Archive for the ‘Best Life’ Category

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

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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

God’s Will for You

There was a good hatch of geese here at the lake, and I enjoy watching them out my window. They are quite belligerent when another goose enters their private space, chasing the encroaching one, but then they will run away from a little blackbird defending its nest.

Are you still seeking God’s will for your life? It’s not in the stars or a horoscope. It is not in the cards, and there is no Lady Luck. God’s will for you is found only in the Bible. The following is excerpted from “Found: God’s Will”, by Dr. John MacArthur.

First, it is God’s will that men be saved. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life” (John 6:40). God has no reason to reveal to you anything particular about your life, if you have not met qualification number one.

Second, you must be Spirit-filled. That is the teaching of the Word of God. When a person is saved, the moment they receive Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within you. There is no Christian who does not possess the Holy Spirit. Christians have everything they need in the Holy Spirit. “For you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” (Jesus, in Acts 1:8).

Third, God requires every believer to be sanctified. Another word would be ‘pure’. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 reads, “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

The fourth qualification, is to be submissive. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). This is the kind of submission that makes you the best possible citizen in the society in which you live.

Number 5, we are called to suffer. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… (2 Timothy 3:15). “However, if (or when) you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16). Are you willing to suffer for Him who suffered for you? Are you willing to confront the world? That is the will of God.

The final principle: If you are doing all five of the basic things, God is running your life, and anything you want to do will be His will.

In His hands,
Pastor Jerry

God at Work

I don’t have any real ‘news’ this week. It is about the same from day to day. Sometimes it rains, sometimes not. It’s windy some days, and calm at other times. Hot, but never cold; after all it is summer.

As I travel around to other churches, I have opportunity to see and hear what the Lord is doing in other places. This week, I heard about a 6-year-old little boy, who through his attending Sunday School and church, learned enough about Jesus to convince his dad to come to church. The dad, I understand, has placed his faith in Christ, and a broken marriage may be healed, all because of that little boy’s testimony. This little boy is unashamed and unafraid to tell everyone he meets about Jesus. Oh, that more Christian adults had this kind of testimony!

God is still in the business of saving souls, and he uses many ways, and works through all kinds of people. I believe one of the greatest miracles is when God, by His Holy Spirit, moves a person to trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.

I have shared the following passages of scripture many times, but they are worth repeating. They are from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. After highlighting God’s righteousness and His just judgment of sin, Paul points to the fact that all people are sinners in need of a Savior.

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:10-12, 20-24).

Also, this: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

To His Glory,
Pastor Jerry

God’s Family Plan

Dear friends,
Summer is here! When you live near a body of water, large or small, you can be sure there will be people celebrating summer. It is not any different here at Lake Ericson. Lots of people enjoying everything summer. Boats, beverages, bonfires, barbeques, and families playing together. Ah, those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. The Ericson 4th of July tradition continued this year, with a parade and kid’s rodeo. Some things never change, and that’s good. Thanks to those who make it happen year after year.

Thinking of families, something that has been on my mind recently is the epidemic of fractured families, and the downplaying of the importance of marriage in general. The following commentary is distilled from a recent sermon titled “Families: A Gift from God.”

The Bible is quite clear in presenting God’s plan for the family, and its importance in how His world works. We read, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him’” (Genesis 2:18). In Genesis 1:27-28, we read, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

A mom and a dad are always a woman and a man, no matter what the culture is promoting today. Each partner has responsibilities and gifts that complement the other. Together they are a complete unit. If one is absent, the whole system is unbalanced.

I believe the problem of broken marriages and all that goes with it, can be traced back to the abandonment of belief in God, and the complete rejection of his plan for marriage and families. However, it is not too late. Confession of our sin and repenting of it will bring a restored relationship with the Lord, and a return to his values and the resulting blessings.

Pastor Greg Laurie said this; Think of how different it would be if we just obeyed one of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). It would mean that families would still be together. It would mean that children wouldn’t be conceived out of wedlock and would have a stable father figure in their lives. You can take almost every social ill in our nation and trace it to the breakdown of the family.

Praying for healthy families,
Pastor Jerry