He Understands

He Understands

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

One of the cherished tenets of Christianity is the High Priesthood of Christ. Therefore, we relish the Hebrew writer’s assurance that we have a sympathetic High Priest Who endured temptation without sin (Hebrews 4.14-15). Thus, I tend to hear the words of Jesus in Matthew 26.41 and Mark 14.38 a little differently: “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Unfortunately, I think many people take that as a rebuke. Yet, compassion is a word oft associated with Jesus in the Gospels. And Jesus knew the hearts of these men. He knew they had a desire to watch and pray but were physically exhausted. 

Now, it is true that remaining diligent in watchfulness and prayer would have better served Peter, James, and John. However, these apostles were ultimately human and needed rest. There is a discernible difference between laziness and fatigue. If Peter, James, and John were sleeping because they were bored or took the situation lightly, would Jesus have credited them with having the willing spirit? Of course, not. Jesus recognized that they wanted to do as He told them.  

Jesus knows well the limitations of the flesh. If you recall the Apostle Paul’s words, he says that Jesus emptied Himself, taking the likeness of man, to become a bondservant (Philippians 2.5-11). His obedience to His Father was so complete that He even tasted of death for every man (Hebrews 2.9). Hence, Jesus sometimes felt tired. So, where do we find Jesus after a day of performing signs and healing the sick in Matthew 8.24? He was sleeping on a boat. Yes, the disciples woke Him up because they feared the storm, but Jesus was resting. Do we think He went to sleep only to show His disciples proof of His Sonship? 

The point here is that Jesus understands. Some saints may experience issues sidelining them from service. It could be one has a chronic illness, advanced age, military deployment, or employers who disregard his pleas to have Sundays and Wednesday nights off from work. I know that I beat myself up sometimes, thinking I should do more.  But I’m not always honest with myself. In my mind, I can do anything I want. However, COPD and my current efforts to walk correctly again after prolonged hospitalization hamper me.  In moments like this, I remind myself of how Jesus looked at the exhausted three in Gethsemane’s garden. His grace says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 

Obviously, this is not something one abuses. Just because Jesus understands the human condition doesn’t mean we can willfully neglect our spiritual service (cf. Romans 12.1-2). As Paul reminds us, grace is not a license to sin (cf. Romans 6.1-2). But take heart when you feel that you are a failure. The Lord knows your heart. Yes, He may remind you of your duty through the Word, but He will acknowledge a willing spirit hindered by the flesh.

More Than A Fish Story!

More Than A Fish Story!

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Dale Pollard

Some times it can feel like our life is a ship on the verge of breaking apart in a violent storm. Maybe we placed too much trust in the now creaking wooden planks that buckle and groan over dark turbulent waters. In a last stitch effort to stay afloat, we madly rush about throwing any non-essentials overboard.

At times we turn to anything or anyone in an attempt to discover some lifesaving advice— perhaps a miracle? If you’re a child of God, you’ve got access to salvation even in the storms. Jonah 1:4-5 depicts chaos, panic, and overwhelming fear. Those sailors on the boat with Jonah had no idea where they should turn for their salvation. With each passing moment their ship threatened to burst into splinters and “each one cried out to his god” (v. 5).

But Jonah? He’s asleep. He has some kind of knowledge and relationship with the Creator, but he doesn’t fully understand how powerful his God really is.

The application, then, is humbling. Today our communities are filled with people whose lives are rocked and they’re looking for a savior with lifesaving power. They turn to the things in which they’ve placed their trust, and to no avail. How many of us hold the answers they need, but at times find ourselves spiritually sleeping— selfishly keeping this message to ourselves?

The Price Of Flight

The Price Of Flight

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

The cost of leaving God’s presence is more than many fully realize. 

It’s interesting how the phrase “away from the presence of the Lord” is used twice in Jonah 1:2-3. 

Leading up to the second mention, the text states that Jonah “paid the fare.” In the very next verse we read of a terrible storm that would end with the beginning of Jonah’s three day stent in solitary confinement within the belly of a great fish. 

He paid the fare— but the price was a little steeper than he thought. It’s expensive to flee from the presence of the Almighty. Too many Christians run away from the responsibilities that God has given us only to discover that the dark waters of sin and separation just aren’t worth it. 

Some discover this when it’s too late, but others are fortunate enough to realize this truth and return to the safety of God’s presence. May we learn from Jonah to go where the Lord leads and not make our own alternative routes. 

“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah‬ ‭1:3‬ 

 
 
And The Rain Fell

And The Rain Fell

Neal Pollard

You’re building your house for life, not a day
By all that you do and everything you say
But more important than roof or even the walls
Is your foundation, for there’s coming floods and squalls.

Today the sky may be sunny and fair
And life may seem easy with no burden or care
But the clouds can gather with little or no warning
And strike with fury late at night or mid-morning.

If you’re building on sand, storms will still surely bombard
Whatever your strengths, deluges come steady and hard
The foundation will matter, it determines the outcome
The variables of your life surely influence the sum.

Great men of earth, building on other men’s acclaim
Must face life’s storms and its floods all the same
The beautiful people, who on this factor construct
Cannot escape how the gale forces strike and deduct

The theories and teachings of man’s own device
May seem like safe bedrock and sound very nice
But however solid they look or how long they may stand
At the end they’ll be seen for what they are, shifting sand.

You’re building your house for life, not just now
Take heed what you’re building on, why, where and how
For there’s coming a storm for which all must prepare
It will be all or nothing, no rebuild or repair.

But there is a material, failsafe and unbending
Proven by torrents, it’s trustworthiness is unending
That foundation is Christ, the only One of all
Shown to be eternally safe when the rain starts to fall.

(Matthew 7:24-27)