A Light In The Dark

A Light In The Dark

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Wherever light is, there is no darkness. That almost sounds silly and maybe a little obvious. Light and darkness in the Bible often depict the concept of good and evil but nowhere is the impression given that the dark is equal to light. In both the Old and the New Testaments, we find the concept of light and darkness. It represents the believers and the nonbelievers and it also represents good and evil. Biblical writers understood God to be the ultimate Light— the ultimate goodness of the world. When John refers to Jesus as “light” in his gospel this is the concept that he is trying to get across. Jesus is pure. He’s a beacon of hope— he is Light. Strangely, scientists are still baffled by light. NASA spent a mountain of money attempting to come up with a color so dark that it could even consume light but it just isn’t possible. 

No darkness can stifle the light of Jesus.

To this day He is shining bright through His followers to ensure that this dark world can see Him and that means we have an important job to do. In gospel of John, we find this profound statement, “…the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). At this point John begins another section on light and more is revealed about the two contrasting realities. There is the light, who is Jesus, and those who did not love the light because their deeds were evil. The reason they rejected the Light was because they were separated from it by their own wickedness. Evil is done with ease in the dark and we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that we are hidden and secure under its cover. 

Alaska’s crime rate significantly drops in the summer because the sun shines continually, but in the winter months the crime rate is much higher. It’s easier to get away with evil in darkness. Notice the bold statement following this, “Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20). Light exposes the wickedness, and exposure is not something an evil person desires.

 Today lights are used by doctors to shine down your throat, in your ear, and to expose any potential problems. We have automatic porch lights and flood lights as well as “brights” for those backroads. Jesus is here to expose the sins of others and welcome those that come to Him. This also goes to show that an individual can claim to love the Light, while living in darkness— this person hates the Light. Action speaks louder than words and in a spiritual sense this could not be more accurate. Do your actions reflect that you love the Light? 

Dale Pollard
The Wedding Feast

The Wedding Feast

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

On more than one occasion, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast. I’d like to focus on the parable contained in Matthew chapter 22 specifically. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted calf are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to his servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:2-14).

Looking back on this parable with the benefit of hindsight, knowing the centuries of the Church’s history, it’s easy to understand most of what Jesus is saying. The king had an initial group of people that were invited to wedding, but refused the invitation. In the same way, the invitation of the gospel was initially given to Jews only. However, especially among the religious establishment—Pharisees and Sadducees—there was widespread rejection of that invitation. So, the king opens up the invitation to everyone in the highways, both bad and good, just as the invitation of the gospel was extended to Gentiles and Jews alike—everyone is invited.

However, there’s the strange detail near the end that can confuse us in our modern times, living so far detached from the culture that Jesus gave the parable to. We see a man at the wedding who doesn’t have wedding clothes on, and he gets kicked out of the wedding because of it! In our culture, we might wonder about this man, perhaps even feel sorry for him. Perhaps he didn’t have good clothes for a wedding because he was poor and couldn’t afford them. But the way we do weddings is different from the way they did weddings in Jesus’ time and culture. Back in that day, the master of the wedding feast would provide garments for all of the wedding guests. In fact, it would be a great insult for someone to refuse to wear wedding garments at the feast. That’s why the man is speechless when the king asks him how he got in there without wedding garments.

What does that represent? Baptism. As many of us as are baptized into Christ have put on Christ (paraphrase Galatians 3:27). Just as the master of the feast provides wedding clothes for the guests, God provided baptism for us. And just as the man without wedding garments was thrown out, none of us should expect to attend the wedding feast if we aren’t wearing the garments God provided at His own cost.

Andy Wright
Understanding Truth

Understanding Truth

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Some things just don’t mix. Milk and orange juice, taxes and freedom, Coca cola and Mentos. But there is one particular mix that can sometimes be fatal. Blood pressure medicine can be a great thing, but when mixed with Advil/Ibuprofen it can harm your body and even give you a brain hemorrhage. If you mix rubbing alcohol and bleach you create chloroform. It’s safe to say that some things in life just don’t mix.

20-30 years after the ascension of Jesus, Paul wrote to a group of Celtic Christians in Galatia warning them of the dangers of mixing two teachings. We find the establishment of these Galatian churches in Acts 13-15 (Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia). In 15:1 Some people came down from Judea teaching that circumcision was required for salvation. This occurred right after Paul had converted them. They are new Christians, and Paul had a “great debate” with them there. In Acts 15:5, the Pharisees who “had believed” were the ones commanding this of Christians. Fast forward a decade, and these teachers are back in Galatia teaching that circumcision is required for salvation.

In Galatians one, the question Paul is trying to answer is, “What is required for a person to be saved?” Forget circumcision, forget additional teachings, what does GOD say? Paul gives his answer by basically saying, “We need nothing other than what is contained in scripture to walk in the light.” There is only ONE gospel. In Verse 6 Paul says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.” He uses the word “amazed” or thaumazo. 

These were Christians who should’ve known better. Their quick acceptance of this addition to the gospel amazed Paul in a negative sense. In Acts 4:13, this same Greek word is used to describe the scribes and Pharisees’ reaction to the apostles’ teachings. Again in Mark 5:20, we read that people were amazed by Jesus’ teaching. Paul now uses this word to describe his reaction to these Christians deserting the gospel! This word could be accurately translated as “deeply disturbed.” 

If there is anything added to that which is necessary for the maintaining of your walk in the light, it is not necessary for salvation. These Christians should’ve known better, but sadly sometimes we are the same way. We know what’s right and wrong and yet we still choose poorly (speech, actions, thoughts). 

The message that these Christians were to accept was that of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and the correct way to be saved. Any requirement outside of the plan of salvation is a false doctrine that must be condemned. If that other requirement is the sinner’s prayer, it must be condemned. If that other requirement is a “new wave of salvation,” as some denominations teach, it is to be condemned. If that other requirement is a tradition not necessary for salvation yet is enforced as such, it is to be condemned. We are only compelled to follow what is contained in God’s Holy Word. 

Let’s be careful as Christians to follow and teach solely what God has required of us. 

Carl Pollard
More Spiritual Christians?

More Spiritual Christians?

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

Galatians 1.6-9 is the key passage of the book. God chose them through grace, but they were abandoning grace for Jewish customs. Paul wrote one of the strongest warnings in all of scripture here — “anyone who modifies Jesus’s teaching will be cursed.” It’s hard for us to let our own baggage go (our worldviews, preferences, past beliefs, or traditions), but God’s feelings about adding to or taking away from his requirements are crystal clear. 

This isn’t the only letter where Paul warns about putting too much stock in traditions. Colossians also addresses this issue pretty clearly, as do sections in I Corinthians and Romans. And it doesn’t matter who’s doing the teaching — even if an angel tries to teach something that modifies God’s plan, they will be cursed. If we view this section rationally, it makes perfect sense. The one who created this plan is the same one who has unlimited power, ability, and intelligence, and who created our planet in a vast universe. Who are we to take issue with anything in God’s word? 

Interestingly, Paul also addressed an issue that has existed since the church was established: Christians comparing themselves to others, or judging another’s level of spirituality. A more spiritual Christian would also observe traditions. The specific application throughout the book (2.3-5, 11-17; 3.11-13; 5.1-6) is that adopting Jewish traditions is required to be right with God. A more modern understanding is that we shouldn’t look down on Christians who don’t follow all of the customs we’ve observed for the last couple of centuries. We must be very careful about making judgments of other Christians based on whether or not they observe our traditions in addition to God’s. Galatians refutes the idea that someone who observes more than what God requires is intrinsically more spiritual. 

“Don’t compare yourself with others. Just look at your own work and see if you’ve done anything to be proud of” (6.4). 

“It doesn’t matter if anyone is circumcised or not. The only thing that matters is this new life we have from God” (6.15).  

The Local Preacher (Part 3)

The Local Preacher (Part 3)

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

The Local Preacher (Part 3) 

Acts 20:19 says, “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews.” Paul “served with humility.” As great a man as Paul was, he served (douleuo – ministered to others as if he were their slave). His service is described with three genitives: With all humility (Philippians 2:3), with tears, and with trials. So all of this could be summed up as Paul served with humility, and stayed faithful through trials. Once again we can tie this back to the local preacher, as preachers are put in a position to serve the congregation and to stay faithful to them. Many preachers can become very haughty because every single Sunday they have people telling them how incredible their sermons are. Preachers must constantly keep in mind the humility that they should be practicing (John 13).

The local preacher should not shy away from teaching that which will help the church. Acts 20:20 says, “how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house.” Herbert Agar once said, “The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” 

People will not always be open to the message that preachers proclaim. But the job is to proclaim all truth to the congregation. We also learn that preachers should be vocal about the Gospel. Notice that Paul said “…in public and from house to house.” The word used for “shrink” in this verse is upostello and means to “shrink from and avoid, implying fear.”

The local preacher is to make no exclusions as seen in Acts 8:21 which reads, “Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul preached the Gospel to everyone! He knew what they needed and gave it to them. One way we can put this into perspective is to make a parallel between how we treat others, and how God treats us. As humans, we can sometimes show partiality. Whether it is because of someone’s personality or how they treat us, we tend to avoid those types of people. 

What if God treated us this way? We know from Romans 5:8 that God sent His son to die for us “while we were yet sinners…” God did not, does not, and never will show partiality to anyone. Paul proclaimed to both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews at this time did not get along well with the Gentiles at all. Paul puts that aside and shares the Gospel with them. Romans 10:12 says, “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him.” 

This all applies to the local preacher today. There should never be partiality shown to different members by the preacher. Even more than that, there should be no partiality shown to those outside of the Church! Yet we see that so much in today’s culture. The Gospel is what people need, so he must never let partiality stand between a soul and eternal life.

Following Instructions

Following Instructions

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

David Chang

Have you ever gotten something—maybe a piece of appliance or a new faucet that you needed to assemble or install—and it seemed too simple? You see all of the pieces that came in the box, and you recognize all of it and their functions. Maybe, because it looked so simple and straightforward, you overestimated your ability to put it together and went straight into installing it by yourself without reading the manual. What happens usually? Well, if you’re lucky (or just that skilled), you may do it just right. But most times you either get stuck and eventually are forced to read the manual anyway, or you think you installed it correctly but actually didn’t do it all that right. Whatever the case is, there are times in our lives when we may have foregone the instruction manual because they are tedious or you think you know the steps, only to find out soon that there is a good reason why the instruction manuals are included with the product!

Even the simplest looking assembly comprised of just a few steps can quickly become quite intricate if there are specific order and method to the process. And if one, out of the abundance of their self-confidence, refuses to read the manual for that crucial piece of information, the process can be very frustrating indeed. Maybe you’ve had to witness someone stubbornly try to put together or operate something without first reading the manual for it.

I’ve heard people describe the Bible as an instruction manual for life. Although this is an oversimplification of the Word of God, I think we can agree for the most part that the Bible contains instructions and concepts that directly impact our lives—both physical and spiritual. We should not develop a dysfunctional view of Scripture as a mere checklist of things to do to get a passing grade to get into heaven, but we should also recognize that the Bible as a whole is a guide for us to internalize as we navigate this life.

The Bible and its contents are profound yet simple, and everyone can understand it. Logically speaking it must be so, because throughout Scripture there is a consistent expectation for the people of God to study and understand the laws (in the Old Testament) and the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles and disciples (in the New Testament). We know that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17). The gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). The doctrines, precepts, principles—all of these things contained in Scripture both Old and New Testament are there for us to read, to understand, and to let impact our lives in a meaningful and transformative way.

Now then, how are we to do so without examining the book? The Bible may not be as simple as a checklist of things or like an instruction manual for some furniture assembly, but we cannot deny the reality that it contains guidance that we need for our navigation through this life into eternity. It would be foolish and inefficient at best for us to recognize such a fact but still fail to read it and study its contents. Do not be stubborn and try to go through life without the guide revealed to us by the very Creator who is the source of life itself. Make sure to foster that need to meditate on God’s Word regularly.

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.

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?

Jesus Has All Authority

Jesus Has All Authority

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Jesus has come to Jerusalem and taken the gloves off. By His unparalleled authority, He is directly challenging the religious establishment whose shallow righteousness has been rejected by His Father. He has come to take the Old Law out of the way and establish His church. It’s teaching like this parable in Luke 20:9-18 that will provoke those leaders to the point that they will trump up charges and bribe false witnesses to arrest, try, and have Him crucified. This parable is stark and shocking, and the moral as heavy as an anvil. Notice.

THESE LEADERS WERE GUILTY OF IMPROPER STEWARDSHIP (9). The “man” in the parable represents God, the Father. He made Israel a nation and gave the Jews a Law to follow and keep. The Jews, particularly the religious leadership, were entrusted with faithfully carrying it out, but they did not. 

THEY WERE GUILTY OF TAKING WHAT DIDN’T BELONG TO THEM (10). In fact, these leaders–dubbed “the vine-growers” by Jesus in this parable–thought that they were in charge. They sought to make people subject to them, to follow their rules (cf. Rom. 10:3-4). The end result was vain religion (Mat. 15:8-9).

THEY WERE GUILTY OF ABUSING THOSE SENT TO THEM (11-15). The “slaves” sent to them were presumably prophets and teachers, no doubt inclusive of John the Baptist. These were the Father’s spokesmen, come to teach and correct them. Each one sent was treated the same, sad way: they “beat him and sent him away empty-handed.” Last of all, the son was sent (13-14). The “owner” (the Father) sent Him, saying, “I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him” (13). Instead, seeing Him as the heir, they plotted to kill Him (14). Obviously, Jesus is referring to Himself and the very thoughts these religious leaders were thinking as He told the parable! 

THEY WERE GUILTY OF LOSING WHAT WAS ENTRUSTED TO THEM (16-18). Instead of being convicted by this parable, these religious leaders recoil at the moral of the parable: “What, then, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others” (15-16). Their emotion boils over and they audibly reply to Jesus’ parable, “May it never be!” They missed the travesty of the behavior they and their forefathers had shown to God’s messengers and the sin they were about to perpetrate on His Son. They didn’t want to lose their grip on the power and influence they had taken. But Jesus doubles down, changing the imagery from a vineyard to building construction. They were going to reject Jesus, the stone, but He would be made the chief corner stone. He would judge and destroy them, if they did not abandon their rebellion.

Jesus is full of love, kindness, and peace. But, that’s an incomplete picture of Him. He came to establish His rule and reign. He must be King and Lord of our lives. We must submit to His way and truth to enjoy His life. 

Open Bible on a black table with book marker and pink highlighting
Jesus Has All Authority
Facebook Fact-Checking

Facebook Fact-Checking

Thursday Column: Captain’s Blog


Carl Pollard

Back in 2016 Facebook created their “fact-checking program.” The focus of the program is to “address viral misinformation and false claims, particularly those that have the potential to mislead or harm.” Since 2016 hundreds of thousands of posts have been flagged as “misleading” or containing “false information.” While this program has been met with mixed reviews and opinions, there is a valuable lesson we can learn from fact-checking and that is to, well, check your facts.
Powerade is the sports players elixir. It’s refreshing, it replenishes electrolytes, and gives you 34 grams of beautiful sugar. It’s got potassium, sodium, and 35 grams of carbs. But Blue Powerade bears a striking resemblance to Windex. At a glance this window cleaner may seem like Powerade. It’s blue, you could easily put it in an empty Powerade bottle and call it Powerade, but it isn’t. Windex is Windex, no matter how you try and label it. Many times something may quack like a duck and walk like a duck, but it isn’t a duck.
Galatians 1:6 says, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.”
Paul warns us that as Christians we will encounter misinformation. Those who spread it may have a way with words. What they teach is convincing and appealing. But upon closer examination, their Powerade is actually Windex. These people will claim that you can receive salvation with just a prayer, that God approves of homosexuality, that every person has their own truth. We need to start Bible fact-checking the claims and teachings of those around us.
So many Christians are led astray by false teaching. It’s our job to test what is taught with scripture because on the day of judgment each person will be held accountable. Be noble-minded and search the scriptures. Don’t drink the Windex just because it’s in a Powerade bottle. Look at the content and compare it to God’s Word.
As Christians we must keep the church pure and free of misinformation. Let’s all start fact-checking our spiritual sources using God’s infallible Word.