Archive for September, 2013

What’s the Big Deal?

I don’t know what kind of response to expect from this next commentary, but I’ll take my chances: Milrae and I went to the hair salon recently to get our hair cut, and group of young women were discussing some pastors who had refused to marry couples that were living together. At the end of the discussion, one young lady wondered aloud, “What’s the big deal?”

I couldn’t keep silent, so I said this: As a pastor, I would have to take the side of those other men, and I believe that a couple should live apart until marriage. Needless to say, the conversation came to a rather abrupt end. I would like to take this opportunity to expand on my statement.

First of all, God’s word says couples living together outside of marriage are living in sin. This is not news, and this sin is no more or less a sin than any other. As with any other sin, it is forgivable. Also, statistics have proven that living together before marriage leads to a greater possibility that the marriage will fail. Most pastors I know who choose not to bless that kind of relationship, would be glad to conduct the ceremony if the concerned parties would confess the sin, repent of it, and live apart for a time as evidence of that repentance. You see, in God’s eyes, and in his plan for marriage, it is a “big deal”, even if the culture we live in tells us it doesn’t matter.

Speaking the Truth in love,
Pastor Jerry

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The Least of These

Occasionally, I will hear someone make a comment something like this: “I just don’t think I could stay in the same room with a “certain person.” Even worse, they might be talking about someone who might join them in church, or Bible study. However, that person might overlook their feelings for a certain other person for what they might gain because of that one’s high position in society or their perceived wealth. In the letter of James, we read, “as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism…if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:1-8.)

Where do we get off deciding what church related event we will attend, or any other activity we will be involved in, based on whether we can be in the same room with a person or persons? Do we not remember the Lord’s teaching concerning treatment of the “least of these?”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). I believe this applies first to our Christian brothers and sisters, but also to our fellow-man in general. Or what about this admonition?….”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

This not to say we should accept everyone at face value, but that we are concerned enough about their eternal destiny to welcome them in the name of Jesus, sharing the good news of salvation through faith in him.

By the way, I’m not pointing fingers. These scriptures convict me of my own sinful attitudes every time I read them. It is as the old saying goes: “if the shoe fits….”

Is this easy? No. Can we do it in our own strength? No, but the Bible says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13). And, Jesus says to us, “Apart from me you can do nothing!” (John 15:5).
In His power,

Pastor Jerry

It’s Not About the Building

Dear Friends,
We spent Saturday and Sunday at Lake George. We had planned to stay through Monday, but as someone once said, “the best laid plans”… I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity. I was asked recently, “just where is Lake George?” The short answer is: 9 miles north of Rose, Nebraska on highway 183. Now everyone knows.

There are some who believe I can’t be separated from my pulpit on Sunday morning. It is not true. Thanks, Tom Huffman, for filling in for me. I did enjoy the day off.

While in the neighborhood, Milrae and I spent a couple of hours in the basement of the Historic Rose Church. We were installing a new light in the basement, in preparation for insulating and drywalling the ceiling. It is hoped that this project can be completed sometime soon.

I wonder at times, as we endeavor to preserve and maintain the old centers of worship, if we have left out something very important. When the population base is reduced to very small numbers, and the people show no interest in spiritual matters, are we making a building an idol? The psalmist says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Maybe this applies to his “house”, as well? Have we forgotten to include the Lord?

On the other hand, God spoke to the prophet Haggai, chastising the people of Israel for neglecting His house. “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains in ruins” (Haggai 1:4)? It is true, I believe, that we need to maintain a presence for the Lord in a community. I also believe we need to include the Lord, by being in constant prayer for his guidance and his provision in the effort.

Lastly, we press on, because in any area, no matter how thickly or thinly populated, there are people who need the Lord. We are called to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. Even to the scattered residents of the Nebraska Sandhills. Would you pray for the unreached people in the lesser populated areas of our state, and for those who are willing to invest in them?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

No One Else

It was a very good week for me. Thursday, I drove to Topeka, Kansas for a meeting, with my traveling partner of the last 49 plus years by my side. We spent the night in a nice motel, went to the meeting, and drove six hours home. It was a rare opportunity for some quality time together. It was great to see old friends and make some new ones.

Yesterday (Sunday), I was privileged to baptize a young lady from our church. She invited Jesus into her life a couple of years ago, and recently felt led to publicly express her faith by way of water baptism. Congratulations, Autum!!

The following has some bearing on the meaning and significance of baptism to the the Christian.

Along the highway Friday afternoon, there was a sign that said, “Jesus saves as no one else can”. I would rephrase that to read, “Jesus saves. No one else can.” I might even go so far as to have it read, “Jesus saves. No one, or nothing else can.”

Some folks believe salvation comes from doing good works, or joining a church. Or, they might have the idea that holding to some tradition is important to gain eternal life. And, I know of some who have the belief that baptism saves.

Here is the truth from the scriptures. Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. In the book of Acts, we are told “there is no other name by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). When Peter preached the message of salvation through faith in Christ, it says “those who believed his message were baptized” (Acts 2:41). Belief in the message of the gospel comes first, baptism follows, and is a public testimony to that faith.

Please don’t depend on anything for your salvation except faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He died for our sins, once for all. There is no other who can save us. Praise God, who raised Him from death to eternal life!
Once again, I welcome your comments and questions. Send them to me at lakecitynews@gmail.com.

In His Love,
Pastor Jerry

No Higher Power

I’m in the office at Lake George this morning. We drove up yesterday afternoon (Sunday), and mowed the lawn before a late supper. The view is prettier knowing I can enjoy it without first mowing for several hours. Looking out the window, I don’t know how far one would have to drive for better scenery. Tomorrow it’s back to reality, but for today we’ll just enjoy this place. God is so good!

Many of the things I see and read on my computer screen leave me wondering how some people make it through life. I see comments about a “higher power”, or some reference to “positive thoughts and energy” going out on behalf of a person or a situation, and I wonder, don’t these folks know about God or Jesus?

The only higher power I know is the Highest Power. He is God, there is no other. Positive thoughts and energy might help you get out of bed in the morning, but to get you through the day and through life, you need God.

Hear the word of the Living God: “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me” (Isaiah 46:9). “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).

In the New Testament, it is Jesus Christ who is shown to be our Savior. He who was God in human flesh, coming to die for our sins so that by faith in him we would be saved. God raised him from the dead, how high a power is that?

It seems to be somehow easier to invoke the name of some mysterious “higher power”, or some sort of “positive energy, than to call on Jesus Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit. It saddens me, to see well meaning people trying to encourage those in great sorrow and trial, with empty promises of some vague higher power.

Call on the Lord in times of trouble. There is no other. In Psalm 50:15, God says this; “Call upon me in the day of trouble; and I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry