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. 
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HUMILITY AND RELIEF

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HUMILITY AND RELIEF

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Peter has just told younger men to be subject to elders (1-5), and for each group to conduct themselves with humility toward each other. The motivation for this is to avoid God’s rejection. Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 to reinforce the point. 

Peter then urges everyone to humble themselves in their relationship with God. That’s the same word that describes what Jesus did by being obedient to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:8). It means to go lower, to surrender prestige or status (BDAG 990). This humbling concerns a specific aspect of all of our lives. Each of us has “anxiety” to cope with. By definition, an anxiety is “a feeling of apprehension or distress in view of possible danger or misfortune” (Louw-Nida 312). 

Right now, there are no doubt things which make you apprehensive and distressed. You may be facing danger or misfortune. On some level and to some degree, that describes the pressure and reality for nearly all of us these days. As beings created with the freedom of choice, we can try to cope with that ourselves with our own coping tools. Maybe, in our pride, we boast in our own ability to handle it all. Not only is that a delusion and a self-deception, it is flirting with disaster. Why not choose a better way? Peter lays that out for us. 

Let’s survey the facts here.

GOD IS ABLE–You are entrusting yourself in His mighty hand. He is in control and has the power to rule in every situation. This is the same hand He holds you in the hollow of (Isa. 40:12). 

GOD IS AWARE–He has the exclusive benefit of perfect foreknowledge. He knows what is going on now and He can see what will happen. As He works through time and events, He is choosing the proper time to lift you as you have surrendered yourself to His power and His wisdom. He knows everything that is going on in your situation. In fact, He knows about it at a much more intimate level than even you do.

GOD IS AFFECTIONATE–What motivates Him to act? He cares for you! Peter is telling us to throw all our anxiousness on God, like the disciples threw their coats on the colt so that Jesus could sit on it (Luke 19:35). Take each burden, fear, and worry you are carrying right now, that is weighing you down, and toss it into His mighty hand (a hand you will examine and find very capable–read Isaiah 40:12 again). Peter says He feels anxious concern for us. Sure, He can handle it. But it’s more than that. He wants to handle it. Why? Because you mean that much to Him!

I read this promise and I admonish myself. Why am I trying to carry this all by myself when God is offering to do this for me? He tells me to get myself out of the way and let Him handle this. Faced with my limitations and His limitless resources, it is futile and foolish to face these distressing matters in any other way! 

“All Our Yesterdays” 

“All Our Yesterdays” 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

The original Star Trek series’ penultimate episode (“All Our Yesterdays”) had a compelling plot about how the residents of a planet chose to save themselves from impending doom from when their star would go nova. There were disks within a library enabling travel through a machine to any point in the planet’s past. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, the show’s leading trio of protagonists, inadvertently got sent back into two different epochs of the planet’s history. Fortunately for the three, their bodies had not been “prepared” for living in the past. Thus, they could return. No sooner were they able to return to the library that the librarian, Atok, leaped into the machine just in time to be spared the planet’s destruction. Kirk signaled the ship to transport himself, the science officer, and the doctor to theEnterprise. In the remastered version, the star explodes, and you see the planet they had been on being dissolved as the ship moves away and the end credits begin to roll.   

“All Our Yesterdays” is one of my favorite Star Trek episodes. It is a favorite since I wonder what it might be like to live within our planet’s past. If I could pick up with my life in the 1950s, would I do it? Before watching a program about the CIA’s overthrow of a legitimate Guatemalan government in the 1950s to help an American banana company, I might have said, “yes.” It turns out that my idealized slice of Americana had a moldy underside. I had seen other signs of this, of course. However, I still clung to the idea that the 1950s HAD to be better than today. The politicians of the 1950s were just as “swampy” as they are today, though. The only difference was how the press chose to cover them. And even if there were the “June and Ward Cleavers” of America, vis-à-vis Leave It to Beaver, there were likewise the Rosa Parkses having to sit at the back of the bus and drink from separate water fountains because of skin color. As Solomon reminds us, “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1.9 NASB1995). That truth means that there truly was no ideal time for fallen humanity, despite our desire for there to be so. 

Psychology suggests we indulge in nostalgia more often when we are depressed than happy. We use nostalgia like medicine to treat our sadness. However, like the “wrong” flu shot, e.g., Type A vaccine for a Type B outbreak, it may not rectify the problem but make it more bearable. Since nostalgia does not “solve” our problems, it is incredible that it becomes a panacea for some. Such cannot be said of the Apostle Paul, though. The Apostle Paul was not one to indulge nostalgia even when reflecting on his past (Philippians3.2-11). He considered his past achievements under Judaism as rubbish (8). Paul told us to strive to live in the future of a better tomorrow instead (Philippians 3.12-14). Paul said that his “today” belonged to the church’s work (Philippians 1.21-26). And Paul encouraged us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11.1).   

It may be that all our yesterdays may seem sweeter to us but may we ever “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3.14 NASB1995).  

 

Two Cats On A Clothes Line

Two Cats On A Clothes Line

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

Did you know that there can be union without having unity? A union is an association or group formed by people with a common interest or purpose, while unity is the state of being united or joined together as a whole. There can be union without unity. For example, you can tie two cats together by their tails and throw them over a clothes line. By doing so you have created a union, but there won’t be unity between these two cats, only fighting and chaos.

The church formed by Christ is a union, but that doesn’t mean there will always be unity. God understood this when He created the church. He knew that we wouldn’t always get along, so He gave us His word to help us in this matter. Paul spends a few chapters in the book of Romans discussing Christians and their relationships. In 12:17-13:14 he writes about our relationship with the world. In Romans 14:1-16:27,  his focus is on getting along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Beginning in chapter 15, Paul spends a few verses talking about the responsibility of those who are strong in faith. Romand 15:1-3 says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

Paul commands the strong in faith to bear the weakness of those without strength (be patient), not be pleasers of self (Phil. 2:3-4), do that which is for the weaker ones’ good, and follow the example of Christ. Paul then spends a moment talking about the power and importance of the Old Testament in verse four.. It was written to teach us (there’s value in studying the O.T.), it was written to encourage us (by reading of faithful people, as in Heb. 11), and it also helps us achieve unity through its teachings. The rest of this chapter is focused on unity. We are given many commands on how to grow our relationship with each other.

Why should we follow these commands? It brings about unity in Christ. Have you ever driven a car that backfires? Or that isn’t firing on all cylinders? It is usually caused by an engine that is out of timing, faulty wiring, or fouled spark plugs. A church that isn’t unified in Christ, runs like a car that is mechanically unstable. Without unity and timing in the cylinders, you experience a lack of horse power and worsened gas mileage. It fails to function the way it was designed to run. The Lord’s body needs maintenance and work in order to function properly.

Our relationship with one another helps us to achieve this perfect unity and efficient operation. A great example of unity is a snowflake. While it is a rare sighting in Alabama, we know what they look like. Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together. The church is made up of fragile and imperfect people, but through unity we can accomplish so much more for Christ.

Proceed

Proceed

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

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Gary Pollard

I have some hobbies/passions that require caution: motorcycles, shooting, off-roading, auto mechanics. These are things that could be dangerous, but are enjoyable and safe if appropriate caution is used.
 
The reason any person would get on a motorcycle or under their vehicle or into a swamp or behind an optic is the reward associated with those activities. There’s no freedom like riding back roads or around beautiful scenery on a cruiser. Saving hundreds on auto repairs makes the effort worth it. Seeing how much mud/water/rock/terrain you can keep moving through is a blast. Racing the timer and improving consistency, all while hearing the satisfying “ding” of a steel target is exhilarating.
 
If an activity is enjoyable – potentially risky, but fun – we tend to do it anyway, with appropriate caution. Even those who don’t enjoy these kinds of activities are likely licensed drivers and are glad to assume the risks involved with driving (according to the WHO, 1.25 million die in a wreck worldwide every year, with an additional 20-50 million getting injured or disabled).
 
I cannot justify being willing to assume risks in many other aspects of my life, but cutting out the one aspect that impacts eternity. The CDC has accidents as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Most of us drive to go anywhere or do anything more than a mile or so away, and we do this without a second thought.
 
Even if Christian fellowship were the most dangerous activity possible (for many in the early church it was, for some today it might be), we should be willing to pursue it. We could never hope for a greater reward than we will receive for the risk we might assume when we come together as a church.
 
(Acts 2:42; Hebrews 10:25)