Three Ways the Coronavirus Crisis Has Affected Me Personally

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The Coronavirus crisis has affected us all in profound ways. Every aspect of our lives has been interrupted with no clear timeframe (at this point) for when they will return to normal. Some of the things we used to take for granted, like seeing the doctor or going out to eat at a restaurant, have become forbidden for the time being.

Here are three ways the COVID-19 crisis and the quarantine has affected me:

  1. I am uneasy and off-balance because I’ve lost my routine.

Before Coronavirus hit, I had a daily and a weekly routine. I got up early and got ready for my day. I kissed my wife and dropped my kids off at school on my way to work. I came home after work and got ready for whatever activities were planned for that evening. I took most Fridays off and I spent most of my Sundays and Wednesdays at church.

Now that routine has been disrupted and I’m having a hard time finding a new normal. Most of the same things are still happening, they’re just jumbled up and in a different order. I’m still kissing my wife, but I see her more during the day since we are both working from home more often. My kids are still getting an education, but they are working from home too. I am still preaching, shepherding, and leading, but I am doing it from a distance and that feels odd.

  1. I am grieving the loss of community.

By nature, I am an introverted extrovert. That means that I’m not afraid to be alone, but I enjoy social time with small groups as well. I miss being able to visit with people at the ballgame or the grocery store. I miss being able to study for my sermons at Starbucks. And I miss being able to worship and minister with my family of faith at church.

I’m certain we will be able to rebuild a sense of connection in our neighborhoods, schools, and churches, but for now, I feel a sense of loss. I’m enjoying the extra time with my family, but I need to rhythms of life that tie my family to a larger community.

  1. I am hopeful for the future.       

While many things were good before the crisis, not everything was good. I was too negative, too busy, and too dependent on myself – and I wasn’t the only one.  If there is an upside to this, it’s that we have an opportunity to change. Moving forward, we can choose to see the positive instead of the negative. We can slow down and appreciate all of life’s blessings. And we can put our faith and trust more fully in the God who created us and sustains us day by day. He is not caught off guard by the Coronavirus and He will use it and the complications surrounding it to strengthen our faith in Him (James 1:2-4).

I hope and pray that the Coronavirus crisis ends soon, but that the lessons I learned from it last forever.

How has the Coronavirus crisis affected you? Please share in the comment section below.

Is My Anger From God or Somewhere Else?

christian-buehner-Fmn-feyisWI-unsplashTraumatic events, like the current Coronavirus quarantine, seem to bring out the best and the worst in people. Responses range from patient and supportive to annoyed and angry. Emergencies, disappointments, and delays of all kinds have a way of eliciting a strong response inside of us.

In Scripture, anger is usually lumped in with emotions and attitudes that are to be avoided (Galatians 5:20, Colossians 3:8). But is anger always sinful?

Like most of the characters in the Old Testament, King Saul had his share of flaws. Early on in his reign, however, he showed a lot of promise. In 1 Samuel 11, some of Israel’s enemies attack the town of Jabesh-Gilead and took the resident hostage. When Saul heard about it, the Spirit of God came upon him and he became “very angry.” Saul used his anger to call an army together and to rescue the residents of Jabesh from their attackers.

How do you know if your anger is from God, or somewhere else? The answer comes from assessing your emotions.

1. Is your anger something you want to hold on to?

Ephesians 4:26-27 puts a time limit on anger. It says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity.” Smoldering angry quickly becomes bitterness, hatefulness, and even violence. Leftover anger from days, months, or decades ago is a sign that your anger is not from God.

2. Did you get angry often?

Would people describe you as someone with “a short fuse?” If you get angry quickly, chances are you get angry a lot. James 1:20 encourages readers to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” If you dismiss the feedback of others and jump to angry conclusions on a regular basis, your anger is coming from within, not God.

3. Are you angry because you didn’t get something you want?

Children aren’t the only ones who get angry when they don’t get what they want. James 4:2 says, “You lust and do not have so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain so you fight and quarrel.” Unrighteous anger comes from the unmet wishes and desires of our hearts. That desire doesn’t have to be for something material; it can be for recognition or recreation. If you are angry because you feel deprived of something you deserve, your anger probably isn’t from God.

Godly anger is usually referred to as righteous indignation. It’s the feeling we get when we see someone who is abused or mistreated. It springs for our desire for justice and fairness.

As you navigate the days ahead, be mindful of your feelings. Be aware of where your anger is coming from. Is God moving you to help someone in need, or are you obsessed with your desires?

By the way, the photo at the top of this post isn’t me with a shorter haircut. It’s a great stock photo by christian buehner that I found on Unsplash.

The Value of a Multigenerational Church

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Family reunions are multigenerational by design. Grandmas and grandpas get together with their children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins, and in-laws to love on one another and reconnect. As often as they happens, they are times to pass family values on from one generation to another.

The Bible affirms the value of the young and the old when it states, “The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29, NASB).  The Bible also assumes that the younger and older generations will come together in the ministry of the church. Titus chapter 2 includes instructions for older men and women who are worshipping and serving along side their younger counterparts. Older believers are to set a good example while looking for ways to encourage the next generation to follow in their footsteps (Titus 2:2-4a). Younger believers are to be teachable and responsive as they live out their faith (Titus 2:4b-8)

A multigenerational church is a healthy church. It’s not easy to bring the younger and the older together into one big family of faith. Every generation has its own concerns, preferences, and expectations in life and life in the church. It’s not easy, but it’s good and healthy. It’s good to see grandparents and their grandchildren worshipping together for the sake of the gospel. It’s healthy for young adults to learn from senior adults and vice versa in the ongoing ministry of the church.

 

Reasons Why I Love Ashland, Kentucky: Reason #4

600_358185062Yesterday, I picked up with a series of blog posts on the reasons why I love Ashland, Kentucky. Here is one more reason:

4. Natural beauty is all around

I’ve noticed something surprising when I’m away from home now: I miss the hills. I thought the hills would be an inconvenience and they are when it snows. But the hills, as well as the rocks, trees, and valleys give northeast Kentucky a magnetic quality.

My family and I have found natural beauty exploring our backyard and our neighborhood. We’ve found majestic trees, breathtaking boulders, and inviting streams, even some historic .

IM000138.JPGThere are 3 great state parks within an hour’s drive of Ashland and we’ve enjoyed each one of them. We’ve fished, floated, acoal mines
nd jumped in the water at Grayson Lake. We’ve hiked and we’ve sightseen at Greenbo Lake. And we’ve camped and caved at Carter Caves. And that’s just scratching the surface of the wonderful creation in the Ashland area.

Why I Love Ashland, Kentucky: Reason #1

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I believe that God calls pastors to communities as well as churches. You can’t have a healthy church without personal evangelism and local outreach. If is very difficult for a church to engage in these activities without the support of their pastor. In my experience as pastor, its hard to get excited about reaching beyond the four wall of a church unless you love the community where you minster.

In order to show my love for the area where I minster, I want to share a series of blog posts this week on the reasons why I love Ashland, Kentucky.

  1. The people here are warm and welcoming

My wife and I were both raised in the north. I’m from a small farming town southwest Michigan and she grew up in sprawing suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio. We have lived a few places in our life together, some big and some small, but none with such kind and gracious people.

Our church family has been incredibly warm and welcoming, but it goes way beyond that. We have enjoyed a quick smile and an offer to help from shopkeepers, salespeople, and workmen. The teachers and staff at the schools where our children attend have been accepting and encouraging. Our neighbors are friendly and helpful and we have enjoyed a few cooks and block party together.

That is not say we haven’t encounter any grumpy people. But for the most part, the people in this hard-working little city have welcomed my family and I with open arms. For that, we are grateful.

Check back tomorrow another reason why I love Ashland, Kentucky.