Monday, October 26, 2009


“God is my spotter!” is what the cool t-shirt read.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

When I was in middle school, a bunch of friends and I decided we would get physically fit. We got together a sweet set of weights from various places and from one another’s homes and we brought them all over to my garage where we started lifting. There were really no health reasons behind why we wanted to do this, we just wanted to have bigger muscles to “impress the ladies.” When we would lift we would try to see who could lift the most weight, for the greatest amount of repetitions, for the greatest effect. We would really push ourselves to the limit. We desired quick results. Sometimes we would attempt to lift more than we were able. We would get stuck under the unbearable weight and yell, “Spotter, please!” and our spotter, the person standing behind the bench press, would grab the barbell and lift the weight to the bar holder on the bench, rescuing us. Without that spotter, there would be many times that I would have been crushed by the weight that I was unable to bear.

Our walk with Jesus in this world is like this. We need a spotter to help us carry the burdens that would otherwise crush us. We cannot function in our own strength. To the extent that we do function within our own ability, we will accomplish only that which we are able to do, which is not much, and is still by the sheer grace and gift of God.

The Apostle Paul had a weakness that he said was the only thing that gave him bragging rights. Paul had to carry a weight around that he was unable to bear. This weight was a weakness of some sort, a handicap, a sin, or an infirmity of some kind. No one knows what exactly it was that Paul was struggling with “bench pressing,” but whatever it was, he was stuck with it. Paul stated that God’s strength was made perfect in his weaknesses. God was his spotter. Paul was unable to bear this weight on his own, but with God, his weakness was turned to strength, God’s strength.

Paul spoke about his weakness, and God being his spotter, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Our desire, much like Paul’s, is to impress ourselves, and others, with our own strength and self sufficiency. Most of us desire and attempt self reliance. Many times we are the ones who are attempting to be strong in our own rights, by our own efforts, and for our own glory. We think if somehow we have it all together and are strong we will be somehow superior. The truth is we have nothing on our own, and the only thing we can brag about is our weaknesses, just as Paul boasted in his weaknesses. It is when we find ourselves outside of our own abilities that our spotter can lift our loads on our behalf. If it is God who is our spotter, then there is nothing we cannot lift. Our weaknesses are the places where God’s strengths can be realized. It is when we are at our wits end that we can realize that we are not God and that we need God. We do not lift the burdens of this life on our own, nor can we, or should we. God’s strength is indeed made perfect in our weaknesses.

“When I am weak, then I am strong!” Spotter, please!


Works Cited

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 2 Co 12:7-10

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Don't Do it Yourself

Romans 8:12-14

“So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!”

I did some plumbing once for my Grandfather, who is a Baptist Minister. I had no idea what I was doing. I had a new plumbing book, a blowtorch, and some other random tools and set out to replace an outside faucet. I failed miserably. When Granddad heard me “cussing the pipe” under the house he started laughing at me. I didn't hear him, because of the cavernous echoes of my own obscenities from the lonely crawl space. When I emerged from the underworld of the soul killing doom, covered in mud, and with torched fingertips and a bad attitude, he simply smiled at me and said, "Robert, you can't be a plumber and a Christian at the same time!" So true, if Christianity is about not cussing, moral perfection, or following the law perfectly, then I can’t be a plumber and a Christian at the same time.

We also can't be religious, trying to earn God’s favor by our own works and effort, and be Christians at the same time either. The notion that we can save ourselves or "Do it ourselves," needs to die a quick death. There are some projects that I must call a plumber for, because that skill is beyond me. When it comes to our sin dead life, it is God Himself who we must lean on and call out to. It is God's Spirit that we trust will call us, and save us, and make us new. God will do it. We cannot.

There is nothing for us in a “do-it-yourself spirituality.” We are doomed to failure if we go that route. We must die to ourselves and awaken to God's Spirit beckoning life. God has a plan and a purpose for us. There are places He would have us go and missions that He will equip us to fulfill. We owe the flesh, ourselves, nothing at all.

Giving plumbing and religion a funeral and getting on with new life by God’s grace, power, and strength!


Scripture Cited

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ro 8:12-14

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Matthew 10:29-31

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

I have been thinking a lot about worth lately. How much are we worth? What is our value? Where do we get our value? Mark Yaconelli says that we are consumers who get our worth through what we have or consume; he says that we “are our appetites,” and that we are imprisoned within our material world (Yaconelli, p. 19). Marcus Borg, in The Heart of Christianity, says that we get our worth based on the “three A’s of our western culture: Appearance, achievement, and affluence (Borg, p. 116)." It seems as if both of these authors are attributing worth to an outside source or reference point. Worth is based on something else, someone else, or something other, as it is compared or contrasted.

There is an old saying that goes like this: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” This statement says that worth or value, like beauty, “is in the eye of the beholder.” It seems as if we ascribe value to something based on something else and that this value can fluctuate from one situation or person to another. For example, when we total the monetary value of the elements in our bodies and the value of the average person's skin, we arrive at a net worth of about $4.50 ( Now, no one would take $4.50 for their life or give up their lives for $4.50. Value here must be contingent on something else; something outside of ourselves and our lives must give us value and worth. So how much are we worth?

It must be true that we are worth a lot more than we are worth. There is a paradox occurring. I am worth $4.50 and I am priceless. . . Our worth has been determined by our creator. As believers and followers of Christ, God has ascribed to us our value by the price that He paid for our redemption. Redemption is from the Greek word, “ 629 ἀπολύτρωσις [apolutrosis /ap•ol•oo•tro•sis/] a releasing effected by payment of ransom. REDEMPTION: deliverance or a liberation procured by the payment of a ransom (Strong)” We were bough at a price. God paid our debts and literally laid His life down for us. The statement that is made by God here is clear and strong, “You are worth my own life.” God has bought us with Himself. He gave His life for ours while we were in our sins and actively rebelling against God (John 3:16-18, Romans 3:23-27, Romans 5:6-11).

Scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, whom we have from God, and that we are not your own. We were bought at a price; and therefore should glorify God in our bodies and in our spirit, which are God’s. We are worth far more than we are worth. Our value rests on God who is worth far more than we can imagine or conceive.

The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils has invested a lot of money and many a hard-earned tax dollar in calculating the chemical and mineral composition of the human body, which breaks down as follows: 65% Oxygen, 18% Carbon, 10% Hydrogen, 3% Nitrogen, 1.5% Calcium, 1% Phosphorous, 0.35% Potassium, 0.25% Sulfur, 0.15% Sodium, 0.15% Chlorine, 0.05% Magnesium, 0.0004% Iron, and 0.00004% Iodine. Additionally, it was discovered that our bodies contain trace quantities of fluorine, silicon, manganese, zinc, copper, aluminum, and arsenic. Together, all of the above amounts to less than one dollar (!

Jesus said this about our worth in Matthew 10: 29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God tracks the hairs on my head! I don’t even do that! I have no idea how much hair is on my head, but God does. God counts them. God tracks the lives of little sparrows, and I am of more value than they are according to Jesus. I am of more valuable to Jesus than I am to myself. Wow!

We are also of more value than other parts of the creation. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they (Matthew 6:26)?” Jesus also said, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep (Matthew 12:11-12)?” God values us more than animals and religious holy days. My $4.50, my junk, is God’s treasure.

Knowing that we are valuable to God, that it is God who has given us our worth, may we pray as Paul wrote in Colossians 1:12-17:

“Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

We exist because God wants us to exist. Our value is found in God. Our worth has been ascribed to us by our creator, in whom we have our value. When we are found in Him, we will be found priceless as He is and we will find our purpose and meaning in Him.

Finding my worth in Jesus,


Works Cited

Borg, Marcus. The Heart of Christianity. Harper San Francisco, 2003, 116.

Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Test of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. Ontario : Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996, S. G629

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Mt 10:29-31

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. 1 Co 6:19-20

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Mt 6:26

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Mt 12:11-12

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982, S. Col 1:12-17

Yaconelli, Mark. Downtime: Helping Teenagers Pray. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI. 2008, p. 19.