Ask Duke: Why Does God Make Hurricanes?

Duke Rose, Trinity Church Mascot

Hello to all the kids of Trinity Church! It’s me, Duke Dog; but you can call me Duke. I am excited to be answering your questions about God, the church, or whatever else is on your mind. First, let me tell you a little about me. I live in Charlottesville, Virginia. My mom and dad went to school at James Madison University where the school mascot is a dog. Cool! Can you guess the mascot’s name? That’s right. It’s Duke Dog! I am also the Grand-dog of Pastor Eileen. She asked me to help with your questions.

Here’s one from our good friend Bennett. He asks: Why does God make hurricanes? Awesome question, Bennett!

It has been a very active hurricane season. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma did a lot a damage. People in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and beyond have suffered because of the big storms. Hurricanes are very powerful storms. They can be as much as 600 miles across. That’s huge! Hurricanes also bring big amounts of rain. Hurricane Harvey dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain on Texas and Louisiana! Here’s a good YouTube video your parents or grandparents can help you watch.

It helps us to remember that God is bigger than any storm. We read in the book of Genesis (the very first book of the Bible) that God made the sky and everything in it: our sun, moon, stars, clouds, even the lightning and thunder.

In the book of Job, we see where God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash. God is powerful! Lightning and thunder are mentioned a bunch of times in the Bible.

Hurricane Catrina as seen from the International Space Station, 2004

Look at this picture of a hurricane. See the part in the very middle? It’s called the eye. Inside the eye of the storm it’s very quiet and dry. As the eye passes over land, the rain and wind calm down. That’s how God’s love is for us. Even when things might be loud and busy around us, we find peace and comfort in God. We can find calm, even in the middle of our own hurricanes in life.

Just like everything else in nature, God made the rain, thunder and lightning. Sometimes those storms can get bright, noisy, windy and rainy. But, I hope you’ll look at them differently next time you see them. Lightning and thunder, hurricanes and storms are really just cool science projects made by God!

If you have a question you can give it to your Sunday School teacher or send it to me at http://bit.ly/AskDuke.

Remember my motto:

Paws for Jesus!

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A Tribute to a Loveable, Furry, Goofball Life Well-Lived

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

“A dog has the soul of a philosopher.” – Plato

Taking a swim in the lake. Oviedo, FL, 2005.

It is with a heavy (but very grateful) heart I share the news that we have had to say goodbye to our beloved Biscuit. He was more than our family pet; he was Trinity’s mascot, the church office’s unofficial welcoming committee, shredder of all things cardboard, and a columnist for The Spire. Biscuit was indeed quite talented at answering questions sent to him by our Sunday School children—a feat unmatched by most Yellow Labradors. He accomplished a lot during his 13-and-a-half years. He certainly freely gave tail wags and kisses at an above-average rate.

Learning to fetch. Biscuit at a few months old at home in Oviedo, FL, 2004.

Biscuit was even known to make an appearance during the Sunday morning children’s message and at our PDO preschool chapel time. If you have children who remember Biscuit, this is a great opportunity to share with them the importance in celebrating all that God has given us, including our much-loved pets. This would also be a good chance to read to them the creation stories in Genesis, emphasizing the inclusion of animals in God’s plan and the importance of caring for them.

Step aside, Blitzen! Falls Church, 2012.

Another message about God’s love for animals is found in Isaiah 11:6-9. We read of the harmony that is to come in God’s peaceable kingdom when the “wolf will live with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the goat.” John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, discusses the importance of animals in God’s world in the present and beyond. In his Sermon 60, “The General Deliverance,” Wesley preaches that God’s love for creation will be revealed one day when everything made by God (people, animals and nature) will be fully restored and made whole.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow … Falls Church, 2015.

A woman once asked Rev. Billy Graham if she’ll get to see her dog in heaven. Here’s what he had to say: “Heaven will be a place of perfect happiness for us—and if we need animals around us to make our happiness complete, then you can be sure God will have them there.” Amen, Rev. Graham. Amen.

You’ve Got Questions, I’ve Got Answers!

Hello to all the kids of Trinity Church! I hope you are having a great spring. I’m enjoying hanging out with my family on our back deck. I like to watch the squirrels and birds.

I’ve gotten several good questions from friends, so I thought I would share two with you. I always go to the Bible to find the answers. I’ll tell you where you can find the answers, too. You can look them up in your Bible. Remember, if you don’t have a Bible of your own, just let us know and we can get one for you!

Why can’t I see God?

We might not be able to see God now, but some day we will. A man named Paul wrote this about God in a letter to a church in Corinth: “In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now” (1 Cor 12:13 NLB).

Paul is telling us it’s OK that we can’t see God yet. We can still feel God’s love in our hearts. Plus, this tells us that God can see into our hearts right now! That means God knows if we are happy, sad, scared or anything in between.

If God is everywhere, why do I need to go to church?

Another great question! You’re right when you say that God is everywhere. You can see God’s fingerprints all over our world. Have you noticed the beauty of a sunset or a rainbow? How about animals? Look at how amazing a cheetah, giraffe or toucan look. God is all around us, from the skies above us to the grass under our feet. While you can pray and talk to God anywhere, there is something extra that you get when you come to church.

“Remember what Christ taught, and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts” (Col 3:16 NLB).

God made us to be with other people, and that includes other church people. We learn about God from our pastors and Sunday School teachers, we join together in prayer with other people, and we get to sing about God’s love.

Don’t forget to send me your questions. I’m at bit.ly/AskBiscuit.

And, remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Biscuit

Fun at Easter? Hop to it!

Hello, kids of Trinity Church. I hope you are doing well and are enjoying spring. This is an exciting time of year. Flowers are blooming, the weather is warmer and there’s more of a chance to play outside.

There’s another even more important event that happens this month. Easter! That’s right. It’s the day we celebrate when Jesus came back. This is what happened: Jesus died and his friends were very sad; but then on the third day after he died, he came back from the dead! He did this to let us know that Jesus is the Son of God, God loves us so much, and that there is life with God after death.

Why do we celebrate Easter with the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs and tons of chocolate candy? There are lots of different stories about how the Bunny and the eggs represent new life. (Personally, I think people just like eating chocolate bunnies and jelly beans!)

Would you like to be a part of Trinity’s Easter Egg Hunt? We’d love to see you there. We’ll gather on the big lawn next to the Fellowship Building on Palm Sunday, April 9, after the 10:30 service. There is a special section for younger kids and another for bigger kids. It’s always so much fun. Don’t forget your Easter basket!

Hunting for eggs and eating candy is awesome, but it’s not the best part about Easter. The very best part of Easter is knowing how much God loves us.

Have a happy Easter and remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Biscuit

A Big Cat Story

lion-largeHave you ever been to the zoo and seen a real lion? They are great, big cats; they’re bigger than any cats I’ve ever seen before in person. Take a look at the lion in this picture. Pretty handsome, right?

Look closer. That’s me! I was a lion for Halloween.

Did you know that lions are featured a bunch of times in the Bible? It’s true.

Here are a few examples of the ways lions are mentioned.

“A lion, mighty among beasts …” Proverbs 30:30

“… like a lion in hiding.” Lamentations 3:10

“I will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion.” Hosea 11:10

“Even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion …” 2 Samuel 17:10

“… rescued from the lion’s mouth.” 2 Timothy 4:17

The Bible compares people, and sometimes God, to a lion. Do you know why? It’s because everyone knows that lions are strong, fast and powerful. It’s a description that people could understand. The writers of the Bible had a message to tell and they wanted to make sure everyone knew what they meant. If they wrote “strong as a lion,” it would make sense.

If they had written “soft as a porcupine,” or “skinny as an elephant,” would that make sense?

No way! That’s why it’s so important for us to understand what the writers of the Bible were trying to tell us about life, how to treat everyone with respect, and how much we are loved by God.

Remember, if you do not have your own Bible, just have your parents or grandparents call the church office. We can get you one.

Remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Biscuit

paws

Answering Questions and Scoring Big at Scrabble

Hello to all the kids of Trinity Church! I hope your February is going well. Are you ready for Valentine’s Day? Dogs aren’t supposed to have chocolate, so my family gives me a special Valentine’s cookie that’s made especially for dogs. It’s pretty awesome.

You know what else I love? Answering questions from my friends! I have one from Ms. Jennifer’s Sunday School class. They were learning about how some churches are shaped like a cross, and they asked why Trinity doesn’t have a cross shape. Good question!

Do you play Scrabble? It’s a fun board game where you spell out words. I have a good one for you: cruciform. Churches that are in the shape of a cross are said to have a cruciform architecture. That’s just a fancy way of saying they are built in the shape of a cross. Sometimes you can see the shape by looking at the outside of the building. But, that’s not true with Trinity. You need to be inside the sanctuary to see it. In fact, to see the shape best, you really should be standing in the balcony.

sanctuary-crossCheck out the picture of the sanctuary. We drew in an outline of the cross to let you see it better. The center aisle makes up the long part of the cross. The shorter “arms” of the cross are called the transepts. The top of our cross ends with the organ.

Here’s another fun fact: the altar (top) end of the cross is pointing to the east. Do you remember why the east is so important in the Bible? I’ll give you a hint. It has something to do with a star. The star that symbolized the birth of Jesus appeared in the East. Also, when we face east, we face Jerusalem.

Thanks for your question. Do you have a question you’d like me to answer? Ask away!

Don’t forget my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Biscuitpaws

 

A Seed of Faith

Hello to all the kids of Trinity! I hope your 2017 is off to a great start. I am never able to stay up to celebrate at midnight on New Year’s Eve. That’s OK. I went to bed when it was 2016, and when I woke up it was 2017. Happy New Year!

A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. That’s a fancy word for making a promise that you’ll try to do something you should be doing, or try not to do something you know you should avoid. Some grownups make resolutions to lose weight, to stop eating junk food, or to stop looking at their phones so much. Here’s a good one for you and me. Why not make a resolution to read from your Bible at least once a week?

I’ll even help you get started. Do you have a Spark Story Bible? If you are between Pre-Kindergarten and the second grade, you should have a Spark Story Bible. (If you don’t have one, ask one of our pastors.) If you are third grade or older, you should have received a Bible in third grade. (You can also ask our pastors about that if you need one.)

Look up the story about the mustard seed. It’s found in Luke 17:5-6. This is a story about faith; faith is the belief a person has in God. A group of Jesus’ followers asked him how to grow their faith. Jesus pointed to a big tree and then pointed to a teeny, tiny mustard seed. He said that even if their faith was as tiny as a mustard seed, they could tell that big tree to get up and walk to the sea and plant itself there. And the tree would do it. Wow! That’s a strong faith!

mustard-seedThat’s how powerful our faith can be. Even when we feel discouraged, our faith in God is powerful enough to get us through the most difficult times. Our God is that big and that loving. Take a look at the picture of a mustard seed next to a penny. That’s a tiny seed. So even if your faith feels small some days, don’t worry. God has enough love to make our faith grow.

Stay warm, be sure to read your Bible, and don’t forget my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Biscuit

paws