Archive for the ‘Blessings’ 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

Jesus is Lord

Hello friends,
The weather is in the news again. We reached 70+ degrees one day last week, then were greeted with snow and wind on Easter Sunday. Spring is out there somewhere, I am sure. The other big news item remains the Covid-19 virus. Lord willing, we will get past this pandemic and begin a return to life as we would want it to be.

On one of those nice days last week, I decided it was a good day to wash the windows on our sun porch. While gathering a bucket and some tools from the garage, I tripped and experienced one of those slow motion falls. You know what I mean; you know you are going down, but have a little time to plan your landing. After it was over, I had only a scuff mark and bruise above my left knee, and a little laceration on one finger. I was truly thanking the Lord it wasn’t worse. After the windows were clean, it all seemed worthwhile.

On Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For most of us, it was an Easter unlike any we had ever seen. In our church, we met through Zoom. It was a small group of people, but we were able to read and study the pertinent Bible passages, and listen to the preaching of our pastor. We saw each other’s faces, but missing was the personal interaction, the handshakes, and hugs.

In and through all this, here is the important thing to remember; in the midst of all the insecurity and all the unknowns of the day, Jesus Christ is Lord! He has a handle on all the things that are going on in the world. He has defeated death, sin, and the devil and he proved it on the day He rose from the tomb.

Read the following passages with me: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15). For more, read the whole chapter.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Creative Creator

Hello friends,
Last week, I told you of my planned heart bypass surgery. I can now report the surgery went well, and I am at home recovering. I have no rehab schedule presently, but somewhere, someone is preparing a plan. I now know much more about the process than I might have wanted to know. Word like saws, titanium plate, tiny screwdriver, screws… you get the idea. There were tubes and all kinds of wires and assorted monitors.

As I heal, I have been thinking about the wonder of the bodies God has given us. I met a man while in the hospital who claimed to be an agnostic. As I understand it, an agnostic will claim it is impossible to know God, and an atheist denies the existence of God, or even of a supreme intelligent being. My question at this point is, how then do you explain the complexity of the human body? How can you not see the hand of God in creating his own?

Oh, some will say it is the result of some random accident through which life began, or that some primitive life form ‘evolved’ to a human being. I for one, am glad for a Creator God, who not only designed mankind in His image, but that he equipped some to perform amazing procedures and others to help us on our way to recovery. In the last week, I have experienced some wonderful medical progress, and met some amazing individuals. From the doctors, ICU staff, nurses, CNAs, to housekeeping and nutritional staff. You are all special people!

Jesus is called the Great Physician and Healer, but he has some very talented individuals involved in the process. Thank you, also, for prayers for me this past week, I know they had much to with my speedy recovery from the immediate effects of the surgery and my eventual dismissal from the hospital in record time. God is King, and He is still on His throne. Praise Him daily!

It is not always God’s will for healing, but we should not fail to always pray. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16)

Praising His goodness,
Pastor Jerry

Going Up?

Hello friends,
I have been enjoying my visits to other churches, meeting new friends, and preaching God’s word. I find it amusing that not having taken speech class in high school, I have spent so many years speaking to groups of people on a weekly basis. One more proof that God equips those he calls to His work.

When attending our denomination’s annual meeting last month, we stayed in a two story hotel. As I age, I am less inclined to use stairs (that sounds strange). Anyway, since two of us had second floor rooms, we rode the elevator instead of using the stairs. On one of our elevator rides, I commented that it might be a preview of the rapture. My friend said, “I am sure it will be faster than this.”

The word rapture is not found in the Bible, but it refers to the return of the Lord Jesus in the air to gather his church. 1 Corinthians 15:52; “Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (or died). For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Our hope, that is our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead assures us of our place in heaven. The apostle Peter puts it this way; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Trusting in Him,
Pastor Jerry

Reflecting on the Journey

Hello friends,
I have come to the realization that as I compose and send these articles out each week, I am using both old and new methods of communication. On the one hand there is the magic of the internet, but on the other is the time tested print media. When this thing called Lake City News began, it was a simple way to connect with a few family and friends. Email was the chosen method in the beginning, but eventually, it became a weekly column in three local newspapers under the title of “Pastor’s Corner”.

Today, in addition to those emails and newspapers, there is a blog called ‘sandhillspastor.com’, with links to Facebook and Twitter. To this day, I am amazed at the platform God has given me to share His good news with all who read these articles, wherever they appear. Also, thanks to all who have encouraged me to continue. As mentioned in another article, this month marks the twentieth anniversary of this ministry.

Most of us entered adulthood with some idea of how our lives would play out. I am reminded of these words; “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” {Proverbs 16:9). As I look back, I see that God had a plan for me unlike anything I envisioned. I grew up on a ranch, and when I finished high school, I informed my dad there had to be a better way to make a living. Guess what? God took me in a big circle that involved working on ranches around the Sandhills, ending up in 1972 back at the home place. We were there 40 years, until we retired from ranching.

In 1982, after a few years of attending a little church down the road from our place, God impressed upon me the need for Jesus in my life. On a Sunday morning in March of that year, I asked Jesus into my heart. If you knew all the details, you would probably ask how this cowboy/rancher ended up to be the pastor of a little church in the Sandhills?

The simple answer is this; it can only be the Holy Spirit of God working in the heart of a man. As someone has said, no one knows what God can do with a man who will commit to follow His leading.

For His glory,
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 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

Go and Tell

Hello friends,
July is about to give way to August. School will be starting soon, and I wonder where the summer has gone? My theory is that summer got a late start due to an over-long winter and spring. Could it be that autumn will be longer than normal, and winter will be shortened? One can only dream!

I have traveled a number of miles this summer preaching at churches in small towns and rural areas. What I have seen is a need for pastoral leadership in these out-of-the-way places. I doubt there are many seminary graduates seeking ministry opportunities in rural America. So, what might be the solution?

This is a question that has been on my mind, and in the thoughts of several of my friends in ministry. We believe the answer is for men in these churches to have the opportunity to learn ministry skills that would allow for them to be pastors or leaders in their local churches. Then those congregations would not be dependent on “professional” clergy.

There is a one day Rural Christian Workers Conference coming up in early September that will provide this kind of training, and the best part is that it is free. Even the lunch is provided free of charge. The conference is designed to “encourage and train Pastors and Church leaders that serve in rural and small town churches.” If this is something you, or someone you know might be interested in, email me at lakecitynews@gmail.com for specific information.

The Bible says people come to faith in Christ through hearing the Word of God. Many will not hear this good news, because of the shortage of ministers of the gospel in our rural and small-town churches. The apostle Paul, in Romans had this to say. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’… faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13-15).

Might you be one of those bringing the Good News?

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry