Dealing with Braggards Nicely

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We all have that one friend or relative—the one who just has to “casually” reference the BIG raise $$$ he got again and again and again. Or the one who won an iPad in a raffle and now she can’t stop showing it to you as if it’s the Hope diamond. Or the one who always finds a way to mention in conversation how he runs a marathon every year. In fact, I have an in-law relative who constantly, daily brags about their tennis game to the point of annoyance. A braggard can’t stop talking about themselves. “How do we deal with these people nicely, as Christians?”
 
Whether these people worked hard for their successes or just got lucky, their bragging is annoying either way. In addition to being irritating to listen to, braggarts can make you feel inadequate. It makes you want to cover your ears and say, “I get it! You’re special, and I’m not!”
 
So, short of insulting and/or avoiding these people, how can we stop them from getting under our skin? 
 
All of these people have the same bragging syndrome which is spoken of so often in the Bible as a sin.
 
(Proverbs 27:1) states, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
 
(Galatians 6:14) states, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
 
All of us should remember that it is not by our own power that we gain rewards on earth, but by the grace of Christ. No matter how much money we have, how great our talents or how much we feel Christ needs us to show other humans how they should live, ultimately we are all fallible and all fall short of what Christians are called to do and be.
 
“So why do we brag and what is the difference between sharing something we are excited about, and making someone else feel less than ourselves?”
 
Is it okay to post on your Facebook page, “yay, I aced my math test,” or “just got a huge promotion at work” or, “lost twenty pounds on the new diet”?
 
The answer to that lies in the [INTENT] of the post/statement. If you imply that you are the smartest in the class and no one else can touch your status, then bragging about your grades might be more rude than celebratory.
 
The difference is the intent. Braggers generally lift themselves up while at the same time putting others down. They only recognize their own talents and ignore the contributions of others to their success. This is when bragging becomes sinful.
 
When we do something well, if we acknowledge that Christ gave us this gift; this opportunity to serve others, then we will give Christ the credit. If we think we are all that and then some, we will use the words “I” and “Me” more often than the words, “because of him”.
 
Sometimes we don’t think that we are bragging, but everyone else around us feels that we are. This often causes people to say, “well, they are just jealous of my success and that’s their problem, not mine.” But, as a Christian, if we cause problems for someone else, then it is our problem as well.
 
If your friend is childless and your constant updates on how wonderful it is to have such perfect children bothers them, then you are a part of “their problem”!
 
You can tone down your excitement around them or better yet, invite them to be part of your children’s lives so that they can be as excited about your kids as you are and want the best for them and you both! If you exclude the person and hold your own ability to have a family as superior to those who cannot, then you are contributing to the problem and not showing concern for others, though there are always exceptions to that rule and you can’t please everyone every time.
 
Some people can go all their lives without bragging until they actually find themselves in the company of a braggart, or worse yet, in the company of someone who raises up the braggart as even more wonderful, while ignoring that you may share many of the same traits and abilities. Then, it is very difficult not to say… “well, I graduated with honors too, and I won an award for my paintings and had them exhibited in a gallery as well….”
 
(Galatians 6:1) states, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
 
While this verse is usually quoted to teenagers to convince them not to hang out with people who are not Christians, by action or deed, it is also very applicable to bragging.
 
If you have a friend who leans toward bragging on a regular basis, you can gently steer them back to reality, by jokingly saying, “Well, it sounds like you need to be given the title of Super Hero. There’s a fire burning in Texas, maybe you can cape up and help them put that out too while you are at it…”
 
While that might be a little too ungentle, if someone is a close friend you can be more honest with them and just let them know they sound a little full of it. If they really love you, they might get a bit miffed, but will then think about what you said and normally work to control their bragging or at the very least, tone it down a bit.
 
If someone is not close, but is a Christian, you can turn it around by saying, “Christ has truly blessed you with some wonderful talents and I am sure you are using them to help others and give them the same opportunities Christ has opened up for you….”
 
This tends to make them refocus on Christ and less on themselves, though let’s be honest, some people just don’t get it no matter what you say or do.
 
In such cases it is better to follow the advice of Paul in Galatians and not let yourself be tempted to out-boast them in order to soothe your own wounded ego or to make the braggart look small in your presence.
 
When you boast, remember that you are building yourself up, by taking away from others. .
 
When you find yourself wanting to brag about your accomplishments, take a step back and ask yourself who got you to where you are?
 
When you lost all that weight, who was backing you up, who was supporting you, who suggested a good diet and exercise program to follow? Then, instead of stating, “I lost 20 pounds through hard work and discipline,” making your slightly overweight friends feel as if you have better control of your life than they have of theirs, you can say, “It was a struggle, but I have lost 20 pounds thanks to the help of Weight Watchers and all the people who helped support me when I did not think I could go on and wanted to stop.”
 
The former statement declares how great and wonderful you are. The second shows a thankful attitude and admits that your accomplishment was the result of many people helping you.
 
The former is self centeredness; where you put Satan and the self in the forefront.
 
The latter is Christ Centered and shows thankfulness to others and a desire to help others reach the same goals you did by encouraging them rather than putting them down.
 
(Hebrews 4:15) states, “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
 
This verse reminds us that when we boast and boost ourselves up to a high level of envy, we fail to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and do not see their problems, their hurts, their desires, only the greatness of who we think we are, not the greatness of others.
 
When you find yourself tempted to boast of your own abilities, take a time out and ask yourself what brought this on.
 
“Are you feeling underappreciated by others?” If so, the best way to overcome this is not by lifting yourself up, but by lifting up others, not so much by bragging on them, but by showing thankfulness for who they are and what they do. This encourages them to do the same for others as well.
 
Remember almost everyone who brags does so to prove their worth to others. They may brag to fit in, or brag to stand out, but they brag mainly for attention from others, possibly because they have been so overlooked earlier in life. The expression, the squeaky wheel gets the grease is very appropriate to braggers as well. They hope by calling attention the themselves, that they will recieve special honors that they would not get if they remained quiet and in the background.
 
In Christ we are all special. We all have our talents; we all have our gifts that we can share with others. No one is greater than any other and when we all work together, we show others how great our father in heaven is, not how great we are.
 
All of us brag sometimes, especially to close family and friends who know they can do the same with us! If you love someone, you get excited when things go well for them and want to hear good news, but we all need to be careful not to pull others down by lifting ourselves up, as this raises us up to god-like status and puts us more in the thinking mode of Satan than of Christ.
 
Share the good news of your life with others, welcome their good news without bitterness, be careful not to get too full of yourself and remember to give credit where credit is due and even if you do occasionally brag on yourself, you will be forgiven and probably find yourself surrounded by friends, not because of how great they think you are, but because of how loved and appreciated you make them feel. Seek out opportunities to lift up others and you will have less of a tendency to lift up yourself and don’t forget that you are no greater and no less than anyone else in the world.

Here are a couple of more pointers to keep in mind that will help you deal with braggards. 

 
1. Reframe the Situation in Your Mind.
Be aware that even though your friend’s bragging may annoy you and sometimes make you feel bad about yourself, this result may not be intentional. Your friend may be so insecure that he is overcompensating for other areas in his life where he thinks he does not measure up. If the bragging happens only occasionally, try to simply smile and accept that you are important enough to this person that he has a need to impress you. Take it as a compliment—and then change the subject to something that does not involve whatever your friend is bragging about.
 
2. Speak Up.
If the bragging is more frequent or if you feel like you’re going to explode the next time your friend brags, then confront him. Your goal is to alert the other person that he is bragging so that he realizes that he is doing it and to let him know that it annoys you and (possibly) makes you feel bad about yourself. So the next time the bragging starts, try saying, “When you name drop about all those rich people you hang out with, it makes me feel as if you like those people more than you like me” or, “When you talk about how many races you’ve won, it just reminds me how I haven’t been to the gym in weeks.” You might find that he is surprised and apologetic, because nobody wants to sound like a braggart.

3. Simply Change the Subject.
If you friend or relative has a chronic problem with boasting, then as nicely as possible, when they start their braggard session, simply change the subject and smile. It’s possible they have been doing it so long that they may not even realize how ridiculous they are looking. Without a doubt, chronic boasting projects huge insecurities. But, by changing the topic of the conversation, this may get their attention.

4. If All Else Fails–Just Walk Away.
Sometimes “tough love” means doing what you have to do to help the other person, if it hurts them a little. Apparently, they are blinded and not only insensitive to their problem, but also you as well. Sometimes walking away in love and respect is the best thing to do. Don’t forget to pray for them. You may very well be the person God wants to use to help them not only see the error of their ways, but begin to work in the direction of positive change and growth into humble Christlikeness. 

“I Can Only Imagine” Movie is Surprising the Leftist Critics of Christianity

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The independent Christian movie “I Can Only Imagine” performed far better than anyone could have imagined at the box office last weekend, bringing in $17.1 million when it was only expected to sell between $2 million and $4 million in tickets.

Why? Because people of faith in this country are speaking loudly. The elitists on the left who continue to ridicule Christianity while they preach at us to coexist need to stop talking and start listening.

While it cost only $7 million to make, “I Can Only Imagine” finished opening weekend at the No. 3 spot in the box office.

“I don’t think the industry predicted this,” said Jon Erwin, co-director of the movie. “They really dismissed the film prior to opening weekend – almost called it a failure before we even got a chance to open it. The opening weekend success of ‘I Can Only Imagine’ illustrates just how large the Christian audience is, and the movie industry should pay attention.”

We continue to see this growing hatred for Christians in spite of the fact that they make up the majority of our society. We’ve just seen two more recent examples of this.

First, comedian Jim Carrey tweeted his distorted painting apparently portraying White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders with the message: “This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!”

Then HBO comedian John Oliver stooped low, using Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter and her apolitical children’s book about the family’s pet bunny to target the vice president.

Charlotte Pence wrote “Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President,” an educational children’s story about the role of the vice president, told from the point-of-view of her family’s bunny, Marlon Bundo. Oliver released a parody book about the family’s bunny in which he took aim at the vice president because he disagrees with his views on gay marriage.

Once upon a time kids of politicians were off limits. Now the anti-Christian crowd has gone so far off the rails they justify using kids as well as their pets as a bullying platform to spew their personal hatred for Christianity. Apparently, anything is fair game if you’re attacking a person of faith.

Oliver’s fans also took to Amazon to troll Charlotte Pence’s book, attack the vice president and praise John Oliver.

These two are just the latest in a growing pattern of incidents where Christians have been singled out and mocked and ridiculed. They follow “The View” co-host Joy Behar’s comments that Christians who hear from God have a mental illness. The backlash was so fierce that Behar has since been forced to apologize.

Also in recent weeks, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee was forced to resign from the Country Music Association Board amid backlash for his conservative and religious beliefs.

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle ridiculed Larry Kudlow’s faith last week when he said, on leaving CNBC to accept President Trump’s offer to become director of National Economic Council: “However things work out, it will be God’s will.” Ruhle later apologized for being dismissive.

Christians are growing tired of this increasing trend that makes their faith the punchline of jokes and the target of public taunting by the far left, who view themselves as morally superior simply because they have a microphone.

“I Can Only Imagine” is a hopeful, uplifting story of love and redemption. What makes it so powerful is that it’s a true story.

Bart Millard had the deck stacked against him. His mom left when he was young and he was forced to live with his abusive father. But after his dad was diagnosed with cancer, Millard witnessed firsthand how the once abusive father is transformed into a believer in Jesus Christ.

Inspired by the miracle God worked on his dad, Bart Millard went on to write the song “I Can Only Imagine,” which became the bestselling Christian single of all time and launched his group Mercy Me.

The story is evidence of grace that sustains us and gives us every reason to have hope for a future, no matter how bad our circumstances.

As Christians, we can only imagine a time when anti-Christian bigots can finally understand that while they may be louder, we make up a not-so-silent, large portion of society in this country. We buy movie tickets, concert tickets, watch TV and vote.

If you observe the hatred you hear directed at Christians, in just about every instance it’s been responded to by taking the high road with dignity and class. That’s because as Christians we don’t look to Hollywood, or its high-profile counterparts for validation. They are not our hope for the future. If they truly want to coexist, they need to start listening and stop ridiculing.

I can only imagine what would happen if those who hate Christians could trade their hate for the hope this movie inspires, instead of continuing to perpetuate a hostile culture that assaults people of faith in this country. If they would start listening and stop mocking, then we could all start coexisting.

I can only imagine.

From Fox News Broadcasting

 

The 10 Celebrities Evangelicals Trust Most & Least on Politics Today

 

The 10 Celebrities Evangelicals Trust Most and Least on Politics

Image: Alex Wong and Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

From Christianity Today Magazine, March 19, 2018
Recent survey ranks political endorsements from Trump to Oprah to Jerry Falwell Jr.
—by Kate Shellnutt

Jerry Falwell Jr.’s political advice falls somewhere between President Donald Trump’s and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s when ranked by evangelicals—and Americans overall—in a new poll of registered voters.

According to Morning Consult, endorsements by prominent religious leaders hold more clout with self-identified US evangelicals than those by other celebrities, but still aren’t as impactful as endorsements by other politicians themselves.

Evangelicals were most likely to heed recommendations by top leaders from recent administrations; nearly half (49%) said Trump’s endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a particular candidate, more than any other figure.

Vice President Mike Pence (46%), President George W. Bush (43%), House Speaker Paul Ryan (34%), and President Barack Obama (33%) made up the rest of the top five for evangelicals, while a few spiritual and religious leaders ranked among the top 10: Oprah (31%), Joel Osteen (28%), and Jerry Falwell Jr. (27%).

Pope Francis, Osteen, and Falwell Jr. were the only religious figures in the poll. During the 2016 campaign, Osteen called Trump “a friend of our ministry” and “a good man,” while Falwell Jr.—president of Liberty University and son of the late Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell—was among the first evangelicals to officially endorse him.

Trump—who according to Morning Consult/Politico currently holds a 59 percent approval rating among evangelical registered voters, compared to 43 percent among voters overall—has pledged to repeal the Johnson Amendment and give US pastors more freedom to address candidates from the pulpit.

Among voters overall, politicians held the most clout (either positive or negative), followed by a few pundits, business leaders, and certain celebrities. Americans pay more attention to what Osteen or Falwell Jr. says than the Pope, but the two still aren’t as influential—for better or worse—as Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, or Kanye West.

Morning Consult reported that 39 percent of Americans said Pope Francis’ endorsement “makes no difference” on how they vote, compared to 33 percent for Osteen and 31 percent for Falwell Jr. Meanwhile, just 27 percent said Oprah’s endorsement didn’t matter, compared to 30 percent for Ellen or Kanye.

In the recent poll, evangelicals felt even more strongly about not voting for candidates backed by prominent figures they oppose than about voting for candidates backed by those they trust.

Half or more said endorsements by Hillary Clinton (54%), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (50%), or President Bill Clinton (50%) would make them less likely to support a candidate. They came down about as negatively on endorsements by Kim Kardashian (51%) or Kanye (49%).

Fellow entertainers Beyoncé and Ellen also fell among evangelicals’ 10 most damaging endorsements. Only about 1 in 5 evangelicals cares what The Rock had to say either way; celebrities such as Tom Brady, LeBron James, Mark Zuckerberg, and Taylor Swift also fell relatively low on their lists.

A few liberal politicians were polarizing enough to rank among both the best and worst endorsements for evangelicals: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Senator Bernie Sanders. About a third of evangelicals see endorsements by the Obamas as a plus, while just under half view them negatively.

Outside of individual endorsements, evangelicals—like most voters—put clout in what their partner or party has to say about a candidate. Nearly half of evangelicals said their spouse’s endorsement (49%) would make a positive difference, as would a boost from the Republican Party (47%). On the other hand, more than 4 in 10 evangelicals said endorsements from the Democratic Party (42%) or the Democratic Socialists of America (47%) would be a turnoff.

Only 22 percent of evangelicals said an endorsement by their local newspaper would make them more likely to vote for a politician, while 25 percent said it would make them less likely. In comparison, only 25 percent of evangelicals said Sean Hannity’s endorsement would make them more likely to vote, while 17 percent said they would be less likely.

A LifeWay Research study released last year similarly found that despite the popularity and political activism held by celebrities, Americans continue to look to politicians to lead conversations on important issues.

A plurality (21%) said the President had the best chance of fostering healthy conversations among the American people, with 1 percent or less turning to other famous folks to do so. “Musicians or athletes get a great deal of attention for their public statements about the issues, but few Americans seem to look to them as thought leaders,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.

 Though over a third of Americans with evangelical beliefs (36%) have faith in pastor as thought leaders on major issues, evangelicals aren’t that eager to hear candidate endorsements at church. In an earlier LifeWay survey, conducted during the 2016 campaign, 73 percent of evangelicals by belief thought pastors should abstain from pulpit endorsements.

Under the Johnson Amendment, which Trump still hopes to repeal, certain political speech by nonprofits including churches could lead to them losing their tax-exempt status. Only 33 percent of evangelicals by belief want churches to face punishments if they do endorse candidates.

More churchgoers heard endorsements for Clinton in 2016 than Trump, according to Pew Research.

Peace Like a River

Do not be afraid

Our modern-day, psychological “jitters” confront us on a daily basis; sudden, random gun violence and shootings, domestic terrorism, headline news stories of ongoing, new crimes in our community, the stress of living in a frenzied world with crazy drivers on the road next to you, the troubling concerns of making financial ends meet in an unpredictable job market, aging and health worries, the moral issues our children or grandchildren are dealing with, the list goes on…..nothing is as ‘easy or simple’ as it used to be.

Even, trying to get some kind of timely customer service assistance with an issue from a product or service we have purchased and paid for can try even the most patient of souls. Ironically, it appears our culture is getting even more complex as we speak in spite of all our impressive, technological advances designed to “simplify our lives.” Remember how many passwords you used to have to know?

“Do you think we need peace of mind today?” I doubt you will find anyone anywhere who will disagree with that. The question is ‘where?’

Here’s one kind of peace: the world does offer a “temporal fix,” a type of transitory “peace” usually in the form of a pill, a drug, the bottle of some kind of exotic experience designed to boost our emotions and make us forget about life for awhile. Here again, the problem is that it doesn’t last. It is fragile and it always depends on something we must do to get it. We become dependent on it and sooner or later we have to do more of it, pushing the boundaries of our health, in order to feel the same experience. A vicious, no-win cycle.

Additional, this peace depends on the “absence of conflict.” The world says, “if you make enough money, achieve all your goals, find your dreams all coming true, then and only then will you finally achieve your nirvana.” Change your environment and then you’ll have peace of mind.

And, then we wonder when hear about those very fortunate few who somehow achieved all of these things, yet are still miserable inside and eventually implode, famous celebrities and just normal folks. Another dead-end street.

“So, what is answer?” 

Friends, I have personally discovered one of the many, wonderful “perks” of the Christ-centered life; the dynamic, powerful work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. When we seriously submit our lives to the Lordship of Christ, seeking to sincerely obey His Word in everything, a remarkable thing happens; His supernatural peace stills and smooths the sloshing sea of turmoil, frustration and anxiety deep in our hearts.

This may sound like I’m saying that God’s peace is more or less something we generate, based on our relationship to Christ. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. God’s peace is totally an unmerited, undeserved, unearned “gift of God’s grace” alone, based on what Jesus did for us at the cross, “God made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. He made PEACE with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20)

Much like the story of the raging sea, threatening the life of the disciples in the boat with Jesus, He speaks to that inner spiritual sea in our soul and commands, “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39) And, the result? Perfect calm.

“But, really all this sounds too good to be true?”

I actually once thought that myself. I was once a skeptic who somewhat dismissed these promises of peace for everyone. In my mind, I assumed God’s peace is reserved only to those “super saints,” those pious souls who mediate like monks or nuns all the time. Furthermore, I reasoned God’s peace was “psycho-somatic” — if you think about it enough, it will come true. You just have to “psych-yourself-out.” You know, mind over matter. But, who in the world has time to climb the top of a mountain and chant to Buddha or somebody else all day long? Forget that.

The truth is when we open our hearts to God completely and allow Him to control our lives, then all of our problems will magically disappear. Not! Unfortunately, some well-meaning people today try and paint the Christian life in those flowery terms. But, to those of us who have walked with Jesus long enough, we know that is simply unrealistic. Jesus even promised there would be trouble for all who follow Him because the world is in direct conflict with the truth of God, where we stand; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

The peace of Christ is the confident assurance that in any circumstance we find ourselves in, we can really live fearless lives where the unknown present and future is in God’s hands, not ours. The peace of God “umpires” our heart and controls the worry, uncertainty, doubts, frustrations and fears at war within us. These hostile forces become restrained and are not allowed to dominate our thinking because Christ is on the throne of our hearts, not ourselves. But, we have to relinquish control of our lives to God IF we want God’s peace. And, that only comes from a daily decision on our part to “surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

For many years I did my very best to avoid turning my life over completely to Christ. I was a professing Christian, but I still wanted to be in control. I honestly thought if I let God be God in my life, I’d miss out on my definition of peace and fun. I now realize how much I really missed, going my own way, and how wrong I was in doing that. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If real, lasting peace means anything to you, please consider what I’ve shared here from my heart. It’s God’s promise and gift to you, if you will receive it on His terms. It’s yours for the taking;

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And, the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid,” (Jesus in John 14:27-28)