Heading Home

Hello friends,
We made it back home from our last camping adventure. I saw the doctor on Monday, and he told me to come back in six months for a scan. If it looks okay, then I will get annual check-ups. We enjoyed the time away, but coming home is sometimes the best part of the journey. Thinking of coming home reminds me that for Christians, we are just passing through this world on our way to heaven, our eternal home.

God’s people, in various scriptures and Bible translations have been called strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1), temporary residents (Hebrews 11:13), strangers and exiles / aliens and strangers (1 Peter 2:11).

As God’s people, we are traveling through life as strangers in a foreign land. We don’t belong here, because our true home is at the end of the journey. God has placed each one of us where we are, but this is not our final home. The writer of Hebrews likened this life to a race. “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnare us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Hebrews 12:1). There is a goal in front of us, and we are not to be distracted by the things going on around us, but to focus on the finish line.

I pray we can say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).

In the last two chapters of Revelation, the apostle John describes what he called the new Jerusalem, along with a new heaven and a new earth. He tried to describe what cannot be described in human terms.

We must not become so familiar with the world and its ways that we lose sight of our heavenly destination. There are blessings along the way as we travel this road, but heaven will be so much more.
Going home to heaven is obviously going to be the best part of our life’s journey!

Just passing through,
Pastor Jerry

Peaceful Sleep

Dear readers,
Here we have another camping fiasco, complete with AC that doesn’t, plans gone awry, and tense moments between the ‘happy’ campers! Oh, this too, shall pass. In the future, the planner will probably plan ahead, that is until the memory of this trip fades in the affected minds. Given the frailty of the aging memory, it will probably happen again somewhere down the road. Every outing becomes a new adventure!

I was scheduled to provide pulpit supply on Sunday, but when we arrived at our intended campsite, we were informed that it wasn’t available, due to a county fair being held there (and, of course, the virus being an issue). We did get to park at friends from the church there, so it worked out for good. As I write this Sunday evening, we are in an RV park near Kearney. I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday at 1 pm. This is a follow up from my last procedure, and I hope the last for a while.

Sunday’s message was built on the idea that, no matter how crazy the world gets we can depend on God to always be there for us. We are not to worry or to be anxious about anything. Neither are we to be (to use the Christian term for worry), “concerned” with the things we cannot control.

Do you lie awake at night because the wheels of your mind won’t stop turning? Listen to these words from Psalm 16:7-9; “I will bless the Lord who counsels me—even at night when my thoughts trouble me. I will always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely.” [CSB (Christian Standard Bible)].

As we rest in God’s protecting arms, we can say as the psalmist, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence (think virus) that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:4-6).

Final thought; Worry is like riding a stationary bicycle, it gives you something to do, but you never get anywhere!

Trust in God,
Pastor Jerry

On Marriage

Hello friends,
It is a little cooler as I write this week, but it was rather warm earlier in the week. A little rain would be appreciated at this point. As my old dad said many years ago; It always rains when we need it worst!

This week, I feel I need to write on the topic of marriage. God planned for marriage to be a blessed union between a man and a woman. The man was to be the head of the household, with his wife to be a helper, one who made him complete. The two were to become a complete unit, not two separate parties in daily conflict. Sadly, the current sentiment in many relationships is, “it’s all about me”, but that is not what God intended.

Husbands and prospective husbands, I believe, need to hear these words more than the ladies, but they each have responsibilities in the relationship that aren’t talked about much these days. The Bible is quite clear in its description of marriage and the responsibilities that go with it. I will share some verses pertaining to marriage and God’s plan for it.

We begin with Genesis 1:27-31; “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them… And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and brought sin into the world. Even though, God’s perfect plan was disrupted, it is still his plan.

When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, he answered, “For this reason a man will be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one” (Matthew 19:4-6). In Ephesians, chapter five, the apostle Paul gave specific instructions to husbands and wives. To wives, he said, “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” He goes on to speak to the man; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (verse 25). He continues, “In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who love his wife loves himself” (verse 28).

Finally; “However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33). Submission follows respect.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Where Are You Headed?

Hello faithful readers,
Last week, I told you I was going to have a procedure to repair a weak spot in my aorta. That has been done, and from all reports, it was successful. I thank you for each and every prayer said on my behalf. God is good, all the time.

It was another busy weekend here at the lake. It is encouraging to see so many families enjoying all that the area has to offer. We did receive nearly two inches of rain this week, some got more, some less, in any event it was very much appreciated.

These are uncertain times for most people. What with the covid19 virus, political unrest, economic worries, or whatever might be on your mind, many are concerned about the future.

As a young man, I didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating the future, well maybe as far ahead as my next meal, or the weekend. Thoughts of spiritual matters were very far from my mind even into my thirties. I tried to be just enough better than others I knew, so that if there was judgment at some point, I would surely be good enough to make it through.

Imagine my surprise to find out that none of my preconceived notions of self-righteousness were going to impress a righteous and just God! As I started attending the little church down the road, I began to learn what the Bible really said about sin and my standing with God. Starting with Adam and Eve, every person is born with a sin nature. We have been separated from God by our sin, and we can do nothing on our own to restore that relationship.

Hear the word of the Lord; As It is written, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3: 10-12).
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The answer is Jesus; “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… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).

Forever His,
Pastor Jerry

Standing on the Rock of Ages

Hello friends,
Summer is officially here. Independence Day has been celebrated, and we look forward to what the future holds. On a personal note, I will be having a procedure on Tuesday (the 7th), to repair an aneurysm on my aorta. I have known about it for almost five years, and the doctor says it is time to get it done. I should be back home on Wednesday, if all goes well. Prayers will be appreciated.

The residents of Lake Ericson and all its visitors were treated to a grand fireworks display July 3rd. Some of the family displays were impressive, as well. Thanks to all who contributed.

As I think of the ways in which people are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am reminded of 1999, when all the news was about Y2K. There were all kinds of rumors about computers shutting down, expected shortages of all kinds of services, due to predicted issues with communications and utility interruptions. People were stockpiling all kinds of goods (toilet paper was one). Many of you still remember those days.

At one point in discussing the situation with the leaders of our little church at home, I made this observation; It is okay to be aware of the situation, but doesn’t the Bible indicate that the Lord will provide for His people? Over and over, He tells us not to worry, to cast our cares on Him, and most importantly, that his people will live by faith.

Here are some words of encouragement from the Lord:
“I life up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:3-4).

In this time of uncertainty, let’s not throw caution to the wind, but be sensible, trusting in the Lord and His promises. And, wouldn’t this be a great time to share Jesus with friends and family? Be encouraged. He lives!

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

United, We Stand

Hello friends,
As promised, half of 2020 is almost behind us, and Independence Day is upon us. If you live in the area, don’t forget to attend the big annual fireworks display July 3rd, at The Lake Ericson!

We took the camper on a short trial run last week. Everything worked as expected, and the exciting parts were a result of my memory lapse, or my poor preparations. First, as we were smack dab in the literal middle of nowhere, the low fuel light came on in the pickup. Oops! Forgot to look at the fuel gauge before leaving civilization. With an estimated 24 miles of fuel, and the nearest c-store 12 miles away, we made it with 13 miles to spare. The second crisis came because I assumed there was enough water in the fresh water tank, and didn’t top it off at home. The tank ran dry at a most inconvenient time; I won’t elaborate here, but lesson learned.

I was able to be back in the pulpit this weekend, spending time with the nice folks at Grace Bible Church in Loup City. Perhaps the topic of the sermon will give us food for thought in the days to come. It was called Seven Reasons Satan Seeks to Create Division. The original article dealt with division in the church, but I believe it applies to our current national crisis.

Those seven points are:
Division turns citizens against citizens.
Division causes us to lose sight of our purpose.
Division harms our testimony to the rest of the world, as a people who should be united.
Division is often tied to people being concerned with self, rather than the well-being of others.
Division demoralizes our leaders, and those concerned with keeping the peace.
Division affects the way the young see our country.
Division gives our enemies a victory. When we turn against each other, no one wins. It is supposed to be the United States of America.

Jesus prayed that His followers would be united in their faith, their mission and their message (John 17:20-23). In the church, supernatural unity is a witness of the work of the Holy Spirit, division is an evidence of the work of the enemy, that is, the devil.

A divided nation is also evidence of an enemy. We need to pray the Lord will intervene and bring us back together.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Don’t Worry

Hello all,
Another week has gone by, and another month is almost gone. Soon we will be half-way through 2020. It has been an interesting year, for sure. Someone suggested we put up our Christmas trees and call an end to 2020. I’m not sure it would work, but I understand the sentiment.

These are troubled times in our country, and in the bigger picture, around the world. This is really nothing new, but perhaps on a bigger scale than we have seen for some time. Troubled times come and go, and rest assured, our God is not surprised by any of it. I am convinced that much of this unrest comes from the fact that we, as a people, have gotten so far from God. Very few care for anyone but themselves, and many care very little about the other guy.

I have to keep returning to the scriptures for reassurance and encouragement. We tend to worry about these things, but the Lord has told us not to worry. Faith will carry us through these difficult times, but no one has ever said it is easy. When Jesus came walking on the water, as the disciple were in the storm, Peter stepped out of the boat, but as he took his eyes off Jesus he began to sink (Matthew 14:29-31). I think we are in that kind of situation currently, but let us keep focused on the Savior, instead of the storm around us.

His words to the disciples were, and are; “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of the is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7).

One of Jesus’ most direct teaching on worry is this: “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26).

Standing on the promises of God,
Pastor Jerry

Helping Hands

Hello friends,

The heat and wind have returned for a visit, but the forecast for later in the week is calling for cooler and wetter. You have to love living here! If variety is the spice of life, we should be pretty spicy…

Speaking of why we live here, we had another reminder of how blessed we are to live in rural Nebraska. While bringing our new old camper home Friday, one of its tires blew out. Not expecting something like this to happen, I had no tools for changing a tire. We unhooked the camper, drove home (about 20 miles), got a jack and wheel wrench, and returned to change the tire. Just as I was about to give out from the exertion required for an old man to loosen those pesky lug nuts, three young men pulled up and asked if they could help! I did not refuse, and in a matter of minutes, the job was completed. I failed to get their names, but if you were there, and are reading this… Thank You, again!

The Bible says something about giving aid to strangers, because they may be angels (Hebrews 13:2). I’m no angel, but those three young men would qualify from my perspective! Here is another verse from the book of Hebrews; “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

We would make this world a better place, if we could only be like the Good Samaritan in the story Jesus told in Luke, chapter 10. You know the story; A man was beaten and robbed, and left by the side of the road. Those who would have been expected to help him, by-passed him on the other side of the road, so they wouldn’t have to get involved. The Samaritan, a man who would be shunned by any good Jew, stopped and gave the victim aid, even paying for his treatment and lodging. (Luke 10:30-35).

I can only imagine how different the news of today would be, if every citizen of our country would exhibit the compassion of this Samaritan. Three young men stopped and helped a couple of complete strangers change a tire, when they were obviously on their way home from a hard day’s work. I hope to be able to do the same, sometime down the road.

Just thinking (and being thankful),

Pastor Jerry

The Source of Real Peace

Dear friends,
In the past, we talked about the weather and asked, ‘how is the family’? These days, the question is, “are you staying well?” I trust everyone who reads this is well, and making the best of our current circumstances. There are days when, as a friend of mine remarked several years ago, it seems “the world has gone mad!” With the pandemic, and now the protests, rioting and looting, it seems that insanity rules in the minds of many. We must pray for calm heads to prevail, and for people to see that the current state of mind will not solve anything. We must pray that all people would know Christ.

We ask for peace in our country, and we need that peace. The problem is that the peace offered by the world is not true peace, nor is it lasting. Only by having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, can we know real peace. Jesus, as he spoke to His disciples said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). As he prepared them for His departure, and to encourage them in the days to come, He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Paul, writing to the church at Philippi said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

These are unsettled times. In the time of Jesus and His disciples, things were unsettled. Persecution came upon the early Christians, such as we in America have not seen. Their faith in Christ gave them peace in their hearts, and the hope of eternity.

As we seek peace in our time, may we make peace with God by trusting His Son for our salvation. Remember, without Jesus in our hearts, we are enemies of God. Scripture says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

An Encouraging Word

Dear friends,
Another week has passed. Springtime activities are picking up speed, and the weekends here at the lake are filled with families enjoying the water and the community in general. The four kittens that were born in a box in our carport are growing and nearing the time to go to their new home. The lawn is doing quite well after the rain and warmer days. I fear I will have to mow more than once a week for a while!

Where do I start with writing commentary on our current national situation? The Bible says men are sinners, and those who would argue otherwise have no ground to stand on. It doesn’t get better with time either. In truth, the only remedy for all this sinful behavior is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in God’s Holy Word.

Some have wondered if we might be in the last days? Technically, we have been in the last days since Jesus returned to heaven. Each day since then, we have been moving toward His second coming. No one knows the day or the hour, as He said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). (v 44)

In Romans, chapter one, Paul writes concerning godless people: For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened… They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice… Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:20-32).

This cannot last forever, therefore take heart. God wins. This is why the writer of Hebrews says to believers, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). And, pray for America!

Standing on His promises,
Pastor Jerry