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

Go and Tell

Hello friends,
A new week begins, and it is time for another of our visits. As I mentioned last week, I did attend our Kansas-Nebraska SBC annual meeting. It was good to reconnect with old friends, and to hear some inspirational preaching. Wednesday, we made a quick trip to Albion. Friday, we went to Grand Island to pick up some supplies for a plumbing project. I am finding that I totally misunderstood what retirement involves.

This world we live in is filled with heartache and sorrow. Many people are dealing with tragedy in their lives. Broken marriages and dysfunctional relationships are everywhere. Human life is devalued to the extent that murder and violence to others is epidemic. All of this is the result of sin in the world. The good news is this; there is a remedy for our brokenness and hopelessness, and that is to turn to God, admit our own sinfulness, and place our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior.

Christians have a message for the world, but there is a problem. The problem is highlighted in an illustration from one of our convention speakers; instead of looking to the harvest, as Christ commanded, we are busy polishing the combine while the harvest is rotting in the field. We are commanded to go into the world and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

I believe there is another problem. Many who call themselves Christian spend little or no time in fellowship with other Christians, no time in bible study or in prayer. Consequently, they have no more influence with the world than those who never leave the church building.

Jesus, speaking to his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). “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” (Matthew 28:19). The command is to go, not stay and “polish the combine.”

The writer of Hebrews had this to say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25).

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Christians, we have the answer to the hopelessness in the world. Let us Go and Tell!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Changed Life

Hello friends,

Deadlines loom large occasionally. It is Sunday evening as I write this, we just came from meeting old friends for a few hours, and tomorrow I leave for two days. Therefore, this has to be written before I head to bed. Regarding the meeting with our friends, the Bible reminds us of the value of good friends, in Psalm 18: 24. I quote; “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” A little sign in our house reads, “Friends are the family you choose.” Now, I have nothing against family, but it is true, there are friends who are closer than family members. I believe this applies especially to Christian friends. For those friends, I give thanks to the Lord.

Tomorrow begins our two state Southern Baptist annual meeting. This year it is being held in Lexington, and I am looking forward to being there. It does involve some business items for the convention, but there will be inspirational worship times, along with some quality preaching and teaching. Catching up with friends old and new will be a highlight for me, also.

This week I preached at Grace Bible Church, as they continue to search for just the right person to become their full-time pastor. We looked at the apostle Paul’s testimony concerning his life, and how it changed after meeting the Savior on the road to Damascus. In his testimony, Paul told what his life was like before encountering Jesus, the circumstances of his meeting Jesus, and how his life was changed as a result. Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians, to an outspoken follower of Christ.

We are reminded that every Christian has a witness that includes these three elements: My life before Jesus, how I met Jesus, and how he changed my life.

The question that comes to mind, then, is this; How has Jesus changed your life? Every believer should be able to give an answer. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Again, the question: How has Jesus changed your life, or has he? If not, have you asked him?

In His hands,

Pastor Jerry

Signs of the Times

Dear friends,
I observed another birthday on Sunday. It is somewhat of a milestone I suppose, since it was my 75th. I guess the Lord isn’t done with me. Ryan and his boys helped me begin the celebration Saturday evening, when they took us out to eat at a local restaurant. Sunday after church, we took in the buffet at the Ranch Café, and for the evening meal, I grilled steak for ourselves and our neighbor lady. If nothing else I am well-fed.

It was good to be back home for Sunday worship. I do enjoy getting to help out in other churches, but as they say, there is no place like home.

I have addressed the following topic in the past, but I think it bears repeating. For those who are students of the Bible, we are in exciting times. World events are more and more reminding us of the biblical signs of the Lord’s return. Christians look forward to the time of his second coming. I know there are many who doubt, but there have always been those who don’t take the Scriptures seriously. Remember, God has promised to judge the world, and although he has been patient, his patience will reach its limit in due time.

In Peter’s second letter we read, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are 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.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:8-10).

The Lord will return; he has promised to do so. He has also provided salvation by his grace, through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do not delay, judgment will come; today is the day of salvation.

In the words of the apostle Paul, “As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain… I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:1-3). Have you received his salvation?

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry