Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

It’s About Time

I’m looking forward to warmer days, so that I can begin bringing some fishing reports again. Some of you have seen photos of Game and Parks releasing some northern pike into Lake Ericson. Some of those fish were very nice, and I hope to catch one or two for the dinner table.

Here are some thoughts on daylight saving time, which began this week. In reality, there is no saving of time. There are still 24 hours in a day. No one gets any more or any less. The old saying is ‘time waits for no man.’ Time is marching on, regardless of man’s attempts to buy more of it.

“Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and returns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning to its course” (Ecclesiastes 1:4-6).
In Ecclesiastes chapter 3, we are reminded, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” As Paul emphasized, “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now it the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

The Bible speaks of time as a line beginning with creation, continuing through history directed by God, and ending in the Day of the Lord. The Christian lives in time, but looks forward to the day when time shall be no more. This present age is the time of decision and service in the kingdom of God; the age to come is the full realization of God’s provision of eternal life. “Let us not become wearing in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9). “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me.” (John 9:4).

As we consider the return of the Lord, and our salvation, Paul reminds us to “do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The Lord’s salvation waits for no man. Our God is patient, but salvation is a one-time deal. There is no second chance when our time on earth is done. Do not wait

It’s about time,
Pastor Jerry

Restoration

Dear readers,
We’ve had our second major weather event for this winter season. I’m sure others received more snow than we did, but that’s okay. I know we complain about the weather, but without some winter-time moisture, it would be a bleak picture when spring comes. And, we cannot ignore the beauty of the new-fallen snow. The snow seems to restore the beauty of creation, giving a picture of the purity and holiness of our Lord.

On the topic of restoration, there are many people today who are involved in various types of restoration. We restore old cars, old tractors, old houses, and even old landmarks. There are products to restore hair color and any number of other “restorations”. Some would like to restore our culture to an earlier, simpler time, but sadly, this is an impossibility.

There is good news, however. God is in the restoration business, too. Hear the word of God: “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name, declares the Lord, who will do these things” (Amos 9:11-12).
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).
Psalm 23:1-3… “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul…”
In Acts 3:21, Peter speaks concerning Jesus: “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

1 Peter 5:10… “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong and steadfast.”
Again, Peter writes, “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).

There is more good news; God also does not merely restore people to a former state, he makes them into new creations. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

A Life Changed

The first month of 2017 is almost over. I suppose it’s my age, but I’m already thinking of summer and spending time at some of our state parks. Maybe we’ll just hook up to the camper and have a summer adventure. Who knows, maybe I’ll find some new things to write about.

The inauguration of a new president was in the news this week. Whatever your thoughts might be on this, we know the country is headed in a new direction. I pray it is also a good direction. As I think about this, I’ll share a story about a man whose life took a new direction.

It is a true story. There was a young man, a rancher, who was living his life pretty much day to day. He had very little thought of where he was headed in life. He had taken over his family ranch upon the death of his father a few years before, and was more or less feeling his way along. Like a lot of self-sufficient rancher types, he had virtually no thought of spiritual matters, and he saw no need for Jesus.

This young man had a wife and two young sons. Eventually, at the suggestion of his mother, he started taking his family to the little country church down the road. He was doing this for his boys, because he thought it would be good for them. Then a funny thing happened.

After a time, he realized his own need for a Savior, and the necessity of turning his life over to Jesus Christ. After years of thinking he was in control of his life, it was clear he could do nothing without God’s help. In time, this man was led into ministry, eventually becoming the pastor of another little country church, which he served for over 15 years.

What was it that caused him to turn his life around? It was the preaching of God’s word in that little country church, specifically the following passages. First the words of Jesus: “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Then from the apostle Paul; “If you confess you’re your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved… Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10: 9-13).

Now you know my story,
Pastor Jerry

Win or Lose

It is one of those days when I wonder how I will write a column that makes sense, when I don’t have a clue how to start. I have heard that the hardest part is writing the first word, so here goes.

In recent weeks, we have seen a number of contests, ranging from the World Series, to high school football and volleyball, to the election of a president. We have seen unlikely winners and surprising losers. Some contests were decided early, and others went down to the wire. But no matter which team or candidate you supported, there were winners and losers.

In sports or politics, there are rules of the game. When played by the rules, there is an honest outcome to the contest. One team wins, the other loses. Oh, there will be someone who will claim the rules weren’t followed, or that somewhere in the background there were ‘dirty politics’, or the umpires or referees will be somehow blamed, but in the end, the better team wins.

We’ve all heard the old saying, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Might I suggest this; although it is not whether you win or lose, it does matter how you respond to losing or winning.

The important thing is how we react to either winning or losing in a given contest. We have seen winning celebrations turn into near riots, and we have seen reaction to losing a contest turn into protests and riots. Neither of these reflect well on those involved.

Here are a few verses that apply to how we win or lose. This is Paul’s advice to the Christians in Rome: “For the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment of yourself” (Romans 12:3). “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes: if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” Romans 13:7.

Again from Paul: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone: (Colossians 4:6).

Win or lose, we are all made in the image of God. So, whether winning or losing, do it with grace, class, and respect for others.

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

Heart Change

Well, last week was rather busy. It appears retirement doesn’t leave much time for sitting by the lake, meditating on the scenery. Monday was the church pancake supper, later in the week, I worked on a little project for a friend, and we made two trips to Kearney to visit an old friend in the hospital. Oh, and Saturday we attended a cowboy poets gathering in Comstock. If someone else had written this, I would feel tired, just from reading it. Really though, it was most enjoyable.

Our friend was in the hospital for quadruple by-pass surgery, after suffering a mild heart attack on Monday. We visited him on Wednesday before his operation, and then again Sunday. There was a noticeable difference in his appearance after the surgery, due to the repairs made by the surgeon. You might call it a miraculous change.

This experience brings to mind God’s promise to his people. Because of Israel’s disobedience, the people had been scattered. Now, for the sake of his own holy name, God would bring his people back, and let the nations know that he would restore His relationship with them. Here is the promise he made: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws…You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:26-28).

In the New Testament, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the way for sinners to have a restored relationship with God. When we place our faith in Him, God changes our hearts, also.
Just as our friend’s appearance was transformed by the surgeon’s skilled hand, so is the Christian transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit, given by the hand of God.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

Only by placing our faith in Jesus, can we have our hard hearts transformed. Have you experienced this change? Do your friends see a change in you because of your relationship with the Lord?

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Hear and Obey

The lake community was a busy place this past weekend. From turtle racing, football watching, and the annual Labor Day auction, there were plenty of things to do.

From my vantage point, I have the opportunity to observe many things. Some are amusing, some not so much, and some give me ideas for these articles. Just watching how people operate their vehicles sometimes will illustrate some spiritual truth.

Here is the thought for the week: You can turn the steering wheel in any direction you want, but if you’re not moving, you do not change directions. Intentions have to be followed by action. You may say, I want to go over there, and point your wheels in that direction, but until you engage the transmission and press the accelerator pedal, you aren’t going anywhere.

In the days before power steering, one could only turn the wheel with some effort. It was easier to steer the vehicle (or tractor) when moving forward. These days, you can turn the steering wheel effortlessly while sitting still, but there is still no change of direction unless you are moving.

It’s the same way with prayer, changing habits or lifestyle, or with following Jesus. Good intentions lead nowhere without a commitment to action. The commands of the Lord require action on the part of the one who is commanded. Here are a few of those commands:

Leave, and/or go. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). What happened next? “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him” (verse 4).

Follow: Mark 1:17… “Come, follow me, Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” The command to follow usually preceded by the command to come. That is, to come to Jesus, and then to follow him. One cannot follow him without first coming to him in faith.

Give: Believers are to give to the poor. This command follows the command to sell our possessions in order to have resources to give.

Commands are meant to be obeyed. Intentions mean nothing if not followed by actions. It’s been said before, but God cannot direct your steps unless you are moving. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

On Possessions

We have appreciated the cooler weather of the last few days. I have no personal fishing report yet, although I did see some really nice largemouth bass that two ladies had caught Friday afternoon.

I find we are still having to deal with years of collecting things we thought we had to have. In fact, due to the amount of stuff we still possess, we have purchased another piece of property here at the lake. We will now have a place to keep our “overflow”, that is the tractor and its attachments, the little pontoon boat, golf cart, etc. This does not mean we have found the answer to the problem of having these things, downsizing must continue.

I am continually reminded of scripture that warns of letting material goods take first place in our lives. Note: It’s not my wife that keeps reminding me, she has stuff, too. Could it be the Spirit of God tapping me on the shoulder, saying “enough already”?

As I talk with other people, I find we are not the only ones dealing with the abundance of things not needed. Many of us are having this struggle. What is the answer to this? God’s word has some suggestions.

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Jesus, speaking to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21). “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In the follow-up to his story of the rich man who built more bins to hold his grain, Jesus had this advice for his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes” (Luke 12:22-23).

Here is a final thought on this subject. I read this statement a few years ago, and it comes to mind now. “Someday, all your valued possessions will fit in a small drawer in some nursing home.”

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Potted or Planted?

Once again, I can report some nice rains. The total here in our gauge was nearing 2 inches. A little rain certainly helps with watering the lawns and gardens.

Speaking of gardens and such, we completed construction of a new flower bed this past week. The flowers have been sitting in pots beside the house waiting to be planted in the ground. Here are a few observations connecting potted plants and Christian living. Stay with me on this one.

Plants meant to be planted in the ground do not do well in pots. Some of the plants we brought from the store were needing help. Coming from the nursery in what is called “potting soil”, they dry out too soon, and left in that environment, they get root bound, leading to stunted growth. They need to be taken out of those pots and planted in the ground where they belong, so they can flourish. I wonder sometimes if Christians might be subject to a similar condition?

The new Christian is a bit like a new seedling plant. He needs a certain amount of protection and care, before he is planted in the world. But keeping him in the greenhouse environment, so to speak, is not going to be beneficial to him in the long run. As we disciple a new believer, there is a point where we get them out of the pot, and plant them where they can begin go grow and live out God’s plan for them.

The psalmist said this about the man who reads and meditates on God’s word: He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3).

Just as the potted plant from the nursery cannot feed or water itself, so also does the new Christian need to be fed and watered by the Word of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us to move on from spiritual infancy, that is needing milk, to the taking in of solid spiritual food that leads to spiritual maturity. (Hebrews 5:11-14). Then we read: “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” (Hebrews 6:1).

My advice to stunted Christians? Get out of that greenhouse pot, get growing, and bloom where God has planted you!

Feeding on His word,
Pastor Jerry

Proof of Change

The month of June is almost over, and I haven’t spent any serious time fishing. Along with that, we have only had the camper out once this year, and that was mostly to see if everything worked. Maybe living beside the lake is a hindrance to both fishing and camping. Could that be it? Note: If you have ever wanted to know more about this place called Lake Ericson, check out the current edition of Nebraska Life Magazine.

It is being reported on some media sources that a certain presidential candidate has recently become a Christian. It is not my place to judge a person’s heart, but I can go to God’s word and read verses that help us to know if a person is truly a follower of Jesus Christ. We can pray these reports are true, and the Bible tells us we can know if a person is a Christian. I will share some of the evidences of true belief this week.

A new Christian is not perfect. Neither are older Christians. We all have the tendency to sin, even after being spiritually reborn. But here are things we should see in one who calls himself a follower of Jesus Christ.

The first step, confession, is found in Romans 10:9; 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 by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Confession is to first confess to God that I am a sinner, followed by confessing that Jesus is Lord of all.

Confession is followed by repentance. This is a change of direction. To repent is to stop going away from God, and to turn toward him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)! The evidence of this change shows up in what is called the fruit of the Spirit. It consists of these: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). There are others, but space here is limited.

Finally, we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands (1 John 2:3).

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

On Aging

Hello all,
Last Friday, I found myself sitting with an old friend in front of an eating establishment in a neighboring town. We were just sitting and talking about the old days…Wait! I’m not that old am I? Oh, I do remember something in the Bible about wisdom and gray hair. “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding” (Job 12:12); “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old” (Proverbs 20:29). Maybe that describes my friend and myself after all.

On the subject of aging, hearing loss is part of that process, especially for those of us who have had long-term exposure to noisy tractors, etc. Last fall, I became the owner of hearing aids, and the audiologist told me I would hear sounds I hadn’t heard for a while. What he said is true, and they do work well in a one-on-one situation, but in a crowd of people you hear mostly noise.

Maybe it is much the same for hearing God’s voice. If we haven’t heard from Him for a time, it may be time to get away from the noise of the crowd (think world), and tune in to what He is saying. I don’t think hearing aids are necessary to hear God’s voice, but you do need to get away from the loud sounds of the busy world.

Elijah the prophet, heard God’s voice at the mouth of a cave. In 1 Kings we read of his experience. After spending the night in a cave, the word of the Lord came to Elijah, asking why he was there. Elijah is told to stand on the mountain as the Lord passes by. We read this, “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks… but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake… after the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” (1 Kings 19:9-13). Then he heard the Lord speak.

Has it been some time since you heard the gentle whisper of God’s voice? Just find a quiet place and listen.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry