Sharing Good Works with Christmas Joy and Hope

December 23, 2011

In most church lectionaries (a list of various portions of Scripture arranged by theme for reading within churches) the reading from the epistles for Christmas is from Paul’s letter to Titus, chapter 2, verses 11-14:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 

Notice the straightforward flow of Paul’s presentation: Grace appeared through Christ to bring salvation to all who would believe, to make a holy people, awaiting his “advent.” And while we wait, we are to be a people zealous for good works. May God’s gift of Jesus Christ so stir you and your family this Christmas and into the new year that you are eager to serve others with grace and joy.

It is in this theme that I am so grateful to share with you two stories of joy shared with the completion of our annual Giving Tree project. Thanks to the incredible generosity and good works of our body, we were able to deliver gifts, hope, and Christ’s love to 3 families in great need from the Richland Elementary School in our neighborhood. Keith Mason and Kari Jane Smith’s accounts of their experiences are included so that you too may share in the joy of this project.

[From Keith Mason – Youth Pastor]
Last week I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite things of the year: deliver our Giving Tree gifts. Thanks to the generosity of the TFC community we were able to give bags and bags full of Christmas gifts to some new friends in need. It’s hard to imagine people in such need just a few blocks from the church. They didn’t even have pillows. However, each mom I met was striving to care for her family. One mother of a special needs child told us the story of being given this child when he was only three months old. She has sacrificed to raise him as her own for thirteen years. It helped put our giving in perspective.

Another mom we met told us the story of losing her job this past month. She told us how she had worked odd jobs, one after the other for years to provide for her family. As we brought in the gifts her eyes filled with tears. She was overwhelmed by grace. This was going to be a difficult Christmas for them, but now our unexpected generosity changed things. Her tears of joy had a big impact on me. There’s only been a few times in my life when I’ve been overcome with tears of joy. I want to be overwhelmed by His grace. What I’m asking for this Christmas is for Christ’s unexpected generosity to change things. Change my heart – that I might have tears of joy.

[From Kari Jane Smith- Director of Children’s Ministry]
She rang the church doorbell shyly and waited.  I knew she was coming and wanted to ease her discomfort, so I ran down the hall and around the corner to welcome her. She was not alone…a hesitant child clung to her hand and looked up at me with eyes as big as saucers!  What to say?

“I am so glad you are here…come…let me show you what our friends (that is you all) want to give you today!”
“So many friends and so many presents…look!”

Quiet and unsure…they both follow me to the shinning tree and must be wondering how it is that they are here in a church and about to receive more than they see. What to say?

“This…this is for you, D’Juan…and for your sister Natalia. And what does this name tag say? And this one? And this one?  And look, this one says, “for D’Juan’s mom!”

Smiles and tears cannot be held back anymore….Cherry Hanes is walking towards Mom and a warm hug is offered with prayers.  

“God loves you so much!  He is with you. You are not alone. You need to know that…” 

Christmas is here…right here. Hope is here. Mom tells us she was just laid off and her children knew that there would be no tree or presents or stockings for Christmas this year. God surprised her with hope. 

If you are reading this, you are part of that hope!

As we load her up with food, gifts, and hope, I ask if she has a church family. I encourage her to come for Christmas Eve services.  Everyone gathers and smiles for a photo and one more hug. A hesitant child and shy Mom say thank you over and over, and drive away full with so much more than they can see. Hope-full!

Keith Hileman

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Step Into Christ’s Community—Baptism

November 5, 2010

One of the great privileges I have as a pastor is the opportunity to share with others as they take the “step into Christ’s community” through baptism. It was so encouraging a few weeks as Jonathan Eubanks and Kelsey McPherson took that step. They both had their own story of God’s working in their lives to reveal His love and faithfulness to them. Jonathan shared with me his story of how it was at a youth conference as Dawson McAllister spoke about the last 6 hours of the life of Christ. All the teaching that he had heard before suddenly became real to Him. God’s love was real.

As for Kelsey’s story, a few weeks before the baptism she asked her older sister Lindsey, her parents, and her brothers how they became a Christian.  After hearing everyone’s story, she said, “I don’t have a story.” Her parents told her that they hoped one day she would – and a few weeks late she did. She told it at her baptism. In case you missed it here it is:

“My name is Kelsey McPherson. I am 8 years old. I had been thinking about becoming a Christian for awhile. One night I told my mom, “I want to be a Christian.” She said, “Ok, let me get my Bible.” Then we did the wordless book. The colors told the Gospel story. I prayed with my mom and said, ‘Dear God, I am a sinner. I believe You are the Son of God. Save me from my sins!’ And that is the story of how I became a Christian. I want to be baptized to show everyone that I follow Jesus Christ!!!”

Do you have a story? How can you share your story of God’s love and faithfulness as you follow Him?

Keith Mason
Youth Pastor


NEEDED—MORE VBS LEADERS & HELPERS!

June 8, 2010

VBS at TFC starts Monday morning, June 14 at 9:00 am. We have the children, we have the supplies, we have an awesome director (Susan McCullough) and a perfect Paul (Robert Brown). We have many, many volunteers already hard at work. We have music, curriculum, and did I mention children? Lots and lots of children!

But we do need more leaders, simply because we have more children.

Would you consider volunteering for this life-giving, life-changing (the children’s AND yours) opportunity to serve?

This job is not just for anyone. If you are already overcommitted, serving so many places that you find it hard to find time for relationship with God and/or your family, this may not be the year for you to lead at VBS. (Though it may be the perfect year for you to show up Monday morning, not to lead but to hold a child’s hand, serve the snack, or worship alongside the children with a stilled and joyful heart.)

But if you are looking for a way to get connected in our church, if you have been attending for awhile (maybe years) and have never quite found a place that you could offer yourself, if you have been soaking up good teaching and need an opportunity to exercise your spiritual muscles, you might just be right for the job.

In fact, you do not even need to be a “kid person”. You only have to be a “Jesus person”.

What does a leader do? The materials are all provided; the activities are all planned. The leader simply “leads” a group of children through the materials and activities.

What does an assistant do? Assists the leaders, the director, the snack ladies, the children—whoever needs help.

Pray, consider, and then if you desire, call Kari Jane or Susan McCullough (972.690.9535 or 469.384.8800). Do it soon—before the training meetings tomorrow (June 9th)—at either 10-11:30 am or 6:30-8 pm. And whether you choose to participate this year or not, join us in prayer for this important week in the life of our church.


Graduation Time

May 28, 2010

Becca Dunkle, Nika Saxiones, Rachel Bannert & Allison Mudd

It’s the end of May and for our four TFC high school seniors, that means the end of high school and graduation time. I have a hard time remembering a lot of things from my school days, but my high school graduation is NOT one I forget. I was excited to be finished with high school, but I was also anxious about what was coming next—It was hard to figure out whether to mourn or celebrate. I had to say goodbye to many old friends and daily schedules that were comfortable to me. And the thought of making new friends, in a new place, with new responsibilities, was frightening.

I bet our TFC seniors are having similar feelings…not sure whether to mourn or celebrate. We have four young ladies that will be graduating this spring—Rachel Bannert, Becca Dunkle, Allison Mudd and Nika Saxiones. We will recognize them in our services this Sunday and celebrate their accomplishment with them.

In addition to recognizing and celebrating with them this Sunday, we can act as the body of Christ and serve them by sharing God’s love with them and with one another. Here are three specific ways we can show Christ’s love for our graduates:
1. Encourage and build them up (1Thes. 5:11).
2. Carry their burdens (Gal. 6:2). This means to share your gifts and provisions with them in their new challenges and responsibilities.
3. Pray for them (James 5:16). It’s in God’s gift of community where we can visibly see Jesus’ promise “I am with you always.”

I’ve had the great opportunity to get to know these young women during their high school time at Trinity. I hope as they graduate this month, you’ll take the opportunity to get to know them and pray for them, too!

Keith Mason
TFC Youth Pastor


SUPER SIX SERVERS

May 26, 2010

Super Six at NetWork

Serving is not limited to adults at Trinity Fellowship. Our Super Six graders joined in the spirit of fellowship & serving this past weekend, along with me and Youth Pastor Keith Mason.

Meeting for Breakfast at Denny’s started the morning. Funny how you can get to know someone better over pancakes and sausage! The conversation started lightly with how we preferred our eggs, but turned to a more serious topic by the end of breakfast about moving out of the Children’s Ministry. We discussed their elementary years coming to an end and how they felt about moving into the Junior Varsity (junior high) ministry as part of the Youth Ministry in late August.

Many were excited and eager. A few were overwhelmed and not sure they wanted to move on yet. We discussed their concerns, one of which was being with the “scary teenagers!” Youth Pastor Keith reminded them, “You will be a scary teenager!”

After breakfast we went to NetWork Ministries in Richardson to tackle a few service projects lined up for us. TFC member (and NetWork employee) Christy Botens greeted us and showed our 6th graders how to examine the donated, nonperishable food that NetWork receives, then stock the pantry shelves. This kept us busy for 2 hours. We then cleaned the reception area—what a great way to serve together!

The really fun part for me was working alongside our students and not once needing to urge a student to get back to work. They each gave a great effort and enjoyed one another. Soon, some were sorting, some were calling out needs, some were stocking the shelves. They organized themselves and others. We have a great crop of future leaders at TFC! As we drove back to the church, the words I heard were, “That was fun!” I call that super!

Kari Jane Smith
TFC Children’s Director

Super Six Girls Swim Party 2010


God’s Glory Through Missions

March 2, 2010

As youth pastor at TFC, I try to help our youth get a feel for missions. Periodically we schedule short term mission trips so our kids learn first hand about being in a different culture, serving together with others, and being challenged spiritually in new ways. There’s just something about short term mission trips that makes a huge impact on students. And their spiritual growth is one of the reasons I like for them to experience being a part of these trips.

But our spiritual growth is only one of the reasons for missions. Christ loves the world. He has asked us to show His love to the world too. We do this by not only sharing the Good News but also by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless and teaching the uneducated. So we also do missions for others’ good.

However, I believe the main goal of missions is God’s glory. “In missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white hot enjoyment of God’s glory. The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God,” according to John Piper in his book Let the Nations Be Glad. God’s greatness is magnified as we, and others, do what God has already done for us. Our ultimate motivation to reach out and “make disciples of all nations” is because He has reached out to us.

Our high school students have a chance to experience missions and reach out to others by participating in a short term trip this summer to Peru from July 17-24. And our entire TFC body has a chance to experience missions March 3-7 during our annual Missions Week conference. Come participate and give God the glory as we see and hear firsthand how missionaries all over the world are serving the Lord. And let God be glorified as we reach out to the world around us.

Fore more information on the youth Peru trip, click HERE. For more information on our Missions Week schedule, click HERE.

Keith Mason
Youth Pastor