Archive for June, 2015

History Lessons

Hello all,
We’re staying home this week. It’s not that we don’t like camping, there are things at home that need done. And, after three Sundays of vacation, I am ready to return to ‘work’.

The first of the week, we were camped at Ponca State Park. Some of Nebraska’s early history centers on that area of the Missouri River. As I tried to remember how much of that history I could remember, I realized I was closer to that history in grade school than I am now. I was reminded that in the early days, this was wild, uncharted territory. Now it is just one of many vacation spots along the river, with paved camper pads and electric hookups. The only hardship now is the lack of Wi-Fi and cell service. Now, that is really roughing it!

As I contemplate history, I wonder how many of us remember times in our own lives when history was being made? I can name a few times personally. This past week, history was made in our country, the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Here are a few of my thoughts regarding that event. There has been a decision handed down by the highest court in America that I believe is wrong. That said, I, along with many others, believe that there is a Higher Authority who will someday have the final say in this matter. In the meantime, we who bow to that Higher Authority have a responsibility to represent Him in society and in the current culture. We must do so with the voice of reason, and present His case in a non-confrontational manner, and in a spirit of peace and love. It will not be popular to do so, but we, too, will someday stand in judgment, giving an account for our response to these things. In matters eternal, it is the Word of God that matters, and it is the authority of His word upon which we must stand.

I return once more to the words of the old hymn:
“The Bible stands though the hills may tumble,
It will firmly stand when the earth shall crumble;
I will plant my feet on its firm foundation,
For the Bible stands.”

There will be more on this topic in weeks to come. In the meantime, keep looking up.

In His eternal love,
Pastor Jerry

Second Chances

Earlier this month, we went on an overnight trip to Fremont to see a concert by Nebraska Ambassadors of Music. It was a great performance by a group of very dedicated young musicians.

On our trip home, I had a lesson about second chances. Assuming I knew the way back home, even though we were going a different way, I left the gps on my phone turned off. Twice I missed turns that would have put me on the right road, and in both cases I was given a second chance to get it right. The first time, I turned left, when I should have turned right. A mile down the road, there was a farmer’s driveway that afforded an opportunity to turn around.

The second time, it was a matter of failing to see an approaching intersection in time to get slowed to turn. Since it was on a 4-lane highway, I figured we would have to continue for miles before we could correct my mistake. Just past the missed turn was a drive that crossed over the median to the other side. You guessed it. I missed it also. However, to my surprise, a short way up the road was another connection to the other side of the road. It was as if the highway engineer had some foreknowledge that someone would need another second chance to get on the right road.

In matters of eternal significance, we have a God of second chances. He sometimes gives many opportunities to get on the right road. We must not, however, become complacent and assume that he will always give us another chance. The Bible tells us that if we come to the end of our life, and refuse to accept His salvation, there are no more ‘second’ chances. The scripture says “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “For he (God) says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

The old gospel hymn asks, “Why do you wait dear brother? Why not come to Him now?” Why not indeed? Now is the day of salvation, there may not be another.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Campground Meditations

Work is nearing completion on the addition to the house. Our attention will turn now to finishing the landscaping and some interior projects. I hope this means we will begin to really enjoy our surroundings and spend time getting to know our neighbors better.

Today I want to share some thoughts from time spent in a secluded campsite. As I sat enjoying the quiet early morning, it came to me than only in the country, with a setting of grass, trees, and water do we get back to the pure, uncontaminated world that the Creator desired. It doesn’t matter if the water is a stream, a lake, or the ocean. There is a little plaque on our wall at the lake house that says, “Heaven is a little closer by the water”, and I think it is true.

Almost any other place we visit shows more of sins corrupting influence on nature and mankind. This is part of why it seems right to just get away. In doing this, we perhaps sense the nearness of God in a much more real, dare I say intimate way. To come apart, as it were, from the distractions of being in the city, at the office, or even in a crowd of people anywhere. I believe a certain amount of intentional solitude is good for body and soul, much more than most people realize.

Jesus often went away by himself to pray, as we see in the following verses. “After he had dismissed them (the crowd of people), he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23). “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). I wonder if those lonely places might have been by a stream or mountain lake.

Then this: When many people were coming and going, Jesus said to his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. (Mark 6:31-32).

The advice He gave his disciples is perhaps even more important to us today, in this high speed, high pressure environment. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May you find that quiet place this week.

Resting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Horoscopes, etc.

This morning, we are camped somewhere in north central Nebraska, in a quiet, out of the way place. It is a beautiful spot, and we may very well return to it. We plan to explore other scenic places in our state this summer, Lord willing.

I am puzzled by the fact that many Christians follow horoscopes and other types of ‘fortune telling’. I believe God never intended for His people to place their faith in the moon and stars, tea leaves, fortune cookies and the like.

I bring this up, not to criticize or judge, but to give a reminder that God desires our complete allegiance. To put any part of our trust in anyone or anything other than God, is an affront to God and His sovereignty. Actually, the Lord has said much about this subject in the Old Testament and it is mentioned in the New Testament as something not approved by God.

“Do not practice divination or sorcery” (Leviticus 19:26). “Let no one be found among you…who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft” (Deuteronomy 18:19). Of Manasseh, king of Judah, the Bible records this: “He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him to anger” (2 Kings 21:6).

In the New Testament, Simon, a sorcerer was rebuked by Peter for attempting to buy the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-24). Paul and Silas encountered a slave girl at Philippi who had a demonic power of foretelling the future (Acts 16:16-26). Paul commanded the demon to leave her, which led to their imprisonment. Witchcraft is among the things condemned as acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:20).

These things are not harmless pastimes, they are anything but harmless, and they are not neutral. Anything that does not come from God, has its root in His enemy Satan. The Bible consistently condemns the practice of divination. It rarely views these practices as fakes. They are condemned, not because they are not supernatural, but because the source is often demonic and those who practice them are trying to circumvent God to find guidance for the future. Christians should heed the biblical injunction against astrology, fortune telling and mediums.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry