The Lost Are Still Lost

The Lost Are Still Lost

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

It hurts and it’s hard to become attached to anyone who isn’t living faithfully because they’re lost. That means they’re not going to heaven. Sometimes lost people pretend like that’s not their reality by distracting themselves with things that make them feel like they’re not lost (Ecc. 2.24-25). 

There’s a good chance that you know people who aren’t going to heaven and many of you love people who aren’t and we’ve got to convince them to hear Jesus out. 

What can we do? 

We can simplify spiritual concepts so that people can understand a message that they desperately need to hear. 

Please don’t let anything get in your way of going home. If you think something might be in your way, God can use us to help you. There are more things to fear than Covid, vaccines, tornados, elections, and riots. 

Everybody responds to the invitation that Jesus extends. Many choose to say no— but nobody ever regrets saying yes. 

To you, responding might be a personal resolve and commitment to christ. 

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

Romans 8.5 

Does God Only Shelter Some In A Storm?

Does God Only Shelter Some In A Storm?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

I’ve heard some say of a house left standing after a tornado or hurricane that God must have spared the structure’s owner from material loss because of their righteousness. But, unfortunately, such statements imply that the neighboring destroyed property belonged to the unrighteous. Yet Jesus said, “for He (God) causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5.45, all ref. NASB1995 unless otherwise indicated). 

Even amongst the destruction, though, if someone is observant enough, he sees what he chooses to call miraculous. However, since a miracle is the suspension of God’s natural laws, we understand that the word “miracle” oft becomes an adjective to describe what defies human comprehension. In reality, laws of nature explain the “skipped” houses or why a decorated Christmas tree can remain amidst a room, missing its walls and a part of its ceiling. 

For example, there can be what scientists call “suction vortices” within tornadoes. Within a more significant tornado, these many vortices move in a looping, cycloid pattern that will hit some things while completely missing others.1 In other words, the hand of God was in the creation of the natural laws resulting in the occasional formation of tornadoes, with their suction vortices, as opposed to directing storms into particular locations.  

But did God originally intend for His natural laws to include such destructive phenomena? Think back to the world God initially created. God called it “very good” (Genesis 1.31). What changed? Humanity used its free moral agency to sin, bringing change to the world. In fact, things got so bad that God destroyed the original world. Peter says, “…by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3.5-6). 

Among those mechanisms that God put into place in the world emerging from the flood are the weather patterns that spawn tornadoes and hurricanes. The patient patriarch, Job, observed the following regarding the wisdom known to God: “…He imparted weight to the wind and meted out the waters by measure…He set a limit for the rain and a course for the thunderbolt…He saw it and declared it; He established it and also searched it out” (Job 28.25-27). 

Now, the point of our devotional today is not to increase the misery of those having suffered loss during what insurance companies euphemistically call “acts of God.” Yes, things like tornadoes and hurricanes do arise because of sin. However, it is not a part of the chastisement God sends upon us (cf. Hebrews 12.4ff). So, if you want to see God after a tornado, do not see it in a church building with no roof, but with all its hymnals and pew Bibles still safely secured in the pew racks. That is likely but a side effect of natural law.  

No, look for God in His grace. As Fred Rogers often said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”2 Might I suggest that it is in the helpers that we see the actual hand of God? His Providence works through the people clearing debris, handing out food, and providing shelter to those who have lost everything. These fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6.2). Thus, God does not only shelter some in a storm. He provides for all of the weary through the agency of those whom He made in His image (Genesis 1.26-27).  

Sources Consulted and Cited 

1 Seman, Steven, et al. “Tornado Damage, Safety, and Myths.” Tornado Damage, Safety, and Myths | METEO 3: Introductory Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, www.e-education.psu.edu/meteo3/l9_p8.html

2 Rogers, Fred. “A Quote by Fred Rogers.” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/quotes/198594-when-i-was-a-boy-and-i-would-see-scary

When The Storms Of Life Are Raging

When The Storms Of Life Are Raging

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Jesus, the master teacher (Luke 8:1-21), shows His humanity as He fell asleep as the disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee (23). Assuming the boat to be large enough to transport at least 13 people and provide Jesus room to repose, it makes the situation more impressive when “a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger” (23). We know that at least four of the men in that boat made their living negotiating these waters as fishermen, and we would guess they had seen their share of storms. But this one was apparently exceptional. They woke Jesus up in a panic, exclaiming, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” (24). 

When Kathy and I were young newlyweds, we worked with the church in Livingston, Alabama. Our best song leader was a man who grew up close friends of Gus Nichols’ children. His name was Selman Falls, and his repertoire of songs was vast. He taught us the song, “He Will Hide Me,” written by Mary Servoss in 1878. The first verse says, “When the storms of life are raging, tempests wild on sea and land, I will seek a place of refuge, in the shadow of God’s hand.” Few metaphors seem more fitting than to call our trials and difficulties “storms.” I confess that more than one of these has led me to panic and to pray, “Master, Master, I am perishing!” Our trials disturb our peace, rock our world, and threaten our stability. 

Will you notice how Jesus handled this? First, He acted. Then, He admonished. He did not lecture while waves crashed and water encroached. He took care of the problem. But, then He said, “Where is your faith?” Luke mentions no sober self-reflection on the part of the disciples. Instead, they marveled. They responded, in fear and amazement, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” (25). Storms are opportunities for us to ask, then answer, such an identity question. It’s the right question. Not, why did this storm come? Why me? But, Who then is this? Who is the master of the maelstrom? Who is the commander of the crushing confusion? 

Chances are great that several of you are in the midst of some kind of storm. The boat is rocking, the winds are howling, and the prospects are not promising. What will you do? More importantly, what will you allow Him to do? He still stills storms! 

Business on 31W bypass, relatively close to our church building
WHEN THE STORMS OF LIFE ARE RAGING

WHEN THE STORMS OF LIFE ARE RAGING

Monday’s Column: Neal at the Cross

ATF2020 crop

Neal Pollard

When I preached in Livingston, Alabama, Selman Falls would often lead us in singing the song, “He Will Hide Me.”  This M.E. Servoss hymn was in the Songs of the Church hymnal.  Servoss, a woman from Chicago (“Mary Elizabeth”), was a prolific hymn writer.  This was maybe her most notable hymn.  Perhaps no imagery is more graphic in scripture than depicting troubles as a storm (cf. Psalm 55:8; Proverbs 1:27; Isaiah 25:4-5; 1 Timothy 1:19; etc.).  Storms are frightening and damaging.  I sat in a hallway with my head in my lap in Junior High in Franklin, Georgia, during a tornado and my family and I rode out a hurricane in Virginia in 2003.  The unknown of what the storm will do adds to its ferocity.

I read David McCullough’s Johnstown Flood, about the torrential rains that broke the Little Fork dam and unleashed a calamity of its kind unmatched in modern, U.S. History.  People were completely swept away, crushed by debris, drowned, and even burned to death.  The storms of that late May day in 1889 cost 2,209 people their lives.  McCullough tells about Victor Heiser’s incredible survival in this flood.  He climbed into a barn just before the powerful waters blew through the property and he watched the family house (in which his parents were) instantly demolished.  The barn was carried downstream in such a way that it barely missed whole houses, freight train cars, barns, and the like before the then sixteen year old Heiser found refuge with nineteen others in the attic of a two-story brick house commandeered by the flood.  Along the way, he witnessed the deaths of several not so blessed as he.  Heiser made the most of the blessing.  He grew up, became a doctor, and it is estimated that he saved as many as two million lives through the development of the first effective treatment against leprosy.  He died at the age of 99 in 1972.

Most storm survivors are not as acclaimed and famous as Victor Heiser.  So many have taken hold of the hand which calms the storms and have enjoyed the Lord’s guidance as they weathered their own storms of tragedy, trouble, and transgression.  They reached their end, many of them having aided others to escape through Christ!  Spurgeon and a friend saw a weather vane upon which were written the words, “God is love.”  The friend objected, saying, “God’s love is not so fickle and transient.  That vane is not correct.”  To which Spurgeon replied, “No, friend, you have misunderstood its meaning.  It is correct.  It suggests that God is love, which ever way the wind blows.”

Donna Dungan, a wonderful Christian lady who has lived along the Gulf Coast where many fierce storms have blown, wrote a poem to comfort a friend suffering from an unknown virus that eventually took her life.  Her beautiful words may bring you comfort as you deal with your storms.  I close with it.

Though a fierce storm is raging about you
And you fear there is nothing you can do
There’s a place in your heart where He meets you
And in the eye of the storm He carries you through
Don’t let go, don’t try to leave the eye, or the storm will take you in
Nothing will overtake you while you are holding on to Him
There is a place of peace and rest that is safe from the battles of life
A place in your heart where He will shield you from worry and strife
Our Lord never sleeps nor slumbers while His children are in pain
He alone has the power to hold you up until you are whole again
Oh, please don’t let go–just hold on
In the eye of the storm just hold on.

 
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