The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

The Mystery Of The Thundering Voices

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

John is getting ready to faithfully record more of the incredible (and incredibly bizarre) visions in heaven as Revelation ten begins. However, the text says this, 

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the landand he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.” 10.1-4 

This wouldn’t be the first time that partial information is purposefully held back. The book of Daniel is considered to be “Revelation’s relative” and in Daniel 12 we see a similarity. The prophet understands that Israel will be destroyed and, understandably, he would like to know when these things will take place. 

“Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” 12.8 

The answers aren’t given and Daniel is left to wonder. The angels goes on to say, 

 “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” 

9-13 

We don’t get to know everything. In fact, we know based on these two accounts that God doesn’t reveal all of the information we’d like to know. We can rest peacefully knowing that God does reveal everything we need to know. For those of us who enjoy a good mystery, there are many to be found within scripture. 

The content shared by the thundering voices in Revelation 10 aren’t revealed in scripture. Perhaps because we don’t need to know these things. Maybe what was being said has already taken place, or maybe the information is beyond our earthly comprehension. God’s Word is a fascinating and incredible collection. It has the ability to save all of us— as well as the tendency to make us scratch our heads. 

3 Reasons Vacation Bible School Is Worth It!

3 Reasons Vacation Bible School Is Worth It!

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

This time of the year congregations are planning and preparing for another Vacation Bible School. When and why was this summer tradition started? It seems that even those who aren’t “church goers” still share childhood memories with those of us in the religious world. Across America kids will soon be drinking kool-aid and making Noah’s ark out of Popsicle sticks. They’ll also make memories that will stick with them for their whole lives.

The Hazy History 

 As much as this week means to many of us, one might assume the history to be well documented. However, who started the first VBS and when— is still debated. Some claim it all began in 1870, while others place the date closer to the 1920s. So the “when”’proves to be a little fuzzy, but the “why” seems constant. A thread that can be traced through many a VBS origin story is the reason it’s done. It was always designed with our children’s spiritual growth in mind. The goal was always to provide them wholesome entertainment while at the same time, introducing them to God and the Bible. 

So with that in mind… 

Here are 3 reasons why VBS is a worth the effort: 

  1. Youthful brains need this week. Studies done by Psych INFO, ERIC, MEDLINE, and Google Scholar as well as the University of Virginia library, all seem to agree that kids from 12-18 years old are the most impressionable. Meaning, the things they are taught and their experiences in these years will often impact their worldview for the rest of their lives. Any program within the church that’s geared towards teaching young people about Jesus can only have a positive influence on them. That window is relatively short so it’s crucial that parents do all they can to set them up for spiritual success. 
  2. Church families need this week. VBS takes a lot of work and it’s the kind of work that brings the church together. It’s mainly about the kids, but it’s not all about the kids. This is a time where members have an opportunity to bond and grow closer through the planning and preparation. Work days, crafts, skits, staff/teacher curriculum, decorating, T-shirt’s, and advertising all take teamwork. Team work is good work for good teams. 
  3. Adults need this week. The happiest among us are typically the children. With all of that work, the sweat, tears, and time that’s shoveled into this event— the payoff is the sound of an auditorium filled with energy and excitement. It’s good for adults to spend a week listening to the sound of voices singing loudly and unashamed. It’s good for the teachers and the chaperones to act and look a little ridiculous. There’s value in letting kids see us trade the khakis and neckties for face paint and costumes because it will send a message. To be a christian doesn’t mean to be serious, stoic, or stern— all the time. Those of us who have been members of the church for sometime know this to be true, but children who’s parents don’t think or speak highly of Christianity now have a chance to experience something to the contrary. 

While there might be mixed feelings about VBS within the church, there’s no denying it’s potential to effectively introduce Jesus to the young and young at heart. 

A picture of a Wyoming VBS from several decades ago.

12 Truths You Can Hang Your Hat On

12 Truths You Can Hang Your Hat On

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

In every chapter of Ecclesiastes you can expect at least two kinds of verses. At least one verse will make you wonder what Solomon is talking about and one verse will hit you in a profound way. As it turns out, humans haven’t changed that much over the years and our current experience of life share many similarities. Here are twelve amazing truths found in this book. 

1.4-8 

Some things never change. 

2.24-25 

Pleasing God will bring you more joy than chasing the things that bring momentary pleasure. 

3.9-11 

God has given us a desire to know the future. Because of this, we understand that while we don’t know the future we’re better off serving a God who does. 

4.9-12

It’s by design that we can accomplish more with help. God can do more with us when we are team players. 

5.19-20 

There’s joy to be found in hard work and that too is by design. Satisfaction is a natural feeling produced by the work of our hands. 

6.6

If you don’t find joy in life then life will drag on and feel slower. 

7.13-15 

When life is good, enjoy it. When life is hard— remember that it’s like that for everybody. Ups and downs are part of living. 

8.16-18 

This world is not just but don’t let that fool you into thinking that God isn’t just. We can’t understand how God’s mind operates in every circumstance. 

9.11-12 

Not everything happens for a reason! God might have a hand in any event, Satan may have something to do with it— or maybe it’s all a coincidence.

10.8-15 

Every job has it’s dangers but wisdom can make a job run smoother just as a sharp knife can make a task easier. 

11.7-8

It’s good to be alive! It’s nice to see the light from the sun. You should enjoy the life you live with eternity on your mind. 

12.11 

You can put your trust in any wisdom and teaching that comes from God. 

Each chapter of Ecclesiastes is filled with wisdom and life changing words. Our world needs to spend more time studying this inspired collection of truth. 

Dead Sea Scroll 109 (Ecclesiastes, commons image)
Twenty Lies We Tell Ourselves (And God’s Responses)

Twenty Lies We Tell Ourselves (And God’s Responses)

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard
  • “I did this by myself” (Deut. 8:17)
  • “I’ll do it tomorrow” (Prov. 27:1; Jas. 4:13)
  • “I’ve gone too far and done too much” (cf. Luke 15:13-24)
  • “I can’t do it!” (Num. 13:31; Phil. 4:13)
  • “Nobody will ever know!” (Ecc. 12:14; Rom. 2:16).
  • “I deserve this” (Luke 12:15-21;
  • “This feels right so it must be right” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25)
  • “I’m not good enough” (Eph. 1:6; Heb. 12:28)
  • “No one will miss me; I’m not needed” (1 Cor. 12:14-27)
  • “It won’t matter a thousand years from now” (Mat. 25:46)
  • “God is trying to keep me from enjoying life” (Gen. 3:4-6)
  • “I can quit anytime I want to” (John 8:34; Rom. 6:16; 2 Pet. 2:19)
  • “Everybody does it” (Exo. 23:2)
  • “I’m only hurting myself” (Luke 17:1-2; Rom. 14:13; 1 Cor. 8:9-13)
  • “If God loved me I wouldn’t be going through this” (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6)
  • “I can’t help it” (Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 9:27)
  • “I was born this way” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
  • “It’s too late for me” (Matt. 20:6-9)
  • “I don’t need help” (Ecc. 4:9-12)
  • “Nobody cares about me” (Rom. 8:35-39)

“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6)

via Pixabay (creative commons)
Exaleipsei

Exaleipsei

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

Jesus is the great healer and the Bible is full of passages that comfort, encourage, give endurance, and help us cope with a broken world. It’s full of so much more! A higher purpose gives us existential meaning, and the Bible outlines that purpose. It also has a few passages that fire me up, and those are the ones I want to share today.

Revelation 21

This is our reason to live the Christian life (Matt 19.28; Rom 8.18-25; I Pet 1.3-7, 13; 4.12-19; II Pet 1.3-4, 10-11; 3.3-13; I Jn 3.1-3). We’re looking forward to something much better, but what kind of stuff are we looking for?

  • –  Zero dysfunction! No pain, grief, disease, crime, taxes, tornados, war, death in general, aimbots (if you know you know), etc.
  • –  God gets rid of tears (Rev 21.4)! The context is a message of hope for early Christians who were dealing with devastating loss. But God will ἐξαλείψει all tears. Exaleipsei is future (will happen), and seems to be a comfort word. I had always pictured a Men in Black kind of thing, where all painful memories are obliterated and new ones made. But the word seems to indicate that an interaction with an infinitely compassionate Father will be more than adequate to get rid of any pain. If you’ve ever comforted a spouse or child who was grieving and physically wiped their tears away, that’s what this word describes.
  • –  Everything is brand new (21.5)! None of the junk that we’ve dealt with here will be compatible with our new home.It will be wildly exciting: the best accomplishments of each nation will be there (21.25-26). God and his son provide all we need (21.22-24). True unity exists because we’ll all be on the same side (21.27). No need for healthcare or accountants or coroners or search and rescue or militaries or law enforcement! Those exist to push back against evil, which won’t exist in our new home. Revelation 21 is a rich chapter, but it’s full of excitement! God doesn’t speak empty words. Take him at his word and read the chapter very carefully. It’s hard to walk away from that study without getting pumped for heaven!!!
Test His Truth

Test His Truth

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

(now the pulpit minister of the Tompkinsville church of Christ, Tompkinsville, KY)

   With countless opinions and information out there, God is just another “option” and the Bible is just “good advice to follow.” Dave Mustaine summed up how many people feel when he said, “The Bible and several other self help or enlightenment books cite the Seven Deadly Sins. They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth, and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that we do, that is sinful… or fun for that matter.”

Is the Bible just an ancient “self-help” book that tells us not to do anything fun? Questioning God is not something new. Even Epicurus said, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?” I truly believe that you can understand who God is just based on scripture. When He gave that book to man, He gave us a piece of Himself.

God wants a relationship with us (I Peter 5:6-7). This is why He has purposefully informed us about Himself. People need God whether they know it or not. I’d encourage you, as an individual,  to put the Bible on trial. Put the accuracy of its pages to the test. It has withstood hundreds of years of accusations and doubt. Often we are able to grow in our faith and belief as a result of seeking and searching. As His church, we have a responsibility to proclaim the excellence of our creator. We do it by our love for others, exposing the evidence of His existence, and introducing Jesus every opportunity we have. 

 
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.
But Grow In Grace And Knowledge…

But Grow In Grace And Knowledge…

GUEST WRITER: Charlie Smith

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“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18

Peter writes this letter knowing that he’s going to die soon (2 Peter 1:14), and he wants the church to remember his teachings after he’s gone (1:15). This illustrates how deeply invested Peter was in the church’s success:

  • He had been on the ground floor of Jesus’s ministry, literally walking off the job site, leaving everything behind, to become a fisher of men
  • He had seen the crucifixion, the empty tomb, and the pierced side of his resurrected savior
  • He had helped the church grow from 120 to untold thousands covering the entire known world in one generation

And now Peter realizes that he’s soon going to be gone and the church will not have the direct guidance of the apostles but instead will need their indirect guidance through the New Testament writings. What are the last words of this apostle, his final thoughts for the church that he loved so dearly, which continue to echo down to us today as the spiritual successors of those first-century Christians?

Always keep growing!

First, he asks us to grow in the grace of Christ. When we obey the gospel, our sins are completely forgiven; God forgets them; we are “saved to the uttermost,” according to Hebrews 7:25, and when we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:7). So how can we grow in something that is complete?

I think a key is found in 2 Cor. 12:7-9. Paul has been given this thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment him, and he prays three times that the Lord will take it away. But God tells Paul that His grace is sufficient. It was enough that Paul was a Christian; Paul did not need any particular problem taken away; God’s grace sufficed.

Likewise, no matter what we face in this life, it really doesn’t matter if we’re a Christian.  God’s grace is enough. It takes effort and maturity, though, to gain this perspective. We need to keep growing in the grace of Christ!

Second, Peter asks us to grow in the knowledge of Christ. This is an easier interpretation: We must go to The Book! In my experience, and from what I’ve observed in others, those who grow as Christians are those who study the Bible on their own, digging in to see for themselves what God says. The preacher who baptized me told me one time that, in addition to his other study, he read a chapter a day from Proverbs and the gospels because he wanted to remain connected to the wisdom of God and the heart of Jesus; this is the attitude of someone who, know matter how much they know about the Bible, is still striving to grow in the knowledge of Christ.

May we all have this desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We’ve been blessed to have the Smiths at Lehman since last August. Charlie begins work as an economics professor at Freed-Hardeman next month. We’re so sad for us, but very happy for them. What a wonderful family!
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. 

New Life From Ancient Seeds

New Life From Ancient Seeds

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

The Winter 2020 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review has a fascinating article about a recently completed project involving date palm seeds from the Judean Wilderness. The Judean Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera) was widely grown and sold for at least 1600 years, from at least the fifth-century B.C. until the 11th-century A.D. Archaeological excavations at Masada, Qumran, and Wadi Makukh netted several ancient seeds which researchers then went to work to try and germinate. Of the 32 planted, six germinated. It takes 4-10 years for female palm trees to produce fruit, and in the fall of 2019 this extinct fruit tree was brought back (“New Fruit From Old Seeds,” BAR, Vol. 46, No. 5, Megan Sauter, p. 18-19). 

To me, it’s particularly fitting that such a discovery and experiment transpired in the very area where the church was established. The fact that ancient seed was planted and successfully produced results today serves as an illustration of a Bible truth. Peter wrote, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:22-23). Peter draws on an imagery he heard his Lord use in His parables (Luke 8:11). Other New Testament writers draw the same analogy (1 Cor. 3:6-9). They planted the Word and it produced disciples of Jesus. How do we produce true followers of Him today? We plant the same, ancient seed. The researchers involved in the Judean date palm project had to soak and fertilize those seeds to coax their growth, but their perseverance paid off in reestablishing the original, fruit-bearing tree. 

How often in history have people taken the ancient seed, planted it in hearts, watered it, tended it, and produced the exact same thing despite the passing of centuries? Restoring New Testament Christianity is possible. In fact, if we believe the Bible, it’s necessary. If we plant what they planted, the living and enduring word, we will have what they had–purified souls who obey the truth and are born again. We cannot give up on that principle. It’s essential, but also doable! Let’s be looking for new soil to plant that ancient seed in, then watch God work! 

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