Choose to Love

Dear friends,

Another April week has begun. There were showers this week that according to the old saying, should result in May flowers. But if the weather forecast is correct, those flowers may be delayed. My mom used to say, “spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer this year may be “They were Frozen!”

On Saturday, the lake community volunteers came together for the annual spring cleanup day. The efforts of all who participated were very much appreciated. One result of their labor is that the lake is now full. If you missed out on the fun and want to contribute, there are still some projects to do. Contact any board member for information.

It seems the news this past week has all been about people killing other people. We are tempted to ask, what is going on with people? I don’t have any wisdom on my own, but I do know from the Bible that it starts with what has become total disregard for the value of human life. All people are made in God’s image, according to His word. The Bible uses those exact words; “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).

Later, when God gave the Ten Commandments, he said simply, “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).

Paul reminds us of these commands in Romans 13; “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

It begins with understanding that all are created in the image of God, therefore every life has value. No one is to take the life of another human being, the exception being capital punishment, but that is not relevant to this conversation.

One other point is this; in addition to disregard for life, there is little or no respect for the property of others. Read the other commands listed above. This is where we must begin. Love one another.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

He Is Risen

Dear friends,
We are enjoying some very spring-like weather. There is talk of a slight cooling ahead, but nothing extreme. Maybe one of these days I will get motivated to do a little fishing. I noticed yesterday the lawn will need mowing soon, so it’s time to get the mower serviced; now if I can just remember where I put those new blades I got last fall!

We celebrated Resurrection Day with our church family. What a blessing to be able to observe this day together with other believers, and to be reminded of Christ’s victory over death. It seems we have dealt with death far too much in the last few weeks. The Bible tells us death has no hold on the Christian, because Jesus overcame death and was raised to life by the power of God. Therefore, although death comes to all people, as believers we need not fear it. Obviously, no one looks forward to the process, but for those who have placed their faith in the Lord, death is not the end, but only the beginning of our life on the other side.

I will leave you with these words from the apostle Paul:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep (or who die), or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55,57).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Amazing Grace

Dear friends,
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon as I write this. The past week was rather cool with some rain. Our forecast is for cool temperatures early in the week, followed by a warming trend. I expect we’ll see more evidence of spring in the days to come. We have both been staying home nursing colds, but we are steadily improving and should return to normal soon. Once again I find, we too often take good health for granted.

This week brings two very important days in the Christian church calendar; Good Friday and Resurrection Day (Easter). Good Friday commemorates the death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Resurrection celebrates his rising from the tomb. These two events are the basis of our hope in eternal salvation. The Bible clearly states there is no other way to be saved from our sins but by placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

I write on this topic often, because to me this is the most important decision a person can make in life. In my own experience, the day I chose to follow Jesus my life was changed in ways I could not have imagined before. So, to this day, like the old song says, “I love to tell the story of Jesus and His love.”

I was cruising along through life, thinking I was doing pretty good, taking my wife and two boys to church on Sunday. Then one day as the pastor was preaching from Romans chapter ten, I heard these words: That 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). This was an eye opener for me! Up to this point, I thought I just had to be a little better person than someone else. Now I was learning that my own self-righteousness was worthless in God’s eyes.

Later, I heard these words; For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

A dear friend passed away this week, and we rejoice that he is now in heaven, because he believed what these verses taught. Amazing grace, how sweet it sounds!

Anchored in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Preserve Life

Hello friends,
The sun has been shining of late and the wind has been a bit excessive, but signs of spring are appearing. Some of the lake residents have been cleaning out flower beds to make room for the anticipated blooms. Many times these early preparations are hindered by a late freeze, but those folks with green thumbs are an optimistic bunch!

Almost every day, we are seeing a disregard for human life in our country and in the world. The news is filled with words that are all too common in our everyday conversation. Words like murder, human trafficking, abortion, and child abuse are always before us. It seems we have reached a point where no one knows or cares that human life is valuable from conception to natural death.

Our Creator God, in his perfect plan has told us that he values every life, without reservation. Starting in Genesis, we see first that He created mankind. “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27). Later, when God gave the Law to Moses, He stressed the importance of human life with this command; You shall not murder.

Being made in God’s image gives every human being value, or worth. There is no difference based on a person’s race, sex, age, or condition. God has a plan and purpose for each one. It is not for us to decide which lives are more important than others. It is for us to defend life at all stages, leaving the rest to God’s plan and purpose for each individual.

I fear if we don’t return to those biblical values that preserve the dignity and sanctity of human life, we are inviting the judgment of God, and it won’t be a pretty thing. In Jeremiah 7:9-11, we read, “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? – “But I have been watching! declares the Lord.”

We need to understand that the taking of any life is basically wrong, and except perhaps in self-defense, it puts us at risk of God’s judgment. Pray that it stops.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives

Hello friends,
Spring-like weather has everyone outdoors dreaming of summer. My lovely wife has even mentioned getting the camper ready to go! Here at the lake we are seeing people preparing their cabins for the summer season. We haven’t seen some of them since sometime in the fall. Soon our little community will be buzzing with activity, especially on the weekends.

There have been literally thousands of migrating geese passing through. Some have stayed for a while to rest up, others we have seen just flying over. The resident Canada geese have been showing signs of pairing off to begin the nesting season. I expect in a few weeks we will be seeing goslings on the lake.

As we are in the season of Lent, I thought it would be a good time to remind us that Easter is just around the corner. I prefer the term Resurrection Day, because it is the very reason for the holiday. FYI, the word holiday means ‘holy day’ in its original context. Many of our current holidays are anything but holy, but that is another discussion altogether.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. In fact, every Sunday is a celebration of His resurrection. The fact of the resurrection is unique to Christianity. No other religion has anything remotely resembling resurrection. Some speak of reincarnation, but who would want to come back to this world in any form?

The apostle Paul wrote this; “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 1:3-5).

According to Paul, if there were no resurrection, these three things would be true;
All people would be still in their sins.
All former believers would have eternally perished.
Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Because the resurrection is true, we place our faith in the fact that God lives up to his promises.

I will close with the words of the old gospel song, Because He Lives:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

Praising His Name,
Pastor Jerry

Creation Speaks

Dear friends,
March has arrived, and spring will be coming soon. After a long cold spell, it felt good when the high temperatures began to be in the twenties. This week appears to be heading into the sixties for highs, I hope we can adjust! I won’t put away the winter clothes yet, I have seen too many springs to believe the winter weather is completely behind us.

We were blessed by the appearance of some trumpeter swans on the lake last week. Deer have been plentiful, as they seem drawn to lawns that are still green under the snow. I love seeing the variety of wildlife that lives here. Creation is an amazing thing, and I never get tired of seeing what God has made for our enjoyment. As our world seems bent on creating chaos, it is settling to the mind and spirit to reflect on the peace and tranquility of our surroundings.

It seems appropriate here to share the words of Psalm 19:
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward… May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I can only say, AMEN!
Pastor Jerry

A Picture of Purity

Dear friends,
Warmer weather has finally returned. I trust everyone is enjoying it. Official spring is coming up soon, I can hardly wait!

There have been a few fishermen here at the lake. I guess there are still some hardy souls that aren’t afraid to venture out in the cold. I do realize that a heated hut might make it more attractive than sitting on a bucket out in the elements. That is how we did it in the ‘old’ days.

In spite of the extreme cold and snow, the Creation shows God’s glory through its beauty. If we can overlook the cold and the inconvenience, we can appreciate the picture of purity and serenity the snow brings.

The new fallen snow reminds me of the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus, and the sacrifice he made for the forgiveness of our sin. Scripture reminds us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness for sin. Salvation comes through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Before we observed the Lord’s Supper in church Sunday morning, we sang the hymn ‘Nothing but the Blood’. What great words of hope and encouragement the hymn has for a forgiven sinner.
“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow,
no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Scripture is clear; there is no other way to fellowship with God than placing our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus himself, in his last words from the cross said, “It is finished.” There was nothing else to be done for the salvation of lost sinners. Christ paid the debt of every sinner for all time. His invitation to every person is “come.”

Nothing but the blood, Jesus has paid it all. It isn’t Jesus plus anything. Christ alone can save. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Finding Blessings

Dear friends,
Are we ready for some warmer weather? I’m ready, and I am sure you are, too. I know of no one who actually likes it this cold outdoors. As promised, here is an update on the cat’s visit to the vet last week. Since I brought her home it has been so cold we have kept her indoors, but for an ex-alley cat this is almost unacceptable. She has learned to use a litter box, but only when her pleas to go outside have been ignored. I’m sure she will be glad for some warmer weather.

In other news, after having gone several years without satellite television, we have decided to get one of those newfangled smart TVs. It remains to be seen which is smarter, the TV set, or the operator. It has a larger screen; the reasoning is that with a bigger screen we can read the captions easier. After all, our eyesight isn’t what it once was. In fact, the hearing isn’t that great, either.

With the cold and snow, along with taking precautions against getting some virus, I still find things to be thankful for. There would be a long list if I would start writing them all down, but I’ll share a few. I’m thankful for a warm home, friends that keep in touch, church family that we see in person those Sundays we meet together, and for the technology that allows us to meet via our small screen devices.

I’m thankful for our God, who knows all about us, and who cares for each of His children. For His salvation, that ensures we will spend eternity in His presence. For the forgiveness of the sin debt that was paid on Calvary. For the Bible, His written word, that by it we come to know all about Him, who He is, and His plan for each of us.

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the LORD. (Psalm 150)

For His glory,
Pastor Jerry