Psalm 8: Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
This talk was given by Dr Larry Correll on .
Dr Larry Correll reflects on over 52 years as a minister of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and tells us some of the things that God has taught him and his wife, Sue. Larry and Sue ministered at this church for several years from 1996.
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I want to thank Paul and the leadership team here for graciously opening your pulpit to me one more time. I think the first time I did preach here was probably in about 1996, when I came representing the EA, and then the years that we spent with you, and you’ve invited us back time and time again. You’ve listened to this terrible accent, but I know you understand what I’m saying.
Sue and I began in ministry – many of you may know this, may remember this – we began in ministry together full time, nonstop on June 1st, 1996. I’m sorry, June 1st, 1966. It’s been a long time. 52 and a half years we’ve been wandering for Christ. When we began in the ministry, we were with an organization, a church fellowship, and the rule of thumb was that as a local church pastor and pastor’s wife, we would minister probably, if God gave us 50 years, we would minister in seven or eight churches in a geographical area about the size of Cheshire. That’s what we anticipated.
Little did we know what God had in store. 52 and a half years later, here we are again in England. We’ve been all the way from Ireland to Moldova in this continent. We’ve been to the tip of South Africa. We’ve been all across the United States. We have hobnobbed with the Mexican cartels as we were teaching Bible and training pastors in Mexico. It’s been a wild ride for 52 and a half years.
Now, as we come toward the end, toward the close of our closing days of energetic and active ministry – you notice I didn’t say retirement, because I think, old preachers of the Gospel should never retire. We should just learn that our sermons need to be shorter, and most of us don’t, so there. As we come to this point in our life, Sue and I have contented ourselves to continue to be wanderers for Christ.
God gave us a home many years ago in Beloit, Wisconsin. A few of you in this room have been to our home. Now, he has given us, in the last three years, a beautiful little bungalow also in Beloit, Wisconsin. It is a bungalow that hopefully, they’ll carry us out the front door someday. It’s the place that we want to end our life here on earth.
It’s been fascinating because when God gave us this home, he also said, “I want you to continue to roam.” We’ll roam, but when we get tired, we’ll go home, and that’s easy to remember. Here we are still wandering, still roaming God’s earth trying to do the one and only thing that we know how to do, and that is to talk to people about our Lord Jesus Christ.
I did retire from Timothy Ministries. Many of you remember that Sue and I were privileged to found a mission organization, a training organization that worked on three continents. You helped us build Kum Bible College in the Republic of South Africa. You helped us train, literally, thousands of people in Europe, in North America, and in Africa who are now on the field as pastors, and evangelists, and Christian workers, and youth workers, and Christian hospice caregivers, and on and on the list goes.
We thank you for that. We praise God for you who stood by us all those years, and prayed for us, and gave to our needs, and here we are again. Now, we come to you with no organization, no PR, no brochures, just wanderers, roamers for Jesus Christ.
What I want to share with you today are a few of the few things that God has taught us in over 50 years of ministry. I actually wrote a treatise with just 12 things that God had taught us. I want to share just a couple of those with you today so don’t worry, you’ll get to eat the cake and lunch at the appropriate time.
Paul did such a wonderful introduction. He and I had talked on the email prior to our arrival. A month or two ago, I had mentioned to Paul that I had an idea of something I wanted to share with you, and then God intervened and he put squarely in front of my face, Psalm 8. Paul read parts of that, and expounded on it so beautifully a few minutes ago.
I’d like to read that Psalm to you and use it as a platform, if you will, a springboard to talk about a few of the things that God has taught Susan and myself, and a few of the things that I think every Christian, every church, everywhere in the world needs to know, needs to understand, and needs to apply in their lives, but let me start with the entirety of Psalm 8.
Paul was right; what a majestic set of words. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name and all the earth. You have set Your glory above the heavens and from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger.” God, you could even make infants praise your name to prove that you are more powerful than any enemy that could attack us.
“When I consider Your heavens, when I consider the work of Your fingers, when I consider the moon and the stars which You have set in place, and when I consider, what is man, that You should be mindful of him.” What am I, what are you, that God should know us, that he should have us in his mind, and his heart?
“What is the son of man that You should care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings,” a little lower than the God himself, “and crowned him with Glory.” He crowned us in creation with His glory and his honour. David says, “You made him ruler over the works of Your hands, and You put everything under his feet; all the flocks and all the herds, and all the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the sea. O, Lord. O Lord, our Lord, Our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” God’s people said, “Amen.”
When I read that many years ago, God started to remind me of something I needed to know as a Christian leader and a Christian worker. Then, recently again within this last month, when I wrote to Paul and said I’m going to change gears here, and we’re going to talk from Psalm  , God reminded me that it’s not just something that I should know; it’s something that Paul should know as a Christian leader, not something that the Bishop of Canterbury should know or anything like that, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Bishop of Coventry, or Billy Graham when he was alive, but it’s something that every person who claims Christ as their saviour needs to know.
It’s something that every person who has not yet invited Jesus into their life needs to know about the God who created them. This is it, that God values each and every one of us well beyond what we could ever value ourselves. God values every person. I think about when God spoke first of us way back in Genesis 1:26-27. What did he say? Let us make mankind in what? Our image and our likeness. Those Hebrew words that we translate image and likeness are fascinating words. I’m going to cut right to the chase, the bare bones of the meaning of those words.
When God said, “I’m going to create you, Jeff, in my image,” what he meant was, I’m going to put my character in you. I’m going to put the qualities of who I am in you. You’ll never be God. That’s the problem with the liberal theology in the liberal world. They think they can be God. They’re wrong, dead wrong. God said, “I’m going to give you my character.” The word image.
Then, he repeats, “I will create man, we will create man, we the Trinity, we will create man also in our likeness.” That Hebrew word for likeness is an action word. It means, you will not only have the quality of God in you, the character of God, but you can exercise that. You can act upon it. Image and likeness.
If you know, verses 26 and 27 in Genesis 1, you know that God goes on and says, “We will create all of you in the image and the character and the qualities of God that you will have in you, and the ability to put them to use in your life. Then I will give you dominion over everything. I’ll give you dominion over the fields and the mountains and the seas and the flowers and everything, everything, animals, birds.”
What did David write? All David wrote in Psalm 8 was an extended version of Genesis 1:26-27. What was he saying? What was God saying? “I made you. I made you. I know you. I love you. I love you, beyond all account that you could ever imagine.” Do I need to stay behind this or can I walk out there?
[Congregation:] You have to stay there [behind the microphone]
[Larry:] I thought so.
[Larry:] That is all right. I’ll just wiggle a lot, but I’ll be in one spot. Listen, there was a young man who was born and he was quite young yet, perhaps a teenager. All of a sudden, he began to have this intense driving feeling that God, this God of the universe was calling him to do something special, but he didn’t know. He was afraid. He just didn’t think he was up to the task. His name was Jeremiah.
In Jeremiah 1:4, God speaks directly to him. He says to the young Jeremiah, “Listen, fellow.” He said, “Before you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you. When you were still the cosmic molecules of this creation and nothing more, I’m the one that put you where you were, in your mother’s womb. I knew you and I knew the personality that you would have. I knew the strengths and weaknesses that you would have. I value you.”
Then God said to Jeremiah, “Before you were born, I set you apart. I have a job for you. I have something for you to do with your entire life.” It may mean going halfway around the world, or all around the world, or going next door, or going down the street, or going to Countess [of Chester Hospital] , or to Halton [Hospital], or to Hillcrest or to, what is it, Heathercliffe? Yes, or to the person who lives next to you who’s suffering, struggling, confused, lonely.
Why would you go? Why would you be like Jeremiah, and go? It is because, when you start reading things like Psalm 8, you begin to understand that God not only values you, God values the person sitting next to you and behind you and in front of you.
I was so pleased that Paul said, “Wow”, this morning. I used to say, “Wow”, when I was here, and to tell you the truth, all those years ago, many of my English friends kind of raised an eyebrow when I said, “Wow”, in the pulpit. I’ll tell you, I’m so happy you said that this morning. You’re English and I’m not. Pardon?
[Paul W:] Main Street genetics.
[Larry:] Main Street genetics. Sue and I were in Africa, and I was trying to express to my African pastors whom I were training. I was trying to express to them the absolute joy of belonging to Jesus Christ. It is for Sue and myself, for all these years, long before we ever went into his ministry, we belong to Jesus Christ. We had given our lives to Him. We had asked forgiveness. We knew we admitted that we were sinners.
We knew we needed a saviour, and she before me, she found Jesus, and then she found me and help lead me to Jesus Christ, and we both belong to Him, and then He called us, He set us apart, like God said to Jeremiah. I’m trying to express to my African pastors, Pondo tribesmen, Thembu tribesmen, Sotho tribesmen, Christian men. I’m trying to help them understand the joy and the excitement of belonging to the Lord who knows you and loves you, oftentimes, in spite of yourself. The only thing I could think of was the word, “Wow.”
Of course, they had never heard the word. I said, “We have a word in the West that we sometimes use when we can’t describe something that’s way beyond us. It’s wow.” I had about 50 pastors sitting out there, and they all started saying, “Wow, wow, wow.” You ever heard 50 African pastors? It was like a crescendo. Pretty soon they were, wow! wow! wow! wow! wow!
I have a feeling today that if you travelled in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and you went to a church, you might find some black pastor standing in the pulpit or wandering in front of his congregation saying, “You want to know Jesus? It is so good to know Jesus. Wow!” I hope and pray that’s the case.
Listen, God has taught Sue and myself to value people because we have come to understand that God values everyone He creates. You see, the key here is this, if I just stop there, that would be a universalistic theology that says, “Because God created you, no matter what you do or anything, then you’re okay.” That’s not the case. What he wants us to know first from Psalm 8 is, that He knows us and He loves us with an unbelievably beautiful love that never stops.
But what He also requires of us, is expressed so well, from John 3:16, the most famous verse all around the world, for God made us and so loves us and knows who we are and knows what we need, that God gave His own Son, that if we would admit our sin, repent and turn to His Son, Jesus Christ, and receive Him into our life, receive His new life, receive His hope, receive His promises, that we would not perish, but we would have what?
[Congregation:] Eternal life.
[Larry:] Eternal life. Some translations say everlasting life. Some say eternal life. There is a difference between those two, but they both fit because when you ask Jesus Christ into your life, when you get saved or you are born again, those are things out of the Bible.
I’ve run into some church people in different places around the world that say, “I don’t like the phrase ‘born again.’ We don’t use that in our church.” I say, “Shame on you. It’s right out of the Bible.” I’ve run into others that say they don’t like the idea of being saved. They just want to have a nice, cozy, but somewhat fuzzy relationship with God. I say, “Shame on you because salvation is spoken of in the Bible, over and over and over again.”
When we invite Jesus Christ into our life, then He not only saves us and pours his spirit into us, but He begins to open our minds so that we understand how much He does love us, and what He will do, including in operations, in the loss of family members, in economic tough times. He loves you enough that he will still be there with you all the way to the end. He will never, ever desert you.
When Sue and I really figured this out – and we were somewhat dense, it took us some time to understand how much God really does love all of us so much so, that he wants to save us and to have us with him for all eternity – Sue and I made a decision. Our decision is that we would refuse, as Christians – and I give this to churches wherever I go and I have the opportunity – we would refuse to be elitist. We would refuse to be legalistic. We would refuse to be judgmental and critical and patronizing. We would refuse to be arrogant towards those who have not the same faith that we have. We would refuse to be biased, as best we can.
You see, the key that I’ve been talking about is not just a general understanding of God’s love, but that God’s love is seen best and foremost through Jesus Christ, and that the world really needs Jesus Christ. That brings me to the second thing that Sue and I have learned together. That is that we must dedicate our lives the best we can to boldly – In fact, the word bold was in one of the songs we sang this morning. Everybody said, “We will be bold.” We were singing, and we said, “We will be bold,” or whatever the line was in the song, and then I’m thinking, “Yes, right, we can sing that, but do we really mean it?”
Sue and I have dedicated ourselves to trying to find bold, creative ways of telling people that they need Jesus Christ in their life just as badly as we do. May I repeat that? We have dedicated our lives and whatever time we have left to roam or be at home, to boldly and creatively find ways of telling other people – any language, any culture, any place – that they need Jesus in their life as badly as we needed him in our life.
Sometimes when I have mentioned this to people, they said, “Well, how? How do we begin to do that?” My answer is, “just start reading the book of Acts. Just read the book of Acts. If you want to know about boldness and creativity, just read the book of Acts, and maybe God will open your eyes and give you some ideas that you can apply to this age and this place and the people who do not know Jesus Christ right here in this area.”
Sue and I have dedicated ourselves to trying to share Christ systematically, strategically, anyway we can, as long as it is not illegal, unethical, immoral, unbiblical, or fattening. I’m going to tell you a story. Paul told me, I have until about 10 of, and I’m almost done. All right. I still got 12 minutes, 13.
When Sue and I were teaching in Africa, at Kum Bible College and we were training Christian workers there, we had a young man come to us. After talking with him just a little while, we realized that if he lived in England or in America, he would be special needs. I don’t know his age. I’m guessing that when we met him he must have been 19, 20, 21. It just seemed that would be about the right age.
There was something that was different about the young man. I couldn’t pronounce his name when I knew him, and I can’t remember how to pronounce his name now. It was one of those [clicking] . We worked with the clicking language people, the Pondo people that spoke Xhosa, which is the clicking language. This guy had a name about that long with clicks about every three or four sounds in the name.
He said, “I want to come to come to Kum Bible College.” We asked him about his salvation, and he gave his testimony of, as a lad when he had come to Christ. Yes, he loves Jesus, and we believed him. We admitted him to the college. Now, by our English and American standards, he would not have been able to get into this Bible college, but he was there to learn how to better minister for Jesus Christ. He was limited, but he was there.
The thing he enjoyed so much was that we would start our classes about nine o’clock in the morning and around eleven o’clock, we would stop for tea. We’d have a cuppa, and everybody would go out into the sunshine and if it was sun shining, and we’d stand there with our tea cups and we would drink. Then, I needed to get them back in into the classroom.
The first day or two of this class that this young man was in, I’m standing in front of the door saying, “Come on in, come back, come back, please, come back.” Little by little, they’d start. Well, somebody found us an old school bell on a handle, and it was sitting in the classroom.
The young man was standing next to me and I said, “Would you go ring the bell?” He was over there, grabbed that bell, came out, and literally walked at a fast pace all around the grounds, and he was ringing that bell. Within a week, no one, even the people who knew him, called him by his name, his African name. they simply called him Ring-the-bell.
There’s a young man who’s probably now in his 30s running around Africa, and he’s known as Ring-the-bell. Let me tell you a little bit about his story. His mother, his father, his brother, his sister, and he were the only five Christians in a village controlled by a shaman, by a witch doctor. For many, many years, the witch doctor had been trying to force the family out of the village. He wanted no Christian believers in his village. Terrible things had been done to their animals and to their home, but Ring-the-bell and his family stayed. They stayed as a witness for Jesus Christ.
Then one day, Ring-the-bell had gone out, I don’t know, to bring in some cattle, to do something. He was just beyond the village border, and he was coming back, and he heard a terrible sound. He heard screaming. When he got back to the kraal where his family was, his mother, father, brother, and sister had been slaughtered by the witch doctor and his henchmen.
Ring-the-bell put the animals in the pen and found a makeshift shovel and he started to work digging four graves in front of the rondavel in the kraal. Methodically, with great effort and many tears, he buried his parents and his siblings. You’re expecting me to say that he packed up and left. He stayed.
He stayed, and every day he would go and sit on the graves. As people walked by the kraal, and of course, they made wide berth of the kraal. I t was a murder kraal, and everybody knew it. B ut as they would make a berth around the kraal to go from one end of the village to the other, Ring-the-bell would shout to them about Jesus and his love for Jesus and how his parents and his siblings were home in heaven with the Lord Jesus, and they now had all the promises that God had ever made. Ring- the- bell begged people to stop and listen to the story of Jesus Christ.
He came to us, and I was teaching that course where he showed up, I was teaching evangelism. and at the end of the course, I gave – in the situation we were, cross-cultural and multilingual, you couldn’t give a written test; it would do nothing. What we did was active final exams, and so I gave the entire class the exam of going out from the college into the surrounding villages and telling at least one person about Jesus Christ and about the salvation that He offers. “Go be an evangelist. If you never have done it before boldly, go.” Everybody went.
When they came back after that day was over, when they came back and a massed together with me in the Bible college, we began to ask people, “What did you do? What was your experience?” We found out that several people had given their lives to Christ because our students screwed up their courage and went out and talked about Jesus Christ. Do you know what Ring-the-bell did? Ring-the-bell had equivalent to about 50p in rand. That’s all he had in his pocket, so he went down, walked about two miles down to where the taxi went through.
The taxi was an old, dirty, beat- up Volkswagen van with eight seats that customarily held 20-25 people sitting on top of each other. Ring-the-bell took his rand and he got in the queue, but he got in at the end of the queue. As the 20 people or so who are crowding into this van, all huddled and sitting on top of each other and sitting on the floor, as they got in, the only place left was right behind the driver. He gave his 50p, if you will, and he got on. Once they slammed the door closed and the driver took off across the bush about 60 miles an hour, he began to preach – to a captive congregation.
You see, you can get up and run out if you want. You better not! But he had a captive congregation. He just started telling his story and then telling them about how Christ Jesus, His life, His death, and His resurrection changed everything for Ring-the-bell, and could change everything for them. We know that after that, several people actually came to the Lord for salvation through Ring-the-bell.
Wow, it is true; this business of telling people about Jesus. We Christians are very good at digging wells, and building buildings, and helping the poor. All of that is what we should be doing, but if we do not openly and keenly link that to the story of salvation through Jesus Christ, then we end being one more humanitarian agency on the face of this earth, and not much else.
I got to thinking about this whole idea of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, sharing about the need for Jesus as saviour in our lives, and I got to thinking this is the only thing that nobody else in the world will do. If we don’t do it, the message will not be heard in any kind of passion or clarity.
I still have four minutes. I leave you with this, value people as God values them. Tell them they need Jesus in very passionate, in very bold, in very creative, but very clear ways. Don’t leave them leaving you with fuzzy or hazy thoughts about what it means to be a Christian. Then, do something that God invites us all to do. The old Puritan Divines years ago sat down in these islands and they wrote something called the Westminster Confession of Faith, and if any of you know that, you know the first question that is asked is, can you repeat it anybody with me? What is the chief end of man?
The answer that your Puritan Divines gave the world was, it is to glorify and enjoy God. When I thought about that Westminster Confession of Faith and that first question, what’s the chief end of us being here, it is to glorify God and to enjoy Him, it took me back to 1 Timothy 6, where Paul wrote to Timothy, listen, “God will provide for you and your life, everything you need” – are you ready for this – “for your enjoyment.”
Wow! I’ll say it again, wow! God wants us to enjoy life. Somebody said to me yesterday, “We need to laugh together more. We need to smile together more. We need to have more joy with one another.” Well, that comes from joy with God. it does.
I looked up the word enjoy, and I end with this, enjoy means to delight in. Isn’t it time that we start delighting in God? Isn’t it time we start delighting in Jesus as our saviour? If you don’t know Him as your personal saviour, don’t waste time because you don’t know how much you have to invite Him in and to enjoy Him living in your life.
It also means to pleasingly love. Isn’t it time that we learn to pleasingly love God and each other?
It also means to relish. Isn’t it time that we relished opportunities like this instead of saying, “It’s Sunday morning. I better go to church again or people will think I’m a backslider.” No, isn’t it better to relish these times together that we have? That’s what it means to enjoy God.
The last definition of the word enjoy, are you ready? To hold close. Isn’t it time that each one of us in here who claims Jesus hold Him more closely to us than we have had before? Isn’t it time that we learn to hold each other as Christian brothers and sisters more closely than we ever have before?
If we begin to seriously and consciously do those things together, and build the ministry of this church and every church around the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, His salvation, His death and resurrection, the fulfillment of all of His promises, if we do that, the Puritan Divines will love us because we will be not only enjoying God, but we will be glorifying Him as well. Amen? I’m terribly sorry. It’s nine minutes until the hour, not 10. God bless you.
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Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.