A Land Where You Get Paid A Sign-on Bonus To Flip Burgers

A Land Where You Get Paid A Sign-on Bonus To Flip Burgers

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

One of the tedious but necessary items we pay attention to on the news is the economic reports. No, we do not do so out of love for money, but because we desire to be good stewards with the resources with which God has entrusted us. But unfortunately, the SARS-COV-2 virus has had quite an impact on our economy. In addition, we are coming up on the third anniversary of the pandemic shutdowns. So, it is safe to say that things have yet to return to where they were before March of 2020.  

Some industries, like the hospitality industry, have been decimated. For example, as of January 2022, the National Restaurant Association found that about 80,000 restaurants have closed because of COVID.1And those restauranteurs with an open business have difficulty staffing themselves and obtaining supplies. Here locally, I noted a combo KFC and Taco Bell franchise offering an $500 sign-on bonus in January 2021 to rectify the labor shortage. I have since read of other fast-food restaurants across the nation likewise offering large sign-on bonuses to perform what is considered non-skilled labor.  

Now, I do not call any work in which one employs himself to be beneath anyone’s dignity, despite the technical designation of some jobs as being “non-skilled.” On the contrary, these are routine jobs suitable for teenagers seeking their first job experiences or seniors needing to supplement their retirement or stay active. But something has happened because of the pandemic. Whether large or small, one factor that keeps people away from gainful employment is the CARES Act, passed in March 2020. With this piece of legislation, one could argue that our federal government incentivized the acceptance of unemployment payments that, for many, exceeded the salaries earned at jobs from which COVID displaced them. In contrast, we might point out that those states doing better economically today wised up quickly and took away those incentives to stay out of work. 

And now, we are hearing a strange new phrase on newscasts: “The Great Resignation.”2 Since there are more jobs than workers, people dissatisfied with their current occupations opt to quit. You have likely heard the real estate terms of “buyer’s market” and “seller’s market.” The former is a real estate market where buyers have the upper hand. As a result of various circumstances, there is more inventory than demand. As a result, the buyer has greater leverage to ask for price reductions from the homeowner. In a seller’s market, you have the opposite conditions. There is less inventory available. So, a buyer will pay more to purchase a house or land because other potential buyers are waiting in the wing. With the Great Resignation, the thought is that we are basically in a “worker’s market.” These job-shoppers know that employers need workers so desperately that they will do things like offering $1,000 to entice them into accepting the position they offer. 

As anecdotal evidence for this “worker’s market,” I will offer a repeated observation from my lengthy hospital stay in 2021. There is no doubt that doctors and nurses have had it rough during the pandemic. Thus, we rightly call their actions heroic. But among the nurse technicians, I heard a few of the “lesser heroic” ones talking about how they loved the current climate because they could just quit abruptly and walk down to the next hospital to take advantage of the better incentive package they offered. Before someone thinks I am being too harsh, I will tell you more. These individuals said they could bounce around, even returning to the hospitals that they had left to game the system. Their “loyalty” was to the highest bidder.  

What has this to do with Christians or theology? I will put the question to you this way. What kind of a society is born from our current environment with people choosing to stay at home and collect benefits for not working or taking advantage of desperate employers? Does this mindset end with work, or does it spill over into all of one’s life? Is there an immoral cause? Paul cautioned the Thessalonicans: “…if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” (2 Thessalonians 3.10 NASB1995) In addition, idleness poses a danger. An idiom pairing well with 2 Thessalonians 3.11 is “idle hands is the devil’s workshop.” Paul said the nonworkers within the Thessalonican church made themselves busybodies, living undisciplined lives. Ouch.  

Remembering one’s actual Employer resolves a part of this problem. Paul reminds us: 

“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” (Colossians 3.22-24 NASB1995)   

Though not “slaves” in the same sense as those recipients in the first century (most people living in the Roman Empire were slaves to someone), we see how we are fángnú (Chinese for “mortgage slaves”) today. God expects us to be industrious. Even the inaugural pair placed in paradise had to “cultivate and keep” their garden home (Genesis 2.15). A nation where people work doesn’t have time to riot, loot, play keyboard warriors, “cancel” others, or push agendas on other people’s children. We are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom first and foremost but let us not participate in those shortcomings here that create a land where you get paid a sign-on bonus to flip burgers.    

Sources Cited 

1 Ruberg, Emma. “Covid Created Difficulties for Restaurants, but Supply Chain and Labor Issues Worsened Them.” Michigan Radio, Michigan Radio, 26 Jan. 2022, www.michiganradio.org/economy/2022-01-26/covid-created-difficulties-for-restaurants-but-supply-chain-and-labor-issues-worsened-them

2 Pickert, Reade. “Great Resignation Increased in Eight U.S. States in December.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 17 Feb. 2022, 11:08, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-17/great-resignation-worsened-in-eight-u-s-states-in-december

Further Reading 

Antoni, E.J. “Paid Not to Work: How Supplemental Unemployment Insurance Benefits Decreased Employment from 2020 to 2021.” Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Public Policy Foundation, 9 Feb. 2022, www.texaspolicy.com/paid-not-to-work-how-supplemental-unemployment-insurance-benefits-decreased-employment-from-2020-to-2021/. [Click the link at the bottom of the page to read the .pdf file.] 

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By the way, this is the picture I took from January of 2021.

More About God

More About God

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

 

Carl Pollard

It’s physically impossible for us to know everything about God. Our minds wouldn’t be able to comprehend Who He Is, but this doesn’t give us an excuse to not try and know more about the Creator. When I was younger, I believed in God. I knew He existed, but I failed to grasp some very important things about God. For example, how much He cares for us. 
Matthew 10:31-32 says, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that God cares for you personally? When we pray to Him, He takes the time to listen to our problems. People pay thousands of dollars for someone to listen to them. This care that God has for us is greater than anything on earth.
With this in mind, we need to spend more time trying to grow our relationship with Him. John 3:16 shows just how badly God desires to call us His own. God loved the world. He cares for us and wants us. Knowing how much He cares for us, let’s use this to work harder in our relationship with God. Earthly relationships take work. If we love someone it takes effort to have a healthy relationship. It takes time, commitment, sacrifice, and communication. It’s the same in our relationship with God.
My parents used to say, “Remember who you are and Whose you are.” If we would understand more about God, the fact that He is our Father and that He is the source of Love, we can live right for Him. Knowing these things about the Father brings understanding. We now understand that,

A personal knowledge of God leads to

–A Prayerful Life (1 John 5:14) 

–A Peaceful life (2 Thes. 3:16) 

–A Purposeful Life (Ecc. 12:13-14)

Photo credit: Pixabay
5 Buckets For Life

5 Buckets For Life

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

We would all like to improve in many ways, but many of us are also well aware of the flaws we feel are holding us back. Those shortcomings tend to get in the way, slow us down, or even prevent us from achieving the quality of life that we desire. While there is plenty of room for improvement in my life, I have found that there is a simple way to clearly envision where I am currently, and also plan for where I would like to be in the future. 

It’s true that our burdens often come from our blessings. For example, the blessing of having a car may result in the burden of expensive bills that follow a mechanical issue. 

I believe that there are five major buckets of blessings that we all must give our time and attention to. They are the five categories that, if purposefully tended, help our lives to be wonderful. On the other hand, if neglected, we find ourselves in a head-spinning spiral of worry and anxiety. 

These buckets are: 

  1. Faith 
  2. Mental maturity 
  3. Physical health 
  4. Relationships 
  5. Work 

If one of those buckets isn’t filled with the proper content, the effects, I’m sure you’re aware, are negative. If these crucial categories are filled correctly, our quality of life will only improve. 

God is the Creator of life itself which makes Him the leading authority on the subject. Consider how He can help you in each of the five areas listed here.

Faith 

By denying self, our focus is diverted away from our negative self absorption. Putting God and others first can give you a better, fresh, and positive perspective. 

Acts 20:35

Mental maturity 

When we seek to understand our own minds and what makes us tick, we’ll be able to identify where these negative thoughts and reactions originate. 

Philippians 4:8

Physical health 

Poor health habits like fast-food diets, lack of physical exercise, and sleep deprivation only make dealing with stress all the more difficult. God designed your body to function properly when properly taken care of. 

Luke 1:37 

Relationships 

Every relationship, whether in marriage, friendship, family, coworkers, or the church, all have one thing in common—they were made by God. Thankfully, God wrote a book to help us understand who we are to be to each individual that make up those groups. 

Romans 12:16

Work 

God built us to work— He expects us to. Some choose to be lazy, and they suffer. Others choose to constantly work to the neglect of the four other areas mentioned. There must be a balance, and God knows that. 

Psalm 128:2 

While there’s a lot more to be said concerning these five categories, I hope this simplifies things and helps refocus on what really matters. 

Hopefully, looking at life through His divine lens is a reminder of Who we should turn to for everything. He has given us the ultimate assurance— and He is willing to give us the ultimate assistance. 

“I’m Begging You, Let Me Work.”

“I’m Begging You, Let Me Work.”

 Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

We take our title from the final words spoken by the productive artist, Osamu Tezuka. As I skimmed his biography written by Helen McCarthy, I came across those haunting words as McCarthy discussed Tezuka’s passing in 1989 from stomach cancer. Frankly, I wonder what Tezuka felt he had left undone. Yes, Tezuka indeed had unfinished manga and animation projects, but his oeuvre includes “170,000 pages of comic art in around 700 different titles, from single-frame comics to epic series. He and his studios worked on more than seventy animated titles, from experimental films to TV series” (McCarthy 248).  

In addition, Tezuka was a  writer, illustrator, and designer. Having seen Mighty Atom (Astro Boy—US), Stanley Kubrick wrote a letter to Tezuka in 1965 asking him to be the art director of 2001: A Space Oddysey (1960s). Tezuka felt his schedule would be unaccommodating and turned down Kubrick’s offer (Artists). Even so, the global community acknowledged Tezuka’s work during his lifetime. He had accolades plenty. Though Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, etc.) has usurped Tezuka’s title of “Japan’s Walt Disney,” biographer Helen McCarthy notes that Tezuka was far more. She suggests that Tezuka was more like “Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton, Arthur C. Clarke, and Carl Sagan all rolled into one incredibly prolific creator” (McCarthy 8).   

Was Tezuka merely a tortured artist? The artist often receives low pay and endures long hours, inviting illness and depressed mental states. This lifestyle seems especially true of mangaka and animators of Japan. As an aside, I note how many manga series I have read that went on sudden hiatus due to the mangaka’s health for these reasons. From a Western perspective, the Japanese are workaholics. In the United States, the artists would likely have unionized and gone on strike. Yet, Tezuka longed to keep drawing, even when it wasn’t lucrative or detrimental to his physical health. Since Tezuka has a son now working in the billion-dollar anime industry, it is doubtful Tezuka thought his work was his sole legacy. Yet, something drove Tezuka to keep churning out work. And in so doing, Tezuka not only shaped the “psychology of Japan’s postwar youth” (About Tezuka Osamu) but likewise “laid the foundations for the 21st-century image of a ‘cool Japan’” (McCarthy 12).  

Perhaps it was about identity? Maybe Tezuka could only see himself as an artist. I know many men who do not know what to do with downtime or retirement. These men define themselves by their occupation. This propensity is not necessarily a bad thing. However, such thinking can lead to discontentment and disappointment. If someone or something suddenly took your job from you, what would you do? Can you enjoy the life you have built for yourself through your industry? I realize I am asking deep philosophical questions that have nothing to do with devotional literature on their surface. Yet, these thoughts are pertinent to Christianity. Christianity is vocation number one (Ephesians 4.1). Thus, Christianity should be our identity. The things we do so we may eat (2 Thessalonians 3.10) are of secondary import. As long as one is faithful, it matters not if he is the captain of industry or shovels manure. We might add that our hobbies must likewise take a backseat to our Christian walk (Matthew 6.33). 

Yet, despite knowing, as Solomon concluded, that one’s duty is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12.13), we still have difficulty making an application. Even David and Asaph wrote psalms of an existential nature (Psalm 8 and 73). Perhaps this struggle results from the torture our fleshly bodies meet out upon our spirits (cf. Romans 7.14-8.1). Indeed, we wish to be rid of the flesh and clothe ourselves with our heavenly habitation (2 Corinthians 5.1ff). Hence, Paul understood what gain he had in death but acknowledged he had work to do while he remained (Philippians 1.21-22). Even so, I don’t know if Paul would have sounded like Tezuka, begging to do more work than he had already done when on Nero’s chopping block. All I know is that I hope to have a more cheerful tone when on my deathbed than Tezuka. I want to sound more confident like Paul: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4.7 NASB1995). The only way any of us can accomplish that, of course, is to ensure that we are about our Father’s business today.  

 

Works Cited 

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy, Ilex, 2013, p. 248. 

“1960s.” Tezuka Osamu World, Tezuka Productions, web.archive.org/web/20080924175809/en.tezuka.co.jp/osamu/annals/1960.html

“Artists.” Modern Japan – Artists – Tezuka Osamu, Japan-Zone.com, www.japan-zone.com/modern/tezuka_osamu.shtml

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy, Ilex, 2013, p. 8. 

“About Tezuka Osamu|Tezuka Osamu Official.” TezukaOsamu.net(EN), tezukaosamu.net/en/about/

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, by Helen McCarthy, Ilex, 2013, p. 12. 

 

9 Kernel Crop

9 Kernel Crop

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

 
Have you ever seen those little rocking horses that little kids ride? They hop on and rock back and forth, but they never go anywhere. There’s a whole lot of motion and work put in, but there’s never any progress made. Just like we don’t sit in a rocking chair to go somewhere, we need to understand how to work towards growth and maturity in our faith and knowledge.

We can work towards growing as Christians, but if we aren’t studying properly, or have the wrong mindset, our work and effort will never produce the outcome we are looking for. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” We are told by Peter through inspiration from God to “grow” and this isn’t a suggestion. It’s an imperative we are commanded to obey.

If you’re like me, this seems like a general command that can be overwhelming. If we want to grow a garden we have to do several things in order to be successful. We have to prepare the soil (no rocks or weeds) in order to give the plants what they need to grow and produce. There’s maintenance work to be done once the plants begin to grow. Keep weeds from choking out the plants, and make sure they are watered. Keep animals and bugs from destroying the plants. Make sure they get enough sunlight. And depending on the type of plant we will need to trim and cut excess leaves and stems to help it produce more produce (see what I did there?). Having a garden takes time, effort and patience.

Gardens don’t just magically appear. But there are some rare exceptions. I was burning some old clothes and furniture last year and I decided to throw some spoiled corn in the fire. When summer came around guess what I had sprouting out of my fire pit? Stalks of corn! And I got a great harvest of about 9 kernels. I ate them and it was pretty good! As Christians we will grow to a point without having to work too hard. We can learn from the lessons we hear at church, we can grow from what our parents teach us, but there will come a time when that won’t be enough. The corn in my fire pit only grew so much before it started turning brown. Turns out the roots were only surface deep because there was a sheet of metal keeping them from growing deeper. This in turn affected the produce that came from the plant. Hopefully as Christians we want to produce more than 9 kernels, and in order to grow properly we need put in the work.

Peter tells us that as Christians we must increase in grace (Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 3:16; 2 Pt. 1:2), grow in knowledge (Eph. 4:15; Col. 1:10, 2:19; 1 Pt. 2:2), and be motivated by a desire to glorify Christ (2 Pt. 3:18).

Our effort should produce results. In order for this to happen we must know the proper steps to take. We should never be satisfied with our knowledge of scripture. There’s no such thing as knowing too much Bible. We should never settle for the small amount of growth we encounter at services 3 times a week.

Am I willing to put in the work?

A Simple Way To Simply Live Better

A Simple Way To Simply Live Better

 Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

DaleandJanelledirectorypic

Dale Pollard

We would all like to improve in many ways, but many of us are also well aware of the flaws we feel are holding us back. Those shortcomings tend to get in the way, slow us down, or even prevent us from achieving the quality of life that we desire. While there is plenty of room for improvement in my life, I have found that there is a simple way to clearly envision where I am currently, and also plan for where I would like to be in the future. 

It’s true that our burdens often come from our blessings. For example, the blessing of having a car may result in the burden of expensive bills that follow a mechanical issue. 

I believe that there are five major buckets of blessings that we all must give our time and attention to. They are the five categories that if purposefully tended to, our lives can be wonderful. On the other hand, if neglected, we find ourselves in a head spinning spiral of worry and anxiety. 

These buckets are: 

  1. Faith 
  2. Mental maturity 
  3. Physical health 
  4. Relationships 
  5. Work 

If one of those buckets isn’t filled with the proper content, I’m sure you’re aware of the negative effects. If these crucial categories are filled correctly, our quality of life will only improve. 

God is the Creator of life itself which makes Him the leading authority on the subject. Consider how He can help you in each of the five areas listed above.

Faith 

By denying self, our focus is diverted away from our negative self- absorption. Putting God and others first can give you a better, fresh, and positive perspective. 

Acts 20:35

Mental maturity 

When we seek to understand our own minds and what makes us tick, we’ll be able to identify where these negative thoughts and reactions originate. 

Philippians 4:8

Physical health 

Poor health habits like fast-food diets, lack of physical exercise, and sleep deprivation only make dealing with stress all the more difficult. God designed your body to function properly when properly taken care of. 

Luke 1:37 

Relationships 

Every kind of relationship, whether marriages, friendships, family, co-workers, or the church, has one thing in common—they were made by God. Thankfully, God wrote a book to help us understand who we are to be to each individual that make up those groups. 

Romans 12:16

Work 

God built us to work— He expects us to. Some choose to be lazy and suffer. Others choose to constantly work to the neglect of the four other areas mentioned. There must be a balance, and God knows that. 

Psalm 128:2 

While there’s a lot more to be said concerning these five categories, I hope this simplified things and helped you refocus on what really matters. 

Hopefully, looking at life through His divine lens has reminded you of Who you should turn to for everything. He has given you the ultimate assurance— and He is willing to give you the ultimate assistance. 

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

“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!

 

I-N-V-O-L-V-E-M-E-N-T Equals Church Growth

I-N-V-O-L-V-E-M-E-N-T Equals Church Growth

Neal Pollard

The early church grew (Acts 2:41; 5:14; 6:1,7; 9:31; 11:24). As we read of this growth explosion, we see the key role member involvement played. Christians were spreading the word (8:4), involved in each other’s lives and in the lives of the lost around them. This is such a simple concept, but churches not practicing it are not growing. What is involved in involvement?

  • I–“I” am the heart of involvement. I must resolve to be involved. I must do my part, for I will give an account for my level or lack of involvement (1 Cor. 3:8).
  • N–“Negativity” is the enemy of involvement. “I can’t help.” “It won’t do any good.” “I don’t like working with that person.” Listen closely. Involved Christians rather say “I can do” (Phil. 4:13) and “we are well able” (Num. 13:30).
  • V– “Visitation” is a part of involvement. Matthew 25:34-46 confirms it. Non-Christian visitors, sick, imprisoned, and needy folks need it. Those who do it are richly rewarded, and those who are recipients of it profoundly appreciate it.
  • O– “Obedience” is the cause of involvement. Faithful Christians believe the commands to make disciples (Mat. 28:19), build up brethren (Rom. 14:19), and meet needs (Js. 1:27).
  • L– “Love” is the motive of involvement. Paul says good deeds, without love, are profitless (1 Cor. 13:1-3). The counsel of Scripture is “by love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
  • V– “Victory” is the goal of involvement. By being involved, we help others win the victory (Js. 5:19-20), we help the cause of Christ advance, and we aid our own walk in the light that leads to eternal reward (1 Jn. 1:7).
  • E– “Everybody” is the scope of involvement. What able-bodied Christian is excluded from the work God has given the church? Once, a man did nothing and gave every excuse imaginable. We remember how that turned out (Mat. 25:28-30).
  • M– “More” is the adjective of involvement. That is, “more involved” and “more people involved.” Has there ever been a church with too many involved? God is able to do more than we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20), and He wants to see us always trying to do more for Him!
  • E– “Evangelism” is the fruit of involvement. Active churches attract the curiosity of the community. Those involved in the church’s work naturally grow more spiritual-minded, and by this grow more bold in sharing the gospel.
  • N– “Now” is the time for involvement. What in our lives do we definitely know will change between now and the never-seen tomorrow (Prov. 27:1)? Let’s kill the excuses! Resurrect the enthusiasm! Start today!
  • T–“Teamwork” is the mindset of involvement. We’re to work together. No one man, no staff, no eldership, no group of deacons or others can or should do the work of an entire congregation. The local church is a team.

To become adequately involved, let’s ask three questions.

“What needs doing in this church?”
“Who needs help in doing it?”
“What can I do?”

Be an Isaiah, a child of God who enthusiastically says, “Here am I, send me” (Isa. 6:8)!

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I Am Not Irreplaceable 

I Am Not Irreplaceable 

Neal Pollard

It is said to have housed between 400,000 to 700,000 scrolls containing essentially everything that had been written up to its point in time. But the Royal Library of Alexandria, Egypt, was eventually destroyed. The first residential university, home to perhaps 2000 teachers and 10,000 students from the fifth to the 12th century in Nalanda, India, was destroyed by the Turks and never rebuilt.  In the heart of Germany was an opulent room, a thing of beauty so incredible some called it an eighth wonder of the world and said to be worth $142 million in today’s money. But the Nazis destroyed The Amber Room. The same can be said of Herod’s Temple, the first library of Japan, the first Byzantine encyclopedia, and countless other artifacts, buildings, and writings (via historyofinformation.com). 

How many considered these institutions and items that which would endure forever? Of course, Jesus warned that the things of this world cannot last (Mat. 6:19-20; cf. 2 Pet. 3:10ff). 

Most Christians understand that principle. We know material things cannot and will not last, being eventually effaced by the hands of time. But what about us? We rightly preach how the church needs us and that each of us fills a unique, needed position in the body of Christ (Eph. 4:16; 1 Cor. 12:18). As long as we have health and opportunity, we need to leverage our talents for the good of the Lord’s kingdom. Wherever we’re planted, preachers, elders, teachers, deacons, professors, directors, presidents, house parents, custodians, secretaries, counselors, etc., we need to give the Lord the best we can for as long as we can. 

But, no matter how effectively we are doing our work and what results we are seeing, we are not irreplaceable. What a horrible day it must have been for the church when Paul and Peter were martyred. Yet, the church continued its work (cf. Dan. 2:44). The same is true today. This will prevent any of us from feeling too big for our britches. It’s also a good reminder for the church itself, who may place too much importance on a single individual. Truly, some people leave big shoes and large holes to fill. But, it shall stand until Christ comes again. Perhaps one’s leaving a work (however that occurs) will force someone (or several someones) to step up and carry on the work. So much good can come from that!

Let’s do our best for as long as we can and trust that God can continue to work through men and women to continue his work after we no longer can!

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Labor Day

Labor Day

(Bulletin Preview)

Neal Pollard

Tomorrow, most of us will be able to celebrate the Labor Day Holiday. That means, ironically, that most of us will have a day off from–well–labor. Schools and workplaces across the nation will shut their doors and many will be off for their last “summer vacation.” Friday, an anticipated 3 million passengers took to the friendly skies to enjoy the long weekend. We can either thank Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire for being the mastermind of this holiday, both secretaries for New York labor unions who made significant efforts to recognize a day for American workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor has published a lot of useful information about this holiday, which it states was started as a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country” (dol.gov). It was a local observance in the northeast at the height of the Industrial Age, though Oregon was the first state to pass statewide legislation to observe the holiday. That same year, 1887,  Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York followed suit. In 1894, Congress made it a legal holiday to be celebrated the first Monday of September. 

In the early days, there were picnics, street parades, speeches by prominent men and women, and “Labor Sunday” which was “dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement” (ibid.). The first parade, in New York City in 1882, had up to 20,000 marchers as well as “Windows and roofs and even the lamp posts and awning frames…occupied by persons anxious to get a good view of the first parade in New York of workingmen of all trades united in one organization” (ibid.).

I find it interesting that we honor work with a day of rest and that the holiday itself has seen a shift in emphasis and expression. That’s neither a complaint or criticism. I intend to enjoy Labor Day with Kathy, taking the vacation day given to me in my working agreement. 

But, as we celebrate this national holiday, it’s fitting to recognize the hard work done by so many in this congregation. When you teach Bible classes, lead in worship, decorate bulletin boards, provide transportation to services, stock our pantry, do work on our facilities, engage in soul-winning efforts, practice hospitality, serve officially as church leaders (whether elders, deacons, or someone else tasked with some work), prepare the communion, clean the kitchen, organize the teacher’s work room, go on mission trips, make visits, handle church finances, coordinate worship, serve as ushers and greeters, host youth devotions, or the many, many other things you do, you are doing honored work. Jesus taught that greatness comes through service (Mat. 20:25-28; Jn. 13:12-17). New Testament writers honored those who work among us, Paul urging us not to “be weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) and to “always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58, NIV). Often, Scripture speaks of the Godhead working. It instructs us to be “to the work.” Enjoy the holiday tomorrow. Yet, in the general, ongoing sense, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” (Jn. 9:4). Labor on, brothers and sister!

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