“I Wish The Church…”

“I Wish The Church…”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

  • “…Cared More About The Lost!” (But, when did I last invite someone to church or invite someone to study the Bible?)
  • “…Checked On The Sick And Shut In.” (But, when did I last make a call or visit to them?)
  • “…Was Friendly!” (But, do I talk to, welcome, and make feel at home visitors and more than my close circle of friends?)
  • “…Did A Better Job With The Singing.” (But, do I sing out, show enthusiasm, and participate with my whole heart?)
  • “…Invested More In The Youth.” (But, am I doing all I can to help them grow, from my attitude toward the church to my personal investment in them?)
  • “…Was Active!” (But, do I volunteer when help is needed, prioritizing it over the things of the world?)
  • “…Was Growing.” (But, how invested am I in being an ambassador for Christ, 2 Cor. 5:20?)

So often, we talk about “the church” in a passive, third-person way. We are critical of her leaders, her activities (or lack thereof), and her members as if we are detached observers. The picture of the early church was of individuals who were personally invested. We are overcome by the consumer mindset of the culture when we sit back and take shots at the perceived shortcomings of our local congregation. Look at the New Testament Christians. Barnabas didn’t fret about how stingy or discouraging the church was; He was generous and encouraging (Acts 4:36-37). Stephen didn’t express his frustration at the church’s lack of courage and conviction; He literally preached himself to death (Acts 6-7). Dorcas didn’t wring her hands at how uncaring and detached the church was; She continually did deeds of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36). They may have been extraordinary in their actions, but they were just “regular members of the church.” They were the church. They didn’t sit in judgment of her. Why? They were too busy working to build her up. When I am tempted to play armchair analyst, I should begin with my own faithfulness and involvement. There is so much the Lord expects me to do to help the church. My investment may cause others to be grateful and excited to be a part of the church! I can most influence me (2 Cor. 13:5)! 

On January 20, 1961, in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, he uttered the famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” Here is the very ending of the address: “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” If that is true of a citizen’s mindset of a nation, how much more a Christian’s mindset in that holy nation, the church? 

PRAYER: A PRACTICAL GUIDE

PRAYER: A PRACTICAL GUIDE

TLC is coming August 1, 2020

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

PRAYER: What Is it? Why do it? How do I do it?

Some pray the way they heard others pray in worship growing up while others look for a prayer on the internet. A few pray the way their parents taught them to pray, and still others just kind of make it up as they go along. Over time it develops into a well-known string of words that we can call upon in case of emergency. It’s the prepackaged prayer that we’re comfortable praying when we’re called upon to lead one publicly or “bless” the food. Tragically, this can be an insight into a weak prayer life. This is what Jesus wants us to know about communicating with God— and how we can do it effectively. 

Three Facts About Prayer 

1.Through Jesus we must pray  (I Tim. 2:5)

2. Through Jesus we learn to pray (Matt. 6:5-13)

3. Through Jesus we are able to pray (Heb. 4:16) 

Three Fruitless Prayers  (Matthew 6)

  1. Prayers to glorify ourselves— when they should be Focused On The Spiritual  (v.5)
  2. Prayers for the gaze of others— when they should be said Fervently In Secret  (v.6)
  3. Prayers full of gab— when there must be Forethought and Sincerity  (v.7)

Five Ways To Pray Effectively (According to Jesus) 

“Pray then like this…” 

1. With Reverence 

a. “Our Father” — His authority over ours. 

b.“In Heaven” — His dwelling place is above ours.

c.“Hallowed be your Name” — His holiness needs to be apparent to us. 

2. Seeking Righteousness 

a. “Your Kingdom come” — So I must be righteous 

b. “Your will be done” — In order for me to be righteous 

c. “On earth as it is in heaven” — If heaven is to be my future, I must make        righteousness a part of my present. 

3. Acknowledging Our Reliance 

a. “Give us this day” — Each day and each moment, a moment God allowed to exist.

b. “Daily bread” — It’s all through Him we move and exist.  

4. In Repentance

a. “forgive our debts” — What do I need forgiven?

b. “As we forgive our debtors” — What do I need to forgive? 

5. With Recognition 

a. “Lead us not into temptation” — God knows the way around what tempts us. 

b. “Deliver us from evil” — God has the power to deliver us, but we should recognize                                that we must follow if He is to lead. 

Six Things To Offer Up, And What You’ll Get

  1. Give Him your praise – He’ll show you why He deserves your praise. 
  2. Give Him your heart – He’ll heal and purify it. 
  3. Give Him your schedule – He’ll organize it for you. He will reveal our most important priorities.  
  4. Give Him your attention – He’ll help you focus. 
  5. Give Him your plans – He’ll perfect them. Any plan God touches becomes holy.  
  6. Give Him your life – He’ll give life eternal.  

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The Benefits Of Finding Ourselves In Scripture

The Benefits Of Finding Ourselves In Scripture

Neal Pollard

Given his job, the Ethiopian of Acts 8 was one of that country’s most important people. Yet, he was more than important. He was very religious, apparently a proselyte (convert) to the Jewish faith. He didn’t restrict his religion to the assemblies. He read his Bible even when he was going about his secular tasks (Acts 8:28). Though he could not enter the assembly of the Lord (Deut. 23:1), he made the long and grueling trip from northern Africa to Palestine and was returning home. Many of us are familiar with the Old Testament passage he was reading when Philip joined him in his chariot. Reading Acts 8:32-33, we recognize the place as Isaiah 53:7-8. The Eunuch was trying to find out about who Isaiah wrote about, “of himself or of some other man” (Acts 8:34). Philip preached Jesus to him and he became a Christian (Acts 8:35-39).

Those are essentially the facts. Yet, I wonder how coincidental it was that the Eunuch was reading from that part of Old Testament scripture. This African official likely had a scroll containing the entire prophecy of Isaiah, which was not divided into the individual chapters like they are today. It would seem that the context in which Isaiah 53 occurs would be of particular interest to this man. Flip forward a few chapters to Isaiah 56. Isaiah is telling foreigners and eunuchs not to look down on themselves (3-5).

This official of Candace was very likely not some hopeless non-Jew looking for a crumb from the Jews’ table. He had the great hope and promise of Scripture. Perhaps this portion of Isaiah was of particular motivation and inspiration to him. For Philip to explain that the time of that prophecy had now been fulfilled, that access to this promise was now available, certainly led the Eunuch to urgently respond and enthusiastically react. Jesus was the One referenced in Isaiah 53, but he (the Eunuch) was the one referenced in Isaiah 56. No, not just him, but all like him–one from the “all nations” of Isaiah 56:7 who could reap the benefits brought by the “Sin-bearing Servant” of Isaiah 53 and the one who would “sprinkle many nations” (52:15).

I hope that you read your Bible with the same hunger and expectation. Perhaps there are portions that bring you greater hope and expectation, that speak with greater poignancy to your life’s circumstances. The Bible is a book filled with wonderful, relevant promises. Trust them. Let them bear you along through the rough spots of life. God designed the Bible to be a book of hope and inspiration, but it cannot do us any good unless and until we consult it! Find yourself in the Bible!

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FOURTEEN SUGGESTIONS FOR BUILDING YOUR DEVOTIONAL LIFE

FOURTEEN SUGGESTIONS FOR BUILDING YOUR DEVOTIONAL LIFE

Neal Pollard

Maybe you have resolved repeatedly to become a better, more faithful Bible student, person of prayer, or simply one who truly desires to build a closer relationship with God. While a lot of that will be personal and peculiar to you as an individual, you may lack direction about how to get started or give yourself the best chance to succeed in that goal. Perhaps these few suggestions can prove helpful to strengthening your daily connection with your Creator.

  • Adjust your wake up time. 15 to 30 minutes head start will prove the most vital moments of your day.
  • Find a quiet, solitary place. Distraction can equal detraction.
  • Study and pray with pen and paper or computer nearby. This will aid specificity and memory.
  • Do not rush. Better a paragraph or chapter pored over than ten chapters glossed over.
  • Take advantage of the commute. Pray through it or play the Bible on audio, if you can.
  • Pick a book or topic of interest and drill down.  Pick it for its relevance to your weakness, need, ignorance, or curiosity. Drink it in deliberately and carefully.
  • Be specific and transparent in your prayers. In the solitude of prayer, drop all pretense, denial, and pride. He knows it all anyway.
  • Always seek application in the Bible text you are reading. This is not a history lesson or academic exercise. This is spiritual food, armor, and survival.
  • Create a list of ways you can enact the principles you read from Scripture. See yourself in the text of Scripture, and challenge yourself to think, say, do, and be what God desires of you.
  • Ask questions of the text. Don’t pass over what you don’t understand. Don’t skim the surface. Mine for meaning.
  • Build a prayer list. Challenge yourself and add people that many others may overlook in your local circle—widows, little children, new Christians, struggling folks, those facing an anniversary of loss, leadership, missionaries, non-Christians where you work and play, the poor, etc. This ever-expanding prayer list will bless lives in ways you won’t know here on earth.
  • Mean what you say. When you tell someone you’ll pray for them, have integrity. Make an honest effort (write it down, put it in your phone) and honor your word. Ask the people you encounter how you might pray for them, then do it.
  • Review. Revisit prayer lists or notes from Bible study periodically. Make it live on through reflection.
  • Pray for what to study and study prayer. You will find that these two spiritual strength-building exercises are interconnected. This is about relationship with God. Spare no exertion.

Consider these “jump starters.” You will come up with more and far better ways to help yourself to a closer walk with God. These days, we’re being pulled in every direction and most lead away from Him. You will have to be deliberate to swim against the tide. May God bless you as you let Him bless you through a vibrant devotional life!

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WHAT ABOUT ME? (POEM)

WHAT ABOUT ME? (POEM)

Neal Pollard

My sister is taking a meal to the sick
My brother has gone a wayward one to see
They both were busy, no “convenient” time to pick
But what about me?

They invite their neighbors to come to church
Have over people with frequency and glee
For good deeds they seem to constantly search
But what about me?

He’s a leader of others, she’s winsome and sweet,
He’s teaching the class, she’s full of hospitality,
They’re meeting the visitors, their lunch they will treat,
But what about me?

My life’s not more complicated, my resources so few,
That some little something I just cannot do
God wants me to warm so much more than my pew,
Others are active, and I can be too.

I don’t have to do some dramatic, huge act,
But with little needs every life’s brimming and packed,
If I could be impressed with just one simple fact,
I can supply something where once it had lacked.

I’ll look at life differently today, as I can,
Will spring to my feet after bowing my knee,
When asked, “Who’ll help this child or woman or man?”
I’ll say, “What about me?”

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