The Solid Rock

Hello friends,
We made it home from our long weekend on Tuesday. It was a memorable time, as we reconnected with friends and neighbors from days gone by. From the pastor’s sermon, to the great meal, the music and conversation, it will be long remembered. At last report, there were about 200 in attendance. I pray God will continue to bless that congregation as they stand firm on the Word of God. They are truly a shining light in that community.

I am reminded of Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica, where he says, “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). To all the faithful little congregations out there in those out-of-the-way places, keep up the good work! God is building His kingdom through you.

In these unsettled times, it is easy for us to become discouraged. If I may, let me share some scripture.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121).

And, as the hymn says;
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.

When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress; I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2).

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

Faithful Servants

Hello friends,

We spent the weekend with old friends celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sybrant Community Church, which we attended for many years. Actually, last year was the centennial of the church, but the big event was postponed due to, you guessed it—Covid19. It was a blessing to renew old acquaintances and reflect on the history and mission of this little church in what some would call the middle of nowhere. From the early settlers who saw the need for a place of worship, to those today who continue to preserve this lighthouse of the gospel in an out-of-the-way part of the world, Thank You! It is a testimony of God’s blessing on His faithful followers and those who answer the call to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Most of my readers will probably remember the story of how I came to faith in Christ. It was in this little church where I heard these words for the first time, and responded to their message. “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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The next verses in this passage speak of the importance of these little places of worship; “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?” (Romans 10:9-15).

To those who continue to carry out God’s call to faithfulness in little congregations everywhere, remember God rewards those who remain committed to serve Him. You will someday hear these words from the Savior. “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21).

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Encouraging Words

Hello friends,
It was a beautiful weekend to end the summer season at the lake! There were activities for young and old alike, a family times enjoyed by all. It is good to see all the happy, smiling faces pass by my window. There continues to be improvements to the properties around the lake. There is an on-going effort to spruce up the area, and it is noticeable. Thank you to all who are involved in these projects. We can be proud to say we are residents of the Lake Ericson community.

I know with all the upheaval and strife, the Covid pandemic and the evil in the world, we can become stressed and anxious about the future. I believe the answer is to place our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has said we are not to worry: “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

I take comfort in the words of the apostle Paul:
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed by our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christs, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

It’s Christ Alone

Dear readers,
Rain report – 3.25”. I have my laptop back from the repair shop. The diagnosis was a failing hard drive, so now the old machine has a new solid-state replacement, which has no moving parts. I had to reset some things, but we are getting accustomed to each other. The news of the past week has been anything but encouraging, but we can be assured that God is not sleeping through these events.

As I write these articles each week, my aim is to share with all of you what the Bible says about life in general, and God’s plan of salvation in particular. His word is quite specific regarding Jesus Christ, and the fact that we are only save from our sin by placing our faith in His sinless sacrifice on the cross.

I have come across a recent study that shows some trends that concern me. This study found that over sixty percent of born-again Christians in America between the ages of 18 and 39 believe that Jesus isn’t the only way to heaven. Further, for those in that age group, over 30 percent say they either believe that Jesus sinned just like other people or aren’t sure. This begs the question, what in the world are they being taught? A Christless Christianity is a contradiction of terms. Scripture is quite clear on these two issues. I will let the Word speak for itself.

Jesus’ words: I am the way, the truth, and the life No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6). Jesus was fully human, but differed from all other people in two ways. First, He was born to a virgin; He had no human father. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb (Matthew 1:18-25). Second, unlike any other person, Jesus was without sin. He claimed to be sinless (John 8:46) and there is never a record of His confessing sin, although He told us to confess ours. Paul said that Jesus became sin for us but that He personally knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).

In short, it is Christ alone who is uniquely qualified to save us from our sin. It is because He is the only way, and He alone is the sinless Lamb of God, sent to save the world from sin. Any other gospel is a false gospel.

On His Word alone,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Dear friends,

My trusty laptop has decided to take a vacation this week. I will be taking it to the repair shop Monday, but for now I’m using an older one that doesn’t have all the perks I’m used to. This will be a re-learning experience, I am sure. We managed to get a little rain last week. As usual, we didn’t get the amount we thought we needed, but we are thankful for every drop.

This month, I will have the blessing of sharing God’s word with three different churches. In light of the ongoing news from Afghanistan, I believe it is proper to share a thought or two from the message I am preaching.

It is no secret that the Taliban there in Afghanistan, and other places around the world, are bent on destroying Christianity. It is in their teaching that followers of Jesus Christ are to be killed, as well as anyone who doesn’t submit to their religion. The persecution of Christians in that part of the world is real, and it is going on now. However, the Bible tells us God is just and righteous, and He will have the final say.

The apostle Paul wrote this to the persecuted church in Thessalonica, “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering, God is just. He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling… We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12).

Look to Jesus,

Pastor Jerry

Perspective on Disaster

Dear readers,

There is not much new here this week. Summer seems to be winding down, and I notice the days getting shorter. For a time, I was waking up to early morning light, now I need to turn on the light in the morning. After procrastinating for a time, I power-washed the deck this week, and we have been busy applying a new coat of stain. Milrae mentioned that it seems harder than it was the last time we did it.

School will soon be starting, and in some cases has started for another year. As always, we pray for students and teachers. It seems there are more challenges each year to providing a good education, and one that will bring about the most benefit to the learners.

The news for Saturday told of an earthquake in Haiti. This is just one more disaster to hit that nation in recent times. We must pray for the people there, as they deal with all the destruction and loss of life. Once again, we are reminded that the forces of nature are at times deadly. We live in a broken world, and due to man’s sin in the Garden of Eden, it will remain broken until such time as God sees fit to restore His creation to its original design. As devastating as these disasters are, God is not taken by surprise, and He is still in control of His creation. As we look back on the events of history, let us remember that history, from beginning to end, is all about His Story!

Events like this should serve to remind us of the fragility of life, and the need for every person to place his or her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We wonder what brought this on; is this a result of someone’s sin, or is God judging a nation or people with this disaster? In response to a question concerning some men who had died at the hand of Pilate, and some who died when a tower collapsed, Jesus replied, “Do you think they were more guilty than all others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:1-5). His point is, rather than find fault with those who had died, they should be reminded of their own need to repent and be saved.

Jesus saves!

Pastor Jerry

Stand With Israel

Hello friends and family,

This past week has been pleasant. We didn’t see any of those extremely hot days, and it has cooled nicely at night. We could certainly use a nice rain or two, but since we aren’t in control of that, we’ll have to ask the One who is to send us some.

I hurt my shoulder in a strange way last week. It happened as I was lying down for my afternoon nap. I’m chalking it up to the fragility of old age, but whatever the cause it was painful. After a trip to the chiropractor on Monday, it is much better, thank you.

As we watch and listen to the changing culture, I am reminded of a statement I heard many years ago relating to the question of why America isn’t mentioned in Bible prophecy. The answer given was this; America will cease to be a force for Christianity. It certainly appears that we are headed in that direction today. It is a fact that Christianity is growing rapidly in many areas of the world, while the western world becomes more secularized. Here in our country, Christian voices are being shut down, while the godless become more and more vocal.

We know from Scripture that Israel will be restored to fellowship with God as His chosen people. The Gentile world is warned that disregard for Israel will be judged and punished. It is also clear that a set number of Gentiles (non-Jews) will become followers of God before Jesus returns.

God said to Abram (later named Abraham), “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3). As I see some in our government calling for boycotting Israel, I want to say, “you don’t know what you are getting yourselves into.”

God withdrew His blessing from Israel because of their disobedience, and gave Gentile believers the responsibility for sharing God’s plan of salvation, but He will restore the Jews to their intended position as His chosen. We must be faithful to stand for the truth of the gospel, and to defend Israel until the Lord returns to take us all to glory.

For His glory,

Pastor Jerry

Give Praise to God

Dear friends,

The good news for this week was the nice rain we received Friday night. Our gauge showed 1.30”, although as usual, some got more and some got less. Coupled with some predicted cooler temperatures this week, it should be much more comfortable to be outdoors. The lake was busy again this week. The Burwell rodeo and the county fairs seem to draw people to the local campgrounds. I’m sure these events contribute to the local economy, and we are grateful for them.

A lot of folks here at the lake have experienced moles in their lawns for the last couple of summers. The little varmints are hard to get rid of, but I managed to catch two Friday night. I doubt they were the only ones, so I’ll keep a lookout for more activity.

We were thankful for the rain, and it reminded me that many times the Lord sends blessings and we neglect to give Him credit for providing them. It is at those moments I am reminded that many of the Psalms were written to thank and praise Him for the good things he sends our way. In fact, there are 168 verses in the Psalms that contain the word praise! In addition, there are numerous verses in the New Testament that speak of offering praise and thanks to God. I will share a few here.

“Let heaven and earth praise Him… (Psalm 69:34).

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 117:1-2).

“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” (Psalm 150:1-2).

James reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

In the last book of the Bible, we read of angels around the throne of God falling down on their faces, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:12).

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

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