Giving Thanks

November 18, 2011

Scripture commands the faithful to give thanks (1Thess. 5:18). Thanksgiving is not optional. But it’s not a chore either. The grace of God through Jesus Christ naturally wells up and overflows in thanksgiving – in all circumstances no less. As you take time to personally prepare for our country’s annual Thanksgiving holiday and set the table for feasting, don’t forget to root your thanksgiving in the gracious work of Jesus Christ through His Spirit in your life. Consider…how have you grown spiritually this year?  How has your family grown? How have we grown as a church family even?

As we ponder things we are thankful for, I want to mention a recent event I’m thankful for and encouraged by—our “A Taste of Thanksgiving” ISI International Student Outreach dinner that took place this past Wednesday evening.  What a great example of “enhanced engagement” into our community, which is one of TFC’s key areas of emphasis and vision we have talked so much about recently!  To show you how this worked….

This past Wed. evening our faithful “kitchen ladies,” who provide a hearty meal each Wednesday before our ministry programs, were asked to stretch and prepare a Thanksgiving meal as we invited local international Richland college students to join us.  (This group of students have been interacting with our missions team members Liz Shaw & Tommie Hibberd.  Tommie & Liz are working with Bridges International and Campus Crusade at Richland to host Bible Studies and social events at TFC for these students).  We thought Thanksgiving would be great time to get to know these students, fellowship with them, and introduce them to a uniquely American holiday.  (Thanks to Michele Roberts for envisioning that it could be done and for cheering us on from home as she recovers form a back injury!)  The missions team stepped up to help advertise, invite members of our Body to be dinner conversation partners and to coach conversations.  Last year we encouraged TFC families to “save a spot” at their Thanksgiving dinner tables for international students, but had an underwhelming participation of only 3 students.  This year we held 20 spots for students at our “A Taste Of Thanksgiving” Wednesday night dinner, and  20 signed up, plus a few more!  All were warmly welcomed.  Well fed.  Encouraged by the conversations, games, and opportunity to share reasons for gratitude.  The students felt like they were part of a family Wednesday. They sensed and were warmly welcomed into what we feel is to be a core component of our identity as a church: a loving family with a multi-generational reach. I suppose we should expand that concept appropriately to include “multi-cultural” as well.  With the new friendships formed, I imagine we might have even more students invited to the homes of our church family in the future. Thanks for reaching out.

So, with an overflowing heart of thanksgiving to our Lord and Savior, and to you as a church Body for reaching out to those around us in Richardson, I am most thankful.

In Christ,

Keith Hileman
Interim Pastor

TFC A Taste Of Thanksgiving Dinner


The First TFC Women’s Bridges Brunch

November 17, 2011

What is a Bridges Brunch?

Well, despite rumors to the contrary, it has nothing to do with a card game called Bridge!

A Bridges Brunch is women coming together to share a meal and their stories, so that any space between their generations is bridged by sharing their common hunger and thirst to know Christ more deeply.  Last Saturday, about 20 TFC women met at Cindy Pardue’s home, ate a delicious meal (more than enough ladies volunteered to bring dishes, so most just came and enjoyed!), and heard Anne Pickle tell us the story of how God is growing her heart to be more giving for His purposes than concerned about herself.

Several women responded with the group to Anne’s story and gave to us from their joy,  brokenness, tears, and laughter.  Age didn’t matter–we shared life, real life in Jesus Christ, with one another in ways that only grew our hunger and thirst for more of Him.  And we lingered long after the official ending time, over good conversations that continued to grow us together.

If you’d like to connect with women outside of your own age and stage in life, you might want to come to a Bridges Brunch.  We’ll have several of these each year;  watch your bulletin for our next one.

Diana Calvin
TFC Women’s Director

A Public Confession And Apology

November 2, 2011

Some of you may have been present at the Church family meeting we held a couple of weeks ago. And many good comments were made, concerns were raised and questions were asked. For those that have a better memory than I usually have, I personally urged the elders to be diligent in communicating with the body and used the example of how no public announcement was made when one of the elders decided to step down. Do you remember? I do… shamefully so. It appears I was wrong.

Last week I had breakfast with a good friend and this particular event just happened to become part of the conversation. He, quite lovingly and without condemnation, pointed out that the elders, Chuck more in particular, made the public announcement after the service. Needless to say, my jaw dropped and my cheeks turned red. How did I miss this? I usually don’t fall asleep during the service. What was I doing? I must have been there. It wasn’t my rotation week for communion, which may have explained why I wasn’t in the service at the end. Until we figured out that it must have been one of the Sundays we were in the hospital this summer with our (step)daughter. I clearly jumped to conclusions. Shame on me!

But then this past Sunday as I was listening to the sermon on marriage, I realized, how often do we jump to conclusions? How often do we think we know all the facts and have it all figured out? Not only in our church family, as in the example above, but in our marriage? With our spouse? With our children?

Does that show our “mutual submission” to each other, or does that show our arrogance? Our sinful pride and nature?

And as we go through these events and shamefully realize we are wrong, don’t we ask for forgiveness? Or dare I say it more strongly. Don’t we expect forgiveness? We find excuses to say that we forgot. Or that all the facts were supporting our presuppositions. Or that all things indicated a certain outcome and that we were obviously and logically correct in coming to the conclusion we so prematurely reached.

It happens. It happens to all of us. At home, at work and in our body. We think we have all the facts, we think we know all there is to know. And then proclaim judgment on those around us. Until we humbly have to admit that perhaps we didn’t have all the information and that we were wrong.

And it proves that I was wrong in judging the elders and I ask for their forgiveness. And I hope they can gracefully forgive me.

I ask my wife for forgiveness in all those times I jump to conclusions. All those times I think I know better. All those times I know I am right and she is wrong. All those times I don’t show the humility to submit to one another in our marriage. And I pray she can forgive.

And then I ask myself this. Didn’t the elders admit that they were wrong for so many months that it led to hurtful consequences. And haven’t they asked for my forgiveness? Didn’t they ask for our forgiveness? Can I (we) shown them the same grace I hope they show me and forgive them?

And then I remember this prayer: “God, grant me the grace, strength and wisdom to forgive those that trespass against me as I have trespassed against them.” Will you pray that with me?

Michael Luyckx
TFC Member

Do You Love Your Church?

October 20, 2011

Do you love your Church?

Note here that what I am asking is not whether you love the worship style, or the teaching, or the dress code, the atmosphere, the programs or even the senior pastor. I am also not asking whether you love going to church. I am asking whether you love your Church.

Last Sunday at my church we dove into Ephesians 3:14-21 and read how the Spirit can strengthen our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our heart and that we may be filled with God’s fullness. And as we are filled with God’s fullness and have Christ dwell in our heart, we become rooted and grounded in love. And this love, this powerful work that love brings with it, is found nowhere better than in the Church.

But what is the Church? We have learned over the last several weeks that our Church is really our new family in Christ—our new Christian brothers and sisters, closer to us than our family ties via blood or marriage. The Church is not a building, it is not a doctrine, it is not a concept. It is people. It’s those people we get together with to worship Him. And if that is the Church, how do we show love to the Church?

This is the thought and burden I walked out with after last Sunday’s message. How do I show love to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? So I did some digging around.

The first passage I was led to was Romans 12. There’s quite a lot in there about brotherly love: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Rom 12:15). Rejoicing with those that are having a joyous time is easy. We all like to hang out with those where things are good. But do I weep with those that weep? Do I comfort those that are hurting? Do I provide a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and a hug for encouragement?

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Rom 12:18) Do I live in peace with those in the Body, as far as I can help it? Do I forgive those that have trespassed against me? Just like I would like for them to forgive me as I trespass against them? Do I gossip, complain, put myself first above them? All things that create disention. Not peace.

And then I remembered 1 Cor 13:4-8. It teaches us that love is kind, patient, it hopes and believes, it is not arrogant, it doesn’t put my own things first. Am I kind and patient? Do I put my own things first or do I put the Body first?

As we heard in the testimonies during and after the service, our Body does show this kind of love of support, weeping, rejoicing, kindness and patience to our members. And especially now, in this difficult time, I am called to show this love even more. Towards all my brothers and sisters in Christ. And especially towards our staff and elders.

Will you join me in being patient with our elders and staff? With living peaceably with all? With rejoicing with those that rejoice and with weeping and comforting those that weep. I am convinced that if we do, this Body will truly show the power of Gods love to those around us…both inside and out.

Michael Luyckx
TFC Member

Mission Possible or Impossible?

October 12, 2011

A mission?  I’m much more comfortable without one, thanks.

Missions are dangerous stuff. Secret agent missions involve agents going about their business, putting their lives at risk. Think about all those car chases, near escapes by jumping off cliffs and buildings, bullets flying. And then we have Christian missions…like going to Africa, South America or some other place where we have to miss our daily comforts. No thank you. I’m much more comfortable living my daily life here, perhaps sitting in a pew each Sunday morning, writing the occasional blog entry. After all, the biggest danger I then face is a nasty email or comment. Nothing as serious as a death threat.

And yet, somehow, Christ calls us to participate in a mission.  And our TFC church leadership has set forth a vision and mission for our church.  And we are called to take up this mission, and to live our lives and be a witness and participate in that vision, so that the vision can be realized.

When Christ gave Paul his mission, Paul received it and embraced it…gave up all he had, all he aspired to, his reputation, his zeal to persecute Christians. And he put it all on the line in his response to the mission given to him.

Paul’s mission was given to him…not something he decided for himself.  After his encounter with Christ on a road, he turned around and did the exact opposite of what he had been doing.  He had been disobedient, but now he obeyed Christ.  He had been persecuting Christians, but now he encouraged them.  He had been stopping the gospel from spreading, but now he was its biggest witness.  After meeting Christ and receiving his mission, he could have discounted, refused, and resisted it.  But instead, Paul received it graciously and obediently. And so should we.

So what’s our unified mission? What’s your personal mission? Where are you being called to participate in for the overall mission of the church? I, for one, am not quite sure.  And is it because I fear what this mission might be?  Perhaps. Or am I resisting it because I am dreading the second element Paul points out…

Paul points out that our mission is based on unity.  In Ephesians 3:6, Paul notes we are all now partakers of this mystery of Christ, revealed to us, and which we should eagerly and graciously accept. We all share in this mystery, regardless of background, ethnicity, origin, social standing. Not only should our mission be received graciously, but it should be responded to in unity.  And unity requires a reconciled community.

Many things keep us from being a reconciled community…like broken relationships.  We cannot, I cannot, receive our mission and respond to our mission unless we are reconciled to one another.  As a matter of fact, the greatest witness to Christ in us when we display love, care, affection and support for one another. This is impossible as long as there are broken relationships and issues between us. And the road to reconciliation includes a conscious effort at being reconciled to one another. By stopping gossip, slander, judgments, dislikes—any distance we have created between ourselves and those around us.  We have a natural tendency to create these divisions and, knowingly or unknowingly, we persevere in our judgments. But the ministry of reconciliation does not allow for that.

Reconciliation takes effort. You may even get hurt in the process. I personally know it takes power to overcome these differences and be a true disciple of reconciliation.  And I cannot do it on my own strength….the power to reconcile  can only be found in Christ.  Note how Paul says that we find boldness in Him (Ephesians 3:12). And this boldness requires humility. It requires admitting that I may be wrong. It requires putting others first and myself last. It calls for being a servant, not a master. It calls for taking that dreaded first step and reaching out to the other person.

So, what’s my mission? I don’t honestly know yet. I’m one of those who wrote a big question mark in my bulletin last week. But where can I reconcile? Or help reconcile? Or serve or help or support or be a brother in Christ to those around me? That is an easier question we all should be able to answer. And perhaps by doing so, I will find my larger mission. Or perhaps for now, the call to reconciliation is the only mission God has cared to reveal to me.

What’s yours?

Michael Luyckx
TFC Member

Building Family Bridges

October 9, 2011

“What do bridges and family have in common” you may think. Usually nothing more than the occasional bridge we cross when we’re heading to a given destination on our family road trips. And some of them we don’t even notice since they are so small. But once in a while we cross those that make us stop and wonder, “How much work went in to this?” “How much time and effort did they have to spend to bridge this gap?”

Because that is what bridges do—they bridge gaps. They link one end to another over chasms, ravines, waters, rivers, oceans. And as we wonder, we continue on our drive and think nothing more of them.

So it is with our family. We are bonded by ties beyond our control. We are related via blood or marriage. We spend more or less time with each other depending on how distant the family relationship is. And the more distant the relationship, the more likely we are to “put up” with the family members’ less desirable character flaws. We don’t need to build a bridge, because they were built for us.

So what do bridges and family have in common? Nothing. Unless you call yourself a Christian, that is.

The last two weeks at Trinity we were blessed by great Biblical teachings from Dr. Tim Ralston and Dr. Jeff Bingham respectively. Dr. Ralston spoke about bridges, Dr. Bingham spoke about family.  And they made me think.

Dr. Bingham reminded us that Christ has fundamentally redefined family. As we read at the end of Mark 3:31-35, Jesus extends the family beyond those with whom we have a blood relationship. Our family members are those that obey the will of God. Those around us in our Christian community. Those that sit next to us in the pews each and every Sunday morning. Those that sit in the pews in other churches, each and every Sunday morning. Those that meet in huts and in homes. Those that meet freely and those that are forced to meet in secret. All those that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yet in Mark we see repeatedly that the apostles and disciples respond in fear (Mk 5:15 and Mk 5:33), or with surprise and incredulity (Mk 5:31). But we also see those that respond in faith (Mk 5:27) and obedience (Mk 5:18).

So we may respond in fear or unbelief to Christ’s call to extend the family beyond the boundaries of those related by blood or marriage. Or we may respond to His redefining the family in faith and obedience and consider those in our Church Body as our closest family members around.

And personally, when I look across the sanctuary each Sunday morning, there are those I do not know. I may recall their first name, or their wife’s name. With some effort I may recall if they have children and what their names are. But I would be hard pressed to be able to say what their current burden or struggle is. I would be lieing if I were to say that I knew what their prayer requests may be. There is a chasm, a gap, a distance between myself and many people in our body.

And bridges cross these chasms. Oh, it’s hard. It’s difficult. I know it is. We naturally tend to gravitate towards those people we like. So how can we “cross that gap” and “build that bridge?”

Dr. Ralston showed us that there is a power that can help us do that. God used this power to bridge an infinite gap. To create an everlasting bridge that crosses a chasm that is larger than anything we can humanly fathom. That bridge was created by the atoning sacrifice of Christ. Christ’s death and resurrection created a bond, stronger than the strongest “gorilla glue” that joins us to God which nothing can break. And we find this power “In Christ” (Eph 2:13).

“In Christ” we find the power to bridge this gap that separates us from our fellow family member “in Christ.” This infinite power we find enables us to reach out to the others in our body to become one family “In Christ.” To create one church, one family, bearing each others burdens, praying for each other, caring for each other. Where we are all one product of the grace of God. For nothing we can do on our own can bridge that gap to God and to each other, lest we boast (Eph 2:9). One community of sinners, becomes one product, saved by grace.

So why bridge this gap to our new family members in Christ? Is there a purpose? So we can be one Holy Temple in the Lord. So we are a witness to those around us. For through us, as one unified church, we demonstrate to the world how great and good and wonderful our God truly is. As Dr. Ralston said, “There has to be one throne. One God and one people who serve Him.” As long as we are not one people, as long as the gaps and chasms exist, we will never be one. And then one day, someone may say that the glue holding us together, the one power provided to us in Christ, just wasn’t strong enough.

So why don’t you take the time this coming Sunday to reach out across the gap. Find someone you don’t know and get to know them. We always have the invitation to greet those around us. Perhaps we should find someone we don’t know. And greet them and welcome them into the one family we are all a part of. Perhaps, just perhaps, we should spend some time and effort in building a bridge, crossing a gap that with the power of Christ may prove not to be that wide after all.

Michael Luyckx
TFC member

Appreciation FOR and FROM Chaplain Michael Johnson

September 9, 2011

In the shadow of the 10th anniversary of 9/11 I wrote earlier this morning of the need to give thanks for those who serve our nation faithfully in the armed services. And then I checked the mail. How encouraging to pass along this certification of appreciation to Trinity Fellowship Church from Chaplain Michael Johnson (remember “Jamie” and Nicole while they were studying at Dallas Seminary?) who just returned from a tour of duty with 101st Airborne division in Afghanistan.

We give thanks for Michael’s safe return to his family.  Pray for great family time with Nicole and the boys as he readjusts to life at home.

Click on the links below.

The Certificate of Appreciation:
090911 Certificate of Appreciation Chaplain Michael Jamie Johnson

The accompanying thank you letter:
090911 Thank You from Chaplain Michael Jamie Johnson

Grateful in Christ Jesus,