What Kind Of “Man” (Or Woman) Are You? (Proverbs 28)

What Kind Of “Man” (Or Woman) Are You? (Proverbs 28)

Neal Pollard

The proverbs in Proverbs 28 are still part of the collection of those transmitted during the reign of King Hezekiah well over 200 years after Solomon’s death. They are filled with warnings and instructions, many of them similes. In this chapter, Solomon speaks of various types of men both good and bad.

“A poor man” (3, 6, 11,15). The poor man is not always painted sympathetically, nor is he always approved by God. Solomon mentions the audacious poor man who oppresses other poor people as being a destructive rainstorm (3). But the poor man who walks in integrity is said to be better than the crooked-acting rich man (6). Solomon praises the one who looks after the poor (8). A poor man with understanding is wiser than a rich man wise in his own eyes (11). God condemns wicked rulers who trample over the poor (15). A stingy miser bequeaths poverty to his descendants (22). Giving to the poor does not impoverish a person, but the one who turns his eyes away from the poor is cursed (27). 

“An evil man” (5). This man is also referred to as “wicked” (1,4,12,15, 28), a synonym of evil meaning one who is guilty of a crime and deserving punishment. This evil one is unpleasant and malignant in God’s eyes. In Proverbs 28:5, they are depicted as being as far from God as possible such that they do not understand justice. Keeping with that contrast, law-abiding people fight against the wicked (4). People avoid wicked rulers (12,28), and with good reason (15). Yet, the wicked are full of instability and insecurity (1). Even their prayer is an abomination to God (9). 

“A rich man” (6,11). While the book of Proverbs makes clear, as does the rest of Scripture, that being rich is not inherently evil or wrong, that state of being often comes with caveats and warnings. Paul says, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9). Jesus taught, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mat. 19:24). He says it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mat. 19:23). In keeping with biblical teaching in other places, Solomon, one of the wealthiest men who ever lived, speaks from experience. Wealth can easily be abused or misused. He can easily trust in himself (11). Several statements about the poor in this chapter show the danger to those who trust in their riches. As Solomon writes, “A stingy man hastens after wealth” (22) and “a greedy man stirs up strife” (25). 

“A faithful man” (20). This man is literally one who is full of faith, steady, trustworthy, honest, and dependable. He is a blessed in his ways. He walks in integrity (18). They fear the Lord always (14). “The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding” (7). They are among the righteous (28). He is not exempt from wrongdoing, but he is faithful to confess and forsake it (13). If he is rebuked (23), he will respond wisely and appropriately.

Character is built thought by thought, decision by decision. It is not dramatic. While there may be defining moments that stand out, it is mostly subtle and gradual. Each one of us is becoming some kind of man or woman, moving in one direction or another. Jesus says it most dramatically, that we are traveling on one of two roads leading to one of two eternal destinies (Mat. 7:13-14). We are not what we wish, hope, or intend to be. We are the product of our choices. God wants us to consider carefully and be faithful (Rev. 2:10). 

Give Like Jesus

Give Like Jesus

Neal Pollard

When we think about Jesus and material possessions, perhaps we think of passages like Luke 8:3 that tell us He lived from the financial support of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many others. Or His own words: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). Jesus lived humbly. Despite this, how often do we reflect on Jesus’ giving?

  • He gave Himself. Scripture says this explicitly in several places. He gave Himself “for our sins” (Gal. 1:4;). He gave Himself “for me” (Gal. 2:20). He gave Himself “for us” (Eph. 5:2; Ti. 2:14). He gave Himself for the church (Eph. 5:25). He gave Himself “for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). No matter how you look at the cross, it must be described in terms of His giving. This gift was the most significant act of all history. The writer of Hebrews says “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (10:10). Isn’t it interesting that Paul praises the unexpected generosity of the Macedonian givers, in part, by saying “they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God” (2 Cor. 8:5). Gracious, generous giving is impossible without our first giving ourselves to God. Submitting ourselves to Him in utter dependency, yielding our will and desires, is a prerequisite for Christlike giving.
  • He found it more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). This was His mentality and outlook. His default position was doing for others, not having others do for Him (Mat. 20:28). Paul, speaking with the Ephesian elders, reflects back on this character trait of Jesus, saying, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” What is Paul talking about? In the context, he is talking about material things like gold, silver, and clothing (33), material needs (34), and helping the weak by working hard (35). He’s not referring to the Sunday collection (cf. 1 Cor. 16:1-2), but an attitude of heart instead. Again, the Macedonians embodied this attitude. Paul is still speaking of them when he writes, “Each one must do as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). We should grow to the point where it brings us joy to give to God. Isn’t that how Jesus gave Himself for us? Study Hebrews 12:1-3 closely!
  • He gave with grace (2 Cor. 8:9). Most lexical definitions of “grace” include the word “gift,” “favor,” and “benefit.” These are undoubtedly giving terms and, when Paul uses it in 2 Corinthians 8:9, a financial term. Paul says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” He ties Christ’s gracious giving to his admonition that Corinth be gracious givers, too. He urges them to complete this gracious work (6), to abound in this gracious work (7), and co-participate in this gracious work (19-20). For Jesus, grace meant giving up something to meet the needs of others. For us, gracious giving means giving up something to supply the needs of others. Like with Jesus, we prove the sincerity of our love by gracious giving (8).

Should we give out of duty and obligation? Not entirely and certainly not primarily. Should we give out of gratitude? That’s certainly better than guilt. How about giving out of an effort to imitate our Savior? When we are giving, it is not merely “to the church.” It is giving to the head of the church, the one who gave everything to purchase it (Acts 20:28). Remarkably, sacrificial giving is a tangible, explicit way for us to give like Jesus. Could there be a stronger motivation?

Positive Encouragement

Positive Encouragement

Gary Pollard

In Phil 1.6, Paul says “I am sure that the good work God began in you will continue until he completes it on the day when Jesus Christ comes again.” If this sounds familiar, it’s because he said something very similar in II Timothy 1.5 — “I remember your true faith. That kind of faith first belonged to your grandmother Lois and to your mother Eunice. I know you now have that same faith.” 

The confidence motif is repeated in both passages. It’s something Paul seems to say to give the person he’s correcting the benefit of the doubt. He also starts off his correction in both letters by saying something genuine and positive about their character. 

When we have to correct another member, we should never start with an accusatory tone. We should highlight the positive aspects of a person’s value and character and practically smother them with encouragement first. When Paul handles this uncomfortable situation he doesn’t say, “I’m sure you’re doing a great work, but…” He doesn’t tell Timothy, “I’m sure you still have faith, but…” The hug-followed-by-a-slap-to-the-face method does not and has not ever been effective. 

Instead, Paul encourages them by saying, “These are your positive attributes,” and then shifts his focus to positive examples of other people. It really is a masterful approach, but that makes perfect sense. God formatted both letters, so of course it was excellent. This also shows us that if we want to know how we’re supposed to do something difficult, we should look for a biblical example first. Chances are, God’s already given us a blueprint. 

We’re not told exactly what Euodia and Syntyche were fighting about, but there are some hints. The selflessness theme suggests a struggle with self-centered living. Love that hasn’t fully matured seems to evident from verse 9. Focusing on unimportant issues is also suggested in Paul’s prayer. Whatever it was, the root of their issue was a lack of selflessness. 

Down in verse 25, Paul talks about his struggle — he wants to leave this life and be with Jesus, but he knows the church at Philippi still needs him. He wanted to help them grow and find purpose through faith — evidently something that wasn’t already in place. 

Lessons From A Nameless Teacher

Lessons From A Nameless Teacher

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

In Genesis 24, we meet a man who only identifies as “Abraham’s servant” (v. 34). This unnamed servant is most likely Eliezer, Abraham’s household servant, whom he expected to be his heir (Genesis 15.2). Jewish tradition is in favor of this. However, because the chapter fails to identify him, we will also refrain from doing so. Hence, this unnamed servant teaches us three things as he obeys his master’s will to obtain a wife for his son from among his relatives in modern-day Iraq.

The unnamed servant teaches us humility. The fact that the unnamed servant only refers to himself as a servant of his master says a lot. He considers his identity to be secondary to his position in his master’s household. Our Great Example was similarly humble, much like this servant. We can see that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was the most humble person of all when he took on human form and died for the salvation of mankind (Philippians 2:5–10).

Humility is an essential virtue. Humility, according to the Bible, is necessary for Christians to cultivate. For example, the book of James says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB 1995) Thus, Christians are to approach God with modesty, acknowledging their shortcomings.

But we should not confuse humility with self-deprecation. God’s word doesn’t tell us to belittle ourselves or our accomplishments. Instead, humility involves acknowledging that all good things come from God, upon Whom we depend for our success (James 1.17). Humility also requires service. The Bible calls us to be the servants of others, just as Jesus modeled servant leadership (John 13.14-16). Humility consists in putting the needs of others ahead of our desires and ambitions.

And God doesn’t overlook this service. Instead, humility is a key to spiritual growth, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23.12 NASB1995). James reminds us: “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4.10 NASB1995)

Therefore, when Christians talk about humility, they stress the importance of knowing our limits and weaknesses, helping others, and coming to God with a humble heart.

The unnamed servant teaches us to trust in God’s Providence. The nameless servant believed that God’s providence would help him succeed in his task. So likewise, God’s word instructs us to trust in God’s providence throughout the Bible, which means we accept that God is in charge of everything and has a plan for our lives. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11 NASB1995). I would be amiss if I did not point out that this is not a personal promise to us, as it was spoken to the Israelites on the verge of Babylonian captivity. However, we can accept that it means that God has plans for His people.

Thus, God urges us to trust that His purpose for our lives is beneficial, even if it may not seem logical or beneficial. This trust is part of submitting ourselves to God’s will. Surrendering to God’s will is part of trusting in providence. Christians are urged to pray for God’s direction and guidance and believe that God’s plan for their lives is what is best for them. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps,” Jeremiah says again (Jeremiah 10.23 NASB 1995).

The Bible teaches us to trust in God’s provision, which implies that we believe that God will provide for our necessities (Matthew 6.33). Even in challenging circumstances, we know God will provide for our needs. So, the Christian doctrine of trust in providence stresses the importance of believing in God’s plan for each person’s life, submitting to His will, and trusting in His provision.

The unnamed servant teaches us to be shrewd. The servant who put Rebecca through the “camel test” was astute. Have you ever thought how this man must have appeared to the young Rebecca? The unnamed servant was a physically fit man. In addition, he needs other strong men to travel with him and a caravan of ten camels. Why, then, would he need a woman to bring him water and tend to his livestock?

What could this servant learn from administering the “camel test”? Rebecca’s response suggested much about her character. For example, what concern would she have for her family if she returned the water she had given a stranger to drink? Did she have the servant’s heart to recognize and want to meet a need when it was within her power? Did she consider others first? Finally, Rebecca had to demonstrate her worth to Isaac and, eventually, to Abraham, his master.

Jesus told his disciples to “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10.16 NASB 1995). In other words, Jesus tells us to be wise and intelligent when we talk to other people but also to be kind and safe. The term “wise as serpents” might be understood to suggest that the disciples should be as intelligent and crafty as snakes in their relationships with others. But it’s important to remember that Jesus didn’t want his followers to lie or trick people. Instead, he wanted them to be honest and wise in their relationships with others. Likewise, “harmless as doves” alludes to the doves’ gentleness and lack of aggression. Even in challenging or hostile circumstances, Jesus pushes his followers to remain calm and non-threatening in their relationships with others.

Jesus asked his followers to be intelligent and astute in their interactions while being mild and non-threatening. We should apply this advice and use it when applicable.

The unnamed servant in Genesis 24 teaches essential lessons about humility, faith in providence, and shrewdness. His humble demeanor reminds us of the importance of admitting our flaws and prioritizing the needs of others. Trusting in God’s providence entails believing that God has a plan for our lives and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, being shrewd implies being wise and intelligent in our interactions with others while maintaining our integrity. As Christians, we can learn from the example of the unnamed servant and strive to live a life that honors God. The unnamed servant in Genesis 24 teaches essential lessons about humility, faith in providence, and shrewdness. His humble demeanor reminds us of the importance of admitting our flaws and prioritizing the needs of others. Trusting in God’s providence entails believing that God has a plan for our lives and that everything will work out for the best. Finally, being shrewd implies being wise and intelligent in our interactions with others while maintaining our integrity. As Christians, we can learn from the example of the unnamed servant and strive to live a life that honors God.

Brent Pollard
The Local Preacher (Part 6)

The Local Preacher (Part 6)

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “…But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself…in order that I may finish my course.” 

What an incredible attitude. In verse 24 Paul stated the reason he was willing to face the dangers in Jerusalem. He was ready to surrender his life for the gospel. In his epistles Paul often stated his readiness to suffer, even to die for Christ. Paul had completely given his life to Christ. He was willing to die for what he believed. Are we? As ministers we should believe in the word of God so much that we are willing to give our lives for it. What are our lives to us? How much do they mean to us? Do we care so much about our lives that we are willing to preserve them over preserving the word? Those are a lot of questions, but there’s one simple fact that we must remember. A preacher that is not willing to give his life for the cause of Christ is not worthy to preach. 

God’s church, the Bride of Christ, deserves a man willing to lay down his life for the gospel. When Jesus came to Paul on the road to Damascus, He gave Paul his life’s mission. By the grace of God, Paul completed a lifelong service to Him. As ministers, there is not a better life to model ours after, besides Jesus, than the life of Paul. He was selfless to the very end. His body was a mere tool just for the cause of Christ. What does that take? A lifetime of studying and growing our relationship with the Lord. A man with a poor or lacking relationship with God does not belong in the pulpit. 

From the book of Acts we can pull many examples from Paul’s life and apply them to that of the modern day minister. The Bible is 1900 years old, but it is still a practical guide to today’s preachers. We have different challenges that may seem like new issues, but Paul proves over and over again that following Christ wholeheartedly is all we truly need to make it as successful ministers in the church today. Who does the church see in the pulpit? Who does the church need in the pulpit? These are often two very different things. The preacher can act one way in front of everyone, but who he is when he’s alone is what counts. Does he study and pray constantly? A minister should follow closely the example of Paul, and in doing so he will not fail. If every church had a preacher like Paul the church would be a strong and thriving group. 

Carl Pollard
An Attitude Of Gratitude

An Attitude Of Gratitude

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Justin Lohden

Gratefulness is defined as warm and deep appreciation for kindness received; gratitude or thankfulness. Something that my family has to work on continually is an attitude of gratefulness. In today’s world, teaching our children gratefulness can sometimes be challenging not only for them but also for us. Have you ever met individuals who constantly complain and seem ungrateful? More specifically, have you ever met Christians who constantly complain and seem ungrateful? I would dare to say most of us try to avoid certain people because you know they are probably going to be complaining about something. Regarding church, do you ever catch yourself complaining about elders’ decisions, something the preacher might have said, or the temperature in the church building? I know I do sometimes! So, what causes a spirit of complaining or ungratefulness? Could it be a lack of faith? Maybe selfishness? In my opinion, they both can cause ungratefulness. For example, we have several accounts in the Old Testament of the Israelites complaining! In Numbers 21:5 we read, They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” God had just delivered them Egyptian bondage and they still showed a lack of faith and ungratefulness.

Sometimes our selfishness can create an attitude of ungratefulness. We sometimes just want our way or want more and more which can lead to a complaining or ungrateful attitude. There’s no doubt God has blessed our country economically but sometimes that may lead to contentment problems. We have to be careful not to fall in the trap of wanting more and more. Contentment can help produce gratefulness. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” We know that Paul was in prison when he wrote this. Can you imagine being in prison and speaking of contentment? Then what about us? Surely, we can learn to be content and grateful for the things that we have by Paul’s example.

On top of everything else God doesn’t seem to be a big fan of complaining nor did He take it lightly. In Numbers 11:1 we read, “And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.” Grumbling can be a problem. None of us are above the temptation to murmur or complain, but we need to learn from the book of Numbers that this is a serious issue with God. He sent fire to consume some, swallowed up others with the earth, and sent fiery serpents among the people, all because of complaining!

The Bible also has many verses that touch on the subject of gratitude.

  • 1 Chronicles 16:8 says…..Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
  • Psalm 7:17 says….. I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says….Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:15 says….Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Those are just a few examples, but with having so many verses regarding gratitude there’s no doubt how God feels about it. If anybody in this world should be grateful it should be Christians! God has shown us so much love, grace, and has blessed us both materially and spiritually beyond measure and we should be expressing a spirit of gratitude living as a Christian! We as Christians should being showing gratitude throughout all aspects of our life and let our light shine! If we go around complaining or being ungrateful what kind of example are we setting and how can we expect to evangelize to the lost? They’re response might be, “I don’t want any part of that religion”!

Not only should we show gratitude toward God, we should show gratitude toward our fellow man. Some simple acts of gratitude could be just saying thank you, a thank you card, email, or text. Occasionally, I will receive a thank you note or message from a fellow church member for something that I didn’t think was a big deal but it still meant a lot to receive that.

I would challenge all of us to keep working hard towards a grateful attitude. If you have a moment where you lapse, there are many scriptures to study regarding this subject. Let’s concentrate on the things God has given us not the things we don’t have. Let’s stay focused on the big picture which is our Heavenly home. Having a grateful attitude pleases our Father and is contagious. After all, would you rather fellowship with grateful or ungrateful people? Be careful, as they say misery loves company!

1 Peter–Unconditional Love

1 Peter–Unconditional Love

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

For the next several weeks, I’ll be repeating the book of I Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

I Peter – Pt III

Since we’ve decided to follow God, we have to love each other unconditionally. We have to love each other without ulterior motives. We do this because we’ve cleaned up our lives. We weren’t born into a new life through natural means (like babies). Jesus gave us new life, and he’s never going to die. You’ve read this before, “Everything alive is like grass. Its impressive qualities are like the flowers that show up in grass. Grass dies, along with its flowers, but God’s word will live forever.” This is what you were taught already. 

Since you know we’re on borrowed time, sustain yourself with God’s words. Babies instinctively crave what they need to stay alive. We must do the same with God’s words. If we decide that God’s words are good for us, we’ll be rescued when we “grow up.” Before we get to this point, we have to get rid of bad qualities. There’s no room for hate, dishonesty, hypocrisy, jealousy, or attacking character. 

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (Lawton, OK)
God Doesn’t Hate You

God Doesn’t Hate You

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

“Who does he think he is?”

It’s easy to imagine how the grumbling began among Korah and other religious leaders of the Israelites. Eventually 250 joined and as the grumbling grew so did Korah’s confidence. It all came to a head as the mob approached Moses and the heated accusations start. Korah cries out, “We’re all just as righteous as you are! Why do you stand before us and bark orders?” 

Moses does something unexpected and falls face down. He tells them, “In the morning the Lord will show you all who is holy.” How did those wicked Levites sleep that night? Were they confident that God would deliver them from their “tyrannical” ruler? Maybe they tossed and turned as all sleep escaped them. The following day we read in Numbers 16.32-35, 

“and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!” And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.”

This wasn’t the end of the line for all of Korah’s family though. We read in Numbers 26.9-11, 

“…Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram, chosen from the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the Lord and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured the 250 men, and they became a warning. But the sons of Korah did not die.”

Some of Korah’s family live on. Now, how would many people feel about God if they had watched their family and possessions swallowed up by the earth? A horrific event like that might make them bitter, angry, and traumatized. What a cruel and selfish God. 

Interestingly enough, the sons of Korah are responsible for writing a few of the Psalms. They aren’t laments reflecting back on how God had treated them unfairly. In fact, it seems as though they had their eyes opened to the character of God. He is holy and they are in awe of their awesome Father. 

Here are a few segments taken from Psalm 84, written by the sons of Korah. 

Verses 1-2 

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!

My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.”

Verse 4 

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house; 
    they are ever praising you.”

Really? Blessed? Ever praising Him? 

Verse 10 

“Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”

The language does not reflect a family who has witnessed tragedy brought on by the hand of God. It seems they were spared because the Lord saw something inside them that wasn’t found in the hearts of the others. A heart willing to repent and live differently. God knew they could handle rebuke and had a sincere desire to live righteously. It’s been speculated that perhaps they were too young to understand why their father and the other Levitical leaders were outraged. Maybe they thought they were a part of a just cause? After all, these evil men were in a position of authority. They were their teachers. How could 250 religious rulers be wrong? Whatever the reasons, God proved to be right again. 

There are people in this world who don’t understand the righteousness of the Lord. This lack of knowledge leads to terrible—often costly, decisions, and lifestyles. 

If you ever find yourself questioning God and His Law we should look in rather than up for who’s to blame. History proves time and again that God is never the issue— we are. Sin, injustice, unfairness, and evil are human inventions. God has given us His son as the solution and in Him we find answers. Those answers bring us satisfaction and peace every time. 

Water well dating back to the early 1800s. Location, Valhermoso Springs hotel. 
Lacey’s Spring, Alabama 
Godly Character Traits

Godly Character Traits

Saturday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

When I was growing up, there were certain tasks that my parents would give me that I didn’t want to do. Washing the floorboards, weeding the garden, cutting vinyl siding, and digging holes with a post hole digger are just a few examples of what many of us would consider hard work. 

I remember the hours working on these jobs, covered in sweat with blistered hands, and an all-around feeling of fatigue. There were a couple times In particular where I can remember my dad saying the classic phrase, “Son this is character-building work.” And then he would tell a story about some hard job he had to do as a kid. Looking back, these jobs really did build character, but there’s more to it than just digging a hole and sweating. 

You can be a hard worker, and still lack honesty, sincerity, and humility. Character building takes serious work and commitment. Luckily, God has given us His perfect word that tells us how we can grow our character. 

If you’ve ever struggled with living out your faith, or with your commitment to Christ, working on growing our character will help us to focus on what’s truly important in this life. 

There are many different ways that we could go about building our character, and as we look to scripture a good place to start in this endeavor is by practicing righteous thinking. If we want to grow our character, we have to start changing the way that we think. Problem is, it’s a lot easier said than done. There are two different passages that tell us how we can practice righteous thinking. 

Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” As Christians we can learn to dwell on righteousness by filling our mind with godly traits. If we are truly set on transforming our minds to think on righteousness, we have to replace worldly thinking with godly traits. 

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It’s possible to practice righteous thinking by renewing our mind with the will of God. No longer looking to ourselves as master, but to God. By doing this our thinking changes. Our focus shifts from this world, and our minds will dwell on righteousness. 

Do you want to be known as a person of character? The first change we must undergo is to start thinking righteously. Righteous thinking is no easy task. It takes work, and many times we fall short of this goal. Thankfully we serve a loving God who wants nothing more than for us to spend an eternity with Him in Heaven. 

Question is, do we want this future enough to make the right decisions? 

Three Men Named Ananias

Three Men Named Ananias

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Recently, I heard Dr. Ted Burleson point out that the book of Acts reveals three men named Ananias. The first one is in Acts five, the second one is in Acts nine, and the last one is in Acts 23. Those three men are very much unalike from one another in some basic, important ways.

The Ananias in Acts 5 was a Christian known for lying to Peter and to God about his offering. On the heels of Barnabas’ publicized and praised generosity, this man conspired with his wife to deceive the church about how much they were giving. While we do not read his words or even read that he spoke, it is implied that he did talk this over with Sapphira. His entire legacy is of a liar! Isn’t it tragic that the rest of his life, including his conversion, are completely omitted. This is all we know about him. What a sobering object lesson that I can undo a great deal of other good in my life if I let sin reign in my heart!

The Ananias in Acts 23 was the Jewish High Priest Paul stood before after he was arrested in Jerusalem. “Ananias was High Priest from A.D. 47 to 66, when he was assassinated by the Jews because of his support of the Romans during the Jewish uprising” (Newman and Nida, 432). We also learn that he was “famous for bribery and plunder of temple offerings” (Gangal, 386). Then we see, “His action (having Paul struck on the mouth, NP) was completely in character. Josephus depicted him as one of the very worst of the high priests, known for his pro-Roman sentiments, his extreme cruelty, and his greed” (Polhill, 468). He is known both in Scripture and out of Scripture for being unscrupulous. He will lead the attack against Paul before Felix (Acts 24:1-9). Not only does he refuse to accept Christ, he persecutes and attacks Christ’s messengers. He went out into eternity a sworn enemy of Jesus. At the Judgment, he will stand before Him! He reminds me that life is about preparing for eternity, and it is tragic to live for self in this life and reject the One who died for me.

The Ananias in the middle, in Acts 9, is completely unlike the other two who shared his name. He is introduced to us as a “disciple” (10). The Lord chose him for a choice mission, to go preach to Saul of Tarsus (10). As fearful as that task understandably was, he obeyed the Lord and went (11-17). Acts 22 adds that he was devout (God-fearing)(12), well-spoken of by other Jews in Damascus (12), and a faithful preacher (14) who was bold in message (16). Jesus did not convert Saul on the road; He chose a human messenger on earth to preach to him. Of all the disciples he could have chosen, this Ananias was given the opportunity. This man seized the opportunity and helped give the world the greatest preacher, save Jesus, the world has ever known! Nothing is said about this man after he preached to Saul. Whatever else happened in his life, Ananias is praised for his courage and faithfulness. He is forever linked to this eventual apostle, the man who baptized the ultimate world evangelist whose name we all know 2,000 years later. 

There are other “Neals” in the world today. None of us have our names in the Bible, but which of us will have our names in the “book of life” (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5)? Of course, the same is true of you whatever your name is. How we respond to the Lord’s grace as well as His will matters. Ask Sapphira’s husband. Ask Paul’s antagonizer. Ask Paul’s preacher. We have one life to prepare for the next life. May we so live that our name will be associated with the Name above all names (Phil. 2:9-10)!