Gospel

Enjoying God

We might think often of obeying God and knowing him and even trusting and loving him. But how often do we think of our relationship with God in terms of joy and happiness? What does it mean to “enjoy God”? If we are saved by him and belong to him and obey him, what difference does it make if we enjoy him? Our thoughts about God are critical to our faith and relationship with him, but what about our feelings toward him? Is it a modern self-help fascination to want to have happy feelings toward God—or is it a firm promise of the Scriptures and the goal of our union with Christ? 

This Sunday, we’ll start a new series in our gatherings and groups: Enjoying God.

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The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with this Q&A: What is the chief end of man? “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” 

Or as author John Piper has written: “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” 

Enjoying God is one thing we can do here and now, regardless of circumstances, regardless of our future, that has an eternal impact on our own souls, and improves our lives on earth. Enjoying God is what we were made for. 

The point of enjoying God is not what we get from it—less sin, more strength, a better life, etc. The point of enjoying God is simply enjoying God—he is the source of true, lasting joy. We find joy when we find him. 

How Do We Enjoy God? 

Our joy in God increases as we come to know him as he is (his character, attributes, and ways) and enter his presence in prayer. When we do these two things, the result will be enjoying God in everyday life

The three important elements of this series are: 

(1) Knowing God’s Character & Attributes, 
(2) Cultivating a Prayerful Life, and (the result)
(3) Enjoying God in Everyday Life 

Enjoying God’s Character & Attributes

The majority of this sermon series and community group study is a sustained meditation on God’s character and attributes. Each week (after the introductory sermon), we’ll focus on an aspect of God’s character (an attribute) so that we enjoy him as he is. A **highly-tentative** schedule is: 

June 9: Enjoying God in Everyday Life (Pentecost Sunday)
June 16: Enjoying God the Trinity (Trinity Sunday) 
June 23: Enjoying God Most Beautiful
June 30: Enjoying God Most Loving 

July 7: Enjoying God Most Merciful
July 14: Enjoying God Most Just
July 21: Enjoying God Most Faithful
July 28: Enjoying God Most Powerful 

Aug 4: Enjoying God Most Wise
Aug 11: Enjoying God through Suffering

***

If you are a Trinity member: This summer is a great opportunity to grow in your knowledge, experience, and enjoyment of God! Consider a commitment to join us for all ten weeks (in the gathering or, if you’re serving in Trinity Kids or traveling, by following the sermon page as well).

If you are considering a visit to Trinity: This is a great time to visit us! We would love to have you. If you have any questions, would like to talk with a pastor or leader, or want to let us know ahead of time that you’ll be visiting… you can contact us here.

See you Sunday!
JSL

Trinity Launch in Pictures!

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Thank You!

A big, heartfelt Thank You to everyone who worshipped with us, prayed for us, encouraged us, and supported us financially this past weekend! We had a beautiful and powerful public launch gathering.

We had 121 people gather with us for this big Sunday! (80 in our worship gathering and 41 in Trinity Kids—yes, that's a lot of children!)

There was a real Spirit of joy and celebration among us, and we know that this is just the beginning. We were blessed to minister to many non-church-attending neighbors, coworkers, and friends, and also welcomed many friends and family members who have supported us along the way. We are not done church planting, but this is a big step towards becoming a healthy, self-sustaining local congregation (that plants other churches). The best is yet to come.

What a Sunday! Enjoy the pictures!

Jeremy & Co.

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10 Rules for Church Planting: An Antidote to Hurry

Jordan Peterson set off a trend with his book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Everyone is doing their own “12 rules for life” now. Malcolm Gladwell just devoted an entire podcast to it. The only problem: He only has one rule for life. (It’s worth a listen.)

We may not have twelve rules for life (yet), but we do have ten commitments. Consider this our 10 Rules for Church Planting: An Antidote to Hurry.

In a series of leadership meetings over the winter (2017-18), we have sought to envision and define a healthy church culture. We asked the question, “What type of church culture will give us the best chance of continuous fruitfulness generation after generation?”

The following ten commitments reflect the culture we envision and describe the commitments required to sustain our vision (a Grace centered church that Loves one another and promotes the Renewal of the community). The commitments also provide a “code of conduct” for our leaders and members to embody.

1. We Are Family. 

We are relational beings, made in the image of the triune God. Relationship is our deepest longing and greatest need.

We put others first. We begin and end with grace. We don’t gossip, and we don’t have to have the last word.

2. We Are Not in a Hurry. 

Soul work is slow work. We move slow and play the long game.

Church planting is normally fueled by hurry, caffeine, and adrenaline. Hurry is, by definition, an unsustainable pace. We reject the mantra of “faster, bigger, better.”

3. We Honor God by Enjoying Our Lives. 

Life in Christ is the ultimate gift. We live in a state of joy and gratitude because of God’s grace.

The pressure is off. We have nothing to prove and no one to impress. We can even have fun!

4. We Promote Our City’s Renewal.

We love Columbia and its surrounding towns. We don’t live for ourselves but for the good of our neighbors.

We reach people, build them up, and release them back into the world to make a difference. We’re not building a dynasty. We are a leadership greenhouse: We cultivate leaders.

5. We Make Room for Outsiders.

We don’t exist just for who’s here but also for who’s not here. We remember what it feels like to be an outsider. All decisions consider the empty chair.

We believe beauty is unity in diversity; we fight for diversity and celebrate it.

6. We Lead as a Team.

We can go faster alone, but we will go further together. We are quick to praise and slow to criticize. We keep our faces soft.

We don’t use people to grow our ministries; we use our ministries to grow people. We reject celebrity-culture, platform-building church consumerism.

7. We Expect Constant Resistance.

We are in a spiritual war. The battle must be fought anew every day. We don’t complain or get bitter. 

We receive life’s challenges with gratitude and grit. We let pain and suffering soften us, rather than harden us.

8. We Trust the Process. 

God works through process; he takes his people the long way around.

We carry life’s complexities with empathy. We receive what’s given.

9. We Give It All Away.

We are recipients and stewards of all we are given. Our posture is abundance, not scarcity. 

If our leaders go on to do great things, and we won’t get the credit, we will have succeeded.  

10. We Celebrate Every Season.

We celebrate the valleys, the peaks, the plains, and the wilderness.

We rest well because we’re not in charge. We enjoy regular Sabbaths, retreats, and sabbaticals.

***

There are our church planting commitments—our antidote to hurry.

If these commitments resonate with you, or if you are interested in church planting, we would love to talk! You can visit one of our gatherings or send us a message.

Much love!

Holy Weekend: Experiencing Resurrection (Part One)

I grew up in the church, so when it came time for the annual youth retreat, for a camp trip, or for a special rally, I was there—reluctantly, in the back row, leaning against the wall, with one foot out the door.

I liked my church’s youth group, but these intended “highs” always bugged me. The recipe was: You pull a bunch of young people away from non-Christian influences, fill them with sugar and caffeine, and bring in your best Hype Guy to give his testimony. Even at 13 or 16, I would do an epic Liz Lemon eye roll and just wait it all out.

But as I’ve gotten older, I miss those weekends. There actually is beauty there—getting away, feeling something. It turns out the adult life is a long thread of days that looked and felt just like the one before it.

In more than a decade of pastoral ministry, I’ve wrestled with this tension. How much should we cultivate special, extraordinary experiences in the faith, and how often should we just put our heads down and follow God—living quiet lives, minding our own business, working with our hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11)?

Thankfully, we are not alone in this struggle: The Church has historically wrestled with the times and seasons of the Christian life, and the Church Calendar was formed and embraced as a way of living in this tension.

I’ve written here recently and spoken on this frequently: The liturgical calendar is something the contemporary church must recover. Even as a brand-new-and-not-even-public-yet church plant, we have no desire to be innovative. Instead, we want to recover the treasures that have been lost.

And the historic Church has one weekend each year that pulls together all our longings—for celebration, for embodied faith, and for renewed commitment. Easter is that weekend.

Maundy Thursday

Holy Weekend begins with what has traditionally been called the Great Triduum, meaning Three Great Days, in the historic church. These are the days that we remember with great solemnity the final events of Jesus’s life on earth. The season of Lent officially ends on the Thursday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy derives from the Latin Mandatum Novum, meaning “a new commandment.”[1]

On Thursday night, Jesus gathered with his disciples in the upper room (John 13-17; Luke 22). His earthly work was complete, and now he was preparing himself and his disciples for what must come next. He washed their feet in an act of marvelous humility; he promised the Holy Spirit; he spoke the new commandment of love; he instituted the Lord’s Supper; and he retreated to Gethsemane to pray and be arrested.

In my evangelical background, Maundy Thursday wasn’t celebrated. But without it, we lack an awareness of the magnitude of this day in the history of redemption. Maundy Thursday recalls the institution of the Lord’s Supper. “We are reminded of the connection made between bread, wine, and death. We are reminded that the death of Jesus is no mere human tragedy but a voluntary suffering by Jesus to be a sacrifice for us.”[2]

In Catholic and Episcopal tradition, Maundy Thursday is a communion (Eucharist) service concluded with the solemn stripping of the communion table, symbolizing the stripping of Jesus’s garments in preparation for crucifixion. The ministers remove from the table the bread and wine, take away all signs of life (flowers lamps, candles, and tablecloths), and silently wash the table with water. These things are put away until the day of the resurrection.

Good Friday

In the early church, Good Friday is practiced as a continuation of Thursday night. Beginning in the fourth century, there are records of Christians going to the Garden of Gethsemane to remember and practice communion, then returning to Jerusalem by night, arriving Good Friday morning to remember Jesus’s trial, crucifixion, death, and burial.

On Good Friday, we remember that it was our sins that put Jesus on the Cross. Many parts of the Church still practice the Stations of the Cross, a slow, purposeful walk through scenes from Jesus’s trial and crucifixion.[3]

Good Friday gatherings have become more popular in the Protestant tradition with good reason: We need an annual reminder of our sin, its penalty of death, and Christ’s willing sacrifice in our place. In a Good Friday gathering, there’s no Good News—no proclamation of resurrection, no empty tomb, no Easter Sunday. It’s simply death, burial, and darkness.

The Good Friday service ends with increasing darkness, as if we were moving further into the cave of Jesus’s burial. Finally, a final candle is snuffed out. There is no final hymn, no benediction, no soaring anthem. Christ has left the building. Ministers at the exits may take a blunt nail and press into the palms of the congregants, reenacting Christ’s pierced skin in their place.[4]

It is finished.

We often don’t pause here. We rush to the Good News. But the great Story doesn’t rush; God is never in a hurry. Especially on Holy Weekend, we must slow down. We have to linger. We must remain, even if only for a moment, in the darkness, before we return to the light.

(Part Two is coming Friday.)

 

***

[1] Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality Through the Christian Year, 127.
[2]
Webber, 128-29.
[3]
In Catholic tradition, nine stages of the Cross come directly from Scripture, and an additional five are added from popular tradition.
[4]
Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord, 13.