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Surrender

A Life of Surrender

The word surrender for many of us means “to give up,” “to throw in the towel,” or ”to raise the white flag.” In battle, surrender means giving up to the enemy. However, for the Body of Christ, it could not have a more different meaning. Surrender means giving our lives to Him. Like Paul, it means saying, “Lord, wherever You want me to go, whatever You want me to do, whatever the risk, I am Yours.”  Even within the area of faith, many think of surrender as a sacrifice, but I see it as the most secure place I can be. In Paul’s final charge to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:7), he tells him, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” That sounds like surrender to me.  A surrendered life can say, “Lord, you brought me here, show me what to do.” It can say, “Lord, I really don’t know what to do. I am in way too deep, but I know You are with me. Your rod and Your staff will comfort me.”

Are you living a surrendered life, a life where you are relying on the Lord and the power of His Holy Spirit, a life dependent on Him for every step?

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Farewell to 2018

One of the things I always look for at the end of each year is a list of well-known people that have passed away during the current year. Sometimes I see names of people I didn’t know had left us, or people I had already forgotten about, or quite honestly, people I thought had passed away years ago. Then there are names we really want to remember. If you follow actors and actresses, maybe you remember this year Burt Reynolds and Margot Kidder passed away. If you are a music lover, you might know that Aretha Franklin and Roy Clark left us. There were also political figures, John McCain and George H.W. Bush. Some were still young like Rapper Mac Miller or Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. No doubt the one with the most impact for me was Dr. Billy Graham who went home to be with the Lord on February 21st at the age of 99.

 

Some of these folks had such a presence that we might think they would always be with us.  This should show us how quickly our lives on Earth pass by. What better way to approach the end of a year than by remembering the brevity of life and how quickly we could be gone from this world. I guess there are some lists we cannot avoid in this life, but one list we want to be sure to be on is the Lamb’s list!

Final Thoughts

I was listening this week to many of the eulogies given for President George Herbert Walker Bush. What a group of powerful testimonies to an incredible life. One of the most moving tributes shared was by presidential biographer Jon Meacham. He shared about the former President’s consistent life of honesty and not blaming others when things went wrong. He called Bush the last President that was also a “statesman” linking his almost 50 years of public service to many incredible accomplishments, from the end of the Cold War to his “Thousand Points of Light” speech. In both, he pointed out how critical it was for us to have hope that can overcome fear. He also said that when it came to tough choices, he would put the good of the country first. Those are great words of counsel for being in ministry. Always put what is best for God’s church first and make sure hope overcomes fear.

During this week of mourning, the most powerful moment for me was when Senator Bob Dole was wheeled before the casket in his wheelchair and with significant help saluted the 41st President of the United States. Such respect between rivals yet friends, comrades yet competitors is also a great lesson for today’s times. Meacham closed his time of sharing by saying the former President led with the heart of a lion who loved us. That’s a description that is tough to beat.

Ready or not

With Thanksgiving fast approaching and the first talk of winter weather, it is safe to say 2018 is quickly coming to an end. What a crazy and quick year this has been. You know when your kids start saying how fast the time is going by, it really is going fast. As a church, our plans are set for the holidays, and we are now moving into the plans for the start of 2019. We believe 2019 is going to be one of the most pivotal years for Trinity Community Church. We have seen the Lord work this year preparing us in many ways, from changes in ministries and leadership to just His more powerful presence and leading in every service and event.

We really need to hit the ground running in 2019. I want to ask you to be praying and leaning into the power of His Holy Spirit now. As a church, we will begin our time of prayer and fasting on Sunday, January 6th. This will include special times of corporate prayer, praise, and teaching. On a special note, please keep the evening of Saturday, January 12th open for a time of worship and prayer. 2019 is pivotal for many reasons. Moving into the Coffee Run campus is a big part of 2019, but what God is doing in us and how His presence is ushering in a new season of our lives is even more exciting!

Just so sad.

The mass shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last week has once again left us with shock and sadness. Details beyond the horror always seem to hit me hard. For example, the fact that one of those killed was a Holocaust survivor and to now be taken the way that he was after all he endured. The Jewish doctors administering aid to the gunman in the hospital after he was spewing anti-Semitic hate-filled words amazed me. Maybe all of these things help us process the overall fear and grief that such acts cause. Regardless, this tight-knit Jewish community is now distraught and mourning.

Thank God there are always examples where we see good responding to such evil. There were a number of interfaith efforts to support The Tree of Life community. One that really struck me was the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh raising money for funeral expenses. Obviously, an attack on people from one religion is an attack on people of all faiths in this country, and we are thankful when those who believe differently can come together.

As a church, we are praying and doing our best to be prepared to prevent anything like this from happening at Trinity.

Be on guard

Sadly, it looks like the final straw has come for Sears and Kmart department stores. After closing a substantial number of stores and working for years to improve their bottom line, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week. Some modest relief was given to get a few stores through the holiday shopping season, but for all intents and purposes, it is over. Growing up in this area we would go to Sears for everything but groceries. It was the place to be. We could even buy candy to eat while we shopped. We can point to many issues, but it was their lack of vision to embrace           E-commerce principals and business practices that started their downfall. For example, look at a comparison to Walmart. They have the same kind of initial big box feel, but they have been aggressive in expanding their vision to include online shopping, delivery and many other ways to impact the shopping experience.

Churches are obviously not an industry, but we do need to be evaluating how we do things regularly. Our vision starts with the Lord giving us the Great Commission, and from there we get to work. The gospel has not changed but the way we present it and reach those who don’t know Christ has changed over the years. We have access to many ways to serve people and tell them about Jesus like never before. So, let’s keep an open mind and look for new ideas. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not an option for us!

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!”