Hymn of the Month

Hymn of the Month: Olympic Medals and True Worth

Those of us who follow sports, even a little, are used to hearing athletes thank God for their victories or their abilities. It is nice to hear that spirit of gratitude and thankfulness in this culture where selfishness seems to reign.

But, this week I heard an expression that turned in a different direction. Two athletes diving in the Olympics in Rio, when asked about the pressure of the competition said, “When my mind is on this, thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy, but we both know our identity is in Christ.” I was impressed with their boldness of professing their faith to the world and with the security of their worth in Christ.

Clicking Here To Watch A Video of This Testimony

All of this leads me to think of a hymn that you may not know, but that you really should. It is written by modern hymn-writers Keith and Kristyn Getty (who also wrote “In Christ Alone”). The title of the hymn is “My Worth Is Not in What I Own”. I have been thinking about singing it for months now. The bold statement of the Olympians faith and identity caused it to jump back into my mind.

Click Here to Listen to the Hymn (lyrics and more from Sam below)

My Worth Is Not in What I Own

My worth is not in what I own
Not in the strength of flesh and bone
But in the costly wounds of love
At the cross
My worth is not in skill or name
In win or lose, in pride or shame
But in the blood of Christ that flowed
At the cross
I rejoice in my Redeemer
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul
I will trust in Him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.
As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross
I will not boast in wealth or might
Or human wisdom's fleeting light
But I will boast in knowing Christ
At the cross
Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed - my ransom paid
At the cross

By Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick
© 2014 Getty Music Publishing and Make Way Music (admin by MusicServices.org)

As any collector will tell you, whether it is coins, or comic books, or baseball cards, the worth of an object is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. Anyone who has ever sunk cash into collecting “Beanie Babies” can now say Amen.

In times of discouragement or of failure we often wonder what we are really worth.
Our worth is determined by the price that was paid for us on the cross. We are not worth something because of what we can do, what we can earn, not because of how old we are or how young. Our value is not because of what we know. Christ has determined our value and was willing to pay that price of us on the cross.

There is however a paradox here, and it is called grace. On our own we are not worthy of the love of God. We can’t be good enough. Because of God’s grace He counted us worthy and was willing to pay the ultimate price.

So don’t worry, your worth is not based in this world but in the price God was willing to pay for you. Your worth was decided by God himself.


Hymn of the Month for June:

     The brothers John and Charles Wesley, while students at Oxford University, became disillusioned and dissatisfied because of the spiritual lethargy of the school. Their response was to form what they called a “Holy Club”. They developed methodical ways of living and study. These devout young brothers were commissioned to go the America to help stabilize the church in the the Georgia Colonies and to evangelize the Indians.

     Enroute to their field of service while crossing the Atlantic they found themselves on a ship with a group of German Moravians. The Moravians were a small evangelical group who were know for their missions work and their enthusiastic hymn singing. According to the Wesley’s journal , on January 25, 1736 the ship was caught in a terrible storm. Charles observed this group as they worshiped in the midst of the storm.

     "In the midst of the Psalm wherewith their service began, the sea broke over, split the main sail in pieces, cover the ship and poured in between the decks… A terrible scream began among the English. The Moravians looked up, and without intermission calmly sang on. I asked on of them afterward, 'Were you not afraid?' He answered, 'Thank God , No!'" This fearlessness had a lasting effect on the brothers.

     After a short and unsuccessful experience with their ministry in America, the brothers returned England. In Aldersgate , London they again were influenced by a group of these devout Moravians. It was here that both of the brothers accepted Jesus Christ as their savior (even though they had already been zealous in their work of the Church for years). From this time forward the ministry of the Wesleys took on a new level of power. They traveled through out Great Britain, conducted over 40,000 meetings, and wrote more than 6,500 hymns. It is generally agreed that Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley have been the most influential hymn writer in English Hymnody.

     On the anniversary of his conversion at Aldersgate, Charles Wesley wrote a nineteen stanza hymn entitled “For the Anniversary Day of One’s Conversion” (often referred to as "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing"). Many of the stanzas that dealt with the Wesleys' personal conversion experience are usually left out. An example from one such stanza is:

I felt my Lord’s atoning blood close to my soul applied,                                                             Me, me He loved- the Son of God-for me, for me He died.

     Usually, the seventh stanza is now sung as the first, and this is normally the one that we know this hymn by. This stanza was inspired by the comment of Peter Bohler who said, “Had I a thousand tongue, I would praise Christ Jesus with all of them. “ We know it by the lines:

Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s Praise
The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace.

     Even though it is a disturbing visual thought (as one of my pianists reminds me, each time we sing the song) It tells us that with whatever we have and whatever we are we should use all to praise and honor our God.  With God’s guidance and assistance we are to proclaim God’s name throughout the world.

(Click Here to Listen to the "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing")

- Sam Leslie, Minister of Music

Hymn of the Month for May: "This Is My Father's World"

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2)

Have you ever heard the planets sing? How about the stars, have you ever heard them shout? I know you have heard the wind as it joins with the trees and the mountains to perform a magnificent trio. You certainly have heard the birds singing and the animals making whatever noise that God has given them voice to make. You may have even listened to the song of the whales.  So the psalmist was right, both heaven and earth declare the glory and presence of God.

Maltbie Babcock was an athlete. He was an baseball player, a championship swimmer and he loved to run to stay in shape. He was also a pastor in Lockport, New York. Some mornings he would tell his staff “I’m going out to see my Fathers world.” and then he would run. He would run to a hill about two miles away where he could look out over Lake Ontario. He stood, caught his breath, and marveled at the beauty of the God’s creation. Then he would run two more miles through a wooded ravine where over forty different species of birds serenaded him. The next leg of his journey brought him back to the church.

Maltbie was not only an athlete, he was a lover of nature and also a musician. It should not surprise you that one day following his run he sat and wrote these lines.

This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!

The beauty of nature around us is a shining evidence of our God. He is there to see in all that is fair and true and right. It is also an encouragement and comfort to know that he is still a ruler who still reigns. Even today in the turmoil of our world in the frightening day that may be ahead. Even when wrong is called right and men love hate. Our God is still king and all of heaven tells it. As children of God let us rest in the fact that “This is My Father’s World”.

- Sam Leslie, Minister of Music


Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs

For a while the staff has talked about providing more content to our website, which provides me a special opportunity to share some of the things that I dearly love, namely, our “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:19). My plan is to provide encouragement, information and inspiration from what we sing so that those songs will more personally affect your worship.

At our community Palm Sunday service, sponsored but the Harriman Music Club, we sang a simple yet familiar hymn, Come Christians Join to Sing. A perfect place to start our series.

"Come, Christians, join to sing Alleluia! Amen!
Loud praise to Christ our King; Alleluia! Amen!
Let all, with heart and voice, Before His throne rejoice;
 Praise is His gracious choice.Alleluia! Amen!
Come, lift your hearts on high, Alleluia! Amen!
Let praises fill the sky; Alleluia! Amen!
He is our Guide and Friend; To us He’ll condescend;
His love shall never end. Alleluia! Amen!
Praise yet our Christ again, Alleluia! Amen!
Life shall not end the strain; Alleluia! Amen!
On heaven’s blissful shore, His goodness we’ll adore,
Singing forevermore, “Alleluia! Amen!”

First of all, I encourage you “Come to Sing!" Come into worship with the intention of singing. The title is not, “Come Christians Join to LISTEN.” You have a wonderful responsibility to physically participate in the corporate worship of your God. You can proclaim as in the song, “Alleluia! Amen”. That is to say “Praise the Lord” “Indeed” . “God inhabits the praises of His people” so take the opportunity praise Him audibly with your voice. Nobody else can do that for you. Sing to your God “Alleluia! Amen!"

Encourage one another in the faith. We are blessed in this country that we are not alone in our faith. We have the privilege of being able to join with the family of God on a regular basis. Each week we are going to lift our voice together and to encourage one another as well. We exhort the body to “ Let all with heart and voice, before the throne rejoice”  and to “let praises fill the sky” “Alleluia! Amen!”

As we sing the middle stanza we focus on some of the attributes of the one we worship. Christ is our “guide” as well as our “Friend”.  I found the phrase “To us He’ll condescend. “ a little unusual so I had to think on it a while. In our world the term condescend has a negative connotation. We think of the term as having to do with an air of superiority. However in this case it means to waive the privileges of rank.  Which is what Christ did in being God and taking the form of a man to bring to us salvation. "The word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).  To that we sing “Alleluia! Amen!”

Then there’s the “heaven stanza” . It says “Life shall not end the strain” . Our songs, our praises our rejoicing will not end just because this earthly body quits working. We, as the children of God will have an eternity to praise him “Singing forever more.” So It’s about time we got started!

So…..“Come Christians Join to Sing Alleluia! Amen!”

-Sam Leslie, Music Minister