Little Churches

How do you define church?

Dictionary.com offers these top definitions of the word “church”:

1. a building for public Christian worship.
2. public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
3. the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.
4. any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a Christian denomination.
5. that part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination,belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.
6. a body of Christians worshiping in a particular building or constituting one congregation: She is a member of this church.
7. ecclesiastical organization, power, and affairs, as distinguished from the state.
Every one of those definitions falls short of the true meaning of what the Church is, and even all of them taken together still doesn’t measure up to it. Our English word “church” can be traced back to the Greek word kyriakos, which literally means “the Lord’s dwelling.” Where does God dwell? Paul writes in Eph 2:22 – “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” In other words, God dwells in his people.
Whenever you see the word “church” in Scripture, we’re actually translating a different Greek word, ecclesia. This word can either mean “a called out people” or “a gathering.” Words like “assembly” and “congregation” work as well. But the most important point about this word is that Scripture never uses it to refer to an organization, a hierarchy, a building, or a function or event. It refers to people – people called out of the world gathered together in the name of Jesus.
Jesus said that “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them.” While the Church can be all the people of God in all the world, it is also present where two or more people come together in the name of Jesus, united by their saving faith in him.
Have you ever thought of your family as a church? It fits the definition. If you are a Christian parent seeking to raise your children as disciples of Jesus, you should know that your family is a little church all on its own. You might not be called by a larger congregation into public ministry, yet you have a responsibility to shepherd – to pastor – your family. This is especially true of fathers, to whom God has given the role of leadership in the family, but it’s also true of mothers (all the more when the father is not present or not a believer), grandparents, uncles and aunts.
As a Little Church, your family can do all the things a larger congregation, and the Church as a whole, does. Think about the main things you do at church:
  1. Worship: In corporate (large body) worship with your congregation, you sing, praise, pray, and hear the Word. At home, you can sing songs of praise and devotion to Jesus. You can lead your children in prayer, confessing sins and asking God for what you need. You can read the Bible to each other.
  2. Grow: In your congregation you have Bible studies, Sunday School, and other activities to help you grow in your faith and knowledge of Scripture. At home, you can study the Bible together, talking about its meaning, and read devotions that help to explain what Scripture says.
  3. Serve: In your congregation you have opportunities to give of your time, talents, and treasures to bring the Gospel to others and to help meet people’s needs. As a family, you can find ways to financially support someone you know who is struggling, or reach out to people with the Gospel, or do work to benefit someone who needs your help.

 

Really, the only difference between your local congregation and your family is size. So start looking at your family as a Little Church, and use some of these practical ideas to help you worship, grow, and serve:

  • Who is the “pastor” of your Little Church? If you have the nuclear family, God’s clearest call is to the dad. But not every family is the same. Determine who is the natural “head” of the household, bearing in mind the roles God has given us in Scripture. If there is no dad, then it’s mom. But maybe it’s Grandpa, or an adult son, or an uncle. That person should take responsibility to lead the family spiritually.
  • Set aside time for study of the Word and for prayer. Not sure where to start? Remember that the Word has power all on its own, so the simplest thing is just to open the Bible and read. There are also many great devotion books, kids’ Bibles, and other resources for families. (see the bottom of this article for some links to some good resources)
  • Look for ways to serve. Sit down as a family and brainstorm the things you’re interested in and can do in your community. Try to come up with a family or an individual you know who needs your help. Look for a mission opportunity through your congregation. Find a way to serve together as a family, using the gifts God has given you.

 

Resources for growth:

  • The Story Bible – a beautifully illustrated Bible written toward kids, with questions for discussion about each story.
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible – a cute kids’ Bible aimed at helping children see Jesus in every story.
  • WELS.net Daily Devotions – a resource site from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod with daily devotions on many topics.
  • Focus on the Family – a conservative Christian organization aimed at helping families be spiritually strong, with lots of great devotional content
  • Seeds Family Worship – a site full of Scripture songs and devotional content designed for families
  • Mike Westendorf’s blog – the blog of Christian musician Mike Westendorf. Why his blog specifically? Because he’s the one who got me thinking about this topic a lot lately, and he has lots on his blog to encourage and get you thinking about how to grow your Little Church.
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In Memory of God’s Servant

Grandpa 7

I want to tell you one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. His name was Elmer Steenbock, my grandfather. His story might sound similar to many of his generation – born and raised in the Midwest, fought and was wounded in WWII, married his highschool sweetheart, farmed for a time and then entered the ministry. After twenty five years as a parish pastor he retired to start a mission in eastern Russia, which he worked at over the next twenty years. He fathered seven children, and from them came twenty one grandchildren and twenty seven great-grandchildren. At the age of ninety, full of years, he passed away quietly in his sleep.

These are the facts of his biography, but they don’t tell you who he was. He was a man who knew full well his need for a Savior, who understood the forgiveness and grace he had received from God, and lived fully in the joy of that understanding. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I believe that Elmer had the as full a life as any man on earth can have.

I have a treasury overflowing with memories of time spent with him and his wife. Sitting on his lap as he drove the tractor around his hobby farm. Singing “Good morning to you” (to the tune of Happy Birthday) over and over again as my siblings and cousins came to the breakfast table, and many other Gospel songs. Helping him light he fire in the fireplace on a cold December evening. Getting scolded firmly for breaking a door latch inside his camper, but then later that same day being invited up to his lap while he read a devotion to the family.

Grandpa 2
Reading to his great-grandsons a book about pirates and potty training.

He had an abundant well of patient love for his grandchildren, a face inclined to smiling, and a pleasant laugh that he let loose freely. It was as natural as breathing for him to connect an event of the day or a news item to spiritual matters. He took his role of patriarch very seriously, always ready and eager to share a prayer or some thought about Scripture. He loved his ale, always had at least one or two cans in the evening, but never once did I see him drunk.

There was a year when I was young that we were selling our house to move to a newer one the next town over. Grandpa came and helped us paint the outside of the old house to help us make a good sale. I didn’t understand then what it meant for him to make that time commitment, but being in ministry now myself, I see now that it was no small thing. But this wasn’t an anomaly; I don’t know how many times over my childhood he and Grandma came to visit, but in my mind’s eye I can see his face smiling in the congregation during the Children’s Christmas program or year-end plays.

For being a pastor, when we visited he wasn’t busy over at church while the rest of the family spent time together. I remember him being around when we were there, and if I knew he went over to church, usually it was early in the morning before we’d get out of bed that I’d hear his truck pull out of the driveway. Yet, by breakfast time or soon after he’d be back.

I remember a conversation when I was teenager about one of my girlfriends. I’d been dating a Mormon girl, and I think he must have met her once or twice. I went down and visited Grandma and Grandpa, and sitting at the table at dinner he asked me about the relationship, how things were going, how the differences in beliefs were impacting the situation. He cared, and he wasn’t afraid to ask. That made it all the more precious when years later I was able to introduce him to the woman I now call my wife.

That particular trip, my wife and I were about to be married and we had just bought a car together – a ’93 Buick LeSabre. We drove it out to Washington to pick up some of my belongings and we decided to go down and visit my grandparents, especially since my mom’s mom had not met my bride-to-be yet. When we got to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the first thing he talked about was how proud he was of me for buying that Buick, how safe and solid a car it was and how much I’d enjoy having it. “This is a good car,” he kept saying, patting it with his knuckles, his face beaming. After he finished talking about the car, he got a twinkle in his eye and said, “Say, are you a thirsty guy? I bet you’d like a beer, wouldn’t you?” It was the first time I’d visited his house after I came of age. We went inside, had ale and dinner, and then the four of us did devotion together.

A few years ago I was preparing for our annual Premarriage Seminar, and I called him and asked him what he would say is the most important lesson about marriage that he would want to communicate to young couples. He and Grandma had just celebrated sixty three years together. He said, “Let me get back to you on that.” Later that evening he sent me an email with a one page document on forgiveness. He said that if a husband and wife can remember daily that they are forgiven in Jesus, and that if they would show Christ-like forgiveness to each other every day, that there is no more sure recipe for a lifelong and happy marriage.

Grandpa 1

The last time I spoke to him on the phone was about a year ago. He’d had a stroke, and dementia was starting to show itself. But as I talked with him and Grandma, told them about my family and my ministry, he kept repeating things like, “If you just keep speaking the Gospel, that’s what counts,” and “Just keep raising those kids to know Jesus, that’s the only thing that really matters.”

There is no better summary for Elmer’s life than that. “Know Jesus. That’s the only thing that really matters.” That was the core of his life, and it was evident by the peace, joy, and love that flowed out of him. I owe so much of who I am to him and his influence.

He passed away this week. As I write these words, I’m on the way to his funeral. I already miss him so much. But I have taken to heart the lessons he taught in life, and I know I’ll see him again. I know he has gone home, and I will join him there someday.

Thank you, Grandpa, for living your life to God’s glory, and for teaching me to do the same. I hope and pray I can do it even half as well as you.

How Do I Talk to My Child About Abortion?

“A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” – Jeremiah 31:15

But is there weeping here in America?

A few heartbreaking statistics:

I say heartbreaking rather than shocking, because you’ve seen these statistic before. I have too. So often that it might be easy to just see numbers and forget what they really mean.

Let’s make it simple: 3,000 times a day a baby is killed, and at least 2,500 of them sacrificed on the altar of “don’t make my life more challenging.”

Abortion is again forefront on our national conscience. Planned Parenthood has been exposed by (as of now) eight videos, which implicate that not only are they America’s top abortion provider, but are also selling human fetal tissue for profit – a federal crime. The callous demeanor of the people in these videos just highlights how far we’ve strayed into the mire.

All the publicity and conversation generated by this has inspired some interesting conversations around my dinner table, and maybe around yours too. For parents of young children, it raises the question – How do I talk to my kids about this issue? How young is too young to explain it to them?

The problem we parents face is that we can never keep our kids insulated from the evils of the world. If they don’t hear about it from us, someday they’ll hear it elsewhere: A friend at school, a news program, a conversation you didn’t know they were overhearing. It is their nature to hear far more than we expect. If we can’t keep them from it, then we need to be proactive in teaching them about it.

When we approach a sensitive subject with our kids, it’s good to do so with lots of prayer. Ask the Lord to give you the words, and the grace to handle the questions appropriately. Remember that God has given your children to you; while that may seem like an awesome responsibility, it also means he isn’t going to leave you out to dry. God will equip you. At the same time, he wants us to be wise in our approach.

My wife and I have talked about this issue with our kids more than a few times, and young as they are, we think they get it. In fact, A. consistently declares that he is going to be president someday so that he can make abortion illegal. (Good goal, kiddo.) I feel pretty confident in approaching this, so here’s my suggestion for a simple way to explain the issue to your kids:

“Every child is a blessing from God. Sometimes people don’t know that, or sometimes they just don’t want to listen to God. They try to say that a baby in a mommy’s tummy isn’t really a baby. They have a doctor take the baby out before it’s time, and the baby dies. It’s very wrong, and very sad. But Jesus wants them to know that he loves them, even when they do this. He forgives them, and he wants us to let them know that he loves and forgives them. He also wants us to let everyone know that babies are a blessing.”

1. Every child is a blessing from God. Our culture has become so murky with the notion that the value of life is determined by its quality, or by how it came to be. Let’s give our kids the worldview that all life is precious, no matter the circumstances surrounding it.

2. Sometimes people don’t know that, or sometimes they just don’t want to listen to God. We want to teach our children how to see this with compassion. We also want them to recognize that people don’t see the world the same way we do. Sinful ignorance and sinful rebellion may be different attitudes, but they amount to the same thing – a failure to see the truth. This also helps our children understand why someone would do something we would consider horrible. “They just don’t know.”

3. They try to say that a baby in a mommy’s tummy isn’t really a baby. Let’s put our kids on guard against the sterilization of terms that we see all around us. “They use words like fetus and embryo and tissue to avoid saying what it is… a baby.” But once again, we want to build compassion in our children. The woman who has been convinced to have an abortion has been convinced to believe that it’s not a baby.

4. They have a doctor take it out before it’s time, and then the baby dies. This is, perhaps, the hardest part. How much do I tell my child about what is actually happening? Do I give details? Is there some way to sugar coat it?

I believe we need to be honest and straightforward with our children about what is happening. We’re often afraid they’ll be emotionally scarred by hearing what to us sounds gruesome. Remember that your child probably has no frame of reference. Unless they’ve witnessed childbirth and/or death, they probably will have a distorted (and possibly somewhat silly) mental image with all of this. And that’s okay. It means they won’t be traumatized by knowing what is happening, and in time they will get a clearer picture. Don’t hedge on the reality of what abortion is; your child is trusting you to give them an honest view of the world.

That doesn’t mean we need to go into gory details. Depending on the age of your child, you can keep it as simple as they are ready to handle. I think my phrasing here is good for kids as young as 2-4 years old. For older ones, maybe you need to explain a little more. However, it’s better to err on the side of simple, straight, and honest.

5. It’s very wrong, and very sad. We also want to be honest with our kids about the moral and emotional implications. No matter what you’ve heard, read, or been told, here’s the simple truth: Abortion is murder, and murder is wrong, and it always leaves scars. A woman doesn’t have an abortion and come out better the other side.

6. But Jesus wants them to know that he loves them, even when they do this. He forgives them. The worst reaction a Christian can have to abortion (other than accepting it) is to shout words of condemnation and loathing at those who have gone through it. Do you need to call it sin? Yes. Will you ever change a heart by telling a young woman how disgusted God is with her? No. Let’s make sure our kids grow up knowing that Jesus loves all sinners, and forgives all sinners. No matter what they’ve done. This is the most important message we can give our children.

7. He wants us to let them know that he loves and forgives them. Our job is not to change people’s actions so that they become more moral. Our job is to introduce them to Jesus. So when we confront the problem of abortion, the primary goal is to speak grace. That’s even more important than stopping abortion from happening, though stopping it is a good goal. You can earnestly reach out with the Gospel and also work to forbid abortion. But those who focus entirely on stopping it lose sight of the greater goal. So, keep the horse in front of the cart, and then you get both cart and horse where you want to go.

8. He also wants us to let everyone know that babies are a blessing. Don’t underestimate how much your child will want to help make a change. They can be a part of this. Donate time to a pregnancy center or march for life somewhere, or pray about this before going to bed at night. Those things honor God and are part of the mission. The pro-life movement has its place in this battle, and our little ones can be a part of that.

In the end, you know your child best, and you are the best person to tell him or her about abortion and what we can do about it. Be the voice of truth in your child’s life, and help them grow up to say what God says about this. Have you found some good strategies for helping your child understand this sensitive issue? Please use the comments section to share!

I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Jeremiah 31:34

What if we lose our schools?

What if tomorrow it was announced by the IRS that any school maintaining a doctrinal or philosophical statement against same sex relationships would lose its non-profit status and be subject to the same taxes any for-profit business is expected to pay? For some people that may not seem like a big deal. For some it may seem like a justified change. But for Christian schools and the families sending their kids to them, it’s a disconcerting thought. What would happen to our schools? What would it mean for our children?

The Supreme Court is still deliberating what many are calling a landmark case about same-sex marriage. At the end of last month, during verbal arguments, the Solicitor General in charge of making the case in defense of same-sex marriage stated that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, when it comes to religious schools and tax-exempt status, “It is going to be an issue.”

What does that mean? Does it mean that all schools with doctrinal statements opposing same-sex relationships will be brought to heel? Does it only mean that there would be some complicated hoops to jump through? Who will this affect, and how?

Some might call it a slippery slope argument to say that churches running grade schools and high schools will be threatened; right now that discussion is focused mainly on religious colleges with married student housing. But the trend has never been in the direction of more religious liberty when it comes to this issue. Is it that far-fetched to think that the people who want to fundamentally change the mindset of a nation would come after institutions where children are molded?

So let’s run with the possibility for a moment and consider what we might do if Christian schools were forced to pay taxes as for-profit organizations. How would this affect their futures? Sadly, many schools would probably be rendered inoperable; the cost of running them, coupled with a drop-off of support due to the lack of tax-deductible gifts, would force many schools to shut their doors. Or come up with a completely different way to operate.

None of this should worry us, of course. Christian parents who want to raise their children to be disciples of Jesus don’t need a Christian school to do so. See, no matter how much pressure the world puts on us, they can’t really take away Christ or his Word. Parents are still the primary spiritual teachers of their children. They’ll still bring their children to the cross. They’ll still read the Word. They’ll still pray for and with their children, and encourage them in their faith. Even if parents are the only way children will know their Savior, that is enough.

Of course, I sincerely hope and pray that it doesn’t come to this. The ability for parents to put their kids in a Christian school is a great blessing, and a resource that we are very thankful for. But we don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know what God will allow.

However, parents shouldn’t wait until we lose the blessing of Christian schools to be making a conscious effort at home. Parents are still the primary spiritual teachers of their children. It’s still important – necessary, even – for them to bring their children to the cross, to the Word, to pray for and with, and to encourage their children, even if their children go to a school where these things happen. Parents, let’s act like the only way our children will know their Savior is through us – even if it isn’t the only way.

Marriage Advice from My Kids

Yesterday we were sitting down for lunch and my wife and I asked our boys what kind of advice they would give to a couple going through premarriage instruction. First, P. said, “Stay married, and never get divorced!” Then A. chimed in, “You need to hug and kiss lots. Like, smother the other person’s mouth with yours!” He went on to say, “You should go on lots of dates too.” When we asked what kinds of dates, P. suggested going to church. 

That’s about all the meaningful advice we got out of them before it devolved into strange noises and increasingly goofy suggestions, which is pretty typical with two little boys. But we were still having fun with their initial ideas.

As I walked up to church a little while later to sit down with a couple I’m taking through premarriage, I realized how perceptive their answers were. I mean, they’re really on to something! Robert Sternberg said a lasting marriage needs consummate love, which consists of strong long in three dimensions – passion, intimacy, and commitment.

Think about this: My boys advised that couples should “stay married and never get divorced” (commitment); that they should “hug and kiss lots” (passion); and that they should “go on lots of dates” (intimacy). They even got the importance of spiritual connection by throwing in that a good place to go on a date is church! Though I’m not sure what they imagine a date at church looks like – and I’m having trouble envisioning it myself! Not a bad thought, though.

Is this a glimmer of some kind of intuitive sense inside children about how real love works, like something God has wired into us to understand instinctively? Are my wife and I actually giving them a pretty good example (even though doesn’t always feel like it…)? Or did they just accidentally stumble on something elegantly true?

I guess I don’t really know. But for what it’s worth, I think they have some pretty cool advice, and if I had to give someone some really quick advice about marriage, I think I couldn’t do much better than they did:

1. Stick together for life.

2. Hug and kiss lots.

3. Prioritize dates and spiritual connection.

Amen, boys.

(Note: Lest you get the false impression that I’m raising the two most awesome human beings, as soon as I finish posting this I have to go discipline P. for “accidentally” spitting in his brother’s face. Simul justus et peccator.)

The Redemption

The Hero sits on the hilltop and stares into the distance. There he spies the end of his journey… and the place of his enemy’s power. He knows what success in his quest will cost him. But he will not stop. There is no argument that can dissuade him, no appeal that can turn him aside, and now power of man or beast that can stand in his way.

Because, you see, what he stands to gain – who he stands to gain – is worth everything to him. She literally means more than life itself to him. And he will stop at nothing to win her back.

* * * * *

“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” – Luke 9:51 (ESV)

* * * * *

Ever since the day our first father, Adam, abandoned his bride to temptation, sin, and death, his sons have repeated his cowardice and failure. The record of humanity attests to the weakness of men, more likely to fall prey to lust, to laziness, to drunkenness, to greed and warmongering and powermongering, than to rise up in strength to fight for the girl and lay everything on the line to be her lover and defender.

Yet, within us is the sense that we were made for something more. We love the stories of the hero who gets the girl because we all want to be that guy. We want to rise up, strong and passionate, and claim what is ours. We want to save the day and get the pats on the back and hear the girl say, “My hero!”

But most of the time we don’t. We get disappointment. Heartbreak. Dishonor. Shame. We are not the heroes. And all our longing to be the hero really just serves to remind us that we, too, need to be saved.

But there is a Hero, a truer and greater man than any of us. Knowing full well that it would cost him his life, Jesus went boldly to the cross to offer himself as a sacrifice that paid for sin, defeated his Enemy, the Devil, and shattered the power of death. He did all this to win back the girl – his Bride, the Church. “It is his finished!” was his triumphant cry and he struck the final blow that ended the conflict once and for all.

* * * * *

“I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:6-7, NIV)

* * * * *

Like every good epic story, as the fog of battle cleared he strode victorious back out of the fight, alive and well. This is our Redeemer, our Hero.

And here’s the twist: He doesn’t bask in the glow of victory alone, but raises us up to victory with him. He makes us heroic. He equips us to rise up with him and set our own faces for the battles we have to fight, not because we must earn our own glory but because we share in his glory.

* * * * *

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22, NIV).

* * * * *

This is redemption.

What the brain needs: oxygen, sugar, and relationship

 

If you know anything about how the brain works, you probably already know that without oxygen, your brain will die. That’s kind of the reason you go through life breathing, and why things like choking are kind of a big deal. And you probably know that your brain needs sugar (glucose), because that’s the fuel that makes it run. Have a conversation with a diabetic whose blood sugar has just taken a nose dive and you know how important sugar is to proper brain function.

Did you know that there’s a third thing the brain needs to function? Relationship.

This isn’t some clever and gimmicky idea I came up with. I don’t like to do gimmicky, and I’m not so sure I’m all that clever. This is real stuff.

When a baby’s brain is developing, it is using oxygen and glucose to feed and power the cells of gray matter that make up the brain’s structure, and it’s making neural connections from one part of the brain to another, sheathing it all in myelin, a material composed of fat. Those neural connections aren’t happening by accident, though. Every activity the baby is involved in is forming those connections, but the ones that really matter long term are the ones the baby makes in connection with other people.

These connections are absolutely vital to the long term health of the person. They affect that person’s ability to speak, to learn, to process emotions, to love, to interact with others. In other words, relationships are essential to healthy brain development. They are as important as oxygen, glucose, and fat.

Babies that don’t have a proper amount of nurture early on often end up with the “failure to thrive” diagnosis, meaning that they simply cannot live without someone showing them love.

It doesn’t stop with babies. Adult brains need relationship too. The effects of solitary confinement bear this out. When put in solitary confinement for extended periods, prisoners literally go insane. They experience hallucinations, paranoia, hypersensitivity, depression, perceptual distortion, and PTSD, among other problems. Our brains simply are not made to handle an absence of relationships.

See, it’s how God made us. He made us to need to be with other people. It’s a charming notion to say that we don’t need anything but Jesus, and from a spiritual perspective there is a truth to that. But we can’t miss the point that God chooses to work through means, and when it comes to our minds being healthy, one of the means is relationships. I think it’s because he himself, as the Triune God, is relational – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have an eternal relationship with each other. And we are created in his image.

Western science likes to quantify and qualify things by what it can measure, and we can’t really measure relationships. We can study how relationships work and how they impact people, but we can’t weigh relationship. Our tendency, then, is to look past it as something we don’t need to be intentional about. But we do.

If your kids came to you and said they were hungry, and it was after all lunch time, you wouldn’t give them half an apple and say, “Good enough!” would you? And if your child was having trouble breathing you’d probably do just about anything possible to make sure they were getting enough oxygen to their brains.

So what about relationship? Are your kids getting enough? Do they have your interaction, your conversation, your time? Do you play with them, sing songs with them, and hold them? Those things are as important for their little brains as food and oxygen.

And what about your aging parents or grandparents? Sometimes life stuck in a bed in a nursing home can feel awfully similar to solitary confinement. Sure, the staff at those places do what they can to give people social interaction. But nothing beats a visit from a family member or a close friend.

Let’s take it just a step farther. God made us for relationships, and it’s through relationships that the Gospel spreads. It’s like he wanted us to be close to one another, so we could communicate his love to one another. Almost like he planned it all along.