Monthly Archives: September 2010

Sunday bulletin article

     This comes from the file of “stupid criminals”:

     Waylon Prendergast, 37, of Tampa, Florida, committed a spur-of-the-moment robbery while on his way home from a late-night drinking session.  A very inebriated Mr. Prendergast forced his way into the house through an open upstairs window, filling a suitcase with cash and valuables before setting the living room on fire to cover his tracks.  He then escaped through the back door and made his way home, chuckling all the way.  Only as he turned the corner into his own street, however, and discovered three fire engines outside his house, did he realize that in his drunkenness he had, in fact, burgled and ignited his own property.  His comment:  “I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions.”

     While we may not do anything quite that stupid (at least nothing that makes the national newspapers), there are times when Christians need to stop and reflect, coming to same conclusion Mr. Prendergast did:  “I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions.”

     From family and friends to material comforts (like electricity and running water),  from our basic needs (like food) to luxuries other generations never dreamed of (like the computer you’re sitting at right now), from the freedoms we enjoy to the jobs we hold, there is much that we have been blessed with that we take for granted.

     Even beyond the physical blessings, there is so much that God has given us through Jesus Christ.  As Paul wrote,

     “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

     Truly, I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions.  “God, forgive me for taking so much of it for granted.”

Alan Smith

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Being a good example to fellow Christians

           David Jeremiah relates the true story (i.e., “snoped”) from May of 1992 concerning Michael Murray and his children.  Michael was taking his two infants to see their mother, a nurse in a Massachusetts hospital, and give her a Mother’s Day present.  He put three-month-old Matthew, car seat and all, up on the roof while he secured his 20-month-old daughter and her car seat into place.  Without thinking, Michael got into his Hyundai and drove out of the garage.  He forgot about Matthew!  He drove through several busy streets and onto I-90.  As he accelerated to 50 MPH, he heard the car seat-with baby-slide off the roof and through the rear view mirror he watched it hit the highway and slide toward the oncoming vehicles.  You know how fast people travel on the interstate, and this was a busy day!
            Michael Murray was not a malicious, evil man.  Everything known about the man points to a devoted husband and father.  He just got careless.  He did not mean to do it, but the baby was still negligently left on a roof and bounded off the car onto one of the busiest roads in the state of Massachusetts.

            Peter refers to new Christians as “babes” (1 Pet. 2:2).  Jesus seems to have the spiritual in mind when he refers to the “little ones” in Luke 17:1-2.  New Christians have the fragile qualities, the level of dependency, and the need of care so true of newborn babes.  A careless word, a poor example, a bad attitude, a negative criticism about the church or the elders, or a simple case of neglect can have terrible consequences in the spiritual welfare of a spiritual babe.  Usually, there is no active campaign to destroy the faith of a new Christian.  We just get careless.  But the consequences are just as great.
            Fortunately for Michael, little Matthew came through without a scratch.  There was the “luck” of the bounce as well as the alert response of the antiques dealer, James Boothby, who was following behind Murray.  He slammed on brakes, blocked the road, ran and rescued that precariously positioned infant.  But, what if the bounce had gone differently?  What if someone less attentive had been following Murray down the road?  Jesus said that woeful offenses would come.  Let us each strive to make sure they don’t come from us.  Please help take care of those babes!

Neal Pollard

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The world's largest dam

Someone who works for Denver Water told me about Three Gorges Dam in China, far and away the largest in the world.  It is five times larger than the Hoover Dam and capable of generating twenty times more power.  It is designed to hold back 5 trillion gallons of water!  Three Gorges Dam has been built along the Yangtze River, visible with the naked eye from space, and the world’s largest hydroelectric power generator ( facts taken from Greenbelt, MD, 6/13/07, article by staff writers of SPX).  There are fears about the potential for disaster, environmental and climate changes, and pollution due to a lack of national regulation to ensure safety measures are employed.
Though this may be seen as a dramatic alteration of nature, it is also a testimony to man’s ability and wisdom.  The engineering feat is a marvel to consider.  The impact is also incredible.  The reservoir’s presence and the change in flow of the river has dropped the temperature a whole degree over a 62 mile area.  The entire project also may increase earthquake activity, which might jeopardize the integrity of the dam.  The consequences of that would be devastating.
Even though man is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27) and endowed with such creativity and ingenuity (think airplanes, space shuttles, light bulbs, pasteurization, antibiotics, vaccines, etc.), he still falls a far distant second to the Master Designer!  Man’s attempts are subject to failure, lack of foresight and anticipation, wear and tear, and maintenance.  It makes so much of what God has made and sustained that much more incredible, from the placement of earth in our solar system and universe to the many intricacies of our body and our environment.  God even created the best dam builders-beavers!  So much of what we have learned about it has come by observing their precision and ingenuity.  What a Mighty Maker we serve!

— Neal Pollard

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Is the word Abilene used in the Bible?

Vote in the following “Bible survey” poll and then check your answer here: 

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Robert W. Yarbrough commentary on 1-3 John

Has anyone used the commentary on First-Third John by Robert W. Yarbrough?  This is part of the “Baker Exegetical Commentary Series.”  It is not cheap ($25-$40) depending on where it is purchased, but I have seen one short review that looked promising.

If you have used this commentary, why not review it here to help others?

Baker Exegetical Commentary Series

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The God of all comfort

People vainly seek to find their comfort through alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food, sexual immorality, and the like.  People may find some legitimate comfort through sleep, a physical or mental escape, through friendships and relationships, and through precious memories.  In 2 Corinthians one, Paul makes some remarkable statements about the Heavenly Father’s ability to provide comfort to the hurting.

HE IS THE GOD OF “ALL” COMFORT (1:3).  There are the severest trials of life in which we would be thrilled to receive just a fraction of His comfort, a little comfort, some comfort, or much comfort.  But, Paul’s statement is unqualified and unmitigated.  Ephesians 1:3 says “all spiritual blessings” are “in Christ.”  That means no spiritual blessings are “out of Christ.”  Likewise, God gives “all” comfort, meaning that no legitimate comfort is found outside of God and His providential care.
HE IS THE GOD WHO COMFORTS US IN “ALL OUR AFFLICTIONS” (1:4).  What burdens your heart?  The guilt of past, forgiven sin?  The loss of a loved one?  Persecution for your faith?  A physical malady that will not go away?  A broken marital or family relationship with no seeming ray of hope?  Can you say, “God will comfort me through ____________” (fill that blank in with your most severe, current trial)?  Whatever “it” is, God is able to comfort.
HE IS THE GOD WHO GIVES “ABUNDANT” COMFORT “THROUGH CHRIST” (1:5).  Jesus is the hero of the Bible.  His life, death, burial, and resurrection spell the difference between comfort and being comfortless.  The Christ of the cross is the Christ of the crisis.  He has endured affliction in a human body and is an everlasting personality of the Godhead, thus He can relate to our humanity and He can supply all our needs in His divinity.
As a Sovereign God, He would not have to provide mercy, comfort, and grace.  But, in line with His nature, God wants to comfort us in any affliction in which we may find ourselves.  He knows, He understands, and He cares.  There is no substitute for God’s comfort!
Neal Pollard

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old gospel hymn Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper

There is an old gospel hymn that goes like this: Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper, wet your feet in the water of his love”. That is a very interesting song if you think about it in the context of Scripture. I’m not sure where the writer of the hymn got their inspiration, but the memory of the song came to me as I was reading Joshua chapter 3 this past week.

In this passage, after 40 years of wandering through the wilderness is pursuit of the Promise by God of a better life, they finally were going to cross into the promise land. God gives Joshua directions as to what was going to happen. They were to cross the Jordan river during it’s flood stage and enter the land of Canaan.

Now you might think this is not a whole lot different from when they passed through the Red Sea, but it is. When Moses parted the Red Sea, the winds blew all night and there was a path through the sea. In this case they had to physically step into the water before the water stopped flowing. Notice what the scripture says:

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Joshua 3:14-17)

This time God called upon them to literally make a “Step of Faith” before he would deliver them. When the soles of the sandals on the feet of the priest touched the water the water stopped flowing and backed up for approximately 17 miles upstream. Notice also that the river bed was instantly dry. God worked, but he demanded that the people take a step of faith, before he worked in their lives.

I wonder how many times God doesn’t answer our prayers, doesn’t cause or allow something to happen in our lives, because he is simply waiting for us to take the first step of faith? What is it that you dream of doing or being? What great plan do you have for God or for you life? Are you waiting for the right time to step out, for the perfect conditions to act?

Notice what the writer of wisdom said in Ecclesiastes 11:4, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (KJV) It might have more impact if you notice how it is translated by a modern translation. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

What are you waiting for? What is holding you back? Maybe it’s time to “Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper, wet yourself in the waters of his love.”

Russ Lawson

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The sermon on the mount

If you were to take the total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene—if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage—if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly two thousand years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings.
–Psychiatrist J. T. Fisher, 1951

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Best friends


I CAN COUNT on one hand my most intimate friends, those with whom I would share anything…
I can hardly think of a boundary on our conversations.  We reached that plane of relationship after long hours together and considerable risk.  If a doctor informs me tomorrow that I have a terminal disease, they will be my first calls.
Most of my intimate friends live in other cities, and as a result I may see them only once a year.  When we meet, though, we skip the chitchat and go right to the heart of what concerns us most.  I don’t worry about being judged or second-guessed or made the subject of gossip.  With true friends, I feel safe.
Friendship with God encompasses each of these levels of communication.  God cares about the ordinary and everyday as well as the peak experiences. I bring to God my failures and sins (confession, repentance) as well as my triumphs and joys (praise, thanksgiving).  I bring to god my worries and concerns (petition, intercession).  The very attempt to hide something from God is folly, for God know all of who I am: the genetics as well as the environment, the thoughts and motives as well as the actions.  (Philip Yancey)
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).
–Mike Benson

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Gettin' married's like taking a bath in a tub of hot water

Dan Erickson reported in an online sermon that Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I read where one wife plans to divorce her husband as soon as she can find a way to do so without making him happy.” In spite of the fact that the Bible says whoever finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22), millions of people find themselves under a mountain of marriage misery. Their experience mirrors what the late great Minnie Pearl once said about marriage — “Gettin’ married’s like taking a bath in a tub of hot water. After awhile, it ain’t so hot.” So it would seem for many. The fire has fizzled and the love didn’t last. These past fifty years have seen America become the most divorce-prone nation on earth. Many who said “I do” really didn’t, at least not “until death do us part.” More like, “until debt do us part.” Instead of “so long as we both shall live” the real truth for many is “until one of us is tired of it.” In spite of the fact that God is on record as saying He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), large numbers of people now view divorce as being morally neutral, a liberating and life-enhancing option to be exercised if/when the marriage magic disappears. Rock star Rod Stewart, himself twice divorced, verbalized the casual attitude toward marriage he and millions of others have acted out. He said, “I think marriage vows should be changed, because they’ve been in existence for 600 years, when people used to live until they were only 35. So they only had to be with each other for 12 years, then they would die anyway. But now, it’s a big commitment because you’re going to be with someone for 50 years. It’s impossible. The vows should be written like a dog’s license that has to be renewed every year.” (

Stewart’s statement reminds us that millions have simply lost their way as regards marriage and God’s will for it. Men have by and large rejected what the Lord has to say about marriage and divorce. Many criticize the Bible’s teaching on this subject as hard and unfair. While I would never accuse Rod Stewart of being a Bible scholar, he is right about one thing – marriage is a big commitment. Three verses from 1 Corinthians 7 remind us just how big — “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. . . .A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (verses 10-11, 39). The point in this article is not to deny that marriage is rough, tough work, sometimes more sour than it is sweet, more hurt than it is happiness, more give than it is receive. Anybody who says it isn’t has never been married. But none of that changes the fact that a marriage must be based on commitment, not convenience, if it is to last. A good marriage is not easy but neither is it impossible. What is required is a deep-seated commitment to the will of God and one’s mate.

Dan Gulley

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