Men of Valor

March 9, 2019


Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

I grew up going to church every Sunday.  In fact, my mother was in charge of the church nursery, so many times I was there for 3 hours.  By the time I was 8 years old, I would leave after Sunday School, get on the city bus, for a nickel, and go home by myself.  After we got a television, when I was 9, I started watching The Lutheran Hour, which was actually a half-hour program, and the theme verse was John 10:10:  “I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”  The show always presented a problem in someone’s life, and it was solved thru their involvement with a church.  My needs were met by my family, so I thot I was all right.

Now, at age 75, I am sharing a Life Purpose Statement of Leading others to experience the Abundant Life of Jesus Christ.  What has happened in between, and how can I inspire others to seek this wonderful position in their own lives?

It is much easier to share my path than it is to set a path for you!  I have been sharing my testimony for years, but, just recently, I have been looking at ways to encourage others, right where they are, to be able to experience the Abundant Life that I have enjoyed for the past 25 years.

I have a friend who works with churches in New York City and his definition of poverty is, Few or no options.  Think about that!  Whether we are talking about jobs, churches, food, or relationships, it is seldom that we are totally out of options.  Perhaps, you have been there, and understand the despair involved.  I can think back, 50 years, to the time when I was dealing with divorce, and how bleak it was.  Even then, I had options, and those options led me to Christ, which led me to a lot more options.

Another definition of poverty is based on relationships and expands our thinking.  It says there are 4 facets of relationships that we need to look at, when we are discussing poverty:

            Relationship with God

            Relationship with Self

            Relationship with Others

            Relationship with the Environment

The last one, Relationship with the Environment, is the one about food, housing, and clothing, and is the one we generally associate with poverty.  If you don’t have enough stuff, then you are poor.

This expanded definition focuses on Relationships instead of stuff, so it gives us a better picture of true poverty.  It means that the billionaire who doesn’t know Jesus is going to have few or no options when he dies.  Biblical descriptions of Hell, don’t seem to offer many choices.

We all understand that life doesn’t seem very Abundant when we are having difficulties with our spouse, or with other members in our families.

I discovered that the greatest deterrent to a healthy life situation was my relationship with myself.  You can see the importance of dealing with each of these areas, properly, if we are to live the Abundant Life.

I have shared with you in the past, the 5 Steps to a Victorious Life in Jesus Christ, and these are certainly important steps in the process, but I lived these for 20 years, while dealing with depression, so they aren’t the total answer!

We can look at them, as we talk about the Relational issues of poverty, and see if we can develop some guidelines that you can follow in your own life.

Certainly, my Relationship with God got a huge boost when I got Honest with Myself, and wrote my letter to God.  Writing down all the sins that I could think of was of great benefit at the time, but I realized, down the road, how valuable it was, when I would be convicted of something that had not been on that list.  I was able to confess it, ask forgiveness for it, and be assured that God had not only forgiven me, but had forgotten it, whether I did, or not!  I didn’t have to carry a load of baggage with me, of unconfessed, unforgiven sins.  Last month, we talked about the burden of dwelling on the past.  I was largely relieved of that, because I had dumped my load on Jesus, at the outset.

So, that would be the first step to living the Abundant Life –

Keep short accounts with God.

It is certainly essential to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  He came that we might have life.  That means, without a relationship with Him, we are dead.

What we are talking about today, is the next step – the Abundant Life.

Living is not about something in our past.  It’s about what we are doing right now.  We were justified in the past, when we were saved.  Today, we are being sanctified, being saved.  Aaron will be talking about Hope tomorrow.  That is about our glorified future, in Heaven.

The Abundant Life is about how we are living today!  It is important to be in tight fellowship with God right now, moment by moment, and that is assured by I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

I don’t consider myself to be a sinful person.  I try to be in constant fellowship with God, and He calls me a saint.  If you know Jesus as your personal Savior, God calls you a saint, too!  He does that 50 times in His Word, and He never refers to a believer as a sinner.  Our focus should be on being the saint that He says we are, instead of calling ourselves sinners.

There are clearly times that we know we have sinned, and the sooner we ask forgiveness, the better.  But, our thought patterns tend to lead us astray, and our attitudes may not be Christ-like, so we may not be in fellowship with God at a time when we need to make an important decision, or to talk with someone about a difficult situation.  I have learned to make a general confessional prayer which has shown me great value in these situations.  I pray, “Lord, I confess my sins of self-centeredness, fleshliness, and relativism.  Please forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.  May Your Holy Spirit live the life of Christ through me.”

I have been amazed at the clarity of thought that I have after that, and have learned that I should never write anything, without praying that prayer first.

Let’s unpack it.  First of all, what is sin?  It is what separates me from God.  It is me, thinking I’m better than God.  That’s self-centeredness.  Anytime I make a decision based on what I think, instead of what the Bible tells me is right, I’m dealing with self-centeredness.

Secondly, fleshliness.  That’s another aspect of self-centeredness, but it has to do with the things our bodies are telling us, whether it is our appetite for something that is bad for us, some addiction that we have, and the sensual thoughts that inhabit our minds.  It may be an attitude that distracts us from listening to the sermon.  You may be having some of those thoughts right now!

Relativism is faulty thinking, based on ideas that have originated from something that was appealing to our selves or our flesh, but are contrary to the Word of God.  We may not be aware that these ideas are affecting our decision-making, but God is.

So, it is important to appeal to the cleansing power of God, if we want to be in a proper relationship with Him.

Keep short accounts with God.

Relationship with Self is critical for us to be able to live the Abundant Life of Jesus Christ.  I have shared with you, the struggle I had with depression for the first 20 years of my Christian life.  This had more to do with my self-image, how I looked at myself, than it did with my relationship with God.

I was saved, I was going to Heaven, and yet, much of the time, I was miserable here on earth!  I studied the Bible, I attended church and CBMC meetings, I learned from my pastor’s preaching and teaching.  I was discipling guys.  I knew I knew enough Scripture, but it wasn’t coming together in a way that met my needs.  And, that was the issue!  My definition of flesh is that it is the set of coping techniques that we develop to get our needs met.  Addictions fit into this category, and my addiction was depression.  I was so self-centered that I would get angry when things didn’t go my way, and anger turned inward is depression.  I thought I had to do things perfectly in order to receive the affirmation that I sought, and when things didn’t do perfectly, I got upset.  It was all because I had an upside down view of reality.  We have talked about the wisdom of God, which comes down from above, versus the wisdom of the world that is based on our senses.  The world says that we must perform in order to be accepted.  God has accepted us before the beginning of time, and asks us to perform in appreciation of His choosing us.

Acceptance based performance is a key to experiencing the Abundant Life.  If we are operating on the world’s standards, we will never achieve true happiness here on earth.  There will always be something missing.

Another frustration we have is the idea that we will never be good enough.  Satan speaks these thoughts in our ears, in first person, with a Hoosier accent, so we think it is us!  “I’m no good.”  “I can’t do anything right.”

There is some truth in that, of course!  That’s why I have a difficult time dealing with the verses in the Bible that talk about obedience.  I’m not capable of obedience!  The Jews understood that, too.  That’s why they created so many laws.  They thot that if they had enough of their own laws between them and the Ten Commandments, they could avoid breaking one of the Commandments.  The problem is that focusing on not doing something, prevents us from doing things we should do, and we are likely to get distracted and do something else that we are not supposed to do!

So what is the solution?  The key is to Die to Self.  No one in the cemetery is sinning!  Certainly, we don’t want to join them physically, but we can, spiritually.  Gal 2:20 quotes The Apostle Paul as saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

That was one of the first verses I memorized as a new Christian, but it was 20 years later before I understood it.  If I am crucified with Christ, I am dead!  I no longer have to do the things that my flesh tells me to do.  I am free to allow Christ to live His life through me, which He does through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rom 6:7 says, for he who has died is freed from sin

Rom 6:11 says, Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Whenever I feel symptoms of depression, I go back to these passages.  I realize, once again, “Oh yeah, I’m dead!  I don’t have to live here anymore!”


Keep short accounts with God.

Die to self.


Relationships with Others can be tough!  We have talked about the importance of praying with our wives, but what is the real key to long-lasting relationships.

We have a 26 year-old young lady from Cameroon, living in our home.  She has a husband and a two-year-old daughter back in Africa.  She asked us one evening for the key to our 48 year marriage.  After telling her about praying together, and about how we had developed our relationship over the years, I finally realized that the basis for relationship is communication.

I confirmed that with a doctor that I talked with recently.  I had just met him and it was obvious from our conversation that he was not a Christian.  His wife was with him, so I knew he was a married man and he had told me that he had just retired after 40 years in the practice.  I asked him how long they had been married and he said, “50 years.”  When I asked him the key, he said, “We respect each other’s schedules, and we trust each other.”  He shared a bit more about both respect and trust, then I shared my idea about communication, to which he said, “Of course.”  We certainly can’t respect each other’s schedules without communication, and trust and communication must work together.

Relationships not only require communication, but also, the character of God.  Compassion and grace, long-suffering and love, faithfulness and forbearance are key factors in getting along with other people.

Think about broken relationships in your past, or, perhaps, in your presence.  How have you mended broken relationships?  Who do you need to forgive, today, or to whom do you need to ask forgiveness?

We talk about the importance of loving God and loving people.  These are certainly keys to living the Abundant Life.  Is it easier to love God than to love certain people? 

Is forgiveness of others the key to relationships?

Col 3:12-13 - So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.


Keep short accounts with God.

Die to self.

Communicate Forgiveness.


What about the stuff?  Isn’t it important?

My friend, Fritz Klumpp, spoke at the Greenwood Prayer Breakfast on a recent Saturday.  He shared that when he got out of the Navy, he was focused on two things:  Make as much money as he could, and get into politics.

He thought money would solve all of his problems, and politics would solve the problems of society.

He discovered that there was never enough money to satisfy his desires, and we could never elect the right person to solve all the problems.

Just like we have discovered, the only answer to meeting our needs is to know Jesus Christ.  When we read the Bible, we learn that God owns everything and He promises to meet all of our needs, if we focus our lives on Him.

I recently was on a Retreat with other CBMC leaders in the Midwest.  There were nine of us, and we spent 3 days sharing our testimonies with each other.  I think everyone of us came to Christ as an adult, and I think everyone of us was focused on making a lot of money in business pursuits.  Eventually, God got ahold of us, and changed our directions.  We are each different, with a variety of personalities and skill-sets, but, today, each of us is sold-out to Jesus, and we can’t think of anything we would rather do than work with men.

Paul talks about being content with what we have.  Phil 4:11-13 - Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

If you have already done that but are not experiencing the abundant life that He came to give, then you need to stop trying to live the Christian life and turn it over to Him.  Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.”  What are you trying to do to meet your own needs that you aren’t trusting Him to do for you?  The temptations in your life are all about a lack of trust in Him.  The next verse says, “Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will direct your paths.”  That, to me, is the most worshipful verse in the Bible!  If we are recognizing Him every step of the way, He will be meeting our needs.  We won’t have to be looking to the world, or to our selfish desires to try to get our needs met.

The fourth step is Be content with what you have.


Keep short accounts with God

Die to self

Communicate Forgiveness

Be content with what you have


The Abundant Life is a life that is measured and defined by God’s thoughts, rather than by the thoughts of the people around us.  The Abundant Life is one created by and dependent upon God, not the world.