Thanks/Thanksgiving, Top 10

Top 10 Songs for Thanksgiving

Isn’t Thanksgiving a wonderful holiday? It’s a whole day set aside for feasting and thanking God for all of the glorious things He has done for us. And what’s a celebration without great music? Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 picks for beautiful and joyful songs of Thanksgiving. (Click on the titles of the videos without screen lyrics for a lyric sheet in case you’d like to sing along!)

1. We Gather Together

It’s the iconic song of Thanksgiving, and for good reason. Now you might think it’s strange that I picked this particular rendition, but there’s just something awesome about a large group of men singing. I think they did a marvelous job.

2.  My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness

This was a new one for me this year, but it’s already a favorite. With its phenomenal theology and singability, this one is probably already a Thanksgiving staple in many churches.

3. Now Thank We All Our God 

“With hearts and hands and voices.” We thank God in our hearts and by singing and praying to Him, but let’s not forget to serve Him, and others, as an act of thanks as well.

4. Give Thanks

This song quickly became a Thanksgiving standard in the 90’s. I love the way it points us to the simple truth of being thankful for Christ.

5. Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Sit down and read over the lyrics of this one if you have a moment. The hymnist beautifully weaves together the idea of harvest time and God’s provision for us with the idea that we are God’s “crop,” wheat and tares sown together. And one day “the Lord our God shall come, and shall take the harvest home.”

6. Thank You, Lord, for Saving my Soul

Did you know this song had verses? I have to say I feel a little cheated. I’ve been singing this song all my life and never knew of the three precious verses about thankfulness in this song. We need to bring them back!

7. For the Beauty of the Earth

How often do we forget to thank God for the simple things? The beauty of the earth, the love of family and friends, the church, and Christ, God’s best gift of all.

8. I Thank You, Lord

I’m sorry, but if this song doesn’t have you dancing across the kitchen with the turkey, you’d better check your praise thang to make sure it’s not broken. “I thank you Lord. You’ve been so good to me.” Not a thing wrong with that! (Sorry, I couldn’t find a lyrics sheet.)

9. Count Your Blessings

What a lovely treat from the chorale of The Master’s University. When’s the last time you counted your blessings? Thanksgiving is a great day to start, but don’t forget to keep counting (and thanking God) all year through!

10. He Has Made Me Glad

Drawn from Psalm 100 and 118, this sweet little song reminds us of the joy of simply being in God’s presence and thanking Him for who He is.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving song,
or song of thanks and praise to God?


I have not exhaustively vetted these musicians and songwriters, and I do not endorse any of them whose lives or beliefs conflict with Scripture or my beliefs as outlined in the Statement of Faith or Welcome tabs at the top of this page.

Christmas, Evangelism, Missions, Throwback Thursday

10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays

With all the hustle and bustle during November and December, it’s easy for the gospel to get lost in the shuffle. But the Great Commission never takes a vacation, and the holiday season provides some unique opportunities for sharing the gospel that we don’t always have during the rest of the year.

1.

If your family does the “let’s go around the table and say what we’re thankful for” thing at Thanksgiving, briefly express your thanks to Christ for His death, burial, and resurrection, and for saving you.

2.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, place a slip of paper with a Bible verse on it about giving thanks at each place setting . Go around the table and let each person read his verse before the meal. Here are a few to get you started, or if you like it artsy, try these. If you’d like some gospel-centered place cards for a Christmas dinner or party, check these out.

3.

Give God’s Word to those around the world who need to hear the good news of Jesus. Donate Bibles through Gideons International. Give to HeartCry Missionary Society, or help establish indigenous churches by giving to The Master’s Academy International. And if your church supports a certain missionary or doctrinally sound missions organization, consider showing them a little extra financial love, too!

4.

Invite an unchurched friend to church with you. Lots of people are more open to dropping in on a worship service or attending a special church event (like a Christmas cantata or nativity play) during the holidays than they are the rest of the year.

5.

Get a group from church together and go Christmas caroling. Choose songs whose lyrics showcase the gospel (Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, and O Holy Night are good ones!) Take some tracts, Bibles, or small gift baskets (containing tracts or Bibles) with you to leave at each home (and don’t forget to invite them to church!).

6.

Donating to a toy drive? Tuck a tract inside your gift or consider donating a gospel-centered children’s book or Bible. These Bibles and The Biggest Story are great, doctrinally sound choices. Or how about The Mission Ball?

7.

Contact your local college campus ministry and find out how to invite an international student to spend the holidays with your family. International students can be curious about the way Americans celebrate the holidays. Additionally, dorms often close during school breaks leaving students far from home with no place to stay. Take advantage of the time with your student to take him to church with you and share the gospel with him.

8.

If Christmas parades are a thing in your area, put a float together for your church and use some awesome gospel-themed throws like Don’t Stub Your Toe, Pocket Testaments, or some eye catching tracts from Living Waters or One Million Tracts.

9.

Chat with your neighbors, even if you don’t know them well. Shoveling snow together? Exchanging baked goodies? Slow down and take the time to talk (and really listen) with your neighbors. It is amazing how people often open up if someone just takes the time to listen to them. Ask how you can pray for them, and, if the situation is conducive, do it right then. You might even find it turning into a witnessing encounter.

10.

Tuck in a tract (see #8) with your Christmas cards. Or, do you send out an annual Christmas newsletter? This year, instead of making it about your family’s accomplishments, how about focusing on what God accomplished through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ? That’s the most important news your family could share.

Bonus!

Check out Unique Ways Christmas Helps us Share the Gospel at A Word Fitly Spoken for more ideas for sharing the gospel during the holidays!

What’s your favorite way to
share the gospel during the holidays?


This article was originally published at Satisfaction Through Christ, and has been modified.
The Ten (10 Commandments Bible Study)

The Ten: Lesson 4

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Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Exodus 20:4-6

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 32:1-10

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

1 John 5:20-21

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. One of the themes of Exodus we’ve discovered in this study is that God is setting His people apart from the surrounding pagan nations and establishing Israel as a nation. How does the second Commandment (Exodus 20:4-6) relate to that theme? Think about what and how pagan nations worshiped. How does the second Commandment set God’s people uniquely apart from pagans and set the worship of God apart from the worship of false gods? How does worshiping God without any sort of visual aid or representation point us to God’s vastness, uniqueness, “other-ness,” and power in comparison with idols?

2. What does it mean that God is a jealous God in the context of the second Commandment (idol worship)? (Exodus 20:5a) Think about God’s nature and character as well as His patience, kindness, and benevolence toward His people both in the Old Testament and today. Doesn’t God have a right to be jealous for His people? What are the consequences of breaking or keeping the second Commandment? (Exodus 20:5b-6)

3. Some Christians believe that the second Commandment prohibits making any representation of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit regardless of whether or not that representation is worshiped. They believe, for example, that nativity scenes and plays in which the baby Jesus is depicted, pictures of Jesus in children’s Bibles, pictures of Jesus used for teaching the Bible to non-readers or lost people on the mission field, are a violation of the second Commandment even though these representations of Jesus are not being worshiped. Do you think the context of Exodus 20:4-6 supports this belief? Why or why not? Can you think of any other Scriptures that support or refute this belief?

4. Examine the Exodus 32 passage. How did the people break the second Commandment? Why did the people want Aaron to make an idol for them? (1) When we find ourselves in idolatry – worshiping, loving, or being devoted to something or someone above God – what is the motive of our hearts? Where did the people get the gold jewelry (2-4) that Aaron used to make the calf? What was God’s initial response to this incident? (10) Can you see how it stirs God to anger when we take things that He has created and blessed us with and worship those things rather than the One who gave them to us?

5. In the Exodus 32 passage, what act of God did the people attribute to the golden calf? (4,8) How does it break the second Commandment to call something “God” that is not the God revealed in Scripture? To attribute an action or characteristic of God to something that is not God? How does the 1 John passage and the idea of the “true God” and “him who is true” contrast with the Israelites’ worship of the golden calf as God?

6. Today, in Western culture, we don’t usually carve idols out of wood or stone and bow down to them. But what about creating idols with our hearts and minds instead of our hands? Have you ever “created God in your own image” – a God who fits your opinions, preferences, feelings, or unbiblical beliefs – and worshiped or trusted that god instead of the true God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit of Scripture? How is that similar to the Israelites’ fashioning a golden calf and essentially calling it God? What does the 1 Corinthians passage say about Christians who practice this or any other form of idolatry and how the church is to deal with them?


Homework:

Listen closely this week to the sermon at church, your Sunday School or Bible study class lesson, any Christian books, magazines, blogs, or social media posts you read, and any Christian music you listen to. Is the God depicted in these venues consistent with the way God reveals Himself in Scripture? Do you find any of these sermons, articles, songs, etc., to be breaking the second Commandment by presenting a false view of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?

Uncategorized

Advertising Redux

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Hi Y’all-

As you may or may not have noticed, I recently qualified for an advertising program called WordAds, which is offered through the host site of my blog, WordPress. I allow WordAds to run ads on my site (at the end of the first article on the home page, and at the end of every subsequent page you click on) and they pay me a modest sum (depending on how many people see the ads) in return. I haven’t received any income from WordAds yet, so this is a trial run over the next few months to see how it works and whether or not it’s worth it.

In the past (without alerting me or giving me any remuneration), WordPress has run ads on my more heavily trafficked articles. In the last seven years (since 2011, when I joined WordPress) I’ve received only three or four reports of an ad being biblically inappropriate. Last week I received one more report. So, I thought I would rerun the article that follows (originally published July 26, 2015, and updated to include information about WordAds) to provide a little more insight as to how this all works. Should you need to review this information in the future, there is a link to the original article under the “Welcome- Start Here” tab at the top of this page.


Thanks so much to those of you who have alerted me that inappropriate ads (containing material that conflicts with biblical values) occasionally appear on my site.

My family is a one income family, so I allow WordPress to run ads on my site as a way to bring in a little extra money. Normally, the ads that run are family friendly, but a few times, readers have reported seeing ads that are inappropriate. I want to assure you that I do not select these ads, nor am I given an opportunity to approve or reject them.

I have contacted WordPress about the ads. This is the response they sent me:

“We endeavor to make sure that no inappropriate ads are shown, but occasionally some do make it through. If you or any of your visitors see inappropriate ads, we ask that you (or they) take a screenshot of the ad and forward it to us at wordads@wordpress.com.”

Since I don’t always see the same ads on my end that you see on yours, I would be most grateful if you would alert WordPress in this way should you ever see an ad that’s inappropriate (you can also click on the “About These Ads” link above the ad itself). Sending polite feedback to WordPress – which, to their credit, they have requested – is the best way to get them to keep their advertising appropriate for all of their sites, not just mine.

Additionally, one of my Facebook friends offered this advice:

“Often if people are using Facebook apps or 3rd party apps, such as are used for games, those kinds of ads show up. Different ads for different users. Google is able to customize the ads based on Internet activity. When I blocked 3rd party cookies and all apps, the questionable ads on my feed and Internet activity disappeared.”

Also, if you are bothered by ads on the sites you visit (not just mine), your browser may offer a free ad blocker that will reduce or eliminate them. I use Google Chrome as my browser, and installed Ublock a while back. It has been very helpful.

I apologize for any inappropriate ads you have seen in the past or may see in the future. It is my desire that my blog glorify God and be a place where biblical values are upheld.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should Women Take Church Concerns to the Pastor?

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My pastor says we should come to him individually with concerns instead of talking behind his back, so I have taken a concern of mine to him. Because a pastor can’t be alone with a woman, he had his wife at the first meeting and three members of the board at the second meeting. It then becomes a me vs. them argument with them saying, “Listen to the pastor, he’s always right.” Because he is the pastor and a man, should I not bring my concerns to him, even though he said we should?

Great question. It’s important that pastors and church members communicate clearly about any concerns that arise in the life of a church. In this situation, there are several things to sort out:

1. Any church member, male or female, should talk (kindly, lovingly, and respectfully, of course) to the pastor about any concerns. Your pastor is right to encourage you to bring concerns to him and to discourage gossip and backbiting. (There are some concerns that can be handled at a lower level initially, for example, going directly to a person committing a sin {Matthew 18:15-20}, or concerns that should first be taken to an elder in keeping with any existing church policies regarding this. This is not because of a male/female thing, but to keep the pastor from being overwhelmed. Kind of like the way Jethro told Moses he should get some elders to help him judge the people in Exodus 18.)

2. Your pastor is also right and wise not to meet alone with a woman. It protects him as well as the woman.

3. If the elders are literally saying “the pastor is always right,” that’s problematic. There are some things you’ll need to think about and ask about if that’s what they’re saying. Is it possible you misunderstood what was said or that the elder(s) misspoke? Is this their standard answer to every problem raised by a church member? Does the pastor know they’re saying this, and, if so, does he approve of them saying this or has he corrected them? If he knows this is the elders’ standard answer to people and he approves of it, that is not biblical. Pastors are not infallible dictators. Pastors are to be accountable to the elders; the elders are not to be a rubber stamp for the pastor.

On the other hand, you didn’t indicate what your concern was. Perhaps they were just saying the pastor was biblically right in your particular case. Perhaps you’ve brought a concern to the pastor that was an issue of personal preference instead of a biblical issue, and the pastor is going in a direction that is biblically correct but doesn’t sit well with your preferences. In those kinds of cases, Scripture does say that we’re to submit to our leaders (Hebrews 13:17). Maybe this is what they meant.

It’s great that you want to deal with your concerns in an above board, biblical way. Be prayerful about the situation and ask God to give you wisdom and a godly heart as you seek to work through the problem.


If you have a question about: a well known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.