Where Will You Be?

Hello friends,
Summer is still here, as evidenced by the temperature forecast for this week. It was a busy weekend at the lake; the campgrounds were full and the river was crowded with tanks, kayaks, and other floating devices. The swimming area was busy, as is usual on sunny days. We are beginning to enjoy some produce from the garden. We wait for this season with anticipation, and have never been disappointed. It has occurred to me that the Labor Day holiday is a mere six weekends away. Where has the summer gone?

Every week, I search for a topic for these articles. There is no shortage of things to catch my attention, but which ones to comment on? From the Christian point of view, it seems more and more there is an anti-God mentality. At every point, the culture is downplaying the existence of God, and the need to follow His teaching. Jesus Christ is seen as nothing more than an ordinary human being, who lived a good life, or even a good teacher, and His followers are painted as being out of step with the times.

The following statement is a quote from Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary: “I think convictional conservative Christians are in the predicament of being considered by the world, to be what we are not accustomed to experiencing and that is, they’re looking at us as people on the wrong side of history, people on the wrong side of morality, people on the wrong side of all the revolutions that are running their course these days.” (World Magazine, 7/16/21).

I believe that the One in charge of history will eventually show the world the true side of history. He will prove that He is who He says He is. And everyone who ever lived will bow at His feet and acknowledge His lordship. Those who know Him will be rewarded, and those who rejected Him will be judged. This doesn’t mean life for His followers will be easy, but that they will be on the right side at the end.

“For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God’’’.
“So, then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10c-12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Word of the Lord

Hello friends,
It’s time for another of our weekly conversations. Things have been going well here, we had a little rain and the temperatures have been tolerable. The garden plants are beginning to give us hope of some fresh veggies in the near future. We have had one small zucchini, and more are coming along. Beans are ready to pick and we have had a few green onions. Did I mention cucumbers? We will be enjoying them soon, also. Sunday, we attended church at Grace Bible Church, and enjoyed a fellowship meal afterward. We found some new roads on our way back home, but this is not unusual for us!

Regarding spiritual matters, I have been seeing articles referencing a trend in which high profile Christians have announced they are leaving the traditional evangelical church. The term being used is ‘exvangelical.’ The Scriptures long ago identified this trend, where people would follow false teachers and be led astray by false doctrine.

Many of these people started out believing God’s word as it was given to us. Then when the culture started to insist that marriage could be something other than between a man and a woman, and all kinds of other sinful behaviors were okay, it wasn’t popular to hold to those beliefs. Rather than stand on the Word, they said “God really didn’t mean what he said, that book is outdated, and we have to get with the new way of looking at these things.”

Hear the Word of the Lord!
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17).

“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).
“God is not a man, that he might lie, or a son of man that he might change his mind. Does he speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Count on it: God’s Word is true.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Godly Living

Hello all,
Last week was a welcome change from the busyness of the previous one. We did receive about a half-inch of rain, but missed all the nasty stuff. The heat was the biggest issue for us. As I write this, we are experiencing a cool morning, with a forecast high of 74 degrees. During our camping trip last week, I discovered our kitchen faucet was leaking, so this week I replaced it. I am sure the ones who designed the camper had never tried replacing a faucet in their old age.

Shout out to some old friends who camped at Lake Ericson last week. It was good to catch up with you for a couple of hours. Have a good rest of the summer!

Did you know there are passages of the Bible that describe our time? Does any of this sound familiar?
Concerning the last days: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

The apostle Paul also describes those who reject God in this way; “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree… they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32).

To the Christian, Peter writes; “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter1:14-15). “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, although they accuse you of wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Finally, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who correctly handles the truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Standing on His unchanging Word,
Pastor Jerry

The Price of Freedom

Dear friends,
It was a busy week for us. We finished up our short camping trip on Wednesday, arriving home mid-afternoon. Thursday was spent catching up on mowing and other yard work. Friday there was decorating for the Fourth of July observance and baking for the Lake Ericson bake sale. Friday evening, I attended the rehearsal for a wedding I was to perform on Saturday. Ericson Lake Corporation’s annual meeting was Saturday morning, with the wedding taking place at 4 PM an hour away. It was a fun wedding (aren’t they all?), and I made it back home in plenty of time for the annual fireworks display at the lake. Sunday morning, our church provided a free pancake, sausage and egg breakfast to all who could come. Retirement is busy, not boring!

As I thought of the Independence Day celebration, I was reminded again that the freedoms we have in our country are often taken for granted by a large part of the population. We forget the sacrifices that many have made, so that we can be a free people.

There is another freedom that is available to us, and that is freedom from the penalty of sin. Born sinners, we owe a debt we cannot pay. Jesus, going to the cross of Calvary paid our sin debt once for all. It was for all who would believe in Him, those who do not believe will not escape the penalty they deserve. God, in His grace and mercy provided the Lord Jesus as the perfect payment, but only by believing in his death and resurrection can we be saved.

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (John 1:12).
Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. (1 John 1:9)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Thirsty?

Dear readers,
I’m writing this week from a little RV park in Lynch, Nebraska. There are no trains, and almost no vehicle traffic here. It is about as peaceful as you can get. I have been invited to be musical entertainment for a church event not far from here, and camping here means we won’t have to drive home late at night. Monday, we will move to Fort Randall and North Point recreation area, then drive to Mitchell to visit Alex. We will be home Wednesday in time to prepare for the busy Fourth of July weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it.

The church supper we attended Sunday night was well attended, and it was good to be there. The church family there had prayed for rain in their morning service, and the Lord provided that during the evening. This part of Nebraska was, and is needing rain. It is close to an area where there were lightning-caused fires last week.

As we think of a dry and thirsty land, I am taken to the Psalms. Written by David when he was in the desert of Judah, Psalm 63 is encouraging to us in those times when we need relief from physical and spiritual thirst.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, I will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing my lips will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for the jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
All who swear by God’s name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Praise the Lord,
Pastor Jerry

Seeing, or Just Looking?

Dear friends,
Everyone at the lake is preparing for the Fourth of July celebration. Saturday morning, the comment was made that the lake front is looking very nice already. It takes dedicated volunteers to make that happen, and we are grateful for each and every one.

Very often, things need to be examined for possible problems, looking to see if there is something that has been overlooked. Maybe it is knowing that a piece of equipment isn’t working as it is supposed to, then one day a light comes on in your mind, and you see a problem you had not recognized. Here are a couple of examples from my week.

Lesson one: For longer than I should admit, I’ve known one of our outside water hydrants needed attention. The seal around the shutoff was leaking when the water was on. Monday, I decided to make repairs. I discovered it had been leaking under the house, and to delay was no longer an option. After a trip to town, and some time to make the repairs, all was well.

Lesson two: The kitchen cold water volume has been lower than the hot side for a long time. I could not figure it out, until just a few days ago. In an act of desperation, I looked under the sink one more time, and saw that the supply line to the cold side was a quarter inch line, as opposed to a half inch on the hot side. Eureka! How did I not see this before? Another trip to town, problem solved.

It is very much the same with our spiritual walk. Now and then, we need to stop and see if we are missing something that is right in front of us. All of us, if we were being honest, could say yes I need to check my life and see if I’m truly walking as the Lord wants me to. Here are a few verses to help us get started.

Psalm 26:2 Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
Lamentations 3:40; Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 13:5; Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
1 Peter 1:15; But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

A Secure Promise

Dear friends,
It has been a pleasant week, although a bit warmer than I would have liked. Some folks around the area received rain, but we were left high and dry, so to speak. The end of the week was nice, but I see warmer days in the forecast.

As I prepared to send out my article last Monday, I had a computer malfunction and almost lost the whole thing. As it turned out, I had emailed the article to the newspapers first, so I retrieved it from my sent email file, then copied and pasted it to email and my blogs. I will be taking my laptop to the computer repair place this week. Isn’t it interesting how computer dependent we have become?

I spoke at Grace Bible Church again Sunday, and thought I would share a portion of my message here. In our current time, it is good to be reminded that God is our help and strength. Psalm 90 is the basis for this devotional thought.

In verse one of the Psalm, we see that God alone is a place of divine shelter and protection for all those who take refuge in Him because He alone is eternal. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

In contrast to God, who has no beginning and no end, man is frail and fragile. They are like grass, which withers and dies. We are under God’s wrath because of sin, and life is hard because of Adam’s curse (verses 7-11).

Verses 12-17 consist of a prayer asking the Lord to help us live in the light of his mercy and grace. Asking him to teach us how to live wisely and to use the days he has given us for his glory, so that we may be glad and joyful all our days. In doing so, we will be going about the work he has established for us.

In the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, the hymn writer penned these words;

“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home;
Under the shadow of your throne, your saints have dwelt secure,
Sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.”

In a time of uncertainty, may we take shelter in His everlasting arms.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Lord Provides

Dear friends,
Our first camping adventure of the season is in the books. We took a different route than usual, due to someone’s refusal to heed good advice. We arrived at our destination anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. The campsites were muddy from recent rain, and I have renewed appreciation for my beloved Sandhills. On the return trip, a tire blew out on the camper about ten miles from home. With some assistance from a friend the tire was changed and it ended well.

The past few days we have experienced much warmer temperatures; some might say hot. With the southerly winds at play, we will soon be needing rain. I am glad the Lord is in charge of those things, and we can depend on Him to provide for us. The Scriptures give ample evidence of His sovereignty over all things in nature.

“How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hand with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach” (Job 36:26-33).

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)

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:10-14).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

Remembering

Hello all,
It’s been a busy Memorial Day weekend here at Lake Ericson, with camping, cooking outdoors, and families enjoying each other’s company. The boulevard was lined with U.S. flags as is the custom for important holidays. Thanks to those who helped with placing the flags this year.

I had the privilege of speaking at Grace Bible Church in Loup City on Sunday. I always enjoy my visits there. Here are some thoughts from my message Sunday morning concerning our need for times of remembering. Memorials were important to God as he addressed His people Israel. We think of the rainbow He set in the sky to remind them that he would never again send a devastating flood on the whole earth (Genesis 9:13). There were the twelve stones from the Jordan River that would remind Israel of the time they crossed on dry ground as they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 4:7).

In the New Testament the Lord’s Supper serves as a reminder of Christ’s sacrificial death and an encouragement of His future coming (1 Corinthians 11:25-26). All these memorials serve to proclaim the good news of what God has done.

Regarding our observance of Memorial Day, it is a day set aside to remember those who have died in service to their country. It is because of them that we have the freedoms we enjoy today. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorial services. Others spend the weekend at the lake or golf course, or partying with friends. However one spends the day, it is to be a somber recollection of the sacrifice of many to provide freedom for many others.

Over the years, I have stressed the need for Christian parents to leave a legacy of faith in God and faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. No one should have to wonder if Mom or Dad knew the Lord at their passing. What comfort to know for sure that your parent is with the Lord!

One way to leave a memorial, or remembrance is to record our Christian witness. Share your salvation experience with your children. Teach them the way of salvation, and leave a written record of your journey to faith in God and in Jesus Christ. The best memorial you can leave your family is your testimony of God’s salvation and His work in your personal life.

in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Stay the Course

Hello friends,
We’ve had our share of cloudy weather lately, but Saturday got back to some sunshine. The weekends are getting busier, as people begin to enjoy summer at the lake. We are seeing increasing numbers of campers, and camping spaces may be already reserved for some weekends.

The garden is doing well after a few frosty mornings. The seeds that were planted have sprouted, and are breaking through the soil. After having the one zucchini damaged a bit by frost, we have three new ones to supplement it. If they all do well, we may be leaving squash in cars and on doorsteps. I will be attempting to set up an automatic watering system for the garden, so that we can take time for some short camping trips.

As I read and listen to my media sources, it is becoming more evident that there is increasing animosity toward those who would claim belief in the God of the Bible. We are shouted down in the public square, on social media, and even in some so-called religious circles. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, as he told of a time when Christians would be persecuted and even killed for their faith. Persecution for God’s people is not new. It has been around for centuries, but in increasing measure as far as we in America are concerned.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:20-21).

Paul’s words to Timothy apply to Christians today: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it” (2 Timothy 3:12-14).

May we be able to say with Paul on the day of judgment, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And finally, to hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21)!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry