Hospitality: The Missing Ingredient- Mike Hall

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

- Romans 12:12-16

 

Over the years, I have been involved in a number of different evangelism programs. All of these programs have increased my desire and skill for sharing my faith with others. Yet despite the value I have derived from these programs, I have found that alone they were insufficient to equip me to successfully share my faith. I felt as if something was missing. The missing ingredient that I was longing to find was the simple act of hospitality.

Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Practicing hospitality is encouraged in the Bible. Verses like 1st Timothy 3:2, 1st Timothy 5:10, Titus 1:8, Hebrews 13:2, and I Peter 4:9 combine with the verse from Romans 12 above to create a powerful picture for how believers should both order their lives and how they should connect with those who don't know Christ. Despite its practical importance, however, hospitality can easily get lost in the business of our everyday lives. I believe it is time for us as believers to re-appropriate this special grace God has put at our disposal.

If we are to effectively practice hospitality, we need to understand exactly what it is. Hospitality is not the same as fellowship. Fellowship is enjoying the company of like minded people such as those with whom we share a common faith bond. Hospitality, however, is opening our homes to people who are strangers to our faith. This means making sacrifices of time and treasure in order to make ourselves available to those who don't know Christ. This is the kind of evangelism we see Christ practicing throughout the gospels and this is the kind of evangelism that puts its money where its mouth is. Hospitality and fellowship are not always mutually exclusive but if we consistently forego hospitality in order to enjoy fellowship then we are going about it the wrong way. Fellowship is priceless and necessary but it should never come at the expense of hospitality.

Photo by  Antenna  on  Unsplash

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

So where should we start? It could be something as simple as establishing a weekly community meal, or shared holiday experience. It could be hosting a game night or establishing a food train for a sick neighbor. It doesn't have to be fancy or fussy, it just has to be genuine. People will much more notice the warmth and openness of your home than its state of cleanliness. Don't let another week go by without earnestly asking the Lord to give you an opportunity to open your home to those outside the church and then act on the opportunities He gives. You might just find that the simple act of hospitality is the missing ingredient that you have been longing for.

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MIke Hall lives in Cary with his wife.

Reflections of a Pastor about his Church- Andy Ew

I love being a Pastor at Trinity Park! I often tell my friends from seminary how much I love serving here and that there’s no place I’d rather be. Sometimes I get this look of disbelief because, sadly, there are many pastors who struggle and are unhappy where they serve. However that hasn’t been the case for me. My family and I were so excited when I was called to be Assistant Pastor. Having served for almost 4 years in this church, my enthusiasm and excitement have not waned. There’s so much that I’m excited and grateful for in this church especially the identity and the values that we hold. This is what makes Trinity Park Church such a blessing to me and my family.

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We are a Gospel-centered, Bible believing church, preaching the Gospel faithfully regardless of what our culture dictates. I appreciate how sincere and committed we are to preaching the Word each Sunday in a world that tries to diminish and disregard it. At the same time in our preaching, we also try to teach people how to live out the Gospel in their homes, workplaces, and schools.

We are a church that genuinely loves having children in our worship service. Anyone who walks in to our auditorium will quickly notice that there’s a lot of children in our church. I love that children are welcome to worship with us on Sunday morning and while some go to children’s class, some will sit through the the service. This can get pretty noisy but our congregation understands that this noise is a genuine reflection of what a family looks like.

We are a church that reflects the diversity of our community. One of the reasons I loved Trinity Park Church was for its cultural diversity. I love working with people from different cultures so it was an easy choice for me to accept the call to pastor here. It’s a beautiful sight each Sunday to look out and see people from all over the world worshipping together.

We are a church that welcomes cultural diversity both in our congregation and our leadership. It’s not easy for a minority to be a pastor in a mostly white denomination. While many churches desire greater cultural diversity in their congregation, there’s often not much action to diversify leadership in the church, and it’s refreshing to see a church like ours breaking the norm to hire me. Not only that, we’re very intentional to consider and train every capable and gifted person in the church regardless of their color to serve in leadership roles.

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We are a compassionate, loving community who cares deeply for those in crisis. Shortly after I started working at Trinity Park Church, my wife and I experienced one of the greatest challenges our family has ever faced. Our oldest son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There were a lot of uncertainties and confusion as we considered his future and for us as parents. As I look back on this moment, I’m incredibly grateful to our church who walked with us and still walks with us through new challenges and victories. This beautiful church family is one of many provisions God has given us to supply the special needs of our family. As I can testify to this commitment of love and care from our church, I know many others have also experienced this special care in their own trials.


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Andy Ew is associate pastor of Trinity Park Church. He lives in Apex with his family.

So, the Winter Retreat, Eh? Drew Wilkins

Whether it was camping trips with a church group, traveling with a choir tour, going overseas with a mission trip, or joining up at the beach with several hundred other teenagers, youth trips have always been milestones in my walk with God.  On such trips I have been pushed physically through hikes, repels, and white-water rafting, mentally through study and memorization, relationally through skits, pranks, and late night fire-side conversations, and spiritually through prayer, reflection, discussion groups.  Really the setting wasn’t what mattered all that much, but rather the act of stepping out of my usual environment, hanging out with grounded people, and spend time exploring, playing, and having adventures in the context of God’s Word and Christian community.

Photo by  Ethan Hu  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ethan Hu on Unsplash

In fact, it was immediately after one such event filled retreat that I first thought about God’s call to ministry.  I had spent the week meeting new people, attempting to stay up all night, playing ultimate frisbee, singing my lungs out in worship, learning that I really can’t play the guitar, working on service projects, and considering why the “Imago Dei" mattered, and as I squatted on the bricks with my backpack and sleeping bag thinking it all over and waiting for my ride home I thought to myself, “Man, I wish I could do this kind of thing every year!”  Immediately at that point my youth pastor walked across my field of vision, and I thought, “ok, I’m listening Lord.”

 But whether you get called into ministry or not, and whether the thought of a long car ride with a dozen teenagers gets you pumped or makes you nauseous,  the fact remains that taking time away from your usual life and stepping back to consider God’s Word and your soul is always a good and fruitful thing. Coming up in a few weeks we’ve got Trinity Parks’ very first youth group Winter Retreat, and I would challenge you to come along or send your teenage daughters and sons.  We’ll be studying 1 Tim. 4:7-16 and considering the role of Spiritual Training in our lives, road-tripping, playing late night in-the-dark games, burning fires, having snowball fights (it could happen!), playing board games, and doing all the ridiculous things that happen on retreats!

 Don’t pass up this opportunity to step into the beauty of God’s creation, dig deeply into the gospel, have an awesome time with friends, and generally refresh your soul.

SIGN UP FOR THE WINTER RETREAT HERE!

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Drew Wilkins is the Pastor of Youth and Children. He lives in Morrisville with his family.

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Who’s Called to Be A Deacon? By Corey Jackson

2019 is a year of officer training at Trinity Park. If you are a member of our church you are invited to nominate men for the offices of elder and deacon during the month of January. Some of you may be wondering what character qualities to look for when nominating someone for the office. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received over the years during the nomination process about the office of deacon.

Where do we find the office of deacon in Scripture?

In Acts 6:1-7 as elders were overwhelmed as they attempted to meet both the word and the deed needs of the church. So in Acts 6, seven men were chosen and ordained to be the first deacons. These men - importantly - were full of wisdom and of the Holy Spirit. They were called to lead the church’s deed ministries so the elders could keep their focus on teaching ministries.

What are the qualifications for the office of deacon?

Along with Acts 6 we have a more specific description of qualifications in I Tim 3:8-13:8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Similar to the office of elder, the vast majority of these qualifications have to do with godly character. But we also find another important qualification is in verse 9: “they must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” Like elders, the doctrine and faith deacons keep is vital.

One common misconception to avoid when considering who to nominate for the office of deacon:

Some people think if you are a responsible business man who’s able to manage the physical and financial resources of a corporation, then you’re qualified to be a deacon. But while being responsible with corporate resources certainly doesn’t disqualify you from being a deacon, it also doesn’t qualify you either. The Diaconate is not a committee of men dedicated to maintaining building and budget, they are a fellowship of spiritual leaders called to care for the physical needs of God’s people.


So, what questions should you ask yourself when you’re considering who to nominate for the office of deacon?

  1. Is this person able to care for the practical needs of the church through deed-oriented service?

  2. Can this person lead Trinity Park to make sure we are ALL serving one another well?

Would you send this person to represent God’s church by helping someone in a physical or financial crisis?


Photo by  Carolyn V  on  Unsplash

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

Nominating Elders- Corey Jackson

2019 is a year of officer training at Trinity Park. If you are a member of our church, I invite you to nominate men for the offices of elder and deacon. Since nomination month began, you’ve asked great questions about how to think through your nominations. Here’s a few of them along with my answers.

What’s an elder?

An elder is someone who is called to serve a local church in the areas of shepherding, teaching and overall leadership. They’re primarily called to pay attention to the God’s Word (the Bible) and make sure the people of the church are growing in their knowledge of the Word and the practice of the Word. Elders in Presbyterian form of government serve the church together in a group called the Session.

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Where can I find the qualifications for the office of elder in the Bible?

I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 list seventeen qualifications for men who are qualified to serve in this office. You should take time to read those passages before you nominate someone for the office of elder or deacon.

Of the seventeen qualities listed, fifteen deal with character and two deal with theological understanding or teaching ability. As Timothy and Titus were planting the first churches, they were looking for men whose character was being shaped by the Gospel. This means character is EXTREMELY important as you consider who God may be raising up to be our next elders.

Also, look for men who understand the doctrines of the Bible well and who are capable of teaching others. Anyone who's nominated for the office of elder (or deacon) must study and be examined regarding their Christian Life, Bible and Theology so we can be sure they’ll shepherd us well in this vital area.

How many types of elders are there?

There are two types of elders in the New Testament: Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders.

In I Tim 5:18 we have the most clear reference to Teaching Elders. Here Paul says “those who give themselves to the work of preaching and teaching are worthy of ‘double honor.’” ‘Worthy of double honor’ is a reference to Teaching Elders, men who make their living by teaching God’s Word in the church. At Trinity Park Andy, Drew and I are your three Teaching Elders.

Ruling Elders are men who are called to shepherd God’s people in God’s Word alongside Teaching Elders. The qualifications and responsibilities of Ruling and Teaching Elders are the same. The main difference is that Ruling Elders serve the church - not as paid staff - but alongside other important vocational work God has called them to do.

Here’s one common misconception to avoid when nominating someone to be an elder: Some people think if you are a capable, successful businessman, then you’re qualified to be an elder. Being successful in business doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be an elder, but at the same time it also doesn’t mean you should be an elder. Don't look for someone who is successful in industry; look for men who love Jesus and who love to teach others about him.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when nominating someone for the office of elder:

  1. Is this person able to shepherd (spiritually care for) people well?

  2. Is this person called to teach God’s Word?

  3. Would you feel good about sending this person into a sensitive family or personal situation-to listen well to someone well and then speak God’s Word into their life?

If you would like to nominate a qualified man to be an elder at Trinity Park Church, send your nomination by email to Corey Jackson at Corey@trinityparkchurch.org

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Corey Jackson is the senior pastor of Trinity Park Church. He lives with his family in Cary.

Looking For God In The Little Things- Jessica Halpin

Spiderman shot his web on my ceiling. No lie. My son has an oversized Spiderman toy that propels silly string. The first time my husband loaded the web shooter, it sprayed our ceiling and left a lovely blue stain. I rolled my eyes and huffed dramatically about my beautiful new house receiving an imperfection. But after the dust of my initial frustration settled, I could let it go and laugh. Laugh at the mental snapshot of my husband's face as the web exploded. Laugh at my kids' delightful giggles watching Spiderman at work.

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Years ago, I read 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Through this excellent book, I learned to look for God's gifts in the almost unseen details of the day. The ways He expresses His love for me, because He knows my heart. He formed it after all.  Ann encourages readers to keep a journal open on their counter, desk, or whatever surface they frequently pass, and jot down gifts as they're noticed. The key is to be looking for them. 

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My pages are filled. Once you start, it's easy to see how much He offers. Gifts like the emotion music brings, warm clothes from the dryer, crows feet on my husband's face when he laughs, the way the road reflects the sun after it rains. Looking for God in the little things helps bring my focus to the moment and appreciate the beautiful life He's given me, rather than see the overflow of dishes in the sink, or hear the stomping of my child's feet as he heads for the time out bench.

God wants us to look for Him throughout our entire day. He tells us in Isaiah,  "I would not have told the people of Israel to seek Me if I could not be found." (45:19b). He is here, in the details.

And so, Spiderman, no hard feelings.

How to Feel Deeper Through Literature- Kari West

“Good stories make us feel differently and more deeply about the things we’ve known all along,” said Dr. Jonathan Rogers at a recent guest lecture I attended at Southeastern Seminary. In light of his succinct summary of how great tales can enlarge our souls, I wanted to share quotes from five of my favorite novels. Each story can help you feel more deeply about something that perhaps you’ve known all along.


1. How to feel deeper about the hard right choice: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man…Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?”

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2. How to feel deeper about loving your enemy: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”

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3. How to feel deeper about the world to come: Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

“I moved ever higher on the land, here entering an orchard of immense and archaic beauty. I say orchard: The trees were dense in one place, scattered in another, as though planted by random throw, but all were heavy trunked and capaciously limbed, and they were fruit trees, every one of them. Apples, gold-skinned apricots, immaculate pears. The leaves about them were thick and cool and stirred at my approach; touched with a finger, they imparted a palpable rhythm…

The place had a master! Realizing this, I knew he was already aware of me—comforting and fearful knowledge. Still I wanted to see him. The farther I went the more I seemed to know or remember about him—the way he’d planted this orchard, walking over the hills, casting seed from his hand.”

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4. How to feel deeper about ordinary, well-lived lives: Middlemarch by George Eliot

“…the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

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5. How to feel deeper about loving your neighbor: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

“There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be, because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable of an embracing, incomprehensible reality. It makes no sense at all because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal.”

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On Photography, Silent Contemplation, and the Image of God.

I’m a photographer. While I photograph weddings 99% of the time, I have a strong interest in capturing people and their stories, and an equally strong interest in street photography- basically photographing what’s happening on the street as I walk by- always with a focus on people. So in the spring, I went to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke to see a small exhibit of street portraits taken in Italy just after WWII. Around the same time, a caravan of migrants was making its way through Mexico toward the US Border. There was a lot of strong emotions in the media about this caravan with equally strong opinions. I found it all rather upsetting and noisy- like white noise from an old TV and that background noise makes it hard for my restless soul to find rest with Jesus as Augustine says.

From my collection  Together but Alone, New York, 2018

From my collection Together but Alone, New York, 2018

It was silent in the museum, and I live with very little silence in my life. When I get a few moments of it, I make the most of it. As I moved through the exhibit I thought about how I would never meet these people in the images- I’m sure most of them have passed on by now. But I felt a certain sense of solidarity in the fact that we were probably a lot alike: they loved their families, they went to work, they struggled. Most of them had lived through bombings and food shortages- more than I might ever experience in my small suburban life.  

From my collection  Together but Alone, New York, 2018.

From my collection Together but Alone, New York, 2018.

The silence allowed me to visually get to know these people, and then, on the way home, to think through this time we live in where people just trying to survive have somehow become a threat, and how the voices opposing them became so loud and why God allows these things to occur. I think the answers might never come on earth, but I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps the Lord honors the questioning and deep insecurity I feel about it all.

From my collection  Together but Alone, New York, 2018

From my collection Together but Alone, New York, 2018

For me, the power of photography is in its silence and stillness- that freezing of a fleeting moment in time. In the silence of a photograph, I’m forced to confront the beauty and tragedy of a shared humanity and our shared need to be known and loved and valued. When I see the faces of people in a photograph, whether or not I’ve taken it, and regardless of whether they’re part of a migrant caravan or a person of infamous note in the world, I’ve learned to see them as people created in and bearing the image of a holy God, searching for hope and for life and freedom, just like me. It’s been an experience in which God has been perfecting love and my faith to cast out fear of what a person might be and focus on who they truly are.

Photography has instilled in me compassion, the ability to lean into hard things, to ask difficult questions for which there might never be answers and to be ok with the possibility of that. The practice of photography as art and business has built my faith in a way that augments my experiences in church or community group. It gives me the ability to live in the world and hold onto Jesus in a way that I couldn’t have imagined for myself before I ever picked up a camera. I’m less fearful of most things and people and a little more bold when it comes to building relationships. I’m thankful for the eight years I had with my business, and I’m hopeful that the Lord will take me and my camera into new challenges of showing the gospel to people visually in the future.

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Charity Starchenko came to Trinity Park in 2018. She and her family live in Cary.

Serving in the Women's Ministry- Abi Spears

It’s so hard to believe that another year for Women’s Ministry is coming to an end! It has been my privilege to serve the women of Trinity Park again this past year. From our women’s retreat back in March to our bowling and winery nights, and with our spring bible study and triads this fall, there have been many precious moments among old and new friends. I’ve been so thankful for the opportunities with each event and bible study group to meet so many of you and to connect on different levels. God has truly blessed us with many wonderful ladies at Trinity Park!

The October Women’s Winery Night.

The October Women’s Winery Night.

The new year will bring many changes for the Women’s Ministry Team. Our group has always been a combined team of events, inreach/outreach, discipleship, and coordinator under 1 umbrella. But as our church grows, we strive to grow and change with the needs of the women.

We have 1 more event before this year is up: our Women’s Christmas Party on December 7! I hope many of you will join us to celebrate good food, fun games, and Christmas carols. This will be a great opportunity to engage deeply with other women at Trinity Park, to build friendships, and enjoy a fun holiday evening!

Our Annual Women’s retreat in March.

Our Annual Women’s retreat in March.

In 2019, there will be 2 umbrellas under Women’s Ministry: 1 for shepherding and 1 for events. These 2 teams will correspond with each other and serve the women together. But they will both focus on their individual tasks. The names of the women on these new teams will be posted soon. Please join me in prayer for these teams, that the Lord would give wisdom to both teams in these new roles, that our church leadership would be wise as they move forward with developing and changing ministry towards women, and that the Lord would be glorified in all these things.


I will miss my role in serving the women of Trinity Park as part of the Women’s Ministry Team. But I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had the past few years. All praise to God!

Learning about Prayer from Eugene Peterson- Clay Shelor

On October 14, 2018, I read that pastor and writer, Eugene Peterson, had entered hospice care and was near the end of his journey on this earth. He entered into the presence of his Good Shepherd just a few days later on the 22nd. Though I had never met Peterson, I was deeply saddened to hear of his death and felt and enormous indebtedness for the things I learned from him.

Eugene Peterson and his wife Jan

Eugene Peterson and his wife Jan

Through his little book, “Answering God,” I learned the simplicity, beauty and joy of praying the Psalms. Why the Psalms?

“If we are willfully ignorant of the Psalms, we are not thereby excluded from praying, but we will have to hack our way through formidable country by trial and error and with inferior tools. If we dismiss the Psalms, preferring a more up-to-date and less demanding school of prayer, we will not be without grace, but we will miss the center where Christ worked in his praying. Christ prayed the Psalms—the Christian community was early convinced that he continues praying them through us as we pray them: "we recite this prayer of the Psalm in Him, and He recites it in us." (page 4 quoting Augustine)

From “Eat this Book,” I was stirred in fresh ways to read the Bible, not to accumulate facts and theological data, but for my very life itself.

“Christians don't simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus' name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.”

As I am now reading his translation of the Bible, “The Message,” I am often startled and amazed at the big picture of creation, fall, rescue and new creation that Scripture tells. I am amazed yet again at God, who is "so good! His love never runs out” (Psalm 107:1, MSG), at the wonder of the gospel, that "The Word became flesh and blood,  and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, MSG).

Some of his final words just before death were, “Let’s go.” 

So I thank God for the faithful life of Eugene Peterson and how he has brought me back again to the beauty of Scripture, the wonder of the gospel of Jesus, and the astounding promise and joy of praying Scripture. I’m forever grateful. 

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Clay Shelor is an elder at Trinity Park. He lives with his family in Cary.

Transitioning with God- Alicia Park

Given this opportunity to write on TPC’s blog, I contemplated on what would be a good topic to share. Somewhat feeling my mundane life doesn’t really deserve a spotlight,  I thought I could talk about ordinary stuff like transition in life. Just this year, our family of 7(yes, you read it right!) went through many different transitions in our lives.

It started with our 4th child’s arrival. A baby girl born in March brought a great anticipation in every member of the family. Jae and I knew what to expect from this littler person and what great responsibilities she’ll add to our lives. Sisters made cards to celebrate and brother helped to assemble the crib. My mother busily cooked and stored food for us. We were ready to face the new stage of our lives!

Soon after, with a 6-week-old baby, our first house was complete to move in. All I remember is countless driving back and forth with my newborn taking every nap in the car seat. This move required hustling from every member of the family and there were many moments of frustration. Not bursting into sudden anger or blaming another family member during this season was very difficult!

Photo by  Evelyn Paris  on  Unsplash

Looking for a new church and new community happened right alongside with the move. Our family had been involved in a Korean church in Durham for past 4 years. We had friends and relationships we called family. When we prayed and considered to look for a new church in the same area, it was much too difficult. Anxiety came from feeling disconnected from the old and uncertainty of the new. But we knew God was broadening our perspective to look for a church beyond our own race. We wanted our children to see God’s kingdom in many different forms.

I believe our family is still going through this transition, but we are very thankful God led us to TPC. Members of the congregation embraced us and we were at ease. Not to mention our children are blessed to walk in their journeys in Christ with so many other children!

Lastly, it had been a long time topic of our prayer for a direction in Jae’s career. Battling with our own thoughts and plans while nothing seemed hopeful was grueling. However, acknowledging God’s faithfulness and sufficiency helped us to be patient with thankfulness. This October, Jae started a new position.

It almost feels like a fast moving wind carried us in 2018 to be where we are now. God who knows us the best prepared each step for us. Was I a good follower? I can recall some ugly moments of complaining and trying to be self-sufficient.

Transitions give us opportunity to examine the sovereignty of God in our lives. Also, it gives us a chance to reprioritize our lives. With transitions in life, I was able to practically see where my faith is at and test it. That being said, I hope my next transition would reflect more of the goodness of our Lord.

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Alicia Park came to Trinity Park in 2018. She lives with her family in Cary.


More Than Conquerors- Lindsey Wilkins

My husband and I love to snuggle up to our kiddos at bedtime and whisper truth into their ears as we kiss them goodnight. One of our favorite things to remind them of is that nothing can separate them from God’s love. When we first started repeating these words to to our children my daughter Story had a fear of animals, and even now she always responds with, “not even animals!” As our family has been through a lot of transition these past few months these words have been great truth to repeat. Anna, my oldest daughter, started kindergarten and has experienced so much change. Nothing can separate her from God’s love, not even Kindergarten! Filling children’s hearts with the truth of God’s word carries them through each sadness or fear and reminds them that God is the true source of their joy.

The children’s ministry at Trinity Park has made some changes in the past few months and it’s so exciting to see and feel the excitement when you walk into the gym during the eleven o’clock hour! One thing that we have added is a time of worship before Pastor Drew gives a lesson. We’ve provided space for kids to learn the truth of Scripture through song and movement. It was a joy to stand up front this week and watch the children sing and move with huge smiles on their faces. The song that we’ve been singing the last few weeks says:

“We are more, more, more than conquerors, through him who loves us.” “What can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus?” “Nothing, Nothing, Yeah!”

Credit: Jfoust on FLickr

Credit: Jfoust on FLickr

Our children at TPC are not the only ones that need to hear these truths. As I reflect on my day I am brought to repentance about how many times I doubt the love of Jesus for me. I continually find myself believing that all of my weaknesses and sins will separate me from God’s love: my impatience with my children, my fear and anxiety, my lack of trust in God about my desires and dreams, my selfishness, and my desire for control. Without Christ I am powerless to conquer these sins and weaknesses, but through his death and resurrection I am no longer controlled by my brokenness, but I have freedom. Freedom to stand in the truth that absolutely NOTHING can separate me from Christ’s love. Freedom to fail, to run to Christ in repentance and rest in his grace. There are so many days that I don’t feel like a conqueror, but I will repeat these truths to myself, sing them loudly on Sunday morning with the kids, and repeat them each night to my children.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-song reference from Seeds Family Worship, “More Than Conquerors”

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Lindsey Wilkins came to Trinity Park in 2018 from Ohio. She lives with her family in Cary.

Why We Need Good Stories- Kari West

There’s a quote famously attributed to G.K. Chesterton that reads, “Fairy tales are more than true. Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Many of us have a sneaking suspicion that the only truly important things are facts. We like the measurable and the provable. We think that if only we define something, then we’ve gotten at the heart of that thing. And while dictionaries are delightful because God has given us reason, a definition can’t capture the whole of truth. For that, we also need the imagination. We need the arts. We need good stories. God has made us creatures of rationality and creativity; both are vital for a deep understanding of the world and our place in it.

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Take a certain young wizard with a scar on his forehead. He has the power to enlarge your comprehension of belonging and sacrifice far beyond the scope of a dictionary or a lecture. Now, you can memorize definitions of these concepts, and that may be helpful. But if you open one of my most beloved series and follow Harry Potter through the hallowed halls of Hogwarts as he journeys from utter isolation to deep community, from youthful uncertainty to a mature grasp of his sacrificial role in the world, you will gain a better vision for deepening your own friendships and bearing burdens for the good of those around you.

C.S. Lewis compares these two kinds of knowing, the scientific and the imaginative, in his essay, A Meditation in a Tool Shed. He talks of being in a small garden shed and seeing a single beam of light streaming in through a hole in the ceiling. The scientific way of knowing is like staring at that beam of light. You can see it, you can measure it, you can prove that, yes indeed, the beam of light is there in front of you. But the imaginative way of knowing is like stepping into that beam and looking along it to see the glorious sunlit day beyond. There is a true kind of understanding that comes from the imagination that is just as valid, and is often more beautiful, than the one that comes through reason.

“The imaginative way of knowing is like stepping into that beam and looking along it to see the glorious sunlit day beyond.”

“The imaginative way of knowing is like stepping into that beam and looking along it to see the glorious sunlit day beyond.”

So throw a few good novels onto your nightstand along with that latest devotional and biblical commentary. We need good stories that tell us that wherever there be dragons, those dragons will be beaten. We need the fresh vision that good art can impart, so that we remember our deepest hopes as believers. Each satisfying ending of a story is a fresh reminder that soon, as J.R.R. Tolkien puts it, every sad thing will come untrue. One day, C.S. Lewis would tell you, the term will be over, and the holidays will begin.

Step into the beam of light that is a good story, and you may just see glimpses of the sun struck days to come.

5 Non Worship Worship Songs- Mark Atkinson

I’ve curated a list of five songs that have become worship songs for me. They were not written for that purpose.  I do not know about the spiritual life of most of the artists but they are each spiritual in their way. I’m fairly certain they would not pass our denominational doctrinal test — not that they would even want to take such a test.


Belle and Sebastian - "Ghost of Rock School”   

Belle and Sebastian is a Scottish indie band led by  Stuart Murdoch. I’m not sure what the song is about but the chorus is this repeat:  “I've seen God in the sun. I’ve seen God in the street. God before bed and the promise of sleep. God in my dreams and the free ride of grace. I see God shining up from her reflection.”  In that chorus, Stuart Murdoch recognizes God’s presence all around him.


T-Bone Burnett - “The Trap Door”  

I discovered T-Bone Burnett in college (mid-80’s).  This song is special to me as reminder to “watch out for the trapdoor.”   Listen careful—very carefully—to the lyrics. It’s as good a mini-sermon about dying to self and the dangers of pride as you’ll ever hear.   He wins the award for best name: T-Bone.

 

Leonard Cohen and the Webb Sisters - “If It Be Your Will”

This may be one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.  It’s written by Leonard Cohen and sung by the “sublime” Webb Sisters.  I read that Cohen was sort of a Jewish-Zen-Buddhist-poet-monk. No matter what, there’s no doubt he’s aware of The Transcendent.  He made a musical comeback when he was in his 70’s, touring internationally, filling large venues include DPAC. I first heard this song then—it’s a prayer.

Sufjan Stevens -  “The Greatest Gift”  
Sufjan Stevens is a talented, creative artist.  Helen (my wife) and I saw him at DPAC a few years ago. As with all these artists, I could have picked any number of songs to profile.  This— “The Greatest Gift”— is the most explicitly Christian on my list.  He also has a wonderfully quirky Christmas album. Check it out.

Mountain Goats - “Romans 10:9”  

The Mountain Goats is mainly the lead guy,  John Darnielle. Helen and I saw him in concert about a year ago.  The crowd ranged from young lesbian goths, hipsters, and the middle-aged. He’s “into” heavy metal (I’m not), nearly died from a meth addiction as a young man, worked as a psychiatric nurse for a while, and wrote two award winning novels. He grew up on the West Coast but now lives in Durham.  This song—Romans 10:9—is from an album where each songs is (loosely) inspired by a biblical passage. I love his lyrics and word pictures. You can tell his dad was an English professor.

Acknowledgements:  I must thank my four kids (Kevin, Sarah, Will and Stephen) who introduced me to most of these artists and many others.


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Markt Atkinson is an Elder at Trinity Park. He lives in Cary with his wife Helen.

At the Head of the Class- Mike Hall

Good teaching is something that has been instilled in me since childhood. When I was very young, my mother kept children in our home and would teach us kids bible stories. Looking back, I am amazed at how dedicated she was to teach us about the Lord despite all the wiggles and distractions she had to endure. This legacy stuck closely with me through the years and has helped me to become the man and the teacher that I am today.

When I started attending Trinity Park, I had been serving on staff at a church in the area as a children and student ministry curriculum editor. That project I was leading was wrapping up and I was contemplating where my next area of service would be. I didn’t have to wait too long for an answer because God opened the door for me and my wife to serve in the children’s ministry at Trinity Park. We have cared for babies in the nursery, taught the tweens class, served as co-leaders in our community group and even helped to teach a survey class on biblical theology.I figured that teaching occasionally at Trinity Park would be the extent of my teaching, but God had other plans.

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A little over two months ago, I felt a pull to go back into teaching full time. I wasn’t sure where to start until at community group one thursday evening, Andy Ew suggested that I get to know Rick Williams the principal at Davis Drive Middle. I felt as if I had been fighting an uphill battle because even though I have taught at some private schools and have an education degree and even a Masters Degree from Seminary, I am not certified by the state of NC. Rick met with me, gave me some good advice, and agreed to stay in touch.

A few weeks later, I got an email from Rick asking me if I would come and meet with him in the school office about a need that had opened up. As a result of that meeting, I am now serving as a long-term substitute for a teacher who is unable to teach this school year. I am hoping that I can parlay this into a full time position in the not so distant future.

I am very thankful to have the privilege to teach in both the church and the school. It doesn’t matter if I am teaching our tweens about Jacob and Esau or my eighth graders about the Declaration of Independence, my focus is the same. I am called by God to use the gifts and abilities that He has given me to glorify Him and serve others. This is a high and holy calling and I couldn’t ask for anything better.


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Mike Hall has been attending Trinity Park since November of 2016. He teaches Social Studies at Davis Drive Middle School and is a Realtor with Fathom Realty. He likes to hunt, fish, hike, follow college sports, and play board games with friends. 

Finding the Gospel in Grief and Loss- Monica Crolle

We were devastated. I remember staring at the screen.  Where was the heartbeat? It had to be there. We had prayed for this baby for so long. What had I done wrong?

October is Infant Loss Awareness Month. Tragically, 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss. Either early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or newborn loss. Maybe you or someone you know has experienced this terrible loss.  It is difficult to understand the emotional impact of such a loss. I would like to share our story to bring awareness to this experience that is so often grieved in silence.

Our baby was only 8 weeks old in utero. I was bereft. I was angry at God.  I didn’t want to pray. It was most definitely the darkest time in my life.  But I knew God loved me. I knew he didn’t want me to stay in this dark place.  The Holy Spirit lead me to write down how I felt.

I wrote: I have failed, my heart is sad, I don’t know how to go forward, I am being punished. Then I wrote verses alongside each feeling. Psalm 143:10- You lead me on level ground, Isaiah 26:3-4 the Lord is the rock eternal, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 My grace is sufficient for you.  Through this process a beautiful picture emerged. A picture of the gospel, a picture of God’s grace, of His love. A prayer picture.

Photo by  Shelby Miller  on  Unsplash

It was powerful, therapeutic, and profoundingly healing to go through this process.  It validated my grief for this beautiful short life. Something about seeing my darkest, ugliest feelings on paper surrounded by God’s word was encouraging.  Somehow without realizing it, I was praying. I knew God was near, and I could feel his presence. He reassured me that I hadn’t failed, I wasn’t being punished.  On the other side of this terrible loss, I can honestly say this is the one experience in my life that has strengthened my faith the most. I am so grateful.


I keep this prayer picture in my bible to remind me that even at my lowest point, God was there.  I have done many other pictures over the years for myself and for others, and I always feel closer to God after they are completed.


So chances are you or someone you know has experienced this loss.  I encourage you to pray. Prayer can take on many different forms. Be real with God.  Show him your feelings. He is big enough to handle them all.

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Monica Crolle and her family came to Trinity Park in 2018. She serves as the director of children’s ministry and loves craft of anykind, especially if it involves glitter.

Source: Photo by Rachel Lynette French on Unsplash

Welcome Wilkins Family!

Trinity Park,

I'm excited to announce that we have offered the new position of Pastor of Youth and Children to Drew Wilkins and he has accepted our offer! Throughout the interview process the search committee and the session have been impressed with Drew. We feel he will be a great fit for our church in general and for this pastoral role in particular. 

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Drew and Lindsey will be moving to the Cary area in late August or early September. We are still working out the final details of when Drew will officially start in his new role. 

If you want to learn a little more about Drew and Lindsey, click the here for his resume or here to view his cover letter. Keep your ears open for more updates about the Wilkins' transition to Trinity Park in the coming weeks!

Please rejoice with us in God's provision for our church by bringing the Wilkins family to us. Also, please pray for Drew, Lindsey and their 4 children as they prepare to leave their current church in Ohio and move down to join us in the Triangle. 

Grace,

Corey Jackson
Senior Pastor

Women's Ministry: Triads

Triads

This Fall the women’s ministry team is rolling out a new program that will replace the morning and evening Bible studies that we usually offer at Trinity Park.

 

Why are we doing this?

After taking some time to review the results of the women’s forums we have seen a few patterns. Many women are looking for deeper friendships and discipleship relationships. And women are also seeking to build relationships with women of who are in different stages of life and who are from different cultural backgrounds. As the church grows it’s becoming more of a challenge to get to know new people. After much conversation and prayer, we’ve decided to roll out a new idea called Triads to encourage women in the development of these type of relationships.

What is a Triad?

A Triad is a group of three women that are paired together for a set amount of time, to study a book together, to pray for one another and to develop life on life discipleship relationships.

What will the women be studying together this Fall?

The session and the women’s ministry team have come up with a list of six books. Each book has a different focus. 

How often should a Triad meet?

We will notify you about who is in your group by the end of August. At that time you can gather and discuss where and when you will meet.  It is suggested that you meet as a group 7 times between September 17 and December 10th. We realize that the nature of these groups (because we are intentionally pairing different ages and stages) might make finding a time to meet a little complicated, but we feel that with creativity you can work out a schedule. Meeting 7 times means you will be meeting roughly every other week. Of course, if you really connect with your group and would like to meet more frequently that is ok as well.

How do I sign up? How are groups members picked?

There is a google sign up at the top and bottom of this page and a link that will be sent out in the weekly updates newsletter. The sign up will list the six book choices. When you sign up you should pick the book or books you are most interested in studying this Fall. Groups will be organized by the women’s ministry team based on desired book choice.

There will also be a line where you can write a preference of a few people you are hoping to get to know better from a different age, stage, or cultural background. The Women’s Ministry Team will do our very best to put you in a group that desires to study the same book and if possible with the people you have listed that you’d enjoy going deeper with as well.  If you want to sign up but are unsure of someone you’d like to be grouped with, that’s fine as well. We will pair you together based on the book you have selected.

Going forward.

After the first week of December the Triads program will end and the traditional Morning and Evening Bible studies will begin again in the Spring. This is a trial run for the Triads program and feedback is welcome.

Our hope behind the Triads is that deeper community will be built among our women at Trinity Park. Our desire is that these groups will be a source of Spiritual encouragement and growth for all of those participating. We pray that your time together will produce authentic friendship and grow us all in love for one another.

If you are interested in the Triads program, please sign up by August 12th.

Sunday Morning Set-up & Children's Ministry: 40 New Volunteers Needed

New Volunteers Needed

We need 40 new volunteers to help us make worship possible each week.
20 in Children's Ministry
20 in Set up

If you are interested in learning more about how you can volunteer at Trinity Park contact Assistant Pastor Andy Ew, andy@trinityparkchurch.org.

Thank You!

It takes a lot to make worship happen each week! We are incredibly grateful to the volunteers who have served us over the past 7 years.

Summer Community Meals

Summer Community Meals - Chatham Forest Apartment Community

By Alexey Negru

Our Goal: Engaging Our Community

The goal of Community Engagement is to help each member of Trinity Park Church be actively engaged in the work of practical ministry in our community, according to God’s given talents and abilities.

As the church grows, we want to make sure that all of us have plenty of opportunities to serve in practical and tangible ways. We want to see our faith meeting the real challenges and needs of those around us.

A Heart Of Service

I know many of you who have been sacrificially serving for years at TPC (we thank you and praise God for you) and I know there are many wonderful people who just recently started attending TPC and also have a heart to serve and be involved in other people’s lives for the glory of God (we praise God for you as well!).

Jesus said: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” - Mat 25:35    

And I’m so excited that throughout this summer we have an opportunity to provide healthy meals and drinks for the children in Chatham Forest Community!

In partnership with Project Phoenix (Cary PD), Wake County Human Services and Pleasant Grove Church we will serve as site supervisor in Chatham Forest apartments by providing healthy meals and recreational activities for the children of the community.

Mark Your Calendar

We'll be starting on June 8th with a big kick-off party with food, crafts, various sport games, fire truck, K-9 unit and music and then twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays evening we will be there to distribute healthy meals to any child 18 years old and younger, for free!

I want to clarify, this is not giving out non-perishable food items, this is feeding children with nutritious meals, freshly prepared by our friends and sponsors at Pleasant Grove Church.

How It Works 

Our job would be to set up tables, distribute the meals, monitor to make sure all of the food is consumed at the site and offer recreational activities. Oh, and the clean-up of course.

Every other Friday we will also host a cookout for anyone in the community, any adult who decide to stop by for a freshly grilled burger or a hotdog! There is no better way to get to know people, their life situation and their needs than by sharing a meal together!

You might of heard somebody said:  “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care

Jesus in his earthly ministry would often meet people’s needs first and then shared the truth of the Kingdom of God. And we want to follow his example.

Our Hope

So our hope is that through being in the community, serving with meals and recreational activities, we’ll get to know its residents, their needs and struggles, and be able to continue to develop relationships with them after the summer is over.

I invite you to pray that from this summer meal program, many other opportunities arise like helping the youth with school, teaching ESL, career counseling and others. Most importantly, I hope we will have the opportunity to pray for people we serve and perhaps see them as part of our church family.

We Need Your Help!

It’s an ambitious endeavor and we do need many volunteers. To signup, CLICK HERE and commit to serve at one or all of the 20 events throughout the summer. Best way actually would be to connect with your Community Group and participate together in sharing the love of Jesus. We believe this is perfect opportunity for each CG to stay engaged in doing good while taking a break from regular meetings this summer!

God bless you!
Alexey Negru