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politics Sovereignty Uncategorized

God Reigns Over America In 2019

Neal Pollard

I do not mean to suggest that God is pleased with this nation today. Scripture would indicate that He is anything but happy with our immorality, materialism, and hypocrisy from the highest levels of government on down to the citizenry (cf. Prov. 14:34). From 2008-2016, He put Barak Obama in the White House. In 2016, He put Donald Trump there.  The very idea of both of these statements has managed to put a lot of people, including Christians, into a whipped up frenzy for the last decade-plus. But Scripture reminds us, “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:8).

In Romans 13, Paul reveals some startling, difficult truths:

  • The authorities that exist are established by God (1)
  • Resisting them is resisting God (2)
  • Governmental authority is a minister of God to you for good (4)
  • It is necessary to be in subjection to such (5)

It is disheartening to see so many good people of God sidetracked and distracted by the world of politics, especially in the fevered pitch of the activities currently ongoing. Without true insight into what’s really going on, from “deep state” to “abuse of power,” too many are up at verbal arms metaphorically going door to virtual door in search of a fight about all of this. Wherever we see ourselves on the political spectrum, as we face seeming corruption from both sides of the political aisle, we should ask ourselves a question. Why is this happening in our land today?

God reigns over the United States today. He is at work. Is all of this His means of refining or judging us? I do not purport to know with certainty.

Does God want us to spend our precious time debating politics, fighting our philosophical foes on it? Does He want us to hitch our precious influence to crusading for or against impeachment and its endless tributaries? Or does He want us redoubling our efforts to seek and save the lost, being salt and light in an unsavory, dark world?

God is going to settle the matters swirling in and around D.C. in accordance with His sovereignty. Meanwhile, we must keep our focus on the eternal souls of humanity helping to prepare them for the inevitable appointment before the King of kings and Lord of lords (Mat. 25:31-33; 1 Tim. 6;15). While we don’t know what He has in mind in these matters, we do know what He has in mind at the end of time. 

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abortion Uncategorized

Destroying What God Loves

Neal Pollard

God encouraged and comforted Jeremiah, a man He had delegated for a difficult task, with these intimate words: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (1:5). This knowledge is intimate knowledge, spoken of God’s intimate acquaintance with Moses (Dt. 34:10) and even Adam’s sexual knowing of Eve (Gen. 4:1). This consecration is “that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred” (TWOT, 786). This appointment is an intentional act of giving something or someone based on the value of the gift. God was sending Jeremiah to the people because of how highly He regarded this one who would become His prophet. Taken together, Jeremiah the fetus was cherished and beloved by God. He recognized Jeremiah as totally human in the womb as out of it.

How startling to read, then, that God “hates…hands that shed innocent blood” (Prov. 6:16,17).  This echoes what is said elsewhere in the Old Testament (Dt. 19:10; Prov. 28:17; Isa. 59:7). Certainly, the unborn are as innocent as can be. Judah’s punishment (70 years of Babylonian Captivity) was sealed because King Manasseh’s sanctioned and encouraged the killing of the nation’s children (2 Ki. 24:3-4; Jer. 15:4). The people paid the price for destroying God’s precious children, known, consecrated, and appointed by Him for work only He knows. 

It is not newsworthy for me to tell you how many abortions have been committed in our nation just since January, 1973. Those facts are frequently shared. However, it is helpful for us to ask what influence we have in trying to turn people’s hearts toward righteousness.

  • Focus more on soul-winning. Converting men and women to Christ will persuade more to sensitivity to God’s will on everything that matters, including this.
  • Thoughtfully examine the positions and voting records of every person seeking political office. Forget party affiliation. Investigate and use your constitutional rights. The lines in the sand on this issue are already horrific, yet they still keep moving.
  • Pray for national leaders to care for the precious unborn and courageous defend them.
  • Stand with and encourage groups who fight for the rights of unborn children.

Only God knows how full America’s wine vat is with the grapes of His wrath. Perhaps, like Judah and Manasseh, it is too late to save this nation. That is a matter for constant prayer. Let’s be infinitely more concerned with saving the precious life within the womb than we are the personal comforts, freedoms, and privileges we enjoy in this nation.

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abortion government politics race social media Uncategorized

How To Unite In A Culture Of Division

Neal Pollard

It’s no news flash to observe that our culture seems hopelessly divided along political lines. That seems to impact race, gender, and other lines, too. The most tragic consequence of this is that it has not left the church unaffected. Social media is often a barometer for how emotional and passionate brethren on both sides of this divide can become when discussing some specific aspect of this. We cannot hope that social media will provide the answer. Who your friends are and what their leanings are on political issues influence what shows up on your homepage as they share politically or socially charged blogs, videos, and the like. Pundits have, for a few years, theorized and analyzed the reality of a “political social media bubble.” Barton Swaim, in an August 1 article on The Weekly Standard online, said, “more than any other social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter are avenues for the kind of acrimony that has embittered our politics and poisoned reasonable dialog” (https://www.weeklystandard.com/barton-swaim/a-political-social-media-bubble). It’s not just conservative publications making that observation. Google the term “political social media bubble” and conservative, moderate, and liberal outlets can at least agree about its existence (a trip to The Guardian, New York Times, National Review, et al finds plenty of material if written from different points of view drawing different conclusions).  Too often, God’s people get drawn into this hurtful, messy arena and turn on each other like gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. The God of heaven must certainly weep.

This weekend, I visited the Lord’s church in Chesapeake, Virginia, a state that is often a political cauldron boiling hotter than many other places. I’m not sure how many congregations were represented, but we had to have had close to half white and half black people attending (with various Asian and Hispanic visitors there, too). Politics were mentioned a few times, but only in the sense that they have too often become a stumbling block and distraction in the Lord’s church and that they cannot solve our nation’s problems. But I was beholding the answer without it having to be pointed out. Those in attendance had a thirst for a “thus saith the Lord.” People of different colors lovingly, naturally worshipped, fellowshipped, visited, laughed with, and enjoyed each other throughout the weekend. It was genuine. It was deep. It was powerful. And it was neither contrived nor manipulated. Its glue and bond was the blood and body of God’s Son. Christ is the great uniter. As we unite on His terms and His way, we destroy barriers. That’s by design.

What Paul says to Jew and Gentile in Ephesians 2:14-18 can have application between black and white, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, male and female, or however our country wants to erect barriers. Christ is our peace and can break down the barrier of any dividing wall. He helps us view each other as “fellow citizens” and “family” (2:19) who are “together” (2:21,22). When we get ahold of that, nothing can keep us apart!

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At yesterday’s PM worship services at the Chesapeake church of Christ
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church church (nature) church function politics Uncategorized

Caesar’s Citizen Headline: “The Jerusalem Church Splits Over Politics!”

Neal Pollard

Barak monitored the results of the latest Imperial policies out of Rome. And he hashed it and rehashed it with his brethren at the fellowship meals, on his job at the fish market, and definitely, with vehemence, within his inner circle of friends and family.  Elchanan came from a long line of zealots, and, although he had become a Christian several years before, his leanings and passion about the matter were well-known to anyone who spent any time with him. Michael, Zechariah, and Esther voiced their empathy for Elchanan’s position, while Gaius, Claudia, Junius, and Manius, ever loyal to the politics of their native homeland, aligned themselves with Barak. Unfortunately, they all also were Christians who worshipped together or in neighboring congregations around Jerusalem. They got so caught up in it that they marched, they protested, they pledged allegiance with oaths, they argued, and they held one another in contempt and suspicion. Meanwhile, Jews and Gentiles all around them lived and died without hearing the message of Jesus and the purpose He died to make available to them. They did not associate those early Christians with love. They had no clue about the heart of the gospel message, the good news they needed in the unstable times in which they lived. They failed to see distinctiveness and kindness. They saw a mirrored reflection of their unregenerate selves. Mired in the smallness of contemporary concern, the church at Jerusalem, distracted from their mission, never taught lost souls, devoted themselves to service, or lived lives that showed utmost trust in Jesus and His power to save and transform. Predictably, these small bands of disciples circled their chariots around themselves and hid their lights under their baskets.

That’s not quite the way Luke records it. Politics was a constant, headline news matter in the first century. There was volatility and polarization. With the theatre and stadiums, there were no shortages of entertainment diversions, too. But, reading the book of Acts, you find a quickly growing band of disciples reaching the thousands in number precisely because they stayed above the sensual fray of politics or any other ephemeral concerns. They understand what lasted and what wouldn’t. From the first verse that records their collective activity, they were “devoted” (Acts 2:42). Their devotion was powerfully, primarily, and passionately Jesus and His will.

It doesn’t matter that we’re 2000 years removed from that, or that our situation isn’t exactly parallel. Our mission hasn’t changed. Our primary focus must be the same as theirs. Ever wonder who benefits the most from our getting mired in the mud of these carnal things? It isn’t Jesus!

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church church function church of Christ faith faithfulness Uncategorized

Focus, Not Complacency 

Neal Pollard

Whether you are elated or despondent today, you face a serious danger as you absorb the reality of the election results. Prayer meetings for our nation transpired all around our country, even from brethren and friends in other nations. Individuals prayed fervently for God’s will to be done. What that will look like and what that will mean only time will reveal.  For many, relief replaces fear at the prospect of the “other side” winning. For others, disbelief and embarrassment, not to mention shock, have begun to roost.

One thing that has been emphasized in the days and weeks leading up to this historic election is that, no matter what, the church must step up and increase its militancy and evangelism. We must work and serve in bigger and greater ways. That has not changed. The kind of change and improvement this (and every) country needs most can only come from Christ. People of both (or neither) political parties still live in view of the Second Coming, the Judgment, and an eternal destination in either heaven or hell.

After warning about the futility of trusting in earthly governments, militaries, and the like, the Psalmist instructs, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You” (Psa. 33:18-22). May that forever be the anthem of the people of God!

The only thing that is over is a political election. The church’s mission is as daunting, daring, and divinely-directed as it has ever been. However you view the national decision, please continue to see the heavenly vision. We are not here to make America great again, though most of us would desire that. We are here to help reconcile the world to Christ (2 Cor. 5:20; Mat. 28:18-20). I love the way my son, Dale, said it yesterday: “After the election, after the selection, I’m still thankful there was a resurrection that gives us direction.” That is the focus that must keep us oriented to our reason for being on this earth.

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church function Current Events evangelism government politics Uncategorized

DIVIDING OVER POLITICS

Neal Pollard

“Rancor” is synonymous with hostility, bitterness, spite, and vitriol. In Ephesians 4:31, Paul warns the Christian against “bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander [and] malice.” While it didn’t seem possible that this election cycle could produce more heat and saber-rattling than the last couple, it has already exceeded it. It is almost painful to watch the cable news networks, but we should expect the world to behave like the world. Yet, when I see brethren so vehemently defending their candidate and excoriating those who disagree with them, I am truly disheartened. Social media continues to pour gasoline on this already potent fire.

I try to imagine the apostles and early Christians, were they to have such an outlet, tying into one another and beating their chest as they debated each other over the merits of Claudius over Nero, devoting so much time arguing their points about which candidate would better favor the cause of Christianity.  Inspired writers had every opportunity to show such a participation and bias, but they are conspicuously silent. While I do not agree with the extreme that David Lipscomb took in his book On Civil Government, can we not, if we are not careful, veer toward the other extreme through blind allegiance to rulers who, when dispassionately and objectively viewed, honor and demonstrate evil over godliness? Whether it is foul language, deceit and dishonesty, and glorifying sexual immorality (a la Playboy!) or lying, pro-abortion, and criminal behavior, I am baffled as to why a Christian should get so invested in one candidate or exorcised at the other.  May we never prioritize America over our dear brotherhood or our heavenly goal. We gauge that priority by our thoughts, speech, attitude, and actions regardless of what we claim.

As a husband and father for whom the prospect of grandchildren may not be many years hence, I grasp with such personal investment the gravity of this year’s election and the current world situation. Yet, I can let the fear of that eclipse the infinitely bigger picture. What a glorious day it would be if we could steer our consuming passion toward Jesus and the mission He left us!

You may have a decided leaning toward the Republican or Democratic offering in this year’s election. Given this year’s choice, I don’t believe you can cling to either without your hands being very dirty. That being said, may we all be prayerful and imminently restrained in our interchange especially with our brethren and before the eyes of the world. Our unity in truth, our common mission, and our Christian example are eternally more important than politics. Period!

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

NO GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN EVER!

Neal Pollard

Depending on your point of view, “government shutdown” may mean an undermining to your livelihood, a reduction of Washington interference, or a symbol of partisan politics.  Questions arise as to what government services and civilian activities will be impacted, and tensions are ratcheted from Pennsylvania Avenue to Wall Street.  A government shut down is so rare that it is headline newsworthy.

Of course we know that the strongest, largest empires the world has ever known have toppled, in some cases forever shutting down their governments.  Even countries that were once the seat of world power are now led by a much-weakened and much-reduced governmental authority.  Did you know that there is one government not in danger of ever facing a shutdown? It is not China, Russia, or Switzerland, either.  In fact, this government is ever-increasing and that is even a good thing.  Isaiah foresaw this, prophesying, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;  And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” (9:6-7).

The Holy Spirit through Isaiah looked ahead to the birth and reign of Christ.  He refers to Him by a couple of names that reveal His Deity–Mighty God and Eternal Father.  He refers to Him by a couple of names that demonstrate His work–Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace.  Then, He turns to His coming reign as King.  Words like peace, justice and righteousness describe it.  In this, He also says “there will be no end to the increase of His government.”  Jesus wants to reign and rule over His creation.  The more He has control of our lives, the better our lives become.  The more fully we submit to Him, the greater good can be accomplished to His glory!  The best news is that, so long as He lives (and that’s FOREVER!), His reign will continue (cf. Dan. 2:44).  No matter which side of the aisle of American politics you stand, you should agree that this is the kind of “Big Government” we should all enthusiastically support!

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choice decision politics Uncategorized

THE POLLS ARE OPEN

Neal Pollard

All over the nation, poll levers are being pulled, votes cast, and the office of many political positions is in the process of being filled by the winning candidate. People in this place of democracy are, at this moment, helping to decide the political fate of individuals vying for a place of public leadership. Those elected may or may not be persons of worth and integrity. Their careers may be starting, extending, or ending, depending on the majority’s say. They may gain or lose a place of authority based on their political, international, domestic, economic, and social philosophies. After all, public officials are always vulnerable to the fickle feelings of the voter.

Everywhere in the world at every moment, everyone is casting a vote of a different nature. Only one figurative ballot is used in this worldwide decision. Only two choices appear on the ballot. The issues are paramount in importance. This vote is not cast secretly behind a curtain, either. Many times, a righteous minority may be caused to suffer because of the foolish “majority vote” (cf. Proverbs 14:34). When all of life is over, the voting record of every individual will be made public. In fact, all people of all nations for all time will know which choice every individual elected to make in his life. And yet, with this poll, one can change his vote as long as life and opportunity are his.

Does the Kingdom take PRIMARY importance in your life? In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33). The head of this kingdom is Christ “and he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18, emp. NP). God demands first place. We must love Him more than anyone or anything else (Lk. 10:27). Whatever keeps us from attending the worship assembly, from actively seeking the lost, and from modeling true Christianity before the world, takes priority over serving and obeying God in His Kingdom.

Are you casting the VOTE of your life for or against Jehovah? All Israel stood before Joshua to decide to whom their life belonged. In Joshua 24:15, Joshua had said “God or gods.” “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; For the Lord our God, he it is that brought up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord: for he is our God” (Josh. 24:16-18). The people of God cast their vote out of appreciation, for they remembered the deliverance of God. The people of God cast their vote out of attention, for they recognized the power of God. The people of God cast their vote out of alarm, for they revered the justice of God. The people of God cast their vote out of aversion, for they rejected the enemies of God. Joshua reminded them that God would go with them only as long as they went with God. Because God is a jealous God who wants first place in our lives, He expects the import of our lives to reflect our submission and trust in His way.

Does King Jesus REIGN in your heart? The promise of Christ’s coming included the announcement of Gabriel, who said, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Lk. 1:33; cf. Dan. 2:44). The “throne of the heart” is often mentioned in figurative language. All of us place something there. We place our accumulation before that throne (Matt. 6:21), our affections around that throne (Col. 3:1; Rom. 12:2), and our allegiance before that throne (Jas. 4:4; 1 Jn. 2:15-17). Is Jesus “a resident” in the “castle” of your heart? If so, is He King or peasant to you? The Bible calls Jesus “the King of the ages” (1 Tim. 1:17), “The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings…” (1 Tim. 6:15), and “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16). How much greater than the mere prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2) is our Almighty King Jesus!

God created every person with the ability to freely choose. He will not rule us dictatorially (tyrannically). He leaves the power of choice in our hand. Yet, we must choose carefully. The decision we make has eternal consequences. King Jesus says, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (Jn. 12:48-50). Whether we elect Him King of our lives or not, He has been appointed by God to judge us on an appointed day. The polls are open. Will you choose Christ and His law?

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