Ponderings for March 3 2017

You can quote me on this: “Because He loves us, God changes us.” Though change is sometimes painful, and more often than not resisted (especially by Christ-followers), it nonetheless is God’s M.O. for our lives. Not sure why we like things the “same ol’ way” but we do! And yet God’s motto is still, “Behold I make all things new!”
 
Sunday, we start an important message series on Spiritual Dryness. We will examine various Scriptures (firstly Psalm 42) and symptoms and causes of our common spiritual dryness. What I will keep us mindful of is that God’s ultimate goal for us is change. From Adam-likeness to Christ-likeness. From the old selfish me to the new other-centered me. 
 
So, although life doesn’t always go my way nor do my prayers always get answered to my liking, I bear in mind that God is changing me through it all, strengthening and deepening my faith in him.
 
Habakkuk the prophet wrote these beautiful and trying words:
 
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

    The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights. (3:17-19)

Read it again, more slowly. So why can I rejoice and be joyful despite the lousy situation? Because God is “enabling me to tread the heights.” He is maturing me, making me more Christ-like. He is changing me. And as you know now, “Because he loves us, God changes us.”
 
Whether it feels like it or not; and especially in the arid places of spiritual dryness, you need to be reminded that God loves you deeply! 
 
See you Sunday. 
Pastor Paul
 
P.S. As I long for my church to be a well-read church, I offer these titles of important books about God’s love. Pick one or two up. You won’t regret it.
 
All Loves Excelling by John Bunyan 
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D. A. Carson
The Love of God by Oswald Chambers 
A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy That Comes from    Sacrificial Love by Larry Crabb

The God Who Loves You by Peter Kreeft 
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
The God Who Loves by John MacArthur  
Testaments of Love by Leon Morris 
Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen 

The Love of Christ by Richard Sibbes 
You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith 
God’s Love by R. C. Sproul
Nothing Greater, Nothing Better: Theological Essays on the Love of God edited by Kevin Vanhoozer 

 
P.P.S. As I long for my church to be an informed church, I want to let you know of some “visible” changes coming up around here.
 
   * This Sunday you will see the cross beautifully displayed front and center in our Worship Center. 
     For our new series. For Lent. For our worship.
   * Next week work will begin on our roof;  a needed change for the aging shingles.
   * A new sign will be coming out front soon, welcoming the community (as our website and      
     bulletin already do) to Trinity Church. A minor but important change to remove perceived barriers.
 


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Ponderings for March 1 2017

“Work away today. Work away tomorrow. Never comes the day, for my love and me…” Lyrics of a song long gone by the Moody Blues.
Never comes the day…Ouch!
 
Can be true in a marriage if you’re not mindful.

Can be true spiritually if we don’t keep short accounts with God.

Historically, Christianity has built in reminders in the church life and calendars to enable Christ followers to “welcome” the day for my Lord and me. Regular days for worship and fellowship. And even days for humble repentance and confession of sin.

The 40 days before Easter were designed for such attention. To create a specific time frame set aside for praying and fasting, that is what Lent was always meant to be. And Ash Wednesday (today) was designed as a day of repentance and humility that initiated the Christian into this season.

All across the globe today, Christians will commemorate the beginning of Lent; some in a ceremony that involves their foreheads marked with ashes and for many others with deliberate choices to pray and/or fast for a season. All with the hope of renewing their intimacy with God. And of warding away the busyness and routine that life can become. So that the day for “my love (Christ) and me” can actually come–Today!

In future years, we will plan services at Trinity on Ash Wednesday for us to gather together in humble worship and repentance. For today, I would encourage all of us to take a few minutes out of our day to humbly acknowledge the Lord. Would you spend some time thanking the Lord for your life and salvation in Christ? And then, of course, making the effort to confess your sins and repent of your distant heart from Him. Be assured, as well, of his forgiveness and welcoming of your presence right now!

Spend a few minutes mulling over these words and verses from our gracious Lord:
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
          I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,
              and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.’

Therefore, let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found”   (Psalm. 32:5-6).
 
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteous” (1 John 1:9).

Happy Ash Wednesday Trinity friends!

Pastor Paul

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Ponderings for February 24 2017

Sitting at the Cleveland Clinic waiting as my mom has several heart appointments. Looking outside at this beautiful day and experiencing all the other sights and sounds of a big hospital. 
 
“You need to go over to the B elevators,”  the kind Clinic worker loudly speaks to the elderly gentleman waiting in a wheelchair. He repeats the instructions again, this time even a bit louder to the man with compromised hearing. 
 
Our text and worship guide this Sunday will be Psalm 86. It begins “Incline your ear to me O Lord…” Though sometimes God may seem hard of hearing, he’s really not. Our Lord can come across at times as in need of an audiologist, but he actually hears us very well!
 
He desires for us to repeatedly call on him, not because he can’t hear us or is forgetful, but because he loves to hear the sound of our voice and wants us to always and repeatedly come to him with our needs. 

 

If it seems God hasn’t heard you lately, don’t lose heart or shout louder. Ask him to incline his ear toward you and pour your heart out to him. Then patiently believe he has heard you and desires his best for you. All in his time. 

 

To prepare for our special worship time on Sunday, give Psalm 86 a read. And be prepared for our Lord to incline his ear to our prayers and worship. 

 

See you Sunday

Pastor Paul 


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Ponderings for February 17 2017

Greetings Trinity community. Are you ready for a warm weekend?  And for some, this is a three day break with President’s Day on Monday. May your days be filled with fresh air and love and rest and meaningful times with others.

We seem to be in a season of “plenty” in the church! A lot happening!
Events that have recently happened (Valentine’s Dinner, Youth Retreat, etc., etc…)

Things still coming down the pike (our new “Trinity” sign, a Women’s Retreat, etc., etc…)

More than our fair share of funerals (Jeff Elwell’s “homecoming” is Friday evening.)

I could go on and on…The initiating of our Peace Plan 2017, our men’s “Stepping Up” mornings, finishing our Jonah series on Sunday…I’ll stop or else this could become a three pager!

All good stuff. All purposeful and falling into our strategy for the year.
In all of that I remind us–just as the aim is Christ’s peace, so also our calling and desire is to experience peace in our souls and in our relationships. Sometimes tough when life gets busy.

So I call on us all (starting with me), to pause and take a deep breath. And to call on the peace of Christ for our hearts and lives. And I remind us of how profound this mission and concept of peace really is. These are words from a favorite writer of mine, Cornelius Plantinga, on God’s concept of peace (shalom): 

“The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets called shalom. We call it ‘peace,’ but it means far more than just peace of mind or cease-fire between enemies…
…(it) means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight–a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, all under the arch of God’s love. Shalom, in other words, is the way things are supposed to be.”
 
I’ll see you on Sunday, or at Jeff’s Memorial service, or out and about in the sunshine tomorrow. 

Pastor Paul

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Passing The Peace Prayer February 12 2017

“Passing the Peace” Prayer
by Pastor Paul Sartarelli
Sunday, February 12, 2017
 
Our Father in Heaven. Oh, how you love the Ninevite, even as your holiness is offended by his sin and idolatry.  We confess the Jonah in all of us. Too often we run from where you call us to go. We’d rather not be out in the world among the unbelievers representing you…We really like the comfort of our fellowship and the safety of our Christian community and friends. People around us are perishing and we often care more for ourselves and comfort than we do for those you love and for whom Christ died.

 

Lord make us care enough to pray. To pray for the lost and the unbelieving. To pray for our own hearts and willingness. Father, please break our hearts for our neighbors and co-workers. For all of those near us who desperately need Christ and don’t even know it.

 

Father, we pray that you would make the people of Mentor and Lake County keenly aware of their sin and of the idols they have embraced instead of you. And aware of your holiness and compassion. Please, through your Holy Spirit convict our city of sin, righteousness and judgment. Open their eyes to your holiness and love. Open their ears to the Gospel and to your call for repentance and faith. Open their minds to the truth that you are not willing that any should perish but that all may come to know you through their repentance of sin and faith in your Son Christ.

 

We ask Father that you give Trinity a second chance. That we might become a vibrant vessel of your love and grace; a beacon of light in our dark world. Give us the will to do whatever you call us to do here in Lake County. Show us how we may invest in others and readily invite them to the things of Christ, and show them the love of our compassionate God. Please Lord, give us the courage to be the kind of people and the kind of church that you could use to bring renewal and revival to Mentor, even as you did in Ninevah.

 

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.


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