Ponderings for June 29 2017

Do you know what is arguably the most discussed “sin-problem” in the Bible? You probably guessed it if you have been receiving and reading the Ponderings each day this week.

It is idolatry.

I am afraid what is prevalent in biblical times is still a big deal today.

I write this not to heap guilt (for if you are in Christ he has borne your guilt), but to remind us as believers we are the “bride of Christ” and how unhealthy it is to flirt with strangers when we are already spoken for. Not to mention that, quite often, our Lord calls himself “a jealous God.”

Enough from me. Here are some wise words, on the subject of idolatry, from someone much wiser than me:

The great Reformer John Calvin wrote, “The human heart is a factory of idols. Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, an expert in inventing idols…The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”
Pastor Paul


Ponderings for June 28 2017

We are steaming toward Sunday where we will grapple with the Lord’s words regarding “no gods before him,” and the entertaining of idols.

Here are two sides of the same coin:

On the one side, we are warned against thinking about God in ways that are incorrect and unworthy of him. It is easy to do. It didn’t take long for the original audience of the 10 Commandments to turn their image of God into a golden calf! It is also easy to do in our American, consumeristic context. Though maybe not a metal cow, my God easily becomes one who exists to meet my needs, makes me feel good about myself and takes care of all my pains and problems, not unlike the hospital nurse who comes running when I put my light on. What a diluting of God’s holiness and greatness! A simple study of the Scriptures (maybe start with Isaiah) would go a long way toward guarding against this.

The other side of this coin cautions me about replacing my trust in and loyalty to the Lord with anything (be it my job, sports, my country, my money or even my family). That subtle exchange is at the very heart of idolatry.  From the very start, God warned his people about putting their ultimate trust in the power of their armies or the wisdom of their leaders or the gold in their pockets. I must be really careful of this. We all do! I have known very nice people who have made false gods out of otherwise very good things (e.g. a system of theology, a political position, an investment portfolio, patriotism, even their own kids). By the way, it is much easier to see other people’s idols than it is to see our own.

The words of the aging Apostle John are as apropos today as they were in the first century, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  Amen.”

Pastor Paul


Ponderings for June 27 2017

In his book, Seeing With New Eyes, David Powlison gives a series of questions that are good as a diagnostic test in our lives that help us identify idols in lives.

Give these some thought:

  • What do I worry about most?
  • What, if I failed or lost it? Would it cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?
  • What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?
  • What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?
  • What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?
  • What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?
  • What do I lead with in conversations?
  • Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?
  • What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?
  • What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?
  • What is my hope for the future?
  • What do I blog, tweet or post the most about on social networks?

Pastor Paul


Ponderings for June 26 2017

Trinity friends,

This past Sunday we began our summer series on the 10 Commandments entitled, “Loving by the Rules”. 

In an effort to prepare us for this coming Sunday, I will send several Ponderings all having to do with the first two commandments: “you are to have no gods before me” and “you are to make no idols.” 

Though in our contemporary society we may think ourselves too sophisticated to have idols, ‘fraid not. There are innumerable things in our world that can become our idols and take the place of God in our hearts. 

So, this week we will be investigating the idols that potentially occupy our hearts and minds.  Stay tuned as I prepare us to obey the first two commandments and keep Christ preeminent in our lives. 

Pastor Paul


Ponderings for June 23 2017

Mentor Beach Park on Wednesday evening could not have been more idyllic. Several serene sailboats meandering out on the glassy lake, a fine sunset promising a beautiful display in due time, children running and laughing on the playground equipment as if it were recess with no threat of school looming, and many in their lawn chairs listening to music as if they were at Blossom Music Center. But instead of listening to the Cleveland Orchestra or Lady Antebellum or Deep Purple, they were listening to the Trinity Praise Band! How fun! How right! And wow, the harmonies and the instruments sounded so precise and clear. And the celebration of Christ and the greatness of our God–equally clear!

Throughout Mentor on Wednesday, there was an assortment of musical venues in a number of places–even Trinity’s front lawn. It was Make Music Day all over the world, including Mentor. Did you see the front page of the News Herald? Nice article and exposure for our church.

Thanks, David Erlandson for all your work in orchestrating the day, not just for Trinity but for all of Mentor. Along with a wonderful gift of music to the community, it was a creative example of what we mean by #WeLoveLakeCounty. (The Trinity Praise Band actually wore shirts proclaiming just that.) By loving our community, David organized the entire day (venues, musicians, etc.) so everyone in our area could enjoy the gift of music (check out the newspaper article). As part of Lake County and as Christ-followers, we had the opportunity to go and be present in any of the venues where music was played. And at Mentor Beach Park, those who came got a taste of the beautiful worship due our Lord and that we experience every Sunday.
May all our lives be a tangible example of our love for those around us. #WeLoveLakeCounty.

This Sunday we will be starting a message series entitled, “Loving By The Rules” (on the 10 Commandments). My hope is that it will be a compelling series on these familiar words that call us to live well in the midst of a morally dysfunctional world.

See you Sunday.
Pastor Paul