Holidays (Other), Top 10

Top 10 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastors During Pastor Appreciation Month

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and it’s coming up soon!
Show your pastors some love, care, and appreciation! 

Originally published October 13, 2017

I’m so glad somebody thought up the idea of Pastor Appreciation Month and made it a thing. If you’ve never been a pastor (or been married to one), it’s difficult to adequately convey just how simultaneously challenging, joyful, devastating, frustrating, and fulfilling it can be. If you have a good pastor, who rightly divides God’s Word and is a man of godly character, you are very blessed. And that goes for your minister of music, associate pastor, youth pastor, etc., too. Be sure you show all of them (there’s nothing worse than being left out while everybody else is being appreciated) your appreciation for their hard work, and your encouragement, support, and love not just during Pastor Appreciation Month, but all year through. Here are ten ways you can do just that.

1. Pray for your pastors.
Time and again, when pastors are surveyed about what their church members can do to bless them the most, the number one answer is, “Pray for me.” Your pastors need you to pray for them personally, in their work, for their marriages and families, and for the health of your church. Pastor Appreciation Month is a perfect time to make a commitment to pray for your pastors on a regular basis. (And don’t forget to periodically tell them you’re praying for them!) Need some suggestions on how to pray? Check out my article Top 10 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor.

2. Words of encouragement
Pastors get a lot of complaints, criticism, and words of discouragement. Brighten your pastor’s day by telling him something specific you learned during the sermon. Tell your minister of music you really enjoyed the choir anthem this morning. Repeat to your youth pastor something positive your child has said about him or the youth group. Drop your pastor a note, e-mail, or social media message of support. Make a point of looking for ways – all year long – that you can offer “a word fitly spoken.”

3. Babysit
If your pastor and his wife have young children, offer to babysit so they can have a date night or go Christmas shopping for the kids. 

4. Gift cards
Perhaps along with the offer to babysit, you could give your pastor and his wife a gift card to a local restaurant. Gift cards to his favorite specialty store (outdoorsman stores, music stores, etc.), a Christian retailer, or one of his favorite online stores (or a more general site like Amazon if you’re not sure of his preferences) make great tokens of appreciation, too.

5. Honorary offerings
Is there a certain missionary or mission project that’s near and dear to your pastor’s heart? A crisis pregnancy center? A church plant he’d like to support? What about donating Gideon Bibles? Put out the word to the congregation, take up a special offering (or simply give as an individual), and make a donation in your pastor’s name.

6. Make sure his needs are met.
Your pastors shouldn’t be living like televangelists, but they shouldn’t be struggling to survive, either. Surprisingly, many people have unbiblical opinions about pastors’ salaries, from the notion that anyone in any kind of ministry should be doing it for free, to the downright evil concept of keeping the pastor near the poverty level to make sure he stays humble (yes, really). The Bible says pastors have a right to make their living from preaching the gospel, and that a workman is worthy of his hire. Check with your church’s finance and/or personnel committee. Is your pastor making an appropriate salary? Are his housing and insurance needs being met? Is he receiving adequate vacation and sick days? If not, see what you can do to help rectify the situation.

7. Conferences
There are lots of fantabulous Christian conferences out there that your pastor would probably love to attend, but it’s not in the church budget and he can’t afford it, personally. Find out his favorite or choose a great one (make sure you vet the speakers first to make sure they’re doctrinally sound), take up a special offering, and send him there, all expenses paid (conference admission and fees, travel, meals, lodging, and some extra “walking around money” for purchasing books, gifts, souvenirs, etc.).

8. Volunteer
One of the things that can be stressful for pastors is empty positions that need godly people to fill them. Volunteer to teach that Sunday School class, play the piano at the nursing home, help chaperone the youth trip, work in the nursery, get trained and run the sound board. Find out where you’re needed at your church and jump in and serve.

9. Help out around the house.
Pastors have those “fix it” needs around the house just like everybody else does. Are you good at repairing cars, fixing roofs, mowing grass, maintaining air conditioning units, cooking meals, or another special skill? Save your pastor some time, money, and effort by putting your experience to work for him at his home. 

10. Set the example of a healthy church member.
What could be more encouraging to a pastor than biblically healthy church members? Study your Bible. Be faithful in your church attendance. Pray for your pastor and the church. Serve where you’re needed. Don’t complain or criticize your pastor and others over petty matters. Avoid controversies and personality conflicts, and be a peacemaker. Walk in humility and selflessness, and give glory to God. Show appreciation for your pastors by setting a godly example for other church members and encouraging them to do the same. 

💥Bonus!💥 Get on social media, e-mail, or the phone and share this article around so your pastors don’t have to!

What are some other good ways we can show appreciation for,
and encourage, our pastors?

Easter, Top 10

Top 10 Best Easter Songs

Originally published April 3, 2015

There are so many great Easter hymns and worship songs out there. After all, how can a songwriter go wrong proclaiming the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? It was hard to narrow it down to my ten favorites, but I gave it a shot.

(Please note- I am not familiar with all of these musicians. Their presence here is not an endorsement of any unbiblical theology any of them may hold to. Please thoroughly vet the doctrine of any Christian musician you choose to follow and make sure it matches up with Scripture.)

1. Jesus Paid it All– Nominated by my 11 year old son, who said in the car on the way home from church, “They need to do ‘Jesus Paid it All’ next week, because it is a very appropriate Easter song.”

2. Arise My Love– The grave could not hold the King!

3. Low in the Grave He Lay– You’re not really a Southern Baptist unless your church does this one every Easter.

4. The Old Rugged Cross– What a precious song this is and what a beautiful job this family does on it. (Us Louisianans know how to sang!)

5. Sunday’s On the Way– The resurrection is not an allegory for your personal problems coming to an end. Other than that, this is pure 80’s “in your face, Devil!” CCM awesomeness.

6. The Wonderful Cross– Who ever thought something so horrific could be so beautiful? But it is.

7. Man of Sorrows, What a Name– Hallelujah, what a Savior!

8. He’s Alive– The resurrection through the eyes of Peter. Oh how sweet it must have been for him to see Jesus alive again.

9. I’ve Just Seen Jesus– I love singing this one with my husband.

10. Christ the Lord is Risen Today– He is not dead. He is alive. We have this hope in Jesus Christ! This arrangement is such a nice blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!

Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Best Christmas Songs of All Time ~ 2

Christmas – there’s no other holiday in which music plays such a major role. And what a blessing that so much of the music of Christmas centers around the incarnation of our Savior! At no other time of the year are you likely to turn on a secular radio station or walk into a store and hear songs about Jesus. It’s one of the things that makes Christmas music so special.

You’ve heard my picks for the ten worst Christmas songs (and volume 2!) and my top ten favorites, and you’ve asked for more! So, here, in no particular order, and according to nothing other than my own preferences, is my next round of nominations for the ten best Christmas songs ever.

(Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of the songwriters or performers listed below, the churches/organizations they represent, any other songs they may have written or performed, or their theology. If you decide to follow any of these people or groups, check out their theology first to make sure it’s biblical.)

1.
Joy to the World

As Christians, many things in this life bring us sadness and discouragement: grief over our sin, prodigal children, death of loved ones, persecution, suffering. There is no better antidote to our sorrows than to focus on the joy we have in Christ. This is a beautiful, classical-style rendition of Joy to the World.

2.
Light of the Stable

I love this song’s upbeat focus on Jesus as Light, King, and Savior. I can almost imagine myself in Bethlehem, bowing down before my infant King.

3.
Silent Night

What Christmas music collective would be complete without Silent Night? Does your congregation sing this hymn at your Christmas Eve service or other special worship times? Grace Community Church does, and they sound just lovely.

4.
Come on Ring those Bells

Were you even a Christian in the 80’s if you didn’t have Evie’s Christmas album? This song probably sounds cheesy to younger ears today, but approaching the birth of Christ as “the greatest celebration of them all” definitely has a nice ring to it. (Yes, I went there. :0)

5.
Go Tell

There’s an undeniable evangelism motif in the story of Christ’s birth. Gabriel told Mary about Jesus. The angels told the shepherds the good news. And the shepherds…well they told everyone what they’d witnessed. That’s the theme of this Great Commission toe-tapper: GO. TELL.

6.
O Little Town of Bethlehem

In the eyes of the world, Bethlehem was nothing special. It wasn’t the center of commerce or the seat of governmental power. It was just a little town of no consequence. Until…Jesus. This song, sung so delightfully by these four brothers in Christ, reminds us that Jesus is what makes the ordinary… extraordinary.

7.
Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

In a magnificent use of metaphor, this song casts Jesus Himself as the beautiful “star” of Bethlehem. And indeed, for Believers, Jesus is that “star divine,” lighting and guiding the way “unto the land of perfect day,” when we finally see Him, in all of His glory, face to face.

8.
Ordinary Baby

Jesus was fully God, but sometimes we forget that He was also fully man. And not just fully man, but an ordinary, nondescript man. He was approachable, not elite. Personable, not intimidating. Accessible to kings and paupers alike. The Erwin siblings deliver this simple song with smooth and mellow charm.

9.
We Are the Reason

The tradition of Christmas time gift giving is an homage to the gifts the wise men gave Jesus. But what about the “greatest gift of our lives” that Jesus gave us? He gave all He could give to us: His life, forgiveness of sin, salvation. Avalon handily dusts off this CCM classic and freshens it up for a 21st century audience.

10.
O Holy Night

Christ, the thrill of hope, entered our darkened world on that holy night so long ago. As the soft, plaintive melody gradually swells into a great and glorious crescendo, we are reminded of how long the world pined away in sin and error, punctuated by the resplendent arrival of her Savior and King, much the same way we await His second coming today.

Bonus Nomination: Best Christmas Album

This is largely a nostalgic, rather than theological, nomination. My favorite Christmas record album growing up was Have a Happy Holiday with Lorne Greene. If you appreciate a classic, masculine baritone, you’ll want to grab a copy. (I still have mine!)

In part 1 of the album – The Stories of Christmas – Lorne reads ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Gift of the MagiPart 2 – The Songs of Christmas – includes Home for the Holidays, Jingle Bells, Christmas Is A-Comin’and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Part 3 – The Holy Night: A Christmas Cantata – (below) is a reading of the birth narrative from the gospels interspersed with various Christmas carols. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I still do.

What’s your favorite Christmas song of all time?

Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time ~ 2

Originally published December 7, 2018

There are so many fun and joyful Christmas carols and songs we love to sing at this time of year …. and so many that drive us bonkers! The Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time has become an annual tradition here on the blog. But every year I get more and more suggestions of songs to add to the list. There sure are a lot of cringey Christmas tunes being crooned out there! You asked for it, so here it is – in no particular order – ten more of my top picks for worst Christmas songs of all time.

1. Please, Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas – I can just picture the artistic meetings that took place on this one: “We need a new Christmas song for your next album, John. Any ideas?” “How about a potential domestic violence case set to country music? That’ll fill everybody’s heart with Christmas cheer!” 

2. Dominick the Donkey
Dear Italy,
Please stick with what you do best – food
and opera.

3. Happy X-Mas, War is Over (So This Is Christmas) – Excuse me, but I think you’re looking for Woodstock. Go back several decades and hang a left.

4. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – Why not? I wanted a monkey for Christmas when I was a kid. I stand in solidarity with this kid and every other kid who wanted a ridiculous animal for Christmas and never got one. (To be honest, I think this song is kinda cute {be sure to catch grown-up Gayla singing it at the end of the video}. I include it on behalf of all my readers who said it’s driving them to the loony bin.)

5. Hard Candy Christmas – Maybe I’ll wallpaper my bathroom. Maybe I’ll get a mohawk. Maybe I’ll eat cold Spaghettios right out of the can. MAKE👏UP👏YOUR👏MIND👏

6. Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time – There’s good 80’s synthesizer and there’s bad 80’s synthesizer. I’ll let you guess which one earned this song a spot on the list.

7. White Winter Hymnal – “It’s lyrically fairly meaningless.” That’s what the songwriter had to say about this song. Dude, lemme ‘splain you something about songwriting. When you have a cool piece of music like this, don’t waste it on meaningless lyrics. Collaborate with a good writer and make it an awesome song with meaning. (Let me also take this opportunity for my annual reminder: Pentatonix is not a Christian group, regardless of the songs they record. According to Pride magazine, “Two of Pentatonix’s members, Scott Hoying and Mitch Grassi, are openly gay, and the group vocally supports the LGBT community.”)

8. Driving Home for Christmas – This song is the musical equivalent of driving across west Texas. And by that, I mean – monotonous. (Sorry west Texas, but you know it’s true.) At least he didn’t regale us with the number of each mile marker as he passed it. Thank the Lord for small favors.

9. I’m Gettin’ Nuttin for Christmas – Quick! Somebody get the rod of correction – this kid is out of control! Cute, but not your best work, Shirl.

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Kid witnesses Mom stepping out on Dad and is traumatized for life. Just one more reason not to lie to your kids about Santa Claus. (Tell them it’s Dad, ladies, and you can kiss him all you want! :0)

What do you think? Did your “worst song” make the list?

Christmas, Top 10

Top 10 Worst Christmas Songs of All Time

Originally published December 12, 2014christmas 10

For me, part of the reason Christmas is the “most wonderful time of the year” is the music. There are the old favorites as well as some great new songs that have come out over the years. Unfortunately, there are some stinkers out there, too. Everybody has her own taste, so the songs that give you the Christmas crazies are probably different from the ones that get on my nerves, but, here, in no particular order, are my ten picks for the worst Christmas songs of all time.

1. The Christmas Shoes– Hi, we’re going to write a song that’s a blatant attempt at emotional manipulation, and then if you say you don’t like it, people will think you’re heartless. Merry Christmas.

2. Last Christmas– Really? We have to listen to co-dependent whining about a break up in a Christmas song? And from Wham?

3. Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer– This has such a catchy tune. It’s too bad the family in this song belongs on Jerry Springer.

4. Same Old Lang Syne– This is my pick for the absolute worst “Christmas” song (it really has nothing to do with Christmas) of all time. The only good thing I can say about this is, at least the people in the song didn’t actually have an affair. It’s bleak, it’s immoral, it’s depressing, and it’s the same four bars of melody over. and. over. and. over.

5. Must Have Been Old Santa Claus– “Happy ho, ho, ho to you.” Four million times. Kill me. Kill me now.

6. Baby, It’s Cold Outside– Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like attempted date rape by a drink drugging letch.1

7. Santa Baby– They could have named this song “Sugar Daddy” or “Implied Sexual Favors in Exchange for Obscenely Expensive Gifts.” Same thing.

8. Mistletoe– I’m just going to make a rule right here, right now: no Christmas songs that force middle-aged people to go to Urban Dictionary to understand the lyrics. My kids had to explain to me what “shawty” means. Apparently, it’s similar to a “bae.”

9. Do They Know It’s Christmas?– Stop having Christmasy fun RIGHT NOW. Just STOP IT. Don’t you know there are people starving in Africa, you soulless oaf? And, seriously, who puts the word “doom” in a Christmas song?

10. Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Canon– It pains me to list this one because I love TSO, I love children’s choirs, I love Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and I love the idea of trying to Christmas it up. But I would rather eat a ten year old fruitcake than listen to this.

 Agree? Disagree?
What do you think is the worst Christmas song of all time?

If you love to hate these 10, be sure to stop back by the blog on Friday for volume 2 of Top 10 Worst Christmas songs of all time!


1(2020 Update: You may have noticed at the beginning of this article that I originally wrote it in 2014, long before the #MeToo movement, and long before the explanation of what the composer of Baby, It’s Cold Outside purportedly meant by it was in general circulation. My brief evaluation of the song in #6 is based solely on the impression I was left with by the lyrics, much the same way people have taken umbrage with Reckless Love based on the lyrics alone, despite Corey Asbury’s explanation of what he supposedly meant when he wrote it. I am not a liberal, a feminist, or on the #MeToo bandwagon. I’m confident my track record bears this out, and I’m appalled by accusations to the contrary based solely on my one sentence reaction to this song.)