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Student Ministry - October 2021

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Dear Church Family,

We live in an increasingly confused world. As society continues to deny God, who is the objective standard of right and wrong, good and evil, we find ourselves surrounded by people who do not have any true moral standard. This leaves people in a completely confused state of morality. Our students tend to be the ones on the front lines of this confusion. And the only governing standard of right and wrong that the world will support is popular opinion. This is no way to live. And as Christians, we don’t have to live this way. And we can actually be the solution, if we will faithfully follow Christ. But we must be on the lookout for false solutions to this confusion.

There is a lot of talk these days about whether someone is a lion or a sheep. The idea is that if you are a sheep, then you are a mindless follower who goes along with whatever you are told. And if you are a lion, then you are brave and strong enough to think and act for yourself. The exhortation that is often given is that you shouldn’t be a sheep and simply do whatever you’re told, because that makes you a slave and stupid. So we are told to be lions. We need to stand up to immoral leadership and ideologies in our world. What is interesting is that Christians are looking to this line of thinking as a solution to some of the problems we find in our world. And while there certainly are some truths found in this analogy, there is something that we Christians need to keep in mind… WE ARE SHEEP. BUT WE HAVE A SHEPHERD, AND HE IS THE LION OF JUDAH. 

Jesus told us in John 10:3-5 this about His relation to us and how we will live as His sheep: 

“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 

We as followers of Christ need not be ashamed to be called sheep. We just need to remember for ourselves and boldly remind the world who exactly we are following; Jesus Christ, the King of kings, Lord of lords, Lion of lions. I don’t need to be a lion. I already have a Great God and King who is my Shepherd, the Good Shepherd. And He is the Lion of Judah. We follow Him.  

It is important to keep this in mind. Because ultimately all people are like sheep who need a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). All people are following something or someone. Even people who listen to others tell them to be lions are simply
following suit as a sheep. So it is inescapable. But this does not leave believers confused. Because if we belong to Christ, then we know His voice. We recognize Him by the reading of His word, and are led by Him step by step as His word gives light to our path. We do not listen to the voice of strange ideologies and subjective moralities invented by the mere will of man. We reject and flee from those things into the loving arms of the Shepherd who gave His life for us. 

So Christian, my prayer for us as individuals, students, parents, grandparents, etc.; please do not try to lead yourself through the confusing fog of false morality. But instead, simply follow your Shepherd.  He is the Good Shepherd who laid His life down for the sheep. And we sheep can trust in Him to guide us through all things. 

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

Worship - October 2021

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Hello Church Family, please enjoy this article about the origins of one of our beloved hymns by Marshall Segal:

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. (Psalm 40:5) 

As with so many of our favorite hymns, “The Love of God” was born in adversity. Frederick Lehman (1868–1953), who wrote the hymn with his daughter, had experienced the failure of his once-profitable business, which left him packing crates of oranges and lemons in Pasadena, California, to make ends meet. Again and again throughout history, deep and enduring trials seem to have a strange and beautiful way of swelling the waves of worship.

Perhaps the most memorable lines in the hymn, however, were not Lehman’s, but words someone had found scribbled on the walls of an insane asylum a couple hundred years earlier, words that had been passed along to Lehman and held profound meaning for him.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made;

Were every tree on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky. 

The lyrics, it turns out, were a translation of an old Aramaic poem (now almost a thousand years old). And while no one knows the name of the insane asylum patient, the circumstances of his suffering, or how he came across the poem, the lines sparkle with surprising clarity, hope, and, well, sanity. A kind of spiritual sanity that often eludes us.

That Lehman treasured the lyrics is hardly surprising. Living just a handful of miles from the Pacific Ocean, he would have known, with acute awareness, the roaring vastness of the sea, the tall and swaying elegance of palm trees, and the bursts and hues of California sunsets. Day by day, he held the brilliant orangeness of its oranges and smelled the lively tartness of its lemons. The ocean, the trees, the sky, the earth were enormous and familiar friends of his — and yet each so small next to the love he had come to know in Christ.

When Lehman looked at the sky, he saw a hint of something wider still. He sang, like David, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3–4). The sky above him awed him, and then humbled him. If God could stretch out heavens like these with his hands, why would he pierce those hands in love for me? 

When Lehman looked out over the ocean, he heard a hint of something deeper still. “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). The ocean taught him of forgiveness, of a dark, far-off, forgotten place where God submerged our canceled sins. How could God possibly forget what we had said, and thought, and done? Well, he could bury them beneath the sea. And so he does.  “O Lord, how manifold are your works!” the psalmist sings. “In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great” (Psalm 104:24–25). The ocean is big, and crowded, and wild, and yet you, O Lord, are bigger still, and your love, wilder still. And while the ocean sang its choruses, the sand beneath his feet would occasionally interrupt: “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand” (Psalm 139:17–18). 

When Lehman stared at the towering trees above him, he tasted a hint of something higher still. He surely could not count the trees that surrounded him, and their numberlessness reminded him of the unsearchable greatness of God. He may have read of math like this in the Psalms: “You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told” (Psalm 40:5). More than can be told. Is there any better summary of the love of God?

Were we to fill that ocean with ink and stretch out scrolls to cover those skies, and were every tree, of every kind, a pen, and every one of us a scribe, we still could capture only hints and whispers of the boundless love of God. We would drain the ocean dry. And then still have so much more to say. 

Let that never keep us from saying as much as we can. We ought to thank God for those, like Frederick Lehman, who help us taste and see and feel realities we will never fully grasp. We ought to thank God for the poor soul clinging to faith in that asylum. If he had not scrawled those words on that wall, from his embattled memory, would we have ever heard them? We ought to thank God for the pen that crafted those original lines, in Aramaic, so many years earlier. Who could have imagined just how far his words would float, like a letter in a bottle, and how many hearts they would brighten and strengthen over centuries?

And we ought to ask God for fresh words that might open worlds like these for others. How might we help others feel the love beyond expressing? If words fail us, we could start by writing the beloved lines where someone might someday see them.

Article by Marshall Segal. Staff writer, desiringGod.org
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/love-beyond-telling

Posted by Derek Niffenegger with

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