If You’re Reading This You’re Probably A Camel.

If You’re Reading This You’re Probably A Camel.

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

One of the many reasons you’ll never find me sewing is because I can never seem to thread the needle. It takes a good 45 minutes of fumbling around, licking the thread, and missing the hole before I finally get it. This is because the eye of your average sewing needle is approximately 0.6 mm wide. Or a better way to describe it is about the width of two periods placed side by side. Now try to imagine your average camel that stands at over seven feet tall and weighs 1300 pounds fitting through this space that is so small a toothpick can’t even fit through it.
 
Jesus uses this exact illustration in one of his interactions with a ruler during His earthly ministry. This account is found in three of four gospels, Luke, Mark and Matthew.
 
Jesus met many different people in His ministry on earth, from those of weak faith to great faith, from those in opposition to those in support. The account in Matthew 19 stands out for a few reasons. It applies to us more than we realize. We normally don’t think of ourselves as being rich. Rich is Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. Many of us are richer than we think. For example if you earn $25,000 or more annually, you are in the top 10 percent of the world’s income-earners. The average income in America is $56,180. In America, if you make $32,000 you are considered to be apart of the poor to near poor income bracket, and yet even then you’re still making three times more than the average person worldwide. All of this to say, we are rich. Which makes what Jesus says to the rich young ruler hit a little closer to home.
 
Matthew 19:16 says, “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” From the outside looking in, this person had it all. He was young so he had lots of life left to live. He was rich so he had no worries financially. He was a ruler so he had power and authority. While he had all of these qualities, he felt a need to go to Jesus for help.
 
The rich young ruler made many right decisions. He came at the right time (while he was young). He came to the right person (he ran and knelt at the feet of Jesus Mark 10:17). He asked the right question (“how can I inherit eternal life?”).
He received the right answer (Jesus tells him the truth). BUT…he made the wrong choice (he left the Lord broken-hearted).
 
The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asks, “what good deed must I do…?”
This question is singular. He was looking for a single action that would save his soul and give him eternal life. Sadly the action Jesus tells him to do was too much for him to handle. His riches kept him from salvation. If you live in America chances are Jesus would say to you, “How difficult it is for you to enter the kingdom of God.” May we never let what God blesses us with keep us from spending an eternity with Him.
DEALING WITH STRESS

DEALING WITH STRESS

Neal Pollard

A few years ago, the American Psychological Association named Denver the city with the most stressed out people in America. 75% of Denver residents are too stressed out about job and money, with half of Denverites saying their stress had significantly increased over the past year. Doctors and researchers have long connected a variety of health problems to stress, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The Harris Interactive polling group conducted this survey on behalf of the APA. Maybe the high stress levels are why so many Denver-area folks have such high octane workout routines, to counteract all of this.

In response, the Colorado Psychological Association provided some tips for coping with stress: (1) Set limits, (2) Tap into your support system, (3) Make one health-related commitment (cut back on caffeine, exercise, get more sleep, etc), (4) Strive for a positive outlook, and (5) Seek additional help. These tips are wise and useful, and especially is this true when we consider a “spiritual twist” on them. While I have found living in this area to be peaceful and enjoyable, I also know that life in America in general is stressful. There are so many uncertainties and that alone is a stressor.

Christians are best-equipped to deal with stress. Matthew 6:33 helps us properly prioritize so that we have a spiritual basis to determine what needs to be eliminated and what is more valuable. Further, we have the greatest support system possible through the church (cf. Rom. 12:15; 1 Thess. 5:11; Eph. 4:13-16; Heb. 13:1; etc.). Living the Christian life properly is a prime way to a healthier lifestyle, so long as we remember such principles as are found in 1 Timothy 4:8, Proverbs 23:2, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (I’d recommend your reading those). Who has a more positive outlook than one who can say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21-24). That is essentially saying, “I’ve got it great, and it will only get better.” Finally, there is no better help than that which we have available in Christ. Having the help of heaven to cope with life’s uncertainties is the greatest stress-buster there is.

Whether you live in Denver or even Small Town U.S.A., you are not immune from potential stress. Yet, wherever you live, if you are a Christian you have the best coping tools imaginable. Being in Christ eliminates many of the worries so many face. May we not take this for granted. Even more, let us not neglect to take advantage of the peace found only in Jesus (cf. John 14:27).

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Giving Away Your Wedding Ring

Giving Away Your Wedding Ring

Neal Pollard

Brooklin Yazzle, a Mesa, Arizona, wife and mother, apparently handed out her wedding ring with the Halloween candy last week.  She had taken off her ring and put it in a candy jar to help her children carve pumpkins.  Later, things got hectic and she absentmindedly dumped her ring along with the candy into a candy bag to give to children.  Complicating things, among her treats were plastic rings.  She has made an appeal through the news to get it back, stating that while it isn’t worth much monetarily it has great sentimental value (FOX News).

Many of us can relate to such a mindless blunder.  To my everlasting chagrin, I lost my wife’s High School class ring back while we were dating (she married me anyway!).  It is not uncommon for a person to remove their wedding ring to work or play, but removing it in such cases is to protect it from harm or loss.

The American Community Survey and the Daily Beast collaborated to provide a list of the “Divorce Capitals of the U.S.”  The ignominious top ten list, from “top” to bottom, is: (1) Panama City, FL, (2) Sierra Vista, AZ, (3) Charleston, WV, (4) Medford, OR, (5) Reno, NV, (6) Deltona, FL, (7) Pueblo, CO, (8) Palm Bay, FL, (9) Jacksonville, FL, and (10) Grand Junction, CO. In six states, the divorce rate is between 12.64-14.35% per 1,000 people, age 15 and older (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, and Oklahoma). Yet, the best of states still average 6.05-7.65% (Ashley Reich, The Huffington Post, 11/4/13).

This survey is but an example of a trend that is only tempered by a falling marriage rate, as more and more couples are living together without the sanctity of marriage. It shows that the dissolution of marriage is not confined to one area of the country, or more like in a “Red” or “Blue” state.  Are there steps we can take to keep our wedding rings?

  • Spend time together.
  • Have shared interests.
  • Focus on pleasing your spouse more than being pleased by him/her.
  • Make marriage a priority, not an afterthought or a “no thought.”
  • Make spiritual investments together (devotions, prayer, serving, etc.).
  • Spend time with couples whose marriages are healthy and happy.
  • Practice hospitality together.
  • Keep romance alive.
  • Keep Christ King of your home.
  • Avoid pettiness.

This list is not exhaustive, but it already gives all of us areas to work on and improve in.  We should remember God’s feelings, who said, “I hate divorce” (Mal. 2:16). Let’s hold on to our wedding rings!