It's His Call

Dear friends,
Our Christmas lights and decorations are up and functioning, at least for now. We are slowly weeding out the old strings of lights that “were working when we put them away.” I am so grateful for the new LED lights that keep working year after year. We no longer put up a large tree in the house, just a small table-top version. In retrospect, it may have been easier to have a simple tree in the house, than to put up all the outdoor lights. Maybe it is my age, but there are times I yearn for the ‘old’ days.

Speaking of aging; many years ago, in a church service, the officiating pastor walked slowly to the front of the church using a walker. I wondered why he just didn’t give it up. Now that I am older, I can appreciate his determination. I also realize it is not an easy decision to step away from ministry. When God calls a man to preach, He dictates the terms. It is His call, after all. In doing God’s work, full retirement comes when He takes us to heaven. The apostle Paul said, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Here are some instructions to Christian workers, and I believe to all who claim the name of Jesus.
The words of Jesus; “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:5).
Paul’s instructions to Timothy were, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1Timothy 4:13). Also, Paul to Timothy; “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This doesn’t apply just to preachers and pastors. In the parable of the ten minas, Jesus told of a nobleman who gave his servants some coins and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back’ (Luke 19:14). Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples in Matthew 28 were “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you until the end of the age.”

Until He returns,
Pastor Jerry

A Gentle Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly had a variety of weather conditions, lately. Our Thanksgiving plans were canceled in favor of staying home to wait for a better day. As of now, it seems it might wait until Christmas. Milrae and I spent a quiet day at home, but still enjoyed a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberries, etc. I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Don’t blame the holidays, you were fat in August”, so there goes that excuse.

The Christmas lights are up at the lake, and are turned on each evening until just after Christmas. A stop at Lake Ericson should be on everyone’s agenda. There is always something new to see.

Something I would pray for this Christmas season, is some genuine civility in our cultural conversation. The angry woman exchanging insults with a white cat is somewhat amusing, but in reality, this is a picture of what is wrong with our discussion with those of differing opinions. No one appears willing to engage in uplifting conversation. God’s word contains many references to the importance of civil discourse.

Here are a few of note:
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Perhaps this should be our prayer at the beginning of any conversation: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Going Up?

Hello friends,
I have been enjoying my visits to other churches, meeting new friends, and preaching God’s word. I find it amusing that not having taken speech class in high school, I have spent so many years speaking to groups of people on a weekly basis. One more proof that God equips those he calls to His work.

When attending our denomination’s annual meeting last month, we stayed in a two story hotel. As I age, I am less inclined to use stairs (that sounds strange). Anyway, since two of us had second floor rooms, we rode the elevator instead of using the stairs. On one of our elevator rides, I commented that it might be a preview of the rapture. My friend said, “I am sure it will be faster than this.”

The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but it refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in the air to gather his church. 1 Corinthians 15:52; “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (or died). For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Our hope, that is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures us of our place in heaven. The apostle Peter puts it this way; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

In the Beginning God

Dear friends,
We are rapidly approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, and Christmas is just around the corner. In celebrating the first, we give thanks to God for all the worldly blessings he has given us. In the second we celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus, thanking God for his indescribable gift, the One who would save us from our sin.

I recently read an article that lit up my ‘false teacher radar.’ The author made this statement: “If we are to understand God, we must start with evolution.”

Why, I wonder, is it so hard to believe what God’s word says? Genesis 1:1 says it as plainly as can be said… “In the beginning God!” There is no mention of evolution, no ‘big bang’, no thought of the Creator being in the least bit indecisive as he created the world and everything in it in just six days. God’s written word exists, and in it we find all we need to know about Him. His word is true, and needs no explanation outside of what he has revealed in it.

“For this is what the LORD says– he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited– he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness
I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’
I, the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right…
And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18-22).
“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

He is the beginning and the end of the Bible story. He is in Genesis 1:1, and he is in the last chapter of Revelation; “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12:13).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Reflecting on the Journey

Hello friends,
I have come to the realization that as I compose and send these articles out each week, I am using both old and new methods of communication. On the one hand there is the magic of the internet, but on the other is the time tested print media. When this thing called Lake City News began, it was a simple way to connect with a few family and friends. Email was the chosen method in the beginning, but eventually, it became a weekly column in three local newspapers under the title of “Pastor’s Corner”.

Today, in addition to those emails and newspapers, there is a blog called ‘sandhillspastor.com’, with links to Facebook and Twitter. To this day, I am amazed at the platform God has given me to share His good news with all who read these articles, wherever they appear. Also, thanks to all who have encouraged me to continue. As mentioned in another article, this month marks the twentieth anniversary of this ministry.

Most of us entered adulthood with some idea of how our lives would play out. I am reminded of these words; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” {Proverbs 16:9). As I look back, I see that God had a plan for me unlike anything I envisioned. I grew up on a ranch, and when I finished high school, I informed my dad there had to be a better way to make a living. Guess what? God took me in a big circle that involved working on ranches around the Sandhills, ending up in 1972 back at the home place. We were there 40 years, until we retired from ranching.

In 1982, after a few years of attending a little church down the road from our place, God impressed upon me the need for Jesus in my life. On a Sunday morning in March of that year, I asked Jesus into my heart. If you knew all the details, you would probably ask how this cowboy/rancher ended up to be the pastor of a little church in the Sandhills?

The simple answer is this; it can only be the Holy Spirit of God working in the heart of a man. As someone has said, no one knows what God can do with a man who will commit to follow His leading.

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Wisdom Spots

We seem to have settled into a mild weather pattern for early November. I looked up the date for the first official day of winter, and we have until December 21st for the start of that season. How great would it be if our current weathers conditions would hold for that length of time?

I visited the dermatologist last week. She always refers to some areas of my skin as ‘wisdom spots’. I think she just doesn’t want to remind me that they are a result of old age. The Bible refers to gray hair as a sign of wisdom, so I’m going with that definition as long as I have hair.

“The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old (Proverbs 20:29). “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding” (Job 12:12)?

Here are words of encouragement for those getting along in years; “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he Is my rock, and there is no wickedness in him” (Psalm 92:14). Keep in mind that the righteous person in one who is in complete obedience to God, especially in relationship to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and his resurrection. It is not a promise to the unsaved.

Here are some other thoughts on wisdom from both the Old and New Testaments. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise (Psalm 113:10). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life” (Proverbs 9:10-11).

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him… the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 1:5, 3:17).

Could it be our world is in its present state because we have failed to ask God for wisdom?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Real Hope

Hello friends,
Well, our fall weather has taken a decidedly winter-like turn. This is most noticeable in the dropping temperature. As we drove to O’Neill on Saturday, and as the wind changed to the northwest, we experienced a change from seventy-three degrees to sixty-three in a little over 60 miles. By Sunday morning we were at 34 degrees!!

It is not a new thing to say that the world has trials and trouble. It seems in recent days that those things are being multiplied. People in our little corner of the world are no exception. Everywhere, we see tragedy and heartache, and many people are wondering if there is really hope for the future. The belief of the Christian is that there is hope. Our hope comes through our faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord.

These are the words of the apostle Peter: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice…” (1 Peter 1:3-6).

The hope of which the Bible speaks is not some type of wishful thinking, but a sure knowledge of the fulfillment of a promise made by God, that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity with him. Therefore, we who have faith in Christ, even in our heartache and loss can say with the apostle Paul, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”

We have the assurance from God’s Word that we who know him as Lord and Savior, will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before.

These are words from an old hymn; “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Standing on the Rock of Ages,
Pastor Jerry