Archives for posts with tag: Lititz

Cleaning House copyMetaphors dealing with birth and conception are frequent in Scriptures. Paul’s famous words come to mind, “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.” (NLT). Peter speaks of Ananias and Sapphira “conceiving” in their heart the deed of lying about their property.

James runs with this concept and develops an interesting picture when he says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15).

I call these verses the “conception of death” or the “reverse of birth.” The metaphor is clearly that of the reproductive process — from germination to conception to birth, only in this case the birth does not produce life but death. Strangely, a baby starts from nothing and ends with life; sin starts with everything and ends with nothing. That’s the anatomy of sin.

James is speaking of sin and the devastating impact it has on our lives. Whether physical death, like Ananias and Sapphira’s, or spiritual death, like Adam’s, and through him the whole human race, some kind of death always happens when we choose to sin.

But the choice to sin starts with lust in our hearts. At first, it is only that, an idea contrary to God’s Word, which is potent like a nuclear bomb but disguises itself like an innocent, even playful possibility.

But the arresting power of our mind can never be overlooked. If not extirpated from our system, that “innocent” desire will soon consume us. Like a little termite taking a lazy walk along the tresses of our house, if left alone, it will bring company, lots of them, and the ruin could be imminent.

Next, we move from idea to conception. The tiny little spec of life (death) begins to take shape. You can see the head, the hands, the feet. You feel it moving. The baby is growing inside of you, only this baby will not bring you joy but distress.

Lust conceives sin and gives birth to it. But like a real life baby, at birth a baby isn’t fully mature yet. It must go through its growth cycles until it is fully grown. And when it is fully mature, get ready for the big tsunami. “When sin is complete,” James says, “it brings forth death.” Sin is like the machines at Disney World that keep asking for more money — it’s insatiable and fastidious, always coming back for more.

David went through that very cycle when he decided to bring Bathsheba, a married woman, into his palace and had sex with her. But I guarantee you: David’s problems didn’t start when he saw a beautiful woman bathing on the roof of her house. He had left himself vulnerable to this kind of attack. He was lax in dispensing his duties as Head of State. He was being lazy and undisciplined. He was isolated. He may have felt he deserved a break. He dropped his guard. Heavens, he was almost looking for it.

David’s colossal moral failure spelled trouble in his life, family and kingdom for generations to come. There would be deaths by a thousand methods, estrangement, enmity, intrigue and much sadness upon the entire nation.

But it started with a thought, an “innocent” little thought that was allowed to grow and take control. Don’t let that happen to you, but if it already did, don’t despair. Join us in our next series to learn how we can go from prostration to restoration with God’s help through His Word.

In his warnings to his young son about the consequences of adultery, the author of Proverbs painted a picture of what his life could end up being like in the future: “… And you groan at your final end, when your flesh and your body are consumed; and you say, ‘How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors! I was almost in utter ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation.” (Proverbs 5:11-14).

Not a pretty picture, wouldn’t you agree?


Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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Note: the following is an example of the devotionals I’m writing for our Pivotal series (a study of Acts). For more, please go here.

I have so many unanswered questions related to the Ananias and Sapphira story in Acts 5 but there is one thing that is certain about it–they died for conspiring together and lying to God.

I am also fairly certain that while Peter was completely aware of the fate awaiting Sapphira, he may have been as surprised as everyone else when Ananias fell dead in the middle of his speech.

There is a part of us that wants to cry “unfair” when we read this story. I’m not going to deny it: I feel sorry for this couple. The story doesn’t tell us how old they were or if they had any children. Luke doesn’t even care to mention the price of the piece of property they sold.

Not that it matters that much. In the end, their capital offense was to conspire to lie against God. Peter stated it a little differently to Sapphira. He said they put the Holy Spirit to the test. Maybe that gives us a clue. Could this couple be defying God? I mean, “Let’s see what kind of a god he is before we can truly believe,” type of defiance? Did they purposefully try to mock God? “These people think they know everything. Let’s fool them,” type of mockery?

You see what I am doing? I am still trying to find an offense that is bad enough to bring such swift and irreversible penalty to bear on these poor souls. Why? Because in my own subdued, defiant way, I refuse to accept that lying to God is a punishable offense, let alone a capital one. And there is more: every day there are Christians blatantly lying to God and they have yet to see the dirty feet of the grave diggers saying, “Next?” This seems to confirm that lying to God is not such a big deal. Or does it?

Recently, a famous website exposed the lies of so many people who sought to engage in marital infidelity without fear of being discovered. Well, thousands had their names revealed, including a handful of well known Christian leaders. They lied to their spouses, but they lied to God first. But they didn’t drop dead in front of their computers, though one evangelical leader tragically took his own life.

Children tell their parents they were doing homework at their friend’s house when they were out partying and engaging in illegal activities. Adults engage in online pornography while telling their spouses they are watching reruns of Friends. Our brave new world has given us all the tools we need to lie with impunity, or so we think.

So the question really is: “Why are we still alive?” Or even close to home: “Why am I alive?” And the answer may be simply related to the fact that we no longer have someone with the prophetic and apostolic authority of Peter to spot our sins!

But we should not make the mistake of thinking that our life extension here means that we somehow beat the system, for there will be a day of reckoning and we better be prepared for it. As Peter himself said in another place: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)

May we also be overcome with a healthy sense of fear of God (Acts 5:5) as we consider how we are living today.

Questions to ponder:

1. Why do you think Luke singled out one sin (lying) to write about in this early stage of the history of the Church?

2. List the types of injuries that occur when people decide to lie blatantly about something they did.

3. What is the biblical solution for the habit of lying?

Pastor Ivanildo Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

BTTC Web JPEGGrowing up poor, our Christmases were never about going places. We stayed put and people came to us. We never traveled anywhere, no matter the season. A trip to the beach (half an hour away) was an annual event to which the whole church looked forward with great anticipation.

The rise of cities, the easy access to different modes of transportation, the expectation that we will all be home for Christmas — all these have contributed to the notion that Christmas is more about the buzz around the thing than the thing itself. And considering the amount of travel people will be doing over the next couple of weeks, you would be tempted to believe that the buzz is in the packing, the marvel is in the travel and the Christmas spirit is indeed in the air since 66% of travelers are flying this year instead of using an automobile or another means of transportation.

So once again we will pack our bags, fill our planes, keep the roads busy, tell our kids we are almost there for hundreds of times and make excuses to our parents as to why we can’t stay there long. For an outsider looking in, Christmas would appear to be more about getting there than actually being there.

While I will be one of those thousands of happy parents who will be able to be with his children on Christmas Day, I would like to remind everyone that the only trip that matters in connection with the Christmas story is the one that the King of the universe made to this lowly planet called earth. While this is so obvious to us, it is worth repeating: We travel to be home for Christmas, Jesus traveled so we could one day have a home in Christ.

Of all the travel surrounding the birth of the baby Jesus — Mary’s trip to visit her pregnant relative, Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary’s trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the wise men who came from the East, which could be modern-day Iran or even as far away as China, the angels who engaged in some amazing intergalactic travel, even the flight to Egypt — all of these pale in comparison to the journey the Creator of the universe took, from the bosom of the Father and the soothing presence of the Holy Spirit to a place replete with suffering, strife, selfishness and sin.

But it didn’t stop there. This journey was not merely a stopover; it was a permanent change of address, the most radical change of zip code ever done. John put it this way: “And ‘The Word’ became flesh and moved permanently to our neighborhood.” (John 1:14). There you have it. While many are always looking for an upgrade, Jesus got the mother of all downgrades — He took our skin to remove our sin; He traveled down below so we wouldn’t keep falling “belower.” This infamy that gave Him incarnation is the impetus that gives us justification and ensures our salvation. His humiliation causes us to share in His glory and the anticipation of this sharing is what I hope to keep lodged in the front lobe of my brain and in the core of my heart throughout this season. That’s what I will remind my family of when I read them the story of the Birth of Christ from the book of Luke on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Don’t let the travel steer you away from the marvel.


Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade
Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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The Moravians are famous not only for the incredible feat of saving Lititz’ nativity scene (against the schemes of none other than the ACLU, mind you!), they have a knack for even crazier things. That’s right. There were some crazy things going on with those Moravians early on.

John Hus began to preach to the people of Moravia (in modern-day Czech Republic) in 1400 A.D. Because he refused to stop preaching the Word to the common people, he was burned at the stake by the established Church at the time. But before he died he made a prediction that the preaching of the Word would be like a “hidden seed” in the ground that one day would bring revival.

Another 200 years go by and a man by the name of John Amos Comenius led the Moravians out of their land into a safe place. They lived as wanderers for 100 years, often without a home, but before Comenius died, he predicted that the “hidden seed” that Hus spoke about would sprout in revival in 100 years.

Then along came the crazy man with a weird name – Zinzendorf, a man of noble birth whose family was rich and powerful, but he went off the deep end. No, not that deep end but a real deep one – he found Christ and was “doomed” for it. People call him “the rich young ruler who said ‘yes.’” And say yes he did. At age 27 he took in one Moravian refugee into his sprawling estate and the next thing you know he had 300 living with him. Crazy stuff, I know. Then he became their leader – wouldn’t he though, if he is footing the bill?

Okay, seriously, this guy was the real thing –this Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. Under his spiritual guidance, those Moravians lived together, studied God’s Word together, and grew together. One day the Count was studying history and he came across the statement by John Amos Comenius about the “hidden seed” of revival. He looked at the calendar and that week was exactly 100 years since Comenius made that prophecy.

Crazy, huh? He called an all-night prayer vigil and the next day revival broke out. It was August 13, 1727, “the Moravian Pentecost.” But it gets even crazier… He picked a place in town and decided to start a 24 hour, round the clock prayer meeting. Every hour three people would be praying. Do you know how may one-hour periods are there in a week? Exactly 168. 300 Moravians. You do the math.

That means that at any particular hour three people were praying together in the place of prayer. For a whole week? No? A whole year? No. 5 years? No. 10 years? No. 50 years? No. 100 years? No. 110 years to be exact. Crazy people, those Moravians. I told you.

But during that time their hearts began to yearn for the things God yearns for. They were filled with a burning desire to see the message of Christ proclaimed to the unreached peoples of the world. In just 15 years they had already sent 70 missionaries around the world. But they didn’t just make an altar call and asked who was feeling God’s call to the mission field. No, they cast lots among the males, and whoever got picked got to go. They took care of the wife and children of the missionary during the time of his absence. Some of them even sold themselves intentionally as slaves so they could preach the Gospel to slaves. (Did I say they were crazy?)  Just one of the churches that the Moravians started sent 200 missionaries. They were soon all over the world among unreached people groups and they started the modern missionary movement. They would be the largest church in the world today if they didn’t have this crazy habit of starting churches and then turning them over to other groups. Who does that today? Crazy!

And the craziest thing they did? They founded the borough of Lititz. That’s right. Count Zinzendorf himself made a personal appearance, looking for a place where Moravians could settle. He spoke at a tavern in Lititz; then proceeded to Lancaster the next day. Some guy heard about him and having missed him in Lititz, followed him South and the next night gave his life to Jesus and a big parcel of land too, which happens to be where Lititz is located today. Crazy stuff.

And why am I telling you all of this? Because this Sunday I am speaking about prayer and the role it plays in changing the world. And I want us to become Moravian crazy, that’s all.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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“It’s like turning the Queen Mary,” said a friend, to encourage me as I tried to change the way people thought of “missions” almost 20 years ago. My proposition was rather simple: “God is sending the nations to the U.S. in record numbers, why not start reaching them right here as part of our mission’s effort?” I used catchy phrases, such as “Reaching the World in our Backyard,” “Across the sea and across the fences.” “Don’t bypass Samaria on the way to the ends of the earth”, etc., etc. Okay, maybe you don’t think they are that cute. I did.

But no matter how hard I tried, people were not buying it. One lady in a large church in the west, after I made a presentation to the mission committee in her church, told me, almost in a condescending way, “That’s nice that you are doing this, but we only do ‘foreign missions.’”

I glanced at the kitchen in the restaurant where we were meeting and smiled at the cooks who were gladly conversing in Spanish. From there, I could almost smell the spices from the open air market I would visit later that day, where people from all nations would come to buy goods. In that case, the Queen Mary analogy failed. More like: “No need to keep the fan on when you leave the room. The dead will not complain for lack of fresh air!” And true to the script, that church, sadly, is no longer on the map.

After these many years, I find myself thinking of that analogy again. But this time around, I believe, there is a lot more at stake. Churches across this great nation, however big or small, are not succeeding at reaching new people for Christ. In the last decade, the number of evangelicals declined. Young people (20-30 something) are leaving the church in droves. Those who remain are plagued with a consumerist mentality (“What can church do for ME?”), are lethargic (“alright, let’s get ready for church…”), or simply don’t care (“lost? who?”).

Jesus said that His main thing was “to seek and save that which is lost.” At Grace Church we translate this statement this way, “Grace Church is leading people to Christ and coaching them to live for Him with purpose and abandon.”

But to succeed at this mandate, there will have to be a HUGE paradigm shift. We will have to start thinking constantly about people who are still outside of Christ. We will need to focus on praying for them. We will need to find ways to creatively be involved in their lives and reach out with compassion to them. And we will need to lovingly pursue them and gently influence them to move closer to the Messiah.

And all of this calls for the biggest shift you will ever be asked to make: you will need to become passionate about this mandate. Yes, you heard me say it: PASSIONATE. That’s a word Lancaster County people, if you believe the reports, don’t usually use to describe themselves. But I believe otherwise.

I look around and see that the so-called “reserved” people of Lititz and surrounding areas are passionate about so many things. For example, what if the government suddenly decided to no longer issue hunting and fishing licenses, what would you do? What if the Department of Education mandated that every child had to go to public schools until the age of five? Or what about this: the Justice Department has given each citizen 30 days to turn over all fire arms which will now become property of the government. I can see the flames of fire in the eyes of people through the pages of my blog already!!

You see, what we need is a re-direct. We need to evaluate the amount of time and energy we spend with so many other things that we feel so passionate about and we need to start thinking about people. Yes, people who are outside of Christ. Satan has held them under bondage for so long and the Gospel holds the key to liberate them. But how will they know unless we tell them? And how will we tell them unless we seek them?

Satan’s usurpation of people’s minds and souls is a much more egregious and paralyzing thing than the government taking away our freedoms. Without guns we can still have a vibrant connection to God, but without Jesus the future looks bleak and eternity is hell. Which is more important to you?

Twenty years have gone by since the Queen Mary analogy and today I am glad to report that many churches now get it. My own Fellowship has turned the corner. Reaching the world that is coming to us is now part of our natural parlance. Though we need to do more in this area, it is obvious that a lot of progress has been made.

How about turning the tide on being passionate about people who still need to hear that Jesus loves them? Will you help turn the big ship or stand in the sidelines and watch?

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade