Category Archives: Making God Known

Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection?

Do you get the resurrection?

I know, as Christians we talk about the resurrection, but do you get it?

Praying with some friends today, I asked God to make the resurrection more real to me. I believe in it, but I think I’m just so used to the idea that I don’t truly get it.

Think about what we believe! Christ (God the Son), took on flesh, lived a sinless life, died to atone for our sins, and RESURRECTED!

That’s nuts!

The resurrection was a central part of the early church’s testimony (Acts 4:33) and the Gentiles mocked them for it (Acts 17:32). Naturally speaking, what we believe is absurd. No dead man gets up to live again.

That’s why I wonder if we get the resurrection. Do we truly sense and feel the miracle of what happened that day? Does it register as more than a good thought or a cool story?

The early church endured persecution because they got the significance of the resurrection. Nero was said to have lit them on fire to serve as lights in the evening. Why would people continue to confess faith in Christ if they knew death was imminent? Because they believed with everything they had that the resurrection of Christ was real.

In a sense, at the resurrection lies the crossroads of faith and unbelief. Without the resurrection, Jesus becomes no more than a guy with pithy sayings and a death wish. If Jesus stayed in that tomb, let’s stop with the craziness.

However, if the resurrection is true, that should absolutely light up our world. Words can’t even express the significance. Christ’s deity is proven, God has drawn near, and life becomes more about Him and less about us.

Do we get the resurrection?

I’m convinced that if we understood the significance, our lives would never look the same. After all, if we believe that a man died and came back to life to free us from sin and death, then should we not give everything we have to bring honor to His name? The resurrection radically alters lives.

  • Prayer becomes more than a domestic intercom (credit to Piper). We eagerly seek His will and direction.
  • The study of Scripture takes on new life as we eagerly want to know more about our resurrected Savior and God.
  • Money becomes utterly meaningless for comforts and pleasures.
  • People are no longer means to an end or faceless numbers. We see them as God sees them and we long for them to know Him.
  • Worship becomes a joy rather than a chore.
  • Duty, frustration, and routine are replaced with sacrifice, joy, and the cool tension of not knowing where God will lead you next.

Life, in view of the resurrection, takes on whole new meaning. The resurrection changes everything.

So, do you get the resurrection?

2 Comments

Filed under christian, Making God Known, Realizations, Scripture

Get into the Game

My son loves sports. Only four, he thrives on hitting a baseball, dribbling a basketball, or kicking a soccer ball. Consequently, we signed him up for soccer this spring and he loves everything about it…except…the game.

The coach divides the kids into groups and my son will run through the drills, always looking back at my wife and I, with the biggest smile on his face. The team lines up on one line and races toward the other end and he sprints his heart out. He’s won 6 0f 7 races! He’ll get together with a friend and kick the ball back and forth just for fun.

But then comes the game…

Within five seconds, my little guy gets this distraught look on his face and hightails it over to us. I’m not quite sure what scares him, but for some reason, he has the hardest time getting used to playing the actual game. He’ll do the drills, he’ll do the racing, he’ll practice his heart out, but he struggles with getting into the game.

I wonder if we do that too.

Most of us excel at wanting to practice. We want rules, we want guidelines. 20 minute quiet times? We can do that. Pray for a few minutes? Sure, why not? Attend church fairly regularly? No problem, I like the people. Give some money away? Tougher, but o.k.

We have mastered these drills, but when it comes to getting into the game, we’re often unsure, scared, or both.

Maybe we’ll fail.

Maybe people won’t like us.

Maybe I don’t know enough.

Maybe certain things are for “higher up” Christians.

Maybe, maybe, maybe…

We create these barriers in our hearts and minds and find ourselves playing the majority of the game on the sideline. We’ll cheer for the success of missionaries, pastors, or “stronger” Christians, but never do much more than practice or watch.

Some may ask, “What exactly is this game you refer to?”

Valid question. I think it involves many things: sharing our faith, serving others, encouraging others in the faith, etc.

I’m not intending to denigrate discipline and “practices”, but I’m reminded of Psalm 67 .

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
2 so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

We are saved by grace, through faith. Our relationship with God is essential. Prayer and scripture should permeate our lives. However, as they do, they motivate us to action. “May God be gracious to us…so that your ways may be know on earth.” Israel was meant to be a light to the nations. In the same vein, we are God’s ambassadors.

Paul, in Ephesians 2, right after he gives the Gospel, says we were created for good works which God has prepared for us to do. We practice, we run drills, we discipline ourselves, so that we are prepared to play the game.

As you study Scripture this week, as you pray, and as you attend your local church, ask yourself:

Have I been faithfully sharing my faith this month?
Have I looked for opportunities to serve in Christ’s name?
Have I built up another brother or sister in their faith?

Let us not practice for practice sake. We “practice” so that our lives may make much of Him.

5 Comments

Filed under christian, making a difference, Making God Known, Prayer

Sharing God’s Heart

Today, I’m guest blogging over at Shooting the Breeze. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Making God Known

Church is Not a Book Club

The blogosphere is full of Atheist v. Christian “battle to the rhetorical death” blogs. This is not one of them. While a healthy dialogue can be beneficial, a quick read of many of those blogs reveals neither dialogue nor health. Becoming Last is about serving and loving others, but it stems from my faith.

I am a Christian. I love my God, even though my life may not reflect that at times (for example, the homeless guy I saw yesterday…he was pacing between cars…I had change, not much…but all I kept thinking was, “I hope he doesn’t hurt anyone”. Which is kind of absurd b/c I’m in the middle of a huge traffic jam. Plus, if I’m that concerned with others’ safety why don’t I just call him over to my car, give him change, and love him until the light turns green. Instead, I did the whole awkward “I’m just looking at the light” stare). I completely judged the guy. I tried not to. I didn’t want to judge him, but yeah, I didn’t exactly show him the love of God.

I work for a church part-time and I often struggle with how to best share God’s love with the community. My heart is to demonstrate God’s love and not to win philosophical arguments. I’m a fairly smart guy, but there are millions upon millions of people smarter. I feel like I can make a good argument, but there are millions more who can better debate. Plus, many of the times we can “win” an argument and yet lose the person (lose in the sense that they could care less about what we have to say anymore).

When people hear the name of your church what pops in their mind? What is your church known for in your community?

Here are what some people say their churches are known for:

  • “Being really good people” – I relate this idea to a bug zapper. It’s like we have the impression that our “goodness” will mesmerize people into coming and “ZAP!” we’ll get them. The main issue with this is it tends to be a very passive idea of church. Let’s just meet and work on our holiness and if they come, they come.
  • “Bible-believing/teaching” – Excellent idea. We should be squarely in line with and teaching the Bible.  But, we can sway so far into this idea that we neglect ever working out anything we learn. It’s as if we become spiritually obese. We learn a lot of information, but don’t put it into practice. Sometimes we can have great churches with great people learning great things, but our communities will wonder what’s the point if we never extend the teaching into our lives. We need to be more than a book club.
  • “Awesome worship/dynamic teaching” – As with the other two, this is not bad in itself. But, if our services resemble nothing more than a U2 concert, yet we leave unchanged week after week, people will eventually get wise and just go see U2. Most of will never be that dynamic and our musicians are not all that good, but if people see a genuine, caring, serving community then they will stay.

Here is my desire. I would love for the church to be known through the community as a sacrificial, genuine, caring community of Christians. I’d like for conversations to take place such as:

“Have you ever heard of The Bridge? They took care of my aunt after her surgery.”‘
“I see the Wilsons’ got their deck fixed. Where did they get the money for that?” “The Bridge took care of it.”

The conversations could take any number of forms. The point is: Will we be known for lofty rhetoric and  altruistic platitudes or will we be known for loving people with abandon? Will we lay down our lives and forsake our rights to comfort, safety, time, and possessions? Will we believe in a Jesus who gave His life for us and yet lives lives that look nothing like His? Do we really like Jesus or does our faith motivate us to live like Jesus?

I know. Christianity is not just about serving. It’s not just a service club. We serve because we believe in the grace and mercy of God. We serve because God first served us. We serve because we believe there is more to live for than ourselves. Serving others and laying down our lives for the world is an extension of our beliefs. Certainly, our beliefs are our foundation, but I wonder how most of us can confess to believe such a radical, crazy story of God coming to Earth and yet go on living as if it’s not important enough to interrupt our lives to spread that message.

People need to hear the Gospel. People need to hear the story of God’s love. But we, the church, need to demonstrate that love on a daily basis. Church is meant to be a beacon of light to the nations. Church is meant to be a giant, flashing neon light that says, “God loves you!” We should make it impossible for someone to be in our community and never encountered the love of God.

So what do you think? How could our churches better demonstrate God’s love? How could you begin to prioritize your life to where you can intentionally start serving others on a weekly basis and be open to seeing opportunities at all times? How can you Become Last so He can Become First?

22 Comments

Filed under Challenges, christian, Examples of Sacrifice, making a difference, Making God Known, purpose, Realizations, Uncategorized

Turning Lemons into Lives

I found a cool story in the Vitamin Angels newsletter this month. I love hearing about kids Becoming Last. Here’s the story:

Lemonade for Vitamin Angels

What’s better than lemonade on a hot summer day? Lemonade for a great cause!

8 year old Declan set up a lemonade stand to help teach others about our important work and raised $50! Remember, all it takes is 25 cents to provide one child with vitamin A for a whole year. So in one afternoon, this one child was able to impact the lives of 200 children, and refresh many passersby at the same time! Inspired yet? Get Involved!

What a great example for kids who want to help! Simple, small, yet significant. He helped 200 kids. Awesome! Don’t forget to click our “Help Now” button on the right of the page and have a great Saturday!

3 Comments

Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, Making God Known, Uncategorized, vitamin angels

Becoming Last in South Africa – Day 19

Today, we have a guest blogger! Welcome Laura and Mikey Fissel. They are Becoming Last in South Africa. I wanted toMikey and Laura Fissel give them an opportunity to share about what they are learning and applying. After you read, click over to their blog and check out some more of what they have been doing! So without further ado, here’s Laura: 

Even though I tried really hard not to, I had expectations for when my husband and I arrived in South Africa. (We had been planning the trip for almost a year, raising support and communicating with the YWAM team here in White River, South Africa. This is the first time Mikey and I have been to Africa, and certainly the first time we’ve done overseas missions together as a couple since we got married almost 4 years ago.) Some of my expectations were small—“yeah, it’s winter there, but it can’t be that cold can it?”—and some of them were huge—“It’s going to be so hard to leave after all the deep connections I make there; I may never want to come back to the U.S.!”—but almost all of them have been completely dashed to pieces to this point, now about three weeks into the six that we will be here.

Yeah, it’s freezing and I wish I had packed clothes differently, and the food has taken some adjustment, but the expectations that I’m having the hardest time letting go of are the ones about my purpose or ministry here. It was hard to pack up our entire apartment, move into a storage unit and leave our dear community and families behind for the whole summer, but in the midst of all that, there was this excitement that I was going to be used for something great for the kingdom of God…and it’s been very hard to believe that is actually happening here. To be honest, what I imagined was that my friendship, my presence, my prayers, my time spent feeding and playing with kids or talking to the native volunteers, would have a visible impact and that (although as I think of it, I can’t even describe what I thought that would look like) I would know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to be here, and what I was supposed to be here for. It’s not like that here. Things aren’t cut and dry, and they don’t happen on my time-table. Here in Africa, everything takes longer; especially in the face of it’s gigantic problems—unemployment, illiteracy and lack of education, harmful native rituals and traditions, AIDS ravaging families and impacting everyone’s lives—it’s no wonder that in our short weeks here, things look the same as when we arrived. It’s hard, too, to look at the programs and relationships here and think: does it even matter that I’m here? If I were gone, someone else could do what I’m doing…what’s the point of it being my hands and not someone else’s? What’s the point of building relationships that last six weeks and then we never speak again for the rest of our lives?

So here’s what I sense God is trying to teach my stubborn heart: it’s not about me. God spoke this message to me through a native pastor at a local church in one of the communities we serve in. He was speaking to a short-term team that is with us for two weeks, saying that their mission there (building a house for one family) has eternal impact and is worth their time and efforts. Even though he was speaking to the team and not directly to me, my spirit was moved by those words. He said “we want to impress God and the world but it doesn’t work that way.” That’s exactly what I want to do: I want to make my life have meaning by doing something that people (and God) can SEE was impressive. I want to make sure that no one can look at Laura Ellen Fissel and ask the question, “what was the weight of her existence?” because it was undeniable. Here in Africa, the hole that needs filling is so inescapably huge that my wimpy life philosophy isn’t holding any water. I am faced with my own insignificance in the vastness of this world, this life, and it’s not entirely pleasant. That’s the smack in the face from reality. Here’s the beauty: I am dust and ashes that are loved and cherished by the Creator, the God of the Universe. Because it is impossible for me to accomplish anything truly magnificent and life-altering on my own, I don’t have to work so hard to give my life meaning. It already has meaning! Jesus in me is the meaning, the weight of my existence.

For me, these questions, my doubts and dashed expectations have been the hardest struggle. Mikey came to Africa without specific expectations, but God has been dealing with his heart in a different way. Since we’ve been here, Mikey has had maybe five healthy days when he wasn’t bed-ridden with diarrhea, a hurt foot or a severe bladder infection. It certainly seems to be one thing after another and has left him frustrated to think that he has come all the way to SA to lie in bed while the community buzzes with life and work around him. Every time there is a bit of hope, and he is starting to recover from one ailment, another begins. So this is what we’re trying to wrap our brains around: when I go on Thursday mornings to sit next to my friend the single mom and smile at her and inquire into her life and joke around with her, or when we play with the orphans at the feeding programs, that has lasting impact. But our physical actions aren’t everything (they can’t be!); if we are lying in bed sick, staring at the ceiling, or making conversation with another missionary, or maybe praying, questioning, doubting, our lives don’t have any less meaning. We don’t have to be discouraged that only certain things in life are able to impact and affect others. That’s hope, right? Hope that speaks to any person of any background, origin, situation, or physical condition.

I’d love nothing better than to figure out why God brought us to Africa—I’d love to be able to point my finger at one lesson, or one event that explains it all away—but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. Here’s a taste, though, of how God is showing up and helping us Become Last. Follow our blog at http://fisselsonamission.blogspot.com to join us in seeing other ways that He is faithful!

Leave a comment

Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, Making God Known

Becoming Last – Day 5 – 4:40pm – A New Found Curiosity

Today, I was at the shop getting my car’s oil changed. (Aside: My wife only had to ask me for 2 days. That’s improvement!). During the course of the change, I sat in the office reading and waiting. In walked a man and his three kids. My curiosity peaked. What’s their story? Who are they? How’s life going for them? Wonder if the kids want candy from that machine over there? Would they think I’m weird for asking?

My mind just raced with all these questions, but I sat paralyzed. Here’s my dilemna and something I’ve begun to pray over. As I seek God and have begun this journey of Becoming Last, my interest in people, their needs, and whether they know the God I love, has peaked. I want to run up to everyone, hear their life story, solve all their problems, and introduce them to God.

But there’s a tension there. Obviously, there are boundaries. Every situation is different. I guess my prayer is like Paul’s prayer. I want to given boldness to share the Gospel whenever called upon. I don’t want to shove it down people’s throats. That’s unnecessary and unproductive. But I do want to learn how to begin conversations without appearing crazy. Oh well, maybe I am crazy!

How can you Become Last tonight?

Leave a comment

Filed under General Update, Making God Known