Archive for March, 2014

Reasons or Excuses?

Okay, here are the answers to some of the questions regarding our plans for the future, the change I’ve been talking about. No, we are not retiring from ministry or leaving Ericson. The Lord has not indicated to me that we are to stop doing what we are doing. What it does mean is that we are insuring that we have a place to live and call our own. We can live at Lake George as long as we want, but wisdom tells us to find a place a little less remote, and closer to the services we may need in the future. Lake Ericson is not exactly big city, but it is a lot closer to one. After living here for almost 14 years, this is home. You might pray for us, because all this is a bit overwhelming at times.

For a long time, I’ve noticed that when I talk to people, and they learn that I’m a pastor, they begin to make excuses for not being faithful in going to church. I want to say “tell those to the Lord, he’s the one to whom you will have to answer.” I’m not saying there are not legitimate reasons for missing a worship service, or a weekly Bible study. Many times circumstances just won’t let us be where we want to be. I do, however, have questions when the first response is some shallow excuse. Jesus told a story about a man who invited people to a banquet, and we read, “But they all alike began to make excuses.” (Luke 14:18). It is a picture of people excusing themselves from an invitation to follow Jesus.

Concerning those who refused to believe in Him, Jesus said this, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin, Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).

The devil prompts us to make excuses for our disobedience, while Scripture tells us to give the reason for our hope. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15).

It would seem to make sense that we should give legitimate reasons for our behavior, instead of just manufacturing excuses.

Just thinking,

Pastor Jerry

 
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Life Demands Change

After last week’s little mystery statement, I suppose I should enlighten you a bit. As you may know, I am fond of saying “change happens”, and we can adapt or resist, but it happens. Several months ago, we decided to sell our Lake George property. As a by-product of that decision, we now own a small property at Ericson Lake, just outside of Ericson Village. I think that is all we can tell you at this point. More will follow at the proper time.

Over the last two weekends, I have attended a meeting of our two-state Baptist Convention’s Mission Board, and, what is called a “Normative Church Leadership Conference.” Both of these events had a measure of focus on the need for change. Churches face change as the culture changes. Church leaders see the need for change in means and methods of ministry, as long as the message stays true to the scriptures.

In our businesses, we must change to meet the demands of customers, and the requirements of governmental regulations. In our personal lives, change comes with the different stages of life: High school to college, newlyweds to parents, parenting to being grand-parents. The list goes on.

In our spiritual lives, we are to expect change, as well. When a person believes that Jesus paid for our sins through his death on the cross, and is spiritually reborn, we are told that person becomes a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). As we grow spiritually, we are encouraged to leave the “milk” stage and move on to the “solid food” of the gospel, this, too, involves change (Hebrews 5:12-14). Also, the Word says we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). This would involve changes in our attitudes and actions based on our deepening relationship with Him. “You were taught…, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). As we grow up in the Lord, change is not only good, it is necessary.

Changed and changing,

Pastor Jerry

Who Will Go?

In news from home, changes are taking place again in our lives. I suppose over the next few weeks, I’ll be able to share a little more information with you. Lest anyone worry, it is all for good. If there is anything I’m learning, it is that change comes to everyone, and it is of little use to try to deny or avoid it.
I was in Topeka, Kansas on Friday for a meeting. Some of the discussion centered on the real need for pastors in rural areas. The problem is, much time and money is being spent in urban settings, at the expense of rural ministry.
I arrived at the realization that I needed a Savior through the ministry of a small rural church. I pastor a small church, and even though it is in a town with a population of 92, it is considered a rural church. I personally can relate to the prophet Isaiah, who heard God ask, “Who will go?” and Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).  In my case, I could answer “send me”, because I could be bi-vocational, but there are little churches in communities and villages where there are no opportunities for work. Those places need a pastor who is supported by other folks who have the means to enable him to answer God’s call to ministry.
There are people in these areas who desperately need the Lord, and the scripture asks the question, “How will they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).
There are people in heaven today, who are there through the ministry of a tiny church in the middle of nowhere, but there are many others who may die without Jesus because there was no one where they lived to tell them about Him. The need is real, what can you do to help? The rest of the quote from Romans 10 reads, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
This is not an appeal for funding or commitment to become a preacher, but if you feel God is calling, you need to know He doesn’t dial any wrong numbers!
Serving Him,
Pastor Jerry

Spilled Coffee

We’ve all done things we’d like to do over. Well, maybe you haven’t, but it is true for me. Here is a recent example: One morning, I filled my favorite coffee cup and brought it to my desk. Since it was early, I didn’t want to turn on the lights and wake everyone up. My cup is black, and the desk has a black top. As I reached for my tablet in the dark, I upset the coffee all over the desk.As I tried to keep the coffee from getting on my books, I really would have liked to start over. Sadly, the only thing to do was clean up the mess and move on.

 
There is a biblical truth in this story. The Bible says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We’ve made a mess of our lives, and there is no way to go back. Here is the good news: Jesus Christ came to save us from our sin. When we make a mess of our lives by committing some sin, He will not only clean us up, but he gives us a new start. And he promises to do it every time. There is only one condition, and that is that we place our faith and trust in Him. Scripture tells us Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Then we are told, the words “it was credited to him” were written for “us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”( Romans 4:18-25).

I had to clean up the coffee spill by myself, but when we sin, we are powerless to “clean up the mess.” Jesus has already taken care of that on the cross. By believing and trusting in that fact, God sees us as pure and unstained by our past sins .”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Did I mention I drink my coffee black?

In Him
Pastor Jerry

Contend for the Truth

I began to write this on Friday. It is now Saturday, and it is snowing lightly, the temperature is dropping, and I’m trying to think about spring. It may be my age, but I really don’t enjoy the cold. In the “old days”, we just went out and got our work done, in all kinds of weather. It seemed easier then. Now, on to some thoughts about God’s Word.

Jude, the brother of Jesus, urged his fellow Christians to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Why? Because “certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).

Sound familiar? Every day, we see evidence that our culture is slipping away from any perception of the existence of a moral compass such as is found in God’s word. There is much evidence that many who claim Christ are watering down, or revising his gospel, in order to “keep up with the times.” The Bible warns us that these things will happen.

The Christian faith does not change with the course of time; we are still to contend for the truth. Those early disciples of Jesus Christ were killed for their faith. Believers around the world today are also dying for the same reason. Someone has said, “The church today has no right to insult the memory of the martyrs by making friends with unbiblical teaching which they bravely opposed with their lives.”

In the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (2 Tim 1:8). “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men (and women) of courage; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). When God’s people were faced with a powerful enemy, the prophet told them, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9).

Will we be popular when we stand for truth? Far from it, we will be scorned and mocked, called names and persecuted in other ways. Can we be any less committed than those who have gone on before? I pray we are not.

Standing on His truth,
Pastor Jerry