The Unchanging Word

This week, I read an article by a Christian writer who was commenting on the topic of filtering our words. The point being, we need to really pay attention to the things we say and the words we post on social media. He made reference to the number of words he had written over the years.

This started me thinking about my own articles, and I wondered what my word count would be. Here is what I found; I aim for 400 words per article. They are written once a week and I have been doing this for about 20 years. I came up with a total of something like 416,000 words. I had no idea!

On an entirely different subject, since I’m ‘retired’, I have begun spending time in the kitchen doing some of the cooking. When we were on the ranch, Milrae was faithful to have meals ready when I came in from work, and I now have time to return the favor. Generally, I follow a tried and true recipe, but now and then, I like to experiment. These experiments do not always end well. For the best results, I have found it is better to ‘go by the book,’ so to speak.

There are a significant number of people these days who try to make up their own recipe for living life. They may claim some knowledge of God’s plan for life, as is found in the Bible, but they want to experiment by choosing the parts they like, along with adding bits and pieces of other religions or philosophies. These efforts are doomed to failure. Call it ‘cafeteria Christianity’ or whatever you may, God’s word is complete in itself. It needs no editing or added ingredients.

Here are some verses for our consideration and mediation. “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless (2 Samuel 22:31, also Psalm 18:30).
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does” (Psalm 33:4). Over and over in scripture, we read “hear the word of the Lord!”

Peter quoted Isaiah in his first letter; “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

In truth,
Pastor Jerry

Cell Phones and Bibles

Rain seems to be a common occurrence here at the lake and surrounding areas. There are a few who could use a nice rain for their crops, but for others it is a battle getting hay baled. As I remember, in a normal year, at this time we are begging for cooler temperatures and a little rain. I am also reminded that in an average year, there may be times that conditions are above or below normal. Such is life.

I have a new cell phone. Since my old one was not meeting my perceived needs, I decided to upgrade a little. I didn’t want the newest model, because I could not justify the cost, so I settled on a model that has only been obsolete for maybe a year. To eBay I went to search for a bargain. I made my choice and ordered a phone. I was sure this would be a simple process, but as always there were complications.

The new phone came, and it was new enough the SIM card from the old one would not fit. Who knew SIM cards are now smaller than the previous ones? So, I ordered a new card and waited two days. When I got it installed, I was sure I was home free. Wrong. As I was getting new apps installed and testing all the functions, it occurred to me I was hearing no sound from the new phone. I began to experiment, and sure enough, that thing would not ring to let me know someone was calling. What good is a phone without a ringtone? Maybe it would be the perfect phone to take to church; it wouldn’t disturb the worship!

I have heard of people who think God has nothing to say to them. They insist the they never hear from God. He has, in fact called, and his words are easily available to each one of us. They are recorded in the Bible. All one has to do is open it and begin to read.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Also, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). Listen to him.

Consider this; an unopened and unread Bible is about as useless as a phone without a ringtone.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Tune-up

The pleasant weather continues. We did receive some rain on Friday, but not as much as some folks to the south and west. The garden continues to do well, as do the flowers. We have had our first (small) tomato, and a few cucumbers, in addition to the green beans that we have been enjoying.

Now for the weekly devotional thought. Sunday, as I was driving to a sister church for a speaking engagement, I remembered that a couple of months ago, our pickup was running poorly, and the fuel mileage wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now, in the past, I would have run it into the shop and changed the sparkplugs, points, and condenser, probably fixing the problem. In today’s world, some of those parts don’t exist, so there was no use for me to even start.

After a visit to the dealer’s shop, and a computer diagnosis, it was determined that it did in fact need new spark plugs and something called a “fuel system flush.” Who knew fuel system flush was even a thing? It now performs as good as new.

As I thought about this, I was reminded that the Christian sometimes needs a tune-up. The remedy for this is to get back in touch with our maker through his word, and let him put us back in working order. When we neglect meeting with Him in prayer, through the study of His word, and fellowship with other believers, we get distracted by life leading to poor performance in our Christian walk.

A time of prayer and fellowship with God is important for a healthy Christian life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).

Spending time reading and studying the Scripture is also important. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Finally, spend time with other Christians regularly. “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…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn’t hitting on all cylinders, these verses are a good place to start that tune-up.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Hello friends,
July is about to give way to August. School will be starting soon, and I wonder where the summer has gone? My theory is that summer got a late start due to an over-long winter and spring. Could it be that autumn will be longer than normal, and winter will be shortened? One can only dream!

I have traveled a number of miles this summer preaching at churches in small towns and rural areas. What I have seen is a need for pastoral leadership in these out-of-the-way places. I doubt there are many seminary graduates seeking ministry opportunities in rural America. So, what might be the solution?

This is a question that has been on my mind, and in the thoughts of several of my friends in ministry. We believe the answer is for men in these churches to have the opportunity to learn ministry skills that would allow for them to be pastors or leaders in their local churches. Then those congregations would not be dependent on “professional” clergy.

There is a one day Rural Christian Workers Conference coming up in early September that will provide this kind of training, and the best part is that it is free. Even the lunch is provided free of charge. The conference is designed to “encourage and train Pastors and Church leaders that serve in rural and small town churches.” If this is something you, or someone you know might be interested in, email me at lakecitynews@gmail.com for specific information.

The Bible says people come to faith in Christ through hearing the Word of God. Many will not hear this good news, because of the shortage of ministers of the gospel in our rural and small-town churches. The apostle Paul, in Romans had this to say. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’… faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-15).

Might you be one of those bringing the Good News?

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Not an Accident

This weather continues to defy any definition of normal. We went from extreme heat and humidity, to almost cool enough to wear a sweater in the space of about 48 hours. This morning (Sunday), I awoke to thunder and lightning, followed by some serious rain. My gauge showed .60 after it was over. I left early for a preaching engagement, and drove in rain for a good part of the way. Further south, I read reports of up to four inches of rain. I am glad for the cool-down, but I am certain that our hot weather will return.

There is a volunteer sunflower growing out of a flower pot in our back yard. I believe a seed fell from a bird feeder last winter and sprouted this spring. The plant has a nice blossom at the top, and I assume there will be more bird seed when it ripens. It reminds me of the old saying, “bloom where you are planted.”

I believe God “plants” people in specific places, at specific times, in order to fulfill His purpose for those individuals. At the same time, he uses them to make a difference in the lives of others. If we think about it in this context, no one is where they are by accident.

Looking back, I see points in my life’s journey when the only explanation that makes any sense is that God was using people and events to guide me to the place where I could see that I needed a Savior. Each time there was a change of location, a different job, or some other event, I am pretty sure I thought those were my plans. I have learned over time, that God’s plan for my life may or may not include my plans.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9). Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (Proverbs 19:21).

The sunflower in the pot may seem to have been planted by accident, but God had a plan for it. Be like that sunflower. You are not where you are in life by chance or by accident. It is part of God’s plan for you. Bloom where you are planted, and if He uproots you and transplants you somewhere else, grow, bear fruit!

Be blessed,
Pastor Jerry

Living in a Broken World

Hello friends,
We have reached those hot July days we have been anticipating. Maybe some of that excess water standing around will dry up, and those who need to get their hay harvested will be able to get out into the field. Here is a tip from the Bible; I learned this a few years ago, when I was trying to out-guess the weather. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4). My take-away? Go ahead and mow that hay. If you spend all your time trying to pick the perfect time, you will never get the hay baled.

We have seen more tragedies this week. Every day, it seems, there is another senseless act of violence or a tragic accident that affects someone we might know. It becomes almost too much to bear at times. One of the questions we ask is, why? “Why God, did you allow this thing to happen?” The truth is, we may never know the answer.

In reading God’s word, we find that our world is broken, because all the way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Due to their disobedience, sin had entered the world, and the creation was left in disarray. Consequently, we live in a broken world of broken people. “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:10-11).

Why do bad things happen? Because God’s perfect creation is broken. God is sovereign, he is in control of all things. Nothing happens that he is not aware of. Could he have prevented some of these things? Absolutely! I believe whatever trial we may be experiencing, God will use it for His good, and for His glory. We trust Him in these situation, not because of what he can do, but because of who He is.

Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and if we place our faith in Him, our fellowship with God is restored, and nothing can ever break that relationship again.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship 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” (Romans 8:35-37).

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Blessed and Thankful

You may have noticed my weekly news and commentary missing last week. There is a reason for that, and I will explain. I had started that week off feeling a bit under the weather and twice visited the emergency room at a local hospital. At the second visit, it was determined I had contracted pneumonia. There were early deadlines for the newspaper edition of this column, and I just didn’t feel up to sitting at the computer and writing, so I just took a week off. I am feeling much better now, thanks to good care, IV antibiotics and some supplemental oxygen, along with plenty of prayers from my friends.

Let me say here, I am thankful for those who have dedicated themselves to serve in the medical profession. You have my utmost respect and appreciation!

As we celebrated our country’s founding and declaration of independence this week, I found myself reflecting on the many blessings we have as Americans. In a time when it seems many of our freedoms are under attack, let us commit to protecting what we have. Remember, also, that although these freedoms are guaranteed by our Constitution, they are given to us by God, not by the government. In response to this, let us give thanks to the Lord every day for those things he has provided.

God has provided freedom from the bondage of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us of this: “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). “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).

Outside of the spiritual context, God has provided us with governments and governing bodies to protect our freedoms. Some will obviously misuse their power and position, but as a general rule, we are to respect their leadership, remembering that all of this is under His control. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17).

Praising His name,
Pastor Jerry