The Shots We Don’t Take

By Janelle Pollard

On September 11, 1777, Captain Patrick Ferguson faced a decision that would forever change the course of history. He noticed an American officer in the distance riding on horseback into view. Unbeknownst to this officer, he was mere seconds away from potentially being taken out by the best shot in the British army. However, Captain Ferguson was plagued with guilt at the thought of killing someone without their knowing of the presence of an enemy. He felt that ambushing someone in this way was simply wrong. So before shooting, he yelled at the American officer. At least then, there would be a fair chance. Once the American heard the yell, he rode off, and the British marksman lost his chance. The next day, Captain Ferguson learned that the officer whose life he ultimately spared was none other than General George Washington. Had Captain Ferguson ambushed Washington a day earlier, we can only guess how the American Revolution might have ended.

One decision may seem insignificant at the time, but we never really know how many people it may affect years, or even decades, down the road. 

Marshall Keeble, a gospel preacher born in 1878, made the decision to become a Christian, and that decision went on to impact the lives of thousands. Keeble was reported to have baptized over 20,000 people throughout his ministry. There is no telling how many more souls were saved because of those 20,000+. One of those was a young man named “Randall.” This young man would go on to spread the gospel to some of his co-workers. One of those co-workers was Michael Shank, who would go on to write a book, Muscle and a Shovel, about his conversion, which would lead thousands more to obey the gospel. Without Marshall Keeble making the decision to become a Christian, who knows how many people may have never decided to become a Christian. While it is ultimately up to each person to seek out, find, and obey the gospel, it is also true that we as Christians are commanded to “…go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15) How many lives will be impacted if we decide to obey this command? And worse, how many lives will be affected if we don’t?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20

Revive Me #28–Show God’s Peace

Revive Me, Week 28– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Show God’s Peace

What a week!  Do you find yourself thinking that more and more?  We live in a world of violence, tensions, unrest, and anger.  People are shaking their heads and asking, “What is this world coming to?”  Christians know the answer to that question.  We need to be ready to share it.  But first, how will those in the world know to come to us?  They need to see God’s peace in us.

Many are wringing their hands in fear and frustration.  We need to be folding our hands in prayer.  We need to be extending our hands to give and help.

The faces around us are anxious.  Our brows need to be smooth and our expressions should reflect the calm in our hearts.

The words swirling everywhere on the news and social media are angry and provoking.  Our words need to be healing and life-giving.

The world needs to see something different in us.  Yes, we are indeed surrounded by violence and injustice.  But we are filled with the peace of God.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Your, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3)

Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psa. 119:165).

“The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psa. 29:11).

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Let’s show the world this God-given peace!  They may be ready for the security that comes from serving the One who is in control.  

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.  The Lord be with you all” (2 Thess. 3:16).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you are struggling with fear and anxiety, pray for peace.  Your trust in God during these unstable times will draw others.
  2.  Read 2 Thess. 3:16 again.  How does the Lord want to give you peace?
  3.  Do the Bible-marking on True Peace.
  4.  Center your family devotionals this week around the topic of peace.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.


One Simple Way to Find Balance

BALANCE– an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady; a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

As I consider the various areas of my life as a Christian woman, I know I need to keep growing in all aspects (Eph. 4:15).  I need to nurture my relationship with God.  I need to take care of myself physically.  I need to work at being a better wife and mother.  I need to look for ways to reach the lost, help the needy, and encourage others.

Sometimes it’s a real challenge for me to feel “upright and steady” and to keep everything “in the correct proportions.”  I’ll do great at exercising and eating right but find myself neglecting personal Bible study.  I’ll put more concerted effort into my marriage, and then realize it’s been way too long since I’ve had someone in my home or invited someone to worship.   It’s like I forget certain areas while I’m focusing on other ones.

It could be that’s just how my mind works.  I have to write things down to remind myself to do them.  When it comes to finding balance in my Christian walk, I finally came up with the kind of list that actually works for me.  It’s all on one sheet, it’s easy, and it reminds me to “grow in all aspects.”

I’ve hesitated to share this list because I don’t want to give the impression that Christianity is a checklist of good deeds, and as long as I can check everything off my list, I can feel good about myself.  Truly, that’s not what this is about.  Christianity is putting God’s will first and allowing it to affect every area of my life.  But we are commanded to be soul-winners (Mark 16:15), to be benevolent (Matt. 25:34-46), to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13), and to encourage others (Heb. 10:24,25).  It just helps me personally to have a visual reminder of those areas so I can think about ways to live them out each day.

About the list:

  • The first half focuses on daily communication with the Father (Bible study and prayer).
  • The next section focuses on physical health.  I put tally marks down for each glass of water I drink and list the type of exercise I did.  At first I tried to include a space for a food journal, but a.) it took too long to record everything I ate (ha!), and b.) I find that if I’m exercising and drinking plenty of water each day, I end up eating better anyway.
  • Then there’s a place to list the three most prioritized things that need accomplished that day.
  • The final section is really what makes this list work for me.  It simply lists benevolence, hospitality, soul-winning, and encouragement.  It reminds me to do something that falls under one of those categories, and then I’ll write down next to it what I did (like sending a card, making a call or visit, having a family over, putting tracts in the car for distribution opportunities, etc.).  Because one of those areas comes more naturally to me than the others, this section also allows me to see when I’ve been neglecting the ones that push me out of my comfort zone.

To make it a little more fun and feminine, I printed the list off on a variety of pretty papers.  I can choose whichever print strikes my fancy each day.

You might find this list helpful, too (see below).  It’s plain and simple, mainly because I don’t know how to make it look cool and modern.  But you’re more than welcome to use it, and if you know how to make it more appealing, more efficient, or more practical, then please share!

Finding Balance List


Here is a revised list that was sent to me by a reader.  She gave me permission to share it here.  Thank you, Amy Ellis, for the cute and cool version!


*This post can also be found at ImageProxy.mvc

News Travels Fast

This past Sunday morning, Neal shared with Bear Valley our decision to work with the Foote St. congregation in Corinth, MS.  Before the day was over, we were emailed, texted, called and even scooped.  Before our beloved Bear Valley family could absorb the announcement, before we had time to convince them how very much we love them and will miss them, the news was out.  Thanks to facebook, twitter, and every other information-age-device, the news traveled cyber fast.  My mind was blown.

But of course this wasn’t the first time I’d seen that kind of power in action.  Thanks to the news channels and facebook, we’ve all been able to keep up with the recent tornado destruction in Moore, OK.  What happened?  How can we help?  These questions and more were quickly answered.  Videos were shared of survivors and their stories.  (See the one about the lady’s dog that was found during her interview?)  On another personal level, we saw the effectiveness of social media when our son, Gary, got sick at Freed.  Since he was a gazillion miles away from us, we were grateful for the many friends who contacted us and offered to help, before Neal even arrived at the airport.  Good news and bad news travel faster than ever before.  What a powerful tool we have at our fingertips!

I’m in awe anew at the zeal of the first century Christians.  The command was given.  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  What happened?  “Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7).  But it didn’t stop there.  Paul wrote the church at Colossi, who also heard the good news, and said the gospel was “preached to every creature under heaven” (Col. 1:23).  How did they do that without TV or the internet?  Perhaps the answer is found in every phrase of Acts 5:42.

The Good News was their daily focus.  “And daily…”  Evangelism wasn’t reserved for Sundays, gospel meetings, and door knockings.  It was on their mind every day.  Is it on my mind every day?  Is it always included in a specific way on my daily to-do list?  This is a Thursday, a typical weekday for most of us.  What can I do today to share the news?

The Good News went everywhere with them.  “In the temple, and in every house…”  Whether public settings or private settings, those Christians shared the gospel.  Sometimes it wasn’t comfortable or safe, but that didn’t stop them from spreading the news anyway.  Where will I go today?  To the grocery store, work, post office, or restaurant?  I must take the News with me.  Keep a Bible in your car and pray for opportunities!

The Good News was their top priority.  “They did not cease teaching and preaching…”  Even when the Word was rejected by some, and even when they were ridiculed for sharing it, they didn’t stop spreading it.  They didn’t give up.  The Good News was all that mattered.  It’s still all that matters.  Let’s keep sharing it!  Instead of feeling outnumbered or overwhelmed, instead of feeling timid, instead of believing Satan’s lie that it won’t do any good, let’s never stop talking, sharing, texting, promoting, and writing about the gospel.

The Good News was all about Jesus.  “They did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”  Jesus is the Way, the only Way.  Many don’t know that.  Many promote the complete opposite, like the COEXIST bumper stickers.  Messages that contradict what God’s Word says about Jesus Christ are being taught.  Let’s do all we can to spread the Truth!  There are other Bible principles that need to be taught as well, but the name of Jesus should be on our lips every day.

Thank God that news travels fast these days, because we have the best news of all!  “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:3).

Prayer for Today:  Help me, Lord, to take advantage of the resources we have to spread the Good News.

Dale preaching at FPTC; Photo taken by David Parker

Purpose of Heart

Anxiety, worry, fear, surprise, and grief.  I went to bed with these feelings swirling around in my gut.  I prayed long and hard for our nation, for thousands of unborn babies, for the future of our children, and for peace.  Yet I still felt queasy, and sleep was a long time in coming.  I thought about a quote that a former Secretary of Education shared over three decades ago:  “We have become the kind of nation that civilized societies used to send missionaries to.”  I thought about moving to Africa.  My first thought upon rising this morning was, “What are we going to do?  What can do?”

I had to put things back into perspective.  What really matters?  What will outlast who sits in the Oval Office?  What will really make a difference?  In fact, it’s the only thing that will make a difference.  We MUST get back to being an evangelistic church.  For America to be reinstated as a Christian nation, it has to be made up of Christians.  And who can accomplish that?  Not the President.  Or a political party.  I can.

Wringing our hands or stomping our feet won’t help.  Running away won’t help.  Ranting and complaining won’t help.  Praying will, but not prayer alone.  Christ didn’t tell us to go into all the world and pray.  We must remember who we are and why we’re here.  Is my neighbor a Christian?  Are my co-workers Christians?  If not, is it because they have rejected the gospel?  Or have I neglected to share it with them?  I am praying for the hand of the Lord to be with us.  In Acts, that happened when Christians “preached the Word” and “preached the Lord Jesus.”  Then, “the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21).  These early Christians had been persecuted, but when Barnabas saw their zeal and efforts to teach others, he was glad.  He was encouraged.  And he encouraged them to continue their work for the Lord “with purpose of heart” (Acts 11:22-24).

What can we do?  We can double our efforts to reach the lost.  Each day each of us must look at those around us and make sure they know Christ.  Good old-fashioned Bible studies around the kitchen table and spontaneous conversations about the Word during carpool WILL make a difference.  It takes effort and energy to worry and fret, but we have better things to do with our time.  “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).

Prayer for Today:  Give me courage, Lord, to share Your truth with my fellow Americans.  Lead me to some soul today.

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