Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’m on the Move!

Good news! Becoming Last now has its own domain. Thanks to Peter Pollock and New Blog Hosting we will now be at www.becominglast.com.

What that means:

  1. Update your links! If you link to Becoming Last, please update your links page to the correct site. Thanks!
  2. Subscribe to the new site! You’ll be the first to know when a new post comes out!
  3. Bigger and Better blog! We’ll be tweaking things quite a bit over the next month, but I hope to make the new Becoming Last as user friendly as possible. I’d love your feedback on anything you’d like to see happen.
  4. BIG ANNOUNCEMENT – If all goes well, look for a gigantic announcement toward the end of May.

I appreciate the few minutes you guys spend reading my thoughts each week. I’m looking forward to even better things to come!

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Praying for Rocky’s Boo Boos

Don't worry Rocky. Ethan's praying for you.

Several days ago, Ethan (my 4 year old) and I watched a YouTube clip from Rocky III. Rocky was fighting James “Clubber” Lang (played by Mr. T) and he took quite a pounding. Of course, Rocky came back to win and Ethan and I cheered him on.

Later that night, we sat down to eat dinner* and Ethan wanted to do what has become a family tradition. We all say pray one thing that we’re either thankful for or we ask God to do. He also gets to pick who starts.

This night, his mom got to start, she thanked God for the beautiful day, and then Ethan displayed such a tender heart. His prayer went something like this:

Dear God, please help Rocky’s boo boos get better from the fight.

What a sweet kid. I absolutely love that prayer. He identified someone hurting and remembered to pray for them.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

1 Peter 3:8

My son reminded me that, if I’m not careful, my prayers can turn into selfish, routine acts. Today, as you pray, I hope you’ll remember people in your life who are hurting and need help, love, and hope from God.

* Please don’t picture an ideal family sitting down perfectly to dinner. I use “sit down to dinner” merely as an expression. Chaos is often a more accurate picture. Thankfully, I have an awesome wife. 🙂

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Filed under Prayer, Uncategorized

What Would Charlie Brown Do?

One day Charlie Brown was in his back yard having target practice with his bow and arrow. He would pull the bow string back and let the arrow fly into a fence. Then he would go to where the arrow had landed and draw a target around it. Several arrows and targets later, Lucy said, “You don’t do target practice that way. You draw the target, then shoot the arrow.” Charlie’s response: “I know that, but if you do it my way, you never miss!”  —  John Maxwell, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Sadly, the experience of many Christians parallels Charlie Brown having target practice. Our fear of legalism or anything approaching the idea has sent Christians headlong into the very unclear waters of ambiguity. As a subculture, Christians have created language that defines parts of the Christian walk without saying much at all. We speak of praying, love, sacrifice, etc., but rarely do the words, practices, or ideas get defined in such a fashion that one can say, “Yes, that defines my life” or “No, that’s not me.” Instead, the words take on their own meanings in each individual Christian’s mind and so everyone hits the mark because they all feel they succeeded in hitting whatever definition they have conjured up. The problem with that is if a word carries so many definitions to so many different people then it really has no definition at all.

Let me take a step back. This whole notion has been rummaging around in my head for awhile, but began to take shape after reading a blog post by my friend Kevin Martineau. His post entitled 7 Dangers of Not Having Goals does exactly what it sounds like. He lists the 7 dangers as:

  1. We can become passive.
  2. It is impossible to do any real evaluation.
  3. We can fall into the trap of doing something just for the sake of doing something and it is difficult to state why we are doing this or why we are not.
  4. We lose motivation because we are not challenged.
  5. It becomes easy to settle for a maintenance mode instead of development mode.
  6. It is easy not to plan ahead.
  7. The emphasis becomes upon activity rather than output.

If those 7 dangers do not sum up many struggles in the Christian experience, I do not know what does. I see myself in almost every one of them. As a whole, Christian culture has become afraid of setting goals and standards for fear of seeming legalistic or not “free”. As a result, many of these dangers define us.

This is to our downfall.

While I agree that numbers and progress should never become our idols, why should we lack discipline in the one area we claim is most important? We set a budget because we want to monitor how we use our money. We set goals in diet and exercise. I’ve even heard of people who set “serving” goals: they try to serve a certain amount of people in some way throughout the week.

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. – Apostle Paul

I realize everyone’s life will look different to some degree, but it is essential that we take the Apostle Paul’s advice. If we say we should live a life of love, we need to flesh that out. What does that look like? What does Scripture say about it? How do I put that into practice? Then, when we meet each other we can definitively say whether we have been loving well or not. The idea is not to create standards to beat ourselves up over, but to spur us on in our race.

Think of the average Christian’s prayer life. I have read the average Christian prays (including at meals) 3 to 7 minutes a day. Reading through the New Testament, we cannot come away thinking that’s a good thing. But here’s the rub: How does that change?

The model we have now would implore people to pray and we’d cover a new topic the next week. People would leave church, pray a time or two throughout the week, feel better, and gradually slip back into their old lifestyle of 3 to 7 minutes. Maybe I’m being cynical, but that is the common experience many Christians face. It may be difficult, but it’s a difficult reality.

Honestly, I’m only a writer on a very small blog. However, I deeply want to honor God with my life. I have no visions of being perfect in this life, but I know it honors God to begin intentionally, sacrificially giving up more and more of my life to him. Setting goals is an invaluable asset to that end.

Look at Kevin’s 7 dangers flipped around a little. What if they read:

7 Realities of the Christian Life

  1. Christians are active.  (Hebrews 12:1-3)
  2. Christians do real evaluation.  (Acts 6, Luke 8:9-14 )
  3. Christians do not fall into the trap of doing something just for the sake of doing something. They have a purpose and know why they do what they do.   (2 Corinthians 5:14)
  4. Christ challenges us to be His ambassadors and His death and resurrection motivates us.  (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
  5. We are constantly asking God to examine our hearts and refine us.  (Psalm 26:2)
  6. We plan ahead because we know our mission.   (Matthew 28:18-19)
  7. The emphasis is on giving God glory and not the activity.   (Philippians 1:9-11)

We set goals because we want our lives to honor Him, not to achieve our own personal glory. I’ll leave you with this. Do not be afraid to set goals. Goals are healthy. We must stop impersonating Charlie Brown.

If you struggle with evangelism, ask God to help you, and set a goal of sharing your faith with someone this month. If you struggle with prayer, start out praying 5 minutes a day and work your way up.

As I’m still thinking through this, I’m sure there may be more to come. Until then,

Do you feel goals are an important part of the Christian life?

What goals are you currently setting for yourself?

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Filed under christian, Uncategorized

Why World Water Day Should Matter to You?

Today is World Water Day. Currently, there are almost 1 BILLION people without access to clean drinking water. To put that in perspective, that is 1 out of every 8 people on the planet.

Some quick facts about water (credit is due charity:water for these facts):

  • Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
  • 90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old.
  • In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Women and children bear the brunt of this labor.

Here’s the deal. We have many problems in America. For the most part, access to clean drinking water is not one of them. I completely agree we should work on problems here, but that need not necessitate us leaving millions without hope. For the price of a night out to eat, a movie, or a couple of Starbucks, you can drastically change someone’s life.

Christians, let us put our money where our mouths are. “For God so loved the world” means more than our tiny part of it. We build up vast nest eggs to live lives of luxury by the time we are 60, but can we spare a few dollars for some who may not see 60 without our help?

Let me be clear: this IS a gospel issue. Why on earth would people care to hear about a loving God if His people will not care for their most immediate needs? Let us not be so cruel as to send missionaries to the farthest corners to share the Good News, but willfully neglect millions (many children) as they suffer the cruel fate of being born into an impoverished area.

Love knows no borders. Love knows no race. Love knows no culture.

If you would like to give, these organizations do fantastic work (there are others, just do your homework before you donate):

charity:water
Samaritan’s Purse
Wine to Water

Even if it’s just a few dollars, would you please consider giving the gift of water to someone today?

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Filed under Challenges, christian, hunger, making a difference, poverty, Serving Others, Uncategorized

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

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

Hero of the Day

Let’s be honest. Professional sports has its share of problems. For the most part, the athletes are young, rich, and human. That is a lethal mix.

We rarely go a week without reading or hearing of some star’s extramarital affair, dui, or drug charge. However, there is a brighter side to that world. Athletes spend a great deal of time doing charity work. Some may argue for it’s for PR, but my question to those folks is, “what are you doing?”

Well, here’s a story that I think is pretty fantastic. The Toronto Star published an article on Sunday about an NBA player going out of his way to help a complete stranger.

Last week, Lucita Charles, a single mother of a 7-year-old son with cerebral palsy, was murdered. Enter Jamaal Magloire. He heard the story and his heart went out to the boy. Knowing he had the means to help, Jamaal paid for the funeral and is in the process of setting up a trust fund to provide for the boy’s welfare.

Money can never soothe the pain the little boy feels over the loss of his mother, but it must provide some relief to know someone is taking care of you.

It’s great to hear a story like that come out. The guy wasn’t doing it for publicity. He apparently was upset people even found out. You got to give the guy all the credit in the world for taking the necessary steps to help the young boy out.

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Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, Heroes, In the News, making a difference, Uncategorized