The Best Parenting Tips From A King

The Best Parenting Tips From A King

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Because life is brief and families expand rapidly, we cannot afford to learn how to parent by trial and error. Instead, we need to consult with experts for this crucial endeavor. But when it comes to “experts” who claim to know everything but frequently pivot on their recommendations, what do you say? I’m addressing you, Dr. Spock. No, parents can do no better than to look to the foundational truths of the Bible, and the Book of Proverbs is helpful in this regard. 

The typical metric used for gauging parental success is carnal. How well have you provided for the material needs of your children? But teaching your children to have a lasting reverence for God is more important than providing them with life’s amenities. A healthy respect for God is perhaps the best provision a person can give their loved ones. Wisdom warns us not to put too much value on material possessions. 

A righteous person puts God’s kingdom and His righteousness first in everything they do, including parenting (cf. Matthew 6.33). Therefore, parents will devote themselves to gaining knowledge and wisdom from God’s Word. As a result, these parents discover the importance of cultivating a disciplined environment rather than amassing material wealth (cf. Ephesians 6.4; Proverbs 24.3-4). And because of the promises of God, those following God’s wisdom won’t have to forego necessities like food and shelter. 

Discipline is required to achieve this goal. Although physical punishment has been utilized successfully throughout history, Parents should never use it to release anger. The word “child abuse” refers to the inappropriate use of physical punishment on a child. But spanking is different from abuse. To those tempted to “spare the rod,” we remind them that problematic kids aren’t more likely to be born into impoverished households due to a lack of material means but rather a lack of chastening love. 

The advice in Proverbs 22:6 is helpful for any parent. The phrase “train up a child according to his way” is another valid interpretation of this verse. To paraphrase, parents shouldn’t try to instill their own secular goals and aspirations in their kids. For example, parents shouldn’t stifle their children’s interests by insisting that the youngster who excels in mechanics become a doctor or lawyer. Children allowed to pursue their interests and dreams within reason are less likely to grow up as adults who walk away from God. But, if you consistently deny them their hopes and dreams, they will resent you and rebel against everything you stand for, including your faith. That is what you must keep an eye on. 

For your children’s future success, it is your duty as a parent to equip them with the necessary resources. For this reason, conventional interpretations of Proverbs 22.6 invoke the image of an archer pointing his bow. This person aims and releases the arrow. If you aim correctly, your projectile will almost always hit its target. While parents need to consider their child’s natural abilities, they need also be aware of the secular humanistic currents that may blow their child’s eternal trajectory in a different direction. 

So, what are these tips? First, begin your parenting career by emphasizing the fear of the Lord. Solomon says, “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure, and turmoil with the treasure” (Proverbs 15.16 NASB). One of the essential tools you will give your child is not a trust fund but knowledge. Solomon reminds us that this knowledge begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1.7). Another benefit of the fear of the Lord is a child’s long life (Proverbs 10.27), providing the key to sin avoidance (Proverbs 16.6) and the provision of true wealth (Proverbs 22.4). 

Solomon also advocates that parents create and maintain a loving home that fosters peace. Solomon states, “Better is a portion of vegetables where there is love, than a fattened ox served with hatred” (Proverbs 15.17 NASB). He adds, “Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17.1 NASB). Materialism is detrimental to both love and peace.  

When parents have a lot of material goods, arguments can arise among the kids. Solomon’s statement may seem hypocritical at first glance, given his vast wealth, but it’s easy to see the difference between his family and his father’s. None of Solomon’s sons attempted to usurp his throne. (Or did he somehow manage only to beget Rehoboam?) And while Solomon’s household does not wholly conform to what a godly family would be (consisting of 700 wives and 300 concubines), he still seems to have been the patriarch of a loving and peaceful one. 

Lastly, there is a need for discipline. Solomon reminds us, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13.24 NASB). Sometimes, a child’s heart harbors “foolishness” that only the rod of correction can remove (Proverbs 22.15). A parent who refrains from disciplining their child only shames themselves (Proverbs 29.15). Think of the last bratty child you saw in public whose mother or father stood silent as the child pitched a fit. The child’s cries may have been annoying, but to whom did you direct your irritated glance?  

Contrary to conventional thinking, children crave discipline. They like to know where the boundaries are. Unfortunately, many a parent has mistakenly treated their child as a buddy rather than a child over whom they exercise authority. You may not realize it, but your role in providing those boundaries in your child’s early life will return to bless or haunt you in your old age. Discipline now equals your comfort later (Proverbs 29.17). Why? Your child knows that when you discipline them that you care. When you give your child “freedom” (i.e., no boundaries), they will likewise look the other way when you are infirm and in need of care.  

The last word about discipline is that parents only have a limited window in which it is effective (Proverbs 19.18). It breaks my heart to see parents get serious about the Lord and life after their kids have already grown up. Unfortunately, parents are unable to sway their children at this age. Instead, parents are left to lament the products their earlier neglect created and the years they lost.  

Yes, Solomon offers guidance on how to best provide for a family, how best to raise children, and other aspects of family life. We can all learn from his insight. The quality of our home life significantly impacts our overall sense of fulfillment and the eternal destinies of our offspring, so it’s essential to heed the advice found in Proverbs.  

“Save Your Soul, Don’t Sell It, for That Mean Green” 

“Save Your Soul, Don’t Sell It, for That Mean Green” 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

The Bible contains numerous references to money, including earning and spending, saving and giving. The Book of Proverbs, in particular, deals with financial issues like wealth and poverty. And even though money can help, it can’t solve every problem. What you need is wisdom. So let’s begin our study by examining some of the benefits of wealth described by King Solomon. 

I will begin with the one most attractive to all of us. Riches do provide one with a measure of security. Today, as inflation is so high, most of us have to do some real belt-tightening. But inflation doesn’t impact the rich nearly as much. Consider what Solomon says about the security provided by wealth: “The rich man’s wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty.” (Proverbs 10.15 NASB1995).  

Another advantage of wealth is that it is easy to make “friends.” Though it creates a situation in which the wealthy have a more difficult time determining who they can trust, they have no shortage of people eager to orbit their sphere of influence. Solomon says: “Many will seek the favor of a generous man, And every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. All the brothers of a poor man hate him; How much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.” (Proverbs 19.6-7 NASB). 

We’ll note the last advantage of wealth is that the wealthy also wield power. “The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Proverbs 22.7 NASB1995) 

But money isn’t everything. Money doesn’t spare one from death, the great equalizer of all. Aside from that, the stock market may crash, or a catastrophic event may deplete a bank account, and then what? 

Wealth, as Paul clarifies in the New Testament, is not sinful. On the contrary, it is the love of money (1 Timothy 6.10). As a result, there is nothing wrong with attaining wealth. However, wisdom necessitates adherence to these guidelines: 

  • One must earn wealth honestly through labor (Proverbs 13.11). 
  • Avoid being a “trust-fund baby” [It didn’t help the Prodigal—Luke 15.11ff] (Proverbs 20.21). 
  • One should acquire wealth gradually rather than quickly. [My apologies to the lucky lottery winners.] (Proverbs 28.20,22). 
  • Do not amass wealth through deception or predatory lending (Proverbs 20.17; 21.5-6; 28.8). 
  • Remember that wealth is a tool you use, not something using you (Proverbs 23.4-5). 

On the flip side, Solomon offers advice on how to deal with financial hardship. Poverty isn’t always self-inflicted, but it can be! Self-inflicted poverty is something we should avoid at all costs. So, consider what lessons we can learn from Proverbs about spending our money. 

  • Some are economically disadvantaged due to their sloth. We can deny it because it sounds mean, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true (Proverbs 20.30-34). 
  • Men also waste money in the pursuit of pleasure (Proverbs 21.17). [This pursuit can include gluttony and drunkenness—Proverbs 23.21.] 
  • One can waste resources on things of no value (Proverbs 12.11). 

The Book of Proverbs contains valuable advice on managing money and avoiding financial struggles. May the Lord grant us the wisdom and grace to use our resources wisely. 

It Is What You Do With What You Have

It Is What You Do With What You Have

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

“Ah! vous dirai-je, maman” is a French children’s song born from an anonymous pastoral tune in 1740. However, this melody is so well known to us that we use it to sing three English songs: 1) “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” 2) “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and 3) “The Alphabet Song.” From a musical perspective, one might think that being a “children’s song” would make the tune simple enough for a child to plunk out on the piano with a single finger. And, indeed, in the hands of a beginner, that is true. However, one might be surprised to hear what a few renowned composers did with “Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman.” 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote twelve variations on this piece. Mozart’s composition has Köchel listing number 265 and is called “Twelve Variations in C on ‘Ah! vous dirai-je Maman.’” The melody has a length of about fourteen minutes! And no one listening to it would consider it “child’s play.” Not to be outdone, harpsichordist and composer Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach created eighteen variations on the tune for the keyboard. It takes about ten minutes to play “Bückeburg Bach’s” piece, “Variations on “Ah! vous dirai-je maman” in G major.” Even romantic pianist Franz Liszt had a crack at “Ah! vous dirai-je, maman.” Liszt’s version was short and sweet, taking only twenty-two seconds to play. But Liszt still managed to embellish the song with his flourishment despite its brevity. 

So, though it is the same song, its complexity and appeal derive from the musicians’ abilities. This truth reminds me of a parable of Jesus. A master departing for a journey entrusts his valuables to three of his servants (Matthew 25.14-30). One servant received five units of currency, another received two, while the last servant, later called “lazy” and “fearful,” was given but one. When the master returned, the servant given five talents gave to his master five more which he had earned. The two-talent servant likewise doubled his share. But that lazy and fearful servant hid the money given to him in the ground. This servant claimed fear of loss caused him to hoard what the master entrusted to him. 

We cannot ignore the original context of this parable which is money. A talent began its life as a measurement of weight. By the New Testament, the talent equaled the buying power of that weight in gold or silver. Most scholars believe that the talent to which Jesus referred was equal to 6,000 denarii. If you recall, from Matthew 20.2, employers paid workers a denarius for a day’s wage. So, one talent equaled the salary earned from 6,000 days of work! Thus, the master entrusted the “one-talent servant” with about 16 years’ wages. So then, how much more impressive that the five-talent servant increased his master’s investment by an amount that would have required the ordinary worker roughly 82 years of labor? (If my math is correct, that is.)  

Today, we tend to remove our Lord’s parable from its fiscal context to refer to our stewardship over the abilities and skills we can muster in God’s service. Or we might use talent to refer to all the resources at our disposal as we worship and serve. That it is about money is seen in the master’s scolding of the lazy servant that the least he could have done was put his talent in the bank to allow it to draw interest (Matthew 25.27). The master’s rebuke implies that the lazy and fearful servant could have still been productive despite his character flaws. All he had to do was make a safe investment of his master’s funds with the bank. See how Jesus knew about compounding interest! Compounding interest is so incredible that even Albert Einstein’s genius esteemed it as man’s greatest invention. (Granted, interest rates must be more than they are now to grow wealth. I know one fellow who only earns about fifteen cents a quarter with the current rate.) 

Elsewhere, the apostle Paul reminds us that a bountiful return follows when we sow bountifully (2 Corinthians 9.6). This Scripture is also about money. So, wealth reflects what we do with what we have. Returning to Jesus’ parable, one notes that the Lord specifies that the master knew the abilities of his servants and used that knowledge to determine how much he would entrust to each man. For this reason, Jesus could also say that God expects more of the one to whom He has given more (Luke 12.48). Please understand I am not promoting the prosperity gospel of such charlatans who play preachers on the TeeVee. If you aren’t a wealthy person, it is unlikely that God will shower you with money from Heaven simply because you prayed the prayer of Jabez or sent in “seed money” to someone’s ministry. 

No, the Lord has already given you something. Using what God gives you may be like the previously mentioned child striking single keys with his fingers. But that is okay since it is what you can do with the tune. However, your brother or sister may be capable of making twelve or eighteen variations on that tune, making your jaw drop. Worry not; their talents are not an indictment of your own. You are still capable of playing a lovely song. Therefore, it is a matter of ensuring you play it your best. Don’t do like the lazy and fearful servant and hoard your talent. Such people rob God (cf. Malachi 3.8). In these difficult economic times and times of future prosperity, God will judge us for what we do with those talents with which He has entrusted us.      

    

Franz Liszt at the piano (public domain)
If You’re Reading This You’re Probably A Camel.

If You’re Reading This You’re Probably A Camel.

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

One of the many reasons you’ll never find me sewing is because I can never seem to thread the needle. It takes a good 45 minutes of fumbling around, licking the thread, and missing the hole before I finally get it. This is because the eye of your average sewing needle is approximately 0.6 mm wide. Or a better way to describe it is about the width of two periods placed side by side. Now try to imagine your average camel that stands at over seven feet tall and weighs 1300 pounds fitting through this space that is so small a toothpick can’t even fit through it.
 
Jesus uses this exact illustration in one of his interactions with a ruler during His earthly ministry. This account is found in three of four gospels, Luke, Mark and Matthew.
 
Jesus met many different people in His ministry on earth, from those of weak faith to great faith, from those in opposition to those in support. The account in Matthew 19 stands out for a few reasons. It applies to us more than we realize. We normally don’t think of ourselves as being rich. Rich is Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos. Many of us are richer than we think. For example if you earn $25,000 or more annually, you are in the top 10 percent of the world’s income-earners. The average income in America is $56,180. In America, if you make $32,000 you are considered to be apart of the poor to near poor income bracket, and yet even then you’re still making three times more than the average person worldwide. All of this to say, we are rich. Which makes what Jesus says to the rich young ruler hit a little closer to home.
 
Matthew 19:16 says, “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” From the outside looking in, this person had it all. He was young so he had lots of life left to live. He was rich so he had no worries financially. He was a ruler so he had power and authority. While he had all of these qualities, he felt a need to go to Jesus for help.
 
The rich young ruler made many right decisions. He came at the right time (while he was young). He came to the right person (he ran and knelt at the feet of Jesus Mark 10:17). He asked the right question (“how can I inherit eternal life?”).
He received the right answer (Jesus tells him the truth). BUT…he made the wrong choice (he left the Lord broken-hearted).
 
The rich young ruler came to Jesus and asks, “what good deed must I do…?”
This question is singular. He was looking for a single action that would save his soul and give him eternal life. Sadly the action Jesus tells him to do was too much for him to handle. His riches kept him from salvation. If you live in America chances are Jesus would say to you, “How difficult it is for you to enter the kingdom of God.” May we never let what God blesses us with keep us from spending an eternity with Him.
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.

I Want To Be Happy

I Want To Be Happy

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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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).

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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DEALING WITH STRESS

DEALING WITH STRESS

Neal Pollard

A few years ago, the American Psychological Association named Denver the city with the most stressed out people in America. 75% of Denver residents are too stressed out about job and money, with half of Denverites saying their stress had significantly increased over the past year. Doctors and researchers have long connected a variety of health problems to stress, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The Harris Interactive polling group conducted this survey on behalf of the APA. Maybe the high stress levels are why so many Denver-area folks have such high octane workout routines, to counteract all of this.

In response, the Colorado Psychological Association provided some tips for coping with stress: (1) Set limits, (2) Tap into your support system, (3) Make one health-related commitment (cut back on caffeine, exercise, get more sleep, etc), (4) Strive for a positive outlook, and (5) Seek additional help. These tips are wise and useful, and especially is this true when we consider a “spiritual twist” on them. While I have found living in this area to be peaceful and enjoyable, I also know that life in America in general is stressful. There are so many uncertainties and that alone is a stressor.

Christians are best-equipped to deal with stress. Matthew 6:33 helps us properly prioritize so that we have a spiritual basis to determine what needs to be eliminated and what is more valuable. Further, we have the greatest support system possible through the church (cf. Rom. 12:15; 1 Thess. 5:11; Eph. 4:13-16; Heb. 13:1; etc.). Living the Christian life properly is a prime way to a healthier lifestyle, so long as we remember such principles as are found in 1 Timothy 4:8, Proverbs 23:2, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (I’d recommend your reading those). Who has a more positive outlook than one who can say, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21-24). That is essentially saying, “I’ve got it great, and it will only get better.” Finally, there is no better help than that which we have available in Christ. Having the help of heaven to cope with life’s uncertainties is the greatest stress-buster there is.

Whether you live in Denver or even Small Town U.S.A., you are not immune from potential stress. Yet, wherever you live, if you are a Christian you have the best coping tools imaginable. Being in Christ eliminates many of the worries so many face. May we not take this for granted. Even more, let us not neglect to take advantage of the peace found only in Jesus (cf. John 14:27).

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How Much Will It Take To Make You Happy?

How Much Will It Take To Make You Happy?

Neal Pollard

Well, according to a London survey, it takes–for the average person–about 1.5 million dollars to make one happy.  One NBC analyst says that by knowing you make more than the Joneses next door, you are likely to be quite happy.  As usual, we give our thanks to the experts.

Are they better informed than the Lord and the inspired writers? Jesus taught, “Beware, and be on guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Your life does not consist of your possessions. Jesus warns us to ward off such thinking and the selfish, covetous behavior it spawns. He is saying, “You cannot measure who you are and what you are about by checking your bank balance.”

King David says, “Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16). One might conclude from this that one, financially modest Christian is wealthier than all the worldly, howbeit financially richer neighbors. That runs contrary to NBC’s money guru, doesn’t it? What could be “better” than being financially set? Solomon says “the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 15:16).   He says “righteousness” is better (Prov. 16:8; i.e., upright character and moral living). He says “peace and quiet” are better (Prov. 17:1). He says “integrity” is better (Prov. 19:1). He says “love is” better (Song 4:10).

Heavenly standards are superior to those of earth’s sagest experts. Jesus identifies an extremely poor widow as one having more (in the ways that count to heaven) than the wealthiest citizens of Jerusalem in her day (cf. Mark 12:42-44). The world has its values turned upside down, and it seeks to sway the Christian’s thinking on the matter, too. Believe this.  Having more than your neighbor will not bring you lasting happiness, in and of itself. Seeing $1.5 million or more on your bank statement will not supply you the peace that passes understanding.  Don’t trust me. What do I know? Believe the Lord!

 

 

 

“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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