Thinking Through The Alphabet During The Lord’s Supper

Thinking Through The Alphabet During The Lord’s Supper

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Every Sunday (Acts 20:7), we take time during our worship to “observe the Lord’s Supper” (1 Cor. 11:23-29). What that looks like and what we do during this special time has changed over time and in different cultures. What appears to have been more interactive in the time of the early church is today more individual and introspective. Paul instructed churches like the one in Corinth to correct abuses (1 Cor. 11:17-22; 30-34). God seems concerned that we focus on His Son’s sacrifice for our sins. Examining self seems to indicate looking carefully into the heart (1 Cor. 11:28). 

What we do and how we do it is very personal and subjective (Read More Here). Surely, our mind will turn in both morbid and merry directions during that time. Considering the cross, we will alternate between conviction and celebration. Years ago, Wendell Winkler suggested something practical that can help us keep focus on this “feast” as we worship. He suggested thinking through the alphabet, then gave us a few examples. Every Sunday for decades, I have been building those words in my mind. Each word carries with it related thoughts. They carry my mind back to that fateful day, make me think of my current way of life, and cause me to look ahead to the end. 

Obviously, I do not get very far in my list. I do not always start with “A.” I vary my approach, but this has proven very helpful to my keeping my mind on the Lord during the Lord’s Supper. Those precious moments each week are not to be frivolously and mindlessly spent, but what you do is individual to yourself. But, perhaps this will prove helpful to you. Here is an incomplete list of words I think about during the Lord’s Supper:

A–Abuse, Alone, Anxiety, Atonement, Adversary, Abandoned, Anger, Anointed, Able
B–Battered, Blood, Beaten, Blessings, Brave, Burden, Bruised, Brave, Body
C–Christ, Cruelty, Cowards, Callous, Cursing, Criminals, Caring, Crowd
D–Denial, Disciples, Dread, Death, Devil, Darkness, Doubt
E–Eternity, Evil, Everlasting Life, Everyone, Elect
F–Faults, Faith, Faithful, Factual, Father, Foreknowledge, Flogged, Future
G–Grace, Guilt, Gladness, Gift, Gethsemane, Gloom, Grave
H–Heaven, Hell, Hill, Hope, Heart, Hanging, Hurting, Hours 
I–Iniquity, Injustice, Isaiah 53, Inscription, Irritation, Important, Innocent, Insurrection
J–Joy, Jesus (Man), Justice, Jews, Jealousy, John, Judas
K–Kindness, Knowledge, Kiss, Key, Killed, King
L–Love, Load, Life, Lamb, Lashes, Lifted Up 
M–Master, Mercy, Murder, Myrrh, Mingled, Mary, Mother, Memorial
N–Newness, Nails, Naked, Near (John 19:20)
O–Only Son, Obedient, Open, Offering, Objective, Others
P–Pilate, Peter, Power, Pure, Paschal, Pharisees, Planned
Q–Questions, Quake, Qualms, Quotations, Quest (Luk3 19:10)
R–Rebellion, Railing, Righteous, Romans, Resurrection
S–Spiritual, Shame, Scapegoat And Slain, Seven Sayings, Speechless, Slaughter, Savior
T–Thirsty, Torture, Thankful, Tired, Temple, Trembling, Thieves
U–Unavoidable, Ugly, Unbelievers, Utterance, Ultimate, Upright
V–Vicarious, Victory, Vicious, Vail, Vilified, Vindication, Vulnerable
W–Wood, Woe, Weary, Wail, Wine, Women, Worship
X–Excruciating, Extreme, Expiate, Examine, Execution
Y–Young, Yearning, Yelling, Yield
Z–Zeal, Zenith, Zealots 

“Self”

“Self”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

Think about what “self” does to some wonderful concepts:

  • Righteousness (“To cause someone to be in a proper or right relation with someone else,” Louw-Nida 451). Jesus despised self-righteousness, “And He also told (a) parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt” (Luke 18:9). We should be eager for God to declare us righteous, but slow to do so for ourselves. 
  • Service (“functioning in the interest of a larger public, rendering of specific assistance,” BDAG 230). Jesus proved that service centers around ministering to and helping others (John 13:12-17). Notice the tack which reveals one to be spiritually mature. “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1). 
  • Interest. While the word isn’t found in the New Testament, the idea is there and so translators include it in passages like Mark 8:33, 1 Corinthians 7:34, and Phllippians 2:4,21. Each of these passages urge us to focus on others rather than self. Meanwhile, Scripture warns against selfish ambition (Rom. 2:8; Phil. 1:17; 2:3; Jas. 3:14,16). 
  • Love. There’s a specific word for love in the New Testament that we’re encouraged to demonstrate, toward God (Mat. 10:37; 1 Cor. 16:22) and fellow Christians (Ti. 3:15). But, Paul warns about how dire the world becomes when men become lovers of self (2 Tim. 3:2).
  • Justification (“to take up a legal cause; to render a favorable verdict,” BDAG 249). Scripture often uses this word to speak of God doing this for us through Christ (Luke 18:14; Ac. 13:39; Rom. 2:13). But, it is an ugly thing when we manipulate and distort facts and truth to justify self (Luke 10:29; 16:15). 
  • Will. We are all equipped with a free will, with which we should serve the will of God (John 7:17). Yet, Scripture exposes as wicked those who are “self-willed” (2 Pet. 2:10). Paul warns against appointing a man an elder who is “self-willed” (Ti. 1:7). Such is arrogance. It comes from one who thinks he or she is better than anyone else, looking down on others (Louw-Nida 763).

But for all of these ways “self” can get in the way of God’s plans and desires, self is not always a qualifier of destructive behavior. Notice what else Scripture says. There is “self”:

  • Denial. It is indispensable to spiritual discipleship (Luke 9:23). 
  • Sacrifice. It is integral to spiritual transformation (Rom. 12:1). 
  • Discipline. It is imperative to spiritual survival and eternal reward (1 Cor. 9:27). 
  • Control. It is included in spiritual fruit-bearing (Gal. 5:23). 

Further investigation into God’s Word would no doubt reveal more examples like these, but here is the point. Our old self is to be crucified with Him (Rom. 6:6). It is to be laid aside (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9). When this truly occurs within us, we will not place self above God and others. We will devote ourselves to the kind of lives that reach the lost, strengthen the saved, glorify God, and ultimate save ourselves (Acts 2:40).

Mind Your Biscuits

Mind Your Biscuits

Neal Pollard

A church marquee read, “If we could mind our biscuits, life would be gravy.” As somebody who loves to make biscuits, I appreciate the sentiment. Only a few ingredients–self-rising flour, shortening, and milk (sweet and/or butter). A simple, consistent temperature (I prefer 450 degrees). The time is pretty precise–10-13 minutes. The rack placement is fairly straightforward and there are only a few slots to choose from anyway. But biscuits are still burned. Why? Typically, it’s because we’re distracted. Maybe we’re multi-tasking. Maybe we get caught on another errand, out of the kitchen.  Sometimes, only the smell or maybe the smoke alarm jolts them back to the biscuit business at hand.

What does it mean? Why would a church put it on their sign?  Obviously, it is not a cooking tip! However, it is sage advice for our interpersonal relationships.

When gossip is being dispensed, do you walk (run!) away? Do you show the gossiper that you disapprove (cf. Prov. 25:23)? Or does it distract, amuse, and pique your interest? Be careful about your biscuits!

When it comes to your spouse, do you work on being content, engaged, and fulfilled in that God-ordained relationship? Do you work on wooing them and keeping them won? Or do your eyes, heart, and mind drift toward another’s? Be careful about your biscuits (Prov. 6:26-29)!

When there are church problems, do you feel the need to make your contribution, taking sides, or even fueling the fire? Be careful that the fire you are fueling doesn’t burn your own biscuits (1 Cor. 1:10; Psa. 133; Prov. 16:28; 17:9; etc.).

When it comes to how others raise their kids, are you a ready, open fount of wisdom which you are eager to spill on the public square? Do you have the answer regardless of whether you’ve even heard the question? Be careful about your own biscuits!

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of pulling out those huge, cathead biscuits with just the right color of light brown on top. When you peel the top off of it, it’s flaky but light. It certainly beats blackened, burned, inedible and charred carbs that are unfit for consumption. Not even good gravy can cover that problem!  Let’s be careful to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5)!  This pleases the Lord (cf. Mat. 7:1ff).

biscuits-and-gravy