The Location Of Salvation

The Location Of Salvation

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

Most people can think of a specific location that brings them joy. It could be a vacation destination, a certain getaway spot, or a favorite city or park. It’s a location that is filled with memories and good times. We find ourselves dreaming about those places when we are loaded down with life. What we wouldn’t give to be relaxing on that beach, away from all the work and responsibilities. What is it about these places that causes us to long to be there? It’s the thought of being somewhere that’s free of care and worry. 
In scripture, salvation is often described as being found in a very specific location. The Bible records numerous examples of when God saved His people in a specific location. The Passover in Exodus 12 is an example of this. If the people wanted to keep their firstborn children, they were to spread blood on the doorposts of their homes. By doing this, the death angel would pass over the houses with blood on them. There are several other examples of salvation being in a specific location such as Noah’s ark in Genesis 6-9 and Rahab’s home in Joshua 2.
If salvation was found on the ark and in Rahab’s home, where is it now? Scripture teaches us that the church Christ died to establish is the place of safety today. 

The plan: a new covenant (Mark 14:24)
–The purpose: save the souls that are added to the body (Rom. 8:1-3) 
–The promise: eternal life (1 Jn. 5:11) 

The Old Testament examples mentioned all contained specific instructions: Build the ark out of gopher wood, pick a certain amount of animals, and tie a scarlet rope to the window. These specific locations brought salvation but only through obedience to God and His plan. 
What specific instructions do we have today? The contents of the New Testament explain in perfect detail how we can be added to God’s location of salvation. The ark saved Noah and His family from destruction, the scarlet rope tied to the window of Rahab’s home saved her and her family, and baptism (Acts 2:38; 1 Pt. 3:21) will save anyone and everyone that wishes to be added to the church. 

5 Buckets For Life

5 Buckets For Life

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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

We would all like to improve in many ways, but many of us are also well aware of the flaws we feel are holding us back. Those shortcomings tend to get in the way, slow us down, or even prevent us from achieving the quality of life that we desire. While there is plenty of room for improvement in my life, I have found that there is a simple way to clearly envision where I am currently, and also plan for where I would like to be in the future. 

It’s true that our burdens often come from our blessings. For example, the blessing of having a car may result in the burden of expensive bills that follow a mechanical issue. 

I believe that there are five major buckets of blessings that we all must give our time and attention to. They are the five categories that, if purposefully tended, help our lives to be wonderful. On the other hand, if neglected, we find ourselves in a head-spinning spiral of worry and anxiety. 

These buckets are: 

  1. Faith 
  2. Mental maturity 
  3. Physical health 
  4. Relationships 
  5. Work 

If one of those buckets isn’t filled with the proper content, the effects, I’m sure you’re aware, are negative. If these crucial categories are filled correctly, our quality of life will only improve. 

God is the Creator of life itself which makes Him the leading authority on the subject. Consider how He can help you in each of the five areas listed here.

Faith 

By denying self, our focus is diverted away from our negative self absorption. Putting God and others first can give you a better, fresh, and positive perspective. 

Acts 20:35

Mental maturity 

When we seek to understand our own minds and what makes us tick, we’ll be able to identify where these negative thoughts and reactions originate. 

Philippians 4:8

Physical health 

Poor health habits like fast-food diets, lack of physical exercise, and sleep deprivation only make dealing with stress all the more difficult. God designed your body to function properly when properly taken care of. 

Luke 1:37 

Relationships 

Every relationship, whether in marriage, friendship, family, coworkers, or the church, all have one thing in common—they were made by God. Thankfully, God wrote a book to help us understand who we are to be to each individual that make up those groups. 

Romans 12:16

Work 

God built us to work— He expects us to. Some choose to be lazy, and they suffer. Others choose to constantly work to the neglect of the four other areas mentioned. There must be a balance, and God knows that. 

Psalm 128:2 

While there’s a lot more to be said concerning these five categories, I hope this simplifies things and helps refocus on what really matters. 

Hopefully, looking at life through His divine lens is a reminder of Who we should turn to for everything. He has given us the ultimate assurance— and He is willing to give us the ultimate assistance. 

When The Storms Of Life Are Raging

When The Storms Of Life Are Raging

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Jesus, the master teacher (Luke 8:1-21), shows His humanity as He fell asleep as the disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee (23). Assuming the boat to be large enough to transport at least 13 people and provide Jesus room to repose, it makes the situation more impressive when “a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger” (23). We know that at least four of the men in that boat made their living negotiating these waters as fishermen, and we would guess they had seen their share of storms. But this one was apparently exceptional. They woke Jesus up in a panic, exclaiming, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (24). 

When Kathy and I were young newlyweds, we worked with the church in Livingston, Alabama. Our best song leader was a man who grew up close friends of Gus Nichols’ children. His name was Selman Falls, and his repertoire of songs was vast. He taught us the song, “He Will Hide Me,” written by Mary Servoss in 1878. The first verse says, “When the storms of life are raging, tempests wild on sea and land, I will seek a place of refuge, in the shadow of God’s hand.” Few metaphors seem more fitting than to call our trials and difficulties “storms.” I confess that more than one of these has led me to panic and to pray, “Master, Master, I am perishing!” Our trials disturb our peace, rock our world, and threaten our stability. 

Will you notice how Jesus handled this? First, He acted. Then, He admonished. He did not lecture while waves crashed and water encroached. He took care of the problem. But, then He said, “Where is your faith?” Luke mentions no sober self-reflection on the part of the disciples. Instead, they marveled. They responded, in fear and amazement, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” (25). Storms are opportunities for us to ask, then answer, such an identity question. It’s the right question. Not, why did this storm come? Why me? But, Who then is this? Who is the master of the maelstrom? Who is the commander of the crushing confusion? 

Chances are great that several of you are in the midst of some kind of storm. The boat is rocking, the winds are howling, and the prospects are not promising. What will you do? More importantly, what will you allow Him to do? He still stills storms! 

Business on 31W bypass, relatively close to our church building
What Are You Prepared To Do?

What Are You Prepared To Do?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

In Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987), loosely based on historical events, Elliot Ness must stop gangster Al Capone. Ness, portrayed by Kevin Costner, is recruiting capable men to help him accomplish his task. One of the men he selects is an Irish beat cop, Jimmy Malone. Malone, played by Sean Connery, asks Ness what he is prepared to do to stop Al Capone. Ness replies he is willing to do anything within the law. However, Malone reminds him that Capone doesn’t play by those rules, implying that Ness will have to dirty his hands to bring Capone to justice. Sadly, one of Capone’s cronies mortally wounds Malone later in the movie. As he lay dying, he again asks Ness what he is prepared to do. Malone’s death finally causes Ness to take his gloves off and give Capone a hard fight. 

Obviously, our devotional thoughts are just as loosely based on The Untouchables as the said movie was on the actual events occurring during Prohibition. Thus, I am primarily focusing on Malone’s question of what one is prepared to do. This question strikes me as pertinent to two parables spoken by Jesus to His disciples in Matthew 13.44-45. There are seven parables in Matthew 13, but Jesus gave only four of those to the assembled masses. The remaining three he spoke to the disciples alone. Of those three parables, two deal with people making an incredible discovery and the lengths they go to secure it. The Pearl of Great Price and the Hidden Treasure is parables requiring sacrifice from those wishing to obtain what Jesus equates to the kingdom of heaven. 

Wait a minute. Are these not disciples to whom He addresses these parables? Yes. So, have they not already found the treasure, having decided to follow Jesus? Indeed, they have. However, there remains something even they must do. Even though they have acknowledged that there is something special about Jesus, that He is the Messiah, there is still a price to be paid. If they wish to complete their faithfulness, they must be willing to forfeit all to secure God’s precious promises. In the case of some, this knowledge came because of a diligent search. For the others, they had chanced upon the Messiah. Regardless of the circumstances, though, both groups had to surrender everything to receive the kingdom.  

Recalling Matthew’s original audience, we note Matthew’s message is Jesus is the Messiah. Thus, he wrote primarily for the benefit of the Jews looking for the Messiah. They had to recognize that Jesus of Nazareth was He about whom the prophets had spoken, even Moses. Yet, they had to do more than mentally assent to Jesus’ identity. The believer’s conviction would cause them even to forfeit their former spiritual wealth obtained under the Law of Moses since God’s kingdom is invaluable in comparison. Elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells those who would follow Him that they had to remove all stumbling blocks from obedience, even if that were a foot or an eye (Matthew 18.7-9). Jesus was using this language figuratively, of course, as He was not advocating self-mutilation. But the message is the same as that of the Pearl of Great Price and the Hidden Treasure. You must remove absolutely everything coming between you and the acquisition of the kingdom of heaven without prejudice.  

That is a sober message for those of us reading Matthew’s Gospel today. We may have satisfied ourselves with the knowledge that we have grasped the identity of Christ. Perhaps, we have even taken steps to become Christians. We are His disciples. But even to us, Jesus asks, “What are you prepared to do?” If the answer is not the equivalent of forfeiting all for the sake of the kingdom, then we have not yet done enough. As those to whom the Hebrews’ writer wrote, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Hebrews 12.4 NASB1995). The implication, of course, is Christians elsewhere in the first century were shedding their blood for their faith. Hence, the road taken by the recipients of the Hebrews letter was calmer in comparison. Thus, as I read those parables of the Pearl of Great Price and the Hidden Treasure, I must ask myself if I likewise will give my all to receive the kingdom of heaven. So then, when the situation calls for it, I must do whatever it takes to receive the kingdom of heaven. Only then will I have obtained the Pearl of Great Price and the Hidden Treasure.      

I Hope You Read This

I Hope You Read This

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

img_0806-e1578582831473

Carl Pollard

We have abused this word. We say things like, “I hope there’s some food at the house” or, “I hope the weather is nice tomorrow,” and “I hope my team wins the Super Bowl.” The hope that’s mentioned in scripture has a completely different definition. 
 
The word in Romans 15:13, for example, is the Greek word “elpis. “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” This word is defined as, “Looking forward to something with confidence” (BDAG 319).  It is an expectation that we have as Christians. We have hope because we call God our Father. 
 
The world does not have that relationship and because of this they have nothing to hope in. If they look forward to anything it’s pay day, or the weekend, or vacations. Every one of these come to an end and once again they are left with no hope. 
 
Don’t get me wrong, we look forward to these things too. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but this isn’t what we look forward to solely. We know that there is more to life than vacation. 
 
1 Peter 5:10 is an incredible verse that describes the hope we have. It says, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 
 
This is true hope. It is the God of the universe Himself that will do this for each one of his children. We may not see it every day, but the world is lost and desperate. We have what they need. They’re desperate for guidance because they’re lost. They’re desperate for purpose because they have none. They’re desperate for Hope because the world offers nothing to those who are struggling. 
 
God has entrusted us with the answers to life, so what are we doing with this knowledge?
Fears Are Funny

Fears Are Funny

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

image-e1601983688162

Dale Pollard

Do you remember what any of your childhood fears were? Maybe you never really grew out of those fears.  I can remember a number of phobias I had as a child but one of them was not arachnophobia. In fact, me and my younger brother would collect spiders from the backyard and put them all in a container in our bedroom. At night we would put a flashlight behind a clear cage and watch all the spiders make their webs— occasionally fight each other. I don’t believe mom ever discovered this little secret. For some reason as I grew older (more mature) I developed a fear of spiders, despite having played with them often as a young kid.

Fears can be funny like that. They can come from bad experiences or just somewhere in the back of our minds. There’s a lot of fear in the world today!

One of my favorite psalms in the Bible is Psalm 46. We read about what seems to be those worst case scenarios, but God still reigns over all. What if the earth gives way? What if the mountains are thrown into the sea? What if the wrong man becomes our new president? What if this virus never goes away? Even so, we have no reason to fear. God is bigger than our fears. We serve a Being with that much power and it should fill us with courage. What are you afraid of? 

Three Keys To Better Bible Classes

Three Keys To Better Bible Classes

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard  

The Tompkinsville church family is blessed to have some righteous and knowledgeable elders. In the past week and in separate Bible classes these men have each shed some insight on three different biblical texts. One elder brought a passage of scripture to the table that clarified the difference between anger and sinful anger. Another elder gave a separate take on the dispersion of humanity after the language change at Babel. After a discussion surrounding the blessing that was promised to Jacob, one of the elders broadened the scope and showed how that promise played out in Jacob’s life and in the life of the Israelites. Though the insights they offered in class were contrary to some beliefs in the brotherhood, they navigated the disagreements with grace and tact. These were not matters of salvation and in some cases were simply a matter of opinion.

The biblical text is not always clear in the English translations since there is the cultural and linguistic barriers that must be taken into consideration. Since that’s the case, there are occasionally opposing views that could both be correct. To some degree, speculation and educated guess work will attempt to fill in the gaps. Is there a hard line in the sand that indicates when anger becomes sinful? Certainly. Could God have miraculously scattered the confused people after the Tower of Babel was completed? Yes. God could have also allowed them to naturally migrate to their respective regions. Are there several applications that can be taken from Genesis 32 where we read that Jacob wrestled with God? Definitely. A church family should appreciate an eldership with a heart and mind so immersed in God’s word that they have drawn their own conclusions based on their personal study. Godly men and women express their faithfulness in Bible classes in several ways. 

  • First, they understand that the truth must be spoken in love (Ephesians 4.15). They are able to tell the difference between matters of opinion and matters of salvation. 
  • Second, they are eager to maintain a unity of spirit and a bond of peace (Ephesians 4.3-6). Godly members are not purposefully divisive or quick to start heated debates. 
  • Third, the older Christians recognize the responsibility they have to share their wisdom with the younger generation and the godly youth respect the wisdom that is given from the older generation (Titus 2.2-12). 

When the body of Christ is unified it’s also unstoppable. The church family that respects those God-given rolls that we are all assigned will find that Bible classes, Biblical discussion, and relationships are enriched and strengthened. Knowledge is both shared and received in love and humility. 

“I Can’t Come To Church Because Of Covid”

“I Can’t Come To Church Because Of Covid”

(Tuesday Supplement. Note: I am well aware that there are those who are immunocompromised and cannot attend. This is not in any way meant to discourage or dishearten those in this condition. God knows and understands.)

Neal Pollard

Covid has touched nearly every family I know, including my own. It would be foolish to say that it is harmless. It has claimed nearly 5 million lives as of today. So, I have heard from many good, thoughtful people, this statement: “I can’t come to church because of Covid.” Please accept that with deep, genuine love, there are a few questions that need to be asked alongside of this.

Are we being consistent? Are we still going to the grocery store, the restaurants, the beauty shop, the office, the classroom, the gym, and the doctor? Chances are at least as great that we will contract Covid in one of those places as at church. People are not more clean or careful in those places. 

Are we properly prioritizing?  Perhaps we see the stores, the job, the school, and the medical as essential and necessary. Jesus puts our spiritual health and that of His body above all else (Mat. 6:33; 16:26). How could we conclude that any of these others are more important than His kingdom?

Are we considering others? Perhaps we console ourselves by saying that we’re getting what we need by watching Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, or wherever services are live-streamed. But, worship and Bible class is not simply about our being fed. We must consider one another to stimulate unto love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). That is said in connection with assembling together (Heb. 10:25), and how is this done by one who stays away from the assembly?

Are we weakening our spiritual strength? Is it getting easier to stay away or opt to just catch it on the phone, computer, or TV when we don’t feel like coming? Are we losing our desire to be with God’s people? Isolation has many effects, some more subtle than others.

Are we assessing our fears? Those who are waiting for Covid to go away will be waiting years or longer. This is a virus. Scientists doubt that it can be eradicated. It spreads too quickly. Perhaps it will be like Polio or smallpox, but how long will that be? Will we stay home for years? Meanwhile, where will be, spiritually, years from now if we have disconnected from our spiritual family? 

After 18 months, perhaps it is time to do some serious reevaluating? Instead of only allowing news outlets to be our guide, we need to balance that with careful study of God’s Word. Instead of considering just this life on earth, we should balance that by considering this life is for preparing for eternity. We need to be back together–all of us, now more than ever. 

The Art Of Excuses

The Art Of Excuses

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

 
Someone once said, “Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far.” Ben Franklin is quoted saying, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
 
Jeremiah had a complete list of excuses ready when God called on him to be a prophet to the people of Israel. Many times the excuses of Jeremiah become ours when we are called on to be a preacher to this world. We see that with every excuse Jeremiah made, God gave promises in return.
 
First, Jeremiah said, “the task ahead is difficult.” God says, “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” (Jer. 1:5).  Notice what God says to Jeremiah: “I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” The task ahead is difficult, so Jeremiah gives off a list of excuses for why he isn’t the one for this job. God gives a promise for Jeremiah’s excuses; He says, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” God knew that Jeremiah was the one for the job, even if Jeremiah didn’t think so.
 
Second, Jeremiah said, “I don’t have the talent.” Jeremiah 1:6 says, “Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” Many times people blame their cowardice on lack of talent. They say that it isn’t a natural talent to them, that there are others more suited for the job; but God knows Jeremiah and the great good he can accomplish. In Jeremiah 1:9, God promises that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth.
 
As Christians today we have these same promises for our worries and excuses. Let’s not blame our cowardice on a lack of talent. That isn’t a good excuse to God. Nothing is. God has promised He will be with us, and we have HIS Word to teach to others. Let’s trust in that.
Parkour

Parkour

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

garyandme521

Gary Pollard

What is faith? I don’t have faith in my parkour abilities. My lack of faith comes from several factors: basic safety awareness, physique, and reality. Because of this, I have little or no confidence in my ability to scale walls. Faith is rational confidence. We’re confident about things we understand and have experience or proficiency with.

Faith in God is confidence. We’re confident that God exists. We’re confident that he made everything. We know he loves us. We know he’s coming back. We know that faithful people get to live with him.

A faithful Christian is a rationally confident Christian. When we’re doing our best to live moral lives, we’re confident in grace. We’re confident in our destination. We have reason to have confidence in God because we’ve worked on knowing him. We have the Bible and creation itself to help us know God. The more we know him, the more confidence we have.

What if I want more confidence in my parkour abilities? I’d have to hit the gym like crazy and somehow become graceful. I’d have to want to develop that skill. Confidence comes from experience and knowledge.

What if we need more faith? Get to know God more. Pay attention to all of the ways life points to a much higher power. Get close to other Christians. Get excited for heaven. No one can walk away from that without more confidence in our awesome God.