Bookmark this page and visit throughout this season of the world and COVID-19 to check in on updates concerning our church gathering, as well as, a resource to give to others for Biblical clarity throughout this time!
Grace & Peace,
On behalf of the elders and deacons of Twin Cities Grace Fellowship, we pray you are being strengthened in your inner man by God's Word. God's primary operation to conform you to the image of Christ doesn't stop although the world may attempt to. The Spirit of God by the Word of God is exempt from all holds and shut-downs, it is not bound and has free course. In fact, the Spirit teaches us suffering and uncertainty are not a deterrent to our edification but are for this good - to be conformed to the image of Christ.
We miss you all dearly and long to see you. I pray this absence works that which absence worked in Paul when he "longed" (Php. 4:1) for the Philippians and could "no longer forbear" (1 The. 3:1) being apart from the Thessalonians.
In view of the recent news today from Minnesota's governor, the elders and deacons have decided to follow "the shelter-in-place" issued. Therefore, as concerns TCGF, we will shut-down services on Sunday, March 29th and will resume Sunday, April 12th. We will meet one final time before the shut-down for our Thursday night service at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow 3/26/2020. Also, Body Group North at the Peterson's will meet Friday at 7:00 p.m.
With exemption per the "shelter-in-place", we are permitted and will continue to produce the live-stream on Thursday's and Sunday's at church for your edification. Join the body for those live-streams, use social media to encourage one another, and get the Word out by "liking" and "sharing".
Today, I produced two videos 1) about 28 min long describing what is happening from a Biblical perspective for you to share with others - in it is included a gospel presentation, and 2) about 57 min that goes in-depth about "The Timeline for the Lord's Day of Wrath". I discussed this in a previous video but provided more detail in this one. I look forward to posting more videos as it concerns the effects of COVID-19 and the church - so look for them below.
I encourage you to call one another, Marco Polo one another (for those up to speed with the app), think about one another, and long for one another. If you have any questions please feel free to respond to this email or call me.
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher (On behalf of the elders and deacons of TCGF)
Grace & Peace Beloved,
Those two words overflow with meaning and impact for us. Peace is a godly virtue found only in and from the God of peace. His peace can pass all understanding, especially man's temporal understanding. It does pass that which we see and experience right in front of us because His peace is rooted in light, life, and resurrection. I pray that the God of all peace keeps your hearts and minds throughout this present time. My heart is desirous for each of the members of the body of Christ, locally at TCGF, as well as, at large.
COVID-19 & TCGF Congregational Gathering
The “moderate” approach described in the previous update is the same approach that TCGF will continue to take at this point. Therefore, our doors will be open for normal services Thursday and Sunday. We are aware of the group “recommendation” change by the CDC and MDH from 250 to 50 to currently 10, which recommends not gathering. Since this continues to be a “recommendation” we are choosing to keep our doors open. If this changes to “mandate” we may reconsider. With this, we fervently want to be clear about our desire for members of the body to use sound judgment about attending in person.
- If you are feeling sick, we would agree to practice the recommendations of the CDC and MDH and stay home for your personal health, as well as, the health of others.
- If you are immune-compromised and are at higher risk, such as, have one or more of these conditions – heart disease, diabetes, lung disease we understand and agree with your choice to stay home.
- If you are older, we completely understand your choice to stay at home.
If you plan on attending, we encourage at this point not shaking hands, hugging, and no “holy kisses” (sorry couldn’t resist)! Of course, washing hands frequently. We think we have enough space to provide some distancing if you are inclined to have some. Generally, be courteous and mindful of others.
With keeping our doors open during our normal times of service I would like to address some thoughts, as well as, reasons why we would choose to stay open.
It seems like your making me choose to come to church and be obedient to God’s Word or stay home and not be obedient.
- We do not believe this is a matter of obedience or disobedience, for COVID-19 and its effects, make it a matter of judgment, in which, there are numerous angles and paths. There is a choice to be made. Nonetheless, as always, our stance is, because of God’s Word and being over you in the Lord, are not to have dominion over you, thus seek not to “make” the decision for you. Instead, we abundantly respect and honor the decision you think is best during this present suffering. We love you all so much and have sought to build the church with an intimacy over the years, that we would hope you know, that there is no condemnation in choosing to stay home, in fact, in such cases it is very wise. We also hope you understand why we would choose to stay open.
Why is TCGF choosing to stay open in view of the recommendations and the current of churches shutting down services?
- Given the proper cautions as stated and recommended I think there is another aspect to all this, that is, “why does the church exist in the first place?”, and “what does God say we are to be doing and gaining from the church?” The answers to these things do not change in the face of viruses and recommendations; that is, the proclamation of the gospel, the edification of God’s Word, and the fruit of fellowship.
The Proclamation of the Gospel
My heart not only is directed toward those that are saved but burns for those that are lost. The church is mobile, made up of individual members who are given the honor to share the gospel, but with that mobility comes a degree of a lack of identity from the unbelieving world. The local church provides some identity and locale for anyone that has questions from the fear and panic they are experiencing. If we do shut down services in the future, I would desire to have a plan going forward of hours in which we can have people come to the church if they so choose. These times are ripe for harvest and we ought to be available and proactive in addressing these times with the gospel of Christ. Temporal suffering often works a fear of death and to think of matters of eternity, in which, it is the church that has the only message of hope and salvation. We are to be ambassadors AND accessible. Wisdom and understanding afford us the capacity to proceed forward in this manner with common-sense precaution.
The Edification of God’s Word
“Preach the word” are words that echo to this time from the time Paul first wrote them. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth and it is in these kinds of times where that becomes extremely apparent although it ought to always be our perspective. The corporate edifying generates mutuality along with all its fruit.
We do have the capacity to “preach the word” and receive some of its benefits while at home. Live streaming grants us this benefit of edification from afar. We will continue to live stream. Yet live streaming is a small substitute for the live preaching of God’s Word and shouldn’t be relied upon in normal situations nor in irregular circumstances such as these times. Nonetheless, it has its profitable use and I am thankful that many in our body can use it. Live streaming is a temporary substitute for gatherings with members of the body of Christ. When we corporately assemble, we, as God’s people, are to know that the very things you are learning are being learned by others, producing like-mindedness along with all its influence of knowing your not alone, comfort, and strength. These others you learn with have a face and thus have the honor to fellowship in them.
The Fruit of Fellowship
Beyond and based upon the proclamation of the gospel and the edification of God’s Word conformity to the image of Christ happens; however, when done corporately there are immediate opportunities granted to express and prove that which we have learned. Also, fellowship yields the fruit of like-mindedness, comfort, joy, edification, refreshing, etc that God has purposely design the members of the body of Christ to avail themselves of.
Therefore, we are fervent to express our complete understanding of individuals and families deciding to join us online during our live streams, especially at this time; and at the same time pray you to understand why we would continue to open our doors and hold services, especially at this time. These judgments can coincide, work together, manifest simplicity amid complexities, and diversity within unity. Granting understanding, given COVID-19 and its effects, our hope, and the power of God’s Word the body of Christ can and will serve, by God’s things, all for the love and profit of all both spiritually and physically to the glory of God.
I want to remind you of the words I said in our first update that described our love toward you all. If you are struggling physically, we desire to distribute to your needs. Whether that be trips to the doctor, food, toilet paper, etc please let me or one of the elders or deacons know and we will purpose in charity to help you. If you are struggling spiritually, not knowing what is going on, nor possess God’s perspective and understanding of these kinds of things please call, text, or email me. I would love to meet with you or talk with you over those mediums.
Lastly, our practice in giving will always be in view of grace, free giving. This giving is constrained by the manifestation of truth, the proclamation of God’s wisdom in Christ – which serves to edify you and others. I would expect either presently or possibly in the future these times to take a toll on people financially. The objectivity of God’s Word is useful in any and all situations and circumstances the spread of COVID-19 is no exception. All grace giving is done out of love for God and His Word, done with an honest heart of one's stewardship of personal finances. Therefore, we understand, as always, the necessity to take care of yourself and your families and are here to help in any possible way that we can. We will be honest if this virus effects TCGF financially, which at this time it has not, and whether it does or not I pray you would have confidence that we will always go forth in proclaiming the gospel and preaching the word to the glory of our great God!
Please contact me if you have any questions!
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher (on behalf of the elders and deacons of TCGF)
Grace & Peace,
On behalf of the elders and deacons of Twin Cities Grace Fellowship I seek to provide you updates about our response to the Coronavirus and its effects, both in our congregational gathering and most importantly with Biblical clarity.
Undoubtedly, whether it be via radio, television, the internet, or social media, as well as, if you are a rewards member at any restaurant, grocery store, or general store you have heard about the Coronavirus and/or received countless updates about companies and organizations practices going forward.
How should the church be thinking about this in view of scripture and what are the steps that TCGF taking in view of scripture and government and certain health organizations? First, I will provide some detail about TCGF’s Congregational Gathering, then a more Biblical understanding of the “spirit” we ought to possess in these situations. Over the course of this matter, I will seek to provide weekly updates to keep the body united in the direction we will be taking. Please check your email, the website, and our Facebook page for these updates going forward.
TCGF Congregational Gathering
We desire to be “moderate” with our approach to assembling. There are three things that provide the core of this “moderation”. 1) We have the clear authoritative instructions of our God to “gather together” (1 Cor.11:17, 14:23) and “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25), 2) We are to follow the instruction of “the higher powers” only as, or up until, subjection to the “the higher powers” compromises our obedience to God (Rom. 13:1; Acts 5:29) and 3) the manifestation of the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, by loving our neighbor as ourselves (Rom. 13:8; Php. 1:11).
Therefore, it is clear we ought to come together for the edification of the body of Christ. Yet, what is a reasonable and “moderate” approach to this in view of “the higher powers” and certain health organizations recommendations like the CDC and the MDH. Currently, the MDH recommends postponing and canceling “large events where 250 people or more would gather”. The attendance of our gathering does not exceed 250 or more, therefore, in view of the clarity of scripture to gather and in line with government, CDC, and MDH recommendations TCGF will remain open for all services and events. All this takes into consideration the first two of three core things of our “moderate” approach in godly wisdom and love. Therefore, in view of “loving our neighbor” TCGF recommends members treat this virus with the same approach to, for instance, “the flu” with logic and reason. If you are sick, we would encourage you out of love for your neighbor to attend TCGF via “livestream”. Please know if you are sick and or come down with the virus, on behalf of the church, know we (the elders and deacons) are here for you and seek to help, care, and love you through it all. Also, in view of some understanding of the virus if you are at a “higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19”, such as, have a compromised immune system (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) or are older in age, we understand your consideration of not joining us in the flesh, but in the spirit via livestream. Please use common sense, logic, and reason in these matters and above all else charity.
If you have any questions about these things of TCGF’s “moderate” approach to congregational gathering please feel free to reply to this email. Now, regarding Biblical clarity.
Biblical Clarity in the face of COVID-19
The spectrum of response the church is giving to the virus and its’ effect is manifesting the sleeping giant of error couched in the church. In other words, the Coronavirus is manifesting a greater problem and that is the doctrinal array of error that resides in the church. The confusion has been reflected in the irony of churches canceling their healing services, to some Pentecostal churches teaching the “virus” can’t touch you – “if you’re truly a believer”. Of course, these two are terribly misleading and outright erroneous. Others claim this is the end-times prophecy plagues with a host of other things that are going on.
The Biblical understanding, we at TCGF teach, preach, and uphold is the very Word of God and will uphold you amid these “sufferings of this present time”. Therefore, there are a few things to consider and renew your minds with: 1) Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, 2) The Sufferings of this Present Time, 3) Suffer with Christ, 4) The Body of Christ and the Day of the Lord, and 5) The Mercy of Sickness.
1) Christ is the Resurrection and the Life: For those that are justified by faith in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus our hope isn’t in this world, nor our life, but it is “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). We expect trials and tribulations to be experienced in this life which are allowed by God to teach us to lean further upon our Father and produce an unfading, strong hope in our God and the life to come (2 Cor. 1:8-10).
2) The Sufferings of this Present Time: The Coronavirus, along with all other sickness and disease are the symptoms of a much greater problem, that is, sin and the world in which sin resides. These things along with other things produce sufferings that are common to man in which man neither Christian or non-Christian are exempt from. God in time past would bless Israel for their obedience by removing these sicknesses but would also curse Israel for their disobedience by punishing Israel with sickness. This is NOT how God is operating today seeing He reconciled the world unto Himself and is having His dispensation of His grace. Therefore, we are to expect to get sick, experience the spread of viruses, and all the other impacts that come with sickness combined with news/media.
3) Suffer with Christ: As those that belong to Christ, we ought also to abide in Him, by abiding in the riches of His grace revealed in His Word. Part of the life of Christ is suffering well, suffering with Him. The doctrines contain in God’s Word provide might and strength for our inner man - His life to be made manifest in the midst and in the face of sickness, disease, tribulation, etc. Also, God’s Word provides us to respond genuinely, sincerely, and godly among the impacts of these things coming upon unbelievers some of which are mass hysteria, hoarding selfishness, and vehement anger toward others. Rather, godliness loves our neighbors as ourselves, even our enemies (Rom. 12:3-13:10).
4) The Body of Christ & The Day of the Lord: One of the oldest doctrinal errors was produced and propagated by a couple of men in Paul’s day – that was in the face of a mystery resurrection of the body of Christ, Hymenaeus and Philetus erred concerning the truth, “saying that the resurrection is past already” (2 Tim. 2:15-18). This placed Christians at that time in the Day of the Lord and thus interpreted the tribulations they were facing as Day of the Lord tribulations, instead of the sufferings of THIS PRESENT TIME (Rom. 8:18). The result – “and overthrow the faith of some.” This thousand-year-old error rears its ugly head in Christians who are void of a sound Biblical theology of God’s dealings with man in times past, but now, and ages to come. God has promised those justified in the dispensation of the grace of God to be “delivered from the wrath to come” (Rom. 5:9; 1 The. 1:9-10, 2 The. 1-3). We are children of the day, but not children in the day, or children of the day in the night (1 The. 5:1-6). Now, although this be the case, we get tastes and glimpses of those “times and seasons” due to the devolution of the course of this world and of how troubling the future times will be.
5) The Mercy of Sickness: One of the main accusations against ambassadors for Christ and the gospel is fearmongering. Accusations of fearing people into heaven. The false façade works to intimidate the proclaimer of the gospel as if this isn’t to be legitimate part of the gospel they are rejecting. As ambassadors we are the message bearers to herald the good news of the faith of Christ and fear does play a vital factor. Interestingly, the world uses the same tactic, but is disingenuous for its vain, earthly purpose and objective. Fear can sway the masses for its gain, but all worldly fear is subservient to godly fear. Simply put, sickness and the fear of death is a mercy, a wake-up call to the world not to fear that which can kill the body, but Him that can destroy both body and soul (Matt. 10:28).
Therefore, as the church we are not to possess a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim.1:6). We possess a glorious, expected hope that yields comfort, strength, endurance, and abounding joy for those that yield to it, believe it, and mind it – that it may be their minds stay. We also comprehend the right division of God’s Word and His dealing and promises given to the Israel of God compared to those given to the members of the body of Christ. The comprehension of these things generates clarity about the times we live not being “the times and seasons” of the Day of the Lord. Also, we always possess the greatest news in Christ, revealing its strength, in times of darkness and struggle. Therefore, we are to wield the gospel no matter which season the world is going through, no matter the times we face. Moreover, we have clear doctrine that teaches us to put on charity toward our neighbor, even our enemy, even those that hoard the toilet paper.
Hold the truth, renew the mind, suffer well, love deeply
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher (on behalf the elders and deacons of TCGF)
On, AM 980 The Mission, with Lee Michael's on his show
Listen to the whole show or interview begins around 1 hr. 14 min.