Finding Refreshment

Finding Refreshment

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

Lying in a bed for three and a half months will make you feel icky. You can only bathe with washcloths. Some nurses loaded those cloths with water and got me wetter than an Anglican baptism. Those “baths” made me feel better. However, before being discharged, I finally took a shower. That was the best. I felt refreshed. The only downside was seeing my hair come out in clumps as I washed my hair. It seems I am fated to look like the Stooge, Larry Fine.   

Where do you find your refreshment? Is it in a cool drink on a sultry day? Is it standing by a fireplace in winter? Such actions reinvigorate us. This result is what refreshment accomplishes. The sinner can find refreshment in obedience. In his second recorded sermon, Peter says: 

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3.19 NASB1995).

This refreshing comes from being immersed in Christ (cf. Acts 22.16). I would encourage any who have not yet clothed themselves in Christ to allow their faith to lead to this total submission, in which one joins the Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6.3-5). No, it is not a work, nor is the power in the water. It is where we symbolically contact the blood of Christ and express a clear conscience before God (1 Peter 3.21). It is a necessity for salvation. 

Yet, there remains refreshment for the Christian as well. Paul speaks of his desire to meet with the brethren of Rome in Romans 15. He tells them to join him in prayer so his arrival will refresh him (Romans 15.32). That is an interesting word choice. In fact, this is the only time this word, συναναπαύομαι, appears in Scripture. The word means to rest along with, but here implies a spiritual refreshing.  

I like that idea of “resting with”, though, especially as it applies to Christian fellowship. We spend our weeks in the world and get beaten up by the forces of the adversary. How refreshing is it when we pause and rest with our brethren in worship and Bible study? I know I have gone to services feeling poorly, physically, only to find myself reinvigorated on my way back home. It has the same effect mentally and, most importantly, spiritually. Unfortunately, my recovery prevents me from joining the brethren currently. Still, you better believe that I eagerly await the day I can rejoin them even more than when I wished for a shower.  

It is sad when brethren find excuses to avoid refreshment since it is one of the blessings we receive in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1.3). Earthly diversions cannot reinvigorate the spirit as can God. Oh, it might bring temporary happiness, but the participant of earthly delights is left feeling empty, needing entertainment and diversion yet again. Services are not a chore when one comes seeking to worship God and rest beside their brethren.  

“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10.24-25 NASB1995) 

Don’t you want to find your refreshment? 

2 + 2 = MILK

2 + 2 = MILK

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
Carl Pollard
 
 
28 US states have an official state beverage. 21 of those 28 chose milk.
Russians used to put frogs in their milk buckets. That seems strange at first, but frogs secrete an antibiotic liquid from their skin that keeps milk from spoiling. To get the measure of calcium that’s in an 8 ounce glass of milk, you’d need to eat 7 oranges, 1/4 cup of broccoli, or six slices of bread. In a recent report, the countries whose residents consume the most dairy per capita, win the most Nobel Prizes.
 
This may seem like a strange list of random milk facts and that’s because it is. It’s almost as if I Googled “strange milk facts.” But there’s a point to all the milk facts. The church at Corinth had problems. There was division. They failed to have unity. Paul wrote to them in an attempt to correct these issues. Because of their problems, Paul had to deal with them like little children. Since they displayed this childlike spirituality, Paul gave them milk because they couldn’t handle meat.
 
There is a very clear distinction between milk and meat. It is up to us to discern between milk and meat. Our end goal is spiritual maturity as Christians.
 
In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul writes, “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
 
When compared side by side, milk and meat are quite similar. Both milk and meat contain high levels of protein. Both milk and meat have fat (unless it’s skim milk aka “white water). This isn’t that surprising since they both usually come from the same source. The content of milk and meat is basically the same.
 
This principle is true in the world of education. You see this in reading, writing, math, and history. From Pre-K through college the same things are taught but with increasing complexity. In math, the milk would be 2+2 while the meat would be the square root of 10. The milk can be easily understood and the answer isn’t too hard to come up with. 2+2=4. While the meat is harder to answer since the number 10 is not a perfect square which has a number 0 at its unit place. Since the number 10 is an even number but not a prime number, it has 4 multiple factors: 1,2,5 and 10. The square root of 10 would be 1.414×2.236 which gives us the approximate answer of 3.162. Okay enough math. Do you see the difference?
 
Milk and meat have the same content, but at different levels of difficulty. Spiritual milk contains the same teaching as spiritual meat. The same spiritual nutrition is contained in both. All teachings in scripture, whether milk or meat, comes from the inspired word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). By drinking the milk of the word and eating the meat of scripture, there will be spiritual growth. Whether it is milk or meat it still contains the same basic truths, but at varying levels of difficulty.
 
With these facts in mind, we can deduce several points:
  1. New converts cannot digest meat.
  2. Christians must mature and grow from milk to meat.
  3. There is spiritually a time and place for both. 
Mine!

Mine!

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

garyandme521

Gary Pollard

When I first got into shooting, I relied pretty heavily on what others believed. There was (and is) a wide range of opinions on which platforms are the best, which calibers are the most effective, or which subcultural group is the worst (mall ninjas, fuds, tacticool operators, etc.). Most hold their opinions with great passion and will advocate for their position vehemently. I never really enjoyed shooting with the platforms and calibers I initially chose because I made all of my decisions based on the preferences of people I respected and admired. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I did not yet feel as if the sport was truly mine. Several years later, countless thousands of rounds, and hours of research, and I’ve found my place. I prefer 9mm, Glocks or Caniks, Combloc, AR platforms, 6.5 Grendel is the best intermediate round, etc. In other words, it’s not an “inherited” faith. I like what I like based on the energy I’ve dedicated to study and practice.

When it comes to elements of our faith, how often do we challenge our personal beliefs? Unlike firearms – which are subjective and spiritually irrelevant – our faith is based on an objective standard. It is difficult to have a strong, personal faith if most of what we believe is based on what others taught us or what others believe. We may even adopt their beliefs because we admire and respect them as people. That’s not a great foundation. Humans are fallible!

Approaching scripture as a blank slate, asking only, “What does God want me to believe about ______?” is the best way to grow. The only opinion that matters is God’s! When we hear something that elicits an emotional response and seems to conflict with our current beliefs, we shouldn’t panic. God’s word determines validity. If we can approach scripture without bias, we’ll grow exponentially. Challenging our beliefs does more than simply refine our understanding – it forces us to take ownership of our faith. Not only will this cause growth, it will also deepen our love for God and our confidence in eternal destination!

On an elk hunting trip in Gunnison, CO, around 2008.
It’s Not Too Far Away  

It’s Not Too Far Away  

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The farthest anybody has ever run on foot happened back in 1929. A trans-continental race was set from New York to California and it spanned 3,653 miles in total. It’s difficult to imagine that anybody would be willing to sign up for this race but there were. The winning place went to a man named Johnny Salo and he accomplished something spectacular and historic in just 79 days. 

In 1 Peter 2.11-12 the Christian is compared to a “sojourner” and that paints a picture of someone temporarily staying, but always on the move. Many other passages, like James 1.12, 2 Timothy 4.7, Galatians 5, and 2 Corinthians 9, all reference the race of life. 

It’s been noted that the race is one of endurance and not a sprint. While few people will ever cover the amount of physical ground that Johnny Salo did, there are many faithful Christians who have shown themselves to have incredible endurance of a different kind. Through trials, heartbreak, and severe loss there are Christians who hold fast to their faith and push on. They inspire us to keep going when the going gets tough, and we should encourage these spiritual athletes to look towards the finish line— it’s not too far away. 

What is Truth?

What is Truth?

So proud of my daughter-in-law. Great thoughts! John 8:32!

Life and Favor (Job 10:12)

By Chelsea Pollard

The topic of truth has been on my mind a lot lately. Seeing where the world is, the confusion and how divided we are, it’s unsettling to me. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because – to a large number of people – there’s no objective truth. Did you know there’s a word for this? I learned this word from Hiram Kemp and it is “post-truth”. 

Oxford’s definition of post-truth: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Basically, feelings over fact. That’s your truth but it’s not my truth. I’ve got to speak my truth. We’ve all heard a variation of this and it’s troubling because we know the truth. 

  • “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the…

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“I Wish The Church…”

“I Wish The Church…”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

  • “…Cared More About The Lost!” (But, when did I last invite someone to church or invite someone to study the Bible?)
  • “…Checked On The Sick And Shut In.” (But, when did I last make a call or visit to them?)
  • “…Was Friendly!” (But, do I talk to, welcome, and make feel at home visitors and more than my close circle of friends?)
  • “…Did A Better Job With The Singing.” (But, do I sing out, show enthusiasm, and participate with my whole heart?)
  • “…Invested More In The Youth.” (But, am I doing all I can to help them grow, from my attitude toward the church to my personal investment in them?)
  • “…Was Active!” (But, do I volunteer when help is needed, prioritizing it over the things of the world?)
  • “…Was Growing.” (But, how invested am I in being an ambassador for Christ, 2 Cor. 5:20?)

So often, we talk about “the church” in a passive, third-person way. We are critical of her leaders, her activities (or lack thereof), and her members as if we are detached observers. The picture of the early church was of individuals who were personally invested. We are overcome by the consumer mindset of the culture when we sit back and take shots at the perceived shortcomings of our local congregation. Look at the New Testament Christians. Barnabas didn’t fret about how stingy or discouraging the church was; He was generous and encouraging (Acts 4:36-37). Stephen didn’t express his frustration at the church’s lack of courage and conviction; He literally preached himself to death (Acts 6-7). Dorcas didn’t wring her hands at how uncaring and detached the church was; She continually did deeds of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36). They may have been extraordinary in their actions, but they were just “regular members of the church.” They were the church. They didn’t sit in judgment of her. Why? They were too busy working to build her up. When I am tempted to play armchair analyst, I should begin with my own faithfulness and involvement. There is so much the Lord expects me to do to help the church. My investment may cause others to be grateful and excited to be a part of the church! I can most influence me (2 Cor. 13:5)! 

On January 20, 1961, in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, he uttered the famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” Here is the very ending of the address: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” If that is true of a citizen’s mindset of a nation, how much more a Christian’s mindset in that holy nation, the church? 

“Let Him Die”

“Let Him Die”

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

It sounds like an ad pitch when you say 9 out of 10 doctors agree about something. Chewing gum manufacturers, for example, would talk about how many dentists concurred about the safe use and benefits of certain brands of gum. This past summer, at the height of a health crisis, my doctors, who swore an oath to “do no harm,” told my parents to let me die. Yes, 9 out of 10 doctors thought I’d be better off dead. They said that even if I could recover, I would have no quality of life. My parents would have none of it. Through threats of litigation, my dad “persuaded” them to take those measures that led to my return from the brink. Nine out of ten doctors were wrong. I survived. They were correct about the impact on my singing voice thus far, but none of the other dire predictions proved accurate. 

The 13th Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop proved himself an ally to the pro-life movement in the United States cautioning how abortion led to a culture of death where even euthanasia becomes acceptable. Koop saved lives as a pediatrician in his civilian life. So, he asked why he should support the destruction of the thing he had long sought to preserve. That is a good question. Doctors affirm their intentions by stating the revised Hippocratic Oath. And, as they do so, they promise not to play God. But unfortunately, what Koop feared seems to be on the horizon. In addition to doctors willing to be instruments of death, you find collaborators in society at large in pop culture and government. Perhaps you have heard of certain billionaire humanists extolling the virtues of culling the global population. The verbiage of the “elite” makes it sound as if the vile demon of eugenics, as exercised in the early twentieth century by Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler, has returned.  

God is pro-life, as He is the author of it. David tells us that God is watching us being knit together in our mother’s womb during gestation (cf. Psalm 139). Furthermore, God indicated that a few of His servants had pre-birth life purposes bestowed on them by God (Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1.5; Paul, Galatians 1.15; John the Immerser, Luke 1.15; Samson, Judges 13.5). Finally, as the Messianic psalm states, God takes us from the womb (Psalm 22.9-10). How do we lose sight of this?  

First, we acknowledge that not everyone believes in God. With the absence of God, there can be no morality. Murder needs no excuse. It becomes expediency.

Second, people become callous. Research has enlightened us concerning how prevalent depictions of violence and death have become. Children play video games in which they blow opponents to bits with bullets and rockets. Adults watch television shows with blood and guts. When a pandemic comes along, you get a surreal feeling. You recognize death but feel emotionally impacted only when the coronavirus takes a kinsman. If you are tired and deal daily with death, what is one more non-related person in the morgue?

Third, there is selfishness. The infirm, demented, or chromosomally-impaired become too burdensome on a child or parent. Some European countries allow for euthanasia in such cases. It happens in the United States, too but through neglect and the provision of substandard care. (I know, I just lost an aunt under those circumstances.)

Finally, there are fiduciary factors. A patient becomes too expensive to sustain. Insurance or administrators want the plug pulled. It is nothing personal. It is just money. 

Please understand that I don’t believe that all doctors would react the same under the same circumstances. Indeed, I’ve had doctors pray with me, advocate for me, and acknowledge that God has extended my life. So there are faithful, Christian doctors. But nine out of ten doctors in their fellowship at the teaching hospital in which I found myself thought I should die. It is a sad commentary of where we find ourselves in the United States today. So choose life and advocate for it. 

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1.27 NASB1995) 

Two that never gave up on Brent were our parents (here is mom with him in late June).
“Stuff”

“Stuff”

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

garyandme521

Gary Pollard

We exist and interact with our reality. We drive cars, fly planes, take rockets to space, and use information technology. We study language arts and sciences. We have economies. We have feelings and opinions. We get incredible images from satellites that blow us away. We attempt to understand the complexities of life on this incredible rock. The more we learn, the more we are blown away.

We have stuff, so where did all this stuff come from? Something had to put it there. That something is clearly intelligent beyond our wildest imaginations. It would take an enormous amount of energy to fabricate all this stuff. Studying stars and galaxies leaves us dumbfounded at their sheer size and raw power. Naturalism is a comforting worldview because it removes the necessity for an entity powerful enough to create what we still don’t fully understand. Accepting the existence of such an entity forces us to admit that we’re powerless. That’s scary.

Anyways, stuff exists. We can’t do anything about that.

We have to assume that whoever’s responsible for reality is very advanced. When we research and develop incredible technologies, we’re just using extant material. Metals, power sources, polymers, silicones, electricity, all of this already exists. We just rearrange it into rockets or robots or ring lights. Whoever put everything here is, therefore, way ahead of us.

A handful of theories attempt to explain how everything got here. Many believe an explosion is responsible for reality, but cannot identify its origin. Some believe ancient aliens were responsible for life on earth, but cannot identify the origin of those aliens. Christians believe an intelligent being who exists without limitations of any kind was responsible. Of all the origin theories, this one is the most logical.

Unlike explosions or little gray men, our creator is deeply invested in his creation. He ensures our physical survival (Heb. 1.3). He gave humanity a way to live forever in a perfect world (1.3). Reality is one of the strongest evidences of a sentient, infinitely powerful being (Rom. 1.20). Once we face that reality, we have some choices to make. The choice we make determines our fate, and no choice is more critical.

(Free to use from Pixabay)
Be Still

Be Still

Excellent thoughts from my excellent daughter-in-law!

Life and Favor (Job 10:12)

By Janelle Pollard

I’m so tired.

I’m exhausted.

I would (fill in the blank with some kind of social activity or event you’ve been invited to attend), but I’ve got to get some sleep.

Do any of the above phrases sound familiar? (I’m sure Dale would respond with a resounding “yes,” if I asked him.) I rarely get enough sleep and all too often complain of being tired. Thankfully, this is something I can easily change with a little intention and discipline.

In our day and age, there is so much going on and are so many distractions to fill our minds and time that we rarely get enough (good) rest. But we need rest! Not only do we need quality sleep to be able to function and be happy, but we also need rest. If there is any evidence of how badly we…

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