Category Archives: Realizations

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?

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Filed under christian, Making God Known, Realizations, Scripture

Frisbees Speak Louder Than Words

In many ways, language inhibits our ability to truly communicate. We so quickly use words to express our feelings that our words have been sucked dry of meaning. Listen to what James says about this:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

James 2:15-17

Imagine reaching a point in your life where you lacked the food to feed your children. Suppose you went to a friend and shared your plight and they essentially said sorry and wished you good luck. You would rightfully be discouraged and hurt. Although they communicated with words that they care, their actions spoke otherwise.

We too easily use words to wrap up a conversation or an encounter with someone because words make the break more clean. It is infinitely more convenient to say, “I’ll pray for you” to someone who is suffering than to invest the time and energy necessary to understand their suffering and discover a way to love them in action.

All of this crystallized in my heart when I spent a week in Brazil this past October. I knew not a lick of Portuguese, but one of our primary goals involved loving the children in a poorer part of the city.

I remember the first few minutes as we began to meet the children, I felt terribly out of place. I graduated with a B.A. in Communication Studies. I am trained to talk! Yet, I could not use words to introduce myself or begin to get to know the kids.

Samela, one of my favorite kids from the trip.

Thankfully, love knows no bounds. Language does not hold love captive and over the next week, I got to know some of the most wonderful children in the world through a variety of ways:

  • Playing Frisbee – Seriously, greatest invention ever. The kids had more fun with that than anything else.
  • Having the kids make fun of me while I tried to repeat Portuguese words.
  • Getting schooled in soccer.
  • Building them a safer place to play.
  • Trying to sing songs in Portuguese.
  • Teaching them how to juggle.
  • Simply spending time with them.

Honestly, I felt like I knew the kids my whole life by the time I left. Although language made conversation possible, real friendships were formed. I may never have been able to have a long conversation, but I still tear up when I look at their pictures because they mean so much to me.

All this to say, let’s stop going the easy route. Yes, we can tell people how we feel, but let’s not stop there. Show them.

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Filed under christian, General Update, Realizations, Scripture, selflessness, Serving Others

Becoming Last to a Sickie

My kid is sick. Check that. My kid is the whiny, snotty, fussy, irrational, needy, but can never be fulfilled sick.

I’m not complaining. Just giving some perspective.

Today was going to be my morning “off”. I had plans to write, to pray, and to read. More than anything, I wanted to work on the blog. But my child was sick and that meant he got to stay home with dad.

Enter my selfish, it’s all about me attitude.

I laid him down to sleep, but it was as if the crib was his personal kryptonite. He constantly stood up and just screamed. My patience quickly exhausted, I started letting it get to me. I went from laying him down by singing to him, talking calmly to him to just laying him down and leaving and then finally to lecturing him about how he should know better (not that he could understand a word I said).

Nevermind the fact that he is sick, he should know I’m working on my blog about Becoming Last! He’s ruining my morning!

Wait…

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”   – Apostle Paul

Doh.

My baby was sick. He felt miserable. And all I could think about was how my expectations were not being met. I realized I had a choice. I could love him unconditionally or I could assert my own interests above his.

I quickly went into get him. He smiled at me over the edge of his crib (at least he’s a forgiving baby). I turned off his fan and brought him out to play. For about an hour, we played, I held him, we played some more, and he was a genuinely happy baby. Soon, I fed him, changed him, and laid him back down.

I could hear him start to move around and his cough was coming back. All I could think to do was pray so I grabbed my other son (he’s 3) and we said a quick prayer for his baby brother. His prayer was, “God, please help him feel better. Your turn dad.” I smiled and  prayed (longer, but no more effective).

No kidding. Within a minute, the little guy was asleep. God answered the prayers of a 3 year old and a selfish dad who runs a blog called Becoming Last (oh, the irony).

Thankful he was asleep, I whipped out my computer ready to pound out some writing.

“Dad, now that he’s asleep, will you play Go Fish with me?”

“Yes, buddy. I’d love to play Go Fish with you.” I’d learned my lesson.

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Filed under christian, Realizations, selflessness, Serving Others, Uncategorized

Are You Called?

I subscribe to a newsletter from the Daily Good. Each day, they’ll send a quote and an inspirational story. For the most part, it’s pretty good stuff. Today, the quote resonated with me.

Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.

Augustine of Hippo

Pay attention to what Augustine is saying here. We can’t help everyone. Most of us know that. We have limitations like money and time. We’d love to help, but it’s just not possible. But here’s where Augustine differs from our normal thinking.

He’s saying, we may not be able to help everyone, but there are people specifically designed for us to help. And they aren’t hidden.

They are right in front of us.

For whatever reason, we like to complicate things. We make loving others more difficult than it should be in a variety different ways. But the one I’ve been thinking about lately has been “the calling”. Normally, this calling is thought to be accompanied by a “sign” or “feeling”. I want to be careful, because I think we can be called to do certain things, but hear me out.

I’ve told this story before, but when I was in college there were many times I didn’t exactly want to go to class. I’d get in my car and brainstorm plenty of reasons why I shouldn’t go. I would go so far as to search for a sign not to go. I’d say to myself, “If I get stopped by a red light, that’s it” or “If I circle the lot twice and there’s not spots, I’m gone.” Of course, the lights would be green and there would always end up being a great spot! I’d know the right thing to do, but I would search for a reason not to do it.

Unknowingly, I think we do this same thing when it comes to laying down our lives for others. We want to have a holy heart attack when we see someone or get that really big gut feeling or have something miraculous happen to confirm that we should indeed help them. Again, I’m not saying there aren’t times people are called, but I think there should be a better way of determining to help someone lest we get our signals mixed up with indigestion.

The awareness of a need and the capacity to meet that need: This constitutes a call.

John R. Mott

There is some wisdom to what Mott says there. Obviously, we can not help everyone. However, there are needs that are placed in our lives on a daily basis that we may overlook or leave for someone else. Sometimes God calls people to be the answer to a prayer.

How intentional are you about listening for needs?

Do you find yourself waiting for that calling when maybe it’s right there in front of you?

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Filed under Challenges, Excuses, making a difference, Realizations, Serving Others, Uncategorized, Websites

Five Rules for Being a Hero

I have certain weird fascinations that no normal guy should have. I like going to the hospital and eating in the cafeteria, I look forward to watching romcoms with my wife, I’ve watched a show on the CW and liked it, and going to the library makes it a good day.

Today is a good day. Several checked out books and an hour later, I arrived home from the library pumped over the new material to read. It did not disappoint. The first book I started reading was Reality Check by Guy Kawasaki. It’s well worth the time spent already, but my favorite part of it so far was just him quoting another author. He quotes these guys who wrote a book on heroism. Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo give five rules of heroism. Very cool stuff and here they are with my commentary attached. Think about these within a Becoming Last/Christian context.

  1. Maintain constant vigilance for situations that require heroic action – I love this one. Christians typically live very placid lives. For the most part, we just go about living until something comes up or until something offends us. What if we lived lives of constant vigilance? What if we diligently sought after ways to love, serve, and help people? We don’t need to develop a hero complex, but Christ came healing, serving, and sacrificing. If we’re to be Christ-like, I think this is a point to consider.
  2. Learn not to fear conflict because you took a stand – I hate conflict so I avoid it as much as possible. But there comes a time when one must make a stand or your beliefs aren’t worth much. We should not seek out conflict, but there may come times when we must not afraid to stand for something. Whether this be in a friendship, an ethical dilemma at work, or a political/religious issue, know there will inevitably be conflict. However, please be wary that our conflicts are not due to the way we act rather than the issue itself.
  3. Imagine alternative future scenarios beyond the present moment – Think eternally. We get so caught up in the now that we lose sight of proper perspective. This goes back to rule number one. We have so many things consuming our lives that it makes it impossible to maintain vigilance. As you make decisions about how you spend your time and your money, how you deal with conflict, or any other dilemma, remember to keep an eternal perspective.
  4. Resist the urge to rationalize and justify inaction – Think of any New Year’s Resolution you’ve made. Maybe it’s eating better. You start off strong. Then, you hit a week where you are struggling. You begin making excuses. “Well, I’ll just break it tonight.” “I had one last night. I’ll just start back next week.” “Yikes. I gained some weight. Maybe I’m not good at this. I’ll wait until a better time.” Instead of looking for reasons not to take action, make an effort to look for reasons to take action. Take some risks. Get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid of failure. Let’s stop being chained by our excuses and experience the freedom in serving and giving love to people unconditionally.
  5. Trust that people will appreciate heroic (and frequently unpopular) actions – This one I have a little harder time with. In the context of a business, this book is a business book, it makes sense. In Becoming Last, I’m not sure. We definitely don’t need to be bound by people’s opinions. However, some folks thrive on that. They think their heroic simply because the majority disagrees with them. My thought is: Live for an audience of One. That one being God, not yourself.  It’s such an easy thing to say, “Oh yeah, I live for God.” But, do we really? Spend some time in serious thought/prayer, read Scripture, and see if your life matches what God calls us to. I’m not saying it won’t. Just don’t assume it does.

I found these guys to be extremely insightful. They may not have spoken in a Christian context, but we could certainly learn from them.

So what do you think? Like their five rules? Would you add others?

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Filed under Books, christian, Excuses, purpose, Realizations

We Are All Tiger Woods

Take a deep breath. Relax. And say it with me now: “My name is _____ and I am Tiger Woods.”

In no way do I want to condone or legitimize what Tiger did. I’m not his apologist. He failed his wife. Big time.

But, I’m more concerned about our reactions to events like this. Sure, there is disappointment. I bet there are many kids who looked up to him. There may even be some anger. No one likes cheaters or repeat offenders (and he was both).

At some point though, shouldn’t we eventually get to a place where we say, “I am Tiger Woods.”

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Jesus (Matthew 5:27-29)

I’m sure many of us have read those verses. We probably felt good about reading them and said, “Yup, Jesus is right. He’s so smart.” But when a situation like the one with Tiger Woods becomes news, our hearts rage against verses like these.

We think, “Jesus didn’t really mean that!” But He did. I figure He probably even chose His words carefully considering He knew they would be recorded for all time. The principle is there:

Looking lustfully = Committing Adultery

Tiger Woods is an adulterer and unless one of us claims to have never, ever looked lustfully at someone, we are adulterers too. But that grates at our pride. It’s one thing to admit we’re flawed. It’s another thing altogether to admit we’ve screwed up just as much as Tiger. We want to weigh all our sin/junk/screw ups and come out lighter and holier than him. We want to pretend we’re better. But we’re not…unless Jesus was joking.

Shortly after the scandal broke, a buddy of mine sent an email to a bunch of folks. I can’t remember his exact words, but essentially he said, “Without the Holy Spirit and God’s grace, we are all Tiger Woods.”

His point is not to justify what Tiger did. He’s saying, given the right circumstances, we could find ourselves in Tiger’s shoes. Most likely, he made small decisions over time that steamrolled into larger, more destructive decisions. If we just count on ourselves being really good, we could very well end up in his situation.

Maybe it’s not adultery, but maybe it’s gluttony. Maybe it’s gossiping. Maybe it’s pride. Again, we want to have this hierarchy of sin where we can say ours isn’t as bad, but it all comes from the same place: a defiant heart.

Would it be unchristian of us to love the guy? He doesn’t “deserve” it, but again, do we really deserve God’s love? Who are we to have been given unmerited, unlimited grace and mercy to deny extending the same?

There are consequences to actions and rightly so, but as I said, I’m more concerned with our response as Christians than what he did. Did Christ not befriend prostitutes? Did he not dine with “sinners”?

There is a Tiger Woods in all of our lives: someone who has messed up big time in a public way. I believe it’s our job to help them through it. Not condone it, but be there unconditionally to help them make the right decisions. It’s easy to love people when they are perfect. It’s Christlike to love people when they aren’t.

And when we hear news of someone failing that we’re not closed to…shouldn’t we be the place where the gossip stops? No matter who we hear about that screwed up, shouldn’t we be the wall that puts out the wildfire of “news”? I once heard that “Christians don’t gossip, they share prayer requests.” How true.

When we hear the latest failure of _____(fill in anyone’s name), it’s right to pray for them. We should. But we don’t have to tell everyone, “Did you hear what so and so did? Imagine that. Terrible. Oh, we should pray for them.” I know there is a way to share a request legitimately, but where’s the line between gossip and sharing? It’s probably more prudent to leave it anonymous unless you really trust the person and you will actually pray for the “offender” right then.

It’s the times when someone screws up the most that they need prayer and a rock-solid friend. If someone at your church was making destructive decisions, would they feel good about confessing and receiving help, support, and prayer or would they be afraid they’d be kicked out, shunned, or slandered behind their back? Again, I’m not saying there is no time for discipline or consequences, but those should never be done without a healthy portion of grace, love, faith, and mercy.

Remember, we are all Tiger Woods.

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Filed under Challenges, christian, Prayer, Realizations, Scripture, Uncategorized

What Gives?

My mom is getting ready to sell her house. Honestly, that comes with mixed emotions. It’s my home. It’s where I grew up. I tore holes in the front yard playing baseball. It’ll be tough to see it go. But, I’ve slowly come to grips with the idea. After all, it will save my mom money, time, and stress. Plus, she’ll be able to move closer to us (I hope!).

As she prepares to sell the house, the kids (that’s me) are having to sort through all their junk they’ve piled up through the years. I’ve admitted this before, but I tend to be a pack rat. I can find just about any reason to keep something and before you know it, the Mt. Everest of Miscellaneous Things has been created in my room.

Well, today, I went through a few boxes. Among the wreckage were a few trillion pencils, game pieces to who knows what, baseball cards, old magazines, and two random Santa Clause candle holders that I can’t figure out why I would have ever had them.

While I’m doing this, my son is finding all my “junk” rather entertaining. Within seconds, he lasers in on one item in particular: a 1955 Chevy 3100 Cameo or at least the model of it. It’s a pretty sweet looking truck and somewhere along the way this model truck came into my possession. It’s never been open. It’s still in a box – inside of another box – at the bottom of another box.

It was unused, un-thought-of, uncared for, and abandoned. Yet today, it was the treasure in my son’s eyes. He couldn’t wait to get his hands on it. In the last 24 hours, he has loved that truck to pieces…literally. It’s just a model so it’s not made to be played with and he’s a two year old (bad combination!). But it’s value has never been greater. Sure, inside a box, untouched, it probably cost a few dollars, but the excitement it brought to a little boy is worth far more.

All of this got me thinking:

I wonder what other treasures we’ve left buried?

  • Maybe it’s the coat you always swear you are going to wear and it lays neglected in your closet.
  • Maybe it’s the tools you have three or four and your drawers are getting crowded.
  • Maybe it’s margin in your life for relationships. We often get so busy, our friends and family get buried in the chaos of our lives.

Whatever it may be, we all have something buried. It may seem insignificant, small, or cheap to us, but it could lighten up someone’s eyes like a small Chevy truck did for my little guy.

So what is it? What lies unused, unwanted in your life? What can you give away?

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Filed under Chances to Serve, Realizations, Uncategorized