A Perpetual Problem


Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

~Proverbs 16:18, NET


Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness are mere flea bites in comparison to pride. Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

~C.S. Lewis

I was having lunch with a young preacher a couple of weeks ago and he was confessing his struggle with pride. Of course, I was not much encouragement: I told him the truth…“Get use to it, it will be a life long struggle.” Paul had such a problem with pride {his superior intellect} that God gave him a thorn in the flesh. Elijah had a mountain top experience with thousands of decisions but within days of this historic revival, Elijah was in the valley of depression and ready to die. Our prideful nature makes success much harder to manage than failure. Swindoll says that for every 50 who can manage failure, only one can handle success without letting it affect his attitude.

The problem in the ministry is what Lewis called undulations. Undulation is the wave effect, one minute you are high, the next you are low. One person praises your sermon and the next deeply critiques it with stinging comments. As Paul confessed to the Corinthians, “Honor and dishonor, praise and blame are our lot.” Brother Inman told me repeated, be gracious and thank people for their praise but don’t listen, let it go in one ear and out the other. I found this to be very difficult to do. We all want human affirmation but we must learn to live without it. Athletes have to discipline themselves to perform without listening to the crowd. Sports fans are fickle, one week they cheer you and the next they give you boos or even heckle you. We have to condition ourselves to play to an audience of one. Trust me, learning this discipline is a game changer.

It was the summer of 1974; we had just graduated Seminary and was praying for a full time church. A church from Florence came to hear me. I have preached to pulpit committees only three times in my life and this was my first. I had unusual liberty that day and I did as well and Jack can do. To be honest, I was impressed but they were not and they left immediately and I never heard from them again. It was a crushing blow to my ego. Folks it was years and years before I learned, “Never try to impress a crowd, any crowd, small or great.” The LORD Himself finally convinced me and it was a liberating moment. I don’t possess the gifts are the intellect to impress people. Preaching is fun when you have a message and you feel no pressure to impress anyone. This is why all preachers take a huge step when they learn to be transparent and honest. When you are trying to impress, you cover all the warts and pimples with make up. This pretense keeps us from being real and the audience wants us to be real.

Thanks for the prayer: two bits of good news today. Chloe came home from the hospital and I think Clara is on the way home also. Clara has a shunt and it is not working at the 100% level but they are not going to do anything about it right now. I do appreciate your prayers.

Saturday is more of my sabbath than Sunday. Most everything I do on Saturday is in preparation for Sunday and that includes some extra rest. When you get 17, you’ll understand what I am talking about but my schedule for tomorrow is a little lighter. To be frankly honest, I had rather preach than watch the Super Bowl. I plan to go to the party but only to see people. If they canceled the Super Bowl it wouldn’t bother me in the least. My football season ended with the College Championship game.

I heard some rumors and I hope they are true. One was that ESPN was losing viewers and revenue. Hip, hip, hoo-ray, is all I have to say. I also heard that Super Bowl Commercials are not selling like they once did…good! I hope America gets sick of these spoiled athletes who kneel for the flag and spit on the cross. While I am on pet peeves: I hope Kentucky and Duke fans demand some changes from their coaches. I grew up a Kentucky basketball fan. I remember Pat Riley’s senior year and the playoffs. I listened on a radio while shooting basketball myself. Those were the days.

Have a great weekend and DON’T FORSAKE THE ASSEMBLY tomorrow. Watching on FaceBook will not encourage the brethren. We meet together for mutual encouragement. I desperately need to see a sanctuary full of people or a parking lot in our case.

~C.S. Lewis

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