The Pressing Property Of The Power!

The Pressing Property Of The Power!

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

It has been a good year for tomatoes in our garden. We’ve eaten them, given them away, and preserved a lot of them. In addition to canning them, Kathy decided to use our dehydrator to save time and space in preserving them. A few days ago, she filled the machine with several rows of sliced tomatoes. She would set the temperature and time, then come back when it was done. The fruit would still be wet and tacky. After this happened a few times, she was concerned that our appliance was malfunctioning. It was then that she noticed she had not pressed the tiny start button on the far right side. She pushed it, and after eight hours she came back to perfectly dehydrated tomatoes. All the prep and planning were futile without the power.

How often do we conduct our lives that way? We meticulously make plans and we do our part to try to make them happen, but we neglect to access the power that makes it all work? Do we ever forget what Paul reminded Philippi, that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (2:13)? Paul also said that while we may have a variety of gifts, ministries, and effects, it is “the same God who works all things in all persons” (1 Cor. 12:4-6). We’re told that it is God who will “equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight…” (Heb. 13:21).

How do we hope to do God’s work without God’s help? We need His guidance, His wisdom and instruction, and His help. That necessitates skillfully laboring in His Word (2 Tim. 2:15), leaning on Him in fervent, faithful prayer (Phil. 4:6; 1 Th. 5:17), and relying on His providence in setting our direction (Rom. 8:28). It makes all the difference when we tap into God’s power. Let’s not overlook the one thing that is always essential in everything we undertake! 

The power button is just to the right of the frame of this picture.
Longing For Growth

Longing For Growth

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

The apostle Peter reveals to us that we must make several changes if we desire to grow in God’s Word. The first step is to prepare the heart. 1 Peter 1:22 says, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” To truly grow in God’s Word we must prepare our heart. Peter’s command is to love one another from a pure heart. 

Scripture is a blessing, but not everyone will receive it with joy. In the parable of the soils in Luke 8 Jesus tells us that not everyone will receive the word. Some will never accept it in the first place, some will show joy at first, but eventually fall away, and some will accept the word implanted with joy and stay faithful. 

For the word to be in us, we must prepare our hearts to accept what we will find. Peter commanded a sincere love from a pure heart. For this to take place we must put others first. The world doesn’t act this way, but is filled with selfish people who are only interested in themselves. God’s Word cannot be in this kind of person. There must be a change of heart to that which is pure. This can all be done by seeing others as more important than yourself. A selfless heart is a saved heart. 

The second step in letting God’s Word grow in us is to have a proper desire for the word. Many Christians recognize the power of God’s Word, but they lack the desire to study and grow. 

1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” The Greek word for “long” means “to have a strong desire for.” We are to have a strong desire for scripture. By doing this we grow in our knowledge of salvation. 

It is vital that we long to learn more about God. That we desire to know more about our salvation. That we learn more about how we are to live as God’s children. The more we learn the more we will want to read scripture. 

The first time you go to a gym you hate it. You hate the soreness, the fatigue, the sweat. But after a month or two you begin to look forward to that feeling. You look forward to going to the gym. I don’t know, you may call that a mental illness, but it really is true. Just think the next time you open your Bible, you are reading the very words of God. He wanted you to see and learn what He has to say. 

The more you dig, the more you will want to learn. And this is the proper response to scripture. 

Long for it. Desire it. Chase after more than anything else, and you will see the change that comes.

A Box Of Mushrooms

A Box Of Mushrooms

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

 

Dale Pollard

 

It’s special to receive a gift from someone who truly cares. You know why? Because they know you, and they know what you like. If someone got me a box of mushrooms for my birthday, I’d assume that person didn’t know me very well. Mushrooms are a fungus and should never be consumed— in my humble opinion.

Let’s take a moment to think about how well the average person in this world knows Jesus. Many people would say that Jesus was a great guy. Some would say that He was a good teacher, and still others would say that Jesus was an important figure in world history. All of those things are true. But, how well do they know Him? 

Too often phrases like, “well the Bible says…” or “well Jesus said…” are thrown around thoughtlessly, but there’s no biblical backing behind the words spoken. It happens in the world, and truth be told it happens in the body of Christ. Usually it’s said when we’re trying to make a point or when we don’t or can’t remember where some scripture is, or maybe even what that particular scripture actually says. It’s as easy to declare “Jesus says” as  “Simon says.” 1 John 17:3 it says, “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent…” Now, without ripping this out of context, you might notice the simple phrase, “that they may know…Jesus Christ.” There was a reason that Christ came. He came so that we might know Him. What are we doing in our daily lives that is helping us to know Jesus better? 

Communicating with Him, and letting Him communicate with you is vital to a healthy and intimate relationship when it comes to your spouse and certainly— your Savior. 

9 Kernel Crop

9 Kernel Crop

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

 
Have you ever seen those little rocking horses that little kids ride? They hop on and rock back and forth, but they never go anywhere. There’s a whole lot of motion and work put in, but there’s never any progress made. Just like we don’t sit in a rocking chair to go somewhere, we need to understand how to work towards growth and maturity in our faith and knowledge.

We can work towards growing as Christians, but if we aren’t studying properly, or have the wrong mindset, our work and effort will never produce the outcome we are looking for. 2 Peter 3:18 tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” We are told by Peter through inspiration from God to “grow” and this isn’t a suggestion. It’s an imperative we are commanded to obey.

If you’re like me, this seems like a general command that can be overwhelming. If we want to grow a garden we have to do several things in order to be successful. We have to prepare the soil (no rocks or weeds) in order to give the plants what they need to grow and produce. There’s maintenance work to be done once the plants begin to grow. Keep weeds from choking out the plants, and make sure they are watered. Keep animals and bugs from destroying the plants. Make sure they get enough sunlight. And depending on the type of plant we will need to trim and cut excess leaves and stems to help it produce more produce (see what I did there?). Having a garden takes time, effort and patience.

Gardens don’t just magically appear. But there are some rare exceptions. I was burning some old clothes and furniture last year and I decided to throw some spoiled corn in the fire. When summer came around guess what I had sprouting out of my fire pit? Stalks of corn! And I got a great harvest of about 9 kernels. I ate them and it was pretty good! As Christians we will grow to a point without having to work too hard. We can learn from the lessons we hear at church, we can grow from what our parents teach us, but there will come a time when that won’t be enough. The corn in my fire pit only grew so much before it started turning brown. Turns out the roots were only surface deep because there was a sheet of metal keeping them from growing deeper. This in turn affected the produce that came from the plant. Hopefully as Christians we want to produce more than 9 kernels, and in order to grow properly we need put in the work.

Peter tells us that as Christians we must increase in grace (Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 3:16; 2 Pt. 1:2), grow in knowledge (Eph. 4:15; Col. 1:10, 2:19; 1 Pt. 2:2), and be motivated by a desire to glorify Christ (2 Pt. 3:18).

Our effort should produce results. In order for this to happen we must know the proper steps to take. We should never be satisfied with our knowledge of scripture. There’s no such thing as knowing too much Bible. We should never settle for the small amount of growth we encounter at services 3 times a week.

Am I willing to put in the work?

The Great Canon

The Great Canon

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The “Heavy Gustaf” was a German cannon of incredible size. It’s barrel was 31.5 inches wide and it was built in the 1930s. The entire purpose of this weapon was not to wound the enemy but to completely destroy the French forts which were the strongest of any at the time. 

Later this weapon aided in destroying a Soviet munitions depot that lay 98 feet underground in WWII. It was one of the biggest cannons ever built, but it’s certainly not the most powerful. That title belongs to The Canon of scripture. It doesn’t have the power to take life but to give life eternal. It has the power to convict and completely change someone caught in the clutches of sin. God’s Word is a testimony and another evidence of God’s power. It answers two very important questions.

How do I prepare myself to live on this earth? 

How I do I prepare myself to leave this earth? 

In God’s Word the steps to salvation are revealed. Righteousness is defined as well as sinfulness. It’s a piece of God’s mind, it’s a book from heaven. The Bible is not just paper and ink, it’s much more. When that truly begins to sink in through the study and practice of what’s been written, our spiritual lives and faith will grow in leaps and bounds. We should be confident that grateful to have a guide given by God shining a light forward towards His glory.

Psalm 119:105 

“Praying The Scriptures”

“Praying The Scriptures”

MONDAY’S COLUMN: NEAL AT THE CROSS

Neal at ATF 2020

Neal Pollard

Yesterday morning, Chuck Raymer prayed an especially beautiful prayer, well-thought-out and earnest, but also filled with quotations of Bible verses or parts of them (near the beginning, he quoted Psalm 100:3)(his prayer begins at about 6:30 of the recording on YouTube of yesterday morning’s service: It starts here). My good friend and former co-worker in Colorado, Corey Sawyers, would often adapt the words of an entire psalm and pray it as he led us in the assemblies. There is something especially powerful about prayers that are Scripture quotations. It’s certainly something biblical.

In Acts 4:23, Peter and John, after having been released from being held by the Jews for preaching Jesus, met with the Jerusalem congregation. They lifted their voices to God with one accord and addressed Him. In their brief prayer (note verse 31), they quoted Exodus 20:11 (also found in Nehemiah and Psalms) and Psalm 2:1-2. They were so full of the Word that it came out even in their prayers. Look at the Levites who led Judah in prayer in Nehemiah 9:4-37. Much at that prayer quotes passages and events found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). Most powerfully of all, Jesus prayed Scripture at a more difficult moment than any other human being will ever face (Mark 15:34). The praying prophet, Daniel, turned to God in prayer being moved by the words of Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2-3). How will it help us to pray the Scriptures in our own lives, whether in publicly leading prayer or in our private devotional lives?

IT LETS THE GOD WE WANT TO HEAR US KNOW THAT WE ARE LISTENING TO HIM.

Certainly, God knows His Word, but so does He know our every innermost thought, desire, and need. But, there is something about addressing God by including great truth from His Word that can really enrich those prayers. It tells Him we are mindful of His will even as we seek to influence it. 

IT BUILDS OUR FAITH IN THE TRUTH AND PROMISES OF HIS WORD.

Repetition is not just the key to learning, but it can also greatly aid our comprehension and retention. As you pray Scripture, you help reinforce those promises and truths. You will actually be reflecting on them as you pray it back to God. 

IT HELPS US TO APPLY THE WORD TO OUR DAILY LIVES.

Scripture can become more real and meaningful as we make verbalize it in prayer. It can take incidents and teachings in Scriptures and directly apply those verses to what we are going through. So often, we are going through the same exact types of things men and women of the Bible were going through. How can it be more practical than this: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psa. 119:11)?

There are probably several more reasons why we should quote and allude to Scripture in our prayer lives, but these are at least a few. You will certainly never say anything more truthful and right in your prayers than God’s Word. You will also be walking in some very righteous footprints, of those in Scripture who prayed Scripture back to God. 

Study The Bible!

Study The Bible!

Thursday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

I doubt that many of us would question the importance of knowing our Bibles. We talk about this a lot as a church family! While some Christians may approach Bible study with the mentality of loading their theological guns with argument-ending ammunition, others consider it a duty of their Christianity.
Few of us would argue that the Bible is always simple and easy to understand. This life, our faith, and many questions we have about our day-to-day lives require answers far too complicated to get from a cursory study of scripture.
So why is it important to study our Bibles, and how can we do it effectively (that is, to walk away from Bible study with more knowledge and faith than when we entered it)? It is important to study the Bible because ignorance of what it says is a major underlying cause for any problem a church might face. Do we want unity? Study the Bible. Do we want peace among ourselves? Study the Bible. Do we want strong, faithful Christians? Study the Bible. Do we want godly attitudes? Study the Bible. Do we want wisdom to know when to practice righteous judgment and when to keep silent? Study the Bible! Effective Bible study – when practiced by the majority of a congregation – will effectively strengthen and grow that church. So how do we effectively study our Bibles?
First, have a purpose to your study. Winning an argument with a friend, coworker, acquaintance, or contact on social media is rarely a good reason to approach the word of God in study. It is too easy to allow our pride or ego to get in the way of honest truth-seeking. Instead, approach your study with purpose. Are you seeking to grow your faith in God? Study accordingly. Are you seeking to understand how to respond to something in your Christian walk? Study accordingly. Are you trying to cope with grief, tragedy, or frustration? Study the Psalms and the end of Job. Whenever you sit down to read, have a purpose.
Secondly, study like a scholar. There is a time and place for covering as much text as you can (like reading the Bible through in a year). However, this should not be our primary method of study. Spend time in a small section of scripture. Look for key words (words that repeat themselves in your section of study), ask questions of the text when something does not make sense, look for words like “therefore,” “but,” and phrases like, “I urge.” See how they fit into the context of your passage. Use multiple versions in your study to gain a better understanding of the “feel” of the passage. As much as you can, look to the original language for definitions or insights. If you have a smartphone, download an app called Logos Bible Software. It will give you access to tools that will help you understand the meaning of words in their original language, even if you cannot read Hebrew or Greek. Avoid commentaries if you can at all help it. They are often (though not always) platforms for the writer to voice an opinion and rarely explain the meaning of the text with accuracy.
Thirdly, study frequently. I recommend printing out the passage you are interested in studying and complete one printed section per day. This is arbitrary, of course, but will still help to create some consistency. Use colored pencils/pens/highlighters to make the text come alive and to aid in recognizing patterns.
Finally, share what you have found with your friends in the church! If you have a group of friends studying the same passage, find ways to share what you observed in the text in your daily bible reading. This not only creates accountability for reading daily, but will also grow your faith and knowledge when you understand that passage so very well!
If you take up Bible study like this, you will be amazed at how much closer you will grow to God and to your church family. If all of us approach study this seriously and with this much commitment, we will grow as a church family in unity, faith, knowledge, love, patience, grace, and wisdom.
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How To Slay A Dragon

How To Slay A Dragon

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

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Carl Pollard

There’s a part in Sleeping Beauty where the Prince slays a fire breathing dragon with his sword. This is at the climax of the movie, so this entire time the story has been building up to this one, final moment. It’s pretty epic. In our lives, we have many “Fire Breathing Dragons.” At this moment I would like to talk about three of them and how to “kill” them.

First, notice with me the “dragon” of lying. If you look at Colossians 3:9, it says, “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all it’s wicked deeds.”
Lying in Colossians is labeled under “evil nature.” If we have stripped our old ways, why do we continue to lie? Because much of the lying that we do is for personal gain. For example, someone could come up to me and ask, “How much can you bench?” and I might say “850 pounds.” That’s a classic example of lying for personal gain. From now on that person will believe that lie I told them and possibly tell others. We can slay this dragon by telling the truth. Challenge yourself to tell full truths, and not half-truths.

Second, there is the “dragon” of Hate. Luke 6:27 says, “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” The hardest part of this verse is the second half. Trying to love those who hate us is extremely difficult because in our minds they started it so we have the right to hate them back. If you look at Jesus, our example, He says to love those who hate us. How do we do this? It requires a change of vision. We should try to look at those who hate us as a lost soul that needs saving. Looking at them this way might help us to love them more.

Third, and finally, is the “dragon” of Gossip. This one can be very dangerous because it might tear apart a friendship, a person, and the church. If you look at Ephesians 4:29, It reads, “Let no corrupt communication proceed from your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Instead of tearing down someone or spreading rumors, let’s try to build up one another! To keep from letting something slip about someone, let’s try to practice what our parents told us from day one: “Think about what we say before we say it.”

Now there is one more thing we can use to slay “dragons.” The ultimate Two-Edged Sword is for slaying any kind of “dragon.” This Two-Edged Sword, the Bible, can slay any dragon that Satan sends our way. Today we only looked at three of the dragons that Satan uses against us. There are many more, and we must study Scripture to see what they are, and how we can slay them.

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WHY DO YOU BELIEVE?

WHY DO YOU BELIEVE?

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

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Gary Pollard III

I believe that God exists. I believe that He communicated with His creation by direct contact, messengers, and a series of ancient texts. I believe that He wants His human creation to be with Him after they die. I believe that He expects those who claim to be His to act within the guidelines He set in those ancient texts. I believe that there is life after death and that where we go depends on whether or not we follow this God.

Why do I believe this, though? What reason do I have to believe in something I cannot experience with my senses? I was not there thousands of years ago when the prophets and Hebrews talked to God. I was not there when God came among men and taught. I was not there when the Spirit-inspired authors of the original texts delivered their writings to the early church. The ancient texts translated into English sometimes do not effectively communicate the emotion of the words and concepts in the original language. So why do I believe these things? Why do you believe these things?

Think about this carefully.  From Genesis to Revelation the message is clear; God wants His people to exist with Him after time is destroyed. This message was communicated to an impossible variety of people, sometimes separated by hundreds of years, thousands of miles, culture, kingdom, race, and language. There are tens of thousands of manuscripts of these ancient texts in many, many different languages. There are some 25,000 New Testament manuscripts or fragments that are separated by about a thousand years, at least 8 different languages, hundreds (if not thousands) of miles of geography, and many different cultures. Yet, they are at least 95% accurate to each other. The remaining 5% do not contain a single contradiction; rather, they are spelling errors, slips of the pen, writing on the wrong line, or minor variances (“God said” vs. “He said” or “and” vs. “but”).

Of the rich libraries we have of ancient literature, none can hold even the dimmest candle to the profound accuracy and unity of the scriptures. They could not have been produced by man alone. There had to be Someone not confined by time supervising each person as they wrote. Keep in mind, these ancient cultures did not have the advantage of modern communication. They were almost totally isolated from each other and would have known little of the others’ existence, much less what they experienced or wrote from God. Our Bible has supernatural origins and its contents reveal the nature of our Creator. What I believe comes from this book because I know it is God’s message to mankind. I encourage those who have not already done so to do an in-depth study of the origin of scripture. It is one of the most faith-building studies anyone could undertake. When you know with certainty that what you are reading contains the actual thoughts and desires of God, it bolsters your faith in ways I could not begin to adequately describe.

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Uncial 220 (fragment of Romans 4:23-5:3)

“Weaponizing” The Bible

“Weaponizing” The Bible

Neal Pollard

While politicians have quoted the Bible as far back as the founding fathers, have you noticed the trend especially in the last 20 years or so to use Scripture to push a policy or score a point? Perhaps it’s to pander to a group or to reinforce one’s position. During the historic impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives, the Bible was “weaponized” by both sides of the aisle in embarrassing, repulsive ways. One side compared the impeachment trial of the President to Jesus before Pilate, producing a tasteless, horrific analogy. The other side ripped Romans 1:25 from context to admonish the President’s supporters as worshipping the “creature” more than the “Creator”–I wonder if this extremely liberal politician bothered to read the very next few verses? The God of heaven must be filled with righteous wrath over such misuses of His Word!

Unbelievers have long tried to weaponize the Bible against those who believe God’s Word is inspired. A favorite “go to” is Matthew 7:1 (“judge not that you be not judged”) as a shield for any number of immoral deeds which Scripture itself condemns. This is often an effort to turn what people claim to follow (the Bible) against them to defend their actions. John 8:7 (“let him that is without sin cast the first stone”) is a close second and used similarly 

Yet, each of us needs to be careful not to remove a Bible verse from its context to make it say what it is not saying. Peter warned that “the untaught and unstable distort” the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). Often, it’s a general ideas like “God wants me to be happy” or misuses of Scripture like “where two or three are gathered together in my name” to have it say what it does not mean.  Perhaps we defend our actions with our physical or Christian family by appealing to wonderful Bible concepts like grace, love, and freedom, but in effect weaponize them to suit our lifestyle choices. Scripture itself says these concepts can be misappropriated (Jude 4, 1 Cor. 13:4-7, Gal. 5:13, etc.). 

Scripture is a powerful weapon which God intends for us to use in spiritual warfare (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:14-17). But, as with every weapon, it must be handled properly (2 Tim. 2:15). I must understand that God will be displeased if I misuse this omnipotent tool. Used properly and in context, Scripture is powerful. Used otherwise, we will hurt ourselves and probably others!

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