Archive for the ‘Calling’ Category

Therefore Go

Dear friends,

We have been enjoying every nice day that has come along. In days past, we have looked for a January thaw, but haven’t needed one yet. The nice days have outnumbered the cold ones, I am sure.

As I look at the way the world is going, I am reminded anew of the urgency of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. In a time when the culture is rebelling against God and the Truth of his Word, it is imperative that His people, the church, take seriously the Great Commission, as it is called.

Jesus’ final words to His disciples were, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

We, his followers have been given the order to take the gospel to the whole world. The message we have been given is specified in Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome. “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, “that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That 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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… For, 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!” (Romans 10:8-15).

We have the Good News. We are called to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Let us go and make disciples of all nations.

In His love,

Pastor Jerry

Looking Ahead

Dear readers,

Well, here we are at the beginning of a new year. 2022 came in a bit cold and snowy at our place, but we didn’t have plans to go out, so we stayed warm. I went to bed at my usual time, but my lady made it past midnight. I woke up enough to wish her a Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year causes me to reflect on the events of the past 365 days. Each time, there are good things that come to mind, and a fair share of negative memories. The Bible tells us to forget the past and look to the future, and this is good advice. However, I do believe it is constructive to review those not-so-good experiences with the goal of learning from them. The apostle’s point is to not dwell on the past. In his words, “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).

As we look back, it is beneficial to see how the Lord has used both our positive and negative experiences to strengthen our faith and our dependence on His guidance. We are in a time when it seems there is more than our share of difficulties. I think of the pandemic, and the suffering that has brought. We see broken relationships that are affecting many individuals and families. Some have financial setbacks, and others experience suffering in the area of personal health. Also, we are seeing increased persecution of Christians around the world and here in America.

In light of all of this, the apostle Paul wrote, “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. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Peter reminds us that trials have come “so that your faith… may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed… for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:7-9).

In Him

Pastor Jerry

Meeting Together

Dear friends,
We continue to swing back and forth between fall and winter. In the last week, we have seen sunshine and rain, warm and cold, windy and calm. There are few leaves remaining on the trees; yet in these extremes, there is still the beauty of God’s creation all around us.

Now and then, I will come across someone else’s observation about trends in the church today. Speaking to the issue of a lack of commitment in attending weekly church services, Thom Rainer asks the question, how did we get to the point that attending church on a once-a-month basis is normal behavior?

He gives five developments:
One, we fail to see that the local church is God’s plan A to do His mission on earth, and there is no plan B. It is clear in the New Testament from Acts 2 through Revelation 3 is all about the local church as the means of fulfilling His plan.

Two, we embrace the false notion that commitment to a local church is legalistic. If we used that argument with the family unit, we would say “Oh, your commitment to your family is too legalistic.”

Three, we have let culture dictate our schedules. If we would resist the temptation to put other activities ahead of church attendance, we would communicate to the culture what is and is not important.

Four, we have accepted strawman arguments about gathering at our local church. Have you heard either one of these arguments? “The church is not about the building, it’s the people.” Or, “The church is about sending, not attending.” The writer of Hebrews said, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another… (Hebrews 10:25).

Five, we see church as a place to be served rather than to serve. Have you ever heard church members argue about their preferences? Sure you have. Preferences about the style of music in worship. About the order of worship. About the time of services. The list goes on.

Let’s ask ourselves the following questions: Am I really connected to a local church? Am I attending without excuses? Am I looking to serve? Am I willing to give up the influence of the culture to be a growing disciple in my church? How committed am I to the local body? Let’s be part of the solution.

Food for thought,
Pastor Jerry

Safe With God

Dear friends,

After a very pleasant weather week, it appears we are about to experience a reminder of the approaching season of cooler temperatures. One positive takeaway of this, is that the lawn mowing season is nearing its end. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go.

I read the following in a devotional article from Dr. David Jeremiah. It gives encouragement to all of us as we face uncertain times.

During the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, Dr. Benjamin Rush refused to leave the city, feeling God had placed him there for such a time. He told his medical students, “As for myself, I may fall a victim to the epidemic, and so may you, gentlemen. But I prefer since I am placed here by Divine Providence, to fall in performing my duty… than to secure my life by fleeing from the post of duty allotted in the Providence of God.”

Dr. Jeremiah continues; “Dr. Rush survived the plague and left us a lasting lesson. The safest place is always in the center of God’s will. Plagues and pandemics come and go. Violence rises and falls. Evil goes from bad to worse. But when we are in the daily course of divine duty, we are shielded by our God—safe and secure from all alarm. The worst thing that can happen to us is the best thing—the Lord will take us to heaven. So don’t live in fear today. Follow the footsteps of the Savior.”

Good words for us all. If you belong to the Lord Jesus, you are promised eternity with Him when your life here has ended. He has placed each one of us in the place where we are, to carry out His plan for our lives. He does it for His glory, and we are promised a share in His glory when we reach heaven. 

In the Old Testament we read the story of a young queen named Esther, who took a stand for the Lord, even though it might mean her life. Her relative told her, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. We are not where we are by accident, but by His sovereign purpose. I have no reason to believe otherwise.

Trusting in His Word,

Pastor Jerry

Faithful Servants

Hello friends,

We spent the weekend with old friends celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sybrant Community Church, which we attended for many years. Actually, last year was the centennial of the church, but the big event was postponed due to, you guessed it—Covid19. It was a blessing to renew old acquaintances and reflect on the history and mission of this little church in what some would call the middle of nowhere. From the early settlers who saw the need for a place of worship, to those today who continue to preserve this lighthouse of the gospel in an out-of-the-way part of the world, Thank You! It is a testimony of God’s blessing on His faithful followers and those who answer the call to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Most of my readers will probably remember the story of how I came to faith in Christ. It was in this little church where I heard these words for the first time, and responded to their message. “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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The next verses in this passage speak of the importance of these little places of worship; “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?” (Romans 10:9-15).

To those who continue to carry out God’s call to faithfulness in little congregations everywhere, remember God rewards those who remain committed to serve Him. You will someday hear these words from the Savior. “Well done, good and faithful servant… Come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:21).

For Him,

Pastor Jerry

Go and Tell

Dear friends,
April is moving along as usual, bringing to mind the saying “Time waits for no man.” For instance, I had hoped to wait a few days to mow the lawn, but the grass had a different time schedule. We have not only mowed the first time this year, but flower beds have been cleaned and other preparations for summer are in the works.

The camper has been taken to the repair shop for some minor issues, and we hope to begin the new season soon. I was told we had to get the camping out of the way before time to start caring for the garden. Since I enjoy the produce as much as anyone, this sounds like a reasonable approach.

In case you have been wondering about our cat; be assured she has taken over our lives. She has learned to let us know when she wants to come in and when she wants out, and her dish never has enough food in it. As I write this, she is sleeping beside my chair.

As I observe the things going on in our world, I am continually reminded that many people have no concept of God or of his Word. The world is seeking answers for mankind’s problems in all the wrong places. Rather than finding out what God really says about the human condition, the world prefers to listen to false teachers and to follow ungodly leaders who deny the very existence of a Creator God.

I believe we are at the place Paul describes in his instructions to Timothy: “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. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

As we live in our world, may we be witnesses to God’s power and majesty, as we tell others of His love and his saving gospel. To Him be glory and praise forever!

For Him,
Pastor Jerry

A Good Word

Dear friends,
We have certainly seen a change in the weather. As I write this Sunday evening, we are showing 2.60 in the rain gauge, with more in the forecast. The wind has been gusting up to around 50 mph, and there was a power outage in the area this morning. Ah, springtime in Nebraska!

In recent days, I have been reminded of the uncertainties of life. It is in those times I turn to the Word of God for encouragement and hope. We have all experienced times when life takes unexpected turns, and we are left wondering why? It might be an economic downturn, a broken relationship or maybe an unforeseen illness. We are prone to ask where did that come from? Or, why did that happen to me?

There are times when there are just no clear answers to why things happen. Life is full of unknowns, but that is just life. Sometimes we feel like the title of a song I have referenced before; “Life Ain’t Fair, and the World is Mean.” In spite of this, there is One who knows the struggles we go through. God in His perfect plan has placed each of us in our circumstances for His glory. When we finally understand this truth, we can trust Him even though we do not know the reason for our situation.

These verses from Romans give encouragement to all who believe on the Lord Jesus. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose… What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?… Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more has been raised; he is also at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28-39 CSB).

In His grip,
Pastor Jerry

Our Calling

Dear friends,
The garage project has progressed to the point we can close the doors and keep the snow out. It isn’t done, but we like it so far. At this point, we are waiting for material to finish the project. After the winds of the last few days, I believe it has passed the test.

How is this for a song title? Life Ain’t Fair and the World is Mean! I didn’t make this up; there is a song with that title being played on the bluegrass channel from satellite radio. After the election, there are those who can relate. In any situation there are those who are happy and others who are disappointed. It is true; life isn’t fair, and the world is mean. Trouble comes, and life isn’t fair. Elections are about competing world-views, someone wins, and someone loses. What is fair to one doesn’t seem fair to another.

The world is mean, especially to Christians. Nowhere does the Bible indicate the Christian is going to be loved and accepted by the world. Jesus, speaking to his disciples said this; “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why it hates you.” (John 15:19b). Also, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Here is something I read this week. These are wise words for us; “With election day behind us, we Christians need to remember our primary calling has not changed. Let your faith be encouraged in the fact that God reigns. Continue going out into the world proclaiming the Good News. Stand firm, keep fighting for justice. And love your neighbor.”

Peter reminds us to “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (2 Peter 2:16).

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). As Christians, we remember that God has placed here to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus.

Because of Him,
Pastor Jerry

Body of Believers

Dear friends,
Cooler weather came last week, along with ¾ inch of rain. The rain was especially welcome. A warming trend is forecast for this week. We are planning another camping adventure for next weekend, and on into the week. We will be visiting Alex for a couple of days, then stopping at Niobrara State Park for two nights, further plans will probably be made on the spur of the moment. We’ll see how it plays out.

As the summer wears on, we are still hearing conflicting ideas concerning the Covid-i9 virus. Masks versus no masks, social distancing, large groups are not okay, small groups are suspicious. Mobs of protestors and rioters are okay, but you can’t gather as a church, even in a small group. A vaccine is coming soon; no, wait, it may not be ready until the end of 2021. Only God knows when and how it will end.

Our responsibility as Christian is to be faithful witnesses and ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, there is no other. His people have a mission. Every believer in Christ has a responsibility to share the good news. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy… Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:9-12).

In light of the pandemic, and even with some insisting we not gather for worship, we cannot stop gathering as the body of Christ. The church is most effective when all members are involved and working as a unit.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25).

Stay faithful my friends,
Pastor Jerry

Stewardship 101

Hello friends,
Our warm spell has ended for a time. We are now back to daytime high temps below the freezing point. I guess our ‘January thaw’ is over. On a positive note, it has been warm enough to melt much of our snow, although many drifts remain.

As I was reading some news headlines this week, I noticed a plea for volunteers to knit or crochet ‘nests’ for animals affected by the wildfires in Australia. Another headline referred to the need to remove all restrictions to the abortion of human babies. Does anyone see a problem here?

God created man to care for all of His creation. I take this to mean the earth and all creatures, including other humans, no matter their age or stage of development. It is a sad commentary on the brokenness of this world, when animal life takes precedence over the lives of human beings.

This is not a political issue, it is an issue of morality, and the sanctity of human life as the Creator intended. I am as much an animal lover as anyone, but in God’s creation plan, humans are stewards of the earth, its resources and all life. It should be obvious to anyone with even a minimal reading of God’s Word, that humans are responsible first of all, for human beings, and all other forms of life are subject to that stewardship. To place any other creature in a place over a human being is totally in opposition to our stewardship responsibility as God planned it, and as He outlined it in His Word.

“So God created them in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28). “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3).

The sixth commandment; “Do not murder”, specifically prohibits murder, that is, any unauthorized killing of an individual. Abortion is also prohibited by this commandment, as the Bible clearly states that an unborn baby is a person.

The third Sunday of January is Right to Life Sunday. Join me in praying our country will turn back to God and respect all of His creation, especially those made in His image, at all stages of life.

Simply His,
Pastor Jerry