Anger Danger

Anger Danger

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

When it comes to that angry friend, it doesn’t take 1,000 of them to affect you. It only takes one. 

That one friend that has those anger issues can rub off on you. Their mindset, their reactions, and their sin will all rub off on you and you will learn their ways. The word “learn” is the idea of teach. This friend will teach you his ways and you will become his student. There was a study done on the influence of domestic violence and what it can do to not just the spouse, but to the children. 

The study went on to reveal that almost 70 percent of kids that grew up watching their father beat their mother ended up being abusive to their spouse later on in life. 

We don’t always realize that we are being taught. We don’t recognize that we are a student to something that we never wanted to claim as our teacher. We must be careful of our friendship with this dangerous man, or this concern will become a reality, and we will imitate his actions and ways. 

Proverbs 22:25 says, “…Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.” If you reject the command and ignore the concern mentioned in the previous verses, you will have to face the consequence. You will find yourself ensnared in anger. Genesis four shows us the consequence of anger. In verses 1-8, we are introduced to Cain and Abel. In this account we read that the anger of Cain caused his face to literally distort. This anger drove Cain to murder his brother. Now there have been times in the past that I’ve been mad at my brothers, but never angry enough to kill them. Cain’s anger had driven him to the point of murder.  As a result, verses 10-14 show us that Cain’s life would never be the same again. Unchecked anger will ruin our lives, but more than that unchecked anger will ruin our soul. 

The Better Health Channel did a study on the physical effects of uncontrolled anger which include: 

  • Increased Anxiety 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Headache
  • Digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Skin problems, such as eczema
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

The Bible has done a study on the spiritual effect of anger, and side effects include

  • Murder
  • Eternal Punishment
  • And the loss of your Soul

The underground trains at airports and subways will run over and over all day. When many of them reach the end of the line you hear a voice that tells you it’s the last stop. Then the train starts all the way back over and does it again. With anger there is no starting over. The things you say and the things you do cannot be erased. Proverbs 28:13 tells us that the fool lets loose his anger causing irrepairable issues. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” Eskimo wolf hunters use a special technique to kill wolves. First, they coat a knife blade with animal blood and allow it to freeze. Then they stick the knife in the ground with the blade facing up. When a wolf smells the blood it comes over and begins to lick the blade with the frozen blood. The wolf continues to feverishly lick the blade faster and faster until just the bare blade of the knife is showing. The craving for blood is so strong that the wolf doesn’t even realize that his desire is being quenched by its own warm blood. The wolf is found in the morning next to the knife having killed himself because of his lack of self control. If we aren’t careful, the anger of our friend will become our own, and in the end it will cause the loss of our salvation. 

Anger can affect so many areas of our lives. We can be angry at ourselves, we can be angry at others, we can even be angry at God.  And this holds us back from our salvation.

If we are angry at ourselves for a past sin, the circumstances we were raised in, or the quality of our lives because of our own past decisions – this can hold us back from salvation. 

If we are angry at others, a brother or sister at church, our parents or our friends – this can also hold us back from salvation. 

If you’re angry at God, realize that He is the only One that can give you peace and cure you of that spiritual disease.

Don’t focus on the anger in your life, but on the love in Christ. The Love shown as men spit in His face. The Love shown as he was mocked. The Love as He was tied to a post, as He was scourged, as He carried His cross through the street. The Love shown as men drove nails through His hands. As they shoved the crown of thorns on His head…all of this and still He could look up at the Father and say, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” If anyone had the right to feel anger – it was Him. The Son of God did not go through all of that so anger could eat us up. 

Don’t let anger keep you from the peace and love that Christ has to offer. And don’t let anger strip you of experiencing eternal life with Him. 

Why Jesus Offended The Pharisees

Why Jesus Offended The Pharisees

Neal Pollard

Jesus wasn’t going around just trying to make enemies of anyone, but He was fearlessly living and telling the truth no matter the circumstances. What we read in Luke 11:37-54 is how the scribes, Pharisees, and experts on the Law were living by the gospel according to self. They looked really righteous and knowledgeable on the surface, but of course Jesus can see below the surface at what’s actually going on in the heart and mind. It seems that there are several reasons why Jesus offended these religious leaders on this occasion.

He Exposed “Surface Spirituality” (37-41). They were so obsessed with appearances, doing things to look good to others. Yet, Jesus said they were full of corruption and wickedness in their hearts. They knew how to look spiritual without being godly, a deadly condition! 

He Exposed “Majoring In The Minors” And “Minoring In The Majors” (42). He doesn’t rebuke the attention to details, but says they neglected what really mattered when making gestures that appeared to show how scrupulous and careful their religion was. True religion is supposed to stand on huge pillars like divine justice and love. Operate from those qualities and you are well on your way to true righteousness. 

He Exposed “Appearance-Driven Actions” (43-45). Jesus called them on their love of the chief seats and respectful greetings. Surely most people appreciate being appreciated, but such can never be what drives or motivates us to do praiseworthy things. 

He Exposed “Hypocritical Holiness” (46). They were good at making rules others needed to follow while not bothering to live by those same rules. Beware holding others to a standard you do not submit to yourself. Here, these appear to be their own convictions which they bind on others rather than God’s laws. 

He Exposed “Artificial Admiration” (47-51). They seemed to conclude that revering long-dead prophets was the spiritually acceptable thing to do, but they rejected and hated the greatest man in history–God in the flesh. While decorating the tombs of men their ancestors had slaughtered throughout the Old Testament, from Abel (Gen. 4) to Zechariah (2 Chron. 24:20-21)–like saying A to Z, they were actively fighting One even greater and ready to do the same to His disciples. 

He Exposed “Wicked Watchdogs” (52). Jesus’ last accusation is as piercing as they come. He says they took away the key to knowledge. They refused to enter the kingdom, but they actively hindered others who were trying to enter. They made themselves the gatekeepers to God, a presumptuous but also misguided effort. 

And did they humbly repent and change their ways when the Son of God called them out? No. Their pride overrode any other impulse, and they grew more hostile, plotting how they might trap Him in something He might say. They became more critical and vicious. They had hardened their hearts that much. The takeaway for me is abundantly clear. What do I do with Jesus’ will? Do I take to heart His admonitions and challenges, or do I allow sinful pride to eclipse my view of it? Do I dig my trenches deeper or do I allow His will to shape and influence me? I pray that I will choose the latter!

Talking About Fear

Talking About Fear

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Travis Harrison

The fear I’m talking about is not the kind that tells us be cautious or keeps us from harm, it’s the kind that fills our hearts and minds with doubt, apprehension, and anxiety. When this fear keeps us from doing things that please God, things that he expects from us and commands of us, it is a big deal. 

When preparing for this I was given the advice that we should speak about things we are familiar with.  I say that because fear has kept me for a long time avoiding opportunities such as this. I have never given a devotional before tonight. It is because of that Fear I mentioned. This type of fear convinces us of things that aren’t true.  It convinces you that you’re not good enough to get up here and speak. You are not qualified or educated enough to speak to a group of people; you care too much about what people think of you and the things you say. It convinces you that you are terrible at public speaking, you won’t speak well, or say the right things. This is my personal fear, but all of us here tonight deal with fears that keep us from doing what God wants us to do and what pleases him.

A great biblical example of this is:

  • Moses,  in Exodus 3: 8-10 when God called him to go lead Israel out of Egypt and speak to pharaoh. 
  • In vs 11 you can tell he is afraid because he says, “who am I that I should go to pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God is quick to reassure Moses “I will certainly be with you.” 
  • He continues in chapter 4:1 to make excuses to God “what if they will not believe me or listen to my voice” So, God sent miraculous signs to help convince the people. 
  • In 4:10 he basically said I can’t speak “I’m not eloquent, I’m slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  So, God reminded him who made man’s tongue, have not I?! He then said He would be his mouth and teach him what to say. 
  • And finally in vs 13 he even asked the Lord to send someone else. We should never get to this point. 
  • We should always look to God, put our faith and trust in the Lord, because fear is not from God. He is a God of love and fear does not have to consume us. 
    • We should always trust in God when we are afraid. If we draw near to God, he will cast out that fear. In Isaiah 41:10, God reassured Israel – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”
    • II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God gave us a spirit NOT OF FEAR, but of power and love and self-control”.
    • “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So, we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” in Hebrews 13: 5-6
  • Ultimately, we can’t let fear keep us from doing what God has commanded of us – we are to go into all the world to spread the gospel with everyone. How can we do that if we carry around the burden of Fear. 
  • In closing tonight, I want to ask each of us to think about what gets us out of our comfort zone when it comes to doing the will of God? Is it speaking to someone about Christ? Is it inviting our friends or co workers to come to worship service with us? Maybe having a Bible study with a complete stranger? Perhaps leading a devotional for the first time, or maybe leading singing. 
  • Whatever those things are, we should set aside our fears, put our trust in God, let our hearts be full of Love, not Fear. We should be on fire for God as Jeremy said last week.  We as Christians are capable of much more than we realize but how will we ever know those capabilities if we are too afraid to try. 
  • Philippians 4:13 doesn’t say I can do some things….it says I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • How amazing is it that we serve a God that loves us so much, and says he will always be with us, that he will never leave our side. He tells us time and time again we have no reason to be afraid. 

(From Travis’ first-ever devotional delivered at Lehman on Wednesday night, 2/16/22)

Focusing In Worship

Focusing In Worship

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

As humans we have a hard time when it comes to focusing. Attention spans seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Goldfish have an attention span of about 5 seconds. I’m convinced that mankind will one day be on the same level if nothing changes. 

While focus in our everyday lives can be a struggle, what about in worship? How can we improve our focus when we come together each week? Before we even assemble, we should be preparing to focus on worship. 

Isaiah 29:13 says, “…Because this people draw near with their words, And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”

They drew near to God with words, just like we do in singing songs each Sunday. 

They honored God with their lips, much like we do in our prayers each week. What they were saying sounded good! But, if our hearts are not in worship, we have failed God. 

Isaiah writing on God’s behalf says that their “reverence consisted of tradition learned by rote.” This word reverence is the the Hebrew word for “fear.” You may have heard that every time you read the word “fear” in the Bible to replace it with the word “respect” or “reverence.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Hebrew language has a word for respect, and this isn’t it. It means literal fear. 

In fact, the Greek equivalent of this word is Phobos, which is where we get our English word phobia. For example, if you have arachnophobia you have a fear of spiders. If you saw a spider crawling on your leg, and you are afraid of spiders, you’re not going to look at it and go, “I respect you.” That’s not how fear works; you’re going to use any means necessary to dispatch the threat. 

So we are supposed to worship in fear? YES. 

Focus out of fear and awe of WHO we are worshipping. We are singing to the creator. 

We are praying to the God who parted seas, spoke the world into existence, and guided the Israelites with a pillar of fire. We are worshipping the King of Kings, the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the One with no beginning or end, we are bowing down before the Most Holy God of the Universe. 

If we realize what we are doing in worship, we can’t help but feel a little fear. Isaiah says, their worship was done through traditions learned “by rote.” This literally means, “Mechanical or habitual repetition.” We may be physically singing and look like we are worshipping God, but only the individual and God above know what is going on in the heart. 

Isa. 12:5 “sing to the Lord.” This requires FOCUS, not mindlessly singing songs. 

There are songs for each other, and songs directed toward God. “I want to be a worker for the Lord” …do we mean it? We can’t sing “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” on Sunday when all throughout the week all we’ve done is sit down. Focus on the words. 

God would rather hear a tone deaf person who sings with their heart and mind, then a classically trained singer who only focuses on what it sounds like to them. Sunday morning worship comes once a week; it can be easy to let it turn into a mindless habit. Train your mind to focus on every act of worship. Don’t let worship become something we do out of tradition or habit. Focus on WHO we have come together to worship. 

What Does Our Face Say About Us?

What Does Our Face Say About Us?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Your heart is only a little bigger than your fist and it weighs a mere 7-15 ounces. Despite it’s small size, on the inside you’ll find a massive stadium. There are battles that take place in this stadium on a daily basis. In the movies the good guy will always win, but in this arena? It will depend on who or what is the strongest. 

The Bible gives us several vivid descriptions of what goes on inside the heart, so let’s explore that. 

How can we know what’s going inside your heart today? 

A cheerful disposition can be the sign of a healthy heart according to Proverbs 15:13. This tells us that our outward appearance can give away our interior. 

Check out this section of scripture to see that in action. 

“On Abel God looked with favor, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. God said to Cain why are you angry why has your countenance fallen? If you do right will you not be accepted? But if you do that which is not right, sin is crouching at the door” 

Gen. 4.5-6

God already knew what was in Cain’s heart but notice how He explains to Cain that his body language had given away his inward struggles. 

Cain is livid and his countenance had fallen. In the following verses Cain ends up killing his own brother because that darkness had taken over. 

While we can assume what somebody might be dealing with by observing their countenance, we can’t be absolutely sure. Some people are great at masking their inward selves but God isn’t fooled by our camouflage. 

Here are two prime examples of that truth. 

In 1 Kings 12, Jeroboam takes the throne and is now leader over the Northern tribes of Israel. In the Southern kingdom, they had the capital of Jerusalem where all the Israelites in that region would gather to sacrifice to the Lord. 

The Bible indicates to us the very plans that Jeroboam said in the “privacy” of his heart. He built his own place of worship and foolishly placed those golden calves up for his new kingdom to worship.

In Luke 16.15, Jesus will prove once again that He’s the son of God by listening in on the secret conversations of that take place in the heart. 

May we never forget that we serve a God who has a perfect and intimate knowledge of us. There might be things hidden within us that nobody on earth knows about, but it’s not hidden in heaven. To deny the fact that God can see through you is to deny the fact that we are all humans created in His image. Who is the champion of your heart today? 

Giving Camels Botox

Giving Camels Botox

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Saudi Arabia hosts an annual beauty contest for camels with a multimillion-dollar prize. This year’s King Abdulaziz Camel Festival reward is $66 million (USD). As extravagant as this prize sounds to Westerners, camels are an established multimillion-dollar industry in Saudi Arabia and a fixture of Bedouin culture. To determine a winner, judges evaluate the camelid’s posture, humps, necks, and head shapes. And, since so much is at stake in these contests, officials ban cosmetic alterations that beautify camels.  

Sky News’ Amar Mehta reports that officials have, this year, disqualified over 40 entries in the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival for Botox use. This number is an increase from the 12 Botox-injected camels disqualified in 2018. Since officials look for such cheaters and impose strict penalties on the same, why would anyone take the risk? If I were to guess, I would say that cheaters would cite 66 million reasons. If no one finds the deception, he can increase his bank account and reputation. 

As you recollect, Jesus selected a man as an apostle who was as sneaky as a Botox-injecting camel breeder. John wrote of this apostle in his Gospel. This apostle’s name was Judas. When Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with costly oil, Judas rebuked Mary for “wasting” something considered valuable. Then, Judas declared that they should have sold Mary’s oil and used the proceeds to enrich the poor. But John reveals Judas’ heart. “Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it” (John 12.6 NASB1995). 

In like manner, why do any think they can fool the God Who sees our hearts? The Hebrews’ writer reminds us, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (4.13 NASB1995). It may be that we can fool the eyes of our fellow man who likewise awaits judgment, but our Judge will reveal all our deeds, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12.14).  

Yes, God sees the Botox, fillers, and other tricks we use to look good on the outside.  So then, “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10.22-23 NASB1995).  

Sources Consulted 

Mehta, Amar. “Camels Banned from Saudi Arabia Beauty Contest after Being Found to Have Had Facelifts and Botox.” Sky News, Sky, 8 Dec. 2021, news.sky.com/story/camels-banned-from-saudi-arabia-beauty-contest-after-being-found-to-have-had-facelifts-and-botox-12489956

“Give Thanks To The Lord”

“Give Thanks To The Lord”

Thursday’s Column

Smiling middle-aged man with purple shirt and tie on with evergreens as a backdrop
Neal Pollard

I wonder if Kathy felt like she was living with Briscoe Darling and the boys (imagine them if they were talkative) through the years they were growing up. She is refined and genteel, words that are not usually connected to our three sons and me. One thing she impressed upon us was the importance of timely, thoughtful thank you notes. Gratitude, though it can be expressed with very little time and expense, is telling. It acknowledges the kindness and generosity of the giver. 

One of the elements of worship, generally, and prayer, specifically, is thanksgiving. Our songs call for it: “Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart,” they express it: “Thank You, Lord,” “For All That You’ve Done,” “How Great Thou Art,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “He Has Made Me Glad.” Though that songwriter, Leona Von Brethorst, apparently wrote the song from Psalm 100, she includes a line from Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made.” 

Five times in Psalm 118, the psalmist says “give thanks” (1,19,21,28,29). He urges others to do so, but also expresses his resolve to do the same. Why?

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS GOODNESS (1-4)

“Good” is a general word that takes in pleasantness, desirability, and beauty. The good quality specified here is His everlasting mercy (lovingkindness). The writer moves from the broad to the specific–Israel, house of Aaron, those who fear the Lord. Everyone is the object of God’s lovingkindness. The righteous freely express their thanks for it.

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS DELIVERANCE (5-13)

There is a sudden, dramatic shift in tone in verse five. From an upbeat, positive tone, he turns to thoughts of trouble and difficulty. Distress, hatred, being surrounded, and violence threatened him, but God was there for him as protection and help. This kept him from fearfulness. It gave him refuge. 

It is an amazing thing to think of all the ways and times God has been with me, but those are just the instances I’m aware of. How many trials has God spared me from, disasters has He caused me to avoid, and troubles has He averted for me that I won’t know about on this earth? Just what I do know humbles me, and it should fill my heart with gratitude. 

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS GREATNESS (14-17)

The writer turns to the Giver. He is strong, a Savior, valiant, and exalted. Summarizing God’s qualities, the writer says, “I will not die, but live, And tell of the works of the Lord” (17). Awareness of who God is for me, physically, materially, and spiritually, will drive me to grateful thanks.

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS DISCIPLINE (18)

Though it is almost a parenthetical phrase in the middle of this song of thanksgiving, it is important and an additional reason for gratitude. He writes, “The Lord has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death.” Who is brave enough to say that with the psalmist? He implies gratitude for God’s severe discipline. Hebrews 12:7-10 tells us that God disciplines those He loves and calls His children. It is for our good and allows us to share His holiness. Can I thank Him for the trials and challenges that refine me and grow my dependence on Him? Or do I just plaintively ask, “Why?”

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS PROVISION (19-29)

He uses the imagery of a city here–gates, stones, and chief corner stone. Then, he ends with a temple analogy, with the house of the Lord, festival sacrifice, and the horns of the altar. Saved inside God’s walls of protection, we are free to offer worship which He accepts. We marvel, we rejoice, we are glad, we prosper, and we extol. He has given us light. The primary thrust is not material, but spiritual. However prosperous or impoverished you are, financially, however strong or weak you are, emotionally, we have the greatest provision of all in Christ. Eternal salvation, the hope of heaven, fellowship with God and the saved, the church, strength to endure, the list is endless. 

Today, as you go through the day, why not stop and spend time in prayer to God thanking Him categorically: physical blessings, relationship blessings, emotional blessings, national blessings, and spiritual blessings. No doubt, there are things in your life right now that are dissatisfying and disappointing. You may be struggling mightily. Perhaps those are ways God is disciplining you in His love. Whatever is happening in your life, choose to give thanks and know God is trustworthy! It’s more than polite. It’s righteous!

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HEART AND ATTITUDE

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HEART AND ATTITUDE

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

Jesus was teaching around the Sea of Galilee when some Pharisees from Jerusalem saw some of His disciples eating bread with unwashed hands. They considered this ceremonial impurity (Mark 7:1-2). Mark gives a short list of examples of rules the Pharisees inherited from their forefathers and pushed as divine law (3-5). This law-making upsets Jesus considerably. In Mark 7:6-13, Jesus rebukes them for confusing tradition and God’s commandments. They were so in love with their traditions that it actually caused them to violate God’s will. 

Then, He uses that episode as a springboard to discuss a related spiritual concern. The central thought was, “The things that proceed out of a man are what defile the man” (15b). The point was probably missed on the crowd because it was missed by the disciples (17). Mark tells us that Jesus was declaring all foods clean (19), but there was a deeper, spiritual point. He makes it plainly when He says, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (20-23).

I wonder how this initially hits the disciples. The Pharisees definitely would not have appreciated it. They considered themselves spiritually superior, but context would suggest they would have been as big offenders as anyone in this. Some of what comes out of the heart that Jesus mentions is “big” enough to make our sin’s “hall of fame” or at least its “all-star” team. Wouldn’t you be quick to put fornication, theft, murder, adultery, and wickedness on the “evil things” list?

But Jesus digs deeper and exposes our hearts further. Look at what makes His “big” list with those other sins: evil thoughts (literally, harmful reasoning), deceit, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness (lack of good judgment). Before we brush these aside, consider some practical application.

What is it when we assume others’ intentions and motives without tangible evidence? What about when we have such a tainted perception of someone that we cannot be civil and peaceable, much less tenderhearted, kind, and forgiving toward them (cf. Eph. 4:32)? What of using opportunities to gossip and slander a brother or sister in Christ? What about the words we say when our pride is wounded or we feel slighted? What about a failure to be discreet about people’s situations we come into the knowledge of? 

Scripture tells us how vitally important a good, Christlike attitude is. Philippians uses the word “mind” to admonish proper attitude. A mind fueled by encouragement, love, affection, and compassion lead not only to unity, humility, and high regard for others, but it also reflects the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:1-11). It eliminates grumbling and disputing (Phil. 2:14). It shows us to be above reproach in the middle of a world that lives out the kinds of things Jesus reproves in Mark 7:20-23 (Phil. 2:15). 

If I have a heart filled with the kind of “evil things” in Jesus’ Mark seven list, how can I have the right, Christlike attitude He expects me to have? I will likely be biting, sarcastic, bitter, hateful, negative, complaining, and critical. Whatever that says about the object of my bad attitude, it does not excuse me in His eyes. He would tell me I am defiled. That means unclean and unacceptable. To see it that way convicts me to watch my heart so that acidic content does not spill out and hurt my reputation, my relationships, and my Righteous Ruler! 

Sprouting Our Wings

Sprouting Our Wings

Dale Pollard

The kit comes with everything you need to raise your very own Sea Monkeys. I remember the very first batch of these strange creatures I grew when I was a young boy. A small package of tiny brown eggs are dumped into purified water and then after two weeks they’ve hatched into real swimming organisms. That change is fascinating and it’s almost mesmerizing to watch them all dart around inside their aquarium. In the animal world the process of metamorphosis is very common and we’re not too surprised when it happens. It’s interesting and exciting, but it’s expected. We aren’t confused when a tadpole turns into a frog or when a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, because it’s natural. 

In Romans 12:2 we read that as Christians we are to undergo a drastic spiritual transformation by the “renewal of the mind.” The Greek word used for “transformation” here is where we get the word “metamorphosis” from, and that’s very telling. The idea is that the transformation process we are to undergo is not a small change like getting a haircut or getting contacts, but a dramatic and radical change. We are to have an entirely different mind, heart, and outlook on life. We have been transformed into someone and something entirely different. In the animal world there is an essential process involved in metamorphosis. If the caterpillar never spins a cocoon, then it could never hope to sprout wings. If the caterpillar leaves the cocoon too soon then it can’t expect to be as developed and healthy as it needs to be. There is a natural time allotted for the change to occur. Christians are expected to grow but not to be completely transformed overnight; we, too, have a process. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not be proactive in growing our faith, but it should be a reminder that if we’re not working toward this transformation we will remain in the same state in which we are now. That is unnatural.

Why does that caterpillar slowly climb that tall tree or take the time to painstakingly wrap itself in that cocoon? Because it knows it wasn’t meant to be a caterpillar forever. The work it takes to be transformed and to sprout the wings of a great and mature faith is a difficult process, but it’s worth it. That’s what God expects from us and He has the power to help us make this amazing change. Our prayer lives and our time spent in His Word are crucial to our development. We should let the end goal be the motivation to press on and allow ourselves to be completely transformed. One day that effort will show when we see our new bodies (Philippians 3:21) and we’ve reached our final glorious destination. We will live forever with the Savior who transformed us. 

I Want To Be Happy

I Want To Be Happy

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

I was 16 years old and I remember thinking, I’ll be happy when I get a new phone. I was 17 years old and I told myself, I’ll be happy when I get my own vehicle. I was 18 and I remember thinking, I’ll be happy when I get a newer phone. I was 19 and I thought, I’ll be happy when I get a newer truck.

At 16 I got a new phone and I was happy, until I dropped it in a hotel toilet a month later. I was 17 and I got my own truck and I was happy, until the transmission went out on the way to school. I was 18 and I got a newer phone, and I was happy until I left it on the roof of my dads car as we drove home from church. I was 19 and I got a truck that was nicer than anything I could ever want. I was happy, until it broke down on an Indian reservation in Arizona.

I thought I knew what would make me happy. I chased after the physical possessions that I thought would bring me joy. The problem that I failed to see was that phones break and trucks aren’t always reliable. My happiness would run out when my stuff would break.

People are constantly searching for happiness. Why? Because they don’t know what will make them truly happy. It’s a daily experiment that never gives them the result they are looking for. There are millions of books, movies, articles, and lessons geared toward helping us find true happiness.

“How to be happy” is one of the most searched phrases on Google, second only to “how to lose weight.” We ask this question because we can’t find the answer. Solomon asked this question in Ecclesiastes. “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity says the preacher.” The wisest man in the world wanted happiness and looked at every possible solution. He looked to money, drinking, and women. Every time Solomon placed his happiness in these things, he was left feeling empty. He finally found the secret to life: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13).

Every earthly option was tried, and none of them seemed to work. The bottom line is to fear God and keep His commandments. Why? Because God knows His creation. Do you struggle with finding happiness? Do you want nothing more than to be content? The answer isn’t found in the world. You won’t find true, lasting happiness in anything on this earth.

Happiness is found in our purpose as God’s chosen (1 Peter 2:9), in loving God (Deut. 6:5, Matt. 22:37-39), and in showing gratitude (Psa. 118:1; 136:1; 147:7).