The Gift of Song: Part 1 Why Do We Sing?

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This is the first part of a lesson I presented at Dalraida church of Christ several years ago. It’s all about worship in song…

Music is a part of everyone’s life. Whether they choose to admit it or not, most people sing (get people to raise their hands if they have ever sung with the radio in their car; in the shower; in front of the congregation; during worship). This last one is the one we’ll mainly focus on during the lesson. But, mostly I want us to look at how music is a part of us. It is a gift from God and one that we use to praise Him. Singing makes us feel good about ourselves and others and is mentioned in conjunction with some of the most significant events in the Bible. Let’s see what the Word says about singing.

Why do we sing?

For Worship (horizontal and vertical aspects):

Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (horizontal)

Rev 5:9-14 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (vertical)

For Learning (education through song)

Col 3:19 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – listen to the words of the song and learn…

Because we have joy in the Lord!

If you love God, you will not be able to restrain your heart and mouth from song…

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The Fatherless: Much Is Required

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Last Thanksgiving, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning orphaned and fatherless children. The lesson was written and presented specifically for the Thanksgiving Appeal for the work at Childhaven. The final area I covered in the lesson was how much is required to care for orphans/fatherless.

When I talk to Dr. Moore from Mt. Dora and Dr. Wright from Childhaven, they beam when they talk about the children. They love them so much and they are so grateful to God and us for allowing them to care for the children entrusted to them. But their faces become grave when they tell me they have had to close group homes or that they couldn’t afford to bring another single mother and children into the home.

Much is required to keep these children safe and cared for and much is required from us to help these works. But, most of all, consider Luke 12:48 Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. And tie this back to Deut 24:21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Please allow me to make a plea that you do not pick over your vineyards. Leave something for those who are fatherless and need it so much. Obey God’s command to take care of children as Jesus did when he said “Let the little children come to me”. And, taking care of these little children, be blessed by God financially, emotionally, and most of all spiritually by the God of love and protection. If you have not obeyed God’s command, but have marginalized or failed to help those who are less fortunate than you, or if you want to begin a new life where you are a Baptized, saved, new Creation who can experience God’s richness in Heaven through giving from your heart and soul come to God through Jesus today and be adopted yourself into God’s family.

The Fatherless: Our Duty

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Last Thanksgiving, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning orphaned and fatherless children. The lesson was written and presented specifically for the Thanksgiving Appeal for the work at Childhaven. The third area I covered in the lesson was our duty to orphans/fatherless.

 

Yes, we have a duty, based on command, the same as we have a duty based on the command to love, teach, spread the Gospel, and worship.Look at how the nation of Israel included the lonely in their culture: Deut 16:14-15 “You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.” God’s people should accept the fatherless as Family…do not deny them love, affection, and physical needs. Love them with God’s great love! We will “be altogether joyful” if we do this. This is because we are truly family when we show the love and compassion God shows to the fatherless, widow, and those who have been marginalized by society.

In 2 Samuel chapter 9, David shows us a perfect example of what it means to love and care for the orphan. After he became king over Israel, David asked if there was a surviving member of Jonathan’s family to whom he could show his love. Most of the people probably already knew there was only one person left; Mephibosheth. He was a crippled man, most likely shunned by his fellow Israelites since he was not only considered worthless as a man, but reviled as a member of Saul’s house. But, when David heard about Mephibosheth, he took him in with no thought of how Mephibosheth could benefit him. In fact, Mephibosheth was crippled and probably required more care than most would. It’s the kindness and love we should exhibit to children who need families.

Zechariah 7:9-11goes further toward the call for love, justice, and mercy toward the fatherless. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” We have a duty to render true judgments – don’t misjudge or prejudge a situation. Don’t presume to know about someone’s situation before knowing the facts. Have mercy on the lonely. Be kind and let them know they are loved and cared for by God’s people. Only then can we say we are truly fulfilling this command.

The next passage will probably penetrate your breastbone deeply as it does mine. Deut 24:21 “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.” This may be an indictment on most Americans – How often do we look at our paycheck and say, “I’m going to buy this and this and this” When we should not go over our vineyards again and again, but leave some of it for those who truly need it? God always reminds us that we were once slaves to sin and therefore we should share what He has given us with those who are still “aliens” lost in the wilderness.

Finally, James gives us the core statement we must seek to understand and abide by in 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Do you want true religion? If you do, this is it, folks. This is where you need to focus your hearts. Worship, baptism, prayer, and every other item we focus on as Christians are absolutely necessary and important, but taking care of orphans and widows is DEFINED as True Religion. If you want your religion to be true, take care of widows and orphans. Of course, keep yourself unstained from the world. And I believe that this goes right along with caring for those who are weaker, because what does the world say? “Step on whoever to get to where you want to be! Don’t give that extra money to help the less fortunate, use it for what you want! Don’t trust God to provide for your needs, He will leave you high and dry!” Don’t listen to those lies, God’s people. Have courage and love and practice true religion!

The Fatherless: Our Attitude

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Last Thanksgiving, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning orphaned and fatherless children. The lesson was written and presented specifically for the Thanksgiving Appeal for the work at Childhaven. The second area I covered in the lesson was our attitude toward orphans/fatherless.

We have already seen God’s attitude toward the marginalized and helpless. It stands to reason our attitude should be similar.

First, let’s look at this cautionary tale from Exodus 22:22 “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want God’s wrath to burn against me. He apparently loves the fatherless and wants me to love them, too. But, God doesn’t just want us to be upset when one of His lonely ones hurts, He wants us to show unbounded compassion; the kind of compassion that will motivate us to act with protection, love, and care.

Look at God’s instructions about love and care in Jeremiah 22:3 “Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people.”  I love how God tells us not only about how we are to care for the fatherless, but how He will reward us if we do! Imagine how the Israelites must have reacted to such a promise in Jeremiah’s day. And today, when we protect and love those who are lonely and without families, we can more completely understand and follow the rule of Jesus, the greatest, the King of kings.

Finally, a passage from Deuteronomy 24:17-18 speaks against the selfishness of society then and now: “Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.” Don’t step on the weak to get ahead. Do you remember Nathan’s story about the man who took the little ewe lamb from the family who loved it like a daughter? His rebuke to David wasn’t just about adultery, but using his kingly power for selfish gain. God wants us to be kind to the fatherless and help them to rise up. Do not hold back anything from them. Give freely of your possessions, time, and love. Part of being in the family of God is recognizing that there will be members of your family who you will never meet on Earth, but who will benefit from your love. When we meet our Father in Heaven how amazing it will be to be united with those we were never introduced to here.

Love the orphan and the fatherless and you will show love to God…

The Fatherless: God’s Attitude

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Last Thanksgiving, I was allowed to present a lesson before the Dalraida church of Christ concerning orphaned and fatherless children. The lesson was written and presented specifically for the Thanksgiving Appeal for the work at Childhaven. The first area I covered in the lesson was God’s attitude toward orphans/fatherless.

God sees the fatherless in a light that transforms who they are, to Him and to us. Deut 10:17-18 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. The level of fairness, justice, and love God gives to those who are without families highlights His goodness and compassion.

See how beautifully He cares for those who are marginalized in Psalm 68:5-6 “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely.” He watches and waits for those who are hurting. Psalm 10:14 “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.” 

God also deals with those who would bully the weak and lonely. Malachi 3:5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.” He won’t stand for those who need Him to be run over.

The overall theme is that God protects those who do not have Earthly families; those who are helpless. He has a special place in His heart for those who are weak and needful. He IS their family and He will take care of them. We need to be ready to be used by Him for this purpose.

Bully for You!

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Anger sometimes gets the best of me, especially when I see kids picking on other kids. You might describe my middle and high school years as the antithesis of fun. When I should have been enjoying my youth, I was terrorized daily by boys who were bigger and stronger than me. After a while, I got tired of the constant bullying and began to lift weights. By my junior year, no one picked on me anymore because I pledged to not take anything from them, not to mention I gained forty pounds of muscle.

But, this isn’t an option for all kids. Bullying takes many forms today, from cyber-bullying to sexual assault. So, how do we help children to combat the various bullies they encounter now?

1. Build confidence – One of the things that kept me in the submissive posture I learned to develop for so many years was a lack of confidence in myself. Many kids who are bullied are simply small and shy. They might be the youngest in their class or just genetically disadvantaged by height and weight. This leads to the larger, more aggressive children feeling like they can take advantage of the smaller, weaker ones. But, with confidence and self-value, the smaller child can put a stop to bullying. But, how does a small, shy child build confidence? A great deal of this comes from a home life where parents are caring, engaging, and listen to their children. If the child doesn’t feel like home is a safe place and somewhere he or she can be fully themselves, they will feel hopeless, as if they don’t belong anywhere. Children need that haven and fortress from which to launch their identity. If parents can provide this kind of place, it can make all the difference.

2. Build abilities – Part of building confidence is based in what talents the child has. Every person has something they are good at. Sometimes, these talents aren’t discovered until later, but if you can uncover them early and begin to develop them, your child has a much better chance of seeing himself as a success. My talent early on was music. I was always too small to play sports, but I could sing and play instruments very well. Not only did my parents recognize this and support the development of this talent, my teachers did the same. Even when I was being hit or spit upon by bullies, I still knew I had worth and value in my talent. It got me through some very painful times.

3. Build an escape – Sometimes kids who are bullied get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time too often. For instance, at my school, there was an area between and behind two buildings that was a perfect place for bullies to hide and pop out of to attack unsuspecting kids. I learned quickly to avoid this place, but found that there were other areas around school (under the bleachers, in the bathroom, etc.) where bullies would prey on smaller kids. Some of these places such as the bathroom, were unavoidable. But staying away from others was easy to do. Also, if you did get trapped, you needed to have a way out. But, ultimately you needed people (teachers, parents, schoolmates) who you could trust to have your back in potentially rough situations. Having an escape and knowing what and where to avoid are extremely important points for getting past bullies. This includes staying away from bullies online as well as in person. If a bully is making threats, report it to an adult. If a bully is terrorizing you online, block them or get rid of them any way you can. Don’t let yourself be hurt any longer.

While this doesn’t answer every problem kids face from bullies and other violence, I hope it will add to the conversation about bullying. No one, no matter what age or race or preference, should be threatened or harmed. I hope that many children can avoid the hurt and shame I endured for so much of my childhood and learn to be confident, compassionate, and strong children and adults. I wish you well…

Mt. Dora Children’s Home

As Deacon over the orphan’s ministry at Dalraida church of Christ, I am always excited when there is an opportunity to let people know about how they can help children, especially the fatherless and orphans. On March 15th in Montgomery, Alabama, there will be a benefit dinner to help the Mt. Dora Children’s Home in Mt. Dora, Florida. I only request your prayers, but if you ever want to donate, you can visit their site and give to help children without families have a chance to grow spiritually and succeed in life. Thanks for listening.