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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.

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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.

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Leadership is probably one of the top five topics I have used this slightly important little blog to talk about over the last ten years. I am passionate about it because of how important it is and how desperately I always want to improve. As always, the best leadership reflections start with what Jesus modeled. Jesus showed us that personal influence is more effective than positional authority, although there is a place for both. One of the essential components of personal influence is to demonstrate vision, not just with snappy statements and taglines but with a way of shaping the future. Leaders influence by teaching and showing people how and what to see over the long haul.  That’s what Jesus did. He helped people perceive and interpret the world around them. He then acted on the potential and opportunity.

The Gospels demonstrate Jesus doing this over and over again. He was constantly shaping how people see. We pray that as a church this is what we are doing. God is moving, and we are looking at the position He has placed us in with fresh vision and perspective. Stay tuned as summer wraps up and we head into the fall. The Holy Spirit is really pressing in on us to see how we can meet the needs of our community for His glory. Influence is a powerful privilege that we can use to shape our world and community for the Kingdom of God.

Battling an Epidemic

I have the privilege of being involved with the leadership of Adult and Teen Challenge USA.It is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehab that was started in 1958 by Dave Wilkerson. He wrote the book, The Cross and the Switchblade, which is the story of how this organization was formed. The  60th anniversary was celebrated in Washington D.C. this past weekend. There are 84 corporations throughout the United States, many of which have multiple centers for men, women, and adolescents. For many of these centers, we cannot add beds fast enough.

Dealing with the opioid crisis that has gripped this country is a big part of our challenge. One of the highlights for a few of us involved with this organization this past week was to sit down with the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams. Faith-based solutions are getting the attention of federal and state leaders, and we are preparing new programs to meet the need. I doubt any of us do not have a loved one who has experienced the grip of addiction.

Please continue to be in prayer that we find God’s favor as we work with those in Washington, D.C. It is very much needed to be able to move forward into what we see God doing.

One time to say never.

In one week we saw two tragedies in our community. First, the devastating July 4th holiday crash of a family of five on Rt 1 and then the senseless murder-suicide of a family of five not more than ten minutes from our church.  In contrast, the story of the 12 boys and their soccer coach who were rescued from a cave in Thailand was so encouraging to follow. From the beginning, it did not feel like a story that would end well. Every week we hear about and even experience accidents and tragedies where even the believer can wonder where God is in all of it. Why do miracles sometimes occur and other times they don’t? We just will never understand while we are on this earth.

What God does promise is that He is never-failing. In Hebrews 13:5 He says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Quite often in difficult situations, we feel like God has forsaken us. We expect some sort of exceptional miracle to occur and it does not always happen. That surely does not mean God is not there when we need Him. He is always with us and He is our helper” in time of need. Just like His own Son, we experience times of great darkness, but we must remember The Light. We too are called to be the light in a fallen world. So next time you are going through or hear about a tough situation, remember… He never leaves or forsakes.

The Church Defined

The focus at Trinity, even before our first service, was simple: Worship God, Obey His Word and Serve His people. This last part, in concert with the other two, will drastically change when we open the Coffee Run Campus. One thing God continues to make clear is He is building space that will be much more than a place to have church but a place to be the church! We are called by Christ to love and serve those in need, to be His hands and feet on the earth. Soon we will have significant space and land available to do that very thing.  We pray this has always been our approach. From our blend of local and global missions, to the purchase and operations of The Well, to our desire to meet the needs of our community, everything should point back to what Christ has called us to be. Our thrust is outreach and partnering with other organizations. From the beginning we also wanted to not just duplicate what other great churches were doing but find new needs to fulfill. Sure, we learn and use things that work and have been proven but churches like people should be different. So, continue to be in prayer on how God is preparing us to be the Church.