Archive for the ‘Blessings’ Category

A Christmas Story

Dear friends,
As I begin writing, the sun is shining. This is a welcome sight, since for most of the last week, it has been cloudy and cold. The snow of last weekend is still hanging around, and with the snowy background, the Christmas lights at the lake have taken on a new look.

As the Christmas holiday approaches, so also, we see the beginning of what might be called ‘insanity season.’ Christmas is being banned in the public square, Christmas music is suddenly not politically correct, and right here in mid-America, a misinformed school official has banned candy canes. However, instead of commenting on these, I want to share a real Christmas story this week.

Back in the days of old (1980’s), a young ranch couple were struggling through some financial hard-times. It seemed there might not be funds to purchase Christmas gifts for the couple’s two children. In a conversation with his pastor, the young dad mentioned their dilemma, because he needed to share his thoughts with someone.

About a week before Christmas, there came a phone call from the pastor, inviting the couple to stop in later that evening. They went to the parsonage, and after some small talk, the pastor said, “my wife and I have a little money saved up, and we want to give your something to buy gifts for your boys.” He handed the dad a check for one hundred dollars. Suddenly, the Christmas season seemed much brighter for the little family. Needless to say, there were tears of joy and gratitude in that house.

Years have passed, and the now much older young rancher has never forgotten that Christmas gift. May you have opportunities to brighten the holidays for some less fortunate family this Christmas season.

The Lord Jesus came to earth as God’s gift to mankind. The apostle Paul describes God’s grace and His salvation as His indescribable gift. It is this gift we celebrate, as we give to others in this giving time of the year.

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). As the psalmist said, “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).

Christmas blessings,
Pastor Jerry

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Landmarks

Hello friends,
I trust your Thanksgiving celebration was enjoyable, and you were able to count great numbers of blessings from the past year. We made a couple of road trips, traveling to South Dakota on Wednesday, to help Alex as he moves into a different house closer to school and work. Thursday, we joined with some other folks for a Thanksgiving meal and great fellowship, then on Friday to Neligh to celebrate with Ryan and the three grandsons.

We all have them; those places that we use to mark roads, or to remind us of some event in the past. As we traveled highway 281 north of O’Neill last Wednesday, we passed what is known locally as the “stone windmill.” I remarked that it was falling down with the passage of time. I thought of other landmarks I have known. Most have disappeared, but they seem to be always replaced with another name, or another object. Those places and events of life, seem to require some sort of marker for those who pass their way.

Growing up, where our county road connected to the major highway, there was a stone house. Everyone told people unfamiliar with the area to turn at the ‘stone house.’ Eventually, the old house was torn down, and being eight miles from town, the intersection became the eight-mile road.

In another place, three large cottonwood trees marked a t-intersection. Travelers were instructed to turn at the three-tree corner. After the road department cut those trees down, three more volunteer cottonwoods were allowed to grow up in their place. It is still the three-tree corner.

Other, more familiar landmarks have stood for many years, but show the wear and tear of erosion and other changes. I’m reminded of Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, among others. Landmarks may disappear, but we find replacements. In this age of GPS, people still need those landmarks to keep them on the right road.

The Bible can be compared to a landmark. Its purpose being to show the lost the way to salvation, and for helping to keep God’s people on the right path.

If I may paraphrase Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, landmarks disappear, but the word of God stands forever.” As the old song says, “The Bible stands, like a rock, undaunted.” When all other landmarks are gone, the Bible stands.

Standing on the promises,
Pastor Jerry

Give Thanks Daily

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s the time of year to give thanks for all our blessings. It is no coincidence, I believe, that the holiday coincides with the end of harvest. If we can’t count our blessing during this time of the year, when can we? In spite of the fact the Bible encourages thankfulness from God’s people, over the years I have noted that it seems easier to go to the Lord with a list of wants, instead of thanking him for blessings received.

Things we are thankful for in our house this week: Friends and family. A great place to live and enjoy our retirement. Our church family. God’s creation. Each new day. Good health, and the list goes on…

Speaking of the need to give thanks, here are some Old Testament commands of God to his people:
1 Chronicles 16:8… Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Also, verse 34… Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

In 1 Chronicles 23:30; in a description of the duties of the Levites serving in the temple, we read: They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Then there is the witness of his people: “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high” (Psalm 7:17). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let’s not just be thankful at Thanksgiving; may we start and end every day with an attitude of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Praising Him,
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

Culture War?

We were in Hershey, Nebraska this weekend for a Cowboy Church service. I had the pleasure of being asked to share some musical numbers and to preach. It was something I hadn’t planned, but it was definitely in God’s plan. It was a great time, and we met some really neat Christians that we can now call our friends. Our God is so good! And, a BIG thank you to Pastor Kevin and the people of Hershey Baptist Church!

The secular culture is on the attack, as they try to eliminate any reference or reminder that there is a God. It is interesting to note they are bent on attacking something, or someone they don’t believe exists!

Spiritual warfare is a fact. The divisiveness and battles we see in our culture are nothing more than war between the forces of good and evil. One only has to spend a short time watching television, listening to the news, or checking social media, (Facebook, Twitter, and others) to see this happening.

Some will say this is nothing new, and they would be right. The truth is, the intensity of the battle appears to be on the increase.

“First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ … But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness” (2 Peter 3:3-9).

What are we to do as Christians? “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms… And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Who Will Go?

The last week was a little less adventurous than the previous one. There was a funeral to attend Monday for Milrae’s cousin, and a mini-reunion of some of her extended family. The rest of our week was filled with more mundane activity. Things like doing some cleanup around the lake, shopping for groceries, and yard work. Thursday, it was Bible study for a few ladies, with men’s Bible study in the evening. We made a trip to Neligh for supper with Ryan and Alex on Friday.

Saturday evening, we were at a supper recognizing two groups of people. One group consisted of those who support our local Baptist church association by participating in a program called L4M (Livestock 4 Missions). This is a method to raise funds to support our association’s ministry, in which cattlemen donate the care of a cow or cows, with proceeds from calf sales directed to the ministry.

The second group were those who had attended the Christian Leadership course of study held over the last year. The purpose of this course is to prepare Christian men and women for ministry in their local churches.

Here are just a few things I learned from that event: The population of the 19 counties that make up the Sandhills area according to the last census is 73,845. In this part of Nebraska, there are only two cities with a population over three thousand. Fifty-three percent of Nebraska towns under 1000 population have no evangelical church. Simply put, many people in this sparsely populated area have no opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What to do? First, this challenge from the Lord himself; When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:36-38). Pray for those who will take the gospel to these rural areas.

Second, consider whether you might be one of those workers. Isaiah the prophet, in a vision heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
Isaiah answered, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

What is your response? You may email me: lakecitynews@gmail.com.

In Him,
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