Archive for July, 2022

Zero Strength To Finish?

Posted: July 26, 2022 in Uncategorized

A young man in his early twenties was invited to be a part of a fundraiser to bless children with cancer. The fundraiser asked businesses to sponsor a runner to finish a marathon race and their donation would provide for the kid’s family to help with any expenses. This young man was in great shape and was excited to accept the invitation to help. He was an athlete in college and not only did he think he could finish the race but knew he could win it. He began with a crowd of witnesses and dozens of other runners at the starting line.

“Bang!” The gun went off and so did this young man from the starting line like a gazelle. What began as a cluster of runners, shortly became him in front of the race alone. His pace and distance between him and everyone else began to show his superior strength and speed. After several hours of winding country roads, he entered a small country town where he began to hear the cheer of people. He knew he was getting close. “Just 15 minutes away at this pace”, he thought to himself.

While thinking deeply of the good that would occur from finishing this race, he was startled by some in the crowd yelling his name. It was friends from college he hadn’t seen in a long time. The young man looked back to see how far ahead he was from everyone else and thought, “I have plenty of time to jog over and talk to my friends and to still finish first”. These friends wanted to know about the race, as they all use to be athletes as well, and the young man was excited to share about it.

Each one of his friends were holding an ice-cold, health shake and convinced this young man who was feeling a little over heated that he needed to step inside to the country store behind them to purchase one. “It will cool you down and give you energy for the win!”, they said with his best interest in mind. “Let’s make it quick”, he said and walked inside to the cold air condition feeling better than he did all morning long. While inside at the counter to checkout, he sees a pair of western country boots. Not just any boots, the ones he had wanted since he was 14 but couldn’t find anywhere until now. “These boots are 75% off and the only ones left” the lady said at the check out counter.

“I can pick these up when I return from the race”, the young man thought to himself. She must have heard his thoughts because she said, “There is someone on their way now to get them but I told them the first person to pick up and pay with cash owns them.” Calculating in his head, the young man thinks he can finish the race with 2-3 pounds in one hand, no problem! It must be the Lord at 75% off. At this time, the first cluster of runners are coming along the country store road. “Perfect timing,” he thinks to himself, “Now I’m cooled down and have greater energy, I can sprint this last part of the race and still win.” He says his goodbyes, pays for the boots and drink and finds himself in the middle of the runners.

“Wow, these runners are slow paced because they are sticking together”, he thought to himself. Somehow, he still knew he could sprint the rest of the way and finish this race in first place. Within minutes he is in the lead again and can see the finish line in the horizon. The crowds have their phones out and he know’s this is his moment. All of a sudden his stomach makes a decision to rid itself of the “health shake” that he once thought was a good idea. He had split seconds to slow down and decide whether to throw up on himself or in the bag he was carrying. With the crowd’s phone’s videoing, he thought he would be discrete and fill the boots in the bag. Unfortunately, he defiled both his bag and his shirt. Slowing down to a small jog his leg muscles were now declaring a mutiny all at once. This once confident, speedy gazelle within seconds has become a shaking, weak, baby deer appearing to walk for the first time.

The first cluster of runners pass him as he is tremble-walking now just forty yards of the finish line. “Do you need help?”, the runners asked as they had been giving each other mental support the whole way. “Nope, I’m almost there, I’m good!”, he said. Except when the words left his mouth, his body rejected the lie and his walk became a crawl. That 2 pound bag became like 200 pounds. The second cluster of runners see him struggling and offer to carry his bag, “Nope, I’m almost there, you really don’t want to hold this bag”. He thought to himself he had been zero help encouraging anyone in this race, why should he ask for help now?

The final cluster of runners pass and an older man who once was in last place stops for the young man who once held the lead. The young man is now laying on the ground 20 yards from the finish line. The older man grabs the bag to carry himself and tells the young man to grab his arm to be carried. “Please, you don’t want to carry me or this bag”. The older man says, “Swallow your pride, this race is bigger than the both of us, let’s finish together.”. The young man finished the race that day with the help of an older man in last place. He learned some important things:

  1. Don’t be distracted by what other athletes are doing that are not in the race.
  2. The prize of finishing was the same for first or last place, help other racers finish the race as well.
  3. Whatever baggage weight we desire is not worth leaving the race for.

As Christians, you are in a race on earth. Not against other believers but together to grow in His likeness. Jesus can give you strength to help someone across the finish line. He is the one who invited you to the race to begin with and if you are open to it, He will send people to help when you fall. Don’t make up your own rules in this race by trying to do it alone. He never intended it to be a one person race against time.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

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No one knows all the storms you have been through but you and God. For every storm, we have an opportunity to get bitter or better. To get bitter all we have to do is identify in the feeling of temporary powerlessness. To get better, we identify with Jesus and His forever power. Can there be victims through storms? Absolutely, but there cannot be a powerless Christian. Remember many of the disciples were tortured (victims) by the world for their obedience to Jesus, but they were never without the power of His peace.

 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”– John 16:33

Let’s look at the greek translation for tribulation……

tribulation (greek word thlipsis), especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined, 

restricted, “without options”

-Help Studies/ Discovery Bible copyright 2021

Some have suggested a life without relationships is a life without tribulation. What if running away from people is not the answer but running to Jesus is? As Christians, We are all children of God and His desire is for the storms to help us grow in character through perseverance. If He wanted to stunt our growth in character, Jesus would tell us to run from tribulations.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; -Romans 5:3

Listen, as you tell others the story of storms in your life. Ask yourself, “Was trust in Christ evident through your story of the storm or is the story only about magnifying storms?”. In our story to others were we persevering there in the storm because of obedience to Jesus or did we disobey Him and run from the storm?. When we invite the outward storm to become our inward storm, we can and will fear storms. I have shared guilt of this in the past, and made emotional decisions to escape some difficult relational storms by running away in the middle of them which created even worse storms. Jesus never walked away from His disciples relationally while on the earth, even when they denied Him, and He will never leave you!

Many believe before you can conquer storms you must know the why and purpose of them. What if before we become an expert on storms, we should become an expert on intimately knowing the Savior who has the authority over them? Teaching our children to run away in the middle of storms can rob a child from growing in their knowledge of the Prince of Peace and lover of their soul, Jesus.

If some of us as parents, like myself, made decisions to be fearful in storms and we don’t own the mistake to our children of not trusting Jesus, then we could be setting our children/grandchildren up to repeat the cycle of identifying as powerless. The stronghold of bitterness could be the inheritance we pass along to our children and grandchildren.

Our children can subconsciously avoid being transparent and known in relationships, because mom and dad taught them that is where the storms are. Children can often take the fear and lack of trust in Jesus in our story and make it their own story. So maybe children shouldn’t always be rescued from their storms but learn to rely on Jesus and His wisdom to go through the storm. When our generation is transparent with our failures to trust Jesus, this next generation can be powerful and have healthy relationships through storms when relying on Jesus!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths
-Proverbs 3:5-6

Fierce Gentleness

Posted: July 13, 2022 in Uncategorized

Jesus, while on the earth, had this fierce intensity and gentleness to protect His Father’s reputation and His Father’s sheep. Yet for every moment of fierceness intensity, we find in the gospels that His fierce gentleness was the character that outweighed anything like sand over shells on the shore. “He who has seen me has seen the Father”, said Jesus to Philip, who was possibly discontent with the humanity of Jesus and hoping for a glimpse of what He deemed more spiritual, God the Father.

The “carrot and the stick” is the simplest way to explain the mosaic law devastating the land when Jesus began His ministry. The pharisees and law enforcers had built their kingdom promising reward from God for a sacrificial price. Jesus became the sacrificial price paid for everyone who believes to receive the reward of sonship in His Father’s kingdom. He revealed God’s reputation and heart in the process. During His three year ministry, those who didn’t believe they needed a savior because they thought they were really good at the law themselves, he gave more law. Those who felt the heaviness of the law and were desperate for a savior, He offered gentleness and grace.

When we read the gospels today, there is still such hope in His parables to the crowd of the “sinners”. Why is there hope? Because those reliant on Him as a savior see the fierce gentleness and grace He supplies. What happened when the audience of His words changed to the law enforcers? Fierce intensity to share how serious the law is and that only one man could fulfill it. His name is Jesus!

Equipping Disciples of Jesus To Receive, Give, and Serve In Grace,

Brandon Pollard

Tithing, Fear, and Rewards

Posted: July 8, 2022 in Uncategorized

A young father stood in court in front of the judge and faced a decision of paying child support or the fear of spending time in jail. He chose child support once under the pressure of the judge. Was this particular man truly given freedom in the court room to choose love for his family? Many people can agree that an earthly dad’s love to support his family financially is healthy. Another question might be, “Does true love make decisions based on fear or rewards?

A woman without children stood in court and asked for a financial reward for investing her time and money in her ex husband’s business. The jury decided she should be rewarded 50% of the money of the ex husband’s future earnings. When asked why she invested financially in her husband, she admitted that she knew it would pay off in the future in court. Was this particular woman loving this man or his future earnings? Many people can agree that a wife’s sacrificial love can support her husband even when there is no reward of money.

In these stories there are two sides of the pendulum. One side is fear, where the judicial law says there is punishment (curse) for not giving. The other side is reward, where the judicial law says there is a future reward (blessing) for giving. In the new covenant we find the old covenant law motivated by fear and reward completely fulfilled by Jesus and only love in the middle of the pendulum. The Bible defines no greater love as laying down one’s life for another (John 15 ). “Well hang on Brandon, if you take away fear in the church for giving and you take away reward in the church for giving, then no one will give”. To that question I would respond, “You are right, without the motivation of fear or motivation of reward, no one would be generous to the church without a motivation of love.”

In 1 John 4, we find that perfect love (Jesus) casts out fear, because fear has to do with judgement. Why would Jesus take away the curse/ fear when it comes to our financial giving to the church? Is it possible that He trusts the love He placed inside of you to be motivated without fear?

Our Heavenly Father takes care of our need according to His riches in Christ Jesus because we are sons and daughters (Philippians 4:19). If we give to the church thinking we can purchase a reward from Him then we have missed His heart of love to provide for us. Do you remember the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:28). The older son was giving his time to the father’s field expecting a reward that was always there for him the whole time (Ephesians 1:3). Christians looking for a future reward for giving to the church are often not content with the reward only being the church is blessed.

Let’s look at what Jesus did for us and why? Jesus freely gave His all and laid His life down for us on the cross. He didn’t do it from a place of fear of God but a place of freedom and love from His Father to us. Jesus didn’t love the church for financial gain, He actually drove out men in the temple who used it for financial gain and placed fear on the people. Love is generous, period.

1 Timothy 6:3-6 NKJ If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, ………who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

Galatians 2:19-20 NKJ 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

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