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)

More About God

More About God

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

 

Carl Pollard

It’s physically impossible for us to know everything about God. Our minds wouldn’t be able to comprehend Who He Is, but this doesn’t give us an excuse to not try and know more about the Creator. When I was younger, I believed in God. I knew He existed, but I failed to grasp some very important things about God. For example, how much He cares for us. 
Matthew 10:31-32 says, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that God cares for you personally? When we pray to Him, He takes the time to listen to our problems. People pay thousands of dollars for someone to listen to them. This care that God has for us is greater than anything on earth.
With this in mind, we need to spend more time trying to grow our relationship with Him. John 3:16 shows just how badly God desires to call us His own. God loved the world. He cares for us and wants us. Knowing how much He cares for us, let’s use this to work harder in our relationship with God. Earthly relationships take work. If we love someone it takes effort to have a healthy relationship. It takes time, commitment, sacrifice, and communication. It’s the same in our relationship with God.
My parents used to say, “Remember who you are and Whose you are.” If we would understand more about God, the fact that He is our Father and that He is the source of Love, we can live right for Him. Knowing these things about the Father brings understanding. We now understand that,

A personal knowledge of God leads to

–A Prayerful Life (1 John 5:14) 

–A Peaceful life (2 Thes. 3:16) 

–A Purposeful Life (Ecc. 12:13-14)

Photo credit: Pixabay
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. 

Do You Know Him Or Know Of Him?

Do You Know Him Or Know Of Him?

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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


God speaks of Himself as simply “I Am.” This is one powerful statement depicts His infinite presence and His existence through every age. What does it mean to know Him? How do you know if you do? To know of Jesus is very different than knowing Him.

John is one of those books in the New Testament that will help us to become better aquainted with the Christ. John paints us a vivid picture of who He was and is on a deeper level than even the three previous books.

He’s the Bread of life, Light of the world, the Gate, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, the Truth, and the Vine. All of these titles found within the book teach us a little more about the Savior of the world. There are seven “I Am” statements in John referring to Jesus and three hundred throughout the entire Bible. They begin in Genesis and end in Revelation, and in many books in-between. You just can’t read very far without discovering something very profound about it’s Writer.

He’s eternal. God’s desired response to this is simply for us to believe, respond, and live with our minds and hearts prepared to live with Him. When Jesus describes Himself as the “I Am” it makes the religious leaders want to kill Him in John 8. To know Jesus, to really know Him, is something that many people have not fully understood. Even as Jesus walked among us mortals and witnessed His miraculous power there were still several that didn’t realize what it meant to follow Him Luke 9:57-62.

While it’s true that everyone is made in the image of God, few reflect the Father’s image. Those that know Jesus introduce others to Him. With the knowledge that we are imperfect, let’s not forget that we also have the ability to have a relationship with Him. I am flawed and I am weak, but the Great I Am is interested in who I am.

By the grace of God, I am His child. He is the bread of life that sustains us, the light that guides us, the gate we’ll walk through, and the truth that will save us. It’s not how great I am, but how great the Great I Am is. Do you know Jesus?

Mine!

Mine!

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

garyandme521

Gary Pollard

When I first got into shooting, I relied pretty heavily on what others believed. There was (and is) a wide range of opinions on which platforms are the best, which calibers are the most effective, or which subcultural group is the worst (mall ninjas, fuds, tacticool operators, etc.). Most hold their opinions with great passion and will advocate for their position vehemently. I never really enjoyed shooting with the platforms and calibers I initially chose because I made all of my decisions based on the preferences of people I respected and admired. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I did not yet feel as if the sport was truly mine. Several years later, countless thousands of rounds, and hours of research, and I’ve found my place. I prefer 9mm, Glocks or Caniks, Combloc, AR platforms, 6.5 Grendel is the best intermediate round, etc. In other words, it’s not an “inherited” faith. I like what I like based on the energy I’ve dedicated to study and practice.

When it comes to elements of our faith, how often do we challenge our personal beliefs? Unlike firearms – which are subjective and spiritually irrelevant – our faith is based on an objective standard. It is difficult to have a strong, personal faith if most of what we believe is based on what others taught us or what others believe. We may even adopt their beliefs because we admire and respect them as people. That’s not a great foundation. Humans are fallible!

Approaching scripture as a blank slate, asking only, “What does God want me to believe about ______?” is the best way to grow. The only opinion that matters is God’s! When we hear something that elicits an emotional response and seems to conflict with our current beliefs, we shouldn’t panic. God’s word determines validity. If we can approach scripture without bias, we’ll grow exponentially. Challenging our beliefs does more than simply refine our understanding – it forces us to take ownership of our faith. Not only will this cause growth, it will also deepen our love for God and our confidence in eternal destination!

On an elk hunting trip in Gunnison, CO, around 2008.
Comfort For The Hurting

Comfort For The Hurting

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

dalejanelle2021

Dale Pollard

 
Many emotions run through different individuals when faced with the loss of a loved one or dealing with intense pain. These emotions can present themselves as questions: 
  • Confusion: “Why did this happen?”
  • Sadness: “How will I go on?” 
  • Anger: “Who allowed this to happen?” 

Who can answer these questions? 

Who can provide comfort? 

Who can guide your heart through the heartbreaking moments in life? 

Is it not the Creator?

 Here’s a quick reminder to help give those who are dealing with loss and tragedy some perspective. 

Though “end” is a very human term,  

100 years from now I’ll be alive and so will you. 150, 200 years from now I’ll be alive and so will you. 

Since we are made in the image of God, that means… 

  1. When God breathed into you the breath of life He gave you a piece of Himself called the soul which will live forever…somewhere. 
  2. When God created you in a more intimate way unlike the beasts of the field and the birds of the air He gave you free choice. 
  3. He gave you the ability to reason.
  4. He gave you the ability to contact Him and be contacted by him. 

How sad and how tragic it would be to live your life with no hope. God offers wonderful and comforting news even at times where such news seems to be missing. 

God loves you more than anyone can. 

God loves you more than you can comprehend.  

Though many cry for and with you when you hurt, that love falls short of the one who expresses His love in a way that’s perfect and unfailing. 

You will and perhaps you currently experience feelings you can’t put into words, but God feels them and understands them. 

God can walk you through the hurts. Life doesn’t have to be impossibly tragic and void of purpose. 

God created the heart. He can heal yours. God created the mind. He can sort yours out. God made the soul. He can save yours. God created the body. He can give you rest. God created the eyes. He can wipe your tears away. God created the shoulder, but His are the only shoulders capable of bearing the weight of all those who lean on them. 

God’s Photons

God’s Photons

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

gary and chelsea

Gary Pollard

God is light. What does that mean? Before we get into that, it’s important to remember that we can’t understand everything about God. We know what he’s told us, but a lot of it is difficult to understand and/or accommodative language. It’s only appropriate that God can’t be adequately described with simplistic concepts. That said, spending a lot of time trying to understand who he is will only strengthen our relationship with him. 

God is light: 

  1. I Jn. 1.5 – This passage contrasts light with darkness. In this case, darkness is moral failure. Light is moral perfection. What makes this interesting is the use of a state-of-being verb (estin – is, exists, closely related to). He is light. God is morally perfect and totally immune to darkness. 
  2. I Tim. 6.16 – God lives in unapproachable light, no has seen him and no one can see him. If we were to see God in His true form, we would die (Ex. 33.20; cf. Jn. 1.8, 5.37, 6.46; Col. 1.15; I Jn. 4.12). We don’t fully understand what light is. Visible light is a tiny sliver of the massive electromagnetic spectrum, yet light interacts in some way with everything in creation. It can be harmless and it can be deadly. It can be mild and it can be powerful, depending on how it interacts with matter. Light (physical light) seems to be a glimpse into the nature of God (see Rom. 1.20; Jn. 1.9). 

There are many more passages (Ps. 76, 104; Jn. 1.9, 8.12; Acts 26; I Thess. 5). God is real. He thinks about us (Heb. 2). He’s personally invested in us (Rom. 8). We interact with reality the way we do because He designed it that way (Jn. 1.3-5). He is perfect love (I Jn. 4.8). He is terrifyingly powerful (Job 38). He wants humans to live with Him after time is dissolved (Jn. 14; I Tim. 2.4; II Pet. 3.9). All aspects of functional creation are extensions of His nature (love, patience, happiness, compassion, light, breathtaking beauty, empathy, companionship). God is amazing. 

I Am

I Am

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard


 

God speaks of Himself as simply “I Am.” This one powerful statement depicts His infinite presence and His existence through every age. What does it mean to know Him? How do you know if you do? To know of Jesus is very different than knowing Him.

John is one of those books in the New Testament that will help us to become better aquatinted with the Christ. It’s the last of the gospels that paints us a vivid picture of who He was and is on a deeper level than even the three previous gospels. He’s the Bread of life, Light of the world, the Gate, Good Shepherd, Resurrection and Life, the Truth, and the Vine. All of these titles found within the book teach us a little more about the Savior of the world.

There are seven “I Am” statements in John referring to Jesus and three hundred throughout the entire Bible. They begin in Genesis and end in Revelation, and in many books in-between. You just can’t read very far without discovering something very profound about its Writer. He’s eternal. God’s desired response to this is simply for us to believe, respond, and live with our minds and hearts prepared to live with Him.

When Jesus describes Himself as the “I Am” it makes the religious leaders want to kill Him in John 8. To know Jesus, to really know Him, is something that many people have not fully understood. Even as Jesus walked among us mortals and we witnessed His miraculous power, there were still several that didn’t realize what it meant to follow Him (Luke 9:57-62).

While it’s true that everyone is made in the image of God, few reflect the Father’s image. Those that know Jesus introduce others to Him. With the knowledge that we are imperfect, let’s not forget that we also have the ability to have a relationship with Him. I am flawed and I am weak, but the Great I Am is interested in who I am. By the grace of God, I am His child. He is the bread of life that sustains us, the light that guides us, the gate we’ll walk through, and the truth that will save us. It’s not how great I am, but how great the Great I Am is. Do you know Jesus?