 2018

Pastor David Erlandson and I are reading a book together on leadership. It’s not the typical leadership perspective that either the Wharton School of Business or Bill Hybels would strongly recommend. It says little about being smart, currently relevant, visionary, and accomplished. It says a lot about being irrelevant and humble and other-centered and finely tuned to Jesus’ style.

The book is, In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. Nouwen, a successful leader in his own right having taught the brightest and sharpest future leaders at Harvard, writes this little gem from a different chair. He speaks of true leaders of the future being willing to be “irrelevant.” Whoa, now that is a different animal than the one that roars of leadership having to be powerful, domineering and trend setting! I mean, what leader sets out to be an “inapplicable, unsuitable, misplaced” leader?

Nouwen left Harvard and was assigned to lead and pastor the mentally handicapped in L’Arche, a community of broken and marginalized people.  It was here among these humble, unpretentiousness, and mentally challenged people that Nouwen began to get what the Lord was saying to him about his life and leadership. It was among the people at L’Arche that Nouwen found the presence and “voice” of God in his life in a profound, new way. Eventually Nouwen was able to dismiss the highly accomplished leader, his relevant self; “the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things,” the one who feels he must be in charge and “change stones into bread and do the spectacular.”

In a new way, Nouwen developed a capacity to love and be loved in real and unconditional ways that have nothing to do with accomplishments or titles.  No longer seeking to lead as a famous, published professional (the residents of L’Arche neither knew nor cared for such things), Nouwen realized that a Christ-like leader must be a vulnerable servant who confesses one’s own brokenness and weaknesses; who needs others as much as they need him; who takes his example from Jesus not the latest trends.  I am afraid that is often not the case with what I see and read today. Instead, most leaders work hard at honing their vision and establishing their lofty goals while keeping their distance and hiding their brokenness from those they lead. The people don’t need an implacable, powerful and perfect leader, one who keeps his distance and believes his press releases. I have known too well the mess that Nouwen writes against. And I have, far too often, seen the casualties.

 As David and I read In the Name of Jesus, we are reminded that leadership is about powerlessness and humility and Christ-likeness. It doesn’t mean that leaders are weak or wishy-washy or spineless. But rather, they are so in love with Christ that they are willing and eagerly ready to follow Him wherever He calls. Ready even to become “irrelevant” for the sake of Christ and the love of others.

By the way, David passed his ordination board “exam” on Wednesday! We will be celebrating his ordination and giving thanks to his Lord in a service on Sunday, February 11 at 4:00pm. You are all invited!

I’ll see you Sunday! (And some of you tomorrow at the Critical Incident/Active Shooter training at 8:30am.)
Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for January 26 2018

Happy Friday Trinity Nation. I trust you are enjoying this beautiful and sunny end to our week. 

I am very much looking forward to this Sunday. We will be starting a new message series called “Stand Firm”, wherein we will be learning and applying the words of First Peter to our lives and culture today. We will hear Peter tell us how to live effective and fruitful lives in the midst of our society and its ever-increasing antagonism toward Christ and his followers. Though at times we feel like outsiders who don’t belong around here; in Christ, we very much belong to the Lord and his family and Kingdom. From Peter’s letter, we will be given hope and encouraged, as Christ followers, to live out purposeful and “missional” lives; lives that exude love, kindness, call for justice, model compassion, and share the gospel as we flourish in our calling to #WeLOVELakeCounty.

Can’t wait for Sunday!

Some reminders for Sunday:

  • The two main restrooms are under construction-
        Everyone will be redirected to the restrooms by the kitchen. Sorry for the inconvenience. (Because of this construction, the cafe will be  
        temporarily closed, and coffee will be back in the hallway.) This is all part of an on-going facility update which will fold into a beautiful 
        new “Gathering Space”.  In March, we will be presenting this new project to you in detail. Stay tuned…and don’t forget about the restrooms the
        next several weeks.
  • Valentine’s Banquet in February-
         Though registrations will continue online next week, this will be the last Sunday to register in person. The $30 “young-family” discount still  
         applies. We have a decent number of openings left. The evening of February 9 promises to be a fun and meaningful “date-night” for all.
 
That’s it for now. Hope your weekend starts out positively.
I’ll see you on Sunday as we worship our Lord and hear from his Word.
 
Pastor Paul

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