Weekly updates from our Pastor

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5/18/2020


Grace & Peace Beloved,

The elders and deacons met Saturday, May 16th to discuss the work of the ministry at TCGF. One of the items on the agenda was our plan to reopen in view of the Governor's announcement earlier in the week. We have decided to have a "soft" or "partial" open. We are officially reopening for our Thursday night service. At this time we will not open for our Sunday services. This is due to the gathering number recommended and our typical numbers for each service. We will update you when we decide to have Sunday services. We will open this Thursday, May 21st. We will open and encourage all to practice the recommendations and guidelines for reopening. We do have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that will be posted and is an attachment to this email. This will include things like social distancing, provision of gloves and masks (if you choose), and hand sanitizer. We will accommodate our members and visitors upstairs at social distances and downstairs for any overflow. Downstairs overflow will participate via live stream on a screen. We encourage your participation, but will not enforce these recommendations. If you are uncomfortable with the church not enforcing these recommendations we will continue to provide live streaming and understand your decision to participate with us online from your home.

On a more zealous note, we are extremely thrilled and joy in God to gather with fellow body members once again. We have had an earnest expectation of gathering together to join in all operations, for our good, of corporate worship: singing, prayer, fellowship, and the preaching of the Word of God. Godly equitable thinking and conduct have been the latest set of instructions we are receiving in Romans 14 and how fitting to be able to apply in this situation that could cause division for it not to cause division. We are simply looking for each to have open communication with each other about comfort levels, also to use common sense, and to freely enjoy the fellowship of the saints, the worship of God in song, and the preaching and teaching of God's Word.

We will continue to reach many through the live-stream. Also, we will plan on continuing the Tuesday night Zoom Bible Q&A. Each week God (by His Word working in the body of Christ, to get the word out about it, and utilizing the body's desire to fellowship) has increased not only the number of the online gathering but the questions and study of His Word. You are free to ask a question or just listen in with others. You can submit your questions in advance by following the link below. I hope you can join us again tomorrow night.


Look Up,

Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher


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4/16/2020


Grace and Peace Beloved,


Throughout this season of a pandemic, I have heard much of the same as before the coronavirus about politics, economy, the constitution, rights, theories about the direction of our country. However, godliness doesn't concern Democratic or Republican ideologies, the right or the left, rather it looks straight forward and looks up. Godliness in the believer recognizes the institution of government, but also the time of the world in which we live and the bondage of corruption God's creation is presently in. Therefore, hope, change, nor our outlook on this life is to be dictated by the perverseness that resides in any given nation no matter how free it says it is - it is a servant to sin. Instead, we should embark on campaigning in the hope, change, and glory that we are to bring the heavenly places in the life to come. We do not do this by residing in fear, nor having our attitudes be impacted by the currents of the course of this world. Therefore, godliness in the believer knows what to expect and what not to expect. Godliness in the believer will take advantage of the rights provided; however, understands they are not a prerequisite for godliness; therefore, godliness in the believer understands where the good fight is, as a soldier of Jesus Christ, and not entangle themselves in the affairs of this life. Godliness in the believer will utilize rights possessed, even vote (if they have this ability) and exercise the proper channels in advocation for those rights. Moreover, godliness will carry with it a godly sense of the time spent doing so, to make sure the teeter hasn't tottered to vanity. Evaluate time by asking how much time am I spending on thinking and giving to the advocation of the affairs of this life? Why evaluate something that seems so right you might ask - to stand for rights? Because spending too much time can "entangle" you from godliness. As I mentioned before "rights" are not prerequisites for godliness, nor is godliness dependent upon them. The disciples were astonished that Christ said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The thinking of the day had determined the minds of the disciples when they heard this, to chalk it up as "impossible." Yet, it is easy for American Christian to carry the same mentality of impossibility to carry out God's business without our earthly, American freedoms. Yet, this thinking is grossly in error and the implications for God's business are contrary. Wherefore, oftentimes, we find ourselves fighting for freedoms instead of sharing the gospel, living godly in Christ, edifying the body of Christ. Therefore, we substitute the fight of carrying out God's instructions, no matter what, with fighting for freedoms that allow the ease of carrying out God's instructions. Thus, we become "entangled" in advocation instead of partaking in the afflictions of the gospel of Christ.


One reason many entangle themselves is that they do not want to suffer. They think that these rights are God-given as if that means an atheistic culture will continue to grant them and not infringe upon them. Of course, no one wants to suffer therefore advocation is natural; however, it is the unfathomability of suffering for something that was a right before that I am concerned with. Herein we are tried and herein is our hearts searched. I speak for myself, oftentimes, I am shocked with things going on, but only when I forget the Word of God and what it teaches - thus I take stock of the grip this world still has on me. Yet, I do know rights do not change the heart, the place of God's focus. For an unbeliever only can use freedom for the lusts of the flesh and for the believer oftentimes the same. The only thing that changes the heart of a person is the gospel, the Word of God, the word of life. I pray that through this time you become increasingly aware of the steadfastness of God's Word, its power, its unwavering fortitude, its immutability, and its relativity for any situation and any time. I pray even more that you increase in finding your sufficiency in God's Word and not in the media, culture, society, government, and economy. I pray that the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened to things from God's perspective that these things are true and to be understood no matter if the culture is moral or not, society is righteous or not, government good or corrupt, or the economy rich or poor. God's business is altogether working in the midst of it all for another end - not the better alternative of the two as we so often think. God's kingdom isn't in man's righteousness, ideals, and laws.


Going back to the reality that our rights are not promised by God, we must understand that we are not guaranteed them by an atheistic culture. And although politicians and those in authority should function by the constitution this not only isn't guaranteed: for one's actions and advocation for a piece of legislature, who is voted in office, can change, they could be lying in their campaign promises. Therefore, the "vote" isn't sure or immutable. In addition, our culture is becoming increasingly anti-God therefore the lust for corruption (a stumbling in the dark) will increasingly vote for its own image. In fact, this is all the more reason getting busy in God's business, in His economy, His truth, His way, His promises, His hope, and His change. Yet, do we not know these things?, do we not know that in other countries rights have been or are continuing to be taken away? Moreover, do we not know we have no promise from God of "rights" or of not suffering? On the contrary, we are "appointed to afflictions", "living godly in Christ Jesus" amounts to persecution, and we go through "the sufferings of this present time"? It seemingly is as if American Christians have thought, "all that suffering is in the Bible, but that was during Paul's day, not in 2020 America - how dare they?" I am thankful for the men and women who fought and fight for our freedoms and the blood shed for them; however, they are freedoms not just of this world, but of this country and therefore are extremely fragile and temporal - they will not abide. What is more? I am abundantly more thankful for the eternal freedom I possess in Christ by His blood shed that grants me to count all loss to know Christ and shine as lights in a crooked and perverse nation - holding forth (not the constitution) but the word of life. Beloved, that word of life is not your life in America, it is an excellency of eternal life and the radiance of His glory that the Word can express now in your mortal body, no matter where you reside or situation you are in, of which, isn't dependent upon earthly rights.


Therefore, what if your rights are being taken away? What if the world doesn't go back to normal? What if your life is never the same? Will you fight for your rights? How will you fight? Is that the right fight to be in? How much time will you spend fighting? Will you fight to the point of disobedience of God's Word toward your neighbor and enemy?

It is in and through all this with God's Word lighting the way that we see what truly matters, what God is doing and therefore we ought to be doing, and the power source of God's Word to work in us to His end. I believe God is body-building today, not building His kingdom on this earth. His law isn't going forth from Zion; however, the Spirit is working to write His law on the hearts of men. The Word of God is His medium. Non-guaranteed rights backed by a human document has made so many not independent but dependent upon them. This, of course, can be understood and argued if something greater than the constitution exists and of course there is - the Word of God. This can not only be understood from having God's Word preeminent in your life, but also is manifest when those rights are taken away - in our attitude, fear, and focus. These rights have done much throughout hundreds of years for people, both under and not under them, both good and bad - bad because they legislate change, this is law-keeping of the which isn't designed to change the heart and because they grant liberty and freedom to the flesh and sin. If any law could have changed the heart it would be God's law, but that was weak through the flesh, how much weaker the laws of this land.


Therefore, advocate meekly for your rights, but lead that quiet and peaceable life in all godliness because the word of God isn't bound and ought not to be bound in the believer. The question is, is it bound in you, bound to the constitution, dependent upon the advocation of our rights, in accord with the normalcy it provides. The Lord, His apostles, and the apostle Paul say nothing of it rather they pressed on through the ebb and flow of the affairs of this life with a single purpose and single heart that for both church leadership and the entire church, that is, share the gospel, live godly, learn the truth, and preach the word NO MATTER THE SITUATION, NO MATTER THE COST.

Of course, this is easier said than done, thus we need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might - a process that we should all be patient toward one another in; however, the image of Christ will abide forever and conformity to it is a worthy endeavor to be entangled in, addicted to, and always a great use of our time. Whether we are bond or free - a servant in this world, we know we are the Lord's freeman, or free in this world, we are the servant of Christ. Thus, God's economy, His truth, and heaven's conversation ought to be our reputation among men and angels to the glory of God, the salvation of others, and the edification of the body of Christ.


Look Up,

Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher



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4/10/2020


Grace & Peace Beloved,
 
I have you all in my thoughts and prayers.  Each day I remember you all in my prayers.  Technology is limited in "gathering together", for even the air cannot provide us the opportunity to have what we have when we assemble.  The only time "the air" with host a togetherness will be when we are "caught up together" with those that sleep in Jesus and Christ Himself "in the air".  I cannot help to think about the miracles of God's Word that take place each time we do meet on Thursday and Sunday.  Seeing each other, hearing each other, gaining the refreshment, the encouragement, the comfort from likemindedness, the sweet joy of singing together, and the corporate reception of the excellency of God's power today - THE WORD OF GOD.  The immediate fruit and fellowship that results from the teaching and preaching of God's Word can be seen and experienced immediately after the sermons.  I long for you and these things with you to the praise of the glory of our Great God's grace in our dear Savior Jesus Christ!  
 
Having been at the church to put together live-streams it just isn't the same.  I am so grateful for the crew that comes to do the live-streams, however, I think I can speak for them that it isn't the same.  I trust that it is the same for you.  I think we could all agree, having days off and a break is nice at times, maybe even necessary; however, the continual forbearance of not meeting "in one place" to feast together on the Lord's Table of His Word is difficult and not recommended and instructed against in God's Word.  These will be things we continue to consider going forward.  I pray that the live-streams have been helpful, the daily videos on Facebook, the Zoom Gatherings, the phone calls, the emails have aided in bridging a big gap of our absences when we are not meeting.  At the same time, the conversations I have had with so many of you, the flowing of emails is a token of the likemindedness, the same spirit in your love and care for the body of Christ.  To this, I praise our Father for the work and continuing work of you growing up into Christ in all things through all things.  Godly love shining brightly, your enlarged heart and bowels of Jesus Christ not allowing the situation to hinder the fruit of the Spirit to influence and reach out to others.  
 
Paul often spoke of a confidence he had in believers he ministered to, not in their flesh, but in their response and activity with the Word of God and I have this same confidence, the confidence of boasting in so many of you of the knowing exactly how God is working through you all.  We will need this confidence, that is, resting upon God's Word and provoking each other to love and good works in lieu of our distance between us that has been and will be for some time more.  
 
We, the elders and deacons of TCGF, have decided to continue to cancel all services in accord with the Governor's decision to prolong and push back the "shelter-in-place" judgment.  We hesitantly do this and understand any confusion and frustration.  I have attempted to address that confusion and frustration through various videos that you can find on our COVID-19 Updates page. Therefore, the next time we will open our doors to meet for corporate worship and fellowship is Thursday, May 7th and Sunday, May 10th.  
 
 Lastly, if you are in a position to give we have PayPal available on our website or by following this link.  As always this is "grace giving" and we are not ignorant of the possible positions some of you may be in due to COVID-19 and its implications.  Please take care of your own first, as well as, get in contact with us and we would love to help with financial burdens that may exist from this present suffering. 
 
I exhort you to reach out to your fellow members of TCGF.  I know many of you have begun to do this.  Also, keep the lookout for the "Zoom Gathering" invitations.  You can join without saying anything or without being seen if you choose.  If you have any questions please feel free to email, text, or call me.  Join us for services via live-stream and most of all prepare your mind and heart to gather together once we decide to do so once again. 
 
Until then, get in the Word, believe His Word, and benefit from the joy of the work of His Word in you.    
 
I love you all and look to our gathering together again!
 
Look Up,
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher


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3/25/2020


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.


Look Up,

Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher (On behalf of the elders and deacons of TCGF)



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3/19/2020


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!

 

Look Up,

Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher (on behalf of the elders and deacons of TCGF)

 


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3/14/2020


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


Look Up,

Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher (on behalf the elders and deacons of TCGF)