Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Gone Fishing

Dear friends,

We have been enjoying some cooler temperatures, the only thing missing is a good soaking rain. I believe we will see those rains in due time, but we still need to be persistent in prayer that the Lord will send them. There is not much news on the home front, just a grocery shopping trip now and then.

The annual Lake Ericson fishing derby was held this past Saturday. After signing in, and after a pancake and sausage breakfast, the teams headed out to the lake. As I observed the preparations, I saw an illustration of what the church should look like. I’m speaking of the church as followers of Jesus, sent out into the world. The men and boys who entered the derby had come earlier in the week and spent time finding out where the fish were. On the day of the contest, they were prepared with the right tackle and a fair knowledge of the habits of the fish they intended to catch.

After breakfast, did they sit around talking about fishing? No, they got in their boats and went fishing. Catching fish is the reason they are fishermen. It would be silly to just sit around the table and tell fish stories.

Jesus gave his disciples instructions, using fishing as an illustration of what they were being sent to do.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:16-18).

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “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…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

Christians are called to go, that is they are sent by their Lord to go out into the world and be his witnesses; to present the good news of salvation to all people, in order to bring them into His “boat”.

It is pointless for Christians to just sit around after church and talk about the need for evangelism. Let us go out and fish for those who need to hear of Jesus.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Stand Firm

Dear friends,
It has rained again. Our gauge showed very close to a half-inch, and we are thankful for it. We will not let up in praying for more, trusting the Lord to answer those prayers in His perfect timing. We visited Alex, Breanna and little Maria on Saturday. It was a good day, but we were glad to get back home after helping with some projects in their home. We are reminded again that we don’t have the staying power we used to have.

As we read the news, we are constantly reminded of the fact that the Christian values we grew up with have fallen out of favor with the current culture. Bible based truth is looked upon as outdated, old fashioned, out of step with reality and even man-made or racist.

There is a sharp dividing line between those who would proclaim the truth as seen in God’s word, and those who write it off as irrelevant to today’s society. In the modern mindset, those who stand by God’s word are increasingly on the “wrong side of history.” No matter the topic, if you proclaim God’s word as truth you are seen as being hopelessly out of the mainstream. To the world’s way of thinking, the truth is whatever the individual sees as truth. To them, absolute truth doesn’t exist.

I have shared these verses many times, and they never grow old or out of date: Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:8).

Jesus, praying for his disciples said, “Sanctify them (believers) by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God says, “I the Lord, speak the truth, I declare what is right” (Isaiah 45:29). Also, in Isaiah, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever’ (40:8).

We Christians must stand for the truth, no matter what the world may perceive as “truth”, even though we may be persecuted for it. In the words of Carl F. H. Henry; the alternatives are clear: either we return to the God of the Bible or perish in the pit of lawlessness.

In Truth,
Pastor Jerry

Chasing the Wind

Dear friends,

We are experiencing some cooler weather for a change. As I write this, we have received a welcome rain shower. I show a mere twenty hundredths, but hey, it’s rain! We will continue to pray the Lord will send beneficial moisture. With the summer season winding down, life here at the lake is taking a more leisurely turn. It has been good to see folks enjoying a taste of lake living, especially the families with children.

Now for some devotional thoughts. This is from a few years back, when we were still watching television, but the message hasn’t changed. One of the newer advertisements on the tube was from an automobile company that will remain unnamed. Their slogan was “Dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit!”

One of the hallmarks of the culture of today is that many are dedicated to the “pursuit”, and have no vision of what they are pursuing. After all, I wonder, should there not be something to pursue? Most of us have some goal in mind as we go along our life’s journey. It may be only to provide food and shelter for our families, but there is something we are pursuing. The Bible has quite a bit to say about things that are important to pursue and those which are not worth chasing after.

Solomon wrote that many of the things people seek after are just chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14). Again he writes, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his work is pain and grief, even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless (2:22-23).

At the end of the book, Solomon sums it up; “Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).

Jesus said, “But seek first His (God’s) kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). Our slogan could then be “Dedicated to a life of serving God, liberty from the bondage of sin and the pursuit of godliness.”

In summary, God will provide all we need for this life and the next, if we will only put all our faith and trust in Him.

Reflecting on His Word,

Pastor Jerry

Consistency

Dear readers,
We have arrived at the end of another month. Next week is Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer. Football and volleyball seasons have begun, and schools are in session. We are still in need of rain, and continue to ask the Lord to provide. We ask, knowing that he is faithful to answer our prayers in his perfect timing.

Church attendance wanes in the summer. This is a proven fact, and there are many reasons given, but if we were truthful, I think we would have to admit to a degree of complacency. Scripture tells us the early church met daily for fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:4-7). The writer of Hebrews says, “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).

These are Jesus’ words concerning the faithful servant; “His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23)!

Today, it seems hard for the people of God to meet together for one hour on Sunday morning. What follows here are some thoughts I copied down many years ago, and I believe they are worth repeating.

Reflections on being a faithful Christian: If your car starts one time out of three, do you consider it reliable? If the paper carrier skips the Monday and Thursday editions, would they be missed? If you fail to come to work two or three times a month, would your boss call you a faithful worker? If your refrigerator quits for a day now and then, do you excuse it and say, “But it works most of the time?” If your water heater greets you with cold water one or two mornings a week, would you understand? If you miss a couple of mortgage payments in a year’s time, would your banker say, “Oh, well, ten out of twelve isn’t bad”?

If we are not consistent in attending corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, can we call ourselves faithful Christians?

Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Better Way

Dear friends,
We have received almost .30” of rain early Sunday morning. The forecast is for the possibility of more, but we are thankful for what we have. After a warm week, we are having a couple of cooler days. This, too, is a blessing.

It saddens me to see that some Christians are following those who claim to predict the future. I do not believe this is what the Lord would want for His people. In His word, he warns against these practices.

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable practices of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God… The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him… I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command Him. (Deuteronomy 18:9-15).

God’s people are to depend upon Him for their every need, and rely on His promises to care for them in every situation. There are those who would say “but that was Old Testament teaching.” True, but much of God’s law remains in effect in the New Testament. The Ten Commandments have not been revoked; they are for all time. What is called God’s moral law is also just as true as when it was given.

To be involved in occult practices is to be unfaithful to the Lord. We are encouraged to listen to God’s prophets instead. The ultimate prophet of God is Jesus Christ—the One who spoke God’s words and who provides deliverance for His people. He is the better way; “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Warning Signs

Dear friends,
According to the weather man, we will see a whole week of cooler temperatures. This is something we have all been waiting for. We went to O’Neill Saturday afternoon for a yard party, and the temperature on our vehicle display showed 102 degrees at one point. Much too hot for this old guy!

Over the last several months there had been an issue with our pickup tires losing air where the tire bead contacts the rim. There is a handy warning message on the dash display that shows the message “Low tire pressure”, when the pressure falls below a certain level. When this message would appear, I got in the habit of making a few short trips before I would take the time to inflate the tires to the proper level. After all, it was such a slow leak there was no hurry.

In time, we got to the point where those tires needed replacing, so we purchased a new set. Saturday, when I got the pickup out of the garage, there was the dreaded low tire pressure warning. My thought was I don’t have time for this, it will wait until tomorrow. Even so, I took time to look at the tires and to my surprise, one was very flat! There was a screw head protruding from the tire. Ignoring that warning would have resulted in having to buy another tire.

The Bible contains warning messages. It is not good to ignore them; in fact, ignoring the warnings God has given us in His Word will have eternal consequences.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:2).
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will (Hebrews 2:1-4).
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 12:15).

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Keep Watch

Dear readers,
In news not reported last week, we had a couple of things happen we weren’t expecting. First, our house air conditioner gave up the ghost. We were able to get a new one installed before the weather warmed up too much. It’s been a really long time since we slept with windows open and fans running. The other event was that our house/outdoor cat Miss Meow met her end. Apparently, she was too slow crossing the street. As an alley cat, she adopted us a couple of years ago, but never did get too comfortable with domestic life.

We went back to our old neighborhood Sunday. I was asked to provide pulpit supply at the church for the day. It is good to visit there occasionally, but where we are now is home. We do enjoy reconnecting with old friends now and then, just to catch up on events in their lives. It encourages me to know that we and all our Christian brothers and sisters will be together someday in heaven. As the song says, “What A Day That Will Be!”

As we observe the trajectory of the culture, I can’t help wondering if that day could be nearer than we
might imagine. I am reminded of the words of Scripture as recorded in Matthew’s gospel account; “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into” (Matthew 24:36-43).

Watching,
Pastor Jerry

Faith Is The Key

Dear friends,
The news this week was the big wind that blew through on Thursday. There was minimal damage to structures at the lake, but some trees were blown over. We were without power for a day or so, depending on location, but that has been restored. The power company still has much work to do, replacing broken poles and such. On a positive note, there were no injuries as far as I know. In a recent article I had commented on the power of the wind, obviously having no idea what was in store for us!

In other news, our middle grandson graduated from high school on Saturday. We’re proud of his accomplishments, and wish him much success in life. It was a good day and great day weather-wise; sunny and a light breeze, something we’ve not seen a lot of lately. With the recent rain and warm temperatures, lawn mowing is a priority, but I will probably tire of this job before the end of summer.

As the world seems to be spiraling out of control, I have to remind myself not to worry. God is in control. Even though it may seem He is asleep at the wheel, He is fully aware of our individual situations. Let us remember His words in scripture.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:23).
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him (Nahum 1:7).
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

There is more: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).

Faith is the key. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Believing and trusting Him,
Pastor Jerry

He Lives!

Dear reader,
Last Tuesday evening, we received a little rain along with some lightning and thunder. It’s been too long since we heard the sound of raindrops on the roof, and a welcome sound it was. The warmer temperatures have increased the traffic around the lake, and there were several people fishing this weekend. Can it be spring after all? We will have to wait and see.

As the world seems to be spinning out of control, do you find yourself feeling anxious about the future? I have been guilty of that very thing, but when I go to God’s word, I am encouraged once again. I hesitate to write on this topic, because it seems I am in a rut here. However, as I listen to the cultural conversation, I hear many people asking the same questions.

With Easter just two weeks away, we may begin to contemplate what the resurrection of Jesus means in light of eternity. The apostle Peter speaks of the everlasting hope we have because of Christ’s resurrection.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who k faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9).

Further down in the letter, Peter writes, “Through him (Jesus) you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1:21).

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Master Tuner

Hello friends,
We are officially observing Daylight Saving Time. I trust everyone made it to church on time Sunday. I have seen folks arrive in the parking lot just as worship was ending, and it was embarrassing for everyone.

I like music. I like to make music with my friends who play. I especially like playing when my guitar is in tune. Instruments have to be tuned to a standard, or else all you would have is a lot of meaningless noise. In the ‘old days’ that standard would have been a tuning fork, or a pitch pipe. These days there are electronic models with digital displays, allowing for exact pitch.

Our standard for living in tune with God is his Word. If we don’t return to him and retune, our lives can become like a musical instrument that needs tuning. As an out of tune instrument is not pleasing to the ear, a life not in tune with God has no purpose, nor does it bring him honor.

The Bible tells us that God’s word keeps us pure and in tune with his plan and purpose for our lives. Here are some examples; How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
Your word is completely pure, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140 CSB).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). How do we renew our minds? By living according to God’s word and in his will.

Solomon wrote these words: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). Does your life seem out of tune? Put it in the hands of the Master Tuner.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry