1 Peter–Part X

1 Peter–Part X

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I 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. 

I Peter – Part X

Younger people, listen to the leaders. Every one of you should think of the other as being more important than yourselves. God stands against prideful people, but he’s very patient with humble people. Stay humble under God’s power and he’ll lift you up when it’s time. He cares about you, so you should always let him handle your anxieties. 

Exercise self-control, and make sure you’re watching carefully. Your enemy (the devil) is on a determined path – like a hungry lion – looking for someone to kill. Fight him with determined faith, he’s not targeting just you. Everyone in God’s family is experiencing the same kind of suffering all over the world. After you’ve suffered for a short period of time, the God who gives so much grace will personally make you strong, give you confidence, restore you, and give you security. He has eternal power. 

I’m sending this short letter to you through Silvanus, my faithful brother. This is all true, and it’s extremely important for you to understand God’s timeless kindness and let it keep you strong. The woman at Babylon sends her greeting; she is chosen, just like you. Mark, my son, says hi. Make sure you greet and affirm each other. I hope all of you who follow Christ enjoy peace. 

The Age Of Rage

The Age Of Rage

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

For the last few years, it has become vogue to refer to the current state of incivility as “the age of rage.” The British newspaper, The Guardian, featured an article in 2019 by Oliver Burkeman, entitled, “The age of rage: are we really living in angrier times?” Janie Watkins wrote the book, “The Age of Rage”: This is a mad, mad world, in 2005. While it’s written in the context of America, it points back to examples like Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab, and other Bible characters, alongside modern dictators and megalomaniacs. At least one source, Science Focus, wisely observes, “The Age Of Rage: Why Social Media Makes Us So Angry…And What You Can Do About It” (3/20). Writers in Australia, Ireland, and other countries are all observing the same disturbing trend of people who disagree being willing to amplify their indignation with intimidation and violence. Outrage has simply become rage.

Any number of current events in the last few years would serve to prove that we’ve gone that far in our society. Civilization depends on civility. More than that, Christianity, as Jesus and His disciples teach it in the New Testament, requires us to “be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” as He sends us out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Mat. 10:16). You see, it doesn’t matter how the world acts. God expects us to assuage the rage.

The Bible identifies what qualifies as rage. The main word translated “rage” in modern translations is thumos, and it is found eighteen times in the New Testament. The NASB renders it “rage” (Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28), “indignation” (Rom. 2:8), “angry tempers” (2 Cor. 12:20), “outbursts of anger” (Gal. 5:20), “wrath” (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; Heb. 11:27; etc.), and “passion” (Rev. 14:8; 18:3). This word means the “intense expression of the inner self; a state of intense displeasure” (BDAG 461). Louw-Nida says, “an intense, passionate desire of an overwhelming and possibly destructive character” (290). Kittel explains that the verb from which this noun comes originally conveyed “violent movement” and “to boil up” and “smoke” and the noun came to mean what is moved–desire, impulse, disposition, thought, and anger (TDNTA 339). Picture a person’s temperament as a potentially seething volcano. Rather than controlling it, the person allows what’s inside to freely boil over. That is rage!

With intensifying rhetoric from those in the world who threaten harm in expressing their rage, what does God call you and me to do? First, at the basic level, we are not to sin in our anger (Eph. 4:26). Second, never take your own revenge (Rom. 12:19). Third, replace quarrelsomeness with kindness, patience (even when wronged), and gentleness (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Fourth, malign no one, but be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men (Titus 3:2).

Warning: This is not how the world thinks nor what the world will do, in many cases. But in the age of rage, we have a higher law. Simply put, it is, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). It’s not a matter of what that may or may not do for our personal causes, but what will it do to advance the cause of Christ. It’s why He has us in this age, to help the world see His way. Those who follow it will experience eternal joy, the antithesis and antidote to this age of rage!

1 Peter 1– Hope’s Value

1 Peter 1– Hope’s Value

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

For the next several weeks, I’ll be repeating the book of I 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. 

I Peter I – Hope’s Value

The prophets who told us about this rescue were very curious about it. They investigated and obsessed over the identity and timing of the rescuer Christ’s Spirit was telling them about. He told the prophets that he would suffer at first, but would gain everything after. He told the prophets that their writings were for people in the future, not for them. You are those people in the future! Through God’s influence, people told you about our hope for rescue. By the way, even angels are deeply interested in the hope you have right now! 

Since you have this hope for rescue, don’t ever let it go. Everything you do must be influenced by this hope. Make sure you’re mentally preparing yourself for spiritual combat. Make sure you have self-control going into this. We’ll be rescued when we see Jesus, so hang on tight to hope. 

Don’t go back to your old lives. You had those old, unhealthy desires before you knew any better. Instead, you must live like God wants you to. Jesus did! God’s word said, “You have to be morally pure, just like I am.” You know that God will judge everyone without bias. Live like you know this, and let that give you a healthy dose of fear. He didn’t use an unstable asset like money to secure your rescue. He used the most valuable thing in existence: his own flawless blood. 

Jesus’ plan was in motion before we were even created! He recently made his appearance just for us. Because of him, we believe in God, who brought Jesus back to life and gave him recognition and power. We believe in him. We have hope because of God. 

Fragment containing 1 Peter 1:23–2:5 on Papyrus 125 (3rd/4th century).
God Owns My Mouth

God Owns My Mouth

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

In Psalm 19:14, David says, “May the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight.” Knowing that the author of scripture is God Almighty, David hopes that the words he speaks would be impacted by his knowledge of the Law. Shouldn’t we long for the same thing as Christians? We know who the author of the Bible is, we understand the way we are called to live and speak, and that should influence our words. The Bible is very clear on how we are to speak. 

Our words are a direct reflection of our faith. James 1:26, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” Do you call yourself a Christian but fail to control your words? James would say we are deceiving ourselves. Our speech is directly impacted by our religion. Our faith should change our speech and make it stand out from the world. 

The Bible also gives us a very sobering warning in Matthew 12:36-37. Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” On that day will we find justification or condemnation from the words we have spoken? We should use this knowledge to help guard our speech. 
Scripture also tells us in Luke 6:45 that, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” We can know the condition of our hearts by what is contained in our words. 


Our tongue has a way of getting us in trouble. Ever heard the saying, “Keep your words soft and sweet because you never know when you may have to eat them”? We can do a lot of damage if we aren’t careful.

On every car there’s this handy little device called a fuel filter. A fuel filter is in between your car’s engine and the gas tank. Its job is to keep all the sediment and dirt that accumulates in the gas tank over time from getting to the engine. Basically it keeps impurities from destroying your engine. Our words need a fuel filter between the mind and the mouth. Think about what you are about to say. Is it impure or harmful in any way? Don’t say it. President Calvin Coolidge was famously known as a man of few words. His nickname was “Silent Cal.” His wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, told the story of a young woman who sat next to her husband at a dinner party. She told Coolidge she had a bet with a friend that she could get at least three words of conversation from him. Without looking at her he quietly retorted, “You lose.” Coolidge understood very well the value of using only carefully considered words—and those being few in number.


We filter our words and carefully choose them because, like David, we understand who we belong to when we are Christians. God now owns our words and we use them to glorify Him in everything. God’s Word should affect our own words.

Word Study: “Meekness”

Word Study: “Meekness”

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

If a person is described as being meek, we often picture a kind but timid, submissive, hand-wringing, non-confrontational, or powerless individual. Our idea of meekness doesn’t really work well with the biblical idea. Here are a few ways πραΰς (prah-oos) is used.

  1. Not thinking too highly of self (Matthew 5.5; II Timothy 2.25; James 1.21) is one way to understand meekness. It doesn’t mean we undervalue or demean ourselves, but it does mean we keep our egos in check. In James 1.21, meekness means we have the good sense not to fight what God says and allow his Word to be part of us.

  2. Meekness is also used to describe Jesus (Matthew 11.29; II Corinthians 10.1). If meekness is the absence of power, we have a problem. In contrast to a Pharisaical attitude, Jesus is gentle (πραΰς). Instead of summoning an angelic army to punish those who were about to kill him, Jesus allowed everything to happen (II Cor. 10.1).

  3. Meekness is an attitude we must have when we face the unpleasant task of correcting a member. In Galatians 6.1, correcting is described as “fixing/mending” and must be done with a gentle disposition.

The word is used in several other passages, but we should understand it to mean “gentle” or “humble” or “lenient” (context is important). Meekness is when we value others above ourselves. A meek person is not necessarily a powerless person, but is one who doesn’t misuse the power they have.

THE POSITIVE USE OF THE TONGUE

THE POSITIVE USE OF THE TONGUE

Neal Pollard

David spoke of his tongue as a pen (Ps. 45:1) and his enemies’ tongues as sharp swords (Ps. 57:4). We learn that God hates a tongue which forms lies (Prov. 6:17).  Isaiah prophesied a future time so happy that it would case “the tongue of the dumb [to] sing” (Isa. 35:6). The ungodly tongue is described by Jeremiah as a “deadly arrow” (Jer. 9:8). James calls the unruly tongue a “fire” (Js. 3:6).

The tongue is unique among the body’s members.  It has so many uses. With taste buds, it judges the palatability of the food we consume. With sensitive nerves, it screens the temperatures of the food and drink which enter the mouth.  William McPherson, who lost his sense of sight, hearing, and all four limbs in a mining explosion, used his tongue to read the Bible in Braille. Coordinating with brain and various, undergirding muscles, the tongue is that powerful tool of communication responsible for speech and song.  Like so much of what God created, it is a neutral invention.  According to how it is used, the tongue is either a blessing or curse upon families, communities, and nations.  Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.”  How can we identify a tongue positively used?

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL NOT BACKBITE.  Those who wield their tongues positively will say something nice, or at least say nothing at all, about an occupant on the “rumor mill.”  in fact, we should use our tongues to stop the backbiting of others (Prov. 25:23).  A Welsh proverb goes, “Lord, remind us often that a gossip’s mouth is the devil’s mailbag.”  Remember, there’s only one thing more difficult than unscrambling an egg and that’s unspreading a rumor.  We wish only the best for others.  We don’t want to contribute to another’s harm or embarrassment by saying or repeating something evil about them behind their back (Ps. 15:1; Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20).

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK GOD’S WORD.  On multiple occasions, the psalmist pledged to use his tongue this way (71:24; 119:172).   When opportunities with our neighbors and friends clearly present themselves, how can we refrain our tongues from speaking Bible truth and divine expectations? When the Bible is disparaged in our presence, how can we hold back our tongues from defending words more precious than gold? God’s Word contain “glad tidings” (Acts 13:32; Lk. 8:1; Rom. 10:15).

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK WHOLESOME WORDS. The Bible praises those who use wholesome words (Prov. 15:4; 1 Tim. 6:5). Profanity, vulgar stories, suggestive language and sexual innuendos do not drop off of a positive, wholesome tongue. Instead, we speak words that improve and sustain our good character.

A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL BE BRIDLED. That’s how you know who is religious (Js. 1:26).  A hot head and a positive tongue don’t rest in the same skull. A blessing tongue and a cursing tongue do not lead to the same end (1 Pet. 3:10-11). A hypocritical tongue and a sincere tongue cannot belong to the same individual (1 Jn. 3:18).  Self-control includes tongue-control.

Someone has written, “To speak kindly does not hurt the tongue.”  It may only be about three inches long, but it can be trained not to do miles of damage. It can be positively controlled.  A bridle for the tongue is a necessary tool which, when used, will cause one to be a shining light in the house of God.

Tearing Lions And Toeing Lines

Tearing Lions And Toeing Lines

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

image

Dale Pollard

He wore a name we know well but accomplished the will of a Name we know better. Samson the judge was the man who dropped a thousand Philistines with a jawbone while dropping the jaws of those who would read these accounts years later.
In Judges 13 through 16 we find the awesome, yet tragic life of the strongest man who ever walked the earth. From the moment of his miraculous conception to those dramatic moments between the pillars, he captivates our imagination. Some tend to idolize his prowess as a warrior and rebel, but the real lessons we can learn from Samson can be appreciated by everyone. What if a mortal human could act in place of God? While impossible, let’s just humor this thought. In a way we get a glimpse of how miserable life would be if we didn’t serve a righteous Lord. When Samson lost his temper, became annoyed, bored, or defiant he would always choose to act in his own self interest. He was empowered by a God he didn’t serve and that is seen time and again in these three chapters. His final act of killing over three thousand Philistines who mocked him in their pagan temple were slain out of revenge (Judges 16:28) and hatred. His eyes had been gauged out and he is led by a servant through a crowd of people who were not even supposed to be living in the same land as the Israelites (Numbers 31:17). In other words, the Philistines were a hole dug by God’s children in the first place. Samson was a tool in God’s hand to relieve His people from the oppression of these ruthless “fish people.”

I’m sure you know many of the accounts from the life of Samson so here are a few things that God intended for us to learn from him.

1. God is infinitely more powerful than His creation (including Samson) and is infinitely more loving and patient than His creation. If Samson had the power of God, his own humanity would provoke him to destroy anyone who irritated or upset him. How many times has God forgiven us and then placed those sins out of His sight? Too many times to count, I’d imagine.
2. God can use the self-seeking people in the world to accomplish His own will. He never lost control of Samson and God hasn’t lost control in the world today.
3. Nothing could make us serve God, even if He paid us a supernatural visit (see Jesus). Samson’s abilities were given to him by the Lord, and yet that wasn’t enough to convince him to dedicate his life to Him. Consider Solomon that was given wisdom in a miraculous way— yet still fell. In the end it comes down to the individual heart, the desire, and the determination to commit ourselves to His service.
4. God’s desire to protect His people is great and His methods are creative. The Israelites could have never dreamed that their savior would be a man like Samson. They were plagued by a race of wicked warriors, but God used one man to turn the tables. When we look at our country today we may think there’s no way that things could be different but let’s not forget how powerful and how creative God is. It doesn’t matter whether or not WE can see a path forward when God has proven that He is more than capable and willing to see us through.

You could ponder over the life of Samson and come up with more great lessons to build your faith. Why not read through Judges 13-16 to remind yourself of God’s control in this world? As a bonus, you’d be treating yourself to one of the most fascinating sections in the Old Testament.

 
“Nomophobia” 

“Nomophobia” 

Monday’s Column: Neal at the Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

That’s not a typo for another popularly-used term.  It’s actually a “thing,” at least according to a 2010 study by the UK Post Office.  It is short for “no-mobile-phone phobia” (Tim Elmore, psychologytoday.com). There’s even a website called nomophobia.com, and they identify “the four fears of Nomophobia”—broken, lost, stolen, or useless smartphones. While that site operates “tongue in cheek,” there are a bevy of experts more than ready to talk about how this is an epidemic impacting especially youth in our culture.  University of Connecticut School of Medicine’s Dr. David Greenfield has done much work in this study. He points to the problem of a dysregulation of dopamine, “meaning that it motivates people to do things they think will be rewarded for doing” (clever, cutting, or flamboyant Tweets, posts, pics, etc.) and that it can foster people’s addiction to the internet and technology (Madeline Stone, businessinsider.com). Greenfield adds, “That feeling you’re going to miss something if you’re not constantly checking is an illusion — most parts of our lives are not relevant to our smartphones. What happens on our devices is not reflective of what happens in real life” (ibid.).  There are even digital detox programs, in the United States as well as other countries around the world.  Psychiatrist Dale Archer gives this advice, “Stop texting while you’re driving. Don’t take it into the bathroom with you. Have a rule not to use your phone when you’re with your friends. If you’re on a date, make a rule that you’ll both check your phone for a maximum of 5 minutes every 90 minutes. It’s all about setting simple rules that you can follow” (ibid.).

Amateur psychiatrists and specialists everywhere can quickly diagnose this condition in their spouses and significant others, their children, and their friends, but they may be myopic to their own inordinate practice (see every airport, doctor’s office, restaurant, etc.).  Addiction to, or at least habitual abuse of, smartphones and similar technology is simply the latest and a more obvious example of a long-standing human tendency.  Paul told Corinth, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6:12). In context, Paul is beginning a discussion of the sin of fornication after having talked about Corinth’s generally sinful past from which they had been forgiven.  Paul’s desire was not to be “mastered” (ruled, reigned over, Louw 37.48) by anything.  He later writes about the self-mastery and discipline necessary to live the Christian life (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

Cell phones are just one possible impediment to this.  There are so many other possibilities we must keep aware of, things which can derail us from our purpose and focus in this life.  So many of them are fine in balance and moderation, but we can allow them to consume and even overtake us.  A fear of being without those things is only one of the attending problems.  Being ruled by anything or anyone other than Christ is the overriding concern.  We are all served well by looking carefully at the things in our lives and make sure we have no master other than Christ.

Guard Duty

Guard Duty

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl pic

Carl Pollard

What does it mean to “guard our hearts?” The word “guard” means to watch over in order to protect and control. So we’re supposed to protect our hearts…but not the physical heart. This isn’t an article on cholesterol, so what do we mean by heart?

Scripture uses the word “heart” when referring to our inner self. The center of emotion. What we believe in, the things that motivate our actions all come from the heart. We must protect/guard our hearts (center of emotion).

What do we guard it from? Proverbs 4 tells us. But there’s something important that we should understand. You can guard your heart from good as well as evil. People can and will protect their heart from letting God’s word change them. As Christians we can even build a wall that will keep us from making the proper changes in our lives.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” If we wish to have character we must guard our hearts. But this verse is kind of vague if we read it by itself. The context of Proverbs 4:23 is the key to understanding, So, how do we guard our hearts?

Fill your heart with God’s Word (20-22). Once it is filled, guard your heart that is now full of truth (23). Guard it by paying attention to the way you are living your life (24-27), making sure that you stay in line with the truth that is in your heart.

The writer then goes into detail on what actions we must be guarding:

Our Speech (24). “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. “ The things that we say are a direct reflection of what’s in our heart. If we lash out in anger, that anger comes from the heart. If we have a habit of speaking evil, the source is the heart.

Our Eyes (25).  “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” The only way to properly guard the truth in our hearts is by constantly looking to God. Recognize the end goal, with “eyes on the prize” (Matt. 14).

Our Mind (26), “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.” Think about the direction that you are heading. Is it closer to God, or further away? Our minds must have the knowledge to know what is right, and then the willpower and self control to stay true to the path of salvation.

Our Direction (27), “Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” As we ponder the path of our feet, we must then turn our feet away from evil so as to keep our direction headed towards an eternity with God.

Heart failure has a variety of different symptoms, including shortness of breath, swelling, coughing, confusion and memory loss, rapid weight gain, and fatigue. Heart failure increases the risk of death and hospitalization, and many times these symptoms go unnoticed. Spiritual heart failure symptoms can also go unnoticed. But these include lack of proper desire, sinful speech, no self control, weak character and a lack of prayer and study.

If we fail to guard our hearts as Christians, we will never be able to experience an eternity with God the Father.

a_jewish_soldier_on_guard_duty_at_the_british_army_base_in_sarafand._d797d799d799d79c_d799d794d795d793d799_d7a9d795d79ed7a8_d791d791d7a1d799d7a1_d794d790d799d79ed795d7a0d799d79d_d7a9d79c

Get Angry!

Get Angry!

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

Balance is frustratingly difficult to pinpoint and maintain. More often than not we gravitate toward an extreme on either end of balance. 

With anger, most will fall into one of the extremes: either one has no spine or is prone to losing control. 

An example of balance can be found in Ephesians 4.26. It begins with a passive imperative: “be angry.” There is a time and place for this unpleasant emotion – any damage to the bride of Christ warrants this response, for example. 

There are three imperatives to balance out our use of anger: 

  1. Do not sin. 
  2. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. 
  3. Do not give the devil an opportunity. 

Anger is sometimes necessary, but it must be short-lived. 

Unchecked anger gives Satan space in our hearts. The word translated “opportunity” is τόπος (topos), which is a place to live, an inhabited structure, or a favorable circumstance for doing something (BDAG 1011). If we allow our anger to get out of control, we’ve created favorable circumstances for Satan to influence us. 

Since balance is what we’re looking for, we have to get angry to create positive change, but we have to temper (aha) that anger with restraint if we don’t want Satan to have a chance to influence the church through us. 

sturm-blitz-gewitter-himmel