GOD OF THE MARIANA TRENCH

GOD OF THE MARIANA TRENCH

Neal Pollard

Film director, James Cameron, has helped put the Mariana Trench in the news with his recent seven mile plunge to the bottom of the deepest point on earth.  This trench, located in the western Pacific Ocean off the Philippines, has a water pressure of eight tons per square inch–1000 times greater than atmospheric pressure at sea level.  Cameron is only the third person to reach the bottom of the trench (called the “Challenger Deep”), and he did so 52 years after two men did so in a U.S. Navy submersible called the Trieste.  While he has reported that there were no signs of life, that it was a “barren, desolate lunar plain” (AP, 3/26/12), God has placed amazing, other-worldly-looking creatures miles deep in the oceans of the earth.  Cameron’s is almost certainly the first of many more trips to the “Challenger Deep.”  Who knows?  Maybe future voyages will reveal crush depth-defying vertebrates and other scientific improbabilities (much information from http://deepseachallenge.com).

It is amazing that man has discovered the ability and technology God has made available to accomplish a feat like this.  It is also amazing to think that God created areas on this earth, like other parts of the Mariana Trench, filled with exotic, often colorful sea life that He knew it would take thousands of years for man to discover.  Yet, He did that.  It is further proof of His existence and insight into what kind of God He is, a God of such intricate designing and endless power.

It is also a testimony to the omnipresence of God.  How great if Cameron would have quoted David’s words as he sat upon the floor of “Challenger Deep”: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me” (Ps. 139:7-10).

Jaroslav Vazda wrote a beautiful song, “God of The Sparrow.” It is a song praising God’s power and implicitly reminding us of the awe we owe Him.  How wonderful to know that the God of the Mariana Trench is the God we can approach and the God with whom we can have relationship!

Creative Commons
The Post That Used “Love” 25 Times

The Post That Used “Love” 25 Times

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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

Jesus loves us and that truth is found all through the Bible. The Bible teaches us to love others like Jesus loves us, but that’s only helpful if we understand the implications. 

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love.” 

I John 4.16 

Piecing Together Bible Principles 

  1. Unnatural? This love calls us to live in a way that’s completely unnatural since it involves living through the eyes of everybody else. It’s the proper placement of “self” on the bottom shelf (John 3.30). 
  2. Rejection? In some circumstances, this love may demand the rejection of warm and friendly feelings for the call to act in a Christ-like sacrificial way. That love can prove to be a painful practice at first, but those pleasant feelings of gratitude and joy come when we learn to appreciate what He did first. Our selfless Savior was unbiased in His death for all mankind and that’s difficult to imagine. 
  3. Discipline? Love means discipline. When it comes to our personal dedication to the practice of that love, we must be disciplined. When God disciplines us, He means to refine so that we can enjoy a more intimate relationship with Him. 

Love Looks Like This 

If we wish to love like God we must put others before ourselves. We must call out sin. We must speak boldly in the defense of Him. Love means proclaiming to the lost the message about the God who made Heaven and Hell. 

Putting The Summary On Simmer 

To love Jesus and to love like Jesus are two connected ideas.

“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  I John 4.8 

You can’t say you love Jesus if you don’t love like He does. You can like Him, and He’ll still love you— but only loving Jesus leads to life after death. 

P.S. 

Loving someone occasionally means begging them not to make poor decisions, but allowing them to do so. If and when the pleas are ignored, it pains us to see those we love hurt themselves. 

P.S.S 

The ability to understand and experience emotions of such complexity must be part of our godly imaging. That’s something which is ingrained within all of us. 

Jesus Is Real (1 John, Part 14)

Jesus Is Real (1 John, Part 14)

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. 

Jesus Christ is the one who came to earth with water and blood — notice that he didn’t just come here through water, but also with his own blood. And the true spirit attested to this, because it’s true. In fact, there are three proofs of who Jesus is: the true spirit, the water, and the blood. All three of these agree with each other. We accept what people say about Jesus when it’s true, but God’s testimony about Jesus is far superior.

This is what God said: if you keep believing that Jesus is God’s son, you have God’s approval. If you don’t believe God, you make him a liar. It means you never believed what God said about his son. God gave us eternal life, which exists only in his son. If you have his son, you have life. If you don’t have the son, you don’t have life.

Love (1 John, Part 11)

Love (1 John, Part 11)

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

Loved ones, we should make a habit of showing each other selfless love. This is because love comes from God. Everyone who makes a habit of showing love is part of God’s family. They show that they know God well, too. If someone fails to practice selfless love, they don’t know who God is. God is love. 

This is how we know God loves us: he made it pretty clear when he sent his only son to earth to give us life forever. That was real love — not the same way we love God. No, God loved us so much that he sent his one son for the purpose of taking away all of our sins. Loved ones, since God showed us that kind of love, we owe each other love, too. 

At no point has anyone ever taken a good look at God. But since we love each other, he’s with us. He continues to grow his love in us!  

God> Our Hearts (1 John: Part 9)

God> Our Hearts (1 John: Part 9)

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.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus gave up his own life for everyone. We owe each other
our lives, too. Let’s say one of you is living life to the fullest, financially comfortable and stress-
free. If you notice that one of your brothers or sisters needs basic necessities and you
suppress your feelings of compassion, can God’s love exist in you at all? Children, don’t just
say you love each other – prove it by how you treat each other.

This is how we know we exist in the truth: we can pacify our guilty consciences in front of God
whenever our hearts condemn us. God is more powerful than our hearts and he knows
everything! Loved ones, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we can be completely confident when
we pray to God. If we ask him for something, he’ll give it to us. This is because we do what
he’s asked and we listen to his commands.

These are his commands: believe in his son (Jesus, the king), and selflessly love each other.
Everyone who carefully practices those commands is with God, and God is with them.

The Pressing Property Of The Power!

The Pressing Property Of The Power!

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

It has been a good year for tomatoes in our garden. We’ve eaten them, given them away, and preserved a lot of them. In addition to canning them, Kathy decided to use our dehydrator to save time and space in preserving them. A few days ago, she filled the machine with several rows of sliced tomatoes. She would set the temperature and time, then come back when it was done. The fruit would still be wet and tacky. After this happened a few times, she was concerned that our appliance was malfunctioning. It was then that she noticed she had not pressed the tiny start button on the far right side. She pushed it, and after eight hours she came back to perfectly dehydrated tomatoes. All the prep and planning were futile without the power.

How often do we conduct our lives that way? We meticulously make plans and we do our part to try to make them happen, but we neglect to access the power that makes it all work? Do we ever forget what Paul reminded Philippi, that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:13)? Paul also said that while we may have a variety of gifts, ministries, and effects, it is “the same God who works all things in all persons” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). We’re told that it is God who will “equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight…” (Heb. 13:21).

How do we hope to do God’s work without God’s help? We need His guidance, His wisdom and instruction, and His help. That necessitates skillfully laboring in His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), leaning on Him in fervent, faithful prayer (Phil. 4:6; 1 Th. 5:17), and relying on His providence in setting our direction (Rom. 8:28). It makes all the difference when we tap into God’s power. Let’s not overlook the one thing that is always essential in everything we undertake! 

The power button is just to the right of the frame of this picture.
Because It’s Forbidden

Because It’s Forbidden

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

The moment evil takes hold, we’re as good as dead. The fall of man is deeper than just the poor decision to eat forbidden fruit. It began when Eve began making multiple poor choices. 

She spent time in the presence of the evil snake. There’s nothing inherently sinful taking place at this point. It’s just unwise. 

The snake struck when it saw it had an opportunity. It’s victim was in ear shot, so it began to speak. There’s nothing sinful about listening to evil, either. After all, the snake couldn’t override Eve’s freewill. 

The snake was crafty. Crafty enough to realize that Eve’s young and poor decisions could potentially develop into a strong and mature sin. He just needed to make a compelling case that was tailored to Eve’s underlying and natural human instincts. 

If the snake could manage to redirect her healthy desires in another direction, he would effectively unleash sin on the world. That’s temptation. Temptation is both universal and unique. Most of us share similar wicked proclivities, but those unique temptations that only a portion of society might find intoxicatingly beautiful can be repulsive to you. Eve’s choice to be near sin and to converse with it led her to reach, pluck, and eat. 

Now her marriage had been destroyed, whether she knew it or not. Adam and Eve are already incompatible. Eve could ask  for forgiveness but living with those consequences would be tough. It might be better to share in the guilt and suffer with someone who understands her. Her misery needed company and If she’s going to die, she didn’t want to die alone. 

That drive to have shared experiences and enjoy a commonality with someone has been tainted but she still craves intimacy. Instead of taking responsibility for her own actions alone, she decides to lead her husband into the same mess so that they might clean it up— together. 

Soon the two of them would live in a new world of hardship. Their options were, 

   1. work together and live 

2. or die alone. 

Fix the problem as a team, or make poor choices that will lead to more sins which will further the destruction of their pure desires. That’s a foundational principle and it applies to every relationship we have. God’s creation wasn’t made better by our selection of evil. Our freewill caused God pain as well. His creation would turn on Him and be the source of terrible grief, anger, and frustration. God’s forgiveness and patience is a testament to His perfect love for us. 

3 Reasons Vacation Bible School Is Worth It!

3 Reasons Vacation Bible School Is Worth It!

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

This time of the year congregations are planning and preparing for another Vacation Bible School. When and why was this summer tradition started? It seems that even those who aren’t “church goers” still share childhood memories with those of us in the religious world. Across America kids will soon be drinking kool-aid and making Noah’s ark out of Popsicle sticks. They’ll also make memories that will stick with them for their whole lives.

The Hazy History 

 As much as this week means to many of us, one might assume the history to be well documented. However, who started the first VBS and when— is still debated. Some claim it all began in 1870, while others place the date closer to the 1920s. So the “when”’proves to be a little fuzzy, but the “why” seems constant. A thread that can be traced through many a VBS origin story is the reason it’s done. It was always designed with our children’s spiritual growth in mind. The goal was always to provide them wholesome entertainment while at the same time, introducing them to God and the Bible. 

So with that in mind… 

Here are 3 reasons why VBS is a worth the effort: 

  1. Youthful brains need this week. Studies done by Psych INFO, ERIC, MEDLINE, and Google Scholar as well as the University of Virginia library, all seem to agree that kids from 12-18 years old are the most impressionable. Meaning, the things they are taught and their experiences in these years will often impact their worldview for the rest of their lives. Any program within the church that’s geared towards teaching young people about Jesus can only have a positive influence on them. That window is relatively short so it’s crucial that parents do all they can to set them up for spiritual success. 
  2. Church families need this week. VBS takes a lot of work and it’s the kind of work that brings the church together. It’s mainly about the kids, but it’s not all about the kids. This is a time where members have an opportunity to bond and grow closer through the planning and preparation. Work days, crafts, skits, staff/teacher curriculum, decorating, T-shirt’s, and advertising all take teamwork. Team work is good work for good teams. 
  3. Adults need this week. The happiest among us are typically the children. With all of that work, the sweat, tears, and time that’s shoveled into this event— the payoff is the sound of an auditorium filled with energy and excitement. It’s good for adults to spend a week listening to the sound of voices singing loudly and unashamed. It’s good for the teachers and the chaperones to act and look a little ridiculous. There’s value in letting kids see us trade the khakis and neckties for face paint and costumes because it will send a message. To be a christian doesn’t mean to be serious, stoic, or stern— all the time. Those of us who have been members of the church for sometime know this to be true, but children who’s parents don’t think or speak highly of Christianity now have a chance to experience something to the contrary. 

While there might be mixed feelings about VBS within the church, there’s no denying it’s potential to effectively introduce Jesus to the young and young at heart. 

A picture of a Wyoming VBS from several decades ago.

Will You Serve God For Nothing?

Will You Serve God For Nothing?

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Dave Eubank

Recently at the suggestion of some teachers and podcasts I listen to, I took some time and in one setting read through whole books in the Bible. If you haven’t done this I would highly recommend it. Just read through the book not looking for anything or zeroing in on any specific point; just read through the book and let it teach you its main themes and allow it to speak for itself. One of the books I recently read through and want to briefly discuss is the book of JOB. We are very familiar with this book and story and can learn a lot of things from it including sufferings, patience, steadfastness, God’s perspectives, and others. However, I would like to share with you what really stood out and stayed with me as I read through the 42 chapters of this book. Job 1:8-9 says,

Then the Lord said to Satan “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So, Satan answered the LORD and said, Does Job fear God for nothing?

Right there is the true question: “Will you fear and serve God for nothing.” It is not only a question that Satan asks the Lord referring to Job, but it is also for us today. Satan was assuming that Job would have a transactional relationship with God, that as long as he was doing what was righteous that Job would assume that he has earned his blessings or somehow God is obligated to bless him. Do we fall into this mindset that Satan is stating her is verse 9? Is it easy to fear and serve God while things are going good in our life or for fear of punishment? Do we have this transactional relationship that says I have done all these righteous X’s so I deserve these Y’s (blessings)? Would we serve God if everything (wealth, family, health) in an extremely short period of time was taken from us and we were in the situation Job found himself in? Satan is saying that taking comforts of this life away will push even the strongest to curse God to his face. Satan states this in Ch 1:11 and notice that as early as 2:9 Job’s wife actually uses the same language when she tells Job, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Sometimes bad things happen because we make bad decisions and we must deal with those consequences. However, Job shows us that sometimes bad things happen outside of our decisions and we do not know all like our Creator GOD. God lays this out in his answer to Job out of the whirlwind in Chapters 38-42 basically stating that, “I created everything and have it all under My control, I AM GOD, even when you don’t realize it and so you must trust Me no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.” In chapter 42 we read exactly what Job did in response to God’s challenge to Job. Now as he repents and fears God he is in dust and ashes. This is the definition of serving God for nothing. Every worldly comfort had been taken from him and he had nothing, not even physical health, and nothing as of yet had been restored to him. But he through great tribulation feared God for nothing except he is God the creator and sustainer of everything.

We do need to serve God just because he is God and the creator of all things but the good news is we don’t serve him for nothing. Read Job 19:25: For I know that my Redeemer lives, and he shall stand at last on the earth; Just as we read Job and see his longing for a mediator between him and God, we now have that through Jesus. God gives us eternal life that can be found in Christ our mediator, not because we deserve it like a transactional agreement but because He is a benevolent, gracious and loving God.

Talking About Fear

Talking About Fear

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Travis Harrison

The fear I’m talking about is not the kind that tells us be cautious or keeps us from harm, it’s the kind that fills our hearts and minds with doubt, apprehension, and anxiety. When this fear keeps us from doing things that please God, things that he expects from us and commands of us, it is a big deal. 

When preparing for this I was given the advice that we should speak about things we are familiar with.  I say that because fear has kept me for a long time avoiding opportunities such as this. I have never given a devotional before tonight. It is because of that Fear I mentioned. This type of fear convinces us of things that aren’t true.  It convinces you that you’re not good enough to get up here and speak. You are not qualified or educated enough to speak to a group of people; you care too much about what people think of you and the things you say. It convinces you that you are terrible at public speaking, you won’t speak well, or say the right things. This is my personal fear, but all of us here tonight deal with fears that keep us from doing what God wants us to do and what pleases him.

A great biblical example of this is:

  • Moses,  in Exodus 3: 8-10 when God called him to go lead Israel out of Egypt and speak to pharaoh. 
  • In vs 11 you can tell he is afraid because he says, “who am I that I should go to pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God is quick to reassure Moses “I will certainly be with you.” 
  • He continues in chapter 4:1 to make excuses to God “what if they will not believe me or listen to my voice” So, God sent miraculous signs to help convince the people. 
  • In 4:10 he basically said I can’t speak “I’m not eloquent, I’m slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  So, God reminded him who made man’s tongue, have not I?! He then said He would be his mouth and teach him what to say. 
  • And finally in vs 13 he even asked the Lord to send someone else. We should never get to this point. 
  • We should always look to God, put our faith and trust in the Lord, because fear is not from God. He is a God of love and fear does not have to consume us. 
    • We should always trust in God when we are afraid. If we draw near to God, he will cast out that fear. In Isaiah 41:10, God reassured Israel – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”
    • II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God gave us a spirit NOT OF FEAR, but of power and love and self-control”.
    • “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So, we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” in Hebrews 13: 5-6
  • Ultimately, we can’t let fear keep us from doing what God has commanded of us – we are to go into all the world to spread the gospel with everyone. How can we do that if we carry around the burden of Fear. 
  • In closing tonight, I want to ask each of us to think about what gets us out of our comfort zone when it comes to doing the will of God? Is it speaking to someone about Christ? Is it inviting our friends or co workers to come to worship service with us? Maybe having a Bible study with a complete stranger? Perhaps leading a devotional for the first time, or maybe leading singing. 
  • Whatever those things are, we should set aside our fears, put our trust in God, let our hearts be full of Love, not Fear. We should be on fire for God as Jeremy said last week.  We as Christians are capable of much more than we realize but how will we ever know those capabilities if we are too afraid to try. 
  • Philippians 4:13 doesn’t say I can do some things….it says I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • How amazing is it that we serve a God that loves us so much, and says he will always be with us, that he will never leave our side. He tells us time and time again we have no reason to be afraid. 

(From Travis’ first-ever devotional delivered at Lehman on Wednesday night, 2/16/22)