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attitude priorities speech

Surrounded by Orange Daylilies

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

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Brent Pollard

Driving along the highways of north Georgia and western North Carolina, there is one flower that stands out, the orange daylily. I look forward to seeing them every year. However, I recently discovered daylilies are not even native to North America. The daylily, which, despite its name, is not a lily, is a native of Asia. At some point, merchants traveling the silk road brought them back to Europe. Later, when Europeans settled in the “New World,” they brought the daylily bulbs with them. Yet, they have become so common here that among their colloquial names is the designation of “ditch lily,” since they have become a ubiquitous feature along highway shoulders and medians. Some do still plant them purposefully, but it is not necessary unless one wants them in a specific location. It is as if some unseen John Chapman, but of the daylily bulb, travels the rural countryside of Appalachia, planting these flowers. It can be bad enough in some locations for the pretty flower to be labeled as “invasive,” since it chokes out local flora.

I’ve already mentioned how I am partial to daylilies, but the world would be less exciting and beautiful if all I saw were the orange daylilies wherever I looked. I understand that other flowers are needed to complement and balance this resilient flower.  I need purple lupines, red roses, and yellow black-eyed Susans too. When it comes to the daily living of our lives, we need such variety also.  Frankly, the only constant should be the “the true bread out of heaven.” Otherwise, our lives will become as dull as a world of but orange daylilies.   Paul reminds us, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4.8 NASB). There is no doubt that the items on Paul’s “focus list” are related and flow from one another. Of a truth, we can describe God using each of those words. Even so, there remains variety, even in the ways we choose to look at God. Do I want to focus on His love? His grace? His justice? His mercy?

“Orange daylilies” surround us in our life’s journey. It is the “news junkie” regurgitating cable news talking points, especially when his or her interpretation of “facts” is different from our own. It is the brother or sister who always has something negative about which to talk, especially the injuries he or she perceives to have suffered. It is the enthusiastic fan who regales us with the latest news from his or her fandom. It is the brother or sister in Christ weaned on a pickle, unable to find joy in life. Again, we do appreciate the orange daylilies for their worth. They have their beauty.  But if we only surround ourselves with them, it chokes out the other “flowers” we want to bloom as well. Consider that also about yourself and your topics of conversation and demeanor when around others. Adopt the attitude of Christ and work to be someone’s red rose or purple lupine even on those days you only feel like being an orange daylily too.

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Categories
attitude negativity selfishness

The Negative Mosquito

Thursday’s Column: Carl’s Corner

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Carl Pollard

I have loved living in Alabama for the past two years, but there’s one major problem I’ve run into since moving…the mosquitos. These bugs are a nightmare. The one good thing about the winter is there aren’t any of these blood sucking demons.
It honestly seems like there are two kinds of mosquitoes here. You have the ones that are small enough to fit through the screen door, and ones big enough to push it open.
I did some research and found out a few interesting details about mosquitoes. For one, they are attracted to high cholesterol (If you get bit a ton you most likely need to slow down on the burgers). Two, they are attracted to carbon dioxide and can actually smell it from 150 feet away. And three, a mosquito’s average lifespan is only about 10-14 days.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you this, but I actually found an interesting connection between mosquitos and a very specific group of people. The more I learned about them, the more they began to resemble negative people. For example, negative people love what isn’t good for them, just like carbon monoxide can kill you and cholesterol can stop your heart. Also, negative people can only seem to keep a friend for about 10-14 days.
Paul, in the book of Philippians, is urging the church to show humility and to be servant minded like Christ. In 2:1-4, he says, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Paul through inspiration uses the word “conceit” (kenodoxia). This is defined as “a vain or exaggerated self-evaluation.” A negative mindset under any circumstance is vain and  selfish. We must always keep in mind that the people we are negative toward should be treated as more important than ourselves.
There is no room for negative people in the body of Christ. We are commanded to love each other, serve each other and encourage one another. Keeping in mind what Jesus has done for us, live to help your brothers and sisters in Christ.
P.S. Don’t be a mosquito.
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Categories
attitude happiness

“Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now”

Neal Pollard

When did I first know I wanted to be a preacher? I’m not sure, but I remember the day I addressed the city council in Cairo, Georgia.  I was only nine.  We were walking home from school.  Every day, we’d make the trek from 10th Avenue across Broad Street to our house on 12th Avenue.  It was a straight shot, but there was a penny candy store if you went south.  A couple of blocks south, between us and the store, was the court house. Of course, every self-respecting boy looks for shortcuts. Mine was through the court house that day.  It appeared empty to me, so I was singing the far out, new McFadden and Whitehead hit, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now.”  Just one more set of doors between me and the back door, I thought. So I burst through them bellowing, “…We’re on the move.”  With that, I brought the city council meeting to a stop and in the instant before my beet-red face welled up with tears of embarrassment, I think I saw looks of irritation as well as amusement.  For some reason, I was feeling really good that day…until that moment.

Do you ever feel unstoppable? Maybe you are bounding with energy, excited, or happy without even knowing why.  It may cause you to sing, exercise, eat, kiss your spouse, give exploding knuckles to a stranger, or pause in grateful thanks to God.  Every moment cannot feel euphoric and golden, but how wonderful when it happens.

Depression is a real malady that many people, including good Christians, experience.  Some deal with clinical depression, physiological and demanding chemical treatment.  However, some without such an excuse seem to have a hard time finding joy in their lives.  It could be because they have conditioned themselves toward negativity, constantly complaining, bemoaning, wallowing in self-pity, and being their own one-person thunderstorm.  Some seem to stand there, waiting for the lightning strike on a cloudless day.

As Christians, we are not expected to be out of touch with reality or even our own feelings.  Yet, only we can choose our outlook and attitude.  Isn’t it amazing that we are all exposed to national politics, economic uncertainties, sickness, disappointment, and betrayal, but some are resilient while others are resentful.  Some count blessings, but others court burdens.  May we, as God’s children, always focus more on what we have been given by Christ, what we have through Christ, and what we look forward to with Christ.  I tell you, it will make you feel unstoppable!

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Uncategorized

What Brings Alligators And Vultures Together?

 

Neal Pollard

Kathy and I were able to swing by the Everglades National Park a few weeks ago, near sundown.  The wildlife were very active, in a preserve that is a haven for many types of birds, panthers, snakes, crocodiles, and alligators.  As we were walking down one of the trails, we saw not only the beaty eyes of alligators in the adjoining canal but at least one that boldly ventured onto the trail.  You can imagine the respect and right of way the many park-goers like ourselves gave this scaly reptile.  I took this picture as three black vultures came boldly strolling up to the alligator.  There were gasps and fearful looks from some bystanders, most fearing the worst for the birds.  What do you think happened next?

It is very unpredictable.  Alligators are known to attack vultures, as a search of You Tube would amply demonstrate.  Vultures are known to attack alligators, too.  One is a strong, ferocious predator.  The other is a famous bird of prey, a scavenger who lives off of death and decay.  What might have happened under different circumstances, where hunger or a perceived threat or territorialism prevailed, is unknown.  Soon after the photo, however, the alligator lazily turned and retreated to the canal and the vultures returned to…whatever vultures do when they aren’t “vulturing.”

My imagination wandered.  What was this confrontation about?  Was this a game of “chicken”?  Were the vultures thrill-seekers?  Was the alligator full, bored, or something else?  Given that most alligator-vulture disputes center around vying for the same entree, the likeliest explanation is that the alligator had killed something and the vultures wanted a postmortem piece of the action.  They were likely brought together by death and devouring.

The Bible speaks of some who are like this, uniting for less than life-bringing reasons.  Asaph condemns God’s people for associating with adulterers and consenting with thieves (Ps. 50:18).  Some fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (cf. Eph. 5:11).  Some, who should know better, give hearty approval to those who practice things worthy of death (Rom. 1:32).  When you are with that companion or in that relationship, it is good to ask, “What brings us together?”  If the answer involves sin, spiritual darkness, and the spiritually deadly, maybe it is find to find a new “partner”–and not a partner in “crime.”