What are you doing with your extended time at home?

At least 7 ways you can be intentional during COVID-19

April 8, 2020

There seem to be two common responses to the pandemic: extreme anxiety and fear as evidenced by the hoarding of groceries and the national shortage of toilet paper, and extreme distraction as evidenced by the increase in binge watching, eating and drinking, and whole-house cleaning.

Amidst shared feelings of anxiety and extra trips to the grocery store in search of essentials, I’m hearing from friends that the coronavirus shutdown has given them time to tackle house projects they’ve long neglected. One mentioned organizing her closet. Another sorted through her kitchen junk drawer. Others are reading books they never thought they’d get to, binge watching shows they’d put in their queue, and streaming the latest Hollywood releases. It’s understandable that we’d gravitate toward activity and distraction in the midst of what feels overwhelming, but are there other ways we might also spend this downtime? 

Whether you’re reading this with your remote in hand or wringing your hands, Christians “must not continue in suspense,” but entrust ourselves to the Lord who controls all things. That was the gist of what Paul said to his shipmates in Acts 27 after nearly two weeks of fighting to stay afloat in a furious storm at sea—a state of peril that left the crew famished and despairing of life itself. Paul urged the sailors to eat something and not lose heart saying, “for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you” (v. 33). He knew, having heard from the Lord, that none would die aboard the ship on that particular journey. This was the same Lord who made the sea, sent the storm, and sustained the very lives of the sailors who never gave him a thought. Paul’s words emboldened them. They listened, ate, and were strengthened. And true to his word, God guided the ship back to land.

Though Paul’s assurance was not universal, nor permanent—those sailors all died eventually—it may have been, for them, eternal; for any one of the sailors who put his faith in God would live forever. And so it is with us. God knows the number of the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He has already numbered our days (Job 14:5). And if we are trusting in him alone, he will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Not even death will be able to separate us from his love (Rom. 8:38-39).

We who belong to Christ, though we will die one day, must not continue in suspense but trust in the Lord and continue on in faithfulness in our relationships and our responsibilities. This pandemic is full of opportunities if we are open to them. Ask God what he would have you learn, how he would have you serve, and where he would have you change. 

Paul said, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). Suddenly awash with more time at home with family, and likely, more unstructured down time, we’ll all be tempted to do things to help pass the time; but with a little effort, we can do things that will redeem the time. 

Read your Bible, first. The way you spend the first quiet moments of the morning tends to set the tone for the day. If you begin by checking your notifications, blogs, tweets, and Facebook updates for the latest news, you’ll be tempted to gloom and frustration for the rest of the day. But if you start by reading what God has revealed about his character, our sin, and his solution for the brokenness around and inside us, we’ll have hope, and a reliable filter for everything else we read and hear each day. Before reaching for your phone, reach for your Bible. 

Memorize Scripture. On Feb. 15, we started memorizing Romans 8:28 as a family. For the next six weeks, our FighterVerses app moved through verses 28-39 as the coronavirus moved from a far away problem to one affecting our daily lives. God was equipping us with rock solid truths and promises to stake our lives on. Reading God’s promises gives powerful comfort. But knowing them by heart and having them come to mind throughout the activity of each day is even better. This is prime time for following David’s example of storing up God’s Word in our hearts (Psa. 119:11). It’s the Word, “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (11:105), that we most need in times of uncertainty.

Lead your children. If you’re a parent, the most important way to redeem this time is to disciple your children. You don’t need a degree in theology to lead them to the Lord. Comfort them with Scripture, memorize God’s Word together, and pray as a family. The more they see you seeking the Lord, the more they’ll see that what you profess is really what you believe. And the more you seek the Lord together, the more hope you’ll share, not in news that the virus is slowing it’s spread, but in the One who governs every germ. Lead your children to God who is lovingly governing all things for his glory and the good of his people.  

This pandemic is full of opportunities if we are open to them. Ask God what he would have you learn, how he would have you serve, and where he would have you change.

If it takes a pandemic to remind Christain parents of our most important responsibility—telling our children about the mighty deeds of God, so that they will set their hope in him (Psa. 78)—it will not have been wasted. Make the most of the opportunity, and time, to disciple your children. Need a place to start? See Tim Challies’ helpful roundup of free and discounted resources.  

Keep short accounts. This is probably more time than you’re used to having all together. A lot more. That means it’s likely you’ll have some friction. Rather than letting it fester, work together at being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). Be a peacemaker by being willing to say “I’m sorry.” Keep short accounts—settle squabbles quickly, and “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26). 

Don’t forget the spring in spring cleaning. A virus can thwart the start of Spring Training, but it can’t stop the buds from opening, the birds from singing, or the shoots from popping out of the ground. The trees are in bloom. And “God’s mercy is over all that he has made” (Psa. 145:9). As often as the weather allows, take advantage of this change of season and take a walk with your family. Let your children see God’s glory on display in what he has made, even as they watch for opportunities to love their neighbor. Though you can’t get close, you can wave and shout hello and find out if they need any help. (Walks also make good dates. They’re great for clearing your head and talking about more sensitive matters away from little ears.) 

Read stories out loud. Good stories transport housebound readers, as well as those being read to, out of their neighborhood, out of the country, and out of time and space. By reading  aloud, you’re journeying together, sharing adventures, and strengthening relational bonds as you snuggle together in uncertain times.

Beyond fiction, real life tales recounting heroic living in hard times and suffering provide much needed role models and instruct young hearts, preparing them for the day when they may be called upon to sacrifice for others. For reviews of current titles and lists of books of varied genres, old and new, see RedeemedReader.com.

Deliver a meal, treat, or game. Many churches have a practice of members volunteering to make a meal for families when new babies arrive. Why not expand on that, doubling whatever you’re making for dinner and sharing it with an elderly church member, neighbor, or even younger single friend living alone. Take a cue from Edith Scaeffer who often stretched a pot of soup by adding water to accommodate numerous late arrivals to the supper tables at L’Abri. 

We recently picked up (curbside) an order of ice cream cartons and dropped it off on the porch of some friends. We rang the bell, waved through the glass, then headed home to “get together” with them over Zoom for a family game night. You could also arrange a similar porch swap of games or puzzles with friends if you’re getting tired of the supply on your own shelves.

And more. There are lots of other ways to purposefully use this time at home given to us by God. Countless families are eating meals together again, uninterrupted by kids’ sports schedules. It may be time to polish table manners and help children develop conversation skills. (We like to ask the kids for their highs and lows from the day, giving everyone a turn to talk.) Involve the kids in menu planning and even teach them how to cook. Do you have a skill you could teach your children? Brush off a dusty hobby—woodworking, sewing, painting, gardening—and teach those skills to your children. Or together you could learn a new skill. Plenty of how-to videos are available free online. Begin learning a language or practice a musical instrument. Write a letter (on paper!) and mail it to loved ones far away. Build a Rube Goldberg and take a slow-motion video as the dominoes, Keva blocks, Legos, and odds-and-ends contraption unfolds.  

This is not the day for wasting away in front of the TV or gaming console. There are church members to call and encourage (Heb. 3:13, Eph. 5:19), neighbors to check on, first responders to pray for, and children to disciple. Make the most of the days because these days are evil. 

It’s OK to clean out your closet, but don’t make this unexpected interruption in routine primarily about catching up on shows and organizing your house. Act on Isaiah’s warning: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (55:6). Ask God to show you how you can join in the work that he is doing in our time. May we be a people who live our lives vigorously, intentionally—like David, who “served the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). May it be said of the church during the coronavirus pandemic, “at the expense of their own security and comfort, they served the purposes of God!”

Candice Watters

Candice Watters is the Fighter Verses blog editor. She is a wife and mom, and author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen, and co-author with her husband Steve of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses have four children and are passionate about … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24