Be Still

By Janelle Pollard

I’m so tired.

I’m exhausted.

I would (fill in the blank with some kind of social activity or event you’ve been invited to attend), but I’ve got to get some sleep.

Do any of the above phrases sound familiar? (I’m sure Dale would respond with a resounding “yes,” if I asked him.) I rarely get enough sleep and all too often complain of being tired. Thankfully, this is something I can easily change with a little intention and discipline.

In our day and age, there is so much going on and are so many distractions to fill our minds and time that we rarely get enough (good) rest. But we need rest! Not only do we need quality sleep to be able to function and be happy, but we also need rest. If there is any evidence of how badly we need rest, it can be found in Genesis 2:2.

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”

If our own all-powerful Creator rested, we should definitely be resting too. Of course we need sleep to function. But we need more than sleep. We need rest, to be still. It would greatly benefit us to put away all of our many distractions: TV, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. These things are fine if used sparingly, but not many of us do.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 46:10, 

Be still, and know that I am God. 

I will be exalted among the nations, 

I will be exalted in the earth!

And in the beginning of 37:7,

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him”

We need to slow down and take time to be still before the Lord. To turn off all the noise and just listen. There’s so much to be gained from quiet time spent with God and we won’t come away from it feeling more tired and drained, but just the opposite. This kind of rest isn’t just good for the body, but good for the soul! If daily Bible study isn’t already a part of your normal routine, try it for a week. Start with maybe 5-10 minutes in the morning and at night. And as you begin to make this a part of your daily habits, increase the time and you will find that it’s never enough! 

Let’s all be still, not busy…

B-eing

U-nder

S-atan’s

Y-oke

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Hallelujah

By Emily Pollard

Oh Lord, dear Lord,
Blessed Creator of all
Compared to Your might,
All quandaries seem small.

The billowing waves,
Though they toss me about
Are to you one raindrop
In the midst of a drought.

In the height of shadow,
In lowliness of heart,
You bring hope, joy, and strength
Before the trials depart.

You are there before,
During, and after the pain.
In the highest and lowest times,
I never cease to praise your name.

Overcome with power,
love, and grace You bestow.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The only words my tongue now knows.

Oh Lord, dear Lord,
Now I see you face to face.
I bow down and thank you
For your mercy and your grace.

The sanctification process
Has led me to Your throne.
I am with You forever.
I am finally home.

For this, You and I labored
together many many years.
Now, here we are in eternity.
It was worth every tear.

Oh Lord, dear Lord
No number of praises
would ever be enough.
But eternity is long, and
I will spend it singing Hallelujah.

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Psalm 73

By Chelsea Pollard

There have been times in my life where I have envied the world. I knew better and a part of me hated that. Ignorance is bliss, right? I wanted to be like them, I wanted to do what I wanted to do and live carefree, not having to worry about a higher power or morality! They just have it so easy, don’t they?

Did you know this is in the Bible? Of course it is, there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9)! But I didn’t know that growing up while I was struggling to build my own faith. As a Christian, I knew life wasn’t going to be easy. I knew there were going to be struggles and that I would be tempted because of my own desires. I knew better, but that didn’t make it easier. The level of comfort I had when I read Psalm 73 is hard to describe. I wasn’t alone! I believe God put this in His Word because He knew we would struggle against ourselves.

Psalm 73 was written by a man named Asaph. Asaph was frustrated because he saw that the world was evil, but they prospered. Boy, does that sound familiar. Asaph said he envied the arrogant because they had no struggles, they’re free from common burdens, they are prideful, violent, and they have evil imaginations and callous hearts. They thrived and mocked God for it.

Asaph felt afflicted and that everything he was doing to keep his heart pure was in vain. He continued in verse 16 saying “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply, till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” When Asaph entered God’s house, he understood the fate that awaited those who are not faithful to God. In verse 27 he said, “those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.”

He says in verse 21, “when my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” He was wrong for envying evil people and he knew that. In verse 23, “I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Asaph’s psalm hits home for me because I have been guilty of the same jealousy and ignorance. Asaph went to God when he struggled with this. That is actually where I need to be and what I need to do when I am struggling. Look to the God of all comfort, “who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Cor 1:3,4). He takes care of us and loves us more than we could imagine. We are on the winning side, we are exactly where we need to be.

“But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell all of your deeds” (Ps 73:28).

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Do More of What Makes You like Jesus

By Janelle Pollard

It would not be an exaggeration to say that I love notebooks. I’ve always had a slight obsession with notepads, journals, and anything colorful and pretty to use for note-taking, to-do lists, and doodling. I probably definitely have more notebooks than I will need for the next few years (but this comes in handy when giving gifts!). Not too long ago, I bought a notebook because it had three sections, separated by the prettiest pastel-colored pages. This would be perfect for an all-purpose notebook. I could use one section for sermon & class notes at church, one for grocery/shopping lists, and one for miscellaneous/to-do lists. It was a done deal. There was only one problem. The phrase on the cover said, “Do What Makes You Happy.” While, of course, there is nothing wrong with being happy, it seems like this mentality is all about ME. 

It is so easy to become too focused on ourselves. We live in a society where we are conditioned to think that it’s normal and appropriate to put ourselves before everyone else. However, this goes against what Scripture teaches.

Society: “If it makes YOU happy, do it.” (Focus: ME)

Scripture: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:4 (Focus: Others)

The less we focus on ourselves, the more we will be like Jesus. Which, by the way, will make us happier than living with a self-centered mindset. It’s a WIN-WIN!

If we let it, society and the culture that surrounds us today can and will shape who we are and who we are becoming. It takes intention and daily effort to go against the grain. But that is what we are called to do as Christians. We aren’t supposed to look like everyone else. Having an “it’s all about me” mentality makes us look and think like the world. Jesus was not conformed to this world, so neither should we be.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

While Jesus lived on this earth, His focus was always on others. 

Healing others. Giving His time and energy to others. Loving others. Encouraging others. Guiding others. Comforting others. Praying for others. Dying for others.

There is so much to be learned by the example Jesus gave throughout His life. The more time we spend meditating on His Word, the more His example will impact and shape our mindset, which will in turn, shape our actions. We must make it a priority to allow the Bible to influence us instead of society. We must strive daily to be more and more like Christ.

In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul could not have stated this more simply:

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

1 Cor. 11:1

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Heaven is Better

By Emily Moore

The three-word phrase at the top of this article has become my personal catch phrase this year, and here is why. Our lives are made up of both good, prosperous, times and hard, not-so-prosperous times. If we made it through life without a single trial, our faith would never grow. But if our lives were filled only with trials, we would probably lose our minds. So, God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, provides for His children’s needs (Matthew 6:25-34), and He also allows us to experience growth-inspiring challenges (Hebrews 12:3-11). 

Now, with these thoughts on your mind, think back to the phrase “Heaven is better.” The truth is whether you find yourself in a peaceful life season or in the midst of the most difficult situation you’ve ever faced, you will find a needed dose of perspective in remembering that Heaven is better. Like Paul in Philippians 4:12, when he says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound,” we can all better remember to glorify God in any season of life when we remember that, ultimately, our actions in this life should be motivated by the eternal life hereafter.

As humans, it seems that staying focused on our end goal can be equally difficult in both good and hard times. Are you currently in one those wonderful phases of life in which your family and finances are all in order? Remember that Heaven is better than any level of temporal happiness or security we experience on earth. Praise God for those blessings, but remember that He has an even greater blessing waiting after this life.

It could be that you are on the opposite end of that spectrum, facing the hardest physical, financial, or spiritual circumstances you ever have. If that’s the case, take heart in knowing that Heaven is better, and faithfulness to God will lead you to an eternal life filled with nothing but peace and glory in God’s presence. 

It’s true. Shouting “Heaven is better!” when you find yourself struggling with materialism or going through hardships won’t immediately eradicate the problems in your life or change your level of earthly prosperity. But keeping your mind on the glory of Heaven will completely change, for the better, your perspective of life on earth. In the best or worst seasons of life, may we all remember that Heaven is better!

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Dear Chelsea

By Chelsea Pollard

Kathy’s article two weeks ago really got me thinking. Since leaving home I’ve frequently thought, “I wish I knew this when I was younger.” I know this is something everyone’s experienced! While it’s nice to have the knowledge, it’s quite frustrating. I could have saved myself from so much heartache, embarrassment, anger, regret and pain. 

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have any wisdom to offer since I’m still in my early 20’s and I’m not a mom (unless you consider Bear to be my child, because I do #dogmom). But I’ve often thought about things I wish I knew growing up and about what I could’ve done differently.

Here’s what I would tell myself:

  • Your parents are more than likely trying their best. I am ashamed to say that I was maybe 20 when I realized that my parents are people, too. They have their own struggles, whether it’s sin related or mental or physical health. Or all of the above! They’ve been through their own trauma and have to cope with it while raising a child. They are trying to figure it out and they’re not perfect. Show them grace and patience. Recognize what they do for you and thank them every now and then.
  • Take time to ground yourself where you are. We all struggle with this, but focus on the now. Stay out of the past. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  Stop creating scenarios in your head. Spend time with people you love and be present.
  • For the most part, your current trials are temporary and likely won’t matter in a year or two. That does not make them any easier, but putting them into perspective and keeping a positive outlook will make a world of difference. 
  • While this is sometimes used as a cop out, there are times when “you’ll understand when you’re older” is a legitimate statement. There are some concepts that you can’t fully understand until you have life experience. Get that through your head, young Chelsea. 
  • Take your relationship with God seriously. Have your own faith. If you have questions, please ask. If you can’t find the answer, keep trying! The answers are out there. Finding your own faith is liberating and exciting! There’s nothing like having a personal relationship with your Creator. 

Learning these things the hard way is unforgettable, but often costs so much more. Some mistakes can live with you your whole life! It might not be glamorous or fun but your adult life could be 70 or 80 years longer than teen and young adult years. Do your future self a favor and remember that your parents are likely doing their best and have troubles, too. Enjoy the present. Your current trials are temporary, and being positive will you make an even stronger person. Accept that there are some concepts we can’t understand until life widens our perspective. Most importantly, challenge your faith and make it your own. Learn from my mistakes and your future self will thank you!!!

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Living on Leftovers

By Emily Moore

Eating leftover meals for lunch or dinner is a great way to save money on groceries and save time preparing food after a busy day. There are countless ways to get creative with leftovers, like turning them into casseroles or soups. Nonetheless, the leftovers all get eaten after a few days, or your family gets tired of them and is ready for different meals. Sadly, leftovers don’t last long! As a soon-to-be wife, learning how to work with leftovers has definitely been on my mind. But I also started to think about how easily the idea of “living on leftovers” creeps into our spiritual diet.

Everyone experiences those seasons of life where you have such a full plate (pun intended) that feeding your soul becomes very difficult. It’s in these times that we often start trying to spiritually survive on leftovers. When a week has been stressful or exhausting, think about how a refreshing worship service on Sunday or one hour of mid-week Bible class will keep your soul full and thriving for the other five days of the week. But what happens when an evangelistic opportunity appears or when you’re hit with a conflicting decision or when you suddenly find yourself having doubts or temptations you’ve never before experienced? When these situations arise, it doesn’t take long to realize that leftovers aren’t enough. A fuzzy recollection of Bible verses here and there or a small excerpt from a sermon heard way back when will not be strong enough to sustain spiritual strength. Of course it is good and useful to remember those things, but just like babies mature and require more than a few ounces of milk, so we must continue to grow and ensure that our soul’s appetite grows with us (1 Peter 2:2).

As Christians, constant renewal, growth, and learning are essential to survival. Think about the idea of renewal in Romans 12:2…

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Renewal is a perpetual process; it takes time and intentionality. If you’ve been scraping by on spiritual leftovers, here are a few ideas for feeding your soul throughout the day:

  • Pray everywhere (1 Thess. 5:17; Jam. 5:13)–At work, while driving, on your lunch break; you can also set reminders on your phone to pray for specific people.
  • Sing (Psa. 13:6; Eph. 5:19)–Singing or listening to hymns in the car with the kiddos or by yourself is guaranteed to bring joy and encouragement to a new day.
  • Listen to podcasts or an audio Bible (Psa. 1:1-2; 119:16)–A car ride, lunch break, or any free moment can be filled with the Word.
  • Set aside time each day for in-depth Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15; Jam. 1:5)–Alone time with God and His Word is the heartiest meal for the soul.

**If you’d like suggestions for podcasts or Bible study tools, feel free to email me at emnem317@gmail.com.

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A Season of Renewal

By Chelsea Pollard

Spring is an amazing time of year. Flowers are blooming and life has a fresh start! Spring is a time of renewal when the dead, brown look of winter is replaced with vibrant life. 

Our relationship with God is like spring, only it doesn’t have to be limited to a single season! If we’re doing our part, God gives us new life. 

When David was confronted over his sin with Bathsheba he wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). David asked God to correct his flaws and accept him spiritually. “Renew” was a word that meant, “Go back to how it used to be.”  David didn’t want what he had currently to be his relationship with God. He wanted a pure heart and he wanted to return to the spiritual life he had before. 

God gives us a physical example of spiritual renewal with Spring. We can watch the earth bloom into new life. Just like the old, dead person we used to be is replaced with a new, living spirit! We are told to throw away our old selves because that way of life is corrupt. We have to have new minds and new behaviors (Eph. 4:20-24) because that’s more like God. 

We have new minds and behaviors when we encourage people instead of using our words to tear them down. Misusing our words actually hurts the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:29)! 

We have new minds and behaviors when we get rid of negative thoughts, feelings, and actions (Eph. 4:31). We replace those bad qualities with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness (Eph. 4:32). 

Many climates get new life during Spring, a big contrast from all of the death in Fall and Winter. When we show kindness, compassion, and forgiveness and we’re trying to be faithful, God makes our souls new like Spring (Eph. 4:32, 1 John 1:7-10). We renew ourselves because our ultimate goal is to be where “new” is the only thing we’ll know (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1, Isaiah 65:17, Romans 8:18-24)!

As we watch the flowers bloom, the gardens grow and the earth return to its green, beautiful state, I know I’ll be humming to myself, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

Spring Cleaning

By Janelle Pollard

The first of spring is always an exciting time for many. For those of us who aren’t fans of the cold, it is such a happy feeling to be able to spend your day outside without as much as a light jacket. While I try to keep our house clean through the winter, once spring arrives, I have this strong urge to start cleaning. And thanks to the excitement of a new (warmer) season, I have the energy and motivation to do just that. While cleaning the house, I also like to get rid of things we don’t need. Throughout the years, we collect all kinds of extra “stuff.” Some necessary and important for our day to day lives, but some not so much. These extra things may have seemed to be a necessity at the time but now they just take up space. Being married to a self-proclaimed minimalist has inspired me to have less. I love that about Dale. He doesn’t have to have “stuff” to be happy. He knows that when we leave this life, we can’t take it with us when we go, so there’s no need to collect all kinds of extra stuff (that will most likely find its way to a shelf or a stack of things to be stored later). Of course, there is nothing wrong with owning and enjoying our earthly possessions, as long as we aren’t making these things our whole life. This could lead to idolatry and the Bible teaches that this is sin.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10).

Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf” (Proverbs 11:28).

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

While Spring is still officially five days away (and some parts of the country probably don’t feel like winter is even close to being over yet), here in ‘ol North Alabama, it feels like it’s already here! Spring is a time to refresh and renew. While I am cleaning my home this Spring, I want to make sure I am also, and more importantly, refreshing and renewing my spiritual life. If we have too much stuff, or we are allowing it to become more important to us than it should be, let’s ask God to help us let go of it. If we have things in our lives that are getting in the way of putting or keeping God first, we must get rid of those things. Let’s let this season be one of refreshing and renewing not only our homes, but our priorities and relationship with God, first and foremost! Happy Spring!

Trending Now

By Janelle Pollard

My husband and I don’t watch much TV. We have shows we watch on demand, but we never watch the news or even the weather. If there is a tornado headed our way, we are more likely to find out from friends or by a slight feeling that the house is starting to shake somewhat. Some may see this as choosing to be ignorant but we simply don’t miss it. Life seems a little less stressful and chaotic with fewer scary headlines displayed on our TV screens. And for a recovering worry wart like myself, I don’t want to add to the problem!
While chatting with my mom last night, I found out just how out of the loop we are. She mentioned that the Super Bowl was going on and I didn’t even know it. Not only that, but this may be the first time I didn’t even know who was playing. Growing up with a dad who loves football, I at LEAST knew who would be playing in the Super Bowl that year. But these days, life is busy and the Super Bowl has dropped many notches from my list of things to pay close attention to. (That is probably also influenced by my husband not being big into TV or the NFL, ha!) With this realization of how out of touch I have become with the goings-on of our current society, I decided to see what types of things people are searching on Google these days. Some of the top currently trending searches included Britney Spears, Tom Brady, The Bachelor, and of course, the Super Bowl. I became curious how words like “Christianity” might compare with “Super Bowl” and found that Google offers a nifty little tool for this exact comparison (see below). Of course, over the past 90 days, as it got closer to the day, the “Super Bowl” has been increasing in popularity. However, I noticed that, in general, it is always more popular than “Christianity.” At least in Google searches. This isn’t surprising but it is disappointing. (I would like to add that I don’t write this article while sitting on top of a very high Clydesdale horse! I have searched countless words on Google that have nothing to do with Christianity and I don’t believe this makes me a bad person or “un-Christian.” However, I do think it can help us to re-focus our thoughts!)
This is a good reminder that the world needs a Savior! And that is obviously Jesus. So, how can we help our non-Christian friends and acquaintances be aware of this? The book of 1 Peter gives us some insight…
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:9-11).
The Cliff Notes:
  • Be obedient to God
  • Don’t be like you used to be before becoming a Christian
  • Be holy in ALL of your conduct, like Jesus
  • Proclaim the greatness of God
  • Remember that, as a Christian, you have received mercy and are part of God’s people
  • Stay away from things of the flesh, things that will tempt you
  • Be honorable in your conduct
We may not get it right every day, but we must try our best! And while trying, may we cause others to want to know more. Let’s always remember to pray that our being different isn’t for our glory, but for God’s. And that it will lead others to Him!