Tag Archives: Becoming Last

It’s Monday and He’s Still Risen!

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.   7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

I read those words in church yesterday. The cross, an ugly, terrible event in the history of mankind also holds unspeakable beauty. Christ did not go to the cross for certain groups of people. He did not endure the pain for Jews. He did not endure the suffering for Gentiles. He did not take on just white or black people’s sins. The cross spanned the entire plain of humanity. Good, bad, beautiful or ugly in the eyes of the world, accomplished or broken, Christ died for everyone.

I love verse 7. Paul supposes that “perhaps for the good man someone would even dare to die.” However, Christ died for the helpless and the ungodly. That is truly Good News. There are days I don’t feel worthy of anyone’s love, let alone their life. Yet, Christ, knowing the depth of my sin and yours, bore the pain of the cross and suffered on our behalf.

I hope you’ll find time today to marvel at the death and resurrection of Christ. There often seems to be such a build up to Christmas and Easter, then, in a flash, they are gone. Christ died for you. He does not care what you’ve done. He does not care what others think about you. He does not even care what mess you are into right now. He demonstrated His love for you through the cross and is waiting for you to come to Him.

Have a great Monday everyone. He is risen!

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Filed under christian, 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.

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

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

Courage in the Face of Cancer

I hope you’ll find this story as inspirational as I did. I ran across it while visiting HelpOthers.org.

I work at a Care Center where most of the people are elderly. About a year and a half ago a 59 year-old lady came to us who had cancer. She had to have her right leg amputated and she didn’t have a family to take care of her after the operation.

This lady was a quiet lady who mostly stayed to herself. But in the afternoons, when she was feeling well, she would go visit the other residents in the home. She would visit a lady who was blind and read to her. She would go into the room of a young girl with severe cerebral palsy and sing to her. In her quiet gentle way, she would go about the Care Center doing good.

She passed away last Wednesday and after her passing, stories are coming forward of her quiet acts of kindness in her own hour of sorrow.

We never know what impact we have upon others. She had every reason to be bitter, to be angry, or to be swallowed up in her own grief.  But she wasn’t. She didn’t have a family and probably felt forgotten, but her small and quiet acts of service made an impact upon the entire Care Center.

Each of us are better people for having known her. We have pledged to be more aware of the service that we can offer to others.

What an amazing outlook on life! She had every reason not to love and serve, yet she did. Small, silent acts of service speak volumes about a person’s character.

Do you share the same attitude? What things tend to paralyze you from serving and loving others?

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Filed under Challenges, making a difference, selflessness, Serving Others, Uncategorized

Are Dogs the Best Christians?

The epitome of a Christian?

There is an unfortunate myth that perpetuates itself throughout church communities. It can be fairly well summed up in an old saying I once heard: “I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do.” The myth is that Christians are just supposed to stay away from a lot of things and they’ll be good.

Don’t drink. Don’t lie. Don’t have premarital sex. Don’t cheat. Don’t gamble. Don’t…..and the list grows depending on which church you attend.

Unfortunately, many people ascribe to this belief. But, that is NOT Christianity. If it were, your dog would be the best Christian around. He doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t get drunk. He doesn’t go out doing bad things. What a great dog! He’s so good.

But no, that is not Christianity. Paul addressed this issue in the letter to the Galatians. Listen to what defines a Christian life for Paul.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,         faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Paul is telling them that their individual lives and their community (the “church”) should be defined by these things. How many people in your community, when asked to describe your church, would even mention this list?

Fact is, we spend so much time trying to “overcome” sin on our own that we miss out on the fruit of our relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Abiding in Christ, relationship with God – that is what produces that fruit Paul talks about.

And I found this interesting: The word “fruit” in Paul’s passage is singular. Love, joy, peace, etc. is one package. They are not just a bunch of individual things we work really hard on. They are a bundle of fruit blossoming from the vine. Think of it like a bunch of grapes. One fruit, just a bunch of it. That’s the fruit of the Spirit.

What if our church was known for its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? People long for that kind of community. Instead, we spend the majority of our time focused on the “shall nots.”

Do you see this fruit in your life?

Does your Christianity consist mostly of no’s?

Do you abide in Christ each day or work on your own power?

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Filed under christian, Scripture, Uncategorized

15 and Gone – Why?

Tragedy.

It’s the only word that can describe a 15 year old’s death.

After months of bullying and harrasment, on Jan. 14, Phoebe Prince chose to end her life.

Heartbreaking.

There are so many questions. Why? What made her feel as if there was no hope? Could it have been prevented?

I don’t know if we’ll ever have all the answers. All we know is that at some point she was pushed to the edge by the constant torment of kids who chose her as the target of their derision.

In 2006, there were 33,000 suicides in the United States. 594,000 others were treated for self-afflicted injuries.

Many of these people may have friends and family who stood steadfastly beside them through thick and thin, but many don’t.

Every suicide can’t be prevented, but I just wonder what statistical change would happen if we as “the church” took to intentionally noticing and loving people who are being pushed to the edge. Too often, our friends consist of people who look and sound an awful lot like us. I admit. That describes me in a lot of ways.

Jesus stood with the downtrodden. He healed the sick. He found himself confronted with a lot of messy situations. But he looked neither left nor right. He refused to overlook, ignore, or forget about them. Instead, he graciously provided for their phsyical and spiritual needs.

Now, we’re no Jesus. But we can love people. The question is: Are we willing to?

Phoebe’s death is a sad, tragic reminder that our world is broken. Please pray for her family as they cope with the loss of their daughter.

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Filed under In the News, making a difference

Redeeming Time

We all wish we could add time to our day. The reality is…we can’t. It’s just not possible.

But, what we can do is make intentional efforts to make the most of the time we have. This is part 4 in thinking through time management. You can find the first three parts here, here, and here.

Today’s post is an easy read. Here’s a simple list of things you could do to free up time to show people God’s love.

  1. One Minute Email Rule: My email is a complete fail. I have thousands of emails just taking up space in my inbox. I can’t remember where I read this rule, but I love it and I’m going to give it a shot. Open your email and do one of three things. First, if it’s trash, delete it. Second, if you can respond in under a minute, do it and put it in a “processed” folder. Don’t put it off. Third, if it requires more attention, then put it on your list of things to do. The reality is most email requires a minute or under to respond. Simply clearing out those emails will make you vastly more efficient and disciplining yourself to respond immediately means less people go unanswered.
  2. Schedule Time to Serve: Most of us have good intentions. We want to serve, but our week is packed. BUT, most of us have no idea what we’ll be doing June 5 (pick any random day in the future). Sign up for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or whatever. Just put it on the calendar. Make it part of your schedule and that will give you time to find a babysitter or get other work accomplished. Make serving a priority by intentionally scheduling.
  3. Make the Most of Meals: A common refrain I hear from pastors and leaders is that they have no time. But we eat don’t we? You’ve got three meals a day. Make the most of that meal by not going it alone. Invite someone to lunch. Meet someone for breakfast. Welcome another family into your home for dinner. Some of the best conversations people have are around meals. It’s a chance to listen to people, learn who they are, and you may learn of a need you could meet.
  4. Serve as a Family: Many times, especially at churches, we separate our families. One night, dad will go somewhere. The other night, mom…and so on. Seek out, discover, and invent ways to serve and volunteer together. I recently heard a friend of mine whose family sponsored a cookout to raise money for people in Haiti. That’s a great way to not only serve, but also to invest in your family. Time well spent.

Those are just four simple ways to start getting the most out of your time. There are a million more out there on the internet, but those hit home with me.

Got any time management tips that you think are essential? Don’t be bashful, share them!

Have a great day and don’t forget to ask yourself the question:

How can I Become Last today?

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Filed under Time, Uncategorized