Willie Pollock – Sharon, Ohio Convention – 2000

Job 14:7-9, “For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.” 
These verses I read started with: “for there is hope.” God is a God of hope. If a tree is cut down, if a tree falls, there is hope because a root is left. A fallen tree will never stand again, but there can be another tree. A lost testimony can never come back but there can be another testimony. The second testimony can be better than the first testimony. God is a restorer. God is as great a restorer as ever. He was a creator. God created the world once but He restores it everyday. God saved us once but He restores us everyday. Restore means to get something back to its original glory. God would like to get us back to our original glory. The glory we had in our first love, in our first faith, in our first steps. God is a restorer and some are restored in their place that they didn’t leave, and others are restored to their place they had left. We are here today because God has restored our soul. I was thinking of it this way, that if a knife is dull, you don’t throw it way, but you sharpen it and you restore its edge to its original glory. We could be in God’s way and we could have faith and we could have love, but we could have lost our edge. Convention is like God’s grinding stone where he will bring out that edge again. The edge of Faith is Works. The edge of Faith is to restore what we know. The edge of Obedience is Willingness. What good would it be to obey if we did it unwillingly? The edge of our Understanding is Revelation. What good would it be to understand mysteries and understand God’s people, but we don’t have a revelation of God’s Way? As we are met together these days, God wants to restore this revelation, that this is the right Way, these are God’s people, these are God’s messengers. The edge of Mercy is Forgiveness. If we wouldn’t be willing to forgive it doesn’t matter how much mercy we preach, our mercy has no edge. The edge of Fellowship is Unity. What good would our fellowship be if we are not united? It is wonderful to see workers from different countries here and we are united (Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Peru, U.S., Australia). We don’t have to ask, “What do you believe?” because we are united!
The edge of our Spirit is Humility. The edge of our Testimony is Faithfulness. The edge of Love is Warmth. There is the danger of our love growing cold; it’s still love, but it’s cold. Paul said, “Husbands love your wives” and why did he get into that? Wasn’t that why they got married because they loved each other? Because love can grow cold. He said to the wives, “Be subject to your husbands.” Why did he say that? Because there must have been a tendency in those days of not being subject. The edge of our Love is Warmth. Man looks at the fallen tree, but God looks at the stump. Man looks at what is lost, but God looks at what is left. What do you have in your house? Just a cruse of oil, let us start there. What do you have in your life? I have a little faith, not very much, but let us start there. God is not thinking of what is lost, but if the root is still there. I thought of God’s work being like a tree in the world, and being like a tree in the lives of individuals. I don’t want to throw a bombshell and to scare anybody, but friends, there have not always been conventions, there has not always been a ministry, there has not always been an open worship, there has not always been a tree. But my faith is enough to believe that in times, even in the scripture when there was no tree, I believe that somewhere, somehow, there was root of truth in this world. It says that the root will grow old and will not die. There were times when there were no workers, no conventions, but my faith is enough to believe that somewhere, and I couldn’t explain it, but that is where faith comes in, that there was a root of truth. In the days of the captivity the temple was closed. They didn’t know where the book of the Law was. They were not keeping the Sabbath, there was no daily sacrifice, there was no song unto the Lord, there was no open worship, there was no active ministry. But in captivity Daniel was praying, there was a root. Ezra and Nehemiah were praying. Daniel was praying three times a day towards Jerusalem, praying for the day when again there would be a tree, when there would be worship as God wanted. It eventually came. Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem and we pray toward Jesus and for His coming again. Our prayer is, “Come Lord Jesus come” and the sooner the better.
In the opening of the New Testament there was no true ministry, there was no true worship, the Temple had become a den of thieves. But there were Zacharias and Elisabeth, they were the root. John the Baptist sprung from that root, there were Joseph and Mary, Simeon, and Anna, there was a root and Jesus came forth. Jesus came and preached in Galilee and the disciples accepted and followed Him. Some people ask, “Where did this ministry start?” Jesus sent them forth two and two, leaving everything, having nothing, without a home, without possessions, that was the ministry. My mother wanted me to be a Presbyterian minister because she was, at that time I was born, a Presbyterian. Then she met God’s servants and professed, and changed her prayer. She didn’t want me to be a salaried minister and she told me that many times, you know how mothers get anxious, and I got tired listening to it. But at twenty-two I felt the tug of God. My mother got me involved, but God got me convicted, it was a conviction from God. I just want to say this, “I wouldn’t give my life for any other doctrine or ministry. I have given the best years of my life to this ministry that began in Galilee.” When Jesus came He began in Galilee, sent forth His disciples, and people professed and churches were formed, letters were written, there was a tree again, but for years there was no tree. I am not concerned about the years there was no tree, but I am so thankful in our day for His mercy, and that there are conventions, young people going forth into the work, and the gospel is being preached in almost every country in the world and people are accepting and churches are being formed. I am just so thankful that in our day there is a tree and we have evidence of it right here. In Cuba, for years there was no tree. During the revolution, a circus was moving around, and the same people that were in the circus went to our mission. The clown and his wife professed, and some of the people that watched them professed, and the church was in the clown’s home and he was the elder of the church. There were two girls that went out into the work from that little church. But when Communism came, they were arrested. Their Bibles and hymn books taken, they were arrested one day and released the next day. They told our friends, “We will find a way that two people cannot meet together to talk about the Bible.” That shows us the importance of fellowship. That shows us that if two people can get together they can encourage one another. They found a way and for thirty years there were no meetings, no conventions, no workers. During the dark years of the early 60s, two girls offered for the work but there was no work. We had asked them before that in an earlier visit, in a little talk around the table, because we couldn’t meet together, we asked them, “Why do you go on?” There are no meetings, no workers, no conventions. Magdalia answered, “We go on because we haven’t come to the end yet.” Emaylda said, “We go on so we won’t miss what is yet ahead.” If we don’t go on, we lose the past; we miss the future, because the best is yet ahead. The man of the home said, “Those who have often encouraged me were those that simply went on,” and if I just go on, maybe I can encourage another. Friends, we do not know the impact there is in just going on, just being in our place. Those girls asked, “What can we do?” We said, “There is no hope right now. You could develop the heart of a worker and live as a saint and go the extra mile, and if someday you can be in the work, you will have the heart of a sister worker,” and for 30 years they did that. The anchor of hope is used not only in the storm but also in the waiting time. There in Panama in the day, the ships anchor waiting to go through the canal. The anchor of hope will keep us in the waiting time. Waiting for a decision, waiting in the secret place, waiting in inactivity, and in old age waiting for the final call. This anchor of hope will hold us to the end. During the years when there was no tree, the elders asked if we could make up a study list for them. They said we can’t meet together to study, but it would draw us into fellowship and meditation just to know that all the workers and friends in Mexico, Central America, and Panama are studying this chapter and so we did that. Those were the difficult years. One of the two girls who offered for the work. Emaylda felt she was too old to go into the work after 30 years, but she said, “I will go with Magdalia as a saint, just filling in.” She went with a heart problem and said, “I will look after that problem next week when I come back, it is more important to go with Magdalia to have visits and make the rounds, and have the meetings.” After a busy day she sat down and died. She wasn’t in the work but her heart was. Today there is a tree in Cuba. Adam and Eve fell but that wasn’t the end. Eve still became the mother of all living, Adam is the first Adam and Jesus was the second Adam. God punished them but He didn’t cut them off. He continued to speak with them and to teach them. The tree fell but the stump was left. God’s work continued. The Serpent said to Eve, “Hath God said?” sowing a doubt. That is the first question asked in the Bible, sowing a doubt, doubts are of the Devil. Doubt is a messenger of Satan. While we may not doubt God’s way friends, it is easy to doubt our Salvation. This seems to trouble older people more than younger people. The older people sometimes begin to wonder if they started right, it is easy for them to question if God has really forgiven them, wonder if they have God’s Spirit. That is a messenger of Satan, a message of doubts.
Eve believed the Devil that wrong is not wrong, and that sin is not sin. Paul says that the transgression of Eve and the transgression of Adam, even though they were different, Eve was deceived but Adam was not. Paul says they were both under transgression. Transgression is overstepping the limits. To step outside the will of God. The only safe place is inside the will of God even if we have to suffer. Eve took the fruit to eat it and she was deceived into thinking that it was not wrong. That is still the teaching in the world today that wrong is not wrong, but sin before God is always sin. Jesus died for our sins and it doesn’t matter what man does, man may change and has changed but sin is still sin and it’s sad to see the morals in this world going down. The things that were wrong are accepted now, that is the messenger of Satan. When Adam took that fruit in his hand to eat it, he was not deceived, he knew it was wrong but he did it anyway. There are some sins of deception, sins of ignorance and then sins of presumption. He knew it was wrong. That could easily happen amongst us. We know that something is wrong but we go ahead anyway and do it. We overstep the bounds.
I thought of Lot in Genesis 13:9, Lot fell because of selfishness. He chose the well watered plains and Abraham stepped back. Lot overstepped and he lost everything. Abraham gave up his rights to Lot, Lot won but it doesn’t matter who wins now, this is not the end of the story. Abraham in the end had everything and Lot had nothing. But Peter said of Lot, that “righteous man”….he lost his rights, he lost everything, but he didn’t loose his soul, there was a root left. Jesus gave up His rights and stepped back for our sakes. There was a little boy that stumbled and lost his balloon and he sat down and began to cry. His sister began trying to comfort him and she couldn’t comfort him. He just kept looking at her balloon and what was she going to do? She let her balloon go and he stopped crying and they both started laughing. There was nothing wrong with her balloon, she gave up her rights. Jesus gave up His rights for us. It cost me three years of struggles to give up my balloon, to give up my human rights, my right to have a home, the right of possessions, the right of liberty within the will of God. The day came when I let go of my balloon, I gave up my rights. We have a ministry today because of some being willing to give up their rights. Abraham brought peace that day because he was willing to give up his rights, but he won in the end. I thought of Moses in Psalms 106:32, did you ever think that Moses fell? It says that they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips. We may be provoked but we are responsible for our spirits, for our attitude, for our reaction. Moses was the meekest man in all the earth, but at that moment he lost his meekness. God said you rebelled against Me, you didn’t sanctify Me, you spoke unadvisedly, and God said for this, “You’re are not going into the promised land.” Moses resigned himself to that eventually. Even though the tree fell and he missed a wonderful privilege, he was still a child of God. “Moses, My servant is dead.” It is still wonderful to think of him appearing on the Mount of Transfiguration in the Promise Land, with Elijah and Jesus. Moses overstepped in his spirit. We are responsible for our spirits. In Cuba a few years ago, Juanito came in from the field and said to his wife Anna, “Why don’t you clean up this desk? You can’t find anything in this mess.” He said it in a harsh voice, and Anna replied in the same voice, “Because you don’t give me time, washing and cooking for you.” And after that, she sat down to knit. I was there and said, “But, Anna you do have time!” She said, “I know it but I wouldn’t do it to please him.” I said, “If you bark at each other when workers are here, what do you do when workers are not here?” She said, “We fight.” But, she got up and cleaned up the desk. She could have done it before, but there is something about our spirit that we don’t want to submit. Submission is more than obedience. Submission is in our spirit. We could obey but with resentment. Meekness is submission without resentment.
I thought of Samson and his fall. Another tree that fell. Judges 16:28, he lost his sight, he lost his liberty, he lost his strength and he was in prison. The tree fell. But the stump was left. The faith was still there, the love was still there, his strength started to grow again. The enemy made a plaything out of him, because he played with his gifts. Friends, don’t play with your testimony, don’t play with Truth, don’t play with our liberty. If we play with our liberty, our testimony, we can lose it. He played with his privileges and he lost them. He played with his strength and he lost it. Samson said to the boy, “Take me to the pillars,” and he prayed unto the Lord, “Remember me just this once.” And God remembered him, and he died in touch with God. That’s not the end of the story. Paul said in Hebrews 11, time would fail me to tell of Barak and of Samson. There is Samson amongst the faithful. He recovered. The tree may fall but there can be a stump left, not everything is gone. I thought of David in Psalm 51. He said, “I acknowledge my transgression.” I admit that I overstepped the limit. That was in his flesh. Wonderful to think that we could overstep the limit in our spirit, and have a wrong spirit, we could overstep the limit in our flesh and go wrong, that is the tree falling, but the stump is still left, if faith is still there, if the love is still there, there will be another tree. David asked God to restore unto him the joy of Thy salvation. He was trying to go on without joy. We could go on without joy but we can’t have joy without going on. He prayed to God, “Create within me a right spirit, take not away Thy Holy Spirit from me.” I thought of this in passing; when God writes our name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. When does God write our name in His book. Would it be when we profess or when we are baptized? It will be when God gives us His Spirit. When does God blot out our name from His book? Is it when we do wrong? No, because Jesus is interceding, and provision has been made. God will not blot any ones name out of the Book of Life, until He takes His Spirit from me. Even though David sinned, transgressed, overstepped the limit in the flesh, he said, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” He still had the Holy Spirit. He didn’t lose it even in that experience. That was a big fall in the life of David but he still had the faith and the love. 
I thought of Jonah. Jonah disagreed with God. The workers list came out and said, Jonah to Nineveh and he said, “No, I am not going.” He went the other way. He found a ship going to Tarsish and bought a ticket. He was running away from God. How could we ever face God in judgment if we don’t agree with Him now? Can two walk together except they be agreed? Jonah couldn’t walk with God because he didn’t agree with Him. He didn’t want to do what God asked him to do. I have a question. When Jonah was running away from God he bought a ticket. Did he buy a one-way ticket or a round trip ticket? What do you think? He bought a one-way ticket, he wasn’t coming back. It says that he fell asleep. Do you pray before you fall asleep? Jonah didn’t pray, because he found himself in a place where he couldn’t pray. He didn’t pray because he didn’t want God to know where he was and what could he ask for anyway. The Lord sent out a great wind, a great storm. He didn’t kill him but he gave him a good scare. Sometimes a man will learn more from a good fright than good advice. You know the story. The Lord put him down on the bottom of the sea, he wasn’t praying, he couldn’t pray, the door was closed. What did Jonah do? He prayed to God. What did he pray? “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.” “I will pay my vows.” God put him in the secret place, the very place that he had neglected and he prayed. The Lord gave the fish indigestion and it vomited him out. He went out by boat and he came back in a submarine. He was the first man to go down in a submarine. The workers list came out again. Jonah to Nineveh and Jonah arose and went. God saw, “He is a good man but he is stubborn,” and so are we. Moses said of the children of Israel, “They are a stubborn and stiff-necked people,” and so are we. God sometimes leads us through experiences to take away that stubbornness. Jonah was like that tree that had fallen, but inside that fish was still that faith and love for Him. 
I thought of Peter in Matthew 26 when he denied Jesus three times. Because of fear he was afraid to be identified with Jesus. He said, “I don’t know Him.” To confess Jesus he would have had to say, “Yes, I belong to Him, I am one of His disciples, I am one of the Apostles.” Sometimes we may not want to be identified with a church without a name, a ministry without titles or salaries, a church in the home. Sometimes we may not want to identify ourselves with the standard of modesty. The opposite of modesty is vanity. Vanity is weakness. There was no contradiction in the life of Jesus. Contradiction came from the outside. We want that there would be no contradiction in your life and in my life, in our homes, in our little church. A contradiction to this truth that has been handed down to us. After the resurrection Jesus saw Peter again. Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “I told you.” The tree had fallen and Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” Jesus was looking for a root of love, and He knew that, if love is there, Peter will stand again. Jesus was not looking at the fallen tree, but he was looking at the root that was left. He asked Peter three times if he loved Him. That love was still there. Peter rose again, the second Peter better than the first Peter. 
Thinking of a little visit in Cuba this past June, a few of us together, singing softly. The lady of the home, Magdalia’s sister, said something about Peter that has stayed with me. She said Jesus told Peter, “Satan wants to sift you as wheat but I have prayed for you.” Jesus did not save Peter from the sifting, but after it was all over Peter was still there. She said, “We have been sifted, we have been shaken, but were are still here.” Perhaps every child of God feels that way. I have been shaken, but I am still here. Just to be there, here in our place, year after year, it is a victory. While here at this convention we are enjoying the victories of others, the victories of Jesus. His life and death and resurrection, the victories of parents and workers long since dead. Those who have gone before showing us how. While the victories of others may help us and encourage us. But friends only our own victories will save us. There must be victory in our lives. There will be failures but there must be victory. A lost testimony will never stand again. If a tree falls, that tree will never stand again, but there can be another tree because there was a stump left. I thought of the Prodigal Son, was he not like a tree that fell? Any person who leaves God’s way doesn’t go for long before a famine comes. He sat down and everything was spent and gone and he was hungry, and then he remembered his father’s house. Every child of God who has left God’s way has said they could never get away from some things. When he left home, his father might have thought, “My son is not bad, but he has bad habits. Those bad habits will take him far away. But my son has a good heart. That good heart will bring him back again.” That was why the father was watching for him. Friends, sometimes we are more taken up with the thought of all the bad habits of the prodigals, that we forget that there is a good heart there, and there is seed there, there is a root there. Their memories will never be wiped out, and will never be forgotten and some day those feet will come back again. When the prodigal came back his father was watching for him. He knew he would come back. We have seen over and over again the tree falls, but the memory is still there, faith is still there, and the prodigal comes back. When he came back home the father went out to hug him and kiss him. He didn’t punish him, because sin punishes, disobedience punishes, and when people come back to God, they don’t come back to be punished, but they come back to be forgiven. There is hope even in our failures, even in our falls, in spirit, in our flesh, whatever.  There is hope because our God is a God of hope and God wants to restore us to our original glory again.