Archive for the ‘Body of Believers’ Category

Church Etiquette

It is time once again for news and views from our house. As always, the weather is a common conversation topic. It’s interesting to note, temperatures that seem rather chilly in the fall seem almost balmy these days. Anything over fifty degrees sends me outdoors in my shirtsleeves.

I have had discussions concerning the tendency these days for people to dress casual for about every event or activity. What used to be jacket and tie at the very least, is now athletic shoes, denim jeans and tee-shirts. Many times these discussions come around to what to wear to church.

Along that line of thought, there was a post on Facebook this week resisting the trend to casual. The sign at the church door read: “It’s all about love. PLEASE, no food or drink, no cell phones, lots of love allowed.”

Here are my thoughts on the clothing issue. As far as God is concerned, it is not so much about our appearance as it is about the condition of our heart. I don’t believe this is an excuse to dress shoddily, or be uncaring about our appearance as we gather to worship. Christ doesn’t require us to clean up our act before he accepts us. He does expect to see change in us, as a result of making Him Lord of our lives.

As for the food and drink issue, here is the comment that accompanied the sign at the church door: “Why are some churches so fearful of food, drinks and cell phones? I’ve never seen a food or drink or a cell phone walk into a sanctuary by themselves. Generally speaking, there is a person attached. And churches need people more than clean carpet or quiet sanctuaries.”

Of course, we should welcome all to enter our church buildings, regardless of dress, food or drink, or whatever. But we are to love them enough to point them to the Savior, praying that the Gospel will touch their hearts, and bring them to salvation.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10). Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28). If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

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Following Jesus

Hello all,
After a few warm and windy days, it appears the lake ice will be leaving soon. Ice fishing has been very popular for several weeks, but a new season is coming quickly. We will transition to daylight saving time this weekend, so there will be a longer period of daylight at the end of the workday (unless you are an agriculture person, and nothing will really change).
I attended a session of Sandhills Christian Leadership Center on Saturday. It is a course of study for those who wish to be further involved in ministry in their local churches, and who may feel led into pastoral ministry. It is sponsored by our local Baptist Church association. This was the third of four class sessions that began last October.
One of the topics of the day was “Making Disciples”, from Pastor John Shields. I will share some of his thoughts.
Marks of a disciple, or follower of Jesus Christ:
1. Disciples develop a lifelong commitment to learn and live God’s Word. To those Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine…” (John 8:31).
They believe God’s Word is His clearest authority and revelation for life.
They believe God’s Word transforms those who respond in faith
2. Disciples increasingly live like servants, not owners. These are his words: “So, then, none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).
The cost of really following Jesus is everything you have. Wealth and worry keep many from following Jesus.
3. Disciples have a deepening love for Jesus. We are called to love Him more than parents or other family, even more than ourselves. Luke 14:26.
This will cause relational tension with those who don’t know Him. This tension may be with family, friends, or co-workers.
These tensions can distract some from following Jesus.
4. Disciples deepen their love for other Christians. “By this all men will know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).
5. Disciples embrace Jesus’ mission as their own, and His mission was to glorify God.
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
The bottom line? If you want to follow Jesus, you have to follow Jesus, and no one else.
In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Answered Prayers

Dear friends,
My good wife and I have been dealing with colds this week and to be honest, I just haven’t felt like writing. I have this article I recently came across, and would like to share it with you.

God hears and answers every prayer, but there are a precious few to which he always says, “Yes.” The prayers always answered positively are the prayers which explicitly ask God to deliver on his promises to us. God will always say Yes when we ask him to do his work through his word.
I have found at least six basic prayers God will always answer.
1. Glorify yourself through me.
The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

2. Forgive me.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
3. Reveal more of yourself to me.

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 31:33–34).

4. Give me wisdom.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5).

5. Strengthen me to obey you.
As you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure(Philippians 2:12–13).

6. Spread your gospel to the lost.
This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).
How do we know God will answer these six prayers? Because he says he will in the first place, and then, even more, because these prayers sum up what God has promised to do through the gospel. This is what God has said he would most surely do.

Be blessed,
Pastor Jerry

Stand for the Truth

Last week it seemed somehow we skipped fall, and went right into winter. Those balmy Indian Summer days evaporated into cold and snow. I know, we haven’t had any great amount of snow, but really, I had hoped for a longer time of nice weather. One thing is for sure, I am not in control of the weather!

We got to go back to our old neighborhood church this past Sunday. I was invited to preach in the absence of their regular pulpit supply person. If you are so inclined, you might pray that little congregation could soon get a new pastor. There is much talk about reaching rural America with the gospel, and that church goes beyond most folks’ concept of what is rural. Sybrant Community Church is soon to celebrate its 100th year as a church. That this church is still in existence,qq is a testament to the faithfulness of God to His people. It is a gospel witness in that community.

Teachers of another gospel, one that is completely different from that of Jesus and His apostles, have been around since the beginning of Christianity. Now, it seems to me that we are witnessing these false teachers in increasing numbers. As many contemporary churches are trying to accommodate all the unbiblical ideas and even heretical teaching, in an attempt to “reach more people”, the gospel is being watered down and even ignored. Many people are being led away from the truth by these people.

The apostle Paul had harsh words for the church in Galatia. He wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7).

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine…. They will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 2:2-4).

Folks, that time is here. Pray for, and join with those who proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Spiritual warfare is real.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

The Call: Part Two

The great fall weather continues. I don’t really remember seeing the colors as bright as they are this year. Every day the sunrise is more beautiful than the day before. I hesitate to post to many photos of our morning view, for fear you will be bored by them. A friend of mine wrote this week that God must be a Nebraskan, for all the beauty He has given us. Amen!

Now, on to our devotional thought for the week: As we saw last time, God calls us to salvation. That call is followed by God’s call to serve Him. Without answering the call to salvation, there can be no call to serve.

There are many ways to serve God. I suppose the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when I speak of serving the Lord, would be missionaries, or pastors. However, these are not the only ways Christians can serve the Lord. Here are several more:

Testimony… Live lives worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1)
Fellowship… Do not forsake meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25).
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
Meeting the needs of people. “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you will; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it” (James 2:15-16)?

Service to the Lord shows in many ways, but the object of all service is to bring him praise and glory, along with introducing lost people to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are not called to warm the church pews for one hour a week, then go silently back into the world. Every believer is to be obedient to the Great Commission in Matthew 28. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, …and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Go into all the world. Go and tell. Your salvation is shown by your obedience to God’s commands.

His Words,
Pastor Jerry

Thoughts From the Sandhills

Dear friends,
We have taken a few days to get away and see some different scenery.

Our weekend was spent in Valentine at Old West Days. We heard some great music, some original cowboy poetry and some really funny stories; all part of the efforts of a few people committed to preserving our western heritage.

As we drove to Valentine Thursday afternoon, we came to a spot in the road that brought back a memory from 53 years ago as plain as yesterday. It was the day before our wedding. My fiancé, her bridesmaids, and I were on a mission to pick up a couple of dresses. At that particular spot on the highway, at about 85 mph, we encountered water on the highway, and the old ’58 Ford four door hydroplaned. We stayed on the road while fishtailing from one side of the road to the other. No one was injured, only scared half to death. The wedding took place the next day, and I have never forgotten that spot.

Friday afternoon, we took a side trip to Merritt reservoir, just to look around and try to find the places we camped, back when our boys were small. A lot has changed there in the intervening years, but we found familiar places nonetheless.

Saturday morning, I participated in a Christian Leadership Conference. I had to leave early, but was able to connect briefly with long-time friends and Christian leaders from all over our beloved Sandhills. The purpose of this training is to equip believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. The Sandhills of Nebraska has been called, ‘God’s Own Cow Country’, but I fear we have left Him out of our conversation far too long.

There is much talk in Christian circles about foreign missions, but I am and always will be convinced, there is a huge mission field right here in our corner of the world. There a thousands of good people living here, who do not have a real, personal relationship with Christ.

“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” (Romans 10:13-14)?

Pray,
Pastor Jerry

Home

Hello friends,
It’s raining as I write this. The rain gauge reads 1.80 inches at this moment, and more is forecast.

Yesterday, Sunday, we made the trip back to our old country church. It was a great day of catching up with old friends, and enjoying worshiping together again. It has been said you can’t go home, but I think you can go back for a visit now and then.

Speaking of home, as I look at the craziness in the world around us, I have to remind myself, as a Christian, that this is not my home. The scripture tells us our home is in heaven, and we are just strangers in a foreign land. In my song book, there are a number of songs that speak to this. You may recognize some of these titles: This World is Not My Home, Gone Home, Do Lord (I’ve Got a Home in Glory Land), just to name a very few.

The apostle Peter wrote to God’s elect, strangers in the world (1 Peter 1:1). In chapter 2, verse 11, he refers to believers as ‘aliens and strangers in the world’. The then speaks of another home… “But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

In Hebrews, we read of those Old Testament saints; “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… Instead they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

And that familiar passage in John’s gospel, as Jesus speaks to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

So, don’t be discouraged with what you see and hear these days. This is temporary. There is a better home ‘up yonder’. Invite Jesus into your heart today, and look forward to your Mansion Over the Hilltop.

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry