To Focus on What I Can Control

“I just want things to go back to normal!” This has become the common cry over the last two years. What we thought to be normal has been upended with the onset of the COVID-19 virus. Family members began working from home. School became virtual, forcing mothers to be teachers. Just going to the store to pick up a few items became an ordeal. Then we had to deal with wearing masks, social distancing and shut downs. Not to mention, side effects of the virus if it was contracted. Through all of this, patience was certainly tested.
    When faced with a hardship, being upset with the situation or with those closest to us will only result in diminishing happiness. Anger directed at things beyond our control never solves anything. It only adds more stress to an already difficult situation. As we face reverses, it is easy to focus on the negative. When we can concentrate on the good found in even the worst situations, it will generate more patience.
During the hustle-bustle of life, we need to take time to slow down and count our blessings. We can complain because the stores do not have what we need or because we have to wait so long at a restaurant. Instead, we need to be thankful we can go to the store or out to eat, remembering the dismay we felt when stores were closed. Rather than complaining or becoming impatient because the line is so long, take a minute to spread some cheer to the person next to you. It will help you both feel better.
The COVID-19 virus is still contagious and many are still waiting to fully recover after quarantine. Some are still waiting for their sense of smell and taste to return. All the while, look for reasons to be appreciative. You still have life and breath. Opportunity remains to serve God and to love and care for your family and friends.
We are reminded in the book of James to “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Society will undoubtedly never return to what we may consider normal. Nevertheless, our character does not have to suffer. Have you found patience and grace to help you better cope with life? How about with things you have no control over? The ability to quietly and steadily preserve our character without complaint is a great asset to daily living.

As the ripple effects from this pandemic continue to touch our lives, we need to ask God for patience. We cannot change the events of the past, but we can change our outlook for the future. Placing emphasis on the importance of our spiritual man and not fretting so much about temporal things will produce patience. Hebrews 12:1 instructs to “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”

~A Roxbury

The Need To Question My Priorities

As COVID-19 rapidly spread, countries and cities across the world entered lockdown with the closure of schools, venues and all non-essential businesses. Normal day to day activities came to an abrupt halt. Our schedules and routines were changed overnight. Previously, much of our lives had been consumed by multiple activities.  Now, we had extra time on our hands.  We had more time to study our Bibles, to pray and to meditate on the good things of God. Many took the time to write an encouraging card or to help out one who may have been in need.

COVID-19 caused many of us to think about how we are spending our time. This time, used wisely, should have strengthened our lives both spiritually and physically.
Now, over the past year, we are on our way to getting back into our normal routine. Remaining active in service for Christ should always be our first priority. The spiritual life should not be crowded out by the cares of life. When spiritual matters take the back burner, everything around us will crumble. Emphasis on temporal matters creates a spiritual imbalance. The work of God and fulfilling the great commission should always take first place in our lives.  Others can see what our priorities are and what things we are neglecting.
Matthew 6:20-21 states “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
It is a privilege and blessing to be actively involved in the work of God. Your very salvation depends upon the priorities you set in your walk with God.
There will always be responsibilities we will have to tend to in this life- our jobs, our kids, our spouses, our hobbies, the demands and distractions of life. We have to be careful not to let them become more of a priority than our relationship with God.
Matthew 6:33 states “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.

 ~ E Kline

To Press On to a Bright Future

This past year has been full of life altering challenges. Some of those challenges have been positive influences on our life and others have been detractors. Our regular routines were interrupted and we had to adjust to all changes we faced. Waiting in long and winding lines at the grocery stores was an aggravating experience as well as spreading out six feet between people and wearing itchy, cloth masks over our faces. These annoyances changed the way we interacted with family and friends because of the lack of personal contact like seeing a smile, embracing or shaking hands.Being isolated with my family helped me to work on having more grace, patience and understanding. It was a time to reflect and evaluate the things in my life that needed to change or improve. Adjustments were made in the way the congregation worshipped at church and interacted with our pastor. I was thankful we could still hold virtual services but it was not the same as physically attending a service.

The Church of God is a place of peace, comfort, hope and assurance. A place where we all believe the same thing, the Word of God. I greatly missed hearing the testimonies in person of what God had done in people’s lives. It is my faith in God, God’s promises and a true pastor that helped me through the pandemic. Being able to get back to church in the recent months was like coming home from an extended trip. It is where I belong and desire to be.

Counseling with my pastor over the phone was not the same as meeting face to face. The pandemic made me consider what is most important: it is not the chores around the house that need accomplished, planning our next vacation. What is most important is completing the will of God in my life.

The very thing that divided us also brought us together. Neighbors reached out to other neighbors. The situation we faced as a community helped bring out the best in people. As a Christian and an American, I have come to value our God-given liberties even more. To me, it is a great blessing and honor to attend church services and even more to hear the Truth preached as God intended. This gives me an inspiration to continue pressing forward.

I would like to think my life is better because of what we have gone through. It has made my faith stronger. Proverbs 4:18 AMP “But the path of the just is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”

~ T Major

To Value Teaching

After experiencing a tumultuous situation, have you ever looked behind you, thought, “I never saw that approaching”, and felt a huge relief when the situation passed?

As the pandemic blindsided us, I was surprised at how quickly the normal that we had for many years been accustomed to suddenly and forcefully changed. Adult’s jobs, children’s schooling, everyday tasks, all changed and became a burden that required major adjusting.
I personally did not realize all that would become abnormal in a very short amount of time. My life quickly changed and I became a Mom/Teacher endeavoring to help four children from kindergarten through 7th grade learn virtually at home. Life became more challenging rather swiftly with my children’s schooling. Altogether, there were fourteen online teachers to contend with, four different schedules to keep up with and the problems of computers crashing, online work lost, and being needed to help in many different assignments that were often scheduled at the same time. Not to mention, my duties as a housewife!
Life for myself had certainly changed and it forced me to look internally. I learned much about myself in that time as many have through their experiences with the pandemic. It is what we do with what we learn that matters.
I learned to appreciate more those who teach or instruct others. To be more patient and understanding in this challenging time for my children. To keep in mind how much continual guidance children really need. As a mother, I have been given a great task to nurture (care for, encourage growth or development of) my children.
Sure, the task has its overwhelming moments, yet many times, I think of these inspiring quotes, “God gave those little children to you, Mama – you. No one else can mother them like you can. You may have your work cut out for you, but you’re the one cut out to accomplish it.” -Erin Odom
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” C.S. Lewis

Psalm 127:3 reminds us, “children are an heritage of the Lord.” I am thankful and blessed to have four healthy children. I am learning that each day is a new day and to keep endeavoring so I am more prepared to face the next challenge, whatever that may be.

~ S Shick

Attending Church & Laboring for God

Wow! Covid-19 sure turned our lives upside down, didn’t it? As a society we are still dealing with the changes the pandemic has brought. How are you doing? Has Covid changed the way you look at life? Do you think differently about things? From mandatory mask requirements to working from home and now mass unemployment, what is next? We have faced celebrating birthdays alone, holidays without family gatherings and saddest of all are the people forced to die all alone. Here we are now, trying to get back to some sense of normalcy. People are going back to work in the office, schools are finally opening, restaurants are returning to full capacity, factories producing, banks opening for regular hours and churches holding regular services!

The only thing missing from sectors returning to normal are the people who support the businesses. Where are the workers? Unemployment numbers show over 7.4 million people remain unemployed. And another 4.4 million have quit their jobs. What is the cause of this wide-spread unemployment?

‘NOW HIRING’ signs are posted all over town. In hospitals, sandwich shops, factories, and gas stations. Increased wages plus signing bonuses, adjustable hours: can it get any easier to work? So, why is there such a shortage? Have we become a lazy society? Have we lost sight of priorities? Have we forgotten responsibilities to family, friends, society, and to God? God is looking for workers too!

Throughout last year, 96% of churches provided some form of remote option for their congregation. In January of 2020, 15% of people were attending church online; in January of 2021, 58% of people were attending online. Current numbers indicate that we are about 47% of people attending online.

Are you attending church? In Matthew 9:36-38 Christ saw the need for workers, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into the harvest.’”

In the book of Matthew 20:1-16, Jesus tells a parable of workers in the vineyard of God. Verse one, “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.” Where does God find his laborers?

It is true, we should all have a personal walk with our Lord; be able to talk and meditate on his love and find his will for us. But how can you hear what he has for you if you are not in church? 58% of people are saying, “I do not have to go to church to hear from God!”

God understands the situation of people that are physically unable to attend the house of God. But those of us who are able-bodied need to get to church. Hebrews 10: 24 -25 “And consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

Dear one – do you see the day approaching? Do you feel the pressing of the times? Is God trying to employ you to a laborer for him? Please, for you and your family’s sake, consider employing yourself for God. As this time ends, we dare not sit idle in God’s business. Factual data verified via various internet sources.

~ J Kretzler

An Appreciation for Human Life

“Beloved, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (I John 3:18)

There are many opinions as to the cause of the pandemic and the cumbersome mandates that followed. Nonetheless, one thing is certain – having a close friend or loved one die suddenly from something that appears to be of unnatural origin is frustrating at best. It raises so many questions, and death leaves a lasting void in the heart.
Each day during the Pandemic, the latest count of deaths attributed to the disease was reported. As the number increased, the effect on the loved ones left behind grew.
According to, a scientific journal, research estimates that for every person who died of COVID-19, nine close family members were affected. Any death of a loved one is difficult for those surviving, but when the death is premature, the sorrow is a staggering blow. This is a feeling we certainly do not want to become accustomed to.
Hearing others talk about friends and family they lost during the pandemic should cause us to appreciate the people who remain in our life. Our parents, siblings, extended family and friends and even neighbors and co-workers. We should want to savor every moment we are together. The holidays and birthdays should be even more momentous.
Since the threat of the pandemic has receded and people are able to gather more frequently, I have found that not only my appreciation for mankind has increased but also my interest in other people. Some have used the hardship of the pandemic as a conversation point we all have experienced. Perhaps you have not been inclined to reach out to someone near you. Challenge that hesitation and make it your new objective to find familiar territory with a stranger.
The urgency of witnessing to lost souls has certainly increased over the past year. It is imperative that we take ownership of each soul that God wants us to reach. A simple invitation is not enough anymore; building a rapport and making ourselves available at any moment for them is now so essential.
Once a relationship is built, it takes work to maintain. COVID has caused most people to have relationships that are more meaningful. The casual peripheral relationships have been replaced with more time with family at home and more meaningful relationships with others.  For many, that time has led to a deepening of family connections.
Coming out of the holiday season, our time with family and friends now holds extra sparkle. It was not the special gifts or the sugar cookies, it was looking around the table and seeing the family draw close and hearing the laughter of the children.

Make it your purpose to enhance your relationships with everyone around you! The time we took our loved ones for granted is time we can never get back.

~ M Karns

An Appreciation for God & Our Freedoms

As the year draws to an end, it causes us to reflect on the year’s events. The difficulties of the year have made it volatile. Consider the memories made, lessons learned, goals met along the way, then sprinkle in some hard times, setbacks and obstacles faced. When recalling the events in your life, I hope you find the good times outweigh the bad.

Personally, my family has faced tough times this year. Going through those times has a way of bringing a realization that no matter how hard a problem may be, someone is always facing a harder one. This realization always brings a great sense of thankfulness to me. It makes me feel that even when lean times come, my cup is running over with blessings.

One obstacle our nation is facing is the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These effects will be felt for a long time, even for generations to come. We have lived through a historical moment.

Reflecting back, I wish to focus on the positive moments from a time that brought much upset. The pandemic was a reminder of how reliant on our Creator we are. It is easy in this age of technology and innovation to feel self-reliant. God helps us prosper in many ways. Still, the danger remains in forgetting to acknowledge Him.

We must seek God’s approval and guidance through each obstacle of life. What a true assurance to know that God knows the beginning and the end of all things and will be the Rock that holds us steady even when adversity comes. He provides a peace in the midst of the storm.

Another positive the pandemic highlighted was a deeper appreciation for our freedoms. America is founded on our duty to acknowledge God as our Creator and that belief helped shape the US Constitution. We observe people in our country doing their best to undo what the Framers created. Many people in a position of power seek to manipulate our freedom to assemble, to worship, to provide for our own families, or to come and go, as we desire.

Many of our civil liberties have been infringed upon during the past year. The pandemic has accentuated to me how easily we can take for granted the most valued things we have.

~ K Karns