Giving Away Your Wedding Ring

Neal Pollard

Brooklin Yazzle, a Mesa, Arizona, wife and mother, apparently handed out her wedding ring with the Halloween candy last week.  She had taken off her ring and put it in a candy jar to help her children carve pumpkins.  Later, things got hectic and she absentmindedly dumped her ring along with the candy into a candy bag to give to children.  Complicating things, among her treats were plastic rings.  She has made an appeal through the news to get it back, stating that while it isn’t worth much monetarily it has great sentimental value (FOX News).

Many of us can relate to such a mindless blunder.  To my everlasting chagrin, I lost my wife’s High School class ring back while we were dating (she married me anyway!).  It is not uncommon for a person to remove their wedding ring to work or play, but removing it in such cases is to protect it from harm or loss.

The American Community Survey and the Daily Beast collaborated to provide a list of the “Divorce Capitals of the U.S.”  The ignominious top ten list, from “top” to bottom, is: (1) Panama City, FL, (2) Sierra Vista, AZ, (3) Charleston, WV, (4) Medford, OR, (5) Reno, NV, (6) Deltona, FL, (7) Pueblo, CO, (8) Palm Bay, FL, (9) Jacksonville, FL, and (10) Grand Junction, CO. In six states, the divorce rate is between 12.64-14.35% per 1,000 people, age 15 and older (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, and Oklahoma). Yet, the best of states still average 6.05-7.65% (Ashley Reich, The Huffington Post, 11/4/13).

This survey is but an example of a trend that is only tempered by a falling marriage rate, as more and more couples are living together without the sanctity of marriage. It shows that the dissolution of marriage is not confined to one area of the country, or more like in a “Red” or “Blue” state.  Are there steps we can take to keep our wedding rings?

  • Spend time together.
  • Have shared interests.
  • Focus on pleasing your spouse more than being pleased by him/her.
  • Make marriage a priority, not an afterthought or a “no thought.”
  • Make spiritual investments together (devotions, prayer, serving, etc.).
  • Spend time with couples whose marriages are healthy and happy.
  • Practice hospitality together.
  • Keep romance alive.
  • Keep Christ King of your home.
  • Avoid pettiness.

This list is not exhaustive, but it already gives all of us areas to work on and improve in.  We should remember God’s feelings, who said, “I hate divorce” (Mal. 2:16). Let’s hold on to our wedding rings!

“MY BROTHER SHOT ME!”

Neal Pollard

My sons have had some notable incidents involving guns, particularly the air-soft variety.  While these all are thankfully memories from the past, they continued a less than proud tradition from their father.  I have stories involving my BB gun, easter eggs set on a fence, and a custom van parked in the next yard, “old west shootouts” involving BB guns and all our neighborhood buddies (including the loss of at least one permanent tooth), and one other BB gun story that stands out in my mind more than any other.  It was shortly after the easter eggs incident, and my brother and I were playing cowboys and Indians on a warm Spring Sunday afternoon.  It had been a tough week for Brent, not yet school-aged. Just a few days before he was climbing on a stair rail, lost his grip, and fell head first onto the concrete.  He had recuperated enough from that to be outside with me.

Our shoutout rules were typical.  If you got shot, you had to fall down and play dead for 10 seconds. Then, you got back up and resumed action. Brent had a cool toy flintlock pistol. I had my trusty BB gun in hand. As I recall, Brent came running around the house right into my ambush.  I cried out, “Bang, bang, bang!” He fell to the ground and got up crying.  He was bleeding under his eye and had a frightening gash.  We both had great imaginations, but not that great!

Our parents heard the commotion and Brent told them, “Neal shot me!”  That was sufficient investigation, given that the concussion and the easter egg incident were both fresh on their minds.  Dad took my Daisy and in an incredible show of strength ended its functional use with a single application to his knee.  A spanking quickly followed.  Meanwhile, Mom had done triage on Brent enough to ascertain one additional fact.  I had only pretended to shoot him (the Daisy was not loaded) and Brent fell on the sight of that pistol and produced that gash.  Dad felt terrible and apologized to me before taking Brent to get stitches.  Of course, with my checkered past with my low-powered air gun, I was not very incensed.

Since I have “grown up,” I have drawn my own conclusions without having all the facts.  I have done this with my sons, and I have done it with my wife.  I have done this at times with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I was sure I had all the facts and I reacted.  More than once, I’ve felt the regret of being hasty and premature.

When that brother or sister seems cold, distant, or unfriendly, they may simply be having a terrible day or dealing with an incredibly heavy burden.  When it seems that son or daughter has misbehaved, take the time to ascertain all the facts before reacting.  When  in a spousal spat, stave off assumptions, perceptions, and prejudices that may lead you to a hasty, false conclusion.

How many have fallen prey to “friendly fire” from loved ones? Be careful not to accidentally shoot first and ask questions later.  If you do, have the humility to admit your mistake and make it right!  If we can, we should avoid a “shoot out.” If we must, then we must fight fair!

Conquered The World And Left It With Empty Hand

Neal Pollard

Somehow, it has come down through the ages that Alexander the Great made this dying request, that he should be buried with his hands outside his coffin so that all his subjects could see that despite all the riches he had accumulated in life that he left the world empty-handed.  Artists through time have famously depicted this posture. It has been retold repeatedly.  Whether or not Alexander requested it, the sentiment reflects divine truth.  Paul told Timothy, “For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Tim. 6:7).  Similarly, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (Job 1:21). Solomon similarly states of the wealthy, “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand” (Ecc. 5:15).

While even world conquerors cannot transport their treasures from time to eternity as they make the transition, everyone will exit the world having left so many things behind us.  We leave behind so much more than our financial assets.  We leave behind memories of ourselves, encouragements either given or withheld, speech either edifying or destructive, deeds which brought others closer to or further from Christ, family members influenced either to follow Christ or abandon Him, and similarly impactful matters.  When we leave earth, our hands are empty.  We have bequeathed all that we are and have for those whose lives we touched and influenced.  They pick up our habits, worldview, pleasures, interests, and priorities.  Some day, they will die and leave empty-handed, too, passing along what in some way we gave them to give.

You may never be a world conqueror, but here is how you conquer the world.  It takes faith and spiritual rebirth (1 Jn. 5:4).  But do not simply possess it.  Be sure to pass it along.

Would You Let Your Kids Sit On The Goat?

Neal Pollard

Have you heard about a “goat situation” in Oklahoma City that, well, stinks?  Members of a Satanic Temple there want a 7-foot Satanists’ statue to be placed at the capitol building right next to a monument of the 10 commandments.  The group submitted to a panel with oversight of the capitol grounds “an artist’s rendering that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that’s often used as a symbol of the occult. In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him” (via Huffington Post, Sean Murphy, 1/6/14). Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves added, “”The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation” (ibid.).

I first heard about this from one of our local news networks, reporting on the story.  They were aghast and appalled at the very idea, especially the thought that this would potentially be a place where children could sit on Satan’s lap.  While I wholeheartedly agree that even the idea is disturbing, we as parents need to make sure we do not, in our negligence, allow our kids to figuratively do such.

That means being plugged into our kids’ social media (they are abandoning Facebook for other forms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, by the way), knowing who their friends are and something of their friends’ character, safeguarding our homes from ways Satan gets in (TV, computer, movies, phone, etc.), and modeling proper and biblical values as parents.  It also means arming them, encouraging and sharing Bible study, prayer, and Christian service with them.  It is about setting our affections on things above, not on things of the world (Col. 3:1-2).  It is about being transformed and not conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1-2).

While most everyone would never set their children in that creepy Satan statue, are we, through their wardrobe, activities, friends, priorities, and the like, doing what is tantamount to that?  God has entrusted us with an eternal stewardship—our children!  Like those in Luke 18:15-17, let us ever be bringing our children to the “lap” of Christ!

PRODIGIES OR PRISONERS?

Neal Pollard

There is a video clip all over the internet showing five very young children playing an incredible piece, each with full-sized guitars.  Not only is it a complicated piece, “Our Kindergarten Teacher,” but their synchronized performance from the play to the choreography, is mind-boggling.  The children are from North Korea, leaving many to speculate whether this is a group of children with enormous desire and natural ability or a group of children playing for their and their parents’ lives.  The talent is rare and undeniable, but the hope is that this is born of choice and not coercion.

 

There have been people in nations and societies who have been brainwashed, blackmailed, bullied, and beaten to force their compliance in one way or another.  While such tactics may produce the results desired by those in positions of power, they usually control the body without winning the heart.  No child, spouse, employee, citizen, or other person wants to be made to do what they do or prevented from actions and behaviors without the exercise of their own free will.

 

While a Christian is one who has submitted to the will and Lordship of Christ, God has made this completely voluntary.  There are extreme consequences involved in not giving one’s life to Him and great reward for one who does, but He has made us with the freedom to choose.  Men and women have done tremendous acts of Christian service and have even made the ultimate sacrifice for Christ, but not as His prisoners without volition.  What sets Christianity apart from other religions is this very thing, that people love and revere Him so much that they are willing to lay down their lives for Him.  True Christianity is not based on one trying to earn salvation.  Paul says our salvation is “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:9).  Christianity does not thrive and grow through guilt, manipulation, terror, or brute force.  Instead, this occurs when people truly get ahold of the depth of God’s love and the value of His sacrifice.  For those with good and honest hearts, this produces obedience and “good works” (Eph. 2:10).  Let us understand why we serve Him—not because we are pushed but because we are passionate to reciprocate His love!

A Beautiful Tribute

Neal Pollard

Kathy and I attended the funeral of Mildred (Millie) King, Larry’s mom and relative to several Bear Valley members, this morning at the Loveland church of Christ.  Ron Lauterbach, the local preacher there, delivered a fine tribute to the godliness of this woman.  So many kind things were said by Ron as well as family members about her faithful Christian life.  It was all very inspiring.  However, the crowning moment of the service was her widower’s words in her honor.  Ron saved these words for last, and they were touching.  He spoke of his “sweetheart” of 62 years, reflecting on how she put Jesus Christ before anything and anyone else.  Then, he spoke about what a devoted mother and wife she was throughout these many decades.  It was touching to hear about this wife who dedicated her life to raising faithful children and standing faithfully behind and beside her man.  When the service was over, Kathy whispered to me, “I don’t know her, but I want to be just like her.”

Is there any better tribute that can be paid than a life lived well?  She served at times as a preacher’s wife, but mostly a school teacher’s wife.  She made many a meal and sent many a card to others.  Her service was very well attended, especially for a late Thursday morning.  All of this honored her, but nothing more than the ones closest to her lavishing such praise about her spiritual maturity and service.  And the one closest to her of all people, Leland King, spoke most tenderly, fondly, and cherishingly.  No praise outshines the genuine admiration and affection of one’s spouse, the person with the most intimate knowledge of that one.  This kind of legacy lives on, even after that one dies (cf. Heb. 11:4b).

 

Should Obese Kids Get Candy?

Neal Pollard

The cynic surely believes this lady is feeding her urge for 15 minutes of fame or seeking an outlet for her social ideology.  The tenderhearted finds it cruel and unfeeling.  The overweight likely are offended.  The objective observer still must be shaking his or her head in disbelief. The Fargo, North Dakota, woman, who identifies herself only as Cheryl set off a firestorm when she called in to a local radio station declaring she was going to give those she deemed overweight children an “obese letter” in addition to candy this upcoming Halloween (Fox News Story).  We’ll see if she has the courage to go through with it, what with a national spotlight and all.  But, there is no doubt how she feels.

Are there some people to whom you would not give food or candy because of their size.  That seems unfair and pretty prejudiced behaviour, doesn’t it?  How cold and unfeeling does one have to be to be so arbitrary and callous?

But, do we ever do that in other ways?  As Christians, are we ever selective?  Do we ever discriminate in our evangelism, benevolence, fellowship, or other outreach?  Do we ever judge based on their skin color or ethnicity, their present morality or lack thereof, their seeming scamming or dishonesty as they hold the sign at the traffic light, or their plain clothes or less hygienic appearance even in our own assemblies?

At first, I thought this lady’s behavior incredulous.  Actually, I still do.  But, I am also filled with a conviction to do some introspection.  Do I do what she’s doing, but in different ways?  I shouldn’t.  After all, Paul writes that we should “not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly” (Rom. 12:16).  That’s what Jesus did, and the Pharisees and scribes judged Him for it (Luke 15:2).  James warns us not to have an attitude of personal favoritism because making distinctions between people makes us judges with evil motives (Jas. 2:1-5).  Isn’t that the heart of the matter, right there?  We are not judges but servants.  Our motivation is supplied to us by the Savior, and that is to save souls (cf. Jude 23). Whose souls? Who’s ever we can!