What To Do When Things Seem To Be Falling Apart

What To Do When Things Seem To Be Falling Apart

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

The country seems to be falling apart. What can we do right now in our messed up culture? These are some observations from I & II Peter:

  1. Focus, first and foremost, on our reward (I Pt 1.3-5). 
  2. View hardship as a way to grow (1.6-9). 
  3. Appreciate our grace, since it gives us sustained innocence in God’s eyes (1.10-12). 
  4. When times get hard, put 100% of our hope in the second coming (1.13). 
  5. We won’t get caught up in our worldly culture, but double down on being moral like Jesus (1.14-20). 
  6. Put all of our confidence and hope in God (as opposed to people) (1.21). 
  7. Practice genuine love for our Christian family (1.22-23). 
  8. Keep the brevity of our lives in the forefront of our minds (1.24-25). 
  9. Get rid of negative character attributes (2.1). 
  10. Spend more time in Bible study (2.2-8). 
  11. Remember that we’re a sovereign nation as God’s people (2.9-10). 
  12. Set a good example, especially around worldly people (2.11-12). 
  13. Submit to all governing authorities, both because it’s what God wants and because it reflects the church well (2.13-17). 
  14. Go through difficulty with patience and grace (2.18-25). 
  15. Husbands and wives can cultivate and strengthen their marriages (3.1-7). 
  16. Make our church family our highest priority (3.8). 
  17. Be good to people who mistreat us (3.9-13). 
  18. Don’t stress about people who mistreat us because of our beliefs (3.14-22). 
  19. Resist the temptation to fall back on sinful habits when difficulty happens (4.1-6). 
  20. Remember that our lives are short (4.7). 
  21. Love our Christian family, take care of them, and be unified in our relationship with God (4.8-11). 
  22. Expect difficulty, and see it as suffering with Jesus (4.12-14). 
  23. Trust God with our lives when things get difficult (4.15-19). 
  24. Give our lives completely to God (5.6). 
  25. Give all of our anxieties to God (5.7). 
  26. Remember that Satan is our true enemy, and he wants us to mess up — don’t let him win (5.8-9). 
  27. Remember that even worst-case scenarios are short-lived (5.10). 
  28. Remember that apostles and prophets predicted that things would get rough toward the end (II Pt 3.1-4; cf II Thess 2.1-3; II Tim 3.1). 
  29. Remember that God is fully in charge of Earth’s destiny (3.5-8). 
  30. Remember that this Earth is temporary (3.10). 
  31. Remember that God expects us to live as if tomorrow’s the end (3.11-12). 
  32. Remember that we’re living for a new earth and sky (3.13, cf Rev 21.1-2; Is 65.17; Mt 19.28). 
  33. “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found without spot or imperfection, and at peace. And consider God’s patience to be salvation…” (3.14-15). 
2 Peter (Part 4)

2 Peter (Part 4)

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard III

I’ll be repeating the book of II Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

The End Is Coming

Family, this is the second time I’ve had to remind you about this. You have the right motives, but you need to remember what the prophets said in the past. Your master and rescuer gave this same message through us, too. The message is this: at the end of everything, arrogant skeptics will make their way into the church. They’ll give in to every impulse they have. They’ll say stuff like, “Didn’t he say he was coming back?” and, “Nothing’s really changed since our ancestors died, we’re all still here.” They forget that God built the sky and planet with some words. He built everything out of water and used water to destroy the earth during the flood. Right now, he’s preserving the planet with a special fate in mind. At the end, the planet we’re on right now will be burned with fire. That’s when morally corrupt people will be judged and destroyed. You cannot forget that God doesn’t experience time the same way we do. He isn’t dragging his feet, like some are claiming. He’s holding off because he really doesn’t want anyone to die lost. He wants every person to be saved! 

Two Camps

Two Camps

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I understand the power of grace, and am grateful for it. I understand that those walking in the light have lenience with God, and I’m grateful for that! But I still wonder what I’m missing. Many (maybe most) Christians feel the same way. We want Jesus to come back as soon as possible! But the thought is also terrifying. After all, a lot of Christians will be shocked when they’re condemned at judgment (Matt 7.21). So how do we avoid that eternal gut punch? 

Obviously, the first step is to join God’s family the way he said to. “Being saved” is not just about rescue from sin. That’s part of it! Being saved is about the last day. When Jesus separates humanity into two camps (Matt 25.32), we want to be in the one that doesn’t get destroyed. 

Notice what Jesus tells people on both sides: “I was hungry, so you gave me food. I was thirsty, so you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, but you invited me into your home. I had no clothes, so you gave me some. I was sick, so you took care of me. I was in prison, so you visited me” (Matt 25.34-36). 

If that statement applies to someone, they’re saved. If it doesn’t, they’re out of luck. 

It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t say, “You had the correct view of worship. You debated the plan of salvation with religious groups. You read your bible every day.” Those are critical (see the whole New Testament), so don’t misunderstand me. 

But when Jesus addresses both groups, their fate will be decided by how they treated God’s family. 

So what do we take away from this? 

  • Take care of the physical needs of church family. 
  • Be very careful about criticizing the church. Err on the side of caution. 
  • Keep priorities where they need to be. There’s a time and place for defending God’s word and his teachings! But most of our energy should be dedicated to what matters most to Jesus. 

When we take care of each other, we’ll be told, “My father has nothing but praise for you! Come with me, you’ve inherited the kingdom that was made for you when we created the world” (Matt 25.34). 

The End-Times

The End-Times

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

People all over the eschatological spectrum have been watching recent news events with bated breath. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine must be a sign of the “end-times.” To some, in the premillennial camp, Putin is an antichrist. Yes, he has military might and money. And he could undoubtedly become a global dictator ushering in “The Great Tribulation,” which those unlucky enough not to be raptured must endure before Christ sets up His earthly kingdom.  

But, to postmillennialist Pat Robertson, Putin fulfills Ezekiel’s prophecy showing that “God is getting ready to do something amazing…”1Postmillennialism is more optimistic than premillennialism with its doom and gloom of the worst trials and tribulations the world has ever seen. So, first, the world will come to Christ, more or less. (Though Robertson believes it will involve warfare.) Then Jesus will set up a kingdom on earth, and we will enjoy a golden age.  

There is a big problem with this thinking, though. We have been in the “end-times” since about the day of Pentecost A.D. 30 or 33. In Acts 2, Jesus fulfilled His promise to pour the Spirit upon the apostles (John 16.7; Acts 2.33). Thus filled with the Spirit, the apostles began speaking in tongues, languages they had never studied. We know they were languages rather than unintelligible gibberish because the people listening to them were from various places. The people wondered why they could hear these Galileans speak their native tongues. Peter told them that it was a result of the pouring out of the Spirit upon men, something the prophet Joel wrote would happen during the “last days” (Acts 2.16-21; Joel 2.28-32).   

Hence, it has been the “end-times” for about 2,000 years. And what of the kingdom? It might surprise some to hear me say that the kingdom is here. Now, I hear even someone who has only dabbled in theological studies respond, “That just makes you an amillennialist.” No, that is a misnomer. That term means “no millennium” since the prefix “a” negates the following word. It is not a denial of a period of the kingdom’s reign; instead, the Scriptures demonstrate that we are not waiting for the kingdom’s establishment. Jesus told His disciples in Mark 9.1 that there would be those listening to Him who would not die until they had seen the kingdom arrive with power. Therefore, unless there are 2,000-year-old disciples, the kingdom is with us now. 

And the kingdom’s present reality is what the Bible teaches. In Revelations, the beloved apostle John wrote that he was already in the kingdom (Revelation 1.9). Furthermore, Paul thanked God for rescuing us from the “domain of darkness” and transferring us to the “kingdom of His beloved Son.” (Colossians 1.13 NASB1995) And Jesus already sits upon His throne at the right hand of God. Note the penultimate verse of Mark’s Gospel: “So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark16.19 NASB1995) Jesus will remain on His throne until His enemies are defeated, the last of whom is death (1 Corinthians 15.24-26). 

I have only touched the hem of the garment on this issue. There is much more to be said. However, to paraphrase Jude, I had intended to write a different article but thought I should write this one in response to all the “end-times” talk caused by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Rather than fear the unfolding of events, take comfort in knowing that you have the ear of a King. Yes, Jesus now reigns and makes intercession for us (Romans 8.34).   

Sources Cited 

1 Warren, Steve. “’God Is Getting Ready to Do Something Amazing’: CBN Founder Pat Robertson on Russia and Its Place in Prophecy.” CBN News, CBN News, 1 Mar. 2022, www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/2022/february/god-is-getting-ready-to-do-something-amazing-founder-pat-robertson-on-russia-and-its-place-in-prophecy

“Escargot?”

“Escargot?”

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

[Note: I titled it escargot because I used to get eschatology and escargot confused. Plus, in his section concerning the end of time Peter prefaces with, “The Lord isn’t slow concerning His promises the way we consider slowness.” Snails are slow. The end of time seems far away, hence escargot]

A lot of movies detailing a world-ending event are designed to elicit a fearful response from viewers (for thrills, of course). Whether it’s the Walking Dead’s zombie apocalypse, Independence Day’s alien invasion, or Knowing’s solar flare (although Nicolas Cage’s acting is probably the most terrifying thing about the movie…), the end of time is usually portrayed as a terrifying event requiring humanity to go to incredible lengths to avoid it. 

Christianity is so beautiful because we’re actually dying for the end to come! 

I Corinthians 1.7 – “…as you wait for the revealing of our lord Jesus Christ…” Wait is apekdechomia, which means to welcome something with great anticipation. The same word is used to I Peter 3.20 where God eagerly waited for the earth to run away from sin in the days of Noah. 

Philippians 3.20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a savior, the lord Jesus Christ…” Paul encouraged the Philippian church to imitate the examples of selflessness he had listed, especially since enemies of the cross were in existence (maybe even an indirect reference to Euodia and Syntyche). Unlike the enemies of the cross, we’re waiting for God to save us from this world. 

Romans 8.19 – “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…” And 23, “Not only creation, but we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Redemption is apolutrosis, which describes release from a captive state or from interrogation. We eagerly anticipate the last day. 

Hebrews 9.28 – “…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Verse 27 makes it very clear that we face judgment immediately after death! Jesus’ second coming is to save us from this world, which was made dysfunctional because of sin. 

II Peter 3.12 – “Since all these things will be undone, what sort of people should you be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hurrying the coming of the day of God, because of which the sky will be set on fire and dismantled, and the earth and the works done within it will be dissolved.” Peter is describing the end, but far from terrifying, we are waiting for and hurrying that last day. 

A lot’s going on in our world, much of it scary and anxiety-inducing. Oh well! “Come back, lord Jesus” (Rev. 22.20).  

The Christian And Communion

The Christian And Communion

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

Did you know that eating processed meats like bologna and pepperoni have been linked to memory loss? That’s a real bummer because most of the meat that I like is processed. I love Vienna sausages, hotdogs, pepperoni, and many other types of processed meat. Which might explain why I can’t remember names to save my life. It’s not just names, I forget about birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and a bunch of other important dates. But I’m not alone in this. Mankind as a whole tends to forget important events with the passing of time.
 
Which is exactly why God in His infinite wisdom commands us to remember a certain event every first day of the week. “The Lord’s Supper,” “the Lord’s Table,” “the Cup of Blessing,” “Communion,” and “the Breaking of Bread” each are descriptions used in scripture that refer to the act of remembering the body and blood of Jesus on the first day of the week. In the early church it was also called “the Eucharist” or “the giving of thanks” (Matt. 26:27).
 
What is the Lord’s Supper? Every week Christians observe it, and most of us know what it is. It’s a time to pause and think about the sacrifice of Christ. We do it every week and for good reason since we tend to forget important events. God commands us to participate in this act every week as a church so that we can always be thankful and remember what Christ did for us.
 
What can sometimes be an issue is that if we aren’t careful, it can be easy to let it turn into a mindless habit. What should we be doing during the communion?
 
Scripture gives us many different aspects of the Lord’s Supper that should be taken into consideration when we stop to remember the sacrifice of Jesus.
 
Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus commands us to “eat” the bread, and “drink” the cup. We are commanded to eat the bread which represents His body, and drink the cup which represents His blood.
 
As we fulfill the command to “eat” and “drink,” our minds must be completely engaged in a thorough remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice (1 Cor. 11:24-25). What do we think about during this time? The sinless and perfect life Jesus lived that made Him an acceptable solution for our sin problem. His willingness to go to the cross. The crucifixion. Specifically His body that was pierced and beaten, and His blood that poured from His wounds. Blood that has the power to forgive our sins. The burial AND resurrection because none of this would’ve meant anything if Jesus stayed in the tomb.
We should remember Christ’s right hand position in heaven that now gives us access to the Father. And we are to remember the common bond we now have as a church.
 
1 Corinthians 10:16 describes the Lord’s Supper as a “participation.” Paul uses the Greek word koinonia which means “a sharing or fellowship.” As a church we have fellowship in the blood and body of Christ. Verse 17 tells us that the “many are one” because there is only one body (Christ) that brought us together. We are united by the body of Christ.
 
The next time we observe the Lord’s Supper let’s be sure to dwell on these things; Remember every aspect of Christ’s sacrifice, remember where He is now, and remember the unity we now share with each other.
 
 
 
 
The Asparamancer

The Asparamancer

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

IMG_0806

Carl Pollard

I came across an article with this title, “Fortune Teller uses asparagus to predict the future.” Of course, I clicked on it, and here’s what I learned:

Her name is Jemima Packington and she is known as the “Asparamancer.”
She throws asparagus in the air and then reads the patterns that have landed on the ground. So far she has correctly predicted Trump’s election, British soccer league losing the World Cup, and the spike in vegetable sales across the world.

But Jemima isn’t always correct. She once said about her wrong predictions, “I am usually about 70 percent accurate with my predictions. This is because not every asparagus is meant to be used for prophesying. I take what I do very seriously and this is especially important when it comes to picking the right asparagus” (ecr.co.za).

If only reading the future were as simple as throwing vegetables in the air, but unfortunately it’s not.

Matthew 24:36-39 says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
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As humans we cannot see the future, only God can. We won’t have a warning that will let us know when He is coming. So that begs the question, “How are you living?” It would be amazing to always have a clean house. if someone dropped by you can invite them in and know it looks fine. My mom hated inviting people over when our house was dirty. She’d clean for hours before even one of our friends would come over.

What kind of house do you have? When God comes back, will He find a dirty house? A life that was spent in vanity and on self-service? Or will He find a clean and orderly house, one that has been prepared and one that has lived a life of service to God? As we think about the future, may we never fail to ask ourselves, “How is my house?”

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Seeing God In Nature: Volcanos

Seeing God In Nature: Volcanos

Neal Pollard

As we received word of the volcanic eruption near Guatemala City, Guatemala, yesterday, where Bear Valley Bible Institute has had an extension school for several years, we were reminded of the omnipotence of God. The power God displays through nature and His creation reveal how such a powerful effect reveals an even more powerful cause. Volcanic activity for which there is no recorded history, like at Yellowstone, Deccan Plateau, and Santorini, stand alongside several we do know about. Perhaps Pompeii or Mt. Saint Helens is most infamous, but the Mount Tambora volcano in Indonesia has been called the most explosive and deadly for which there is historical recounting. Mount Tambora’s eruption began on April 5, 1815, and the mountain blew apart on the evening of April 10th. “The blast, pyroclastic flows, and tsunamis that followed killed at least 10,000 islanders and destroyed the homes of 35,000 more” (britannica.com). It went from being a mountain 14,000 feet high to being a caldera (a crater) 3.7 miles across. Its effects were intense and global. It shot megatons of material into the atmosphere, preventing so much sunlight from reaching the earth’s surface that 80,000 more Indonesians died from famine and disease. The earth’s average temperature was reduced over five degrees. Western Europe and eastern North America experienced heavy snow and killing frost in June, July, and August, causing “crop failures and starvation in those regions, and the year 1816 was called the ‘year without a summer’” (ibid.).

Volcanos are so awesome and powerful that they evoke a strong response from us. They illustrate several things of a spiritual nature. As noted above, they are demonstrations of an all-powerful God. So often, they erupt without specific warning. There may have been tremors and signs for years, but nothing out of the ordinary. Then, too rapidly for many to escape, the cataclysmic occurs. It is a testimony of good that comes from tragedy, too. The Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University reminds us that volcanic soil is very rich and conducive to a dramatic agricultural comeback following these geological events (volcano.oregonstate,edu). These events should help remind us of a truth Bible writers like Peter teach us, that “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (2 Pet. 3:10-12). 

Please pray for our brethren in Guatemala and for the hearts of all men outside of Christ, that they might come to a saving knowledge of the truth before it is eternally too late. May the evidence gleaned from places like nature, including volcanic events, persuade mankind of the reality and power of God. So persuaded, perhaps their hearts will be open to learning more about Who this God is as we share the revelation of Him as found in His Word!

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Mount Tambora caldera

ARE YOU ON THE LIST?

ARE YOU ON THE LIST?

Neal Pollard

I recently heard D.C. Brown, illustrating proper conduct, mention a list I’ve seen at times in my adult life. The list he mentioned was of people whose personal checks the cashier was not to take. The offenders apparently wrote “bad checks,” checks they did not have sufficient funds to cover. The names, as is typical, were bold and legible to the customer as well as the employee. Multiple purposes are achieved through such a list—warning, shaming, identifying, and the like. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that someone’s name might accidentally land on the list.

Throughout our lives, we may find ourselves looking to see if we are on this list or that. When I was in school, they would publish the honor roll list, depth charts in sports, casts for plays and who was chosen for what part, and those who were selected for the Beta Club or Honor Society. The advent of the internet has slowly replaced paper lists with electronic ones, but the concept is still intact.

The Bible talks about a “list.” It is a list every thinking and feeling person should yearn to have their name written on.  The setting is the great day of judgment, recorded by John in Revelation 20:11-15. Jesus is sitting in all His majesty on His throne. Everyone, great and small, stood before that throne. They were judged by God’s Word and what they did with it. In a sobering text, here is the climax: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was throne into the lake of fire” (15). Jesus preached on earth that the majority of all people will not be on that list (Mat. 7:13-14). They will have neglected or rejected the will revealed in the Bible (cf. John 12:48). If never before that moment, at that threshold of eternity they will have never wanted anything like they will want to have their name on that list. But, then it will be too late. Now is the time to submit ourselves and our lives to that divine will and, by grace through faith, have our name written there.

Some lists we would wish to avoid in this life. The list, in Revelation 20:12, is not one of them. What a joy it will be to hear our name “when the roll is called up yonder”!

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Tora! Tora! Tora!

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Neal Pollard

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event which drew our country into World War II. 2,343 men were killed, 1,143 were wounded, and 960 unaccounted for or missing. The Japanese chose Sunday to attack as it was the most relaxed day of the week for the servicemen. Many were still in their pajamas or having breakfast when the attack began at 7:55 that morning. Kermit Tyler, an Air Force lieutenant serving as the officer on duty that morning, told the radar operator not to worry about the large blip on the radar screen. He thought it was a flight of U.S. bombers coming from our mainland. Instead, it was the first wave of attackers. Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the airstrike leader for the Japanese carrier force, could see that Pearl Harbor was totally unaware of the impending attack. He radioed back a coded message, repeating an abbreviated word three times—“to ra, to ra, to ra”—meaning “lightning strike.” The transmission began at 7:49, undetected by the soon-to-be victims of the attack that began a mere six minutes later (read more here).

Among so many significant facts, what we most remember about the attack on Pearl Harbor was how utterly surprising it was. No one stood vigil, considering the possibility of it. Like its later counterpart, “9/11,” and even natural catastrophes like Pompeii, the Galveston hurricane, the 2004 tsunami, or Mexico’s El Chicon volcano, serious and deadly events can occur without warning. With our most sophisticated technology and detection systems, we are without the ability to forewarn about the greatest surprise that will ever be.

Paul says that the resurrection of the dead of all time will occur “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52). Paul and Peter both refer to “the day of the Lord” as that which will come “as a thief in the night” (1 Th. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Jesus warned that the day could be a disaster, a trap that comes on one “suddenly” (Luke 21:34). He taught that it will come at an hour unknown to everyone (Mark 13:32-33).

While it will surprise everyone, the coming of Christ will be a devastating event for the great majority of mankind. For them, it will infinitely exceed the loss of physical life. It will be an everlasting loss (Mat. 25:46; 2 Th. 1:9). Yet, God has made preparation eminently possible. He desires escape for everyone (2 Pet. 3:9). One can be prepared for that day and be saved from harm and for something inexpressibly superior. Those of us who have discovered the way of preparation must hold fast to it (cf. Heb. 3:6) and strive to share this vital information with as many as possible. The sudden coming of Christ need not be a defeat, but can instead be the harbinger of the greatest victory ever.  May Paul’s inspired exclamation be our song of victory: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54b-55). Amen. Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20)!

burning_ships_at_pearl_harbor