Mt. Zion Is Better Than Mt. Sinai

Mt. Zion Is Better Than Mt. Sinai

Friday’s Column: Guest Writer

kason

Kason Eubanks

In 1986, Roy Whetstine was in Arizona at a mineral show. He was digging through a plastic bowl of rocks. He saw a large stone the size of a potato that looked interesting. He bought the stone for $10. Later, Whetstine would learn that his rock was actually the world’s largest sapphire, worth $2.28 million. The man who sold Whetstine the stone was willing to give up something of great value because he did not know what he had. 

The Jews in Hebrews had a hard time giving up “Mt. Sinai” for “Mt. Zion” because they did not know that Mt. Zion was far better. Hebrews 12:18-24, ‘For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.’ And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” There are a lot of things that are better in the new law, but we are just going to look at three of them. 

In Hebrews, there are just a few of the many blessings in the New Testament. In our passage, the writer compares Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion. Starting in verse 18, he describes Mt. Sinai It sounds awful because if you touched it you would be burned with fire or shot with an arrow. God has the power to do all these things. The writer is referring to when Moses went to get the ten commandments. God wants the people of Israel to understand and not forget them. He wanted them to obey Him so they could be His special treasure (Exod. 19:5) 

Starting in verse 32, he describes Mt. Zion. It’s better because it has better blessings than Mt. Sinai. Let’s look at three  contrasts in our passage. 

INSTEAD OF TERROR, WE CAN BE HAPPY (22)

How can we be happy with Jesus? Moses tells the people what kind of God we serve. In Deuteronomy 33:29, he says,  “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, The shield of your help And the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places.” Jesus gives us a rich and satisfying life.” In John 10:10, He says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” So you can be HAPPY by doing good deeds for others that may need it, and by knowing He is there.

INSTEAD OF KEEPING OUR DISTANCE, WE CAN BE CLOSE (23)

Instead of keeping our distance from Mount Sinai and we don’t have to be scared to get shot if we touch the mountain. How is Jesus close to us? In Proverbs 18:24, it states, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” This shows how Jesus stays close to us.

INSTEAD OF BEING PUNISHED, WE CAN BE REWARDED (24)

Instead of being punished we can be rewarded with heaven. In John 3:16, it states, ”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” What does Jesus want us to do to be saved? We are hearing the word. In Romans 10:16, Paul writes, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So we can hear his word. Why do we believe in God’s word? In John 8:24 it states, ”unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” This is why you believe in God’s word. Why do we need to repent of our sins? In Mark 1:15 it states, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Why do we need to confess that Jesus is the son of God? In Matthew 26:63, it states “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Why do we need to be baptized? In Acts 2:38, it states, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

All in all we don’t need to keep our distance from God. Instead of keeping God out of our lives, He needs to be in our lives because through Him we make it to heaven.

eubanks

Kason with his family the night of his baptism (May 22, 2021)

Love And Fear

Love And Fear

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

 
How many Christians are afraid of the judgment day? Maybe we are worried we haven’t done enough, or maybe we are thinking of a specific sin that would keep us from entering heaven? It is also a possibility that we may just be plain scared of everything that will take place on that day. 1 John 4:18 is one of the most comforting verses in Scripture. It tells us that if we are a faithful Christian there is no reason to be afraid.
 
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:18
 
While this verse can very easily be taken out of context, the true meaning should give us hope and comfort. John tells us three important fact concerning the Christian and judgment day.
 
Love = No Fear
 
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” This love is strong enough to calm our fears concerning the day of judgment. But what is perfect love? When we hear the word perfect we think of taking something flawed and making it flawless in every way. Does this mean we need to have a love that is flawless in every way? This word perfect is teleos which is defined as “attaining an end or purpose; complete.” This word is best illustrated like this, if your flashlight batteries die and you need 2 AAA, it doesn’t matter if you have an unopened box of AA’s. The used AAA’s in your TV remote are perfect for the job.
 
Our love is complete and perfect when we abide in God. Love cannot cast out our fear of the judgement day if we are loving the wrong things. Our perfect and complete love can cast out fear when we abide in the ONE who is, and always will be, the author and perfecter of love. Perfect love that is found in the Christian who is wholeheartedly abiding in the Creator has no reason to be afraid of the judgment day.
 
Punishment = Fear
 
One of the worst phrases you can hear as a kid when you get in trouble is, “just wait till your father gets home.” The thought and anticipation of punishment brings about fear and dread. 1 John 4:18 says, “For fear has to do with punishment.” The fear we may feel concerning the judgment day stems from the punishment that might come upon us. And it is only right that we should fear the punishment of hell, a very real place that is saved for those who have chosen to do nothing about their sin problem. The thought of hell should scare us. It is a place that will forever torment the souls of those who are lost. Fear has to do with punishment, so will we be punished on the judgment day?
 
Punishment equals fear, but there’s good news for those in Christ. We have NO reason to fear the judgment. The judgment day will be a day of reward for faithful Christians. There is no fear of punishment because God has promised us a place in heaven with Him.
 
Fear = Imperfect Love
 
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
 
If we are afraid of the judgment this could mean several things about our Christianity:
  • Fear shows us that we have room to grow (Our love hasn’t reached its designed end with God)
  • Fear can reveal a possible lack of faith (maybe we are afraid because we doubt the words we read in 1 John 1, or revelation 21?)
  • Fear exposes the sin in our lives (if there is sin in our lives that is continuous and habitual we SHOULD be afraid)
 
With these facts in mind we should take this verse and use it to shape our attitude concerning that day. Let the love of God change the way we live. Let the love of God influence our decisions and actions. Let the perfected love of God give us confidence on the day of judgment.
“Escargot?”

“Escargot?”

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

[Note: I titled it escargot because I used to get eschatology and escargot confused. Plus, in his section concerning the end of time Peter prefaces with, “The Lord isn’t slow concerning His promises the way we consider slowness.” Snails are slow. The end of time seems far away, hence escargot]

A lot of movies detailing a world-ending event are designed to elicit a fearful response from viewers (for thrills, of course). Whether it’s the Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse, Independence Day’s alien invasion, or Knowing’s solar flare (although Nicolas Cage’s acting is probably the most terrifying thing about the movie…), the end of time is usually portrayed as a terrifying event requiring humanity to go to incredible lengths to avoid it. 

Christianity is so beautiful because we’re actually dying for the end to come! 

I Corinthians 1.7 – “…as you wait for the revealing of our lord Jesus Christ…” Wait is apekdechomia, which means to welcome something with great anticipation. The same word is used to I Peter 3.20 where God eagerly waited for the earth to run away from sin in the days of Noah. 

Philippians 3.20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the lord Jesus Christ…” Paul encouraged the Philippian church to imitate the examples of selflessness he had listed, especially since enemies of the cross were in existence (maybe even an indirect reference to Euodia and Syntyche). Unlike the enemies of the cross, we’re waiting for God to save us from this world. 

Romans 8.19 – “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…” And 23, “Not only creation, but we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Redemption is apolutrosis, which describes release from a captive state or from interrogation. We eagerly anticipate the last day. 

Hebrews 9.28 – “…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Verse 27 makes it very clear that we face judgment immediately after death! Jesus’ second coming is to save us from this world, which was made dysfunctional because of sin. 

II Peter 3.12 – “Since all these things will be undone, what sort of people should you be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hurrying the coming of the day of God, because of which the sky will be set on fire and dismantled, and the earth and the works done within it will be dissolved.” Peter is describing the end, but far from terrifying, we are waiting for and hurrying that last day. 

A lot’s going on in our world, much of it scary and anxiety-inducing. Oh well! “Come back, lord Jesus” (Rev. 22.20).  

Four Ways To Simply Feel Better About Life

Four Ways To Simply Feel Better About Life

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard

God wants you to succeed and He can’t wait to see you. 

Alright, take a deep breath and let’s dive into an ocean of hope for a few minutes. 

If you’re a member of the Lord’s church you can probably think of at least one person who is able to keep a smile on his or her face and a tune on their lips, even when everything in their life seems to be going horribly wrong. 

We might be tempted to think, “I must be one horrible Christian because I can tell you now, I’d never be that joyful under such circumstances.” 

It may seem unnatural or even out of reach for everybody to live their lives just like that but we can’t forget their secret. 

The “magic” is all happening on the inside. 

God has transformed the heart and spirit of that person, and the effects of this are seen when you spot that smile on their face and see their head carried high. You’ll also be able to hear the effect–evidence in conversations with these inspiring people because they tend to direct your attention to God by giving Him all the glory and credit for their peaceful state of mind. Do you have the desire to be that kind of person? I’m assuming you do. Who wouldn’t want this supernatural ability? 

Our lives are a roller coaster ride of emotions and situations of all kinds and the worst state to find yourself is the dreaded “slump.” You know you’re in a slump when you can’t seem to find the motivation to be happy or even allow a peaceful or cheerful thought to linger in your brain. 

Let’s take a quick gander at Philippians 2:14-15 and then dive right into those four ways to feel better about life.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

This verse may make us think, “easier said than done!” (especially if you’re currently in the slump) but let’s look at it from another perspective. 

When we look a wee closer at this verse we see at least four juicy nuggets of hope.

We could imply that– 

1. Your attitude can change (no grumbling!) 

2. Your speech can change (no grumbling or questioning!) 

3. Your demeanor can physically change (like innocent children) 

4. Your mindset can change (shining lights) 

The key word is in bold in each of these four areas. This CAN happen, but we’ll need to take a visit to the “how department” first. 

Welcome to the “How Department.” 

First, it’s up to us to internalize that this change is really possible.  

Second, allow yourself to enjoy that feeling of hope that comes with the knowledge that God can change your mindset. 

Third, we must accept that this change is also expected of us. 

 Fourth, understand that God knows that we have the ability to climb out of the slump or He wouldn’t have told us to do so. 

Here’s how God can make you feel better. 

By… 

1. Remembering all those times in the past that God has helped you and others out of previous slumps. 

2. Surrounding ourselves with those positive family members in the congregation you attend. 

3. Gaining some of His wisdom by reaching out to trusted mentors or older Christians who have walked the walk of faith longer than you have.

4. Spending time with God-loving friends who are trying their best, just as you are, and the two of you can mutually encourage one another. 

We have the ability to change, but we have to develop that desire to do so. 

Remember. 

God wants you to succeed and He can’t wait to see you.

God’s Consistent Goodness

God’s Consistent Goodness

Beautiful thoughts from my favorite writer!

Life and Favor (Job 10:12)

By Kathy Pollard

May was kind of a difficult month for us. We attended my first cousin’s memorial. Our youngest son was in a serious motorcycle accident. And my brother-in-law was admitted to Trauma ICU. It seemed like every week I was asking for prayers on behalf of our family. May has always been my favorite month of the year. Spring is in full force and we celebrate Mother’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary. I usually want the month to go by slowly so I can enjoy it to the fullest. This year, though, I couldn’t help but feel a little relieved when it was time to turn the calendar page.

May also contained reasons for rejoicing. My sister came for a visit. Neal and I celebrated 29 years together. And our youngest son got married. Sometimes God’s blessings shine brighter during times of trouble. I hadn’t seen my…

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WHAT WOULD I GRAB?

WHAT WOULD I GRAB?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

John Castillo Kennedy writes a riveting account of the fire that swept through San Francisco in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake that struck on April 18, 1906. The earthquake and resulting fires, which killed 3000 people, destroyed 80% of the city. Among the dead was the city fire chief. Firefighters, unaccustomed to using dynamite to create firebreaks, caused several of the fires. 

At one point early in the fires, according to Castillo, the spread of the flames surprised people living along Pine, Bush, and Sutter Streets, forcing them to flee immediately. They had been confident that the flames would not reach them there. The author says,

“Quickly filled trunks grated up the hills. Wagons, mostly pulled by men, rattled over the rough cobblestones. Baby carriages and toy express wagons rolled along packed full with the ‘things’ people had snatched up in the flight. Pianos were bumped along the sidewalks–some went to pieces in the process. Sewing machines slipped along on their rollers with stacks of bedding and the like lashed to them. Women had their valuables on their person, or carried trinkets Gypsywise in handkerchiefs. Men wore columns of hats five-high. Some carried only a book. Parrots jabbered and scolded from many cages. Some people had blankets. Girls usually had bandboxes. Boys stretched poles between them and carried, suspended there, bundles of clothing and provisions. Once it was only a ham” (83). 

These panic-stricken people, with no time to prepare, reached for the thing that had the most practical or sentimental value to them. Something made people faced with total loss and threat of life to lug heavy items or pets or food. Many of the choices seem irrational. Perhaps they were in shock or acting in impulse. In essays and contests asking people what they would grab if their house was on fire and they could only grab one thing, they have cited passports, wills, legal documents, insurance policies, personal papers, portable hard drives, phones, etc.

I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. If I was in one of the many neighborhoods forced to flee my home with no time to spare, what would I have been sure to grab? How long would it take my mind to settle on sentimental family items like old photos, my wedding video, or the boys’ baby books? Would I be relieved if I could make it out with my Bible, though I saved nothing else?

I do not judge those folks with their bizarre, split-second decisions. For some reason, it just made me do some introspection. What does my priority list look like? What do I value most in my life and in my home? What would I try to be sure to preserve?

Perhaps the answers to those questions is best provided by my choices in ordinary, every-day actions. I want my wife, children, fellow-Christians, and, most of all, my God to see from my life that they come before the things of this world. The things will all ultimately burn (2 Pet. 3:10). It is the relationships that will outlast the final, global conflagration. I pray that my influence and example will save them from the fire (Jude 23).  

Reference: Kennedy, John Castillo. The Great Earthquake And Fire: San Francisco, 1906 (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1963). 

 

7000 Chances

7000 Chances

Friday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl emily truck

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Carl Pollard

Research shows that the average person speaks at least 7,000 words a day, while many (you know who you are) speak much more than that. Think about what that means. 7000 words that will leave an imprint on those who hear. That’s an incredible opportunity that we are given…or maybe it’s a bad thing?
 
How do we use our words? As Christians those 7000 words should help us fulfill the command given to “make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-20). That begs the question, what should those 7000 words contain? Even more, what am I saying with those words?
 
We have the responsibility to share the good news with others, so what are my words doing to help accomplish this goal? Colossians 4:6 tells us what our daily speech should consist of. But first, notice the context. Colossians 4:5 says, “walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
 
We have been called to make the best use of the time. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” How do we do this? Colossians 4:6 tells us it’s by talking the right way. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
 
If we want to walk with wisdom and be effective towards those in the world, we must use the proper words. As Christians, our speech should be attractive. “Let you speech always be gracious.” Gracious is defined as, “A winning quality or attractiveness that invites a favorable reaction.” What does it mean to look attractive? We use this word to describe someone or something that has favorable qualities that we enjoy. Applying that to our speech, it must ALWAYS be described this way. There should never a moment where we stop.
 
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We want people to leave conversations feeling better than when they first saw us. We want people to see Jesus in our speech.
 
We must always try our best to use attractive words. Always look for ways to encourage and help others with our speech. This means on the internet or in person. Our words are attractive when they are sincere and honest. We are called to have attractive speech, and the words we use must be genuine and real. Not saying them to sound holy or to look good, but out of love and concern for the souls of those who hear.
Got to see these two Huntsville area preachers and their lovely wives Wednesday night.
Circle of Life

Circle of Life

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

gary and chelsea

Gary Pollard

  1. Earth Created (Gen. 1) (A)
  2. Man Sins, Earth Corrupted (Rom. 8) (B)
  3. Access to Tree of Life Blocked (Gen. 3) (C)
  4. Man Unified in Evil (Gen. 6) (D)
  5. Earth Destroyed by Water, Preserved for Destruction by Fire (II Pet. 3.6,7) (E)
  6. Jesus Grants Access to God As Mediator, High Priest, Perfect Sacrifice (Heb. 2.9; Rom. 8.17) (F)
  7. Man Rejects God, Unified in Evil (II Thess. 2.3-12) (4) (D)
  8. Earth Destroyed by Fire (II Pet. 3) (E)
  9. Man Redeemed, Creation Redeemed (Rom. 8.18-20; cf Mt. 19.28) (A, B)
  10. Access to Tree of Life Restored (Rev. 22.2) (C)
  11. God’s Own Live with Him, Share Unique Bond, Can Never Lose Paradise Again (II Pet. 3.13; Rom. 8.29; II Tim. 2.12) (F)

You can also look at it this way: 

  1. Earth Created (Gen. 1) New Heavens, New Earth (II Pet. 3.13; Rev. 21.1; Matt. 19.28)
  2. Man Sins, Earth Corrupted (Rom. 8.18-20) Man Redeemed, Earth Redeemed (Rom. 8.18-25)
  3. Access to Tree of Life Blocked (Gen. 3) Access to Tree of Life Restored (Rev. 22.2)
  4. Man Unified in Evil (Gen. 6)  Man Unified in Evil (II Thess. 2.3-12)
  5. Earth Destroyed by Water (Gen. 7; II Pet. 3.6,7) Earth Destroyed by Fire (II Pet. 3.7)
  6. Jesus Gives Access to Father (Heb. 2.9)  We Live With God (II Tim. 2.12; I Jn. 3.1ff; Rom. 8.29)

“The God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ is blessed. Thanks to His incredible mercy, we are born again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ out of death. Because of this, we have an immortal inheritance that has no flaw and cannot wear out. This is guarded in heaven for you who are also guarded by God through faith. This salvation will be revealed to you at the end” (I Pet. 1.3ff).

8 Interesting Facts About The Bible

8 Interesting Facts About The Bible

 Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

dalejanelle2021

Dale Pollard

  1. The Bible was written by 40 different writers. 
  2. The Bible was written from 3 continents: Asia, Africa, & Europe.
  3. It was written in 3 ancient languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek. 
  4. The original manuscripts making up the cannon contain 611,000 words. 
  5. The longest book is Jeremiah. 
  6. The shortest book is 3rd John.
  7. The Bible contains around 185 songs. 
  8. The Bible records around 21 dreams.  

The Bible is more than just fascinating trivia, it’s the only book that God ever wrote. Let’s make sure we’re spending time in His Word daily. 

“Virtue” Is Not A Dirty Word

“Virtue” Is Not A Dirty Word

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

sunset and sweetie

Neal Pollard

Did you know that the term “virtue signaling” is now in the dictionary. An expression that has been used a lot in the wake of the pandemic and social unrest of last year and into this year, it means to “publicly express opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue” (Apple Dictionary, 2.3.0, 2005-2020). “Virtue signaling” is typically used in a derogatory manner. It is felt to be synonymous with jumping on the bandwagon of a popular cause or moral grandstanding, and is considered by those diagnosing a “virtue signaler” as one trying to win praise or acknowledgment from the likeminded for showing support for a social or political cause or to reprimand and rebuke those who feel or behave differently (dictionary.com). The disdain for this practice often arises from the apparent motives of the signaler, wanting to seem more caring, more righteous, or better than others on a given issue. Cancel culture and “wokeism” are often the more virulent strains of this social malady.

Jesus had a low threshold of tolerance for the ancient equivalent of the virtue signaler. Especially in Matthew 23, Jesus calls it out. “They say things and do not do them…” (3-4). How often have we seen people being hypocritical or inconsistent in matters they call out others on?  “They do all their deeds to be noticed by men” (5). Only God knows a person’s heart, but is that ever at play in this matter? “They love the places of honor…” (6). Especially may this be evidenced through social media where one may revel in the admiration or recognition of others for occupying the high ground by their signaling. The silent majority may be intimidated by virtue signals, but they are not inherently improved by them.

Depending on your point of view, you may well think that “virtue signaling” is a dirty phrase, that is bespeaks hypocrisy, political correctness, or the like. But, may we never tar the word “virtue” with the same brush. In a list of characteristics better known as the “Christian Virtues” (2 Pet. 1:5-7), Peter urges adding “moral excellence” or “virtue” to our faith. The word refers to “consummate ‘excellence’ or ‘merit’ within a social context” (BDAG, 130). While the Stoics and writers like Homer reserved it for “military valor or exploits, but also of distinction for other personal qualities and associated performance that enhance the common interest” (ibid.), inspired writers coopted the term to mean “uncommon character worthy of praise” (ibid.). While the word is only found a handful of times and more often refers to God (2 Pet. 1:3 and 1 Pet. 2:9), it should describe us, too. If we are praised for demonstrating virtuous qualities, we are to double down on filling our hearts with true righteousness and virtue (Phil. 4:8). 

Virtue, as God defines it and guides us to genuinely show it, will encourage others to look at God, glorify Him, and seek to follow Him. Humble, genuine godliness, seeking no attention and wanting no praise, is a powerful persuader. In fact, it’s central to how God wins the hearts of others (cf. Mat. 5:14-16). Let’s stay out of the virtue signaling business, but let us strive for truly virtuous living! God is counting on us to reflect His moral excellence to those foundering and floundering in unrighteousness. 

Paper straws: Environmental friendliness or an attempt to drive us crazy?