“I Wish The Church…”

“I Wish The Church…”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

  • “…Cared More About The Lost!” (But, when did I last invite someone to church or invite someone to study the Bible?)
  • “…Checked On The Sick And Shut In.” (But, when did I last make a call or visit to them?)
  • “…Was Friendly!” (But, do I talk to, welcome, and make feel at home visitors and more than my close circle of friends?)
  • “…Did A Better Job With The Singing.” (But, do I sing out, show enthusiasm, and participate with my whole heart?)
  • “…Invested More In The Youth.” (But, am I doing all I can to help them grow, from my attitude toward the church to my personal investment in them?)
  • “…Was Active!” (But, do I volunteer when help is needed, prioritizing it over the things of the world?)
  • “…Was Growing.” (But, how invested am I in being an ambassador for Christ, 2 Cor. 5:20?)

So often, we talk about “the church” in a passive, third-person way. We are critical of her leaders, her activities (or lack thereof), and her members as if we are detached observers. The picture of the early church was of individuals who were personally invested. We are overcome by the consumer mindset of the culture when we sit back and take shots at the perceived shortcomings of our local congregation. Look at the New Testament Christians. Barnabas didn’t fret about how stingy or discouraging the church was; He was generous and encouraging (Acts 4:36-37). Stephen didn’t express his frustration at the church’s lack of courage and conviction; He literally preached himself to death (Acts 6-7). Dorcas didn’t wring her hands at how uncaring and detached the church was; She continually did deeds of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36). They may have been extraordinary in their actions, but they were just “regular members of the church.” They were the church. They didn’t sit in judgment of her. Why? They were too busy working to build her up. When I am tempted to play armchair analyst, I should begin with my own faithfulness and involvement. There is so much the Lord expects me to do to help the church. My investment may cause others to be grateful and excited to be a part of the church! I can most influence me (2 Cor. 13:5)! 

On January 20, 1961, in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, he uttered the famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” Here is the very ending of the address: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” If that is true of a citizen’s mindset of a nation, how much more a Christian’s mindset in that holy nation, the church? 

A Pig In A Dress

A Pig In A Dress

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail 

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Dale Pollard

The Muppets are great. Those classic characters like Kermit the Frog, Animal, and Fozzy Bear have entertained us for years. The writers of that show understood and appreciated the humor found in irony. In one particular episode, Mrs. Piggy is about to marry Kermit and It’s hilarious to see a pig in a wedding dress. Pigs don’t wear dresses…or do they?

The church has been described as the “Bride of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2-3). What kind of bride are we? An ugly bride is not unified, calloused towards one another, hateful, hard hearted, hard headed, and proud. The truth is, an ugly church can only be made up of ugly people. Sin is an ugly thing, and the display and manifestations of sins such as pride and hatred turn even the worldly away.

Think about 1 Peter 3:8-11, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” What we have described and depicted here is an attractive bride. Don’t let your life combined with Jesus be a juxtaposition. Don’t make the Bride of Christ a pig in a dress.

The Church Is A Family

The Church Is A Family

Thursday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

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Kason Eubanks

A few months ago, Lehman and a bunch of other churches went to church camp. During that week, I got to think about family. A quote I read once by Lisa Weed said, “Being a part of a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.”

Let me start off by defining family. According to Webster’s dictionary, one definition is “the group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit.” That kind of family can be shown through the illustration of a loving husband giving his wife some facial masks on Christmas Morning. As she opened the gift, her 5-year-old daughter asked what they were. The Mom replied, “It’s a present to make me beautiful.” After the mom applied one of the facial masks, the little girl looked at her mom and replied, “Mom, it didn’t work.”

Another definition Webster’s gave is “all the descendants from a common ancestry.” To me, that sounds like the relationship God has with His church. 2 Corinthians 6:18 says, “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty. Ephesians 5:25-27 defines the church family as being without blemish. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” 

Thankfully, God has given us the opportunity to be part of a perfect family. Maybe you’re not a member of the church family, and you would like to put Christ on in baptism or you want us to pray with you and for you so you can get your life on track. Whatever your need, please reach out to God’s perfect family. 

Lehman on last day of camp this year.
We’re Different & The Same 

We’re Different & The Same 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

 

 

Dale Pollard

When it comes to the families that make up the church, what ties us together is a common bright future. While every family has its differences, one constant remains— the church. All strive to follow those guidelines laid out in scripture. Paul says in Philippians 1:6, “And I’m SURE of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” 

The writer speaks with assurance, and that confidence is well-placed. From “His-story” we see that God always completes His projects. He never dreams; He creates. He decided to create the world and here it is. He decided to save the world, and here we are. 

Paul also would write in Romans 7-8 that the flesh tends to get in the way of the spiritual. God is perfect, but we’re not. That’s what makes us a work in progress. Aren’t we thankful that God provides the solutions to “fix” us up? 

We’re involved in a great work because there simply is no better work  than what is being done by His church. That being said, many of us struggle with overcomplicating things. We try to make sense of our individual lives, and when we leave God out it all becomes a discouraging battle. Where’s the peace? Joy? Confidence? Maybe it was left behind when we left God’s path. Thankfully God came down to earth years ago to teach us everything we need to know. We see that in His interactions with people. Even His twelve original followers were an odd group. 

Each had a diverse background. Some were Fishermen and some tax collectors. 

Each one had a unique personality too! They ranged from timid to assertive.

 Each one had spiritual battles from greed to crippling doubt.  

Yet each one rallied under His leadership and were united through a common hope. 

What’s changed? Not much. 

The personalities, talents, backgrounds, and flaws mixed together create a unique blend that make up each one of us. Yet, here we are rallied under His leadership, united in common hope. 

Several Lehman ladies (men are at the table in the foreground) enjoying “Federal Grove” the night before it (sadly) closed, being regaled with one of Kathy’s stories. I think this one was about snakes crawling out of a hole.
Made To Be Functional

Made To Be Functional

Wednesday’s Column: “Third’s Words”

Gary III

Gary N. Pollard, III

Ephesians 4 describes some spiritual gifts. Their purpose is to allow the church to function as it should. A properly functioning church spends eternity with God. 

A functional church is on the same page (one mind), has spiritual depth, and is workable (more on that in a bit). 

Ephesians 4.12ff is about members’ roles. What are they for? Everyone serves to equip saints. Saints are people who have pledged allegiance to God. 

We train for morally good works and become stronger through encouragement (12,16). We work toward a unified mindset, knowing Jesus, spiritual maturity, and we pursue the highest standard (Jesus) (13,14). 

We work to avoid immaturity and gullibility (14). We pursue maturity until our mindset emulates Christ’s (15). He’s described (multiple times) as the standard we have to have. There’s no room for spiritual laziness here. 

Jesus causes growth spiritually, but only if we’ve become soil that can be worked. If our minds aren’t mature, we aren’t workable. Elders are spiritual farmers, our hearts are the soil. If we use Jesus as our standard, we are workable. If not, we’re spiritually dead. 

So, what can we do individually? Make the church strong by pursuing unity, by having spiritual depth, and by being workable. If we work on those things we will spend forever with God. 

Should Christians “Go Galt?” 

Should Christians “Go Galt?” 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Christian monasticism arose within the fourth century AD. The proponents of monasticism felt they were able to live holier lives in isolation. There are still monasteries around today, but the movement is not nearly as popular as it used to be. I think all but a few introverts would enjoy the idea of spartan monasticism today. Besides, monasticism is antithetical to Christian teaching since it is hard to be salt and light to the world, secreting yourself away from where you can influence others (Matthew 5.13-16). But, oh, are we not vexed (oppressed) like Lot living in Sodom? (2 Peter 2.7-8) We are. And that is why we sometimes fantasize about living in a genuine, Christian community. 

That is a rather funny fantasy, though. Christians do have this community. It is called the ecclesia (the assembly or church). Early Christians availed themselves of it by meeting DAILY for worship and fellowship (Acts 2.46-47). We often use economic rationale to justify limiting our assemblies to a maximum of about four gatherings a week. But did our Christian forebearers not have to work? Did these brethren lack familial responsibilities? We must agree that they learned to make time for what was important to them. These earliest Christians truly embodied the command to seek God’s righteousness and Kingdom first (Matthew 6.33). 

However, “Going Galt” is a different concept entirely. The term comes from a dystopian novel by Ayn Rand in the same vein as George Orwell’s 1984. Rand’s book, entitled Atlas Shrugged, presents a mysterious man named John Galt who seeks to persuade those producers exploited by a heavy-handed government to withdraw to seclusion to deprive said government, termed “looters,” from continuing to use them. Ultimately, these “strikers” (striking from participation in said society) desire to establish a new capitalistic society founded on Galt’s philosophies, concepts like individualism and reason. It was a flop in its time but has since become popular among the politically conservative and libertarian.  

A person choosing to “Go Galt” in 2021 would move to an area where they can find political kinship with the existing population. In other words, to co-opt our current colorful political nomenclature, someone voting “red” would move from his “blue” majority state to one matching his voting preferences. “Going Galt” would also mean ditching businesses that have become overtly political in their messaging. A recent example of this would be the avoidance of the Coca-Cola Company for embracing critical race theory. As the current bogeyman is socialism, the idea of those advocating “Going Galt” is to deprive champions of socialism of the material needed to advance the political ideology further. Essentially, you cut off their access to taxpayers and lower their profit margins. 

Peter referred to the Old Law as being a burden no one could keep (Acts 15.10). In many ways, trying to isolate ourselves from others as Christians or “Go Galt” morally would prove an equally arduous task. It is easy to highlight a particular product to avoid, but the said product’s producer likely makes many other products that we may not escape. Or, if you have a 401(k), your mutual fund may buy into stock in the company you wish to punish. You would have to do your research. I do appreciate the idea. The problem, as always, is one of execution and consistency. 

As we often say, “We are in the world but not of it” (cf. John 17.15-18). Jesus said the only way we could avoid these types of problems would be for God to take us out of this world. However, that is not practical since He is sending us out into that world with the Gospel (cf. Matthew 28.19-20; Mark16.15-16). Ultimately, choosing where to live and work or the products one buys, as long as no one supports immorality, falls under the umbrella of Christian liberty (cf.  1 Corinthians 6.12; 10.23;8.1ff; Romans 14.1ff). I may have a problem with the direction that the Walt Disney Company has gone, but I cannot condemn you for subscribing to Disney Plus so you can watch “baby Yoda.” Disney Plus isn’t something like pornography, even if parents need to be mindful of the secular humanistic and evolutionary concepts found in Disney programming today. 

The most excellent solution for those contemplating something akin to monasticism or “Going Galt” is to lose yourself in the local church.  Seek opportunities for fellowship with your brothers and sisters. In so doing, not only do you find needed support, but you can find those to help shoulder your burdens as you help to shoulder theirs (Galatians 6.2,10). The church, after all, is one of those heavenly places where our blessings may be found (Ephesians 1.3).   

God’s “House-Law”

God’s “House-Law”

Wednesday’s Column: “Third’s Words”

Gary III

Gary Pollard

Every home has some kind of system in place to keep order. Maybe you were told to take your shoes off at the door, keep your elbows off the table, make your bed in the morning, or brush your teeth more than twice a month. Every home is different and the expectations for conduct and cleanliness vary accordingly. However your home was structured, you were at least bound to a set of rules in some form.

God’s house is no different. I’m not just talking about the building we meet in for worship, but that anytime His family offers up worship to Him we are expected to follow His rules. I Timothy 1.4 talks about God’s “house-law” (often mistranslated “stewardship” or “godly edification”). The word is οικονομία (oikonomia), combining οίκος (house) with νόμος (law). What does this mean in context? In I Timothy Paul publicly berates two members who were teaching “myths and endless genealogies which do not promote the house law of God in faith” (1.3, 4; 20).

If any teaching goes against what God has told us He wants, it’s a violation of His house-law. We understand this when it comes to daily life outside of religious activities. If we break the law we are held accountable to it. We understand that violating the laws our governments put in place to maintain order and promote justice carries consequences. Some, though, do not act as if the same applies to God’s people in a religious context.

God’s house-law is more specifically defined in I Timothy 2.1-8. Anytime and anywhere Christian men and women offer worship together, God expects qualified Christian men to lead. This is made clear with the phrase, “…in every place” (2.8). God’s house, God’s rules.

Not just any man can lead, though! He must be someone who is able to lift holy hands (that is, he is pure in life and can offer worship without the stain of sin), he must be cool-headed, and he can’t be unstable in his faith (2.8). God’s house, God’s rules.

God expects women to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves (2.9, 10) and are to allow godly men to lead them in worship (2.11-14). His house, his rules.

In all of my vast wisdom and experience as a child, I didn’t always agree with or like all of my family’s house rules. Probably every teen and their unfortunate parents experience this. My feelings about a house rule did not alter its validity in any way. It was not my house so I was not in a position to change or violate the rules. Trying to do so was not only futile but often carried consequences.

God’s design for His church is not acceptable to the secular world. In their disagreement or downright hostility toward it they have pushed many churches into changing God’s house-laws. This doesn’t fly in the legal world, the home, or in any setting where rules were set in place by those most qualified to make them. Why would it work with God?

We may not always understand why God made the laws that He did, but this is where the faith aspect of 1 Timothy 1.4 comes into play. We have to ask ourselves, “Do we trust that God knew what He was doing when He made these laws, and do I really want to challenge Him on the rules He made for His own family?” At the end of the day we must remember that in God’s house we follow God’s laws. Many of the problems facing the church in 2020 can be solved simply by accepting this fact! If we do – as in any family – we will not only have harmony in the church, but a permanent, peaceful home with God after this life.

Job 38.4-7

Division

Division

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

In this volatile political climate, many Christians face some uncomfortable dilemmas. Is party line a salvation issue? How do we handle seemingly irreconcilable differences? What do we do going forward?
 
Rather than delving into those questions, I’d like to focus on the attitude of the early church, which faced internal division–Jew/Gentile controversies like in Acts 15, opinions over cultural matters as seen in I Corinthians 8 and Romans 14, and external pressures.
 
In keeping with the spirit of the early church, let’s focus on the following list.
 
  1. We must focus on and grow our own spiritual culture, independent of our earthly nationality (while observing Romans 13).
  2. We must be faithful Christians who value being righteous, no matter the cost.
  3. We must manage our concerns and worries by spending MORE time with each other and developing our faith.
  4. We may need to see ourselves less as Americans and more as Christians. If we remember that our kingdom is the church first, we will be far more united.
  5. Be awesome citizens. When outsiders hear about us, it should be that we never cause trouble, we are loyal to each other, we are selfless, we help people, we have strong families, we rely on each other, we are pleasant to be around, we are dedicated to our faith, and we love people who treat us poorly.
  6. We must remember that priority number one is heaven. Everything else is second.
  7. We must avoid talking or posting on social media about non-salvation issues that can and do create division or offense, out of courtesy and respect for each other (Romans 14.1-4; 13ff).
 
If these are the things we worry about and focus on, no political division or any other heartburn-inducing unpleasantness can affect us. Besides being happier, we’ll be a stronger church!
Why I Love The Church

Why I Love The Church

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

I love the Church because…
  1. God loved me enough to establish it.
  2. Jesus loves the Church.
  3. The Church loves Jesus.
  4. The Church is a family.
  5. The Church is filled with true friendships.
  6. The Church is a source of encouragement.
  7. I’ve seen firsthand the comfort that the Church provides.
  8. The Church is considerate of others.
  9. The Church is a place for the broken.
  10. The Church is a place for the weak.
  11. In the Church I belong to God.
  12. The Church has perfected potlucks.
  13. Jesus is the Head of the Church.
  14. The Church is the unified body of Christ.
  15. The Church helps me to be a better Christian.
  16. The Church helps to show me my purpose in life.
  17. I’ve met people that have changed my life.
  18. The Church helps me love God more.
  19. The Church is motivated.
  20. The Church reminds me that this world is not my home.
  21. The Church shows me the power of song.
  22. The Church shows me the power of the Gospel.
  23. The Church creates a bond that is impossible to find anywhere else.
  24. The Church shows me how amazing grace really is.
  25. The Church is a place of spiritual support.
  26. The Church is a place of physical comfort.
  27. The Church is a place of emotional healing.
  28. I leave every service feeling renewed.
  29. The Church helps me interact better with people.
  30. The Church at times helps me practice patience.
  31. The Church is a reminder that we are equal in Christ.
  32. The Church is a place filled with servants.
  33. The Church helps bring out the best in me.
  34. I want to go to Heaven.
  35. The Church helps me glorify God.
  36. The Church is the family I worship God with.
  37. The Church is exciting!
  38. The Church is where I belong.
  39. I can’t imagine a life without the Church.
  40. The Church puts my focus where it belongs; on God, and other people.
  41. The Church is selfless.
  42. The Church is life changing.
  43. God wants me to love the Church.
  44. The Church makes you feel needed.
  45. The Church makes me more considerate of others.
  46. I want to be a part of God’s plan.
  47. The Church helps me be closer to my physical family.
  48. The Church gives me memories that will last a lifetime.
  49. The Church is filled with people that I will never have to say goodbye to.
  50. The Church of Christ helps me keep heaven in view.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
 
 
Photo credit: Grant Wilson
Monday Through Saturday Relationships

Monday Through Saturday Relationships

Gary Pollard

We get an interesting glimpse into the life of the early church in Acts 2.44-47. While it is not practical for us to live in that same way, there is one principle that we should examine. The early church spent a great deal of time together outside of their worship on the first day of the week. Acts 2.46 says, “And day by day, they were devoted to the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all of the people.” What’s going on here? The members of the church dedicated time every day to growing in their relationships with one another. To them, “church” was so much more than just showing up for worship every time the doors were open. It was the Monday through Saturday relationships that fortified their faith. 
What was the result of this dedication? “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2.47). Are we likely to live for a faith we have not invested in? Are we likely to stand up under trials if we do not have a sense of community in the church? Are we likely to resist temptation without strong ties in God’s family? The early church faced trials we could never understand, yet they remained faithful because of their strong relationships and resulting faith. 
The early church relied on constant contact with one another to help them build their faith. Nothing builds a Christian’s faith more than being around a group of people who want the same thing (to live like Christ), genuinely care for one another, and share a common goal (heaven).