Tag Archives: sacrifice

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

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”?

 

1 Comment

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

The ‘Why’ of Faithfulness

Faithfulness is one of those words we have to be careful with. As Christians, we have a tendency to cut things out of Scripture and then assign our own meanings to them. Oftentimes, when we discuss faithfulness, we jump right into our own responsibilities and duties toward God. We figure out when, how, and in what way we must obey. And this is all good, we should be faithful. But what we often forget is why…

The ‘why’ is just as and probably more important than anything else. It’s the reason and the foundation for our faithfulness. Without the why our faithfulness is futile and our efforts will only lead to exhaustion and frustration.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Faithfulness is a fruit of our relationship with God. This list in Galatians was not meant for Christians to parse out all the words and figure out ways in which they can make themselves more faithful, gentle, or loving. Paul was telling the Galatians that these things come from a relationship with God.

Our Christian lives begin at the cross with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. We worship Him for His sacrifice, His love, and His mercy. But then we tend to drift. We move away from the power of Christ and the love of God into a me-centered religion of “I’ve got to do this for God. I’ve got to be faithful.”

God certainly wants our obedience. He loves faithfulness, but we must not ever rely on our own efforts to make ourselves good. When Peter walked on water, he was focused on Christ. It was when he turned and focused on the wind and waves that he fell. I can almost hear him thinking, “Jesus called me out here, but it’s windy and stormy. I’m scared, but I’ll try really hard. Maybe I can make myself buoyant.” Of course, that didn’t work. He sank. Focusing on Christ allowed him to be faithful as he walked across the water.

As we seek to love others, remember to cling to the one who sacrificed his life for you. Remember, it is He who gives you the strength, perseverance, and passion to be faithful. We should be like the psalmist who shouts:

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 63:8

* This post was part of a blog carnival hosted by Bridget Chumbley. To read other posts on faithfulness, click here.

18 Comments

Filed under Scripture, Uncategorized

Making Music

I thought I’d start the week off with a little inspiration. Enter Andy Mackie. At 71 years young, he’s chosen to spend the remainder of his life inspiring kids with music. CBS News recently did a story on him. Here are the highlights:

After his ninth heart surgery, Mackie’s doctors had him on 15 different medicines. But the side effects made his life miserable. So one day he quit taking all 15 and decided to spend his final days doing something he always wanted to do. He used the money he would have spent on prescriptions to give away 300 harmonicas, with lessons. When he didn’t die the next month, he bought a few hundred more.

Forget a wickedly awesome vacation. Nope. Just spending the remaining days of his life giving away hope in the form of harmonicas and music lessons. For all he knew, he might have lived a few more weeks, but…

It is now 11 years and 16,000 harmonicas later.

To keep the kids interested in music as they get older, Mackie now spends the bulk of his social security check making what he calls “strumsticks.” He’s given away thousands of these, too. He also buys store made instruments for the kids that show special interest and provides free lessons to everyone by getting the older kids to teach the younger ones.

What a selfless man. It’s people like him that humble me completely. The fact that he even thought of doing what he did is amazing, let alone actually doing it! I hope his story encourages you as it did me.

Got a story of someone putting themselves last? Think it would make a great “in the news” post? Leave a comment or email me at becominglast@hotmail.com.

Andy gave up his medicines. What can you give up to use the money for someone else?


2 Comments

Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, In the News, making a difference, purpose, selflessness, Serving Others, Uncategorized

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

Caring When It’s Inconvenient

The last post was about Madison, a beautiful baby girl who is going through some medical difficulties. It has been encouraging to read the responses people gave and to know that several of you made the effort to share some love with the family on Madison’s CaringBridge page.

Today, Jason, a blogger friend of mine, wrote a response to my post over on his blog Connecting to Impact. I thought about reposting his blog here, but that would do it an injustice. His blog is way cooler to look at than mine so it’s worth the view. Here’s an excerpt – the link follows:

It’s amazing how the Christmas season displays (and sometimes celebrates) rampant selfishness yet points us to ultimate selflessness.  A miracle is seen in a Father giving His Son, a Son surrendering everything for the redemption plan.

I’m too tired. I’m too busy. I’m too important. I’m too strapped… The next time I try to back out of showing God’s love and goodness and try to use one of these or another excuse, I hope I remember Madison, her family, and the Father who wants to do them good.

Please check out the rest of the post here. It is well worth the read. It’s challenging, it’s encouraging, and it exemplifies a Becoming Last mindset. Thanks Jason.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Toddlerific!

Yesterday, I shared some questions I think we should all ask ourselves as parents. It always helps me to take a step back from parenting and examine my heart and my motives in how I parent. Today, I wanted to share with you a “proud dad” moment.

Every once in a while, he gets in these daddy’s boy moods. He’ll copy everything I do, he’ll beg me to play with him, and he’ll go out of his way to be extremely well behaved. Well, yesterday, my son grabs my finger and guides me into his little play area. He’s got about 30 matchbox cars, cars from Cars, monster trucks, and various other cars (do you see a theme?) all lined up in a row. He loves to do that for some reason! Right now, they are across our whole den (my wife calls it a living room, but it’s a den) floor!

He sits me down and we have this conversation:

E: Let’s play cars together daddy!

Me: Yeah, that’d be fun!

E: O.K. Yay!

Me: Which car can I play with?

E: Ummm…(you can see the wheels turning in his head…he scans over the cars and he lands on one in particular). Daddy can play with this one!

It may not sound like much of a conversation, but my little boy had just made a very selfless, generous decision. He gave me his much beloved Lightning McQueen car. Even better, it was an intentional decision. I love that and it was such a sweet moment to see my little guy sacrifice a little something for his daddy.

I wish it were that easy for me to give in real life. I cling to stuff so tight. Don’t get me wrong. I give here and there, but I give my leftovers. I give what I can afford to lose. My little guy – he gave his treasure. What a great lesson I learned, but such a difficult one to apply.

Have a great weekend!

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized