Why Should We Stay Home?

By Pastor Nate Powell

I’ve always been one of those dudes that hates NOT having church. When it comes to snow, I’m ready to go scoop. Ice? I’m gonna walk super slow. Tornado warning? The church has a basement, so we are covered.

Yet here we are. Two Sundays into the Coronavirus outbreak. We had one Sunday where we nearly didn’t touch each other at all, except for some elbow bumps. We had another Sunday where we had what was likely the first Sunday we’ve never had a service with people in this building since the existence of this building (which was built in 1912). We did our first online service, which was, by all measures, very successful. Many worshipped with us (We had 1200 Facebook engagements) and God was glorified in our time together.

Nonetheless, it was not with the lightest of hearts that our elders made this decision. It was not easy to say we won’t meet together. And it looks like it may be a few more weeks before we are done with this.

I haven’t been asked this question directly yet, because I think most have been on board from the get-go with regard to this whole virus thing came up. But I’m not so sure questions like these don’t exist: Why should we stay home? Isn’t this a free country? Shouldn’t the church stand up to the government’s edicts on things like this?

I would say to those who ask these questions: if it were any other situation, I would agree with you. If Christianity were made illegal, public worship made illegal by an atheist state government, I will stand up to that tyrannical government every day of the week. But this situation is not that situation.

This is a public health crisis. It is a virus. And it’s worst attacks are against some of those who are most dear to us: our retirees, our senior citizens, our grandparents. By all statistics, the death tolls could be very high. So here are three small truths that I believe can help us understand and come to grips with why we’re not meeting right now.

  • My older and elderly friends mean the world to me: Some of the dearest people in the world to me are elderly. They are my parents and my wife’s parents. They are my friends in the community. They are my church members, my Christian brothers and sisters. They are dear servants of the Lord. They are the people who provide much of the prayer support that I need. To lose them prematurely would be a tremendous blow, not just to me, but to the church. I know that if we continued to have church, they are the people who would still come, despite the great risk to their own life and health.
  • Staying Home is Loving my Neighbor: So because I love my older friends, I stay home or limited to my office. I’ve made a few trips other places, but on a very limited basis. Going places and seeing many people would be a way to pass illness, and so I limit myself, so I can be ready and present when truly needed. By you not passing anything to me, and me passing anything to you, we are all taking care of each other.
  • The church is people, not a building: Finally, I remind you that we as a church are not identified by a place, but as the people of God. Remember Peter’s words in 1 Peter 2:5: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Wherever we meet, whether in this worship space of our church building, or in the homes where we reside, we are the church. Certainly, meeting online should not replace meeting together in person, but for now it will be an adequate substitute.

So let’s continue to serve the Lord: I in my home, and you in yours. We will get through this together.

The COVID Plan at ACC // Stage 3

Well, friends, it’s another day and another week, and we have more news on COVID-19 that has threatened our regular ways and patterns of life (at least for the next few weeks). Just as it has affected us at many levels, or work, school and social activities, so it is affecting our church family and meetings as well. We will be publicizing this in several ways in the coming days, but you can also help spread the word of how we are addressing the current quarantine by sharing this post:

  • Church Services: For the next two weeks, we will hold no Sunday services in person at ACC. That will mean there will also be no Sunday School on these Sundays. We will make further decisions on when we will be able to worship together again at the end of the month. As an alternative, we encourage families to worship and pray together in their homes, and we will be offering a Sunday Morning Service streamed online thru our church’s Facebook page. Pastor Nate is also planning to do a daily encouragement and prayer time he is calling “Daily Joy”. It will be around 10 minutes each day, and will also be on the Facebook page.
  • Small Groups: We are encouraging all Small Groups and Bible studies not to meet for (at least) the next two weeks. This includes our youth groups on Wednesdays. We are encouraging our small group leaders to use Zoom meetings online to meet up with their groups. We’ve already shared that resource with several of our small group leaders, but if you’d like to use it, please drop an email or call the office and let us know. We will be glad to help you set this up so that your small groups can continue to meet.
  • Pastoral Stuff: Along with the elders here, we want the church to know that we are available to meet, call or pray with individuals as needed. It is a difficult time, as we are not allowed on the hospitals or in the nursing homes. In response, we are upping our game with regard to making phone calls and contacting people, especially our elderly and sick. If you want someone to bring you communion or pray with you, please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling the church number or via email: hello@auburnchristian.org.
  • Giving: As you know, many of us give to aid the work and ministry of the church here at ACC. Just as we will not stop working on these ministry opportunities before us, so we will continue to need gifts and tithes. This is a good opportunity to promote the fact that you can give online with tithes and offerings. Here is the link to see how to do that: auburnchristian.org/give. It is very easy to do, and you can schedule your giving there. On the topic of giving right now, we do want to be sensitive and give this encouragement: If you are missing significant work hours and pay due to the coronavirus outbreak, please do not feel a compulsion or pressure to give. We want you to feed and care for your family, first and foremost. Those who continue to work and pull income will give and meet the needs of the church here, and we know God will help us all endure in this storm.
  • Benevolence: As we look at the needs around us, it is good to act as we can to help others. If you are aware of someone who has a need, please contact so that we can see if we can help in their situation.
  • The Church Office: Pastor Nate will be in the office most days during this outage. Janell will be serving from home as the secretary. There will not be “set” office hours, as the details of everything on quarantine seem to be changing daily. If you are wondering if we will be in the office, please just call ahead and Pastor Nate will be glad to meet with you individually. And again, as you are sick or vulnerable to Coronavirus, please stay home.

In all things this week, let’s remember Psalm 46:1-2: “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. Therefore we will not be afraid …” Let’s run to the refuge this week, and demonstrate in all of our interactions, whether in person or online, that the Lord is God. We trust in HIM.

COVID-19 Update (Take 2)

A few days have gone by, and we’ve seen many more events unfold that remind us of the serious nature of the COVID-19 virus. So because of that continued precaution that many others are taking, we have tweaked our weekend plan a bit more. This is for the good of those who attend and to minimize risk. In short order, here are the preparations we are making for this weekend’s worship:

  • Elbow Bumps only for greeting. No handshakes or fistbumps.
  • Communion will be served from stations in a way that will minimize contact and risk for all involved. No passing of trays.
  • Offering will be handled thru placing offerings in the box at the back of the sanctuary or thru online giving (to learn how to give online, click here).
  • Outside doors will be manned by volunteers to minimize multiple people handling doors. Many inside doors will be propped open.
  • Donuts and coffee will not be served at this time. Please grab some coffee or breakfast before you come.
  • If you are ill, please stay home. If you are at risk (60 & older, with secondary health concerns), please strongly consider staying home. If you want to follow the sermons online, make sure you follow Auburn Christian Church on Facebook, or visit our website (auburnchristian.org).
  • Keep praying & washing your hands!
Pastor Nate

On Going Viral

by Nate Powell
This post has been updated since it was first published. To read the most current information and practices toward prevention, click here!
To go viral or not go viral? That is the question.

Everyone is talking about viruses, but not the computer kind. COVID-19 has been a topic of conversation everywhere, and everyone is talking about how to respond, especially as we interact with one another in public spaces. Churches are not immune to this, and we must each know how to respond and react considering such news.

Here are a few ways we can each be reacting, and some things we can do practically to help care for each other

Don’t Panic

First, we need to note that scientifically speaking, the statistics are bearing out that the fatality rate of this virus is slightly more deadly than the flu that we commonly deal with during flu season. So those at greater risk are those over 60 or with other secondary health concerns.

But beyond the science, people still become irrational about such virus issues, mainly because we are people who worry about the future and worry about worst case scenarios. As people who have faith in Christ, we know that it is better to the fear the Lord than to fear death, and that we can be fully confident that God is in control, even in this uncertainty. With God in control, we need not fear the future. I said this yesterday at the end of each service, and I will say it here again: We are the people of faith, not of fear. We must call everyone to be prepared for what is to come, to call Jesus Savior and Lord and be saved.

Greet Appropriately

Handshakes have been a part of church life for a long time, but they are also one of the leading and easiest ways to pass germs and illness. The last couple weeks, we’ve been encouraging fist bumps or elbow taps when you want to greet someone. Smiles and waves will always work, as well! We will continue to encourage these types of greetings in the context of our Sunday morning gatherings.

Serve Communion Safely

One of the easiest ways that germs can get spread during a church service is during the passing of communion. One thing we will be doing to minimize this in the coming weeks is to use two cups for our communion. One will have juice and will be stacked on top of the other cup, which will contain the bread wafer. We will continue to serve in this manner, and have you leave your cups in the cup holders, where our deacons can come around with gloves and collect them following the service.

Clean and Sanitize

We are going to up our cleaning game each week, with additional wipe downs of door handles and any other common surfaces of shared contact. Our nursery staff, who normally sanitizes anyway, will redouble their efforts to make sure our church nursery is spotless and in tip-top sanitary shape. Wipes and Lysol will be the friends of our janitors and volunteers in the coming weeks and months.

Give Online

Many of you already know this, but carrying cash is not a germ-free experience. Many people already take advantage of our online giving option, which you can even schedule weekly or monthly, so that you don’t have to handle cash or worry about taking the time to write a check. Click here to explore that option of online giving.

Ill or At Risk? Stay Home.

Normally, we don’t give out free passes for church skipping, but we are definitely making some exceptions during a season of sickness. If you happen to be sick and showing symptoms of illness, this is the note I’m writing you to not put others’ health at risk. If you’re sick, you have the pastor’s permission to stay at home.

On the other side of that same issue, I also want to encourage some members of our older or at-risk attenders. This virus does put your health more at risk. As we may see more spread of it, I would also encourage you to weigh the risks, and consider whether it would be pertinent to join us. If you’re elderly or at-risk during this season, you also have my blessing to do what is best for your health.

In both cases, make note: the elders (which includes me) are willing to bring communion to shut-ins or those who can’t be part of our worship services on Sunday. We are also willing to help any members get set up so that they can be part of our worship services online and hear the sermon, either by the Facebook live stream or by listening to the sermon audio on the church website. Please contact the office if we can get you on that list for communion or help you set up online watching/listening.

All the way around, we will be on the look out and careful when it comes to illness. Let’s remember to be in prayer for all of our health care professionals, and others who are making decisions to try to stem the tide of this illness in our nation and around the world.

Exodus: Which Mountain?

There are occasions that I would love to chase more rabbits than we have time to address in our weekly sermon or service. This week’s rabbit of the week relates to the historicity and location of the mountain of the Lord, known both as Sinai and Horeb in the Exodus text. It is a significant point of meeting throughout the book, but it is not merely some metaphor or representation. I believe that there is real evidence for a true mountain of the Lord.

There are two likely sites for the Mountain. One is called Jabal Musa, and it has been referenced from around 400 AD forward as the mountain site of the burning bush event. This mountain is located in the south-central mountains of the Sinai peninsula, located in present day Egypt. The other is called Jabal Al Lawz, and shares many of the same initial features with Musa. The Jabal Al Lawz location is in modern day Saudi Arabia, located east of the Gulf of Aqaba (which is one of the two gulf arms of the Red Sea).

While both of these locations bear traditions among the locals as to being the mountain of God, the Jabal Al Lawz site really stands out as the probable site of the Burning Bush & the law. Dr. Lennhart Moller’s excellent book, The Exodus Case: New Discoveries of the Historical Exodus, make this compelling case for the Saudi site over the Egyptian site. To summarize, Lennhart makes a textual analysis of the evidence, as seen in the chart of the left.

If you get Lennhart’s book, you will be impressed by his thoroughness in making a compelling case for the archaeological and geographic evidence of the Exodus. As well, another compelling article from the Wyatt Museum argues for the same case (click here to read it).

I wish we had more time to address some of these side issues in studying Exodus. Regardless, I hope you’ll read and study, and that God’s message of freedom from sin for his people will continue to resonate with you, feed our church family, and call us to follow our Great God together.

100 Facts About God

by Nate Powell
I have a stack of books and commentaries that I’ve been using in our recent studies in Exodus. Some tend to be devotional in nature, some to be pastoral, and some to be quite academic. There are two that I have found to be very helpful and preparing and writing these sermons. One is Philip Ryken’s Exodus Commentary from the Preaching the Word series. It is very thorough, but also very readable. The other is an out of print Bible Study commentary by Wilber Fields, which has tons of helpful charts & maps, and asks really good questions. Thankfully, you can read the full commentary online.
In Fields commentary, he notes that Exodus is written so that God would reveal himself and what he has done, so that His people might know Him. With that in mind, Fields made a list of 100 things we know about God from Exodus, and I wanted to share that list with you. I’ve found the list to be devotionally very helpful, and these items each represent an angle from which God has shown himself to us. Like a many-faceted jewel that sparkles as you turn it, we are going to see the glory of our great God as we examine Exodus in 2020 together.
Here is the list compiled by Fields. I hope you will read it and reflect as you study on God’s holiness and goodness in revealing Himself to us.
  1. God is a personal God, not an abstract force.
  2. God knows our names. He knows us personally. (1:1-4)
  3. God allows His children to suffer. (1:11,13)
  4. God rewards those who protect his people. (1:21)
  5. God is the unseen controller of all history. (1:20,21)
  6. God directs the activities of people so that they may be present to do His will when necessity requires. (2:5)
  7. God permits His servants to suffer rejection. (2:14; 5:2,9,21,22)
  8. God seems in no hurry, if judged by men’s views of time. (2:23; Acts 7:30)
  9. God hears His people’s cries. (2:23,24)
  10. God remembers His covenants of old. (2:24)
  11. God sees and God knows. (2:25)
  12. God is a miracle-worker. (3:2)
  13. God speaks to men. (3:4; 25:22)
  14. God is holy. His presence is holy and must be reverenced. (3:5; 20:12-15)
  15. God is still the God of His people even after they are long dead. (3:6; Matt 22:31,32)
  16. God is a deliverer. (3:8)
  17. God sends men to accomplish His will. (3:10)
  18. God is with us. (3:12)
  19. God is the eternal I AM. (3:14)
  20. God knows the outcome of events before they occur. (3:19-21, 8:2,21)
  21. God will not permit His will to be thwarted. (3:20)
  22. God makes spoil of those who resist him. (3:21)
  23. God desires faith in His people. (4:5)
  24. God becomes angry when His servants are unwilling to obey. (4:14)
  25. God lets others share the glory of serving Him if those first chosen are hesitant. (4:14,15)
  26. God smites His servants to teach them full obedience. (4:24)
  27. God wants his NAME to be known, and to be associated with his acts of deliverance. (6:7)
  28. God redeems (rescues) his people. (6:6; 15:13)
  29. God desires to take His people unto Him and be their God. (6:7)
  30. God pushes and pushes to force an issue. (6:11)
  31. God hardens the hearts of those who oppose Him. (7:3; 9:12; 10:20; 14:4)
  32. God works great judgments upon opposers. (7:4)
  33. God has power to overcome men’s magic. (7:11,12; 8:18)
  34. God makes His works obvious and undeniable (7:20; 8:19; 17:5,6)
  35. God hears His servant’s prayers. (8:12,31; 9:33)
  36. God makes distinction between His people and others. (9:4,7,26)
  37. God permits some wicked men to live because He can show His power through them. (9:15,16)
  38. God gives repeated deliverances, even to those who have opposed Him. (10:18,19)
  39. God gives favor to His people in the sight of their enemies. (11:3)
  40. God gives sinners warning of coming doom. (11:4,5)
  41. God saves His people by the blood. (12:6,7,13; 24:8)
  42. God desires that His acts of deliverance be remembered by appropriate ceremonies. (12:14,24; 20:11)
  43. God’s judgments on even men are utter and total. (12:29)
  44. God fulfills His promises. (12:33-36; 13:19)
  45. God takes note of numbers and years. (12:37,41)
  46. God claims His redeemed ones as His. (13:2,12; 34:19,20)
  47. God wants His deeds to be remembered. (13:14; 12:26,27; 16:34)
  48. God directs His people. (13:17; 15:13)
  49. God gives light and guidance. (13:21,22)
  50. God does GREAT works. (14:31; 15:11)
  51. God is our strength, song and salvation. (15:2)
  52. God is a man of war. (15:3; 17:16)
  53. God is “glorious in holiness, fearful in praises.” (15:11)
  54. God proves (tests) His people. (13:17; 15:13)
  55. God is our healer. (15:26)
  56. God hears our murmurings. (16:12)
  57. God is our banner under whom we fight victoriously. (17:15)
  58. God blots out even the remembrance of evil men. (17:14,16)
  59. God like efficient government. (18:23)
  60. God deals with men through covenants. (19:5; 24:8; 34:10)
  61. God accepts His people upon the condition of obedience. (19:5,6)
  62. God shows His presence in clouds, lightning, etc. (19:16,18)
  63. God works in history. (20:2)
  64. God is a jealous God. (20:5; 34:14)
  65. God heaps up punishments for many generations of sinners upon later generations that walk in the sins. (20:5)
  66. God is a God of lovingkindness. (20:6)
  67. God is creator of all. (20:11)
  68. God retains final authority over life and death. (20:13, 21:12-17)
  69. God is concerned about our hearts and their desires. He knows our hearts. (20:17)
  70. God respects property rights. (21:33-36; 20:15)
  71. God requires truth. (20:16; 22:11)
  72. God cares about men’s freedom. (21:2)
  73. God protects the weak and afflicted. (22:22-27)
  74. God is gracious. (22:27)
  75. God requires worship from His people. (23:14-17)
  76. God’s appearance is glorious. (24:9,10,17)
  77. God asks voluntary offerings from His people. (25:2; 35:5)
  78. God desires to dwell among His people. (25:8)
  79. God requires conformity to His directions. (25:9,40; 26:30)
  80. God gives detailed instructions about many things. (26:1ff)
  81. God is associated with light. (27:20,21)
  82. God selects the men who perform His service. (28:1)
  83. God desires glory and beauty. (28:2)
  84. God is a revealer of secrets. (28:30)
  85. God desires modesty in His servants. (28:42; 20:26)
  86. God must be approached through sacrifices. (29:14,18,25)
  87. God provides the material needs of his servants. (29:28; 16:4)
  88. God meets with His people. (29:42,43)
  89. God does not forget our need of atonement (covering). (30:16)
  90. God’s ministers must minister in cleanliness. (30:19,20)
  91. God fills men with His Spirit for various services. (31:3-5)
  92. God sanctifies us (makes us holy). (31:13)
  93. God has wrath against idolatry. (32:10,35)
  94. God repents of “evil” threats when His servants pray. (32:14)
  95. God places distance between Himself and transgressors. (33:2,5)
  96. God is too glorious for men to see and live. (33:20)
  97. God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. (34:6,7)
  98. God will make all people to see His works. (34:10)
  99. God commands destruction of reprobate peoples. (34:11)
  100. God makes His presence obvious and dominant. (40:34,38)

A Good Sunday!

By Nate Powell

Last Sunday was a Great Sunday! It has taken me a couple days just to put it into words what a great day it was. We had two baptisms (one on Friday and one on Sunday), and 10 total memberships placed. While some of these memberships were with people who had long ago accepted Christ, it was still a joyous occasion, as our brothers and sisters took an opportunity to acknowledge: This is our church.

That being said, I know this past Sunday was not the last of the memberships being placed or the decisions made for Christ. These are simply a couple steps that we call everyone to each week. Sometimes it takes seeing others take these steps to inspire these steps in the larger population of church attenders.

So, are you considering baptism? We want you to hear, believe and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ. If you’ve been hearing the message and believe you are ready to respond, we want to visit with you sometime soon (and share some study helps/resources with you), to help guide you to be obedient to Jesus in baptism and make it known to the world that you belong to Jesus!

Are you considering membership at ACC? All it takes is a visit with an elder/pastor and agreement with our church’s bylaws and statement of faith. We recently led a class thru this material, and shared some resources, but we are also glad to meet with you personally and walk thru what membership means for you and your family.

I believe there are great days ahead for our church, and I truly want to help you connect and be a part of them in a deeper way by helping you connect with Christ and with the church! Come and grow with us!

I Can Understand My Bible? // Rightnow Media Video Spotlight

We often talk about reading our Bible, and consider it to be the task of not simply pastors, but one for every person who is named as a disciple. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) It’s something we should all be doing daily.
Yet, the Bible is not an easy book to tackle, especially if you try to tackle it from front to back. Where do we start? How can I get over the hump of feeling like I’m reading but not understanding? We need some help and training, humility before this important book. Bible reading certainly isn’t beyond anyone’s educational curve, but we all need some help.
Thankfully, because our church has a Rightnow Media subscription, you have access to some fantastic training. I’d like to recommend Michael DeFazio’s series, How to Read the Bible. It’s a very accessible series that has 8 episodes, along with a study handout/guide. Michael is a professor at Ozark Christian College, and our students are familiar with his videos and teaching from Christ in Youth conferences. He will take you in at a beginner’s level and help you understand how you can personally read/study the text and be a better student of the Bible.
If you don’t have your free signin on Rightnow Media so you can view the video, click here to register as a user with our church today.

You Won’t Believe These Animals // Rightnow Media Video Spotlight

by Nate Powell
For some time, our church has held a subscription to an video service that is the “Netflix” of Christian video content. It’s called Rightnow Media, and if you’ve not signed up to use it with us. Click this link and do it for free. You can use their app to watch in a web browser on your computer, in the Rightnow Media app for iOS or Android, or using Rightnow Media apps on such devices as Roku or Apple TV. It is truly a fantastic service that we don’t use nearly enough. I want to change that. So occasionally on the Pastor Blog, I’m going to highlight a video or show that you or your family might want to check out.
First up is a show called Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution (and there are 3 episodes of this great series). I’m not sure if that title sounds exciting to you, but students were mesmerized a few years ago when we showed these videos at camp, and honestly, they are great videos for all ages, kid to adult. Not only will you learn some things about animals that you never heard of, but you will hear about the idea of irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity is an idea put forward by intelligent design proponents, and this is the gist of it: that there are biological systems that seem very basic, yet are so complex that you could not remove a part of it and have it function. In other words, there are certain animals that, simply by their design, prove that they could not have possibly evolved. I hope you’ll check out these Incredible Creatures, and let me know what you thought of the series after you do!
As a side note, if you’d like to read more about irreducible complexity, consider reading Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box.
Check out this preview of Incredible Creatures The Defy Evolution:


The Decline of Christianity in the U.S.: Bad News or Good News?

By Nate Powell

One of the largest research firms in the US (Pew Research) has released a new study regarding U.S. Trends in faith identification and worship attendance among the general population of our country (which currently numbers more than 327 million people). You can click here to view the full report, but here are a few highlights of said report:
  • In the last 10 years, the number of US adults who identify as Christian has gone from 77% to 65%.
  • In the last 10 years, those who call themselves religiously unaffiliated have increased from 17% to 26%.
  • In the last 10 years, those who identify as atheist have increased from 2% to 4%.
  • In the last 10 years, those who who attend church at least monthly have decreased from 52% to 45%.

There is much more that I could share from the report, but I think you get the picture. Those who claim a Christian faith are decreasing in number, and those who are known as “nones” when it comes to religion are increasing in number.

So, is this bad news? Certainly. Anytime we watch a retreat from Judeo-Christian values, we recognize this is a bad thing and will carry bad consequences. Anytime less people are going to church, we know that we as a people overall will stray farther from God’s will and ways. These are hard trends to watch.

Yet, I’d like us to consider that there is some good news in what is taking place here. When we as a country lay aside a “cultural Christianity”, this can be a good thing. For many decades of our existence, it has been an assumed truth: that to be American is to be Christian. Yet deep in our hearts, as we read our Bibles, we know this cannot be the case. To be Christian without repentance, confession, growth or love, is to not be Christian at all. Jesus noted that we know trees by their fruit (John 15:1-11), and it seems that the trees are doing a better job these days of self-identifying the fact that they don’t wear the name of Christ or bear fruit. This type of honesty is refreshing, and it should give us hope.

It should give us hope, because we have the ultimate good news in what Christ has done. Because Christianity is losing some of that favored status it has previously held, followers of Christ will have to truly WANT to bear the name of Jesus, along with the derision or mockery that it may bring us. And it will help us better identify our neighbors who don’t know Christ. They won’t simply tell us that they belong to a church to which they don’t actually belong or rarely/never attend, but that they honestly are not Christians. This will give us reason to once again speak of the good news that has been given to us, and pray for our neighbors to come to Jesus.

So, in the face of these reports and numbers, don’t lose hope. Numbers and polls are temporary. Christ and his word are eternal. Remember Paul’s words to encourage the church and fix their eyes on Christ and eternal things, found in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”