Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Bragging and Arrogant Pride

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

***

Bragging about old times
two men were boasting to each other about their old army days.
“Why, my outfit was so well drilled,” declared one, “that when they

presented arms all you could hear was slap, slap, click.”
“Very good,” conceded the other, “but when my company

presented arms you’d just hear slap, slap, jingle.”
“What was the jingle?” asked the first. “Oh,” replied the other offhand, “just our medals.”

***

 

Ever get into one of those conversations that headed the direction of the joke above?  You tell your story and your friend seems to think they need to ‘one up’ you.  After they’ve had their turn, you’re ready with yet another story that will top theirs.  Sometimes we do this in jest, but other times we really do this because we absolutely want our story, no matter how far the truth is stretched, to be the best.  We boast and it gets out of hand.

 

I’m sure that most of you know someone who is a lot of talk.  By this I mean life seems to be all about them.  For some reason, they’re always better.  They have the better job.  Their car, no matter what kind, always outdoes someone else’s.  Better gas mileage.  Seats smell nicer.  Oh, and they always get the best deal at the grocery store.  Their kids are smarter than anyone else’s.  Their dog is too.  They can run fast and cook the best hamburger.  They have stylish hair…even if there’s not much of it.  This might be an extreme, but I know you know someone like this.  Hmmm…is it you?

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the phrase, “Pride goeth before a fall.”  What exactly is this boastful pride that the Bible says has no place in true love…the love and character of God?  My guess is, that if we look closely again at why we are called to love and Paul’s description of it, we will gain a new perspective.

 

We are called to love God and love our neighbor.  Everything from the Old Testament and New Testament combined..even the life of Jesus himself, is summed up in these two commandments.  Pride or arrogance has no home among these two instructions.  Paul writes that love doesn’t boast and is not proud…and I believe the idea is simple.

 

The boastful person or the prideful person is about themselves.  Boasting has the intent to draw attention to oneself.  Pride carries the intent to think highly of oneself.  Someone might say that it is good to be confident, but strength through confidence doesn’t draw attention intentionally.  There is a quiet confidence that is clothed in humility.  Jesus carried the confidence of who He was, what He could do and what His purpose was.  Inside of that confidence, people were drawn to Him…and He was all about letting them know who He served and how they could know Him better.

 

Pride doesn’t point to Jesus.  Boasting pulls attention away from God.  God Himself said this in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

23 This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

It’s all about getting people to know God.  In the end, it will not matter how many quarters we can catch from our elbow or how many hot dogs we can eat in a 5 minute period.  In the end it will not matter how much money we made or if our car was new every 3 years.  In the end it won’t matter if our clothes were permanent press or 100% cotton.  It won’t even matter if we lived the American dream.  God’s dream for us trumps any other dream we can conjure up for ourselves.  In the end it will only matter if we loved God with everything we have and if we loved our neighbor as ourselves.  If we love God we will believe in and follow His son.  If we love our neighbor, we won’t brag or be proud of “us stuff.”  We will see and recognize their accomplishments and their needs alike and try to be a part of their life…so much so that they see God through us and are drawn to Him.  Love does not brag and is not proud.

Can you picture your church family as one that grabs hold of this concept and puts away verbal bragging and self pointing pride?  What would a church family be known for if bragging and pride were not part of the vocabulary.  Those one up stories would stop at the first story…and it would be the other person’s story.  And we might follow with a phrase like “that’s great!” or “wow, you did that?” or “that is so cool!”  It would be about lifting them up…even if we knew they are bragging.  In doing so, in being kind and patient, we will exude the character of God for His children.  In time, people will notice and wonder why we are different.  The church family that does this will absolutely be known in the community…not by the name on their sign at the foot of the driveway, but by their love.  And Jesus verified this in John 13:35.  Let’s move forward as the church on the planet with strong confidence in who and who’s we are…bringing more and more with us to our home in Heaven.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • Are you prone to feeling like you need to ‘one up’ people around you?
  • Can you now get a sense for how you sound when you have the next best story?
  • Can you see how it can interfere with your purpose for taking people to Heaven?
  • What will be a couple of phrases you will put in your back pocket to pull out when you have the “need” to tell a better story or when you’re driven to brag or be proud? What kind of phrases can you create and reiterate that focus on God or the other person?
  • Is there a person who is boastful or overly proud that you are regularly in conversation with?  How will you approach them differently now so that they might see God’s glory through you?…maybe not immediately, but in time with patience?
Advertisements

Kindness Video

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Video by Life Vest Inside – Viewed via YouTube

Kindness Changes Things

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

 

  • A mistake made by many people with great convictions is that they will let nothing stand in the way of their views, not even kindness. ~ Bryant H. McGill
  • A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve. ~ Joseph Joubert
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ AESOP
  • The words you say mean nothing, the way you say them means everything. ~ Eileen Parra
  • Great persons are able to do great kindnesses. ~ Miguel de Cervantes
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.  ~ Seneca
  • The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he ‘likes’ them: the Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on – including people he could not even have imagined himself liking at the beginning. ~ C.S. Lewis

Do you remember the Liberty Mutual commercial from a couple years ago?  It was titled, “Do the right thing.”  I know I’m getting old, but the first time I watched that my eyes became just a little weepy.  If you don’t remember, one person was walking down the street and helped a mom and little baby…the baby had just dropped something from a stroller.  Someone noticed the action of this man and then later saw where they could be kind as well to someone who crossed their path. Each person who saw kindness done by someone else had new eyes for where they could be kind in their day as well.  It was a great commercial because I think that it created the sense in many of us that says, “I can do that.”

So let’s review where we’ve been the last week or so.  We’ve jumped into the ‘love chapter’ of the Bible…1 Corinthians 13…and we’re specifically focusing on verses 4-8 and 13.  But let’s go back just a bit more.  Jesus used the word love in His great commandment response in Matthew 22.  Jesus says that the two greatest commandments are to love God with everything and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).  So here we are now looking at Paul’s definition of love.  Last week we looked at patience. This week kindness.  So what Paul is saying is that being kind is part of loving our neighbor.  But what does kindness look like? Again, Paul does not say that this is an option of being loving…he writes that it simply is part of love.  If we are to be successful in loving our neighbors, family and even enemies with God’s love, we need to find out how we can become more kind to others.

Some people think kindness is like humility or that it even shows weakness. Illustration:  When someone is up in your face and on your case a lot, kindness might be seen as a “backing down from a worthwhile fight.”  Ironically, being kind in that situation takes a lot more will power and control and strategy than simply responding with what you think is right.  Have you ever noticed that opportunities for kindness come when we’re busy, run down, defensive, broke, basically not ready?  Many times, when I have the chance to be kind, I find myself in a struggle.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s the right thing to do, but I just don’t want to right then.  LOL  A bit selfish wouldn’t you say?

There’s a phrase that we’ve all heard.  Random Act of Kindness.  I’m all for random acts of kindness…it’s just that I’m learning, I think, that in order to be kind as God is kind, we need to not be random in how we choose to have an attitude of kindness.  If we get out of bed and choose to be kind throughout the day, then those random acts will become less random and more usual.  Do you know people who live out kindness?  I’m sure we all do.  They always have a good word…even when they’re down.  They always have something to give…even if they’re at odds with the person receiving.  They always have time to share…even though they may be very busy.  They give kindness even to people who we might think don’t deserve it.  Kindness seems to always be the opposite of selfishness to that person.  They’re not random about their kindness.  It’s almost like they look for ways to be kind.

Let’s look at what kindness can do?  It makes one feel noticed.  It helps one feel like their personal need wasn’t hidden in the dark.  It can help a person feel cared for.  Many people feel like they might not deserve kindness when they receive it.  Have you ever noticed that consistent kindness can soften a heart even to the point of repentance and sorrowfulness?  Remember, Paul is giving us the definition of love. Kindness is a part of love.  Perfect love comes from God.  If all of that is true, then God gives the perfect kindness…and many of us probably know that because God doesn’t have to be kind to us.  None of us deserve it.

So the question is, how do we become more kind?  My thought is this.  We first look to see how Jesus was kind and imitate Him.  We choose, each morning to wake up with kindness on our heart so that when those opportunities come, they’re not interruptions, but places where our kindness…God’s kindness through us, can be plugged in.  And we have to always remember that it’s not about us.  It’s always about the other person.  When we can act out kindness in this way, God is the one who is glorified.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

Questions for Growth:

  • Are you usually a kind person to those around you?  Are you naturally kind?
  • Is there someone in your life or regularly in the path of your life that could use kindness?
  • How will you ‘do kindness’ to them this week?…even if they don’t seem to notice or care?
  • What will help you wake up each morning choosing kindness as the attitude of the day?

Principles from the 2011 Cross Country Season

October 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Principles from the 2011 Cross Country Season

 

I volunteered just before midseason to help with my son’s cross country team.  My nephew runs on this team too, so it was extra fun for me.  I hadn’t run in about 3 years after battling major knee problems…so my start was slower than I wanted.  Nonetheless, I gained a new understanding of some basic Biblical principles.  I wanted to share them with you as we come up on the Thanksgiving season.  I want to always be thankful for the way God reminds us of who He is and how His principles and wisdom work.

Running is not easy.  But running can be fun.  I understand that there are some people who simply hate the idea.  That’s ok.  But there’s a reason that Paul wrote about training and running a race in 1 Corinthians 9.  I was reminded of this verse last weekend when I watched my son run his race…and then watched the rest of the Jr. High and High School runners ran theirs.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says this:

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The temperatures hovered around 48-49F degrees and the wind was absolutely brutal.  There was nowhere to hide from it.  The land near Marlington High School was flat without many windbreaks.  The first race of the day was the kids race (for those below 7th Grade).  Micah would be in this 1000m sprint.  At 9:15AM the gun sounded and around 30 youngsters took off, many in their team’s running uniforms…shorts and tank tops. Some had t-shirts or tights underneath, but that didn’t help much with the windchill.  To beat all, the starting 100 yards was directly into a headwind.

Micah’s been running well the whole year taking 3 – 1st place finishes before this day.  He planned nothing else but another 1st place finish.  We walked through the path of the course from a map and then looked up to see the actual course in the distance.  Roger Tubbs then took the group out to stretch and warm up.  The start time came close and the young group approached the line…not wanting to take off their coats and sweatpants.  It was cold.  Everyone took their spot, and waited for the gun, then sprinted into that wind that forced all of them to breath extra breaths as they battled for position.

Micah quickly made it to the front with a couple of other girls who were planning to not only match his time but beat him.  The three of them quickly outpaced the others and midway had close to a 40 yard lead.  One girl, who trains all year long, passed Micah, but he wouldn’t have that and quickly jumped in front again not looking back.  She stuck close and the other girl closed in on the two of them.  As they rounded the last corner Micah started a 100 yard kick.  As he got closer to the finish I could actually hear him breathing over the crowd cheering.  His limbs were moving as fast as they could.  He was coughing with each breath attempting to scream his way a little faster.  The cold air wouldn’t allow him to get a yell out, so he hacked his way to a first place finish.  I’ll never forget the look on his face as he ran the last 20 yards.  He was working harder for this 1st place than he ever had before.  Partly because he didn’t want to get beat by a girl, but also because of the weather conditions…and he simply wanted to win.

I now have a very personal picture of what Paul was talking about as he penned, “…run in such a way as to win the prize.”  I am thankful for this picture.

Question.  Do you run your life in such a way?  I’m now asking myself that question every day.

The weather did not improve for the rest of the races.  Many of my Sr. High friends ran their races next.  More than a few were covered with mud showing where they fell or were bumped around.  These were the district races, so all were fighting for a chance at being mentioned All District or to have their team place well.   The Jr. Highers, who I had run with on and off the last couple months, ran their faces off, as coach Amy Eibel often encouraged them to do.

Roger Tubbs took this group, like the first, out to stretch and warm up.  I met the group at the starting line.  I had just run from the finish of the girls High School race.  I was sitting with another friend of mine, Kayla Bloodworth, who not only ran her face off but almost her foot.  She kicked the last 200 yards faster than she probably ever had…and on a foot that was not 100%.  But she finished as one going for the prize.  She dropped underneath the flag-rope forming the chute and went down crying.   She was in pain, but in a few minutes I and a few other runners were around her helping her move telling her how great she just finished.  This took me back to one of my final races in High School Cross Country at South.  We ran at Malone College and my coach pushed me like never before.  I ran one of my best races and I collapsed in the chute after crossing the line.  The runner who came in front of me and the runner who finished behind me carried me through the chute to an open spot on grass where my coach met me.  There’s something all runners know.  Runners are inherently family.  Some runners are so competitive they run by themselves…but for the most part kindness and compassion run heavy in this global group.

As I got to the Jr. High guys after making sure Kayla was ok, I could hear coach Eibel getting the boys mentally ready for their race.  A huge smile was on her face.  Roger was nearby nodding with each phrase.  The boys were bouncing around trying to stay warm.  The wind had not died down.  They just wanted the gun to sound so they could get finished and back into their long pants and long sleeves.

The stronger runners on the team didn’t disappoint.  Jacob, my nephew, ran as strong as he has all year.  He and a friend battled for first place on the team most races this year, Jacob taking the majority…but they were all close.  The runners who weren’t usually as strong…again…ran their faces off and didn’t seem to realize the temps, mud, and wind they were running through.  They plowed through.  Their girls team surprised us as well as they ran maybe not faster, but stronger than they had all year.  One of our competitive girls nearly got sick 300 yards before the finish, but didn’t let girls from another team pass her up.  “…As to get the prize,” even when you don’t feel like it or when you feel tired or when you feel sick or when enemies are chasing you down.

All this, again, is my picture of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  These kids ran hard.  Another thing I saw was there were not only two coaches driving positive mental, ‘can do’ images into their hearts and brains, there were hundreds of parents and adults placed nearly evenly around most of the course to cheer them on.  These adults were out, some in full winter garb, travel mugs in hand, cheering on not only their kids but other kids as well.  There was a stretch of the course where the runners were all by themselves.  It’s here when your body ‘talks’ to you saying “this is too hard” or “you’re too tired” or “the person behind you is better than you.”  Sometimes we run life thinking there’s no-one around.   But all of us ‘onlookers’ could see them in the distance…ready for them to get close again to push them on to a great finish.  It’s great to have family around you cheering you on…sometimes when you can’t see or hear them.

Simple Biblical Principles:

  • It’s great to know you’re being led by people who believe in you and care and push you to your best performances.
  • There are things in life that sting like the cold wind.  But the cold wind can’t stop us.  Jesus said, “…and the gates of Hell will not overcome you.”  (Matthew 16:18)
  • It’s great to run with a team.
  • It’s awesome to know that around every turn and after every straightaway, there are people who look you in the eye and tell you, “You can do this!”
  • It’s so nice to know there are people to meet you at the finish line…and if necessary carry you.
  • Whether you had a great run or your worst day, they volunteers at the finish still smile when they hand you a cup of water and say “Good job!”

Can you see the image of Christ in the above principles?  Is running the perfect sport?  Is every runner a shining model of Jesus?  No and no.  The church isn’t perfect either.  Running simply gives me many, many mental images that put skin and bones on the principles that Jesus wants us to live by.  My prayer is that we all start being contagious with our kindness, generous with our support for and belief in the abilities of others, and forgiving with each other when we have bad days.

 

Thanks everyone for reading my ultra long article,

Ed

%d bloggers like this: