Actions Of A Worthy Christian

Actions Of A Worthy Christian

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

His name is Luke Aikins, and he is known as the first man to ever jump out of a plane at 25,000 feet with no parachute and walk away without a scratch. Luke trained for two years in order to pull the stunt off without dying. To pull this off, he would be jumping with nothing more than a helmet, an oxygen tank, and a GPS to help guide him into a net. 

This net was over 1000 feet wide and 1000 feet long. It was stretched between 4 cranes and looked no bigger than a dime from 25k feet. And so, after years of training and planning, he successfully pulled off the highest jump from a plane with no parachute, and survived. 

He told reporters that the only reason he did it was because he felt qualified to perform it. Since the age of 16 he has jumped out of a plane over 18 thousand times. In the past he was a safety instructor and felt like he was worthy to attempt such a daring jump. 

Jesus tells us that if we want to be worthy, there are some actions that we must perform. Matthew 10:37-38 says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

If we want to be considered worthy by Christ he tells us that we must:

  • Love Him over anything else
  • Take up our cross (sacrifice self)
  • Follow Him. 

If we do these things we will be WORTHY. This word is ”hagios,” and it is the same word used by Paul to the church at Thessalonica (1 Th. 2:12; 2 Th. 1:5,11). When we look at what Paul tells this church we notice that the Thessalonians were more than willing to take up their cross, and sacrifice everything for Christ. This is why they were called worthy. 

As Christians, we should want nothing more than for God to see us as worthy. If God sees us as having worth, then He calls us into His own kingdom and glory. 

To be called worthy by God should be the goal of each and every one of us. So the question we must ask ourselves, are we willing to do what it takes to be called worthy? 

Following The Will Of God

Following The Will Of God

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As we enter chapter 12 the point is, “what are the practical implications of 1-11?” It is the start of a five chapter section on how we can put what Paul has said into action. In the first section of the book we learn that we all have sinned, but through faith we have received justification. This gift of justification should motivate us to faithful service. 

Paul begins 12:1 by saying “I urge,” which is the powerful petition verb (parakaleo). It is always used by Paul to indicate a significant point. 

Here it represents a transition from the doctrinal discussion to the practical. It also represents a key thought, that we must present ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice.” This is in contrast to the dead sacrifices of the Old Testament (slaying of innocent animals that wasn’t enough). 

We must give to God while we are young, alive, and capable of service.

We must present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice that is Holy and acceptable. Holy means we are free from moral filth. Holy means that we are devoted to serving God. Holy means that we are an instrument of righteousness. 

Then we come to verse 2 where Paul says, “Do not be conformed.” As Christians that are wanting to build our character we cannot let the world be our standard when it comes to: 

  • Our morals (the way we act) 
  • Philosophy (the way we think)
  • In context the way we dress and the way we worship. 

Rather than being conformed to the world, we must “renew our minds.” 

  • In intellect (change the way we reason, and think about things) 
  • In emotion (Renew our state of mind, the way we respond to different circumstances)
  • In will power (have the strength to restrain our human impulses) 

Have we found ourselves living without righteous thinking? We must renew our minds. When our gym membership runs out, we renew it. When our car insurance policy period is over, we renew it. When our thinking isn’t in line with God’s, we renew our minds. 

Why do we sacrifice, and renew our minds? To prove/discern: 

  • What the good will of God is
  • What the acceptable will of God is 
  • What the perfect will of God is

And by discerning these things, we can be known as Christians who think righteously.

via Bible Study Tools
1 Peter–Part VI

1 Peter–Part VI

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

For the next several weeks, I’ll be repeating the book of I Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary.

I Peter – Part VI

We’re independent of any human government, but don’t use that as an excuse to disobey your governments. You have to see every person as valuable. You have to love each other. You have to obey your government. Employees must listen to their employers. Be respectful to them, even when they aren’t good to you. We don’t do this for them, we do it for God. He thinks very highly of us when – because we love him – we act like we should, even when we’re being mistreated. You don’t get credit for putting up with mistreatment if you bring it on yourself with bad behavior. If you’re mistreated because you’re trying to do the right thing, though, it makes God happy. 

This is why God called us in the first place! Jesus suffered to benefit us. He intended for that to be the example we could follow. He never did anything wrong, he never said anything wrong, he didn’t fire back at people who said hurtful things. He never threatened anyone who put him through suffering. He constantly trusted God, knowing that God judges perfectly. He voluntarily took the punishment for our sin when he physically suffered on the cross. He did that to give us the chance to kill our old lifestyles and live morally pure lives. His injuries healed us. We had no direction, aimlessly wondering around like a sheep. Now we follow the one who leads us and protects us. 

Being Like Your Parents

Being Like Your Parents

Wednesday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Luke Lohden

Have you seen the Progressive commercials with Dr. Rick?  In these commercials, he tries to teach parents how to “un-become” their parents?  For instance, he helps them say the right tech terms, like “hashtag,” or helps them to have airline tickets on their phone, and not paper tickets.  They are really funny.  Do your parents have certain sayings that they say all of the time to you?  Like, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times,” or how about “money doesn’t grow on trees?”  Or even better, “don’t make me stop this car?”  Our parents tell us things like this to help us.  The truth is, we need to be like our Christian parents, not unlike them.  They have been where we are or where we are heading.  Their advice can prevent us from making serious mistakes.  

According to many surveys, about 70% of Christian students leave the church during college.  According to a recent study, the reasons are because they had no strong Biblical foundation,  lack of social opportunities outside of worship service, the anti-Christian views present at universities, and the lack of other Christian friends on campus.  Because of these potential problems, our parents play an important role in our Christian faith and our future walk with God.  

How do You stay faithful to God and obey your parents through your teen years? According to Ephesians 6:1-3, honoring your father and mother is very important. These verses say, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment, that it may be well with you and you may live long on the Earth.” According to Exodus 20:12, it states, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Proverbs 22:6 also has some information about children obeying their parents. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from.” Proverbs 29:15 also says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”  This verse means that children and teens need guidance.  If they don’t have guidance, they will turn away from Christ.  

If we honor our father and mother and do all that we are told by them, we will live long on this Earth.   We could be going through a stage where we are defiant and not wanting to do what our parents tell us.  We’ve got to learn to listen to them even though we might not like what they decide all the time.  We finally understand, maybe even in later years, that our parents have rules in place to protect us as well as help us.  In order to follow God and live long on this Earth, we have to do all that is expected by them and do it as best as we can.  We are never going to be perfect, but we have to give it our best.  We know that our parents want what is best for us and they want us to go to Heaven.  We need to do more than just obey our parents and honor them.  We also have to continue trying to follow God’s Commandments, read the Bible, and tell others about Jesus. 

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Greatest In The Kingdom Of Heaven

Greatest In The Kingdom Of Heaven

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

I stood at the doorway of her humble apartment in a small Kentucky town. This Christian woman in her mid 80s, mother of three and newly-widowed, was adopted by the local church and seen after especially by a son who lived in the same town. I had received a sweet letter from her, expressing her appreciation for the great work being done by especially World Video Bible School. Her former preacher in the 1990s had introduced it to her, and she told me that she gave their DVDs away all the time.

Between the time I received her letter and dropped by her home, I talked to another lady in that same, small congregation. She praised the character and good works of the woman who wrote me the letter. I was told of the various hardships and challenges faced by my penpal. She was raised in religious error, but learned the truth from her husband’s family. The husband never obeyed the gospel and did not encourage her faith. Despite being subject to cruel treatment, she was not only a faithful, submissive wife, but she was full of righteous works. She became a walking Bible, the fruit of tenacious daily Bible study. She has written, supported, and encouraged missionaries all over the world for over 40 years. For decades, she has graded Bible Correspondence Courses

The woman I met had the humility and sweet spirit of a child. She bore the marks of hardship, having undergone hip replacement and other maladies of aging and falls. But the thing that struck me was the twinkle in her eye and the genuine joy she has in being a Christian. As she talked about her life and as I had ultimately heard about her life from a few of her church family members, I could not help but think that this woman has suffered so much physically and emotionally. But you could not tell it from her attitude and disposition. The gentle enthusiasm I first read in her writing translated to a winsome smile and zeal face to face. 

She had been weathered and battered by life, yet she had all the marks of a triumphant overcomer. Still faithful to meet with the saints every time the doors are opened, she lives Christ in her daily life. I could not help but think of the woman Mark tells us about in his gospel, the one who anointed Jesus’ head with “an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard” (14:3). In praising her “good deed” (14:6), Jesus summed it up by saying of her, “She has done what she could” (14:8). No one knows this dear sister across our brotherhood. She’s not an author, public speaker, gospel writer, or appointed church leader. But she epitomizes greatness as defined by Jesus.

I left my visit doing some serious self-examination. How’s my attitude? What am I doing with what God has given me? How am I blessing the lives of others? When others have been around me or speak about me, what characteristics come to mind? Every life is given a variable amount of resources and opportunities (Mat. 25:14-30). We will account for how we used them. Have we tried to tell others about Jesus? Have we reminded others of Jesus? Helen reminded me of my Savior! I left resolved to be more like her, trying to imitate her as she so clearly imitates Him (1 Cor. 11:1)! 

It’s Not Too Far Away  

It’s Not Too Far Away  

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard

The farthest anybody has ever run on foot happened back in 1929. A trans-continental race was set from New York to California and it spanned 3,653 miles in total. It’s difficult to imagine that anybody would be willing to sign up for this race but there were. The winning place went to a man named Johnny Salo and he accomplished something spectacular and historic in just 79 days. 

In 1 Peter 2.11-12 the Christian is compared to a “sojourner” and that paints a picture of someone temporarily staying, but always on the move. Many other passages, like James 1.12, 2 Timothy 4.7, Galatians 5, and 2 Corinthians 9, all reference the race of life. 

It’s been noted that the race is one of endurance and not a sprint. While few people will ever cover the amount of physical ground that Johnny Salo did, there are many faithful Christians who have shown themselves to have incredible endurance of a different kind. Through trials, heartbreak, and severe loss there are Christians who hold fast to their faith and push on. They inspire us to keep going when the going gets tough, and we should encourage these spiritual athletes to look towards the finish line— it’s not too far away. 

Apathy

Apathy

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

It is a well-known fact that apathy destroys whole countries. Wealth lulls people into a state of complacency that avoids conflict at all costs. Government seizes the opportunity to gain power. Oppression always follows. “Hard times create tough people. Tough people create good times. Good times create soft people. Soft people create hard times” (loosely paraphrased from Those Who Remain by Michael Hopf). 

Faith is not immune. Hebrews 2.1-4 strongly warns us against apathetic faith. What happens when we lose interest in our awesome spiritual freedom? We put distance between ourselves and God. This isn’t without consequences. 

“How will we escape if we disregard our salvation?” (2.3). We won’t! Apathy is scary because the consequences arrive in plain sight and at a slow pace. We can easily see them coming, but choose to ignore them for a few more moments of complacent bliss. Once consequences arrive, they’re miserable on multiple levels. 

So, how do we get rid of apathy? Hebrews 2.5ff gives some hypes: 

  1. We’re in Charge of the World to Come (5)
  2. God Is Invested in Us (6)
  3. Jesus Is in Charge Now (7-8)
  4. Jesus Rescued Us (8-10)
  5. Jesus Sees Us As Family (11-16)
  6. Jesus Goes to Bat for Us (17-18)

Finally: “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (10.29). 

RIGHTEOUS OR RAVENS?

RIGHTEOUS OR RAVENS?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

dale and janelle

Dale Pollard

Elijah is known as one of the greatest prophets. We’re introduced to him in 1 Kings 17 and God is preparing him to accomplish great things. As God leads him he begins to grow in faith while following His lead. Ahab wears the crown after his father Omri, but he is significantly more wicked. In fact, he’s more wicked than all before him. It’s fitting that during such a terrible time someone like Elijah makes his appearance. 

There’s an interesting event that takes place while the prophet shelters by a brook that God had led him to. Ravens fly in with bread and meat to keep him sustained. The raven was an unclean animal, yet God is helping Elijah grow in several ways during this period. He’s leading, and Elijah follows in faith. He could not deny that God sent him the ravens, yet it went against his upbringing. Even so, he still ate. 

One lesson we can pull from this account is that God can use the unclean for His purposes. God can use the evil people and nations to accomplish His will. An unfaithful Christian can share the gospel and a sinful man can make good and godly decisions, all the while remaining unclean. That’s a humbling lesson. We can act faithful, but we can remain filthy. We don’t want that! It’s my prayer that today we can make a fresh commitment to be faithful to God in all things. He can lead us through even the darkest times, if we have the faith to follow. 

Shibboleth 

Shibboleth 

Brent Pollard

Judges 12 details a civil war between Ephraim and the Gileadites of Manasseh. God used Jephthah and the Gileadites to humble Ephraim. The haughty Ephraimites felt they could bully Jephthah and the Gileadites as they had previously bullied Gideon (Judges 8). Jephthah and his men ended up slaying 42,000 Ephraimites. One of the keys to the Gileadites’ lopsided victory was seizing the fords over the Jordan River. And when fleeing Ephraimites tried to cross, they were asked for a “password.” The password was “shibboleth.” Various commentators have offered different definitions for the word, but its meaning is not necessary to understand the text. Here is what we need to know: The Ephraimites could not pronounce the word “shibboleth,” as the Gileadites. Thus, they replied, “sibboleth.” Having been betrayed by their dialect, the Gileadites then slew the Ephraimites.  

Wordsmiths know that, beyond its Biblical source, shibboleth has come to mean any word or practice separating one group from another. Christians should have shibboleths, correct? They are called upon to transform themselves from the world rather than conform to it (Romans 12.1-2). However, while perusing several online dictionaries, I noted that they also tended to look upon a shibboleth unfavorably, calling it an “old-fashioned” or “outdated” idea still clung to by some. In the example sentences provided by those aforementioned dictionaries, shibboleths seem connected with “conservative-thinking” people. So, evidently, “progressives” must not be hampered by them. Frankly, it is hard to keep up with the self-righteousness of progressives. Their mores change so swiftly that sometimes they snare even themselves when a past tweet or video surfaces. It reminds me of the foolish man building his house upon the sand (Matthew 7.26-27).  

God is aware of the mindset that mocks established standards. Jeremiah records God’s words: “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls.” (6.16) Not unlike those living today, Jeremiah’s contemporaries replied, “We will not walk in it.” (ibid.) To borrow modern parlance, those in ancient Judah found the old paths “shibboleth.” But who gives such persons the right to esteem something as antiquated? Honestly, it seems like it is the “right” of the squeakiest wheel, those with the largest echo chamber.  Those of us with our shibboleths abandoned the arena of popular culture, education, and media. Hence, we can only blame ourselves for allowing the castigation of truth as incompatible with temporary society.    

But lest we forget, the victors from the source material had their shibboleth while the defeated had their sibboleth. As someone has said in summation of the book of Revelation, the message is that in the end, God wins. That is applicable here as well. God brings victory to those with the shibboleth, not sibboleth. No, it is not a superior concept because it is older. We can find new ways to do something that is “old.” (e.g., We may use new mediums to teach the “old Jerusalem Gospel.”) The shibboleth is what was given by God in His inspired word. Sibboleths reflect the precepts of men (cf. Matthew 15.8-9). We must not drop even one consonant sound (cf. Deuteronomy 4.2; 12.32; Proverbs 30.6; Revelation 22.18).  

When I eventually cross the Jordan River ford, I want to find life, not death. Don’t you agree? To safely cross, an obedient life is our “password.”  

The Christian Decision

The Christian Decision

Carl Pollard

Our family used to hike a lot when we lived in Colorado. There were many hikes that I went on that were straight up miserable. Ive always been the chunky kid, but the worst part about this was that I  was surrounded by a healthy and very active family.. This meant that on every hike I was the one in the back feeling like I was about to pass away. Hiking was never really something I was the best at. There are several times I remember thinking, “I’m not going to make it.” 

We used to hike a trail called “Moffit Tunnel” It was an 11 mile hike that ended with a summit path that gained 3000 feet of elevation in under half a mile. As you can imagine the path was practically vertical, and filled with rocks, mud, snow, and sadness. 

When I think of “a hard path” this is what comes to my mind. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus describes the way to salvation as a path that isn’t for the faint hearted; it’s for the dedicated Christian that is determined to reach eternal life. There’s no denying that the Christian life can be tough. It is filled with persecution, especially for those who aren’t as fortunate to have the freedoms we enjoy in America. The Christian life is tough because we will face persecution, but we are more likely to face rejection in our society today for standing up for some very unpopular teachings. If we are devoted to teaching and standing with God’s Word this means we must defend God’s view on homosexuality, marriage, divorce, and remarriage, baptism, sin, hell, and many more divisive topics. If we are devoted to walking the difficult path we must remain faithful in the rejection, hatred and persecution we will face. 

But the rejection and hate from the world isn’t the only thing hard about this path.

As Christians we are commanded to put ourselves to death. Matt. 10:37-39 say,  “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Walking the difficult path means we have put ourselves to death. In doing so we are saying we love Christ more than our parents, our children and ourselves. In order to walk the difficult path we must be willing to take up our cross and follow Jesus. The cross is an instrument of death. The cross we pick up is the instrument of death that we have used to crucify ourselves on. Once we have taken up our cross we have made the decision to love Christ over anyone and everyone. We no longer serve ourselves because we have died to Christ. 

When we choose to walk the difficult path we are no longer living without purpose. We have a goal, a meaning for our lives. God uses us to spread His saving word to others. We have purpose in everything we do. We are here to encourage each other, to save souls, and to glorify God. One of humanity’s most asked question, “Why am I here?,”is answered by God. How we serve God will ultimately change someone else’s eternal destiny. We are given the true words of life that are able to save our most valuable possession, our souls. We also experience the blessing of having confidence in death. Death is scary. Why are so many scared of death? It’s the unknown, the end of our existence as we have known it. As Christians, when we choose to walk the difficult path, we are given the promise that when we face death we can be confident in knowing our soul is in the hands of almighty God. We know what is coming, and we can find hope in this. 

It was a hard climb, but what a payoff!