With the outbreak of the corona-virus, we find ourselves in a new and unusual situation; something out of a movie script like Outbreak. Our lives have ground to a halt as we become isolated from the rest of neighborhood, community and world. Though this “social distancing” seems strange, it’s necessary to fight the spread of the virus.
This surprising turn of events provides us with an opportunity to slow down our lives, and take a break from the busyness. As you consider what to do while locked at home, here are some ideas for how to redeem the unique time that we’ve been given in service to God and your neighbors:
- Pray through your church directory and send messages to each person after you pray for them. Especially pray for those who are sick and those whose jobs are threatened by an immobile society
- Pick a specific book of the Bible and really dig into it using the digital resources available such as YouTube, online commentaries and Kindle books. Summarize what you discover and teach others in your church via video in 10-15 minute mini-lessons
- You could also do with with a specific theology topic or event from church history to have a better understanding of God and His work across time
- Learn or practice an instrument so that you’re better prepared to help with music when church services resume
- Call people single people such as widows who don’t have others around them during this time of isolation. To them, it’s not much different that solidarity confinement in a prison and they need interaction with friends and family, even if it’s digitally
- Find ways to serve others outside of the church by getting their grocery list when you run to the store, sharing tools and other resources or helping them by mowing their lawn or using others skills you have
- Write friends and family notes telling them how much you love and miss them and sharing how God loves them too
- Devote time to learning a new skill so that you’re in a better position to impact the world when life returns to normal
Don’t spend the time you’ve been given on movies or other media, but instead find ways to redeem it to the glory of God, so that you can say when this is passed that what was meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20).
The Apostles Creed on the most historic and foundational statement of the Christian faith. It’s used by many denominations as the summary statement of what Christians have believed for hundreds of years. The creed itself isn’t found in the Bible nor was likely written by the Apostles, but captures the key elements of theology and is a good starting point for youth. Other creeds such as the Nicene or the Chalcedonian are longer and were written to address a specific issue in the church, but the Apostles is concise enough to be quickly memorized and often repeated during liturgical church services.
This document focuses on the creed a one leg of a three legged stool as key summaries of Christianity with the The Lords Prayer and The Ten Commandments serving as the other two. Together the three should be taught to children, so that they understand how God wants us to pray, what we must believe and how we’re guided to act. It includes the creed, scripture references and questions to ask about each point of belief: Teaching the Apostles Creed
For more information the creed, see the following two three-minute videos:
For more ideas about the importance of teaching the faith to children, read Grounded in the Gospel by JI Packer.
Church denominations differ in their views on alcohol from somewhat tolerant to completely restrictive. All of them view drunkenness as sinful and therefore clearly out of bounds. Reformed churches generally allow their members to follow their conscience and state that to block drinking goes beyond the bounds of Scripture. In contrast, churches in the Baptist and Holiness traditions see the effects so damaging and risks so great that they don’t allow drinking at all. The list below captures a list of position statements split into those allowing alcohol consumption in moderation and those prohibiting it from their members.
Alcohol allowed in moderation
- Christian Reformed Church position on alcohol (CRC): Abstinence from alcohol may be an appropriate moral response in particular situations, but it is not demanded by Scripture and therefore should not be demanded by the church
- Presbyterian Church in America (PCA): Scripture neither makes total abstinence a mark of holiness nor a universal requirement….Our churches and presbyteries must not make total abstinence a requirement for membership or office as a matter of principle; this would be to go beyond Scripture
- Orthodox Presbyterian Church: Moderate drinking is permitted in Scripture but drunkenness is sin (Gal. 5:19-21)….Since God is Lord of the conscience, the church may not declare something to be sin which has not been so declared by God. Christians may (not “must”) drink in moderation but may not drink immoderately (Phil. 4:5)
- Lutheran Church Missouri Synod: The Bible nowhere condemns the proper and responsible use (consumption) of alcoholic beverages, Church. Scripture does warn strongly and repeatedly against the abuse, misuse or excessive use of alcoholic beverages, and the Missouri Synod has also repeatedly warned against such dangers
Alcohol discouraged or prohibited
- Church of the Nazarene: Holy Scripture teaches that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. With loving regard for ourselves and others, we call our people to total abstinence from all intoxicants
- United Methodist position on alcohol: We affirm our long-standing support of abstinence from alcohol as a faithful witness to God’s liberating and redeeming love for persons
- Salvation Army: …members of The Salvation Army voluntarily refrain from the use of alcohol, standing in solidarity with those who suffer from its harm
- Southern Baptist: …(we) express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages
- Brethren: The Church of the Brethren has consistently and repeatedly stated its opposition to the manufacture, sale, distribution, and use of alcoholic beverages. We therefore recommend and urge Brethren to abstain from the manufacture, sale or use of alcoholic beverages
- Assemblies of God: …we urge all believers to avoid the Satanic tool of alcohol which destroys lives, damns souls, and blights society
If you’d like to see the issues summarized well, Piper lays they out clearly in his message on abstinence from alcohol and concludes that abstaining is recommended, but not required for membership.
I had some members of the Church of God Bloomingdale (Illinois), which is a part of the Church of God World Mission Society, visit my front door this morning. Here’s a quick summary of their heretical views in case you encounter them:
- They don’t believe in the Trinity (though they say they do), but say that the Father, Son and Spirit of different manifestations of God who is just taking different forms at different times in history (similar to the view of Oneness Pentecostals)
- They believe that a mother God exists who is named Jerusalem (based on a misreading of Galatians 4:22-26 and Revelation 21:2) and is the bride of the Father in Revelation 19:7. She provides life and salvation (because Revelation 22:17 references the bride giving the water of life which is necessary for salvation in John 4:10-14). They point to Genesis, where it says God created us in His image, male and female, implying the necessity of a female god.
- They claim to have secret knowledge about the second coming of Jesus (they believe he returned in the form of a Korean pastor named Ahn Sahng-hongand) the hidden message from the seven thunders of Revelation
- They require the keeping of the passover for salvation and hold to other Jewish feasts as well
Be warned. They are teaching a false message about an untrue Jesus as 2 Corinthians 11:4 warns of. For a more thorough summary, visit CARM on World Mission Society or the best source of additional detail Examining the World Mission Society Church of God.
Here’s another Bible survey video from The Bible Project. This one covers and overview of Romans in two parts
Romans chapters 1-4
Romans chapters 5-16
If you liked this one, view the Overview of Hebrews Video
This video from the Bible Project does a nice job of providing an brief (8 minute) overview of the Book of Hebrews.
The video breaks Hebrews into five sections:
- Angels and the Torah (chapters 1-2)
- Moses and the Promised Land (chapters 3-4)
- Priests and Melchizedek (chapters 5-7)
- Sacrifice and Covenant (chapters 8-10)
- Follow Great Models of Faith (chapters 11-13)
This video does a nice job of telling the story of the Old Testament in a five minute video.