April 2021

sunlight streaming into a forest

The Light of Life

There’s an old song that Frank Sinatra sang titled “That’s Life.” It’s kind of a declaration that the world has mistreated him, but he’s going to reach the top. Here’s part of the chorus:

I said that’s life
(That’s life)
And as funny as it may seem
Some people get their kicks
Stomping on a dream
But I don’t let it, let it get me down
Cause this fine old world, it keeps spinnin’ around

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet
A pawn and a king
I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself
Flat on my face
I pick myself up and get
Back in the race

That’s life

In a way, that song seems encouraging, but like all things of the world, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The lie is because the singer is saying the “he” will overcome. The victory will be his because of what he has done. So, as snappy as that song sounds, it isn’t edifying. Jesus has a different approach.

Assuming you are a Christian, think back to your most memorable experience with God. Maybe it was when you realized that God had saved you. Perhaps it was when you’d poured your heart out to God, and then you had sudden peace, an unmistakable divine touch. Maybe it was the time when you were reading the Bible, and suddenly revelation was birthed inside you; the words seemed to almost lift off the page. God’s divine touch brings us in contact with the light of life.

The light of life

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

John 8:12

Jesus is the light of the world, and he gives us the “light of life”. It’s not worldly life but God’s life. So here is the difference between Mr. Sinatra’s, “That’s Life” and Christ’s “light of life:” Mr. Sinatra’s, “That’s Life” is not true life. The “light of life” is the original life. It is the life that God put into Adam when God formed Adam; it is life without sin. The “light of life” is what we will receive in full when we enter heaven. This life will be free from lies, murders, adultery, thieves, greed, swindlers, and so forth (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

So, think again upon that memory you had at the beginning of this article. That memory is the smallest of tastes of the life that Jesus has taken from Himself and placed in you. Right now, that life is hindered by our flesh and by the darkness that we continue to allow in our lives.

Good News

Here’s the good news. There is coming a day when all our constraints will fall from us like melting snow from the roof of a home. We will enter the fullness of life. That experience you had will become the norm in your life, and even more that we now cannot comprehend. That’s life, the “light of life” from Jesus.

Photo by Emiel Schalck on Unsplash

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living room with a footstool

A footstool for Jesus

Back when I was a kid, my whole family would make our annual trip to visit my maternal grandparents. They lived a long way from us, so the visit was both memorable and grueling. One of my memories from that time was the gigantic footstool in their home. My grandparents had very little money and rented the same four-room house until grandpa died. And their tiny house seemed even smaller because Grandpa’s footstool took up all the floor space in their living room.

A footstool for Jesus

As I was reading chapter ten of the book of Hebrews, I came across verse seven, and my memory of Grandpa’s footstool exploded into my thoughts. Hmm. How big will the footstool for Jesus be? Did the author of Hebrews mean a literal footstool? Well, here’s the passage. Please read, and then we’ll reconvene to consider the meaning.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.

So, what do you think? Is it a literal footstool or a literary tool to express Jesus conquering all His enemies and causing them to submit to His Lordship, as King of kings and Lord of lords? Yep, I agree with you; it’s a real footstool. 😉

Enemies of God

I like the imagery of a footstool that Jesus actually props His feet on. And I do have to admit that there are times when I like to imagine some people being stuffed into Christ’s footstool, but that is my weakness coming out. Still, when I look across the vast history of God’s plan of redemption, I see many people that went to their graves as enemies of God’s plan and of God.

As for people alive today, I cannot know if they will die an enemy of God. So, without this ability, I must assume that a day will come before they pass when they receive Jesus as their Redeemer and Savior. Therefore, I cannot allow vain imaginations of them being stuffed into Christ’s footstool, no matter how tempting that is.

The stuffing

Okay, if I can’t, then you can’t. We must stop making judgments upon people that presently work to harm God’s plan. It doesn’t matter what people do; we can’t determine their final condition. After all, “Amazing Grace” was written by a former slave trader, John Newton, in 1772. This hymn was just one of two-hundred and eighty hymns he wrote after receiving Jesus as his Lord and Savior. I’m quite sure that many people saw no hope for Mr. Newton before his conversion.

I know many of us keep a mental tally of who we think will be stuffed into the footstool of Jesus, but we really must stop thinking that way. That decision belongs to God alone. Jesus eagerly awaits the time when His footstool gets stuffed, but that event belongs to Him. You and I are but onlookers, assuming that you have received Jesus as your Savior. If not, I’ll look for you in the footstool of Jesus. 😳

Photo by Ben Garratt on Unsplash

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book - I am an American

A Citizen of the Kingdom of God

Naturalization is the process by which citizenship is granted to a lawful, permanent resident when that person has met all the requirements established by the government or kingdom for citizenship. I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. Am I a naturalized citizen or a natural-born citizen?

Natural-Born Citizens of the cosmos

The most common way for a person to become a nation’s citizen is to be born there. When my mother gave birth to me, I became a citizen of the United States of America. At that same instant, or perhaps before, I became a citizen of the cosmos, that is, the world system that sprang forth from satan when he led Adam to sin. We find the cosmos in:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 

1 John 2:15, emphasis added

The word “world” in this verse is the Greek word, κόσμον (kosmon), which is where our word “cosmos” comes from. For example, we find the word cosmos in Matthew 4:8, when satan was tempting Jesus. The passage reads, Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world [cosmos] and their glory.

We turn to God as refugees

So, every descendent from Adam is a natural-born citizen of the cosmos, and therefore subject to the judgment which God passed on the citizens of the cosmos – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) However, we find our hope in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, every descendent of Adam is required to die. And from Hebrews 9:27 we learn, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

These verses should motivate everyone to try to escape God’s punishment destined for every child of Adam. We need to leave our citizenship in the cosmos and seek citizenship in the kingdom of God! Anyone that wants to become a citizen of God’s kingdom must be a natural-born citizen, but only Jesus, when He was born, was born sinless and therefore born into God’s kingdom – in fact, He was born into His kingdom.

Therefore, every person that turns to God turns to Him as a refugee. We are fleeing the wrath to come (Romans 5:9). We want nothing to do with the kingdom of this world. And, by the Holy Spirit, we see the truth and righteousness of God’s kingdom and the lies and wickedness of our kingdom. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) So, in a very real sense, we come to God as a refugee, crying, “Let me in!” but the sons and daughters of Adam cannot enter!

Natural-born citizen

So, what can be done? We come to God because our spiritual eyes have been opened. We see our wickedness and God’s righteousness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we flee the flames. But what must we do to become a citizen of God’s kingdom?

Wait,” you may say, “I can be a natural-born citizen in God’s kingdom, for I can be born-again!” Oh, a smart one, you are. Let’s consider a passage of Scripture:

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:8-13


The Greek word for “you will be saved” is σωθήσῃ (sōthēsē), and it means “To save, heal, preserve, rescue.” The requirement for a person to become a citizen in the kingdom of God is to act with the faith God provides. The actions must be done by faith. You must make it publicly known, always, that you have submitted yourself to Jesus. Jesus is now your owner; that’s what the word “Lord” means (Κύριον (Kyrion): controller; by implication, Master). Yes, owner, as in “landlord.” – the person that owns the property. And you also must believe, be fully convinced, that Jesus Christ died, yet was raised from death by God.

Slaves of God

“Hold on!” you may be thinking. What about heirs of salvation and joint heirs with Christ Jesus? Yes, in Christ’s unfathomable grace, we have been made heirs, but we must not forget that we are heirs by Christ’s good will towards us. His Lordship never changes. After all, we can’t negate Romans 6:22, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

These actions do not earn salvation but are a kind of reflex when saving faith connects to God. The need for salvation is made known by the Holy Spirit. Father God provides the faith. Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished restitution, reconciliation and received God’s wrath. So, we can’t lay claim to any aspect of our salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9


Now I need to revisit one point. The word meaning “you will be saved” means to “save, heal, preserve, rescue.” Where’s the regeneration, born-again? How can I become a natural-born citizen of God’s Kingdom? Don’t worry. Let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” There you have it. We are reborn and, therefore, natural-born citizens in God’s kingdom.

What a joy it is to walk in the path of righteousness. “In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.” (Proverbs 12:28) If you’ve not done so, come and join me.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

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Live Feed Bible Study

As a guest teacher, I’m currently teaching a Bible study at Otter Creek Christian church based on my book, “Finding Christ in the Pentateuch.” If you’d like, join us each Tuesday at 10:30 AM Eastern time. You can find the live feed at:
Rock Excavation Service | Facebook

diary with coffee

But When

But when Aaron Rogers got back in the game…But when America entered WWI and WWII…But when the Beatles arrived in America… History is filled with “but when’s,” yet none matter when we remind ourselves of the “but when’s” of Jesus. We find one of Christ’s “but when’s” in Hebrews 9:11-12:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 

But when Jesus

When Jesus presented His blood as the perfect, once-for-all-times sacrifice, in that instant, He ended the nearly 1,500 years of the Jew’s animal blood sacrifices. There would still be a need for those sacrifices today, but when Jesus made His sacrifice, everything changed. Consider the next two verses of this passage of Scripture:

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:13-14

God with us

Let’s consider 1 Corinthians 13:9-10:

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

This verse is referring to the second coming of Christ. It’s another “but when.” We could paraphrase this passage as, “You and I only see a small portion of Jesus, but when Jesus returns, then we will see Him in His full glory.” And let’s not forget Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

But when Jesus arrived in the flesh, after 4,000 years of preparation, He came as “God with us” (Emmanuel). Eternity changed. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were the pinnacle of God’s redemptive work.

Your story

So here is some great news: as believers, Jesus writes Himself into our lives, into the story arcs of our days. Surely, when we arrive in heaven and read our biography, we will see that every time we were snatched from the jaws of actual destruction, we will read, “but when Jesus came into his/her need, then everything changed.”

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

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used car lot

Co-Sign for Me?

Rite of passage

A rite of passage for teenagers is the purchase of their first car. That usually requires a parent to co-sign on the loan. Why? Because the bank considers the teenager unreliable. Why would they loan thousands of dollars to someone that has no credit history? So, a parent that has a track record of fulfilling their commitments and paying their loan payments on time must “stand with” the teenager and promise the bank that they will meet the obligation, if the teenager fails to do so.

Now let’s consider ourselves. Are we a good credit risk to God? Are we reliable, timely, and consistently completing all our commitments that we’ve made to God? Have we received benefit from the salvation God made for us and which we’ve entered into covenant with God, a covenant purchased with the blood of the Father’s only begotten Son? I can answer these questions for all of us: No!

Jesus is our guarantor

So how is it that we can not only commune with God, but also ask and receive from God, while we are so deeply flawed and inconsistent? You know the answer. Jesus has bridged the gap for us. But where does God’s Word assure us that this is so? There are several passages of Scripture which we can go to find the rest and assurance we need. But none are more direct and clearer than this:

but there was an oath regarding Jesus. For God said to him,
“The Lord has taken an oath and will not break his vow:
‘You are a priest forever.’”
Because of this oath, Jesus is the one who guarantees this better covenant with God.

Hebrews 7:21-22 (NLT)

Jesus co-signs for us

This makes Jesus the guarantor of the New Covenant, the covenant that contains the provisions for our salvation and promise of resurrection. So, Jesus is the co-signer for salvation, resurrection, and promise for us to spend eternity with Jesus.

Praise be to God. Without Jesus co-signing (guaranteeing) the New Covenant, God would never extend His offer to us. We are completely unreliable, and easily distracted by squirrels! Therefore, lets worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Let’s not deny so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:3-4). Let us give thanks to the mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and guarantor of our hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)!

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college wrestling

Why, God?

A question that always seems to be floating around among Christians is this: “Why, God?” Well, this question leads us into a truth of God that is hard to understand, but that’s never stopped me. 😉

A lesson from wrestling

When I was in school, I was on the wrestling team, and I once won the title in my weight class. Because I had a lot of strength in my back and leg muscles, I used a technique where I’d let my opponent win a point by gaining a hold on top of me. Then I’d rise and flip my opponent on his back and pin him for the count. It was that move that often enabled me to win. 

The idea of surrendering a point to our opponents to win the day is an old and well-established tool. It works in everything from wrestling to chess to business; in business, this is called a loss leader. I’m sure that this technique is from God, for God, Himself, uses this. Did I just say that God loses?! No, God doesn’t lose, but He does “will” some things that are displeasing to Him. Jesus, Himself, when facing His sacrifice on the cross, prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42

God has two wills

To us, God has two wills. One “will” is His unrevealed, decreed (absolute) will, and the other is His revealed will. For God, it’s just one will; His will. But for us, there is one that He shows to us in the Word of God and is amplified and clarified through prayer, observation, and theological education. However, His unrevealed will is at work in our world and our lives, but He has chosen not to show it to us. Consider this verse: 

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29

God’s hidden will

God’s “secret things,” His absolute will, establishes everything. Who is greater than God? Job understood this, he is quoted in Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” So, when I say everything, I do mean everything. God’s unrevealed, absolute will decrees everything from historical events to a person’s plans. Consider this verse in Proverbs 19:21:

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Dr. R.C. Sproul said it this way:

God’s will of decree…extends even to the ordination of evil, for the Lord works out everything according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). Importantly, not everything that God ordains in His hidden will is in itself pleasing to Him. Considered in themselves, He hates the evils He ordains, but He ordains them in order to overcome evil and achieve a greater good that does please Him.

Through it all

The Holy Spirit had the apostle Paul write in Romans 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Like in my wrestling move, God ordained evil to overcome evil which creates a greater good. The amazing Gospel singer and pastor, Andraé Crouch, wrote the song, “Through It All.” There is a line that says, “If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them. I’d never know what faith in God’s word could do.” There’s that wrestling move!

Perhaps I’ve raised some concern in your mind. You may think, “If God has decreed everything, then why should I bother praying?” It would take a book to give a comprehensive answer to your question, but here’s something that D.L. Moody wrote:

Someone may say, “‘If I am one of the elect [chosen by God] I will be saved, and if I ain’t I won’t…’ If you use that argument you may as well not walk home from this tabernacle. If God has said you’ll get home, you’ll get [home] – you’ll fly through the air, if you have been elected to go home.”

D.L. Moody, Excuses, p. 88

Keeping it real

Do you see how facetious that person’s argument is? When it comes to salvation or buying a box of cereal, we need to understand that God isn’t playing some kind of cruel game with us; “You think you’re choosing, but you’re not.” Instead, God has said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

We are unable to think like God. You nor I can even think like Einstein or Beethoven or Michelangelo, and they were mere humans. We cannot understand anything that God has not revealed. Neither you nor I can use intuition to discover what God has hidden. To reinforce the truth that God’s absolute will is not playing a game with us, consider these verses:

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. – Revelation 22:17 (NKJV, emphasis added) 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Why, God?

So, let’s circle back to the opening question. “Why, God?” We may ask this about the troubles in our world. “Why, God, are you letting so-and-so do such-and-such?” The good news is that what is happening in our world is not a surprise to God. Perhaps what is happening is a “wrestling move” to get the Church back on track and focused on glorifying God and making disciples!


Before I close, I do want to specifically speak to the topic of prayer. Our prayers do not tell God something that He doesn’t know, for God is omniscient; He knows everything. Our prayers cannot twist God’s arm. Fasting and prayer is not about us changing God, it’s about God changing us.  

God established prayer for our good and His glory. Prayer is for our benefit, even in light of the fact that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). It is our privilege to come before Father God, equipped by the Holy Spirit, and in the name of His beloved Son, Jesus.

Prayer is not just a command from God, it is our opportunity to commune with God and to ask Him for help. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 

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candy hearts that have the word "truth" on them

A million lies cannot produce a single truth

This is a true story: I was recently chastised because I pointed out that a favorite Scripture that is claimed as a promise from God for any believer is not a promise from God for everyone but, in context, was for a specific people at a particular time. Oh no! Too many sermons, too many devotionals, too many Sunday school lessons have taught people that they can acquire that passage for themselves. Would I hurt people if I told them the truth?

It makes no difference how pervasive a heresy is, it’s still a lie, and it cannot provide life. A lie cannot be transformed into truth even if some good may come from the lie. From the Church’s very inception, it has continually been called on to build up Christians to withstand heresy.

It has been said that the best lie is one that is mostly true. Church heresies incorporate Truth but then defile it by adding to Truth lies based on human desires.

Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). Therefore, it is impossible for a lie to strengthen the Church. Truth maintains its integrity in all circumstances and situations.

Many modern churches seem to be acquiring heresies faster than Microsoft acquires companies. These feel-good lies can never feed people real nourishment. Many theologians know these lies, but they look the other way, fearing retribution or merely thinking the lies will make people feel better.

A lie cannot improve truth because it is born from the flesh. Only God’s Spirit can birth truth that strengthens the Church.

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pots of soil

Good Soil

Seeds can be sown correctly, spaced correctly, fertilized correctly, but without good soil they will never germinate, they will never grow and produce fruit. So, what is “good soil?”

Good soil seems to have three things. It has dirt. It has sun. It has water (moisture). Think about it, for a seed to grow it needs all three. Leave out any one of those and the seed just dies.

Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.” – Matthew 13:5-6

Dirt, sun, and water

Good soil needs dirt. A seed won’t grow without nutrients and something to hold the seed in place. “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 13:8

Good soil needs sunlight. A seed won’t grow in the dark. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” – John 1:1, 4

Good soil needs water. A seed will wither without water. Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ – John 4:13-14

Crops for Christ

God’s Word is the seed. “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 13:23

As believers in Christ Jesus, let’s make sure we keep ourselves bathed in the light and water of Jesus. We all want to produce a great crop for God!

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empty church


No, I don’t love the pain, suffering, and loss that COVID has dealt our world. I don’t like the isolation or the friction between the many factions that evolved from COVID health management. But there is an aspect of what COVID caused that I love. The COVID pandemic has reawaken the Church.

A haven and a hope

Somehow, many devout Christians wandered into thinking that churches having exceptionally nice stuff was good for churches – prominent buildings, fancy sanctuaries, luxury vans: then came COVID. Suddenly, these grand edifices sat empty, but their congregations still lived.

There were messages to be preached, weddings and funerals to be done, hungry and hurting people that still needed help. Nice buildings didn’t do those things, those that are alive in Christ Jesus did those things. The Church was the Church even when there were no walls, no ceilings, no doors.

I am so very thankful for Zoom® church services. They have certainly helped many Christians to stay connected to their congregations, but local churches represent Christ to their local communities. They are a haven and a hope. When the churches closed it impacted people, even people that were “unchurched.” Did we not remember:

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

Philippians 1:29

Finding Christ in Christianity

As believers, we have a calling, a purpose that God conceived for us before Creation. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:10) God doesn’t suspend our calling when our path is difficult to walk. I am not at all encouraging anyone to act foolishly. As representatives of Jesus, we can’t react to events the way the rest of humanity reacts, for their reaction, for the most part, is for their own self interests.


During 2020 a precious missionary friend of mine began using Zoom® to teach Bible classes in India and Nigeria. She learned how to do this because of COVID.

My wife’s home church is a country church. The size of the congregation is small. They set up a Facebook channel for members that wanted to self-quarantine, but the church didn’t close. They continued to meet to pray, worship, and preach the Word of God as a congregation. What happened was that people with no affiliation to the church found their channel and began watching! COVID expanded the church’s reach.

A friend of mine is a member of a church that, even before COVID, had begun focusing on home church meetings. They have a large congregation, but they felt God’s leading to make the church more intimate, more personal. COVID had negligible impact on this church, but COVID reinforced their decision.


So, you see, I hate COVID and the carnage it has caused, but I see new life in the Church, and for that, I give thanks to God. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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