Labor of Love

imageIn today’s society the idea of love is thought of as a warm fuzzy feeling that you have towards another person. That’s why we sometimes hear the phrase “I fell out of love.” But if you truly look at this idea of love you’ll see that it’s not always easy to love someone, and that it has to be a choice to love someone. Now, when I was younger I can guarantee that I wasn’t always Love able. And I’m glad my parents didn’t “fall out of love with me.” Because there were plenty of times that they could’ve just said: “Ehh Carl’s being a brat today and I don’t feel like loving him.” But they didn’t. Love involves choice. They chose to love me no matter what, and I’m glad they did. Since they chose to love me no matter what, they punished me when I did wrong, and my dad used his belt when I was being a brat. I can still hear my dad before he spanked me say; “Son, I’m doing this because I love you.” And at the time I associated that phrase with a spanking, and knew after he said those words I’d hear a belt flying through the air. I never thought I’d say I’m glad he spanked me, but I am. Because it DID show that he loved me. He made a choice to love me even when it was hard for him to love me.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul is telling the Church at Thessalonica that he was “thanking God for their Labor of Love.” Sunday morning in the teen class at Bear Valley Brett Petrillo asked us what we thought that meant, and I was completely  lost. But then Brett goes on to explain that “Laboring in Love” is strenuous work.

It’s not going to be easy to love someone when they’re making it hard for you to love them. It’s hard to love someone when they’re gossiping about you, it’s hard to love someone when they let you down, it’s hard to love someone when you trust them and they break your trust and hurt you. This is when love becomes a labor. Love isn’t easy, and a relationship with anyone takes work. You have to make up in your mind that you will love that brother, parent, friend, girlfriend or boyfriend, spouse, and any other relationship you have. So the question becomes, how do we love someone when they are being unloveable? This all starts with speech.

You have two options when someone hurts you or let’s you down. First you can cut off all ties and treat them as an enemy, or second you can keep your words kind and show them the Love that Christ showed us while we were living in sin. (Rom. 5:8) For some it’s easier to show this sort of love, just because they’ve been on the other side of things. They’ve hurt someone, and they’ve experienced this Laboring Love from the person they hurt. I’ve experienced this, and I’m sure many other people have too. But if you think about it, we’ve all experienced this kind of Laboring love. God sent His Son to die on the cross for us when we were dead in our sins. That is the ultimate example of a Laboring love. If we as Christians are to act like Christ, then that makes us obligated to Labor in love with the person that hurt us. Paul said that he was “Thanking God” for their labor in love. Having this kind of love is worthy of thanking God for. Let’s make it our goal in life to Love the unloveable, and keep our words and actions towards others clean and Christ like.

Carl Pollard

Growing Through Destruction

house-flooded2

Where I live, and maybe where you do too, has received a lot of rain this year. In ways it has been great, because we don’t have to water the grass and yet it still stay green. I’ll have to admit though, sometimes it got annoying. The residents of Many Pettis County got hit hard with it July 1st. With six to eight inches of rain, most lost many valuable possessions and many lost their lives.

Bob Satnan and family were fortunate enough to come out of the storm with their lives, but not with many possessions that had great sentimental value to the family.

This isn’t the first time destruction like this has taken place, every year we hear many stories like this. So quite possibly someone reading this has gone through something very similar. If not, we all have gone through something in our lives that was a very big blow on us. That’s just the way life is. We’re going to go through some hard times, physically and spiritually, year in and year out, and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. So what can we do to change how we look at the inevitable?

James 1:2-4 says

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (NASB)

When we go through our trials in life, we need to do it with joy. We don’t literally need to be smiling and clapping as our house burns to the ground, but if we endure through our trials, and look at how we are still blessed, it just may change the way we look at life, and through that we can find joy.

I want to end with the words of Bob Satnan the day after the storm. He says…

“There were people who went to sleep last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. And those dead folks would give anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of plowing. So you watch yourself about complaining. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Adam M. Warnes

Wearing Your Colors

Seahawks fan decked out

Whether you know me personally, just through social media or have read even just a couple of my articles, you will know that I am a big time sports fan, and that I am a die hard St. Louis Cardinals fan.

To all those sporties out there, you all know too well that whether you are watching your favorite team play or not, you are going to wear your colors. You are going to go out to public places wearing merchandise from your favorite team so that others will know which team you support. You want the world to know where your allegiance lies and that you are proud of your team.

As Christians, it can be a bit on the difficult side to be that way about our faith. We are enthusiastic about what the Bible says, and we want others to hear the good news. Now, if you are like me, a lot of the time it feels like we don’t do nearly enough.

Matthew 5:14-15 says…

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. (NASB)

A light in darkness isn’t obnoxious or annoying (Admittedly, like me and my sports). It is comforting; it makes things seem clearer.

That is what we are supposed to be like, not in your face and annoying, but we need to shine. Saying a prayer with your family, or by yourself in your head in a public place before eating can go a long way. On top of that, being kind to those around you and not acting more important than them will make you stand out above everyone else. Just like a light on a hill.

Also, you can use social media. We are in a day and age that is blessed with this; it is one of our greatest assets. Use it to encourage others and be a light.

This is a big thing that I need to work on in my life. So I’m speaking to me here, but I hope this helps you out as well.

Brothers and Sisters, let’s be comforting lights in this dark world.

Adam M. Warnes

Through Thick and Thin

opie_black_eye

In on of the most memorable episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Andy is working in his office when Opie walks in with blood on his arms and his clothes all ripped up and dirty. To which brings up this conversation,

Andy: “Who did this to you?”

Opie: “Matt Merliss, he’s my best friend.”

Andy: “I hate to think what he’d do if he was your enemy.”

I think we can all agree that when we were kids it was much easier to be friends. You could be having a fist fight one day, and the next you claim that he/she is your best friend.

Just being a teenager I have already seen how easy it is to take a little thing, and turn it into something that can tear apart a friendship. Sometimes there isn’t even a problem, sometimes we just kind of forget about it, and we let go of our friendship.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, 
And a brother is born for adversity.

1. A friend loves at all times.
We see this displayed through Jonathon to his friend David (1 Samuel 20:17). The phrase “Through thick and thin” really takes place in this part of the verse. We are supposed to love our friends at all times, whether the good or the bad. This part especially gets me thinking about being a loving, but more importantly a loyal friend. As of late I have noticed how easily I can just forget about friendships, and ignore some of my friends. It is important that we be loving friends, both through the good and the bad.

2. A brother is born for adversity.
(Isaiah 35:3, Acts 11:23)
We need to be encouraging our friends through their hardships, we need to be that shoulder to cry on, because as we see in this verse, that is what brotherhood and friendships are for. We have received our family so that we can receive help, and give it.

I want to bring up one more thing, and that is, you don’t know how many lives you have influenced. There are so many people out there that receive encouragement through you just being a good friend. There are people, like me, who have a hard time talking about personal problems. Sometimes family and friends, just being there, can be the thing that gets someone through the day.

So, let’s be like kids again. Through thick and thin, through good and bad, let’s hold on to our friendships and encourage each other to never let go.

Adam M. Warnes

It’s the Thought That Doesn’t Count

Gold-deer-gift-wrapping

Imagine with me that you just gave your mom a present. You’re really excited, and you can’t wait for her to open it. As your mom is taking off the obnoxious wrapping paper that you picked out, you look over on the counter and see the exact same salt and pepper shaker that you just got her. A feeling of dread washes over you, and you look at your mom. She smiles and says “Don’t worry, it’s the thought that counts.”

This phrase is often used when you give someone a gift that either they already have, or they just think is horrible. I would like to suggest that when it comes to a relationship with God, the thought alone doesn’t count.

A couple of months ago, I met a man who said “I haven’t been to church in a while, but I still consider myself close to God.” Some people base their relationship with God on their feelings alone. This can be dangerous for a couple of reasons.

First, God gives us clear guidelines to follow. He has given us His plan of salvation in the Bible. How can we be close to God if we don’t obey that plan? God shows us how to be close to Him through His Word. If we form our lives around the way we feel instead of His will for us, we cannot have a good relationship with Him. The Bible teaches that our thoughts can lead us astray (Prov. 28:16; 14:12; 21:2).

Second, basing our relationship with God on feelings can be dangerous because it can lead to self-reliance. The man I mentioned earlier said “I consider myself.” He was relying on his own thoughts and feelings to determine his relationship with God. This isn’t how it’s going to be on the Judgment Day. According to the Bible, it’s not what we think that matters but what the Word says (John 12:48). We will be judged according to what we have done (2 Cor. 5:10). So clearly, the Bible teaches that our obedience to the Word saves us, while our feelings can lead us astray.

When it comes to gifts, it is the thought that counts. But when it comes to the gift of salvation, our obedience to God’s Word is what counts.

Carl M. Pollard

Working as a team

Longhorns LinemanOut of all the sports out there, I don’t believe there is any sport quite like football when it comes to teamwork. Every element is necessary to get the job done. Every man specializes in his specific position, and if you have one player that is not doing his job well, then the opposing team will work off of him. Every good coach looks for this one, or more men that are weak at their position. On the opposite side, the team is relying on every one of their own players to compete to the best of his abilities. The best way for a football team to win is if they work together as one.
Paul describes Christianity in a very similar way. Romans 12:6a, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.”
He goes on to talk about the various gifts each of the Christians have, and in which way to use them. As children of God, we each help out each other in our own ways, with the specific gifts that God has given us. Now, here is where our gifts get really important, in verses 2-5 we see that as Christians we are supposed to be of one mind, and of one body. We must use our gifts to help one another to be a strong team.

The opposite coach, or in our case the devil, “Prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Pet. 5:8. He is looking for the week man/woman that will tear us apart. Every element is necessary in this game, let’s work in the way our coach has designed for us. Let us work as a team.

Adam M. Warnes

“You see, He lives in you.”

rafiki-the-lion-king-25952537-800-400One of the famous quotes in “Lion King” is, “You see? He lives in you.” This is Rafiki talking to Simba saying that he is never alone, his dad will always be there with him. Simba was comforted by knowing his dad was with him. As Christians, knowing our Father is there with us should be a comfort. Unless, we are doing what God doesn’t approve of. God being with us at all times can be a comfort, or we might think it is uncomfortable because of what we are doing alone. I want to ask a question: Do we see God being with us as good or do we see it as bad?

If we think God being with us is bad, then we need to change this. When God is close we will have comfort, and Satan can’t tempt us beyond more than we can handle. In Job 1, we see God holding Satan back from taking Job’s life. God has power over Satan. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” If we don’t have God with us, we don’t have an exit out of the temptations that Satan sends toward us.

So how can God be with us? First, we see that God cannot look upon us with favor when we sin (Hab. 1:13). So we must be sinless. now I know this is impossible, but the blood of Jesus continually washes us of our sins (I John 1:7). So if we are living continually in sin, God will not be with us. Second we must build our relationship with Him through prayer, and Bible study.

This next week let’s try to grow closer to God, and serve Him better.

Carl M. Pollard

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