Categories
meaning purpose

A Big Blip

Dale Pollard

A family decided they didn’t want their little puppy anymore and for whatever reason they decided to dump this dog on the side of the road after tying it in a black plastic bag. At some point there was a woman who was driving down that road and she just happened to notice that something wasn’t right. When she discovered that there was a dog inside the bag she took it to a vet and then, eventually, to an adoption shelter. One day I decided to walk into the pet store to simply look around— and that’s when I saw him. Huddled in the back of his crate, a shaggy and skinny puppy with tan fur sat quietly, while it seemed every other dog in that store was madly barking. I opened the crate and he timidly came out— there was nothing I could do. This dog was mine. I named him “Bro” and to this day he continues to provide loyal companionship and plenty of laughs. The fact is, I’ve never been more attached to another animal and I’d never even think about giving him away. 

Solomon was a man determined to find the purpose of life. In Ecclesiastes we can read about these lavish experiments that he conducts all in the name of research. In the first two chapters he writes in a very depressing manner all the while Divine inspiration drives him toward the answer to life’s greatest question. He acknowledges the fact that everybody in every generation is just a small blip on earth’s timeline. The rich, poor, wise, and foolish all must embrace the same fate. They will all die and will eventually be forgotten. Solomon is concerned that everything, his wealth and kingdom, will be left to a fool after he’s gone, and that’s exactly what happened. Rehoboam, his son, proves to be an awful king and heaps destruction on God’s people. So, what’s the point? None of it matters. Well, without God nothing matters! The word most associated with this book is the word “vanity,” which means “useless or futile.” Without God, your life is worthless and it will amount to nothing. Solomon’s discovery of this unchanging truth will remain true throughout every age because it’s a truth that comes from the Creator of life. 

It’s unlikely that not a single person on earth values your life. Still, even if that were the case, because God’s hand guides you and touches all that you do, you have everything. My dog is not an expensive pure bred beauty, but to me there is no dog that could take his place. Apparently someone didn’t think too highly of him in the past, but that mangy thing lucked out and found the right owner. Who owns you? If money owns you, you’re getting left on the side of the road. If anything in the world owns you, you’re getting left behind. If God doesn’t own your life, you’ll never find purpose or lasting joy in this life— or the next. It could be that you feel like you’ve been placed in a trash bag and the world has mistreated you your entire life. Maybe that’s crushed your confidence and taken your sense of self worth, too. Though our lives are just a blip in the grand scheme of things, God can make your life a big blip by providing you with not only purpose, but with a love far too great to comprehend. The God of heaven has given us a mission and if we accept His invitation we’re going to make a lasting mark on this world— and enjoy lasting bliss in the world to come. 

Bro today
Categories
involvement Uncategorized work

“You’ll End Up Naming Everybody On The Team”

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Neal Pollard

Quirky closer (a redundant statement) Sean Doolittle was interviewed last week right after the Washington Nationals clinched the city’s first trip to the World Series since FDR was first inaugurated there. Asked how they did it, Doolittle said, “I think once you start naming guys that stepped up in different ways, you’ll end up naming everybody on the team. We got so many contributions from different guys who had to embrace new roles. There are so many examples of that up and down this team” (MLB.COM). That’s frequently the testimonial of winners. It takes everybody pitching in and doing their part, All-Stars or role players, starters or reserves, veterans or rookies. However you distinguish between them, each person must step up and successful teams do just that!

Have you thought about how the church was designed to be that way? Congregations successful in executing the mission of Jesus are filled with members who step up in different ways, make contributions, embrace new roles, and exemplify team spirit. Paul tells us that “we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:15-16). Notice the all-inclusive wording of Paul, pointing out what Jesus desires for His church. “Grow up in every way…” “From whom the whole body….” “Held together by every joint….” “When each part is working properly….”

God expects each of us to step forward, using our talents, opportunities, financial blessings, influence, time, energy, and intellect to reach lost souls, strengthen the church, and meet needs. A church filled with people stepping up and embracing Christ’s mission will stand out in a community and glorify God. We will grow and be built up. 

In 1895, Vilfredo Pareto observed that society divided into what he called the “vital few” and the “trivial many.” There is a top 20% and a bottom 80%. From such a genesis, we ultimately got the 80/20 rule, that 20% of the people in an organization do 80% of the work (Explained here: FORBES.COM). Maybe, we’ve heard that so much that we’ve just resigned ourselves to it being a universal truth. Do not be content until you discuss the growth and work of this church, and by the time you’re done “you’ll end up naming everybody on the team.” That’s the goal! Let’s pursue it!

 

Categories
preaching Uncategorized

It’s Great To Be A Preacher!

Neal Pollard

Preachers have:

  • The greatest message to communicate (Rom. 1:16). It is infinitely better and more important than that shared by broadcasters, news anchors, and sports analysts (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18).
  • The greatest “boss” to please (Eph. 6:6-7). I have known and worked with so many great elders. I understand that they “hired” me and can “fire” me. Ultimately, though, I work for God–no greater One for whom a man could work!
  • The greatest mission to fulfill (Mat. 28:18; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:46). Doctors save bodies, firemen save lives and property, and accountants save money. Preachers save souls!
  • The greatest people on earth to serve (Eph. 3:21). The church certainly has its problems and members who hurt the cause. Yet, so many are wonderful, encouraging, and supportive! They love the Bible.
  • The greatest colleagues in the world (Ph. 1:15-17). True, some are sore tails, jacklegs, unethical, theologically radical, and theologically liberal. However, the “average” preacher (far from that) is worthy of hero-status! Remember Romans 10:15.
  • The greatest opportunities in the world (cf. Gal. 6:10). You never know what the new day will bring! Preachers get to study the Bible several hours each day, visit with Christians, set up and teach Bible studies, do mission work, preach gospel meetings and lectureships, and just have the privilege of preaching and teaching week after week!
  • The greatest retirement plan possible! It includes a crown of life (Rev. 2:10), a heavenly home (Heb. 11:16), and souls won to Christ “to their account” (1 Cor. 3:12ff).

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A few of my favorite preachers (and a couple of their ladies)

Categories
importance special Uncategorized value

Do You Feel Plutoed?

Neal Pollard

Poor Pluto. First it’s a planet and then it’s not anymore. It has become the Rodney Dangerfield of our solar system. In an award-winning move that probably did not make the “sub planet” feel better, “plutoed” was selected as the Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society in Anaheim, California, a little over a decade ago. The word means “to demote or devalue someone or something.”

Do you ever feel “plutoed”? Do you feel like people don’t appreciate you like they should? You may get that feeling on the job, when you’re working harder than anyone else and somebody else gets the credit, the promotion, and the attention. You may get that feeling in your marriage or in the home, whether you’re the husband, wife, parents, or children. You may even sometimes feel “plutoed” by the church. Maybe you feel that your difficulties or problems are being ignored. You might think your contributions or ideas are not taken seriously enough. I’m sure elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers, their spouses, along with everyone else, has to deal with that “plutoed” feeling periodically.

Will you remember a few things? First, remember the value God placed on your soul by sending Jesus to die to save it (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:7). Second, remember that God’s system of rewarding is on His time and His terms, but He will not let faithful service go unnoticed or unblessed (Mat. 6:4,6,16; 1 Tim. 5:25). Third, remember that you are valuable because of who you are, a child of God (1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:5-6). Finally, remember to focus on helping everyone around you feel valued. It’s the way you want to be treated (Lk. 6:31). It’s the right and Christ-like way to acts (Acts 10:38). And, there may be somebody out there sorely in need of being “de-plutoed.” Think about it! Appreciate the value you and others have because of the God who made it all and owns it all.

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Categories
Bible Bible study evangelism knowledge Uncategorized

Surrounded By Hungry And Thirsty People

Neal Pollard

I was a child when I saw news coverage of the famine in Ethiopia, the mass starvation, the distended stomachs, and the deaths from malnourishment. I had never seen anything like this, and I was deeply saddened by the images on the screen. If you had asked me if I ever expected to see or know about anything more tragic than that, I would surely have said no. Now, decades later, I routinely see something much more tragic. I can observe it whenever I wish, though it’s not something that ever gets easier. Noah Icenhour, the fine, new associate minister at the Mabelvale church of Christ near Little Rock, Arkansas, shared a concept with me that he read from N.T. Wright about our culture. Describing why so many are swallowing foolish, harmful ideas, whether false religion, fleshly indulgence, materialism and greed, evolution, atheism, narcissism, or the like, he says that so many are consuming these things because they are so hungry and thirsty that to satisfy and slake these inner yearnings they are willing to consume even sources that are polluted.

We are surrounded by spiritually hungry and thirsty people. They long for purpose, meaning, and value, but so often they seek it subjectively. Or they go to an improper source to satisfy these. Consequently, they squander their precious lives pursuing the wrong things, a path that Jesus describes as one in which “the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction” (Mat. 7:13). Spoken or unspoken, they are crying out for proper direction. They want their lives to matter. While the majority (Mat. 7:14) will refuse the biblical answer, I am convinced that our society is full of people who are honestly searching. They would be open to hearing the Bible’s answers to these preeminently important questions of origination, motivation, and destination.

Today, wherever you find yourself and whatever else you are doing, will you have the compassion and concern enough to look for and seek to help the kind of person I’m talking about? Let’s pray for courage and wisdom, and walk through the open doors we find. In so doing, we will be aiding hungry and thirsty souls who will ultimately go somewhere to satiate their cravings. With us in their lives, they can find true bread (Jn. 6:35) and living water (Jn. 4:14). Such will lift them now and save them eternally! May our hearts be touched enough by their dire condition that we cannot help but help.

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Categories
priorities

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!

 

 

 

Categories
elderly service worth

Profiting From A Penny

Neal Pollard

While walking down the hallway, I felt something lumpy in my left shoe. I pull off the shoe and, when I revived, I found that a penny was the aforementioned lump. The first thing I do when I find a penny is look at the date. This penny carried the date of 1964. It had that characteristic dark appearance of a well-loved penny, the shiny copper color long since faded. It had some scratches and had endured a bit of erosion.

Several things of a spiritual nature occurred to me about that 1964 penny.

It has been in service for a long time. Fifty years doing the same thing is amazing. George Blanda was still kicking a football at 48, and for that he is legendary. Others like Jerry Rice, Warren Moon, Doug Flutie, and Earl Morrall hung around into their 40s. Some of pro basketball’s greats played past the age of 40, including Kevin Willis, Robert Parish, Kareem, Bob Cousy, and Karl Malone. In Major League baseball, pitchers Satchel Paige and Jack Quinn played into their 50s.  A number of renowned pitchers made it to their late-40s. Four position players made it to their 50s, and the last guy most of us would remember to play so late in life was Julio Franco (49). It is not just sports. I regularly meet people who continue to have the opportunity and energy to bolster the U.S. workforce in their golden years.  We are living longer and healthier lives than our ancestors!

That penny continues to be spent and passed along the economic chain, having survived 13 presidential elections, an impeachment and a resignation. It was “born” in the days of mainframe computers and in the pre-moon space program era. It may have ridden in Martin Luther King’s pocket during the Civl Rights era. Still it spends. 

How i thank God for the longevity of service typified by our elders and many of our senior saints, who have worshipped and serviced God for so long. These golden, godly girls and gents were teaching Bible classes and Bible studies before many of us were born.

It has likely been used for its intended purpose wherever it has gone.  A penny cannot be substituted for a dollar or even a dime. It cannot be eaten without painful consequences. It will not text or play music. It will not work as a monocle or a magic marker. It is a penny. No doubt, it has been spent and “re-spent” for decades, with other money, for a variety of purchases. A penny is a denomination of money. That’s the value of a penny.

As I think of you and me, God has an intended purpose for us, too. As priests of God, we are to shine the light in darkness (1 Pe. 2:9). As disciples, were are to go into all the world with the gospel (Mark 16:15). Wherever we go, that’s why we’re here. We can work a job, have hobbies, play games, and be entertained, but that’s not the purpose of our sojourn here (cf. 1 Pe. 1:15-17). As Christians, we have been given a purpose as part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11). Thus, like Christ, we must be about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49).

It continues to circulate, though it can do relatively little. A penny is virtually worthless in our modern economy, but I am far from alone in picking up every penny I find (even those in my shoe!). Put a lot of pennies together and the value of what you have dramatically increases. 

You may think you have very little to contribute to the kingdom. Yet, when you join with others our collective value soars! God uses the little things from “average” Christians to do great things.

They say a penny saved is a penny earned. The penny I found may never be spent, but it has demonstrated its value to me.  Take heart!  Don’t be weary doing well.  Do what God has you here to do. Do your best whatever you can do!