WHAT WOULD I GRAB?

WHAT WOULD I GRAB?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

John Castillo Kennedy writes a riveting account of the fire that swept through San Francisco in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that struck on April 18, 1906. The earthquake and resulting fires, which killed 3000 people, destroyed 80% of the city. Among the dead was the city fire chief. Firefighters, unaccustomed to using dynamite to create firebreaks, caused several of the fires. 

At one point early in the fires, according to Castillo, the spread of the flames surprised people living along Pine, Bush, and Sutter Streets, forcing them to flee immediately. They had been confident that the flames would not reach them there. The author says,

“Quickly filled trunks grated up the hills. Wagons, mostly pulled by men, rattled over the rough cobblestones. Baby carriages and toy express wagons rolled along packed full with the ‘things’ people had snatched up in the flight. Pianos were bumped along the sidewalks–some went to pieces in the process. Sewing machines slipped along on their rollers with stacks of bedding and the like lashed to them. Women had their valuables on their person, or carried trinkets Gypsywise in handkerchiefs. Men wore columns of hats five-high. Some carried only a book. Parrots jabbered and scolded from many cages. Some people had blankets. Girls usually had bandboxes. Boys stretched poles between them and carried, suspended there, bundles of clothing and provisions. Once it was only a ham” (83). 

These panic-stricken people, with no time to prepare, reached for the thing that had the most practical or sentimental value to them. Something made people faced with total loss and threat of life to lug heavy items or pets or food. Many of the choices seem irrational. Perhaps they were in shock or acting in impulse. In essays and contests asking people what they would grab if their house was on fire and they could only grab one thing, they have cited passports, wills, legal documents, insurance policies, personal papers, portable hard drives, phones, etc.

I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. If I was in one of the many neighborhoods forced to flee my home with no time to spare, what would I have been sure to grab? How long would it take my mind to settle on sentimental family items like old photos, my wedding video, or the boys’ baby books? Would I be relieved if I could make it out with my Bible, though I saved nothing else?

I do not judge those folks with their bizarre, split-second decisions. For some reason, it just made me do some introspection. What does my priority list look like? What do I value most in my life and in my home? What would I try to be sure to preserve?

Perhaps the answers to those questions is best provided by my choices in ordinary, every-day actions. I want my wife, children, fellow-Christians, and, most of all, my God to see from my life that they come before the things of this world. The things will all ultimately burn (2 Pet. 3:10). It is the relationships that will outlast the final, global conflagration. I pray that my influence and example will save them from the fire (Jude 23).  

Reference: Kennedy, John Castillo. The Great Earthquake And Fire: San Francisco, 1906 (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1963). 

 

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).

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?

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!

 

 

 

Conquered The World And Left It With Empty Hand

Conquered The World And Left It With Empty Hand

Neal Pollard

Somehow, it has come down through the ages that Alexander the Great made this dying request, that he should be buried with his hands outside his coffin so that all his subjects could see that despite all the riches he had accumulated in life that he left the world empty-handed.  Artists through time have famously depicted this posture. It has been retold repeatedly.  Whether or not Alexander requested it, the sentiment reflects divine truth.  Paul told Timothy, “For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Tim. 6:7).  Similarly, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (Job 1:21). Solomon similarly states of the wealthy, “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand” (Ecc. 5:15).

While even world conquerors cannot transport their treasures from time to eternity as they make the transition, everyone will exit the world having left so many things behind us.  We leave behind so much more than our financial assets.  We leave behind memories of ourselves, encouragements either given or withheld, speech either edifying or destructive, deeds which brought others closer to or further from Christ, family members influenced either to follow Christ or abandon Him, and similarly impactful matters.  When we leave earth, our hands are empty.  We have bequeathed all that we are and have for those whose lives we touched and influenced.  They pick up our habits, worldview, pleasures, interests, and priorities.  Some day, they will die and leave empty-handed, too, passing along what in some way we gave them to give.

You may never be a world conqueror, but here is how you conquer the world.  It takes faith and spiritual rebirth (1 Jn. 5:4).  But do not simply possess it.  Be sure to pass it along.

Happiness (POEM)

Happiness (POEM)

Photo by Ying Prinyanut

Neal Pollard

What do I need to make for joy?
To beat those troubles that annoy?
Can it be bought or taken from others?
What would I get if I had my druthers?
Would I find it in possessions, investments, land?
A car that’s new or a house that’s grand?
That perfect someone to make me satisfied?
A high position to feed my pride?
When I have seen some with hardly a possession
Who know nothing of materialistic obsession
Anonymous to paparazzi and heads of state
Facing perils and diseases with no way to abate
Living contentedly, day after day
Trusting God gladly to provide them a way
Loving their neighbors and spiritual siblings
All without virtue of a bevy of things
That tells me something, I’d better take notice
Of something the apostle Paul long ago wrote us,
“Whether you have or don’t, or you spend or are spent,
Whatever you face, in life be content.”