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Chris Pollock

Chris Pollock - web developer & ecommerce entrepreneur
undivided… my thoughts on world, family, church, business, technology and Jesus Christ (all in all)

Dirty Love and Spiritual OCD

I am beginning to understand that love is fundamentally messy. Think about God’s seedbed for love, the family. Conceiving children is messy. Giving birth to children is messy. Raising children is messy. There’s absolutely nothing clean or aseptic about this process, it’s a big mess. Move from the family to another display of God’s love, the cross. What a mess: betrayals, denials, beatings, and then finally a bloody crucifixion.

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”

Jesus was not afraid to get dirty. He touched lepers and dead bodies. He hung around with the “dirty people” like the tax collectors, prostitutes and other “sinners”. The Pharisees on the other hand had spiritual OCD. They hated the idea of getting dirty.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

In opposition to the Pharisees, Jesus’ chief teaching on love has to do with someone picking up a half dead person from a ditch. Can you imagine what the Samaritan must have looked like as he pulled into the inn to drop off the injured person? This would not have been a pretty picture.

If we’re going to love we must be willing to get dirty. We must not allow the spiritual OCD of this generation to define our behavior. Instead, we must follow the Samaritan and the Lord down a dusty, dirty road where wounds bleed and blisters ooze.

Perhaps we can do this we can do this because we know the One who can cleanse us and make us whiter than snow. Perhaps we can do this because we believe that whatever dirt that sticks to us in showing love to God’s creatures will become sparkling diamonds of radiance in the kingdom of our Father. Perhaps it would be accurate to say that the dirtier we get in loving, the more brightly we will shine in the kingdom (God loves a good paradox).

Look to the forerunner. He became a mess in his endeavor to love us… and in exchange was given a name that was above every name.

It would be a mistake to relegate all benefits of the dusty, dirty road to the future. Perhaps the greatest glory of walking this muddy path is that Jesus is there with you. It’s a dirty road, but now a lonely road. It’s a messy road, but he’s there with you. With the lowest of the low, you take up fellowship with the King of Kings.

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Face to Face Lending

Our generation has been dominated by faceless lending.  Our recent economic crisis was spurred on by the increasing layers of abstraction that are introduced between borrower and investor.  Abstraction of borrower and lender has been an attempt to protect both, but has the really been the outcome?  Can we look at the signs of the times and read for ourselves that the more abstract that the borrowing process becomes, the more malicious and pain-filled it will become. 

A lesson I have been learning over and over again over the past five years is that Jesus came to set people right with himself and one another.  Not only does Jesus make it possible for us to have relationship with God, but also proper relationship with one another.  Another way of saying this is Jesus puts us face to face with our God and with our brother

1 John 1:1-4

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

So often what I have seen in the church is not the kingdom lifestyle of face-to-face living but the embracing and encouraging of worldly abstractions that separate and insulate.  Why is this?  Chris has set us free from the fear of being wronged (hasn’t he)?  And yet we mitigate risk and loose valuable kingdom investment by continuing to run to the worlds financial system. 

For years I have been meditating on such things.  (See this document I produced five years ago).  And recently my Gracious Father has been allowing me to taste some of the concepts that I have so long thought about.  In order to purchase a house, a friend lent me a large sum of money as a bridge loan.  Lord willing, I will soon have the opportunity to do the same for another friend.  Here are a few of the goods that I have experienced in personal, face-to-face lending:

  • Sober Spending – Part of the credit culture that we live in is a disconnect between desires and the consequences of that spending.  Face to face lending puts a real face on spending in a number of ways.
    • 1. It ensures that my purchases are inline with the values of my community.  It discourages lending for the purposes of getting an advantage or “moving up”. My friend was more than wiling to lend me money when I was basically buying a house of equal value and size.  If I was trying to elevate my social standing by buying something with far more comforts than my friend possessed I doubt he would readily lend me the money. 
    • 2. Because I am returning payment to a person and not an institution, my repayment of the loan has a direct impact on his life.   While borrowing I was tempted to buy one of the latest gadgets on the market, but knowing that I had a debt to a friend, and that buying this item meant slower repayment to him helped to keep the “gots to have its” in check. 
  • Preaching the Kingdom of God – Loaning to one another preaches the veracity and reality of the Kingdom that God himself governs.  Let’s face it.. why are people in the church afraid to lend to one another?  Fear.  The Kingdom that God rules is run by Love.  Love cast out Fear.  Personal lending preaches the reality that God can manage his Kingdom and help his children come to terms when when there is a disagreement or problem.   Institutions and prophylactic structures make sense where love is NOT the governing rule, but do they make sense where it is?

There is really so much more.. but I’ll leave it there and with a Scripture that I read just this evening.

Psalm 112:5

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.

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Being Lazy Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Busy

There’s a part of me that has always associated being lazy with a lack of activity.  My picture of the lazy man is the man lying in his bed when he should be out working.  This picture is certainly still valid, but I’m starting to realize that laziness is more nuanced than that.  I am beginning to believe the laziness is more about responsibility than it is about activity.  Here’s how I came to be enlightened about this:

The other day I was cleaning up after dinner.  As usual, the kids were performing their responsibilities of wiping the table and cleaning up the floor.  Anyone with young children will understand that keeping children focused on task, doing the job that you have asked them to do is a lot of work.  I began to think to myself, maybe I should just let the kids go outside and clean up the dinning room myself.  Why was I thinking this?  Because in reality it was easier then helping my children to do a good job.  If I had gone down this path I would have been “busy” but I think I would still be considered lazy. 

On this occasion the Lord was reminding me that laziness isn’t so much about how busy I am as about whether or not I’m taking up the responsibilities that God has given to me.  The man who lays in bed when he should be working is not lazy because he’s in bed, he’s lazy because he is ignoring his responsibility to provide for his family.  In short, laziness is about not performing your responsibilities that the Lord has given to you, NOT about your current state of activity.  If your busy, but you’re not actually fulfilling the responsibilities that God has given to you: watch you, you might actually be lazy.

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Non-Charitable Charity – Why Giving the Government’s Way is Void of Love

It’s tax time again and for the past couple of years I’ve been struck that my method of giving is totally unrecognized by the government.  Before you mistake this as a complaint, it’s not, it’s simply an observation that I wish to bring to the attention of those that are interested in love.  It has slowly become my conviction that what the government calls “charity” is exactly self-interest in disguise.  Why self interest?  Giving to get.  If I give X to a valid 501(c)3 organization I’ll get my tax write off.  I admit that loving the way God tells us to love is full of rewards, but none of those rewards have anything to do with mammon.  Giving to get a tax write off is simply NOT charity… call it what you will, but don’t call it love. 

For more clarity I call your attention to one of the most well known passages of Scripture.  Where do we get our understanding of love?  Is it not from the story of the Samaritan?  After all, who loved their neighbor?  The one who picked up a stranger, washed his wounds (at expense to himself) and paid for his needs of recovery.  Where were the other two headed (the priest and the Levite), but off to their jobs at the governmentally-recognized institution. 

Ironically the government does not recognize “contribution to a specific individual” or “contribution to a nonqualified organization”.   The Samaritan’s expenses would not have been recognized by the government.   The irony is rich and hopefully the implications are clear.  What God desires is not for us to leverage and extra percentage or two by getting a tax write off, but rather to be open to do radical works of love to those whom won’t be recognized or “qualified” as outlets for the world’s charity.

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A New Son and a New Name

First an introduction.  Simon Jacob Pollock was born on June 6, 2008 at 5:30 in the morning.   [This is where weight and height would be inserted.. but I’m not really sure why people give those stats, so I’m leaving them out.]  He looks just like a Pollock.  Below is his very first picture.

Simon Jacob Pollock

Now for the story of his name.

Simon’s name was not always to be Simon Jacob.  Just a day earlier it was to be Simon Clayton.  Clayton was a family name and so initially we thought it made a fine middle name for Simon.  The hours surrounding his birth would change all that.  On June 5th we traveled to be with friends who were celebrating the death of you their young son Jacob.

I say celebrated, and not mourned, because celebration definitely characterized the event.  The Fahmer’s believe, as do I, that a child who has not sinned is not subject to the demands of the Law and therefore the Wrath of God (not the case for the rest of us who have knowingly transgressed the commands of our loving heavenly Father).  It was a celebration because he is in heaven where he continually get’s to behold the face of the Lord Jesus and is free from the suffering that characterized his short life (138 days).

Jacob Fahmer was born with Trisomy 18, a life shortening condition (you can read his whole story here).  His life was short, by God’s own choosing, but it was not without value or significance.  He, like,all creatures made in the image of God, brought a certain reflection that is not limited by length of days. For one, the Fahmer’s life has forever been changed, by the gift of his life.  Secondarily, I believe (and you can read testimony for yourself in this post and in others on Jacob’s blog) that people have been caused to consider their lives and their God.   What other purpose and hope can one have?!  What else is lasting and enduring, than to have the effect of causing people to reflect on their standing with the Eternal God.?!

As we celebrated Jacob’s “home going” my wife began to experience the pangs of labor.  We gathered our children, said a few quick goodbyes and headed home (a hour and 15 minutes away).  On the way back, we could see that labor was beginning to set in. My wife’s contractions were becoming regular instead of fading away.  At one point I looked over to my wife and said “If we have this child tonight I want to call him ‘Simon Jacob’”.  My wife gave a quick nod of agreement.

Why the change?

I don’t believe in coincidence.  I believe that God orders our days, our death, and our birth.  It was not a mistake that my wife went into labor at Jacob’s funeral.  It was God’s plan.  It’s not just the timing of the event that leads me to see God’s hand, but also my understanding of God.  God brings life and death together.  He did it when His Son was crucified.  Jesus’ death brought forth eternal life.  The Creation testifies about this every day.  You have to be blind not to see that God has ordered death to life.  Plants & Animals that die and fall into the ground and nourish the next generation.  A simple walk through the woods could teach this to the attentive eye.  All through the Creation death and life are caught up together to point us to the revelation of Jesus’ death on the Cross and Resurrection three days later.

This is the story I want to characterize my life and the life of my family.  The story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  He is embedding that story in our lives, even through the simple “happenings” of life.  Jacob’s death.. Simon’s life have been tied together in a narrative that God is writing.  I am happy simply to see it, acknowledge it, and worship because of it.

Simon Jacob – because God brings life out of death.

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Things I see

Quote form @amylpollock "Children are always the most creative when they are supposed to be doing something else". #quotes #artforkids #quotesaboutkidsTheir own version of Tower BridgeIt's 8:30am. Kids already in the pool!ProviderYes. It's true. I turned 40 on Wednesday.Sand funToday is our 17th anniversary! Love dancing in the minefields with this woman.Every baby loves bath time!! Big enough for 3 (or 4). #bathtime #lifewithboys #bathtimeinsanityMagazine ad for children's body lotion. Radox??!!??:scream::joy:. #britishbrandingLook what I can do.There's something about this product name that just makes me want to laugh out loud. Guess I can't buy it... since I'm not diabetic:joy: #diabeticvanilla #britishbrandingFor discipline one of my kids was to do some copying. I asked him to bring me a piece of paper and pencil with a clipboard. This was what I got... funny guy!! #lifewithboysBoys playing with Simon's bday present.Captivated audience as Simon opens his presents. #9thbirthdayMaking a mast together. #teamwork #chathamhistoricdockyards #brothers

Chris Pollock

Web Developer - proficient in both PHP and ASP.NET.
Rochester, New York

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Quote form @amylpollock "Children are always the most creative when they are supposed to be doing something else". #quotes #artforkids #quotesaboutkidsTheir own version of Tower BridgeIt's 8:30am. Kids already in the pool!ProviderYes. It's true. I turned 40 on Wednesday.Sand funToday is our 17th anniversary! Love dancing in the minefields with this woman.Every baby loves bath time!! Big enough for 3 (or 4). #bathtime #lifewithboys #bathtimeinsanityMagazine ad for children's body lotion. Radox??!!??:scream::joy:. #britishbrandingLook what I can do.There's something about this product name that just makes me want to laugh out loud. Guess I can't buy it... since I'm not diabetic:joy: #diabeticvanilla #britishbrandingFor discipline one of my kids was to do some copying. I asked him to bring me a piece of paper and pencil with a clipboard. This was what I got... funny guy!! #lifewithboysBoys playing with Simon's bday present.Captivated audience as Simon opens his presents. #9thbirthdayMaking a mast together. #teamwork #chathamhistoricdockyards #brothers