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evangelism purpose soul-winning Uncategorized

Avoid Being Ironic

Neal Pollard

Friday night, Carl and I flew to Bismarck, North Dakota. Why? Well, of course, we wanted to attend the “Melita Banana Days” in Melita (pronounced Meh LIT Uh), Manitoba. That, and stay in a Bed and Breakfast in Carnduff, Saskatchewan, that doubles as an ice cream shop. Saturday night, we were back in our own beds sleeping. While we were registering at the festival  on Saturday morning and talking with some of the organizers, we told them we had flown up from Colorado to check them out. From what we could tell, we were the only attendees from America. They were mildly intrigued by that fact, but basically brushed us off. Which was fine. We also wanted to check out Oak Lake beach about 60 miles north of there. But it was ironic to read on their website that this event is about promoting tourism. Perhaps our tepid reception was an exception to how they welcomed outsiders checking them out.

On a family vacation not too long ago, our family visited a small congregation on a Wednesday night. We drew a few stares from the local members as we took our seat right as Bible class began. Afterward, we were briefly greeted by one member who explained that their little group was going to have a meeting to discuss strategies for being more evangelistic. We were a family of strangers to them, and we might have been newcomers or non-Christians. They would not know. None of them tried to connect with us. We were essentially shown the door. We found this ironic.

It is ironic to sing, pray, preach, teach, and otherwise emphasize about the church’s mission and then to practically ignore it. Our assemblies are foremost about worshipping God and building up the body, but even first-century gatherings were attended by those other than the local Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 14:22-25).  In our zeal to deepen and build our relationships with one another, we must not ignore or be cold toward those who “enter” our assemblies. Instead, we should seek opportunities to start conversations and create opportunities to open doors which lead them to Christ. Certainly, they should leave our assemblies aware of our intense interest in them. To do otherwise is to undermine our very purpose and mission. That would be the ultimate irony!

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Bear Valley church of Christ Daily Bread Neal Pollard Pollard blog Uncategorized

SINGAPORE SAYS NO TO ASHLEY MADISON

Neal Pollard

Ashley Madison, which markets itself as an extramarital dating service with the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair,” has used email campaigns and other advertising including a controversial Super Bowl Ad a few years ago.  While it is appalling that such a service could exist, it is more appalling that there are 20 million users worldwide!  Infidelity is ancient and adultery has always been all too common, but to try and legitimize and organize it seems a record low even in a world that has proven it can sink pretty low.

But there is a nation deserving of high praise and recognition.  Singapore is trying its best to keep Ashley Madison from coming to their state.

The London Telegraph reports Singapore’s earnest efforts to block the company.  This resistance includes those in some of the highest offices in the land, including their minister for social and family development.  Businesses are also standing up against what they see as a moral invasion.  In fact, a businessman known only as Mr. Tan, has led a popular Facebook protest against the company.  The page is called “Block Ashley Madison-Singapore” and, as of 1:00 PM Mountain Time on Monday, 10/28/13, the page 25,200 likes  and the telegraph reports that their petition has over 13,000 signers.  The Facebook posts include so many encouraging statements for marital fidelity and decrying adultery (Hannah Strange, 10/25/13, http://www.telegraph.co.uk).

While such organized efforts for biblical morality are too few, it is thrilling to see Singapore, known for its conservatism and strict social controls, banding together to uphold an institution created by God for one woman and one man for life.  While they are being reported as having a prudish reputation and sited as having a low, collective libido, Singaporeans serve as a global leader in honoring sexuality as God ordains it.  May their tribe increase!

Christians ought to earn the attention and spotlight of the world by honoring, in practice as well as word, fidelity in marriage.  God has made His view crystal clear and not just in the Ten Commandments.  The writer of Hebrews says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (13:4).  We should ever echo His truth on every matter, including His pattern for marriage and sexuality!

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Bear Valley church of Christ Daily Bread Neal Pollard Pollard blog Uncategorized

Blessed Assurance

from a different Ukraine trip (2003)

Neal Pollard

In the spring of 2002, I went with Keith Kasarjian, who is currently the assistant extension director of our Bear Valley Extension Program, to Kramatorsk and Slavyanagorsk, Ukraine.  One of the first things I recall doing the day after arriving there was meeting to fellowship with the Christians from that general area of Ukraine.  Several other foreigners in addition to Keith and me had travelled over for the first graduation of the first Bear Valley foreign extension in Kramatorsk, but they had travelled up to Slavyanagorsk to see the Christians there.  That gave the small room of the house where that church met an international if an over-filled feel.  It was decided that we sing some hymns.  The first hymn sung, as I recall, was “Blessed Assurance.”  Most present sang the song in Russian.  The Americans scattered around the room sang in English.  As Italian Sylvia Gaddio and French Canadian Sylvain Arsenaux were in the room, they each sang in their native tongue, too.  At one point, I stopped singing to listen to the voices blending in multiple languages.  I remember being completely overwhelmed and overcome at the thought of what tied us all together.  People native to Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Italy, and the United States (we also had a Romanian and Chinese who came over for the graduation who might have been in the room, too) were hampered in their ability to interact by their language limitations, but the love, unity, and spirit of fellowship created by our common bond in Christ seemed to eclipse whatever our differences may have been.  Never before that moment had I felt the power of the oneness Jesus causes.

In our congregations, we have different interests, incomes, spiritual backgrounds, education levels, temperaments, personalities, ethnicities, maturity levels, and dozens of similar variables that make us unique, even dissimilar.  But, do we emphasize often enough how our service, obedience, and allegiance to the Lord is meant to overcome all these?  The Philippian congregation needed the reminder that practical unity was necessary and not just desirable (see Philippians 2:1-4).  We need to frequently emphasize the beautiful nature of unity in Christ (cf. Psalm 133).  It’s as touching to think about how the Lord makes all of us in our local congregation one as to think about times like that special moment I recall from a tiny house in a tiny town across the world!  That’s the power of Jesus, His blood, and His church.  “O what a foretaste of glory divine!”

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Bear Valley church of Christ Daily Bread Neal Pollard Pollard blog Uncategorized

IN THE GRIP OF A PYTHON

Neal Pollard

What a sad story emerged from Campbellton, New Brunswick, last week.  Two little boys were spending the night at a friend’s house. The friend’s father, Jean-Claude Savoie, owns an exotic pet store and was apparently keeping a 14-foot-long African rock python in his home. During the night, while the boys slept, the python got loose from his glass enclosure, crawled through the ventilation system, and landed in the living room where the boys slept. It was then that, incredibly, he took the lives of the boys.  Reports indicate the children had been to Savoie’s farm earlier in the day and had played with llamas, goats, horses and dogs, but had not bathed.  Officials speculate that the python probably mistook the boys for prey, thanks to their scent.  The parents must be grief-stricken and the snake-owner devastated (via http://www.cbsnews.com).

Perhaps what makes this so tragic is that it involves something physical, that can be seen or at least visualized.  Yet, an infinite number of times over daily, a greater tragedy is occurring. Children are being assaulted by “that serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).  But because his deadly work is done upon souls and not bodies, it is so easy to ignore.  Children are placed by their parents into circumstances that expose them to this dangerous predator with seemingly little thought to the consequences.  Parents allow the “scent” of the world to be left upon their children, allowing them to see and hear worldliness, become comfortable with it, and do nothing to be cleansed from it.  God has made moms and dads the guardians of their children’s lives, whether it is their entertainment, friends and associations, activities, education, or the like.  We are responsible for guiding them toward truth and away from error.

Do we ever, rather than taking that stewardship seriously, become lax and careless?  We sing, “This world is not my home,” but are we helping to make our precious heritage cozy in its arms?  May we all resolve to protect our children from the “evil one,” appreciating the gravity of what is at stake.