Who God Uses In His Service

Who God Uses In His Service

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Jesus chose imperfect, flawed people like you and me to help Him spread the gospel. It is easy for us to think that only the super-spiritual, seemingly-perfect can be effective, but the opposite is true. None of us is too spiritual or perfect, though we should always be striving to be better and do more for the One who gave everything to save us. 

Paul is continuing his discussion about the ministry he and his co-workers have when he pens 2 Corinthians 4. As he does, he speaks candidly about himself and them–the messengers. As Christians charged with carrying out the Great Commission, we should all put ourselves in his shoes and understand better who God uses in His service. 

GOD USES PEOPLE OF INTEGRITY (1-4)

Character does not demand perfection, but it does require a conscience shaped by Scripture and a heart softened by it. This leads one to stay encouraged no matter what is encountered (1). It also leads to honesty and trustworthiness (2). We will conduct our lives righteously, and we will handle God’s Word faithfully. People can trust who we are and, thus, what we say. We may be rejected by the spiritually blind, but we won’t be a roadblock to their faith. 

GOD USES PEOPLE OF HUMILITY (5-7)

Paul gives a helpful reminder. It’s not about us, it’s about Christ. He’s the source of light, glory, and power. We’re the plain, fragile pottery God uses to demonstrate His surpassing greatness. 

GOD USES PEOPLE OF DURABILITY (8-12)

To be His servants, we have to weather storms. Those storms may be those we would avoid if we didn’t serve Him, but we understand the importance of our mission. We won’t let affliction, perplexities, persecution, and threats keep us from doing His work! God does not need spiritual sissies in His service. We draw our courage and strength from Him, and it causes Him to shine out through us!

GOD USES PEOPLE OF STABILITY (13-15)

What causes us to be stable? Faith! Because we are truly convicted of the truth, we cannot help but speak. We have faith in the reality of the resurrection, so we teach and share the message that brings grace to more and more people. This leads more people to give thanks to God and causes God to be glorified.

If I want to be a faithful servant of Jesus, I need to watch my personal conduct, lower myself, endure, and be trustworthy. That does not require perfection, but it does require dedication! But God depends on imperfect people like you and me! We cannot let Him down. 

Neal Pollard
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.

There Are No Small Tasks…

There Are No Small Tasks…

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

The 19th-century Russian actor, Konstantin Stanislavski, famously said, “There are no small roles, only small actors.” The point is that we should do our very best no matter what our role is. Especially is that true in serving God. 

  • Who carried the lame man to the gate where he was healed by James and John (Acts 3:2)? 
  • What were the names of the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus (Mark 2:3)? 
  • Are we told who the young men were who carried out Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:6,10)? 
  • Do we know who brought Paul to Athens and followed his command for Silas and Timothy to come to him there (Acts 17:14-15)? 
  • What were the names of those in the household of Stephanas who, like him, devoted themselves for ministry to the saints (1 Cor. 16:15)?  
  • The New Testament is full of statements about individuals whose households were baptized along with them: Cornelius (Acts 11:14), Lydia (Acts 16:15), the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:33), Crispus (Acts 18:8), Aristobulus (Rom. 16:10), Narcissus (Rom. 16:11), and Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 4:19). What contributions did they make to the congregations where they were members? How many will be in heaven because of these unnamed saints? 

We may wonder what great works we might do to carve a spiritual legacy, whether in the local church or even beyond. Perhaps we feel that we toil in anonymity, unappreciated or overlooked. How many acts of service, kindness, generosity, and sacrifice never make the church bulletin or announcements? Let us take great comfort in the knowledge that God knows. He’s even writing it down (Rev. 20:12,15). As the writer of Hebrews told some unnamed saints, “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Heb. 6:10). 

Never forget the encouraging poem of William Dunkerley. 

Is your place a small place? 
Tend it with care!
He set you there.

Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!
He set you there.

Whatever your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His
Who set you there. 

You are touching lives who may not think to tell you that you are. Your influence and example may be the difference in someone overcoming who might have been overcome. Your simple word or deed of kindness may be the fuel for another’s faith. Paul’s encouragement is weighty, when he says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:9-10). How insignificant is the lowliest private in the Lord’s Army, adorning His armor (Eph. 6:11)? There are no small tasks in His kingdom! Let us be “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that [our] toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58)! 

Filled To The Brim

Filled To The Brim

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

The first miracle of Jesus is found in John chapter two. While many won’t give much thought to the servants in this account, let’s place the focus on them here. 

John 2.1-11 

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come. His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you. 

When Jesus refers to His mother as “woman” He was using a term of respect in that day and age. John writes that the hour of His death had not come because that is an underlying narrative of his book. 

Continuing on, 

“Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” 

Now, notice the response of the servants. 

“So they filled them up to the brim.” 

They never questioned why they should fill these jars with water. This was no simple task and it was no doubt a time consuming chore. The jars held anywhere from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and eighty gallons of water. They likely drew the water out of a well— one bucket at time. 

Jesus then tells the servants, 

 “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” 

Once again, notice the response of the servants. 

“So they took it.” 

The servants didn’t ask why they should draw the water out or even why they should take it to the master of the feast. They don’t seem to hesitate even though it could have been a humiliating experience to serve water to the head of the wedding feast. They just took it! They simply listened to what Jesus told them to do. 

The servants and their unquestioning obedience is praiseworthy. As servants of Christ, we should do whatever He tells us. We shouldn’t do the bare minimum but we should, in a spiritual sense, fill our jars to the brim. We should live our lives completely dedicated to fulfilling His commands, even if it’s difficult or when it doesn’t make much sense to us. 

1 Peter–Part X

1 Peter–Part X

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

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

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

I Peter – Part X

Younger people, listen to the leaders. Every one of you should think of the other as being more important than yourselves. God stands against prideful people, but he’s very patient with humble people. Stay humble under God’s power and he’ll lift you up when it’s time. He cares about you, so you should always let him handle your anxieties. 

Exercise self-control, and make sure you’re watching carefully. Your enemy (the devil) is on a determined path – like a hungry lion – looking for someone to kill. Fight him with determined faith, he’s not targeting just you. Everyone in God’s family is experiencing the same kind of suffering all over the world. After you’ve suffered for a short period of time, the God who gives so much grace will personally make you strong, give you confidence, restore you, and give you security. He has eternal power. 

I’m sending this short letter to you through Silvanus, my faithful brother. This is all true, and it’s extremely important for you to understand God’s timeless kindness and let it keep you strong. The woman at Babylon sends her greeting; she is chosen, just like you. Mark, my son, says hi. Make sure you greet and affirm each other. I hope all of you who follow Christ enjoy peace. 

Godly Character Traits

Godly Character Traits

Saturday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

When I was growing up, there were certain tasks that my parents would give me that I didn’t want to do. Washing the floorboards, weeding the garden, cutting vinyl siding, and digging holes with a post hole digger are just a few examples of what many of us would consider hard work. 

I remember the hours working on these jobs, covered in sweat with blistered hands, and an all-around feeling of fatigue. There were a couple times In particular where I can remember my dad saying the classic phrase, “Son this is character-building work.” And then he would tell a story about some hard job he had to do as a kid. Looking back, these jobs really did build character, but there’s more to it than just digging a hole and sweating. 

You can be a hard worker, and still lack honesty, sincerity, and humility. Character building takes serious work and commitment. Luckily, God has given us His perfect word that tells us how we can grow our character. 

If you’ve ever struggled with living out your faith, or with your commitment to Christ, working on growing our character will help us to focus on what’s truly important in this life. 

There are many different ways that we could go about building our character, and as we look to scripture a good place to start in this endeavor is by practicing righteous thinking. If we want to grow our character, we have to start changing the way that we think. Problem is, it’s a lot easier said than done. There are two different passages that tell us how we can practice righteous thinking. 

Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” As Christians we can learn to dwell on righteousness by filling our mind with godly traits. If we are truly set on transforming our minds to think on righteousness, we have to replace worldly thinking with godly traits. 

Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It’s possible to practice righteous thinking by renewing our mind with the will of God. No longer looking to ourselves as master, but to God. By doing this our thinking changes. Our focus shifts from this world, and our minds will dwell on righteousness. 

Do you want to be known as a person of character? The first change we must undergo is to start thinking righteously. Righteous thinking is no easy task. It takes work, and many times we fall short of this goal. Thankfully we serve a loving God who wants nothing more than for us to spend an eternity with Him in Heaven. 

Question is, do we want this future enough to make the right decisions? 

Three Ways Pride Distorts Our Thinking

Three Ways Pride Distorts Our Thinking

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Some people’s sin struggles are evident. If they wrestle with foul language or lying, you can hear it. If they wrestle with immodesty or drunkenness, you can see it. Some spiritual weaknesses, though, are insidiously difficult to see–especially in ourselves. In Luke 9:46-56, in events that follow each other in very short order, the disciples’ struggle with pride is exposed by Jesus. We can understand why they struggled with pride. They were walking with the Messiah! He was training them for a special mission. Now, the only matter for them to settle was how they ranked among each other. Jesus exposes that very mindset in these verses.

PRIDE SEEKS PREEMINENCE (46-48). The disciples argue among themselves about who might be the greatest. Not only is this childish, but it reflects their short memory. They just displayed a deficiency of faith that prevented them from casting out the unclean spirit. Perhaps Peter, James, and John, given privy to the transfiguration, might have felt that if they had been among these other disciples they would have been able to cast it out. We don’t know. All we know is that Jesus rebukes the very idea of the arguing by placing a child in their midst. Children were barely noticed among first-century adults, but Jesus makes paying attention to and ministering to the least of people the mark of greatness. Discipleship is not about glory and visibility. It’s about having our eyes open to the humble and our hearts open to serving them. 

PRIDE SHOWS PREJUDICE (49-50). While some have tried to use these verses to say that there are saved Christians in religious groups outside of the New Testament church, they totally misunderstand Jesus’ point (not to mention, miss the teaching of a great many passages). What was John’s bone of contention? There was a disciple of Jesus who was doing works in His name (acting by His authority; recognizing His identity). They tried to prevent him “because he does not follow along with us” (49). They concluded this person couldn’t be acceptable because he wasn’t accompanying them. Jesus knows this man is on His side, but the disciples’ needed to hear this: “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you” (50). This territorial mentality can creep into our thinking. We should hold hands with all those who are on the Lord’s side, doing the Lord’s work. This is true if it regards the good works of others in the local congregation or if it is area congregations. 

PRIDE SEEKS PUNISHMENT (51-56). Pride shows itself in a very different way shortly after this. Jesus sends some followers on a mission, but they were rejected. James and John’s solution was to exact vengeance on them. They were anxious to call down fire from heaven and consume them. Whatever they expected as Jesus’ reaction, they had to be surprised at His rebuke. He corrects their thinking, saying that He came to this earth to save rather than destroy men’s lives. Jesus’ solution was simply to move on to more receptive hearts (56). Sometimes our impatience with others or disappointment in their displays of unbelief can make us trigger happy. Whether we are indignant on the Lord’s behalf or we feel personally slighted, we need to remember the patient, charitable response Jesus makes to those who, in the moment, refused to receive Him. That patience and kindness may or may not ultimately reach their hearts, but it is the best route to success in trying to both be a disciple and win disciples for Jesus. 

Do a Bible search and see what God says about pride. It’s at the top of the list in those deadly sins of Proverbs 6:16-19, things God says He hates! Both Testaments say that it leads to our downfall (Prov. 3:34; Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). So often, we see it as a struggle for those who are already in the body of Christ. I must constantly watch for this self-centered behavior, keeping my focus on other disciples, the lost, the less fortunate and weak, and especially the Lord. Let me remember that it’s all about Him and them, and say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). 

God Desires Humility

God Desires Humility

Friday’s Column: “Captain’s Blog”

Carl Pollard

The life of a true Christian is filled with change. We learn where we are weak, and try to be better. It’s kind of like a never ending home improvement project. There will always be areas of our spiritual walk with God that could be better. Because this is the case, many religious books, sermons and Gospel meetings are created around a theme that will help us to grow. In the Church there is a plethora of information to help us in our Christianity, but I want to focus on the basics and answer a vital question. What does it mean to be a Christian?


I want to answer this question with a passage in scripture that we may not immediately think of. We may think of 1 Timothy 1:5, or 2 Peter 1:5-7, which are great verses, but I’d like to suggest that Jesus in Luke 18:15-17 gives us the bottom line of Christianity.


It reads, “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”


Jesus teaches the importance of humility. You want to enter the Kingdom of God? Have an attitude of humility. He uses the example of children, and Luke even uses the Greek word for infant. These are very young kids and babies that are being brought to Jesus. So He uses this as a moment to teach a valuable lesson.


Babies show their humility in their inability to provide for themselves. Every child that is born is completely dependent on its parents and has a wholehearted trust in them to provide what they need. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means being humble enough to admit that we need God. It means we trust in God, rather than our own “power.”


Humility plays an important role in every aspect of Christianity. It helps with showing love to others, it helps us subject ourselves to God’s Word, it helps us treat others the way we want to be treated, it helps us accept the hard topics that scripture contains, and the list goes on and on.


Do you want to be a part of the Kingdom? Make humility an everyday practice. That is what it means to be a Christian.

Infant laying on soft white blanket with black background
The Art Of Humility (Luke 18:15-17)

The Art Of Humility (Luke 18:15-17)

Friday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

The life of a true Christian is filled with change. We learn where we are weak and try to be better. It’s kind of like a never-ending home improvement project. There will always be areas of our spiritual walk with God that could be better. Because this is the case, many religious books, sermons and Gospel meetings are created around a theme that will help us to grow. In the Church there is a plethora of information to help us in our Christianity, but I want to focus on the basics and answer a vital question. What does it mean to be a Christian?

I want to answer this question with a passage in scripture that we may not immediately think of. We may think of 1 Timothy 1:5 or 2 Peter 1:5-7, which are great verses, but I’d like to suggest that Jesus in Luke 18:15-17 gives us the bottom line of Christianity.

It reads, “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Jesus teaches the importance of humility. You want to enter the Kingdom of God? Have an attitude of humility. He uses the example of children, and Luke even uses the Greek word for infant. These are very young kids and babies that are being brought to Jesus. So He uses this as a moment to teach a valuable lesson.

Babies show their humility in their inability to provide for themselves. Every child that is born is completely dependent on its parents and has a wholehearted trust in them to provide what they need.

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means being humble enough to admit that we need God. It means we trust in God, rather than our own “power.”

Humility plays an important role in every aspect of Christianity. It helps with showing love to others, it helps us subject ourselves to God’s Word, it helps us treat others the way we want to be treated, it helps us accept the hard topics that scripture contains, and the list goes on and on.

Do you want to be a part of the Kingdom? Make humility an everyday practice. Without this, one cannot be a Christian.

THREE QUALITIES OF A FAITHFUL FOLLOWER

THREE QUALITIES OF A FAITHFUL FOLLOWER

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

preachingatPBL

Neal Pollard

Two parables and an incident in Luke 18:1-17 reveal three attributes Jesus is looking for in His disciples. As you read through these verses, ask yourself if you struggle with one or more of these. The examples Jesus holds up are all lowly characters–a defenseless widow, a sinful tax collector, and babies and little children. They were all either financially, spiritually, or physically dependent on others, yet these are the ones Jesus tells us to imitate. What are the qualities?

PERSISTENCE (1-8). The parable of the widow and the unjust judge is delivered to his listeners for a specific reason, “that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (1). A widow pleaded for legal protection from a judge who neither feared God or respected men (2). She wouldn’t stop coming to him and pleading her case until finally he relented and granted her request out of frustration and annoyance at her continual coming (3-5). Jesus’ point is that the perfect God will bring justice to His elect who faithfully pray to Him (7). He ties this persistence to faith (8). Jesus is giving us insight into God’s heart and desires. He wants to hear from us in prayer, and He is influenced by our prayers. Do we have faith in that? 

HUMILITY (9-14). Jesus launches into a second parable about prayer, to highlight another necessity in the practice of it. He focuses on an unlikely duo, a prominent religious leader and a contemptible tax collector. Both enter the temple, both for the purpose of prayer. Both prayers are recorded. Jesus evaluates them. The first prayer, uttered by the Pharisee, is self-directed (he prayed to himself), self-righteous (God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector), and self-promoting (I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get). He shows no recognition of or need for God. He’s pretty self-satisfied. The second prayer, uttered by the tax collector, is selfless, self-indicting, and self-emptying. Jesus notes his hesitance (standing some distance away), abjection (even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven), emotion (beating his breast), and honesty (his entire prayer is, “God be merciful to me, the sinner”). Jesus’ analysis? The second man was the one who went home justified, not the first. Jesus’ point is explicit: “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (14). I may know more sophisticated ways to exhibit my pride and self-righteousness, but the response and result will be the same in heaven. Faithful followers humbly recognize their need of God’s favor. 

RECEPTIVITY (15-17). Parents were bringing their children to Jesus at this time so that He could touch them. We aren’t told why the disciples rebuke them for this, though it could be they were wrestled with pride of position or self-importance. Jesus corrects their course, telling them to let the children come to Him. In fact, He says, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (17). He tells them that the kingdom of God belongs to those like these little children. How so? They were dependent on others (15). They were apparently willing (16). They were open (17). Certainly, this is a great exhortation to us as parents, to bring our children to Jesus in the impressionable years of life. But beyond that, there is an admonition to each of us to keep child-like faith and recognize our need to come to Jesus in order to have a place in God’s kingdom.

Often, we think that being in the kingdom is about us daring and doing great things for God. But, doesn’t it begin with our having the lowliness of heart to come to Him, persistent, humble, and receptive? These three qualities put the focus on His attractiveness, ability, and power. If we allow ourselves to be tools in His hand and recognize that it’s about Him and because of Him, then we’ll be faithful followers.