A GLIMPSE OF HOW JESUS DID MINISTRY (Luke 5:12-26)

A GLIMPSE OF HOW JESUS DID MINISTRY (Luke 5:12-26)

NOTE: Brent had surgery today to have a tracheotomy put in place. He’s still very critical and today marks one month in the Trauma ICU at Erlanger’s Hospital in Chattanooga, TN. People from all over have been praying. Thank you! Please continue in prayer for him. I’m filling in for Carl today, who is filling in for Brent tomorrow. Here’s today’s “Preachers Pollard” blog post…

Thursday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

Neal Pollard

I taught the course, The Preacher And His Work, at the Bear Valley Bible Institute for about a decade. At one point during those years, I reworked the curriculum and my approach was that God had one son, and He was a preacher (a famous quote from a 19th-Century Spurgeon sermon). Every one of us who serve formally as gospel preachers have the perfect model of a preacher in Jesus. But, thinking more broadly about the service (ministry) we have as Christians, He serves as an example for all of us. In this paragraph, we have the perfect microcosm of Jesus’ overall approach to service that can help us as we try to serve Him every day.

JESUS SERVED WITH HUMBLE WILLINGNESS (12-15). Jesus has just picked a small group of men to mentor (1-11), and what better way to start their training than by showing them how to respond to those in need? Of course, Jesus’ mission was broader than theirs or ours. He was proving Himself to be the Son of God by “miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through” Him (Acts 2:22). But the “how” of His approach is worthy of our imitation. A man in deplorable condition begs for His help, if He is willing, and Jesus says, “I am willing” (13). Then, He helps Him. But, Jesus is not wanting fame or acknowledgement. He even asks the healed leper not to tell anyone except the priest as he went and obeyed God’s commandment by making an offering for the cleansing according to the Law of Moses (14). Despite Jesus’ desire that this remain a secret, news inevitably spread! Jesus shows us a heart willing to help, but not wanting the credit. What an example! 

JESUS SUPPLEMENTED HIS SERVICE WITH SOLITUDE AND PRAYER (16). This is a remarkable, almost parenthetical statement. Between the leper and the paralytic, as well as others whose stories aren’t specifically shared by Luke, Jesus needed to “often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (16). This phrase is pregnant with meaning. He would go “often,” not occasionally. The perfect Son of God often needed the spiritual recharge He got from communion with God. How much more is that true of us? The word translated “slip away” conveys the idea of retreat or withdrawal, and implies going to a place and spending some time there (BDAG 1043). I wonder how someone doing such prolific and prominent work could manage to slip away, but it must have meant so much to Jesus that He insured that it happened. The more actively I serve Jesus, the more crucial time spent alone with God becomes! I do not want to be so focused on spiritual service that I neglect my own spiritual strength! 

JESUS STRENGTHENED HIS MESSAGE WITH SERVICE (17-26). The bulk of this parable is devoted to the healing of the paralytic, who is aided by the service of his friends. We’re familiar with this story, as friends filled with faith, lower the paralyzed man through a roof for Jesus to heal him. We may forget that the occasion that drew such a crowd was Jesus’ teaching people who had come from near and far, including teachers of the law. The service-opportunity, Jesus being asked to heal the paralytic, was in the middle of the teaching opportunity. Jesus amplified the power and truth of His message by His humble willingness to help. Jesus proves the authority of His work and message, as well as His power to forgive, by healing him. 

Notice how the people reacted (26). They were struck with astonishment. They glorified God. They were filled with fear. They left that day with an unforgettable impression. We understand that Jesus’ mission was unique. His purpose was greater than ours, proving Himself to be God in the flesh, endowed with miraculous powers, and doing all of it with perfect sinlessness. But, His mentality and His ethic is completely reproducible. God needs you and me actively serving Him before a lost and dying world. We have the power to help everyone with their greatest need, but we can support the message just as Jesus did. We can prove God’s love by our willing service. Let’s all do ministry like Jesus did, and we will impact the world just as He did.  

Have you watched “The Chosen”? Very touching series!

Make It A Momentous Monday

Make It A Momentous Monday

Neal Pollard

  • Pick out a local church leader and pray for him and his family for several minutes, being very specific in your petitions on their behalf.
  • Email a missionary to encourage them and get an update on how their work is going.
  • Buy a gift card and try to give it anonymously to a young or struggling family you know.
  • Thoughtfully select several people to compliment and encourage by writing on their Facebook wall or other social media platform.
  • Briefly visit a brother or sister in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
  • Ask a co-worker, classmate, or neighbor what you can be praying for them about.
  • Listen to a book of the Bible in its entirety on your commute.
  • Let go of a grudge or deep-seated resentment.
  • Do an unexpected deed of kindness for a random stranger.
  • Speak to someone you see regularly about your faith–what God is doing in your life, what’s going on at church, etc.
  • Spend some one-on-one time with one of your children (playing a game they enjoy, going for a walk, taking them out to eat, etc.).
  • Show love to your mate in some tangible way you know he/she enjoys (speak their “love language”).
  • Practice pleasantness with everyone you meet today, being mindful of your facial expressions and body language.
  • Carve out some time for meaningful, personal devotion (including Bible reading, singing, and prayer)–make worship more than a Sunday matter!

None of these are overly time-consuming. Pick as many as you can. If you cannot get to them all today, then pick up where you left off tomorrow. Grow your list. Use your imagination and creativity. Find yourself looking and acting more like Jesus!  See yourself in Matthew 5:13-16.

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“Just A Broken Guy…”

“Just A Broken Guy…”

Neal Pollard

The chilling audio from Richard “Beebo” Russell reveals an internal conflict nobody, not family, friend, or co-workers, knew was going on. The 29 year old ground worker at Seattle-Tacoma International airport took a Horizon Air Dash-8 airplane on an unauthorized joy ride, complete with complicated aerial stunts before crashing into a remote island on Puget Sound. Before crashing, he spoke with air traffic controllers and pilots and confessed to the inner turmoil. The words used by loved ones to describe him range from “warm” and “compassionate” to “happy” and “regular” (Alex Horton, Washington Post, 8/13/18).  Of course, the behavior was irregular and bizarre, and it ended tragically for the young man as he fatally crashed the plane.

As we walk through this world, we meet and interact with people who may be projecting an outward appearance that is masking inward pain and trouble. It may lie behind their broad smile. That’s a disturbing thought, but what can we do? We cannot read their minds. There is no full-proof way to prevent every tragic action, but we may have more power than we think. Consider some things all of us can do with everyone in our lives.

Be kind. Look people in the eyes. Smile at them. Even if it slows you down from some important task, don’t overlook the people God puts in your path. Your helpful word might sink deeper into their spirit than you realize. Let’s be like the inhabitants of Malta, who showed Paul and his companions “extraordinary kindness” as they simply “kindled a fire and received” them all (Acts 28:2). We’re told as Christians to put on a “heart of kindness” (Col. 3:12). How will anyone know the proof of our kind hearts? We will display it.

Be concerned. We fear being nosy or busybodies. Don’t do that. But there is room for active concern. Such is more apt to listen than advise, to help and not gossip, and to do than to judge. People who are surrounded by those they know care for them have a better chance at emotional survival. Look at the example of Paul, pressured by the concern for congregations and intensely concerned for individuals led into sin (2 Cor. 11:28-29). The word Paul uses for his concern for individuals literally means “to cause to be on fire; burn” (BDAG, 899). It’s the word used to describe the heavens being on fire (2 Pet. 3:12). Paul was “inflamed with sympathy, ready to aid” (ibid.). That’s got to be us, too!

Be helpful. Our Christianity should be tangible, not theoretical. We must be attuned to needs and ready to help (cf. Titus 3:14). Let’s avoid empty words that lack the intent of action. Acts of service, doing for others, are powerful and penetrating. God tells us, “On the day of salvation I helped you” (2 Cor. 6:2; Isa. 49:8). A helper sees a need and meets it. Oh, the impression that can make on a weary struggler. 

Listen, for all we know, this young man was surrounded by people who were kind, concerned, and helpful. Ultimately, each of us is individually accountable for our actions (2 Cor. 5:10). But, our neighborhoods, cities, states, and nations will be a better place when Christians are active bearers of such faithful fruits. Treat everyone you see as the eternally-bound souls that they are! Help them. We know the One who mends the broken (cf. Ezek. 34:16). 

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Why Do You Serve?

Why Do You Serve?

Neal Pollard

Has a preacher ever been motivated by finance, popularity, or fame? Has an elder ever been motivated by power, influence, or notoriety? Has a Christian ever served in any way for notice, accolades, or to satisfy pride? In individual cases, it’s so hard to tell (ultimately, it’s impossible). But, knowing human nature, we would have to say motivation can be tainted and corrupted.

Paul says as much of preachers, that they preached Christ from envy, strife, and selfish ambition (Phil. 1:15,17). Greed propels some preachers (1 Th. 2:5; 2 Pet. 2:3,14). Woe to the preacher who falls into traps like those! He may do harm in this life, but it cannot compare to the ultimate harm he does to himself and others. Peter calls out elders who he says serve for sordid gain or on a power trip (1 Pet. 5:2-3). Woe to the elder who serve from such a base motive! He will not joyfully anticipate the appearing of the Chief Shepherd (cf. 1 Pet. 5:4)! Christians have been led by their appetites and an earthly mindset (Phil. 3:19). Woe to the Christian who serves God for selfish reasons. Such will not be able to successfully endure their spiritual race.

Sometimes, our words and actions betray our motives and intentions. So often, what gets in the way is self— self-service, self-will, self-interest, self-indulgence, self-importance, selfish ambition. It leaves a sour taste and sounds ugly when said. It is manifestly unattractive to even read the words. It is detestable when witnessed in others. But “self” is such an impediment to spiritual service.

I don’t know why anyone else is serving Jesus. But I need to be careful to examine myself. How terrible to let my speech and actions be the cause of anyone questioning what moves me to render any act or service. Let our goal be to live so selflessly that no one has legitimate cause to ask why we do what we do in God’s Kingdom. Paul contrasts Timothy with others, saying, “ For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:21). Let’s be a Timothy, moved by a genuine concern for others (Phil. 2:20). That’s just what this cynical world needs to see!

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PREACHER FAN

PREACHER FAN

Neal Pollard

Frankly, some preachers are or can be a pain! There are various reasons for this, but I would hasten to say that such are in the minority.  As I sit in our Future Preachers Training Camp listening to our teachers speak to the next generation of preachers, I am in admiration. Their passion, knowledge, experience, wisdom, and, knowing them, their character leave me in grateful awe. Others who have filled the pulpit or taught classes this week take their place alongside the others I mention.  Their work and life are incredibly noteworthy. While some would not use this word of them complimentarily, preachers are “special” men.

To go into this field of work requires some distinct traits:

  • A willingness to have your life on display
  • A desire to spend your life full-time in ministry
  • An understanding that some will not respect your occupation
  • A willingness to have people disagreeing with what you say, though you know it’s important
  • A humility to care and minister to others, even the difficult and unpleasant people
  • A willingness to enter a profession that may have an economic ceiling

The gospel preacher knows these and other circumstances may often exist, but he sees so many enriching aspects of the life of preaching. Soul-winning, serving, developing, aiding positive change, learning, and much more epitomize the fringe benefits available to a man who preaches the Word. Those wise enough to see this find these things more than sufficient to offset whatever perceived challenges accompany this life.

Watching tomorrow’s preachers absorbing, questioning, thinking, and working excites me. I’m thankful that they are able to find sound, qualified men to provide well-reasoned, Bible answers, but I’m as thankful they are interested and desirous of exploring this life. In a bad-news world, watching quality young men trying to stretch and grow themselves in leadership and preaching is some of the best possible news. Seeing works like preaching camps, schools of preaching, brotherhood activities featuring gospel preachers make me so thankful for men who dedicate themselves to this wonderful life. Please pray for every man who endeavors to aspire to and live this life. Each of us need God’s Word, wisdom, and strength to do this work adequately.

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WHAT I SAW WHEN A SISTER SERVED

WHAT I SAW WHEN A SISTER SERVED

Neal Pollard

It was such a joy to accompany the BVBII students on campaign to Greensboro, Georgia.  Chuck Ramseur, one of our graduates, is doing a great job with Brianna and their four children, and the church was so warm and hospitable.  Yet, one of the things I’ll remember the most from this trip was the continual service displayed by Bonnie Saldana. Her husband, Mario, is a freshman and we had the same host family.  Throughout the week, Bonnie would jump up and clear the dishes from the table and clean the kitchen.  Our hosts, Dean and Karen, would urge her to sit down, but you could tell how much they truly appreciated it.  She made no fanfare about it, but quietly and diligently worked.

Mario is a joy to be around, but his wife’s willingness to jump in and get involved will help raise his “stock” when he graduates and looks for a place to preach.  Increasingly, I have seen women married to preachers who, in apparent protest at the thought of being part of a “package deal,” do little if anything to be involved (clean up, teach classes, otherwise volunteer, etc.) in the local church.  This sends a powerfully clear message to the other ladies (and men) in the congregation.  Rather than greatness, it shows gross selfishness.

Jesus proclaimed service as the way heaven esteems greatness (cf. Mat. 20:26-28). I wonder how He feels when He sees those unaware and unwilling to look around and assist where work is to be done.  The particulars of the problem are not given at Philippi between the divided women, Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2), but an overarching solution to “church trouble” is to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

What is to be eliminated? (1) Selfishness (Louw/Nida—“What they do is just for themselves,” 88.167), (2) Empty conceit (“A state of pride which is without justification,” ibid.), (3) Personal interests (A selfish preoccupation with with one’s own affairs, O’Brien, NIGTC, np).  What is encouraged? (1) Humility of mind, (2) Higher regard for others, (3) Looking out for the interests of others. Apply this to cleaning up after fellowship activities, babysitting, helping with workdays, providing transportation, practicing hospitality, listening to others’ ideas and input, doing security, greeting visitors, providing meals for those in need, visiting the hospitals and nursing homes, taking an interest in the youth through the elderly, teaching a class, nurturing a new Christian, and using your training and talents however you can to help the church grow.

There are many Christian women and men out there like Bonnie.  May each of us look at examples like these and eagerly imitate them.  In noticing them, we are following heaven’s example.  In following them, we are following heaven’s advice.

Bonnie is pictured (far left) in this picture of the BVBII campaign group in Georgia.

An Up And Comer In A Different Profession

An Up And Comer In A Different Profession

Neal Pollard

How many human cannonballs at the circus can call themselves “Oxford-trained”?  30-year-old Gary Stocker, with law degree in tow, left a six figure income working as an academic law writer and legal recruitment officer and “ran away with Chaplin’s Circus” (Lizzy Buchan, Cambridge News Online, 7/11/14).  He actually is starting up the circus with a buddy he worked with as a street performer as a teenager, and he actually had continuing various performances while a student at the prestigious British university.  While many would be baffled to think of one leaving a comfortable, white-collar occupation for one that has been for the more common, blue-collar person since ancient Roman times, Stocker is choosing what he loves over what others thought more suitable for him.

A thought occurred to me as a new class is about to embark on their studies at the Bear Valley Bible Institute next week.  There is an analogy here, as men come to us not only from High School but more often from medical, business, agricultural, mechanical, military, law enforcement, and other professions. For 50 years, men have been leaving jobs, often well-paying, respectable ones, to pursue “the foolishness of preaching” (cf. 1 Co. 1:18-21).  Some, even close friends, brethren, and family, may question their thinking for undertaking such a pursuit and even offer resistance and dissuasion.  When they graduate and go into full-time ministry, they may never regain the income or have the notoriety they would have enjoyed in the secular world.  However, it can be argued they will be entering the most noble, worthwhile profession there is.  To work with the people of God and to bring the lost to God provides endless, invigorating opportunity and excitement. Each day is new, exciting, and rewarding.  Though it has its pressures, disappointments, and trials, it is a work that is easy to love!

There are men who may be successfully toiling in some other field, but they leave it for a love of preaching.  Thank God for these men.  Let us encourage them and ever have a hand in helping these “up and comers” in their new profession!

HOW JESUS SAW THE PEOPLE

HOW JESUS SAW THE PEOPLE

Neal Pollard

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt. 9:35-38).

In these few verses, the Holy Spirit through Matthew paints a beautiful picture.  He presents how Jesus saw the people He encountered as His public ministry gains momentum.  How Jesus saw people gives us an example for how we should see them, too.

He saw them as hurting (Mt. 9:35).  Their hurts were literal, from sickness to disease.  Those hurts mattered to Jesus, and He took action.  He helped the hurting.  We need to approach people the same way, sensitive to the hurts they harbor.  The hurts may be physical, but as often they are social and emotional.  We cannot, as Christians, be callous and unfeeling to their hurts.  Instead, we must treat them as we would wish others to treat us (Mt. 7:12).

He saw them as hopeless (Mt. 9:36).   He did not see them as a lost cause, but rather as people in search of a hope that eluded them.  They were weary, scattered, and “shepherdless.” Yet, this condition drew Jesus’ concern.  He wanted to give them guidance and assistance.  He still wants that for the multitudes today, but He works through us.  We need to understand the hopelessness and directionlessness of the multitudes.  It should draw our concern.

He saw them as a harvest (Mt. 9:37-38).  They were not just a number, but they provided plentiful opportunity.  Jesus wanted His disciples dispatched to minister to that multitude.  His concern has not abated today.  He wants us in the harvest fields, reaching the hopeless and hurting.

Yesterday, during our missions meeting, there was a most unusual “benevolence call.”  Let me just say “his” name was Mary.  As I left the meeting to meet him at the door, My first reaction was repulsion.  Then, I felt pity.  What causes a young man to become so confused or hurt to act out in such a way?  What hope did he have?  What opportunity did I have to reach him?  Who knows how his story will end, but my hope and prayer is that something was done or said that will lead him to Christ at some point.  You will not likely meet someone so apparently in need of Jesus today, but most of all you encounter are lost.  That means they are in need.  Let us see people like Jesus did!