“The Most Dangerous Word”

“The Most Dangerous Word”

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Mack Pugh

What is the most dangerous word? Anger, wrath, revenge, retaliation? The most dangerous word doesn’t “sound” dangerous, doesn’t “look” dangerous, it hides its dangerous ability, but it is the great enemy of advancement. It leaves tasks undone, books unread, programs unlatched, and resolutions unkept. It is a very great enemy of the church. It is the great enemy of the soul. It causes people to be lost. It is Satan’s favorite word. If he can get you to say it and say it often, he may not destroy your faith in the Bible or God, but he will definitely win the battle. That word is tomorrow!

Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knows not what a day may bring forth.” We’re not even promised the rest of this evening, let alone tomorrow. There are two reasons: You may lose the desire or you may lose an opportunity. There are two scriptures:

2 Corinthians 6:2: “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Hebrews 3:15: “While it is said, ‘Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation.”

You can lose your desire, owing an apology, a thank you note, or something you needed to do. You can lose your opportunity, to see a family member or being busy at work.

The danger of delay and tomorrow is losing your desire and/or opportunity! It is losing the desire and opportunity to become a Christian or dying before repenting. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today!

Joshua 24:15 says, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua said this before the Israelites in the hope they would follow his example with no intention of turning back.

In Acts 26:26-27, we see, “Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not cmad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things…” Then King Agrippa said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Then, Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). The same is true with our lives! What about those that do not obey the gospel of Christ? Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment!” If you are willing to live how you’re living, you’ve got to be ready to die in your current condition. If you are not, don’t wait for tomorrow!

Why We Need To Listen To God

Why We Need To Listen To God

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Kason Eubanks

Armando Alvarez was a former gang member that was giving an interview with Jesse Watters. They were talking about crime and what’s driving people to commit crime. Armando said that the biggest reason is they think they have to be better than everyone else. It is like a game in a way, he said.

The gang members think they will be happy with more and more things. They listen to what the world says will cause happiness. They compete with each other to see who can gain the most. They don’t know that there is an eternal place that you get to choose at the end of this life that will lead to eternal happiness. I would like to share just five scriptures about why we should not do our own thing but instead listen to God.

First, in Psalm 32:8 God is telling us that he will instruct us in the way we should go.

Then, Isaiah tells us in chapter 55 and verses 7-8 that our thoughts are not his thoughts and our words are not his words and our ways are not his ways. He is telling us that we need to follow God’s instruction because he knows what we don’t. He also sees all things that we cannot see.

Also in Jeremiah 17:7 we read that there are a lot more benefits of following God instead of leaning on our own understanding. There is a story about a kid in school that never hung up his jacket. The teacher warned him many times that if he left his jacket on the floor she would throw it away. The next time he left it on the floor she threw it away with intentions of getting the jacket out shortly after. That is until a kid got sick and threw up in the same trash can. The kid should have listened to the teacher. When we lean on our own understanding bad things can happen.

Then, Psalm 37:3-4 tells us that we should always have faith in him and all that he says to us.

Finally, Proverbs 3:5-6 ties back to Jeremiah about not leaning on our own understanding but trust in Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.

The question I want to ask you today is, “Do you listen to God’s instruction or do you do everything on your own?” I want to challenge us to go through the week and put God first however hard it may be to do it. We should let our light shine always for Christ and hopefully plant a seed in somebody’s life whether we know the person or not.

God’s instructions give us peace here on earth. We read in Romans that If God is for us, who can be against us. If you realize that you haven’t been following God’s instructions as you should and feel the need to make some changes in your life, know that God will always be with you.

(Armando Alvarez, gvwire)
Being Like Your Parents

Being Like Your Parents

Wednesday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Luke Lohden

Have you seen the Progressive commercials with Dr. Rick?  In these commercials, he tries to teach parents how to “un-become” their parents?  For instance, he helps them say the right tech terms, like “hashtag,” or helps them to have airline tickets on their phone, and not paper tickets.  They are really funny.  Do your parents have certain sayings that they say all of the time to you?  Like, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times,” or how about “money doesn’t grow on trees?”  Or even better, “don’t make me stop this car?”  Our parents tell us things like this to help us.  The truth is, we need to be like our Christian parents, not unlike them.  They have been where we are or where we are heading.  Their advice can prevent us from making serious mistakes.  

According to many surveys, about 70% of Christian students leave the church during college.  According to a recent study, the reasons are because they had no strong Biblical foundation,  lack of social opportunities outside of worship service, the anti-Christian views present at universities, and the lack of other Christian friends on campus.  Because of these potential problems, our parents play an important role in our Christian faith and our future walk with God.  

How do You stay faithful to God and obey your parents through your teen years? According to Ephesians 6:1-3, honoring your father and mother is very important. These verses say, “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment, that it may be well with you and you may live long on the Earth.” According to Exodus 20:12, it states, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Proverbs 22:6 also has some information about children obeying their parents. It says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from.” Proverbs 29:15 also says, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”  This verse means that children and teens need guidance.  If they don’t have guidance, they will turn away from Christ.  

If we honor our father and mother and do all that we are told by them, we will live long on this Earth.   We could be going through a stage where we are defiant and not wanting to do what our parents tell us.  We’ve got to learn to listen to them even though we might not like what they decide all the time.  We finally understand, maybe even in later years, that our parents have rules in place to protect us as well as help us.  In order to follow God and live long on this Earth, we have to do all that is expected by them and do it as best as we can.  We are never going to be perfect, but we have to give it our best.  We know that our parents want what is best for us and they want us to go to Heaven.  We need to do more than just obey our parents and honor them.  We also have to continue trying to follow God’s Commandments, read the Bible, and tell others about Jesus. 

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The Location Of Salvation

The Location Of Salvation

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

Most people can think of a specific location that brings them joy. It could be a vacation destination, a certain getaway spot, or a favorite city or park. It’s a location that is filled with memories and good times. We find ourselves dreaming about those places when we are loaded down with life. What we wouldn’t give to be relaxing on that beach, away from all the work and responsibilities. What is it about these places that causes us to long to be there? It’s the thought of being somewhere that’s free of care and worry. 
In scripture, salvation is often described as being found in a very specific location. The Bible records numerous examples of when God saved His people in a specific location. The Passover in Exodus 12 is an example of this. If the people wanted to keep their firstborn children, they were to spread blood on the doorposts of their homes. By doing this, the death angel would pass over the houses with blood on them. There are several other examples of salvation being in a specific location such as Noah’s ark in Genesis 6-9 and Rahab’s home in Joshua 2.
If salvation was found on the ark and in Rahab’s home, where is it now? Scripture teaches us that the church Christ died to establish is the place of safety today. 

The plan: a new covenant (Mark 14:24)
–The purpose: save the souls that are added to the body (Rom. 8:1-3) 
–The promise: eternal life (1 Jn. 5:11) 

The Old Testament examples mentioned all contained specific instructions: Build the ark out of gopher wood, pick a certain amount of animals, and tie a scarlet rope to the window. These specific locations brought salvation but only through obedience to God and His plan. 
What specific instructions do we have today? The contents of the New Testament explain in perfect detail how we can be added to God’s location of salvation. The ark saved Noah and His family from destruction, the scarlet rope tied to the window of Rahab’s home saved her and her family, and baptism (Acts 2:38; 1 Pt. 3:21) will save anyone and everyone that wishes to be added to the church. 

“Trust The Process”

“Trust The Process”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

In the lead up to the College Football Playoff National Championship, I have read a few articles about tonight’s game. More than once, the players and coaches have talked about the need to “trust the process.” That idea applies to the entire program, to the season, to preparing for every game including this last one, to both sides of the ball, down to the individual player’s preparation for this game. “The process” is comprised of every fundamental principle intended to bring about the highest success. There will be trying moments and setbacks, even failures. But when the tendency to doubt is the greatest, it is then that you most need to “trust the process.”

They say that athletics are a metaphor for life. The inspired apostle Paul thought so. Long before Nick Saban or Kirby Smart and their players used the mantra, the first-century native of Tarsus was teaching the idea in the Bible. Here is how he put it, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops” (2 Tim. 2:3-6). No, he does not say, “Trust the process.” He gives it instead: Endure, focus, follow the rules, and work hard. Just as coaches use metaphors, making comparisons to chopping wood, flying the plane, rowing the boat, etc., Paul refers to the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer to illustrate principles in the process of living the Christian life.

Our goal is the enjoy ultimate success. The Bible defines that as overcoming the world (Jn. 16:33; 1 Jn. 4:4; 5:4; Re. 2:7,11,17, etc.). There are times this is very difficult, but at all times we must “trust the process.” Trust the process…

  • When you are encountering various trials (Js. 1:2ff). 
  • When you are aiming at church growth (Acts 2:42-47).
  • When you are combatting temptation (Js. 4:7-8).
  • When you are offended or have offended (Mt. 5:23-24; 18:15-17).
  • When you are trying to win back a fallen brother (Gal. 6:1-2). 
  • When you are seeking to follow Jesus (Lk. 9:23-26).
  • When you are working on your marriage (Eph. 5:22-33).
  • When you are running the marathon of childrearing (Eph. 6:1-4; Dt. 6:4-9).
  • When you are building your relationship with God (Ps. 1; Col. 3:1ff).
  • When you are shepherding the flock (1 Pt. 5:1-4; Acts 20:28).
  • When you are dealing with prosperity (1 Ti. 6:17-19) or poverty (Js. 1:9-12).
  • When you are struggling with sins of the tongue (Js. 3:1-12).
  • When you are wondering if it’s worth it to keep going (2 Tim. 4:1-8).
  • When you are being persecuted for your faith or for no good reason at all (Mt. 5:38-48).

In other words, whatever our specific struggle, problem, difficulty, or trial, God has given us a proven process. How many, through the ages, have overcome and won simply because they trusted it? As a loyal, long-suffering fan of the guys in red and black, I am hoping their overall process ends a 41-year drought. If it doesn’t, life will go on. As you follow Jesus, I am hoping that by trusting the process found throughout Scripture you win the crown of eternal life (Js. 1:12). When all is said and done, that is all that matters! 

What I am hoping, not predicting.
It Only Takes A Crack

It Only Takes A Crack

Friday Column: Brent’s Bent

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Brent Pollard

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3.14 NASB1995). 

Mike Schmit of Markesan, Wisconsin, grew the largest pumpkin in the United States in 2021. The pumpkin weighed in at 2,520 pounds. Yet, Schmit is not winning the $22,680 prize he could otherwise have received from California’s Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. (They pay $9 per pound for the winning pumpkin.) Schmit is not the winner because the pumpkin he grew developed a fingernail-sized crack from internal forces within the pumpkin. That tiny flaw was sufficient to disqualify his pumpkin from the competition.*  

In like manner, spiritually, there will be those surprised by the Judgment of God since they esteem themselves worthy of His eternal prize. They will discover too late that they had a crack in their discipleship. No, it is not a matter of lacking sinless perfection. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23). But there will be those who disqualify themselves by failing to be obedient to God’s Will (Matthew 7.21-23). They may do good things, even in the name of Christ. Yet, men ignore God’s Word regarding what he must do to receive eternal life.  

By what name do men call their religious bodies? What do men teach is necessary to receive salvation? How do they teach that we worship? How is the church they attend organized? Opinions and methodology vary among practitioners within generic Christendom because no one checks to see what the Bible teaches. They ignore God’s guidance about neither adding to nor taking from God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4,2; 1212.32; Proverbs 30.6; Revelation 22.18). “God didn’t say that I could not do thus-and-such.” “Surely, God is OK with this.” As Jesus said of the religious leaders of His day: “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15.8-9 NASB1995). 

We began by sharing Peter’s admonition to be diligent in our efforts to remain spotless and blameless. The only way that is possible is through obedience. Through obedience, we walk with God enabling His Son’s blood to provide continuous cleansing from our sin (1 John 1.7). Essentially, God’s grace covers the cracks that form because of human nature. That grace makes it seem as if no cracks began. However, for the disobedient or those whose obedience is incomplete, the flaws remain. As Mike Schmit can tell you, a tiny crack is sufficient to disqualify one’s efforts. As costly as a crack is to the pumpkin grower, it is even more so to the lost soul. Therefore, we owe it to God to ensure that while we live, we do so according to His Will.   

 

*Hooper, Ben. “Tiny Crack Disqualifies Pumpkin Thought to Be Largest in U.S.” UPI, UPI, 18 Oct. 2021, www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/10/18/heaviest-pumpkin-disqualified-Markesan-Wisconsin/8621634581685

  

The Art Of Humility (Luke 18:15-17)

The Art Of Humility (Luke 18:15-17)

Friday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl-pic

Carl Pollard

The life of a true Christian is filled with change. We learn where we are weak and try to be better. It’s kind of like a never-ending home improvement project. There will always be areas of our spiritual walk with God that could be better. Because this is the case, many religious books, sermons and Gospel meetings are created around a theme that will help us to grow. In the Church there is a plethora of information to help us in our Christianity, but I want to focus on the basics and answer a vital question. What does it mean to be a Christian?

I want to answer this question with a passage in scripture that we may not immediately think of. We may think of 1 Timothy 1:5 or 2 Peter 1:5-7, which are great verses, but I’d like to suggest that Jesus in Luke 18:15-17 gives us the bottom line of Christianity.

It reads, “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Jesus teaches the importance of humility. You want to enter the Kingdom of God? Have an attitude of humility. He uses the example of children, and Luke even uses the Greek word for infant. These are very young kids and babies that are being brought to Jesus. So He uses this as a moment to teach a valuable lesson.

Babies show their humility in their inability to provide for themselves. Every child that is born is completely dependent on its parents and has a wholehearted trust in them to provide what they need.

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means being humble enough to admit that we need God. It means we trust in God, rather than our own “power.”

Humility plays an important role in every aspect of Christianity. It helps with showing love to others, it helps us subject ourselves to God’s Word, it helps us treat others the way we want to be treated, it helps us accept the hard topics that scripture contains, and the list goes on and on.

Do you want to be a part of the Kingdom? Make humility an everyday practice. Without this, one cannot be a Christian.

THE BEGGING MAN WHO KNEW HE NEEDED JESUS

THE BEGGING MAN WHO KNEW HE NEEDED JESUS

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

One of the most intriguing people in all the gospels, to me, is the beggar sitting by the road near Jericho. Mark 10:46 tells us that the man’s name is Bartimaeus. Matthew tells us that there is another man sitting with him, and that man’s name is not given (20:30). This man was shameless in a good way, persistent despite the crowd sternly discouraging him (39). I wonder if there is a more pathetic person disclosed to us in the Bible (maybe Lazarus back in Luke 16). He is needy in at least five ways, according to Luke 18:35-43:

  • He’s physically impaired (35)–“a blind man”
  • He’s economically disadvantaged (35)–“by the road begging”
  • He’s socially outcast (39)–He’s not depicted as a respected member of society, but one to be corrected by the others
  • He’s emotionally distraught (38-41)–Begging for mercy and longing for sight
  • He’s spiritually incomplete (42)–When Jesus heals him, He tells the man, “Your faith has saved you.”

I love how the man is so stripped of his dignity, power, and resources that he boldly pleads for Jesus’ help. It may seem strange, but all of us need to get to that place if we will receive what only He can give. He wanted His mercy. When he received it, look at the response. He “began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God” (43). Don’t you want your submissive, obedient life to be a drawing card for others to see their need of God and to glorify Him? God really shows His power when He takes the lowliest and transforms them by what He does with and through them. That’s why I love this account.

 
What Can Be More Minimalist Than the Gospel? 

What Can Be More Minimalist Than the Gospel? 

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

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Brent Pollard

Minimalism is a term often associated with the arts and humanities. It can also be a term used to describe a lack of decoration or adornment in design. One notes that minimalism features everywhere today, from webpage design to people’s desire to live in tiny houses. Despite sounding like a paradox, I suppose one can make the case that minimalism is the ultimate form of refinement. Even Leonardo DaVinci allegedly proclaimed that simplicity is the art of sophistication.   

Since minimalism appears to be beloved, why is it so difficult to share the simple Gospel to a postmodern world? What could be more straightforward than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul distilled it to three topics about Christ, even though each of those topics can fill volumes of their own accord (cf. 1 Corinthians 15.1ff). Yes, the Gospel, at its core, is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our salvation is contingent on symbolically reenacting His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6.3-6). Indeed, the salvation plan is so simple that kids sing a song detailing those steps to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”  

Yet, when it comes to religion, complex human emotion appears to trump Divine simplicity. Ask Naaman. When told how to cure his leprosy, Naaman balked. The prophet told him to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River to cleanse his leprosy. Naaman stormed off. 

“Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’ Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” (2 Kings 5.11-12 NASB1995) 

Luckily, Naaman’s wise servants were not turned away by simplicity. They reminded their master he would do any great thing to cure his leprosy. So, why not just wash? (2 Kings 5.13) Similarly, I do not think that telling people to be immersed so that they can wash away sins and call on the Lord’s name (Acts 22.16) is a matter of complexity. It is simple. The stumbling block for those unwilling to obey is typically prejudices and fears. They think another way is better. Perhaps, this other way was taught to them by a dear, departed loved one. They do not want to “condemn” their relative by obeying the Gospel.  

However, obeying the Gospel is not an act of judgment. In rendering obedience, I am demonstrating a good conscience before God (1 Peter 3.21). We allow God to take care of the implications and trust, like Abram, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18.25 NASB1995). No doubt, if that loved one who taught us something differently had the opportunity to be preached the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ, then they would have obeyed too.  

If time permitted, I could expound upon other areas in which human emotion overly complicates the minimalism of God’s Divine plan for items such as worship. Yet, as with the virtue I am extolling, minimalism, it is best to keep this focused and concise. We should not be surprised that God would make the most critical things, like salvation, simple for us all to understand. Minimalism, experts remind us, is user-friendly and accessible. That is why we like it so. And it is also why God, the Master Designer, set up things so that the simplest among us can gain wisdom from it (Psalm 19.7).  

Indeed, what can be more minimalist than the Gospel?  

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Guilt Can Be a Positive

Guilt Can Be a Positive

 

While feeding the cats this morning, two males got into a kerfuffle. I stuck my foot between the two moggie pugilists and gently but firmly sent them to their mutual corners.  One of the participants, the victim, decided to make himself scarce for a time. Meanwhile, the instigator continued chowing down. Enter my father. My siblings can attest that my dad can cut quite the intimidating figure. It seems apparent that even cats can appreciate this. Dad sternly stated the aggressor’s name and walked towards him. The feline perpetrator may be the alpha among the cats, but he slinked away from my father. The guilty glances he returned to my father said, “Yes, I did something I should not have done.” Even so, the guilty cat lacks the intellect to grow from having been caught in his transgression. 

Despite being human, there may be many persons able to identify with our mischievous cat. They may feel guilty when confronted with their sin, but they will not allow that discomfort to prompt restoration. Eventually, they will sufficiently recover to resume their everyday life. Hence, wrongdoers may view guilt as a wholly negative emotion, a pesky nuisance. Sadly, they might find validation from a few pop psychologists. I recall one Christian telling me that her therapist assured her that she would feel better if she would discard her pesky religious convictions. Despite what such pop psychologists have said in the past, this guilt can be a positive. The apostle Paul addresses this subject in his second epistle to the Corinthians. 

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7.10 NASB1995) 

So, if you will permit me to anthropomorphize my cats further, my cat experienced worldly sorrow. This lack of godly sorrow means that the next time a similar situation confronts this male cat, he will fall back into the same behavior that earned his initial rebuke. 

Fortunately, God gave humans the propensity to experience sorrow according to His will. This sorrow can lead to repentance (2 Corinthians 7.8-9). No one enjoys being like Nathan, pointing the accusatory finger at a friend (cf. 2 Samuel 12.1-15), not even Paul.  Paul said that he initially regretted his role (2 Corinthians 7.8). However, such finger-pointers realize, like Paul, that inflicting momentary guilt leads to a restoration of another’s relationship with God. The only prerequisite for imposing godly sorrow upon another is to ensure your eye is free of beams while spotting specks in your brother’s eye (Matthew 7.3-5). 

We feel guilt for a reason. Guilt helps us understand that our actions have strained our relationship with God and others. As such, guilt causes us to preserve our connective bonds. When acknowledging we have wronged someone, we make amends to them. We will not allow the rift to continue or grow. Research also suggests that you may be more trustworthy if you are more prone to feel guilt (Emamzadeh). Such guilt-prone people are more reliable because they want to avoid the guilt that comes from strained relationships entirely.  Therefore, they will avoid situations imperiling a relationship. Just as a quick aside, we should not confuse shame with guilt either. Shame causes a person to see themselves as a failure rather than seeing a mistake that they can rectify with another. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3.23). So, we all have flaws. However, we can make sure that we do not purposely do anything disrupting our relationship with God and others. To that end, guilt can be a positive thing that though uncomfortable, leads to our refining in the fire. 

Work Cited 

Emamzadeh, Arash. “New Research Determines Who You Can Trust the Most.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 20 Sept. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-new-home/201809/new-research-determines-who-you-can-trust-the-most