The Light Of The World

The Light Of The World

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

In the first century, the word “light” carried with it a deeper meaning. Light often described knowledge from the spiritual realm. Light meant true knowledge, in contrast with the darkness of ignorance. Knowing this gives more power to Jesus’s statement here. By saying these words Jesus is claiming to be the one who brings the true knowledge of God from heaven. 

Jesus isn’t just saying “I am a light” but that He is the light! The only way to know God is to recognize that Jesus is the ONLY light. Not Joseph Smith, or Buddha, but Christ alone is the light. 

Christ illuminates knowledge for this dark world. Jesus gives us real answers to the fundamental questions of life. Who am I? Where did I come from? What is my purpose? Where am I going?Questions that billions have struggled with are all answered by Jesus. Without Jesus, these questions will never be answered. Life following Jesus is a clear and wonderful life, a life where we have a purpose. We know who we are, and where we are going? 

Do you want to know why most people have nightlights in their homes? Because some guy was tired of hitting household objects when he got up in the middle of the night. We’ve all experienced it, perhaps the worst pain you can ever feel. Stubbing your pinky toe on a table or dresser at night. Think about a world without the true light. It’s futile. It’s a life spent stumbling and tripping in the dark. Living a life contrary to Christ’s teachings is “to walk in darkness.” The world is filled with people who live in darkness. 

They stumble through this world with no purpose or direction, groping around like people in a dark room. Picture Velma from Scooby-Doo. She was useless without her glasses, and when she dropped them she got on her knees and had to feel around and hope for the best. John makes it very clear that those who live in darkness have no fellowship with God, because God is light (1 Jn. 1:5). Why do people live in darkness? Some have never heard of Jesus while others reject Jesus because of their love for the darkness of sin. 

John 3:19 says, “‘And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.’” On the other hand, those who have chosen to follow Jesus, “come to the light,” and are walking in the light (1 John 1:9). These people have a clear direction in life. They know what pleases God, and they make the right changes. 

These are the Christians that have true joy. These are the Christians that experience the blessing of having their sins continually cleansed by the perfect blood of Christ. 

Which one am I? Have I accepted Jesus as the light of the world? Does Jesus give me my direction and purpose? Darkness or light are the two paths, and we must choose where to walk. 

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is…The Lord

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is…The Lord

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

Following the arc featuring the “story” of Lady Wisdom and Ms. Folly, we notice a stylistic change in the book of wisdom, ostensibly collected by King Solomon. Beginning in chapter ten, King Solomon wields a shotgun and pelts us with wisdom’s birdshot. Manufacturers make birdshot by packing numerous steel or tungsten balls into a cartridge. The steel balls scatter when fired. This design increases the likelihood of striking a flying bird and keeps game fowl from being completely obliterated by the shot.  

So, beginning with Proverbs 10, the reader is confronted with numerous truths that do not form a cohesive narrative like Lady Wisdom and Miss Folly but are practical words of wisdom that enrich life. As a result, it is often best to approach the rest of Proverbs as a topical study. “The fear of the Lord” is an excellent place to start our topical overview of Proverbs. Solomon defined fear of the Lord as the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1.7; 9.10). 

As with the word “fool,” the Biblical definition of “fear” is not what one typically associates with the term. I oft tout Webster’s original 1828 dictionary since it often frames words within a Biblical context. Here is Webster’s subentry for the word “fear.” 

“In scripture, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is filial fear 

I will put my fear in their hearts. Jeremiah 32.39. 

Slavish fear is the effect or consequence of guilt; it is the painful apprehension of merited punishment. Romans 8.15. 

The love of God casteth out fear 1 John 4.1.”  

(https://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Fear)  

Regarding the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, we understand that this is because we respect and revere God. We acknowledge His authority and thus trust His knowledge and judgment. Beyond its role in enlightening us, the fear of the Lord will accomplish other positive things as well. 

We will hate evil. (Proverbs 8.13). 

One cannot truly despise evil without also cherishing good, and just as an aversion to wrongdoing motivates people to turn away from it, so does a desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. In this context, “fear of the Lord” refers to the essence of religious practice. 

We will prolong life. (Proverbs 10.27) 

Mature individuals can recall numerous cases of the wicked whose lives were cut short and ended due to their evil actions—fatalities caused by drunk drivers, robbers who police have shot, adulterers killed by cuckolded husbands, etc.            

We have strong confidence and a fountain of life. (Proverbs 14.26-27) 

The traps of death include not only the pitfalls and dangers of our current lives on Earth but also the unfathomable terrors of the “second death.” James Moffat translated the Scriptures in 1929 and rendered the passage: “Reverence for the Eternal is a fount of life; it shows how to avoid the nets of Death.” He capitalized the “d” in “death” to show that it was eternal condemnation. 

The fear of the Lord will prompt us to depart from evil. (Proverbs 16.6) 

No matter how well done, mercy and truth cannot save people from sin unless genuine repentance and a change of heart toward God’s will accompany them. People refrain from doing bad things because they are afraid of the Lord, and this fear affects them. Those with holy fear and reverence for God in their hearts will not sin against him. 

We will have a satisfying life, spared from much evil. (Proverbs 19.23) 

According to this verse, the only way to be “satisfied” is to fear and serve God. On the tomb of William Rockefeller in New York’s Tarrytown Cemetery, there is a quote from Augustine that reads, “Our souls, O God, were made for Thee, and never shall they rest until they rest in Thee.” Men will never find happiness elsewhere, no matter how hard they try. Only in Jesus Christ can we find the fullness of life that God provides. 

We will enjoy riches, honor, and life! (Proverbs 22.4) 

This verse, which discusses humility and reverence for God, sums up several of the principal lessons of Proverbs. In addition, it provides a concise overview of the fundamental requirements for human survival on this planet. 

True religion, as demonstrated by “the fear of the Lord.” is synonymous with humility. The signs of humility are being dependent on God, having a low opinion of oneself, surrendering one’s will, and convincing ourselves of sin. They are all summed up in the phrase “the fear of God,” which is the source of all virtues and blessings: riches, honor, and life. 

We deprive ourselves of God’s wisdom and knowledge treasures when we do not fear the Lord. We will tempt fate and let ourselves get corrupted by mingling with evil. Our refusal to listen to God’s word will likely shorten our lives (e.g., suffering sexually transmitted diseases if we do not heed His Word on sexual relationships). We will not come to know God’s love, which provides assurance and confidence in salvation. We are not motivated to repent or turn to God when we sin! We will not be inspired to “work out our salvation.” This outcome from lacking the fear of the Lord sounds dreadful.  

To be truly wise, we must first learn to fear the Lord. Let us understand this fear, appreciate it, and incorporate it into our lives as God’s children! 

She Who Must Be Heard

She Who Must Be Heard

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

A woman is again the embodiment of Wisdom in Proverbs 8. And we find language similar to what we saw earlier in Proverbs 1.20-23: Wisdom desires to be heard by men (8.3-4). Not unlike other women, Wisdom craves attention and acknowledgment. However, Wisdom isn’t shy about raising her voice to get people’s attention. 

In contrast to the harlot in the previous chapter (Folly?), Wisdom does not play coy. Instead, she chooses to be in the spotlight. As a result, she is the center of attention. She perches herself on the rise overlooking the gateway to the city below (8.3). Wisdom does not want to be heard by a select few; she wants to be heard by everyone, whether the sons of men (8.4) or the fools (8.5). She hopes to impart wisdom to anyone open to hearing it. 

Wisdom gives us praiseworthy and righteous counsel (8.6), words of truth and righteousness (8.7-8), and a straightforward and virtuous way of thinking (8.9). The benefits of wisdom are priceless, far exceeding the value of any material possession (8.10-11). 

Thus, Wisdom implores everyone to listen so that she may impart her excellent knowledge. But even if that weren’t impressive enough, verse 12 shows that she is wise, knowledgeable, and has good judgment. Consequently, Wisdom hates conceit, lust, and evil because she respects God (8.13). That’s why she’s a reliable source of guidance, wisdom, and resolve (8.14). 

Wisdom delights in providing these things to everyone, including those to whom God has given earthly authority. Wisdom will bestow riches, honor, righteousness, justice, and wealth on those who love her (8.15-16). She makes it possible for kings, princes, nobles, and judges to rule justly (8.17-21). 

Wisdom testifies that she was God’s companion even before He made the world. Therefore, she existed before the cosmos (8.22). So, according to Solomon, Wisdom is eternal (8.23). Indeed, Wisdom is “older than dirt” (8.26), existing before the oceans, mountains, and hills (8.24). So, Wisdom was present to see the Lord at work, creating the universe. Wisdom saw God create the heavens and the world (27-29) and stood beside Him as a master craftsman, rejoicing in His creation (8.30-31). 

Those who are open to Wisdom’s advice will prosper (8.32). Therefore, instead of disregarding her message, we should listen to her advice and act wisely (8.33). Those listening to her with care will be blessed (8.34a). They’ll sometimes have to wait for her (8.34b), but she’ll bring those who are patient new life and the Lord’s favor in return (8.35). However, those whose sins bring dishonor to her suffer spiritual damage (8.36a).  

Those hating Wisdom demonstrate a desire to die (8.36b). This mindset means that people who like death will get what they want. Thus, wisdom implores us to listen to her so that she may impart wisdom, knowledge, truth, and righteousness; and endow our lives with wealth and glory, especially as the Lord bestows.  

To quote Wisdom:  

“Blessed is the man who listens to me, 
Watching daily at my gates, 
Waiting at my doorposts. 
For he who finds me finds life 
And obtains favor from the Lord.” 
(Proverbs 8.34-35 NASB1995) 

2 Peter (Part One)

2 Peter (Part One)

Thursday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of II 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. 

Introduction

This is from Simon Peter. I’m a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and one of his apostles. I’m writing to everyone who has a faith that’s just as valuable as ours. Your faith is just as valuable because it also came from the perfection of our God and rescuer Jesus Christ. My wish for you is that you enjoy grace and peace because you know God and Jesus, our master. 

JesusHelpedYouEscape

We have everything we need to be alive and live a morally good life thanks to him. His power made that possible! We have everything we need because of our relationship with him. He called us to his family because he is amazing and perfect. He’s made some incredible promises to us. Those promises were designed to give us access to his nature. We have access because we’ve escaped a worldly lifestyle characterized by unhealthy desires. Since we’ve escaped, make sure you back your faith with moral goodness. Once you have moral goodness, expand your knowledge of God. That knowledge should lead to self-control. Self-control should lead to endurance. Endurance should lead to godliness. Godliness should lead to good relationships with each other, which should lead to love. If you are growing in these areas, you can’t be described as useless or unproductive in your relationship with our master, Jesus Christ. If you don’t have these qualities, you’re blind or shortsighted because you’ve forgotten that your record was cleared. 

The Pair That Ate The Fruit

The Pair That Ate The Fruit

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the “apple” on the tree that got us banned from paradise, it was the pair on the ground…anyway, I want us to take a trip back to the beginning. This is where our account takes place. In Genesis chapter one, God has just created the world as He intended for it to be. A place of peace and harmony. No pain, sorrow, and a perfect relationship with his creation. After this incredible account of creation, God concludes by creating man. He designed a perfect world for Adam and Eve. He placed them in the garden, a perfect home where they had everything they would need.

He gives them only one command in Gen. 2:15-17,  “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

The following account in chapter three is what I want to focus on. God gave Adam a helper suitable for him and her name was Eve. Everything was perfect. God even says after He looked upon his creation that everything was “very good.” But one decision changed the course of mankind forever. 

In this account of the sinners at the tree, Adam and Eve are an example of what not to do when faced with temptation. This account also reveals the methods Satan uses to tempt us, and the choice that changed the course of the world. 

  1. Satan Sows Doubt (3:1-5) 
  2. Eve Felt Desire (3:6) 
  3. The Fall And Punishment (3:7-24)

One question that I’ve always had about this account is why God placed this forbidden tree in the garden. Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Did God set Adam and Eve up to fail? Was He hoping they would slip up and eat the fruit? On the contrary, God was giving Adam and Eve the power of free will. Without this free will to choose, Adam and Eve would’ve been puppets. 

True love always requires a choice. 

Our parents would make us hug and apologize when we fought with each other. And I can tell you, there is a big difference between a hug that is forced and a hug that is given out of love and concern. God wanted Adam and Eve to choose to love and trust Him. The only way to give this choice was to command something that was not allowed. Therefore Adam and Eve could decide whether or not they wanted to be in a relationship with God. What choice will we make today? Will we live in sin, or live for Almighty God? 

The God We Serve

The God We Serve

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

25 ways God has shown His love to us: 

  1. Creation (Genesis 1-2) 
  2. The Cross (Matthew 27:32-56) 
  3. Salvation (John 3:16) 
  4. The Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) 
  5. The Church (Ephesians 2:19-22) 
  6. The Ability To Pray (Philippians 4:6) 
  7. A Caring High Priest (Hebrews 4:15) 
  8. The Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) 
  9. True Peace (Philippians 4:7) 
  10. Purpose (1 Peter 2:9) 
  11. Made Us Alive (Ephesians 2:5) 
  12. Servitude (Matthew 12:18) 
  13. Gave Us An Identity (John 1:12) 
  14. Joy (Proverbs 10:28)
  15. An Example (John 13:1-17) 
  16. Revealed Knowledge (Ephesians 1:17)
  17. Compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) 
  18. The Good Shepherd (John 10:11) 
  19. Strength (Exodus 15:2) 
  20. Good Advice (Matthew 6:34
  21. Takes Our Anxiety (1 Peter 5:7) 
  22. A Refuge (Psalm 46:1) 
  23. A Resurrection (John 11:25) 
  24. A Place Of Rest (Matthew 11:29)
  25. He’s Coming Back (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
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

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“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

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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.