Archive for the ‘Best Life’ Category

Helping Hands

Hello friends,

The heat and wind have returned for a visit, but the forecast for later in the week is calling for cooler and wetter. You have to love living here! If variety is the spice of life, we should be pretty spicy…

Speaking of why we live here, we had another reminder of how blessed we are to live in rural Nebraska. While bringing our new old camper home Friday, one of its tires blew out. Not expecting something like this to happen, I had no tools for changing a tire. We unhooked the camper, drove home (about 20 miles), got a jack and wheel wrench, and returned to change the tire. Just as I was about to give out from the exertion required for an old man to loosen those pesky lug nuts, three young men pulled up and asked if they could help! I did not refuse, and in a matter of minutes, the job was completed. I failed to get their names, but if you were there, and are reading this… Thank You, again!

The Bible says something about giving aid to strangers, because they may be angels (Hebrews 13:2). I’m no angel, but those three young men would qualify from my perspective! Here is another verse from the book of Hebrews; “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

We would make this world a better place, if we could only be like the Good Samaritan in the story Jesus told in Luke, chapter 10. You know the story; A man was beaten and robbed, and left by the side of the road. Those who would have been expected to help him, by-passed him on the other side of the road, so they wouldn’t have to get involved. The Samaritan, a man who would be shunned by any good Jew, stopped and gave the victim aid, even paying for his treatment and lodging. (Luke 10:30-35).

I can only imagine how different the news of today would be, if every citizen of our country would exhibit the compassion of this Samaritan. Three young men stopped and helped a couple of complete strangers change a tire, when they were obviously on their way home from a hard day’s work. I hope to be able to do the same, sometime down the road.

Just thinking (and being thankful),

Pastor Jerry

Memories

Hello friends,
It is time again, for another news brief and devotional thought. There is not much news from our place. We managed to get out for some groceries and for Milrae to get a haircut. She came out of retirement to give me a trim, but she needed a professional (didn’t really trust me to do it). It was good to just get out for a drive, and see the country. One thing more; Grandson Alex has graduated from Mitchell Technical Institute with honors. There was no graduation ceremony, the school will mail diplomas, along with a gift package. Congratulations to him for hanging in there.

Reality came to visit this week. It came in the form of a request for information on something from my far distant past. It is sobering to realize you are one of a few individuals with firsthand knowledge of times past. I’m thankful for being able to recall some long forgotten memories. The question had to do with the country school I attended some 70 years ago.

Scripture tells us to live our life as a long distance race. Paul reminds us that we should not live in the past, but to focus on what lies ahead as we live for Christ. He also tells us to remember our past, because we need to know where we came from.

I’m glad that things don’t stay the same. My education began in a one-room school with no electricity, no running water and no restrooms. Now we have on-line classes all the way to the college level. No one could have imagined such a change in 1949. I am thankful for the memories, but in no way would I want to go back.

Here is the application for the Christian: When we trust Jesus for our salvation, we become new creations. The old is gone and the new has come. Why would anyone want to return to that lost state? Remember the past, but don’t try to live there. We have new life and eternity is before us. The writer of Hebrews says to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1). Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).

In His precious name,
Pastor Jerry

Regarding Trials

Hello again,
There is good news this week regarding the pandemic. Some of the health directives are being relaxed a little, beginning May 4. It will be great to gather on Sunday mornings to worship in person with our church families.

The weather has also been a little more encouraging this past week. The mornings have been a bit chilly, but warmer temps in the afternoons have us venturing outdoors a little more. We have mowed the lawn once, and it needs it again. Milrae has been busy planting flower bulbs, and some onion sets. There are plans again for tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the raised beds. She gets great satisfaction from her effort, and I get to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

I thought in light of these trying times, it might be appropriate to share some scriptures dealing with trials and suffering. Christians, historically, have had a much different view of trials than the rest of the world. The trials we experience in our times are different, but they are trials nonetheless. Our response to the trials we experience should be no different.

No trial or suffering is ever pleasant, but with the Lord Jesus in our life, we have peace, and a hope that is not based on wishful thinking, but on the sure knowledge of eternal life with him when this life is over. Also, through those trials, our faith is strengthened. The apostle James had this to say; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

Paul speaks of rejoicing in our suffering. This is what he says; “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:1-4).

“These have come so that your faith… may be proved genuine…” (1 Peter 1:7).

You see, God has a purpose for the trials we endure, whether it be persecution, sickness, financial difficulty, or even a pandemic virus.

To Him be praise and glory,
Pastor Jerry

Worship Together

Hello friends,
Here we are at the beginning of another week! Just a short update on my recovery: It is going well. Last night, I slept in my own little bed all night, instead of in the recliner. There will be a visit with my cardiologist on Wednesday, at which time I expect to receive rehab orders. A week after that, I will be cleared to drive, and then in another week, I will see the heart surgeon for a checkup. I don’t want to make this a huge deal, but people also want to know. I can see the hand of God in every aspect of this portion of the journey. He is with me in this, as He has been in all my life.

It was good to be back in church Sunday morning. There is no better place than in fellowship with other Christians, as we worship and study the Word. These days, we can access any number of church services by way of podcasts, live streaming, television broadcasts, and other media tools. There are those who say they can worship God at the lake, sitting on their deck, out in nature (there’s one I used before I knew Jesus). However, the Bible is rather specific about meeting together in a worship setting. One only has to read a few verses into the book of Acts, before it is clear that there were no Lone Ranger Christians in the early days.

After Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given, Peter preached and many came to faith in Christ. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread and prayer.” Further, we read, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and age together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:42-43; 46.)

The writer of Hebrews spells it out in everyday cowboy language. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Meeting together, not texting altogether.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Resolutions

Dear friends,
Happy New Year! The next one of these devotional articles will be dated January, 2020. The presents will be opened and probably the excitement over new things will have begun to fade. it is the time of resolutions made and broken in the space of a few days, or weeks. As you made those resolutions, have you ever anticipated a new you? Good news! God has a plan; you can be a new creation. I am speaking of a spiritual transformation.

It starts with the realization that you are in need of a remake. Remember, God’s word tells us we are broken, and in need of Savior. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10-11).

A man named Nicodemus came to Jesus asking how to get right with God, and Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus was not speaking of physical birth, but a spiritual rebirth. He went on to say in effect, you cannot experience fellowship with God unless you believe Jesus is the way to salvation. “For God so loved the world that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” It is important to know this new creation is to show outer change as the result of an inner transformation, i.e., a new birth.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, 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 4:22-14).

Perhaps at the dawning of a new year, we can resolve to accept God’s offer of a transformed life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As the scripture says, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Here’s to a transformed life in 2020.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry

It’s His Call

Dear friends,
Our Christmas lights and decorations are up and functioning, at least for now. We are slowly weeding out the old strings of lights that “were working when we put them away.” I am so grateful for the new LED lights that keep working year after year. We no longer put up a large tree in the house, just a small table-top version. In retrospect, it may have been easier to have a simple tree in the house, than to put up all the outdoor lights. Maybe it is my age, but there are times I yearn for the ‘old’ days.

Speaking of aging; many years ago, in a church service, the officiating pastor walked slowly to the front of the church using a walker. I wondered why he just didn’t give it up. Now that I am older, I can appreciate his determination. I also realize it is not an easy decision to step away from ministry. When God calls a man to preach, He dictates the terms. It is His call, after all. In doing God’s work, full retirement comes when He takes us to heaven. The apostle Paul said, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Here are some instructions to Christian workers, and I believe to all who claim the name of Jesus.
The words of Jesus; “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:5).
Paul’s instructions to Timothy were, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1Timothy 4:13). Also, Paul to Timothy; “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).

This doesn’t apply just to preachers and pastors. In the parable of the ten minas, Jesus told of a nobleman who gave his servants some coins and told them, ‘Engage in business until I come back’ (Luke 19:14). Jesus’ instructions to the twelve disciples in Matthew 28 were “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you until the end of the age.”

Until He returns,
Pastor Jerry

A Gentle Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly had a variety of weather conditions, lately. Our Thanksgiving plans were canceled in favor of staying home to wait for a better day. As of now, it seems it might wait until Christmas. Milrae and I spent a quiet day at home, but still enjoyed a meal of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, cranberries, etc. I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Don’t blame the holidays, you were fat in August”, so there goes that excuse.

The Christmas lights are up at the lake, and are turned on each evening until just after Christmas. A stop at Lake Ericson should be on everyone’s agenda. There is always something new to see.

Something I would pray for this Christmas season, is some genuine civility in our cultural conversation. The angry woman exchanging insults with a white cat is somewhat amusing, but in reality, this is a picture of what is wrong with our discussion with those of differing opinions. No one appears willing to engage in uplifting conversation. God’s word contains many references to the importance of civil discourse.

Here are a few of note:
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10).
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” (Proverbs 21:23).
“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:23)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Perhaps this should be our prayer at the beginning of any conversation: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

A Changed Life

Hello friends,

Deadlines loom large occasionally. It is Sunday evening as I write this, we just came from meeting old friends for a few hours, and tomorrow I leave for two days. Therefore, this has to be written before I head to bed. Regarding the meeting with our friends, the Bible reminds us of the value of good friends, in Psalm 18: 24. I quote; “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” A little sign in our house reads, “Friends are the family you choose.” Now, I have nothing against family, but it is true, there are friends who are closer than family members. I believe this applies especially to Christian friends. For those friends, I give thanks to the Lord.

Tomorrow begins our two state Southern Baptist annual meeting. This year it is being held in Lexington, and I am looking forward to being there. It does involve some business items for the convention, but there will be inspirational worship times, along with some quality preaching and teaching. Catching up with friends old and new will be a highlight for me, also.

This week I preached at Grace Bible Church, as they continue to search for just the right person to become their full-time pastor. We looked at the apostle Paul’s testimony concerning his life, and how it changed after meeting the Savior on the road to Damascus. In his testimony, Paul told what his life was like before encountering Jesus, the circumstances of his meeting Jesus, and how his life was changed as a result. Paul went from being a persecutor of Christians, to an outspoken follower of Christ.

We are reminded that every Christian has a witness that includes these three elements: My life before Jesus, how I met Jesus, and how he changed my life.

The question that comes to mind, then, is this; How has Jesus changed your life? Every believer should be able to give an answer. “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. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Again, the question: How has Jesus changed your life, or has he? If not, have you asked him?

In His hands,

Pastor Jerry

The Word is Jesus

Hello friends,
As I began to awake from my sleep this morning (Monday), the sound of the wind in the trees reminded me the seasons are about to change again. Only the good Lord knows what weather awaits us, but I am hearing predictions of a ‘hard’ winter. We can only hope those predictions are wrong. Can I get an amen?

Milrae and I spent the latter part of last week visiting a couple of local recreation areas and spending our nights in the camper. I have had people ask, why own a camper when you live beside a lake? My stock answer – sometimes you just need a different view. We should perhaps apply this in other ways, as well. What if we would occasionally step back and take a look at life from another person’s point of view? Might we get to the point of understanding each other in a new way?

As we came to the end of our week-end get-away, we attended church services at Grace Bible Church in Loup City, where I gave the morning message. We then traveled up the road to Burwell for the annual meeting of our local church association. After the meeting, we joined some members of Burwell Baptist for their 5th Sunday hymn sing. This was the perfect ending to our little vacation.

On a devotional note, let me share a thought or two from my Sunday sermon. The text is John 1:1-5; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.

The Word that John speaks of is Jesus, so we see that Jesus was not only with God in the beginning, he is God, the creator and sustainer of all things, Savior of the world.

The following statement was posted on social media last week. It sums up those verses from John’s gospel: “Jesus is not a god. Jesus does not become God. Jesus does not aspire to be God. Jesus is God. Period.” He is the Savior of all who believe in him.

Blessings to all,
Pastor Jerry

The Tune-up

The pleasant weather continues. We did receive some rain on Friday, but not as much as some folks to the south and west. The garden continues to do well, as do the flowers. We have had our first (small) tomato, and a few cucumbers, in addition to the green beans that we have been enjoying.

Now for the weekly devotional thought. Sunday, as I was driving to a sister church for a speaking engagement, I remembered that a couple of months ago, our pickup was running poorly, and the fuel mileage wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now, in the past, I would have run it into the shop and changed the sparkplugs, points, and condenser, probably fixing the problem. In today’s world, some of those parts don’t exist, so there was no use for me to even start.

After a visit to the dealer’s shop, and a computer diagnosis, it was determined that it did in fact need new spark plugs and something called a “fuel system flush.” Who knew fuel system flush was even a thing? It now performs as good as new.

As I thought about this, I was reminded that the Christian sometimes needs a tune-up. The remedy for this is to get back in touch with our maker through his word, and let him put us back in working order. When we neglect meeting with Him in prayer, through the study of His word, and fellowship with other believers, we get distracted by life leading to poor performance in our Christian walk.

A time of prayer and fellowship with God is important for a healthy Christian life. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6).

Spending time reading and studying the Scripture is also important. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Finally, spend time with other Christians regularly. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn’t hitting on all cylinders, these verses are a good place to start that tune-up.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry