Talking About Fear

Talking About Fear

Saturday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Travis Harrison

The fear I’m talking about is not the kind that tells us be cautious or keeps us from harm, it’s the kind that fills our hearts and minds with doubt, apprehension, and anxiety. When this fear keeps us from doing things that please God, things that he expects from us and commands of us, it is a big deal. 

When preparing for this I was given the advice that we should speak about things we are familiar with.  I say that because fear has kept me for a long time avoiding opportunities such as this. I have never given a devotional before tonight. It is because of that Fear I mentioned. This type of fear convinces us of things that aren’t true.  It convinces you that you’re not good enough to get up here and speak. You are not qualified or educated enough to speak to a group of people; you care too much about what people think of you and the things you say. It convinces you that you are terrible at public speaking, you won’t speak well, or say the right things. This is my personal fear, but all of us here tonight deal with fears that keep us from doing what God wants us to do and what pleases him.

A great biblical example of this is:

  • Moses,  in Exodus 3: 8-10 when God called him to go lead Israel out of Egypt and speak to pharaoh. 
  • In vs 11 you can tell he is afraid because he says, “who am I that I should go to pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God is quick to reassure Moses “I will certainly be with you.” 
  • He continues in chapter 4:1 to make excuses to God “what if they will not believe me or listen to my voice” So, God sent miraculous signs to help convince the people. 
  • In 4:10 he basically said I can’t speak “I’m not eloquent, I’m slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  So, God reminded him who made man’s tongue, have not I?! He then said He would be his mouth and teach him what to say. 
  • And finally in vs 13 he even asked the Lord to send someone else. We should never get to this point. 
  • We should always look to God, put our faith and trust in the Lord, because fear is not from God. He is a God of love and fear does not have to consume us. 
    • We should always trust in God when we are afraid. If we draw near to God, he will cast out that fear. In Isaiah 41:10, God reassured Israel – “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”
    • II Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God gave us a spirit NOT OF FEAR, but of power and love and self-control”.
    • “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So, we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” in Hebrews 13: 5-6
  • Ultimately, we can’t let fear keep us from doing what God has commanded of us – we are to go into all the world to spread the gospel with everyone. How can we do that if we carry around the burden of Fear. 
  • In closing tonight, I want to ask each of us to think about what gets us out of our comfort zone when it comes to doing the will of God? Is it speaking to someone about Christ? Is it inviting our friends or co workers to come to worship service with us? Maybe having a Bible study with a complete stranger? Perhaps leading a devotional for the first time, or maybe leading singing. 
  • Whatever those things are, we should set aside our fears, put our trust in God, let our hearts be full of Love, not Fear. We should be on fire for God as Jeremy said last week.  We as Christians are capable of much more than we realize but how will we ever know those capabilities if we are too afraid to try. 
  • Philippians 4:13 doesn’t say I can do some things….it says I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.
  • How amazing is it that we serve a God that loves us so much, and says he will always be with us, that he will never leave our side. He tells us time and time again we have no reason to be afraid. 

(From Travis’ first-ever devotional delivered at Lehman on Wednesday night, 2/16/22)

Marks Of True Friendship

Marks Of True Friendship

Henry Adams wrote, “One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, and three are hardly possible.” While I do not share his pessimism or cynicism, I do believe that true, close friends are certainly not prevalent. There are too many factors at play. Friendships take time, trust, and transparency. Some things can be barriers to developing close companionship from contrasting values to clashing viewpoints.

The Bible gives insight into factors essential to building true, lasting friendships. Since God made man, He knows what makes us tick and operate at our optimism levels. Here are four quick principles:

A Friend Loves At All Times (Proverbs 17:17).

Solomon does not suggest blind loyalty or blanket endorsement. Scripture does not encourage fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11), but it also points out that we all struggle with sin problems (Rom. 3:23). We also are prone to weak moments and we go through trials and reverses of fortune. It is a blessing to know we have people we can count on to be there even when we’re not at our best or enjoying our mountaintop moments (Heb. 12:12-13; Rom. 12:15).

For The Despairing Man, There Should Be Kindness From His Friend (Job 6:14).

For every one we exchange superficial greetings with, even as we are carrying our hidden cares, we need true friends to turn to for help when we face deep needs in our hours of trial. Rare is the friend who knows, sympathizes, and is ready to help with a kind word or deed. You can imagine how Job’s friends added to his despair by failing to offer that when he needed it most. So many things bring despair–job loss, family crisis, financial reverse, health issues, and other life changes. It is then that astute acts of kindness make a lasting impact and forge true friendships.

If They Fall, One Will Lift Up His Fellow (Ecc. 4:10).

Solomon does not specify whether the falling is physical, emotional, or spiritual. No matter what makes us fall, it is the trustworthy response of a friend that he focuses on. How tragic not to have someone in our lives with a ready hand when we are sinking! What if we are falling away from God (Jas. 5:19-20)? What if we are losing faith or overwhelmed (Mat. 14:30)? “The Lord sustains all who fall” (Ps. 145:14), and what a blessing when He does so through a faithful friend!

Faithful Are The Wounds Of A Friend (Prov. 27:6).

We need people in our lives who are more than “yes” men and women. True friends care enough to correct if we are going off course. We need those who don’t just rubber stamp our speech, validate our every action, or automatically take our side. None of that helps us refine our character or makes us fit for the Master’s use. It’s not easy to tell someone we like and care about that they’ve fallen short in some way, but having a friend that deep and genuine is a true blessing in life.

These passages challenge me to ask, “What kind of friend am I to others?” Am I deeper than a fellow sport’s fan, a person with common interests, or even a co-member of the church? Can I be counted on to be there in the valleys as well as the mountaintop days? Can I be trusted with kindness on despairing days? Am I a lifter? Do I have the courage even to say the difficult things in difficult moments? I want to be that kind of friend to my friends!

Some of our dearest friends, whom we were blessed to see this past weekend.
The God We Serve

The God We Serve

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

25 ways God has shown His love to us: 

  1. Creation (Genesis 1-2) 
  2. The Cross (Matthew 27:32-56) 
  3. Salvation (John 3:16) 
  4. The Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) 
  5. The Church (Ephesians 2:19-22) 
  6. The Ability To Pray (Philippians 4:6) 
  7. A Caring High Priest (Hebrews 4:15) 
  8. The Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) 
  9. True Peace (Philippians 4:7) 
  10. Purpose (1 Peter 2:9) 
  11. Made Us Alive (Ephesians 2:5) 
  12. Servitude (Matthew 12:18) 
  13. Gave Us An Identity (John 1:12) 
  14. Joy (Proverbs 10:28)
  15. An Example (John 13:1-17) 
  16. Revealed Knowledge (Ephesians 1:17)
  17. Compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) 
  18. The Good Shepherd (John 10:11) 
  19. Strength (Exodus 15:2) 
  20. Good Advice (Matthew 6:34
  21. Takes Our Anxiety (1 Peter 5:7) 
  22. A Refuge (Psalm 46:1) 
  23. A Resurrection (John 11:25) 
  24. A Place Of Rest (Matthew 11:29)
  25. He’s Coming Back (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Macaroni And Ketchup

Macaroni And Ketchup

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing passages that help me in some way. Our faith is a lifelong work-in- progress. It can be high maintenance. The Bible helps us maintain a healthy faith in any circumstance. It counsels us, convicts us, excites us, scares us, and gives us hope for a perfect future.

I once thought I was the only person who liked ketchup on macaroni. Turns out, there’re like four other people on earth who like it, too. Finding out that we aren’t alone in something is super cool!

Maybe we’ve thought, “Man, I don’t know if other Christians struggle as much as I do.” I’ve used these passages in an article before, but they’re very powerful. We aren’t alone in our struggles!

“So I have learned this rule: when I want to do good, evil is there with me. In my mind I am happy with God’s law. But I see another law working in my body. That law makes war against the law that my mind accepts.

That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and that law makes me its prisoner. What a miserable person I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death?

I thank God for his salvation through Jesus Christ our lord! So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful self I am a slave to the law of sin.

So now anyone who is in Christ Jesus is not judged guilty. That is because in Christ Jesus the law of the spirit that brings life made you free” (Rom 7.21-8.2).

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.

Finding Refreshment

Finding Refreshment

Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength

brent-portrait

Brent Pollard

Lying in a bed for three and a half months will make you feel icky. You can only bathe with washcloths. Some nurses loaded those cloths with water and got me wetter than an Anglican baptism. Those “baths” made me feel better. However, before being discharged, I finally took a shower. That was the best. I felt refreshed. The only downside was seeing my hair come out in clumps as I washed my hair. It seems I am fated to look like the Stooge, Larry Fine.   

Where do you find your refreshment? Is it in a cool drink on a sultry day? Is it standing by a fireplace in winter? Such actions reinvigorate us. This result is what refreshment accomplishes. The sinner can find refreshment in obedience. In his second recorded sermon, Peter says: 

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3.19 NASB1995).

This refreshing comes from being immersed in Christ (cf. Acts 22.16). I would encourage any who have not yet clothed themselves in Christ to allow their faith to lead to this total submission, in which one joins the Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6.3-5). No, it is not a work, nor is the power in the water. It is where we symbolically contact the blood of Christ and express a clear conscience before God (1 Peter 3.21). It is a necessity for salvation. 

Yet, there remains refreshment for the Christian as well. Paul speaks of his desire to meet with the brethren of Rome in Romans 15. He tells them to join him in prayer so his arrival will refresh him (Romans 15.32). That is an interesting word choice. In fact, this is the only time this word, συναναπαύομαι, appears in Scripture. The word means to rest along with, but here implies a spiritual refreshing.  

I like that idea of “resting with”, though, especially as it applies to Christian fellowship. We spend our weeks in the world and get beaten up by the forces of the adversary. How refreshing is it when we pause and rest with our brethren in worship and Bible study? I know I have gone to services feeling poorly, physically, only to find myself reinvigorated on my way back home. It has the same effect mentally and, most importantly, spiritually. Unfortunately, my recovery prevents me from joining the brethren currently. Still, you better believe that I eagerly await the day I can rejoin them even more than when I wished for a shower.  

It is sad when brethren find excuses to avoid refreshment since it is one of the blessings we receive in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1.3). Earthly diversions cannot reinvigorate the spirit as can God. Oh, it might bring temporary happiness, but the participant of earthly delights is left feeling empty, needing entertainment and diversion yet again. Services are not a chore when one comes seeking to worship God and rest beside their brethren.  

“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10.24-25 NASB1995) 

Don’t you want to find your refreshment? 

YOUR JUNK DRAWER

YOUR JUNK DRAWER

 

Sunday’s Column: Learning From Lehman

Dale Wiley

 
I read recently that one of the fastest growing business is storage units, closely following the Dollar General Stores. People have more ‘stuff’ than places to put them.
 
In our house, we have storage units we like to call  ‘Junk Drawers’. If we have an unexpected visitor we’ll do a swipe of stuff into the nearest drawer to hide all remnants of our ‘clutter’. I recently performed an ‘uncluttering’ and found some interesting items I forgot still existed. 
 
Items included:
  • 10 old TV remote control batteries that I hoped would regenerate but found that it wasn’t meant to be. 
  • 62 ink pens, each representing one of our many banks in the area. 
  • A 5 year old receipt from Auto Zone on a lawn mower battery with a 24 month guarantee. 
  • Some eclipse glasses from our big one 3 years ago. We have to be ready for the next one.
  • A receipt from Jim Fuqua Appliance Repair dated 1987. Although we don’t have the washing machine and Jim has since retired, a lifetime guarantee was promised and I holding him to it.
  • And finally, a love letter from my fiancé from 1972. After 48 yrs of marriage, She was disappointed to find it was in the junk drawer, but is now happy to have it framed and hanging on our bedroom wall.
 
You know, it’s hard to throw away old stuff and our old ways.
Eph 4:21-24 says to get rid of the Old Self and to put on the New Self.
Col 3:9-10 says to lay aside the Old Self and put on the New Self.
 
It could be that the drawers represent our lives. What we put in the drawers or leave in the drawers is up to us. We have the freedom to fill our lives with ‘junk’ or rubbish or with whatever the world gives us, or we can make sure we put  ‘in the drawer’ The things of Christ. 
 
Paul, in his letter to the church of Ephesus, pointed out some things that may be in the drawers of our lives, that we need to make a conscious decision to avoid, to lay aside, and to clear out. Look to Eph 4:17-32. Especially clear out  deceit, falsehood, anger, unwholesome words, bitterness, wrath, slander, and malice. But what happens if we just clear out the junk and then put the drawers back into the cabinet, empty?  How long will that cabinet stay empty? 
 
A 17th Century philosopher wrote, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in every person that can only be filled by the Creator and He is made known through Jesus Christ”. 
 
So, we just can’t leave the drawers of our lives empty…because something or someone or specifically the devil is always ready to creep in and fill it up again.  First Peter 5:8 reminds us to be vigilant against that adversary waiting to devour us..
 
Find the open, self-explanatory solutions to our ‘Junk Drawer’ dilemma in Col 3, 8-17.
 
  • Verse 8…To put them aside.
  • Verse 10..To put on the new self.
  • Verse 12..have a new heart.
  • Verse 13..To forgive.
  • Verse 15..Let the peace of Christ rule your heart.
  • And especially, “Beyond all things, Put on Love”. The perfect bond of unity, doing all things in the name of The Lord Jesus (Col. 3: 14-17). 
Comfort For The Hurting

Comfort For The Hurting

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

dalejanelle2021

Dale Pollard

 
Many emotions run through different individuals when faced with the loss of a loved one or dealing with intense pain. These emotions can present themselves as questions: 
  • Confusion: “Why did this happen?”
  • Sadness: “How will I go on?” 
  • Anger: “Who allowed this to happen?” 

Who can answer these questions? 

Who can provide comfort? 

Who can guide your heart through the heartbreaking moments in life? 

Is it not the Creator?

 Here’s a quick reminder to help give those who are dealing with loss and tragedy some perspective. 

Though “end” is a very human term,  

100 years from now I’ll be alive and so will you. 150, 200 years from now I’ll be alive and so will you. 

Since we are made in the image of God, that means… 

  1. When God breathed into you the breath of life He gave you a piece of Himself called the soul which will live forever…somewhere. 
  2. When God created you in a more intimate way unlike the beasts of the field and the birds of the air He gave you free choice. 
  3. He gave you the ability to reason.
  4. He gave you the ability to contact Him and be contacted by him. 

How sad and how tragic it would be to live your life with no hope. God offers wonderful and comforting news even at times where such news seems to be missing. 

God loves you more than anyone can. 

God loves you more than you can comprehend.  

Though many cry for and with you when you hurt, that love falls short of the one who expresses His love in a way that’s perfect and unfailing. 

You will and perhaps you currently experience feelings you can’t put into words, but God feels them and understands them. 

God can walk you through the hurts. Life doesn’t have to be impossibly tragic and void of purpose. 

God created the heart. He can heal yours. God created the mind. He can sort yours out. God made the soul. He can save yours. God created the body. He can give you rest. God created the eyes. He can wipe your tears away. God created the shoulder, but His are the only shoulders capable of bearing the weight of all those who lean on them. 

BLESSED BY THE BEST

BLESSED BY THE BEST

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

sunset and sweetie

Neal Pollard

Paul is writing about the second coming, trying to straighten out the misinformation of false teachers, whose message threatened to shake the faith of some newer Christians. He makes a transition after exposing their teaching and warning about the outcome for such men. There is a contrast in tone and message for these who embrace and follow the truth. As hopeless as the end will be for those who believe a lie and are condemned, there is great hope for the righteous believer. As we strive to be such today, we stand to benefit in the same way.

We have been chosen (2 Thes. 2:13). God intended from before time to bless those who believed in the truth. He loves those who go against the tide of popular opinion and embraces what He has to offer, and He sets us apart! We are special to Him. The word “chosen” here indicates “to choose or select for the purpose of showing special favor to or concern for” (Louw-Nida, 360).

We have been called (2 Thes. 2:14-15). This word means “choose for receipt of a special benefit or experience” (BDAG, 503). The benefit identified is “the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The way we “obtain” it is by the gospel and “the traditions” given by apostolic teaching. This word tradition simply means teaching handed down, but it means something binding and originating from God. The point is that God reserves His benefits and blessings for those who believe and obey His gospel! Read Ephesians 1 or 1 Peter 1 for a small sample of these!

We have been given consolation (2 Thes. 2:16). This is the idea of emboldening someone to believe or do something. When there is opposition and false teaching, we need encouraged to follow what’s right. What gives us encouragement and hope? God’s grace! To know that God gives us what we don’t deserve, but the very thing we need, will keep us going in the hardest times. It should lift our spirits to know that the worst we face in this life cannot keep us from the best God has to offer. 

We have been given comfort (2 Thes. 2:17). While the word entailed the “setting aside of grief,” Paul speaks of God’s unchanging nature and character. So He’s more than able to set aside whatever grief we feel. Yet, it’s more than removing a negative feeling. He encourages and establishes us so that we can accomplish His will, “every good word and work.” A few sentences later, he elaborates that this involves being strengthened and protected from the evil one (3:3). Seeing the havoc he can wreak, that’s practical comfort every faithful Christian needs!

Do you feel deflated, discouraged, defeated, and dismayed? Here’s a passage you can return to repeatedly! It will remind you of what you mean to God and how He proves it! It’s the substance that can help you weather the worst Satan throws at you this week! Will you remember how much you mean to Him, then show Him how much He means to you? 

But Grow In Grace And Knowledge…

But Grow In Grace And Knowledge…

GUEST WRITER: Charlie Smith

smith20web20column_2

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18

Peter writes this letter knowing that he’s going to die soon (2 Peter 1:14), and he wants the church to remember his teachings after he’s gone (1:15). This illustrates how deeply invested Peter was in the church’s success:

  • He had been on the ground floor of Jesus’s ministry, literally walking off the job site, leaving everything behind, to become a fisher of men
  • He had seen the crucifixion, the empty tomb, and the pierced side of his resurrected savior
  • He had helped the church grow from 120 to untold thousands covering the entire known world in one generation

And now Peter realizes that he’s soon going to be gone and the church will not have the direct guidance of the apostles but instead will need their indirect guidance through the New Testament writings. What are the last words of this apostle, his final thoughts for the church that he loved so dearly, which continue to echo down to us today as the spiritual successors of those first-century Christians?

Always keep growing!

First, he asks us to grow in the grace of Christ. When we obey the gospel, our sins are completely forgiven; God forgets them; we are “saved to the uttermost,” according to Hebrews 7:25, and when we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:7). So how can we grow in something that is complete?

I think a key is found in 2 Cor. 12:7-9. Paul has been given this thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment him, and he prays three times that the Lord will take it away. But God tells Paul that His grace is sufficient. It was enough that Paul was a Christian; Paul did not need any particular problem taken away; God’s grace sufficed.

Likewise, no matter what we face in this life, it really doesn’t matter if we’re a Christian.  God’s grace is enough. It takes effort and maturity, though, to gain this perspective. We need to keep growing in the grace of Christ!

Second, Peter asks us to grow in the knowledge of Christ. This is an easier interpretation: We must go to The Book! In my experience, and from what I’ve observed in others, those who grow as Christians are those who study the Bible on their own, digging in to see for themselves what God says. The preacher who baptized me told me one time that, in addition to his other study, he read a chapter a day from Proverbs and the gospels because he wanted to remain connected to the wisdom of God and the heart of Jesus; this is the attitude of someone who, know matter how much they know about the Bible, is still striving to grow in the knowledge of Christ.

May we all have this desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We’ve been blessed to have the Smiths at Lehman since last August. Charlie begins work as an economics professor at Freed-Hardeman next month. We’re so sad for us, but very happy for them. What a wonderful family!