Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Final Blog of 2012 - Great Resources for Your Holidays

One of the dumbest statements ever said to me was that someone could "read themselves stupid." The greatest minds in the world read with passion and fervor. Usually people say things like the aforementioned quote when a book points to something they don't like or that is contrary to what they have experienced in the past. C.S. Lewis said "we read to know we are not alone." Books are our friends and sadly, most believers struggle in the area of reading - especially men. 

I have been asked MULTIPLE times if I could create a book list for those believers in our fellowship. We have a "Pastor's Picks" table at Trinity on which all the books have been "screened" by our staff. Today, I am creating a digital version of this book table with some help from Amazon. I decided to add this one final blog for the year, given that many of you might consider these books to read over your vacations or to give as holiday gifts. This new "Pastor's Picks eStore" is a link to Amazon where you can purchase the books online. Again, most all of these books are also available on our book table at the church and even in our church library. There is one other resource offered that many of you may not have heard of previously; the Clearplay DVD player/filter.  Our family found Clearplay over two years ago and it is a wonderful way to watch movies/dvds without worrying about negative content.  

Hope this site gives you some great reading for the holidays and for some of you, starts you on a journey full of passion for reading GREAT books! 
I also want to close with a reminder of upcoming events and schedule for the holidays.  Please mark these dates down and make the most of them with your family.

November 25: No Evening Service

December 2: An Evening In December. Please come this evening and celebrate our Savior as our choir will lead us in worship with a special presentation to celebrate the birth of Christ.

December 16: Sunday evening we will be celebrating “Happy Birthday Jesus.” This is a time that our entire church will bring a gift to celebrate the birth of Christ. We lay an additional offering at the altar (please involve your children in this by making cards and putting this offering in it) as we want our children to see our entire church celebrate His birth through giving.  There will be a special time of  fellowship afterwards.

December 23 and 30: No evening service.

January 6: In our evening worship we will begin a series entitled “Wise Counsel;” this will be one of the most important series we will walk through as a church body.  This series and will enhance your personal discipleship along with your ability to disciple others as we open the Word and dig into truth, allowing it to change who we are in our circumstances, instead of trying to use the Word to change our circumstances or rationalize our circumstances. Start your year off by being faithful all day on Sunday! 
February 10-13: Revival with Bro. Rick Coram. Bro. Rick has been with us before and was greatly used of God; I cannot wait to see what God does in the life of Trinity during this time.

I love you and hope that you have a Merry Christmas and outstanding New Year. I will resume blogging on January 8th.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just a Word to Trinity as the Year Draws to a Close

Last year I decided that I would close out new blog posts for the year once the holidays hit. The truth is most people do not read blogs, nor much else except sales papers during the holidays. After this post I will have one more that simply lays out our holiday schedule, so I wanted the last full entry for the year to end by telling our Trinity family that I count it an honor to be your Pastor. In January I will have been your Pastor for 4 years and it has been some of the toughest, and yet some of the most rewarding times in my life. I am thankful for you because you have become a church that not only longs to hear truth, but you strive to live it.  The love and grace you have shown to not only me, but to one another during some crazy times has been nothing less than a display of God’s grace working through you. I can honestly say that now we are beginning to see a demonstration of what becoming a biblical church is all about. We have seen people saved, new mission opportunities come about, new believers baptized, disciples growing and some even married. The families that God has left in this fellowship and the families that God has moved into this fellowship have come together as a true body of Christ. Your hunger for the Word of God and overwhelming encouragement to me as your Pastor is humbling and brings joy to my soul.

The staff that the Lord has placed here are not simply men I get to serve with but friends that I love and trust. They love and serve this church body with passion and grace. I have been amazed throughout my ministry to watch men falter, and succumb to a self preservation ministry when tough decisions had to be made. I can say by experience that these men are not that way and it has allowed this body to come through many storms. These men and their wives are “low maintenance” and “high service” and that enables me to better prepare to preach the Word each and every week. Thank you Trinity for loving them.

Last but not least, thank you for loving one another! To watch you minister, serve, pray and go after one another week by week is a blessing like no other. To see the Lord’s grace at work in so many ways and so many ministries in our fellowship has been exciting and encouraging. To watch as over these past four years our membership has moved from thinking that church is about me and my performance, to making it all about bringing glory to our Lord and with a passion to carry forth the Gospel, makes me extremely excited to see what the next 4 years (and the next 20 years) hold. The way the Lord has raised up men to love and lead this fellowship has set us up to stay the course by God’s grace. I love you and am a blessed man to be called your Pastor; thank you for the love and grace you continually display.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Silence of the Saints

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church and have been on staff of only Southern Baptist Churches and, here is what I know: if I want to bring a tear and lead the average person to stand with reverence and awe, it is not the cross of Jesus I need to mention, it is not a great song saturated with Gospel that we need to sing...we only need someone to sing “God Bless the USA.”  If I want a chorus of “amen” to ring across the church, it is not gossip, or the importance of men leading in their home I must preach on…but on the sin that is seldom committed by “religious” people but is common in Hollywood and on TV. In fact in many of our churches (not ours thank the Lord for His grace on us), we have forced not only the people, but the pulpits into silence.  Just a few weeks ago I had a friend call me and he was sharing that his church had an issue of open adultery - the husband and ex-wife were still in the church and the husband had actually “asked out” some of the ladies in the church.  After I spoke with this dear brother for a little while, I found out this clear line of open sin was in the fellowship because the church had refused to deal biblically with another adultery situation that had happened some years ago. I give this story in a general way to underscore the fact that if we do not handle sin inside the body in a biblical fashion, we totally lose our voice when speaking against it in a lost world.

It is tough to speak clearly with integrity when it comes to defining marriage when we allow adultery and divorces to take place within the church because we “don’t want to get involved.” The entire picture of the Church being a body or a family is a call to be interwoven in one another’s lives. I am to have such a concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ that I am willing to be “put out” or “uncomfortable” if it means that I am aiding them in their walk with Christ.  I find it amazing and confusing when churches that seem to get so many things right, that are faithful when it comes to articulating truth, decide to become pragmatists when it comes to living out church. If church has become nothing more than a place that I go to sing a few songs and hear a sermon, then it makes perfect sense that the Barna Group states that of the adults that have a biblical worldview only 25%  of them agree with the idea of the centrality of a local church is crucial to a persons spiritual growth.  Church is no longer  a place that I walk with other believers, that I am involved in discipleship and missions and getting my proverbial “hands dirty” by dealing with sinners saved by grace yet struggling in areas just like me.  If we are not truly developing a family within the body, and all church has become is a large room that we conduct our personal “quiet times,” then church is not important. However, I am not called to live on some spiritual island of isolation: I am called to walk with people, to show grace to them by loving through tough times, rejoicing  in good times and confronting during rebellious times. This is not easy, but church is not meant to be “easy” if it is done correctly.  All of those wonderful verses in Matthew about being peacemakers and bearing with one another are also lived out in the community of the church.  It hurts, it allows us to see some turn to Christ, some rejoice in truth and others walk away because truth is too tough. But the bottom line is, when a church is healthy it will not be a place where people can be happy in “neutral”, or becoming stagnant. It serves as a greenhouse where the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and people of God are used to mature the believer and enable him (and the entire body) to shine in such a way that when we speak truth mixed with grace, the world may not like it, but they can’t roll their eyes because they know we speak with integrity. May God give us the grace to live out what real church is!