Archive for May, 2016

Reflections

As I write this morning, it is Memorial Day. Yesterday (Sunday), here at the lake, there was a program honoring our veterans and those who gave all for our country. It was interesting to hear some of the veterans tell their stories of service, and I was reminded again of the sacrifices made to keep our country free. At the same time, I was reading on social media of the vandalism of patriot displays and cemeteries around the country. It makes one ask, “what is wrong with people today who have no respect for these things? Actually, the answer is found in the Bible. It starts in the hearts of people. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:10)?

As I look out my window, I see the lake. Its surface is completely still this morning, and reflects the trees along the edge, and the sky above. It is much like a mirror. Many years ago, somewhere I remember reading that the color of the water on a given day, is a reflection of the sky. Sunny days, it appears to be blue. On gray cloudy days, the water is seen as dark and gray. I think this relates to my opening comment concerning the behavior of people. What we see in their words and actions are a reflection of their heart.

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Christians are to reflect the character and actions of the Lord Jesus. We are to be a mirror image of the One whose name we bear. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…” (Romans 8:29).

“And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:49). “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness…” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

It is not possible for any person to consistently exhibit right behavior without Christ in his or her heart. It is hard enough sometimes for the Christian to do so.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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The Answer

Over the weekend, we participated in the wedding of a great young couple. I would describe it as a perfect example of marriage, as defined in the Bible. Two young people, committed first of all to their Lord, and then to each other. Congratulations to Adair and Anita Ballagh. You have set the bar high for those who are watching.

I enjoy the early part of the day; those first hours after sunrise are the best. Sunday morning, I was listening to a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He had some good thoughts that apply to current times, maybe even more so today than when he preached.

He related that in his time, people were asking, what is the reason for the violence and all the unrest that is going on? His one-word answer to the question was this: Ungodliness! We do not have to look very far today, to see that he is right. In a godless society, immorality rises, when men exhibit godly behavior, morality returns.

According to Dr. Lloyd-Jones, when people turn their backs on the Bible, its instruction concerning morals, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, immorality is rampant. I ask, is this not a picture of society in our day?

We are failing to see the real problem, and in doing so, we miss the remedy. People who behave badly are told to “just be good.” If that doesn’t work, some try medication, or someone suggests it is a psychological problem and they call in mental health people to find the cause.

Here is the truth: The problem is the same as it has been since the Garden of Eden. Sin! People just can’t be “good.” Do you remember what the scripture says about being good? “There is no one righteous (good), not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…. there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

John the Baptist introduced Jesus as “the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9).

So then, the answer to the problem of sin in the world is Jesus Christ!

Standing on His Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Who Will Go?

Saturday evening, several church family members, old friends and some new friends gathered at the church to help me celebrate my retirement as the pastor of Sandhills Baptist Fellowship. It was a great time of fellowship and celebration. I have many fond memories of our time in that ministry. Now, we can wait to see what God has in store for us in our “retirement.” I hope to have time to write down some of those memories, and maybe someday have something in print to share with you all (or, y’all). There were good times and bad, but the good greatly out-weighed the bad.

Also, on Friday, we had visitors from our far distant past. Some friends we hadn’t seen in almost forever, were passing through and stopped for a brief visit. How good it was to see them and find out what has been happening in their lives.

As our ministry at the church here ends, I try to remain attentive to what God might have for us to do in the future. I again go back to the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had a vision of God in His temple, and heard the voice of the Lord ask the question, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah replied without hesitation, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).

I believe God has a call on everyone’s life. It starts with the call to receive His gift of salvation, and to follow Him. This is followed by a call to serve Him in some way. Many people think once a person accepts the gift of salvation, that is all that is necessary, but listen to Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 4:10).

God’s call on our lives led us to Ericson. Pastor Kurt Kinney has now taken the leadership role at the church, and our ministry will change directions. As we wait for the Lord’s leading for the next chapter in our lives, I will continue writing these articles and listening for His voice. As the old song says, “When the Savior calls, I will answer. I’ll be somewhere listening for my name.”

The correct answer to the question, “Who will go?”, is this: “Send me!”

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

The Bible Is Not Buffet

Good day,
It’s a lovely morning here on the shores of Lake Ericson. I’m reminded of an old Johnny Cash song, as we were blessed with a little more rain last evening… “Five Feet High and Rising.” We have two rain gauges about 30 feet apart. One showed 1.25”, and the other one, 2.50”. Go figure.

High school graduation was held locally this past weekend. We attended several receptions afterward, and the food selection at each one was different and delicious. People were able to select food items that appealed to them, and free to pass on others. The secret, I find, is to pace oneself, and not eat your fill at the first place. This is good advice for those attending multiple post-graduation events on the same day.

There are those folks who approach the Bible as if it were a buffet, or a supermarket. They pick and choose those parts that satisfy their appetites, and leave the rest. I have news: The Bible is not a buffet. I believe we can liken it to the spiritual equivalent of a completely balanced diet. God told his people long ago that “man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

In the Psalms, we read “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8). “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103).

God gave Moses these instructions for the people of Israel: “Assemble the people… so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 31:12).

Going back to Paul’s instructions to Timothy, we read; “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Correctly handling the Word would include using the whole Bible, from cover to cover.

The Bible is not a buffet. Christians are not to pick and choose which parts to obey. All scripture is useful and to be used.

On His Word,
Pastor Jerry

On Staying Together

Dear readers,
It looked like the same song, second verse this weekend, as we continued to receive rain. Many of the yards in the community look like ponds.

The resident geese have been bringing their goslings to the grassy areas along the Boulevard here at the lake. I have noticed some of the goslings have disappeared. I suspect they may have been eaten by the Northern Pike that inhabit the lake. It seems sad, but it is the way of nature. As we watch these geese and their goslings swimming across the lake, the little ones will sometimes lag behind, or even go off in a different direction from the rest. It is easy to see how one might become a pike’s lunch.

As I have observed these goose families, I am reminded that the Scriptures tell Christians to stay in close fellowship with other believers, in order to keep from wandering off the path. Peter tells us our enemy the devil is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

In the book of Hebrews, we are told “Let us not give up meeting together, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:25). I believe this would indicate we are to help the stragglers and those wandering from the path.

Paul’s instructions to the Galatian church include these words: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (Galatians 6:1).

“My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). “We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). I believe these passages point out the dangers of either straying from God’s path, or getting separated from the fellowship of believers. Those who lag behind or insist on setting out on their own risk being devoured by the enemy. In the case of goslings, it might be a predatory fish or even a coyote or raccoon. The believer separated from Christian fellowship may fall into the devil’s trap.

Christians are to participate in the fellowship of believers, but we also have a responsibility restore those who have drifted away.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry