Archive for June, 2014

True Freedom

Vacation is officially over. I have to admit, taking those three
Sundays off from my preaching duties was refreshing. However, the rest
of the time seemed a lot like a normal routine. Even so, we enjoyed
our trip out west, and the opportunity to see some things beyond our
regular circle of vision.

We intend to take some short (two or three day) sight-seeing trips
around the great state of Nebraska. Maybe we’ll even return to some of
the places we missed in my hurry to get back home. Now that we are
somewhat accustomed to traveling together in a relatively small space,
it should be easier, and even more fun!

On Friday, this week, we celebrate our country’s adoption of the
Declaration of Independence 238 years ago. On this day, we should also
thank God for allowing us to be born in a land that gives us the many
freedoms that others in the world can only wish for. Freedom also
brings responsibility. As citizens of the United States of America, we
are free to live pretty much as we want to, within the boundaries of
the law.

Christians should be thankful for their dependence on the Lord. In
giving Him control of our lives, we are provided with freedom from
sin, and the freedom to live our lives without fear for our eternal
future. It has been said that once we place our faith in Jesus for our
salvation and submit to his Lordship, we can do anything we want, as
long as it is within His will.

We are not under the law as given in the Old Testament, Christ died
to fulfill the Law. The Law, then, becomes our guide for living as His
followers. “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). “Live as free men, but do not use your
freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God” (1 Peter
2:16).

The previous verses apply to Christian living, but it seems to me that
they should apply to citizens of the greatest country in the world,
with respect to her laws.

Let us give thanks, for our country and to our Lord, as we remain
loyal and obedient to both. This, I believe, should be how we live
every day.

Free in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

Advertisements

A Time to Rest

We are home again. Last week’s trip to Colorado was an adventure of sorts. The problem is we aren’t into adventure as much as we once were. And, once more I was reminded of the difference between husbands and wives. I preach communication between partners in a marriage, but I often fail miserably at putting that message into practice. There will be a time of planning and scheduling taken before our next journey, I am sure.

In spite of some differences of opinion, we did enjoy the new camper. It is smaller and lighter than our old one, and with some adjusting of our expectations, it will serve us well.
It was great to reconnect with our friends, and to spend several days catching up. We took some less traveled roads coming home, saw some things we hadn”t seen before, and passed by some places to which we will return.
Vacations always seem to be a good idea, until we return home and realized how tired the trip has made us. Another realization was that when we go toward the mountains, the air becomes thinner. I don’t remember being bothered by this when I was younger. In fact, in high school, I wanted to live in the mountains and be a forest ranger. This time, while I was there, all I wanted to do was sleep. Could this be a sign of aging? I suspect it might be. Still, I believe the Lord wants His people to take time away from work, for the refreshing of mind and spirit.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we are told there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Although not specifically mentioned, one of those might be a time to work and a time for recreation. It is interesting to me that if we hyphenate the word recreation, we get re-creation. Time away allows us to be re-created, revived, rested. They all give the same idea.
After an intense period of ministry, Jesus said to His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for awhile” (Mark 6:31). And, God has commanded us to observe a weekly day of rest (Exodus 20:8-11).
Are you feeling tire and beaten down? Find time to go to a remote place and rest for awhile.
Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Windshield Time

Hello everyone,
I’m writing this morning from Livermore, Colorado. We arrived here Sunday afternoon and will spend a few days with our friends Ken and Dorothy. Yes, we are on vacation. We left home Friday with a new (to us) camper, driving into a stiff south breeze. We stayed overnight in Kearney. It was not a long distance from home, but with a late start and a couple of detours, it was the best we could do. I now understand those wind advisories for high profile vehicles.

Saturday, we headed west with a strong south wind at our side. I had increased the air pressure in the rear pickup tires, so the rig wasn’t driving as squirrely as the day before. Later in the day, the wind switched to the northwest at the same velocity. This gave me some variety in the driving experience. What with driving in the wind, and setting up the camper a couple of times in the space of an hour, the vacation began look like work, only with different scenery.

Our second night was spent in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. I woke up feeling a bit chilly, so I checked the weather report and found it was 36 degrees outside. Now I know the camper furnace works.

Of the two RV parks we’ve stayed in, one was just off the interstate, and the other was about 500 yards from the railroad tracks. I wondered if the trains ran all night, but between the time I went to sleep and 4 AM, I didn’t hear any. It’s just an observation, but I wonder if these parks are located where normal people don’t want to live?I don’t have any great insight into spiritual matters this week, but it is good to get away and view God’s creation from a different window.

I’ll close with these verses from Psalm 96:1-6:
“Sing to the Lord a new song:
sing to the Lord all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation day after day.
Declare His glory among the nations.
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”
Seeing His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Honor God’s Name

We have had a great week. It finally rained, and as I write this on Monday, it is raining again. Plans are moving forward to get our house at Lake George moved to Ericson Lake. We are excited about the move.

As noted last week, my wonderful wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary Saturday. Our church family hosted a carry-in dinner and helped us observe the occasion Sunday after church services. We were surprised by two of our very best long-time friends walking in the door, after they had called earlier in the day and informed us they wouldn’t be able to attend. They have been forgiven for their deception.

I will be taking a few weeks off from my church duties for a long overdue vacation, but will try to keep everyone informed of our activities through this newsletter. As it is with most preachers, it is hard to quit cold turkey, so I’ll continue to share God’s word in this way.
This week, we looked at the third of the Ten Commandments. “Your shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 5:11). We saw there are three categories covered by this commandment:
1) Using God’s name flippantly. That is, using the Lord’s name as a curse, or any other unworthy manner. This would include those “nice” ways we use his name, such as saying “gosh”, or using the media shorthand “OMG.”
2) Using God’s name untruthfully. This would be attaching His name to something that goes against His word. Examples would be Christians who try to justify slavery, abortion, or same-sex marriage by twisting scripture to their advantage.
3) Using God’s name hypocritically. This is when our public witness doesn’t line up with the name Christian. As people who bear Christ’s name, we are to reflect his character in our daily living. If we do not, we are misusing His name.
In our word and works we are to live so the world can see Jesus, the One who is the true image of God. To do anything less is to “take the Lord’s name in vain.”
Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Make No Idols

The temperatures have been a bit warm over the past week, and still we need rain. Some areas around us seem to be getting the good moisture, but I guess it just isn’t our turn. I have no doubt rain will come at the proper time.

News Flash! Sunday afternoon, we received .30″ of rain, and more is forecast for later in the week.
On a personal note, my bride and I will reach a milestone in our marriage this week. Saturday, June 7th, we will celebrate 50 years on our way to forever together.
Our devotional thought for the week centers on the second of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not make for yourself an idol….” (Deuteronomy 5:8-10). The idea is that we are not to re-imagine God. This happens when we try to make God fit into our idea of who He should be. We say, “my God wouldn’t do”…whatever bothers us about God’s way. Or it might be, “I couldn’t worship a God who”… does this or that thing.
God doesn’t need us to define who He is. He has revealed Himself in the Bible, and the Lord Jesus is the manifestation of the Living God. Our opinions of what God should do, or how He should act, are of little importance to Him.
God is not one-dimensional. Anytime we try to make God into someone we are comfortable with, we inevitably leave out some part of who He is. God is jealous for our worship, and when we begin to dilute His holiness, His power, His glory, His love, His righteousness, or His judgment, He is rightly offended.
In addition to arousing God’s jealousy when we fashion these false views of Him, idolatry corrupts our behavior. Much of the immoral behavior in the world today is the direct result of the failure to know and obey God and His moral law. The Bible teaches that we become what we worship. Said another way, whatever we worship, we reflect.
The only image of God we need, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who scripture describes as the very image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3). We worship God when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Blessings,
Pastor Jerry