Love, Hate, And A Song (1 John: Part 3)

Love, Hate, And A Song (1 John: Part 3)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John 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. 

Love & Hate

Loved ones, I’m not giving you a new commandment here. It’s the same one that’s existed since the beginning of time: love each other deeply. You’ve heard this before. It is new in a way, though. The same truth that existed in Jesus now exists in you. Darkness is disappearing and the true light is already shining through. 

If someone claims to be in this light but hates their Christian family, they’re actually in darkness. If you love your Christian family, you’re a part of this light. You don’t trip other people in their walk, either. Anyone who hates their spiritual family lives and walks in darkness. They’re lost because the darkness has blinded them. 

A Song

Children, I’m writing to you because Jesus forgave your sins. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’ve defeated the evil one. 

Children, I’m writing to you because you’ve always know the father. 

Fathers, I’m writing to you because you’ve known this from the beginning. 

Teens, I’m writing to you because you’re strong. God’s word lives in you, and has defeated the evil one. 

A Touching Savior

A Touching Savior

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

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

They feel love when they are close to their spouse, and they experience love through the physical side of their relationship. 

While God doesn’t physically touch us today to show His love, He has done it in the past. 

Mark 1:40-42 says, “And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” 

In the time of Christ, leprosy was a disease that immediately made you an outcast. If you had this disease you were considered unclean and you were forced to live in isolation from everyone else. Lev. 13:45-46 tells us, “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” 

The leper was forced to live alone because this disease was spread through physical touch. 

This is what makes what Jesus did even more incredible. Jesus didn’t have to touch the leper, but He went above and beyond by physically touching him. 

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

This same loving Savior is who we serve today. 

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

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

The Real Thing

The Real Thing

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

“Let love be genuine.” This phrase from Romans 12.9 is familiar and deceptively simple. It sounds good and feels good! But what does it mean? 

It means we can’t pretend to love people. Ανυποκριτος means “not pretending” or “acting” something. In other words, don’t pretend to love people with the goal of getting something out of it. Don’t pretend to love people when we don’t. 

We don’t usually show our real selves to other people. Aside from our close friends and family, we show other people who we want them to see. There’s nothing wrong with this; all cultures adopt levels of social scripting and behaviors based on how close we are with another person. The church is a family, and it’s hard to remember that sometimes. We’d rather keep people at arm’s length (I’m guilty of this) than get into the messiness of close relationships. 

Once we get past the formal, arm’s length level of closeness, things get complicated and messy. But they’re also rewarding and uplifting! Whatever we see in our Christian family, God expects us to love like we mean it. There’s no room for fake in this family! Since our lifestyle can be challenging, we need to know that we can rely on each other.

God showed us genuine love by proving it. He proves it every day by keeping us “good to go” if we’re walking in light (I Jn 1). Showing real love has personal benefits, sure, but it mainly benefits others. We may never know how much showing genuine love impacts another person, but it could be the pivotal point of their relationship with God! How cool is it that, just by being genuine, we potentially change people’s eternity?! 

The Tie That Binds

The Tie That Binds

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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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. 

Members of the church in the Bowling Green area at an FCA fundraiser.
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.
An Unsung Love Story

An Unsung Love Story

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

(Today, I’m pinch-hitting for Carl, who’s on his honeymoon this week. This is the wedding sermon portion of the ceremony performed last Friday in Summerville, GA. It was a beautiful wedding venue and occasion).

Neal Pollard

Introduction

A. One Of The Most Unsung Love Stories In The Bible Is Isaac & Rebekah

B. Their Romance & Relationship Is Revealed In Gen 24

    1. What impresses me most re: them is how they did so much right

        a. Rebekah is a very beautiful & pure young woman (16)

        b. She was a hard worker (16-20) & she had a wonderful attitude (58)

        c. She had a good relationship w/her family & his

   2. Isaac had a good head on his shoulders, he was a man of faith & family

       (25:21)

       a. & it apparently was love at first sight for Isaac (24:67)

       b. He was successful in his life's work (26:12-14)

       c. He was a patient & peace-loving man (26:20)

   3. In a day when God permitted a man to have more than one wife, & 

       his father Abraham did & his sons Jacob & Esau did

       a. Isaac was a one-woman-man

   4. It was a beautiful lifelong love story

       a. It was a story of devotion & affection

D. Their Story Is Not Unlike Yours

    1. I think Emily has the attributes of Rebekah we just saw

    2. Carl is a lot like Isaac in the ways we observed

    3. & your devotion & affection is so much like theirs, too

E. & To All Of Us Who Have Come To Witness This Joyful Occasion,

    There Are Other Parallels For Us To Consider:

   1. Many had invested so much into the moment the young couple met

      a. In Gen. 24, there was Abraham, his servant, & Rebekah's family

      b. They had invested their prayers, possessions & plans for these 2

   2. God was at the heart of both families' lives

       a. "God" is found 7 Xs in Gen 24, "LORD" is found 16 Xs

          1. Both families invoke His name a similar number of Xs

          2. Their faith was strong, & they conveyed that deep faith to I & R

              a. The moments before Isaac met Rebekah, he was worshipping (24:62)

              b. She was willing to leave her home to go to Isaac's home out of her trust in
God's providence & guidance in her life

          3. Their families encouraged them to serve & obey the Lord

              a. Abraham wanted his son to have a wife God would be pleased with

              b. Rebekah's brother & parents saw God's will in this & encouraged her to marry
Isaac

F. For A Few Minutes, I Want To Share With You Both Some Of The Blessings & Promises Shared
With Isaac & Rebekah

I. YOU WILL LIVE LIFE TOGETHER BEFORE THE LIVING ONE WHO SEES

A. When Isaac Met Rebekah, He Was Standing At Beer-Lahai-Roi

    1. It was the well at the place Hagar called "El-Roi," "A God who sees" (16:14)

    2. In 25:11, we read that the newly weds lived in this place

B. May I Encourage You To Remember That Today & Every Day For the Rest Of Your Lives, You
Will Be Living Before The God Who Sees

    1. Let that bring you comfort & hope, to encourage you

    2. He will see your ups & downs; Your victories & defeats

    3. There will be times when His presence & help are undoubtable

        a. Other times, you may be tempted to wonder

C. He Will Walk With You Both Throughout Your Lives

    1. Give Him 1st place, the most honored & cherished seat at the table of your marriage

    2. Pr 15:3--The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil & the good

        a. It's not just a warning vs. sin; It's a promise as you do good

II. GOD WANTS TO HEAR YOU PRAY FOR YOUR SPOUSE

A. There Came A Time Of Stress & Adversity In Their Marriage

   1. You're aware that you'll face moments like those, too

B. It's Beautiful To See How Isaac Responds To This

   1. 25:21--Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife

   2. Of all the good Isaac did in his life, nothing was better than this

C. There Will Be Moments When Your Problems May Threaten To Cause A Wedge Between You Two

   1. The best thing you will ever do in these Xs is to pray for each other, motivated by
your love & care for each other

   2. You will always need God's help; Let nothing keep you from praying to Him together

   3. & let nothing keep you from faithfully praying to God for each other

   4. 1 Pt 3:7--You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way,
as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of
the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered


     a. When Peter says "your prayers," it's plural (God's encouraging both of you to pray
for each other)

   5. When you do, God will hear as He heard Isaac's prayer for Rebekah

 III. ALWAYS KEEP THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN

A. I've Heard Sermons And Bible Classes Re: The Danger Of Showing Favoritism With Your
Children & This Couple Is Used As Exhibit A

   1. But after the deception of Jacob & Esau's anger & grudge, Rebekah comes to Isaac &
freely shares her concerns w/Isaac (27:48)

       a. Isaac listens & the 2 of them work together to resolve the problem

B. Don't Wait For Problems To Arise Before You Start Communicating

   1. But certainly, when problems arise, be sure that you communicate freely, lovingly, &
persistently

   2. Companionship is re: needing each other & leaning on each other

C. Carl, Nourish & Cherish Emily; Love Her As X Loved The Church (Ep  5:25-28)

   1. Emily, love your husband so as to honor God's word (Ti 2:4-5)

   2. & realize the vital role communication plays in conveying your love

IV. FIND LOVE & COMFORT FROM ONE ANOTHER

A. Their Marriage Came At The Time Isaac Lost His Mother

   1. But the Bible tells us re: how they shared love & comfort w/one another (Gen 24:67)

   2. God has given you such a blessing in your marriage 

B. Never Miss An Opportunity To Express It To Each Other

   1. Like Solomon said

      a. Song 4:10--How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your
love than wine,


     b. Or Song 7:6--How beautiful and how delightful you are, My love, with all your charms!

   2. & like his bride said to him

      a. Song 1:16--How handsome you are, my beloved, And so pleasant!

      b. Song 2:3--Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, So is my beloved among
the young men. In his
shade I took great delight and sat down, And his fruit was
sweet to my taste.


C. Of Course, Do More Than Say It; Show It--Never Miss An Opportunity

   1. It will keep you on the sunny side of life on the stormiest days
Listening to the best man speech right before their exit.
“BLESSED”

“BLESSED”

Neal Pollard

I’ve never known a day when I didn’t live in a “preacher’s home.” “Preacher’s homes” are very much like every other home–problems, inside jokes, traditions, hobbies and interests, sin, laughter–except the chosen profession of the father is to serve either full-time or part-time as a proclaimer of God’s Word. At times, the home I grew up in was made of figurative glass, meaning I was occasionally subjected to unfair favoritism and criticism.  Kathy, also a lifetime resident of a “preacher’s home,” knows that feeling, too. Then, we subjected our sons to the exact same thing!

Whenever we are asked about what it is like to live this unique life (and lifestyle), different words would be appropriate:

  • Challenging–There can be elevated expectations and unrealistic assumptions about the preacher’s personal life, marriage, parenting, and the like. What Shakespeare’s Jewish character says of his people in the “Merchant of Venice” applies: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?” Life’s pressures and temptations visit our homes, too. 
  • Lonely–Occasionally, we feel alone and stand alone because of the message we preach. Usually, it’s not others who make us feel this way, but an innate part of the life.
  • Ordinary–Most preachers probably love to hear church members and those in the community say, “You’re just an ordinary person with an ordinary life.” To be genuine and real is, in my view, a worthy aim. See the opening paragraph.

But, please understand that the most fitting, usual words used to describe the life in preaching are positive, superlative words and phrases–“important,” “exciting,” “fulfilling,” “full,” “rewarding,” “humbling,” “meaningful,”and “uplifting.” Yesterday, we said “so long” to one of God’s greatest churches as we prepare to move to work with another one. I asked Kathy to describe a one-word assessment that best described how she felt in light of the generous words and acts from our spiritual family throughout the day. She used words like “Overwhelmed,” “grateful,” and “touched.” But then, scanning her brilliant mind as if to find that perfect summary word (as she usually does), she simply said, “Blessed.” 

We’ve been blessed by a lifetime of living the “preacher life.” Blessed by 27 years of full-time preaching. Blessed by 13 years of preaching at Bear Valley. Blessed by the opportunity to preach in this “next chapter” of life at Lehman Avenue. Blessed, as cracked pots (2 Cor. 4:7), to be used by the Master Potter. Far from a perfect life, it is certainly a blessed life. 

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Thank you, Bear Valley, for your many acts of kindness–yesterday and for the entirety of our time with you in Colorado. We love you and will miss you!

The Influence Of Papaw Mitchell

The Influence Of Papaw Mitchell

Neal Pollard

May 14, 2004, was the day I preached my maternal grandfather’s funeral. It was a signal honor to do so. He had passed away early on Wednesday morning, May 12. The morning he passed, I wrote this about him:

Within you today are a temper and trends
A view toward the unfolding tomorrow
Have you stopped to question on what that depends
From what spiritual bank you do borrow?

Though each person forges his own internal road
Based on unique decisions and conscience
Before him to help pave it is an influence to goad
A role model, an example bestowed.

For those so endowed with a godly loved one
One righteous, driven by the Giver of grace.
To see their own faith is to look at one done
A journeyman who victoriously ran his own race.

I know one like that, a follower of Him
Who led much family both of flesh and of faith
Who shaped hearts and lives in times good and times grim
Who laid course that to follow was safe.

When we all get to heaven and give praises unending
Who knows what will be or how we’ll appear?
I know that for anyone in that Paradise spending
That all who shaped our faith will be clear.

Everyone that knew Harold Edward Mitchell, Sr., was closer to heaven because of his influence. He lived over 90 years, converting from denominationalism in young adulthood and ultimately serving decades as an elder. At his funeral, I shared five facts about my “Papaw Mitchell.”

  • He loved his family. He wasn’t gregarious, but rather reserved. Yet, he taught his family the right way to live and how to face death, to know what ultimately counts, what was right and what was wrong.
  • He had a sense of adventure. From semipro baseball as a teen to seeing the entire country in retirement, a lifelong cotton farmer had a wider view of the world. He came of age in the depression and endured some terrible grief, but no one could remember hearing him complain. 
  • He worked hard. He wasn’t a waster of resources, least of all time. He was up with the sun and down with the sunset. He instilled that work ethic in his children and grandchildren. 
  • He put Christ above all else. As a Christian, he took what the Bible guided him to do and be in life at face value. His life went beyond mere rule-keeping. He kept the rules, but he loved the rule-maker. You could see Jesus living in him.
  • He was ready to die. That’s the most important thing any of us could have said of us.

I saw grandpa the Monday night before he passed away. He was able to talk, but it was the first time I saw him that I felt he might not live forever in that earthly body he took such good care of. It was probably the first time I thought seriously about my own mortality. Our spirits are engineered for eternity, but our bodies of clay wind down more each day. In the fifteen years that have passed since then, I am more aware of that than I was even then. Our pilgrimage here won’t go on indefinitely, though we’ll live as long as God lives.

Examples like my Papaw motivate me to clear the hurdles from my path and stay dependent upon God to help me, like him, to finish my face. To die faithful and prepared means to live faithfully and make preparation. One day, someone will speak at your funeral and mine. What can they honestly say about the example and influence we will have left on others?

grandpa mitchell and uncle larry
Papaw (L) and Uncle Larry (my mom’s older brother), probably between 30-40 years ago.

A Strong Sense Of Family

A Strong Sense Of Family

Neal Pollard

Trevor Matich was being interviewed on ESPN radio, asked about why he thought that Clemson had built such a strong football program in the last few years. His quick response was, “They have built a strong sense of family.” He talked about how Head Coach Dabo Sweeney and his staff wanted players to see their coaches not just as coaches but also as husbands and fathers. Consequently, the coaches’ families spend a lot of time around the athletic facilities or hanging out with the players. They have intentionally built a strong family environment that doesn’t compartmentalize but rather coalesces. Recruits talk about sensing it when they make a visit, but, more importantly, players on the roster speak just as strongly about it. 

How many teams make such an emphasis isn’t clear, but you don’t seem to hear that said often enough. While I find such human interest stories heartwarming, it makes me wonder, “Do people describe our congregation with similar terminology?” Are we creating, developing, and nurturing a strong sense of family?

The early church definitely majored in that priority. From the time the first church of our Savior was established, we find this emphasis (Acts 2:42-47). Often, New Testament writers spoke of the church with family terminology (Eph. 2:19; 3:15; 1 Tim. 3:15; 5:1-2; Ti. 2:1-8; etc.). The church exists as a sub-community within the broader community around them. People from that broader community are looking for greater intimacy and meaningful relationships. One place they often turn is to various churches. Whether through our efforts to evangelize or through their seeking that brings them within our walls, we have an opportunity to expose them to a “strong sense of family.” 

But, by being faithful to New Testament teaching, we offer this in the context of truth rather than error. We cannot settle for simply offering truth, as eternally vital as that is. Along with it, we must love, embrace, and work to incorporate them into our family. God has His church designed to follow His written will in the context of a tight-knit, spiritual family. A true sense of family will draw them into a relationship with us. It will better open their hearts and minds to being drawn into a relationship with Christ. The net effect will be greater than a national championship. It will be many, many souls won to eternal life. We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to be spiritual family!

Dabo_Swinney_2008_01
Dabo in his early days at Clemson