One more thing, please

One more thing….please!

Our congregation has served at My Brothers’ Keeper, (MBK) in Flint for several years—donating food, cooking and serving dinner and donating warm clothing. Most importantly we’ve been sharing the Gospel with them. Now, we’re asking YOU to do one more thing–spend some time in prayer for them.

On May 4, the National Day of Prayer, we asked our MBK guests to fill out a prayer request form.  Twenty-three men wrote heart-wrenching requests—as they seek their way back into employment and their own home, praying their families will be once more united and health issues resolved.

If you’d consider praying for these men, faithfully this month, here’s a prayer that encompasses most of their requests.

God, our Father, our church has seen the homeless and the hopeless up close and met them in person. It  breaks our hearts to know that we cannot do more than our once-a-month ministry.

Father, sometimes we feel helpless because their hope is dried up, they have nothing left. Several of these homeless men are veterans who served us and our county honorably.

God, use these homeless people’s problems to draw them closer to You through Your Son’s redemptive work at Calvary. Help each one today, receive a bit of hope but most importantly, give them the only hope in this life and the life to come that is found only in Jesus Christ. Many of them have lost everything –but still have faith in You. They requested prayer- I pray for them in Jesus Holy Name, Amen.

 

Chocolate or Ice-soldier?

Many of you remember the hymn, “Am I a soldier of the Cross, A follower of the Lamb, And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?”
 
Recently, Christians have been challenged by society to be still and not discuss Christian views on sex or science. Our universities that we support with tax dollars promote two lies—first, that God did not make the world and everything in it as the Bible describes, and secondly, that people have the right to determine which sex they prefer to be no matter which sex one is born with!
 
At Flint International Friends we are working to destroy these lies with God’s word. Last month we took over a dozen students to view the movie, Is Genesis History”, which defends the Christian view of creation with scientific evidence.
 
This week, our partner church, St. Paul Lutheran Church (Flint, MI) hosted a movie and lunch event for our students showing the film, “God’s Not Dead – Part 2.”  Students were challenged by the film to speak out in school when their beliefs are threatened by godless theories taught as truth.
 
A famous missionary to China, called for Christians to speak up and not be Chocolate Christians of the Cross—that melt in the face of opposition, like our familiar hymn warns. Instead we are to be like the 40 ice-soldiers bound in an icy pond who died rather than deny their Lord.
 
 

Serving Together to Help Others Adds Up

In early 2014, members of Trinity Lutheran Church welcomed our first Family Promise guests.  Since that first week, dozens of our members have contributed their time and gifts to help local families who are going through a time of homelessness.  Through this partnership with Family Promise of Genesee County over 19 of the 28 families we have hosted are now maintaining their housing.

Just like the other host congregations of the Family Promise Network of Genesee County, Trinity Lutheran provides meals, shelter, and friendship to local homeless families one week each quarter (4x/year).   Our medium-sized congregation is able to provide this love in the name of Jesus right here in our facility. 

On Monday, March 13, Trinity’s Family Promise Coordinator, Mary Weeden and I met with Lindsey, the director of Family Promise of Genesee County for an annual review of our ministry together.  Lindsey’s report shows how God’s people of Trinity Lutheran Church are serving others in tangible ways.

  • Number of Host Weeks: 12 weeks since 2014
  • Number of Families Hosted: 28 unique families
  • Number of people hosted: 130 people (some were repeats)
  • Number of Safe Night Sleep Provided: 910 nights of safe sleep
  • Number of Volunteer Hours: 3,408 hours
  • Amount of In-kind donations: ($22.13 an hour/volunteer): $75,419

Our ministry with Family Promise of Genesee County continues throughout the year.  As the next host week approaches, it is announced in Heavenly Happenings, the Trinity Gram, and during worship.  If being a part of our Family Promise ministry is something that you would like to learn more about, please contact Mary Weeden via email or phone the church office.

Work Underway to Reverse Declines

“The facts are stark,” he explained. “Christians make up a smaller and smaller proportion of the American population every year (down to just 71 percent this year). Every district of the LCMS has experienced numerical decline in the past decade — from a 4 percent decline in some places to over 25 percent in others. The counties where the Synod is strongest across the country also tend to be the counties where population is decreasing. The Synod is growing in membership in counties that are growing in population, but more slowly than the overall population increase. What’s going on? Will it get better? What does the future hold?”

https://blogs.lcms.org/2017/reversing-lcms-membership-decline?utm_content=buffer055b2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Guest Pastors Teach About Jesus’ Parables

They were stories that changed the world.  Two millennia ago Jesus of Nazareth taught big ideas through some small stories called parables.  The parables contain eternal truths that can change one’s life.

These parables were contemporary for Jesus’ original audience and they connected with the everyday sights, sounds, and experiences of Jesus’ listeners.  Since the days of the first century, time and culture have separated us from some of the relevant background information of the parables.  However, these parables still contain the eternal truths that can only come from the Son of God.

Several of these parables will be given a closer look during this Lenten season.  Each of our Wednesday evening worship services will feature one of Jesus’ parables.  After listening to the parable read from the Gospels, a local pastor will teach on the parable to help us understand the parable’s original meaning and bridge the parable to our contemporary context.

In looking ahead to our Lenten Wednesday Worship Worship the following parables will be considered by the following pastors:

March 1 Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 16:1-9 Pastor Todd Frusti
Trinity L.C. – Davison
March 8 Pharisee & the Tax Collector Luke 18:9-14 Pastor David Weiss
St. Timothy L.C. – Otisville
March 15 The Hidden Treasure & the 
Priceless Pearl
Matthew 13:44-46

Pastor Steve Helms
Holy Redeemer L.C. – Dryden

March 22 The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37

Pastor Gary Beck
St. Mark’s L.C.  – Flint

March 29 The Sower and the Seed Matthew 13:1-8; 18-23

Dcn. Dave Hoffman
Family of Christ L.C. – Imlay City

April 5 The Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32

Pastor Kelly Todd
Christ L.C. – Hadley

 

Of course, with this being the season of Lent, special attention will be given to how the parables can help us to see and understand Jesus’ suffering, death, and sacrifice for us.  In addition to a deeper appreciation and understanding of Jesus’ teachings, each Midweek Lenten Worship features uplifting Lenten hymns and songs as well as time of prayer.

May God bless your Lenten Journey.

Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word by Koine

Join us on Friday, March 24 at 6:00 PM for “Footsteps to the Cross”.  Koiné will lead us in this meaningful and inspiring Lenten experience through Scripture, music, and multimedia.

The Other Way Round

Flint International Friends was designed to bring Jesus to internationals—but sometimes it’s working the other way round! Yes, we still are showing Jesus’ love to those who don’t yet know Him, but Christian internationals are bringing a new vision of mission to us changing some of our thinking and ways.
 
Prayer—starting at 5 a.m. and lasting until it’s time to go to work is the trademark of the fastest growing church in the world—China!  Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt us to get up a bit earlier and pray—for the church in the US which is not increasing—but decreasing. The United States now ranks third (3rd) following China and India in the number of people who are not professing Christians; in other words, the U.S. is becoming an ever increasing “un-reached people group.”
 
My sister in Christ from India called to tell me about her church service last Sunday in the US….While the service took place in the prescribed time-frame, members felt that it was too short—and continued to worship at a friend’s house for three more hours.
 
“We sang songs, praised God, read our Bibles, and stood up saying, “we are in Christ, we don’t have to fear anything,” she said.
 
A Christian from Nigeria confirmed the 1-hour of worship a week isn’t enough for her. My Nigerian friend’s worship in her homeland begins somewhere around 9 a.m., and continues until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Of course there is lots singing and dancing, a trademark of even Lutheran Churches in Nigeria.
 
We Americans like everything to be on time and run smoothly—that’s great—unless the Holy Spirit intervenes with spontaneous praise and thanks—something like the early church experienced. Let’s learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ—to let our time in prayer and personal devotion be one lead not by the clock but by His Spirit.

Youth and Communion in History

Most of us who are life-long Lutherans received communion for the first time when we were confirmed in the eighth grade.  I never questioned the timing of confirmation or first communion. It was just something that took place when members of our church were in the eighth grade.  In a way, I thought of confirmation and first communion as a Lutheran rite of passage before going to high school.  As far as I knew, it had always been that way since the days of Jesus . . . or at least Martin Luther.

Actually, confirmation and first communion in the eighth grade goes back to the days when eighth grade was for many the last year of formal education.  Since most people finished school in the eighth grade (and joined the work force), it made sense that confirmation would take place at this time in a person’s life.  Whether eighth grade is still the best time for the rite of confirmation is a topic for another time. 

What about the age at which a person can receive the Lord’s Supper?  For many Lutherans the timing of receiving communion has been inseparably tied to eighth-grade confirmation for as long as any of us can remember.  However, there is plenty of historical evidence that Christians were admitted to the Lord’s Table at a much earlier age . . . even among Luther and his fellow reformers.

For example, in a sermon preached on March 25, 1529 (about the same time that his Catechisms were being published), Martin Luther encouraged children to be prepared to receive communion:

“This exhortation ought not only to move us older ones, but also the young and the children. Therefore you parents ought to instruct and educate them in the doctrine of the Lord: the Decalog, the Creed, the Prayer, and the Sacraments. Such children ought also to be admitted to the Table that they may be partakers” [of the Lord’s Supper] (F. Bente, Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, electronic ed. (Concordia Publishing House, 1921), 82).

Also, in the preface to the 1538 of the Danish edition of the the Enchridion, the reformer Johnannes Bugenhagen wrote,

“that after this confession is made, also the little children of about eight years or less should be admitted to the table of Him who says: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto Me,’ ” (F. Bente, Historical Introductions to the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, electronic ed. (Concordia Publishing House, 1921), 82.)

Here at Trinity Lutheran Church, since at least 2008 we have been preparing youth in the fifth and sixth grades for the reception of the Lord’s Supper.  This “Early Communion – Prior to Confirmation” course is offered for four weeks during Lent of each year.   For a youth to participate in the class he or she must

  • Attend four classes/sessions with a parent and/or other adult.
  • Attend worship services while taking the course.
  • Complete all of the homework that is part of the class.

Upon completing the course, the young person and parents sign a pledge that he or she will attend and complete confirmation classes.  If they do not enroll in confirmation classes upon entering the seventh grade they will loose the privilege to receive communion until they enroll in confirmation.

Early Communion Prior to Confirmation begins again on Saturday, March 4 at 4:00 p.m.   Those who complete the course this  year will receive first communion during the Maundy Thursday service on April 13.  If you are interested in attending and have not yet enrolled in the class, please contact the church office by Thursday, March 2.

Parables of Lent

Everyone loves a good story.  Jesus told lots of good stories. Our Lord’s stories connected with the day to day lives of His listeners in order to convey the important, relevant, and eternal truths which every ear and every heart from every generation so desperately needs. These stories,  called parables, are sometimes described as “earthly stories with an Heavenly meaning”.  As the world and culture changed over two millennia,  Jesus’ listeners have become increasingly disconnected from the stories. This cultural disconnect has made it more difficult to understand the truths Jesus taught about following Him. (more…)

A Timely “Word, Prayer, and Care”

Word, Prayer and Care is a valuable publication that Trinity publishes every weekend. This single page tri-fold includes a suggested Bible memory verse, a daily Bible reading list, a place to jot notes during the sermon, some suggested questions for digging deeper into the Scripture readings appointed for the week, and a vast prayer list. Word, Prayer, and Care is a powerful tool for the Spiritual life of our congregation. It is designed to be concise and convenient for God’s people to carry with them throughout the week. Maybe you have even discovered how it makes a nice bookmark in your Bible.

We do our best to make every issue of Word, Prayer, and Care relevant, timely, and meaningful. Considerable thought goes into “Digging Deeper” questions and choosing relevant Bible verses for the weekly memory assignment.

It is also most powerful when considering the number of people who are using it daily to lift others in prayer. The Bible says, “The prayer of the righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Since we first began publishing Word, Prayer, and Care we have included the following text on the front cover:

“For accuracy, names will remain in this Prayer Guide for two weeks. Please call the church office to notify us that additional prayers are necessary.”

The above policy has been leniently enforced at best. This has resulted in our daily and weekly prayer list being outdated. I am embarrassed to tell you that we have had individuals on the prayer list whom we had learned passed way weeks earlier.
For the prayer list to remain relevant, we will begin abiding by the printed “2-week policy” beginning on January 1st.

We do want to encourage our church family to pray for one another and others whom we love. Thank you for your help in keeping our prayer list current and accurate by calling or emailing the church office with updates by noon on Friday. If you forget to “renew” your prayer request after two weeks and a name is removed from the list, simply notify the office and we will be happy to add the name to the prayer list again for the next weekend.

Thank you for being the prayer warriors that you are. In addition to Word, Prayer, and Care, Trinity also has an active Prayer Chain and an interactive “Prayer Wall” on our website. If you are not yet a part of our Prayer Chain ministry you can become part of it by calling the church office or via our website.

Our new “Prayer Wall” is a tool that is available 24 hours a day on our website. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I invite you to do so at www.TrinityDavison.org/prayer-wall.

May your New Year be blessed and be a blessing through prayer.

[The above post originally appeared in the January 2017 edition of Trinity Gram.]