Category Archives: God’s Goodness

Five Truths I Pondered on When I Got COVID

I’m in my 50s, overweight, with asthma. So, yeah, getting COVID coulcovidd have been complicated for me. And, yes, I got it. Teresa, too. It wasn’t our fault that we got infected, nor was it another person’s fault. It’s just the nature of this awful, terrible virus.

So here I am, still recovering and quarantined in my home for a few more days. It’s been a tough recovery with lots of coughing, some difficulty breathing, and a couple of scary nights for me, but I am blessed to be on the healing path. Today, Teresa and I have both felt the best that we have felt in two weeks. That said, I’ve had some time to think about having the coronavirus and even on the important things of life itself, and so here are a few truths that comforted me:

  1. God was not surprised by the virus. I was surprised, my family and friends were surprised, but God wasn’t. Remembering that God knows the past, present, and future gave me peace as I trusted in Him through the healing.
  2. No matter what, God heals. I was sick, really sick, for a night or two. My breathing was fairly shallow on two of the nights and I even considered going to the ER at one point. I praise God that things didn’t get worse and that this trip didn’t have to happen. He healed me! Yet even if things got to their worst and I didn’t get better, I would have been healed, safely in the presence of Jesus. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I can truly say that God heals either way.
  3. This virus will pass one day. We have forgotten in recent times that the world has a steady history of pandemics. We also need to remember that sickness and death is a direct result of the fall of man. Sin equals death. And yes, though we may continue to see even more sickness, death, wars, and even other pandemics, one day we will not see these things. These will one day pass.
  4. Nothing else matters but Jesus. While sick, I spent a lot of time quietly praying, especially at night. Money and possessions have meant nothing to me in the past, and these things meant even less so in those moments. In fact, when I had my worst nights, I felt compelled to pray and focus even more on the only One who matters: my Savior, Jesus Christ.
  5. We have work to be done. This pandemic will one day be over at a cost of many, many lives. Our world is changed by it on many levels: socially, emotionally, physically, mentally, and yes, spiritually. The church should respond, meaning that we should no longer focus on what we dwelled on in the past. Instead of bigger buildings and budgets, it’s time to truly do what Jesus commanded: to go out into the world and make disciples. The world is hungry, we must be ready.

There you have it. A few things that I thought about and am challenged to be about. We have a sovereign, all-knowing God who has allowed this fallen world to linger a little longer before the return of His Son. This is a gift to us to get it done. We have no idea how much time we have left, so our time is now to reach, teach, and serve our world. May we reach our neighbors and our world for Jesus!

Fran

The Day Between the Days

“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body.”
Mark 15:43

It was a toiling day and a grueling night. The Savior had died, confirmed by the Roman centurion. Jesus’ followers, distraught and scattered, had no plan, no focus, no unity, and little hope.

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Yet one unlikely man would be bold enough to lead out. Joseph of Arimathea, a man who Mark called “a prominent member of the Sanhedrin,” courageously asked for the body of Jesus for His burial. Pilate granted his request.

The place where Jesus was buried, a tomb cut in a rock, had never been used before. The clothing, linen freshly bought and carefully wrapped around Jesus, was His attire. Roman soldiers sealed the entrance and then guarded it against intruders. There was no doubt that Jesus was dead and there in the tomb He was buried.

This was the day between the days. It was a day of silence, a day of waiting between the first and the third days. For the disciples, it was likely the longest day of their lives as they waited and wondered about what was to come next in their lives. But God was still in control, His power ready to be miraculously displayed the next day. As we now know, the best was yet to come!

The God of the Possible

The fruit and potential of the land was amazing:

When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes, which was carried on a pole by two men. They also took some pomegranates and figs. That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut there.” Numbers 13:23‭-‬24 CSB

Now think about it: The vine of grapes was so big, two men had to carry it! The land was beautiful, rich, and flowing. The Lord had promised it, and He came through big! All they had to do was follow God and do His will. No enemy, no inhabitant would stop God’s will for His people. They simply had to take a step. A step of faith.

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But they didn’t. They forgot the God of the possible, and instead created a god of the impossible. They ignored His miraculous work of the past and looked at the obstacles before them. But seeking to save themselves, they lost it all. They made a horrible, deadly choice and in a business meeting, individual by individual voted a resounding, faithless “no.”

Their “no” would change some of them forever. All if that generation would never see the promises of God fulfilled. Death would follow them when they could have had life and loss abounded when they could have seen gain. Most of all, the chance for God to be glorified by all Israel would be delayed for 40 years.

Have you been voting “no” to God’s work in your life? Has God challenged you to step out in faith? A year ago, I did something that made no sense to people (still doesn’t) and God has amazed me as I have seen Him working in many places I visit. He gets the glory!

And so, let me encourage you to do the same, to walk by faith, to fear nothing, to step out…and let God get the glory!

Fran

Worship starts with Obedience

Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord ? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22 CSB

Saul fell into a trap. He wanted to pick and choose when he could obey God, mostly based on what was most convenient for him. But Samuel would have none of that. No sacrifice or external accolades could ever cover over the sin of disobedience. Nope, you might be able to fool people, but you can never fool God.

Samuel’s response is a key passage of scripture. God is not mocked, and He does not want false, fake worship and hypocrisy. He does not want our praise, especially public praise, if we are not obedient to Him.

He wants obedience, not sacrifice.

Partial obedience is 100% disobedience. Before you worship, be sure to examine yourself, seeking God in every area of your life.

God delights in this sort of self examination, and a humble heart for Him will result in a deeper, more intimate worship than you have ever experienced before!

Fran

Lessons from Some Drunk People

I woke up this morning early. Way too early. Again. Ugh.

Laying in my hotel room, I was awakened by the sound of drunk partyers announcing their presence in the hallway. I can literally hear them stumble down the halls as they made their way to their rooms at 3 am. Slammed doors, loud cackles, shouts to one another multiple times. You get the picture. It was rough. And it was the second night in a row. Double Ugh! 

I’m not mentioning this just to complain, I have a point. As I was fully awake and got past my initial anger, I began to reflect a bit. I read my devotions, and God began to convict me: What made me think I was any different than them? I’m not.

I’m no different then that drunk group that just came in. I’m a sinful man just like the rest, a dying man who takes the gospel to dying men. I’m no better than those, and in many ways, I am much worse because I know the truth and ignore it sometimes, many times, too many times. Maybe more times than I care to admit.

For example, I’m blessed as I see so much of God’s work around me, yet I am so ungrateful. I have a great life, yet I am not appreciative of the abundance I receive. I sin frequently, blow it constantly, and miss the mark consistently, yet He still loves me and lifts me up. I need to be MUCH more thankful for the life and love that God has given me.

So thank you, anonymous drunk people, for waking me up. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t do it again, but thank you for the lesson learned. Sorry I got mad at you (even though you didn’t know it). And thank you, Spirit, for the application to my life.

Today, I am going to go through my day with a renewed joy and a sense of gratitude for my life in Christ. 🙂

Fran

Are You Missing?

I really love my truck. It’s a manly, testosterone laced, V10 F250 beast that pulls anything I want anywhere, anytime. I’ve taken it up hills in the snow, gone into the woods where puny she-cars can’t go, and I’ve never gotten stuck. Ever. Yep, breathe in that manliness!

2000_ford_f-350-super-duty_extended-cab-pickup_lariat_fq_oem_1_500The problem is the only thing it never passes is a gas station! And though I love my truck, 10 miles per gallon on a good day is tough to swallow (7 when pulling my camper). However, I recently had new plugs and wires put in the truck and my gas mileage increased by 20%, not too shabby! You see, it turns out that one or more of the cylinders in my hefty engine wasn’t quite connecting right, and the engine wasn’t performing as it should. My engine was misfiring. It was “missing,” and I didn’t even know it.

There are plenty of churches that are not performing as they should. And what I’ve seen is that they miss the mark on one major thing- the discipling of others. In fact, a church without a clear strategy for discipleship is like a sputtering engine that over-consumes resources and lacks power. The church might exist, but the potential to do so much more is left unused.

If this is you and your church, what can you do? I think it is so important to pray for a strategy that is easily remembered and easily repeatable. As a local church pastor, I encouraged people to come, grow, serve, and share the gospel, and I used this as a process as much as a tag line. New believers were quickly encouraged to be a part of a bible study, serve on a team, and were encouraged to share what Christ did for them. The result: lives were changed, leaders were developed, and a church was changed.

So let me ask you: are you missing? Are all your cylinders firing? You can change this! Begin with yourself, then look to help another. If you are a church leader, begin to think about what discipleship looks like. Pray, think, and ask questions, hard questions, and come up with a memorable, repeatable process. Do this, and let God use you and your church in a remarkable, amazing way!

Pastor Fran

A thought to help your day… 

Imagine the greatest distance that you can see as you look up into the sky. You can see miles away, ten, twenty, hundreds, even (with your imagination) thousands or more. As you look up, now imagine how much bigger God is.

He is big enough to create everything you see, all you hear, the sense of warmth from the sun- He created it all. And what you see is a microscopic fraction of the world you live on.


Even more, He created the entire world, a microscopic fraction of the galaxy, which is a microscopic fraction of the cluster of galaxies, which is a microscopic fraction of the universe. This is how big God is.

Yet, amazingly, He is personally interested in you and your relationship with Him. You are not only invited to be part of His creation, you are invited to be a co-heir of His creation. All He has is yours and you are invited to love Him and enjoy Him forever.

This is love, undeserved and unearned! Let that sink in as you go through your day. I pray that it changes you as it has for me!

Pastor Fran 

When You Walk in the Desert…

He not only was old, he felt old. This man, crazy by some accounts, faithful by others, had set on this long journey to a land he had not seen yet. His throat parched, his skin burning, and his eyes stinging from the dry, dusty land, the old man still pressed. He remained steadfast through this desert journey.  

desert-43209_640And not only him, but his family, too. After all, everything went with him on this journey. His youthful-looking wife with her soft skin and sparkling eyes gave a slight smile which encouraged him along the way. The familiar sounds of goats and camels trodding along helped him to remember that his possessions were still secure. His servants, faithful to him as he had taken them in as his family, stayed by his side. He took them all in pursuit of this call he once heard. 


It was those words that he had heard which still kept him on this journey, the words that this 
voice had once said:

“Go out from your land, your relatives,
and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

These words were a powerful change of direction for his life, but doubt has begun to creep in. He left his moon god worship of his ancestors to follow this new voice, but did he hear Him correctly? He couldn’t help but wonder, was this really God? Day after day, week after week, cycles of thinking, pondering, doubting, wondering, and then more waiting took place while he walked. He tried to be patient, to wait for the next revelation, to receive the direction to stop once he reached the right place, but would he ever get there? Would he ever stop wondering? Yet his journey continued because there was no turning back now. 

Today, you might be wondering, waiting, and even doubting about God’s direction for your life. You may be having doubts and fears of what took place of what could have been. But be encouraged: just as the Creator chose Abraham (then Abram) for a specific place and time, so has God chosen you (Jn 15:19). If you remain faithful to Him, He will bring clarity to a cloudy time (1 Cor 1:4-9).

It’s clear from Scripture that everyone who is in Christ is called to a particular purpose in Him (Rom 8:28-30). Therefore, don’t lose heart. What Christ has started, He will finish, and what He has guided you to do, He will equip you. You might not understand why you are where you are, but He is strong and powerful enough to shower you with grace as you trust Him for your journey.

Stay strong, stay faithful, stay humble, and stay focused. Whatever desert you might be walking in now will result in a testimony of His grace in the future. To God be the glory!

In Christ,

Pastor Fran

Four Ways to Connect With God: 2) Love With All Your Soul

In a sense, our creation in the image of God is trinitarian in nature. The bible says that people are made of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess 4:23, Heb 4:12). Above that, we also know that in Christ, we are a new creation, and that we are new in Christ to become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:17, 21).

god-1772560_640This is why Jesus was very clear that when we love, we are to love in a deeper sense. We relate to the Lord and to others within our soul, in an indescribable relationship that transcends the physical, emotive, and cognitive. Of course, you can never love God nor the things of God until you are born again, but when you are reborn, you are restored and ready to love with a new dimension of love.

Look at David as an example. Even though he had blown it with in case of Bathsheba and Uriah, he knew of God’s grace and trusted in it. David, once was so caught up in his sin, remembered God as the One who forgives and restores. He would later write,

“To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust” (Ps 25:1-2)

You who are forgiven, love God back with the soul that He refreshed. Take time to thank Him for His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness! Most of all connect with Him and with others with a humility in the kindness of the Lord like never before.

Next post: Love God With All Your Strength

In Him,

Fran

Four ways to Connect with God: 1) Love with All Your Heart

apple-570965_640Loving God with all your heart is impossible to do in your natural state. It’s true that “We love because God first love us” (1 Jn 4:19), and that God sent his Son, so that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). You cannot truly love God unless you surrender yourself to Him, denying yourself, repenting of your sins, and receiving the great gift of eternal life paid for by Jesus Christ on the cross. This is the first and greatest thing that needs to happen, and if you have never done this and need to, contact me immediately.

If you have received Christ, you already have God’s love! However, many of us have seen times when this love can get cold, dry, even routine. This is where you need to change things up a bit, like dedicating yourself to prayer more, worship corporately in a different spot than where you normally sit, or even take time for a personal retreat (with no phones!). These are practical ways to change things so you can get out of your routine and focus on who truly matters, the Christ Himself.

That said, if you are growing in your love for God, then you need to be sure to grow in your love for others. John the apostle wrote, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn 4:11). For example, take a chance and love on that grumpy grouch that you encounter, by praying for them, talking with them, and loving on them. If they stay grumpy, at least you can move ahead and stay positive, focused, and ready to love the next person. Remember, Jesus says to love people more than you love yourself (even the grouches), so let your love of Christ shine to others no matter their response!

The point is this: never settle for a mediocre existence of life without a deep love for God and people. He commands it, He has proven it, and He desires it in you. Reciprocate God’s love and share it liberally with all you encounter! 

That’s it for now. Next post: Love with All Your Soul (spiritual).  

Fran