Archive for the ‘Best Life’ Category

Tune-up or Overhaul?

Dear readers,
I always struggle with what kind of salutation is best to open these weekly conversations. Sadly, there are not many original greetings available to me. Perhaps I should just use ‘to whom it may concern.’ I guess this is just another challenge to a weekly writer.

In a previous time, I did a bit of mechanic work for myself and a few neighbors. Some of the vehicles that came into the shop needed a minor tune-up to be restored to working order. There were others, however, that needed a complete overhaul in order to perform correctly.

These days, as the effects of age begin to be more noticeable, we wonder at times if we, too, are in need of a tune-up, or a complete overhaul? In this new year, there may be a few people still committed to exercise and diet, as means to tune-up their bodies.

What about your spiritual well-being? Are you looking for a new year makeover? Will you be needing an overhaul or tune-up? Maybe a new you?

Here are a few suggestions from the Bible, beginning with our basic spiritual condition as defined by God. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Other scriptures point out the fact that because of Adam, we all are born in sin, needing an overhaul, if you will.

Jesus said the remedy for this condition is a new birth. In His words; “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5). This would be a complete overhaul, a new beginning. In fact, a new creation, according to scripture.

When Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet in the upper room, Peter objected, insisting he needed a bath. Jesus answered him, “One who has bathed doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean” (John 13:9). One who is saved, need only be cleansed from recent sins. John refers to this in his first letter, written to believers; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This, too, could be likened to a tune-up.

Renewed in Him,
Pastor Jerry

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A New Year

Hello friends,
Christmas Day is behind us, and I pray we as a people, will not forget the reason for the holiday we just enjoyed. Our own celebration was pretty quiet. We attended our church Christmas Eve service, then came home to our favorite chairs and listened to some Christmas music. Tuesday was warm enough by noon to fire up the pellet grill, so we were able to enjoy steak and hash browns for lunch. We had plenty of time later to reflect on the Savior whose birth we were celebrating.

As we enter the new year, may I suggest, if you haven’t, that you take the time to consider what your own eternal destination might be. There are many ideas and theories concerning eternal issues. The one that has withstood the test of time comes from the Bible. If you believe this book to be God’s Word, written by men, inspired by His Holy Spirit, then you need look no further to find the truth.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ, was and is, God in human form. He came to earth with the express purpose of dying on a cross, as payment for the sins of humanity. By faith in that one selfless act, we, in turn can be assured of spending eternity in the presence of God and Jesus.

Christianity is not an exclusive religion. The invitation to receive God’s gift is open to all. However, not everyone will choose to accept the gift. God does not force anyone to believe. He has given evidence of the truth of His salvation, it is up to each individual to accept or reject.

The following Bible verses are not new, nor have they been hidden from view. I have quoted them many time in these articles, but some have not seen or responded to them. I pray they will do so today.

Romans 10:9-10… “the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Ephesians 2:8… “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. The gift is free. Our only responsibility is to accept it. Think about it.

Happy New Year!
Pastor Jerry

The Season Begins

Hello friends,
Already it is December. Soon we’ll be trying to learn a new number to write on our checks, that is if anyone writes checks anymore. Here at our place we have experienced our second winter storm of the season, and winter hasn’t officially arrived. We are well protected from the wind here, so I doubt we had as much drifting as in other places. Also, I think the total snowfall here was less than forecast, and I’m okay with that.

It is the season of Advent for the Christian church. We celebrate the first coming of our Lord, and look forward to his promised return. As I observe people, it seems most don’t understand the significance of Christmas, let alone any thought of Christ returning again. There are colored lights and evergreen trees with all kinds of decorations, including a herald angel at the top. Presents under the tree, and displays of shepherds and wise men meeting at the nativity with gifts for baby Jesus.

But, may I suggest that if you asked most people to explain the meaning of Christmas, they would probably be hard pressed to give a clear presentation of the reason for the season. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin, he lives in the hearts of those who believe, and he is coming again at some future time.

Here is the problem, as I see it. Most have a pretty good grasp on the idea of Jesus’ first coming, and will understand that he was raised from the dead, and is in heaven with the Father. The downside is they live as though he is ‘out there’ somewhere, while failing to understand his presence in the world. Their lives are lived no different from those who claim no knowledge of Jesus or God.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, his disciples were told, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise… He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

I found this appropriate quote from William Barclay, a Scottish theologian: “The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ.”

Waiting for His appearing,
Pastor Jerry

Serious Worship

The weather is cooler as I write this on Friday, and the wind has switched to a northerly direction. We were visited by three humming birds this week. It is fascinating to watch them as they jockey for positions at the feeder. I am amazed that such a little bird can find our meager offering of sugar water in this big world. What a testimony to God’s design for His creation!

If you spent much time in church in an earlier age, you were most certainly admonished by your parents to be quiet. This is not the trend we see today. As church buildings became more multi-purpose in design, there was a movement away from the idea of preparing for worship as you entered the building. Maybe it was due to the lack of those traditional fixtures, such as pictures of biblical events and other items that set a place of worship apart.

I would not say today’s more informal worship gatherings are wrong, nor are they even unbiblical. If one spends any time researching worship in the Old Testament, you would find references to shouting, singing, dancing, and musical instruments, along with reading and proclaiming the Word of the Lord. In the New Testament, we also see explicit and implicit references to celebration in worship.

True worship, I believe, demands that we are to have a sense of awe as we stand in the presence of Holy God, but there is room for joy and laughter, along with the fellowship of like-minded brothers and sisters in the Lord.

As a pastor said last week as he prepared to deliver his message, “We have had a little fun and some light-hearted conversation, but it is time to be serious and listen to what God has to say through the preaching of His Word.”

I am a ‘fan’ of traditional worship, with its hymns and other traditions, but I am not going to say it is the only way. I have seen the younger generations worship, and I am convinced they are as committed to giving glory to God as any of us ‘older’ people. You see, it is all about the heart and our relationship with God and his Son Jesus Christ. If your heart is right, and the gospel of salvation by faith in Christ is preached, worship is what God intended.

To His glory,
Pastor Jerry

Staying on the Path

Our weather has turned noticeably cooler this week. I suppose it is a sign of a change in the seasons, but it doesn’t seem that long since the last one. While on the topic of weather, we have only watered our lawn once this summer, and it rained the next day.

So I’ve been told, some of the newer vehicles contain a guidance system to warn if you drift to one side or the other of the travel lane. My brother tells me his RV will even correct course on its own to a point. Even as I write this on my computer, auto-correct keeps me reminded of misspelled words and improper grammar. Technology continues to amaze me.

God gives His people a guidance system; it’s called His Word; most know it as the Bible. That Word, in conjunction with His Holy Spirit, will keep you on the path he has set out for you. In a world that seems to have lost its moral compass, there is a way to find true north, so to speak. I’ll share just a few passages to illustrate.

God’s word lights the way for us, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). It gives us wisdom for living; “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32). “Listen my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path” (Proverbs 23:19).

God’s word also tells us those things He calls sin, and helps us overcome sin in our lives: “Direct my footsteps according to Your word; let no sin rule over me” (Psalm 119:133).

Finally, let’s not forget God’s instructions to Joshua, as His people prepared to enter the promised land.
“Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it” (Joshua 1:7-8).

GPS is great for keeping your vehicle on the road you want to travel, but GPL (God’s Plan for Life) will keep you on the path he has set before you.

Happy trails,
Pastor Jerry

Little Towns on Back Roads

Happy Labor Day. It was just four years ago that we moved our house to Lake Ericson. How time flies, it seems like yesterday.

Last Monday, we drove home from our weekend in Hershey, Nebraska. We traveled down Highway 30, instead of the Interstate. It was kind of a relaxing drive compared to good old I-80. As I mentioned last week, we had a great time meeting new friends and sharing the music and message. On our return trip, we drove through some towns that don’t get much traffic anymore, but people are living there who need to hear about Jesus.

According to the signs, and the billboards, every one of those little towns has one or more churches. I know that some of those churches are proclaiming God’s word as it is written, but I am also convinced that some are preaching a gospel that is not related to the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the gospel being preached in many places, both large and small, has very little to do with salvation from sin and its penalty. It seems I keep returning to this topic much more than I would prefer, but I know I will be held responsible to God for failing to proclaim His truth. James had this to say to those who would teach. “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

I return to the letter written by Jude, to believers in one or more churches. He writes this: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For 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).

Look around. Read that last sentence from Jude again. How many ‘churches’ do you know, whose leaders are leading in that direction? There are still godly men and women who are standing firm on the Word of God. Follow them, not the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Contending for the faith,
Pastor Jerry

Destinations

Hello friends,
We took another trip with the camper this week. As usual, it turned into another adventure on the less traveled road. We left last Sunday afternoon, not knowing for sure where we were going, or which road to take. We headed west out of Ericson, and had not gone far when the decision was made to go west of Taylor to Dunning, then take highway 2 to Thedford, where we stayed the night. Monday morning, it was on the road again, destination Crawford and Fort Robinson. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent just taking in the sights at the fort, with a side trip to check out Chadron State Park. Wednesday morning, we headed east on Highway 20, had lunch in Ainsworth with an old friend, and decided to overnight at Keller Park, northeast of Ainsworth.

Going there, once again I trusted my phone to show me a different route. This was not the road less traveled, it was the road seldom traveled! It became a narrow trail down a section line, leading to nowhere. Here is a tip: Off-road travel with a fifth-wheel camper is not a recommended activity. After abandoning Google Maps, we eventually made it to the highway, and the state park. We enjoyed a quiet evening and night, arriving back home in late afternoon Thursday. I’m sure we’ll be content to stay home for a while.

On a more somber note, we have seen in the last few days and weeks, the passing away of a cousin of Milrae’s, and several old friends and neighbors from home. I am reminded almost daily that we have no guarantee of another day, and of the fact that we need to make plans for eternity.

As the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). At the end of the book we read, “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Today is the day of salvation. Do not delay. Trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Jerry