In His Image

Dear friends,
The camper has been winterized, and there will be no camping adventures to report until spring. The nice weather of the past few days is being replaced with much cooler temps. Up to an inch of snow was forecast for Saturday night, but we arose to a good four inches Sunday morning. If the snow forecast misses like this all winter, it might get deep!

The first snow has a way of accenting the beauty of God’s creation. Those who claim to dislike snow seem to appreciate its artistry. It is just one more way that the creation proclaims the glory of God. I really believe we could make this a better world if we would see more of the beauty, not only in nature, but in other people. After all, the Bible tells us that man was created in the image of God.

Ugliness is certainly part of a fallen world, but if all of us would make an effort, perhaps we could reclaim some of what has been corrupted by sin. Obviously, this world cannot be restored to its original state by human effort; however, if each individual would show a bit of compassion and empathy toward all of God’s creation, it could be improved.

We can begin by getting to know God better. A large part of the problem is that people do not know God. How can we appreciate creation, if we don’t first get to know the Creator? Romans 1:20 tells us there is ample evidence of God’s existence: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For those who fail to see Him in creation, he has also provided his written word, the Bible. We only get to know someone if we spend time with them. Open his word, and learn who He is.

God loves his creation, and proved it by sending his Son to die for the sins of all people. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).

In His service,
Pastor Jerry

Good Words

Dear friends,
It was a pleasant weather week here. Not too hot, nor too cold but the forecast is for cooler temperatures ahead, with perhaps a little moisture. Corn harvest has begun, but I don’t believe anyone would argue for continued dry conditions.

As the election draws near, let not forget to pray for our country. Pray for godly leaders to be chosen and for decisions to be made that would honor God. Pray also for a spirit of cooperation to return to our cultural conversation.

On the topic of conversation, I have spent some time studying in Ephesians where the apostle cautions us to watch our speech so as to exhibit Christ-like character to those around us. To be frank, I am appalled at many words that are used in both verbal and written communication these days. It is not just in the outhouse; it goes all the way to the White House. When did it become acceptable to use words in public that most people would not use in any context in days gone by?

From God’s Word in the Old Testament: “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). “A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” (Proverbs 25:11).

And from the New Testament: “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear… Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking is not suitable” (Ephesians 4:29; 5:4).

“Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening?” (James 3:10-11).

“But now, put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” (James 1:19).

Instead of throwing insults and indulging in name-calling, why not use words that build up others and shine the light of Christ into a world that desperately needs it.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to observe the changing of the seasons. Every day, the leaves are changing colors and losing their grip on the branches of the trees. Harvest is well under way, and today I saw a flock of crows flying south. Some folks are talking of migrating south, also.

Sunday afternoon was the annual meeting of our Sandhills Church Network, an association of like-minded area churches. Some of the discussion centered on how our churches have been affected by the Covid-19 virus. Almost everyone is concerned with the number of church members who have elected to attend church by means of social media; Facebook Live, Zoom Meeting, and other live-streaming apps. The concern is that those who are getting in the habit of virtual church are missing out on the benefits of in-person corporate worship. As the old saying goes; “No man is an island.”

Christians need each other. We need the support and encouragement that only comes from in-person fellowship, where we can ask face-to-face, “How are you today? How can I pray for you? Will you pray for me?”

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing… And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-18).

I believe we can best flesh out these commands by meeting together in person.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Signs of Change

Hello friends,
Our latest camping trip is over. We had an enjoyable time with Alex and Amy, then drove to Pickstown, SD, where we spent three nights at North Point Recreation Area. Our campsite was almost at the edge of the lake. This was our first visit to the area, and we were impressed with the view. We may return in a couple of weeks, weather permitting.

As we traveled, we could see the signs of the changing seasons. Crops are drying down, in preparation for harvest, the leaves are changing to fall colors, and some trees are losing leaves. I have mentioned in previous writings that fall is right at the top of my favorite seasons. Sure, winter comes after autumn, but following that is spring, with all the signs of new life.

Turning this discussion to spiritual matters, the Bible tells us people who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, will show signs of new life.

A Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Jesus a question regarding God’s kingdom. Jesus answered in this way: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was shocked at this statement and asked, “how can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus’ answer was basically this; The new birth speaks of being spiritually reborn. This rebirth is possible only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

A favorite verse of mine is 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We are told to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-23).

Have you experienced the new birth? Are there signs of new life in your thoughts and actions?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Awesome God

Dear friends,
I’m writing this week from the shores of Lake Francis Case, on the Missouri River. I’ll not go into detail about how we arrived here. We stayed with Alex Saturday, then drove here Sunday afternoon. I know, I told you we were staying at Niobrara State Park, but plans change. We have now found our new favorite place. I’m sure we will return to Niobrara another time, after all, we need to stop in Verdigre for kolaches occasionally. However, Lake Ericson is still our number one place to be long term.

As we travel, even in our relatively small part of the world, I am awed by all aspects of God’s creation. We first read of God’s creation in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible. Read with me as I share some highlights:

Day one; God separated the light from the darkness. Morning and night.
Day two; He made the sky separate from the water. He then made the seas and the land.
Following that, on day three, he made the trees and plants, along with their seeds and fruit.
Day four, he made the sun, moon and stars.
On the fifth day, he made the creatures of the sea and all the birds of the air.
Finally, on the sixth day, he made all the animals, that is, wild animals and domestic livestock, followed by creating man and woman in His image.

Over and over, I am reminded of those praise psalms that we find in the Old Testament.
“O, Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1).
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
“Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call” (Psalm 147:7-9).

Paul speaks of the fact of creation, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God in this way: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

Praising Him daily,
Pastor Jerry

Body of Believers

Dear friends,
Cooler weather came last week, along with ¾ inch of rain. The rain was especially welcome. A warming trend is forecast for this week. We are planning another camping adventure for next weekend, and on into the week. We will be visiting Alex for a couple of days, then stopping at Niobrara State Park for two nights, further plans will probably be made on the spur of the moment. We’ll see how it plays out.

As the summer wears on, we are still hearing conflicting ideas concerning the Covid-i9 virus. Masks versus no masks, social distancing, large groups are not okay, small groups are suspicious. Mobs of protestors and rioters are okay, but you can’t gather as a church, even in a small group. A vaccine is coming soon; no, wait, it may not be ready until the end of 2021. Only God knows when and how it will end.

Our responsibility as Christian is to be faithful witnesses and ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, there is no other. His people have a mission. Every believer in Christ has a responsibility to share the good news. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy… Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:9-12).

In light of the pandemic, and even with some insisting we not gather for worship, we cannot stop gathering as the body of Christ. The church is most effective when all members are involved and working as a unit.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Stay faithful my friends,
Pastor Jerry

On Being Neighbors

Dear friends,
Well, the last official summer holiday is here. Labor Day weekend is always very busy here at beautiful Lake Ericson; this year was no exception. Many families were seen enjoying all the lake has to offer. The weather for the long weekend was perfect, with much sunshine and slightly cooler temps than expected. The mid-week forecast is for temperatures to resemble late fall, and comes with the promise of rain.

If we weren’t aware of how blessed we are living in this part of the world, we must certainly realize it in our current environment. As I look out of the window facing the lake and the street, I see a way of life that most of the world would die for. There are no rioters, just families and friends. No confrontations over politics or ideas, just a peaceful community of ordinary people. We stop in the street and ask about each other’s’ families, our health, our plans, just everyday conversations, and caring for each other. I believe this is how God intended for us to live; in harmony with our neighbors and acquaintances.

In the scriptures that follow, the Bible speaks to believers in Christ, but I believe if everyone lived by the principles stated, this world would be a nicer place. Obviously, not all will take this to heart, but what a difference might it make if a few more people would take note?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:2-5).

Something must be laid aside, if one is to be a burden-bearer and that is conceit, an attitude that breeds intolerance of error in others and causes one to think he is above failure. [The Bible Knowledge Commentary].

The apostle Paul wrote this: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3).

Remember the commandment; Love your neighbor as yourself! Good words from God’s Word,

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Pray for America

Dear readers,
The weather word for the day? Windy! If it blows up a rain, it will be a positive thing. We are in need of some moisture, so we will pray for it to happen. Saturday, we drove to South Dakota to have lunch with Alex and his friend, Amy. It was a beautiful day for a drive, and an enjoyable time. We drove around the campground at Niobrara State Park, and decided it would be our next camping destination.

The unrest in the country continues to take up much of our attention. God’s people need to be earnestly praying for an end to the division, and a return to civil discourse. Also, for wisdom for federal, state, and local authorities as they seek answers for how to proceed in the future. In addition, we must pray for the upcoming general election, that godly men and women would put in office.

There are many scriptures that command God’s people to be involved in these things. We are to pray for leaders, that they would lead well, and be brought to salvation. These are Paul’s words to Timothy: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We could insert presidents, governors and all elected officials, in place of kings, etc.

Paul also gave this instruction to Titus: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men” (Titus 3:1-2).

Finally, these instructions from Peter: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 1:13-17).

Pray for America,
Pastor Jerry

Good Advice

Hello friends,
We are set to enjoy another week of warm temperatures. I see nineties ahead for several days, but cooler later in the week. Maybe the tropical storms in the gulf will send some moisture our way. There are no camping adventures to report this week, although my summer cold of last week has taken up residence with my dear wife. She handles these things much better than I.

I love the Psalms, because when a person is overwhelmed with the world, and who isn’t these days, there is encouragement to be found there. The first eight verses of Psalm 37 would be applicable in our time. This passage was the basis for my message this morning.

1 “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it only leads to evil.

There are seven words to encourage us in a time when it seems evil is winning. They are these:
Verse 3, Trust: Defined as reliance on the integrity, strength or ability of a person, God in this case.
Verse 4, Delight: To have great pleasure or joy in a thing; in this case God.
Verse 5, Commit: To give in trust for safekeeping, to commit one’s soul to God.
Verse 7, Rest (Be still): Relief or freedom from anything that wearies, troubles or disturbs.
Verse 8, Refrain (Cease): Put a stop to, discontinue. Don’t be angry.
Forsake (Turn from): To give up or renounce a habit or way of life.
Fret not: Stop fretting over what is in God’s control. Place your trust in the Lord and chill!

Be encouraged. God is still on his throne.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

End Times; Who Knows?

Hello friends,
We’re back after spending three nights at one of my favorite places to park the camper. It’s one of those out of the way places that I think a lot of people bypass, because there is no Wi-Fi, and cell service is sketchy at best. It gives one a chance to think about things other than what you see on social media.

If there was a downside to the week, I came down with one of those nasty summer colds. I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to a head cold, I’m just a wimp! I have dealt with things that others would consider painful, and they didn’t seem to be a big deal for me; not so with cold symptoms. It is Sunday as I write this, so I expect to be almost normal by Tuesday. An old family doctor once told me a cold lasts a week if you treat it, and seven days if you don’t!

I didn’t get any profound inspiration for a column while we were camped in that quiet place. It was good to just relax and enjoy the surroundings, although in the evenings, the mosquitos would drive me indoors.

The world is certainly in a mess these days. People are talking about the end times and wondering if the end of the world is upon us, but for anyone to say this is the beginning of the end is being presumptuous. No one can presume to know what is on God’s mind, or what day the Lord will return. Jesus said no one could know that day, not even the Son of God. It’s God’s plan, and he will bring it to conclusion in his time, and on his terms.

Our responsibility is not to sit around speculating on days and dates, but to be intentionally sharing the gospel with those who don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Peter said this, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

The end will come. Do you know Jesus? Today is the day of salvation!

In Love,
Pastor Jerry