A Good Name

By Kathy Pollard

My husband, Neal, and I have this strange habit of turning people’s names into parts of speech and using them in our conversations with each other. For instance, the other day we were discussing a couple of friends who are facing a stressful situation. I said, “We need to Russell them.”  Russell is one of our elders at church and also one of the greatest encouragers we know. We’ve only known him for a couple of years but have received countless texts from him filled with positive vibes. He will send reminders about God’s power and goodness, or thoughtful compliments, or simply tell us he loves us. Neal and I want to follow his example. We appreciate how Russell makes us feel and want to do the same thing for our friends.

Over 20 years ago we stayed in the home of Bill and JoAnn Sharbine in Texas. Even though our time with them was brief, they left a huge impression on us. They treated each other so sweetly. They held hands, smiled at each other, laughed together, and were especially patient with each other. Ever since then, any time Neal or I do something particularly thoughtful or loving to each other, we say, “Aw, I feel so Sharbined!” Bill and JoAnn have no idea that their name has been part of our vocabulary all these years.

An old friend of ours named Dave had an endearing habit. Whenever someone would compliment him (usually about his song leading in worship), he would say, “Huh?,” because he wanted you to repeat the compliment. We always laughed and teased him about it. To this day, whenever I say something nice to Neal and he (acts like he) doesn’t hear me, I say, “Okay, Dave…”

“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1). 

I imagine this verse is a warning to guard your character and reputation. It’s more important to have honor and integrity than to compromise those things to gain a dollar. But it always makes me think of people I know who have a good name. When I hear their name, I automatically associate it with something good.

I can’t help but wonder…what do people associate my name with? If someone were to use it as part of their vocabulary, how would it be used? Regardless of how I want people to think of me, my overall demeanor will determine that. Do I have a complaining spirit? Am I overly critical of others? Am I self-absorbed, generally negative, or quick to play the role of victim? If so, then I can just imagine this conversation taking place somewhere….

Wife: <griping about every little thing>

Husband: “Why are you so Kathy today?”

Ugh, I don’t want people to associate my name with anything like that. But sometimes the toughest part is being aware of our own tendencies. I remember being challenged one time to go a whole week without criticizing or correcting my husband. I thought it’d be pretty easy but I blew it the first day. I didn’t want to admit that I’d become overly critical and I sure didn’t want to see myself that way. But “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).

What is your heart full of?

To get some real insight, we can pay special attention to our words this week. How often do we complain, nag our spouses, or point out the flaws and disappointments of others? How often does our speech build up others (Eph. 4:29-32) or speak with gentleness, humility, patience, and compassion (Col. 3:12-14)? Perhaps we can go so far as to mentally catalog our words (neutral, negative, positive) to get a true idea of our demeanor.

What comes to mind when people hear your name?


Cast Down Your Bucket: the Key to Impacting Society

On September 18, 1895, Booker T. Washington addressed a crowd at the Cotton
States and International Exposition in Atlanta concerning racial progress in the South. In
what has been named one of the most influential speeches in American history, Booker
T. Washington talks to white and African Americans about how equality and progress
can be achieved peaceably. His proposed solution is summarized in one phrase, “Cast
down your bucket where you are.”
This statement comes from an illustration Washington recited in his speech, “A
ship lost at sea for many days suddenly sighted a friendly vessel. From the mast of the
unfortunate vessel was seen a signal, ‘Water, water; we die of thirst!’ The answer from
the friendly vessel at once came back, ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’ A
second time the signal, ‘Water, water; send us water!’ ran up from the distressed vessel,
and was answered, ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’ And a third and fourth
signal for water was answered, ‘Cast down your bucket where you are.’ The captain of
the distressed vessel, at last heeding the injunction, cast down his bucket, and it came
up full of fresh, sparkling water from the mouth of the Amazon River.
Booker T. Washington’s instruction to “cast down your bucket where you are” is exactly
what Christians are called to do in the Bible. In John 4:35, Christ asks his disciples, “Do
you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’” Then He corrects
them saying, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for
harvest.” Christ wanted His disciples to see the immediate opportunities that were ready
and within sight. As Christ’s disciples now, we must “lift [our] eyes, and see that the
fields are white for harvest.” There is work to be done, opportunity to help others, and
it’s all around us if we will only lift up our eyes and cast down our buckets where we are.
Each day, when you’re in the grocery store, at work, at church, or at home, look up and
see the souls around you. Cast down your bucket where you are, and you will find it full
of opportunities to speak hope (1 Pet. 3:15), act in love (Mt. 22:39), share truth (1 Cor.
9:16), and spread kindness (Eph. 6:10).
The sailors in Washington’s story and the disciples in John 4 were both thirsting
for opportunity. Their problem…they failed to realize that the opportunities were right in
front of them. It is so easy to miss the forest for the trees when it comes to making an
impact on society. We see the whole of humanity as broken, or we see ourselves as too
insignificant to make a difference. But Booker T. Washington says if you want to
positively influence society start with where you are, with the people around you. More
importantly, Jesus says the same thing! The fields are white and ready for harvest. Our
communities are full of opportunities just waiting for us to lift our eyes and cast down our
buckets where we are. Start sewing and start reaping (John 4:36-38)!


Eternal Life

By Chelsea Pollard

When I was at the Bear Valley Bible Institute, I took a class on the Gospel of John. I was always interested in this book, but I quickly fell in love with it! This class was the first one I chose and it was a blessing because I needed it. I needed to develop my own faith. I needed to build my personal relationship with God. I desperately wanted to know Him. John does a wonderful job at helping us know Him!

The gospel of John isn’t like the other gospels. It was written a little later and is more interested in the spiritual side of Jesus’ time on earth. When you’re reading through the gospel of John, it seems like John focuses more on the humanity of Jesus.

The purpose of John is in 20:30-31, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Both the Gospel of John and I John show us that we can know God. I John 2 says, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar…” If we want to know God, we have to make what he wants us to do a part of our lives.

Dr. Dan Owen said about John 3:16, “[This verse] is the ‘why’ for verses 14 and 15. It explains previous verses. John 3:16 is how we know love. He laid down His life for us. It was a willing, giving action toward us because he loved the world so much. God loved, so God gave.”

John 17:3 is Jesus’ definition of eternal life: to know God and to know Christ.

Let’s put all of this together: John was written so that we can believe. I John was written so that we can know God. God is love, so God gave us Jesus. We want to know God and have eternal life, so we do what He wants us to do and we love like Jesus did.

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