SUNDAY SERVICES - 8:30, 9:45 & 11:00 AM
THE FEED - 9:45 & 11:00 AM
The FEED is an alternate Trinity worship service that builds community, worships God intimately and provides biblical teaching via video feed.
The FEED is an alternate Trinity worship service that builds community, worships God intimately and provides biblical teaching via video feed.
So Tuesday afternoon at 4:04 pm, I get the call every parent prays not to receive but secretly prepares for.
Me: Hey what’s up?
Ben: Dad, I’ve been in an accident.
Me: Stop it, what’s going on? (Choate’s are sometimes known for “crying wolf” about serious matters as a joke.)
Ben: No Dad, a guy ran into the back of me at a red light and it’s bad.
Me: Are you ok, son?
Ben: Yes. We’ve called the police and they are on their way.
Me: Ok, I’m on my way. You sure you’re ok?
Ben: Yes sir. I hear the sirens so the police are close.
I covered a good distance in a short period of time to get to the accident. Every light, but one, turned green as I approached the intersections and the one that was red was in the direct line of sight of Ben, his truck and the police. When I arrived at the accident, I noticed the paramedic talking with Ben and the paramedic was Rick Smalley. Rick is not just a TBC member but also a member of my Connection Group. Ben knows Rick very well and thinks the world of him. As I approached Rick smiled his big O’ smile and said, “He’s ok, probably be a little sore in the morning.” We got Ben checked out at the ER and doctors didn’t see anything but he is definitely sore.
We are designed to have friends and be a friend. God uses our friends to help us grow in Him and encourage us. Ben later said he was a little nervous with everything going on but when he saw Rick roll up; he felt better about things. I felt better knowing that a friend was with my son until I got there. Here’s what the Word says.
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
for he has no one to help him up.
We were definitely lifted up by a friend that afternoon. God is so good to use our friendships to improve our lives.
Who’s someone that encourages you? When was the last time you told them? As soon as you finish reading this blog, pick up the phone and call that person. Tell them you were thinking about them and your life is better because of their friendship. You’ll be amazed at the response. (If you really want to rock their world, tell them how special they are to you and then say, “Ok. Bye” and hang up. See how long it takes them to call back.) I heard someone say the biggest regret in life is to not say the things you should to those you love the most.
I no longer believe in coincidences in God’s economy. I believe that God used Rick Smalley to be His hands and feet that afternoon to ‘lift up’ a dad and son during a tough afternoon. Circles are better than rows and I’m glad Rick is part of my circle. Thanks Rick!
I picked up a new book this week. Well, I confess, it was an audio book. The combination of being a millennial and the amount of traveling I am doing right now proved to be the perfect storm to give in to lazy “reading”. The book is “Building Your Story Brand” by Donald Miller and is all about the importance of how we communicate a story as business people, entrepreneurs, sales people, etc. The connections to the gospel in this book are uncanny. Stories are powerful, and we have direct access to the greatest story ever told.
The greatest inhibitor to selling something to a potential buyer is noise. It is our inability to tell a story that is captivating, immersive, relatable, and ultimately, makes the reader the hero. We often get so caught up in the fluff that we think matters to the consumer. In reality, the excess makes our message watered down and the consumer will go somewhere else to find purpose.
Think about your favorite movies. Nearly every single critically acclaimed movie has a storyboard that follows a formula. Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, you already know what the main character is attempting to accomplish and what is attempting to inhibit them from it. In the new Spiderman movie, the writers don’t concern you with the day-to-day happenings of Peter Parker’s life, but instead, choose specific scenes that point to his purpose. They point to him becoming the hero in spite of being a nerdy, hopeless romantic, teenage boy. Immediately, we relate to the core of his character and we are hooked.
The gospel is the greatest story to ever unfold in all of humanity and we get direct access to it. As Christ followers, we miss opportunities to tell this story from our perspective. Instead, we get caught up in the things that don’t matter. From worship styles, to childcare, to event programming, we create all sorts of noise and clutter for people to filter through that doesn’t fix their problem. Our problem is that we are selfish human beings that struggle to make a living, provide for our family, be the best father, and find value in what we are doing. The gospel points us to a remedy for our struggle. It shows us a way to find life to the fullest and be the hero in our families. Jesus gives us the solution to finding meaning in living for something much greater than ourselves. The gospel gives us purpose.
So, what story are you telling your family, coworkers, and peers? Is your story cluttered with things that don’t matter? Are people able to see that Jesus is the sole reason you have life and purpose? Let the gospel your story and let people cling to the greatest story that has ever unfolded.
Rising above the city's skyline and up above the buildings, the blue sky is dotted with colorful kites. Each one having their own story. Each one having their own spot in the sky. As I sat on the roof gazing out over the beautiful sight, God spoke. He used the kites in the sky to speak directly to my heart.
Just as each kite is uniquely created by their kite flyer, I have been uniquely created by my Maker. Just as each kite is guided by the hands on the reel, I am guided by my Shepherd. As the kites soar in the sky, they catch wind and explore the clouds but they don't waiver off course because they are firmly attached to the string that is in the grasps of the kite flyer. The kite flyer is in complete control of how much string to give and how much string to reel in.
We are all kites. Different sizes, colors, and shapes. But we are all designed to fly by our Creator. Our Creator will direct us where to go. We just have to catch the wind and trust that our Savior will take us to heights we never imaged.
It’s a simple question, but it can be a powerful one. By asking “Why?”, we can examine our motives, our intentions, our goals, and even our mistakes. We can use this question to pull a string and find the root of the problem or to guide a discussion about the goals for an organization. Or we can use this question to understand ourselves.
Asking the question “Why?” opens our eyes to the intent behind our actions. We find in the Scriptures that intent is very important to God. Consider the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. When praying, the Pharisee chose to do so publicly and loudly (Luke 18: 9-14). His intent was not to call out to God, his intent was to proclaim to those around him his own righteousness. The tax collector, on the other hand, stood in the corner and cried out to God. He did not seek the attention of others but earnestly repented and sought forgiveness. In Luke 18:14, Christ stated: “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Here Christ just said that the reviled tax collector was justified and the Pharisee was not justified. Tax collectors were despised by the Jewish people as collaborators. They were viewed with hate and distrust. Yet despite this, Christ held his prayer up as one that was received by the Father. How can this be? It was not that his prayer was worded better than the Pharisee’s. The tax collector’s fine clothes did not make his prayer better. It was a matter of his heart. The tax collector called out for forgiveness because he was repentant. The Pharisee prayed to be heard by men, not by God. The “Why” of what each did mattered.
Let’s bring this to the context of Small Groups. So you want to be in a small group? Why do you want to be in one? Do you want to be sharpened by other believers, as Scriptures tells us to in Proverbs 27:17? Do you want to find another path to grow closer to our fellow believers at Trinity? We must ask ourselves “Why?” to understand and see if there are selfish intents to what we are doing. Even if we are acting in a selfish way, that is not an excuse to not get involved or join a small group. Understanding the intent of our action is important so that we know how to grow, how to improve, and how to mature in our walk with Christ.
In the same way, those who wish to lead a small group must examine their reasons as well. Small group leaders are not a replacement for the pastors. They are not responsible for having all the answers. They are not there to dictate, but rather facilitate. Small group leaders are there to encourage the discipleship process, both with themselves and with the group. In order to accomplish this effectively, those seeking to serve as leaders must examine themselves and be aware of their intentions and goals.
We all have intentions for the actions we take. We must ask ourselves “Why?” to understand our intentions. It does not mean we don’t do the right thing, it means we strive to do the right thing for the right reasons.
"The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children...heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:16-17).
There is a difference between knowing about God in your head, and knowing God in your heart. I knew a pastor once who said that your head knowledge must make a 16-inch trip from your brain to your heart before genuine salvation can occur. Your mind may comprehend the message of salvation. You may realize the consequences of your sin and understand your need for a Savior (Romans 3:10-12; 23). But until your spirit recognizes that mustard seed of faith that Jesus is offering, until you reach out in response to that offering and latch onto God’s grace, the experience of salvation cannot occur.
The book of Matthew tells us of a man who found Jesus in the synagogue. This man had a paralyzed hand. In the midst of a discussion about whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus told this man, "Stretch out your hand" (Matthew 12:13). Imagine living with a paralyzed hand. How frustrating it must have been for this man to rely on others for the things that were necessary in life. His hand would not move. No matter how hard he tried or how much he focused his mind, he couldn’t move it even a fraction of an inch. But finally, there he was; standing before Jesus! He must have been jumping out of his skin with excitement. Finally, he was going to be healed. Finally...wait...what did he say? Stretch out my hand? My hand is paralyzed! I can’t stretch it out!
Of course, this isn’t the conversation that occurred in Scripture. You should read it yourself—it’s an amazing story; and it’s been useful in my exaggeration to prove a point. It’s a war zone in there—that place between your heart and your head. It’s a constant wrestling match between your mind and your emotions, a tug of war between your spirit and your own stubborn will. But if you want to seal the deal, you have to let your knowledge of Jesus make that 16-inch trip from your brain to your heart so that you can stretch out your hand to Jesus and latch onto his grace. "For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift" (Ephesians 2:8).
Yes, salvation is a trip; but it isn’t a one-way adventure. It’s a two-way journey. Once you make that heart decision, your heart knowledge must make a 16-inch trip back to your brain where a choice must be made. "With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:10). We confess our sins, and we confess salvation before God and men. As Christians, we are "not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).
As a child of God, that two-way trip knowledge takes from the mind to the heart and back again will become a familiar experience. Paul describes this trip in Romans 8:14-17, "All those led by God's Spirit are God's sons. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father!' The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God's children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ..."
As a child of God, the Holy Spirit lives within you. The Spirit uses that two-way trip to confirm his presence in your life. He uses it to teach you about his unfailing love and his unlimited ability to forgive. He uses it to give you peace in the midst of trouble, certainty as you go through trials, serenity as you walk through the valleys of life, and truth when Satan lies to you. Once you’re God’s child, his Holy Spirit will never leave you or forsake you; not even when your faith fails or you fall into the depths of sin (Hebrews 13:5). He will teach you, again and again the truths that are needed in your life.
It is this two-way trip that causes your mustard seed of faith to flourish throughout your lifetime. It is this two-way trip that allows you to see things from God’s perspective. His perspective will never fail to bring you back to the point of his will for your life, and open the doorway for renewal and restoration in your heart and mind. This two-way trip of knowledge, imparted to you from the one who created you, will ultimately supply you with the wholeness you desire as a Christian.
The truth is that none of us feel like being obedient all the time. This is why we must not allow obedience to be a heart choice. In the same way, we will all come to a time when we doubt the realness of our experience with God. This is why faith is not a matter of the mind alone. When the Spirit says to you, You are my beloved child, it is your heart that erupts in joyful recognition, allowing your mind to respond to his call. This is the working of Christ in you. It is your assurance and your everlasting hope of the glory to come!
Assignment: Have you been saved by grace, or do you have persistent doubts? Does the Holy Spirit reside in you, or do you find yourself surprisingly alone? If you’re saved and you know it, then share your salvation experience with someone you love. If you have doubts, don’t let them linger. Talk to a trusted Christian friend, mentor, or pastor. Resolve that issue today.