Sometimes a conversation surprises…and one walks away in awe. This happened to me this past Sunday in our TFC hallway following a wonderful worship service. We had just witnessed a very special ceremony as a part of our worship service. And our Church Body, including our children, observed it. Sometimes we are prone to think of the Church as adults only. However, our elders cast the vision several years ago for intentional multi-generational reach and worship. If you are 80, 38, 18 or 8 years old, you are welcome to worship and grow with one another. So, all ages were present as we watched this very special ceremony during our worship service…a Pastoral Ordination.
Have you ever witnessed a man being ordained as a pastor? In my experience, it is somewhat rare. Therefore, it holds a certain unique feeling for me. Inviting children to be part of the moment is what spurred that conversation in the hall on Sunday. A mom of a young boy was sharing with me her concern that she is teaching her child enough to prepare him for life. I asked her if she felt equipped by our Family Ministries Team and by the church as a whole? She thoughtfully replied, “yes,” and shared what she thought would be helpful. Then, the surprise. As we reflected on the pastoral ordination part of the service, she said these words:
“I am so grateful my son was present to see Chad ordained as a pastor today… When does a child ever see a man on his knees? When do we ever see a man on his knees at church? When do we ever see a man on his knees with his wife by his side while the Elders pray over them? When do we ever see a man publicly declare his love and devotion to God…on his knees?
Chad Cowan Ordination – May 19, 2013
As we both wiped away tears, we rejoiced that our church, all of us, were with Chad and Melissa Cowan as they stepped out in faith and obedience…on their knees.
Kari Jane Smith
TFC Children’s Minister
TFC Final Wednesday Evening Dinner for 2012
Wednesday Evening, Dec. 5, 2012, 5:30-6:00 pm in Fellowship Hall
Dear TFC Body,
Tomorrow evening is our final Wednesday Evening of Programs & Dinner for the 2012 year. Even if you are not part of our Wednesday studies or connection groups, please consider stopping by at 5:30 pm for a great meal, great fellowship, and a reasonably priced dinner for only $3 per plate! Tomorrow evenings menu includes:
Spaghetti w/meat sauce
Our Wednesday evening programs resume on January 9, 2013, and we are going to try something new with our Wednesday evening dinners. Our Kitchen Ladies love serving the body with dinner each Wed. night, but the price of food has escalated. In order to be good stewards in planning, beginning January 9 we will take reservations for our Wednesday evening dinner. The cost will remain at $3 for those with reservations, and will be $4 for those who just show up to eat Wednesday night. Reservations can be made each Wednesday evening for the next Wednesday evening, or by email through the TFC Office.
932 S. Greenville Ave.
Richardson, TX 75081
Dear TFC Body,
For kingship belongs to the LORD, and He rules over the nations. Ps. 22:28
What a week. Tuesday’s election has been the focus and source of bitter division and lofty expectations for well over a year. With the election behind us and challenges before us, it’s time to take a deep breath. Whether you are deeply disappointed, elated, worn-out, or overly cynical, it is good to remember that political divisions need not divide God’s people. After all, He reigns supreme over all creation, including the rise and fall of kings, nations, and cultures. Christ’s kingdom is a reality. And whatever fears you may have about our nation’s future, Jesus exhorted prayer according to His will that His kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10). Even if Christianity in America may not have the influence it once had (“no religious affiliation” is the fastest growing religious category in our country), Christ remains head of His church (Col. 1:18).
Dr. Sam Storms, founder of Enjoying God Ministries and former minister on staff at Believer’s Chapel after his studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, began a thoughtful article “Thinking about the Election from a Biblical Point of View” with this quote:
“Sinful humans with all our quirks will decide who controls the White House and Congress. But under a sovereign God, the election is no crapshoot.”
The article is lengthy but a worthwhile read, presenting eight biblically supported theses on the reign of God and the role of government. Click here for the full article with numerous Biblical references. Here are the eight theses for your consideration:
(1) Human government is not inherently evil, nor any particular political system wicked per se. Government is used for evil because people are sinful, not because the authority of the ruling party is wicked or should be abolished. (Rom. 13:1; John 8:44)
(2) God is absolutely sovereign and authoritative over who rules, where they exercise their power (its boundaries and extent), over whom they have authority, and for how long. (Isaiah 40:23-24)
(3) God is not only sovereign in delegating authority, He also can exert omnipotent and irresistible influence over the hearts and minds of kings and rulers and presidents to do what He wants done. (“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will.” Proverbs 21:1)
(4) Although we are ultimately citizens of a heavenly kingdom and only secondarily citizens of an earthly state, we are not for that reason exempt from submitting to the laws of the land where we live (1 Peter 2:13-17).
(5) Although we are submissive to the authority of government, Christians have a responsibility as citizens of both heaven and earth to influence for good the government under which they live.
(6) The local church’s authority is unique. Nowhere in the NT do we see that Elders in the local church, by virtue of their being Elders, have authority in or responsibility over local, state, or national government decision-making. Elders can certainly hold public office, but they do so as private citizens and not because of their office in the local church. Likewise, nowhere in the NT do we see governmental officials exerting authority over the local church or selecting its officers or dictating what it must believe or how its people must behave.
(7) No government or earthly authority or political party platform ever sent anyone to hell or saved a single human soul. Politics has no such power. On the other hand, unrepentant pride and immorality and rebellion and unbelief do send people to hell. Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone has the power of salvation.
(8) The confession that “Jesus is Lord” is not simply a declaration of faith and an acknowledgement that He is the Master of our lives individually and as a church. It is also a political statement.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18) who is still king of kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16; 17:14).
One very specific and powerful application is the importance of prayer that God would be pleased to show His glory, justice, mercy, and salvation through those entrusted to political service. And so Paul encouraged churches to pray: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
When we gather together in worship this Sunday we will be looking at Paul’s instructions concerning the celebration of the Lord’s Table (1Cor. 11:17-34). What a clear reminder and gift for the worshipping church that all manner of human divisions are brought together in unity through Jesus Christ.
Trinity Fellowship Church
November is here. The Thanksgiving holiday is only a few weeks away. Yet gratitude is certainly not to be limited to a single day.
The Apostle Paul concludes his first letter to the church at Thessanoliki with a few staccato commands to characterize the Christian life without interruption.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1Thess. 5:16-18)
I want to jumpstart your thanksgiving and let you know a few things we can be thankful for, and highlight some ways God is at work among us:
There are just so many people to thank for their enthusiastic support and service at the 1st ever TFC Fall Festival this past Wednesday night. It was a huge success on so many levels. We had a great turnout from the community. There was a consistent theme of gratitude from many parents for providing a fun and safe halloween alternative to dark and unsafe neighborhood strolling. That’s a great service to the community. In addition to lots of candy, kid games, and inflatables, we were probably the only Fall Festival in town with a live jazz/rock band – and they were terrific! I don’t know who had more fun – the community visitors, or the TFC folks who served together with joy. It was encouraging to hear so many comments that included, “and next year…” Thanks for your prayer, support, and participation in this outreach to our community. May God be pleased to work through our joyful service and witness.
LCCC Has A New “Permanent” Home
Also this past Wednesday, Lake Cities Community Church (our daughter/sister church in Rowlett) closed on their own building! After 5.5 years of wandering, they have a place to call their own, to gather in worship, and serve to advance the kingdom of Christ in their community. Their property is part of one of the most strategic new developments in the city with groundbreaking for hundreds of new homes next year (8601 Liberty Grove, Rowlett 75089). Give thanks as LCCC celebrates this Sunday with testimonies and a pot-luck lunch in their new home. It is such a joy to see God bless LCCC and a privilege to be a part of their start and growth.
Have you ever thought or lamented, “if I only had more time?” It’s been a long time since God made the sun stop in its daily course (Josh. 10:13). But thanks to Ben Franklin and daylight saving time, we gain an extra hour this weekend. Don’t forget to set your clocks BACK 1 HOUR this weekend. We will still be gathering for worship at 9:30 am. And we will probably have coffee ready for any who show up at 8:30 am. What will you do with your extra hour?
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
We begin a new section in our study of 1Corinthians. After spending chapters 8-10 addressing the church’s abuses of Christian liberty amidst the pagan world and their worship, Paul focuses on the abuses taking place in their own worship gatherings across chapters 11-14. Our passage for this Sunday – one of the most difficult in the New Testament – addresses head coverings and haircuts, and the importance of appropriate gender roles and sexuality for our life of worship together. Give thanks that we can worship together, lift our voices and blend them in praise of the one true God, who has set us free from sin through Jesus Christ, so that we could obey God’s Word, be strengthened together at the Table, and share the real life of Jesus Christ together. What will you wear?
Trinity Fellowship Church
Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 31st, much of our country will stock their front doors with candy in anticipation of costumed-kids coming to ask for it. People will pack the theatres to watch the latest scary movie. Haunted houses and corn mazes will be visited from other people seeking a scare. Out of everything, I think the most frightening aspect will be the countless cavities that will result from the unspeakable amounts of sugar.
Unfortunately, this day also has some dark/negative connotations tied to it. However, this presents a great opportunity to reflect the hope that we have in Christ! Our campus will be filled with fun games and activities – but more importantly – be staffed by people who are ready to share more than a prize or piece of candy. We have a chance to show our community who we are, and to invite them to join us on a life-changing journey. Greeting numerous children, families, and citizens from our surrounding neighborhoods with a smile and open heart can be used as a doorway for people who may indeed be looking for more than a game or prize. Our turnout could be huge, but our impact immeasurable.
For a church body that overwhelmingly concluded a few years ago that our community is mostly unaware of what Trinity Fellowship Church is, this could be the opportunity to show them.
But even more than that, we can show them Who. I hope you will join us!
Serving with you,
Trinity Fall Festival…Wednesday, October 31st from 6-8pm
*It’s never too late to help with the Fall Festival! E-mail Jeff today at email@example.com
Dear TFC Body,
It feels as if we are half-way through the summer break from school already. So I did a bit of calculating and was pleased to find out that we don’t officially reach the half-way point for another 7 days. So, I’ve been counting my blessings so far into the summer and invite you to join me in giving thanks for the following:
• We have raised up, supported, sent out, and received home several short-term mission trips and now have even more stories to tell of lives changed and kingdom work done. Come hear from our youth about their recent incredible week of service and sharing at the historic Bowery Mission in lower Manhattan, NYC. Youth Minister Jeff Harding is putting together a trip review dinner for SUNDAY EVENING 7:00-8:30 pm for everyone in the body to come hear some stories, browse some pictures, watch a video, and interact with the youth and leaders. A light dinner (Subway) will be provided – SO PLEASE RSVP by noon Sunday to Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, anyone in the body is invited to attend and give thanks.
• Our “daughter” church – Lake Cities Community – has moved into the most permanent building of their young 5-year existence. What an important milestone and great provision from God for their ongoing ministry into the Rowlett community and beyond. Here’s their new address: 8601 Liberty Grove Road, Rowlett, Texas, 85089. Give thanks.
• We just started a new short sermon series through John’s first epistle entitled “Walk in the Light.” Take some time over the next month and read through the letter multiple times. Get familiar with it. Give thanks for the assuring presence of God in the midst of our community and the opportunity to share Christ’s life in warm Christian fellowship.
• This Sunday we will be blessed to hear a missionary update from John Sage, who has served with CAM International (now Camino Global International) in our partnership with Plano Bible Chapel to plant Iglesia Biblica de Plano, an Hispanic church in Plano. Give thanks for their years of faithful service, the future ministry God is leading them in, and the ongoing witness of the kingdom through IBP.
• We’ve only had a handful of 100+ degree days this summer – SO FAR. I’m praying that the 2nd half isn’t consistently over the century mark. I’m thankful.
• I trust you were able to enjoy a nice Independence Day holiday this past Wednesday, July 4th. We have a unique privilege in our country to gather in worship freely. Give thanks.
• And as we reflected on in this past Sunday’s worship service, a sign of Christian maturity and fellowship with God is the freedom to confess sin that is supported by the assuring forgiveness of God through the perfect and completed atoning work of Jesus Christ. Give thanks for the freedom we truly have in Jesus Christ, and the joy that comes from sharing His life together.
Trinity Fellowship Church
My apologies for not having a blog post since Tuesday…we are keeping busy but slowing down because of fatigue and exhaustion. We were blessed to receive over 3 hours of undisturbed rest yesterday afternoon…and boy, did we need it! Please pray that we engage the remainder of our trip with health, strength, and focus (especially strength).
The last few days have been filled with a semi-usual routine of serving meals, doing pick-up runs, moving large boxes/crates, and arranging items in the pantry. The Bowery staff has been gracious with us in allowing breaks, and God has blessed myself and the other leaders with enough wisdom to find times for students to nap and rest. Tuesday night, we were invited to join one of the chefs/pastors of the Bowery at his home church for a service. His home church happens to be Times Square Church! It was definitely a unique experience for the group, along with the classic hot dog vendor we stopped at for dinner. Wednesday morning was a great time for us to enjoy fellowship with some of the residents in the Bowery at a water-side park for a game of softball, which happened after our morning assignments. Braden Batzing was our MVP with two in-park home runs and five RBIs! We enjoyed a little bit of free time that afternoon since some other groups came in to help serve and help at the Bowery. The girls got some rest and shopping in, while the boys got to take in some more museum sights up by Central Park. We met at Rockefeller Center for part of the team to enjoy the Top of the Rock views, and finished with some dinner at Ellen’s Stardust – a burger/shake joint staffed with waiters who are Broadway understudies and aspiring performers that serenade the crowd every few minutes. A great, restful time for us!
Thursday morning was our second chapel, led with worship, a skit, and a sermon on light and darkness (John 8, Romans 3). Once again, God strengthened and spoke through my tired, weary mind to bless the crowd with His truth. Many came forward for prayer with myself and Charlie Jonson; God deserves much praise for choosing to use us that morning! Fatigue and signs of illness began afflicting our team yesterday during breakfast clean-up, so that’s when we starting splitting our team up to rest and have leaders take care of some students. As I mentioned earlier, we were able to rest for the afternoon, check on how people were feeling, and head up to The Bronx for a Yankees game. The afternoon rest revitalized us well, so it was great treat! We ended the night with debriefing the day, and going through some of the people we had met during the week. I led a devotion through Psalm 22, and how even the depths of utter despair offer the hope of “He who has done it.”
This morning, we let the girls sleep in while the guys (and Frances Eubanks) took care of the morning duties. We had a good debriefing time with Tom Basille, the Director of the Bowery Mission. The students gave some good feedback, and we got to hear Tom’s vision for the Bowery. We also found out that the Bowery was legally recognized as a national landmark yesterday! We did our last chapel at noon, and Charlie led us out with a great message on going to God when we’re powerless and confused. The students led worship, and gave their testimonies as well. It was certainly a rewarding time to hear the heart of our students. We also had a tangible reward for lunch…lobster! Every once in a while, the Mission gets a truckload from food inspectors who find delicacies that are either too large, illegally caught, or something that violates a code. Since the Bowery is friends with the Game Commissioner, they get a big delivery of the perfectly edible, tasty lobster. It was fantastic.
After some rest this afternoon, we’re getting ready to leave for the 9-11 memorial, and grab some dinner before purchasing some ice cream and toppings to serve ice cream sundaes to the residents as our thank you for letting us share this place with them the past week. Please pray that the students are intentional with their last night in the mission, and that we can reflect well on His goodness to us this week.
Jeff and the NYC Youth Mission Team
Ever wonder if you really make a difference to anyone?
If you served in the Children’s Ministry during the recent school year, you DID make a difference. As you prepared and taught the Bible stories, something amazing was happening. You may not have given a thought to the impression you were making. You might have just been following through with a commitment made to serve at TFC one Sunday or Wednesday at a time….but so much more was taking place.
I, for one, was always so happy to see you walk in the door. But also besides making me happy, you were impacting souls…..with each lesson you taught, song you sang, game you played, or Bible verse you quoted. You WERE making a difference.
I sometimes want to look into the future and find out exactly what difference I have made…if any.
We as adults now don’t always remember every name of every teacher we had, nor the main objective of most lessons we were taught as kids. And I now see children that I taught a dozen years ago and they do not recognize me, nor remember the Bible stories I taught to them. But I do wonder if I made a difference to them.
Often, we never know if we have made a difference. But recently I did receive a great bit of encouragement from a very young soul at TFC. And I want to encourage you with the words I was privileged to hear. After teaching a lesson about Moses and the Hebrew people wandering in the desert, I asked the kids what they learned about God and about themselves from the story. Then I asked them why they thought I and all of their other TFC teachers want to tell them these stories from the Bible. After a few seconds…hands began to go up. I looked around and was curious what one young man might say in response…you never know!! This boy said thoughtfully and sincerely, “You teach us because you want to shape us into the men God wants us to be.”
As everyone was staring at my silent, open mouth, I realized he needed to know if I was pleased with his answer. “Yes,” I said. “That is exactly the reason! We want you to be the men and women God has designed for you to be!”
Parents have the ultimate responsibility of training their children. But as a church family, we are called to come alongside the parents to love and encourage them as they seek to aim each child in the direction he/she is God-designed to go. This boy’s parents and teachers have spoken life-giving words to him and he is now giving back truth. Not every time, but often. Will he remember me when he is 38? Probably not. May he remember he was loved, prayed for, encouraged, and pointed towards our Savior.
I pray he will grow up and volunteer to teach this great Biblical story to kids at his church, to be the man God has for him to be, and to make a difference.
Kari Jane Smith
TFC Children’s Director
In Luke’s account of Jesus’ baptism, John the baptist prophesies about the Christ, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to unite. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
Luke writes of this fulfillment in chapter 2 of Acts: “1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
On Pentecost, Christ fulfilled His promise to not leave his disciples as orphans in the world, and equip them powerfully to carry on the work and advance of His kingdom. The word simply means “50th day.” In the old testament, the 50th day following passover began the feast of weeks which eventually became a celebration of the giving of the law to the covenant people. On the Pentecost following Jesus’ resurrection the Holy Spirit gave birth to the church and personally took up residence in the hearts of Jesus’ followers so that they can fulfill the law: (Ezek. 36:24-27)
24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
The Spirit empowers the advance of the kingdom by giving new soft, living, and obedient hearts to Christ’s followers.
This incredible provision reveals a most amazing problem. Why is it so hard to obey at times? Why does life in the kingdom feel flat and weak at times? Perhaps I’m too afraid of being burned if I really trusted in the Spirit’s revealing work and asked for His guidance.
How’s your heart today? Is it soft? Are you allowing the fire of the Spirit alive in you to singe if not burn out the selfish demands and unsatisfying desires of your heart? Take some time and give thanks for the presence and powerful work of the Holy Spirit in your life and among our church body. Ask the Spirit to show you God’s will for you for your spiritual growth and growing love of others. Pray that the Spirit would move powerfully within our body as we gather together this Sunday – Pentecost Sunday – to worship and share the real life of Jesus Christ together.
Also this Sunday:
• We are so excited to recognize our high school graduates during our worship service this Sunday. Congratulations to Nathan Bannert, Nick Pickle, and Abigail Smith and their families on this huge milestone. Shout out to recent college grad Amy Cheatham as well on her graduation from Dallas Baptist University (by way of Baylor) with a degree in Psychology.
• Bruce and Katie Gay – TFC missionaries in China will be visiting with us and presenting a ministry update.
Many have asked that the letter read to Keith Hileman in the Pastor Installation portion of our worship service this past Sunday be posted for all to read. Here it is:
Eph. 4:11-13 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
MY PASTOR - A Letter from Trinity Fellowship Church to Keith
My pastor may have titles and degrees. Yet you only cherish one: Follower of Jesus Christ. That one role encompasses your life and ministry to others. I will see you as I see myself, one sinner journeying through this life with another sinner striving to love God and our neighbors as ourselves.
My pastor is not a nationally renowned speaker. You are not required to hold me spellbound with stirring stories or sentimental sermons. I don’t need to be entertained. I need to be fed. Fed by the Bread of Life that satisfies the true hunger of my heart. So I need you to rightly handle the Word of Truth; teaching, exhorting and training me that I may be thoroughly be equipped for every good work.
My pastor is not responsible for adding members and increasing church giving. Growth will not be measured in numbers or dollars in eternity. You will at times plant, other times water, but ultimately God brings the growth. By acknowledging all true riches come from above, you direct me to the foot of the cross and exhort me to yield every area of life to Christ as Lord.
My pastor is not responsible for my worship experience. You will lead me to the place of worship, as a shepherd leads sheep to green pastures. There I am responsible to graze upon the grace of God. There my soul will be restored.
My pastor has little interest in writing books and publishing theological articles. Fulfillment is not found in fame or name recognition. In the humility of Christ, you will be approachable like a friend. You invest time wisely in relationships, never feeling that coming to visit me when I’m hurting is an interruption to your plans. For your plans are directed by the Lord and you serve Him gladly.
My pastor will not be an advocate for every new church philosophy or the latest fad. You will guard me with sound doctrine, shield me with the Word of God and protect me against false teaching from the wolves of this world.
My pastor will not find satisfaction in successful programs or popular trendy themes. You will find joy in a risen Savior who calls you daily to personal repentance and dependence. In so doing I will sense God’s call to personal confession and obedience.
My pastor is not expected to network with the right crowd and dine with the influential. Like the Good Shepherd, you are to care for our flock, including seeking the lost lambs, investing in the less lovable sheep and attending to the weak and infirm.
My pastor is not an island, serving independently and above the body. You will seek wisdom from the counsel of trusted mentors for personal growth and accountability. As Jesus rested, you will at times withdraw to places where your soul finds peace from pastoral labors. You are not alone, but part of a fellowship that upholds each other, cares for one another and shares burdens together.
Above all my pastor will serve from a deep love of the Savior, humbly acknowledging your weaknesses, your biases and your helplessness, except for the work of the Spirit in your life. I accept your vow today to be my pastor. Therefore, I commit to pray for you, I commit to encourage you and I will serve Christ as a co-laborer in the community of believers we call Church.