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This I know:

The recent Supreme Court nomination hearings and subsequent events have left me with a wide range of perspectives. That’s probably an understatement. When the hearings and personal testimonies concluded I was disgusted with many aspects of how it all went. As the week went on, I stepped back and asked the Lord what I should feel and how should I use this in a way that helps others or even makes any sense. So, I came up with a few lessons learned that really have nothing to do with who our next Supreme Court Judge will be:

w  First, at every level, any form a sexual assault is wrong and cannot be ignored

w  Second, even when we have done nothing wrong being in environments where wrong things happen complicates our lives and can hurt our witness

w  And lastly, lying to discredit and damage someone’s reputation is a very destructive thing to do

I pray as we move forward events like this will end and can follow a more honest and forthright path. It is not easy, but I am trying to have faith in a country and process that I still believe is one of the strongest in the world. Great time to close with “In God We Trust!”

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Good news. Bad news.

One of the things we say as a church, and for all the right reasons, is that we need to “proclaim the gospel.” That is an admirable mission especially as the “worldview” on so many topics changes. Differing worldviews have always impacted how we communicate God’s Word. Even in the New Testament, this is apparent. In Acts 2, Peter preaches to the Jews, while in Acts 17, Paul preaches to the Greeks. Their approach was different based on the worldview of their audiences. The Jews had a perspective based on God’s Word in the Old Testament. The Greeks had no real understanding of creation, sin or other biblical truths. The point is, we must know and understand God’s Word to proclaim the gospel correctly to people who think differently.

Ask someone what the gospel is and they will often say it’s the “Good News.” This is true. However, it’s only the “Good News” if one has a firm grip on why. It takes an understanding of the “bad news” of Genesis to realize how to communicate what Jesus dying on the cross truly means for us. As a church, we want to build upon foundational knowledge and see it develop. We don’t start building a house with the roof. So, let’s continue to dig deep into God’s Word, lay the right foundation, begin to build, and then see how God uses us.

Position still pretty much the same.

The question usually comes up this time of the year, “Should pastors endorse politicians from the pulpit?” Well, first the obvious: Federal law forbids tax-exempt organizations, including churches, to “participate in, or to intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office. This is based on an amendment that then Senator Lyndon Johnson led the effort to pass in 1964. So it has been around for a long time. Many people feel this amendment should be repealed for many reasons. One being that pastors are teachers and leaders that should speak to issues facing their churches. Second, the political and partisan climate that led to Johnson introducing the amendment makes it flawed. So there is solid ground to challenge this.

The other very valid side of the coin is that pastors are called to preach the “Word of God”. The Great Commission calls us to “make disciples of all nations,” and endorsing candidates can be counter-productive to this. Some say it undermines pastoral authority. I can see the validity to this. We live in such a polarized world that doing something in a sermon that could add to this is risky.

So where does that leave us? Well for Trinity and this election cycle, we will not be preaching sermons that include an endorsement of candidates. However if you want to sit and pray with us and discuss issues that impact us, we are ready. We pray God’s will be done. For now we need to abide by federal law.

Not easy but……

Nothing sets up a Washington DC battle more than the nominee of a Supreme Court Judge. Right now, the process is well underway for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. These hearings usually bring up many contentious issues and a tremendous amount of speeches on the Senate floor, and without question, they should. The court is where real issues that shape a generation are decided. Usually, there is some sort of balance to the court that gives it a fair representation of the country. However maybe like never before this highest court in our country needs our prayers. So many issues hang in the balance, and if we look down the road just a little bit, we can see so many things on the horizon. Many of our existing rights and privileges could be in jeopardy. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, hearings can be a grueling responsibility but to have the right Supreme Court Judge to navigate the precarious waters we are in is worth every second. Let’s remember to pray for wisdom and leadership for all involved.

Where have all the heroes gone?

Senator John McCain’s death this past week, due to terminal brain cancer, was not a surprise to most. For a man who had survived such long odds in his life, living months beyond the time given by his physicians didn’t come as a surprise to me either.  There was almost a sense of sadness about his passing that went beyond normal grief. We don’t have many people like him in government anymore. I did not agree with every perspective of his, but he was a hero who loved his country to the end. We should always be careful about labeling anybody a hero, but for Senator McCain, I believe it is a fair title.

We need more people we can look up to and admire in every aspect of life. We see them in sports, education, business, occasionally in the media and entertainment industry, and I pray in ministry.  However, right now there is a real lack of leadership in every side of our government. It’s to a point where it is almost painful to listen to so much of the hatred and ill will in our political system. It is not enough to just be disappointed. We need to pray, care and be involved. As we head into another season of political decisions, let’s not just ask where all the heroes have gone but let’s help develop new ones.

Praying despite the horror

The fallout on the most recent sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic church is nothing less than tragic. More than 300 priests are listed in the Pennsylvania report, and there are over 1000 victims. These are staggering numbers. The Diocese of Pittsburgh alone is now fractured due to the flawed response from a Cardinal in the church who was then a Bishop. The Grand Jury report shows a tragic succession of church leaders covering up and mishandling the reinstatement of abusive priests. No doubt this horror and destruction of lives has got to end.

The “Body of Christ” needs to pray and lift up our brothers and sisters in the Catholic church. Horrors like this have occurred in every denomination, and it’s not a time for judgment and criticism. The victims need our prayers and support. As the leadership within the church finally makes permanent changes to protect and prevent this from occurring again, they too need our support. Most of us have family and loved ones who are Catholic. Many of us are involved in sports, education, and programs within the church. The roots run deep. When we see change not occurring we should speak up. We should also remember our Lord’s teaching on forgiveness, healing, grace, and wisdom. We will need all four to move on from this once and for all.

Working and playing well with others.

One of the core competencies that God continues to develop within Trinity is that we work well with other churches. We try to focus on working together for Jesus as our common goal. I pray that is always who we are. Sometimes it does not come naturally, and so we have had to be intentional about it. One thing that helps is seeing other churches as partners and not competitors. Being located at The Well has been a big part of helping this unity. Local churches are always welcome to use The Well but there are at least 15 who do so on a regular basis at no charge. We know we are all serving the Body of Christ together. Another way is we share and give away our best ideas and opportunities. If something works, praise God let’s share and learn from each other. We continue to work with several churches that are just starting. Many of the things we have learned can save them precious time and resources. After all, it was not that long ago we were the new kids in town. We also work together on conferences, Bible studies, and special events, especially with our kids. We see this only expanding when we open the Coffee Run campus. Finally, and most importantly we pray for them. There is such power in prayer, and it really encourages them, as well as us. We pray this whole attitude is contagious throughout the church. The work of the Gospel is a mission too critical to try and do on our own.