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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. 

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Student Ministry - September 2021

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Dear Church Family,

I have noticed an odd paradox in our world today. Rugged individualism stands on one side and is highly praised in our society. But on the other side stands the expectation for others to support one’s unashamed self-determination. Furthermore, when praise is given for an individual’s achievement, it is usually expected that he or she give credit to others for their support of that individual. I can’t help but think of something like the Oscars or Emmys. It is always expected that whoever wins the award will invariably thank other people who helped  with the achievement and also thank the fans.

We as believers obviously have a different approach to (and even definition of) achievement in our lives. And we know that any achievement of ours ultimately comes from God, because without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). But I wonder if we realize how much God has designed for our growth in the Lord and accomplishments in life to be connected to support from others. If we look at successes in our lives, do we see all the people along the way that made that possible? Do we see how much that was a part of God’s plan all along? I believe that if we see the regular pattern of support and accountability from others that God has designed, then we can pursue those things intentionally and reap even more fruit out of life. 

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that “a chord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Often this verse is used in weddings, which is a perfect application of the text. But the meaning of the text is not simply restricted to married couples. It refers to the wisdom of having a relationship with another person for the purpose of mutual support in life. The significance of the number three points to the need for God to be included in this support system. So the principle we can take away from this is that we need God-centered relationships with people who can help support us, and whom we can help support. In this we will find much success and strength in our lives.

This is a matter of wisdom. So that means that if you do not follow this principle in life, then you might still be a genuine believer who loves Christ. But you will be missing out on many opportunities to experience more of Christ and His blessing in your life. And on top of that, you may be hindering yourself from making more of a difference in the Kingdom of Heaven.

There are many ways to apply this principle to our lives. There are accountability partners, mentors, discipleship groups, and probably many other things people do to make this happen. One way this happened for me was when I was in high school and one of the men in our church asked me if I would like to join him working out at the gym. He knew that God wanted him to help support and grow the younger men in our church, and working out together was just one way he knew how to do that. In our times at the gym, I learned and grew physically. But we made it a point to spend time praying and talking about spiritual things too. So it was not just our muscles that we were training, but also our faith in the Lord.

This is what we in the church need to be doing. So if you are not in a regular relationship with another believer for the purpose of supporting the growth of each other’s faith, then I highly encourage you to pray for God to help you find that person and enjoy the blessing of a three chord relationship.

Pastor Brian Van Doren

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