Our Motives, Mission, And Message

Our Motives, Mission, And Message

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

I Thessalonians 2.1-6 reminds us that our motivation for staying faithful shouldn’t be selfish. We’re not here to gain a following or expand a financial portfolio. Those things aren’t intrinsically wrong, but using Christianity as an opportunity for financial gain is terrible. We’re faithful because it’s what God wants, and because we want to live with him forever. 

The application of 2.7-12 is that God expects us to tell people about his son’s return, even if we have to do it alone. This means we don’t expect financial help as a condition for service. This means we teach with great patience. It means we share our time generously. It means we work hard. It means we invest all of our emotional resources into the work. 

2.13-16 teaches that our message originated with the creator. It has a powerful effect on people who believe it. It also draws negative attention from people who find it too otherworldly to accept. For the most part, people find it difficult to accept the idea of a God. Beyond that, most find it even harder to believe that this God will destroy the planet, and will only rescue those who follow him. To most it reads like science fiction. As with other things that don’t fit a naturalistic narrative, our worldview is attacked as bring fringe or fantasy or irrational. But God will handle those who try to stop his message from spreading, so our job is to keep at it until our time is up! 

Gary Pollard
“Do Over”

“Do Over”

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

I like to ask questions; these are rhetorical. Have you ever lost something and been frustrated or sad that it’s no longer here? What about someone ? I know I have. I think we can all relate. 

And what about this. Have you ever given away something, whether a donation or to a friend, and regretted it because you needed it later? 

These people and or things that came to your mind, would you like to have them back? Some may be less important than others, but regardless the point remains. 

I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought about something or someone I’d like to have back. 

Beyond people and things, what about time? I’m sure a decent portion of us are happy with where our life is now, I know I am blessed beyond measure. 

This doesn’t mean there aren’t certain events or decisions we wouldn’t mind to have a do over on. I mean, after all, hindsight is 20/20, right? 

If hindsight is 20/20, What about foresight? Think about this, it’s impossible to change your past. You can try all you want. You can’t do it. But you can change your future. 

You can make a decision here and now that you’re going to stop, start, or continue down any number of paths. So, which path are you going to take?

To help reflect on this, let’s take a look at a passage from 1st John 1 – Verses 6 and 7: If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

With this in mind, I want us to fast forward from the here and now. We are going all the way to judgment day. We are standing there awaiting our final judgment. Suddenly, you find yourself amongst those doomed souls that are told to depart. It’s no small matter, being eternally separated from God and his grace. 

Now, what would you do if you were given a second chance? You’re told, you can have that “do over”. All you have to do is follow the plan laid out in the Bible and you’ll be given that opportunity to go back with that ever elusive do over. Scripture like John 14 – Verse 15 tells us.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 

I don’t know about you, but when I explore this idea, I’d like to imagine that I would move mountains with this second chance. So what stops me from having this level of commitment now? 

Why do so many of us squander the first chance, knowing we can’t have a second when this life ends. It sounds trivial to compare this to anything earthly, and in a way it is, but the idea that we would attempt to prepare for anything of an earthly matter, but not expend a tremendous amount of our time and energy on spiritual preparation is really something to reflect on. 

I think it’s amazing we have the gift of free will, but it’s important we understand there is an enormous responsibility that comes with that free will.

Our Lord has given us the roadmap. We must follow it. We said earlier hindsight is 20/20. But foresight….. is 66 books long. We just have to pick up the good book and apply it to our lives. We won’t be perfect. We just need to aim our feet and hearts down the road laid out before us. 

Landon Bryant
Favor To A Faithless People (2 Kings 14:22-29)

Favor To A Faithless People (2 Kings 14:22-29)

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

The writer of 2 Kings is constantly diverting his attention from Israel to Judah and vice versa. So, he introduces us to Azariah, also known as Uzziah, anointed king over Judah at age 16. We will read much more about him in 2 Kings 15, but he seems to be referenced here only to give us the chronology for when Jeroboam II is anointed king of Israel. It is in the 16th year of Uzziah’s reign that Jeroboam comes to the throne. This will be the next-to-last generation in the dynasty of Jehu, but his son, Zechariah (29), will be murdered after six months. When he ascends to the throne, Israel only has about 70 years left before they are destroyed by the vicious Assyrians. God has been patient with Israel for almost 150 years, as king after king behaves just as Jeroboam will behave: “He did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin” (24). 

He will reign 41 years over Israel, an evil king over a wicked and disobedient people. But, these are God’s people, Abraham’s descendants and once part of the United Kingdom. If we do the impossible and try to put ourselves in God’s place, can we imagine giving to and doing for a people who are continually unappreciative, rebellious, and unfaithful? How long could we go before we ran out of patience? How many times could we be betrayed and hated by the recipients of our generosity before we gave up on them? Or, having God’s power, how long before we destroyed them all? God will go over 200 years, restraining Himself as His people served other gods and gratified their flesh. 

Isn’t it amazing how much grace and kindness God shows to this faithless people? The Jonah who God graciously sends to the Assyrians to preach repentance (Jonah 1:1) is also sent to Israel (25). Despite Jonah’s flaws, his ministry seemed to be to extend God’s grace to an unrighteous people. Then, read what the author says about God and Israel next. “For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. The Lord did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash” (26-27). You want insight into the heart of God, as He deals with our sins? He cares when His people suffer. He views us with compassion, sympathy, and concern. He doesn’t want to reject us or let us go. God sent His prophet Hosea to this very people and speaks His mind on this subject: “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath” (Hosea 11:8-9). 

No one will be able to legitimately say at the Judgment, “God, you were harsh, hasty, and hateful!” No, even in the face of faithlessness, God shows His matchless grace! His patience can be exhausted and His justice will not allow impenitence to go unpunished (read Exodus 34:7). But let no one accuse God of reckless wrath! He is the God of unending love. May this lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and faithfulness (Rev. 2:10)! 

Neal Pollard
Major Message: Minor Prophets

Major Message: Minor Prophets

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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

MAJOR MESSAGES FROM A MINOR PROPHET: AMOS 

Who’s The Prophet?

  • Shepherd and fig tree farmer. 
  • Lived on the border of northern and southern kingdoms 
  • The North was ruled by Jeroboam the 2nd who brought wealth and prosperity to the people 

What Are His predictions?

  • Warning Israel, Judah, Benjamin and all nations of a coming destruction described as “the Day of the Lord.” 

What Was His Purpose?

  • He about the oppression of the poor, sexual immorality, greed, and corrupt government In the Northern kingdom 
  • The wealthy Israelites had become apathetic and spiritually lazy 

SIMPLE CHAPTER BREAKDOWN 

  • 1-2 messages to the nations and Israel 
  • 3-6 poems expressing the message to leaders and people 
  • 7-9 God’s judgment is explained 

SKY HIGH SNAPSHOTS 

  1. The 9 chapter book spends time circling the surrounding nations and pointing out their evil. He starts with the nations furthest away from the people and works his way closer to the target, the Northern tribes.
  2. Amos expresses God’s anger towards Damascus, Gaza, Ammon, Moab, Edom, and even Judah 
  3. Finally, the primary audience is shocked to hear that they (Northern territory) are the source of God’s anger as well 

Top 2 Practical Lessons From The Book 

Our lives will also be lessons for future generations. When they look back they will either say, 

“we ought to live as they did” or 

“we ought not live as they did.” 

PLUGGING IT IN 

“WHAT DOES GOD NEED FROM US?”

  1. God needs more fig tree farmers. He needs community preachers in the form of plumbers, school teachers, electricians, nurses, surveyors, dentists, accountants, mechanics, and engineers. 
  2. We need more preachers. It’s more common than it was, but there’s a great need for gospel preachers in the LORDs church. Amos spoke for God, but he was in the minority.
  3. We need more elders. Great elders are rare. It’s been said and proven to be true, “The church will never outgrow the shadow of her leadership.” 
  4. We need more seriousness. Not more piety, not an immovable allegiance to man’s tradition, more people who take their God seriously. 

Amos in a sentence: 

“Service does not mean salvation if our service is not from the heart.” 

Real faithfulness means worship that is holy— not habitual. He wants committed people, not costume parties. He wants our attention to be placed on our purity, not our performance. 

Motivations For Teaching Difficult Things

Motivations For Teaching Difficult Things

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

It becomes clear from reading the second letter to the Corinthians that Paul feels the need to defend himself and his actions among his readers. He feared that he had been misunderstood in his previous work among them (cf. 1:12-14). In fact, it seems as though this is the purpose of the letter (look also at 5:11-12). If you remember from the first letter, he had some pretty challenging and unpopular things to say about how they were behaving. It’s not far-fetched to think that some of them not only would not appreciate what he said, but would attack him as the messenger for saying it. Sometimes, however lovingly and kindly we share the truth, it will offend the hearer who, instead of repenting, tries to undermine the one who said it.  As we read this section, think of Paul as a man, just like his audience, who has feelings, struggles, difficulties, and temptations, too. He also needed them to know that it was because he cared so much about them that he would not “shrink from declaring to [them] anything that was profitable” (cf. Acts 20:20). What drove Paul to minister to the Corinthians? Notice several things he says in 2 Corinthians one.

THE GRACE OF GOD (12)

He would not boast in himself, whether his abilities or knowledge or influence. Those are empty and unsatisfying. His motives were pure and he was helped by a grace he wanted them to appreciate, too. When we understand our need of God’s grace, it will move us to give Him our all in response. 

THE JUDGMENT DAY OF GOD (13-14)

Paul wanted them to be able to legitimately boast together and of one another at “the day of the Lord” (cf. 5:10). The word “boast” in modern English has negative connotations–bragging, arrogance, and sinful pride. Paul wanted to have confidence in them as they faced this Day, as confident as he hoped they were of him in view of it. We should share the whole counsel of God to make sure people are ready for the most important day of all. 

THE PROMISES OF GOD (20)

He shared the positive and negative, the promises and the warnings, because he knew God meant what He said. He would not equivocate or talk out of both sides of his mouth. He was going to give them “the whole purpose of God” (cf. Acts 20:27). He knew God was the supreme promise-keeper (2 Tim. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:11-14). 

THE GLORY OF GOD (20)

Paul taught them for the glory of God. The Word is God’s. The promises are God’s. The salvation is from God. How silly for the fragile pottery to brag (4:7); the glory belongs to the Potter. Anything worthwhile we accomplish is always because of God. 

THE WORKING OF GOD (21-22)

Paul was moved by the knowledge that God is the one who establishes men (21), sets us apart (21), and gives us His Spirit (22). Knowing this, we should share Him with people so that God can accomplish His work in their lives. 

THE WITNESS OF GOD (23-24)

Wise teachers and preachers will remember that God is watching their work. He can see where no one else can–our hearts and motives. Knowing He knows me inside and out, I will check myself and do His work to bring the joy and strength of the hearers (23-24). 

THE PEOPLE OF GOD (2:1-4)

We should be moved by genuine love and concern for people. Those who share the word should share life with those who receive the word from them. Building relationships, being together in all the ups and downs of life, is what it is all about. It’s hard to imagine staying motivated to share the gospel with people we isolate ourselves from. 

Perhaps there are some preachers and teachers who just love beating up on their listeners (or readers). Motivation is individual to each one (Phil. 1:15-17). I have to believe that every faithful proclaimer wants not only to please God but also help as many people as possible go to heaven. There are so many great reasons why Christians should want to share God’s Word with others. Paul gives us a handful of them here. 

The Struggles Of The Righteous

The Struggles Of The Righteous

(Pinch Hitting For Brent, Who Is Sick)

(This is from today’s Lehman Learner)

Neal Pollard

Perhaps Jeremiah seemed to be mean, harsh, even unloving, to his brethren. His message is certainly what we could categorize as negative, but we remind ourselves that its source was God. What may get lost in Jeremiah’s challenging message is how it affected him to share it. Chapter nine is full of the struggles he endured in being God’s spokesman with a message of divine judgment.

Jeremiah endured mourning (1). While Judah would be hypercritical and threatening toward Jeremiah for his message, they had him all wrong. He did not relish his unpleasant message. He would have preferred to have kept his mouth closed (20:9). They had no idea of how his mission was wearing on him. He writes, “Oh that my head were waters And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!” He knew that they were hurting themselves by their lifestyle, and he wanted them to escape judgment. It can be heartbreaking work to share God’s word on any number of unpleasant, unpopular subjects. No rational preacher, elder, or teacher is excited to share such a message, but it must be done (2 Tim. 4:2).  Jeremiah is rightly called the “weeping prophet” (8:18; 13:17; Lam. 2:18). Revealing this was an emotional struggle.

Jeremiah endured isolation  (2). The pressures of sharing a message nobody wanted to hear created inevitable isolation. He felt alone and like nobody understood or cared. He longs to escape such disappointing, unrighteous behavior. He wanted to run like Jonah. He felt alone like Elijah. It can go with the business of declaring God’s message. There are times when you may feel like you are standing all alone, but you never will if you are sharing God’s word God’s way. He will never leave you (Mat. 28:20; Heb. 13:6). 

Jeremiah endured disillusionment (3-6). He expected more and better from his brethren. They knew better, but they were guilty of treachery and adultery (2), lies and deceit (3,5-6), ignorance (3), violence (4), slander (5), and general iniquity (5). Have you ever overheard someone you looked up to use foul language or stumbled upon someone doing something sinful? It’s like a punch in the gut. But imagine a congregation full of people doing what God through Jeremiah reports. It had to have been discouraging and caused feelings of hopelessness. 

Jeremiah endured a sinking realization (7-11). What was the cost of this? Sin is not without consequences (Gal. 6:7-8; Hos. 8:7; Prov. 6:26). At the heart of God’s message was this rhetorical question: “Shall I not punish them for these things?” (9). Jeremiah knew what was coming. There would be weeping, wailing, and dirges (funeral songs)(10).  Judah would be ruined and desolate (11). Jeremiah knew this ahead of time. Whatever normalcy he witnessed each morning and evening, he knew that would ultimately change. The fact of judgment looms over the horizon of time. It will be a day of rejoicing for the righteous and prepared, but not for the rest of humanity. The people of Judah were not ready for this judgment, and Jeremiah knew that. 

Jeremiah endured being overwhelmed (12-16). The message gets specific about the nature of what was coming. It was going to be more devastating than any of them had experienced. Because of their stubborn rebellion, they would be scattered and annihilated. Hope belongs to the penitent, but there’s just no good news for those who are determined to oppose God’s way.  

Jeremiah endured unpleasant duty (17-22). God tells Jeremiah to call for mourning, wailing, and tears (17-19). He is help them focus on their shame (19).  The heart of the message was death (20-22). Don’t you think Jeremiah would have loved to have spoken of grace, mercy, lovingkindness, and blessings? But the circumstances did not call for that. Jeremiah had to be faithful to God’s message. Like Micaiah, every faithful spokesman for God should say, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I shall speak” (1 Ki. 22:14). 

There is a ray of hope starting in 9:23. Amid the folly of idolatry, there will be a reminder of the wonderful, perfect character of God in chapter ten. But even here, there is encouragement for God’s faithful servant. It was a message for the worldly wise, for the mighty man, and for the wealthy (23) not to trust in those things, but to trust in Him. Everyone should boast of knowing and understanding God, that He is “the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things” (24). Punishment was for the spiritually uncircumcised (25-26). It was not for the faithful, like His man Jeremiah. Whatever we have to struggle through for the Savior, may we know that God will be with us through thick and thin. He has not left us alone. He will always be with us, help us, and strengthen us! Declaring His word is right, and He will not let us lose for being unswervingly loyal to it and Him! 

Homesick

Homesick

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

I’ve never been a homebody. I tend to get stir crazy if I’m there for more than a few hours. While this may be true here on earth, this won’t be the case in Heaven. Homesickness is a desire to not only be back in a familiar place, it’s a longing to be around the ones you love and care for. 

I long for the day when I’ll never have to be away from the ones I love again. When the body of Christ, past present and future will all be together. Forever at a home free from tears. Forever at home with likeminded brothers and sisters. Forever at home with the Father, His Son, and the Spirit. 

We will be with the Father that crucified His Son. We will be with Christ, the one who hung on a cross for us. We will be with the Spirit who gave us the Words of life. Philippians 3:20 says, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Heaven is our true home. It’s where we belong. And it’s where God wants us to be. 

I’m homesick for heaven because it is my true home. The sad reality of heaven is that not everyone will be reunited. The wives who walked alone with God. The husbands who tried so hard to save the soul of their dearest friend. The parents that pleaded to their wayward children to come home to no avail. The heartbreaking reality of eternity is that some will get to heaven and notice family members and loved ones are missing. 

I don’t want to be the rich man in Luke 16  who wanted to warn his family but it was too late. The question we must ask ourselves, will I be the one missing in heaven? If sin is controlling your life, God will judge you based off of your decisions. Don’t be the one missing in eternity. If your family is lost, don’t stop trying to save their soul. 

1 Peter–Part IX

1 Peter–Part IX

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

For the next several weeks, 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. 

Everything’s about to come to an end. You have to be reasonable and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers. Most importantly, don’t ever lose your love for each other. Love hides all kinds of mistakes. Take care of each other without complaining. Use your assets to help each other, since God helps us in so many ways. If your talent is speaking, speak as if you’re talking for God. If helping others is your talent, do it with limitless energy. This way every aspect of our lives gives credit to God by our dedication to Jesus. He gets all recognition and authority forever! 

Family, don’t let these hard times shock you. Don’t feel like you’ve been targeted. You are suffering like Jesus did, so let that keep your spirits up! When he comes back, we’re going to be indescribably happy! If people insult you because you love Jesus, you’re lucky! The full weight of God’s spirit and power is with you. Just make sure none of you suffer because of something you’ve done wrong, like murder, stealing, practicing morally bad things, or sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong. If you suffer because of your faith, though, don’t feel bad! Instead, give all the credit to God. 

We’re about to be judged by God. Since we’re going to be judged first, how do you think it’s going to be for people who rejected God? It’s hard enough for a morally good person to be saved, so what’s going to happen to morally bad people who don’t follow God? Since we’re about to suffer, we have to trust God with our lives. He’s going to take care of us if we’re doing the right thing! 

Since we’re about to face difficulties, it’s very important that your elders lead you carefully. I’m an elder, too, and also look forward to sharing in the recognition we have coming to us. Elders, don’t lead people because you feel like you have to. Do it because it’s what God wants! Don’t lead because you want to get something financially out of it. Don’t abuse your power, but lead by example. When the ultimate leader shows up, your reward will be indestructible! 

Bodmer Papyrus of Peter’s epistles
Thank You, Dr. Jordan Peterson

Thank You, Dr. Jordan Peterson

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

According to an article written on The Public Discourse in 2018, Dr. Jordan Peterson is said to be “the most influential Biblical interpreter in the world today.” By almost all accounts, his insight and commentary on the Scriptures are held in high regard. On several occasions, Dr. Peterson has been asked about his belief in God to which he responds, “I don’t like that question.” One of his most popular YouTube series covers, “The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories.” 

There have been millions of people who have spent hours watching these videos, but most of them are still wondering what Dr. Jordan believes concerning the existence of God. He says, “I act as if God exists and I am terrified that He might.” Some in his audience have taken this, and other similar comments made by him, to be deliberately vague. After one particular lecture, Dr. Peterson gave those in attendance the opportunity to ask him questions. One attendee asked Jordan to give his insight on the apostle Paul’s statement, “…and if Christ has not been raised, then all of our preaching is useless” (I Cor. 15.14). To this, Dr. Peterson put his hand to his chin and pondered this for a minute. Afterwards, he looked up and said, “I don’t have a good answer to that. I haven’t gotten to the New Testament yet, but I plan to find out what he meant.” 

This response deserves our appreciation. Jordan Peterson is a serious thinker and a great philosopher who takes his quest for truth seriously. He has acknowledged the importance of seeking out the answer to life’s most important question. He has made the realization that a personal discovery of God’s existence would carry with it life-changing implications. 

While his current beliefs do not mesh with the teachings found in His Word, he exemplifies the seriousness that we may sometimes lack. If we profess to believe in a supreme and eternal Creator who will one day judge mankind, our lives should reflect this down to our core. Our daily decisions should exhibit the devotion of our lips. 

There’s a Great Day Coming

There’s a Great Day Coming

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail 

Dale Pollard

For the past six days Russia has made significant advancements on several strategic locations in Ukraine. Every news outlet is showing photos and videos of devastation that has already occurred, and it’s predicted to escalate still. There are complicated foreign policies being discussed over topics like NATO, sanctions, and the effects on the rest of the world after Putin’s recklessness. 

Many countries are mad, some indifferent, while some cheer on their favorite country like it’s their favorite sports team. It’s chaotic and it’s concerning, but it’s not the Christian’s long-term problem. If this earth was our eternal home then I would be biting my nails and losing my hair. However, Christians all over the world should take comfort in the fact that heaven is a place where there is no war. We should remind each other that in order to make it, we are not required to be Republicans or Democrats. There are two camps in this world, but those aren’t it. The two groups are those who are lost and those who are saved. When you look at your TV or maybe out of your window and you see the death and carnage, we aren’t witnessing the death of heroes and villains. We’re watching souls walk through the door of eternity.

 Our focus is easily pulled away from the reality that is only seen through a spiritual lens but it’s the reality that matters the most. The lyrics of two hymns have been strung together in my mind this week, “There’s a Great Day coming and this world’s not my home.”

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12.19