Archive for the ‘Best Life’ Category

The Price of Freedom

Dear friends,
It was a busy week for us. We finished up our short camping trip on Wednesday, arriving home mid-afternoon. Thursday was spent catching up on mowing and other yard work. Friday there was decorating for the Fourth of July observance and baking for the Lake Ericson bake sale. Friday evening, I attended the rehearsal for a wedding I was to perform on Saturday. Ericson Lake Corporation’s annual meeting was Saturday morning, with the wedding taking place at 4 PM an hour away. It was a fun wedding (aren’t they all?), and I made it back home in plenty of time for the annual fireworks display at the lake. Sunday morning, our church provided a free pancake, sausage and egg breakfast to all who could come. Retirement is busy, not boring!

As I thought of the Independence Day celebration, I was reminded again that the freedoms we have in our country are often taken for granted by a large part of the population. We forget the sacrifices that many have made, so that we can be a free people.

There is another freedom that is available to us, and that is freedom from the penalty of sin. Born sinners, we owe a debt we cannot pay. Jesus, going to the cross of Calvary paid our sin debt once for all. It was for all who would believe in Him, those who do not believe will not escape the penalty they deserve. God, in His grace and mercy provided the Lord Jesus as the perfect payment, but only by believing in his death and resurrection can we be saved.

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. (Romans 10:9).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (John 1:12).
Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. (1 John 1:9)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Thirsty?

Dear readers,
I’m writing this week from a little RV park in Lynch, Nebraska. There are no trains, and almost no vehicle traffic here. It is about as peaceful as you can get. I have been invited to be musical entertainment for a church event not far from here, and camping here means we won’t have to drive home late at night. Monday, we will move to Fort Randall and North Point recreation area, then drive to Mitchell to visit Alex. We will be home Wednesday in time to prepare for the busy Fourth of July weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it.

The church supper we attended Sunday night was well attended, and it was good to be there. The church family there had prayed for rain in their morning service, and the Lord provided that during the evening. This part of Nebraska was, and is needing rain. It is close to an area where there were lightning-caused fires last week.

As we think of a dry and thirsty land, I am taken to the Psalms. Written by David when he was in the desert of Judah, Psalm 63 is encouraging to us in those times when we need relief from physical and spiritual thirst.

O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, I will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing my lips will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.
They will be given over to the sword
and become food for the jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God;
All who swear by God’s name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Praise the Lord,
Pastor Jerry

A Secure Promise

Dear friends,
It has been a pleasant week, although a bit warmer than I would have liked. Some folks around the area received rain, but we were left high and dry, so to speak. The end of the week was nice, but I see warmer days in the forecast.

As I prepared to send out my article last Monday, I had a computer malfunction and almost lost the whole thing. As it turned out, I had emailed the article to the newspapers first, so I retrieved it from my sent email file, then copied and pasted it to email and my blogs. I will be taking my laptop to the computer repair place this week. Isn’t it interesting how computer dependent we have become?

I spoke at Grace Bible Church again Sunday, and thought I would share a portion of my message here. In our current time, it is good to be reminded that God is our help and strength. Psalm 90 is the basis for this devotional thought.

In verse one of the Psalm, we see that God alone is a place of divine shelter and protection for all those who take refuge in Him because He alone is eternal. “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

In contrast to God, who has no beginning and no end, man is frail and fragile. They are like grass, which withers and dies. We are under God’s wrath because of sin, and life is hard because of Adam’s curse (verses 7-11).

Verses 12-17 consist of a prayer asking the Lord to help us live in the light of his mercy and grace. Asking him to teach us how to live wisely and to use the days he has given us for his glory, so that we may be glad and joyful all our days. In doing so, we will be going about the work he has established for us.

In the hymn “O God, Our Help in Ages Past”, the hymn writer penned these words;

“O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home;
Under the shadow of your throne, your saints have dwelt secure,
Sufficient is your arm alone, and our defense is sure.”

In a time of uncertainty, may we take shelter in His everlasting arms.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

The Lord Provides

Dear friends,
Our first camping adventure of the season is in the books. We took a different route than usual, due to someone’s refusal to heed good advice. We arrived at our destination anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. The campsites were muddy from recent rain, and I have renewed appreciation for my beloved Sandhills. On the return trip, a tire blew out on the camper about ten miles from home. With some assistance from a friend the tire was changed and it ended well.

The past few days we have experienced much warmer temperatures; some might say hot. With the southerly winds at play, we will soon be needing rain. I am glad the Lord is in charge of those things, and we can depend on Him to provide for us. The Scriptures give ample evidence of His sovereignty over all things in nature.

“How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.
He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;
the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds, how he thunders from his pavilion?
See how he scatters his lightning about him, bathing the depths of the sea.
This is the way he governs the nations and provides food in abundance.
He fills his hand with lightning and commands it to strike its mark.
His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach” (Job 36:26-33).

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. (Psalm 147:7-9)

“He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.
They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth” (Psalm 104:10-14).

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Pastor Jerry

Stay the Course

Hello friends,
We’ve had our share of cloudy weather lately, but Saturday got back to some sunshine. The weekends are getting busier, as people begin to enjoy summer at the lake. We are seeing increasing numbers of campers, and camping spaces may be already reserved for some weekends.

The garden is doing well after a few frosty mornings. The seeds that were planted have sprouted, and are breaking through the soil. After having the one zucchini damaged a bit by frost, we have three new ones to supplement it. If they all do well, we may be leaving squash in cars and on doorsteps. I will be attempting to set up an automatic watering system for the garden, so that we can take time for some short camping trips.

As I read and listen to my media sources, it is becoming more evident that there is increasing animosity toward those who would claim belief in the God of the Bible. We are shouted down in the public square, on social media, and even in some so-called religious circles. I believe we are seeing the fulfillment of the words of Jesus, as he told of a time when Christians would be persecuted and even killed for their faith. Persecution for God’s people is not new. It has been around for centuries, but in increasing measure as far as we in America are concerned.

Jesus spoke these words to His followers; “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also… They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:20-21).

Paul’s words to Timothy apply to Christians today: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it” (2 Timothy 3:12-14).

May we be able to say with Paul on the day of judgment, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). And finally, to hear the Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21)!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Right Focus

Hello friends,
The weather last week was interesting, to say the least. With the wind that came, it is a very good thing the snow wasn’t any deeper. We were on the road the day after the storm, and found some county roads to the west of us that were a little drifted, and still unopened. Outside of that the remainder of the roads were just slushy. As far as the week ahead, there is talk of snow, we just don’t know the details

A year ago, we were anticipating what the year 2020 was going to bring. Little did we know what that was going to look like! Now, we are facing the year 2021, with some of those 2020 problems still hanging around. With the Covid 19 pandemic, and the unsettled political scene, we wonder what will come along next? This is to say nothing of what we might consider everyday challenges to our lives. One thing to keep in mind, as an acquaintance of mine recently wrote, “Viruses, economics, politics and people seldom change because the calendar page turned over. He continues, “we’re going to have to have something more substantial to look forward to than a new date on the calendar.”

It is fine to anticipate turning the calendar to another year, but if we look to that as an answer to all our problems, we will be sadly disappointed.

The apostle Paul reminds us not to live in the past, but to keep our eyes on our heavenly home… “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

I’m reminded of what Jesus says about worry. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

Without a focus on eternity, the next year may bring only disappointment. But if you have Christ in your life, the near future is only a step toward your final destination, which is eternal fellowship with the Savior. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don’t be distracted by the immediate.

“Unless we purposely live with a view to the next world, we cannot make much out of our present existence.” – Charles Spurgeon

Happy New Year,
Pastor Jerry

Thanksgiving 2020

Dear friends,
There is an early copy deadline for this week, so this will be written ahead of my usual schedule. Since the Thanksgiving holiday is this week, I can use that as my topic. First, the carport is now a garage, with two doors and a cute little window between them. As we were finishing up the structural part, there was a narrow opening between the doors; Milrae asked, “Is this where the window goes?” Me: If you want a window, that is where it will be. Thanks to Google, I was able to find a window fourteen inches wide, and twenty-seven inches high. It’s perfect for that spot!

As we think of things to be thankful for, our current weather pattern would be near the top of the list. I believe most of us could use some extra time outdoors to get the fall work done, and this makes it pleasant, to say the least.

I wonder how many people in our current culture could give the dictionary definition of thanksgiving? I’m not speaking of the holiday itself, but the general meaning of the word. Here are four definitions from various dictionaries.

The act of giving thanks and grateful acknowledgement of benefits or favors, especially to God.
An expression of thanks, especially to God.
A public celebration in acknowledgement of divine favor or kindness.
A day set apart for giving thanks to God.

The holiday named Thanksgiving, came from the early settlers, who took time to thank God for His provision in the New World. Later, it became a national holiday in 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation for a day to give thanks to God.

The psalmist said it best. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalm 100)

Instead of coming with a list of things we want, wouldn’t this be a good year to just thank Him for what we have? Who else would be worthy of our thanks and praise?

Blessed,
Pastor Jerry

Making Plans

Hello friends,
Well, we certainly had an extreme weather change. As I write this Sunday afternoon, we have had a good dose of snow and cold. I’m looking forward to the middle of the week, when we are supposed to warm up considerably. I came up with a project to enclose our open-ended carport/garage, and install doors, but now I have to wait for better weather before I can start. One thing about the delay is that I have time to engineer the details. I have done doors before, but in a more conventional setting. I think the delay will be a good thing. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Speaking of making plans, the Lord has quite a bit to say about the plans of men and their success or failure. Something to think about as we set goals and go about making plans for our lives. We have all made plans for how we think our lives will play out, but how many plans actually come out the way we imagined?

With the general election next week, people are making plans for the future. Some of those may be good and others may turn out to be not so good. God’s word doesn’t discourage planning, but he does expect to be a part of the process. Let’s look at some scriptures that speak to this subject.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3). In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (Prov. 16:9). Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21).
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4).

Here is a longer passage from the epistle of James in the New Testament: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Do you have plans for your future? Have you included the Lord in those plans?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

On Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to observe the changing of the seasons. Every day, the leaves are changing colors and losing their grip on the branches of the trees. Harvest is well under way, and today I saw a flock of crows flying south. Some folks are talking of migrating south, also.

Sunday afternoon was the annual meeting of our Sandhills Church Network, an association of like-minded area churches. Some of the discussion centered on how our churches have been affected by the Covid-19 virus. Almost everyone is concerned with the number of church members who have elected to attend church by means of social media; Facebook Live, Zoom Meeting, and other live-streaming apps. The concern is that those who are getting in the habit of virtual church are missing out on the benefits of in-person corporate worship. As the old saying goes; “No man is an island.”

Christians need each other. We need the support and encouragement that only comes from in-person fellowship, where we can ask face-to-face, “How are you today? How can I pray for you? Will you pray for me?”

“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—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:13).

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing… And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-18).

I believe we can best flesh out these commands by meeting together in person.

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Signs of Change

Hello friends,
Our latest camping trip is over. We had an enjoyable time with Alex and Amy, then drove to Pickstown, SD, where we spent three nights at North Point Recreation Area. Our campsite was almost at the edge of the lake. This was our first visit to the area, and we were impressed with the view. We may return in a couple of weeks, weather permitting.

As we traveled, we could see the signs of the changing seasons. Crops are drying down, in preparation for harvest, the leaves are changing to fall colors, and some trees are losing leaves. I have mentioned in previous writings that fall is right at the top of my favorite seasons. Sure, winter comes after autumn, but following that is spring, with all the signs of new life.

Turning this discussion to spiritual matters, the Bible tells us people who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, will show signs of new life.

A Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Jesus a question regarding God’s kingdom. Jesus answered in this way: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was shocked at this statement and asked, “how can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus’ answer was basically this; The new birth speaks of being spiritually reborn. This rebirth is possible only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

A favorite verse of mine is 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We are told 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 4:22-23).

Have you experienced the new birth? Are there signs of new life in your thoughts and actions?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry