Top 10, Worship

Top 10 Songs of Comfort and Joy During COVID-19 Quarantine

 

How’s your quarantine going? Climbing the walls yet? Miss gathering with your brothers and sisters at church? Anxious about being out of work? Worried about what the future might hold? There’s a solution to all of that: worship.

Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 picks for songs to get you worshiping and to keep you encouraged during the days ahead. Perfect for your church’s online worship service, or for singing while you wash your hands for the eleventeenth time in five minutes. Click on the title of each song for a lyric sheet.

(Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of these songwriters or performers, 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.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24

 

2.
You Are My Hiding Place

While we’re “hiding” in our homes from this virus, let us never forget that God alone is our true hiding place, the only place of safety and security. Do you recognize the Bible verses in this song?

 

3.
He Will Hold Me Fast

The God who loved you enough to give His only Son for you loves you enough to carry you through any crisis. God’s got you. He’s not letting go.

 

4.
He Leadeth Me

“Content, whatever lot I see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.” It’s hard to be content in the midst of chaos. This lovely hymn keeps bringing us back to what should be our focus: Whatever we’re going through – still waters or troubled sea – if we’re in Christ, we can trust that God will lead us through.

 

5.
Count Your Blessings

God’s Word always leads us to look to Him and be thankful, regardless of our circumstances. Here’s a toe-tapper that’ll remind you to focus on how much God has blessed you! (And if you like the “old school” version of Count Your Blessings, enjoy! lyrics here)

 

6.
To God Be the Glory

“Give Him the glory, great things He hath done”? In the middle of a plague? Yes. There’s no better time than in the midst of distress to exalt the name of the Lord and “let the earth hear His voice.” Sometimes it takes calamity to cut through all the noise and open the world’s ears to the gospel. Praise the Lord!

 

7.
God Will Take Care of You

In Christ, we have the rest and assurance of knowing that no matter what happens, God will take care of us.

 

8.
His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

 

9.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Get your eyes off the things of earth – fear, disease, need, uncertainty- and turn them back where they belong. On Jesus.

10.
God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Are you missing your church family? This is a great song to help you prayerfully keep them in remembrance…until you meet again.


Bonus Song!
How Great Thou Art

Did you see the celebrity collab video of Imagine that was making the rounds on social media recently? Well, you probably won’t recognize as many faces on this one, but I think it’ll bless you a whole lot more. (Kudos to brothers Garrett O’Hara for coming up with the idea and Andrew Vasel for editing all the videos together on YouTube!)


Which worship songs are encouraging you during this time?

Church, Parenting, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Churchmanship 101: Training Your Child to Behave in Church

Originally published January 30, 2015

churchmanship-behave

they all walked sedately into the church. The first clang of the bell rang out when they were on the steps.

After that, there was nothing to do but sit still till the sermon was over. It was two hours long. Almanzo’s legs ached and his jaw wanted to yawn, but he dared not yawn or fidget. He must sit perfectly still and never take his eyes from the preacher’s solemn face and wagging beard. Almanzo couldn’t understand how Father knew that he wasn’t looking at the preacher, if Father was looking at the preacher himself. But Father always did know.

From Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder¹

A hundred and fifty-ish years ago, this is how children were expected to behave in church. I love a good sermon, but I’m not sure even I could meet those behavioral expectations, and, these days, I certainly wouldn’t expect my children to. But fast forward from the 1800’s to 2015, and think about how you may have seen some children behave in church. It’s quite a bit different from Almanzo’s experience, wouldn’t you say?

I don’t think we need to dial things back a hundred and fifty years, though. A little fidgeting, a Bible dropped loudly on the floor, a few seconds of wailing while you frantically search for the lost pacifier, a bit of jabbering, none of these things are a big deal. But neither should a toddler be allowed to run up and down the aisles of the sanctuary for the bulk of the sermon. Eight year olds do not need to be crawling around on the floor between the pews playing with toys. Twelve year olds can reasonably be expected to stay awake, sit still, and pay attention during the service. We expect our children to obey us (and other adults) and behave properly in a variety of places: school, the grocery store, restaurants, on their sports teams, at scout meetings. Why, when the worship service is far more important than any of these, would we not require them to act appropriately in church? And when we require them to behave themselves in all these other venues but not in church, what are we teaching them about the importance of church, reverence, God?

But, if you’ll determine in your heart to train your child to control himself and behave appropriately during church, you might be surprised at all the blessings and benefits you encounter along the way.

What is appropriate church behavior?

That’s going to vary by age. Obviously, a three year old isn’t going to sit perfectly still for thirty minutes and take sermon notes. But, believe it or not, you can start (and I would strongly recommend) training your child from infancy that church is a place where we sit still, sit quietly, listen when it’s time to listen, and participate when it’s time to participate.

How do I train my child?

The first and best way to train your child is by modeling proper church behavior yourself. Does he see you singing enthusiastically during the worship time? Are you checking your makeup or Facebook during prayer? Are you visibly paying attention during the sermon? Constantly talking to your husband or a friend during the service? Your child will imitate what he sees and take his cues from you as to what is acceptable behavior.

Otherwise, you train your child in church the same way you would train him in any other situation. If you were at a restaurant, and your baby was crying incessantly, you would tend to his needs at the table, or, if you couldn’t, you would take him out to the lobby or outside until he calmed down. The simple act of doing so begins to plant the idea in his mind that a certain level of behavior is expected in that venue.

If your school aged child won’t sit quietly in his seat at school, the teacher administers the appropriate discipline, and, possibly, you do too, at home.

It’s the same way at church. You let your child know what is expected of him behavior-wise at church, praise him when he does well, and administer discipline when he disobeys.

A few helpful hints:

Infants and toddlers:
If your church offers a nursery, there’s no shame in making use of it. As a stay at home mom, I well remember the days when church was the only opportunity I had for a small breather from my children, adult fellowship, and hearing God’s word without interruption.

But if you want to have your infant or toddler in church with you, that’s great! Be sure your diaper bag is well stocked with anything you might need to keep a little one relatively still and quiet. Bottles, pacifiers, small snacks that won’t make too much of a mess, some small, soft toys (such as stuffed animals or board books- maybe even a special one that’s only for Sundays) that he can quietly play with in his lap.

Try to choose a seat on the aisle near a door in case you need to make a hasty exit. Also, try to sit somewhere where any noise your child might make won’t be picked up by the pastor’s (or other) microphone.

Older children:
Sometimes well meaning Sunday school teachers serve sugary snacks or other foods/drinks that might make your child jittery. If so, it may be more difficult for him to sit quietly during church. Check out the snack situation in your child’s class, and serve him a breakfast that won’t give him the fidgets.

Make a bathroom/water fountain pit stop before the service a weekly habit. If your child would benefit from running a lap or two outside before the service to work off some energy, make that part of the weekly routine as well.

Dress your child appropriately, yet comfortably for church. I still remember scratchy lace on some of my childhood Sunday dresses. And sitting up against the back of a pew or chair wearing a dress that ties in the back? Absolute torture when that knot dug into my spine. It’s kind of hard to sit still when your entire outfit is conspiring against you.

Get them started on taking notes during the sermon. Give your preschooler some crayons and paper and help him listen for something in the sermon he can draw a picture of (a sheep, Jesus, an angel, a garden…).

Lower elementary aged children might enjoy taking “tally mark” notes. Make a brief list of words your child is likely to hear during the sermon (God, Jesus, Bible, Love…) and instruct him to make a tally mark next to the word any time he hears it during the sermon. Some pre-readers can even attempt this if you draw a couple of small pictures instead of words (a heart for “love,” a cross for “Jesus,” etc.) Before church starts, try to guess with your child which word will get the most marks. After church, count up the marks and see if you were right. You may even want to do your own tally mark sheet during the sermon to model for your child what you want him to do.

Some churches offer a fill in the blank sermon outline in the bulletin. This is a perfect note taking activity for older children and tweens. They can also be encouraged to turn in their Bibles to all the Scriptures the pastor mentions, copy down a verse from the text of the sermon, or write down any questions that occur to them as they listen.

And, speaking of questions, another fun activity is for each family member to write down a couple of questions, and their answers, from the sermon. Then, in the car on the way home, each person gets to ask his questions. Whoever gets the most correct answers gets to pick what’s for lunch (or bragging rights, or something else fun). It’ll keep EVERYONE paying attention, and it’s a great way to reinforce and discuss the sermon.

Attend church every Sunday. Not only is it biblical to attend faithfully, but children thrive on routine, and it will be easier for them to remember how to behave if they’re learning and practicing those behavior skills weekly instead of in a “hit and miss” fashion.

 

Training your child to behave well in church isn’t easy at times. I know. I have 6 children and we have raised all of them in church. But if you and your husband will invest the time and effort, everyone benefits. Your pastor will be able to preach uninterrupted. Your fellow church members will be able to worship undistracted. Once your child begins to behave himself better, you will be able to focus more on the service and be less frazzled. But most importantly, your child will develop the skills necessary for hearing and paying attention to God’s word being proclaimed, and what a blessing that will be to him now, and for the rest of his life.

What are some things that have worked well
to help your child behave in church?

 

¹Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy  (New York: Harper Collins, 1933), 90-91

This article was originally published under a different title at Satisfaction Through Christ.
1&2 Peter Bible Study

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 9

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review your notes from the introduction to 2 Peter in lesson 8 (link above). What is the main theme or purpose of 2 Peter?

2. Examine verses 1-2. How does Peter credential himself? (1) How does he characterize the audience of his letter? (2) Compare the greeting of 2 Peter to the greetings of several other epistles (ex: 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, Jude, Ephesians, etc.). What similarities do you notice? Differences? What is the significance of Peter’s characterization of his audience as: “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” (2)? What does this statement demonstrate about Peter’s view of himself? What would it have said to the Christians of his day who might have viewed him as a “celebrity”?

3. Study verses 3-4. What has God given us? (3a) Through what (in what way, by what means)? (3b) How do we obtain “knowledge of Him”? Is the following a fair statement based on concepts in verse 3 (and 19-21): “God gives us everything we need for godly living as we gain knowledge of Him. And the way we gain knowledge of Him is through the study of His Word.”? Why or why not? Read 3-4 alongside 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What similar concepts do both passages express about the primacy and sufficiency of God’s Word for living the Christian life?

How do we know what God’s “precious and very great promises” (4) to us are? What does it mean that we are “partakers of the divine nature”? (4) (Hint: Use your cross-references.)

4. Study verses 5-11. Verse 5 begins with, “For this very reason…”. For what reason (3-4) is Peter about to give the instructions in 5-11?

What does it mean to “supplement” something with something else? (Maybe think about taking a vitamin supplement.) Give a brief definition for each of the qualities Peter mentions in 5-7. Then, explain why each quality needs to be supplemented with its partner. (Ex: Why does faith need to be supplemented with virtue? Why does knowledge need to be supplemented with self-control? etc.) What is the difference between “brotherly affection” and “love”?

Peter states 8b in the negative (keep you from being ineffective…unfruitful). Restate this part of the verse in the positive (ex: help you to be…), to explain the reason Peter gives for increasing in the qualities in verses 5-7. What is the effect when a Christian lacks these qualities? (9) Therefore, because of 8 and because of 9, do _____ (10), and ______ (11) will be the result.

Compare verse 10 with 2 Corinthians 13:5. What does verse 10 mean when it says to “make your calling and election sure”? Is verse 11 saying that we are saved (entrance into the Kingdom) by our good works or by trying to be people of good character? How do you know?

5. How are verses 1-11 foundational to the theme of 2 Peter: “Avoiding false doctrine and false teachers”? Why is it important to be well grounded in sound doctrine and sound Christian character qualities if we want to be able to identify, avoid, and warn others away from false doctrine and false teachers?


Homework

How would you explain to a Mormon friend that “partakers of the divine nature” (4) does not mean that we become gods when we die? Or to a New Apostolic Reformation friend that this verse does not mean that we can speak things into existence like God can? Get a Christian friend to role play the discussion with you, and don’t forget to use your cross-references.


Suggested Memory Verse

Movies, Apologetics

Movie Tuesday: How to Answer the Fool

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:5

Do you know the difference between evidentiary apologetics and presuppositional apologetics? They are two different viewpoints of defending the faith. Today, we’re taking a look at presuppositional apologetics via Sye Ten Bruggencate’s excellent film, How to Answer the FoolIt will provide you with a biblical approach to sharing the gospel with those who say they don’t believe in God or want you to prove God exists before they’ll listen to the gospel. For more resources and information, visit Sye’s website Proof that God Exists.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Should I Sue?

 

I know the Bible tells us not to sue someone, but are there situations where this may be OK?

I have a long term illness caused by bad medical advice given to me by several doctors. I know there are many many others who suffer like I do from the same thing for the same reasons. Because of my illness I have lost my job, friends, and the ability to do things I used to do and enjoy.

While I have never been one to sue someone or take legal action I am considering it in this situation. I am not doing it for the money, but so that awareness can be brought about so maybe others will not go through what I am going through.

I know if I go forward it will be a difficult journey for me and may cause some disruption with the doctors who treated me. I have been praying about it and am going to look into Christian counseling as well, but I have learned a lot from following you and would like to hear what you have to say as well.

Great question. First let’s look at exactly what Scripture says about this:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! 1 Corinthians 6:1-8

So, the Bible doesn’t make a blanket statement “not to sue,” but not to sue certain people for a particular reason. The idea Paul is trying to convey here is that Christians, of all people, ought to be able to work out their differences among themselves. We’re the people who have God-given wisdom for such things, not lost people. So, when Christians drag each other into a worldly court over something that they ought to be able to work out in godly love, humility, and repentance (or at least ought to be able to have mediated by a pastor or elders), it tarnishes the name of Christ and makes the church look foolish. It’s better to just absorb the loss than to do that. So what this passage is teaching us is that it is a poor witness to the world for Christians to sue one another rather than to work things out together.

Now, I realize this isn’t your particular situation, but I’m going to throw it out there for everybody else who’s reading. The passage above does not say this, but I think the Bible would also support the idea that, in most cases of personal grievance, Christians probably shouldn’t sue lost people either. Your neighbor accidentally planted her garden six inches over your property line? You babysat for a couple down the block and they never paid you the agreed upon amount? You had been planning a special anniversary dinner for you and your husband for weeks and the restaurant messed everything up? Try to imagine what these people might think of Christians or Christianity or your church if you sued them, and, conversely, how counter-culturally surprising it might be to them if you didn’t sue them. Would a lawsuit open or close a door for you to share the gospel with these folks? Would you be carrying out Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek, to overcome evil with good, and to repay no one evil for evil, but to bless and do what is honorable? When we make decisions like this, we need to be sure we’re putting Scripture, the name and renown of Christ and His church, and the spiritual good of the other person ahead of ourselves and any benefit we might gain. God is our provider, not the tort system. And, of course, it should go without saying that Christians should never sue others on the basis of dishonesty (ex: faking injuries after a car accident) or in an effort to greedily “get rich quick”.

However, the way our legal system and our laws work in the United States, there are, unfortunately, some instances in which a lawsuit is the legally sanctioned proper channel to go through in order to secure services or for two entities to iron out the details of a fair settlement between them, and this process carries no more ethical implications than, say, filling out a request for services form. This is often the case between insurance companies in the event of a car accident, for example. This can sometimes be the case with a business or entity that is obligated to provide you with a particular service or remuneration. It very much depends on the situation, the laws of your state, the company’s policies, etc. In a case like this, I would recommend setting up an appointment with your pastor for counseling on the biblical aspects of the situation, and consulting with a reputable (preferably Christian) attorney for legal advice.

In your case, it sounds like your goal is to prevent innocent people from suffering at the hands of negligent doctors, and a lawsuit can be one way to do that. I cannot give you a definitive yes or no as to whether or not a lawsuit would be the biblical thing to do in your case, but here are some things I would encourage you to do and consider as you prayerfully make your decision:

•Pray through and consider the Scriptures I’ve linked to above as well as others that will help you examine your heart to be sure your motives moving ahead are godly, not retributive.

•If you’re married, be sure you’re submitting to your husband regarding any action you might take.

•Assuming you’re a member of a biblical, doctrinally sound church, make an appointment with your pastor (preferably, or, barring that, a Biblical Counselor, which is different from a “Christian counselor”) for counsel on all of the biblical ramifications of filing a lawsuit and any other actions you might be considering taking. Counseling is part of his job, he can take the time to walk through all of the details with you, and it is he whom God has placed in the position of shepherding your soul.

•Contact a reputable, preferably Christian, attorney (your pastor may be able to recommend one) who can explain all of the processes involved in filing a lawsuit, and might also be able to give you some more effective alternatives. Discuss all of this with your pastor and get his counsel on it.

•Is there another way to accomplish your goal of protecting and helping other victims and potential victims? What about a local ministry to others with the same illness? What if you wrote a book about your experiences? Perhaps an online ministry and information clearinghouse – a blog, website, Facebook group, etc. – that could reach even more people than a lawsuit could? Brainstorm some ideas with your pastor, husband, or close friends.

If there is any way to avoid a lawsuit while still protecting others, I would recommend exploring that possibility.

Additional Resources:

What does the Bible say about lawsuits / suing? at Got Questions?

Forbidden Lawsuits by John MacArthur

Alliance Defending Freedom


If you have a question about: 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.