The Window To The Soul

The Window To The Soul

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

The eyes are the window to the soul…sounds like something straight out of a Shakespeare sonnet. While this is a phrase that was around even before the time of Christ, many believe that it is from Matthew 6:22-23.

This saying is often a misapplication of what Jesus said while preaching the Sermon on the Mount. To understand it better we need to understand the purpose of Matthew chapters 5-7. Jesus is speaking about righteousness. I’m fact, this section in chapter 6 is one of the five areas of righteousness that Jesus talks about by way of practical application. In verses 19-24, Jesus is talking about money. Using exegetical principles we can better understand Matthew 6:22-23.

Verses 19-21 say, “”Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”” Now notice verse 24, “”No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” If verses 19-21 is talking about money, and vs. 24 is talking about money, what is he talking about in verses 22-23?

Money! He says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Jesus is talking about our view of money. The eye is the lamp of the body. Basically the way we view money effects our way of living. If we have a healthy view of money, our priorities will be in line with Gods. If we have an unhealthy eye, and view money as more important, our whole body will be full of darkness because we have chosen money over God.

The problem with the saying “the eye is the window to the soul” is that it has often offered people permission to judge the state of a person’s soul. It gives permission to judge others solely because of what they perceived a person was looking at or thinking. Biblically, we can’t know the state of a person’s soul simply by looking at their eyes. Only God has the ability to see the intentions of the heart. As humans we don’t have the power to condemn someone, only God has this power.

That being said, it is our job to be attentive to people. Our duty to one another in the church is to look out for the souls of everyone. Our view of money can either corrupt our priorities, or help us grow the kingdom.

Is God Frustrated?

Is God Frustrated?

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

About a month ago I wrecked my motorcycle at The Hebron Church of Christ work day. It was very embarrassing because I wrecked it in front of everyone that was there. I decided that it would be a good idea to take my bike up the steep grass hill behind the fellowship hall. I was going a little too fast and completely forgot about the drainage ditch at the top. I came over the top of the hill, slammed my front tire into the ditch, and laid my bike down. I ended up bending the highway bars into the side of the frame, breaking my left mirror off, bending the clutch bar, toe shifter and kickstand, and cracking a couple of ribs.
After I had fixed most of the issues, I then spent hours trying to bend the highway bars back into shape. I tried using a mallet, a blowtorch, a ride mower and tow strap, and even got so frustrated I ran over the bars with my truck. Nothing was working so I eventually just gave up. I’ll admit, it’s not pleasant at all to work so hard on something only to realize it was for nothing. We don’t like giving up, but sometimes it’s the only thing we can do.
Did you know there was a time that God Himself gave up? In Romans 1, Paul spends some time describing men that have upset God. In verse 18 we read that these men refuse to acknowledge God and even go so far as to suppress the truth. These ungodly men were determined to bury the truth. Even though God had clearly revealed Himself, these men refused to see it. Because of this God gave up. Three specific reasons are mentioned by Paul.
They exchanged the truth for a lie. Romans 1:24-25 tells us that these men were involved in idol worship. God gave up because they chased after lust and the rituals involved in serving false gods. God quit trying because they exchanged the truth about God for the lies of idolatry. God is the source of Truth, and we can be guilty of accepting a lie instead of Truth. The lie here is idol worship and these men placed more importance on statues and images. While we may not be worshipping a literal idol, we can still practice this today. We can worship the lie of possessions. When we spend more time detailing our truck, boat, or house than we do in our personal relationship with God, we are bowing to a lie. If we place more importance on anything other than God, we are exchanging truth for a lie.
They exchanged the natural for the unnatural. Verses 26-27 shows us the wickedness that they were caught up in. God quit pursuing them because they exchanged the natural for the unnatural. The word “natural” here means, “that which is in accordance to the basic order of nature.” Specifically Paul is talking about human nature. God did not intend for men to be with men and women with women. And yet these people knew the consequences of their actions, and chose to continue in them. Therefore, God gave up.
They chose to ignore God. In Verse 28 these men failed to acknowledge God so He gave them up to a debased mind. This word “debased” means, “unqualified, worthless.” Their action of ignoring God resulted in a worthless mind. A mind that sought after things that are contrary to God’s will. How terrible it would be to find out on the day of judgment that God wanted me, but I chose to ignore His love. God cannot be with the person who constantly ignores His existence, and so eventually He will stop trying.
Has God given up on me?

Distracted And Delayed By Baggage

Distracted And Delayed By Baggage

Neal Pollard

On May 7, Bill McGee wrote in a USA Today article about the crashed Aeroflot plane that killed 41 of the passengers onboard: “Reports from people on the plane indicate the evacuation may have been slowed by passengers grabbing their bags. Videos show passengers taking their carry-on bags with them as they exited the plane,” the AFA said in a statement. “We will never know if more lives could have been saved if the bags were left behind” (online edition, “Were lives lost at the cost of carry-ons in Aeroflot plane crash that killed 41?”).  It’s outrageous and unbelievable that people would care more for their luggage than human lives, but that appears to be the case.

In Luke 12:15, Jesus taught, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” The NASB translates the first part of the verse, saying, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed….” Watching video footage of those passengers making an emergency exit with carry-ons in hand is a rather graphic, unmistakeable illustration of Jesus’ point. Unfortunately, we can have a harder time seeing ourselves doing the same thing in the prioritization of our lives. We may be aghast at the thought that their seemingly greedy decision came at the expense of some people behind them being able to escape the flames, but Scripture teaches the devastating effect greed can have on our own lives and the lives of those we influence.

Paul teaches that such can be a “snare,” “harmful desires,” plunging men into “ruin and destruction” that pierces them “with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:9-10). It’s interesting that Paul’s inspired counsel is to “flee from these things” (11). We should consider that an inordinate desire and pursuit of material things may hurt not only ourselves, but the people that come along behind us. That includes our children, grandchildren, and the other people who are guided by our influence and example. They are watching what we value most and what has our greatest attention and affection. We may not be caught on camera, but God sees it with perfect, all-seeing eyes. 

Let’s be careful not to allow this world to cloud our judgment, making the things of this world more important than souls or the will of the Lord. The stakes are higher than whether we exit an airplane alive. It’s about how we leave this world and enter the next one.

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CHECK THOSE LOTTERY NUMBERS CLOSELY!

CHECK THOSE LOTTERY NUMBERS CLOSELY!

Neal Pollard

Today, we are finding out that three winning lottery tickets were sold in the record-setting Powerball jackpot, one in California, one in Florida, and one in Tennessee. Each ticket is worth $528.8 million dollars. That’s an attention-getting number.  Here are a few more.  $70.1 billion dollars, the amount Americans spend on lottery tickets every year (more than Americans spend on sports tickets, books, video games, movies, and music combined). $755. That’s the average per-capita spend on lottery tickets in South Dakota. $800. That’s the per-capita spend in Rhode Island, who holds the ignominious distinction of leading the nation in this category. $230. That’s the per-capita average spend of every man, woman, and child in the 43 states where the lottery is played. One-third and one-half.  The poorest third of households buy half of all lottery tickets (statistics via theatlantic.com, Derek Thompson, “Lotteries: America’s $70 Billion Shame”).

Newscasters often report on these jackpots and encourage viewers to “check the numbers.” Lottery commercials often vie with beer commercials as some of the more humorous, clever ones to be seen. In the media and public venues, lottery ticket purchasing is usually portrayed as a harmless, even exciting, diversion. Perhaps many have failed to look more closely at what these other numbers mean for a person’s ethics and morality.

John A. Hobson, in the January 1905 edition of International Journal of Ethics, examined “The Ethics Of Gambling.” In an examination of gambling, including lottery contests, Hobson observes:

Gambling involves the denial of all system in the appointment
of property: it plunges the mind in a world of anarchy where
things come upon one, and pass from one miraculously. It does
not so manifestly sin against the canons of justice as do other
bad modes of transfer, theft, fraud, sweating (sic.), for every one
is said to have an equal chance; but it inflicts a graver damage
on the intellect. Based as it is on an organised rejection of all
reason as a factor, it removes its devotees into a positive atmosphere
of miracles, and generates an emotional excitement that inhibits
those checks which reason more or less contrives to place upon
emotional extravagances. The essence of gambling consists in
an abandonment of reason, an inhibition of the factors of human
control (Vol. 15, No. 2, 138).

Hobson was looking at the underlying psyche of those so eager to gain as much as possible while exerting as little effort as possible. But he decries more than laziness. He puts his finger on the most dangerous aspect of things like playing the lottery—the Bible calls it “covetousness.” It is an irrational, often compulsive, attempt to obtain wealth.

The BDAG lexicon defines the covetous person as “one who desires to have more than is due, a greedy person, whose ways are judged to be extremely sinful by Christians and many others. In Hellenic society this was a violation of the basic principle of proportion and contrary to the idea of beneficent concern for the citizenry” (Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature 2000 : n. pag. Print.). Greed is not confined to practices like playing the lottery, but it is legitimate for one to ask what motivates their play?

What is clear is what Scripture says about covetousness: it prevents one’s inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10), it is idolatry which again prevents inheriting this kingdom (Eph. 5:5), it is a failure to love one’s neighbor (Rom. 13:9), and it is a defilement of the heart (Mark 7:22). Let’s make sure that greed and covetousness do not “have our number.”

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“WINNING THE LOTTERY”

“WINNING THE LOTTERY”

Neal Pollard

One of the most recent lottery winners, Jesus Davila, Jr., has an interesting backstory.  He once spent 12 years behind bars for the manufacturing and selling of cocaine, a felony.  This week, he claimed $127 million after taxes.  Sounds like a rags to riches kind of story, doesn’t it?  It is interesting, and not a little sad, to read about some past winners of the lottery:

  • Ibi Roncaioli was murdered by her husband after giving $2 million of her $5 million dollar prize to a secret child she’d had with another man (businessinsider.com).
  • Evelyn Adams won twice, in 1985 and 1986, winning a total of $5.4 million. She gambled it away in Atlantic City and lives in a trailer park today (ibid.).
  • Willie Hurt won $3.1 million in 1989, but spent it all on a horrible crack addiction, divorced his wife, lost custody of his children, and was charged with attempted murder (ibid.).
  • Victoria Zell won $11 million in 2001, but went to prison convicted of a drug and alcohol-induced car collision that killed one and paralyzed another (theatlantic.com).
  • Abraham Shakespeare won $31 million in 2006. He disappeared in 2009, after having spent most of his fortune. He was found under a concrete slab in 2010, a woman accused of fleecing him for nearly $2 million charged with his murder (ibid.).
  • Jack Whittaker, already wealthy when he won $314 million in 2002, suffered too many calamities to mention here, but they include the death of his granddaughter and daughter and being sued for writing bounced checks to casinos. He was quoted as saying, “I wish I’d torn that ticket up” (ibid.).
  • Bud Post won $16.2 million, but squandered it.  His brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to try and kill him. He died of respiratory failure in 2006, living on $450 a month and food stamps. He once said, “I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare” (cleveland.com).
  • Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million in 1996. In 2005, he was kidnapped, robbed and murdered by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend (ibid.).

To say there are mountains of additional, equally pitiful stories is to understate the matter.  Certainly, not every one who wins the lottery winds up on skid row or in the morgue because of it.  Yet, neither is it the panacea one might believe it to be.  How many others, who can ill afford to play, squander money on a regular basis in the hopes of striking it rich?  The overwhelming majority will never achieve that, but even many that do wind up worse than before they won.

In the ever-elusive search for happiness and satisfaction, mankind will come up empty when looking to material things for the answer.  Jesus taught that it’s a hollow pursuit (Mat. 6:19).  Paul says not “to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17).  Jesus warned that your life does not consist of your possessions, even if you have an abundance of them (Lk. 12:15).  The good news is that there is a true treasure, one that never disappoints, that never depletes, and will never go away.  Peter calls it “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you…” (1 Pet. 1:4).  Strive to “win” that!

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