Forgive

Forgive

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

When someone fades into my lane or is driving erratically with phone unashamedly in hand, I channel my inner Jeremy Clarkson with an encouraging, “Maniac!” There’s no denying that distracted driving is irresponsible and grossly negligent, but my attitude is far from where it needs to be. There’s little room for patience or grace with that mentality. 

Shortly after soldiers drive stakes through his wrists and feet, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23.34). Some early witnesses omit this verse, but the majority of witnesses include it. When reading these words it’s easy to think, “Jesus is so nice that He asks the Father to forgive people who are hurting Him.” It’s a nice gesture, or an example of how forgiving we need to be. 

Jesus did not ask God to forgive those soldiers. He demanded it! Αφες (afes: forgive) is an imperative. This was so much more than a nice gesture. As one who had the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9.6),He told the Father to forgive them. 

If anyone had the right to ban someone eternally, it was Jesus. We are going to be mistreated, and most can recall examples right away. How do we respond to people who mistreat us? II Corinthians 10.1 describes Jesus as gentle. That word means, “the quality of making allowances despite facts that might suggest reason for a different reaction” (Bauer επιείκεια). 

He set the bar to maximum height. Are we willing to reach it? That mentality can only be achieved by having genuine love for everyone. “Let us continue to love each other, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God, but anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I Jn. 4.7f). 

Spirit One 

Spirit One 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard

In the first chapter of Genesis we read that God made man dominion over every creature He had made. Then in James 3:7 the inspired writer says, “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind.” When we think about the implications of that and then apply it to the world of the Old Testament it becomes even more impressive. The first humans lived with all kinds of beasts, including the dinosaurs. Whatever image comes to mind when you think of those extinct reptiles, it’s probably not that of a tame animal. God gives us a curious glimpse into the past where humans and dinosaurs not only coexisted, but we managed to tame them. In Ecclesiastes, the preacher concludes his sermon in chapter 12 by saying we must prepare ourselves for the day we meet our Creator. The spirit that He made will one day return back to Him. Solomon then says, “fear God.”

The correlation between “spirit” and “fear” is also seen in the New Testament. Paul writes to a fearful and wavering Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The message in the Old and New Testament then is, “fear nothing but God.” When Adam and Eve were in the garden they feared nothing because that’s not the spirit that God gave them. He gave us one of power, because of the God we serve. He is our Father and He has all the power. He gave us a spirit of love. We aren’t animals. We aren’t lions who display great power but lack the ability to love. We were made in the image of God and that means we have both a spirit, which is our life force, and a soul— our eternal life force. On top of all this God gave us the spirit of a sound mind. The Greek word used there means a mind that is calm. Even in the face of calamity and craziness, we can be calm. Why? Because we are God’s children and God is in control. One day every faithful Christian will get back that perfect spirit given to His original creations. Spirits without fear.

“Leviathan” by Lewis Lavoie
(https://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1247)
CHRIST AND CANCEL CULTURE

CHRIST AND CANCEL CULTURE

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

IF CHRIST CHAMPIONED CANCEL CULTURE…

  • The Samaritan woman stayed washed up.
  • The Prodigal Son is stuck in the pig pen.
  • Zaccheus is still up a tree.
  • Peter is still casting nets, not using His keys and feeding His sheep.
  • James and John, the sons of thunder, are all wet.
  • Saul of Tarsus kept holding coats and chasing down Christians.
  • Thomas drowned in his doubt.
  • The thief on the cross is hung out to dry.
  • John Mark might as well have stayed AWOL.
  • Hebrews 11, what with Noah (the drunk), Abraham (the liar), Moses (the murderer), Rahab (the harlot), etc., is never written.
  • At least five of the seven churches of Asia are in the dark.
  • All humanity is hopeless (Rom. 3:23).
  • He is neither faithful nor just (1 John 1:9). 
  • He never would have died on the cross (1 Tim. 2:6).

That is not to say that God “winks” at ignorance (Acts 17:30), indulges willful sin (Rom. 6:1-2; Heb. 10:26ff), or encourages walking in darkness (1 John 1:6ff). But, God is the God of the second (third, fourth, etc.) chance. He is perfectly patient (2 Pet. 3:9) and fully forgiving (Heb. 7:25). Perhaps our world is open to the Christ of the Bible now more than ever! 

Hosea and the Harlot

Hosea and the Harlot

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

tempImagehquiDk

Carl Pollard

The book of Hosea is like no other book in the Bible. It even stands out from the other books of prophecy in the Old Testament. Hosea was commanded to prophecy to the nation of Israel just like other men during this time period, but unlike other prophets Hosea’s message was directly tied to his personal life. He spoke to Israel and was motivated by the personal experiences that were happening to him in his life. 

Hosea was commanded by God to marry the harlot Gomer (1:2). Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea served as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. As the account unfolds, Hosea and Gomer have three children whose names are used to send Israel a very specific message. While this book may seem harsh and almost cruel, let’s notice the main idea of Hosea. 

Hosea reveals to us the depth of God’s unending love for His children, a love that is never failing but also a love that tolerates no rivals. The people that God has chosen as His own must recognize that His love must come first above anyone and everything else. This fact is seen in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. In chapter 1:2-11, we are introduced to Hosea’s family. He has a wife and three kids, but Gomer doesn’t stick around long. She leaves Hosea and goes back to her life of harlotry. There’s a symbolic message that Hosea uses in his prophecy. He compares Israel’s actions to what his wife did to him. They left their union with God to live a life of sin. 

While most of us would find it hard to love someone if they did these things to us, God still continued to love Israel. Hosea 3:1 says, “And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” God’s love is truly unending towards His children. The book of Hosea clearly illustrates this point. 

By reading this book we can know that God’s forgiveness is available to everyone at any point. Not only do we get a glimpse of God’s attitude towards those who have left Him, we also see a personal example of how much God is willing to do in order to restore His relationship with us. 

Hosea truly is a unique book. The prophet married a woman that he knew would eventually betray his trust. He knew the pain and heartache that would come from her unfaithfulness to him, but it was all done so that we could better understand God’s love and dedication towards imperfect and sinful man. 

Do Not Gloat 

Do Not Gloat 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

81121814_2462862270639428_5746232403106463744_n

Brent Pollard

A politically conservative thought leader died on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Not even an hour had elapsed from when the news was broken on his ground-breaking radio show by his widow that some of the most hateful comments began appearing on social media. As one who listened to his show periodically, I can attest that I never heard him utter any of the types of hateful speech of which Wikipedia readers and contributors accused him. Most of those hating him did so because of his powerful influence against their political ideology.  

The political Left viewed him as a Svengali that would brainwash millions if allowed to remain on the radio. Thus, rather than defeat him in the arena of ideas, they chose to slander him. The fascist propagandist Goebbels once said, “Repeat a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth.” Those who never listened to him genuinely believe he was an ugly, divisive person. Thus, the deceased will have a mixed legacy depending upon whether someone took the time to listen to what he said. He will either be one to whom people said, “ditto,” or, as the Huffington Post put it, the “Bigoted King Of Talk Radio.”  

Now, the purpose of this post has nothing to do with politics or even the deceased. It has to do with the visceral reaction created by the news of the radio talker’s passing. As one who tends to soak up the room’s emotional atmosphere, I found myself negatively impacted by the unadulterated hatred. I was disappointed yet again by my fellowman. However, it was also a moment of introspection. Do I understand that God created this person in His image, just like me? (Genesis 1.26-27) If so, even if I vehemently disagreed with him, should I find even a modicum of the rationale necessary to express glee?  

Paul wrote that we must all appear before Christ’s judgment seat. And after stating this truth, Paul immediately added, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men…” (2 Corinthians 5.10-11a). Of what do we persuade men? We convince them to accept the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. We recall Jesus’ final marching orders to us to take the Gospel to every nation and creature (Matthew 28.19-20; Mark 16.15-16). We know our time on earth is short (Psalm 90.10 & 12; James 4.14). Time is being allowed to continue to give men everywhere an opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3.8-10). Once God’s longsuffering has ended, nothing remains for the disobedient other than flaming fire and vengeance (2 Thessalonians 1.6-12). 

We would all do well to recall the words of Solomon in Proverbs 24.17-18: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them” (NIV). Yes, God is aware of the feelings of our hearts. We must give an accounting of ourselves to Him. How terrible it would be if He found in our heart love only for those with whom we felt comfortable associating. John reminds us that our love must extend to our brother if we love God. Otherwise, we are a liar (1 John 4.20). Let us allow love to replace hatred, the Gospel’s utterance to replace vitriolic expressions, and a prayer for our enemy’s salvation supersede our schadenfreude at his downfall.   

God Shows His Love

God Shows His Love

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

tempImagehquiDk

Carl Pollard

As Christians we are called to love like God (John 13:34). If we are to love each other in the same way that God loved us we need to ask how God shows His love? People claim that there are generally five love languages that every person relates to: 

        • Words of Affirmation
        • Quality Time
        • Gift Giving
        • Acts of Service
        • Physical touch

Each one of us feels love in different ways. Your love language may be different than mine, and your spouse’s love language may not be the same as yours. God has shown His creation that He loves us by speaking and interacting with us using all five languages. 

Words of affirmation. When we use words of affirmation we think of phrases like: “You’re the only one for me baby” or “You mean so much to me” or even “Let’s go get Krispy Kreme.”  We use words of affirmation to show our love to our significant others. God has done the same for us. In showing His love God said to us, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” (Isa. 54:10). God uses words of affirmation and has told us that His love will never depart from us. Even when we deserted Him and chose to live a life of sin, God still kept His word. He loved us even when we were corrupted by sin (Rom. 5:8). Words of affirmation are a way to tell someone how you feel. God opened up to us through His word, and He revealed that He loves us more than we will ever be able to understand. 

Quality time. God desires nothing more than to spend quality time with His creation. In the beginning God spent quality time in the presence of Adam and Eve. He longs for this to be the case again in heaven. Sin ruined any chance of spending quality time with Him. But God showed that He loved us. And He looks forward to the day when He can dwell with His children for an eternity. 1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” I can’t think of a better way to spend quality time with God than by having Him abide in me. He loves us and He desires to spend quality time with you and me.

Gift giving.  God has clearly expressed His love to us through gift giving by giving us someone that is invaluable. “God showed His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Want to see God’s love? Look at what He has sacrificed for you. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God expressed His love by giving a gift that has the power to eternally change our spiritual outcome. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). There is no denying that God has expressed His love to us through gifts. 

Acts of service. A person that feels loved through acts of service enjoys acts such as: cleaning out the garage, washing the car, doing the dishes, or folding the laundry. They feel loved because they recognize that their spouse cares enough about them to make their life easier. It’s love that is felt when a spouse sacrifices their time and energy to do something for you. God has shown His love to us through several different acts of service. Christ took on the sin of the world so that we wouldn’t be condemned by it. Christ illustrated this in the flesh when He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13). What does this say about God? It says that He loves you more than you love yourself. It says that the God of the universe is willing to place Himself below His own creation. It says that God’s love is so perfect and strong that He will grab a rag and wash the feet of imperfect men. There’s no denying that someone loves you when they are willing to humble themselves and serve you. This is exactly what God has done for us. 

 Physical touch. A person that feels loved through physical touch is looking for connection. They feel love when they are close to their spouse, they experience love through the physical side of their relationship. While God doesn’t physically touch us today to show His love, He has done it in the past. Mark 1:40ff, “And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” Leprosy was a disease that immediately made you an outcast. If you had this disease you were considered unclean and you were forced to live in isolation from everyone else (Lev. 13:45-46). The leper was forced to live alone because this disease was spread through physical touch. This is what makes what Jesus did even more incredible. Jesus didn’t have to touch the leper, but He went above and beyond by physically touching him. God expressed His love through the physical touch of a compassionate Savior. 

We serve a God that has displayed His love to us perfectly. He has shown it to each one of us, and we will never deserve the love that He gives. Thank God for His love! 

Living Life God’s Way

Living Life God’s Way

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

Carl Pollard

When it comes to sports, there are certain ways of playing. There are rules to follow, specific plays to make, and mistakes to avoid if a team wants to succeed. This same idea applies to our Christianity. In Joshua 1:5-9, we read of certain aspects needed in order to live life God’s way. By following these things we will reap the benefits that are found inside of Christ. 

Joshua says that God’s way is conditional. In Joshua 1:7, we read, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” God gave Israel conditions to His being their God: be strong and courageous, do all according to the law of Moses, and do not turn from the right or to the left. 

Thinking about our personal relationship with God we can still apply these same commands to our spiritual lives today. For example, the blessings we are promised are received by being strong and courageous in the work place, doing all according to the law we are under (the new covenant), and not wavering in our faith. If we want to live our lives according to God’s will we must understand that our relationship to Him is conditional. Our relationship is based on our willingness to listen to His word. 

We must also understand that God’s way is a command, not a suggestion (1:7-8). He is the creator. He has the authority to create the way, He has the authority to make what He says a command. If we want the blessings of following His way, we must practice the commands He has given each one of us. 

Just as the Israelites were given certain commands, we also are commanded to follow certain laws. Love the Lord our God with ALL of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are commanded to love God with every aspect of our lives (Matt. 22:36-40). When we think about our lives, every decision should be based on the will of God. We must recognize that God’s way of living is a command. 

If we want to live our lives God’s way we must recognize that the blessings we are promised are conditional, and the things we read in scripture are a command. But we should find joy in knowing that God’s way is comforting. Joshua 1:9 reads, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

There is absolutely no reason for us to tremble when the Creator is on our side. There is never a reason to be dismayed when the defeater of sin is with us. We have a loving God with us wherever we go in life. God’s way of living is best, and if we will let Him control our everyday lives we can find comfort, hope, and joy in Him. 

Picture taken by Neal Pollard at Jericho, 3/11/18
L-E-O

L-E-O

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

IMG_1922

Neal Pollard

I am a lifelong fan of the SEC (Southeastern Conference), as a diehard, if long-suffering, Georgia Bulldog. In fact, I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, home to the Ole Miss Rebels football team that took on and beat the Indiana Hoosiers on January 2 at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. But, I could not help but love the charisma and philosophy of Indiana’s head football coach, Tom Allen. They had a remarkable season, giving Ohio State all it could handle in the Big Ten Championship game. They are up-and-comers. They are over-comers. A big reason why is Allen’s motto. It has helped them deal with internal tragedy and loss. It has brought them together in a year that tore so many people apart, politically, racially, and philosophically. The motto is simply “L-E-O”: Love Each Other. He preaches to his players to live for something larger than themselves. He explained, “…You have to live your life with core values and core principles. There are anchors in your life. This is what we talk about all the time, that when these storms come — not if they come, when they come — you have a rock-solid foundation that cannot be shaken” (Jon Blau, Bloomington, IN, Star-Times, 1/3/21). He sees his opportunity as head coach as about much more than wins and losses, but about shaping young men at a crucial time in their lives. And what they need to succeed, he’s convinced, is “brotherly love.”

As fantastic as that, promoted by a man of faith like Allen, he’s simply echoing the motto Jesus already gave His disciples 2,000 years ago. John records Jesus’ admonition to His followers, when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). OK, technically, that’s L-O-A, but, when we remind each other, it’s L-E-O. More than a motto, it is our identifying mark. Jesus knew the power of selfless, sacrificial love. Love, defined as “the quality of warm regard for and interest in another” (BDAG, 6), helps us through the storms of life. It gives us something bigger than ourselves to lean on. 

New Testament writers tell us what L-O-A will do:

  • It causes us to serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
  • It roots and grounds us (Eph. 3:17)
  • It helps us show tolerance for one another (Eph. 4:2)
  • It makes us spiritual laborers (1 Th. 1:3)
  • It leads us to highly esteem one another (1 Th. 5:13)
  • It shows us as proper examples of a believer in Christ (1 Tim. 4:12)
  • It will cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8)

Of course, the list is much longer than that, but think about the impact we can make on the world, especially right now, if we will work to master such a motto in the body of God’s Son. Love each other! Don’t divide into camps, suspect, prejudge, accuse, isolate from, and indict each other. That’s the world’s modus operandi (M.O.). We do that, and we have nothing to offer them that they do not already have. Offer them love, and you help fill a crucial void. God’s nature is love (1 John 4:8). It’s to be our nature, too! Let’s love each other. A desperate world is waiting. 

Tell Me About Grace

Tell Me About Grace

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

  1. Grace brings peace (1 Thessalonians 1:1).
  2. Grace gives us favor with God (Romans 3:24).
  3. Grace is the generous attitude God has towards His people (Ephesians 1:6).
  4. Grace brings salvation to sinful man (Titus 2:11).
  5. Grace teaches us how to live (Titus 2:11-12).
  6. Grace gives us a glimpse of God’s Character (John 1:16).
  7. Grace appeared in the flesh (Titus 2:11).
  8. Grace originated from God (Eph. 2:4-5).
  9. Grace is powerful (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  10. Grace helps put Heaven in view (Acts 15:11).
  11. Grace helps us be the salt of the earth (Acts 4:33).
  12. Grace is an attribute of Christ (John 1:14).
  13. Grace is an attribute of Christians (2 Corinthians 8:7).
  14. Grace puts the word “Christ” in Christian (John 1:17).
  15. Grace is a powerful motivator (Titus 2:13-14).
  16. Grace is a gift (that is often left unopened, Ephesians 2:8).
  17. Grace gives us hope (Romans 6:14).
  18. Grace shows us the love of God (Romans 5:8).
  19. Grace brings comfort (Hebrews 4:16).
  20. Grace is given to the humble (James 4:6).
  21. Grace gives us strength ( 2 Timothy 2:1).
 
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
 
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
The Foundation For Happiness

The Foundation For Happiness

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

Do you want to be happy? In answering this question, many in the church will tell you to “fulfill your purpose.” While this is true, serving God and proclaim Him to others will bring happiness, there’s a very important foundation that is a driving point for our Christianity.
 
While it is true that we have been given the opportunity to tell others about the gospel, and we no longer have to worry about what we should be doing with our lives, what happens if we try to fulfill this command without love?
 
True happiness is built on the foundation of loving God. Now before you start thinking that this is one of those “easier said than done” articles, notice a few verses with me. Just saying that we love God won’t bring happiness. We must have a true sacrificial love for Him. To help us make this goal more attainable we must ask ourselves, “Why do I love God?”
 
I Love God because…
 
He deserves to be loved. Think of all the ways He has blessed us. Forgiveness, Heaven, and every earthly blessing we have. God deserves to be loved by His creation, but even more than that,,,
 
He commanded us to love Him. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭6:5‬).
 
Loving God isn’t a suggestion. If we claim to be His children, we must love Him the way He has told us to love Him. This means we love Him with all our:
 
Heart (center of emotion). It is not only an external action, but an internal affection that influences all our actions. He wants a heart so filled with love that it is shown in secret as well as in public.
 
Soul. The immortal part of our being is thoroughly filled with a love for God. It’s deeper than the physical.
 
Might. Our thoughts, speech and actions should all be influenced by a love for God.
 
Loving God means we love others. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
 
Not only do we love God with every aspect of our being, but we love those created in His image. Jesus goes on to say that all of the law and the prophets hangs on these two commands.
 
We serve God because we love Him. We fulfill our purpose because every part of our being is consumed with a love for God. Do you want to be happy? Love God, love His creation. Build a foundation of love and your faith and service to God will have no limits