Category Archives: selflessness

How I Create My Own Idols in Parenting…

Are we in line with the heart of God?

There comes a time where we inevitably feel like we have life pretty well figured out. We know how to act. We know what to do. We’ve learned what to avoid. However, in the process, we’ve lost God’s heart.

As a parent, I do this from time to time. I have a pretty good idea how I want my child to act, I know certain attitudes or behaviors I want him to avoid, and I soon begin to parent in my own way rather than in a God-honoring way.

I often find myself chasing the idols of behavior modification and daddy idolization. In the process, I lose the heart of God as I mentor and love my child.

The idol of behavior modification sneaks up fairly easily and I don’t think I’m alone in this. As parents, we want our children to learn right and wrong. We want them to conform to certain behaviors, but we too often seek to change their actions rather than nurture their heart.

Proverbs 4:23 calls the heart the “wellspring of life.” Luke 6:45 says that “out of the heart, the mouth speaks.” God wants our hearts. I lose sight of this when I become fixated on my desire to see my child just “do it right” rather than patiently and lovingly shepherding his heart.

I also lose sight of the heart of God in parenting when I make myself an idol. I become big headed and self-righteous when I get frustrated that my child does not obey me. I know – children should obey their parents. However, I think we can all attest that at times we have disciplined not out of a desire to see our children mature and grow, but simply because our inflated egos were damaged.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Is my primary concern that my son obey me or that he mature and grow in his love for God and people?

I know we all have our own parenting styles. The many different theories and practices fill up bookstores. No matter which one we choose, we must make sure we submit our own hearts to God. Without his help, we will only become frustrated and fatigued as we chase idols such as the ones I battle.

Remember the words of Jesus in John 15:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

As parents, we must regularly ask ourselves:

Are we in line with the heart of God?

 

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Filed under christian, parenting, Scripture, selflessness

Give Up Everything?

In the process we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all. In this way we choose to send off other people to carry out the global purpose of Christianity while the rest of us sit back because we’re “just not called to that.”  —  David Platt, Radical

In the midst of writing a much larger post about Christianity and wealth, I ran across this quote. I’ve written about our idea of “calling” before, but I think Platt provides an excellent reminder for us. Many of the functions, attitudes, and sacrifices that God calls us to as Christians, we tend to give to a select few.

The heart of the Christian life is sacrifice. Romans 12:1 speaks of being a “living sacrifice”.

What comes to mind when you hear those words?

The challenge for me lies in not taking those words too lightly. It’s easy for me to write some things that I do off as a “sacrifice”, but I wonder if we really want to know what God means when he says “living sacrifice”.

In Luke 18, Jesus challenges a rich young man to sell everything. Luke 9, we find Jesus calling those who follow him to deny themselves and take up their cross. These are not easy words. They aren’t words we should take lightly.

Our tendency is to take Jesus’ commandments and make them into philosophical mumbo-jumbo.

Jesus just wants me to have a giving heart.
We shouldn’t love things.
I should care about people.

While statements like these are true, they are sufficiently vague as to encompass almost any way of living.

The reality is if we have a loving heart it will burst forth in action. If we don’t care about things, we will find ourselves compelled to live with and love less and less of our things as we become more satisfied in Him. If we truly care about people, our lives will begin to revolve around His work on this earth, rather than building our own kingdom.

Christianity is going all-in.

What does being a “living sacrifice” mean to you?

How do you tangibly “take up your cross”?

 

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Filed under christian, Examples of Sacrifice, quotes, Scripture, selflessness, Serving Others

Why Finding a Church is not about You…

So you’re looking for a church…

Sounds easy enough, but what exactly do you look for?

Churches come in all shapes and sizes and if you want to find one to fit your style, all it takes is a little shopping. But should looking for a church engage the same decision-making process as ordering a burger? Consider the enormous amount of choices we have when finding a church.

Exegetical preaching v. Topical preaching
Contemporary worship v. Traditional worship
Sunday School v. Small Groups
Big Church v. Small Church
Lots of people who look the same as me v. A more diverse crowd

And that doesn’t even begin to look at different denominational differences…

We have this concept of the church that we want and then we go out and find it. I want to challenge that paradigm. Look at who matters in that last sentence.

We have this concept of the church that we want and then we go out and find it.

It’s all about…….US.

I understand there are certain doctrines we should not waver on and we should run from heresy, but when it comes to personal preference, how strongly should our desires weigh into the equation?

If you’re single and there aren’t many singles at a church, does that mean you flee?
If you’re one race and the church is majority another, do you look elsewhere?
If you want your kids to be in a vibrant children’s ministry and the church is just starting, do you write them off?
If a church seems big, do you ditch it for a smaller one?
If a church is not active in missions, do you help begin a missions vision or ship off to an already established missions program?

I’m not saying I have all the answers, but when the primary consideration becomes about our comfort and preference we miss the boat.

Choosing a church in the area where you live is one of the most significant decisions you make. I am not arguing that we can not ask questions. I am advocating that we ask the question: God, where do you want me?

The answer may not come easy. The answer may need to come through much prayer and searching of Scripture. But, we must ask the question.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33

I’m convinced that many Christians have missed opportunities where God called them to serve, sacrifice, and lead in order to find a church that “fit” them better.

Ask yourself the question:

God, where do you want me?

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Filed under christian, Scripture, selflessness, Uncategorized

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

Christian Cannibals

Have words ever felt tangible to you? At times, they jump off the page and you interact with them in a way that seems almost personal.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

I normally enjoy reading other blogs. They inspire me. I try to vary who I read to better understand different perspectives and most of the time I come away encouraged. Today was different.

The hate, disgust, contempt were palpable. Upon reading the blog itself and the comments below it, I just felt dirty.

And this was a Christian blog.

It was written to attack one particular subculture of Christians. The author attempted to be funny, but the accusations and assumptions were enormous. The irony was evident as the author and those commenting unleashed a fury of belittling comments about how they had been judged in the past.I am not saying we can’t have dialogue and discussion. We can and we should.

The difference is that dialogue and discussion is beneficial to the body of Christ, where as just unloading on an entire group does nothing but alienate and wound.

I understand we have probably all had bad experiences with certain groups in the past. I just want us to find more constructive ways to work through differences.

“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.”

Philippians 2:3-4

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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

Quoteable

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.” – Sydney Smith

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Filed under making a difference, quotes, selflessness, Serving Others