Tired Shoulders

Tired Shoulders

Thursday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

It’s common in the age we live in to get stuck on the “daily grind.” We wake up, drink coffee, get dressed, go to work or school, come home at the end of the day, and start all over again in the morning. It’s repetitive and the days can seem to blend together. On top of this monotony, you have your own problems to solve. We’ve got our own responsibilities to keep up with. For some it’s family and for others it’s homework or any number of other duties. This can cause anxiety or depression. Those thoughts that are familiar to so many can creep into our minds. Thoughts like, “why am I even doing this? What’s the point?” Our shoulders are tired with the burden of life. There’s too much going on and we may just want to shut down or sleep to escape the day. The weight is heavy.

So try something. Wake up! When our minds are full of our problems and our responsibilities and everything that’s wrong with our lives and our circumstance, we miss something precious. We miss out on the lives of everybody else that also share this planet. Solve your problems and shake the daily grind by branching out. Strive to achieve selflessness by loving others and showing compassion. Solve your problems by trying to help others with theirs. If I personally have my own problems as a young adult, I know that there are others with problems much bigger than mine. Their shoulders are killing them and they’ve been carrying the weight longer than me.

There are people all around you struggling with the same things or worse. The next time you Tweet, begin to create a Facebook status, or blog, are you about to be another problem for someone else? Or are you about to ease their aching shoulders?

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Seeing Through Others’ Eyes

Seeing Through Others’ Eyes

Neal Pollard

What is the greatest trial?
What do men so despise?
The hardest climb and dreariest mile
Is seeing through another’s eyes.

It may appear uncomplicated,
Completely cut and dry,
But our skills may be overrated,
As we try to see through the other’s eye.

We don’t know what they’re thinking
Can’t know their circumstance
Or how abruptly their heart is sinking
From our outward, presumptuous glance

Their motivation quite hidden,
About their intentions we have no clue,
Reading minds God made forbidden,
We can’t see from their point of view.

Instead, the chore is vital,
As we look on from without,
Our object is entitled,
To every benefit of the doubt.

Let’s pray for them, be their servant,
Love them with a Christ-like love,
Show a kindness warm and fervent,
Trust the All-Seeing-Eye above.

Treat them how we’d want to be treated,
Treat them strictly by The Book,
Leave their heart to the One seated,
Who can watch with a perfect look.

The challenge becomes less daunting
When we cut it down to size
And we give what we’re always wanting
A loving look from through Jesus’ eyes.

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A NEW WAY TO HANDLE PRODIGAL SONS

A NEW WAY TO HANDLE PRODIGAL SONS

Neal Pollard

Deuteronomy was apparently a favored Old Testament book for our Lord.  It was this last book of the Pentateuch Jesus quotes each time He is tempted by the Devil in the wilderness (Mt. 4:4,7,10).  His writing on discipline (Mt. 18:16) and divorce (Mt. 5:31; 19:7) draw on Moses’ writings in that book, too.  It is interesting, considering Christ’s propensity to reflect upon the book of Deuteronomy, to see the instructions given under the old law in dealing with prodigal sons:

If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father
or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them,
then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders
of his city at the gateway of his hometown.  “They shall say to the elders of
his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he
is a glutton and a drunkard.’ “Then all the men of his city shall stone him to
death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear
of it and fear (Deut. 21:18-21).

Interestingly, these statements are found in the context of meting out inheritances to sons.  Notice, however, the way God chose to deal with profligate (i.e., wasteful and immoral) sons under the first covenant.  There seems to have been a perceived tie between rebellion toward parents and rebellion against God.  The worst case scenario for such a child was the death penalty, the men of the city hurling the rocks.

How shocking Jesus’ story might have been, seen in the context and in contrast to the law under which the Jews still served at the time!  As He so often did, Jesus points to a new way of divine dealing with mankind.  The Prodigal (i.e., wasteful) Son in Luke 15:11ff was certainly stubborn and rebellious, wanting free from the rule of his father.  Yet, the father allowed the son to depart.  The son lived in total dissipation and then longed to come home.  The homecoming he received from his father was totally unexpected.  He was joyfully, lovingly welcomed.  In fact, the hard-hearted, begrudging brother is depicted as having greater spiritual problems since he refused to follow the father’s lead.

We are all sinners (Rom. 3:23).  We all are in need of the Father’s grace and forgiveness.  We also are instructed, by the Father’s perfect example and the older brother’s wrongheaded response, about how to receive our prodigal brothers and sisters who want to come home!  Thank God that because of Christ, we have a new way to handle prodigals and to be handled as prodigals who come back to the Father!

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Three Words (Guest “Baker” Today)

Three Words (Guest “Baker” Today)

Scott Phillips

A couple of years ago I was walking through the parking lot at a Lowe’s in north Denver. There was a kid with Down’s syndrome working there collecting the carts as I was on my way in. I was having an ok day, not paying much attention and minding my own business, when he said something to me that I will never forget. Three words. I know that Lowe’s probably wants their employees to greet customers on their way into the store, but I was completely taken by surprise by the 3 words he chose. After the shock wore off, I felt a little embarrassed, a little flattered, but now was smiling,  and what had only moments before been an ok day, had now become a great day that I will always remember.

Occasionally when I drive by one of the billboards posting the current lottery jackpots, I let myself imagine what it would be like to have that much money. I would be able to do so much good. I could help so many people and could give so much away to people who need it. But then I realized one day that I had been deceiving myself. I probably would not be the generous giver that I imagine myself to be.

I came to this conclusion one day recalling the story of the kid in the parking lot. Had he simply given me $3 that day instead of the 3 words, I would probably not even be able to tell you what I spent it on. I’d have nothing to show for it, and my life would not be any better off.  So, those 3 words have more value than $3.

He gave me something of value. He gave me something that I didn’t deserve. He gave of himself to make my day better.

I have been stingy with my words. And if I cannot be generous with my speech, an endless supply that costs me nothing, why would I think that I would be more generous with a lot of money?  I would like to use the crutch of being an introvert, but that is only an excuse, and the fact is that I have the ability to speak, the ability to give of myself, to make someone’s day better, but I don’t.

So let me encourage you, if you are anything like me, to come out of your shell and engage in the practice of using a few words to change someone’s day and maybe their life. Try saying something like, “you look great!”, “I appreciate you”, “thank you”, “I’m glad you’re my friend”, “you’re a great friend”, “I look up to you”, “great hair day!”, or “let’s have lunch”. And if you really want to change someone’s day, you can even use the 3 words spoken to me by the kid in the parking lot……”MOVIE STAR LOOK!”

As a Christian, we have something more valuable than words to offer others. We have salvation and the good news of Jesus Christ. The world needs to hear the words that we have, but we’ve been taught not to talk to strangers, that people that we don’t know should somehow be feared. The reality is that even the boogie man needs Jesus. As far as I can tell, “Strangers” are exactly who we’ve been instructed to talk to in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations……”

So let’s see if we can make a difference with a few words. Like “come to church”, or “Jesus loves you”. Or you can use my Uncle Emmett’s favorite ice breaker “where are you from originally?” He was able to start many conversations which led to many bible studies which led to many conversions with those few words. Jesus made a big difference in the lives of Peter and Andrew when he simply said to them “Follow me”.

So let’s be generous with others in the words that we speak. Let’s give of ourselves.  Otherwise they may forever remain strangers, not knowing the love of God.

(first delivered at Bear Valley church of Christ as a Wednesday devotional, 2/26/14).

 

Studying The Sweet Samaritan

Studying The Sweet Samaritan

Neal Pollard

Jesus wants us concerned with people, especially those near us in some way.  It may be easier to care about someone who looks like us, who is decent or even attractive, or who is easier to help.  The unattractive, strange, dissimilar, or unpleasant may not be ones we are as easily drawn to assist.  That is why Jesus’ teaching on who our neighbor is ought to be convicting and persuasive.  Luke 10:30-37 records the infamous lesson of the good Samaritan.  Here is what the text reveals about this story.

The parable reveals a problem (30).  Someone is hurt and in need and can do nothing for himself.  It is an observable problem, as the text will reveal.

The parable reveals three pedestrians (31-33), a priest, a Levite, and the Samaritan.  The first two do nothing to help the hurting man, but the Samaritan is moved to provide assistance. The priest was passive, the Levite paused, but the Samaritan pitied.

The parable reveals a proper performance (34-35).  It is seen in what he felt—compassion. It is seen in what he did—came to him, bandaged him, soothed him, carried him, cared for him, and supported him.

The parable reveals a proof (36). Jesus asks, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor…?”  The answer did not depend on how long they were followers of God, how much they knew, or how much influence they had in the community.  The proof was in the performance, as revealed in the previous two verses.

The parable reveals the point (37).  The point of the parable is to prove to be a good neighbor by “going” and “doing.”  Learning this story or hearing its application does not make one a good Samaritan.  Feeling convicted does not, either.  Instead, the good neighbor is the one who puts the principles of this parable into practice.  Jesus would tell us all, “Go and do the same.”