Is the Church of the Nazarene truly an International Church? The Holiness Today’s graphs suggest “no”

The most recent issue of Holiness Today has two interesting graphs. One is a map of the world regions in the Church of the Nazarene with church attendance numbers. The other, on the next page, has a graph with the representation of the different regions in the two governing bodies for the Church of the Nazarene—the General Board and the data from the 2017 General Assembly.

The interesting point of the second graph is how the delegations to our most important bodies does not equally represent the membership. The General Board has 41.5% of its membership from USA/Canada. General Assembly has 40% of the delegates from USA/Canada with another 3% from the “General Superintendents, Directors, etc” category (not all in this category are USA/Canada members, but most are). The problem? USA/Canada represents just 23.2% of the total membership in the Church of the Nazarene. In contrast, Africa which has 30% of the Nazarene membership is only represented with 11% of the General Board and 14% of General Assembly delegates.  In other words, USA/Canada is over represented, while Africa is under represented in both the General Board and General Assembly.

This point leads to the curiosity of the picture of the world regions. We are given not just the visual representation of the regions, but also the average worship attendance of each region. Those are the only numbers given on the map. Membership is not reported—just average worship attendance. The problem? Average worship attendance is a flimsy number (at least at my church). It’s based on who is doing the counting. Did the people counters catch every one? Did they miss some folks? Membership is based on hard numbers. It’s real names of real people on a real list (or it should be). Average worship attendance is not used in choosing delegates to District Assemblies or the General Assembly. Church membership is the key statistic. So why have the average worship attendance numbers on the chart and not church membership? 

USA/Canada looks a whole lot better when the number reported is average worship attendance over membership. USA/Canada has the highest worship attendance of the regions (423,529 vs. Africa’s 367,490), but in membership Africa (798,111) is larger than USA/Canada (611,457). Could it be that since the USA/Canada has better numbers regarding average worship attendance (instead of membership) than the other world regions, that’s why those numbers were used?  If so, the over/under representation discrepancy of representation on the General Board and General Assembly (on the other graph) is not as evident?  

I am not suggesting that anyone intentionally skewed the numbers to make for a more favorable outlook on USA/Canada, but the truth is: USA/Canada is over represented on both the General Board and at the General Assembly no matter what numbers are used. This truth effects the decision making in these bodies and clouds the portrayal of the Church of the Nazarene as being a truly international church. 

Delegates from world regions may find it even more difficult to attend the 2023 General Assembly should the pandemic continue to rage. If gathering all delegates in one location cannot be accomplished physically because of the pandemic or visa issues, then providing an on-line delegate option for General Assembly should be considered if we want all regions of the church to be proportionately represented. If the Church of the Nazarene is truly an international church, let all regions be represented equally in our governing bodies.

To My friends who are Struggling with Life…

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. Psalm 6:6

Can you relate to the Psalmist?  Have you been crying more lately? Maybe your tears flow as a result of a diagnosis. Maybe a wayward child or aging parent is causing distress. Maybe it’s a rocky marriage or recent loss. Maybe anxiety about life and the state of the world has led you to a place of broken-heartedness. Maybe like Jeremiah (known as the “weeping prophet,” by the way) you look around at our sin-stained, covid-raged world filled with angst and confusion and say: “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people (Jeremiah 9:1) or “Streams of tears flow from my eyes because my people are destroyed” (Lamentations 3:48). 

In your weeping, maybe you’ve been wrestling. Like the Psalmist, in your quiet moments you might be saying: My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” (Psalm 42:3). Don’t you see these tears, God? Don’t you know my broken heart? Where are you?

The Bible verse we all know is the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus standing outside Lazarus’ tomb, the familiar verse reads, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Moreover, Jesus looked over sin stained and about-to-crucify-him Jerusalem and the Bible reads: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” (Luke 19:4). These passages affirm that tears are not a sin. It’s ok to cry. Jesus was grieving and brokenhearted over death and sin. Tears are the words of grief and sorrow that we cannot verbalize (tears can also be the words of joy and peace we cannot verbalize).  Paul wrote: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26). Exactly. There are times, maybe you are you there now, when all we can do is groan and cry.  We don’t know what to say or how to pray. Instead of formulating deep theological answers to our dilemma only tears come. In those moments know this: God hears. God knows. God joins us in our brokenness. He understands. Death and sin still bring Him to tears.

The hope of the day is found in the words of the Psalmist: “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5). It may be dark and gloomy today but as Phineas Bresee was credited as saying, “Joy comes in the morning.” The faithful rely on Jesus and in a Habakkuk-like manner declare, “Nothing seems to be happening. Everything seems bad, ‘yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights’” (Habakkuk 3:18-19). 

In your darkest moments trust the Rescuer, Redeemer and Author of our Faith.

Outreach vs Indrag at Central Church

Alan Hirsch, author and church missiologist, has said what most churches call “outreach” really means bringing folks to an event at your church. Instead of calling it “outreach” he called such efforts “indrag.” Members “drag” their friends and family “in.” Once “in” these folks can hear about Jesus and might become followers too.

“Indrag” has worked. I am the chief among “indragsters” pastors. In the name of Jesus, after hitting certain Vacation Bible School goals, I have been dunked in a tank; splashed from a Kerplunk toilet-like apparatus; and eaten my lunch on the church roof (thankfully the rooftop of Bad Axe was not the same pitch or distance to the ground as Central Church’s rooftop). I’ve received denominational awards for hitting certain “indrag” attendance goals. For all of its sketchy motivational tactics (are we building the Kingdom of God or the pastor’s ego by handing pastors “gold” attendance trophies?), the “indrag” method was effective in getting people “in.” 

But was the “indrag” method Jesus’ approach? Yes, He drew crowds, but those crowds seemed to happen organically or spontaneously more than disciples handing on flyers to come to an event. In Mark’s gospel especially, Jesus always seemed to be hushing his miracle recipients and telling them not to tell anyone of the healing (hardily a great tool for building a crowd). Jesus went to where the people were, not for the purpose of collecting a trophy, building a church (he never built one) or intentionally organizing a crowd. Instead he went to where the people were (be prepared for the least earthshattering news of all time) because that’s where the people were. He loved them, not for what they could do for Him but for what He could do for them. People weren’t a means to an end, people were the end. It was all about people. What if we took the same approach?

Most times when churches raise money, it’s for “indrag” purposes. It’s the “Field of Dreams” philosophy coming into church evangelism: Build a sanctuary or gym “and they will come.” But Central Church’s IMAGINE initiative hasn’t been about “indrag.” It’s “outreach.”  To be sure, there are some aspects of the initiative that will make the “in church” experience better. Better signage, nurseries and an up-to-date community center lobby is meant to welcome our guests and neighbors better. Still the main purpose of Central Church’s IMAGINE initiative is about “outreach.” 

Paying off the debt will free up more dollars to reach out in our community missionally. Jesus could turn five loafs and two fish into a feast for the hungry, we will need former mortgage and interest payment dollars to feed the poor. Imagine going to a laundromat in Flint and having a “free laundry day.” It’s handing out quarters, not to gather a crowd, but to meet a need. Jesus went to the well to meet a lonely Samaritan outcast woman. Who might we meet as our kids (or grandkids) are playing on the Central Park playground alongside a neighborhood child and parent? Jesus healed the sick with a touch, we will need to send doctors and folks to Panama (and elsewhere) to minister to the hurting. IMAGINE has been about “outreach” not “indrag.”

This Sunday we are celebrating how God is using your faithful IMAGINE initiative participation and looking ahead to see how Central Church is becoming more and more an “outreach” church (more and more a “Jesus church”). I hope you can join us!  It’s going to be a party! You will hear testimonies from Central Church people who believe in how God is working. You’ll hear an update of where we are at financially and the changes you’ll see in the coming months. You’ll be amazed by the number of fellow participants in these efforts. You’ll be able to rejoice that the kingdom of God is being built “in Flint as it is in heaven.” These are great days to be calling Central Church home. It’s not about “indrag,” it’s all about “outreach.”

What’s your number?

21,284. That’s the number of days I have been on planet earth. 21,284. 

There have been some great days in that 21,284. A wedding day. Birth of boys’ days. Special trips. Of course, the day I invited Jesus into my heart at the altar of the old Elmwood Church of the Nazarene. There have been some lousy days in that 21,284. Parents’ death days. Brain hemorrhage day. Car accidents. Some difficult ministry days. There are good days and bad days in all of our lives. We all know this to be true.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

The Psalmist is saying be aware of each day. Number them. We aren’t promised tomorrow. Be aware of those around you. Be aware of God’s holiness, power, might and majesty. Be aware and thankful for what God is doing. Accordingly, number your days and gain wisdom in moving forward. 

Our house guest, Lisa, is discovering today more of her cancer prognosis and the journey for her days ahead. She is keenly aware that her days are numbered. Her number might (and I say “might.” It might not. God knows.) be smaller than the rest of us. I would hope that with a faith like Lisa we would conclude, “God’s got this.” (I’ve heard her say that 21,284 times… ok… maybe not that many times, but a lot). It’s knowing that in light of eternity, we are going to spend a whole lot more time there than here, so we need to behave, plan and live with a recognition that our days on planet earth are numbered. Maybe you have another 21,284 days ahead of you. Maybe you have just one. What are you doing with your day(s)?

P.S. Please keep my friend Lisa and all those dealing with cancer, covid or other life threatening realities in your prayers. If you have such a friend, reach out and encourage them today. If you are dealing with such a reality in your own life, please know “God does have this” and you can trust Him!

My Whatever-Happens-in-2022 Success Plan

My predicting days are over. 

In January 2020, I (like every other pastor I know) not so cleverly preached a sermon series based on having 20/20 Vision for the coming year. We preachers should have read Ecclesiastes 8:7 that states: Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come? Can I just say, nothing about that sermon series applied to life after March of 2020? Who knew (other than God Almighty) the gale force winds of Covid that were about to hit us all?

In January of 2021, I thought, “OK, we’ve gone through the worst of it. This pandemic will end soon and we will ‘go back to normal.’” That didn’t happen either. Ummm… I still hadn’t read Ecclesiastes 8:7. “Back to normal” (back to pre-March 2020) is never going to happen and some of that isn’t all bad. “Normal” wasn’t working for a lot of people back then. To put it simply: There’s no going back.

So as we sit on the cusp of 2022, and I will make no predictions. I will offer no visions of doom nor will I give glowing reports of things to come. I will only affirm my belief that Jeremiah 29:11 is still true. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

God knows. I don’t. God is in control. I’m not. Neither are you, by the way. We can trust that God’s hope and future for us is still very, very good. We put our hope in the one who said, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19). God is not asleep at the wheel. He knows what He is doing. He owes us no explanation.

Here’s my 2022 declaration: If we keep our eyes on Jesus (not the wind and the waves my like-Peter-in-the-storm-when-he-jumped-out-of-the-boat friends), then we will make it. Nothing that happens is a surprise to Jesus. We need not fear (“Perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18), but that doesn’t mean that crazy, scary stuff won’t happen. Jesus warned that it will happen (“In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33). Keeping “our eyes fixed on the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2) is the key to making it to the other side of troubles, storms, problems and life. Jesus never fails.

To be sure, there are a lot of distractions. The Enemy wants nothing more than for you and me to notice the wind and the waves swirling around us. Our Foe loves it when we get caught up in needless chatter. (Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 2 Timothy 2:23). This isn’t a difficult equation to figure out. Keep our eyes on Jesus in 2022 and we will be just fine.

Here’s my 2022 success plan: 

No wave watching. 

No storm worrying. 

No argument starting. 

No people bothering.

No pandemic pandering.

No political posturing. 

No finger pointing. 

No social media barfing.

No me-first asserting.

No Bible dust-collecting.

No faithless walking.

No why me? Why Now? Why this or that?

Just Jesus in 2022. 

Let’s just keep our eyes on Jesus.

If we do all of the above, we will have a very successful 2022 no matter what happens.

Disappointed in Christmas? Join the Club.

There are just few pictures of my childhood Christmases, but one of my favorites is of my brother, Fred. He’s probably 11 or 12, holding his “big” Christmas present of that year. It was a Risk game. I don’t know what he wanted for Christmas that year, but from his facial expression, it was quite evident that a game of Risk was not on the list. If a picture speaks a thousand words, holding the game with a disappointed scowl took far less words and said, “All I wanted for Christmas is anything other than this dumb game.” (For the record: It took Fotomat two weeks to develop your pictures back in the day. No such thing as “do-overs.” My parents didn’t know the grimace for at least two weeks, maybe not until July when the final picture on the roll of film was used. Anyone remember rolls of film and Fotomats in K-Mart parking lots? Anyone remember K-Mart? I digress. I’m old.). 

Maybe this Christmas, you’re feeling a bit like Fred holding onto his Risk Game. “I don’t like my gift. I don’t want my picture taken. I’m not thrilled with the happenings.” Maybe you are like me reminiscing for the good old days. 

What do you do when you don’t feel like having Christmas? You don’t want to celebrate. You don’t want to sing songs, rejoice, and be of good cheer?

What do you do when grief is still raw; the hurt is still deep; and the news is still bad? You don’t want to be a “Debby Downer.” You know others want to celebrate, and that’s ok for them. But you’d rather sit by a fire, sip some tea (or something else); and say, “This year, I’d rather let Christmas go by without much fanfare.”

If that’s you, join the club!  

There are a lot of us worn out this year. The pandemic, loneliness, grief, political bickering, angst, worry, the economy, grumpy people… you name it— they’ve taken a toll. Police officers (pray for the two shot just down the road from the church this week); health care professionals; teachers; pastors (is it OK to lump my calling into the heap?) and plenty of others are living, working, and hanging on by a thread. 

If anybody gets it, Jesus does. No matter what it has become, Christmas did not begin with merriment and ease. I know the angels announced the event, but the reality is Mary and Joseph had their baby in a barn. A germ infested, dirty barn. Within a short time, they became refugees in Egypt. Their lives were in danger. They were poor. Life wasn’t easy. Even as a man, Jesus didn’t have it easy. For all the fanfare of thousands fed, hundreds healed and great sermons preached, by the end he was dying all alone on a cross. In his time of great need, no one was there. All this to say, Jesus understands. Jesus knows your troubled or lonely heart. So when he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29); you can find rest in Him. 

Maybe the best gift you can receive this year isn’t one that you’ll find under a tree, but simply going to Jesus and finding rest for your weary soul. Jesus invites us to come to Him. Do that today, and keep going to Him and until the day that you’ll be ready to sing carols once more. 

The Pandemic and the Last Candle in the Advent Wreathe 

The last of the four candles of Advent wreathe will be lit in churches all over the world on Sunday. If it’s like at our church, somewhere in the service a family or individual will read a passage of scripture, remind us of the candle’s significance (it’s “love” this week) and light the candle. It’s a hiccup in the normal worship routine. We might pay attention, maybe not, then move on with singing of a few carols of the season. But in this “covidy” Christmas (“Covidy” isn’t a word, but it should be. Covid has interrupted, complicated and entangled all of our Christmases), maybe we should pay more attention to the themes of advent– Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. We need them more than ever.

We need Hope. We all thought this covid interruption would surely be over by now, but it’s still raging. In my world, it seems worse than ever. Hope reminds us that we have a future. Hope calls us to look to Jesus and remember (as my cancer fighting friend Lisa likes to remind me) “God’s got this.” It’s grabbing on to Hebrews 10:23 for dear life and not letting that verse go. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

We need peace. Has there ever been such fear and anxiety? A scratchy throat that used to cause the no-brainer popping of a Halls Cough Drop as we moved on through life, now produces worry, anxiety and questioning, “Do I have the virus?” No matter how covid has affected us, Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians needs to be applied: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16 underlining mine).

We need joy. Joy isn’t a passing happiness or a Pollyanna, “ignorance is bliss” outlook. Joy is consumed with the awareness that no matter the circumstance God’s strength is enough. His power is active and able. Joy is a deep, profound satisfaction that God will provide. With the Psalmist we say: “Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name… Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5

We need love. The pandemic has pushed people to the edges of their opinions. Homicides and suicides are up in nearly every major city. People are lost, lonely, depressed, confused, and angry. Love is missing. We followers of Jesus need to hear John’s words again:  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. I John 3:7

Too often Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are absent in our pandemic driven, “Covidy” Christmas. These expressions of Advent remind us of God’s activity and promises. Let’s go to the One who is more than able to supply our deepest needs this Christmas.  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

The Church of the Nazarene and the Middle Way

Years ago, in the same week, two couples in the church where I was the pastor informed me of their decision to go to other churches (that’s never good). One thought the church was too “liberal.” The other thought the church was too “conservative.” I thought, “hmmm… maybe we are on the middle path and that’s where we need to be.”

During the Pandemic with its vocal adherents on all sides, again in the church where I pastor has tried to walk the tightrope down the middle regarding all of the divisive issues brought on during these times.

I’ve written blogs that my “liberal” friends labeled as “conservative.” I’ve written blogs that my “conservative” friends labeled me as a “liberal.” I don’t like labels much (hence the quotation marks around such terms. Do we really need such labels? Ugh). 

I hope I’m in the “messy middle.” And if I am, I’m in good company. John Wesley in his sermon “The Witness of the Spirit” writes of the need for a “middle way.” He’s not talking much about politics or various opinions, he is talking about behavior. Wesley talks about the “worst kind of enthusiasm” is when a group feels the need to defend God and instead creates division. In contrast, Wesley talks of the Holy Spirit that leads us to “steer a middle course.” He uses scripture, most notably Ephesians 4, that says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” He also uses scripture (Jude 1:19) to warn of the consequences if we slip out of the middle. 

The Church of the Nazarene has historically stood in the middle of many debates. We used to say, “We are a big tent,” meaning don’t all have to agree on every issue because we love one another and the message of holiness brings us together. As such, we don’t have a preferred statement on HOW God created the heavens and the earth. We all agree that God DID create the heavens and the earth. We don’t have a preferred statement on end times. We all agree Jesus is coming back again. We don’t have a preferred mode of baptism. We all agree it’s the amount of grace bestowed not the amount of water used. We don’t all agree on many things, but we say the grace of God keeps our unity in place. It’s our unity and love that best displays our holiness message, even as we disagree (especially as we disagree) on certain things. 

In these divisive times, we need unity. Everyone I know that calls themselves a Nazarene loves Jesus and wants the message of holiness to move forward. Unfortunately, one of the adverse effects of the pandemic includes people moving farther to the edges (in politics, theological opinions, and life) rather than to the middle where there is listening to one another, cooperation and mounds of grace.

If the message of holiness is going to be promoted to our world that desperately needs it, the Church of the Nazarene (and any other body) must be united and usually that means living in the “big tent” in the messy middle. My prayer is that folks on all sides (this applies to any discussion that might be happening), “make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.”

Is the Holiness Partnership good for the Church of the Nazarene?

“Faction” is defined as follows: “a small organized dissenting group within a larger one.” Guess where the word “faction” appears in the Apostle Paul’s writings?  It’s in the list of the “acts of the flesh” in Galatians 5.  Right along with orgies, witchcraft, and fits of rage are “factions.” Factions within the body of Christ are no good in other words.

Instead of factions, in another letter, Paul talks of the importance of unity. He wrote: As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-4). Factions are bad. Unity is good. It’s simple.

Using the Ephesians passage as our guide, most Nazarenes would agree that “the calling we have received” is holiness. It’s our “watchword and song” after all. Doesn’t holiness then call us by Paul’s definition to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit?” Wouldn’t forming a faction, splinter group, clique, partnership (whatever word one choses to use to describe an off-shoot) to be contrary to the way of holiness? Even if one calls their group a “holiness partnership,” if it is causing disunity and dissention, then the group would fall into the “faction” category not the “unity” category. Isn’t having invitation only gatherings, starting separate publications, and going after those who don’t hold similar views the stuff of factions and not the unity of holiness? Even if some of the goals of the “holiness partnership” are worthy (and I honestly don’t know the goals of the group, but assuming they are worthy), forming a faction is not the way of holiness. Factions are bad. Unity is good. It’s simple.

The Church of the Nazarene will have enough challenges in the 21st century without having splinter groups dividing the church. Back to Ephesians 4, we need humility, patience, gentleness and bearing with one another in love if we are going to promote holiness in a culture that is increasingly less responsive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We need unity in other words. Instead of factions to promote holiness or any other thing (no matter how worthy), how about if in unity we live out holiness in our deeds and attitudes. If we want to “make Christ-like disciples in the nations,” that will happen as people see and the church proclaims the beauty of holiness at work in us. 

The holiness we need is one the produces unity and grace. The partnership we need is when we are “bearing with one another in love.”  It seems the “Holiness Partnership” is doing neither.

I am not thankful for…

It’s Thanksgiving Day. I am to count my blessing and name them one by one. I get it that by making such a list I am risking forever being known as, “The Prince who stole Thanksgiving.”  But here it goes, my list of what I am not thankful for…

I am not thankful for Covid (but I am thankful for the health care workers who care for those we love—especially as we can’t even visit these sick loved ones ourselves)

I am not thankful for the coming Michigan winter (but I am thankful for a warm house).

I am not thankful for Brussel sprouts (but I am thankful for so many other yummy foods that are available for me to eat.)

I am not thankful for mosquitoes, spiders, snakes, and I am not particularly fond of skunks (but I am thankful for God’s wonderfully diverse and beautifully created world!)

I am not thankful for the political divide in our country (but I am thankful for a country in which civil political debates can happen—I just wish we were a lot more civil).

I am not thankful for mean-spirited social media (but I am thankful for the opportunity to wish merriment on birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, seeing happy pictures of family and even share my faith from time to time).

I am not thankful for migraines (but I am thankful that they are a constant reminder of my needed reliance on God).

I am not thankful for fear that has seemed to grip so many people in the church, in politics and in life (but I am thankful that the Bible proclaims “perfect love drives out fear.” (1 John 4:18) Help me Lord to be more loving to those who are so fearful).

I am not thankful for sins committed in the name of Jesus (but I am so thankful for Jesus. He is the Bride, even as the groom at times is tattered). 

I am not thankful for cranky church curmudgeons (but I am thankful for those curmudgeons whom God is sanctifying into faithful servants, and I have hope God Almighty will transform a few more of my grumpy Gus’s and Gertrudes).

I am not thankful for the times when I am like a “grumpy” Gus (that’s me looking in the mirror right now. But I am thankful for the patience and kindness of a Savior who is not done working on me too). 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18