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Just As I AmDo you ever get a song in your head that just doesn’t want to leave? That’s what I’m experiencing right now (while I should be sleeping). That’s because of a new favorite that we’ve sang in church a lot recently.

Having grown up in church, I absolutely love sacred music: hymns, southern gospel, choral, contemporary, you name it. In general, I prefer hymns to remain true to the song writer’s original intent — particularly with regard to words and tune. However, there are some incredible arrangements now available that just speak directly to my soul. One of them is a fairly new adaptation of the classic invitation hymn, “Just As I Am,” which, of course, was sung at the end of every Billy Graham crusade.

This hymn was penned by Charlotte Elliott, who died in 1871. As the story goes, Elliott, then 46 years old, was approached at a dinner party by a man who asked if she was a Christian. Elliott was offended by the question — but couldn’t shake it. Obviously the Holy Spirit was at work, and the poet went to find the man and asked him how to become a Christian. The woman came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and the song she wrote — “Just As I Am” — was considered a tribute to the man who explained to her that she could come to Jesus just as she was. Elliott would go on to write some 150 hymns, but none is so popular as this one. (View Source)

The newer version by Travis Cottrell adds a chorus that I think even the original songwriter would find a blessing:

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ, the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

I hope you can identify with these powerful words. I sure can. Come to Jesus, just as you are. And let Him begin to transform your heart, your mind, and your entire life.

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A work in progress

January 15, 2014 — 3 Comments

pottery-makingAs a follower of Christ, I am very familiar with Scripture, although I’ve read far more than I’ve practically applied in my everyday life. I’m sure the same could be said for most believers. Often in personal study, I get new insights and perspectives. At other times I really get a deeper sense of connection with a well-known passage.

There’s a verse that God has placed on my heart today that I just feel compelled to share with you:

But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8, ESV)

Appreciation for Creativity
Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve loved to make things with my hands. True confession: I was the kid who got upset when my parents took away my wooden building blocks when I was 14. I’m not sure what the problem was exactly; it wasn’t like they were going to expire! But I’m over it. (Aren’t you glad?)

I enjoy being creative, even when blocks aren’t involved. When I was about 8-years-old, I received a Play-Doh ‘fun factory’ for Christmas — you know, the awesome plastic gadget that turns clumps of Play-Doh into cool shapes, confetti, and spaghetti-like strands. I thought it was really cool, but I seem to remember my Mom muttering something under her breath about it. But I could be wrong, I suppose.

Acknowledgement of Everyday Struggles
One thing I’m not wrong about is that as a Christian, I have really come to appreciate the fact that I’m a work in progress. While I belong to God, He is still at work within me to transform me into the image of His Son. That means that I still struggle with the same kinds of things as other humans:

  • I still get angry and lose my temper sometimes.
  • I still struggle at times to control my tongue, and as a result, hurt people (especially people I really love).
  • I stay up too late, work too much, and exercise too little.
  • I battle daily with impure thoughts and temptation to sin.

You get the picture. Just because a person responds to the call of God doesn’t magically make him or her perfect. While we often think of God as the one doing all the invitations to pursue Him, the reality is that saying ‘YES’ to God is really an open invitation for Him to take over and truly make something new from something old, beaten, and battered.

After all, He is the potter, and we are described as clay in His hands. Whenever I visit a theme park, there are three places where I lose all sense of time: the saltwater taffy shop, the glass-blowing shop, and the pottery shop

All three of these things have fascinated me since I was very young. And I guess it’s true what they say: some things never get old. If I had to narrow it to one favorite stop along the fun-filled amusement park paths, I’d have to choose the pottery shop because it really does just provide such a powerful visual of this Scriptural description of the Creator with His creation.

Now I’m no expert on pottery-making, but there are a few basic facts that hold true. Continue Reading…