Everything You Want

Everything You Want

 Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

There is a rite of passage dreaded by aging music fans; It is the day that your favorite music, your youth’s music, becomes relegated to a niche station on platforms like satellite radio. Fortunately, music providers have found more creative ways of marketing such specialty stations than slapping the “classic” or “oldies” label upon it. Instead, you are now a member of an exclusive club of people with exquisite musical taste. Yes, I am such a club member, and I listened to “my station” while running errands. The unofficial theme of my present love life began playing on the radio: “Everything You Want.” As one who finds illustrations in practically everything, I started drawing religious parallels. However, before you can understand those parallels, I first need to fill you in about the song. 

“Everything You Want” was released by the alternative rock band Vertical Horizon in 1999 and became a hit in July of 2000. It became Billboard’s Most Played Single of 2000. Matt Scannell, the songwriter, explained that an ex-girlfriend inspired the song. She looked for love and acceptance everywhere but the person who loved her the most. Obviously, as a listener unaware of the backstory, I interpreted the song differently. I thought of those times when a member of the fairer sex made an offhanded comment about wanting to meet someone “just like” me. (I seem to live in a place called “the friend zone.”) I wished to reply, “Why do you want ‘just like’ when the original is available?” Unrequited love can be frustrating, as it has been for me, or sad, as with the songwriter. 

Would it surprise you to know God experienced unrequited love too? God compared Himself to the husband of two faithless women, Oholah and Oholibah (Ezekiel 23.1ff). Elsewhere, Solomon admitted his spiritual infidelity in the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon looked for happiness and contentment in EVERYTHING but what ultimately mattered. After his vain pursuit of such things, Solomon says, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” (Ecclesiastes 12.13 NASB1995) The famous baseball player-turned-preacher, Billy Sunday, once summed up such people as Oholah, Oholibah, and Solomon. They have only enough religion to make them miserable. Sunday added, “If there is not joy in religion, you have got a leak in your religion.” Indeed. The problem lies not with the Bridegroom but the bride. Yes, if there is no love for Him, or our love has faded, the fault lies in us.  

How do we show our love for the Bridegroom? He says we show our love by keeping His commandments (John 14.15). Is it that simple? Yes, obedience springs from the mindset of putting God and His kingdom first (Matthew 6.33). We stray when we look for fulfillment elsewhere. And for the one yet to put on Christ in baptism (Galatians 3.27), the preference is for another whom he or she believes can bring similar joy: “The love of God enamors me, but the world gives me pleasure without requiring ‘burdensome’ commandment-keeping.” Jesus assures us that His yoke is not a burden (Matthew 11.28-30). As Saul discovered on the road to Damascus, we only hurt ourselves when we fight against that yoke. Jesus told Saul that he was kicking against the sharpened sticks (i.e., goads) used to pen cattle (Acts 26.14). Thus, I urge you, whether you have left your first love like Ephesus (Revelation 2.4) or have not confessed your love for the Savior, that you don’t ignore the Greatest Love you have ever known or can ever know (John 3.16). 

It may seem odd to close devotional thoughts out with secular lyrics, but I will do so anyway. I pray that you do not find a relevant metaphor for your relationship with Jesus Christ in these lyrics. He loves you. Don’t make His an unrequited love: 

“He’s everything you want 
He’s everything you need 
He’s everything inside of you 
That you wish you could be 
He says all the right things 
At exactly the right time 
But he means nothing to you 
And you don’t know why.” 

Works Consulted 

“Vertical Horizon.” Billboard, Billboard Media, LLC, www.billboard.com/music/Vertical-Horizon/chart-history/HSI/song/67304

Erica. “Out and About in Jax.” Out and About in Jax: Interview with Lead Singer of Vertical Horizon Matt Scannell, Blogger, 18 Nov. 2010, web.archive.org/web/20120326110903/www.outandaboutinjax.com/2010/11/interview-with-lead-singer-of-vertical.html

“Vertical Horizon – Everything You Want Lyrics.” MetroLyrics, MetroLyrics, www.metrolyrics.com/everything-you-want-lyrics-vertical-horizon.html

 

The Unified Church

The Unified Church

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

In a society of division and separation, many churches have begun to struggle with unity. Members are bickering with each other, elders are unsure of how to respond to the events that have unfolded in the past year, and deacons are struggling to maintain the proper relationship with each member.. All of these factors combined has caused several churches to split or lose the unity they once had. 

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:17ff  that some who came to worship would be hungry, while others would be drunk and incapable of edifying each other. His point? Far too many churches are split due to a lack of understanding. We fail to understand why it is that we assemble together in the first place. Having a unified assembly starts with the individual. No church will find harmony if each member is unwilling to submit to God’s will and to His church family. 

When we come to worship, there are key aspects that we must insure take place (1 Corinthians 14:12-25). We must make sure what we do edifies others (v. 12). Paul in the context of tongues and prophecy says,  “So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church” (14:12). 

Our actions must help build up the Christians around us. Our words must edify our brothers and sisters who are dealing with problems we may never even know about. And so the questions we must constantly be asking ourselves are these: How am I edifying? Am I being an encourager (making my fellow Christians stronger)? Am I building up others (boosting their confidence to help them deal with the world)? Am I promoting unity? 

As humans we thrive on encouragement.  We feel good when we receive a compliment. That’s because there is power in edification. As fellow brothers and sisters we should be actively trying to find ways to build each other up. 

This also means we must be sure to understand the power of our words and actions. Rather than spreading gossip or discord with our lips we must make it a priority to edify, encourage, lift up, serve, compliment, and look out for the good in our church family.

Effective

Effective

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

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Gary Pollard

How do we know if we’re effective Christians? We’ll look at II Peter 1.5ff for answers.
 
  1. Faith is a starting point (5). Believing in God is critical, but far from adequate (James 2.19).
  2. Add excellent character to faith (5). This word is αρετή, which describes someone with dedication to a flawless character, often in a civic setting. In this case, a character that reflects dedication to God.
  3. With great character, add knowledge (5). This is more than an intellectual understanding of something, it is an application of what we know. Gaining knowledge is important, but living it out is what makes us effective.
  4. With that knowledge we have to add self-control (6). This means restraining emotions, impulses, and desires.
  5. Self-control should naturally lead to endurance (6). This is the ability hold up under difficulty. It naturally follows self-control, a quality that gets us outside of self. Once we adopt a selfless and restrained character, we can more easily deal with life’s difficulties.
  6. With these qualities in place, we adopt godliness (6). It is interesting that godliness is this far down the list! Godliness comes after faith, excellent character, applied knowledge, self-control, and endurance.
  7. Godliness should naturally lead to affection for our church family (7). We can’t claim to be godly and not have affection for our own eternal family!
  8. With that affection must come a selfless kind of love (8). “If these qualities are yours and continue to grow, you will not be ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our lord Jesus Christ” (8).

 

THE BLINK

THE BLINK

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

God created the world in 6 days.

144 hours. 

8,640 minutes. 

518,400 seconds. 

That’s not a lengthy period of time to create the human experience but it’s all destined to end in an instant. Just like that, time is gone— 

everybody. Everywhere. Will be carried off into eternity. 

The blink of an eye happens in 0.3 of a second. 

God gave us that ability so that we might protect our delicate corneas and sclera from dust particles and other small debris which easily aggravate the eye. 

The reflex and speed of the human blink is testimony to our mighty Creator’s designing ability but in His divine wisdom, He knew the blink would also be an illustration for the way in which He will return on day. 

The average person will blink 15 to 20 times a minute.

900 to 1,200 times an hour.

14,400 to 19,200 times a day.

100,800 to 134,400 times a week.

That’s between 5.2 and 7.1 million times a year. 

In other words, it seems like God intended to remind us all millions of times a year that He is coming back.

The blink of an eye occurs in 0.3 a second. 

You can’t hear the gospel message in that time.

You can’t believe that Jesus is the son of God in that time.

You won’t be able to repent in that amount of time.

You couldn’t confess Jesus as your Lord and Savior in that time.

You certainly can’t be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins in that time. 

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” – I Cor. 15:52

Now is the time to prepare for that last and final blink.

Breaking The All-Time Assist Record

Breaking The All-Time Assist Record

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

The FIBA basketball glossary defines an assist as a pass to a teammate that directly leads to a score by a field goal (a basket scored on any shot). When I was in High School and college, Duke University had a guard named Bobby Hurley who would break the all-time NCAA record for assists with 1076 in 140 games (sports-reference.com). That means an average of almost eight times per game, he gave up the ball to a teammate whose three-point shots, slam dunks, or other baskets made the crowds stand up and cheer. While knowledgeable enthusiasts of the game appreciate the importance of the “assist man,” the average fan may miss the vital contribution of the one making that assist. But the very concept suggests unselfishness and one with a team mentality. For them, satisfaction and enjoyment comes in a well-timed, well-placed contribution that allows others to get recognition and praise.

Scripture places a great premium on the person who assists others. Our first thought may be financially. Paul tells the Ephesian elders that he had taken care of his own financial needs (and of those with him) while doing missionary work, recalling words of Jesus not recorded in the gospels that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In the matter of “giving and receiving” (Phil. 4:15), Paul encouraged a mindset that applied to more than just monetary things. It was not a mind which sought “after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (2:21). It was a “humility of mind” that could “regard one another as more important than” themselves, that could “look out” not merely for their “own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (2:3-4). It is the Christ-like heart that chooses to “please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Rom. 15:1-3); cf. 1 Cor. 10:24,33). Oh, to say with Paul, “So then we pursue the things that make for peace and the building up of one another” (Rom. 14:19).

Would you like to be the assist-leader in your home, in your congregation, and in your community? Look for ways to put others in the spotlight for their efforts and kindness. That may mean reorienting how you see life, looking to give glory and not needing to have it. What a righteous revolution would occur when our focus would be on how to make others look good, helping others to be appreciated and recognized, and setting others up for praise and admiration. It will in no way hinder us from receiving the highest accolade of all, given by the most important witness–the One who sees all with perfect perspective (Ecc. 12:14). A “well done” from Him has eternal implications (Mat. 25:21,23). What more do we need than that?!

The Shadow of Things to Come 

The Shadow of Things to Come 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Standing before a lantern flashlight, I happened to notice my shadow on the wall. I won’t lie. I was displeased by what I saw. My large stomach? No, that is not what bothered me. That has been with me most of my life. What disturbed me was seeing evidence of how advanced my ankylosing spondylitis has become. To put what I witnessed in self-deprecating humor: my shadow confirmed that a certain cathedral in France could hire me to be a bell ringer. I should start practicing my dialogue. “Sanctuary!”  

Though I am confident of my person at this point in my life, I appear to be hunched over with insecurity since my head seems downcast. I admit to being perturbed by that since confidence is a part of the initial impression one makes on another. I must bend my knees to straighten upright (somewhat). It isn’t easy to walk with your knees bent! I take a TNF inhibitor to slow the progress. (Ankylosing spondylitis has no cure.) However, my shadow is a preview of things yet to come, the substance of who I will later be. If only my material substance was going to be as marvelous as the spiritual “substance” I will eventually enjoy (1 John 3.2).

Paul calls the Old Testament the “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2.17). The New American Standard Bible adds the adjective “mere” (“a mere shadow”). Yet, what the Old Testament portended was the wondrous substance of Christ. It is odd to see the shadow of something before seeing that which cast the shadow, but that was the case with God’s eternal plan. One might philosophize about humanity’s ability to witness the substance first that he could not do so.  

Suppose you recall the people’s reaction to Moses’ glowing face after he had been in God’s audience (Exodus 34.29-30). In that case, you ponder whether they could have endured seeing something as glorious as the transfigured Christ, like Peter (Matthew 17.1ff). Whatever the reason, God had selected the optimum time for the incarnation of Christ. That time coincided with the Roman Empire’s days (Daniel 2.40-45; Galatians 4.4). However, even then, the appearance of Christ remained as unexpected to them as vegetation sprouting from the parched ground (Isaiah 53.2). 

Paul said that this “shadow” served like a tutor taking people to Christ (Galatians 3.23-25). A “tutor” during the days of Paul was a servant who took the master’s children to their teacher. In the twenty-first century, we might call the Old Testament the “bus driver.” I can recall several of the bus drivers I had in my youth. I think a couple of drivers would serve as a good role model, but at least one would have invited me along to commit mischief.  

We note that bus drivers only need a high school diploma with no disrespect intended toward bus drivers. (I’ve had family serve as bus drivers.) On the other hand, teachers must go to college and earn a specialized degree. The teacher is the one to whom you entrust the child’s education. Yet, we have people showing a preference for the “bus driver” today. These prefer the shadow to the substance. That preference is not in the best interest of his or her undying spirit. 

In what ways do people show a preference for the shadow? For example, in worship, they might indicate a preference for manmade mechanical instruments of music allowable under the Old Testament but unauthorized in the New Testament (cf. Ephesians 5.19; Colossians 3.16; Hebrews 13.15). In Hebrews 8-10, the Hebrews’ writer discusses at length the necessity for covenant change and the transference of authority from one to the other. Saying one can use a guitar or piano because David employed a lyre in his songs overlooks that David lived in the shadow. 

People also show a preference for the shadow when doing things like following the kosher diet of Judaism for religious purposes. Some of these same people will likewise insist that the day of worship remains on Saturday. Even though Gregory XIII, an apostate from the Faith, changed the calendar, he did nothing to change the verbiage indicating Sunday (“the first day of the week”) as the day of observing Christ’s memorial feast and giving of one’s means (Acts 20.7; 1 Corinthians 16.1-2). We might also note that when people prefer the religious use of iconography and incense, they likewise demonstrate a desire to live in the shadow rather than walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5.7). 

Yes, the Old Testament was only the shadow of things to come. It cannot save (Hebrews 10.1-4). We can enjoy and fellowship with the Substance, Jesus Christ. Come out from the shadow today! Live in the blessed Sonshine of Jesus Christ.   

It’s Time To Wake Up

It’s Time To Wake Up

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

Lately I’ve been shocked at the worldliness I’ve seen around me…oh wait, no I haven’t because it’s THE WORLD! The world is a place filled with corruption and pure evil. We shouldn’t be surprised when a godless world continues to live in darkness. But what has been a shock is the despair and hopelessness that has shown itself in the Church. We of all people should know better than to put our faith in man because eventually a nation that has left God will fail. 

It’s sad to see the hopelessness that has crept into the Church, but it is easy to see why it has happened. We are surrounded by sin almost 24/7. At times, the news twists reality to pander to the majority or to push their own opinions. No one wants to read about unity, peace, and pleasant events. Some news outlets go out of their way to find drama and depressing stories. Social media isn’t exactly helping, either. It is filled with false hope, fighting, and fake connections. Rulers and those in power have lost the trust of many by showing their true colors. Once again we shouldn’t be shocked by the world’s selfishness and greed.

Everywhere we look, it seems as if there is nothing but hatred, lies, filth, and sin. That’s why it has never been more crucial for the Christian to stand up and proclaim the power of God. It is time to defend our beliefs. It is time to show our convictions. It is time for a wake up call. Now more than ever is the time to trust in the King of Kings. We have hope in knowing that Jesus is Lord of everything. He has overcome the world and now we must have the courage to proclaim Him to those in sin. 

Christ is the Savior of the world, the ONLY Savior. He is the only hope for mankind. We know this is true, but sometimes we need a reminder.  We need a reminder that Christ is bigger than the world around us and that we shouldn’t worry because God is in control. Sometimes we need to be reminded of Who Jesus is.  

John 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 

The next time you feel discouraged remember Who OUR Savior is. He is: 

      • The Almighty God (Jn. 1:1)
      • The Creator of all things (3)
      • The Source of Life (4) 
      • The Conquerer of Darkness (5) 

It is time we start acting like we actually believe these facts. It is time to wake up and proclaim these truths with conviction to a lost and dying world. 

Crisis

Crisis

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

  • 1918 had the Spanish Flu pandemic that killed at least 675,000 people in the United States and 50,000,000 worldwide.
  • 1929 birthed the Great Depression, a multi year period of societal upheaval and economic collapse.
  • 1941 ultimately led to our involvement in a world war after the attack at Pearl Harbor.
  • 1963 saw the dramatic assassination of JFK.
  • 1986 put a damper on the excitement of space exploration with the tragedy of the Challenger explosion.
  • Violent crime rose dramatically from the 60’s to the 90’s, enough that most people no longer left their houses unlocked and were less likely to trust their fellow people.
  • 2001 marked the beginning of a global war on terror with an awful display of evil.
  • 2008 saw the Great Recession, the aftermath of which may be one of the causes of our great political division.
  • 2020 was a train wreck we need not discuss further.
 
This is by no means an exhaustive list! It covers some major events that affected Americans in the last 100 years, but much more could easily be said about the negatives of our history.
 
This is important: Immunity was attained after two years of the Spanish Flu pandemic. Lifespans increased by a few years during the Depression and led to a hearty generation of folks who helped to win the Second World War. That war, as horrible as it was, led to many incredible breakthroughs in medical and other sciences, not to mention historically unprecedented economic prosperity. The 1960s at least exposed the ungodly, ugly nature of hatred and racism, leading to some positive changes that were long overdue.
 
Even in the worst of times, good happens. But even if it doesn’t, hope is invulnerable! For a Christian, these issues are simply the result of a fallen world and they’re temporary. The end of life for us is the beginning! We have one important thing that no crisis can destroy: hope. We are absolutely certain that death will be the moment we get to live in a perfect world with our creator (see also II Peter 3.13ff; Matthew 19.28; Ephesians 1.18ff).
 
Nothing can or should dampen our faith in God, our hope for a better life, our mission to pull people out of darkness, our attitude, our love for each other, our dedication to spiritual growth, our responsibility to take care of people, our resilience in difficult times, and our critical compulsion to emulate Jesus in every possible way while we still breathe.
“In The Wilderness” — The Preacher Pollard Blog

“In The Wilderness” — The Preacher Pollard Blog

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail Dale Pollard The original Hebrew name literally mean, “In The Wilderness.” Later on, Greek translators referred to these inspired writings as “Numbers.” For the Israelite people, it was the historical records of how they were shaped and Divinely-groomed while making an unnecessarily long hike through desert lands (Not to be confused […]

“In The Wilderness” — The Preacher Pollard Blog
“In The Wilderness”

“In The Wilderness”

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The original Hebrew name literally means, “In The Wilderness.” Later on, Greek translators referred to these inspired writings as “Numbers.” For the Israelite people, it was the historical record of how they were shaped and Divinely-groomed while making an unnecessarily long hike through desert lands (Not to be confused with “dessert land” which sounds far better). The book of Numbers also served, and still serves, as a way for God’s people to get a bird’s-eye view of how our lives are significantly better when we are following our Leader. While there are far too many spiritual applications to be in just one article, here are three great ones. 

  1. There is no one more patient than the Lord. It’s easy to cringe when the Israelites complain or rebel time and again but God showed them more patience than any of us are capable of. 
  2. God always keeps a promise. It may have taken them 40 years to reach Canaan, but He kept His promise. We’re on a wild ride right now as a country, but God is predictable when it comes to keeping His Word. You can make a no-risk bet that heaven is coming and it’s better than what you imagine it to be. 
  3. God is always glorified in the end. When you look at Numbers and the big picture, God is the hero. He’s rejected and tossed aside by the people on several occasions, but just like at the end of this age— He gets all the glory.