Why Being Real Matters So Much, and Why Its So Hard

Being real matters to me. That doesn’t mean I’m good at  it (I’m trying though), but that it deeply matters to me. I don’t know how you can have trust without authenticity ~ and trust is the currency of relationships.

What I mean by that is that without trust relationships don’t work, and they actually aren’t relationships. Without trust relationships devolve into contracts, conversations, or mutually aligned interests but they aren’t deeply committed friendships.

Which brings me back to authenticity. Because trust is based on being real, authentic, and true. But being authentic is hard in today’s world. It’s hard to be true. It’s hard to be content with who we are, and to be real about that. I read other people’s Facebooks and want my life to be as cool as others. I read other people’s posts about their kids and wish my kids said deeply spiritual things. Instead Hudson said at Sunday School, when they were discussing the burning bush, that if Heatwave (a Firetruck Transformer) was there he would have put it out. Yep that’s my son – thinking about dousing Moses’ burning bush.

But what’s the point? The point is that even though it can be tempting to puff up our lives, to embellish, to become jealous, and to wish we were something different or more – it’s not worth it.

It’s not worth it if you want true relationships. It’s not worth it if you want things that last. It’s not worth it if you want your life to mean something. Because in the end the only thing that matters are relationships. And those are all built on trust, and being true and real.

So while at times I wish Hudson was deeply spiritual, the truth is he loves Heatwave and Transformers. And while sometimes I wish my life was as “cool” as other people’s seem to be, the truth is I’m pretty content with my everyday rhythms staying at home and watching Netflix with Krista.

The point I’m trying to make is that being real is hard, but it’s worthwhile. 

So the next time you’re tempted to be anything less than real, muster up the courage and let people see the real you. The person who doesn’t have their house, parenting, or life put perfectly together. Let people see the real you, trust in you, and in the end your life and theirs will be better for it

Ridding Pride From Our Lives

On Sunday we tackeled the topic of pride. This is a hard topic because to be honest, in general, I think we try to live with balanced pride. We don’t want to live without it. We don’t want too much of it, but we also don’t want to get rid of it from our lives.

So I began by exploring what pride is. Pride is really misplaced, perverted, and self-directed love. St. Augustine defined pride as “the love of one’s own excellence”. It’s love that is inward rather than outward. And in many ways that’s exactly what pride is: a vortex that makes all affection and love about you. Pride is self-interested and  self-centered.

So with this understanding why on earth do we want to have anything to do with pride?

I think the reason we still try to balance and have just enough pride in our lives is this: in our culture we believe we need pride to succeed. That somehow without pride we won’t have any self-esteem, ability, or success in life. On Sunday I made a different case that we don’t need pride to succeed, we need humility.

Pride is based on false premises. It promotes our perfection and hides our flaws. It self-promotes our preferred version of ourselves, regardless of how true it is or isn’t. This is why pride is never a basis for healthy self-esteem: because it’s never based on the truth.

Will Willimon wrote: “To tell you the truth, I can’t think of much that is wrong with a healthy – within limits – sense of Pride, other than that Jesus was against it.”

I think that’s true. So we dove into how if Jesus didn’t display pride, how we might live like him free from it.

Where we landed was pretty simple: turn down pride and invest in humility. Jesus, when we he was tempted by the Devil in the desert, had his pride tested, poked, and prodded each time. But Jesus didn’t give in. He turned down pride, and instead invested in humility

We ended with a few practical ways to do this. The first, turning glory back to God. So often we want the glory for ourselves, but the example of Jesus is to give it back to the Father. So we gave this simple challenge: track the goodness of God this week. Keep track of all that God does for us. As we recognize God’s involvement in our lives, we can give the praise and glory back to him. So our simple challenge was to sit down once everyday and reflect on how God has been active in our lives. This will remind us that our success is not all about us, but God living and moving in and through us.

So why not do that this week? It’s a great step to grow humility and root out pride.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: We need to live with humility, and root out pride.

Take Aways…

  • Pride is the great sin. C.S.Lewis
  • Pride isn’t something to be shunned anymore, it is something to be embraced in our culture.
  • Pride is misdirected, misplaced, and perverted love
  • Pride is vortex that makes love all about you.
  • “Pride is the love of one’s own excellence” St. Augustine
  • Pride is a social sin In our culture we believe we need pride to succeed.
  • The answer to our self-esteem issue, isn’t pride but humility The inward manifestation of pride leads a person to be obsessed with others and how they feel about him or her. Michael Mangis
  • We’re supposed to instill pride in our children to make them stable people. But humility works even better. Fredrica Matthews-Greeen
  • “Jesus encounters the temptation to Pride with his rejection and with his silence” Will Willimon
  • We need to live with humility, and root out pride.
  • We need to grow in our gratitude to God Pride takes all the credit for success, and blames everyone else for failure. We need to flip this around.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? How has pride ever wrecked a relationship you’ve been in? In what areas or ways do you struggle with pride? How can you grow in humility? Will you choose to track God’s goodness?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about pride, and humility. Talk to them about being honest with who we are. But be proactive against pride, have them write out good things God has done for them this week. Have them make a picture, or share reasons for being thankful to God. The more they are rooted in that, the harder it will be for pride to take root.

Challenge for this Week Keep track of all the good God does for you this week

Healthy Pride? Is it Possible?

On Sunday we are looking at the last of our Seven Deadly Sins. We are actually going to be looking at a sin that I think we have a confused relationship with: pride.

In many ways we know that pride is a sin and awful. No one likes to hang out with arrogant jerks. We just don’t. And I’m sure if you’ve lived long enough you’ve seen a relationship, business, or connection wrecked because of pride. Pride has a way of wrecking things, we know this.

But I think in other ways we aren’t quite willing to live without pride. We try to instill pride in our kids. We post accomplishments on facebook with pride. We have pride in our companies, sports teams, or even nations.

The point is that while we don’t like people who have too much pride, we also don’t want to live without it.

So I want to dive into this confusing and complex topic on Sunday. I want to talk about how we can live free from pride, how we can give up on pride, and how we can find something better to replace pride in our lives.

Will Willimon wrote:

“To tell you the truth, I can’t think of much that is wrong with a healthy – within limits – sense of Pride, other than that Jesus was against it.”

I think it’s true. So it’s worth discovering about how to live without it…

Technology’s Good and Evils and the Tower of Babel

towerofbabelOn Sunday we explored a piece of underrated and life changing piece of technology: the brick. We explored how the story of Babel found in Genesis 11 isn’t just about God scattering but God’s response to technology and how it shapes us.

So what we discovered is that the people were moving eastward. Yet the people began to settle. In essence they began to move away from their nomadic roots. And with their “rootedness” they began to create something of permanence that wasn’t a possibility before. They wanted to create a Tower. Yet the only reason this becomes a possibility is through technological innovation: the creation of a brick. Bricks are uniform, they are mass-producible, and functional. They open up the ability to building projects never even dreamed of before.

Yet we read of the motives behind their building project. It says this in Genesis 11:4-5 ““Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies – a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world”. Here we get a glimpse how technology can shape us. It can influence us to create monuments to our own greatness. There is nothing wrong with creation, creativity, and innovation (in fact God commands it in Genesis 1-3). What is wrong though is creating out of a desire to prove our own greatness rather than a response to God’s goodness.

Technology has a tendency to infect and increase our pride. Look at how people strive for the better car, phone, house, or cool gadget so that they feel secure. These are the same emotions and insecurities that drove people thousands of years ago to make the Tower of Babel. We desire our own permanency, and monuments to our greatness but the message of the text is that in chasing after those things we end up scattered and alone. This is true in our day and age today.

The second danger is technology can distract us from God’s calling. Up until this point in the narrative the calling has been to move, and fill the earth. Now though people are settling and creating monuments to their greatness. And I think while our times are different technology still today separates us from God’s calling. There is nothing wrong with technology, but currently the average American watches over 32 hours of TV a week. There is nothing wrong with TV but is it possible that it is stealing our effectiveness from God? The average Canadian has over $27,000 in consumer debt. Is it possible that our addiction to stuff is stopping us, as part of the wealthiest people on the planet, from being a part of blessing others?

The last danger of technology was found in its ability to create a lack of listening. A faithful rendering of Genesis 11:7 is as follows: “Come let us go down and give them different languages. That way they won’t be able to listen to one another” I think this is what technology can do. It can stop us from truly listening to one another. We can forget to engage in conversations, and check our phones. We can forget to talk with our spouses, and turn on the TV.

So on Sunday the point wasn’t the evil of technology. The point was to recognize that it is shaping our lives for good or bad. And some of the negative ways is that it causes us to become prideful, resistant to God, and forget to listen to each other. So I gave a challenge to the church – give up technology as best you can this week. Put away the phone, the tablet, and the TV and give that time to God and those significant relationships in your life. Through this you might realize you don’t need it quite as much as you think, and find your life fuller. So with that said – my blog posts might not be as frequent this week 😉

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Technology shapes us for good and bad

Take Aways…

  • Technology shapes our lives
  • Technology allows new possibilities
  • Technology has the tendency to separate and confuse our relationship with God and each other.
  • We create technology as monuments to our greatness
  • Technology can increase our sense of ownership
  • Technology in this story breeds resistance and distance from God
  • The 4 dangers of technology in this story are:
    • + Pride
    • + Sense of Personal Ownership of Communal Items
    • + Resistance to God
    • + We stop listening

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What was new? Have you ever though of a brick as technology before? Have you ever been caught up in “getting stuff” as a monument to yourself? Which of the four dangers of technology do you think you struggle with most? Which is the most dangerous for you? How much does technology shape your life? How easy will it be for you to give up for a week?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Share with your kids the good things about technology, but also some of the difficult things. Talk about how we can get prideful in what we have, we can stop listening to one another, and we can stop being together. Tell them you are going to try putting away technology for the week and to be together. Maybe buy a new board game, go for walks, go to the park, paint, create, and share time together

Challenge for this Week: Give up technology for a week, as best you can.