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

tempImagehquiDk

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.
“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!

lotto-484801_640

BEGGAR IN A BENZ

BEGGAR IN A BENZ

Neal Pollard

Melissa Smith contacted KGTV in San Diego, California, to make an interesting report.  She had watched a pregnant woman and her little boy beg for money at a local shopping center.  Many people gave the woman money.  Melissa happened to watch the woman, who held a sign reading “Please Help,” get into a car with a man driving a Mercedes Benz. A follow up story, a few months later, found what appears to have been the same couple driving a brand new Mini-Van that still had dealer plates.  The address for the Benz owner was an upscale apartment that rented for $2500 per month (10news.com). There are many people in legitimate need of financial help, and there are many more legitimate ways to contribute to their assistance than handing money out of a car window.

Yet, there’s an application I want to draw from this extreme case.  As incongruous as it is for a Benz owner in a fancy apartment to stand on a corner and beg, there is something more out of place.  In Colossians, Paul describes Christians as those qualified to share in an inheritance (1:12), attaining to all the wealth attached to that (2:2), partaker of all treasures (2:3), and owners of an unparalleled prize (2:18).  Do we ever live like spiritual paupers?  We do when we allow worry, doubt, immorality, fear, guilt, or any similar thing to cause us to live like and act like the impoverished world who has no access to these wonderful spiritual blessings.  We have a place in glory reserved with Christ (3:4).  We have no need to beg for the scraps the world can offer.  Let us live like the rich children of God that we are!