Ministering in COVID-19

coronavirus news on screen
Photo by Markus Spiske on

With the entrance of the coronavirus, and the accompanying chaos the quickly ensued, churches and believers all over the world were struck with the difficulty of ministering amidst this pandemic.


In our own church, we have transitioned from limited services to sermons posted on YouTube, all within a few short days. Our congregation, which loves gathering together, has been separated as a whole for several weeks, and it looks like it might be a few more.


The command to minister, however, is not put into social distancing from the believer. Though ministering may look different in this pandemic, believers must still minister.


The question remains, “How?” What I would like to do is provide a few suggestions. I am so proud of our church because even amid this pandemic you all have been busy ministering to those within and without the congregation. Let’s keep it up, and do what we can to minister to those who need the Gospel.


  1. Prepare to minister to one another and the community through physical resources.

    One primary way that we can minister to those within our church and outside our church is through physical resources. According to The Post and Courier, South Carolina has experienced a 400% claim in unemployment requests.[1]

    variety of vegetables
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    With this considered, there will be many who are in desperate need of physical resources. This can include financial resources to help with bills (such as electricity, water, etc.). It can also include the need for food. Our foodbanks have already experienced an increase in usage, and there is every reason to believe that this need will continue to grow.[2] We can help minister by setting aside a few extra purchases each week. Let us seek to meet those physical needs while not neglecting the spiritual needs.

  2. Prepare to minister to one another and the community through emotional resources.

    There has been death and disruption of life.[3] The economic ramifications will be felt for years to come. This, understandably, will affect people emotionally. Through the loss of loved ones and friends to the upending of life as normal, individuals will need emotional support. How can we minister to those?

    adult alone anxious black and white
    Photo by Kat Jayne on

    We can offer a listening ear. Like Job’s friend initially, sometimes we need to simply be with people (see Job 2:11-13). Other times we need to share our own struggles with others. One of the reasons believers experience suffering, as the Scriptures teach us, is to help comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). As people are more open during these times, we can also utilize these times to present the Gospel which provides the answer to the problems of which they may not even be aware. These are tangible ways, though, in which believers can minister.

  3. Prepare to minister to one another and the community through spiritual resources.

    The most important need people have is God. Believers need to be reminded of their constant need of God, but people who have not followed Jesus Christ also need God, though they may not be aware of it. Believers can provide wonderful spiritual resources through books, sermons, and edifying relationships. Consider purchasing extra books to give them away. One way you can help yield fruit from this endeavor is to encourage them to work through a book with you. You can schedule a weekly time to talk about what you read in the book. In this way, you are ministering to their spiritual needs. For example, during times like these, people often wonder why God allows something like this to happen. Working through the book, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts, would help them understand how God works. Be ready to discuss the Gospel. Learn how to apply the truths found there to the various issues people are facing.

No doubt there are other ways in which we can minister. Please let us know because we want to ensure that everyone has their needs met, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. We do this to glorify God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

[1] Andrew Brown, “SC Unemployment Claims Skyrocket by 400 Percent with Job Losses Caused By Coronavirus,” The Post and Courier, 19 March 2020,, accessed 17 April 2020.

[2] Nina Lakhani, “’ A Perfect Storm’: the US Facing Hunger Crisis As Demand for Food Banks Soars,” The Guardian, 2 April 2020,, accessed 17 April 2020.

[3] Consider this opinion post in The New York Times Online:, accessed 17 April 2020.


Six Reasons to Be Content (Part Four)

In Matthew 6:11, Jesus prays, “Give us this day our daily bread” (ESV)

This small petition is packed with meaning, as we have already noted in our reading of Manton’s exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. It has been an incredibly rich study yielding delightful fruit for our souls.

However, in our present section, Thoman Manton is discussing the use of this petition. The Puritan preachers were extremely practical preachers, seeking to divide rightly the Word of Truth and to apply it vigorously to our lives. In this particular petition, Manton spends time examining how this truth can help the Christian be content.

The word content means having enough. When you are standing in line at the buffet and the server asks if you would like more, you reply, “No thank you, I’m good!” What you mean is that you have plenty of food and do not need anymore (evident in many of our waists, sad to say!). We are content. So, how does Manton provide yet another reason to be content?

Manton writes, “God doth not only give suitable to your condition, but suitable to your strength, such a portion as you are able to bear.” (Manton, 164)

What a gloriously sweet Father we serve that He will not give us more than we can handle! A wise parent will give her child a few pieces of candy because she knows that too much sugar can spoil their dinner, harm their teeth, and possibly make them sick. Likewise, and on a great level (infinitely so, we might say), our Heavenly Father loves giving us good gifts, but does so with infinite wisdom to match. He knows how many blessings we are able to bear without souring our souls. He knows how many good gifts to lay on our backs before we give in to self-sufficient thoughts.

Speaking in a pastoral, wise tone, Manton notes, “God layeth affliction pon his people, and he gives them mercies as they are able to bear; if they had more, they would have more snares, more temptations.” (Manton, 164)

Another reason to be content, then, is because God is sovereignly good because He wisely distributes His goodness in proportion to the ability of the believer. 



You can purchase Thomas Manton’s Works from the Banner of Truth Trust here.

For more in this series on contentment, see:

Six Reasons to Be Content (Part 3)

Six Reasons to Be Content (Part 2)

6 Reasons to Be Content (Part 1)

For more from Manton, see:

4 Ways to Minister Like the Angels: A Word from T. Manton

3 Ways to Know You Love God’s Will

On the Goodness of God’s Will: Manton’s Marvelous Memoir

Guided by Gurnall: Part Twelve

William Gurnall, following the consistent practice of Puritan preachers, offers a doctrine first and then provides several reasons for the doctrine.

As we have journeyed through The Christian In Complete Armour, we have learned much about the armor of God. In this section, Gurnall offers the following doctrine:

It is not enough to have grace, but this grace must be kept in exercise. (Gurnall, 63-64)

In this “fourth branch,” Gurnall is discussing the “put on” aspect of the armor of God. In Ephesians 6:11, Paul commands the believer, “Put on the armor of God…” (ESV) As Gurnall notes, “It is one thing to have armour in the house, and another thing to have it buckled on; to have grace in the principle, and grace in the act.” (Gurnall, 63)


This armor is to be used, as Gurnall mentions. Noting the lifelong excursion of spiritual war, Gurnall informs the believer that “Our armour and our garment of flesh go off together; then, indeed, will be no need of watch and ward, shield or helmet.” (Gurnall, 64)




What Gurnall is telling us is that we must be busy about the work God has given us to do. We must endeavor to follow Peter’s pattern in 2 Peter 1:3-11. Peter remarks on this need for growth by describing our state, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:8, ESV)


The spiritual disciplines are a must for the believer. In my brief ministerial experience, many Christians complain of defeat in the face of temptation, struggles with sinful thoughts, and joyless living. When I ask them how their time with God has been, I come to find out that it is almost non-existent.


How can you increase your growth? There are two helpful resources I would recommend. First, Dr. Jim Berg’s book Changed Into His Image: God’s Plan for Transforming Your Life is an excellent work with an accompanying study guide. This book provides a treatment of the Christian life with practical applications. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Second, Donald S. Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life. As with Dr. Berg’s book, Spiritual Disciplines has a study guide. Whitney offers a treatment of the various spiritual disciplines (such as Scripture intake, prayer, fasting, etc.).


Put on your armor, Christian, and exercise the grace that has been given to you!



It is easier, says Gurnall, for Satan to trip you up when you are not growing in grace (i.e., wearing the armor of God). Consider an athlete. The individual trains and enhances their skill in the sport in which they compete. However, when the individual fails to train with consistent intensity, they fail at the sport. Likewise, when Christians fail to grow in grace, Satan is granted easy access to further harm you and help you sin.


The devil and forces of evil are given the upper hand when the Christian fails to practice his or her grace. How many dear brothers and sisters pack the pews on Sundays as defeated by the great adversary of our souls because of inactivity!




Remember, Gurnall is discussing the need to use the armor, not to simply own it. It is easy, reasons Gurnall, to maintain and grow in grace then it is to restart it. Now, we must take caution here and not that Gurnall is not discussing a Christian’s loss of his or her salvation. It is eternal redemption. However, he is not wrong in this sentiment.


Consider his elaboration, “The longer a soul hath neglected duty, the more ado there is to get it take up; partly, through shame, the soul having played truant, now know not how to look God in the face; and partly, from the difficulty of the work, being double to what another finds that walks in the exercise of his grace.” (Gurnall, 65)


It is easier to maintain a car through consistent oil changes, tune-ups, and gas refills than it is to leave it idle for years. Most of the car’s operating systems would need to be replaced and fixed before operable. Christian, maintain your vehicle! Daily intake the Word of God and pray, attend church services with your fellow brothers and sisters, nourish your should through the spiritual disciplines. Neglect not your armor!




Here Gurnall discusses one of the most important aspects, though often neglected, of the Christian life. Christianity involves a community, or fellowship, to use the biblical word (see 1 John 1:3, for example). We were meant to live together.


Though we are currently in social distancing due to the coronavirus, Christians were never meant to live the Christian life alone. We need each other. And one of the many responsibilities that you have to your brothers and sisters (and indeed all of us) is for the benefit of them.


We don our armor for them. Gurnall notes, “Thus, Christian, thou art to be helpful to thy fellow-brethren , who have not that settlement of peace in their spirit as thyself, not that measure of grace or comfort.” (Gurnall, 66)


In other words, Christians need you to live the Christian life to encourage them to continue pressing on! One of the most encouraging ministers I know is John MacArthur. He has pastored his church for fifty years. He is committed to the expository preaching of God’s Word. And for fifty years he has opened the Scriptures and expounded upon them, living in and among his people. They have observed his doctrine and his way of life, and he is still their pastor. His faithfulness is a challenge to me!


You never know what encouragement you offer to your fellow brothers and sisters. Thus, we must for their sake and ours, don the armor of God.




God has given us armor to wear, not to collect dust. Likewise, He has provided the sacred Scriptures to help our knowledge of Him increase, to provide guidance for our lives as we grow in godliness. Are we putting it to good use? Are we donning our armor daily? Or, are we neglecting the state of our souls?


Brothers and sisters let us consider the words of Gurnall solemnly. Let us, therefore, put on the whole armor of God.



For more guidance from Gurnall, check these out:

Guided By Gurnall: Part Eleven

Guided by Gurnall: Part Ten

Guided By Gurnall: Part Nine

Guided by Gurnall: Part Eight

Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

Lessons on the Judgment of God: Part Four

For the last few weeks, we have been examining lessons on God’s judgment from Genesis chapter five. We have previously noted God’s reason, God’s consistency, and God’s grace in judgment. Continuing on this positive note from our last lesson, we see God’s provision in judgment.
It seems odd to find provision in the midst of judgment, but it is something clearly observable in Genesis chapter five. Though judgment was being executed (notice the several men who died), and though God’s judgment to a fuller extent would be coming (see Genesis 7 and the global flood), God gave provision in the forms of Noah and his three sons (5:28-32).
We learn from the New Testament scripture that God saved humanity, He provided a way of escape and for the continuation of the human race through Noah (see 1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:5).
In this example, in the Old Testament, we are reminded of the provision from the judgment in Jesus Christ
Judgment, particularly God’s judgment, is a terrifying event. However, even in the midst of judgment, we see God’s goodness. To God be the glory!
See previous entries in this series:
Lessons of the Judgment of God
Lessons on the Judgment of God: Part Two
Lessons on the Judgment of God: Part Three

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 7)

We are in the midst of affliction. The introduction of the novel coronavirus, designated COVID-19[1], has at this point eliminated 79,381 image-bearers of God.[2] It has wreaked havoc to many nations, particularly Spain and Italy.[3] There are many who have endured great physical affliction, spending days and even weeks suffering through and recovering from COVID-19.[4] In addition to the physical loss and detriments to health, we have witnessed an economic shift unlike any other in history. According to the International Monetary Fund “In the last two weeks in March almost 10 million people applied for unemployment benefits.”[5] Furthermore, the psychological, educational, and social effects of the novel coronavirus will not be realized for years to come. We are, as I mentioned in the first sentence, in the midst of affliction.

How do we handle this? How does the Christian, the believer in the God of heaven, respond to such affliction? We have been studying this word affliction in Psalm 119. It is a soul-nourishing study, and today’s verse is no different.

Psalm 119:107 states, “I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” (ESV)

Like David, we are severely afflicted. We are overwhelmed, like the shore of the beach breaking under the crushing power of a massive wave. What is David’s response? What does affliction do in the Shepherd of Israel’s life?

Affliction, severe and life-altering affliction, points us to God.

The truth is that affliction points us to God. We are reminded of several truths in the midst of such affliction. First, we are reminded that we are not God. This unseen virus has practically shut the entire world down. COVID-19 is killing people, overwhelming hospitals, destroying economies, etc. We are powerless to stop this virus. We are not God. Secondly, we are reminded of how fragile life is. In my context, Americans enjoy a plethora of pleasures, enjoyments in life, and physical wellness. We have access to healthy food, clean water, and excellent facilities for care. In fact, my wife went to the doctor today to check on our unborn son. Yet, with all of this, we are fragile, Individuals who were otherwise healthy have succumbed to the virus. The lungs of survivors are weak. Large numbers of people are dying. We are fragile. Third, we are reminded of how quickly life can change. At the beginning of the year, I was planning out my preaching and teaching schedule. I had made plans for a conference in the fall, and yet this all came crashing to a sudden halt. Everything changed in a short period of time. What do all of these reminders provide for us? They point us to the One who is God, the One who is not fragile, and the One who is in complete control.

David, in the midst of his severe affliction, says, “Give me life, O LORD, according to your word!”

Affliction drives us to the All-Sufficient One. We turn to God in these afflictions. When faced with physical death, we remember the One who gives eternal life. When faced with the fragility of life, we are reminded of the Rock of our salvation. When faced with economic downfall, we are reminded of the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. When faced with overwhelming, severe affliction, we are reminded of the One who gives life!

There is one more phrase David mentions, following his practice in almost every verse of Psalm 119: the Word of God. David requests life “according to [God’s] Word.” It is God’s Word, David recognizes, that gives life.

We have the most wonderful gift in the sacred Scriptures. But how do they give us life? How, in the midst of severe affliction, do we get life?

  1. God’s Word provides the proper lens by which we view all of life, including severe affliction.
    David recognizes how God’s Word gives us the right (i.e., biblical) lens from which to view life. Difficulties, rather than unfair instances, are tools in the hands of a sovereign and good God. When in the midst of financial ruin, God’s Word reorients our focus from self-sufficiency to God-sufficiency. The list could go on, but let it be said that God’s Word helps us view life with a God-focused lens.
  2. God’s Word provides the encouragement that Christians are becoming more like Jesus with everything, especially with severe affliction.
    We are reminded in Romans 8:28-29 that God is chipping away everything in our lives (as believers) that are not like Jesus Christ. Paul says, “All things work together for good” (Romans 8:28, ESV), and this includes severe affliction. What a comfort that brings, brothers and sisters, that even in the midst of severe affliction, God is fulfilling His promise to make you be more like His Son, Jesus Christ! (Phil. 1:6) God’s Word gives life!
  3. God’s Word provides the avenue of dealing with the hardships of life, particularly during severe affliction.
    Think about Job, the “man [who] was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). This man endured severe affliction, losing all ten of his children, most of his wealth, and his physical health in a short period of time (Job 1:6-19; 2:1-8). In a back-and-forth debate between Job and his three friends, God appears on the scene and begins questioning Job (see chapters 38-41). Every question reminds Job that He is not God and that even in the midst of severe affliction Job can (and should) trust God. Without demeaning Job’s pain, or doubting the difficulties he is experiencing, God reorients Job’s focus from his problems to Himself.

    This is extremely practical. We have the means to deal with the difficulties of life in God’s Word. This is why I call it a priceless treasure!

We are in the midst of affliction. To what do you turn? Or, more biblically, to Whom do you turn? Brothers and sisters, let us not turn to individuals, governments, scientists, and doctors (though all of those certainly have a part to play!), let us turn to God, and pray that He will give us life through His Word, for His glory!

[1], accessed 7 April 2020.

[2], accessed 7 April 2020.

[3] For Spain, see:; for Italy, see: (both accessed 7 April 2020).

[4] Here are a few perspectives:, accessed 7 April 2020.

[5] John Bluedorn, Gita Gopinath, and Damiano Sandri, “An Early View of the Economic Impact of the Pandemic in 5 Charts,” International Monetary Fund blog, 6 April 2020,, accessed 7 April 2020.

Guided By Gurnall: Part Eleven

In expositing Ephesians 6:10-20, William Gurnall seeks to distill every ounce of truth from the mines of spiritual warfare. It is a tremendous work, both in its length and in its content.

In the present section, Gurnall is describing the need for the whole armor of God (see Eph. 6:11). Up to this point, he has made mention of the need for the armor, what the armor consists of, and why the Christian must bear it.

Now Gurnall focuses on the extent of the armor or the completeness of it. He discusses it in a “threefold respect.” (Gurnall, 58) These are:

  • “FIRST. He must be armed in every part cap-a-pie, soul and body, the powers of the one, and senses of the other, not any part left naked.” (Gurnall, 58)
  • “SECOND. The Christian must be in complete armour, in regard of the several pieces and weapons, that make up the whole armour of God.” (Gurnall, 58)
  • “THIRD. The entireness of the saint’s armour may be taken not only for every part and piece of the saint’s furniture, but for the completeness and perfection of every piece.” (Gurnall, 83)

These are excellent points that well deserve our attention. We will examine these briefly.

“FIRST. He must be armed in every part cap-a-pie, soul and body, the powers of the one, and senses of the other, not any part left naked.” (Gurnall, 58)

In other words, the whole armor involves the whole body. Every inch must be protected in order to wage war against the enemy of our souls. Gurnall remarks, “Our enemies are on every side, and so must our armour be.” (Gurnall, 58)

He notes several examples of individuals in the Scripture who had one area unprotected. Ahab was killed with a small dart. “Eve looked but on the tree, and a poisonous dart struck her to the heart,” write Gurnall. (Gurnall, 58)

Are we not as prone to sin as they? Must we not bear the whole armor of God, and ensure every part of our bodies are covered and protected from the attacks of the devil? How foolish we are to think that we are more than capable of handling an enemy who has practiced wickedness almost as long as time has existed! How arrogant and haughty are we that we believe we can do what the powerful angel Michael could not! (Jude 9)

Brothers and sisters, let us put on the whole armor of God.

“SECOND. The Christian must be in complete armour, in regard of the several pieces and weapons, that make up the whole armour of God.” (Gurnall, 58)

Continuing on, Gurunall comments on the need to build upon the armor of God. That is, the need to develop the graces with which God has lavished upon the believer. He spends the majority of this section in 2 Peter 1:5-7, which reads:

5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Gurnall notes how the Scriptures describe the increasing effect of growing in grace. In putting on the whole armor, the Christian must not leave one piece off. He provides a brief exposition of that passage (a marvelous one) and then applies it to the understanding of the Christian’s armor. Each piece, each grace, if you will, must be donned. The enemies of our soul are many, multi-talented and intrinsically evil. As we put on this armor, we must put all of it on. We must don the graces of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to stand against the attacks of the slithering serpent.

“THIRD. The entireness of the saint’s armour may be taken not only for every part and piece of the saint’s furniture, but for the completeness and perfection of every piece.” (Gurnall, 83)

The final item Gurnall discusses concerns the sharpening of the tools, the increasing of their effectiveness. The blade of the knight must be continually sharpened in order to maintain its effectiveness in battle. Likewise, the Christian’s armor must be maintained.

Gurnall describes the situation,

“The Christian had need have an armourer’s shop at hand to make up his loss, and that speedily, for Satan is most like to fall on when the Christian is least prepared to receive his charge.” (Gurnall, 61)

The Christian’s armor must be at the ready at all times, for the devil is a tireless enemy. Therefore the Christian must be about the protection and development of his armor. This is due to the nature of grace, “Because grace is subject to decays,” remarks Gurnall. (Gurnall, 61)

We are in the work of sanctification, daily becoming more like Jesus Christ, which necessarily involves the armor of God.

Concluding Thoughts

How is your armor, Christian? Are you wearing all the armor of God? Are you and I constantly building upon the faith, as described by our brother Peter? Are we watching our armor, ensuring it is equipped and maintained?

As I read this section, I was reminded of the fierceness of the battle. Christians, we need to remember that our adversary is walking around looking for people to devour. Therefore, let us put on the whole armor of God.


For more gleanings from Gurnall, check these out:

Guided by Gurnall: Part Ten

Guided By Gurnall: Part Nine

Guided by Gurnall: Part Eight

Guided by Gurnall: Part Seven

Guided by Gurnall: Part Six

Guided By Gurnall: Part Five

Guided by Gurnall: Part Four

Guided by Gurnall: Part Three

Guided by Gurnall: Part Two

Guided by Gurnall: Part One

Guided by Gurnall: Introduction

Lessons on the Judgment of God: Part Three

In two previous posts, we have learned two important lessons from the judgment of God as presented in Genesis chapter five. They are:
1. God’s reason for judgment
2. God’s consistency in judgment
A third lesson we learn from God’s judgment is His grace. It is odd that we would find beauty in judgment, by grace is such a gem. Like the piece of coal that is formed into the exquisite diamond, God’s grace is most wonderfully displayed in the harshest environments: life in a fallen world with fallen human beings.
God’s Grace in Human Life
In Genesis chapter five, one aspect sticks out to the average reader: the length of human life. The oldest one to live was Methuselah. He lived to an astounding 969 years. You may wonder, “How does this display God’s grace?”
Perhaps we should reconsider Genesis 2:15-17. In that passage, God warned Adam that if he failed to obey Him, Adam “would surely die” (Gen. 2:17, ESV). Yet, even Adam did not die immediately. God, as we noticed in the initial post, has the right and perfect liberty to execute His wrath immediately and to the fullest degree possible. Yet, God is gracious, and the fact that Adam (and the many men like Methuselah) did not immediately die is a mark of God’s grace.
Just consider all the wonderful technological and medical advancements that have occurred in the last fifty years. This is because God has graciously allowed certain individuals to live, and their contributions to our society and wellness result from God’s graciousness.
God’s grace in Human Relationships
Another mark of God’s grace is observed in human relationships. In each individual mentioned (a total of ten in the genealogical realm) “had other sons and daughters” (see Genesis 5:4, 7, 10,13, 16, 19, 22, 26, and 30). Families are wonderful marks of God’s grace. Though some are not able to experience this blessing, families are incredible. I am blessed to enjoy a wonderful relationship with my parents, my in-laws, my wife, and my children. Even in judgment, we see God’s grace.
God’s grace in Human Salvation
Perhaps the greatest display of God’s grace in Genesis chapter five comes in the unique privilege of Enoch’s life. Enoch is described as an individual who “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24). Breaking the normal pattern of birth, life, bearing of children, and death, Enoch simply “was not” (Genesis 5:24).
What happened to Enoch? The Scriptures say, “God took him” (Genesis 5:24). He did not die. In other words, God graciously kept him alive rather than punish Him. God had every right to, as we have already observed. However, God graciously kept Enoch from death.
While there is no direct connection of this to our salvation, it would certainly be a mistake not to make the connection between God’s grace and our own salvation. We are described as being “dead in trespasses and sins” in Ephesians 2:1. Yet, God in His grace saved us (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What is our conclusion to this lesson of judgment? The conclusion is God is a gracious God. Even during times of judgment, or discipline, God is gracious. Relish God’s goodness in these circumstances!