My Bible Plan for 2022: Read for Breadth, Study for Depth

It’s a New Year and a lot of people are starting fresh with their Bibles.

With the limited space I have here I’d like to share some ideas. Hopefully you will find something useful for your own studies.

Bible Reading & Bible Study

There’s a difference between these two and they’re both important to keep up all the time.

Bible Reading is taking in large chunks of scripture, like reading whole books of the Bible at once. It helps us see the “big picture” of how the whole Bible tells one cohesive story. The Lord commands us to remember, and not forget who he is, what he has promised and what he has done. Reading large portions helps us do that. Why do we need to be reminded to remember? Because we so easily forget! And we also need to let the old truths sink in deeply.

Ideas for Bible Reading (Big Picture)

1. Bible Reading Plans: I like the Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan. You read the New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once in one year. There are many Bible reading plans out there, just Google it or send us an email for some advice.

2. Audio Bible: If you are a slow reader, like me, and you like podcasts, consider getting your “big picture” of the Bible by listening to someone read the Bible! “Daily Audio Bible” by Brian Hardin (free) and the “Dwell” App (paid) are great options.

Ideas for Bible Study

Bible Study is slowing down, taking small bites of scripture, digging in, thinking about the meaning of the text and its impact on everything.   

Get yourself a mechanical pencil and a “Scripture Journal”. These are single books of the Bible with scripture on the left page and a blank page on the right to make notes. The CSB and ESV ones are usually under $10 on Amazon. I like writing in these more than my regular Bible because the pages are thick and I feel more free to mark it up.

After you pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, try this method. (I learned this from an online Bible class I took on Biblearc.com)

Read the passage and slowly do the next four steps. Each step starts with “H”, so it should be easy to remember.

Step 1: Highlight – Underline the key words and phrases, repeated words, draw arrows and make connections to show the train of thought in the passage. This is where you ask the question, “What is this passage saying?”

The next 3 steps have to do with interpretation and application.

Step 2: Head (Thinking) – After reading the passage, ask these questions:

1. How should I think differently about God/myself/others because of what I’ve just read? 

2. What doctrines are taught in this passage?   

3. What other Scripture texts add to the truths taught in this passage?

Step 3: Heart (Emotions) – After reading the passage, ask these questions:

1. How should I feel differently about God/myself/etc. because of what I’ve just read? 

2. What emotions are expressed in this passage? 

3. What emotions does this passage exhort me to feel?

Step 4: Hands (Actions) – After reading the passage, ask these questions:

1. How should I act differently because of what I’ve just read? 

2. What motivations does this passage give for acting differently? 

3. What sins do I need to repent of and put off? 

4. What good works do I need to put on?

At this point in your Bible study you may need to memorize some scripture to help you get through the day… that would be a good topic to discuss at another time, because it’s very important.

I would like to end by encouraging you to devour your Bibles this year! Psalm 119 says that once God opens our eyes, we will see “wondrous things” in his word (119:18). It will be a lamp to our feet (119:105), and a powerful tool to fight sin, with God’s help (119:11).

Pastor Dave Miller



We Have Seen His Glory

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14; ESV)
 

At the heart of Christmas is what J.I. Packer called the “unfathomable mystery” of the incarnation; that God became a man and dwelled among his people in the person of his Son.

The Apostle John saw it firsthand. He wrote down what he saw. And what he saw was the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, full of grace and truth.

In our recent sermon series, we’ve considered what it means to be made in the image of God. We’ve seen how we’ve been created to reflect his character and glory in our lives. We’ve also seen how sin has distorted God’s image in us. A glance in the mirror confirms that we are not the people he made us to be. And what is wrong with us is more than skin deep. It’s something that even the best lighting and the most skillfully edited selfie cannot remedy.

The good news of Christmas is that there is a better image to behold. Instead of looking at ourselves, we can look at Jesus. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). We may not see him with our physical eyes, as John and many others did. But we can see him by faith, with the eyes of our hearts. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

When we look at Jesus, we see the fullness of God’s truth – truth that shatters our carefully-curated self images. But we also see the fullness of God’s grace – grace for broken, burned-out, badly-behaved people like you and me. Grace that forgives and redeems and restores and renews us in the image of God.

How did that grace become ours? The Son of God was not only born a man; he died a man, in place of sinful, fallen, image-bearers of God. Then he rose again as the firstborn of the new creation, as Lord of all who look at him and believe.

The true joy of Christmas will never be found in the mirror. It will never be found in the best holiday selfie. It will be found only by taking our eyes off ourselves and looking at our Lord.

May God reveal more of his grace and truth to us and in us this Christmas, as we marvel at the mystery of the incarnation, and gaze upon the glory of his Son, who became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Just Say No to Nostalgia

Don’t say, “Why were the former days better than these?” since it is not wise of you to ask this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10; CSB)
 

“Normal isn’t coming back, but Jesus is,” read the sign outside my pastor friend’s church. My gut reaction was mixed. Can’t we have normal AND Jesus?

I confess that I often pine for the good ol’ days. The normal days. I gaze at 2019 and before through a pair of golden lenses, too easily forgetting that those days had troubles of their own.

In the verse quoted above, the author of Ecclesiastes addresses the folly and futility of living in the past; of assuming that the old days were always better than these days, or that the world is much worse than it used to be.

To be clear, the author isn’t saying that there aren’t good days and bad days. Further in this same chapter, he refers to the “day of prosperity” and the “day of adversity” (v. 14). We experience these sorts of days and seasons in our own lives and read about them in the Bible. The Jewish exiles in Babylon, for example, were right to think back with longing on the days of living in the Promised Land and worshipping the Lord in Zion (Psalm 137:1).

The author of Ecclesiastes isn’t saying that it’s foolish to fondly remember the good times of the past. Rather, he’s saying that it’s unwise to dwell in the past, to have an unrealistic view of the past, or to constantly compare the present to the past. In short, while nostalgia might be a pleasant place to visit, it’s a foolish place to stay.

Nostalgia is a kind of homesickness; a sentimental yearning for what once was. It must have begun with Adam, as he remembered his Paradise lost and compared it to the sin-cursed world he now inhabited.  This homesickness has continued ever since, in every human heart, in one form or another. The good but fleeting moments of this life delight and then elude us. Long gone, they can haunt us. They tell us that we were made for something more, something better, something permanent. They whisper to us of our need for a Saviour who can bring us home.

Under the influence of nostalgia’s cheap wine, we can be tempted to idolize or idealize the past, or worse, to ignore the present. And that might be the most dangerous temptation of nostalgia—that it keeps us from living for the Lord right now, loving others in this moment, and looking forward in faith to what God has promised in the future.

The author of Ecclesiastes is right. It’s foolish to live in the past. It’s probably also unwise to obsess over “getting back to normal.” Because, as the sign said, normal isn’t coming back. But Jesus is. And that is something to look forward to!

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Overflowing with Gratitude

So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7; CSB)
 

There are good and bad kinds of overflow.

One  warm summer day, I started filling the kiddie pool in the backyard, then walked inside and forgot all about it. That was one kind of overflow. Another time, on a May long weekend, I heard a cry of horror from the basement. Our sewer line had backed up. That was another kind of overflow.

Backyards and basements are one thing; the human heart is another. Jesus said, “the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matt. 12:34). Out of the mouth can flow good things or bad things; sewage or streams of living water; depending on what is in the heart.

In the verses quoted above, the Apostle Paul encourages the Colossian believers to be “overflowing with gratitude.” If anything is going to overflow, there must be a source. So then, what is the source of overflowing gratitude? It’s everything that Paul has mentioned just before: receiving Christ Jesus as Lord, walking in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith according to the teaching of Scripture.

Sometimes we assume that the way to overflow with gratitude is to try harder to be thankful. But that would be sort of like trying to pump water from a dry well. Instead, as Paul says, gratitude comes from having Jesus Christ as Lord, continuing to walk with him, and basing our lives on the truth of the good news that we have believed about him.

During this time of Thanksgiving, don’t just try to be more thankful. Instead, connect your heart once again to the never-ending flow of gospel grace. Remember how forgiven, approved, loved, blessed, and equipped you are in Jesus Christ! Sink your heart into that reality. Live your life based on that reality. Let your mouth speak from that reality. You may find, without even trying, that gratitude is bubbling up and overflowing all over the place.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Hey Grads… What’s next? Jesus says, “follow me”

It’s the end of another school year and we thank God for every paper submitted, exam written and lesson learned! Yeah, it was a different school year than we were hoping for – thanks to “you know what”. You didn’t get to hear your name on the P.A. to walk on the stage. You didn’t get to wave to your family as you walk off with that piece of paper that says, “You did it”!

Perhaps you are now scratching your head about what’s next. You have a lot of decisions to make about life’s direction, goals, and the kind of person you want to be. And everyone has advice for you to follow, so you’ll need to be careful who you listen to.

Our culture wants you to define yourself, shape your life, become the best you and profit as much as possible by offering something “valuable” to the world. Our culture wants to train you to be self-made, to see every obstacle as something that you can overcome with elbow grease and creative problem solving. You should “write your own story” and prove to your peers and the world that, compared to them, your path has progressed upward.

I just summarized a bunch of self-help videos from YouTube.

As Christians, we have a better storyline: We don’t live to create our own story; we are invited into God’s story. In his story, God is the Creator and we are his creatures. He is the Rescuer and we are the redeemed. In his story, Jesus is our Lord and Shepherd, he is the voice we listen to and follow. And this is good news if you are experiencing some decision fatigue about what steps to take next.

We can be certain what to do with our most important decisions. As Christians, we follow Jesus. Students, when you make plans, when you decide what to do, will you consider what it means to follow him?

You will face decisions like:

What education and career path is best to take? How will you use your education and career? For selfish reasons or for God’s glory? What if God wanted you to become a missionary? Will you look for a spouse according to your own wisdom or will you seek the Lord’s direction? Even if that means being single for a while, or forever?

Eventually you might have savings and a plan to retire. Will you consider Jesus and his Kingdom when you make plans? He will ask you to serve him. He will ask you to be generous with your time and money in a way that only makes sense from Heaven’s perspective.

Only God knows where he will lead you. Following Jesus is the adventure our souls were created for! There is no such thing as a more joyous path! “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:10)

Jesus calls us to follow him today! This means “in all of your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:6)

I pray we will all follow him with joy. That we will trust him in the uncertain times, seek to honour him with our whole lives, and to “taste and see that [he] is good” (Psalm 34:8).

May we all know what it means to walk with Jesus every day, regardless of the dark cloud blocking our view of the future. May we follow him where he leads us and join him on his mission to share the Gospel with the world.

Let’s make his glory and blessing others be the deciding factor in everything we do!

Pastor Dave Miller



What Time Is It?

“…the Issacharites…understood the times and knew what Israel should do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32; CSB)

 

The times they were a-changin’. Saul was dead, and it was God’s plan for David to be king. Those who helped with the transition are listed in chapter 12 of the first Book of Chronicles.

In that list of mighty warriors, we read of the men of Issachar (Issachar was one of Jacob’s sons whose descendants became one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel):

“From the Issacharites, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do: 200 chiefs with all their relatives under their command” (1 Chronicles 12:32; CSB).

The description is so brief it’s easy to miss. But the chronicler thought it important to include. In this monumental transition from one administration to another, both brawn and brains were needed. The mighty men of valour supplied the muscle, but the Issacharites were noted for their mental acuity.

The Issacharites were not only smart; they were wise. And there is an important difference. Smart people acquire knowledge and retain information; wise people know how to put that knowledge and information together to live well and lead others effectively. This is what the Issacharites were known for.

They understood the times

To understand the times is to have a finger on the pulse of the thoughts and dreams and hopes and fears and events that shape the way people think and live today. It is also to understand the challenges and opportunities that our time presents.

The Issacharites were able to discern the real needs of the hour, and therefore provide effective leadership during a challenging transition.

They knew what Israel should do

Not only did the Issacharites understand the times, but they also knew what to do. They knew, based on their understanding of God’s words to David, that it was time for him to become king (1 Chron. 11:2). And they knew how best to get that done.

In the Issacharites we see two important traits combined. They understood their world (“the times”), and they understood God’s words (what Israel should do in view of God’s revealed will).

Today’s complex world

In today’s complicated world, Christians are no less in need of both these traits. In other words, we need to understand the world, and we need to understand God’s word.

To be clear, understanding the world and understanding God’s word are not two equivalent, parallel activities that we are to pursue, independent of each other. Indeed, how can we even begin to understand this world as it really is, unless we look at it through the lens of what God has revealed to us in the Scriptures? With that in mind, when you first wake up, open the Bible before you open the news feed on your phone. Because God’s world can only be truly understood in the light of God’s word.

As we navigate this challenging season and prepare for the next, we will need the truth of God’s word and the wisdom of God’s Spirit. May the Lord help us as a church, not only to understand the times, but even more importantly, to know him, the one who holds the times in his hands (Psalm 31:15); and who has redeemed and called us to live faithfully under Christ as King.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



A Few Thoughts and Resources

Lately, some of you have asked for my thoughts on a few matters. So, for this month’s newsletter, I’m going to briefly touch on some of those things and offer some resources to think through them further. If this prompts more questions, feel free to email or phone or write me an old-fashioned letter.

About Our Church Closing Down Again

I’m sad, burdened, troubled by it. Because churches like ours have been careful to follow the orders, I’m disappointed that our government ordered a ten-person maximum for church services, which effectively means cancelling them (since our Sunday volunteers are included in that number).

On the other hand, with the highly contagious variants and rising cases, I understand the concern to slow down the spread of the virus. I hope this is only temporary, and that the forthcoming orders in late May will enable us to gather again.

About Whether to Disobey the Government

As Christians, our default position is to be that of submission to governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7). Though there are situations that would call us as a church to disobey government for the sake of obedience to God (Acts 5:29), I don’t believe this is one of them. Because it’s impossible to sum up all the issues in a paragraph, here’s a helpful article that I agree with, written by Paul Carther, a pastor in Ontario:

My Threshold for Civil Disobedience in a COVID19 World

Regarding our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the crucial issue is whether our Provincial Government’s temporary restriction of our Charter right to assemble as a church is “demonstrably justified”. Some Manitoba churches have challenged this in court, and it will be interesting to see the result. For my part, unless I were convinced beyond doubt that our government’s measures were unjustified, I would not attempt to lead our church to civil disobedience.

About the Covid-19 Vaccine

It’s not the mark of the beast (I’ve written about that here: https://www.rowandale.ca/is-the-covid-19-vaccine-the-mark-of-the-beast/). I’m sure enough of that to have received my first shot earlier this week. 🙂

I’m not a doctor and am therefore unqualified to give medical advice. But I would be remiss as a pastor not to provide a resource to think through some of the related ethical and biblical principles.

To that effect, here is an article by Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is a rigorous biblical thinker, a respected Christian leader, and a trusted voice on moral issues. The article offers seven principles for thinking about the
Covid-19 vaccine:

https://albertmohler.com/2020/12/14/vaccines-and-the-christian-worldview-principles-for-christian-thinking-in-the-context-of-covid

About Moms

On a lighter note, Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Our society might not celebrate motherhood as a high calling, but there are few things more important than moms who devote themselves to raising the next generation. In the church, we ought to especially honour the mothers who are doing their best to raise their kids to know, trust, love, and serve Jesus Christ.

So, here’s a shout out to all the moms. It’s been a tough year, and you’ve carried a heavy load. We appreciate you! And a word to those of us who have been blessed to have a godly mother, as I have:

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching, for they will be a garland of favor on your head and pendants around your neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Breakfast with Jesus

“Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. (John 21:12)

These are some of the most mundane words you will ever find in all of Scripture. But in context, they are some of the most moving words of all.

“Come and have breakfast.” I’ve spoken these words myself a few times, and they’ve been forgotten almost as soon as I’ve said them. But when Jesus spoke these words, they were unforgettable. That’s why they are recorded for us in John’s Gospel.

Consider the context. The crucified and buried Lord has risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples on two separate occasions. In the process of adjusting to this life-altering event, Peter and some of the other disciples decide to do something familiar. They go fishing. (Remember, they were fishermen before Jesus called them to follow him.)

They get into the boat, fish all night, and catch nothing (not the first time this had happened). Then, just as day is breaking, Jesus calls to them from the shore, but they don’t realize it’s him. “Cast your net on the right side of the boat,” he tells them. And the resulting catch is so large, they’re unable to haul it in.

When they arrive onshore, there is a charcoal fire, some fish laid out on it, and some bread—a welcome sight to weary fisherman. Jesus tells them, “Come and have breakfast.” Then we read that, “Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish” (John 21:13).

What is so moving about this breakfast scene?

Partly it’s the miraculous catch that had just happened after a fishless night on the water – a reminder that “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). It was an unforgettable object lesson for those who would soon be fishing
for men.

Maybe it’s that Jesus has invited those who had earlier fled from him to the intimacy of a shared meal on the shore. For Jesus to feed breakfast to such failed men must not only have provided food for their stomachs, but grace to
their souls.

And then there is the charcoal fire. Peter had warmed himself by a “charcoal fire” (John 18:18) just moments before denying three times that he knew Jesus. Now, this same Jesus is inviting Peter (who had just jumped into the water from the fishing boat and swam to shore) to the warmth of a charcoal fire. The grace-filled irony of this should not be missed.

John doesn’t mention it here, but even after his resurrection, Jesus’ hands bore the marks of the nails that were used to crucify him (John 20:27). Consider that Jesus handed out fish and bread to his disciples with nail-scarred hands that morning. Jesus—the risen Lord who defeated sin and Satan and death—is there, on the shore, serving breakfast to his tired and hungry disciples. 

Along with the net full of fish, the crackling fire, the fresh baked bread, and the satisfaction of a hot breakfast, the presence of the risen Lord signals to those weary disciples that everything is going to be okay. And that is true for anyone who receives grace from those same, nail-scarred hands.

To turn for a moment to our own time and place, for the second year in a row, we will not be having breakfast together in our Fellowship Hall on Easter Sunday. Like many others, I will miss this. But isn’t it good to know that the same risen Lord that invited his disciples to breakfast on the shore that morning, invites us to have fellowship with him by faith? Jesus calls us, failed and flawed though we are, to find warmth and strength and satisfaction in him, the one who defeated death for us.

And so, as we remember Good Friday’s cross and Sunday’s empty tomb, let’s not forget Jesus’ invitation to his worn and weary disciples, to come and have breakfast with him.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



Ravi Was My Hero. Now What?

The recent revelations about the immoral behaviour of the now deceased speaker, author, and apologist Ravi Zacharias have shocked, angered, and grieved many. This is especially true for those whose Christian lives have been profoundly shaped and influenced by his speaking and teaching. Some who are reading this may even attribute their conversion in some measure to
his ministry.

This provokes an unsettling question for some: If Ravi Zacharias has had such a profound influence on my Christian life, what do these revelations about him mean for my Christian life? Or, to state it more generally, if the person who has led me to faith or has shaped my faith proves unfaithful, does that somehow call into question the validity of my faith?

This question is not new. In the fourth century, the Donatist controversy (named after the bishop Donatus Magnus) dealt with this very issue. The Donatists argued that if a minister renounced Christ or became disqualified from ministry, it would invalidate that ministry. One implication of this teaching was that if the minister who performed one’s baptism later fell away from the faith, the baptism itself was no longer valid, thus requiring one to undergo another baptism by a minister in good standing.

Thankfully, Augustine led the church to condemn Donatism as an unbiblical heresy. He affirmed that baptism is not rendered valid or invalid based on the presence or absence of holiness in the minister overseeing it. This makes good biblical sense. To say otherwise would make too much of the minister, and too little of the power of the gospel itself. And this same reasoning would apply to other aspects of ministry as well, like preaching, prayer, and pastoral counsel.

When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Philippi, he was fully aware of the mixed motives of some gospel preachers. Some were motivated by love, others by envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition. Yet Paul declares, “What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).

Paul could rejoice because the gospel is true even if the preacher’s motivations are false. And it would be consistent with Paul to say that the gospel is powerful to save, even if the preacher of that gospel is later exposed as a fraud and a scoundrel.

There are many lessons to be learned from the tragic news of Ravi Zacharias. Pastors like me ought to tremble. Christians everywhere should mourn, not only for the victims of such immorality, but for the ways such behaviour has damaged the witness of the gospel.

However, those that have benefitted from Ravi Zacharias’s ministry need not doubt the good they have received from it. If you were saved through Ravi’s teaching, know that it was Jesus that saved you, not Ravi. If you were blessed by Ravi’s ministry, know that it was the Holy Spirit that blessed you, not Ravi. And if you were strengthened or equipped or encouraged in your faith from Ravi’s ministry, know that this was not ultimately the work of any man, but the work of God, who alone does all things well.

Ravi may have been your hero. He no longer is. But that might not be such a bad thing, if it means setting your hope elsewhere, on the only true and perfect Hero that will never let you down.

By Pastor Jonathan Kroeker



How to Get Along

“Pursue peace with everyone…” (Heb. 12:14)

Aside from the usual stresses related to Covid-19, it’s been unsettling to find myself at odds with like-minded people.

Whether masks, lockdowns, vaccines, or how the church should behave, the past eleven months have sometimes put me in tension with others. At the very least, it’s disorienting. At worst, it threatens to unravel relationships with people I love. Can you relate to this?

There’s no quick fix. But there are some practical ways to pursue peace and minimize damage to friends, family, and church. Here are three of them:

1. Assume the Best of Others

Sure, maybe that friend or sister-in-law or church member is part of a sinister global plot to destroy religious freedom and usher in the Man of Lawlessness. But probably not. Or, maybe that friend or brother-in-law or church leader is selfishly obsessed with their personal rights and uncaring about the elderly or vulnerable. But probably not.

We all want others to assume our best intentions and motives. The Golden Rule tells us to treat others the same way. So, when you find yourself at odds with someone over their views about _______ (insert favourite subject), don’t immediately assume that their position reflects selfishness, stupidity, or worse. Assume that they want the best for the church and the community and the country, as you do.

2. Admit your Own Ignorance

For all its perks, the bane of Google is that it’s made experts of us all. But a few clicks, a few websites, a few articles make one an expert in nothing. Some of us are so afraid of admitting what we don’t know that we come across as know-it-alls. And who wants to be friends with a know-it-all?

Even if you’re a Nobel Prize winning epidemiologist or have a PhD in Eschatology, there are things you don’t know and things you don’t see about this world and our present moment in it. Only God is all-knowing and all-seeing, and as someone once said, “You ain’t Him.” So, have the humility to admit the things you don’t know, and to admit that you don’t know all things.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have convictions or come to our own conclusions. It does mean we should hold those convictions and conclusions humbly, especially when they concern matters that are new and unfamiliar.

3. Affirm What you Have in Common

Covid-19 has thrown gasoline on the fires of controversy. Whether medical or political or theological, this pandemic has exposed our worldviews—how we see the world and the church and the government and our roles and responsibilities therein. This is not a bad thing. But, along with this, Covid-19 has also pressed on the fractures in our churches and families and friendships, which is painful. Somehow this disease has magnified our differences and minimized our deepest and most common concerns.

A way to put things in perspective and proper proportion is to affirm what we have in common with others. It may be family history, fond memories, shared experiences, common values. If it’s a fellow believer that you’re in tension with, then affirm what you have most in common with him or her—faith in the gospel, love for the Lord and his church, and the hope of the kingdom that is
to come.

Following these guidelines won’t solve every disagreement or save every relationship. But it may save some pain, prevent some unnecessary conflict, slow the fires of destruction, and keep us together. To put these into practice might just help us get along with others and be at peace with those we care about. And that’s worth pursuing.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker