A Box Of Mushrooms

A Box Of Mushrooms

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

 

Dale Pollard

 

It’s special to receive a gift from someone who truly cares. You know why? Because they know you, and they know what you like. If someone got me a box of mushrooms for my birthday, I’d assume that person didn’t know me very well. Mushrooms are a fungus and should never be consumed— in my humble opinion.

Let’s take a moment to think about how well the average person in this world knows Jesus. Many people would say that Jesus was a great guy. Some would say that He was a good teacher, and still others would say that Jesus was an important figure in world history. All of those things are true. But, how well do they know Him? 

Too often phrases like, “well the Bible says…” or “well Jesus said…” are thrown around thoughtlessly, but there’s no biblical backing behind the words spoken. It happens in the world, and truth be told it happens in the body of Christ. Usually it’s said when we’re trying to make a point or when we don’t or can’t remember where some scripture is, or maybe even what that particular scripture actually says. It’s as easy to declare “Jesus says” as  “Simon says.” 1 John 17:3 it says, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…” Now, without ripping this out of context, you might notice the simple phrase, “that they may know…Jesus Christ.” There was a reason that Christ came. He came so that we might know Him. What are we doing in our daily lives that is helping us to know Jesus better? 

Communicating with Him, and letting Him communicate with you is vital to a healthy and intimate relationship when it comes to your spouse and certainly— your Savior. 

But Grow In Grace And Knowledge…

But Grow In Grace And Knowledge…

GUEST WRITER: Charlie Smith

smith20web20column_2

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18

Peter writes this letter knowing that he’s going to die soon (2 Peter 1:14), and he wants the church to remember his teachings after he’s gone (1:15). This illustrates how deeply invested Peter was in the church’s success:

  • He had been on the ground floor of Jesus’s ministry, literally walking off the job site, leaving everything behind, to become a fisher of men
  • He had seen the crucifixion, the empty tomb, and the pierced side of his resurrected savior
  • He had helped the church grow from 120 to untold thousands covering the entire known world in one generation

And now Peter realizes that he’s soon going to be gone and the church will not have the direct guidance of the apostles but instead will need their indirect guidance through the New Testament writings. What are the last words of this apostle, his final thoughts for the church that he loved so dearly, which continue to echo down to us today as the spiritual successors of those first-century Christians?

Always keep growing!

First, he asks us to grow in the grace of Christ. When we obey the gospel, our sins are completely forgiven; God forgets them; we are “saved to the uttermost,” according to Hebrews 7:25, and when we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:7). So how can we grow in something that is complete?

I think a key is found in 2 Cor. 12:7-9. Paul has been given this thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment him, and he prays three times that the Lord will take it away. But God tells Paul that His grace is sufficient. It was enough that Paul was a Christian; Paul did not need any particular problem taken away; God’s grace sufficed.

Likewise, no matter what we face in this life, it really doesn’t matter if we’re a Christian.  God’s grace is enough. It takes effort and maturity, though, to gain this perspective. We need to keep growing in the grace of Christ!

Second, Peter asks us to grow in the knowledge of Christ. This is an easier interpretation: We must go to The Book! In my experience, and from what I’ve observed in others, those who grow as Christians are those who study the Bible on their own, digging in to see for themselves what God says. The preacher who baptized me told me one time that, in addition to his other study, he read a chapter a day from Proverbs and the gospels because he wanted to remain connected to the wisdom of God and the heart of Jesus; this is the attitude of someone who, know matter how much they know about the Bible, is still striving to grow in the knowledge of Christ.

May we all have this desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We’ve been blessed to have the Smiths at Lehman since last August. Charlie begins work as an economics professor at Freed-Hardeman next month. We’re so sad for us, but very happy for them. What a wonderful family!
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?

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready?

Jeremy Waddell

jeremy talking

A lot of you do not know this about me but I grew up on a dairy farm. Holstein cows were a part of every day of my life up until about five or six years ago.

I have milked, showed, studied, and researched cows for years and invested so much time, effort and even money into cows. I can answer almost any question and have a deep conversation at any moment and can be confident in my answers when it comes to a Holstein cow… who won the show, who owns it, where it came from, her genetics.

The thing is… cows are no longer part of my life. I still have all that knowledge that worked so hard for, but it is basically useless in my everyday life.

Most people I deal with today would think I was crazy and probably take offense if I came up and asked what they thought about the rump and legs on that cow.

The need for that knowledge faded away just like every other earthly thing will and does for each of us.

I am sure we all have things in our life that seemed so important at one time and that we have moved on from. It faded away and was not near as important as we thought it was. Things of this earth will always fade away at some point.

God, Jesus, and the Bible does not fade away and never will!

1 Peter 1:4 tells us that God has given us an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that does not
fade away. It is reserved in heaven for each of us because of the blood that Jesus shed for us. We should have the same knowledge and confidence in the Bible and about Jesus that we have about our hobby or job or whatever else it is that consumes our time and know that it will never become useless. If anything, it should get more and more important in our lives.

We should be able to have:

-Have a conversation about Jesus and not be nervous
-Be confident in answering questions about the Bible
-Quote scripture and passages from heart just as we can the facts about our hobby or job and whatever interest we have that consumes us on a daily basis.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” God has given us everything we need to be prepared to win souls AND to save our own soul.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

We need that same knowledge, passion, and fire for studying the Word of God and being the “workman” that we are for our hobbies and earthly things. Being able to teach anyone at any time about Jesus and have ready answers for them. There are people out there that want to hear about Jesus. We need to be ready and able to talk to them, teach them and most importantly be an example to them. Remember: ““Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). 

  • –  Are you the worker God wants you to be?

  • –  Are you ready to use the tools He has given you? The Bible, your abilities and talents

  • –  Are you ready to put in the time and effort that you need to to be the Christian that

    God wants you to be? To study and learn from something that will never fade away or become useless.

9 Kernel Crop

9 Kernel Crop

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

 
Have you ever seen those little rocking horses that little kids ride? They hop on and rock back and forth, but they never go anywhere. There’s a whole lot of motion and work put in, but there’s never any progress made. Just like we don’t sit in a rocking chair to go somewhere, we need to understand how to work towards growth and maturity in our faith and knowledge.

We can work towards growing as Christians, but if we aren’t studying properly, or have the wrong mindset, our work and effort will never produce the outcome we are looking for. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” We are told by Peter through inspiration from God to “grow” and this isn’t a suggestion. It’s an imperative we are commanded to obey.

If you’re like me, this seems like a general command that can be overwhelming. If we want to grow a garden we have to do several things in order to be successful. We have to prepare the soil (no rocks or weeds) in order to give the plants what they need to grow and produce. There’s maintenance work to be done once the plants begin to grow. Keep weeds from choking out the plants, and make sure they are watered. Keep animals and bugs from destroying the plants. Make sure they get enough sunlight. And depending on the type of plant we will need to trim and cut excess leaves and stems to help it produce more produce (see what I did there?). Having a garden takes time, effort and patience.

Gardens don’t just magically appear. But there are some rare exceptions. I was burning some old clothes and furniture last year and I decided to throw some spoiled corn in the fire. When summer came around guess what I had sprouting out of my fire pit? Stalks of corn! And I got a great harvest of about 9 kernels. I ate them and it was pretty good! As Christians we will grow to a point without having to work too hard. We can learn from the lessons we hear at church, we can grow from what our parents teach us, but there will come a time when that won’t be enough. The corn in my fire pit only grew so much before it started turning brown. Turns out the roots were only surface deep because there was a sheet of metal keeping them from growing deeper. This in turn affected the produce that came from the plant. Hopefully as Christians we want to produce more than 9 kernels, and in order to grow properly we need put in the work.

Peter tells us that as Christians we must increase in grace (Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 3:16; 2 Pt. 1:2), grow in knowledge (Eph. 4:15; Col. 1:10, 2:19; 1 Pt. 2:2), and be motivated by a desire to glorify Christ (2 Pt. 3:18).

Our effort should produce results. In order for this to happen we must know the proper steps to take. We should never be satisfied with our knowledge of scripture. There’s no such thing as knowing too much Bible. We should never settle for the small amount of growth we encounter at services 3 times a week.

Am I willing to put in the work?

Traditional Traditions Transitioned

Traditional Traditions Transitioned

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

 
Say that three times in a row. Now that you’ve done that, let’s focus on a very important question. Are traditions splitting the church? To answer this we must look at the source of our traditions. As a church we follow both divine and man-made traditions. The ones from God must be followed and taught in the church, but the ones from man have no authority from God.
 
So, are traditions splitting the church? The word “tradition” means to “pass something down.” Galatians 1:14 says, “and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” Were the traditions that Paul was learning about passed down by man or by God? He labels them as being his “ancestors’ traditions.”
 
We must be careful to determine if a tradition that is being taught is divine or was instituted by our “ancestors.” For example, serving the Lord’s Supper from the front of the auditorium on a table that says, “Do This in Remembrance of Me”, and using brass plates are man-made traditions. This is not found in scripture.
 
There’s nothing wrong with practicing this tradition. The problem is when some try to enforce this and say “if you don’t do this for the Lord’s Supper then you haven’t really done what has been commanded.”
 
This teaching of tradition can split the church and we must be careful that we are enforcing God’s tradition and not our own. To do this we should ask, “Is it a violation of Scripture, or is it a tradition?” It’s okay to go along with traditions, but it is not okay to bind human traditions as a salvation issue.
 
There are some in the church that have taken their man-made traditions to heart. So we must ask ourselves, are we binding man-made traditions on others for salvation? Do we get upset if someone changes up the order of worship? Maybe we get mad when there are only two songs between the opening prayer and the sermon?
 
Divine traditions are what we must follow, and we must not force man-made traditions. Galatians 1:8-9 says, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Paul’s point is this: “Who did you receive it from?”
 
1 Corinthians 15:1-3 tells us, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” It is important that we check to see where the tradition came from.
 
Paul got his teachings from Jesus Christ. That is the divine source we must use. Not your preacher or the old wise man. This tradition was divine. Even if it is a tradition that has been around for many years, this does not automatically make it a divine tradition.
 
We must always keep in mind two facts when it comes to tradition.
  1. Divine tradition is binding while man-made is not.
  2. Look for the source of the tradition in order to clarify fact number one.

Serving the Living God 

Serving the Living God 

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

IMG_0806

Carl Pollard

I know I’m not old enough to say this, but when I was younger I used to lay in bed at night and try to imagine what God looked like. I would try to put a face to Him, I’d wonder what He was doing, and I would ask myself if God knew that I was thinking about Him. I still ask those same questions to this day. I’m sure that most if not all of you who are reading this believe that there is a God, and that He does see and hear all that we say. So the question I’d like to ask is, “since there is a God that has all power, why do we sometimes have difficulty following the commands that we find in the Bible?” I’d like to look at a verse that may help us realize the importance of following what God has told us to do as Christians.

Jeremiah 10:12 says, “It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.”

God has ALL power. There isn’t an area that He is lacking power in. He controls the weather, He created us, and, as Jeremiah 10:12 said, He made this earth that we live on. I believe that we sometimes forget just how powerful God truly is. Since God has all power, shouldn’t we be following what the Creator of everything has told us to do? In seven days He thought of everything we see around us. Think of it this way. We’ve never had an original thought. For example, I could say that I’m the only person to have ever thought about a pink Aardvark. But before I thought of pink Aardvarks, there was such thing as the color pink, and there were Aardvarks before I thought of them. So what I’m actually doing is taking two things that God created and putting them together. God has given us specific commands to do as Christians. Since God has given us rules on how to live, we shouldn’t have a problem following them. They may be difficult, but God knows how to take care of His creation. The thought of the God of the universe watching out and guiding me through life is a great comfort to me!

But what if we aren’t following what God has told us to do? There’s a saying that we all have heard that says, “Actions speak louder than words.” Our actions are a direct window to how we truly feel. If I don’t do what God has commanded, then that’s like us saying to God, “I don’t truly believe that there are consequences to my actions.” But that is a deadly place for us to be, because God IS real and there ARE consequences to our actions. God is real and the consequences of our actions are very real! In the end, it comes down to this: Not obeying what God has said is a reflection of how real we make God out to be. If we truly believe He is real, then we shouldn’t have a problem doing what He tells us to do. As Christians, we serve the one true God, and He is very real. I pray that this fact will push us to obey the commands He has given us because our God is alive and we all have an eternity with Him if we do what He tells us to do.

Looking back at when I was younger, I’ve realized that I asked the right question, but the most important part of those questions is how I answer them. Will I show through my actions that I truly believe He is alive? Or do I doubt the reality of God by not taking His commands seriously? Let’s try to always prove God is alive by following what He has told us to do!

maxresdefault

“I’m Armed”

“I’m Armed”

Neal Pollard

God’s people around our nation are praying for our brethren at the West Freeway church of Christ outside Fort Worth, Texas. Most congregations I know have long since devised church security solutions, including security cameras, personnel to watch at entrances, and procedures for handling potential threats. In likely every congregation, there are a number of individuals both with concealed and visible firearms. Though this is a politically divisive issue, the fact that a gunman disrupted the most sacred moment of worship makes this preeminently relevant. You likely feel very strongly about this matter, regardless of where you stand on it.

Whatever your position on the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution, did you know that the Bible commands us to be armed? Consider what the Holy Spirit through various writers has to say regarding something that transcends time and earth. Wherever we go, we must not be without these weapons for our spiritual warfare.

–“Be armed with the purpose of suffering” (1 Peter 4:1). This word means to take up arms. It is in the context of suffering righteously for Christ’s sake. In a world filled with people who are aimless, Christians have the ultimate purpose. In fulfilling that purpose, we will be opposed, threatened, and tempted to quit. Only by preparing ourselves for the Christ-life will we survive whoever or whatever attempts to destroy our faith.

–“Be armed with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left” (2 Cor. 6:7). Paul did not want Corinth to receive the grace of God in vain. That is, He wanted the sacrifice of Jesus and the hope of heaven to benefit these Christians. Part of that required them to live lives which didn’t discredit their ministry (3) and commended themselves as servants of God (4). One of several ways they could do that was by being armed with the weapons of righteousness. What are these? Well, Paul will address that in 2 Corinthians 10:1ff as well as in his writing to the church at Ephesus (6:10ff). In simplest terms, righteousness itself is a powerful weapon. We are made right (5:21) to do right (6:7). In a world of darkness, light stands out. In a world going wrong, doing right and being right is powerful!

–“Be armed with divinely powerful weapons for the destruction of fortresses … against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Paul contrasts the flesh and spirit, identifying this as the ultimate battlefield. How do you win against such frightening foes and forces? Arm yourself with the only weapon that is divine and destructive. What it destroys is what stands against God. Don’t think fleshly (or bodily). This goes beyond that.

I fear that the gun rights-gun control debate will rage on in the culture of politics and the politics of culture. But, do not be distracted! There is an eternal war going on which requires every one of us to be equipped. Do not dare be unarmed for that fight!

13844066275_2ea2f384e0_b

 

We Can Only Share What We Know 

We Can Only Share What We Know 

Neal Pollard

I found a treasure in a chest of drawers in my parents’ house this week. It was a Mother’s Day present I gave my mom when I was 8 years old. Actually, it was a project our third-grade teacher helped us put together. It was a recipe book concocted by us students without any adult assistance. The spelling and the recipes confirm this fact. My two recipes were “Peanut Butter ‘Crisbys’” and “Lemon Pie.” The first recipe was brief, but profound:

Put 3 C. rice crisbys in a bowl. Then
put 2 tablespoons peanut butter in.
4 C. Sugar.
Put in oven at 200 for 30 min.

The second recipe was more complex:

Put 4 eggs in the pan
Put 3 cups of lemon mix in
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 C. “flower”
Put in pan and cook for 1 hour at 200 degrees.

I assure you that nearly every recipe in this small book showed about as much culinary acuity. Why? We had been in the kitchen, but we had no concept about ratios, temperature, or baking times (or even if we used stovetop or oven). The result were “recipes” that would have been problematic to follow or eat.

What a challenge to me as I try to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18)! I want to move beyond a childlike knowledge of Scripture and move on toward maturity (Heb. 5:11-6:1)! May I never be so lacking in knowledge that I cannot tell someone what to do to be saved, help someone know Christ, or speak about any matter pertaining to life and godliness (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3). May I have the humility to never “think more highly of” myself than I ought to think (Rom. 12:3). Otherwise, I may look naive or ignorant when asserting my expertise in a matter where I need considerable growth.  I must bring the same humility to such complex subjects as marriage and parenting, as well as Christian living. That is not to say that I should not grow to the point where I cannot be helpful, but instead temper my advice and assertion with deference and cover it with lovingkindness and patience.  On multiple occasions, the younger me made this mistake. In fact, I am still prone to do so. It reminds me to grow what I know and be careful not to share what goes beyond that.

19105931_10154722729605922_8392782078943308885_n