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adversity stewardship

LESSONS FROM ADVERSITY: LIVING WITH ONGOING ADVERSITY

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

brent 2020

Brent Pollard 

While in the exceptional care of the physicians of the University of North Carolina Healthcare System, I met Dr. Alan Siqueiros as he was completing his Fellowship. He could tell I was depressed. My lung function was at 25% from my history of three pulmonary emboli. I had no prospects for a “normal” future. Yet, Dr. Siqueiros left me with some words of exhortation, since he was about to depart for Yale’s Danbury Hospital to do his Residency. “You’re a bright young man. You may not have the health you wanted, but you have a sharp mind. You’re still young. If I were you, I would focus on developing my mind and see where that leads.”

 

There’s something to be said about doing what you can with what you have at your disposal, isn’t there? The woman with the costly oil of spikenard did what she could when she took her costly oil and anointed Jesus’ head. When people complained she wasted something precious, Jesus told them to leave her alone since she had done what she could for Him (Mark 14.1-9).  A woman in the first century had limited options for service and this was a risky step. Even so, she was motivated to do what she could with what was available to her. Jesus understood and appreciate her effort.

 

We all expect our trials to be swift, don’t we? We don’t anticipate the possibility that we may find ourselves in a situation where adversity persists and may not go away. If you have an illness, others may see your adversity and help. Even so, there are also those forms of adversities people face on their own since no one else notices it (e.g. unequally yoked to an unbelieving spouse). So, if you are living with ongoing adversity, what can you do?

 

First, accept God’s sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12.1-10). You don’t have to enjoy adversity, but trust God’s grace to give you a reason to rejoice, even if only in His strength. His strength shines through your weakness, when you’re living faithfully.

 

Second, go ahead and do what you can, even if it’s just with a box of “costly oil of spikenard.” As we’ve seen, even a simple act has its place when used to God’s glory. Christ has entrusted us with the gifts we may use (Ephesians 4.7-8).

 

Third, don’t compare yourself to others. We each have our own cross to carry (Luke 14.27). And the execution of our duties produce the results God intends (1 Corinthians 3.5-7).

 

Lastly, keep going (Hebrews 12.1-4). We know that we will only receive the crown of life if death finds us faithful (Revelation 2:10).

 

The nature of your adversity may be ongoing. It may be something you feel you face alone. However, the sufficient grace of God, coupled with the tools with which He has entrusted all of us, permits even those living amidst adversity to live a fulfilling life leading to our eternal home.

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Categories
evangelism opportunity passion stewardship

Be Fearlessly Fervent 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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It takes a special individual of both breed and brand to truly impact the world. The fact is, many will live their lives comfortable and content to never break any molds or “step outside the box,” as they say. Most believers understand that God has called us out of this world to be lights and to be different, but that means being uncomfortable (James 1:2-4). We don’t like that aspect of faithful walking and at times the fire inside us and the will to go on is at the verge of being snuffed out. On every side we are surrounded by a raging current of mainstream ideologies and beliefs that drown the masses sweeping them closer towards eternity—unprepared. That familiar and depressing reality can discourage and frustrate us to the point of tears. Preachers, elders, and leaders are constantly fighting these feelings as they huff and puff under the weight of it all.
Christian fathers and mothers anxiously worry about that painfully uncertain future their children will battle. Young people are plagued with convincing thoughts that a faithful life is all but impossible today. How can we make an impact? You may wonder what difference you could possibly make as you observe such a powerful and evil force.
Here is the bad news, it’s hard. But here is the wonderful new, it’s worth it! God has given us an instruction manual on how to become mighty misfits in a culture that rejects righteousness. There are permanent footprints left by the feet of godly men throughout history, and their tracks lead to victory for those that choose to follow them.
For example, there is the trail blazer and zealous disciple, Paul. He serves as an inspiring nonconformist when he abandons his previous life of riches, respect, and comfort. His courage, faith, and determination can produce a powerful stirring in our spirits. If that man with the thorn can overcome fear and defeat the devil’s endeavors, despite his own weakness, then by the grace of God we can too. Our lives can leave an impact and they can serve as beacon of light for generations to come.
Notice how Jabez demonstrates this point in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Within a lengthy list of family lines that make up the sons of Judah, Jabez breaks the mold. While numerous names are given, there is something more to be said of Jabez. He stands out as one who was “more honorable” than those who were before him in verse nine. Though his name means “son of my sorrow,” a label associated with affliction, he refuses to let this name define his future. The key to his success is given in the following verse which says, “Jabez called upon the Lord saying, ‘oh that you would bless me, your hand be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not give me pain!’ And God granted what he asked.” That verse is loaded with valuable lessons for this age and every age to follow.
Lesson one, don’t interpret your future by looking at your past. It doesn’t matter what family you were born into or how you were raised. We all have been given at least three common blessings. If you are made in the image of God, and you are, then that means you have talent, opportunity, and a life. The amount of talent, number of opportunities, and quality of that life is irrelevant. You have everything you need to succeed which is precisely what our Father desires.
Lesson number two, only God can grant you gainful glory. Jabez established his lasting legacy and was victorious because he understood one thing. God is the God of impartiality. He offers a heavenly hand to help the stereotypically weak and sinful human break the stereotype. The cards of life you hold in your hand mean little to the God who owns the deck. Jabez, Paul, and many faithful others understood the weakness of humanity. Their lives are a statement and a confession— God can help anyone rise above the crowd. He can help you achieve the only recognition that counts and give you the precious gift of a future with certainty.
The path to victory is a narrow one according to Matthew 7:14. Few have found it and few have finished it, but with the right Guide it can definitely be done. Are you unsure of your current location? Look down at the tracks you are following, and the guide walking with you. If you are holding the hand of the Savior— you can be sure you’re going in the right direction. Allow that comfort to strengthen you and break out of whatever mold you are in. Let God use your weakness and failures to leave an eternal mark on a world that needs it. There is no congregation that can’t grow, no Christian that can’t improve, and no unsaved person that doesn’t deserve the chance to hear that life changing message of the cross. There’s a great day coming, and that should provoke some excitement as well as motivate us all to diligently and fearlessly work until then.
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Categories
football NFL opportunity stewardship Uncategorized

Make The MOST Of Your Opportunities

Neal Pollard

A “TD” is a touchdown, also known as “crossing the goal line,” “getting in the end zone,” and simply “scoring,” the TD is a measure–maybe the most emphasized measure–of a player’s success.  Back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, a halfback from tiny California Lutheran College, all 5’10” and 200 pounds of him, played seven seasons with the San Diego Chargers. His name was Hank Bauer.

Most of his rushing statistics are quite forgettable. He ran the ball only 123 times for 377 yards, for an unimpressive 3.1 yards per rush. For the uninformed, those numbers will not get you into the Hall of Fame. It will land you on the practice squad. But, Hank Bauer was the ultimate opportunist. Running the ball, he broke the plane of the goal line eighteen times! 18 TDs in 123 carries is incredible! In 1978, he scored more rushing TDs than the great Franco Harris. He ran for more TDs than 1,000 yard rushers Terry Miller (Bills), Tony Reed (Chiefs), Tony Dorsett (Cowboys) and John Riggins (Redskins) did. In 1979, he ran for more TDs than Dorsett, Ottis Anderson (who ran for over 1,600 yards), Terry Bell (1,253 yards), and William Andrews (1,023 yards). Running for 1,000 yards is the watermark that determines success for running backs. But, Hank Bauer scored 8 TDs while carrying the ball 22 times for a whopping 28 yards! He also scored two TDs catching the ball, though he caught only 12 passes for a measly 97 yards in his career.

If you had trouble understanding the data above, Hank Bauer made the most of his limited opportunities. He came out of a tiny college, proving himself so important and dependable that he was given the ball whenever the Chargers were near the goal line. Twenty times, Bauer cashed in on his opportunities.

What about you? How much are you making of your opportunities? You were born in the wealthiest nation in the world, if you are in America. You have the world’s best healthcare, housing, food, raw materials, technology, water works, and standards of living. You also live in a nation that, by percentage, has more Christians than any other on the globe. It can be assumed that, since you are reading this article, you have also been exposed somewhere along the line to God’s plan of salvation (If not, here it is: Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, and Be Baptized. Write me for more details). There is a pretty good chance you are a New Testament Christian.

Are you taking advantage of your opportunities? To pray? To attend worship services and Bible classes in a land fully granting you the freedom to do so? To study your Bible? To tell a lost soul about Jesus? To shine the light of Christ? To lead your family to heaven?

Pro football has had few Hank Bauers. On the other hand, a goodly number of Heisman Trophy winners (remember Larry Kelly, John Huarte, Gary Beban, Steve Owen, Pat Sullivan, Gino Torretta, Rahsaan Salaam, Eric Crouch, and Troy Smith?) fizzled out when given the opportunity to transform college immortality into professional greatness. I fear that too many of us squander our opportunities to use their time, money, energy, and abilities for God and good! Whether misplaced priorities or crippling sin habits or materialistic greed or simple apathy and inactivity or fear, too many of us are dropping the proverbial ball!

Make the most of your opportunities. Find folks to teach. Find time to develop your relationship with God. Find a way to defeat the sin in your life. Find the church building when the saints are meeting. Find out how good it feels to make the most of your opportunities for the Lord! In the end, you will find Heaven’s “Hall of Fame.”

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