Video – Lessons from the Song “Just As I Am, I Come Broken”

This was a lesson I presented at the 2016 Florida College Alabama camp reflecting on the theme song from camp: “Just As I Am, I Come Broken.” This is a beautiful adaptation of an old hymn that expresses the response of someone coming just as they are to God for healing and transformation.

This was a lesson I presented at the 2016 Florida College Alabama camp reflecting on the theme song from camp: “Just As I Am, I Come Broken.” This is a beautiful adaptation of an old hymn that expresses the response of someone coming just as they are to God for healing and transformation.

Own Your Life and Give Up Your Excuses

Kyle Maynard’s Story

Kyle Maynard wrestled in high school and in college for the Georgia Bulldogs. He set records in weightlifting, fought in mixed martial arts, and ascended to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. These would be amazing feats for anyone to achieve but they are more amazing when you consider Kyle Maynard’s physical condition: he was born with a condition known as congenital amputation. Most of his arms and legs were not there at birth.

According to his biography, his parents told him that the world would not be designed to meet his needs so he would have to find ways to adapt to how the world works. “With basically two elbows he can type up to fifty words per minute on a normal keyboard, eat and write without any adaptations, drive a vehicle that has little modification, and live on his own in a three-story townhouse in Atlanta, GA.” He can feed himself, shave, and otherwise take care of himself.kylemaynard

He had many challenges: he lost every wrestling match for most of the two years he competed but with an iron will and parents who supported him he won 36 varsity matches, defeated several state champions, and bench pressed 240 pounds 23 times and, with leather straps and chains, lifted 420 lbs. “In April of 2009, Kyle became the first quadruple amputee to step into the cage and compete as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter. Kyle’s focus is on grappling and ground fighting — he’s currently in his 7th year studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and now training with Renzo Gracie black belt Paul Creighton.”

The reason that Kyle had such success is that he took responsibility for his life instead of giving up because of his physical condition.

Taking responsibility means giving up your excuses

In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus told the Parable of the Talents. The master was going away and entrusted his servants with various sums of money and expected them to use that money to make more money for him. The master had different expectations for each man but expected all to prosper. He rewarded or punished the men based on how they used the talents. When the master returned, two of the servants had some success but one failed prosper. He thought he was playing it safe but the master was angry and punished him for being a wicked and useless servant.

This is a parable of judgment. The issue is not taking care of money but using what God has given us to His glory. God will judge us on how we use or waste our lives and the blessings He has given. Two men made a choice; one made an excuse.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God, Romans 14:12

What is “responsibility”?

There are many definitions available. For our purposes, one could define responsibility as:

  1. The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control overs someone or something
  2. The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something
  3. The opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization

Responsibility means trust is placed in an individual with expectation that they will fulfill their obligations without being told or threatened, accepting the good and bad consequences of their actions, and running to responsibilities instead of hiding from them.

Accepting responsibility is the essence of being mature

God has given us free will – the right to choose our course of life. We are not robots who follow a predetermined program. He does not force us to do His will or refrain from sin. Like the servants in the parable of the talents, we are given great freedom in what we choose to do with what God has given us. We are stewards of the life God has given us and He will hold us accountable for our actions or failure to act. God has given us control over how we live our lives.

I remember when I got the keys to my first car. The keys meant I had the freedom to go where I wanted when I wanted. I didn’t have to depend on anyone for a ride and I could go on dates. I was also responsible for paying for gas to fuel my freedom. I had to wash and clean it if I wanted it to look nice: no one did it for me. I was also accountable for the safety of myself and my passengers. One night I almost killed myself and two girls by being stupid behind the wheel. When I was given the keys to the car I was given freedom, responsibility, and accountability.

God has given us the keys to our life and with them freedom, responsibility, and accountability for how we use our lives. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 -17 that God’s word fully equips us for EVERY good work so we can’t blame God for not telling us what to do.

One of the most sobering passages of scripture is Romans 14:12: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” We will have to answer to God for how we lived our life: the choices we made and the things that we failed to do. 2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Our parents don’t answer for us. The preacher or elders don’t answer for us. We cannot blame or credit anyone else for how we have lived. We receive reward or punishment based on what we have done.

Some people fail to accept responsibility for their lives. Some churches filled with people who are spiritually weak and biblically ignorant having given no serious effort to their spiritual growth. Churches need spiritually strong Christians grounded in God’s word to live faithful holy lives and to serve God and others. In some churches a few are willing to step up and work and learn new responsibilities but they are surrounded by irresponsible people who are willing to let others work and do not challenge themselves to godly service.

Some people won’t grow up. Most kids know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who never wanted to grow up, only wanted to play, and escaped from the real world to keep up his immature life. Far from being discouraged in our society, our emphasis on professional play, entertainment, and sexual promiscuity encourage a long period of irresponsibility. Some boys and girls do not want to leave play time to transition into the society of responsible men and women. I shocked a person who wondered why video games are intense and had language and other mature characteristics when I told her that video games weren’t made for kids, the biggest users are young adult men. I’m not condemning the playing of games because alcohol, laziness, non-electronic hobbies, etc. can limit a young person’s growth or lead people to perpetual adolescence. Though talking about spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 13:11 tells us there is a time to put away the childish things and accept responsibility.

Instead of seeking responsibility, some are passively avoiding it. They let others do the work. They wait for others to direct them to work. We have a lot of boys running around in men’s bodies who will not do hard work, want others to do things for them instead of serving others, seek entertainment and comfort instead of embracing the mature satisfaction of rising to the challenges of life. Proverbs 10:5 reminds us “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.”

Help others with their burden

Opportunity plus ability equals responsibilityThe Christian must rise to action to serve God, not hide or wait for others to work, but must seek opportunities to serve and rise to the task. John, in 1 John 3:16, describes a brother in need who requires an open heart and active hands to help him. Faced with this situation, the Christian should act if they can help. No one has to tell you to act: the situation calls you to action. When we encounter an opportunity to help, and we can help, then are responsible to act.

Be honest about your ability. You may not have the cash but can you use your time and energy to help the situation? Maybe the need isn’t financial, perhaps someone needs a friend, sympathetic ear, or word of encouragement.

Bear your own burden

We can help other people carry their burdens but everyone is responsible to carry their own burdens, Galatians 6:1-5. Some people will let you carry all of their burdens: do their work, make lots of demands on your time, etc. They might try to make you feel guilty for not doing more but remember they are responsible for their own lives.

Many years ago I spent several hours at the house of a husband and wife with marital problems AND problems raising their kids. I gave them some practical things to do to help in both situations. A couple of weeks later they called during the middle of some family time saying, “You need to come over here. We’re having problems.” I asked if they had followed the advice I gave earlier. They said “no.” I told them to discuss these things because I wasn’t going to come over repeat the advice they ignored. I didn’t feel guilty because they had ignored my help before. I would have sacrificed precious time with my family because these people were making poor decisions in their family and until they made different choices they would continue to have the bad consequences.

Conclusion

We have so many opportunities to let God’s light shine through us but we have to look for opportunities and act without being asked. Living this life will enrich your life and the lives of others and glorify your God.

Blocking God’s Light

Reflecting God’s Light

Jesus called His followers to be “lights in the world,” Matthew 5:14, but we do not generate light; we reflect it. Jesus is the light of the world who gives light to all men, John 1:1-9. God’s word enlightens us, Ephesians 1:17-19 and gives us light, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6. The Bible describes our conversion as enlightenment, Hebrews 10:32.

Christians are being transformed into the glory of Jesus, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. We shine as lights because we reflect the glory of Jesus as we are transformed and His life is manifested in ours, 2 Corinthians 4:11. We see this in the life of the apostles who were bold because they had been with Jesus and reflect His character, Acts 4:13.

 

We reflect the light of Jesus both from being illuminated within and being in God’s presence. The closer we get to the light, the more brightly we will reflect the light. The farther we get from Jesus, the less we reflect His glory. Our light shines to illuminate others (Matthew 5:16; 1 John 1:5-7; 1 Peter 2:11-12) Christians must walk as children of light, Ephesians 5:6-20. Christians must love as children of light, 1 John 2:8-11. Even our enemies should be hushed by lives reflecting God’s glory, Titus 2:7-8.

God’s Light in a Dark World

As the light of God’s word shines brightly into the world, it should be reflected brightly in the Christians as they are scattered in the dark world. The light of God’s word is ever shining in the world but the light of a Christian’s life must be shining as well. Some may not initially read God’s word but may listen to it being spoken by one who is living it.

We live in a world filled with lost souls who need the gospel message. We have God’s word that can illuminate their hearts and kindle a flame within just as it did with us. We have many tools that can be used to communicate the word – numerous evangelism books and suggested approaches that can help us communicate the message. The best evangelism program is a Christian who has a passion for leading lost souls to Jesus.

Blocking God’s Light to the World

The light of the physical world demonstrates how we reflect the light of God onto the world: God is the sun, the source of light. We are the moon, reflecting God’s light onto the world. Our light is not a bright, and is reflected, but it is effective for its purpose.

In a solar eclipse the moon, though infinitesimally small compared to the sun, is positioned directly between the earth and the sun blocking the sun’s rays so that midday is darkened. The sun still shines bright but its light is blocked while the moon is in the way.

Solar & Lunar Eclipses. Vector.Christians can bring attention to themselves instead of directing the glory to God. Remember in Matthew 5 Jesus said the world should see our good works and glorify God. Some want attention for worldly things: look at me because I am beautiful, rich, funny, talented, muscular, successful, etc. They want people to focus on them for what they have or their physical appearance (sensual pictures and self-promotion on social media encourage this). They want people to focus on them, not Christ in them.

Even though we are small, we can come between the world and God,and block the glory of God from being seen in those whom we could illuminate with His truth. Instead of reflecting God’s glory onto the world, we are in the way and bringing darkness instead.

In a lunar eclipse the earth blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the moon. Although the Earth is smaller than the sun it can completely darken the moon when it moves between the moon and the sun.

When we let the world get between us and God, our light diminishes and can go out. We can be so obsessed with things of this world: money, entertainment, sports, pleasure, work, etc. that we have little time to be enlightened by God’s word or shine that light for others. Jesus warned, in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:19) that the cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches, and other things choke out the word. Great heroes of faith. like Moses, forsook the earthly pleasures and treasures for eternal rewards, Hebrews 11:24-26. Sometimes we will not give up habits, attitudes, or thoughts that are ungodly and diminish the light that does shine from our lives. Pure lives reflect the most light.

As I noted before, we reflect the light of Jesus both from being illuminated within and being in God’s presence. The closer we get to the light, the more brightly we will reflect the light. The farther we get from Jesus, the less we reflect His glory.

  • Are you continually feeding the light within by studying God’s word and letting it transform you?
  • Are you removing things in your life, habits, attitudes, and thoughts that inhibit the light from shining?
  • Are you embarrassed about your faith? Hiding your faith under a bushel instead of giving light to others?

Let’s remove anything from our lives that inhibits the full glory of God from being reflected onto the dark world and let God illuminate us on the inside and before others. If you are not a Christian, why not let God illuminate your life and transform it into glory through Jesus?

Don’t Talk Your Dreams To Death

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

“In all toil (labor) there is profit”
Diligent work always leads to some result or profit of benefit to the worker. Most work is neither easy nor fun but it does pay the bills and provides money for doing good and having fun. Even if you have a job you enjoy, there will be  unpleasant duties. People who love to garden still must get dirty, sweaty, and dig through the soil if they want to have the flowers or produce of the garden.

“Mere talk leads to poverty”
In contrast to diligent labor, talk without action leads to poverty. Idle talking does not pay and has gotten some people fired. Grandiose plans and slick presentations may impress others but it does not pay one cent if no labor is expended to make the dream a reality.

The first obvious application—indeed the natural application—of this verse is to the business world. In the early days of personal computers —before the average person could access the Internet—a man I knew had great plans to work with realtors to put pictures of houses for sale on videodisc (pre-DVD) with sale information for agents and customers. He had a prototype system, good marketing plan, and enthusiastic presentation. He talked with people in the office about his plans and the unlimited potential for profits. One problem: he did not have customers or profit from the work because he did not get out and talk to the customers who needed the system. In short, he planned and talked his way to poverty while other people, through hard work, were able to profit from similar ideas.

The world is made up of  poor creative geniuses and  rich people of average intelligence. The difference is not what they know but by what they do.

This principle is especially important for spiritual growth. Is your spiritual life the product of hard work or mere talk?

Some people talk about “getting their life right” or “straightening up” but still hang out with ungodly friends, feed their minds with filth, and do not change. Some say they want to pray or study more—and do so year after year. Some talk about doing more things with their brethren, helping the sick or needy, or getting involved with some work in the church but do not act.

Some people realize their life is displeasing to God, is yielding undesirable consequences, and is unsatisfying so they change their behavior. Some want a closer relationship with God and execute a plan to study and pray more frequently. Some take action to involve themselves with their brethren so they can have richer and deeper fellowship with other Christians.

If you want to have a rich and meaninful spiritual life, you’ll have to work for it.

  • Romans 13:11-14 – Awake and get busy
  • Thessalonians 5:4-8 – get busy with good things
  • Ephesians 5:14-17 – wake up and make good use of your time

 “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19 (NIV)

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” How sad it will be for those who dreamed of a close relationship with God and their brethren, a close loving family, and a meaningful life’s work to fail because they only dreamed and did not act.

Where Are The Gauges?

 On my way to the building today, a little yellow light in the shape of a gas pump caught my eye.  I had not looked at the gas gauge in a while and was very low on gas.  Because of this bit of intervention by my car, I was able to immediately stop for fuel and avoid the embarrassment and hassle of running out of gas.

It would be great if we had spiritual gauges to warn us of dangerous behaviors or conditions so we could make timely and necessary adjustments.  If our frustration and anger were growing, a red light warning us to calm down would be nice.  If we are about to say anything unkind, gossip, or lie, a warning alarm could bring us to our senses and cause us to reign in our speech.

by chego101 via Flickr
by chego101 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In fact, we do have some gauges.  Our conscience and our Bible will help us detect things that are wrong in our lives or things that we should add so we can make adjustments.  A conscience trained in the word of God will detect when we are not doing as we ought or urge us to do something God has commanded.

Sometimes we ignore the warning signal.  Cindie and I used to have a van in which the “Check Engine” light would say on.  Usually this is an ominous warning but a mechanic, after checking the codes, assured us that the warning light was the only problem.  It would cause some concern with those who rode with us, but we assured them that things were ok.  Of course, if some real danger developed, how would we know?  I was only concerned when one day, the light <em>stopped</em> coming on (the light bulb finally died).

We can ignore the appeal of our conscience to change our behavior.  We may be troubled when we do (or fail to do) some action.  Our conscience tugs at us and reminds us to conform our will to God’s law.  If ignored, the message of the conscience, like our warning light, will not have much impact and will finally turn off.

One day, Cindie and I visited the Motorsports Hall of Fame at the Talladega Superspeedway.  In the museum, there were cars from all eras of stock car racing.  In the modern stock cars there was a plaque saying that the gauges are usually positioned in such a way that at the optimal speed and performance, all of the gauges would point up.  When traveling at speeds nearing 200 MPH one does not want to take his eyes off the road for long.  Among the gauges I noticed three that are important to our cars that were missing from the race cars:  the speedometer, odometer, and gas gauge.

It quickly dawned on me why the speedometer was unnecessary.  If there are more cars passing you than you are passing, you are going too slowly.  If you are leading the cars, you are going fast enough.  As Christians, we do not need a speedometer.  We gauge our progress by honestly asking, “Am I really doing all that I need to do and what God expects of me?”  In our language and actions, we should be doing better than the ungodly world.  If are lives are constantly shamed by those who are not Christians, we need to improve quickly.  Jesus preached that “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

Christ set a pace for us by living a perfect life.  We will not be able to run as perfect a race as He did but we can run better every day and improve over yesterday.  We can look at His example, surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses, and run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  We do not need an odometer, because we must run full strength until we die and cross the finish line.

We do not have a gas gauge.  We do not know when our time will run out therefore we must run with diligence today and not plan our best efforts for some tomorrow; tomorrow may never come.  We must account for how we have used the time we have been given.  Unlike the racecar drivers, we do not know when the race will be over.