It’s Time To Check Out

It’s Time To Check Out

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

Several weeks ago I was told a sermon illustration with a very powerful reminder.

It begins with a scenario that each one of us is quite familiar with. You’re at the grocery store and you’re shopping for your weekly groceries. In this illustration we are introduced to two very different shoppers.

Shopper #1

This person can be summarized as an individual who is definitely NOT on a diet of any kind. They go through each aisle grabbing anything and everything that looks good to them. They aren’t concerned about health or nutrition, they get whatever they want. If it looks good, they grab it. If it tastes good, they take it.

Their shopping cart is filled with all kinds of unhealthy food. I’m talking Cheetos, Mountain Dew, Little Debbies, cake batter, and ice cream. Bottom line, Shopper #1 is an unhealthy individual who has only one desire, to eat what looks good to them with absolutely no consideration for nutrition or health. This individual is similar to those described in scripture who are trapped in several deadly sins. Shopper #1 through his choices symbolizes those in the world who choose to practice sins such as lusting (James 1:14-15), gluttony (Phil. 3:17-19), laziness (Prov. 6:6), anger (Col. 3:8), envy (Prov. 14:30), and pride (Prov. 16:18). The sins found in Shopper #1’s cart are by no means an exhaustive list, but they are examples of what to expect in this kind of person’s cart.

Shopper #2

This individual is a completely different type of shopper. They are on a serious diet. It’s almost depressing to look at wha’ts in their cart. It’s all healthy and beneficial to the body. It’s items like carrots, peas, broccoli, chicken breast, yogurt, fruit, and spinach. This person isn’t focused on the taste necessarily, but more on the nutrition and vitamins found in food. This shopper symbolizes the ones who Paul would call dedicated Christians.

1 Tim. 6:11, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” Who does Paul call a man or woman of God? The shopper who chooses: Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. The person who is dedicated to filling their cart with these things and other similar traits is a true Christian. Shopper #2 chooses to eat healthy no matter how gross or inconvenient the food may look. Both shoppers went to the same store and passed the same choices.

The illustration comes to a close as the two shoppers get to the checkout line.

Shopper #1 empties their cart at checkout and begins ringing up their grocery items. They scan their anger, their pride, their envy, and the rest of their life choices. They finish and pay what is due. Shopper #2 does the same. They scan their faith, love, gentleness and the rest of their godly choices. They empty their cart, but something unexpected happens.

As they reach for their wallet to pay the total on the screen says 0. Their groceries are paid for in full.

Shopper #1 lived his life however he pleased. He chose to do what made him happy and when checkout time came he was required to pay in full.

Shopper #2 lived their life according to God’s Word. They did their best to fill their cart with the things that pleased God.

Because of this decision, God has paid their bill in full. The one who has put on Christ and has devoted his life to serving God will find grace and mercy on that final day. Not out of his own good works, but through grace and salvation found in faith in God. This leads us to the all-important question, “What’s in my shopping cart?” Is it filled with the things I want? Is it junk food and sin? If so, one day I will pay for this decision. Or is it filled with the things that lead to eternal life? If your cart is filled with sin, there’s still hope (1 Cor. 6:9-11). If you have made the choice to fill your life with sin, it’s not too late to empty the cart and start over. And the time to do that is right now.

Examining Choices

Examining Choices

[Note: With Carl getting married tomorrow, we are pinch-hitting for him this week.]

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Dave Steeves

Choices. We all make them, some good, some bad, and if you’re anything like me, it seems sometimes we make  more bad than good.

In the book of Judges, we see some of the choices Samson made. It is clearly understood that Samson was set-apart by God before he was even conceived. You see, God had plans for Sampson. He was to be a Nazirite, meaning he would not drink wine or any other fermented drink. He could not make himself ceremonially unclean by coming in contact with a dead body. His head was also not to be touched by a razor.

Not only did Samson touch a dead animal but he ate honey from the lion’s carcass. Not long after that he threw a feast in a vineyard of all places. And to top it all off, he tells his wife the secret to his great strength is in his hair so she has his head shaved, breaking yet another Nazarite Vow.

Clearly, these are all bad choices that should’ve been evident to him. But, even though Sampson had broken these vows and would end up in chains because of them, God was able to use him. Samson delivered a mighty blow when he brought down the temple killing the Philistine rulers and himself.

You see, Samson was set aside by God but was still just a sinful human, not perfect by anyone’s standards. We too are sinful and set aside by God for a purpose. That purpose is to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Matthew 28:19 tells us,  “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”
This instruction is given to all believers. If you are a Christian, this responsibility is yours, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our responsibility as Christians never stops. As long as we have breath in us we are to spread the good news. I am sure that some will say that God cannot use them, that they consider ourselves unworthy or unqualified.
Well guess what? God can and will use us in ways we can’t imagine. God will use each and everyone of us to further his kingdom if we just allow his will to be done in our lives. If we rely on our own strength we will fail, but if we trust in God and his strength we can’t fail. His promises are steadfast and never ceasing. All we have to do is trust in him and we can all do great things.

We read in Isaiah 41:10:  “So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you: I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” God‘s strength is available to all of us right now. I urge all of us  to take a look inside ourselves. Are we committed to the work of being a Christian? And if we aren’t, why not?
God is with us, ready and willing.  Won’t you let your loving father use you today? Allow Him to work through you to complete His good work. I can think of any no greater honor than to have God‘s will done in my life. Let’s make the choice!

steeves



 

 

THE BEAUTY OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY

THE BEAUTY OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY

Neal Pollard

There is an old episode of Father Knows Best where Bud, the Andersons’ son, has a glowing write up in the local newspaper for his star performance as his High School’s placekicker.  Success goes to his head, leading Bud to break the team’s training rules and stay out past 9:00 P.M.  His father finds out and urges him to tell his coach.  Bud begrudgingly does so, and he becomes convinced that his doing the right thing and being honest would lead the coach to let him off with a warning or look the other way.  When he’s told he cannot play that week because of his violation, he sulks and even blames his dad for giving him bad advice.  Eventually, Bud takes ownership of his misdeed, has a more humble attitude toward his importance, and even appreciates the decisions of his dad and coach to help him excel as a person more than a player.

Perhaps personal ethics have eroded to the point that many find such advice and subsequent actions preposterous and wrongheaded. The lesson was that actions have consequences and that honesty should be practiced, not for reward but simply because it is right to do so.  Trustworthiness and responsibility are the fruits of integrity and uprightness.

These principles, though unstated in that old television show, are thoroughly biblical in nature.  Broadly, the Bible praises those of upright heart (Ps. 7:10; 64:10).  Psalm 15 says those who walk uprightly, work righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart (2). It is often more difficult to do the right thing than the easier thing, but the path of least resistance does not usually lead us in the right direction.  We made each of our boys read Alex Harris’ Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations.  An overarching principle is that your choices should not be made based on what’s most convenient or least demanding.  Character is built when we have the courage of God’s convictions and do what is right, whatever it may seem to cost us in the short-term.  Ultimately, we will be better for it and so will the people in our lives!