Homesick

Homesick

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

I’ve never been a homebody. I tend to get stir crazy if I’m there for more than a few hours. While this may be true here on earth, this won’t be the case in Heaven. Homesickness is a desire to not only be back in a familiar place, it’s a longing to be around the ones you love and care for. 

I long for the day when I’ll never have to be away from the ones I love again. When the body of Christ, past present and future will all be together. Forever at a home free from tears. Forever at home with likeminded brothers and sisters. Forever at home with the Father, His Son, and the Spirit. 

We will be with the Father that crucified His Son. We will be with Christ, the one who hung on a cross for us. We will be with the Spirit who gave us the Words of life. Philippians 3:20 says, “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Heaven is our true home. It’s where we belong. And it’s where God wants us to be. 

I’m homesick for heaven because it is my true home. The sad reality of heaven is that not everyone will be reunited. The wives who walked alone with God. The husbands who tried so hard to save the soul of their dearest friend. The parents that pleaded to their wayward children to come home to no avail. The heartbreaking reality of eternity is that some will get to heaven and notice family members and loved ones are missing. 

I don’t want to be the rich man in Luke 16  who wanted to warn his family but it was too late. The question we must ask ourselves, will I be the one missing in heaven? If sin is controlling your life, God will judge you based off of your decisions. Don’t be the one missing in eternity. If your family is lost, don’t stop trying to save their soul. 

Exaleipsei

Exaleipsei

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

Jesus is the great healer and the Bible is full of passages that comfort, encourage, give endurance, and help us cope with a broken world. It’s full of so much more! A higher purpose gives us existential meaning, and the Bible outlines that purpose. It also has a few passages that fire me up, and those are the ones I want to share today.

Revelation 21

This is our reason to live the Christian life (Matt 19.28; Rom 8.18-25; I Pet 1.3-7, 13; 4.12-19; II Pet 1.3-4, 10-11; 3.3-13; I Jn 3.1-3). We’re looking forward to something much better, but what kind of stuff are we looking for?

  • –  Zero dysfunction! No pain, grief, disease, crime, taxes, tornados, war, death in general, aimbots (if you know you know), etc.
  • –  God gets rid of tears (Rev 21.4)! The context is a message of hope for early Christians who were dealing with devastating loss. But God will ἐξαλείψει all tears. Exaleipsei is future (will happen), and seems to be a comfort word. I had always pictured a Men in Black kind of thing, where all painful memories are obliterated and new ones made. But the word seems to indicate that an interaction with an infinitely compassionate Father will be more than adequate to get rid of any pain. If you’ve ever comforted a spouse or child who was grieving and physically wiped their tears away, that’s what this word describes.
  • –  Everything is brand new (21.5)! None of the junk that we’ve dealt with here will be compatible with our new home.It will be wildly exciting: the best accomplishments of each nation will be there (21.25-26). God and his son provide all we need (21.22-24). True unity exists because we’ll all be on the same side (21.27). No need for healthcare or accountants or coroners or search and rescue or militaries or law enforcement! Those exist to push back against evil, which won’t exist in our new home. Revelation 21 is a rich chapter, but it’s full of excitement! God doesn’t speak empty words. Take him at his word and read the chapter very carefully. It’s hard to walk away from that study without getting pumped for heaven!!!
Comfort For The Hurting

Comfort For The Hurting

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

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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. 

God Shall Wipe Away All Tears

God Shall Wipe Away All Tears

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

carl pic

Carl Pollard

Tears are a very interesting and important part of the human anatomy. Tears are produced by the tear gland, which are small glands that are in our upper eyelid. Tears keep the surface of your eyeball clean, and help protect your eye from damage. But there’s another function of tears. They appear when we experience heartache and sadness. They form when we encounter joy, heartbreak, and sometimes for no reason with some people.

When we cry because of something emotionally painful, most of the time we wish that the problem never would’ve happened In the first place. Tears are a natural part of life. It’s going to happen, no matter how tough we claim to be. At some point we are going to break under the pressure of this world. That’s why I’d like to spend a few moments in one of the most encouraging passages of scripture in the Bible, Isaiah 25:8-9. In these two verses we will notice three painful types of tears that will be wiped away.

It reads, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

The first type of tears that will be wiped away are tears of death (v. 8). Every human on earth will experience death. Our lives will end in death, and scattered all throughout our days on earth we will lose those we love. Death is terrible. It tears us apart– we feel like we are drowning in heartbreak– that this pain will never end. We have to watch as mothers and fathers lose their children, children lose their parents, and spouses lose each other. Death is inevitable and something none of us ever want to go through. But there will come a day when we will never have to shed a tear over a loved one. We will never stand at a graveside again. God will make sure that his children never have to experience this heartache ever again. I long for heaven because the tears of death will be wiped away.

He will wipe away the tears of disgrace (8b). We can all agree that this world is full of evil. There is murder, rape, liars, gossip, and broken homes. This world is a place full of tears over the pain that comes from evil. Homes are torn apart and hearts are broken over the sin of others. A day will come when Christ will wipe away all tears (Rev. 21:4).  A day will come when Christ will mend the hearts of the broken. David spoke of his Joy in God. He says, “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psa. 30:10-11). As Christians we can turn to God with hope, knowing that He is our helper and strength. We don’t have to face the evil of this world on our own. God can turn our heartache into Joy. He can wipe away the tears that sin has placed in our eyes. A time will come when the tears of disgrace will be wiped away.

God will wipe away the tears of distance and discouragement (9). It is common after a tragedy has occurred to hear someone pray, “Jesus come quickly.” We say this because we know that Christ is our way of escape from this world. Christ is our hope. We want Him to come back, to help us escape the sin that is around us. Sometimes this distance from God can cause us to become discouraged and to think that He isn’t coming back to save us. God will wipe away the tears of discouragement.

And on that day we will say, “This is OUR God.” The God that we have placed all hope and faith in. “This is OUR God that we have waited on to save us.” “This is OUR God that has brought us salvation.” The day will come when God will wipe away the tears that have been formed by the distance and discouragement we encounter on earth.

The day will also come when we will be judged for how we lived on earth. Can we say that we have waited on God? Can we rejoice in His return? Can we truthfully say that we have placed our faith and hope in God? On that day our tears will either be wiped away, or they will continue on into eternity. The question we must ask ourselves is this:  “Will God wipe away my tears?”

blue-eye-blue-eyes-cry-crying

Great song

 Homesick For Heaven 

 Homesick For Heaven 

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

Daleheadshot

Dale Pollard

There is so much debate out there as to what Heaven will actually be like. Some make the argument that we just can’t know for sure. We know that there will be no tears in Heaven, so since that is the case there will definitely be some meatloaf there. Because in a place where there is no meatloaf present, I would cry. Now with that out of the way, let’s look at three quick promises about Heaven.

First there is the promise of “relationship.” In Revelation 21:3 it says, “He will dwell among us…” Not just any relationship, an actual relationship with Jesus Christ.

The second promise is that of “Relief.” In the very next verse it says, “God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” How many of us can’t wait for that day?

Now the third promise is one that is pulled from a verse that many people do not like to read. In Revelation 21:8 we see that there is a promise of “refuge.” You see, Heaven is going to be so great because of who will not be there. After we get a glimpse of what is promised to those who love Him (James 1:12), we see what is promised to those that don’t. Yet even here we see a blessing. Heaven is going to be place that is absent of, “…the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars…” Heaven is going to be a place filled with family. The faithful Church family.

I’m going to Heaven! It’s a choice. It’s a choice to live right and follow Christ no matter what. You have the ability to say it confidently and you should never have to wonder if you’re going to Heaven. It’s a promise! Take hold of that promise, because it’s the only thing that matters.

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“Heartaches”

“Heartaches”

Tuesday’s Column: “Dale Mail”

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Dale Pollard

Have you ever been in such emotional pain that your heart felt like it was literally aching? The worst pain in this life is not always physical. Often times it’s the emotional pain of saying “good bye” that can drive us to our knees. It can make us lash out in anger. It can make the toughest man alive break down in tears, and it can crush a young person’s spirit. Why would a God of love and compassion let such a thing happen? If He cares, but He can’t do anything about it, wouldn’t that mean He’s not all powerful? If He doesn’t care, but He has the power, doesn’t that mean He’s cruel?

If you’ve got “heart pain” in your life, the best thing you can do is draw closer to God. Don’t isolate yourself from the only true source of comfort and healing. Don’t throw your head up to the sky, as if looking for some eye-contact with God. Rather, let your head fall to the scriptures. God will tell you that His ways are perfect, His word has been tried and tested, and He is the shield for those who decide to take refuge in Him (Psalm 18:30).

He would also tell you that if you are a righteous individual, He’s going to deliver you from any trouble (Psalm 34:19). As a loving Father, God would tell you that He understands what you’re going through (Isaiah 53:3). God would tell you to hang in there because while there is suffering, heartache, and pain here, there is a place prepared by Him where none of that exists (John 14:2-4). God would ask you to draw near to Him, because if you do He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

We can’t always think of the appropriate words to say when someone is going through grief, but God always knows the right thing to say and He is perfect in all His ways. Bring Christ your broken life. He’ll fix it for you.

broken-heart

When Will I Ever Be Free…

When Will I Ever Be Free…

Neal Pollard

…Of concerns over the future–decisions to make, the specter of tomorrow, growing old, retirement?
…Of sin–fighting temptation and not always winning, beating one thing and then finding another cropping up in its place, and the guilt it brings?
…Of disappointment–both of what I inflict and what is inflicted upon me?
…Of fear–when it comes to my spouse, my children, my parents, my brethren, our nation?
…Of doubt–whether in the process of prayer, struggles with asking God “why?,” or especially doubting myself?
…Of neglect–leaving undone things central to my purpose as a Christian due to apathy, distraction, misplaced priorities, and the like?
...Of failure–trying and not succeeding, not trying hard enough, not knowing what or how to try, and of simply falling short?
…Of betrayal–whether through gossip, lying, broken promises, insincerity, or treachery?
…Of insecurity–that can result from any of these and other struggles?

We don’t always have days when we wonder these things, but they come around often enough that they can prey on our minds. Sometimes, we face these questions due to our shortcomings. Other times, it’s because of the failings of others. Both can lead to despair.

The wonderful news is that we can be free of them all. There is a day coming when none of these will weigh us down ever again. I love the encouragement of the Hebrews’ writer, who urges, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (12:1-3). 

Whether we are struggling due to our sinfulness or if it is any other weight, we’re encouraged to hang on and hang in there. When the struggle might be the greatest, that’s when we’ve got to turn and fix our focus on Jesus. Watch how He won! See what He did! Remember that He helps make it possible for us to fight and win.  

If you are in the valley of despair right now, for whatever reason, don’t give up! Look to Jesus. Hang on! The end is in sight. Through Him, we will overcome!

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Christ-less In Crisis

Christ-less In Crisis

Neal Pollard

It is hard to describe the beauty of faith evidenced in Room 913 yesterday as all the elders and their wives, Wes and Teri Autrey, and Tiffanie and Bethany Vaught stood with Myrna and the rest of the Murphy family at University Hospital yesterday.  We sang songs and Dave Chamberlin prayed a touching, loving prayer.  Moments later, a godly, wonderful woman made her transition from this life to the better one. Despite the inevitable, natural flow of tears, the heartache of separation, and the final earthly stanza of a beautiful, 59-year-old love song played by Ray and Myrna.  Myrna was an obvious success as a mother, wife, grandmother, and friend, but central to everything she did and who she was was Christ.  She did not fear death nor the condition that brought it.  She was ready because of Christ.

When I think of the red-letter days that have occurred in our nation and world during my lifetime, whether the bombing of the Murrah Building, the horrors of 9/11, the unbelievable natural disaster of the December 26, 2004, tsumami (“Boxer Day Tsumami”), the disappearance of the Malaysia Airliner, and the like, I am made to think how many stood in the wake of such tragedy without the hope and promise made possible through Christ.  Yet, every ordinary day where death looms through the natural course of life, people come to those final moments either ignorant or bereft of the bright prospect of what happens beyond death.  Certainly, some think they have hope, but it is not hope rested in what they can find in Scripture but rather what they think, feel, or have been told is real and true.  In some ways, those situations are the most tragic of all. Others are convinced that we are the result of chance and will cease to be when we draw our last breath, yet they continue to try and live with purpose and even act in the interest of others without bothering to ask why they behave civilized with such an animalistic point of view.

But for the one whose hope is built on the truth of what God’s Word says, there is no tidal wave of heart or explosion of life powerful enough to wrench us free from that hope. Paul exalts that we are saved by unseen hope (Rom. 8:24-25). In the rest of the chapter, he proclaims the unfailing love and promise of God for the redeemed who place their trust in Him.  Paul encourages the Thessalonians not to face death, sorrowing like a world without hope (1 Thess. 4:13).  Without Christ’s resurrection, there is no hope (cf. 1 Cor. 15:19-20).  However, because He lives, we can face tomorrow, all fear is gone, we know who holds the future, and life is worth living (Bill Gaither lyrics from “Because He Lives”).

The Murphys will have sorrow and grief to bear.  This is a testimony to their humanity.  But they look at tomorrow with an even brighter anticipation.  This is a testimony to the Christ who lives in them.  It is available for us all!

A dear sister in Christ, Myrna Murphy

Our Brethren Are Suffering

Our Brethren Are Suffering

Neal Pollard

The United Nations’ very conservative estimate is that well over 2,000 people have died in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine in fighting between that nation’s government have clashed with separatists.  So many of the towns and cities in the region have congregations of God’s people, many of their preachers trained in our foreign extension school that for years was in Kramatorsk and of late has been in Gorlovka. One of our graduates reports that two gospel preachers have been kidnapped this month, though one of them has since been released.  Our brethren in Ukraine have been facing the terror of daily bombing and shooting as well as fear for their safety when they assemble.

The ebola outbreak is an ongoing health concern and it is not yet contained.  Nations affected include Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and even Nigeria.  One of two Americans on medical missions in Liberia, Dr. Kent Brantly, is a member of the church.  While its not clear whether any of our native brethren in these African nations have gotten sick or died, they certainly feel the threat and concern of a disease that claims between 50 and 90 percent of those who contract it. 

Around the world at any given time, we have brothers and sisters who face health scares, hunger, harm, and hatred.  Persecution, natural disaster, famine, and war are no respecter of persons, and “our people” are often affected.  How they need our constant prayers as well as whatever assistance we can prudently provide.

On our pews in the local church, though without the drama and press coverage, there are always those who are struggling with hurts, heartaches, health, home, and hardship.  They may not trumpet their complaints or even publicly ask for encouragement, silently suffering.  As we interact with each other, let us keep in mind the potential hidden concerns and burdens being borne.  

Paul encourages us, in the spirit of unity, to “have the same care for one another” (1 Co. 12:25). He tells Colosse, “Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Col. 3:12). He tells Philippi to to look out “for the interests of others” (Phi. 2:4).  Are we busy and bothered by our own concerns? Certainly! But may we ever cultivate greater sensitivity toward the silent suffering of our spiritual family, both near and far.

Members of the Slavyansk church of Christ (including a BVBIU graduate from our first class) holding bomb shrapnel that exploded near the church building. Photo Credit: Jeff Abrams.