The Doom of Jerusalem 

 The Doom of Jerusalem 

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

Have you ever been to a “show and tell”? Maybe it was in school and the teacher asked you to get up in front of the class and show a particular object and explain and talk a little bit about it. I remember as a child dragging my giant yellow dump truck to class and showing everyone how the scoop on the back worked. I was very proud of it and after the class I sat on the truck and rode it down the hill in the parking lot. 

Jeremiah’s “show and tell” was not nearly as lighthearted. Instead of bringing a toy truck to show the people, he brought a sword and began to shave his face with it. The hair that he shaved off was what has been left alive by the people. The point of him dividing it into thirds was to make a point. That one third are the ones that survived the siege. Then the few that survive will be taken off but taken care of by God. In Zechariah 13 we find out that the fire of destruction took care of the first third. This wasn’t a fire that was meant to refine them. 

When we look at accounts like these it should make us think. Why was that account there? It’s definitely for our learning, but what is it that we need to take away? I believe at least two lessons can be learned from this. The first is that God will keep His word. If God says that He is going to punish the wicked for their wickedness, then He will most definitely do so. The second lesson to be learned is that in all of this, we can clearly see God’s love. Did God have to take care of the remnant? We know from previous scripture that God wanted to destroy them all at one point and start over. God still cares for His people and He still saw them through their trials, despite what they had done to Him. As His children today we need to realize that even though God may not necessarily strike us down on the spot for rejecting Him, He still takes it just as seriously. God still feels the same about selfishness and a self-serving lifestyle. It’s an ongoing battle to put away those human desires that pull us away from God but it’s a supernatural force that allows us to remain close to Him. 

Hosea and the Harlot

Hosea and the Harlot

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

The book of Hosea is like no other book in the Bible. It even stands out from the other books of prophecy in the Old Testament. Hosea was commanded to prophecy to the nation of Israel just like other men during this time period, but unlike other prophets Hosea’s message was directly tied to his personal life. He spoke to Israel and was motivated by the personal experiences that were happening to him in his life. 

Hosea was commanded by God to marry the harlot Gomer (1:2). Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea served as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. As the account unfolds, Hosea and Gomer have three children whose names are used to send Israel a very specific message. While this book may seem harsh and almost cruel, let’s notice the main idea of Hosea. 

Hosea reveals to us the depth of God’s unending love for His children, a love that is never failing but also a love that tolerates no rivals. The people that God has chosen as His own must recognize that His love must come first above anyone and everything else. This fact is seen in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. In chapter 1:2-11, we are introduced to Hosea’s family. He has a wife and three kids, but Gomer doesn’t stick around long. She leaves Hosea and goes back to her life of harlotry. There’s a symbolic message that Hosea uses in his prophecy. He compares Israel’s actions to what his wife did to him. They left their union with God to live a life of sin. 

While most of us would find it hard to love someone if they did these things to us, God still continued to love Israel. Hosea 3:1 says, “And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” God’s love is truly unending towards His children. The book of Hosea clearly illustrates this point. 

By reading this book we can know that God’s forgiveness is available to everyone at any point. Not only do we get a glimpse of God’s attitude towards those who have left Him, we also see a personal example of how much God is willing to do in order to restore His relationship with us. 

Hosea truly is a unique book. The prophet married a woman that he knew would eventually betray his trust. He knew the pain and heartache that would come from her unfaithfulness to him, but it was all done so that we could better understand God’s love and dedication towards imperfect and sinful man. 

God Shows His Love

God Shows His Love

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

As Christians we are called to love like God (John 13:34). If we are to love each other in the same way that God loved us we need to ask how God shows His love? People claim that there are generally five love languages that every person relates to: 

        • Words of Affirmation
        • Quality Time
        • Gift Giving
        • Acts of Service
        • Physical touch

Each one of us feels love in different ways. Your love language may be different than mine, and your spouse’s love language may not be the same as yours. God has shown His creation that He loves us by speaking and interacting with us using all five languages. 

Words of affirmation. When we use words of affirmation we think of phrases like: “You’re the only one for me baby” or “You mean so much to me” or even “Let’s go get Krispy Kreme.”  We use words of affirmation to show our love to our significant others. God has done the same for us. In showing His love God said to us, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (Isa. 54:10). God uses words of affirmation and has told us that His love will never depart from us. Even when we deserted Him and chose to live a life of sin, God still kept His word. He loved us even when we were corrupted by sin (Rom. 5:8). Words of affirmation are a way to tell someone how you feel. God opened up to us through His word, and He revealed that He loves us more than we will ever be able to understand. 

Quality time. God desires nothing more than to spend quality time with His creation. In the beginning God spent quality time in the presence of Adam and Eve. He longs for this to be the case again in heaven. Sin ruined any chance of spending quality time with Him. But God showed that He loved us. And He looks forward to the day when He can dwell with His children for an eternity. 1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” I can’t think of a better way to spend quality time with God than by having Him abide in me. He loves us and He desires to spend quality time with you and me.

Gift giving.  God has clearly expressed His love to us through gift giving by giving us someone that is invaluable. “God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Want to see God’s love? Look at what He has sacrificed for you. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God expressed His love by giving a gift that has the power to eternally change our spiritual outcome. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). There is no denying that God has expressed His love to us through gifts. 

Acts of service. A person that feels loved through acts of service enjoys acts such as: cleaning out the garage, washing the car, doing the dishes, or folding the laundry. They feel loved because they recognize that their spouse cares enough about them to make their life easier. It’s love that is felt when a spouse sacrifices their time and energy to do something for you. God has shown His love to us through several different acts of service. Christ took on the sin of the world so that we wouldn’t be condemned by it. Christ illustrated this in the flesh when He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13). What does this say about God? It says that He loves you more than you love yourself. It says that the God of the universe is willing to place Himself below His own creation. It says that God’s love is so perfect and strong that He will grab a rag and wash the feet of imperfect men. There’s no denying that someone loves you when they are willing to humble themselves and serve you. This is exactly what God has done for us. 

 Physical touch. A person that feels loved through physical touch is looking for connection. They feel love when they are close to their spouse, they experience love through the physical side of their relationship. While God doesn’t physically touch us today to show His love, He has done it in the past. Mark 1:40ff, “And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” Leprosy was a disease that immediately made you an outcast. If you had this disease you were considered unclean and you were forced to live in isolation from everyone else (Lev. 13:45-46). The leper was forced to live alone because this disease was spread through physical touch. This is what makes what Jesus did even more incredible. Jesus didn’t have to touch the leper, but He went above and beyond by physically touching him. God expressed His love through the physical touch of a compassionate Savior. 

We serve a God that has displayed His love to us perfectly. He has shown it to each one of us, and we will never deserve the love that He gives. Thank God for His love! 

GOD BENT DOWN, BUT THE PEOPLE BENT AWAY 

GOD BENT DOWN, BUT THE PEOPLE BENT AWAY 

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

The story of Hosea is a microcosm of the human experience. In chapter eleven, God appeals to the people to understand how much He loved His people. God loved Israel, but the people loved the Baals (1-2). God healed them, but they did not know that He did (3). He held them with cords of love (4), but they preferred the bonds of Assyria with their swords and their fires (4-7). One way God depicts this is by saying, essentially, I bent down to feed them, but His people were bent on turning from Him (4,7). 

Have you ever reached down to feed your child only to have that child bend away in disgust and disapproval? Especially is this true when the food is good for them but does not taste good to them. Hopefully, in the process of training and development, they get over this tendency. Yet, God paints the picture of His children doing the same thing as they reject their Almighty Creator for a world that hates them.

When Hosea says God “bent” down, he uses a word found over 200 times in the Old Testament. Often, when referring to God’s outstretched hand, the writers are referring to it being extended in judgment against man (especially in Isaiah where we see the repeated phrase, “His hand is still stretched out,” several times in chapters 9 and 10). But that mighty hand is gently reaching down to care for, love, and hold His wayward people. But what do they do when He bends down? With rigid posture, they stubbornly turn away. They call Him “God Most High” but they do not honor Him with submission and obedience.

But then I consider my circumstance. Through Christ, God made the ultimate gesture of reaching down. Jesus allowed Himself to be lifted up on the cross, but this was God extending Himself and His love to me (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20). In my daily life, what do I do with His outstretched hand. Am I ever determined to turn away from Him by my rebellion and self-will? I need to see how utterly foolish and self-defeating that is, and I need to see it for what it is. I am rejecting the love, the help, and the grace of the Omnipotent One who longs to be in a relationship with me. What do I hope to get anywhere else that can even compare to that? Thank God that His Word draws me back and reminds me of what He’s done for me and what He wants to do for me! May I be wise and humble enough to reach up when He reaches down! 

The Foundation For Happiness

The Foundation For Happiness

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

Do you want to be happy? In answering this question, many in the church will tell you to “fulfill your purpose.” While this is true, serving God and proclaim Him to others will bring happiness, there’s a very important foundation that is a driving point for our Christianity.
 
While it is true that we have been given the opportunity to tell others about the gospel, and we no longer have to worry about what we should be doing with our lives, what happens if we try to fulfill this command without love?
 
True happiness is built on the foundation of loving God. Now before you start thinking that this is one of those “easier said than done” articles, notice a few verses with me. Just saying that we love God won’t bring happiness. We must have a true sacrificial love for Him. To help us make this goal more attainable we must ask ourselves, “Why do I love God?”
 
I Love God because…
 
He deserves to be loved. Think of all the ways He has blessed us. Forgiveness, Heaven, and every earthly blessing we have. God deserves to be loved by His creation, but even more than that,,,
 
He commanded us to love Him. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:5‬).
 
Loving God isn’t a suggestion. If we claim to be His children, we must love Him the way He has told us to love Him. This means we love Him with all our:
 
Heart (center of emotion). It is not only an external action, but an internal affection that influences all our actions. He wants a heart so filled with love that it is shown in secret as well as in public.
 
Soul. The immortal part of our being is thoroughly filled with a love for God. It’s deeper than the physical.
 
Might. Our thoughts, speech and actions should all be influenced by a love for God.
 
Loving God means we love others. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
 
Not only do we love God with every aspect of our being, but we love those created in His image. Jesus goes on to say that all of the law and the prophets hangs on these two commands.
 
We serve God because we love Him. We fulfill our purpose because every part of our being is consumed with a love for God. Do you want to be happy? Love God, love His creation. Build a foundation of love and your faith and service to God will have no limits
ROMANS 5:5 AND THE LOVE OF GOD

ROMANS 5:5 AND THE LOVE OF GOD

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

Romans 5.5 is a verse that I know I’ve read many times, but never paid attention to. 

It says, “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” 

This whole section of Scripture is awesome, but this verse really caught my attention. How is the love of God poured into our hearts? How do we experience this? Is it a feeling or understanding? Are we given a sense of calm knowing we are saved? 

Context reveals that Jesus showed this love by dying for those who hated Him. God’s love is experienced through Jesus’ death (Romans 5.6, 8). So in that sense, we are able to access God through the sacrifice Jesus made with the Spirit who was given to us. 

However, it does seem that the love mentioned in verse five is something a little different. 

Firstly, it isn’t the only thing we have with God. We also have peace with God and grace (Romans 5.1, 2). The context of this chapter and much of the next is about the benefits of salvation. 

Secondly, the love of God seems to be pretty directly applied. The word “poured” in 5.5 is ἐκχέω (encheo), which means, “to cause to fully experience” (BDAG 312). It’s also a perfect passive verb, which means it was poured in the past and continues to be poured; God was the one doing the pouring. 

The destination of this love is our (that is, those who are saved) hearts. When we have been justified, and when we take pride in our trials because they develop endurance, proven character, and hope, God pours love into our hearts. 

Because of the multitude of “for”s and “therefore”s following this verse, I lean more towards the idea that this love is something we experience as a result of gaining rational confidence of our salvation through Christ. 

My goal in writing this article is not necessarily to explain Romans 5.5 – I do not pretend to know the answer – but to hopefully provoke thought and demonstrate the depth of scripture. I love these difficult passages, and hope that you will study them as well. 

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​GOD ONLY HAS CHILDREN

​GOD ONLY HAS CHILDREN

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

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Brent Pollard

Have you ever noticed that God only references His people as “children”? He never calls any of us His “grandchildren” or “great-grandchildren.” The reason God does not is that it is up to each new generation to find the Law of the Lord. I fear some of the problems creeping into churches stem from the fact there are those with an inherited faith from a parent seeking to be a “grandchild” of God. God sent His Son to redeem us and make us His adopted children (Galatians 4.4-5). It is as the adopted child God wants us to live. And how sad is it for people to deny themselves of that benefit? The adoption as children gives us the boldness to call upon Him as our Father (Romans 8.15). One day this adoption will enable the redemption when we enter eternity (Romans 8.23).
It is true it is easier to do as our parents and grandparents did religiously. In other words, it is easier to be a parrot mimicking everything around you religiously. If that is your choice, however, allow me to suggest you do not have the boldness to call upon God as your Father. Frankly, you may not even feel close to Him at all. In such a state, religion often becomes a cold formality in which one goes through his checklist seeking to do those things he feels will please God. If attempting to be a grandchild of God, then do not expect to receive the promises reserved solely for God’s heirs, His children.
Yes, God only has children. Are you one of His children? If you are, how faithful have you been to Him? Do not be as the prodigal son. Remain steadfast in your Father’s house and wait for the eternal redemption promised to God’s children.
Walking with God In a Fallen World

Walking with God In a Fallen World

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

God’s desire from the very beginning of creation was to walk with man. Scripture tells us that He would walk in the garden in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). This was all undone when sin entered the world and created a chasm between God and mankind.
The theme of the Bible is the salvation of man, through Christ, to the glory of God. From the moment sin entered the world, God has been proactive in seeking a relationship with His creation. Through the perfect sacrifice of Christ, that relationship has been restored, and we are once again able to walk with God.
Even though we have peace with God again, at times it feels like we don’t have peace in our everyday lives. We turn on the news and watch as courthouses are set on fire, and a widespread virus continues to harm and kill people that we love. Yes, we have peace with God, but where is the peace in our own lives?
These are questions that most everyone has asked. But there’s one question I want us to focus on for a few moments; how does God want us to react to the events that are going on today? Let’s examine three encouraging verses that tell us how we are to conduct ourselves each day.
Proverbs 15:3. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” God sees the violence, the grieving families, the struggling Christian. But God also sees how His children respond. God is in every part of His creation, at every moment in time. We may feel like He doesn’t see, or that He is indifferent to what’s going on, but His eyes are on the evil and the good. We respond in love because we know that God is watching.
Psalm 23:4. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” God not only sees what is going on, but He is with His children. The greatest of Christians still struggle with feelings of loneliness (Elijah in 1 Kings 19). Even though we walk through the shadow of death, we don’t fear the evil that we encounter because God has promised that He will be with us. We may see the hate, the hurt and the helplessness of mankind, but the comfort of God gives hope to His people.
Matthew 28:20. “…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is a promise first given by Jesus to His apostles, a promise that we as Christians sometimes fail to remember. The world isn’t perfect because sin has corrupted what God has made perfect. People will do you wrong, they’ll hurt you, and they’ll do whatever they feel like doing. We have a command to fulfill, and it can only be carried out with the presence of God.
Showing love to a world that’s full of hatred can seem impossible at times, but if we will remember who we are and Whose we are, we can and will get it done. Remember that God loves you, and the church loves you. Let’s be an example to those who are without this love.
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God Shall Wipe Away All Tears

God Shall Wipe Away All Tears

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

Tears are a very interesting and important part of the human anatomy. Tears are produced by the tear gland, which are small glands that are in our upper eyelid. Tears keep the surface of your eyeball clean, and help protect your eye from damage. But there’s another function of tears. They appear when we experience heartache and sadness. They form when we encounter joy, heartbreak, and sometimes for no reason with some people.

When we cry because of something emotionally painful, most of the time we wish that the problem never would’ve happened In the first place. Tears are a natural part of life. It’s going to happen, no matter how tough we claim to be. At some point we are going to break under the pressure of this world. That’s why I’d like to spend a few moments in one of the most encouraging passages of scripture in the Bible, Isaiah 25:8-9. In these two verses we will notice three painful types of tears that will be wiped away.

It reads, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

The first type of tears that will be wiped away are tears of death (v. 8). Every human on earth will experience death. Our lives will end in death, and scattered all throughout our days on earth we will lose those we love. Death is terrible. It tears us apart– we feel like we are drowning in heartbreak– that this pain will never end. We have to watch as mothers and fathers lose their children, children lose their parents, and spouses lose each other. Death is inevitable and something none of us ever want to go through. But there will come a day when we will never have to shed a tear over a loved one. We will never stand at a graveside again. God will make sure that his children never have to experience this heartache ever again. I long for heaven because the tears of death will be wiped away.

He will wipe away the tears of disgrace (8b). We can all agree that this world is full of evil. There is murder, rape, liars, gossip, and broken homes. This world is a place full of tears over the pain that comes from evil. Homes are torn apart and hearts are broken over the sin of others. A day will come when Christ will wipe away all tears (Rev. 21:4).  A day will come when Christ will mend the hearts of the broken. David spoke of his Joy in God. He says, “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psa. 30:10-11). As Christians we can turn to God with hope, knowing that He is our helper and strength. We don’t have to face the evil of this world on our own. God can turn our heartache into Joy. He can wipe away the tears that sin has placed in our eyes. A time will come when the tears of disgrace will be wiped away.

God will wipe away the tears of distance and discouragement (9). It is common after a tragedy has occurred to hear someone pray, “Jesus come quickly.” We say this because we know that Christ is our way of escape from this world. Christ is our hope. We want Him to come back, to help us escape the sin that is around us. Sometimes this distance from God can cause us to become discouraged and to think that He isn’t coming back to save us. God will wipe away the tears of discouragement.

And on that day we will say, “This is OUR God.” The God that we have placed all hope and faith in. “This is OUR God that we have waited on to save us.” “This is OUR God that has brought us salvation.” The day will come when God will wipe away the tears that have been formed by the distance and discouragement we encounter on earth.

The day will also come when we will be judged for how we lived on earth. Can we say that we have waited on God? Can we rejoice in His return? Can we truthfully say that we have placed our faith and hope in God? On that day our tears will either be wiped away, or they will continue on into eternity. The question we must ask ourselves is this:  “Will God wipe away my tears?”

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Great song

God Is Always In Control

God Is Always In Control

Neal Pollard

While the knowledge of my fear of snakes is widespread, some of the events of my past that hardened that horror as less so. A couple of years before moving to Colorado, we were hit by Hurricane Isabel. On our one acre lot, we had well over 100 trees. In fact, about 100 of them fell in that storm, which was the deadliest and costliest of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season. Cleanup took months, as the storm shook up the environment in some notable ways. To me, the most disturbing was that it forced a great many copperhead snakes out of their dry dens and rocky hillsides down into neighborhoods like ours. In the course of several months of cutting and removing trees, we ran into about a dozen of these demonic creatures. 

On one occasion, a copperhead was near my foot. Also near my foot was a garden hoe, which I promptly dispatched for the purpose of eliminating this threat. To my utter dismay, the blade of the hoe, put to the head of the snake, sank into the rain-softened ground. Rather than killing the snake, it made it mad. At this point, I was in a quandary. Pushing the hoe harder was not causing further harm to the snake, but releasing the snake from the hoe felt like a bad option, too. For what seemed like a week, I continued to work the hoe on that copperhead until it was hurt badly enough for me to properly finish the job.

Have you ever been caught on the horns of a dilemma which seemed bigger than you? As you were in the throes of it, you prayed, pleaded, and petitioned God for help. You realized that without His help, you were in big trouble. It could have been regarding your health, finances, a relationship, a sin struggle, or big decision. Most of us become keenly aware of our need of God’s intervention in moments like those. Yet, it is a helpful reminder that even when life is not so scary or circumstances are less dramatic, God is still in control. Our prayers should reflect this. Our plans should be governed by it. Our priorities should show that we get that.

What will happen to our nation in time to come? What might the church face that scares and intimidates us? What could happen in our individual lives that fills us with dread? No matter what, trust that God is always in control. Take heart in this truth: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident” (Psalm 27:1-3). 

In other words, God is always in control!

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