What It Means To Be A Christian

What It Means To Be A Christian

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

The life of a true Christian is filled with change. We learn where we are weak and try to be better. It’s kind of like a never-ending home improvement project. There will always be areas of our spiritual walk with God that could be better. Because this is the case, many religious books, sermons and Gospel meetings are created around a theme that will help us to grow. In the Church there is a plethora of information to help us in our Christianity, but I want to focus on the basics and answer a vital question. What does it mean to be a Christian?
I want to answer this question with a passage in Scripture that we may not immediately think of. We may think of 1 Timothy 1:5 or 2 Peter 1:5-7, which are great verses, but I’d like to suggest that Jesus in Luke 18:15-17 gives us the bottom line of Christianity.
It reads, “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Jesus teaches the importance of humility. You want to enter the Kingdom of God? Have an attitude of humility. He uses the example of children, and Luke even uses the Greek word for infant. These are very young kids and babies that are being brought to Jesus. So He uses this as a moment to teach a valuable lesson.
Babies show their humility in their inability to provide for themselves. Every child that is born is completely dependent on its parents and has a wholehearted trust in them to provide what they need.
What does it mean to be a Christian? It means being humble enough to admit that we need God. It means we trust in God rather than our own “power.”
Humility plays an important role in every aspect of Christianity. It helps with showing love to others, it helps us subject ourselves to God’s Word, it helps us treat others the way we want to be treated, it helps us accept the hard topics that Scripture contains, and the list goes on and on.
Do you want to be a part of the Kingdom? Make humility an everyday practice. And that is what it means to be a Christian.
#MyToesHurt
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Back before Carl was a giant. #littlebabycarl
What To Expect When You Build 

What To Expect When You Build 

Neal Pollard

The old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” seems applicable to time, place, and action. Though the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day stretches back 2500 years and occurred in a totally different culture about 7000 miles from here, it is amazing how what they faced and how they faced it is similar to our world and work right now. What can we learn from the physical building of Nehemiah to help in our spiritual building in the church today? Let’s look at Nehemiah four for the answers.

  • There will be opposition. Then, the opposition was from unbelievers who are introduced to us as those who “mocked and despised” (2:19). They will be driven by emotion (4:1,7). They will actively work to undermine and upset the work (4:8). They will actively work through verbal assault (4:2-3). They will succeed in striking fear in the hearts of some of God’s workers (4:11ff). If we can settle it in our hearts that the devil will never be satisfied until he defeats every faithful work for God, we will expect opposition to exist. The key is not to put the focus on the opposition.
  • There must be devotion. Nehemiah, who narrates much of this Bible book, shows us how you defeat opposition. You depend on God through prayer (4:4-5,8). You trust that God is at work in answer to prayer (4:15,20). You keep the focus on His power (4:14). If we can remind ourselves that “our [great and awesome] God will fight for us,” we can keep going through the most frustrating failures along the way.
  • There must be direction. Someone has to lead people to focus on God rather than His enemies. Nehemiah exemplifies godly leadership. As noted, he led the people to rely on God when doing His work. Notice that he also communicated to the leaders and workers (4:14). He reminded them of their motivation (4:14) and gave them a tangible plan (4:19-20). He also led by example (4:21-23), rolling up his sleeves along with the rest of the people. Such servant-leaders inspire and encourage success.
  • There must be action. Though their success ultimately came about because of God’s power, this did not nullify their need to work. They built because “the people had a mind to work” (4:6). The late Wendell Winkler was known to say, “Programs don’t work. People do!” Walk through Nehemiah four and observe the action verbs. You see them “each one to his work” (15), “carrying on the work” (16, 21), and “doing the work” (17). So it is today.

These were ordinary folks. They faced fear, doubt, and discouragement. They had limitations. But they “built the wall” (4:6). In other words, they succeeded in the task God gave them to do. We are not inferior to them in any way unless it is in execution. We have opposition. We can defeat it with proper devotion, direction, and action. The work God has given us in His church today must be done, but it can be done! Let’s do more than believe that. Let’s embody it!

New Horizons humanitarian assistance in Haiti

THE DAY WE HIT JOYCE

THE DAY WE HIT JOYCE

Neal Pollard

I have told this story to several individuals in the last seven-plus years, but have never mentioned it in a sermon or in print.  It was a remarkable event, one my son, Gary, and I shared with five other people right outside Boma Ngombe, Tanzania.  Gary was 10 years old and it was the first full day for one of our sons to be out of the country on a mission trip.  One of the American missionaries was driving us back from Moshi, where I had taught Bible class and preached that morning.  We were on our way back to Arusha, nearly halfway, when a teenaged orphan girl on a bicylce darted from behind a Coaster bus attempting the impossible feat of crossing the road despite automobiles going more than 50-miles per hour both ways.  Our driver did everything he could to avoid hitting her, but the embankment where we were was sheer and steep.  When she hit the windshield directly in front of me, I remember the feeling of horror that went though my head hit the dashboard almost as soon as we hit her.  Gary was sitting in the second row, behind me, and watched the whole thing.  I saw her continue to roll after hitting the road several feet behind our SUV.

As a Christian and human being, I felt anguish and disbelief at the girl lying there. As a father, I felt much guilt for exposing my son to such trauma and danger.  As a brother, I felt great empathy for the young man who had to cope with the knowledge of what had just happened and how it might effect him.  As a fellow passenger, I felt fear and shock.

To allay any apprehension you might feel, the girl survived the accident.  She broke her hip and suffered substantial abrasions.  Yet, I think of that day often.

That day, I saw how zealous some are to evangelize.  Elly Martin accompanied the missionary, who drove the orphan, Joyce, and her adopted mom to the hospital back in Moshi.  By the time they had driven the distance, Elly had gotten the woman police officer from Boma Ngombe into a Bible study and had taken the opportunity to teach Joyce’s “mom,” too.  Could there have been a better object lesson about the uncertainties of life than that?  What gave him the presence of mind to try and win the souls of the officer, the mother, and the orphan?  He appreciated his own salvation.

That day, I saw how quickly things can change.  One moment, we are thinking about lunch at the Meru Game Reserve.  The next moment, and for many moments after, we thought about the suffering of that girl, the devastation of our driver, and how it might impact the work there.  What was Joyce thinking about as she started her day?  Did she have plans?  What was she looking forward to in the days to come?  All of that changed in an instant.

That day, I saw the fragility of life.  I am still amazed that she survived that encounter.  Many, especially on that highway, have not.  My son would tell you that moment helped clarify the importance of his being ready to meet Christ.  Life, that precious gift from God, can be recalled at any moment.  While the whole episode happened in a seeming flash, the Bible refers to the end of time and earth as a mere “twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52).

How I wish that never happened!  But, how instructive it has been for me since that day.  Hopefully, undesirable moments like these can be our teachers, guiding us to look past here and now and ponder that which lies beyond, Him who is above, and those that are all around us.