Sing! . . . with your Family, part 5

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all  your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”. Deuteronomy6:5-7

Taking this command seriously includes singing the songs of our faith in the home.  The church should be a feasting place for singable songs, and the appetite for it is nurtured at home.  Singing is one of the best ways to teach kids, and we should start when they are young. Songs help us train children in the “language” of the Christian faith.  Singing the gospel changes hearts, and singing the gospel prepares hearts.  Our singing always remains more important than the sound it makes.

What should children sing?

Sing what you like, what you enjoy singing, the songs that are good for your spiritual well-being.  C.S. Lewis suggested that children don’t learn lke a train going form station to station but rather as a tree grows by adding rings.  Kids add and build on what they already know, and so do adults; so we must take care to try and make those first key rings of growth healthy and strong, providing a solid foundation a child can build on.  We can give children a little more than they understand in the songs we sing with them, and over time help them grow into an understanding of every part of a lyric, just like buying new shoes for your kid a size bigger than they need right now, so that they grow into them and get longer wear out of them.

Suggestions if your kids are teenagers . . .

  1. Tell and show your kids why this is important.  Be part of a church family that enables you to clearly show congregational singing done well, especially with opportunities where you can sing with your kids in church and not always send them away to another service just for them.
  2. Make it as fun and attractive to them as possible.  Find contemporary versions of good songs that appeal to a teenager’s ear.
  3. Get started.  Start playing songs in your home.  Let them see you singing.
  4. Don’t be scared of your kids.  You have the right and responsibility to parent them.

When parents, and particularly fathers, do not sing, it often leads to older kids inheriting similar tepid responses that sadly often go far beyond just the singing.  Be a parent who sings with joy, and pray that your kids, of whatever age, would follow you – not just in the singing, but in the faith that brings such joy.

Ten Practical Ideas

  1. Use all the help and opportunities you can get.  Stream the songs from Sunday during breakfast, or ver your smartphone during part of the bedtime routine.  Sing the blessing before a meal, such as the “Doxology.”
  2. Teach your kids songs you want them to grow old with.  The best songs for our youth are often the best songs for our old age.
  3. Talk about what you’re doing and what the songs mean.  Take tiem to talk about why we sing, what happens when we sing, and how we use the gift of singing to serve one another.  Teach the children a hymn of the the month and use the lyrics as conversation starter about faith.  A good resource might be Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolgemuth’s series Hymns for a Kid’s Heart.
  4. Prepare for Sunday Services: make the most of the car rides to sing and listen to the songs from church.
  5. Model Passionate Participation in the Services.  Always remember when you sing at church, your children (and everyone else’s around you) can see you and are watching.  Sit somewhere in your church building where your kids are surrounded by strong singing.
  6. Be aware of all the music your kids are into.  There are ultimately no neutral lyrics.  All songs share a message about how we should view the world.
  7. If your kids are into music . . . Encourage them! Drive them to the music lessons and let your home be a rehearsal place.
  8. If your church has a children’s choir, Support it if you can.  At Green Pines, we will be integrating the children’s singing as part of the Sunday School beginning in September.
  9. Cultivate High Opinions of All Types of Art.  Issues of church music today are not that a certain style isn’t quite right but rather that we are too narrow and maybe even too boring in our expression.  Make use of different instruments, sounds, and languages.
  10. Sing Today.  The children are not too old or too young but begin today.

Excerpts from  chapter 5 of Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

Jarrod Scott

Advertisements

Righteous Indignation

Earlier this summer Judy and I were visited by three Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW). Over the past three years one of them has come by (as part of differing groups of three) perhaps five or six times. This, however was the first time I was home to receive them.  After brief chit chat we got down to a conversation regarding the differences between JW false teachings and our Biblical Christian worldview. There are of course many fundamental differences in our viewpoints. Using the Green Pines “What We Believe” Statement (http://greenpines.org/guests/what-we-believe)  as a back drop, the more salient issues are as follows….

  1. Bible – JW’s use their own translation that twists the original language of Scripture to conform to their twisted theology (ex. John 1:1).
  2. Trinity & Jesus – JW’s consider only God the father as God. To consider Christ and the Holy Spirit as God, is a lie from Satan. Jesus is immortal, but not eternal as God’s first creation.
  3. Salvation – One must be a good, moral JW who has been baptized through emersion. One can never know if they are good enough until death.
  4. Eternal Condition – Everyone will get a second chance during the Millennial Kingdom to accept the faith tenants of JW and go to “heaven”. Those that still refuse will be annihilated as there is no such thing as Hell.

Today, Judy, Jenna (our daughter) and I sat down with two Mormons (LDS). There are major theological differences here as well. However, the LDS are much more subtle and less willing to clarify those differences. Some major ones include…

  1. Nearly everyone goes to one of three levels of “heaven”. Those who achieve the highest level ( “Celestial Heaven”) will be gods themselves and have their own planets to rule. There is a Hell, but since everyone is offered a second chance to accept the LDS theology after death (in “Spiritual Prison”) practically no one chooses Hell.
  2. Satan and Jesus are brothers, who are flesh and blood, just like us. We were all part of the two-thirds of the angels who did not rebel against God and have subsequently been re-born as humans.
  3. The LDS believe that their Prophets (leaders) have “continuing revelation” that allows for changing theology as the times change.
  4. The Bible is a source of truth but The Book of Mormon takes a superior position over the Bible and has been open to multiple updates over time.
  5. Trinity – God the Father and the Son are two distinct persons. The Holy Spirit is a force or fluid.

So, the commonality in these, and most other false teachings, is a works-based (rather than grace- based) theology. But, that’s not the point I want to make in this blog.

With both the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses there is a second, very significant commonality  that I admit I stumbled into as we talked. Notice above that with both false teachings, one gets a second chance after death. This, by the way, has a similar theme in Catholicism related to the false concept of Purgatory.

With the sweet three JW ladies and the two young, white shirt and tie Mormons, toward the end of our time together, I summarized my position with the following…. “Do you realize that if your theology is correct, and Its rejected, we all get a second chance after death to go to paradise for eternity. However, if my theology is correct, your proselytizing is sending people to Hell for eternity with no second chance?” In the case of the JW’s they wished us well, said that we should love one another and should be able to agree to disagree. I responded,  gently and respectfully, with the concept of righteous indignation (Jesus and the money changers John 2:13-16), choosing not to let them off the hook so easily knowing that they’re spreading a false gospel (Mat. 24:24, Acts 20:29) with each house they stop at. Today with the Mormons, as we wrapped up, the leader asked to close in prayer. I had already made clear that our theology limits us, as Biblical Christians, to a clear dichotomy of good or evil with no middle ground. This world may be full of shades of gray but God’s worldview only allows for these two states. My point to them was that Biblical Christians view their theology as satanic. So, when they wished to close in prayer, I asked if I could pray instead. The leader, in leaving, remarked that I did not respect them and their beliefs.

In the above situations, each of us has to strike a balance between loving our neighbor and righteous indignation. I am not suggesting I have struck the proper balance, but these limited encounters do not allow for building trust relationships that can grow into real opportunities to share God’s truth. To me  IITim 4:1-5 applies to those who are going door to door preaching a false gospel.

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Jeff Hilles

Can You Relate?

I heard a well-known parent say the other day that one of the joys and fascinations of having kids is that you get to reproduce someone that you can relate to. So, let’s try that on for size:

My oldest is into politics and the investment of funds, big time. And though I want our country to thrive and I’d like to have more money, neither one of these arenas comes close to making my radar.

My next child, also a son, lives and breathes being outside and doing and making things with his hands. He would rather you throw him off the top of my office building than make him sit in front of a computer all day as I do.

My eldest daughter loves to dance, as evidenced by the six or eight dance classes she takes. To say I’m uncomfortable on the dance floor is to say that the surface of the sun is a tad warm.

My next daughter loves competitive cheerleading. To me, it looks like the small girls like her get tossed around like sacks of potatoes and the bigger girls are lifting weights and getting stepped on. Hmm.

My third daughter sings with the voice of an angel. I can perhaps carry a tune, and certainly love to sing along to whatever I’m listening to, but she has a natural gift that seems foreign to my DNA.

And my youngest girl is a fearless gymnast and consummate performer. She prefers to get from here to there via cartwheel, and if she can put on a show or make a video along the way, all the better. I’ve never tumbled, at least not intentionally, and the limelight is no place for me.

Conclusion? My kids are a chip off the ole block, but that block is far more complex than the simpleton that I am. And so, God is greatly to be praised for how He has woven various parts of me and my wife, intensifying some and muting others, to create six children who are intended to relate most and best to their Heavenly Father.

I love each of them so deeply it sometimes hurts within me, and I love trying to figure them out and enjoy them as they become who they will be. But God is who they are most intended to relate to, just as you and I are. He is our life, our salvation, and our purpose. However you are and whatever you are like, your greatest gift is that you are made to relate to your Creator, the Lord God Almighty. And I hope that in that relating, you will let Him shape you and remake you into the redeemed child that you are. I hope that you want to be like Jesus. I hope that that is something you can relate to.

Rich Holt

Sing! . . . with Heart and Mind, part 4

Selections from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s book Sing! How Worship transforms Your Life, Family, and Church.  People say you are what you eat. Well, songs are food for the soul. What you sing, and don’t sing, changes you.  The lyrics of the songs we sing in our churches and repeat in our hearts find their way into shaping our priorities, our behavior, our loves . . . into the quiet space (or not so quiet, if you have kids) of the car journey on a Monday morning, into the language of our prayers as we fall asleep, into the answers we give “for the hope that we have” (1 Peter 3:15).

  1. Singing takes Sunday’s truths into Monday.  Most of us sing at times in our week or hum a tune that reminds us of its lyrics.  be singing what you sang on Sunday, be singing the gospel.  Christ-filled songs can help motivate us into a day when we would rather stay in bed than get up and face the chore or meeting or project.  They help us remember scripture. They keep uprooting weeds of worry and fear that tangle our feet and trip us up.
  2. Singing sustains you in every season of life.  If we are to be prepared to live for Christ in the whole of life, we need to be singing about the whole of life.  In this question, God has given us a guide in the book of Psalms as a hymnal of songs to God, about God, sung in community with the people of God.  The Psalms give us a vast vision of who God is.  As we read through these Biblical songs see God’s character displayed with different emphasis according to our needs in life.  He is the judge, shepherd, holy God, King of all the earth, the creator, and the defender of the widow and fatherless.  We introduced to His voice, tears, glorious achievements for his people in the past and future.  The Psalms show us how to deal with real life.  In the Psalms, there is the full emotional spectrum of prayers to God moving from laments (Ps. 13:1) to rejoicing (Ps. 16:9-10).  These are songs that know the singer with the heavy heart and doesn’t glibly ignore the realities of life.  We sing, as the Psalms train us, to help us bring all of our lives, failures, successes, losses, gains, dreams, and ambitions into gospel perspective.
  3. Singing reminds you of what God has done in your life. As you remember God’s faithfulness in your past, so often etched in your hearts through a song, you are inspired and equipped to face the ups and downs of the week.
  4. Singing keeps your mind on eternity.   We need to sing those songs now that we want to grow old with – songs that will lift our hearts and sights to eternity and our eternal Lord when earthly life begins to slip from our hands.   We need to sing with others in our churches, that they, too, may look to eternity every day, including their last day.  May we fall asleep with gospel songs on our lips and awake to the sounds of heaven singing.

In light of this post, consider listening to this song, “Jesus my Living Hope” This is the song we have sung the last couple of Sundays.  Now try singing it on a weekday and consider the gospel expressed in song.

Jarrod Scott