Conclusion (1 John, Part 15)

Conclusion (1 John, Part 15)

Wednessday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

We’re writing this to you so you’ll know you have life forever. This is for those of you who believe the name of God’s son. We can be confident when we talk to God — if we make a request that aligns with his will, he listens to us. We know he listens whenever we ask, and that he’ll give us what we ask for. 

If one of you sees a Christian family member sin (not the kind that causes death), ask God to give them life, and he will. This only applies to the kind of sin that doesn’t cause death. There is a kind of sin that leads to death, and I’m not saying you should pray for someone who commits that kind of sin. Every morally wrong act is sin, but there are sins that don’t lead all the way to death. 

We know that no one in God’s family continues to sin. God’s son personally protects us, and evil can’t affect him at all. We know that we belong to God, but evil controls the whole world. We know that when God’s son came to earth, he gave us the ability to understand the true one. We live in truth through his son, Jesus Christ. He is the truth, and he is life forever. Children, keep each other away from idols. 

Jesus Is Real (1 John, Part 14)

Jesus Is Real (1 John, Part 14)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I John 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. 

Jesus Christ is the one who came to earth with water and blood — notice that he didn’t just come here through water, but also with his own blood. And the true spirit attested to this, because it’s true. In fact, there are three proofs of who Jesus is: the true spirit, the water, and the blood. All three of these agree with each other. We accept what people say about Jesus when it’s true, but God’s testimony about Jesus is far superior.

This is what God said: if you keep believing that Jesus is God’s son, you have God’s approval. If you don’t believe God, you make him a liar. It means you never believed what God said about his son. God gave us eternal life, which exists only in his son. If you have his son, you have life. If you don’t have the son, you don’t have life.

5 Buckets For Life

5 Buckets For Life

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

We would all like to improve in many ways, but many of us are also well aware of the flaws we feel are holding us back. Those shortcomings tend to get in the way, slow us down, or even prevent us from achieving the quality of life that we desire. While there is plenty of room for improvement in my life, I have found that there is a simple way to clearly envision where I am currently, and also plan for where I would like to be in the future. 

It’s true that our burdens often come from our blessings. For example, the blessing of having a car may result in the burden of expensive bills that follow a mechanical issue. 

I believe that there are five major buckets of blessings that we all must give our time and attention to. They are the five categories that, if purposefully tended, help our lives to be wonderful. On the other hand, if neglected, we find ourselves in a head-spinning spiral of worry and anxiety. 

These buckets are: 

  1. Faith 
  2. Mental maturity 
  3. Physical health 
  4. Relationships 
  5. Work 

If one of those buckets isn’t filled with the proper content, the effects, I’m sure you’re aware, are negative. If these crucial categories are filled correctly, our quality of life will only improve. 

God is the Creator of life itself which makes Him the leading authority on the subject. Consider how He can help you in each of the five areas listed here.

Faith 

By denying self, our focus is diverted away from our negative self absorption. Putting God and others first can give you a better, fresh, and positive perspective. 

Acts 20:35

Mental maturity 

When we seek to understand our own minds and what makes us tick, we’ll be able to identify where these negative thoughts and reactions originate. 

Philippians 4:8

Physical health 

Poor health habits like fast-food diets, lack of physical exercise, and sleep deprivation only make dealing with stress all the more difficult. God designed your body to function properly when properly taken care of. 

Luke 1:37 

Relationships 

Every relationship, whether in marriage, friendship, family, coworkers, or the church, all have one thing in common—they were made by God. Thankfully, God wrote a book to help us understand who we are to be to each individual that make up those groups. 

Romans 12:16

Work 

God built us to work— He expects us to. Some choose to be lazy, and they suffer. Others choose to constantly work to the neglect of the four other areas mentioned. There must be a balance, and God knows that. 

Psalm 128:2 

While there’s a lot more to be said concerning these five categories, I hope this simplifies things and helps refocus on what really matters. 

Hopefully, looking at life through His divine lens is a reminder of Who we should turn to for everything. He has given us the ultimate assurance— and He is willing to give us the ultimate assistance. 

A Place of Peace

A Place of Peace

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley brought fierce destruction to areas of Florida. During the storm, 25-year-old Danny Williams went outside to find protection under the branches of a 55-year old banyan tree. Friends and family said that Danny saw this tree as a peaceful place. But on that day, his place of safety became a death trap. The tree fell on Williams and killed him.
 
Sometimes, the places and situations we look to for protection can ultimately be the most harmful. When it comes to finding peace, the world often looks for it in all the wrong places. What many believe will bring peace and comfort usually brings pain and harm.
 
Paul would say in Col. 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” The word “peace” that Paul uses here is defined as “a state of well-being.” Let this state of well being that comes from the Messiah rule in your hearts. How? We aren’t able to physically be around Christ, so how does this happen? Notice the very next verse, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
 
This peace (state of well-being) comes from a steady diet of His Word. Specifically here we do this by singing songs centred around the Words of Life. We follow the Bible because it brings peace when we fill our lives with its words.
 
Peter would say in 2 Peter 1:2, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
“Grace and peace be multiplied” how? Grace and peace multiplied through a knowledge of God and Christ. The French have a proverb which states, “A good meal ought to begin with hunger.” It is hard to enjoy a meal when you are not yet hungry. But, when you are hungry, almost anything tastes good. If we approach the Word with a hunger to be satisfied, we will be satisfied every time. True peace begins with a hunger for God and His word. The Bible gives peace to those who hunger for what it contains.
 
 
“Let Him Die”

“Let Him Die”

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

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Brent Pollard

It sounds like an ad pitch when you say 9 out of 10 doctors agree about something. Chewing gum manufacturers, for example, would talk about how many dentists concurred about the safe use and benefits of certain brands of gum. This past summer, at the height of a health crisis, my doctors, who swore an oath to “do no harm,” told my parents to let me die. Yes, 9 out of 10 doctors thought I’d be better off dead. They said that even if I could recover, I would have no quality of life. My parents would have none of it. Through threats of litigation, my dad “persuaded” them to take those measures that led to my return from the brink. Nine out of ten doctors were wrong. I survived. They were correct about the impact on my singing voice thus far, but none of the other dire predictions proved accurate. 

The 13th Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop proved himself an ally to the pro-life movement in the United States cautioning how abortion led to a culture of death where even euthanasia becomes acceptable. Koop saved lives as a pediatrician in his civilian life. So, he asked why he should support the destruction of the thing he had long sought to preserve. That is a good question. Doctors affirm their intentions by stating the revised Hippocratic Oath. And, as they do so, they promise not to play God. But unfortunately, what Koop feared seems to be on the horizon. In addition to doctors willing to be instruments of death, you find collaborators in society at large in pop culture and government. Perhaps you have heard of certain billionaire humanists extolling the virtues of culling the global population. The verbiage of the “elite” makes it sound as if the vile demon of eugenics, as exercised in the early twentieth century by Margaret Sanger and Adolph Hitler, has returned.  

God is pro-life, as He is the author of it. David tells us that God is watching us being knit together in our mother’s womb during gestation (cf. Psalm 139). Furthermore, God indicated that a few of His servants had pre-birth life purposes bestowed on them by God (Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1.5; Paul, Galatians 1.15; John the Immerser, Luke 1.15; Samson, Judges 13.5). Finally, as the Messianic psalm states, God takes us from the womb (Psalm 22.9-10). How do we lose sight of this?  

First, we acknowledge that not everyone believes in God. With the absence of God, there can be no morality. Murder needs no excuse. It becomes expediency.

Second, people become callous. Research has enlightened us concerning how prevalent depictions of violence and death have become. Children play video games in which they blow opponents to bits with bullets and rockets. Adults watch television shows with blood and guts. When a pandemic comes along, you get a surreal feeling. You recognize death but feel emotionally impacted only when the coronavirus takes a kinsman. If you are tired and deal daily with death, what is one more non-related person in the morgue?

Third, there is selfishness. The infirm, demented, or chromosomally-impaired become too burdensome on a child or parent. Some European countries allow for euthanasia in such cases. It happens in the United States, too but through neglect and the provision of substandard care. (I know, I just lost an aunt under those circumstances.)

Finally, there are fiduciary factors. A patient becomes too expensive to sustain. Insurance or administrators want the plug pulled. It is nothing personal. It is just money. 

Please understand that I don’t believe that all doctors would react the same under the same circumstances. Indeed, I’ve had doctors pray with me, advocate for me, and acknowledge that God has extended my life. So there are faithful, Christian doctors. But nine out of ten doctors in their fellowship at the teaching hospital in which I found myself thought I should die. It is a sad commentary of where we find ourselves in the United States today. So choose life and advocate for it. 

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1.27 NASB1995) 

Two that never gave up on Brent were our parents (here is mom with him in late June).
Make Like A Tree And “Leaf”

Make Like A Tree And “Leaf”

Friday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

The Redwood National Park in California is home to the world’s tallest tree. Standing at over 380 feet tall this tree is incredible to look at. The California Redwood is estimated to be able to reach a staggering 425 feet in its lifetime. It continues to grow all its life and there’s a reason it gets so tall, as the lifespan of this tree is up to 2,200 years. Think about that! There are redwood trees that are still growing today that were planted 200 years before Christ was born.
The California Redwood is massive. It is over 29 feet in diameter and has a root system that spreads over three miles underground. These trees are truly incredible. But like most trees, the key to their growth is water. California redwoods consume over 56,000 gallons of water each year or 150 gallons of water each day!
 
In Psalm 1:1, we are given this description: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” This person is blessed when they avoid the progression of sin. Notice how the psalmist describes the progression:
 
  • Walk not in the counsel of the wicked.
  • Nor Stands in the way of sinners.
  • Nor Sit in the seat of the scoffers.
 
These steps illustrate what people do when they are tempted by sin. They walk among it, noticing the wicked and their deeds. Once they walk among it, their curiosity gets the best of them and they begin to pause and spend time in the presence of sinners. Finally they are fully drawn into sin and they sit down and practice the evil that they have observed.
 
Rather than walking, standing and sitting with sinners, the righteous man delights in the law of the Lord. Verse two says, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The choice is obvious for the righteous man. He avoids the sin and chooses the Word of God over anything else.
 
Verse three reads, “He is like a tree that is planted by the waters that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, in all he does he prospers.” The source of life for this tree is water. Just like the California Redwood needs water in order to grow, the saved man spends his time next to the source of life. What is this water? John 4:14 reveals, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” For the Christian, our source of life comes from Christ. We are able to grow and thrive on the words of God.
 
Let’s make the decision daily to be firmly planted in the words of life. That way, we too can be counted as righteous!
General Sherman (Sequoia National Park)
Noting God’s Glory on a Cold Day 

Noting God’s Glory on a Cold Day 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19.1 NASB1995)   

A cold wind bit my exposed skin as I walked to the mailbox. Three cats wove between legs desiring a petting. I wanted to hurry back to the house but feared inadvertently kicking one of the lovable, purring furballs. I carefully made my way from the shadow into the direct sunlight. I felt the warming rays of the sun on that same exposed skin. I closed my eyes but could still sense the bright light of that gaseous ball some 92 million miles away. As I coaxed the cats back up to the house, I contemplated our life-sustaining star.  

How is it that we happened to find ourselves in the “sweet spot” in our proximity from this sphere of hot plasma? Were we any closer, the conditions on earth might prove too hot to support life. Were we any further away, the conditions on earth might prove too cold to support life. If you do any searching into this happenstance, you will encounter the expression “Goldilocks zone.” You may recall Robert Southey’s story of the titular Goldilocks who decided to make herself at home in the house of three bears. She tried the food, chairs, and beds of the absented creatures, finding the baby bear’s things to be “just right.” 

Somehow we found ourselves on a planet in that spot, which is just right. Atheists say that this is the result of chance. I was reading a site contributed to by those departing the Christian faith as they discussed this very topic. The original poster to the forum said that this habitable zone’s existence was a remaining hurdle for him in his desire to cast off the reality of God. Commentors threw out what I would consider a straw man argument, stating that life is possible elsewhere; it is just that evolution would produce a different result. Thus, some other lifeforms would be having this same discussion about how their planet was in the “right spot.”  

Of course, that does nothing to explain how we found ourselves in just that right spot. It was an explosion from nothing (i.e., Big Bang) that scattered the known universe’s material. Gravity also resulted from this explosion somehow. This gravity enabled the cosmic debris to coalesce into the Earth, Sun, and all the tiny dots of sparkling light observable in the night sky. Yet, despite its chaotic beginning, the earth was situated at the proper distance from the sun to allow life to get sloshed together inside primordial oceans.  

Those simple lifeforms, defying every observation today that things go from a state of order to disorder, managed to grow more complex over eons of time. Yes, there were untold dead ends in which mutation brought about disastrous results. But finally, homo sapiens (“wise man”) emerged at the animal kingdom’s apex, the hairless primate, to ponder his existence. With his technology, he created machines that enabled him to communicate over much distance instantly about how the Goldilocks zone is just the illusion of an Intelligent Creator.   

Call me crazy, but I think it takes more faith to believe that pure chance put us into the sun’s sweet spot. It is much easier for me to accept an Omnipotent God created us and placed us inside the Goldilocks zone He made. Thus, the perfect proximity from our star declared God’s glory to me! As such, as I felt the sun’s warmth on a cold day, rather than think of it merely as a hot ball of gas heating me, I could imagine those sun’s rays were the arms of my Heavenly Father holding me in His loving care.   

 

“WHO’S IN CONTROL?”

“WHO’S IN CONTROL?”

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The employees complained that they couldn’t control the temperature in office buildings. A simple and effective solution was set in place by corporate when they secretly placed dummy thermostats in the work area. They were then able to give all  the unsuspecting workers the illusion that they were in control at last. 

Today there are many that believe they can control more than they really can in their lives. Some have even managed to give others the illusion that they have some kind of supernatural ability to change the nation and world. This entirely false reality takes place on the very planet held in the hands of the One who really has all the control. 

In the Old Testament we find that people thought a lot of David— once he proved his worth as a warrior. As he rose in fame he continued to bring positive change for God’s people but all along the way David understood that he was making a difference only because God allowed him to. 

So many are worried about controlling every aspect of their lives and the lives of others, but I’m thankful that I’m not in control. As a human, I’m prone to make mistakes— God knows that. He provides for His faithful exactly what we need. 

What is God’s will for your life? 

He wants you to recognize His power, His control, His compassion, and His desire for all to be saved. I hope that today this served as a simple reminder to let Jehovah take the lead and that we don’t actually want the control that we may think we do. 

How Can I Go On?

How Can I Go On?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

How can we handle the hurt of losing someone we love?

Many emotions run through our hearts when we’re faced with the loss of a loved one. These emotions can present themselves as questions:

  • Confusion. Why did this happen?
  • Sadness. How will I go on?
  • Anger. Who allowed this to happen?

Who can answer these questions?  Who can provide comfort?  Who can guide our hearts through the heartbreaking moments of life?

Is it not the Creator of life who can explain the end of life, even though “end” is a very human term?

100 years from now I’ll be alive and so will you. 150 and 200 years from now,  I’ll be alive and so will you.

In Genesis 1:26-28, God said,  “Let us create man in our own image.”

  1. When God breathed into you the breath of life He gave you a piece of Himself called the soul which will live on forever…somewhere.
  2. When God created you in a more intimate way unlike the beasts of the field and the birds of the air He gave you free choice.
  3. He gave you the ability to reason.
  4. He gave you the ability to contact Him and be contacted by him.

How sad and how tragic it would be to live your life with no hope! Today, I’m here to offer wonderful, comforting news, at a time where such news seems all but missing.

God loves you more than anyone else does.

Though many cry for and with you when you grieve the loss of a loved one, that love falls short of the one who expresses His love in a way that’s perfect and unfailing. You will experience feelings you may not be able to put into words, but God feels and understands them. God can walk you through them. Life doesn’t have to be impossibly tragic and void of purpose.

God created the heart, so He can heal yours. God created the mind, so He can sort yours out. God made the soul, so He can save yours. God created the body, so He can give you rest. God created the eyes, so He can wipe your tears away. God created the shoulder, but His are the only shoulders capable of bearing the weight of all those who lean on them.

“Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:18).

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Life Illustrated 

Life Illustrated 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

Contentment In Life 

As a young boy I can clearly remember the feelings I had in school. I was ready to be done with text books, math, science, and all the other trials and tribulations that I felt were too much for me to bear. I longed for the day when I could set my own bedtime, go where I wanted to go, spend money on whatever I wanted, and be looked at as an adult. I wish there was still a once-hated nap time scheduled in my daily life. My life, like many others, consisted of school and play, yet I looked forward to a future life that my young heart deemed better. It’s not better and it’s not worse— rather I’m just faced with new challenges that come with a new stage in life. We look forward to the future, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we are content with the present. Older couples will often state how fast the time has gone! Parents will look back on the years that flew by and always seem to ask the question, “Where did the time go?” Every hour was sixty seconds, every day was twenty four hours, and every year was a full three hundred and sixty five days. Our bodies run down, our hair turns gray, and our problems don’t end– they just differ from chapter to chapter. We are all living a vapor of a life, then off to eternity! When the dust settles over our caskets, when friends and family leave the cemetery, when they move on with their lives, what is left behind is our legacy and the impact we made. If life is a vapor and eternity is endless, our focus should be on the latter.

Endurance In Life 

Wilbur Wright was playing ice hockey as a young man when one of the players struck him in the mouth with his hockey stick. Wilbur Wright, who was known for being outgoing and articulate, had plans to teach at Yale college. The complications with his injury made him give up that dream and go into a depression. The man that gave him the injury was known as the neighborhood bully, and it is speculated that he did this to Wilbur on purpose. That bully later on became addicted to cocaine and eventually he was discovered to be a mass murderer. He killed sixteen people after reading the book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde because he related to Mr. Hyde. Wilbur, despite an unfair and unplanned accident, went on to invent the first motorized airplane and change the world forever. Bad things happen to good people, but we have a choice on how we respond and what we chose to do next.

The Last Blink 

God created the world in 6 days. 144 hours. 8,640 minutes. 518,400 seconds. But He’ll come back and end it all in the blink of an eye. Just like that time is gone and everybody is sent into eternity. Though it’s a figure of speech, the average human can blink in 3/10ths of a second. God made “the blink” that quick so you could close your eye quickly enough to protect it from debris, bright bright light, and to illustrate for us the way He’ll return.

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Wilbur Wright (right)