Panic Buying 

Panic Buying 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Panic buying was in the news again following the Colonial Pipeline hack. People fearing a gasoline supply interruption bought up all the gasoline in many stations throughout the southeast and mid-Atlantic. You might also recall the panic buying of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic inexplicably caused people to panic-buy toilet paper and paper towels. Why do people engage in this type of behavior? In a word, it is anxiety. Dr. Shahram Heshmat provides seven reasons people choose panic buying as the balm for uncertainty. I would like for us to consider those reasons in addition to the proper, Biblical response. 

 

  1. Emotions trump logic. People know they don’t need 100 rolls of toilet paper, but driven by fears of a possible shortage, their emotions convince them they would be “safer” buying enough to fill a shopping cart while it is available. Though we equate sobriety with abstention from intoxicants, it also highlights a watchful frame of mind. Paul counseled the brethren of Thessalonica to avoid spiritual stupor by remaining vigilant and sober (1 Thessalonians 5.6). Even if I know that there might be an upcoming shortage, my trust in God should prompt me to act rationally regarding the needs of others who likewise need to secure provisions for their own. Hence, all of us can get by with our typical toilet paper purchases.

 

  1. Fearful expectation. I anticipate the worst and become fearful before having a cause. Could it be that there will be a shortage of goods? Perhaps. If my compatriots and I hastily grab all of the items from a store’s shelf, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread. Then, after reminding us of Providence, Jesus concluded this section of the Sermon on the Mount by saying: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6.34 NASB1995). In other words, Jesus says to take things a day at a time. Tomorrow has its own set of concerns, and we can only deal with what is in front of us.

 

  1. & 4. The contagion of fear and herd mentality. Dr. Heshmat lists these as two of his seven reasons. The entwining of these ideas is such I will consider them together. Fear spreads like a virus. People sense fear in a group, believe there is justification for it, and follow the cues of others. God knew this about us when giving Moses instruction: “You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice” (Exodus 23.2 NASB1995). It doesn’t matter if “everyone is doing it” because we will give an accounting of ourselves before God (Romans 14.12). The incident of the Golden Calf illustrates how easy it is for us to get caught up in groupthink (cf. Exodus 32.1ff).

 

  1. & 6. Inability to deal with uncertainty and the desire to be in control. Once again, Dr. Heshmat deals with these separately, but I think they are related. Some people find it harder to deal with the unknown. Do you know someone who keeps watching the news or checking social media about a current event? Does it not seem to fuel their anxiety? Such a person likely keeps an eye open for which gas station has fuel or store has toilet paper. He convinces himself he is on top of things by swiftly grabbing up supply as it becomes available. But man is not in control due to the uncertainty of life (cf. James 4.13-15). There are things that we cannot know (Deuteronomy 29.29). We do best to trust the One Who will supply all our needs (Philippians 4.19).

 

  1. Misinformation. Dr. Heshmat explained how social media spread the misinformation about the toilet paper shortage. People in Japan thought there would be a toilet paper shortage because of what they had seen on social media. Given that we had a mad dash to buy toilet paper in the United States, it is apparent that the online rumors crossed the Pacific. The spread of false information is undoubtedly a hazard to having an interconnected world. It is interesting to note how Paul connects gossip (or being a busybody) to idleness. Paul tells Timothy that the church should not financially support young widows since their inactivity might encourage gossip (1 Timothy 5.11-15). Paul said that their undisciplined life led some in Thessalonica to act as busybodies (2 Thessalonians 3.11). In regards to such Thessalonians, Paul famously reminded that those unwilling to work should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3.10). Hence, if we enough time on our hands to entertain rumors, we may well be neglecting our Christian duty elsewhere.

 

Panic buying is a peculiar problem of modern man. However, it ultimately stems from anxiety, a commodity of which Christians are to be in short supply. Not only did Jesus tell us not to worry (Matthew 6.25ff), but Paul reminds us that prayer brings incomprehensible peace (Philippians 4.6-7). Let us avail ourselves of the precious promises of our Lord and cast our anxiety upon Him (1 Peter 5.7). 

 

Works Consulted 

Heshmat, Shahram. “7 Reasons for Panic-Buying Behavior.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 22 Mar. 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/202003/7-reasons-panic-buying-behavior

 

Life Lessons Hit Hard

Life Lessons Hit Hard

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard
 
April 30th 2:30 PM.
 
It was a gorgeous sunny day without a cloud in the sky. I shot Dale a text and told him to meet up with me at a mom and pop gas station outside of Huntsville for a BLT.
 
I grabbed my motorcycle keys, helmet, and leather vest. On the way out the door I decided to throw on my jean jacket underneath my vest. I don’t know why I did this because the temperature was close to 80 degrees. I hopped on my bike, turned on some Hank Williams Jr., and headed towards Huntsville.
 
2:37 PM
 
I was biking on the road that led to those amazing gas station BLT’s. I had been on this road hundreds of times, but today’s trip ended a little differently than normal. I noticed a truck slowly pulling out of the driveway of the local shooting range. He crept forward and then stopped. I figured he was stopping because he saw me coming. I get about 100 feet away from the truck, and he pulls out. He turned left blocking both lanes of traffic and I knew what was about to happen. I pulled the clutch and grabbed a fist full of brakes, but it was too late.
 
2:38 PM
 
It’s amazing how many thoughts you can have in such a short time. Everything slowed down and as the truck got closer I thought about Emily, my family, my spiritual state, and BLT’s. The initial impact was to my left leg, then my head hit the front body panel of the truck. The last thing I remember is a sharp pain in my head and a blinding flash of white.
 
2:43 PM
 
I woke up in a ditch and the first thing I saw was my motorcycle upside down next to me and somehow “Feelin’ Better” by Hank was still playing from the speakers on my bike. Incredibly, I didn’t break a single bone or have any major head injuries. Needless to say, I never got that BLT.
 
May 12th 1:21 PM
 
I’m at the church building with my brother writing an article for tomorrow morning. I can’t stop thinking about everything that happened. I can’t help but feel like God’s providence was written all over that day.
The jean jacket I grabbed at the last minute saved my arms from getting road rash, the crash bars I installed literally the night before absorbed the initial impact. Those bars were an inch and a half solid steel pipe and they folded like a quesadilla. That would’ve been my leg if it weren’t for the time I spent installing them the night before.
 
I realized several important facts that day:
 
  1. Only God knows what tomorrow holds (Prov. 27:1).
  2. Death is certain, but when we die is uncertain. Because of sin we are destined to die. I could’ve died on a motorcycle, or from a heart attack from too much bacon. Bottom line, we must be spiritually prepared to leave this earth at any moment (Heb. 9:27; Matt. 24:42-44).
  3. Some things are more important than a motorcycle. Like my parents’ mental health and blood pressure. Emily’s well-being and peace of mind is far more important than a bike. It’s a matter of looking at things from the other person’s point of view. Practicing the golden rule (Matt. 7:12). I would be a wreck if either of my parents bought a motorcycle (pun intended).
 
So here’s my two cents for those reading this:
 
It’s beneficial to take a step back and look at our priorities. If we value anything on earth more than God, we will leave this earth unprepared.
 
If there’s sin in our lives, procrastination is the absolute worst thing we could do. Tomorrow is never promised.
 
Be mindful of what our actions do to others. It may not even be sinful, but it’s all about showing a love that values others’ peace of mind and well-being above yourself.
 
P.S. Watch out for black Dodge trucks; they don’t stop.
“Rhosts!”

“Rhosts!”

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

My favorite show is Scooby Doo (the originals, of course). It’s packed with ghosts and monsters, most of which are exposed as frauds or criminals. Mankind has been fascinated with ghosts and other postmortem apparitions for a while. They make great stories and nearly every culture has ghost stories. We point to widespread legends of dragons as one evidence of man’s coexistence with dinosaurs. Since so many cultures have these ghost stories, is it possible they’re true? 

Life and death are God’s jurisdiction, so let’s see if he’s said anything about the subject. Who better to ask about the other side than the one who controls it? 

Look at Luke 16.19-31. Whether this is literal or figurative is immaterial, I just want to look at something Jesus described in detail. A rich man neglected Lazarus (an impoverished man) and ended up in torment after death. He lets Abraham know that he has family on earth who don’t believe and he wants to prevent them from sharing his fate. 

Abraham points out that a large abyss acts as a barrier, preventing anyone from moving between realms. He’s specifically talking about passing from torment to paradise and vice versa, but the rich man was nonetheless incapable of leaving under his own power. 

Hebrews 9 says that we die one time and face judgment. This seems to indicate some permanence to our destination. We know that some spiritual entities are capable of interacting with our world (angels/demons) in some capacity, but the Bible doesn’t give us much detail. 

We can state with a decent degree of confidence, though, that the dead are stuck where they are. That’s a major comfort, too, because our future is secure if we die in Christ (I Peter 1.3-7). They make for great plots (and the best cartoon ever), but ghosts remain solidly in our awesome imaginations.  

MAKING PLANS FOR OUR OWN FUNERAL

MAKING PLANS FOR OUR OWN FUNERAL

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

Recently I attended the funeral of a loving and godly mother. She was celebrated and greatly mourned over by her family and friends. As the funeral service went on there were memories that were brought up that made the audience laugh and cry, even those that didn’t know her all that well. How we are remembered in life is dictated not by a single day or moment, but how the life was spent overall. This concept should be one that we make a conscious effort to visit often. There’s a great question that every Christian should know the answer to. 

What does it mean to be a person after God’s own heart? 

According to Nathan the prophet, David was “the man”! Today we use that term when we are complementing one who has shown himself to be an overachiever or is excellent in some way. When Nathan said this to David, however, he was speaking on behalf of the king’s King. Nathan was accusing David of a great wickedness. 

That being said, David was remembered at the end of his life as someone who chased the heart of God. The Lord was his passion and his pursuit in life. He wanted to see through the eyes of God, follow in the steps of God, and mold himself into a tool that accomplished a will higher than his own. His life is summed up well in a single verse. 

“For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life–except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” ( 1 Kings 15:5). 

This verse does not indicate that David was only guilty of one sin while on this earth. It wasn’t that David stumbled and continued on the path of righteousness, but instead there was a season in his life where he completely abandoned God. He gave up the path of light for one of darkness. After Nathan boldly confronts him, he is reminded of his inward allegiance to his God and he changed his course of direction. David lost his son as a consequence. Another son rebels against him. His kingdom is no longer as peaceful as it once was and at the end of his life he sits on his throne as a weary and restless ruler. Even so, despite the darkness on all sides, he chose to stay in the light. 

In the end he wasn’t remembered as the “adulterous murderer.” He is praised for being Israel’s greatest king because he had a heart that mimicked the king of Kings. Let’s make our plans to be remembered as people who chased after the heart of God. 

How To Avoid Worrying About Your Kids

How To Avoid Worrying About Your Kids

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

For those not on social media and connected either with Kathy or any of our three sons, Carl, our youngest (and Thursday’s blog writer), was in a serious motorcycle accident a little over a week ago. A large pickup truck tried to turn left onto the highway and Carl hit it going highway speed. Our concern was for both his immediate safety and longterm health. Add this to two sons unofficially assisting police in breaking up a local theft ring, a son tackling a shoplifter attempting to flee a store and interrupting a gang initiation beating, broken bones, ER trips, ICU stints for health issues, and that’s not to mention innumerable “close calls,” “near misses,” “close shaves,” and “narrow escapes.”  Of course, it’s not just health. What about their relationships? What about their jobs, careers, and financial futures? What about the country they are inheriting or the children God may bless them with? Most of all, what about their spiritual condition, their faith, and their relationship with Christ? With each new phase of life, we are left to numerous consider “what ifs.” For future empty-nesters, that does not decline or disappear when they leave home. If anything, it mounts. So, how does a Christian not worry about their children?

Philippians 4:6. Paul urges us to “be anxious for nothing.” That word for anxious depicts apprehension, being unduly concerned about possible danger or misfortune. We can drive ourselves crazy thinking of all the scary scenarios. Paul says instead to pray (speak to God and petition His help), supplicate (urgently request God to meet the need, suggesting begging and pleading), and express gratitude. Specifically articulate the help you seek from God. Won’t this just make things worse? Not at all. Instead, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (7).

Luke 12:25-26. Luke records Jesus’ voluminous teaching on various material concerns. In the middle of it, Jesus shares a principle that applies to any number of matters. He teaches, “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?” What a practical, sensible truth. What do we change by endless fretting and worrying? Does it change outcomes? Does the exercise of worry keep the bad and scary things from occurring? Does it override the freewill choices of our children or others? We are at one place at a time. God knows everything (30). “He who keeps you will not slumber…nor sleep” (Psa. 121:3-4). Trust that! 

Matthew 6:33. What Matthew records is close to parallel to the material in Luke 12, though the wording and setting are different. The counsel here is about prioritization. It’s hard to “let go and let God,” but that’s Jesus’ bottom-line guidance. Again, in context, He’s dealing with material things rather than our kids. But substituting the one concern for the other does not change the principle. We are well-served to practice “God-firstness” from as early as possible, before our children are born. We should strive to live by that principle throughout the years they are in our homes, trying to show it to them. Then, we must continue to live it out personally and exemplify it before them after they leave the home. God’s kingdom, His will, His righteousness, His goals, His Word comes first and foremost. Keeping focus on that, trust Him to take care of not only us but those whose lives we care about. Jesus sweetly consoles us, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (34).

1 Peter 5:7. I love how Peter acknowledges that we all have anxiety. We’re all tempted (and all of us at least occasionally succumb to the temptation) to worry. Peter’s words are practical. Humbling yourself under God’s all-powerful hand, throw all your anxieties on Him. He is strong enough to carry it. Do you know what’s the best part? Not only can He do it, He wants to. Why? He cares for you! He’s your Father. “Care” here means concern and anxiousness. Our lives matter to Him. His heart is involved. We may not stop to think that all of us are His children. The difference is that this Father can see the future, is fully in control, will never be startled or surprised, and never lacks for what to say, how to react, and what to do. How foolish not to give Him the things we would obsess over, be consumed with, and eaten up by. 

I wish I could tell you I will never worry about Gary, Dale, and Carl again. Those who know them know what a tall task that is. I wish I could tell you that you will never worry about your precious children again. But, none of us should. We can make progress and get better if we’ll feed on the rich truths of passages like the ones we’ve visited briefly together today. Go back and read them again. Drink deeply of their comforting, helpful truths. They will help you trust Him more with whatever frightening prospects you face regarding your children’s lives. I don’t promise. He does! 

 

Saturday at Hebron church of Christ (where Carl, center, preaches). This was at Carl and Emily’s wedding shower. The boys had just returned from hunting wild hogs near Demopolis, AL. It never ends!
“There Is Always Someone Watching”

“There Is Always Someone Watching”

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Todd Dickerson

Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 

My grandmother was a good example of letting her Christian life shine. The lives she had an influence on are still evident today even though she passed on over 20 years ago. Growing up was always Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday nights. We would leave home and always swing by and pick up my grandmother. She was most of the time standing outside waiting for us to pick her up. She never had gotten her driver’s license and my grandfather never attended church, so she rode with us. 

She was apparently the spiritual leader of her house when my dad and his brother and sister were growing up. My dad, as long as I can remember, was a deacon or elder and remains an elder today. That is not likely to have happened without Christian upbringing. 

You could tell my grandmother was a Christian by her actions and hearing her talk. She was always singing hymns around the house and reading her Bible. She was on the phone with people who missed services. I spent a lot of my childhood around my grandparents and I don’t recall her saying anything bad about anyone. She had her health issues but was always happy and loved her family very much. 

Later on, after Amy and I were married one Sunday morning I noticed my grandmother didn’t come in the building with mom and dad. Not long after, she came in with a smile on her face and my grandmother came in behind her. He was probably 80 years old at the time. I don’t remember him missing church on Sundays after that day. My grandfather obeyed the gospel a year or so later. I will never forget that day.

I never knew the conversations they had about his salvation, but my grandmother had always let her light shine and lived a good Christian life. She planted a lot of seeds in her life. Some took longer than others to germinate, but she had a Christian influence on a lot of folks. I guess my point in this is that we can all have influence on people by the way we live our lives. The old saying is that there is always someone watching. 

I am so glad my grandfather finally became a Christian. It is my opinion today that my grandmother’s Christian example is still reaping benefits. Her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are all Christians. I know that life is more fast-paced than it was back when my grandparents were raising a family but we still have plenty of opportunities to let our Christian light shine in all we do. 

“I’m Begging You, Let Me Work.”

“I’m Begging You, Let Me Work.”

 Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

We take our title from the final words spoken by the productive artist, Osamu Tezuka. As I skimmed his biography written by Helen McCarthy, I came across those haunting words as McCarthy discussed Tezuka’s passing in 1989 from stomach cancer. Frankly, I wonder what Tezuka felt he had left undone. Yes, Tezuka indeed had unfinished manga and animation projects, but his oeuvre includes “170,000 pages of comic art in around 700 different titles, from single-frame comics to epic series. He and his studios worked on more than seventy animated titles, from experimental films to TV series” (McCarthy 248).  

In addition, Tezuka was a  writer, illustrator, and designer. Having seen Mighty Atom (Astro Boy—US), Stanley Kubrick wrote a letter to Tezuka in 1965 asking him to be the art director of 2001: A Space Oddysey (1960s). Tezuka felt his schedule would be unaccommodating and turned down Kubrick’s offer (Artists). Even so, the global community acknowledged Tezuka’s work during his lifetime. He had accolades plenty. Though Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, etc.) has usurped Tezuka’s title of “Japan’s Walt Disney,” biographer Helen McCarthy notes that Tezuka was far more. She suggests that Tezuka was more like “Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton, Arthur C. Clarke, and Carl Sagan all rolled into one incredibly prolific creator” (McCarthy 8).   

Was Tezuka merely a tortured artist? The artist often receives low pay and endures long hours, inviting illness and depressed mental states. This lifestyle seems especially true of mangaka and animators of Japan. As an aside, I note how many manga series I have read that went on sudden hiatus due to the mangaka’s health for these reasons. From a Western perspective, the Japanese are workaholics. In the United States, the artists would likely have unionized and gone on strike. Yet, Tezuka longed to keep drawing, even when it wasn’t lucrative or detrimental to his physical health. Since Tezuka has a son now working in the billion-dollar anime industry, it is doubtful Tezuka thought his work was his sole legacy. Yet, something drove Tezuka to keep churning out work. And in so doing, Tezuka not only shaped the “psychology of Japan’s postwar youth” (About Tezuka Osamu) but likewise “laid the foundations for the 21st-century image of a ‘cool Japan’” (McCarthy 12).  

Perhaps it was about identity? Maybe Tezuka could only see himself as an artist. I know many men who do not know what to do with downtime or retirement. These men define themselves by their occupation. This propensity is not necessarily a bad thing. However, such thinking can lead to discontentment and disappointment. If someone or something suddenly took your job from you, what would you do? Can you enjoy the life you have built for yourself through your industry? I realize I am asking deep philosophical questions that have nothing to do with devotional literature on their surface. Yet, these thoughts are pertinent to Christianity. Christianity is vocation number one (Ephesians 4.1). Thus, Christianity should be our identity. The things we do so we may eat (2 Thessalonians 3.10) are of secondary import. As long as one is faithful, it matters not if he is the captain of industry or shovels manure. We might add that our hobbies must likewise take a backseat to our Christian walk (Matthew 6.33). 

Yet, despite knowing, as Solomon concluded, that one’s duty is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12.13), we still have difficulty making an application. Even David and Asaph wrote psalms of an existential nature (Psalm 8 and 73). Perhaps this struggle results from the torture our fleshly bodies meet out upon our spirits (cf. Romans 7.14-8.1). Indeed, we wish to be rid of the flesh and clothe ourselves with our heavenly habitation (2 Corinthians 5.1ff). Hence, Paul understood what gain he had in death but acknowledged he had work to do while he remained (Philippians 1.21-22). Even so, I don’t know if Paul would have sounded like Tezuka, begging to do more work than he had already done when on Nero’s chopping block. All I know is that I hope to have a more cheerful tone when on my deathbed than Tezuka. I want to sound more confident like Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4.7 NASB1995). The only way any of us can accomplish that, of course, is to ensure that we are about our Father’s business today.  

 

Works Cited 

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy, Ilex, 2013, p. 248. 

“1960s.” Tezuka Osamu World, Tezuka Productions, web.archive.org/web/20080924175809/en.tezuka.co.jp/osamu/annals/1960.html

“Artists.” Modern Japan – Artists – Tezuka Osamu, Japan-Zone.com, www.japan-zone.com/modern/tezuka_osamu.shtml

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy, Ilex, 2013, p. 8. 

“About Tezuka Osamu|Tezuka Osamu Official.” TezukaOsamu.net(EN), tezukaosamu.net/en/about/

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy, Ilex, 2013, p. 12. 

 

Why Did God Save Me?

Why Did God Save Me?

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

 
Growing up, my dad was incredible at just about everything. The only thing he was bad at was answering questions about school. We would get confused by a math problem and if mom wasn’t around to help us we would be forced to ask dad. It would be a simple problem like 17-9, and dad would spend 45 minutes explaining theories and ideas and fill a whole whiteboard with symbols and numbers and paragraphs. I would always be more confused afterwards than I was before.
 
There is a question that will always be present in the mind of a Christian. It is a question that, even when answered, doesn’t seem to make sense.  That question is, “Why did God save me?” When we step back and look at who God is, and who we are, why on earth would God still love us? There’s no denying the sin and darkness that is in the world, and there’s no denying that even as God’s children, we mess up and do the things we shouldn’t. A perfect creator chose to save each one of us that wears the name “Christian.” WHY?
 
God did everything out of love. A love that was perfect and sacrificial. A love that we did not deserve. But He loved us enough to sacrifice Himself so that we could be saved. God saved us because He wanted His creation to experience an eternity in heaven. The only reason we are able to be worshipping and wearing the title “children of God” is because God chose to love us.
 
But there is more to our salvation. God in His word tells us why He chose to save us. It has been said that, “Every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity implies an obligation, and every possession implies a duty.”
 
When we made the decision to put Christ on in baptism we accepted and acknowledged the responsibilities that came with our relationship with God. As children of God we have now been called to live a life of service to Him. By obeying the plan of salvation, we are saying that God is now our master.
 
1 Thessalonians 1:9 tells us that Christians are those who have “turned from idols to serve the one true God.” We have rejected our old way of living. Now we submit to God in everything.
 
Why did God save me? So that I can glorify Him with my life.
Carl, around his seventh birthday, probably getting a break from school.
Forgive

Forgive

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

When someone fades into my lane or is driving erratically with phone unashamedly in hand, I channel my inner Jeremy Clarkson with an encouraging, “Maniac!” There’s no denying that distracted driving is irresponsible and grossly negligent, but my attitude is far from where it needs to be. There’s little room for patience or grace with that mentality. 

Shortly after soldiers drive stakes through his wrists and feet, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23.34). Some early witnesses omit this verse, but the majority of witnesses include it. When reading these words it’s easy to think, “Jesus is so nice that He asks the Father to forgive people who are hurting Him.” It’s a nice gesture, or an example of how forgiving we need to be. 

Jesus did not ask God to forgive those soldiers. He demanded it! Αφες (afes: forgive) is an imperative. This was so much more than a nice gesture. As one who had the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9.6),He told the Father to forgive them. 

If anyone had the right to ban someone eternally, it was Jesus. We are going to be mistreated, and most can recall examples right away. How do we respond to people who mistreat us? II Corinthians 10.1 describes Jesus as gentle. That word means, “the quality of making allowances despite facts that might suggest reason for a different reaction” (Bauer επιείκεια). 

He set the bar to maximum height. Are we willing to reach it? That mentality can only be achieved by having genuine love for everyone. “Let us continue to love each other, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God, but anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I Jn. 4.7f). 

I Am

I Am

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard


 

God speaks of Himself as simply “I Am.” This one powerful statement depicts His infinite presence and His existence through every age. What does it mean to know Him? How do you know if you do? To know of Jesus is very different than knowing Him.

John is one of those books in the New Testament that will help us to become better aquatinted with the Christ. It’s the last of the gospels that paints us a vivid picture of who He was and is on a deeper level than even the three previous gospels. He’s the Bread of life, Light of the world, the Gate, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, the Truth, and the Vine. All of these titles found within the book teach us a little more about the Savior of the world.

There are seven “I Am” statements in John referring to Jesus and three hundred throughout the entire Bible. They begin in Genesis and end in Revelation, and in many books in-between. You just can’t read very far without discovering something very profound about its Writer. He’s eternal. God’s desired response to this is simply for us to believe, respond, and live with our minds and hearts prepared to live with Him.

When Jesus describes Himself as the “I Am” it makes the religious leaders want to kill Him in John 8. To know Jesus, to really know Him, is something that many people have not fully understood. Even as Jesus walked among us mortals and we witnessed His miraculous power, there were still several that didn’t realize what it meant to follow Him (Luke 9:57-62).

While it’s true that everyone is made in the image of God, few reflect the Father’s image. Those that know Jesus introduce others to Him. With the knowledge that we are imperfect, let’s not forget that we also have the ability to have a relationship with Him. I am flawed and I am weak, but the Great I Am is interested in who I am. By the grace of God, I am His child. He is the bread of life that sustains us, the light that guides us, the gate we’ll walk through, and the truth that will save us. It’s not how great I am, but how great the Great I Am is. Do you know Jesus?