Y’all are the church

1 Corinthians 3:9, For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

There are many verses in the New Testament that speaks of how we as the church are to walk together as one Body. Contrary to what many people think, we aren’t alone in our walk in a rugged individualism, we are together in unison, focused on Christ. You are never to be alone as a Christian, nor should you desire to be.

Think about it: if God chose you individually (and He certainly did before the foundation of the world), then your fellowship with God and others began with God. Yet, even though you came to Him individually, you’re hard-wired for relationships, and intimacy with God and others is God’s desire. God wants you to love one another as He loved you. This is why it is important to realize that Paul is not speaking to one person in the passage above, he is speaking to a collective you- or y’all as we like to say in the south!

This is in line with what the New Testament says about the church: Y’all are God’s field, God’s building. Y’all are “living stones…a spiritual house for a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5). Y’all are Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:27), to attain to a unity of faith (Eph 4:13), under one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5), so that all things y’all do would be for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).  It’s not you that does ministry, y’all do ministry, all empowered by Christ for Christ.

I hope that this is humbling. The church, then, is not about you, it’s about God being glorified by His people. This means making serious changes in your view of the relationships with God and others as His church. This means making Christ supreme in your daily walk, discarding your own comfort and convenience for Christ’s commission of the cross. This means finding ways to intentionally serve Christ and share Christ with others, and allowing Christ’s love to permeate all that you say and do.

It means being the y’all who love each other through thick and thin, where yall revolve around Christ and not the other way around. are the church, God’s church. A church for His glory who shares His gospel of grace with the world and with  one another.

I am praying for y’all.

Advertisements

Doing things right vs. doing the right things…

Saul was a king that clearly did not have God’s heart in mind. In fact, Saul was so drunk with power and prestige, he had no one’s heart in mind as a leader. Leading by ego and power, Saul would often “step in it” as he did tasks without the glory of God in mind. One example is found in 1 Samuel 14, where Saul was faced with following procedure to execute his son, Jonathan, for a “sin” against Saul that was done in ignorance. Regardless of what one might think of Saul’s vow before God (you can read about it here), he was willing to carry out enforcing his own rules, even to the cost of his own son! Sometimes it’s important not to overlook the people as you are doing the tasks.

Peter Drucker once wrote, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things” (Essential Drucker: Management, the Individual and Society). One takeaway that I get from this is that it’s one thing to be sure that you are correctly following procedure, to be on task, yet, a leader should be ready to set his tasks aside for the good of others.

This week and a half, Teresa and I got a chilling phone call that caused us to set aside our tasks for the good of others. Her mom, who lives in the Philippines and just lost her husband, was feeling very sick and was hospitalized with pneumonia. We had heard that she was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and she didn’t recognize some of her family members. She wanted to see her kids, and we feared the worst.

We have a busy life, but this was vitally important, so we didn’t think twice to place people (especially family) before tasks. Teresa and I found a flight to the Philippines and got on it the next day. We were able to see her mom (who had by that point been discharged) and we assessed her overall health and living conditions. We found much of her confusion not to be attributable to Alzheimer’s but to the medicine and illnesses, something that was a big relief to us. Regardless, we worked to improve her care and living conditions in her hot, humid home, and we talked things out with her so that she could plan for her future, including a new place to live now that her husband has passed on.

Most of all, we shared Christ. I sat at her kitchen table and admired my wife as she shared the gospel with her mother. I was so proud of her. She explained to her mom the need for a personal relationship with Jesus, the importance of coming to Christ and finding Christian friends to talk to and grow with, and how Jesus is the only way to heaven. It was Teresa’s gift to her mom, the eternal gift that had eternal consequences, and it was a blessing for me to enjoy.

I am glad that we got to come to see her in the Philippines. This visit has had an impact on my wife’s family. I wouldn’t want to fail to mention how Teresa’s dad and step mom have been so gracious to us as well- they have driven us around and taken us to church with them. I have also enjoyed the talks that her dad and I have had.

Please pray for my wife’s family, for the gospel, and for the work to be done in the future. We praise God for placing us in such a time as this.  I’m glad that at least in this case, we have placed people before tasks and did the right thing.

Pastor Fran

Why I cannot support the JEDZ tax in Springfield Township

JEDZI live and work in Springfield Township. I do business whenever I can in the township, and I support the causes that promote the well being of our community. We have a wonderful place to live- it’s not perfect, but a great place that we have called home. This is why I have been able to justify the high property taxes in the township. I feel safe here, I think that most people are happy, and I feel as if the community in which I live is a fairly stable place.

In the past, I have voted both for and against various levies. In some cases, I voted for levies that directly met a need, such as the levy to support services for the mentally disabled. I’m not completely against reasonable, common sense approaches that allow for an efficient government.

I am also concerned about basic, fundamental rights of the individual. I believe in our US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe that the government which governs least governs best, that the best functions for government is to defend its citizens, protect the rights of the individuals, and allow the people opportunities without government interference. As a Christian and a pastor, these rights directly align with my own life mission to serve Christ, love people, and speak the truth in love.

The township is facing budget struggles. In the desire to fund its budget, the trustees have now proposed a new tax on all employees and businesses who worked within the township. If it passes, all employees will pay this tax and all businesses will need to file forms on a monthly basis to a regional taxing authority. At the end of the year, according to the township, employees and business owners who do live in the township can then file a form and receive a grant for the amount withheld, thus getting a refund. Therefore, as a resident, I am not likely to pay an extra tax with the annual refund.

However, there are problems with this proposal, called Issue 13. Let me explain why as a citizen, I cannot support this new tax:

  • This tax is a burden on all employees, residents or not. Contrary to what the township has claimed, this tax will affect everyone who work in the township. Everyone will have taxes withheld from their pay, and residents would be able to receive their refund after filling out a form. The form will require the resident’s W2 and Social Security number. The form will require proof of residency. The form will have a deadline in which to file. No doubt, there are security and privacy concerns.
  • This tax is a burden on all businesses. Businesses with employees currently fill out quarterly 941 tax forms with the IRS. With the JEDZ tax, they are forced to fill out monthly forms. Employee withholding will need to be withheld and tracked. Last, business owners would also be forced to fill out a form for the refund of their tax on net profit before the end of the first quarter of the following year. This is a paperwork nightmare, especially since some businesses are not likely to be ready for this filing in time (many file for federal automatic extensions).
  • This tax is a burden on the working poor. This is perhaps my biggest issue. Many of the employees that the township wants to make its money on are the hourly wage earners. These are employees who often make the least amount of money. Some of these employees are students, single parents, or newly married. They are at the worst places in their lives to afford a reduction on their wages. These employees are already struggling to earn a living, trying to feed their families and hoping to get breaks to better their lives. Taxing them would cause harm to those who can afford it the least.

These are just some of the reasons why I am against this tax- I do have concerns about the race to beat the passage of HB 289. I don’t claim to have all of the solutions, but I don’t believe that this is a good one. It burdens businesses, it burdens residents, and it without a doubt will harm the working poor. Let’s not do this- instead, let’s put our energies toward finding less burdensome, more equitable solutions for Springfield Township.  Issue 13 is a bad idea and should be defeated. 

Please note: my opinions here are not meant to be construed as representative of the church I pastor. My opinions are my own.

Don’t Be Afraid…

Isaiah 41:10, “Do not be afraid – I am with you! I am your God – let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you.”

IMAG0020We live in a fallen world, and the world gives us many painful experiences. Just take your pick among the many tragedies, trends, and painful experiences, and it’s easy to get negative, depressed, and hopeless. This pain is never truly soothed by the wisdom of people, or by engaging in distractions, or even by putting on the power of positive thinking. Instead, the worries of the world are only quieted through a vibrant, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

God gives Isaiah words of hope and a future found only through His comfort: “Do not be afraid – I am with you!” It is amazing when we think about the greatness of God and the immensity of His creation…and yet He is the God of intricate details. in other words, He doesn’t leave things to chance in His world – He has it all in His wonderful, sovereign, and perfect will. You have nothing to fear: God will never leave you nor forsake you.

Whenever you are afraid, worried, frustrated, or feeling hopeless, remember the promises of God. You may still find yourself going through the valley, and you might even think you are alone, but you’re not: if you are His, God is has never left your side, and He will walk with you through this season. While this happens, He will use this time to shape you and grow you, to help you trust in Him more and more each day. Remember that every valley is an opportunity for a mountaintop experience with God. Take God at His Word, rest in Him, allow Him to walk with you and love you through the good times and bad.

Pastor Fran

The Cross

rugged-cross (1)Galatians 6:14  But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

A few years ago, a woman was critical of me and how I was dressed (I had no suit and tie on). She quickly pointed out that without my suit and tie, no one would know who the pastor is. At the time, I thought that this was a good argument. However, I thought about it a bit more and realized that this is a problem. No one should care who the pastor is, but everyone should care who Jesus is. It doesn’t matter if people know me or not, but it does matter if people know Jesus or not. I should never stand in front of Jesus, but He should be first in all things.

The truth is, I don’t want our church to be known as “Fran Trascritti’s Church,” but instead it should be known as “Jesus’ Church.” I have purposely not put my name on the new digital sign, because this shouldn’t matter anyway. I would much rather that the community knows who we are as people who love Christ than who the pastor is anyway. After all, the church should not rise and fall on the pastor, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, Christ is our rock who we will praise forever.

If you are in Christ, God has a seal on you that identifies you as His own. You have been given a new identity, an identity that you are a child of God. Your love for God and your passion to exalt Him in your life is what God wants. In fact, your fame, fortune, and position in life means nothing if Christ is not in it. Don’t fall into the trap of proclaiming you and not Jesus- you are loved, and God wants His love to shine through you as you trust and rely on Him daily. Boast in nothing but the cross, allowing Christ to be known through you!

Pastor Fran

Finishing Well…

FinishingIn November of this year, I am planning to run my first ever half marathon (13.1 miles). To do this, I have to train faithfully, pushing myself beyond what I have ever done before. I will be pacing myself, adjusting my stride, mentally monitoring my pace and staying focused along the way. My wife, Teresa, will be with me along the way as she also runs in this event and I hope that we will be able to encourage each other. All in all, my hope is not to start the race well, but to finish it well.

On a similar note, Teresa and I will be attending a state convention sponsored conference soon to help us in our spiritual walk. The Finishing Well Boot Camp is a conference designed to minister to a small group of pastors and their wives. It is a chance for each of us to assess and evaluate our ministry through the eyes of Christ, to encourage us as we look to finish well in him, and to find ways to expand and pass on the ministry to the next generation of leaders. Being that this year marks my twentieth year of ministry in the Lord, this is such appropriate timing!

I am excited about the opportunity that we have to grow in God’s grace as we serve Him. Romans 1:17 says, “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life” (NLT). This reminds me that we are all a work in progress, and we are all growing in our faith. And as we go through life, God works on us to make us right in His sight, from start to finish, by faith.

Training, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, amounts to a degree of dedication and discipline. The same questions that applies to us should also apply to you: How dedicated are you to grow? Are you growing in Christ? Are you making adjustments in your life so that you are finishing well?

Let me encourage you to assess your own walk in the Lord, see where you need to make adjustments, and run with strength and confidence in Him. In Christ, we are all in the same race, the race of life, and the prize of the upward calling in Him is what we strive for as we hear the wonderful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” May God do a continued work in each of us!

Pastor Fran

Why Am I Discouraged?

38696_1529145115233_1432873828_31339927_4328909_nPsalm 42:5-6, 8: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God…each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.”

Many of us suffer from the roller coaster syndrome of our faith. We have up seasons in the Lord, as we develop a closeness to Him and feel His presence constantly. We also have down times, times when we are dry, almost estranged from our relationship with God. This is a confusing period, and though we may know in our heads that God will never leave us nor forsake us, we still feel so alone.

Let me encourage you: God has never left you. He is still here, and He is still present. He pours His love in abundance, a love that lets you know that even when you don’t understand the reasons, the circumstances, or the future, you still have Him. It’s a love beyond understanding, a love greater than words.

If you are struggling with discouragement, maybe it’s time to let God take control of your burdens. Maybe it’s time to pour out your heart to Him and trust in His will. God will answer in just the right way and at just the right time of the day or night- He always does. I pray that you will do as the psalmist did and place your hope in God- as you do this, may you enjoy His presence and His incredible love for you!

Pastor Fran

Worship in Pajamas?!?

Well, with worship cancelled due to the ice and awful driving conditions, I thought that I would try to do something different. I went ahead and had a Google Hangout Air with as many people as wanted to come to study the Word. Here’s the link of the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mkG6ydyoiU

All in all, it was fun. Yeah, we had a troll come on and try to distract the study from the topic at hand, but it was still very worthwhile. I can see application of this tool for a variety of bible studies and content delivery for the church. With a little practice, I foresee us using Hangouts for several applications. Keep in mind that won’t replace live, person to person interaction, but it is a good alternative in circumstances like what we had or if people have to travel long distances.

So let me ask- what ways can you see this tool used for the Kingdom? If so, how?

Devotion: Comfort in the Midst of Crisis

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

helpb

When tragedy strikes, people need comfort. Sometimes people need hugs, words of kindness, a smile, a tear, or just a sympathetic ear. There’s something to be said about the power of encouragement, as the loving presence of a loved one can change another’s overall outlook for hours, days, or even years.

Yet there is a greater comfort that is available for Christians: the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that if you are a believer and are hurting, He groans, He prays, He brings peace to you. Comfort, true permanent comfort, is found through the healing touch, the cool refreshing water of the Holy Spirit. It is an internal joy that comes from Him, knowing that although the situation seems impossible and the hurt seems limitless, the presence of God is still with you.

King David wrote in Psalm 30:5 that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” There is a joy promised, a hope before you, and a love around you. It may not feel like that right now, but God is surely with you, never to leave nor forsake you, never to forget your pain. Remember this as you suffer through the pain found in this fallen world.

May the power of God’s love surround you, and may the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you in this time!

Pastor Fran

Serving the church by helping her make disciples

%d bloggers like this: