Tag Archives: Pride

Goodbye

facebook-bullet-holeIt’s over.  We are THROUGH!  It’s been fun, but it really isn’t working out anymore.  Yes, it is true – I’m breaking it off.

No, I’m not breaking up with a high school sweetheart.  I’m not severing a troubled friendship.  I’m saying goodbye to something that I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with: Facebook.  This is a personal decision, not one that I encourage others to make without careful and prayerful consideration.  But it is my decision nonetheless.  Over the last few weeks, I have found myself increasingly frustrated with the global social empire and its intrusion into my life.

There are both spiritual and nonspiritual reasons for this decision. First, the nonspiritual.  Facebook is greedy for my information.  They want to use my information so that advertisers are able to target me with incredible specificity.  Recently, Facebook asked for permission to use the contact database in my phone and to have unparalleled access to the functions of my phone.  Facebook wanted to be in every aspect of my life.  No. Thank. You.

But there are spiritual reasons as well.  My prayer is that my struggles can encourage you, or at least give you something to think about in terms of your social media use.

I have noticed in my life a dangerous propensity toward pride.  The Lord used Facebook to truly shine a light on it.  I found myself posting and participating in an attempt to make more of myself while I should be making more of Christ.  Pride is when I magnify myself instead of magnifying Jesus.  When the ice bucket challenge was going on.  I found myself motivated to participate, not by compassion, but by pride.  I appears that I wasn’t the only one.  It seems frequently, many people kept trying to use colder water, bigger buckets, more dangerous stunts to “outdo” the person who nominated them.  One guy even posted a video of himself dumping liquid nitrogen over his head!  Keep in mind, I can only judge my own heart and motives, not the motives of the millions of people who dumped ice water on their heads.  However, in my judgment, I found pride lurking dangerously in the recesses of my heart.

I have also noticed a very critical spirit in my life.  If you know me, you know that our government, politicians, and culture frustrate me greatly.  I have found that social media provides a public forum for me to be super critical with people who are like-minded.  Instead of praying for those in authority over us, we blast them on Facebook and cheer one another on while doing it.  That doesn’t mean that I have become a fan of our politicians, but it does mean that I am trying to learn to pray for them before I level criticism against them.

I have also noticed that Facebook is becoming a place for argumentative people to argue without discernment or discretion.  Keyboards and LCD screens give us a troubling sense of security and invincibility.  Somebody posted publicly on Facebook a few weeks ago a rant against another driver who cut them off on Hwy. 154.  They listed the vehicle description and the tag number in the rant.  Did the poor driver make a mistake? Certainly. But I have a feeling that the complainer wouldn’t have had the same tone in a face-to-face conversation.  I miss the good ol’ days – when you actually had to deal with real people to settle disputes rather than their electronic avatars.

I won’t be deleting my account as it is tied to our church’s Facebook page.  That is still a meaningful way of engaging folks.  But if you need me, feel free to email me, text me, call me, OR actually speak to me in person.  I’m unplugging just a little bit.  It may not work for you, but it is certainly the direction I need to go!

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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Follow Me Graduates

I remember walking across that stage to shake the principal and superintendent’s hand.  My goal for graduation was to have as much regalia as possible.  I wanted more than anyone else.  I wanted the cords for being in National Honor Society.  I wanted the stole that made sure everyone knew I was a class officer.  I wanted the stole that said I was the president of the Student Council. And don’t forget the different colored tassel signifying that I was an honor graduate.  All those things were so important to me – the honor, the recognition, the praise.  Today, all those accolades I collected in high school are just reminders of how prideful I was.

That night, as the class of ’97 stood around offering tearful goodbyes, there was one event that proved to be a defining moment for me.  A good friend of mine invited me to church.  Truth be told, church was the last thing on my mind.  My faith had been a matter of convenience and on that night, it was not very convenient.  I had conquered high school.  I had succeeded at everything I put my mind to.  I had erected a monument to my self-perceived greatness.  No, this celebration was all about me.  I had given Jesus his time at the Baccalaureate a few days earlier – this was my night.  Or so I thought.

The funny thing was that when I left the football field at Gordon Lee High School that night, I felt strangely empty.  I had been one to allow my accomplishments to define me.  And the truth that began to settle in was that those accomplishments really didn’t matter anymore.  They were relics that would be hung in a closet and forgotten.  No one in college would care if you were the student body president (or the class clown).  It didn’t matter if you were an honor student in high school if you couldn’t cut the mustard in college Algebra.  As I drove away that night, I didn’t so much feel like a graduate, but a lost little boy.

Over the summer, that graduation night feeling of disillusionment only increased.  And the ramparts of pride that I had built around my heart were being torn down by a siege of uncertainty.  It was in the middle of this emotional crisis that God used my friend’s well-timed invitation to church to help me see that this life can mean so much more than our earthly accolades and accomplishments.  I walked into the back door of Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church on a hot August morning, and I haven’t been the same since, because I began to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ, not just someone who claimed to be a “Christian.”

When Jesus called his first disciples, he didn’t say much.  The truth is that he didn’t need to.  He simply gave them an invitation to follow.  The amazing thing is that those first disciples did just that.  They didn’t second guess Jesus; they didn’t excuse themselves while they finished up the loose ends of their lives.  They dropped everything and followed Jesus.  I really and truly believe that this is where we make some of our greatest mistakes.  I became a Christian at age 12, but you wouldn’t know it by the time I was 18.  I made the mistake of trying to be a Christian without actually following Jesus.  It obviously doesn’t work.  It is akin to trying to get married but never moving into the same dwelling.  Jesus’ offer to follow is a lifelong – and life-changing – invitation.

For our students who are beginning the next phase of their journeys, you must understand what it means to be a follower.  As followers of Christ, we must not define our success by our accomplishments, but by our faithfulness.  When we face this next step, we have to ask the question, are we really following Jesus?

Congratulations to the Class of 2011!

Pastor Brian

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The Least Common Denominator

Being married to a math teacher gives me many opportunities to think about all the things that they taught in school that never quite stuck to the flypaper of my brain.  There are some things that took hold – English and social studies, science and history were all favorites.  I even remember a few things from the home economics class I took my senior year.  But math never found a friend inside my brain.  (Don’t worry, your pastor is fully competent to do the math necessary to shepherd a church.)  Math teachers please do not read the following sentence as what I am about to say will cause you great stress.  I’ve never had to use the Pythagorean Theorem in the conjugation of a Greek verb, nor have I had to use π past 3.14 to figure out how to start a new Sunday School class. 

There is one math function that I have learned to pay more attention to as I have grown, the least common denominator (LCD).  In math, the LCD is the smallest multiple that two fractions have in common.  You have to find the least common denominator to easily perform mathematical operations with fractions. 

In life, the least common denominator is a little different.  We often use that term to describe the most basic characteristic that a group has in common.  I know, that’s not popular today in our highly individualized culture.  No one wants to be lumped into a group because everybody is different.  After a little while, those statements begin to sound like the teacher on Charlie Brown. 

It might be easy to figure out the LCD for Southern Baptists or Blue Dog Democrats or animal rights activists, but what about the human race?  Could it be that there is a LCD for humanity?

The Bible gives a generic LCD in Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Without a lot of thinking, we have defined humanity by something that we all have in common – the reality of sin.  But sin is very diverse.  We are professional sinners, having perfected the art of sin.  We have sins of omission and sins of commission.  We have sins hidden in our thoughts, heard through our words, felt through our actions, and discerned through our motives.  Surely the commonality between the pervert and the thief stops in the generic definition of their sinful condition. 

The end of Daniel 4 reveals to us the most basic element of the human condition.  Some theologians have defined this as the “root sin,” the sin from which all others originate.  Let me suggest that the LCD of the human plight is a condition known as pride.  Pride is the sin that moves the husband into the arms of another woman and moves the embezzler into the books of his business.  Pride is the condition that compels a king to boast about his greatness and drives a self-righteous religious man to boast about his piety.  It is no coincidence that pride is the sin that drove Lucifer to covet the throne of God, resulting in his expulsion from glory. 

At the end of Daniel 4, a beautiful thing happened – Nebuchadnezzar was emptied of his pride.  It took a lot to get him to that point.  It took dreams and visions, miraculous redemptions, and seven-years in an insane condition, but Nebuchadnezzar found the only answer to the LCD of humanity – repenting from sin and turning to God.

Today, the answer remains the same, though revealed even more clearly to us through the cross.  We are all prideful people, every one of us.  The next time you sin, think of your pride.  The only answer to pride is a relationship with Jesus Christ.      

 It’s not algebra, it’s faith,

 Pastor Brian

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