May 28

Hey Fam,

What a heartbreaking couple of months.

In the context of a season of crazy suffering (among other things, this week, our nation passed the 100,000 mark for those who have died from Covid-19), we as a nation have been shocked by a series of high profile tragedies in which black people were killed unjustly in the name of justice.

February - #AhmaudArbrey
March - #BreonnaTaylor
April - #GeorgeFloyd

My social media feed has been a flood of emotion.

Many of my African American friends are understandably pouring out lament, fear, frustration, and shock. Every time they see another black man killed for no justifiable reason, it reminds them that their men, their husbands, sons, friends, and pastors, are in danger because white people perceive them as dangerous. Every time they see another black woman killed for no other reason than that she lives in a black neighborhood, it reminds them that they aren’t safe even when they are playing games or sleeping in their own homes.

Even as I write this, I received an email from a pastor friend in Minneapolis about his neighborhood melting down in riots and anger. He is trying to bring comfort, work for stability, and provide safety as his city responds to years of pain. As we saw in St. Louis a few years back, a single event can trigger a firestorm of violence and anger because that single event was far from a solitary event. While a single event may capture the nation’s attention because it was caught on video, these events are usually part of a broader pattern of injustice that the community has been enduring for years.

My heart breaks with my African American friends - men and women that I respect and love. My heart breaks for the ripple effects that still move through our culture from our sordidly rich history of racism and violence. My heart breaks as I see some of my white friends responding with “yeah, but’s” instead of compassion and empathy as their black brothers and sisters are feeling isolated and vulnerable. My heart breaks for the wave of national “concern” that will almost inevitably result in a lot of virtual outrage but very little action toward the change necessary to create a more just society.

There is so much beauty in this world and there is so much brokenness and ugliness. Y’all, let’s be people of beauty. Let’s not fight to be right - let’s fight to love. Let’s be people of grace. Let’s use our voices to encourage those that are discouraged, protect those who are vulnerable, and lovingly engage those who need to grow in compassion and empathy. Let’s not give our hearts over to pride or fear or hate or despair.

We are people of the resurrection. Let’s anchor our hope in the Kingdom that is coming even as we seek to be lights of grace in the kingdom that is.

He is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

Grace,
Steve


Looking forward to Sunday


This Sunday in Pentecost Sunday and we will wrap up our “He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” sermon series. We are also going to launch a new sermon series on Sunday studying what the Bible teaches about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. I know some of you are itching to get back to Romans (and I promise we will!) - but as I studied the events of Pentecost, I felt convicted that there was a lot of encouragement we could mine out of this passage by spending more time studying the Spirit who indwells and empowers the church!

Sermon Title: Baptism By Fire

Text: Acts 2:1-13

Quotes:

Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet. - N.T. Wright

[Spiritual gifts] are not some thing or some stuff that is separate from God, something else sent by God. The gifts are God himself working in and through us. They are concrete, often tangible, visible and vocal disclosures of divine power showcased through human activity. - Sam Storms

Most congregations of professing Christians today are saturated with a kind of dead goodness, an ethical respectability which has its motivational roots in the flesh rather than in the illuminating and enlivening control of the Holy Spirit. - Richard Lovelace

In my experience, self-hatred is the dominant malaise crippling Christians and stifling their growth in the Holy Spirit. - Brennan Manning

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. - Jesus, in John 16:7


Prayer List for May 28, 2020


- Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering. Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.

General: For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.

General: For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.

Trailhead: Trailhead Kids - Please pray for our kids within Trailhead Church. Help them to feel protected and loved during this time of uncertainty, and pray that God would guide their parents and guardians to find ways to help them to stay connected with their community. Pray that our kids will feel close to God, and lean into Him, understanding that God is in control, and he will lead us through this time. Pray for our parents to lead and disciple their children well, to carve time out of their day to talk with them about Jesus, and to find renewed joy as they lead their children in God's word.

Ministry Partner: The Restore Network recruits and supports foster parents with the goal of a healing home for every child in foster care. This normally involves a lot of in-person events and trainings, but they have had to cancel those and shift to virtual meetings. Please be praying for the Executive Director Katie Myette that God would grant her wisdom as she faces these challenges, and that the Restore Network will be able to continue to meet the needs of our families during these difficult times. Also, there has been an increase in the number of children coming into foster care. Please pray for vulnerable children that they would be kept safe.

If you have a need or something you would like the church to pray with you about, you can submit your request by visiting: http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp

 

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May 21, 2020

Hey Fam,

Psalm 40 has always been one of my favorite Psalms. It is such a vivid picture of what the Lord has done - and continues to do - in my life.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1–3)

This is the pattern of my life. Get stuck (or realize I am already stuck) in the mire. Feel helpless, exposed, and endangered. Cry out to God. Wait (patiently, well, not so much). Cry out with an increasing urgency, but also with a growing humility.

And then it happens. He shows up and lifts me up out of the mire, out of my place of hopelessness and helplessness. He sets my feet upon a rock and I rediscover a song of praise as my heart is delivered from the oppressive darkness.

This is the pattern of my life. I believe it is the pattern of the whole Christian life. We don’t just believe in a God who died and rose again. We follow a God who calls us to keep taking up our cross, to keep rediscovering that we need to die to our false hopes, our false gods, and our false self-will. And, then, because he is a God of love, he keeps bringing us into a renewed experience of the resurrection.

As Mr. Beaver said to Susan in C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” when she questioned whether the great lion was safe:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

He’s the King, I tell you.

He is risen.
He is risen, indeed!

Grace,
Steve


Helpful and Encouraging Resources


Another Free Webinar from The Center on Faith, Sexuality, & Gender


This week, Preston Sprinkle announced another FREE Webinar on June 3rd from 1pm-2pm. The forum will discuss a more theological topic than the last forum: “Same-Sex Marriage and the Bible.” Preston will spend the first 35 minutes talking through the historically Christian view of marriage and responding to several pushbacks to this view. He’ll then open it up for 25 minutes of Q & A. Click HERE to register. And come ready with your questions!


An Encouraging and Timely Word from Russell Moore


“Some of us need to be reminded that quarantine is not permanent, so that we don’t lose hope. And some of us need to be reminded that prudence and love of neighbor is not cowardice.”


Read his article here


Trailhead Updates and Important Information


Brian Pacheco Taking a Three Month Sabbatical


Brian, our worship leader and collegiate ministry director, graduated from Covenant Seminary last week and began a scheduled three month sabbatical. He had planned to start his sabbatical with a vision trip to AZ to start laying the groundwork for planting a church, but (obviously) that plan (and most of his other plans) had to be adjusted. Please be in prayer for Brian and Melinda as they try to disconnect from the pressures of ministry and connect with their joy in Christ and with each other! We are grateful for Brian’s service to Trailhead (he’s been on staff on one way or another since we launched!). I am deeply grateful for Brian’s love for our savior, his faithful service to Trailhead Church, and his true friendship to me over the last 10 years.


New Video from Dan-Dan-the-Marriage-Man!


Dan has released another helpful video in his Marriage Monday series. If you haven’t engaged these, you really should. They are only about 5 or 6 minutes each - and will help you as you struggle to love your spouse well! If you missed it, grab it here.


Prayer and Need Requests


Do you have a prayer request? We have people eager to pray with and for you! Do you have a need request? You can let us know here!


Mission Opportunities


Update from our partner The Restore Network


The Restore Network continues to do the vital work of helping children in crisis find safety and protection in the homes of the Christian community. The pandemic may have shut down many aspects of our economy, but it has not shut down the suffering of children in crisis. Thank God for our foster parents and for those who sacrificially support them - and for the incredible leadership at Restore that continues to equip the church to serve in this vital way. Check out  their latest newsletter to see how to pray and how you can be involved.


Looking forward to Sunday


This Sunday will be the second-to-last sermon in the “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed” sermon series - because next week is Pentecost! This week, we’ll be looking at Jesus’ last resurrection appearance and his ascension. His “final” words to his disciples speak just as loudly to us today as they did in the first century - but for us to hear them, for us to live them, is going to require us to shift our mindset about the mission of our lives.


Sermon Title: Critical Shift

Text: Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:6-11

Quotes:

If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice? - David Livingstone

To live in sub-mission means you're committed to someone else's mission more than your own. - Jeff Vanderstelt

Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love. - Roland Allen

Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't. -
Richard Bach

Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace. - Karl Barth


Prayer List for May 21, 2020

Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering. Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.

  • General: For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they navigate decisions on reopening and protecting the vulnerable.
  • General: For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.
  • Trailhead: Elders & deacons - Please pray for our elders: that they would lead with wisdom and discernment, finding rest in Christ, being filled with God’s joy, and seeking to see the message of the Gospel continue to go forward in our community. Pray for our deacons as they lead people to serve and demonstrate the love of Christ in the midst of the current crisis. Pray that God would continue to raise up new leaders in our church, and that we would love our community well.
  • Ministry Partner: Network Partners - Acts29 and Converge MidAmerica: Pray for our partner churches, that they would make an impact in their local communities for the sake of the Gospel. Pray that their pastors would make wise decisions to protect the people in their communities and have the resources they need to serve the vulnerable.
  • If you have a need or something you would like the church to pray with you about, you can submit your request by visiting: http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp

 

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May 14, 2020

Hey Trailhead Family,

In order to proactively care for our pastor, the elders invited Steve to take the week off and a break from preaching this Sunday.  Steve, we love you and are incredibly thankful for you.  Thanks for graciously modeling to us healthy rhythms and taking advantage of an opportunity to get some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

While this week’s update will be brief, we wanted to share with you a few important bits of news and information.

On behalf of the elders and staff of Trailhead Church,

Dan Free

Director of Care & Counseling, Elder



Trailhead Updates and Important Information

Celebrating Brian’s graduation and sabbatical

We are incredibly excited to celebrate a huge milestone in the life of Brian Pacheco, our Director of Worship & College Ministry. On Friday, May 15th Brian will graduate from Covenant Theological Seminary with his Master of Divinity degree.  Brian has worked incredibly hard as a full-time student, while also working full-time on staff at our church.  We also want to thank his wife, Melinda, and three children for their sacrifice and support to enable Brian to reach this goal.  Trailhead, please join us in celebrating Brian by sending a note to bpacheco@trailheadonline.org.  You can also tune in to Brian’s virtual commencement at 7pm on Friday 5/15 by visiting https://youtu.be/lAPpQXJyjv8.

In order to care for our leaders, the elders have made it policy that staff ministry leads are eligible for a 3-month sabbatical after 7-years of full-time service. The purpose of a sabbatical is to strengthen the ministry of Trailhead Church by providing staff with a time for study, rest, personal growth, and professional development.  2020 marks Brian’s 7th year as a full-time employee at Trailhead and he will be taking a sabbatical from May 17th through August 16th.  Brian, thank you for your faithful service and hard work that has all been driven by your love for Jesus. We pray you, Melinda, Cora, Calvin, and Mia have an amazing summer and restorative sabbatical.

Prayer and Need Requests

Do you have a prayer request? We have people eager to pray with and for you! Do you have a need request? You can let us know by visiting http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp

New Marriage Monday video!

Dan has released another helpful video in his Marriage Monday series. They are only about 5 to 6 minutes each - and will help you as you struggle to love your spouse well! If you missed it, grab it here.

Looking forward to Sunday 

This Sunday, elder Aaron Parks will be preaching a message titled "Blind Faith?”  The text will be 1 Peter 1:3-9.  We encourage you to read and reflect on the scripture passage prior to Sunday, and consider the following quotes:

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.” ― Alexandre Dumas

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” ― G.K. Chesterton

"The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Prayer List for May 14, 2020

  • Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.
  • General: For Christians in every neighborhood, community, and city - May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified around the world.
  • General: For our vulnerable populations - God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially the uninsured. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.
  • Trailhead: Community Groups - Pray for the individuals in your community group, that everyone would feel connected during this time of social distancing and no one would feel isolated. Pray for our CG leaders, and that our groups would continue to find ways to demonstrate and share the love of Christ to those in our church and our community.  Pray that we, as a church, would walk in Christ as a community on mission.
  • Ministry Partner: Main Street Community Center - The Center is committed to serving Edwardsville residents 50+ years of age to keep them healthy, active and engaged.  They provided groceries and meals for seniors with financial and/or health needs, as well as transportation, and a variety of other services.  One of the ways we partner with the center is by volunteering to deliver meals to those in need.  Please pray for the health and protection of the meal recipients and delivery volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis.  If you’d like more information about the center, you can visit https://mainstcc.org/

If you have a need or something you would like the church to pray with you about, you can submit your request by visiting: http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp

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May 7, 2020

Hey Fam,

I am wrestling with this letter.

On the one hand, I want to encourage you and wish you all a happy Mother’s Day (all you mothers and all of you who have had mothers) - I am also struggling a bit with my own heart. There has been joy this week - and much to spur my heart to gratitude.
But this week has also been a gut punch of a reminder that we live in a broken world that continues to suffer the effects of the great rebellion of Genesis 3. 

The ongoing emotional strain of social distancing and continual low-level anxiety has left me tired and sad. The raging debates on social media about reopening (and the exhausting flow of conspiracy theories and countering theories debunking the conspiracy theories) have put me a bit on edge.

Then the leaked video of 25 year old African American Ahmaud Arbery getting murdered for running through an all white neighborhood in GA landed on my heart like a 50 pound dumb bell. It left me kind of breathless - I was outraged and wanted to cry out, but no words seemed to be coming out. (Don’t worry, the link doesn’t go to the video - it goes to a summary of the events surrounding the video that was shot at the end of February and the action - or lack of action - that has taken place in the last two and a half months on it).

Then, I got a text that some dear friends of mine had suffered a sudden and devastating loss. Again, the horse-kick of sorrow to my chest left me overwhelmed.

This world. Man, this world. It can be so overwhelmingly beautiful - and so devastatingly dark and ugly.

This is not the way it's supposed to be. I mourn this brokenness. But it does not swallow my hope.

My hope isn’t anchored in the murky and uncertain darkness of this world. It is anchored in the Kingdom to come, the righteous reign of my King Jesus. Truly. Thank God, he hasn’t abandoned us without hope. The Kingdom is coming - and, even now, the Kingdom is breaking in - the light is piercing the darkness - in the small acts of love done in the name of our risen savior, Jesus. 
My heart will cry tears of sorrow and rise up in anger against injustice. My strength may be sapped by the monotonous anxiety that buzzes just under the surface of each day. But my hope cannot be moved because my savior has been raised from the dead - the darkness has already been defeated, death has been killed, and injustice has been judged.

The King is coming. The King is coming soon.

He is risen.

He is risen, indeed!

Grace,

Steve


Helpful and Encouraging Resources

Google Tours of National Parks

I stumbled across this - and was really impressed. Lauren and I had the chance to visit the Dry Tortugas national park a few years back and the virtual tour was super impressive. They have video of what it’s like to swim along a coral reef and have even captured the sound (the most surprising part for me - the coral reef is so loud!). Check it out (and more) here.

Common Struggles in a Pandemic

A fellow pastor wrote an article (with links to tons of helpful resources) on common struggles in a pandemic. The title struck me as odd - how can anything be “common” in such an extraordinary event - but, of course, while the circumstances are crazy out of the ordinary, our responses to it aren’t. In fact, this event is surfacing things in our hearts that have always been problems - they are just exaggerated by the current situation. This article could be an excellent tool for heart check-ins with your fight clubs, CG’s, or other small group. 

Some Other Great Links

Why We’re Feeling Exhausted and Irritable

A Conference Call in Real Life

Trailhead Updates and Important Information 

New Video from Dan-Dan-the-Marriage-Man!

Dan has released another helpful video in his Marriage Monday series. If you haven’t engaged these, you really should. They are only about 5 or 6 minutes each - and will help you as you struggle to love your spouse well! If you missed it, grab it here.

Now’s a Great Time to Get Involved!

Some of you (hopefully all of you) may have noticed some improvements with our sermon streaming. Our production team has always been incredible, staffed by some of our most faithful volunteers in the church! As a result of the recent pandemic, we’ve actually seen the team grow with volunteers who are eager to use their skills to invest in our shared experience of distance worship. Do you have some talent that you’d like to invest in the church during this time? We’d love to hear from you and help you be on mission with us! Just email us at info@trailheadonline.org (our all purpose email account) - and we’ll work on getting you plugged in!

Prayer and Need Requests

Do you have a prayer request? We have people eager to pray with and for you! Do you have a need request? You can let us know here!

Mission Opportunities 

I have been so encouraged lately by the outpouring of generosity in our community. Some of you have donated your stimulus checks to Trailhead to be used to meet needs in our community. I’ve been hearing stories of others giving money and other practical aid directly to people as they hear of needs. Lauren and I have even received a few meals from folks who just wanted to love us in a practical way. One of the most powerful ways God reminds us of his love for us is through the love of his people toward us (and ours toward them!). Opportunities to love are around us every day - let’s be praying for eyes to see the doors God is opening and inviting us to bless others in his name!

Looking forward to Sunday 

This Sunday is Mother’s Day (ok, guys, you’ve only got a day or two left!). I decided a couple weeks ago that I’d focus on Mary Magdalene for this weekend - seemed fitting. One of the most notable women in the New Testament (The first witness of the resurrection! Often called the apostle to the Apostles because of her commissioned message to them!) - surely, I thought, I could come up with a fun, light-filled, encouraging Mother’s Day sermon based on her appearances in scripture! So, I’ve been studying and meditating on her story for a few weeks. I’m not sure the message that has been forming in my heart is “fun and light-filled” (sorry) - but I am finding it deeply encouraging in a way that grapples with the reality of the sorrow and abuses of power that fill this current age. So, sorry - you’re not going to get “Your Best Life Now” - but I hope to share with you an even greater hope based on an even greater promise.

Sermon Title: The True Normal

Text: Luke 8:1-3; 24:1-12

Quotes:

Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry was one of giving back to undeserving sinners their humanity. We tend to think of the miracles of the Gospels as interruptions in the natural order. Yet German theologian Jürgen Moltmann points out that miracles are not an interruption of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. We are so used to a fallen world that sickness, disease, pain, and death seem natural. In fact, they are the interruption. - Dane Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers 

I'm for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. - Billy Graham to Jerry Falwell, 1979

If you are neutral on situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. - Desmond Tutu

When Christians who understand the gospel see a poor person, they realize they are looking into a mirror. - Tim Keller

All you need as evidence is the cruel death of Jesus to know that grace never takes sin lightly or says it's okay. - Paul Tripp

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Prayer List for May 7, 2020

  • Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.
  • General: For the sick and infected: God, heal and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.
  • General: For frontline health care workers, Lord we thank you for their vocational call to serve us. We also pray:God, keep them safe and healthy. Keep their families safe and healthy.
    • God, help them to be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, as well as the changing protocols.
    • God, help them to stay clear-minded in the midst of the surrounding panic.
    • God, deliver them from anxiety for their own loved ones (aging parents, children, spouses, roommates).
    • God, give them compassion for every patient in their care.
    • God, provide for them financially, especially if they fall ill and are unable to work.
    • God, help Christians in health care to exhibit extraordinary peace, so that many would ask about the reason for their hope. Give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel.
  • Trailhead: Our streaming services & online communicationPray for our technology to continue to work, and our leaders to be able to communicate needed information clearly and effectively. Pray for our volunteers that have faithfully served to make the streaming services available.
  • Pray for Steve as he prepares the sermon, for the listeners to grow in grace and belief in the Gospel.
  • Ministry Partner: Glen-Ed Food Pantry (http://www.glenedpantry.org/ home)The current need is for monetary donations, to enable the pantry to make bulk purchases for needed items.  This allows them to purchase exactly what they need, at the right time, and at better prices.
  • If you’d like to donate: You can send a check directly to Glen-Ed Pantry, 125 5th Ave., Edwardsville, IL 62025 or go to: https://www.glenedpantry.org/ donors
  • Submitted Prayer Requests:
    • Benjamin Flachsbart lost his student internship for the summer. He asked that we pray that God would open a door for income soon.
    • Tameka asked us to pray for her and her baby’s health.
    • Visit http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp to submit additional requests

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 April 30, 2020

Hey Trailhead Family,


I’ve decided to extend our “He is Risen / He is Risen Indeed” sermon series through the end of May. I love Romans and we will get back to that study - but I felt like we could all use a little longer in the resurrection narratives - and I think we can all use something to look forward to.


We’re continuing our study through May 31 because that is Pentecost Sunday, the Sunday on which the Spirit descended on the disciples and sent them out into the world to be witnesses of the resurrection. It was one of the most exciting and important days in church history.


Some of the celebration of Easter was robbed from us this year with the sudden disruption of our lives by this pandemic. Of course, the resurrection of Jesus has always been and continues to be the single greatest event in human history. It is the one thing that makes everything else secondary. This is why I think it is a good idea for us to spend another five weeks looking at the resurrection appearances of Jesus. It refocuses us on what is real, primary, and infused with hope.


This week, we’ll be walking with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is a story that has tremendous personal meaning for me and I am really looking forward to sharing it with you. And I am praying for you as this season of disruption, unease, and anxiety continues. We need to see life through his resurrection now as much as ever, though we are more likely to feel our need in this season of stress. May we find our eyes opened progressively to his presence.


He is risen.


He is risen, indeed!


Grace,

Steve


Helpful and Encouraging Resources

Paul Miller’s Praying Life Seminar and Resources

If you wanted to join but missed Paul Miller’s Praying Life seminar, he’s posted the whole thing along with the resources they shared at his website. You can access it here:

https://www.seejesus.net/resources/praying-under-quarantine-webinar

Free Webinar from Preston Sprinkle and The Center for Faith, Sexuality, & Gender

Preston Sprinkle will be hosting a webinar entitled, “How to Engage the LGBTQ Conversation” on Monday, May 11 from 7:30-9:00pm. The focus is how we can engage those we disagree with on the topic of faith and sexuality. 

From Preston: “Almost every Christian these days finds themselves in conversations about sexuality with people they disagree with: parents with their kids, pastors with their congregants, friends with friends, and so on. Oftentimes, both sides speak past each other because they haven’t taken the time to understand where the other person is coming from. 

How can we engage conversations with passion for truth and an unswerving love for others? Please join me on May 11th as I share my thoughts and then answer your questions!”

Click here to register for this event.

Trailhead Updates and Important Information 

New Video from Dan-Dan-the-Marriage-Man!

Dan released his second marriage video into the wild on Monday over on Trailhead’s facebook page. If you missed it, grab it here. It’s five minutes that will be well invested!

Prayer and Need Requests

Do you have a prayer request? We have people eager to pray with and for you! Do you have a need request? You can let us know here!


Mission Opportunities 

This week I want to highlight the power of prayer as a force for mission. In Matthew 24:20, in the middle of predicting the future sufferings of the Jewish believers, he told them to pray that these events would not happen in winter or on the Sabbath. That struck me - Jesus is telling them the future, and in the middle of it, tells them that their prayers will impact how the future plays out. God is in control AND our prayers matter.

So, let’s take our responsibility to pray seriously!

Let’s pray for:

Honduras - the fires are raging and they could use an extended season of rain

Tegucigalpa and Compassion - Tegucigalpa, the city we’ve partnered with in Honduras, is under lockdown and many of our friends in poverty are trapped without resources. Compassion International has been working to get resources into the dense population centers of the city - pray that the Lord would protect those who are serving and would open doors for their relief efforts to get through.

East Asia - our partners in East Asia have been on lockdown for longer than we have - it has an emotional and psychological toll, so let’s pray for their wellbeing. I’ve also been getting reports of unexpected opportunities for them to build relationships and share the gospel - let’s pray that the Lord opens effectual doors for the gospel… and let’s be praying for our partners that have been displaced because of the pandemic - friends who were traveling when things started getting locked down and haven’t been able to go back to their homes in their mission fields.

Each other - and, of course, let’s be diligent to pray for each other. Think of five people you can reach out today - by text or call or marco polo or whatever - and just check in on them and ask how you can pray for them... And then take some time to pray!

Your prayers make a difference!


Looking forward to Sunday 

In my intro letter to this I shared a little bit about where we’re going this Sunday - the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Take some time to read the story and pray over it and allow the Spirit to prepare you to study it with me!

Sermon Title: Where is Jesus?

Text: Luke 24:13-35


Quotes:


Providence conceals itself in the details of human affairs, but becomes unveiled in the generalities of history. - Alphonse de Lamartine


Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it. - C.H. Spurgeon


If it were possible for me to alter any part of his plan, I could only spoil it. - John Newton


Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. - Vaclav Havel 


I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do. - Corrie ten Boom

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Prayer List for April 30, 2020


  • Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.
  • General: For workers in a variety of industries facing layoffs and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire your church to generously support them.
  • General: For those with mental health challenges who feel isolated, anxious, and helpless: God, provide them every necessary support.
  • Trailhead: Church Finances & Generosity - We praise God and are incredibly thankful for our members that have been faithfully giving.  Because of your generosity, we are currently in a healthy financial position.  We ask that you pray for wisdom as the church moves forward in uncertain financial times, and that we would steward the resources he has given us well.
  • Ministry Partner: Pathways Counseling - Pray for the counselors as they seek to provide care for their clients in this difficult time, that they would continue to have opportunities to share the Gospel and love of Christ with their clients.  Pray that individuals and couples needing to seek care would be willing to ask for help, and that Pathways would continue to be able to make counseling affordable for those with low-income.
  • Submitted Prayer Requests:
    • Benjamin Flachsbart lost his student internship for the summer. He asked that we pray that God would open a door for income soon.
    • Tameka asked us to pray for her and her baby’s health.

 

=================================================

April 23, 2020

Hey Trailhead Family,

This weekend will be the seventh week of video sermon and virtual gathering as a body.

Man, I miss you guys.

But, thankfully, the good news is always good.

He is risen.

He is risen, indeed!

Grace,

Steve


A Little Encouragement 

Andy Crouch: The Year without a Summer

I’m a big fan of Andy Crouch’s writing - it is insightful, challenging, and encouraging. I thought this was a great blog over at his site:

“Why are small numbers such a big part of God’s story? I think it’s because of a sociological axiom: the only way to change culture is through an absolutely small group of people. Large groups can preserve culture, large groups can transmit culture, but if you want to change culture, you have to think small.

And so the question becomes, Why are we here? Are we here for cultural preservation? Preserving a way of life, preserving a certain standard of living? If so, we should be terrified at this moment. 

Or are we here for cultural transformation? To bring a deep change in the world? If so, we should be energized, because we have everything that we need.”

Read more over at Andy’s Blog

Growing in Prayer during the Pandemic Webinar with Paul Miller

It’s not too late to jump in!

On Tuesday, April 28, Paul Miller (author of A Praying Life, A Loving Life, Love Walked Among Us, and The J Curve) has started leading free bi-weekly webinars called Hope and Direction in a Time of Crisis. Next week, the webinar will talk about "Praying Under Quarantine."

In this FREE one-hour webinar, Paul Miller explores how inviting God into our helplessness enables us to lament, ask, and watch, in trust. You do have to register to attend, so please REGISTER HERE! 
WHEN:     Tuesday, April 28, 8-9 PM ET

WHERE:   Zoom—a link will be emailed after you register. 


Trailhead Updates and Important Information 

Marriage Mondays with Dan-Dan-the-Marriage-Man!

Dan started a series of videos on Monday called Marriage Mondays. In these videos, Dan will be exploring topics that many of us are struggling with in this extended time of isolation and close quarters - conflict, communication, feelings of anxiety and irritability, fear, and more. Be sure to watch this video and watch for more!

Pizza with the Pastor - This Sunday, April 26

This Sunday!

In an attempt to continue to help new people get integrated into our community, we are going to attempt to host a virtual Pizza with the Pastor on Sunday, April 26 at noon. We’ll be pushing out a sign up and a link, but it would be helpful if you could help us get the news out to anyone you know who has started “hanging out” with us on Sundays or in your sermon watch parties. We believe God is at work powerfully in people’s hearts in this season of lock down to expose their false hopes and false gods and awaken their desire for our risen King!

Email us at info@trailheadonline.org and we’ll send you the video link!

Mission Opportunities 

Pray for Honduras!

Our partner ministry World Gospel Outreach in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, could use our prayer! One of primary ways they minister to their communities and fund their local missionaries is by bringing in short-term medical teams to partner with local churches to host medical clinics throughout the city. As Tegucigalpa has been locked down because of the pandemic, they have not been able to bring in the teams that are normally on rotation. So, let’s be praying for our partners! 

  • Pray that the Lord would provide financial support for the missionaries and for the children at Rancho Ebenezer (if you would like to contribute to them in this season, you can do so on their website). 
  • Pray that the Lord would open opportunities for the team to minister to the impoverished communities that are especially hard hit during the lockdown with limited resources, water, and ability to practice social distancing.
  • Pray that the Lord would send a healthy rainy season to the region to keep wildfires minimal.
  • Pray that the Lord would continue to open a door for the gospel through this time of suffering.

Stimulus Checks - Opportunity for Mission!

Stimulus checks started hitting bank accounts this week. If you haven’t been impacted by the current crisis in a significant way financially, I’d encourage you to consider setting aside part of even all of your stimulus check to aid others in need. This may be God’s way of enriching you for generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11)! If you don’t know anyone in need, feel free to send us a check with a note that it is intended for benevolence and we will gladly partner with you to get into the hands of those who are really struggling through this season.


Looking forward to Sunday 

So, far we’ve tracked our sermons with the progress of the events surrounding Holy Week. Four weeks ago, on Palm Sunday, we looked at the role of lament in worship. Then on Resurrection Sunday, we spent some time looking into the empty tomb with Mary. Last week, on Thomas Sunday, we looked at the way doubt serves faith. This week, we are jumping ahead one more week in the timeline - to a profoundly encouraging encounter between the risen Jesus and Peter, who had denied him three times on the night he was betrayed. This week, we’ll be looking at the power of love to free us from our need to rest in our own power!

Sermon Title: Do You Love Me?

Text: John 21:1-25

Quotes:

Love is not efficient. - Paul Miller

Your hope is not in the fact that there is love in your heart for God, but that he has chosen to place his eternal love on you. - Paul Tripp

The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. - Timothy Keller 

If you reject him, he answers you with tears; if you wound him, he bleeds out cleansing; if you kill him, he dies to redeem; if you bury him, he rises again to bring resurrection. Jesus is love made manifest. - Charles Spurgeon

Limiting the Resurrection either to the past or to the future makes the present risenness of Jesus largely irrelevant, safeguards us from interference with the ordinary rounds and daily routine of our lives, and preempts communion now with Jesus as a living person. - Brennan Manning

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Prayer List for April 23, 2020

  • Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.
  • General: For the young and the strong: God, give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help.
  • General: For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.
  • Trailhead Collegiate: Please pray for our college students as they transition into their summer schedules.  Pray for those who have lost their internships as a result of Covid-19.  Prayer for those who find themselves at home in less-than-ideal situations.  Pray that the gospel would continue to move forward in the lives of our students, even as we practice social distancing and online video chats.  Know that students are still coming into our community, even though our outreach has moved online.  Know that many of our students are diving into the hard work of heart transformation as they seek the interest of their neighbors and loved ones. In all this, pray for continued repentance and obedience as we draw near the Father during this time of lament.
  • Trailhead Students: Pray that our students would still feel a sense of community despite the separation. Pray for them as they adjust to remote learning. Pray for them to trust that God is using this situation for good, and to see the good through the hardship.
  • Ministry Partner: For our Ministry Partners in Asia through Cafe 1040. Pray for them to have opportunities to make contacts during lock down. That their team will remain cohesive during this time of not being able to meet. Pray that they would be able to continue to disciple the converts they have made even though they aren't able to meet with them regularly. And for the connections they have made and are attempting to share the gospel with. 
  • Submitted Prayer Requests:
    • Kristen Bennett was temporarily laid off due to the pandemic.  She asked that we pray with her to remember that God provides, and that He is in control. [UPDATE: She was rehired!]
    • Benjamin Flachsbart lost his student internship for the summer. He asked that we pray that God would open a door for income soon.
    • Tameka asked us to pray for her and her baby’s health.

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April 16, 2020

Hey Y’all,

I found out this week that the week after Easter has a special name in certain church liturgical calendars. They call it Bright Week - and I think I love it. After the long season of Lent, culminating in the events of Holy Week - specifically Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday - Bright Week offers a chance to sit in the good news of the resurrection for a while. During this week, all fasting is prohibited - it is to be a week of feasting and joy. Believers are supposed to greet one another with the greetings, “He is risen!” and “He is risen, indeed!”

So, as we trudge through this global pandemic together, I know this isn’t a time that feels very celebratory. Feasting with friends isn’t really possible - and most of us are just battling not to binge eat alone. But, I do think we can and should be intentional to remind ourselves and each other that Christ is, indeed, risen! The celebration of Easter Sunday only comes around once a year - but the reality of the resurrection is daily good news.

It reminds us every single day that, as Fredrick Buechner has said, the worst thing is not the last thing. Today, we are stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the wedding feast of the Lamb, where our risen savior will, for the first time since Maundy Thursday, share a celebratory feast with us - the feast we look forward to every single time we share communion together.

So, happy Bright Week, my dear family. 
He is risen.
He is risen, indeed!


Grace,

Steve


A Little Encouragement 

Good News from Compassion International and Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Together, Trailhead has sponsored around 100 kids in a specific neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, Honduras through Compassion International. About a year ago, 18 of us took a week-long medical mission trip in coordination with WGO and Compassion and were able to meet with the kids we sponsored. It was overwhelming and beautiful to see the real faces behind those pictures. 

Today, I got an update from Compassion letting me know that they are actively working to get food into some of the poorest neighborhoods. These families were already struggling with securing daily food, and with the lock down were in desperate need. Please keep praying for our partners in Honduras with both WGO and Compassion as well as for the families they serve. 

If you want to sponsor a child with Compassion with us, please contact us to go through the process instead of doing it through the website - Compassion has a specific targeted neighborhood that we are investing in together (and, yes, there are more children in need in our neighborhood). 

We may never meet some of the people we sacrifice to bless, but God knows them and loves them - and works through us for their good. How incredible that our small investment is making a difference even in a time of global crisis like this! 



Growing in Prayer during the Pandemic Webinar with Paul Miller

On Tuesday, April 28, Paul Miller (author of A Praying Life, A Loving Life, Love Walked Among Us, and The J Curve) has started leading free bi-weekly webinars called Hope and Direction in a Time of Crisis. Next week, the webinar will talk about "Praying Under Quarantine.

"In this FREE one-hour webinar, Paul Miller explores how inviting God into our helplessness enables us to lament, ask, and watch, in trust. You do have to register to attend, so please REGISTER HERE! 

WHEN:     Tuesday, April 28, 8-9 PM ET

WHERE:   Zoom—a link will be emailed after you register. 


Trailhead Updates and Important Information 

Pizza with the Pastor - Sunday, April 26

In an attempt to continue to help new people get integrated into our community, we are going to attempt to host a virtual Pizza with the Pastor on Sunday, April 26 at noon. We’ll be pushing out a sign up and a link, but it would be helpful if you could help us get the news out to anyone you know who has started “hanging out” with us on Sundays or in your sermon watch parties. We believe God is at work powerfully in people’s hearts in this season of lock down to expose their false hopes and false gods and awaken their desire for our risen King!

3 Sessions of Counseling for Anxiety

Our partner ministry, Pathways Counseling, is currently offering a 3-session counseling plan for those experiencing anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sessions are designed to help you improve emotional wellness, reduce anxiety, and learn relaxation techniques and coping strategies. Our counselors are all Christ-followers and will offer grace-based counseling that will meet you wherever you are in your faith journey. For those that are open to discussing your faith, your counselor can talk with you about God’s promises to you in the midst of life’s challenges. The plan is designed to be limited to only three 1-hour sessions, at a reduced cost of $150 in total. (Most professional counseling in our region costs $80-$120/session.) Partial scholarships are available to Trailhead members and regular attenders that cannot afford counseling. All sessions will occur confidentially via a secure, HIPAA-compliant video-conferencing platform. Call (618) 382-4164 to register to talk with a Christian professional counselor. If you have any questions or are in need of a scholarship, please email dfree@trailheadonline.org. Note: this plan is for self-pay only and health insurance cannot be billed for payment.


Mission Opportunities 

The Restore Network: Masks for Foster Care

Can you sew face masks? Several of our child welfare organizations need child and adult/teen size masks as their work continues during the pandemic. There are lots of tutorials online, but let's make sure the masks are kid-friendly (playful, colorful, fun). We would love to bring joy and laughter to situations that can be scary and overwhelming. Sign up to bring masks!

Stimulus Checks - Opportunity for Mission!

Stimulus checks started hitting bank accounts this week. If you haven’t been impacted by the current crisis in a significant way financially, I’d encourage you to consider setting aside part of even all of your stimulus check to aid others in need. This may be God’s way of enriching you for generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11)! If you don’t know anyone in need, feel free to send us a check with a note that it is intended for benevolence and we will gladly partner with you to get into the hands of those who are really struggling through this season.


Covid-19 Updates and Resources 

While accurate data is still elusive because of limited and inconsistent testing, it appears that our collective efforts to flatten the curve have had an impact. This is great news for our front line medical workers and for the most vulnerable in our communities who will require intensive care if they get the virus - but it also means that the “curve” will last longer as it peaks. The data continues to evolve, but the latest I’ve read is that the peak for our region is now likely to come in the last week of April or the first week of May. This means that the war against this unseen enemy is far from over and the “shelter in home” order is likely to remain in place for quite some time to come. Let’s stay vigilant to wash our hands, protect our neighbors by keeping distance, and caring for one another through virtual contact and prayer.


Remember - during this time, we need each other more than ever. And the people around us need us to reach out in love as we are able. Let’s pull back socially to continue to slow the spread of the virus, but let’s push forward in love to awaken each other and those outside our faith to the love of God. I came across a fun little blog by Mike Frost - 35 Ways to Love your Neighbor Right Now.


And, while you are trying to fill the time, here are some cool links that I received from our partners over at CRU aren’t just mind-numbing escapism! 

Virtual Museums and Tours
The J Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA)

The Louvre (Paris, France)

Solomon Guggenheim Museum and Foundation (New York, New York)

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, OK)

Versailles: The Palace is Yours (outside of Paris, France)

Trips and Visits
San Diego Zoo Live Cams

Yellowstone National Park

Great Wall of China Virtual Hike

3D Mars Tour


Looking forward to Sunday 

Most people don’t know that the Sunday after Resurrection Sunday is called the Sunday of St. Thomas in liturgical tradition. On this Sunday, the disciple named Thomas was bold with this doubt - and then God met him in it and strengthened him to be bold in his faith. Join us this weekend as we look at the dynamic interplay of doubt and faith in our growing relationship with Jesus!

Sermon Title: How Doubt Serves Faith

Text: John 20:24-31

Quotes:

A perfect faith is nowhere to be found, so it follows that all of us are partly unbelievers. - John Calvin

Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. - Tim Keller

But if the biblical story is true, the kind of certainty proper to a human being will be one which rests on the fidelity of God, not upon the competence of the human knower. It will be a kind of certainty which is inseparable from gratitude and trust. - Lesslie Newbigin

Sometimes faith is walking in darkness and simply refusing to quit.  Sometimes faith is just hanging on.  The character of the faith that allows us to be transformed by suffering and darkness is not doubt-free certainty; rather, it is tenacious obedience. - John Ortberg

Questions are places in your mind where answers fit. If you haven’t asked the question, the answer has nowhere to go. It hits your mind and bounces right off. You have to ask the question – you have to want to know – in order to open up the space for the answer to fit. - Clayton Christensen


Prayer List for the week of April 18 - April 15, 2020


Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.

General:

For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.

General: 

For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, present them with creative solutions.


Trailhead: 

Trailhead Kids - Please pray for our kids within Trailhead Church. Help them to feel protected and loved during this time of uncertainty, and pray that God would guide their parents and guardians to find ways to help them to stay connected with their community. Pray that our kids will feel close to God, and lean into Him, understanding that God is in control, and he will lead us through this time. Pray for our parents to lead and disciple their children well, to carve time out of their day to talk with them about Jesus, and to find renewed joy as they lead their children in God's word.


Ministry Partner: 

The Restore Network recruits and supports foster parents with the goal of a healing home for every child in foster care. This normally involves a lot of in-person events and trainings, but they have had to cancel those and shift to virtual meetings. Please be praying for the Executive Director Katie Myette that God would grant her wisdom as she faces these challenges, and that the Restore Network will be able to continue to meet the needs of our families during these difficult times. Also, there has been an increase in the number of children coming into foster care. Please pray for vulnerable children that they would be kept safe.
Submitted Prayer Requests: Please pray for Tameka.  She submitted a prayer request via our online submission form, asking us to pray for: her baby’s health, Mickel’s recovery from a successful kidney surgery, Bub stops drinking, Baby jay gets on the right track, Gill gets out of jail, and for her health in the current pandemic. 

If you would like to submit a prayer request, please visit: http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp

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April 9, 2020 

Hey Fam,


This week started with Palm Sunday - a Sunday filled with hope, excitement, and exuberance. The people of Jerusalem flooded out of the city to sing, “Hosanna in the highest!” as Jesus entered the city as a king. The disciples felt like the object of their hope was finally here. The tide felt like it was turning to the good and finally, Jesus He would liberate Israel from Roman rule, re-establish Israel as the pinnacle of earthly authority, and bring in the blessings of the kingdom to the children of Abraham!


They set their hopes in the right man but in the wrong plan for that man.


Today is Maundy Thursday, the day Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, had his last supper with them, and then went out into the garden to pray - only hours before he would be betrayed and handed over to be scourged and crucified.


Today is the hinge on which their hope would turn. At first it felt like the door fell off the frame completely as the whole building was falling down. How could their Messiah be betrayed and crucified? To the Jewish mind this was unthinkable. To be killed on a tree meant that Jesus was accursed by God (Duet. 21:23). To the Gentile mind, this was absurd. A king must be the embodiment of honor, glory, and strength - not humiliated in weakness by being crucified in public derision.


But God wasn’t crushing their hope. He was redirecting it. They had hoped in the right man and God would awaken them to hope in a new end early Sunday morning when Jesus was raised from the dead. He was awakening a new hope - not the small ambition of a newly resurgent Israel, but the audacious goal of an entirely new humanity, made new by grace and through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. With the resurrection, they discovered that their door of hope actually opens to a blessing more glorious than they ever hoped.


Old hopes have to die to make way for true hope. This is as true today as it’s ever been.


God is not absent in these dark days of isolation, loss, loneliness, and sorrow. He is as present and as active as he’s ever been. He is doing what he’s always done - putting our false hopes to death in order to free us into the greater hope of the gospel.


God is with us. God is for us. God is in us. And God will show the world his glory through us.


Grace,

Steve


Spiritual Encouragement 

Psalm 46 Worksheet

My good friend Elliot Grudem created a worksheet to lead yourself and your family in lament for anxiety and sorrow from Psalm 42. I used his model to close out our sermon last week. I wanted to share that worksheet with you - it is powerful and can help you as you seek to lead your own heart and the hearts of your children into expressions of sorrow and fear in the context of faith and hope. You can download it here.

Lament Worksheet

Another practice that has helped me process my complex emotions is to learn to write out prayers of lament. These short prayers are modeled after a rich biblical history of bringing our pain to God to learn to groan instead of growing bitter in grumbling. Elliot’s model has also been super helpful here. He also has two different models for adults and for children. You can download his guide to praying prayers of lament here.

Trailhead Updates and Important Information 

Good Friday

We will be broadcasting a Good Friday service on Friday, April 10 at 7pm. Join us for our “Service of Darkness” - a time to reflect on the glory of a God who would enter the darkness that entombed us in order to lead us out into the glorious light of his kingdom. It will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Vimeo. 

7pm Friday 

Facebook Live - Facebook.com/trailheadonline

Vimeo - Live Stream

3 Sessions of Counseling for Anxiety

Our partner ministry, Pathways Counseling, is currently offering a 3-session counseling plan for those experiencing anxiety related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The sessions are designed to help you improve emotional wellness, reduce anxiety, and learn relaxation techniques and coping strategies. Our counselors are all Christ-followers and will offer grace-based counseling that will meet you wherever you are in your faith journey.  For those that are open to discussing your faith, your counselor can talk with you about God’s promises to you in the midst of life’s challenges.  

The plan is designed to be limited to only three 1-hour sessions, at a reduced cost of $150 in total. (Most professional counseling in our region costs $80-$120/session.) Partial scholarships are available to Trailhead members and regular attenders that cannot afford counseling. All sessions will occur confidentially via a secure, HIPAA-compliant video-conferencing platform. Call (618) 382-4164 to register to talk with a Christian professional counselor. If you have any questions or are in need of a scholarship, please email dfree@trailheadonline.org. Note: this plan is for self-pay only and health insurance cannot be billed for payment.


Mission Opportunities 

Drivers Needed

The Main Street Community Center needs drivers to deliver bags of shelf-stable food to seniors who are sheltering in place. Last week they delivered about 50 bags and they expect that number to grow. Their number is (618) 656-0300 or email info@mainstcc.org. They also need folks to do other errands, pick up prescriptions, etc. You will need to fill out an application and background check.

Glen-Ed Food Pantry Needs

The Glen Ed pantry could use more volunteers, ESPECIALLY for a new Monday-morning shift that will be handing out the free and reduced price school lunches for Edwardsville District 7. The shelf-stable foods are being packaged by the school system and delivered to the pantry to hand out (they are going to hand out a week's worth every Monday). They’ve been told there are about 900 kids (about 300 families) in the school system who are on this program, although not all of them have been picking up the meals since school has been out. If you can help - Mondays, or for other shifts - call or email the pantry, glenedpantry@sbcglobal.net or (618) 656-7506.

Stimulus Checks - Opportunity for Mission!

If you haven’t been impacted by the current crisis in a real way, maybe you could set aside all or part of your stimulus check to aid others in need. This may be God’s way of enriching you for generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11)! If you don’t know anyone in need, feel free to send us a check with a note that it is intended for benevolence and we will gladly partner with you to get into the hands of those who are really struggling through this season.


Covid-19 Updates and Resources 

A joyful heart is good medicine. - Proverbs 17:22a

This week there has been some encouraging news coming out that indicates that our efforts to flatten the curve have been working. It’s still grim, but it’s looking better than it could have been.

But I know we are all on overload with all this Covid-19 news. So, this week, I want to highlight something a little different. 

Looking for a little good news? Tune in to the Good News Network’s weekly update with John Krasinski. It’s just some good old fashioned silliness, humor, and lighthearted banter in a time when everything is dark, sad, and overwhelming. Go ahead and laugh.

Some Good News


Looking forward to Sunday 

For Resurrection Sunday, we are going to open the word to Matthew 28:1-10 - the Lord has been encouraging my heart in these verses and I look forward to sharing some insights with you to encourage you as well!

Sermon Title: Fear Not, He Has Risen!

Text: Matthew 28:1-8

Quotes:

Death used to be an executioner, but the gospel has made him just a gardener. -  George Herbert
There were only two answers to your prayers. Either [your mom] was going to be healed or she was going to be healed. Either she was going to live or she was going to live. Either she was going to be with family or she was going to be with family. Either she was going to be well taken care of or she was going to be well taken care of… because of what I’ve already done for you, there are only two answers to your prayers: yes and yes. - Jonathan Evans speaking at the eulogy for his mother

I’m not suffering from anything that a good resurrection can’t fix. - Don Carson

I find that Holy Week is draining; no matter how many times I have lived through his crucifixion, my anxiety about his resurrection is undiminished—I am terrified that, this year, it won’t happen; that, that year, it didn’t. Anyone can be sentimental about the Nativity; any fool can feel like a Christian at Christmas. But Easter is the main event; if you don’t believe in the resurrection, you’re not a believer. - John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

The resurrection completes the inauguration of God's kingdom... It is the decisive event demonstrating that God's kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven... The message of Easter is that God's new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you're now invited to belong to it. - N.T. Wright


Prayer List for the week of April 10 - April 17, 2020


Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.
General: For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combatting this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests and medical resources.
General: For business leaders making difficult decisions that affect the lives of their employees: God, give these women and men wisdom, and help them to lead self-sacrificially.
Trailhead: Elders & deacons - Please pray for our elders: that they would lead with wisdom and discernment, finding rest in Christ, being filled with God’s joy, and seeking to see the message of the Gospel continue to go forward in our community.  Pray for our deacons as they lead people to serve and demonstrate the love of Christ in the midst of the current crisis. Pray that God would continue to raise up new leaders in our church, and that we would love our community well.
Ministry Partner: Network Partners - Acts29 and Converge MidAmerica: Pray for our partner churches, that they would make an impact in their local communities for the sake of the Gospel.  Pray that their pastors would make wise decisions to protect the people in their communities and have the resources they need to serve the vulnerable.
Submitted Prayer Requests:  Please pray for Tameka.  She submitted a prayer request via our online submission form, asking us to pray for: her baby’s health, that Mickel gets his kidney, Bub stops drinking, Baby jay gets on the right track, Gill gets out of jail, and for her health in the current pandemic.  If you would like to submit a prayer request, please visit: http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp 

===============================================

April 2, 2020

Hey Fam,

Three weeks ago when we made the decision to suspend our weekly gatherings, we were hopeful that the separation might only last a few weeks and that we’d all be back together again for Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. Obviously, now the question is whether we’ll be able to be back together before summer. 

These are strange and anxious times. The next month, and specifically the next several weeks, are going to be a time of shared challenge, sorrow, and sacrifice. As a people, we are going to need to lean into our relationship with God to strengthen our faith and our hope. We are going to need to lean into our relationships with each other to strengthen our joy and sense of security. We are going to have to lean into our relationships with our neighbors and those who are suffering in this time to grow in the mission of love.

Since all of our normal rhythms have been disrupted, it is more important than ever that we be intentional about engaging in patterns of healthy behavior. While I don’t recommend setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals during seasons of stress and uncertainty (plenty of time for BHAG’s later!), I do recommend fighting to establish simple, daily habits that will help keep you spiritually and emotionally healthy.

So, daily, I recommend trying to:

Spend some time in the Bible. You don’t have to set ambitious reading goals - just ask God to meet you in his word and spend ten or fifteen minutes reading (or five if that’s all you have!). Read to hear a word from God - a word of encouragement or hope or love. Read to renew and strengthen your faith and awaken your gratitude.

Spend daily time in prayer for yourself and family, our leaders, and our hospital workers, social workers, and first responders. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent - it just needs to be an expression of your neediness before a God who loves to meet us in our need.

Send an encouraging text or make a call - just to check up on a brother or sister in your spiritual family and to pray for them. Someone I know (but who likes to remain unnamed), decided to try to text five new people every day just to check on them and ask how she can pray for them. If everyone in our community did this for just one other person a day, we’d all be better connected and prayed for.

Make Sunday worship a priority. I know it’s weird. I know the video stuff isn’t the same. I know kids are a real challenge. And don’t beat yourself up if you try and it all melts down into chaos. Just try again. We truly need the gathering of the church at all times, but especially in times of social separation and isolation.

Pray that the Lord gives you someone to serve. In a time like this, the mission of the church needs to get even more local than it was. It needs to surface from God showing us others in need right next to us, like the Good Samaritan. He was just commuting and the need presented itself and he responded. Needs will often show up like that: costly and inconvenient. But all love is. And remember that if God shows you someone in need around you, it is a sacred gift in which you get to play a small part in our Savior’s redemptive and restorative work in all of creation.

This Sunday, I’m changing gears again. I love Romans 4 and really wanted to dig into the story of Abraham with you - but I feel like our greater need right now is to learn a little bit about the language of lament. As we enter holy week (this Sunday is Palm Sunday!) and the end of the lenten season, we’ve all given up way more for lent than we ever intended - and all of us feel the discomfort of the unknown and the exposure of our limitations. So, I think we are going to spend this Sunday in Psalm 46 - and my plan is to teach you how to pray very simple, but powerful prayers of lament (and to be able to teach your kids the language of lament too).

I am so sad that we won’t get to be together to celebrate the death and resurrection of our glorious savior. He is altogether lovely, and he has shared his beauty with this community. When I see you loving each other - and reaching out in love to me and my family - I see the presence of Jesus. Thank you for being in this with us - and letting us be in this with you.

Grace,

Steve

Spiritual Encouragement 

N.T. Wright on the Power of Lament in Times of Suffering

“Rationalists (including Christian rationalists) want explanations; Romantics (including Christian romantics) want to be given a sigh of relief. But perhaps what we need more than either is to recover the biblical tradition of lament. Lament is what happens when people ask, “Why?” and don’t get an answer.”The title of this article is unnecessarily “click bait” - but the content is biblical, encouraging, and insightful.

Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To.


Trailhead Updates and Important Information 

Good Friday

We will be broadcasting a Good Friday service on Friday, April 10 at 7pm. Join us for our “Service of Darkness” - a time to reflect on the glory of a God who would enter the darkness that entombed us in order to lead us out into the glorious light of his kingdom. It will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Vimeo. Links will be pushed out next week.

Worship Wednesday with Brian!

We had our first Worship Wednesday with Brian this week. If you missed it, you missed some beautiful and encouraging chaos as Brian and his kids lead us in worship! This season of isolation is hard for us as adults - but it will be uniquely challenging for our kids. Let’s be purposeful to try to keep them connected with their spiritual community to worship, laugh, and be together. You can get resources and connect with other parents on facebook at:facebook.com/ trailheadkidsedwardsville 

Mission Opportunities 

Drive In Prayer Meeting for Anderson Hospital!

This Friday night, some people from our community will gather at Anderson Hospital parking lot 1 at 7pm to pray for the medical staff. People are asked to stay in their cars, turn on their hazard lights, and take a half hour to pray for our doctors, nurses, techs, assistants, cleaning crews, and every single precious person putting themselves at risk to help the most vulnerable among us. Even if you can’t join us there, set aside some time this Friday to pray for our medical professionals.

Drivers Needed

The Main Street Community Center needs drivers to deliver bags of shelf-stable food to seniors who are sheltering in place. Last week they delivered about 50 bags and they expect that number to grow. Their number is (618) 656-0300 or email info@mainstcc.org. They also need folks to do other errands, pick up prescriptions, etc. You will need to fill out an application and background check.

Glen-Ed Food Pantry Needs

The Glen Ed pantry could use more volunteers, ESPECIALLY for a new Monday-morning shift that will be handing out the free and reduced price school lunches for Edwardsville District 7. The shelf-stable foods are being packaged by the school system and delivered to the pantry to hand out (they are going to hand out a week's worth every Monday). They’ve been told there are about 900 kids (about 300 families) in the school system who are on this program, although not all of them have been picking up the meals since school has been out. If you can help - Mondays, or for other shifts - call or email the pantry, glenedpantry@sbcglobal.net or (618) 656-7506.

Stimulus Checks - Opportunity for Mission!

If you haven’t been impacted financially by the current crisis in a real way, maybe you could set aside all or part of your stimulus check to aid others in need. This may be God’s way of enriching you for generosity (2 Corinthians 9:11)! If you don’t know anyone in need, feel free to send us a check with a note that it is intended for benevolence and we will gladly partner with you to get into the hands of those who are really struggling through this season.

Covid-19 Updates and Resources 

We’ve been working hard to flatten the curve - and the evidence points to the conclusion that it has helped. I watch the reports from John Burn-Murdoch and the charts of daily progress here. While the US continues to outpace most other countries in new cases, there is evidence that the exponential growth curve is, in fact, starting to flatten. This is good news, but we are still getting ready to enter a storm together as a nation.

So, some real talk: the part of the curve we’ve been trying to flatten is quickly approaching. We are getting ready to enter the worst part of the pandemic - the part where the number of people who become sick and are in need of medical attention starts to exceed the number of ICU beds and necessary medical supplies available to treat them.

This is scary and unwelcome news, but it is also the reality of the situation. This means that it is time for us to rise up as God’s people and do our part by getting down on our knees to pray - for each other, for our medical professionals, social workers, and first responders, for each other, and for our leaders. It is time for us to draw near to our God and feed our anxious souls on his love and grace. It is time for us to open our Bibles and strengthen our faith. It is time. 

Our God is still over the storm and he’s already on the other side waiting for us. 


Looking forward to Sunday 

Changing gears this Sunday! We’re heading over to Psalm 46 to learn how to pour our hearts out to God when we feel sad, anxious, or angry - and meet God’s grace in our struggle!

Sermon Title: Learning to Lament

Text: Psalm 46

Quotes:

Jesus wept. Job wept. David wept. Jeremiah wept. They did it openly. Their weeping became a matter of public record. Their weeping, sanctioned by inclusion in our Holy Scriptures, [give] a continuing and reliable witness that weeping has an honored place in the life of faith. - Eugene Peterson

Lament is the language of suffering. - Soong-Chan Rah

A broken heart that doesn’t lament can breed unbelief. - Paul Miller

The act of lamenting, protesting, and even accusing God through the prayer of protest is still an act of faith. Far from denying the existence of God, the lament of faith cries out on the basis of an appeal to the living God’s loving-kindness, in spite of the fact that the present conditions would suggest otherwise. - Michael Card

In the West, we’ve lost the practice of lamenting. In contrast, the ancient Hebrews were constantly in God’s face. About one third of the Psalms are laments where the psalmists pour out their hearts to God. Listen to these Hebrew laments: Why, O LORD, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Ps. 10:1) How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Ps.13:1) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? (Ps. 22:1) How long, O Lord, will you look on? (Ps. 35:17) O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? (Isa. 63:17) Such honesty seldom characterizes our praying. Our inability to lament is primarily due to the influence of the Greek mind on the early church. Greek Stoicism believed that emotions—anything that interrupted the goal of a calm and balanced life—were bad. The passionate person was the immature person. Balance was everything. Naomi’s brokenness feels unbalanced, so instinctively we want to correct her tilt. - Paul Miller


Prayer List for the week of April 2 - April 9, 2020


Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering.  Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.

  • General: For Christians in every neighborhood, community, and city: May your Holy Spirit inspire us to pray, to give, to love, to serve, and to proclaim the gospel, that the name of Jesus Christ might be glorified around the world.
  • General: For our vulnerable populations: God, protect our elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. Provide for the poor, especially the uninsured. For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.
  • Trailhead: Community Groups - Pray for the individuals in your community group, that everyone would feel connected during this time of social distancing and no one would feel isolated. Pray for our CG leaders, and that our groups would continue to find ways to demonstrate and share the love of Christ to those in our church and our community.  Pray that we, as a church, would walk in Christ as a community on mission.
  • Ministry Partner: Main Street Community Center - The Center is committed to serving Edwardsville residents 50+ years of age to keep them healthy, active and engaged.  They provided groceries and meals for seniors with financial and/or health needs, as well as transportation, and a variety of other services.  One of the ways we partner with the center is by volunteering to deliver meals to those in need.  Please pray for the health and protection of the meal recipients and delivery volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis.  If you’d like more information about the center, you can visit https://mainstcc.org/

If you have a need or something you would like the church to pray with you about, you can submit your request by visiting: http://bit.ly/prayerandhelp

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March 26, 2020

Hey y'all,


Man, what a week. I hope and pray that you all are well and are finding new healthy rhythms in this isolating and anxious time. Here are some helpful links and - please look below! - a new way we are helping our community connect on mission in prayer!  

I love you guys and am thankful for you and our Lord who is still God over the storm.


Steve


Spiritual Encouragement

Introducing Prayer Pods!


God's people have always found strength in times of trouble through an increased engagement with prayer - and, in response, often God's greatest work is done during and after these seasons.To help our community engage in prayer together, we are encouraging you to form Prayer Pods (groups of 3+ people who will commit to having a designated time of prayer together every week). Of course, we encourage our Community Groups to continue praying with and for each other - but the Prayer Pods will be praying for the needs of our nation, our region, our community, and the mission of the church. We'll be posting a prayer guide every week in future emails to help guide the Prayer Pods in their prayer time. You can obviously pray over these on your own, but in this time of isolation, we think we'll all get more encouragement out of making this a communal act.

Prayer Pod Announcement from Steve Mizel on Vimeo.


Process:

1. Gather a few friends you'd be comfortable praying with regularly. (Remember to include some new friends that may not be connected to a group).
2. Let us know who your group is by having one member fill out this form with names and email addresses. => http://bit.ly/prayerpod
3. Receive your weekly prayer list via email and/or on the Church Center App under Groups>Resources
4. Meet with your Prayer Pod online (or on the phone, or outside 6' apart) and pray through the weekly prayer list
5. Continue to share your prayer requests and needs here: bit.ly/prayerandhelp

 

Protect Your Short Term Memory

I wrote a blog post for Gospel-Centered Discipleship with some of the ideas that came out of my sermon a couple weeks ago. Let's be diligent to help each other remember who we are, where we are, and where we're going! I hope it is an encouragement to you.
https://gcdiscipleship.com/article-feed/short-term-memory

 

Trailhead Updates and Important Information

Membership Renewal
As you know, Trailhead requires members to renew their membership yearly. This is a way both to remind our members of their shared community commitments and to ensure the elders are keeping a "careful eye on all the flock" and caring well for those who are part of our spiritual family. Please take a few moments and renew your membership here: https://trailheadonline.wufoo.com/forms/trailhead-covenant-member-renewal-2020/

Trailhead Kids Resources!
Just a reminder, Kate Johnston and our Trailhead Kids team are doing a great job pushing out our kids curriculum and providing a supportive community environment to encourage all of us to keep our kids growing in Christ! They will be providing videos, activity pages, and lesson plans for all age groups! You can get resources and connect with other parents on facebook at:facebook.com/trailheadkidsedwardsville

Mission Opportunities

The Restore Network is Calling All Teachers and Tutors
From our Restore Network leaders: "We are living in uncharted waters right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it is difficult for everyone to navigate, it can be especially challenging for children who are prone to fear and anxiety.We are putting together some resources for our foster families, and we would like to offer a list of volunteers willing to help with homework/academic questions." If you would be willing to serve our families in this way, please follow this link:
Restore Ministry Volunteer Opportunities

The Ministry of Touch (Check on our Singles!)
There is no way around the challenges of being quarantined. For those of us who are in the house with more people that bathrooms, we might be bouncing off the walls and seeking times of quiet and solitude. But for our singles, this extended time of isolation can be emotionally brutal - some of our people are going to go weeks without having any physical touch from another human. Even for our introverted friends, this can (and likely will) exacerbate feelings of loneliness, isolation, and even depression. Be sure to check on your single friends and neighbors. Remind them that they aren't alone. Give them the gift of voice and video presence even if you can't physically reach out and touch their shoulder in solidarity and love... and pray for them that the Spirit would be uniquely close to them in this time.

Covid-19 Updates and Resources

So, let's start with a little reality check.
This whole thing is going to get worse before it gets better.
Today we blew past the half-a-million mark for diagnosed Covid-19 infections worldwide - and Illinois itself has seen an increase of 36% in diagnosed cases in just the last 24 hours. We are still at the start of the upward curve and are far from over the hump. Our most challenging days are still ahead. I could share countless resources that speak to this, but my goal isn't to overwhelm you with the data. My goal is to encourage you.


"Well, Steve," you may be thinking, "You obviously suck at encouragement. You don't encourage us by sharing bad news with us!"


Well, I would (obviously) disagree with you (oh, fictitious person who is arguing with me in my newsletter).


True encouragement doesn't come from simple positivity. The ostrich who keeps his head buried and convinces himself the rest of his body can't be seen by the predator isn't any more safe even though he feels more comfortable. We need more than positivity.


We need hope. Hope looks at reality but still finds courage to keep moving forward in love.
We nor our neighbors are served well when we simply deny to look at the reality around us - nor if we simply look and curl up in anxiety or fear. We need to look with the eyes of faith and hearts strengthened in the love of God.


Mere positivity is taken off guard when the real challenge comes. Hope, on the other hand, has the courage to look around realistically while simultaneously fixing its gaze on the promise of blessing on the other side of the suffering. Positivity isn't prepared when others find themselves in need. Hope is grounded in faith and is motivated by love - and will be a strong ally to us and those in need around us.


Hope > Mere Positivity


Let's be realistic. This is going to get worse before it gets better. And let's be courageously hopeful. Our God is above this storm and will, as only he can, work all things together to ultimately tell the good story of redemption and restoration we truly crave.

Looking forward to Sunday

This Sunday we'll be continuing in Romans, looking at 4:9-15. Take a little time and work through our study guides and do some personal observational study (if you need a book, please let me know and we'll get you one!).
Sermon Title: Heirs of the World
Text: Romans 4:9-15
Quotes:
The foundation of faith is the gratuitous promise…Faith begins with the promise, rests in it, and ends in it. – John Calvin


Faith is not an aimless act of the soul, but a looking to God and a resting upon His promises. Just as love and hope have always an objective so, also, has faith. Faith is not believing just anything; it is believing God, resting in Him, trusting His Word. - E.M. Bounds


Have you ever awakened from a nightmare and been flooded with relief that what you dreamed about was not true? It’s the same feeling people get when the doctor says the cancer is gone or the police call with the news that a lost child has been found. Not only are you relieved that the terrible conditions in which you lived are gone, you also enjoy and celebrate and delight in what has been returned to you more than you ever had before. This is what God promises to those who anchor their hope in Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. Though we die, yet shall we live. Reality will be rescued once and for all from the nightmares. - Scott Sauls


There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, "This is mine! This belongs to me!" - Abraham Kuyper


The rougher the voyage the more the mariners long for port, and heaven becomes more and more “a desired haven,” as our trials multiply. - C.H. Spurgeon



Prayer List for 3/26-4/1

  • Pray that there would be an open door for the Gospel and even revival during this time of crisis and suffering. Pray for the church to clearly communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ, to imitate his character, and for unbelievers to come to faith.

 

  • General: For the sick and infected: God, heal and help. Sustain bodies and spirits. Contain the spread of infection.
  • General: For frontline health care workers, Lord we thank you for their vocational call to serve us. We also pray:
    • God, keep them safe and healthy. Keep their families safe and healthy.
    • God, help them to be knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, as well as the changing protocols.
    • God, help them to stay clear-minded in the midst of the surrounding panic.
    • God, deliver them from anxiety for their own loved ones (aging parents, children, spouses, roommates).
    • God, give them compassion for every patient in their care.
    • God, provide for them financially, especially if they fall ill and are unable to work.
    • God, help Christians in health care to exhibit extraordinary peace, so that many would ask about the reason for their hope. Give them opportunities to proclaim the gospel.
  • Trailhead: Our streaming services & online communication
    • Pray for our technology to work, and our leaders to be able to communicate needed information clearly and effectively.
    • Pray for Steve as he prepares the sermon, for the listeners to grow in grace and belief in the Gospel.
  • Ministry Partner: Glen-Ed Food Pantry (http://www.glenedpantry.org/home)
    • The current need is for monetary donations, to enable the pantry to make bulk purchases for needed items. This allows them to purchase exactly what they need, at the right time, and at better prices.
    • If you’d like to donate: You can send a check directly to Glen-Ed Pantry, 125 5th Ave., Edwardsville, IL 62025.

 

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March 19, 2020

Hey Ya'll,

During this crazy season of social distancing, I am going to be sending out a weekly email with some important Trailhead updates, mission opportunities, some helpful or interesting links, and other information that I think will be helpful or encouraging. If you think of ways I can encourage you and the rest of our Trailhead family during the next weeks (or months), please let me know!

Spiritual Encouragement

Daily Grace, Gratitude, and Growth Centering

Since the start of 2020, I've been building a habit of writing out a prayer of gratitude and growth in response to grace. I have been saying daily prayers of gratitude for years, but sitting down and writing them out has been a good habit to build intentionality and make me focus prayerfully on what the Spirit is leading me to give thanks for and to ask for. In a season like this where we are overwhelmed by information, projections, and noise, put down the paper! And instead take 10 minutes to sit with yourself and your savior and ask: What three things am I truly grateful for today?  Write them out in a prayer of thanksgiving to God. Then what is one critical way I want to grow in grace today (Generosity? Patience? Self Control? Contentment?) and then write out a prayer asking God to grow you in his grace in that specific area. In a time of chaos, we need simple, repeatable, centering activities that can remind us who we are and whose we are.

Sharing Prayer Requests and Need

We've set up an online way to share our prayer requests and needs! We need to be praying for each other to protect our sense of community, and we need to both be encouraged and to encourage each other! Please, share your prayer requests and needs here:

Prayer Requests and Needs


Trailhead Updates and Important Information


Membership Renewal

As you know, Trailhead requires members to renew their membership yearly. This is a way both to remind our members of their shared community commitments and to ensure the elders are keeping a "careful eye on all the flock" and caring well for those who are part of our spiritual family. Please take a few moments and renew your membership here:

Trailhead Covenant Membership Renewal

Member's Meeting and Baptisms Postponed!

Sadly, we had two celebrations scheduled in the near future that both need to be postponed: our members meeting and our baptism celebrations. Some of the key information that we were going to share at the members meeting will instead be shared through this weekly email. Some things, like welcoming new members, simply can't be replicated online in a way that preserves their meaning and power, so we'll be waiting until we can be together in person to do those things. I hated postponing baptisms, to tell you the truth... but our team believes this current situation is temporary in nature, so we will be postponing baptisms as well until we can do them in a safe and celebratory way.

** If you are a new believer and do not want to wait to be baptized, please let us know and we'll figure it out! **

Community Groups

In order to honor the request of our governing authorities that no groups of over 10 gather (and just out of common sense and safety), we are shifting our community groups online for the short term. Your community group leader will be contacting you with information about what platform the group will be using (Zoom, google hangouts, GoToMeeting, etc.) and will help you get connected to the platform and then to the meeting. Please make it a priority to join in! Even if you are tired and feel like you'd rather scroll social media for another hour, log on - you don't know who the Spirit will use to encourage you, or how the Spirit will use you to encourage someone else!

Trailhead Kids Resources!

Kate Johnston and our Trailhead Kids team are doing a great job pushing out our kids curriculum and providing a supportive community environment to encourage all of us to keep our kids growing in Christ! They will be providing videos, activity pages, and lesson plans for all age groups! You can get resources and connect with other parents on facebook at:

facebook.com/trailheadkidsedwardsville


Mission Opportunities

The Restore Network is Calling All Teachers and Tutors


From our Restore Network leaders: "We are living in uncharted waters right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it is difficult for everyone to navigate, it can be especially challenging for children who are prone to fear and anxiety.

We are putting together some resources for our foster families, and we would like to offera list of volunteers willing to help with homework/academic questions." 

If you would be willing to serve our families in this way, please follow this link:

Restore Ministry Volunteer Opportunities

Stranded SIUE Students

We've been in conversation with some of the folks over at SIUE - there are around 350 students who had no where to go after the school shut down its housing and on-campus programs. Right now we are talking through the logistics of doing a canned food drive to help feed the students as all cafeteria services have closed. We don't know exactly how this will be done or what other needs the students will have over the next several months, but we'll let you know how you can be involved. In the meantime, please be in prayer for those students and those in charge of this chaos over at SIUE.

Shopping for Neighbors

If you haven't yet, take the chance to introduce yourself to your neighbors (especially if they are elderly). Ask them how they are doing and if there are any specific ways you can pray for them (this question usually drops guards quickly!)... and if you have the chance, pray with them (at a safe distance). Ask them if you can serve them in any practical ways, like shopping. It is a simple and practical way to serve our neighbors who are more vulnerable to the worst aspects of this pandemic - and it communicates love in a powerfully personal and practical way. 


Covid-19 Updates and Resources


So, honestly, I'm struggling with what to put here... there are some great articles out there and tons of helpful resources - but each is based on what is known in the moment, and can be outdated by the next moment. I also have no desire to contribute to the growing anxiety that is gripping our nation with information overload. Please give me feedback - would you like me to post helpful articles that seems to be accurate and reliable? Or would you, instead, like to find and send out resources that will be spiritually and emotionally encouraging in this time of stress?

For now, I'll leave you with this quote from Martin Luther, who in the 1500's had to give some sober advice for how to deal with the plague:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely." - Martin Luther during the Bubonic Plague

Looking forward to Sunday

This Sunday we'll be jumping back into Romans, looking at 3:27-4:8. We'll be exploring in more depth the themes of imputation, faith, and grace. Take a little time and work through our study guides and do some personal observational study (if you need a book, please let me know and we'll get you one!).

Sermon Title: Abraham, David, and Me

Text: Romans 3:27-4:8

Quotes:

The world thinks people are good and saints are better. The gospel claims that people are sinners and saints are miracles. - Peter Kreeft


Christ has no sin but ours and we have no righteousness but his. - John Stott


Substitution is the structure of love. That’s why, subconsciously, we are allergic to love. We rightly sense that death is at the center of love. - Paul Miller


Faith is the acknowledgment of the entire absence of all goodness in us, and the recognition of the cross as the substitute for all the want on our part. The whole work is His, not ours, from first to last. - Horatius Bonar


He did not die for Himself, so neither did He obey for Himself. In both forms of His obedience He acted for us, as our representative and substitute, that through His righteousness many might be made righteous. - Charles Hodge


I'm looking forward to "seeing" you all on Sunday! If you have questions, concerns, or needs - let us know! If you can think of ways that we can serve y'all more effectively in this current season, please let us know that as well! Know that we are praying for you and your families daily.

Still standing in grace,

Steve