Holy Week

It’s Holy Week! It’s a time to reflect on the awesome events of the week that changed everything! As Pastor Landon reminded us yesterday at our lunchtime Holy Week Bible Study, Gospel writers spent 30 chapters talking about the events of this one week. That should give us a clue as to its importance. From the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem to the supernatural Resurrection appearances, the events of this one week in history shook the earth (literally) to its core!

The events changed how we view time itself. We now refer to BC and AD—before Christ and Anno Domini, the Year of our Lord. Of course, I think the “politically correct” version is CE and BCE (common era and before common era?). Even that can’t change the facts about what made the difference. Scholars can’t really refute that Jesus was a real historical figure who lived, was crucified, and was seen by over 500 people after His death. They don’t try. They propose radical theories to try to explain away those facts, but there’s more evidence for Jesus than for any other fact in history! This is why so many former atheists like C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and Lee Strobel found God when they honestly researched the Case for Christ or the Evidence that Demands a Verdict with open minds and hearts.    

The week started on Sunday with Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The King of Kings surrendered Himself to a cruel death for us. We don’t really get the significance of the donkey, but the Jews of that day should have. They didn’t. If a King went to war, he rode a white horse. If he came in peace or surrender, he rode a donkey.

After going back to spend the night with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany, Monday, Jesus returned to Jerusalem. On the way, he cursed the fig tree, a symbol of Israel. Unfortunately, this has been used through the ages as an excuse for anti-Semitism. It wasn’t, and it isn’t!  As Jesus entered the next day (Tuesday), and Peter pointed the tree out to Him, Jesus answered, “Have faith in God.” The withered tree was simply a symbol of Israel’s lack of faith. But God has not and will not forget His Chosen People. And we’d do best to remind ourselves of that!  

At the temple on Monday, Jesus had overturned the moneychanger’s tables and caused all kinds of havoc. He deliberately provoked the “religious” leaders.  Why would He do that? Why didn’t He do as the disciples asked and stay away from Jerusalem at this dangerous time? Because He had to do the Father’s will at the appointed time, and this was it! He obeyed all the way to the cross for our sake. He didn’t run away. He didn’t hide. I always wondered why they would pay Judas 30 pieces of silver. They knew exactly where He was, night and day. That wasn’t it. The question was when could they find Him alone? He was constantly surrounded by masses of people, and they were afraid of a riot. Jesus gave them their opportunity. It was the appointed time. 

What’s our appointed time? Do we know we have one? Can we say, “I came for such a time as this?” If we know, are we fulfilling it?

God bless you, and Happy Easter.

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Technology Makes Me Crazy!

I admit I’m a techno-idiot! This computer drives me crazy. I can never get it to do what I want it to do without battling it for hours just to do things my daughter does with one or two clicks. Even worse, it does so many things I don’t want it to do without me touching anything. For some reason, it’s dropped my Explorer icon (among others) from my home page. I swear, I didn’t do anything to it!  

But then, all technology seems so weird to me when it won’t work the way it’s supposed to! I drove for an hour and a half yesterday trying to find a place that’s a few miles from my house! This was all because my GPS on my phone doesn’t recognize “you can’t get there from here!” I was trying to get to Fort Yargo State Park for a Connect Group Leadership meeting, and it sent me to a Park Ranger entrance that isn’t open to the public. The fire department station located there told me at least forty people had had the same problem that day. Unfortunately, even after I’d entered the address they gave me, the GPS kept trying to redirect me right back to them! When I finally shut the thing off and just tried to follow the verbal directions they’d given me, I did get to the main entrance, but that wasn’t the right one either. The one I needed was another two miles back (which turned into four because I missed it since the only sign we saw faced the other direction).

For over a week, Krystal and I have been trying to install Skype on our phones and computers because we’re supposed to set up an international conference call before our mission trip. We haven’t quite succeeded in that yet either. We had a “kinda” call the other night. I saw her for a second, and I could hear her on my computer, but she could only hear me on the phone, and could hear the echo of her own voice through the computer to the phone. We messaged back and forth, so I guess that’s a start, although we don’t need Skype to do that. We could just talk on the phone. I know the problem in that case. I don’t have the equipment I need on the computer. I’d installed Skype on the phone too, but it wasn’t connecting that way.

I could probably name hundreds of other things about technology that have made me scream lately. Like, don’t you love all the email messages you get that make you want to respond (usually with an angry response that wouldn’t be very Christ-like anyway), but you can’t because they sent them from a no-reply address! Can’t you just hear them laughing—“Gotcha!”  I think it should be illegal for any company to send anything from a no-reply email address. If we have to read their junk, they should have to read ours!  

Okay, that’s enough for me. Technology rant over. I guess it’s one of those things you can’t live with and can’t live without. We’re blessed to be able to communicate with people all over the world instantaneously. We can travel the country, and generally find things easily and without hassle. When it works well, it’s wonderful. When it doesn’t, it makes us nuts. I need to learn to be more thankful for the 99 times out of 100 it does work, instead of focusing on the one time it doesn’t. I know that. It doesn’t make it easy.   

What’s your funny technology story? I need a good laugh right now. Tell me! Please!

God bless.  

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Unplanned movie

Went to see the new Unplanned movie this weekend, and wow, it was amazing! Kudos to Abby Johnson for being so open and transparent about her life and letting the pure unadulterated truth about this horror called abortion shine forth. Yet, it’s also clear that the workers in the industry actually think they’re helping people, or at least Abby did until God opened her eyes to the truth.

He used two faithful Christians to do that. They were often found praying and speaking out at the fence of her Planned Parenthood facility. They never hurled insults (or anything else, although unfortunately, that wasn’t true of all the “Christians” at her facility). They were caring, respectful, and kind. Their Christ-like attitude spoke far louder than anything they said, but they weren’t silent about speaking the truth either. God used them in a mighty way to reach Abby. You could say they were the real heroes of this film (although God is the real Hero!)

Abby’s story reminds me of the Apostle Paul’s. Instead of wallowing in the weight of his sin, he accepted Christ’s forgiveness and boldly moved forth to become the greatest evangelist the world has ever seen. Abby’s done the same. Her expertise about the abortion industry, and her now bold pro-life stance has brought many out of the abortion industry as well as changing the minds of many formerly pro-choice women and men. And this movie will open the eyes of many more. Please urge everyone you know to see it and be sure to take their teens and others in their 20’s and 30’s, especially if they’re pro-choice or unsure of their position on the subject. (The irony is your teen needs your permission to see the movie, but not to get an abortion!)

Abby figures she’s complicit in the abortion of over 22,000 babies. The truth is we’re all complicit in over 60 million. The most complicit of all are those nine judges and Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers who took advantage out of pure greed. The movie does make clear that many of the workers in these clinics actually believe they’re helping people. That’s hard for me to believe but I’ve never been in their position, and I’ve always been pro-life, so I can’t judge. I do know most pro-choice people call us cruel and insensitive, saying we’re trying to force our beliefs on others. They wonder how we could expect a young person to carry and care for a baby she’s not prepared for. We’ve got to be like Abby’s friends, winning people with love, caring and compassion. We need to work much harder to provide real solution, not criticism, and never stop speaking the truth, but always in love.       

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Mothers-in-law

I got great news this week that my flash fiction story Mamas and Sweet Tea will appear in the April debut edition of Spark Magazine. When I heard the them of the edition was Love and Sweet Tea, I couldn’t help but think of my mother-in-law.

When I first got married, she didn’t like me–to say the least! I didn’t find out until years later that, in fact, every time my back was turned, she’d ask Wade if he was ready to divorce me and come back home. (The irony is that 40 year later after her death, she finally got that wish.) But anyway, somehow through the years, I think I finally won her over. She even made me the executor of her will and gave me her power of attorney–until I made the fatal “mistake” of saving her life! Then I was right back on her “poo-poo” list!

This story takes a true incident from my mother’in-law’s shenanigans and turns it into what I hope is a delightful story, but I also admit that it isn’t the first time I’ve used her as an inspiration for humor in my writing. What else are life’s frustrations good for?

For the most part though, I think we mothers-in-law get a pretty bad rap. I’ve had many friends tell me they had the sweetest mother-in-law ever, and like I said, for many years, I did too. My mother-in-law was a great grandmother to my kids–much better than my mom. I couldn’t have asked for better. I’ve tried to be as loving and kind to my children’s spouses as I am to my own children.

Now, that’s not to say they won’t have as many funny stories to tell about me as I have about my mother-in-law. We all have our quirks and foibles. and my kids love to make fun of mine. How dull would life be if we couldn’t have a little fun with it! The funny part though is that it’ll probably be my own kids who’d respond by making jokes about me! Maybe they just inherited their mom’s sense of humor and don’t realize it! (Their dad has a very “British” sense of humor, like Monty Python. Don’t know where he got that–certainly not from his mom or dad!)

Anyway, I do still make a great glass of sweet tea–I just can’t drink it anymore, thanks to diabetes! But my son-in-law loves it!

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Word Pictures

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes this is true. Take the above photo by my friend Gary Russell. What more needs to be said? Our God is such an amazing artist! His handiwork  needs no further explanation. Anything we can say is merely an expression of our admiration for His work, but it’s bound to be an understatement.

On the other hand, pictures can be deceptive, can’t they? They can be purposely photo shopped to make someone look younger or older, prettier or even uglier, depending on the purpose for it. But it doesn’t even need to be retouched. An angle or perspective can be deliberately altered to say whatever the photographer wants to say. What about the one of Nick Sandmann, the pro-life student from Covington High School and Nathan Phillips, the Native American activist? How deceptive was that one? (I was going to include it here, but was worried about breaking copyright laws.)

Or do you think the picture wasn’t deceptive at all, and was just painted that way by all the rhetoric that surrounded it? That’s kind of my opinion. I never understood why a picture of a kid smiling was such a big deal. Either way, the picture has caused an incredible stir since the day it came out, and is now the subject of several lawsuits.  

Our lives are also pictures. Non-Christians see us as the only Bible they’ll ever read.  St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”  No offense to him, but wouldn’t that be as deceptive a picture as the one of Nick Sandmann?

To me, it’s a strange philosophy. I get that our life should reflect Christ, and I don’t deny that a bit, but if we don’t give Him the glory with our words, who will actually get it? Probably not Christ! That’s why folks have no problem whatsoever with our doing good deeds. Even Oprah promotes Random Acts of Kindness. Feed the poor, care for the sick, build hospitals, dig wells, and do everything else Christ commanded you to—just don’t speak His name and they’ll be quite happy. They’ll even let you pray as long as you do it to a generic “god” that supposedly encompasses all “higher powers.” 

I think of it this way. Christ came to Earth because we needed more than just words on a page. We needed a picture of Who God was. He was the image of the Invisible God, the Creator of Everything. But He wasn’t a mute image. He spoke the word. He preached the gospel, not just with His life, but with every word He spoke. Love poured out in word and deed, an entwining that’s impossible to separate and still encompass the Truth He intends us to share with the world.  

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The English Language

Hey, Guys. I have a brand new website! It’s found at https://TeresaPollard.com. Thank you Taylor Rubart for making this for me. Please check it out and connect with me by liking, following, and giving me your email address for a quarterly newsletter. I promise I won’t bug anyone any more often than that. Each newsletter will include at least one devotional, and I hope, one short story for you to enjoy, as well as letting you know what I’ve been up to, and have planned for the coming quarter, and new releases or what’s in the works next. For all who do sign up, I’ll enter your names into a drawing for a giveaway of a copy of my new novel, Not Alone, which I’ll be bringing out in May. I’ll also give away copies of my older novels, Not Guilty, Not Ashamed, and Woman of Light if I can get at least 100 sign-ups by May.

It’s been a crazy week for me. Besides getting the news about my new website, I’ve been invited to go on a mission trip with my best friend Krystal Weeks to Barcelona, Spain to teach EFL to North African immigrants to Spain. I’ve been teaching ESL for about four years now, but I had to ask what was the difference between ESL and EFL? ESL is English as a Second Language, and EFL is English as a Foreign Language. We’ll be taking online classes in EFL before we go to Spain. I do speak some Spanish, although it’s been almost fifty years since I studied it. I’ll need to do a lot of brushing up before I go. It’s going to be interesting though, because I’m not sure many of these students can even speak Spanish. I don’t know what languages they may speak. It doesn’t matter. I don’t need to know their language. Only English is spoken in our classes. Aqui se habla Ingles. (I don’t have a clue how to make my computer add accents.)

It’s so funny. English has become the second language of the world. When I’ve traveled  abroad, I’ve rarely gotten to use much of my Spanish or German because everyone I met spoke English. Yet here, I have to “press one for English”, find the correct sign in bathrooms, or go through pages and pages of an instruction manual to get to the English portion. Why is America becoming the only place English isn’t the preferred language? 

I will admit English is a hard language to learn. It has so many idiosyncrasies! My ESL students get so frustrated, and I can’t blame them. Sometimes I just have to shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know why it’s that way. I just know it is!” They aren’t the only ones who have problems though! We can’t get it right either! I know I’m a grammar nerd, but I want to scream every time someone on Facebook writes loose for lose, there for their, or to for too, etc..  If we can’t get it after 12+ years of school, how in the world can we expect others to come here and learn it in a few weeks or months?

The truth is we can’t. That’s why we have those signs and instruction manuals. We have such a large portion of our population who need them.  God bless people for trying to learn English though! And God bless those who speak Spanish, or French, or German, or whatever. Studying another language opens us up to another culture. The more we learn about each other, the more we understand the difficulties, and can empathize with the struggles anyone faces as they seek to assimilate into an alien environment.

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Conflict

Boston Harbor

Has there ever been a time when our country has been more divided? Well yes, there has. We fought a civil war over just such conflict. But it seems like we’re on the verge of that again. Ben Franklin said, “You have a republic, if you can keep it.” He knew it would be an almost impossible thing to do. The average lifespan of most republics has been less than 200 years. People would overthrow ruthless kings as they longed for freedom, but then in a short time, the quest for power would begin again, and despots would play on people’s greed. They’d offer the moon and stars, but inevitably deliver slavery.  

We’re right there at that cusp again. Unless we can find a way to resolve our conflicts and work together as one nation, we’re doomed. The Democratic Party has moved so far to the left, they’re alienating many of the members of their own party. Most Democrats do not believe in abortion on demand all the way through the third trimester, much less believing in infanticide, the latest salvo by the liberal extremists. Nor do they believe in becoming a Socialist nation. Their own polls tell them that.

At the same time, we Conservatives also find ourselves drifting further to the right as we’re forced to defend our freedoms and our very way of life. There are many areas where compromise is not possible. I’d be the first to say that. God is our Guiding Force, and His law should always prevail. But His first law is love. Can we not find a way to extend a hand across the aisle, and find areas of common concern, and work from there? Is reconciliation even possible at this stage of affairs?

I think it is. No one wants to see children suffer or be subjected to abuse. No one wants anyone to be treated with cruelty or disrespect. Black lives do matter. Police lives matter. Babies lives matter. All life matters to our God. He not only knows the numbers of hair on our head, but He knows when a sparrow falls. And He cares. He keeps our tears in a bottle. That bottle is labeled with our name, not a number. God is love. Jesus died that all might come to know Him and be saved. We can’t force others to accept Him. He wouldn’t want us to. But He does want us to love them into the kingdom. “They will know we are Christians by our love.”     

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Our God

I have several friends who’ve taken trips to Israel lately. This is one place I’ve always wanted to visit—to walk in the steps where Jesus walked, and taught, and preached. It’s so amazing to me that the birthplace of Christianity is the one place where it’s most controversial. Three major religions of the world struggle for rights to supremacy in this little strip of land that changed the world. And Christianity is at the bottom of the heap!  The Muslim Dome of the Rock sits on the site deemed the Jewish Temple Mount where Jesus tossed the tables of the money changers and proclaimed “my Father’s House is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”  Muslims do pray-A LOT-but Allah, not Yahweh, is the god they pray to. They say it’s the same god, but it’s not the God I know and love.

     See, love is the key. God so loved the world…(John 3:16) Our God is a God of love. He loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die to pay the penalty for our sin. This is not the Eros (sexual) kind of love of the ancient Greeks and other pagans. It’s the complete opposite. Our God wasn’t a fertility god who demanded sexual immorality or child sacrifice to satisfy wanton lusts.      He is a Trinity–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–3 in 1.  Jesus is God. He was in the beginning with God as Creator. Yet He willingly came to live as a man and gave up His own life to redeem us. One of my favorite songs goes, “He left the splendor of Heaven, knowing His destiny was the lonely hill of Golgotha, there to lay down His life for me. If that isn’t love, the ocean is dry; there’s no star in the sky, and the sparrow can’t fly…” It’s love far beyond our imagination!    

     And it’s a love we’re called to share with all we come into contact with. That’s another difference between our God and any other. We’re certainly not commanded to hate or kill our enemies. We’re commanded to pray for them (Matthew 5:44), and to share the gospel (good news) with them whenever and wherever we go. Matthew 28:18-20 is called the Great Commission. I call it the Great Come and Go Mission. Come to Jesus and the Go tell the world. “Go ye 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 things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NASB)  

     Which leads us to the third major difference between our God and any other—we’re don’t have to go it alone! Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our God is right beside us all the way, every day, through thick and thin, to the end! He isn’t distant. We don’t have to make a trek to Mecca or anywhere else to find Him. We don’t have to jump through hoops to earn His favor. All we have to do is ask Him to come in. (Revelation 3:23) “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” Has He knocked at the door to your heart? Did you let Him in? If so, now it’s time to go tell the world. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, and He’s coming back soon! Go tell!  Our God Reigns!

God bless you.

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Corruption

Friday would have been President George Washington’s real birthday. Isn’t it odd that even our holidays are all “fake” nowadays? Our first president was such a wise man. The people wanted to make him a king. He declined the offer, thereby setting the framework for a democratic republic to be formed. Then after serving two terms, he declined to run again, setting another precedent of a two term limit on the presidency which lasted until Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served four terms before the 22nd amendment was passed. This permanently limited the president to two terms. In 1887, a man named Lord Acton wrote to Bishop Mandell Creighton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  This has become one of our nation’s most well-known proverbs, but we seem to be forgetting it lately.

     No, this is not a post about overreach by Donald Trump in using an executive order to build the border wall to secure our southern border. This was a major campaign promise the American people elected him to deliver, and it’s absolutely astounding to me that congress would obstruct it, considering it’s such a small part of the overall budget, and they’re spending so much more to do a lot less important things. It’s pretty obvious it’s not really the wall they object to; it’s the president who proposed it.      

     Although we now have term limits on the presidency, we don’t have any such limits on congress, lobbyists, or any of the other power brokers in the business of government. The money these brokers funnel to the candidates they support insures the continuation of this power, whether it’s through senators and congressmen who’ve been there for twenty-five years or more, or through freshmen or sophomore ones they’ve managed to place in positions of influence. Groups such as Planned Parenthood, the Clinton Foundation, and others wield so much more power than we can possibly imagine. With Hillary Clinton, who they thought was a shoe-in, they were certain they could continue the Clinton-Obama dynasty, and thereby continue their power indefinitely. Think about it. If Hillary had won, served two terms, then made way for Michelle and Chelsea, meanwhile adding more and more AOC’s, Omar’s and Tlaib’s, who could have ever stopped them?

     As more and more of the corruption has been exposed behind the so-called Russian collusion scandal, I wonder when it all ends, what will be left standing of our government? The stage is being perfectly set for Christ’s Return. Now that, I can’t wait to see!  

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Love

Love is…

(from 1 Corinthians 13)

Love is patient Even when your toddler disobeys you for the fiftieth time this morning. But that doesn’t mean you let them get away with it. Train up a child in the way they should go, And when they are old, they will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Love is kind   Even when your kindness is used by others to enable laziness on their part. But that doesn’t mean we should continue to enable them. If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Love does not tolerate bad behavior. The Bible actually calls that hate. (Proverbs 13:24) The world’s concept of tolerance is completely anti-biblical. Of course, the one thing they won’t tolerate is that truth!

And is not jealous. Yet, God is Love, and we have a jealous God. He admits it. (Exodus 20:5) He is jealous for you, Not of you. That’s the difference. Wanting the absolute best for someone is not the jealousy of the world. It’s the good kind of jealousy, and it’s fine. But beware of the green-eyed monster.

Love does not brag and is not arrogant, It doesn’t need to! For His grace is sufficient and His power more than able to subdue any enemy’s boast.

Does not act unbecomingly; What does that mean? We can’t have a good time at a party? Of course not! We, of all people, have joy unspeakable! We know what’s unbecoming a Christian! He wrote it on our heart.

It does not seek its own. We live in a “me” society. This is a concept completely foreign to our nature. It even goes against “the American Dream.” Does God not love me? Does He value me less than others? No! A thousand times, no! It’s only as I realize His great love for me that I’m set free to love others like this. He’s got me covered! No matter what happens, I’ll be safe in His arms!

Is not provoked, This is where it gets really hard! It’s easy to be kind when others are kind to you. But when they’re hateful?!! It’s so hard not to answer anger with anger! I’ll admit I’m not always there yet.

Does not take into account a wrong suffered  Again, it’s so hard to keep the past in the past. It rears its ugly head when you least expect it, and especially when the past intersects the present on more than one occasion. 

Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; Have you ever been asked to attend a gay wedding? Could you do it? I couldn’t. I cared about the people involved, but the celebration was of sin. Yet, I have been to other wedding celebrations I later felt were just as sinful, because it seemed there was no true commitment whatsoever on the part of at least one of them.  

Bears all things, and this doesn’t mean by going around like a martyr with a long face. It means cheerfully bringing joy to all present.

Believes all things, Does this mean we’re supposed to believe the moon is made of cream cheese? Duh! No! But the Bible has been proven true over and over! Written over millennia, with over forty authors, it tells one cohesive story—His story! Archaeology and even science have proven it true time and again. You can take it’s truths as the gold standard.

Hopes all things, My daughter Kara’s favorite word was hope. She even spent her last walking day giving patients at the hospital flowers with messages of hope from the Bible. At that point, she hoped to live, but her ultimate hope was in Jesus. 

Endures all things. Endurance is the mark of a true Christian. It’s faith, hope and love that lasts until we take our final breath, and then ushers us into the presence of our Savior.

Love never fails. We’ll fail. We’ll never reach perfect love this side of the veil. But praise God Jesus did. His love paid my ransom, and His love lives in me. I just have to let Him take control.

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