When the Wolf and the Lamb Eat Together

When the Wolf and the Lamb Eat Together

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Isaiah 65.17-25 is interesting. Some have mistakenly concluded that it is a prophecy of Christ’s “millennial kingdom” because it resembles passages in John’s revelation. However, we might agree that it refers to the millennium only if others use that term to describe the entire period between Jesus Christ’s two advents. 

Contextually, this prophecy appears alongside others concerning the church or the kingdom. Paul summarizes the blessings God promised Isaiah in this passage: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1.3 NASB1995). 

And we’ve been in these final days since Pentecost (Acts 2.16-21). As a result, we should not be surprised by its longevity (i.e., more than two millennia and counting) because God metaphorically predicted that its cohorts would live a long time (Isaiah 65.20). Furthermore, this extension is advantageous because it provides opportunities for those who need to repent (cf. 2 Peter 3.9). 

But what does Isaiah 65:25 mean by the wolf eating with the lamb? Because wolves and lambs are predators and prey, people assume it must refer to the millennial kingdom. Otherwise, the wolves would be the ones devouring the lambs. So, we can’t discuss anything current. Nonetheless, they fail to remember that there once existed a time when wolves and lambs ate together. They did so on the ark that God instructed Noah to build. The ark served as God’s refuge during His wrath. 

Today, the church serves as that refuge. Even when wolves are nearby, lambs will still be able to eat within that place of safety. Some people believe God’s providence protects His children, so they have no fear despite living in a wolf-infested world. Others argue that because God changes the obedient’s nature through the Gospel, the wolves and lambs can eat together within the church because their personalities have changed. They are brand-new creatures (2 Corinthians 5.17). All of these interpretations are correct, but there is an intriguing corollary. 

Who was the primary apostle to the Gentiles? Peter’s sermon converted the first Gentiles (Acts 10.34ff), but the Lord chose to send Paul to the Gentiles (Acts 26.17). Jesus tore down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2.13-15), allowing those like Paul to welcome the Gentiles into Zion (cf. Isaiah 62.1-3). However, what do we know about Paul’s history? Paul belonged to the Benjamite tribe. 

God allowed Israel to prophesy his sons’ futures as he lay dying (Genesis 49.1-27). According to Jacob, “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf; In the morning he devours the prey, And in the evening he divides the spoil” (Genesis 49.27 NASB1995). Paul was thus a ravenous wolf whose conversion caused him to eat with the lambs (Acts 20.7). No longer a church persecutor content to put Christians to death for their crime of faith in Jesus, Paul became Christ’s ambassador to increase the flock of Christ. 

A true example of the wolf eating with the lamb is found only in God’s kingdom, the church. 

A Door In The Sky & The Trumpet Of His Voice 

A Door In The Sky & The Trumpet Of His Voice 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Revelation 1.3 

To prepare the mind for the door and the trumpet of chapter 4, let’s review the Revelator’s response. 

John Is Literally Paralyzed By Fear  

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid.I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  1.17

The Trumpet Of His Voice 

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet..” 1.10 

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 4.1 

Let’s take a second to appreciate this window into the heavenly realm. These precious details should make you hunger for more. 

Let’s Speculate For A Moment 

Roman cornu found at Pompeii, Public domain

While the “trumpet” is used metaphorically, there’s a particular kind of trumpet that John may have been thinking of. It’s called the Roman Cornu. 

This brass signal trumpet was around nine feet long, curved into a “G” shape, and supported by a crossbar. Recently, two of these horns were found by archeologists in the ruins of Pompeii. 

These trumpets were used to direct Roman troops on the Roman battlefield. One military strategist by the name Vegetius said, 

“The rules (given by blowing the horn) must be punctually observed in all exercises and reviews so that the soldiers may be ready to obey them in action without hesitation according to the general’s orders either to charge or halt, to pursue the enemy or to retire.”

A trumpet that could be heard over the din of battle? That had to be loud. 

Click hear to listen to a short example of a perfect replica of a Cornu horn being blown. It’s loud, exciting, and terrifying. 

That’ll raise the hair on your neck. 

Traveling Through The Door In The Sky 

The voice of the Lord was like that of trumpet, and it was calling John to come through a door in the sky (4.1). 

We read that John was in the Spirit in Revelation 1.10, but something else seems to be going on here. This is a new experience and even with the help of Inspiration, it’s difficult to describe in a  limited human language. 

Did John’s body travel through the door as well? That’s anybody’s guess and while on earth— a concrete answer is impossible to find. 

Paul hardly even tried to describe his journey into the spiritual world as descriptive terms don’t seem to do it justice (2 Cor. 12.1-4). 

The Meaning Of The Door 

Was it a portal? Did it have hinges and a knocker? Was it floating? 

Before the imagination runs wild, let’s look at a couple of the practical points. 

  1. The door, while both symbolic and physical in some respects, represents perspective. John is stranded on an island, but God gives him another vantage point. Seeing things from a spiritual high place can help reorient ourselves. How does God see our lives? What does the church look like from up there? That’s what Revelation 1-3 is all about. 
  2. There’s a plan being worked out behind the veil of eternity. Just like Job suffered without knowing the details (Job 1), we can take comfort in the fact that things down here always go according to His plan. 

While the details aren’t as colorful as we would like them to be, here’s 3 important facts He would want us to remember. 

  1. There’s definitely a way into heaven. 
  2. God’s the only one who can open that door. 
  3. We should focus on preparing our souls to step across that final threshold. 

If you couldn’t confidentially walk into His throne room right now, that should be your number one concern. 

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3.12 

WHY STAY MARRIED?

WHY STAY MARRIED?

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Caitlin Flanagan wrote an article in TIME magazine entitled, “Why Marriage Matters.”  She begins by saying, “Buffeted by affairs and ennui, the intact, two-parent family is under assault. What America needs to get over its commitment issues. (Hint: it isn’t love)” (7/13/09, p. 45).  What was so fascinating about the article was that, whether sociologists, feminists, domestic policy-makers, or other experts, they all came to the groundbreaking conclusion that children are healthier, more successful, and more productive who come from intact, two-parent homes.  Flanagan kept returning to that conclusion, even as high profile cases of infidelity were offered to show how the guilty were selfishly putting their own ideals and needs about what their families truly needed.

While I believe that it is possible for a marriage to grow more romantic, satisfying, and enjoyable each and every day of one’s married life, such is a tangible benefit of the hard work and effort invested in marriage.  It is neither automatic nor an entitlement.  It is not to be “persevered” or patronized only so long as I am having a good time, get my way, or reap the “rewards” of it as I, subjectively, decide I should.  No doubt, God created marriage to provide companionship and suitable help (Gen. 2:18ff) and a legitimate sexual outlet (1 Cor. 7:1ff).  It is enriching and even thrilling to look back over years of partnership and see in one’s spouse the depth of intimacy built by shared time and experience.  God certainly depicts a loving, close relationship in marriage as the ideal toward which to be striven (Song of Solomon, Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).  However, first and last, marriage is a lifelong commitment, an ongoing fulfillment of a vow made to and before God Himself, and a relationship that can be severed with God’s approval only under extreme circumstances.

Flanagan had so much good to say about marital partners considering how vital their staying married means to raising well-adjusted, optimally-functioning children.  She hits the nail on the head regarding the deep-seated, lasting negative effects of divorce upon families and, ultimately, society.  Yet, while it may only be a matter of semantics, I disagree with her premise.  Staying married is about love.  It is about knowing how to love, God’s way, and intentionally, intensely, and indefinitely, nurturing and growing that love in the marriage.  Love involves duty, but it is so much more than that.  It is an act of the will more than a flutter of the heart. Yet, its payoff for marriage gives a man and a woman a lifelong glimmer of light that burns brighter even as the lights of our own lives gradually dim.  Let us love our spouses with biblical love and watch the seismic effects for good upon the home, the church, and the culture!

Swords Into Plowshares 

Swords Into Plowshares 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

“And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2.4 NASB1995) 

Once upon a time, my family and I shared a condo in Hinesville, Georgia. It was 1989. Life in a condominium was…interesting. Aside from the paper-thin walls, strangers were coming and going at all hours. Unfortunately, some of those strangers were individuals proselytizing for their religious beliefs. One lazy Saturday, a couple knocked on my door and started talking to me, eventually directing my attention to Isaiah 2.4 and asking what I thought of it. 

I was only 14 then, and my knowledge of the Scriptures was still immature. However, a glance revealed it seemed too idyllic to be related to earth, so I responded with “heaven.” My visitors agreed that I was on the right track with my interpretation and explained how it referred to the Millennial Kingdom that Christ would establish on Earth one day. I politely listened but knew that their explanation, at the very least, did not match what my parents and teachers had shown me in the Bible. 

I’m an adult “of a certain age” in 2022, and I’ve had more time to study the Scriptures. Nonetheless, I wish I had known what I know now in 1989 so that I could have tried to persuade my solicitors where they went wrong in their understanding. My initial response had been partially incorrect. What God revealed to Isaiah was heavenly in origin but established on earth in the first century AD. Verse two gives an obvious hint by stating that the events of verse four will happen in the “last days.” 

The Holy Spirit descended on Peter and the other apostles on Pentecost, around 33 AD. They started preaching the first Gospel message. People wondered if Peter and his companions were inebriated, but Peter assured them that they had witnessed the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy about the end times (Acts 2.17-21; Joel 2.28-32). God was pouring out His Spirit on men, heralding the arrival of the end times, the final dispensation governed by Christ’s Covenant. 

On Pentecost, Peter used the keys entrusted to him by the Lord to unlock the kingdom God promised (Matthew 16.18-19; Daniel 2.44-45). The fact that it was the promised kingdom is also evident in Jesus’ statement in Mark 9.1. He stated that those to whom He spoke would be alive to witness the kingdom’s arrival with power (i.e., the Holy Spirit). Unless 2,000-year-olds are walking around, the kingdom has already arrived. 

However, take note of the end of Isaiah 2.2: “…all the nations will stream to it.” This statement refers to Abraham’s Messianic promise (Genesis 22.18). Through Abraham’s seed, God would bless the nations of the earth. So, we have Jacob or Israel through Abraham’s seed, and through Israel, we have Judah. David was born of Judah’s lineage, to whom God promised an heir to establish His kingdom, build a house for God’s name, and establish His throne forever (2 Samuel 7.12-13). 

God’s promise to Jehoiakim, a descendant of David, that none of his descendants would sit on David’s throne in perpetuity shows that this cannot refer to the same earthly throne on which David sat (Jeremiah 36.30-31). Indeed, no son of David would reign over Israel after their return from captivity. Descendants of Levi ruled the Hasmonean kingdom until the Romans conquered it about six decades before Christ’s birth. The Romans made Herod the Great, an Idumean who had married into the Hasmoneans, a vassal king over Judah. 

When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Jesus informed Pilate that He was, but that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18.36-37). Instead, Jesus declared Himself to be the ruler of a spiritual kingdom whose subjects heeded His voice of truth. Jesus’ answer prompted Pilate to ask the age-old question, “What is truth?” (John 18.38) Before ascending to the Father, Jesus told His apostles to preach the forgiveness of sins to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem, where they would wait until clothed with power from on high (Luke 24.44-49). Take note of the word “power” (24.49) and Jesus’ statement in Mark 9.1. 

So, the church is the kingdom. We could have determined this without reading these Scriptures by looking at Matthew 16.18-19, where Jesus uses the terms “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably. However, false beliefs about Christ’s kingdom and premillennialism seriously threaten generic Christendom. As we’ve seen, Jesus intended His followers to preach the Gospel to all nations, so He would also save Gentiles. In Acts 10, Peter converted a Gentile and his family. From that point forward, God’s kingdom included non-Jews.  

Previously, a barrier separated Jews and Gentiles. That wall was the Mosaic Law. In the second chapter of the epistle bearing their name, Paul explains to the Ephesian brethren that enmity existed while the wall stood. Jesus tore down that barrier, making Jews and Gentiles one in the body of Christ (Ephesians 2.11ff). Jesus brought peace through this act. Let us return to Isaiah 2.4. The prophecy’s poetic language points to a time when warring parties living under the auspices of one Judge would transform their weapons of war into peacetime tools. Despite being on Earth, it sounds like heaven because the church is a heavenly place (Ephesians 1.3). 

So, the church is this wondrous place where we turn swords into plowshares. The church has “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free man, male nor female” because we are all one in Christ (Galatians 3.28). As a result, rather than fighting one another, we must focus our efforts on our common foe, the devil (Ephesians 6.10ff). 

The Wearied Preacher

The Wearied Preacher

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” (Ecclesiastes 12.12 NASB1995) 

As Solomon reaches the end of his treatise as “The Preacher,” he expresses his feelings, using his life as an example. During his life, as today, people wrote on many topics. If there is a difference between our two eras, it must be that more people today have access to education and can read all of the books that people write. Otherwise, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9). Yet, with education comes self-reflection. And self-reflection often prompts men to take pen to page and write in poetry and prose. Even so, that self-reflection brings melancholy, as with men like Edgar Allen Poe.

And this is where we find Solomon. But even though cynical at this point, Solomon still sounds as if he could have found a home among the other literary figures of the Romantic era, like Alfred Lord Tennyson or Henry David Thoreau. When it is fashionable for men to be scholarly, one notes more men willing to put thoughts and feelings into words. Whatever the rationale, whether to be praised, make money or achieve catharsis, it spawns one of the hallmarks of culture: literature.

Generally speaking, literature and its study are positive. From those writers in the past, concepts have been communicated through time, influencing future generations. Before the Romantic era, the West went through the Age of Enlightenment. Academics and thinkers drew ideas from the classical thought of ancient Greece. Some thinkers in this epoch penned literature the American Founding Fathers read and sparked a revolution. Others, like Sir Isaac Newton, were inspired to unlock the secrets of the cosmos.

But then there is another class of literature written by men with a deleterious effect on the reader. No, I am not just talking of the smut peddler, though that is terrible. Instead, I am referring to those like Karl Marx or Adolph Hitler, who took to pen to write dangerous, subversive ideas that upset the course of civilization. Although World War 2 effectively destroyed Hitler’s brand of fascism, Marxism still flourishes in the ivy-covered walls of U.S. colleges and universities. And we have not even mentioned those like Friedrich Nietzsche, who was desirous of taking away his reader’s hope in God.

Even so, the written word remains one of man’s greatest inventions. And it is apropos that the first book produced by a printing press was a copy of God’s Word. That book, the Bible, is itself a compilation of 66 books. And think of the diverse and storied men who wrote those books’ words through the Holy Spirit’s influence: shepherds, kings, tax collectors, tent makers, doctors, et al. So the final product is something we can even enjoy as literature, despite being written for our moral guidance.

In this Information Age, as some have dubbed it, we still have our writers. They may write as I do for a blog, a funny-sounding word that didn’t even exist a half-century ago. It is short for “weblog.” Or they may write for journals, newsletters, and books. But men still write. You may have never guessed that it is a tiresome task, especially when dealing with the denizens of the interwebs. These readers crave new content, not unlike the way the ancient Athenians daily gathered on Mars’ Hill to hear some new thing (Acts 17.21). And if you don’t keep your content fresh, you lose readers. So even if you do not monetize your blog, as this is a non-monetized blog, one still wants to have readers to make the endeavor worthwhile. It is not necessarily a numbers thing, but more eyes ensure that more seed-casting and watering can occur so that God brings an increase (1 Corinthians 3.5-7).

Hence, there is wisdom in distributing this chore to five men, each bringing their perspective to the task. As one who has repeatedly tried and failed at blogging because of physical infirmity and ADHD, one article a week is a fantastic achievement. However, I get tired at even the thought of multiplying that effort by five weekdays. But Solomon pointed out that writing is tiring. Yes, this is not a book, per se. But it is still wearisome. Some may mock how something like preaching, teaching, or writing devotional content could be tiring since it is not blue-collar work. The answer lies within physiology since even the brain of a resting person requires about 20% of the body’s energy.1

There are also emotional highs and lows. Sometimes you become sad like Solomon. When you realize, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10.31 NASB1995), you want to figure out how to convince the most stubborn person of their need to obey God. Sometimes you must surmount cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic, and generational differences to do this. So how do I tailor a message to convince this man or woman I desire to win for Christ?

At other times you encounter a gold nugget, something that had never caught your attention in your prior readings through the Scriptures. So, naturally, you want to drop everything and research it, plumbing its depths. But maybe your search leads nowhere. And you end up tossing it upon that humongous pile of things that are the secret things known only to God (cf. Deuteronomy 29.29). Then again, you might hit the Comstock Lode. In this case, not only do you learn something new, but it may even be something that corrects you from the error you ignorantly embraced and taught. At the end of the day, one realizes that he will never exhaust his capacity to learn something from God’s Word. And that should be something that humbles you.

No wonder Solomon ends his message by saying one should not try to tackle the wisdom that we see residing beyond God’s Word. If it can be wearisome to study the Bible, imagine trying to wrap your head around fields of study that are contingent on theories since no one can prove what they believe. For example, just recently, the James Webb Space Telescope showed no signs that the universe is expanding, something necessary if the big bang occurred. There is also no red shift in those galaxies farthest away, indicating no cosmic expansion. So now cosmologists and physicists will go back and have to come up with a new explanation for the universe’s origin. How frustrating, even panic-inducing.2

Solomon sums everything up after the “wearied Preacher’s” last admonition against too much study and “excessive devotion” to books of no eternal value. Our purpose is to fear God and keep His commandments because He will be judging us (12.13-14). If you know enough to save your soul from hell, you are indeed a wise man or woman.  

 

Works Cited 

1 Richardson, Michael W. “How Much Energy Does the Brain Use?” BrainFacts.org, Society for Neuroscience, 1 Feb. 2019, www.brainfacts.org/Brain-Anatomy-and-Function/Anatomy/2019/How-Much-Energy-Does-the-Brain-Use-020119.

2 PlanetMoron. “What If the Big Bang Never Happened? the James Webb Space Telescope Might Change Everything.” Not the Bee, Not the Bee, 22 Aug. 2022, notthebee.com/article/what-if-the-big-bang-never-happened

Design And Efficiency

Design And Efficiency

Sunday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Darrell Dubree

For everything there is a designer. There is an expected level of efficiency for the product that is created or designed. Or maybe labeled as its intended purpose or job. Just for example purposes these parts are out of a 400-ton, Carrier Centrifugal Water-cooled chiller. Running at peak efficiency and full load this machine in a residential setting would have the cooling capacity to condition the air for 100, 2400 square foot homes or 240,000 square ft. of living space. Each part performs a specific job that will add to the final efficiency that the designer planned for the machine. Each part has a different monetary value. The impeller is $10,000 and the Main Processor board $5000, but the individual electronic parts that make up the board $1 or less at Radio Shack.

All the parts are equally important in reaching the efficiency the designer intended for the machine. In this particular machine and many other microprocessor-controlled machines, there are sub level microprocessors that are controlling a specific function in the overall operation of the machine. These sub level processors are constantly collecting data and communicating to the main processor. They are content with all that is going on and all is well, or they are requesting a change or an adjustment in their area of operation. The main processor contains a micro chip which contains the designer’s operational software. In order for all the boards to communicate efficiently and effectively they must all be operating with the same operational software.

The operational software sets the parameters and adjustable setpoints which the main processor will use to grant or deny changes requested from the sub level processors throughout the machine. The main processor will take all these requests into consideration. The main processor will compare to the operational software and make a decision based on the operational software and the overall operation of the machine.

For example, depending on many variables and conditions the machine has to be considerate of the overall operation and keep the machine online and efficiently operating. Some request are granted or denied, depending on different operating conditions and stress on the machine. Stress being the difference being, operating on a 70-degree day with no humidity or starting from ground zero on a 100- degree day and a building full of miserably hot people.

Most of you look kind of interested, but some of you have the look of, I’m trying to get my brain wrapped around what your saying. What does this have anything to do with me as a servant of God???? 😊

Let’s compare this principal to the local body of servants of God. Actually, there are many similarities.
Designer: God
Operational Software: Gods inspired word, The Bible.

Main Processor: The local Eldership Sublevel Processors: Deacons Other parts: Members
Just as parts of this machine, all members are equally important in the efficient operation of the body (1 Corinthians 12: 14-31).

Furthermore, the Bible teaches that:

  1. God looks at the heart, not the physical appearance (1 Samuel 16:7)
  2. God shows no partiality (Romans 2:7-11).
  3. Good knows our hearts (Luke 16:14-15).

As we strive to fulfill the work that God intended in his design of the church. May we consider one another and take into consideration all the members and different areas of work. Just as the main processor of this machine considers all areas of the machines operation before a change is granted. How will this request affect the body short term and long term. Will it edify and build relationships or will it teardown and slow the work and efficiency of the body. The doctrinal decisions are the easy ones. We have had centuries of biblical scholars who have taken these apart and reassembled them. It is the non-doctrinal decisions that are difficult. Those we are forced to address in a situation that we have no former experience in dealing with. Hopefully passages like Philippians 2:1-18 will help us in this.

In any recipe or in smooth operation of machinery, there is that secret additive or ingredient that makes it just perfect. God has given us something far greater than a secret lube additive or a special secret ingredient to a recipe: Love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Hopefully these passages will help us all perform the work of the church efficiently.

a 400-ton, Carrier Centrifugal Water-cooled chiller

“Let’s Go Back To Church”

“Let’s Go Back To Church”

Neal Pollard

A law enforcement officer interviewed on a Chicago news station was commenting on the most recent, tragic shooting, this one in the Windy City’s northern suburb town of Highland Park. He began talking about root causes of these shootings, comparing these shooters to weeds that pop up various places. In the midst of this, he made an incredible statement: “Let’s go back to church.”

I got to thinking about what, if any, connection these shooters had with organized religion. Is there a trend? In 2018, John Lott, President of Crime Prevention Research Center, wrote, “What is most shocking is how few of these killers appear to be religious, let alone Christian. Just 16 percent have any type of religious affiliation at the time of their attacks, with a slight majority of those being Muslims” (https://dailycaller.com/2018/05/26/religion-of-mass-public-shooters/). His criteria was a mass public shooting in which at least four people were killed. He counted 69 killers in 66 shootings from 1998-2018. Just four of these identified themselves as Christians and just three were “clearly regular church goers” (ibid.). 

On the other side of the coin, The New York Times shared the results of a study done by the University of Kentucky of 3000 participants in 13 countries. The lead paragraph by writer Benedict Carey states, “Most people around the world, whether religious or not, presume that serial killers are more likely to be atheists than believers in any god, suggests a new study, which counters the common assumption that increasingly secular societies are equally tolerant of nonbelievers. Avowed atheists exhibited the same bias in judging sadistic criminals, the study found” (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/health/atheists-religion-study.html). 

But, truly this is not about finger-pointing. For those with a biblical worldview, we can see a connection between society’s that violate God’s will and a great many consequences (Prov. 14:34). That is perhaps a needed point for a different article. Instead, consider something about the wisdom of God in how He intended the church to function and behave. From the very beginning, the church was established to be a place of community and fellowship (Acts 2:42). It was also designed to be a place of internal accountability (1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1-2; Jas. 5:19-20). In Christ, the individual is given a better, more positive view of self (1 Pet. 2:5,9; 1 John 3:1-3), of fellow-believers (John 13:34-35), and even those who are different than them and even persecutors of them (Mat. 5:38-48). 

I would argue that there are so many more reasons why one should consider attending church. There is an eternal gain that makes anything which happens in this life bearable (Rev. 2:10). There are spiritual blessings in such abundance that it’s hard to count them all (Eph. 1:3ff).  There I a joy in serving with others and in the serving of others (Gal. 5:13; John 13:12-17). Yet, there is also an antidote to isolation and the frightening results of the echo chamber that occurs in the absence of others to help balance and challenge us to be better and live better. Isolation and loneliness seem to be occurring in epidemic proportions. This certainly is a scourge on mental health, but it also has social, emotional, spiritual, and even physical consequences. Perhaps that law enforcement expert is right. Maybe the answer is as simple as, “Let’s go back to church.”

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 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” (Heb. 10:23-25).

via Flickr (creative commons)
Getting Along

Getting Along

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

How do you get along with people you don’t have anything in common with? 

I read an article on this very topic. It was a parenting article that was geared towards helping parents build a relationship with their kids. Honestly it was useless. Bottom line was “just love and accept them and show them you are willing and open to change.” This article teaches what most of the world is pushing for– “love and acceptance.” 

If you don’t morally agree with someone, do you just accept what they do? If you have nothing in common with them, do you just pick up some of their hobbies? These questions are important for the Christian to answer because our lives should be based on building relationships: Relationships in the world (so that we can hopefully save souls) and relationships in the church (so that we can have unity and growth). 

It’s no secret that the world is different from those in the church. They act differently, they think differently, and they speak differently. The world at its core is driven by sin and selfishness. The Christian is driven by a fear and love for God and His word. Our motivation is different, and our view of sin is different. No one in the church or even in the world, if they are honest, will argue that we are the same. With that in mind, we need to ask a very important question. How should a Christian Interact with the world? There are two extremes that we should avoid: Acting like everything is fine and treating everyone as a friend. And acting as if we are holier than the world and wanting nothing to do with them. 

The Christian life is balanced. We need to find the perfect balance between loving the world, but also having a clear set of morals that keeps us from joining them in sin. At its core, all of mankind has a sin problem, and God loves every person and wants us to be saved. So how should we interact with the world? God in His wisdom knew that we would struggle with this problem, so through His inspired Word, He tells us how we are to act. In Romans 12, Paul begins a section dedicated to the Christian and their relationships. In Romans 12:17-13:14, Paul talks about our relationship with the world.  

When it comes to our relationships and interactions in the world, Paul gives us five tips to help us in this task:

Don’t Treat Them the Way They Treat You (v. 17) 

“Repay no one evil for evil,”

Be Respectful (v. 17) 

“but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”

Seek Peace When Possible (v. 18) 

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”

Don’t Take Revenge (v. 19) 

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”

Overcome Evil With Good (20-21)

“To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

The danger we face as Christians is that we can let the world rub off on us. In trying to get along with the world, we may become like the world. But keep in mind, God doesn’t accept the world as they are; there must be repentance and change. In our interactions we need to remember Who we are trying to please. And be cautious so as to not become like those we are trying to save. 

Defining Submission

Defining Submission

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

What is submission? There are many who hear this word and think of weakness. They believe that if you are submissive, you’re at the bottom of the food chain. Is this really the case? 

The Bible uses this word in several different passages, and we will take a look at these verses in depth and figure out the true definition of submission.  

The original word comes from the Greek, hypotasso, which can be used several different ways depending on the context in which it is used. The first definition is “to cause to be in a submissive relationship” and the second is “to become subject, subject oneself” (BDAG). With these definitions in mind, let’s notice how scripture uses this word. 

James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Who must submit? Everyone. Who are we submitting to? God. What is the outcome? The Devil will flee. In this text, submission is the act of putting God in charge of our lives. In doing so we no longer chase after sin and Satan will flee from us. 

Col. 3:18: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Who must submit? Wives. Who are they submitting to? The husband. For what reason? God has commanded. In this text, submission is what the wife must do in her marriage in order to be approved of God.  A submissive wife is fitting in the Lord. 

Eph. 5:21: “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Who must submit? The Christian. Who are we submitting to? Other Christians. Why are we submitting? Out of reverence (deep respect and awe) for Christ. If we say that we revere Christ, we must submit to each other and place our brothers and sisters above self. 

Eph. 5:24: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Who is submitting? The church, as well as the wives in the same way we (as a church body) submit to Christ. A submissive church looks to Christ for every spiritual decision. They do this because they are no longer in control. A wife submits to her husband by looking at the example of the church or “the bride of Christ.” 

Titus 2:5, 9; 3:1: “to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative. Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.” Who is submitting? Wives, bondservants, and those who have experienced Christ (2:14). Who are they submitting to? Husbands, masters, rulers and authorities. Why are they submitting? So the Word of God won’t be criticized or abused, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God (10), and because we aren’t who we used to be (3). 

1 Peter 2:18; 3:22; 5:5: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.” Servants are called to submit to their masters. Why? “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (19). In chapter 3:1, wives are to submit to their husbands so that they may win their husband by their actions. In 3:22 the angels, authorities, and powers have been placed under Christ. In 5:5, the young are to submit to the elders. 

Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Who is supposed to submit here? Every person. To whom? The governing authorities. Why? Only God can give authority, those that are in place have been instituted by God. If we refuse to submit (break their laws), “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Submission is the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. In scripture several groups are commanded to have this attitude:

  • Christians 
  • Wives
  • Servants 
  • Every person 

Submission is not weakness. It takes strength to make this choice. We aren’t forced into submission, but it is a choice each one of us must make. 

Have you made that choice? If you have, understand that there will be times where you fail. Thankfully God is willing to forgive those who have sinned. 

Submission means we give up what we want, and act the way God wants us to act. 

A Touching Savior

A Touching Savior

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

A person that feels loved through physical touch is looking for connection. 

They feel love when they are close to their spouse, and 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 1:40-42 says, “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.” 

In the time of Christ, 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 tells us, “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” 

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. 

It says, “Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him.” Through this we see the compassion of Christ. Mark through inspiration makes it a point to tell us that Jesus physically touched this leper. God expressed His love through the physical touch of a compassionate Savior. 

This same loving Savior is who we serve today. 

While He doesn’t personally touch us today, He has given us a family to physically care for us. God loved us so much that He made sure we would never be absent of physical comfort and encouragement. The church is a place where we can experience comfort and compassion from fellow-believers, a hug when we are struggling and a shoulder to cry on in times of grief. 

Contained within the pages of scripture we read of a truly touching Savior. So how will we respond to the love of God?